Thursday, March 31, 2011



Ten days ago, George Monbiot, the lead environmental journalist of the Guardian.UK, shook the tree of many environmentalists with a post that was provocatively titled, Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power. Of course, the reactions were fast and... "nuclear."

Now comes Monbiot's counterattack (re-posted below) which is well worth pondering. But before the re-post, I want to mention that some combination of solar, nuclear and wind power surely seems preferable to me than hydro development and gas and oil exploration across Amazonia. And, this thought is not just to save trees and forest peoples. Both locally and globally, even a heavy reliance on nukes would probably cause less harm than the currently planned projection of 146 dams across the Amazon basin.

The double standards of green anti-nuclear opponents

We must apply the same standards to all energy-generating technology as we do to nuclear power

The accusations have been so lurid that I had to read my article again to reassure myself that I hadn't written the things that so many of my correspondents say I wrote. So, before I begin the counter-attack, here's what I didn't say about nuclear power.

I did not claim that there is no alternative to atomic energy, or any such thing. Nor did I suggest that nuclear should replace renewables, or produce any higher proportion of our electricity than it does already. But I did point out that most of the countries that might abandon nuclear power are likely to replace it not with renewables but with fossil fuel, and that this is a major change for the worse. Environmentalist Mark Lynas has shown how phasing out planned nuclear programmes in a number of countries as a result of the Fukushima disaster could add another degree to global warming. Author and blogger Chris Goodall estimates that if the planned construction of new nuclear power stations in the UK stalls in response to the crisis, the result will be an increase of 9m tonnes of carbon dioxide for every year we delay.

Replacing the current generation of nuclear power stations when they reach the end of their lives is a tough decision. So is not replacing them. Not replacing them is a decision to do one of two things:
A. To switch to coal or gas, which means greatly increasing the rate of industrial deaths and injuries, levels of pollution and the impacts of climate change.

B. To add even more weight to the burden that must be carried by renewables.
Response A is far more likely, and appears to be taking place already: for example in Germany.
Like most environmentalists, I want renewables to replace fossil fuel, but I realise we make the task even harder if they are also to replace nuclear power.

I'm not saying, as many have claimed, that we should drop our concerns about economic growth, consumption, energy efficiency and the conservation of resources. Far from it. What I'm talking about is how we generate the electricity we will need. Given that, like most greens, I would like current transport and heating fuels to be replaced with low-carbon electricity, it's impossible to see, even with maximum possible energy savings, how the electricity supply can do anything other than grow. All the quantified studies I have seen, including those produced by environmental organisations, support this expectation. Ducking the challenge of how it should be produced is not an option.

Nor have I changed my politics (and nor for that matter am I an undercover cop, a mass murderer, a eugenicist or, as one marvellous email suggested, "the consort of the devil"). In fact it's surprising how little the politics of energy supply change with the mass-generation technology we choose. Whether or not there is a nuclear component, we are talking about large corporations building infrastructure, generating electricity and feeding it into the grid. My suspicion of big business and my belief that it needs to be held to account remain unchanged.

Nor is the Fukushima crisis anything other than horrible: dangerous, traumatic and disruptive. I'm urging perspective, not complacency.

OK, that's the record-setting done. Now for the counter-attack. Here is a list of what I believe are the double-standards that some of us who have opposed nuclear power (I include myself in this) have used when arguing against it.

Double standard one: deaths and injuries

We rightly lament the horrible consequences of industrial exposure to radiation. Two workers at Fukushima have so far received radiation burns and 17 have been exposed to levels of radiation considered unsafe. This is and should be a cause for serious concern. It is also worth remembering that no one has yet received a dose of radiation that is known to be lethal as a result of the Fukushima disaster. But if we are concerned about industrial injuries, why do we say nothing about the deaths and injuries in the industry most likely to replace nuclear power?

In China alone, the government estimates that 2,433 people died in coal-mining accidents last year. That's not injuries or exposures. It's deaths. Human rights activists believe that official figures might have been underestimated by a factor of four.

What this means is that, in the normal course of operations, at least six people are killed in Chinese coal mines every day. Even if you accept the official figure, Chinese coal mining alone kills as many people every week as the worst nuclear power accident in history – the Chernobyl explosion – has done in 25 years.
And this is to say nothing of the far larger number of injuries that coal mining inflicts, in particular the hideous lung diseases which plague so many miners and cause long, lingering and terrible deaths. When was the last time you heard an anti-nuclear campaigner drawing attention to this daily carnage?

Double standard two: the science

We emphasise, when debating climate change, the importance of the scientific consensus, and reliance on solid, peer-reviewed studies. But as soon as we start discussing the dangers of low-level radiation, we abandon that and endorse the pseudo-scientific gibberish of a motley collection of cranks and quacks, who appear to have begun with the assumption that it must be killing thousands of people every year, and retrofitted the evidence to match it.

Such people exist in every field, especially those that are politically contentious. We should, by now, have learned to be wary of them. But it seems that the temptation, for people hoping to make the case against nuclear power, is overwhelming.

For a good summary of the scientific consensus on the effects of exposure to both high and low levels of radiation, see the new post by Chris Goodall and Mark Lynas: two environmentalists who have kept their heads in this crisis.

Double standard three: radioactive pollution

If low-level radiation really was the problem that some environmentalists say it is, the focus of their campaign should be coal plants, not nuclear power. As Scientific American notes:
"The fly ash emitted by a power plant – a by-product from burning coal for electricity – carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy."
This is because coal contains trace amounts of uranium and thorium, which are concentrated in the ash. Not only does this expose people living around coal plants to higher doses of radiation than people living around nuclear plants; but the regulations for disposing of fly ash are far weaker than the regulations for disposing of low-level nuclear waste. You may remember the controversy about RWE npower's plan to dump the fly ash from Didcot power station into a lake between the villages of Radley and Abingdon. Where were the anti-nuclear campaigners then? Can you imagine what the outcry would have been if a corporation had planned to fill it with low-level waste from a nuclear plant?

Double standard four: mining impact

Anti-nuclear campaigners emphasise the damage and pollution inflicted by uranium mines. They are right to do so. Some of these mines are hideous, and they are one of the many reasons why we should urgently develop new reactor technologies which sharply reduce the need for fresh supplies. But the impacts of coal mining are massively greater. There are hundreds of times more coal mines than uranium mines, including opencast sites, and a lot of them of them are many times bigger and more destructive than the largest uranium operations. This doesn't make uranium mining right, but it makes the likely switch to coal even more wrong.

Double standard five: costs

One of the most frequent arguments against nuclear power is that it costs too much. Many environmentalists claim that, when all the hidden costs, especially the massive decommissioning liabilities, are taken into account, electricity from atomic plants could cost as much as 5p per kilowatt hour or even more. The highest figure I have come across was the top end of the range of estimates produced by the New Economics Foundation – 8.3p. If this is correct – and I should emphasise that it's an extreme outlier – it suggests that nuclear is an extravagant means of generating low-carbon electricity.

So why do the same people support a feed-in tariff scheme under which we pay 41p per kilowatt hour for rooftop solar electricity?

Double standard six: research

Last week I argued about these issues with Caroline Lucas. She is one of my heroes, and the best thing to have happened to parliament since time immemorial. But this doesn't mean that she can't be wildly illogical when she chooses. When I raised the issue of the feed-in tariff, she pointed out that the difference between subsidising nuclear power and subsidising solar power is that nuclear is a mature technology and solar is not. In that case, I asked, would she support research into thorium reactors, which could provide a much safer and cheaper means of producing nuclear power? No, she told me, because thorium reactors are not a proven technology. Words fail me.

Double standard seven: timing

Anti-nuclear campaigners point out that it takes 10 years or so to build a new nuclear power station, and we haven't got that long, if we are serious about preventing climate breakdown. They are of course quite right: it's too little, too late. But the same problem affects every significant move to decarbonise the energy supply. By the time it has gone through the planning process, a major new grid connection to support an offshore windfarm will take roughly as long to develop as a new nuclear power station. The same goes for the pumped storage facilities required to support a largely renewable power system and for the carbon capture and storage required to reduce the impacts of fossil fuels. As for growing trees …

My point is that we have to take responsibility for every component of our energy supply and the consequences it carries; not just the section of it that's produced by nuclear reactors. And we should apply the same standards to all generating technologies. Otherwise, in the name of reducing risks to people and the planet, we will unwittingly increase them.



The media are all over the reports that top Obama advisers Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton and Samantha Powers pushed for and led the charge to war in Libya to prevent a humanitarian crisis such as the genocide that occurred in Rwanda, thus putting a feminine compassionate face on the US entry into another snake pit of Middle East turmoil.

Paul D. Miller dismantles the Libya-Rwanda comparison:

Rwanda was genocide. Libya is a civil war. The Rwandan genocide was a premeditated, orchestrated campaign. The Libyan civil war is a sudden, unplanned outburst of fighting. The Rwandan genocide was targeted against an entire, clearly defined ethnic group. The Libyan civil war is between a tyrant and his cronies on one side, and a collection of tribes, movements, and ideologists (including Islamists) on the other. The Rwandan genocidiers aimed to wipe out a people. The Libyan dictator aims to cling to power. The first is murder, the second is war. The failure to act in Rwanda does not saddle us with a responsibility to intervene in Libya.

And Andrew Sullivan offers another devastating reality-check:

Shoes - Not "Boots" - On The Ground
So it seems Obama's long hesitation about going into Libya was not so hesitant.

He signed approval for covert action to arm the rebels weeks before the UN Resolution. It is not clear if anything has come of the directive - although it makes me wonder what the real truth was behind that WSJ story on Egypt's transfer of weapons - but it reveals the president to be at best vague last night and at worst deceptive. The US, we now know, has been on the ground actively aiding and abetting the rebels for weeks in targeting and attacking the Qaddafi forces. Was that secret operation entirely devoted to preventing a massacre in Benghazi? Count me suspicious. The Brits are even further up to their necks in this - another imperial intervention in a country Britain has no right whatever to meddle in. The empire in Africa is over, Mr Cameron. You're more than a century too late.

And when Obama says he rules out boots on the ground, it appears it depends whose boots we are talking about. Maybe the CIA agents wear shoes, rather than boots, in the desert - a Clintonian piece of bullshit that really needs to be called out (read the full post, it's incredible.)


Update April 1, 2011: Sullivan reports further on the brutal crackdown on the pro-Democracy movement in Bahrain by a coalition of oil friends while the bomb and squeeze is applied in Lybia.

Bahraini Shiites women attend the funeral of Bahiya al-Arad
Bahraini Shiites women attend the funeral of Bahiya al-Aradi, holding portraits of her... 
Photo by Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

Backed by some 2,000 ground troops from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, along with a Kuwaiti naval detachment, the Bahraini government has all but stamped out the Shi‘a-led pro-democracy movement that had brought this small island nation to a standstill since mid-February.


And here's an ironically brutal reality check:


Update April 1, 2001: Glen Greenwald takes apart the Obama/Clinton claim of the President's power to make war and concludes, "Most Democrats, liberals, and even traditional conservatives and libertarians purported to find such lawlessness outrageous and dangerous during the Bush years. It isn't any less so now." That there could be so little difference between Bush/Cheney and Obama/Clinton is so weird that one can only conclude that this is not about personalities but about peak oil and that more weirdness is coming.


If the horror on the ground were not so real, one might laugh at the paradoxical humor of this wild weird world ( but it's better (I think) to pray for the innocent ones who get crushed by the seriousness of it all.

It's noon on Thursday now and time for a Water Prayer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011



The news from Fukushima has been discouraging with sober assessments saying that efforts to cool the nuclear fuel may have to continue for years. It seems appropriate to offer an additional dimension to the overall struggle to bring things back toward balance and recovery.

Dr Masaru Emoto, known worldwide as the "Water Messenger", has issued a call for prayers the for the waters near Fukushima Nuclear Plant. I'm not sure of his interpretation of Einstein's famous equation but there are lots of theoretical and experimental results saying that matter, energy and consciousness are related and prayer is an organized expression of conscious intention. So, here is a way that we all might be able to help.

Global Event
Please join us in prayer right from where you are.
A special Water Ceremony for the waters at the nuclear plants Japan.
This Thursday at 12pm in YOUR time zone.
Thank you for your love and support!

To All People Around the World,

Please send your prayers of love and gratitude to water at the nuclear plants in Fukushima, Japan!

By the massive earthquakes of Magnitude 9 and surreal massive tsunamis, more than 10,000 people are still missing…even now… It has been 16 days already since the disaster happened. What makes it worse is that water at the reactors of Fukushima Nuclear Plants started to leak, and it’s contaminating the ocean, air and water molecule of surrounding areas.

Human wisdom has not been able to do much to solve the problem, but we are only trying to cool down the anger of radioactive materials in the reactors by discharging water to them.

Is there really nothing else to do?

I think there is. During over twenty year research of hado measuring and water crystal photographic technology, I have been witnessing that water can turn positive when it receives pure vibration of human prayer no matter how far away it is.

Energy formula of Albert Einstein, E=MC2 really means that Energy = number of people and the square of people’s consciousness.

Now is the time to understand the true meaning. Let us all join the prayer ceremony as fellow citizens of the planet earth. I would like to ask all people, not just in Japan, but all around the world to please help us to find a way out the crisis of this planet!!

The prayer procedure is as follows.

Day and Time:
March 31st, 2011 (Thursday)
12:00 noon in each time zone

Please say the following:

“The water of Fukushima Nuclear Plant,
we are sorry to make you suffer.
Please forgive us. We thank you, and we love you.”

Please say it aloud or in your mind. Repeat it three times as you put your hands together in a prayer position. Please offer your sincere prayer.

Thank you very much from my heart.

With love and gratitude,
Masaru Emoto
Messenger of Water

More info at Dr Emoto's website

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

TESTIMONY (For My Daughters)

Daughters and Friends

Daughters of my friends came to mind as I read this beautiful poem by Rebecca Baggett:


(for my daughters)

I want to tell you that the world
is still beautiful.
I tell you that despite
children raped on city streets,
shot down in school rooms,
despite the slow poisons seeping
from old and hidden sins
into our air, soil, water,
despite the thinning film
that encloses our aching world.
Despite my own terror and despair.

I want you to know that spring
is no small thing, that
the tender grasses curling
like a baby's fine hairs around
your fingers are a recurring
miracle. I want to tell you
that the river rocks shine
like God, that the crisp
voices of the orange and gold
October leaves are laughing at death,

I want to remind you to look
beneath the grass, to note
the fragile hieroglyphs
of ant, snail, beetle. I want
you to understand that you
are no more and no less necessary
than the brown recluse, the ruby-
throated hummingbird, the humpback
whale, the profligate mimosa.

I want to say, like Neruda,
that I am waiting for
"a great and common tenderness",
that I still believe
we are capable of attention,
that anyone who notices the world
must want to save it.

~ Rebecca Baggett ~

(Women's Uncommon Prayers)

Posted originally at Panhala

Friday, March 25, 2011



Living in Brazil, one hears endless talk of corruption and cronyism at every level of government and public institutions. Usually it's about money passing hands in order to "buy"  outcomes that should not be bought.

But I've always thought that there's another kind of corruption as when money payments are NOT made for outcomes that should be paid for. This is often the case under the "welfare-for-corporations" tax schemes that are common in the United States.

According to the New York Times, G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether...

General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.


Over the last decade, G.E. has spent tens of millions of dollars to push for changes in tax law, from more generous depreciation schedules on jet engines to “green energy” credits for its wind turbines. But the most lucrative of these measures allows G.E. to operate a vast leasing and lending business abroad with profits that face little foreign taxes and no American taxes as long as the money remains overseas. (continue to full article at the NY Times)

Interestingly, Brazil may be among the major beneficiaries of the "money remaining overseas" with the announcement of The newest GE Global Research location in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
On Wednesday, February 16, 2011, GE’s top executives met president Dilma Roussef to announce the location of the 5th and newest GE Global Research location in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over the next three years $100 million will be invested into the center to become a 200-employee research and development lab focused on advanced technologies for the oil and gas industry, renewable energy, aviation, rail, and mining.
GE Research Center for Rio de Janeiro
New GE Research Center for Rio de Janeiro

GE is surely not unique in trying to grab a place in Brazil's spectacular economic growth. While the forms of corruption may differ from country to country and culture to culture, one thing is in common. The eyes of global investment are focused on Brazil which seems destined to soon become the world's fifth largest economy. And whether corruption is good or bad depends a lot on where you stand.


How Dangerous is Nuclear Power?

Quite a show stopper! Time to rethink everything it seems.

Perhaps, we might even rethink our levels of consumption and our addiction to the cheap energy that makes it possible.

From Seth's Blog

For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced... You might very well have excellent reasons to argue for one form over another. Not the point of this post. The question is: did you know about this chart? How does it resonate with you?

Vivid is not the same as true. It's far easier to amplify sudden and horrible outcomes than it is to talk about the slow, grinding reality of day to day strife. That's just human nature. Not included in this chart are deaths due to global political instability involving oil fields, deaths from coastal flooding and deaths due to environmental impacts yet unmeasured, all of which skew it even more if you think about it.

This chart unsettles a lot of people, because there must be something wrong with it. Further proof of how easy it is to fear the unknown and accept what we've got.

No form of energy production is totally risk-free. A comparative analysis of the dangers associated with various forms is here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Obama and Christ the Redeemer, on Twitpic, by @anglinho
Obama and Christ the Redeemer, on Twitpic, by @anglinho

It appears that Obama's recent visit to Brazil was not the complete party and celebration that was portrayed in the MSM.

The roundup of reactions in the Brazilian blogosphere by Global Voices' outstanding Portuguese language editor Paula Goes has been translated into English by Kitty Garden and posted at:

Obama's visit marked by protests, repression and criticism

His foray into the flavela was full of frustrations that were captured in raw video footage and published to a local blog which claims (suspiciously) that it was removed by the US (see: A Voz da Cidade de Deus "The Voice of City of God"). The frustrations were not about being prevented from protesting but from not being able to see the US president who is enormously popular in Brazil. There is something truly sad about the mix of exuberant enthusiasm and heavy police protection. You can view the video at Global Voices and decide for yourself.


With prayers that all may have access to good water and that Amazonia may look like this...

Water at Capixaba, Acre (Dec, 2009)

And not like this...

Water in Rio Negro during the drought of 2010.

The forest maintains the water during the dry season so we must simply must stop the deforestation -- as in zero, nada! That's our work.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Obama Family in Rio de Janeiro

I have no idea who took this incredible photo. Avi just sent a screen shot and I had to post it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Photo via LA Times

Here is his solution.

Life still presents some problems but Rastaman seems up for the challenge.

Thanks to Avi (for the tip) and all the characters like Rastaman who I have counted among my greatest teachers.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


No creo en las casualidades
"I do not believe in coincidences" -- image by el silencio

Even if we agree that there are no coincidence it can nevertheless be difficult to base action on risk analysis. There is not great evidence to show that humans are prepared to deal it. Japan is presenting the latest example. Here are the two questions that have probably occurred to many:

1) How can a country in an earthquake region take the risk of being heavily dependent on nuclear reactors?

2) How can the only country to have experienced directly nuclear holocaust be among the leading ones to take this risk?

I believe that part of the answer is that development trumps caution. Why? Because development provides short-term personal benefits and the revenue stream that pays for the risk assessment that will be presented to the public. There's sort of self-fulfilling prophesy when development develops the risk analysis of development.

But... there's also something more.

When you boil it down to the essence, we face always the dilemma of uncertainty. For example, what about the risk of climate change? Acting in a preventive way is difficult because one is trying to turn a probability into a non-event while there is still uncertainty. The kicker is that some events are irreversible and so you must act BEFORE there is a high degree of proof. So, it is going to depend, not on the science, as much as on your point of view.

I have an American friend who does not like to buy insurance (the standard cultural practice and legal requirement in the US is to buy it). He says, "I don't like to bet against myself". This is completely understandable. The insurance company knows the odds the same way that the casino does, the company and the casino win in the end because they are betting not on an individual but on the drift. On the other hand, my friend has a lot of faith in his own good awareness and good luck. Correctly, I believe, he says, "I prefer to bet on myself."

My friend's wife works in public health. She works to promote government preventive action to reduce the collective risk. She promotes things like immunization and education programs. She does not think of whether she is or is not a lucky one. She thinks about the children and future generations. For her, the future is so precious that she does not like to take risks. Her view is different from my friend but they agreed on one thing -- they make sure that their children receive vaccinations.

There are some things that you don't want to take risks with and this is not an expression of science or risk analysis as much as it is an expression of love.



A fresh morning image with gratitude.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Photo by karma changchub thinley

May the suffering end and better times come quickly.

Here are a few ways to offer help...
  • The American Red Cross has set up a special designation for disaster relief efforts in Japan. To donate, click here, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to instantly donate $10.
  • International Medical Corps says it is putting together relief teams and supplies to aid Japan “and other affected countries.” Donate here.
  • Click here to donate to AmeriCares’ emergency relief response.

Saturday, March 12, 2011



The term caboclo has multiple meanings in Brazil. In earliest usage during colonial times it meant friendly or "tame" Indian. Later, it came to refer to the afro-indio-european racial mix and also to the simple people who live close to the forests and rivers of Amazonia.

On the spiritual plane, the Afro-Brazilian religions celebrate the caboclos as spirits or entities of the forest who are warriors defending the abundance of Nature or messengers delivering cures and good medicines to the needy.

On a personal note, in some quarters here in Acre I am known as the Caboclo Americano, a label that brings forth both delight and laughter because of the contradictions involved. In Brazil, Americans are generally perceived as complicated city folks whereas caboclos are perceived as simple forest people. That someone might actually embrace such contradictions by being of both is "off the map." But, the truth that I believe says that we need a new map, an ancient-future one. We need warriors of nature and lovers of the future. And this requires that we find a way to mix the simple harmonies of the past with the complex cacophonies of modernity.

From the past, here are some of the traditional Umbanda songs.

One of the most loved songs tells of Jurema (the spirit of clear water) and of her love for wearing a plume of green. Indeed, one might consider Cabocla Jurema as the Princess of Green. Here it is as sung by one of the giants of Brazilian popular music, Maria Bethania.

And again, sung here by our dear friend Nei Zigma during a visit to Fortaleza. This simple version, with the sounds of children in the background, touched me deeply. It still opens my heart and brings tears to my eyes.

The lyrics are:
Cabocla your plume is green
your plume is green
is the color of the sea

is the color of Cabocla Juremá
is the color of Cabocla Juremá
is the color of Cabocla Juremá


I go bathe myself
in the clear waters
in the waters of Jananina
there in clear waters

There are many ways that the caboclos call, from the fierce voice of the warrior to the sweet call of the lover, but the message is always the same:
If we give love and protection to Nature, the result will be abundance for all.

Caboclos and Abundance

The calls of the caboclos are growing stronger. They are arriving more often and many of my friends are responding. We are reaching out to each other. We are carrying a dream of acting together. Together, we want to deliver a vision. For the future.

I asked the Oracle of the I Ching of what it thought of such a project...

Heaven and Earth embrace, giving birth to Peace.

The Superior Person serves as midwife,
presenting the newborn gift to the people.

The small depart; the great approach.
Good fortune.


Friday, March 11, 2011



...or Beija-Flor de Luz in Portuguese.

"Kiss-Flower" is sweeter than Hummingbird and more fun, for sure.

I was just playing with images late at night here and posting one that might be fun to see.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Eu Vi Mamãe Oxum Na Cachoeira

Long ago as a young child I was required to take a nap each afternoon. But I never could fall asleep in daylight. So I entertained myself by starring at the cracked plaster in the ceiling of our old apartment in Chicago and imaging all kinds of pictures and possibilities. Later, I did the same thing with the clouds in the sky and the gnarled bark on trees.

The hunt for the treasure of images has remained with me to this day. Playing with images is one of the main ways that I stay connected to that little guy who didn't like to take a nap. The options back then were simple: scream or make art. Nowadays, when I confront the future of the Amazon forest and rivers, the options often seem the same. Perhaps, that's why I mix a lot of art with the serious stuff in this blog.

In the image (above) I imagine a golden waterfall pouring from a woman's face next to a crescent moon. The generative power of her tears feeds the lilies and new life. Her name is Mamãe Oxum...

In Brazil, Oshun is an Orisha adopted and worshiped in all Afro-Brazilian religions. She is the Orisha of fresh water from rivers and waterfalls , the wealth of love , of prosperity and beauty. In nature, the rite of Oshun is usually performed in the rivers and the waterfalls. Oshun is the symbol of sensitivity and she often sheds tears. (more info at Wikipedia)

One of the most popular of the songs dedicated to her is Eu Vi Mamãe Oxum Na Cachoeira (I saw Mommy Oshun in the Waterfall) which tells of her sitting by the river gathering lilies to decorate her shrine. Here is one of the most popular versions sung by Zeca Baleiro...

Her tears offer love, prosperity and new life -- exactly what the forest and rivers of Brazil need in this difficult period when development and deforestation are looming as the Federal Congress is revising the protections of the national forest code. The issue is complex and the pressures on the forest are immense -- here's some background. Many good friends are working hard to find a balance between the needs of nature and people. May the tears of Mamãe Oxum bring to them the love, resources and sensitivity that are needed.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011




Here's THE GUARDIAN'S LIST of Inspiring women activists and campaigners:

  • Franny Armstrong Filmmaker behind The Age of Stupid, environmental activist and founder of the 10:10 campaign
  • Helen Bamber Founder of Amnesty International and campaigner for human rights
  • Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh The founder of Kid's Company, which offers practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children
  • Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty Director of Liberty, barrister and former lawyer for the Home Office
  • Margaret Chan the World Health Organisation Director of the World Health Organisation, battling international viruses, and championing improvements in all of our most pressing diseases
  • Leader of the Gulabi Gang in northern India, an all-women vigilante force
  • Shirin Ebadi at a media forum in Germany this month Iran's first female judge, founder of the Human Rights Defenders Centre and the first Muslim woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Coordinator of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in India
  • Lubna Hussein at the cafe in Khartoum where she was arrested for wearing trousers. Sudanese writer and women's rights campaigner, who asked to go to trial after being arrested for wearing trousers
  • Afghan Member of Parliament Malalai Joya Afghan politician and human rights campaigner who has shown phenomenal
  • Wangari Maathai The Kenyan environmental and political activist who won a Nobel Peace prize for her work with the Green Belt Movement
  • Graca Machel Former Mozambican education minister and advocate for the rights of southern African women and children
  • Cambodian anti-sex trafficking campaigner and founder of AFESIP, rescuing women from brothels and supporting their recovery
  • Moroccan writer Fatema Mernissi Professor of sociology at Mohammed V University in Rabat
  • Pragna Patel, Chair of Southall Black Sisters Founding member of Southall Black Sisters, a landmark organisation in the history of black and Asian feminism
  • Civil servant who made a stand and stopped a train carriage of sexist men
  • Nawal El Saadawi Egyptian doctor, psychiatrist, feminist, university lecturer and writer
  • Iraqi American CEO and founder of Women for Women International
  • Jasvinder Sanghera Director of Karma Nirvana, a charity helping victims of forced marriages and 'honour' violence
  • Vandana Shiva Environmentalist and founder of Diverse Women for Diversity
  • Marisol Valles Garcia The 20-year-old police chief of a Mexican border town terrorised by drugs cartels has been called Mexico's bravest woman




Sunday, March 06, 2011



Yesterday (March 5th) was the anniversary of another trip around the sun on the back of this lovely planet -- my 73rd Full Sun Circle. Often, it feels like this...


But I'm very aware that I've been carried by the love and support of many dear friends -- some whom I've never met. So now is my time to return the gift with a deep bow of gratitude to all of you.

I send hugs and good forest vibes to you from my heart home in the Brazilian Amazon.