Thomas Berry’s Brother

This arrived in an email this morning and I thought it was important enough to share it with you. Jim Berry and Thomas Berry might be seen as co-articulators of the ideas that have come to be associated with Thomas Berry. Jim Berry was a power-house in his own right – a strong clear voice for Earth.

Jim Berry

“Humans belong to the Earth and to Earth’s life system; are part of it and have the clear obligation to honor the Earth and to behave in such a way as to demonstrate that honor. You are urged to love your country, but your love of the land, of the trees and the animals and the life-giving photosynthetic process is about a million times more important than nationalistic love of political and economic and social entity doing a whole lot of bad things. ” ~ James Fant Berry

We of (the) Center for Ecozoic Societies will remember Jim for his work through the Center for Reflection on the Second Law. From March 1980 through June 1998, Jim sent out letters, which he called circulars, every month, 181 in all. Being only two pages long these were avidly read. He wrote about human-Earth relations and the teachings of his brother, Thomas Berry. People said he could explain Thomas better than Thomas could. Copies of his 181 circulars are available here and may be read and distributed freely under a Creative Commons  Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Jim nourished many environmentalists, young and old, through annual retreats at Camp New Hope outside Chapel Hill, NC.  The subjects were always the same–we need to care for Earth. Many outstanding people spoke, lively workshops were held, and there was always a campfire in celebration of ancestors.

Perhaps nothing captures Jim better than the way he would stand up in public meetings and with his booming voice preface his remarks by saying “I SPEAK FOR THE EARTH!”

Jim Berry in front of The Red Oak at his brother Thomas Berry’s Riverdale Center in Bronx, New York


We celebrate the life of James Fant Berry.

His work, his kindness, and his passion for Earth lives on.

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Indigenous Resistance: The Big Picture behind Pipeline Protests

Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine  – March 2017

US pipelines

Last fall, Indigenous Peoples from around the world came to stand with Standing Rock on the banks of the Cannonball River in North Dakota to protect water through the power of prayer, occupation, and protest. Standing Rock has become a much bigger symbol for the ongoing disregard of Indigenous rights to traditional territories and ways of life.

Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation), national campaign director for Honor the Earth, described what happened at Standing Rock at the October 2016 Indigenous Forum, hosted by Bioneers: “The stories are the same no matter where you go around the world with Indigenous people. It’s always this extractive project contaminated our drinking water; this industry is preventing us from exercising our rights to hunt and fish; our traditional foods are dying; our children are sick; our elders are sick; we have cancer clusters. Standing Rock has become for Indigenous people this moment where they’re all standing together because they all know what happens when something like this is allowed to happen to them and to their communities.”

Tears of joy after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pulled the project permit in December were replaced with tears of anguish in January when President Trump issued an executive action to steamroll ahead with the pipeline as part of the administration’s aggressive pursuit of a fossil fuel-based national economy. As of February 2017, water protectors are still fighting for the health and safety of all Americans, including those yet to be born, who will suffer ill-effects of this pipeline.

Across North America, pipelines have resulted in massive disruptions to ecosystems. Contamination from extraction practices have resulted in increased health problems, including birth defects and cancers among people and animals. Indigenous women have been beaten, raped, and killed by transient construction workers and black economy criminals that surround the extraction industry. CEOs give orders to deliberately demolish burial grounds and sacred sites, and those who resist are met with rubber bullets, tear gas, attack dogs, bright lights, and cold waterboarding. In any other context these flagrant displays of human rights violations would be tried as domestic terrorism.

continue reading…


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The Great Acceleration

Global Change – International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (now known as Future Earth since November 2015) – approx 15 January 2015

Great Acceleration 2015 from International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme

The second half of the 20th Century is unique in the history of human existence. Many human activites reached take-off points sometime in the 20th Century and sharply accelerated towards the end of the century.

The last 60 years have without doubt seen the most profound transformation of the human relationship with the natural world in the history of humankind.

The effects of the accelerating human changes are now clearly discernible at the Earth system level. Many key indicators of the functioning of the Earth system are now showing responses that are, at least in part, driven by the changing human imprint on the planet. The human imprint influences all components of the global environment – oceans, coastal zone, atmosphere, and land.

Dramatic though these human-driven impacts appear to be, their rates and magnitudes must be compared to the natural patterns of variability in the Earth system to begin to understand their significance.

The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration provides a useful measure with which to evaluate the rate and magnitude of human-driven change compared to natural variability. The human imprint on carbon dioxide is unmistakable. In December 2014, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration stood at 399 parts per million by volume (ppmV), over 100 ppmV above the previous maximum level of around 280 ppmV recorded in the Vostok ice core.

Within the current limits of resolution of the ice-core records, the present concentration has been reached at a rate at least 10 and possibly 100 times? faster than carbon dioxide increases at any other time during the previous 420 000 years. Thus, in this case human-driven changes are well outside the range of natural variability exhibited by the Earth system for the last half-million years at least.

Over just the past few hundred years, human activities have clearly evolved from insignificance in terms of Earth system functioning to the creation of global-scale impacts that:

• are approaching or exceeding in magnitude some of the great forces of nature

• operate on much faster time scales than rates of natural variability, often by an order of magnitude or more

• taken together in terms of extent, magnitude, rate and simultaneity, have produced a no-analogue state in the dynamics and functioning of the Earth system.

continue reading…

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A new era dawns and it won’t be human-friendly – will it?

By Kieran Cooke – Climate News Network – March 31, 2017

dinotude / CC BY 2.0

Human mistreatment of the planet is ushering in another era and it is not going to be pleasant, according to Clive Hamilton’s latest book.

LONDON, 31 March, 2017 – Clive Hamilton’s book Defiant Earth – the fate of humans in the Anthropocene is not for the faint-hearted. Basically, its thesis is that the Earth – and us along with it – is going down the tubes.

Our rampant, irrational use of the planet and its resources, including our exploitation of climate-changing fossil fuels, means we are interfering and upsetting the functioning of the Earth system that sustains us.

“This bizarre situation, in which we have become potent enough to change the course of the Earth yet seem unable to regulate ourselves contradicts every modern belief about the kind of creature a human being is,” says Clive Hamilton, professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Australia.

Dramatic destruction
We – the post World War Two generations – have a lot to answer for. Yes, the trouble can be traced back to the 18th century when the Industrial Revolution began in Britain and factories started spewing carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

But the pace of change and the destruction of much of the Earth system has dramatically speeded up over the last 70 or so years – a period referred to as the Great Acceleration.

A dizzying surge in global economic growth, along with resource exploitation, loss of diversity, including the extinction of numerous species and ever-increasing waste volumes, have brought about a profound transformation of the human relationship with the natural world, says Hamilton.

The Holocene period in the Earth’s history – the 10,000-year epoch of mild and constant climate that has permitted civilisation to flourish – is at an end.

“Experts are already suggesting that the changes caused by humans in recent decades are so profound and long-lasting that we have entered not a new epoch but a new era – the Anthropozoic era – on a par with the break in Earth history brought by the arrival of multicellular life,” Hamilton says.

read more…

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The veins of America: Stunning map shows every river basin in the US

By Cheyenne Macdonald and Mark Prigg – – 21 October 2016

Created by Imgur user Fejetlenfej , a geographer and GIS analyst with a ‘lifelong passion for beautiful maps,’ it highlights the massive expanse of river basins across the country – in particular, those which feed the Mississippi River, in pink

A stunning new map shows the complex network of rivers and streams in the contiguous United States.

Created by Imgur user Fejetlenfej, a geographer and GIS analyst with a ‘lifelong passion for beautiful maps,’ it highlights the massive expanse of river basins across the country – in particular, those which feed the Mississippi River.

The map visualizes Strahler Stream Order Classification, the creator explains, with higher stream orders indicated as thicker lines.

It was created using the open-source QGIS software, and the high resolution prints are available on Etsy.

There are 18 major river basins in the 48 states of the contiguous US, but much of the map is dominated by the massive catchment area for the Mississippi River, including the Upper and Lower Mississippi River Basins, along with Missouri River Basin and the Arkansas-White-Red Basin, as seen in pink.

The top left portion of the map shows much of the Pacific Northwest basin, illustrated in a brownish-orange color.

And, the Upper and Lower Colorado River basins stand out as well, in bright yellow.

read more and see more maps…

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Living world: Should natural entities be treated as legal persons?

by Kurt Cobb – Resource Insights – April 09, 2017

This year the New Zealand parliament voted to give legal personhood to a river and provided for the appointment of two guardians to represent it. In India a court extended legal personhood to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers and the glaciers that feed them.

It defies our normal modes of thinking that natural entities such as trees, rivers, mountains, lakes, and glaciers should be given legal standing in courts and public life. And yet we take as a matter of course the legal rights of other inanimate entities:
The world of the lawyer is peopled with inanimate right-holders: trusts, corporations, joint ventures, municipalities, Subchapter R partnerships, and nation-states, to mention just a few. Ships, still referred to by courts in the feminine gender, have long had an independent jural life, often with striking consequences.

The quotation comes from a famous law review article on the topic of rights for natural entities entitled “Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights For Natural Objects,” written in 1972 by Christopher Stone, a professor of law at the University of Southern California.

Perhaps our most important blind spot is that we forget that we humans are natural entities as well. Scientists study our bodies just as they do the bodies of other animals–except that these scientists are not allowed to kill humans to dissect them or expose them to potentially harmful substances without informed consent. (Animal rights activists would argue that such protections should be extended to all animals.)

Ultimately, what’s at stake is what our relationship with other natural entities will be and whether it is in our interest to grant them legal rights. It is well to remember that full legal rights for women, African-Americans, Native Americans, the mentally and physically disabled, and many other disadvantaged groups were once unthinkable, too. And yet, today few would argue against including these previously excluded groups within the realm of legal personhood.

But, one might say, these are people and belong to a special category. Nature cannot speak for itself as we humans do. To which law review author Stone replies:

It is not inevitable, nor is it wise, that natural objects should have no rights to seek redress in their own behalf. It is no answer to say that streams and forests cannot have standing because streams and forests cannot speak. Corporations cannot speak either; nor can states, estates, infants, incompetents, municipalities or universities. Lawyers speak for them, as they customarily do for the ordinary citizen with legal problems.

Now, perhaps the most important phrase in the above quotation is “in their own behalf.” This explains why we might not regard it as sufficient merely to compel people by law and by custom to take care of natural entities. When natural entities do not have independent advocacy, it is all too easy to consider them merely as the instruments of humans. We call them “resources” and that means they are for our use as we please. Nature becomes merely a great vat of primordial clay from which we humans can take whatever we want and shape it to our needs without regard to the needs of any other entities.

read more…

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Decolonizing the Mind – A Freedom School Course Offering

Spring 17: Decolonizing the Mind

April 5-June 21, 2017 (12 weeks) in Occupied Huichin (aka Oakland, CA)

Wednesdays 6-9 PM PST

artwork by Dignidad Rebelde

In accepting the premise of colonization and working towards decolonization, we are not relegating ourselves to a status as victims. On the contrary, we are actively working toward our own freedom to transform our lives and the world around us. The project that begins with our minds, therefore, has revolutionary potential.

Waziyatawin & Michael Yellow Bird, “Beginning Decolonization”

Course Description

What do contemporary processes of decolonization, self-determination, and sovereignty look like? How can we literally decolonize social justice and revolutionary movements? And all of the spaces and places within this imperialist settler colony, for that matter. This is one of the most important learning edges of our time. The very health and continued existence of the Earth and all our relations depends upon on our immediate attention to this matter. This course centers Indigenous voices, cosmologies, and social and political movements in order to begin to answer the above questions. Through film, poetry, news clips, music, essays, and other forms of storytelling, we will develop tools for understanding major issues and current controversies involving the struggle for the self-determination of Indigenous peoples within the territorial U.S. and the land bases effected by the reach of U.S. empire. Overall, this course offers a site to get your mind right. Let the unlearning, remembering, and imagining begin.

Note: You might not ‘get’ everything we cover this season. That’s both okay & to be expected. We’ll try to honor cultural & other forms of incommensurability (i.e. that not all meaning is translatable). Also, not every resource will likely be as evocative or as impactful to you as all the others. After all, this season invites us into a solidarity practice with integrity. So it’s not all about any one of us. Indeed, we shouldn’t each be the intended audience nor center of every resource. If you feel like a piece doesn’t ‘speak to you,’ please take this as all the more reason to try to learn from it. With this possibility in mind, let’s try to expand our horizons together.

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Minda the Mammal – “What would it be like to be a little mammal during dinosaur times?”

Listen here:

What would it be like to be a little mammal during dinosaur times? In this 21 minute podcast entitled “Minda the Mammal” Jennifer Joy, who writes and produces science-based podcasts, answers this question as she takes us into the life of Minda, a little mammal living when the dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago.

With sensitive storytelling Joy brings Minda alive with nuance and subjectivity. Joy allows us to experience Minda’s life first hand, as Minda negotiates all the things all mammals must negotiate in the course of a life time. Through Joy’s focus on Minda she deftly brings sweet attention to the human condition and how we are all first and foremost mammals. We all want and need a warm, cozy nest to curl-up in with family, a full tummy, and a partner to have “spicy fun” with.

I love how Joy captures the surprise of embodied experience as it must have been – and still is – experienced by our mammal brothers and sisters.

Followers of Brian Swimme will appreciate how expertly Joy has integrated the power of story telling with science.

This is what radio should be.

Here are all her podcasts, all equally professional, creative, fun and educational:

Jennifer Joy

Jennifer Joy is a New York City-based writer, performer, comic and director, with a passion for science. She is the Artistic Director of the environmental science performing troupe, The SciArt6, whose work is inspired by the latest research in the environmental sciences. Their work includes puppet shows on food, an immersive performance piece on the ecological history of Manhattan, and a “voicestra” following the history of life on earth.

Her solo show, The Physics of Love, a romantic comedy based on the scientific history of the universe, has toured all over the country to rave reviews.  Her quirky take on science news, coupled with her observations about her farm-girl childhood in the Midwest and life as a lesbian in New York City, delight and entertain….

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A Map of Emerging Ecozoic Awareness in the United States? The geography of American climate confusion: a visual guide

Editor’s Note: What I see in these five maps in the linked article is nascent consciousness about where we need to be going. I thought Map 5 (strong red color, second one below) was most provocative in that it shows that a majority of the nation knows there are better sources of energy than what most of us rely upon now. We know the direction we should be heading for our energy sources. Map 1 is also heartening (strong golden color, first one below):”Climate change is real”. This is why I ask in the headline is this “a map of emerging Ecozoic awareness in the US”? ~ AK

Most Americans — in nearly every county across the United States– understand the world is warming, according to Yale University research released in February 2017.

Vast majorities in every state support renewable energy research and development spending, according to the Yale research.

The geography of American climate confusion: a visual guide
By John D. Sutter – – Updated 8:53 AM ET, Tue February 28, 2017

Climate change may seem like a complicated issue, but it’s actually simple if you understand five key facts, according to Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.

They are: 1. It’s real. 2. It’s us. 3. Scientists agree. 4. It’s bad. And: 5. There’s hope.

Yet, far too few Americans get it.

That became more painfully apparent to me this week when Yale University researchers released data and maps that detail American attitudes on climate change. The data, which are based on surveys and modeling by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, do show there is broad agreement in the American public on the solutions needed to fight climate change and usher in the clean-energy era. The most striking example: majorities of people in every single congressional district support setting strict limits on carbon dioxide pollution from existing coal-fired power plants, according to the research. And this despite the fact that many Republicans and US President Donald Trump say they want to ax an Obama-era regulation — the Clean Power Plan — that aims to do just that.

Still, there remain big pockets of climate confusion — perhaps denial — across the country, especially when it comes to climate science. Narrowing this info gap is particularly critical now since President Trump has denied the science of climate change and has promised to enact policies that can be expected to dirty the air and intensify warming.

To that end, here is a geographic look at five key climate facts.

Explore more of this data on the website for the Yale Climate Opinion Maps.

read more…

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Bioneers Partners with Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund on Rights of Nature in Indigenous Communities

By Bioneers Admin – – February 16, 2017

In the shadow of the illegitimate approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the escalating corporate assault against Indigenous lands and rights, Bioneers is honored to announce our landmark collaboration with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Together, we will introduce innovative legal strategies to Native American community partners in a unique position to lead our collective fight for the Rights of Nature.

After learning about CELDF’s current work with the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin to create a Rights of Nature legal framework, Bioneers saw a crucial strategic opportunity. Bioneers secured the resources to support CELDF, specifically enabling the development of this unique partnership initiative.

The idea of Rights of Nature reflects a fundamentally Indigenous worldview of inter-being, kinship and responsibility to Mother Earth. Marrying a Western legal framework to that worldview can be a powerful tool to protect the land, to shift people’s consciousness, and ultimately to transform the law. Check out the powerful 2016 Bioneers keynote by CELDF’s Thomas Linzey and Mari Margil, which includes their work on Rights of Nature.

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