Wednesday, November 12, 2014

USA and China Reach Bold and Historic Climate Agreement


What a wonderful surprise I was treated to this morning when saw that Huffington Post's headline was President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping's agreement to take ambitious action to limit greenhouse gases.  The US set a new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% by 2025, a sharp increase from our current goal of 17% by 2020.  As for China, their public acknowledgement to take action about greenhouse gas emissions is an unprecedented move by a nation reluctant to agree to any goals.  Although China continues to build coal plants for their booming economy, President Xi set a target for China's emissions to peak by 2030 while also pledging to increase the share of energy that China will derive from energy sources other than fossil fuels.

This agreement between two powerful nations is a historic step in our efforts to slow down global warming. Many other countries have been reluctant to make any agreements or commit resources without US and China, the two major polluters of greenhouse gases, taking significant steps.  President Obama's accomplishment to reach such an agreement with China speaks highly of the diplomatic relationship his administration has worked to create over the past 6 years and will set a positive, optimistic tone for next year's climate summit in Paris where a worldwide treaty will be finalized to combat global warming.  

Environmentalists are speaking highly about this unexpected development between US and China.  China's willingness to be part of the global solution is sure to have a great impact on the contributions of other nations.  Similarly, the US's willingness to set more ambitious goals sends a message that we are serious about global warming.  Yet, this is a just one "step" in a long and complicated process to combat global warming.  We will need to work together as a nation to meet a 26-28% reduction of greenhouse gases which will require determination, sacrifice, and innovation.  We will need to repeatedly stand up to the the GOP, multi-national corporations and others who are determined to keep the status quo and do not care what science is telling us about the horrific global consequences of a warming planet.  Equally if not more important, the apathy of many Americans will need to be confronted as we will need tens of millions of citizens to make their voice heard and take meaningful action, if we ever expect to rise above the powerful and rich influences who stand in our way.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Real Plight of the Wet'suwet'en Nation of Western Canada


Here is a fascinating part of the KeystoneXL pipeline in that its proposed route goes through several indigenous nations, both in Canada and United States.  The indigenous nations have no interest in allowing the pipeline on their land and clearly recognize that the crude tar sand oil is poisoning the water, killing the trees, and making their people sick with cancer. The time is now for us, the immigrants to North America, to stand along side the native people and help them to protect their rights and their land.  

This short 9-minute video highlights the plight of the Wet'suwet'en Nation of Canada to confront the massive oil and gas drilling operation happening right now in Western Canada.  I am not surprised that the oil and gas companies are moving forward without regard to the Wet'suwet'en Nation, going as far as coming on to Wet'suwet'en land without permission to prepare for laying the pipeline. (This too is happening in the US, with people losing their land without a choice, even though Transcanada does not have permission to build the pipeline).  

I am in awe and reverence of the Wet'suwet'en Nation who are vigilantly protecting their land from Big Oil. It would be my dream to some day travel to their base camps and have a firsthand experience of their rich culture and to let them know how much I respect what they are doing!  Our ability to lend support, financial or verbal , is a significant thing we can do as part of the Great Turning away from toxic fossil fuels to a clean, renewable resources that help us protect our precious air, water, and soil.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Sacred Act of Becoming


The Sacred Act of Becoming

What hurts the Soul?
To live without tasting the Water
of its own Essence.
~Rumi

When viewed from a holistic perspective, we always exist in a state of wholeness. Like the magical transmutation of the caterpillar to the butterfly, we mature through developmental phases that compel us toward a fuller expression of our authentic nature.  Albert Maslow, the founder of humanistic psychology, referred to this innate drive as “self-realization”, where one is motivated “to become everything that one is capable of becoming”.  Yet, each stepping stone is valued and necessary in this process. By realizing our fundamental nature, innate gifts, and relationship to the whole, we are
motivated to strive for our full potential.  


Core to our spiritual nature, we are endowed with vital, intangible life forces that move within and around us, assisting our journey to authenticity.  These forces are not unique to humans but are woven within the fabric of the universe. I simply know these energetic entities as Body, Heart, Spirit, and Mind. None is more divine, relevant, or powerful than another but rather, each is a fundamental part of the collective oneness. When we harmonize our thoughts, feelings, and actions to their rhythms, our consciousness expands and we transcend into a more integrated way of perceiving ourselves and the world around us.

Body is the essence of Mother Earth whose life-giving energy feeds and nourishes us.  We share her creative powers and through our bodies, we have the potential to birth beauty, harmony, and love into the world. Heart carries the essence of the moon, the living waters, and the Divine Feminine. Heart flows naturally with compassion and gratitude and pulls us deeper into life’s great mysteries. Spirit is the essence of the heavenly realm where a vision of unity and fulfillment is actualized, waiting for us to step further into this truth. Mind carries the essence of fire and the Divine Masculine, as embodied in our sun. Mind illuminates darkness, within and without, and provides wisdom to navigate the obstacles and challenges present in our lives.

The Center, our Soul, is our sacred place in the universe. It is where we infuse Body with Spirit and balance Heart and Mind. The Center is where we remember our inherited divinity and the interconnected nature of all life. The Center is where we release the identities and preconceived notions that no longer serve us and compassionately heal  the old wounds that weigh heavy within us. The Center is where we become empowered to be a student of life rather than a victim of our circumstances. The Center is where we give freely of ourselves and express gratitude for all we receive. The Center is where we live without fear, allowing love to define our reality.

There is no greater gift we can give ourselves than to awaken the beauty, love, and fullness that resides within each of us. For when we do, we begin to see our world with new eyes and welcome into our being a newfound sense of freedom, joy, relatedness, and inner peace. In the words of Carl Jung, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

The Sacred Act of Becoming was first published in the August 2013 issue of WNCWoman.

Bob Hanna, PhD is a psychologist in private practice in Asheville, North Carolina.  He provides holistic integrative psychotherapy to adults, couples, and parents who desire to live more fully in their lives and to move beyond anxiety, stress, depression, low self-esteem, anger, trauma, addiction, conflict or unhealthy behaviors.  Dr. Hanna is mesa carrier of the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, a Peruvian shamanic practice with cross-cultural applications, rooted in the Peruvian spiritual methods of sacred relationship with the Earth. Visit www.bobhannaphd.com to learn more about Dr. Hanna or to schedule a session.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Ocean Within

The ocean swell rocks me gently back and forth 
and drags me, unwillingly, into a surging wave.  
I tumble over and over in her churning froth, 
Releasing, letting go. 
Over time eternal, my jagged edges smooth and soften. 
Her sway pulses through me, 
a reminder of dark forces stirring deep within. 
The haunting song of a distant whale asks 
who am I?, how am I connected to you? and to life?  
With boundless appreciation, 
I am open to discovering you, 
embracing you, 
loving you. 


I am blessed to have spent my childhood days living near the ocean.  I feel a sacred bond with her.  I am entranced by her spacious nature. Her buoyancy and fluidity elevates and enlivens my spirit and her cool water is rejuvenating, offering temporary refuge from heavy burdens. Her briny aroma lures me deeper and deeper into her mystical essence.  I delight in her great mysteries that every so often ascend from her murky depths: a pod of dolphins frolicking in the surf; a humpback whale breeching high upon the horizon; or an exhausted sea turtle struggling to return to the sea beneath a full moon.


The ocean reverberates deep within the core of all beings. The ocean calls us to remember that we are but one sacred part of a greater whole. The ocean is the genesis for all life and our ancestors spent eons of time evolving within her womb. The ocean’s presence is strong within us and within right relationship, a great source of compassion and wisdom from which we can invite into our lives. The ocean is not simply a body of water that exists separate from us.  She is alive in each of us,  centered in our hearts and experienced through our feelings.  We only need the honest desire to know her in our hearts.

   
The ocean, as with all nature, asks only one thing in return for her gifts, we love her unconditionally.  We speak of her with reverence and gratitude; we honor her within our sacred rituals and ceremony; and we treat her and the infinite number of beings who live in her sanctuary with great respect and care.  Each of us must learn to live in sacred reciprocity with the ocean and protect her from the deadly consequences of humanity’s collective actions- global warming, pollution, overfishing, and the loss of biodiversity.  By doing so, the ocean will care and provide for us and for countless generations of living beings yet to inhabit our Earth.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Taking Back Our Democracy

I had originally intended for this blog to reflect on the human-nature relationship. My unexpected plunge into activism has led instead to exploring human's assault on nature and how we can slow it down. It would seem common sense to understand that we live on a finite planet and that an economy based on ever increasing profits is impossible to sustain.  With 7 billion of us now, we are doing irreparable harm to the planet's biosphere whose primary purpose is to sustain life. Yet, there seems no immediacy by our modern culture to address this crisis.  I believe most of us would agree that the planet is sad shape. Yet, scientists are stifled in their ability to educate the public about how bad it really is right now. Corporate media must take some of the blame as they repeatedly downplay and ignore real environmental concerns.  Environmentalists are often marginalized as treehuggers, hippies, or worse yet, liberal. Ultimately, we, the people, have become a pretty apathetic bunch when it comes to politics.  Perhaps, we are too overwhelmed, too entertained, or feel too powerlessness to do anything about it.  I imagine many have tuned out because of the corrupt nature of our political system. Sadly, our politician are incapable of having honest, thoughtful dialogue about the complex and challenging issues we face today.


I am elated at the arrival of the Occupy movement,  My hope for real change was quickly waning as things seemed to only get worse and worse.  Not surprisingly, the youth are leading the way and taking a stand against something most of us have known for a long time.  Our political system is broken and overrun with corporate and financial interests. Greed, one of the seven deadly sins, remains true to its nature. The idea of an ever expanding economy may have worked well to spur the great industrial revolution but modern times require a sustainable, earth-friendly economy if our nation hopes to persist well into the future.  The Occupy movement, regardless of what you're told by Big Media, has created a space for intelligent dialogue based on a consensus approach where all voices can be heard.  They are trusting that this process will bring real change and initial results bring great hope.


Mahatma Gandhi poignantly said, "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”  The Corporate elites, who have profited well from the system they built, will do everything in their power to keep the cash rolling in. Big Oil is now fighting the people's movement to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, an environmental nightmare already under way.  Despite over 1252 arrests over two weeks, corporate media virtually ignored it with the exception of more progressive and grassroots media.  Then there was Fox News, among many, who echoed Big Oil's talking points of more jobs and greater security which is easily discredited upon closer scrutiny.  The corporate media has yet to give serious attention and dialogue about whether this proposed pipeline is in our nation and planet's best interest. I'm hard on the media because some networks purposely censor and spread misinformation to further the agenda of corporate interests.  A healthy democracy depends upon an impartial press that keeps politics and business honest. The truth is that corporations are deeply embedded in our lives and have the power to shape our culture.



Thankfully, we live in a democracy where the People are always given greater power than Corporations. We have given much of this power way and we are only strong when standing united in mass.  The great cultural transformations of freeing slaves, women's right, and civil rights were born because the people rose up and demanded it.  We live in a time of dysfunctional politics, two ill-advised and deadly wars, a stagnant economy, and the looming climate crisis. We have equated corporations as people and money as free speech; this should be proof enough that the corporate elites have hijacked our democracy,  The Occupy movement's auspicious arrival is not a minute too soon as we desperately need to begin the hard work of creating a sustainable future. Our nation is a mighty big ship and will require great effort and sacrifice by the people to steer in a new direction,. We were born into these times and it is our collective responsibility to leave our nation and planet in a better shape for future generations. The Occupy movement may be our best chance in a long time to make real changes and will happen when enough of us show up.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

To Become an Activist


The following is a speech that  I gave at the UNCA "Flip the Switch" benefit concert on September 24, 2011 as part of world-wide day of action called Moving Planet, organized by 350.org.


Thank you everyone for coming out today and supporting this event that brings greater awareness to the energy crisis that our world faces today.  And more importantly, let today be a call to action for all willing and able people to get involved in tackling this problem of monumental proportions. 

For the truth is, we are addicted to oil and wouldn’t you know it, it turns out that burning massive amounts of fossil fuels isn’t such a good thing for us, our planet, and our future.  Science tells us that such activity accelerates the temperature of our planet which in turn causes more extreme weather which in turn causes catastrophic environmental disasters such as what we’ve seen in Pakistan, China, Brazil and at home in North Dakota, Texas, and Vermont.  But the worst, the worst beyond imagination, is yet to come.

You would think that upon hearing such news from 98% of climate science experts around the world, Americans would wake up and do the sensible thing by taking immediate steps to circumvent this crisis: weaning ourselves off of oil, establishing strict emission standards, making radical changes to our lifestyle, and investing in the education, infrastructure, and policies for renewable, clean energy to fuel our future.  Tragically though, this isn’t happening.

Big Oil is deeply entrenched in our politics, our economy, and our lives.  Big Oil seems dead-set on doing nothing substantial about this crisis as they rake in tens of billions of dollars on a quarterly basis.  With an army of 800 lobbyists, Big Oil spent over 146 millions dollars last year buying off our politicians and shaping energy policies on a local, state, and national level.  Big Oil is the modern day Goliath and we, the people, are David who have our work cut out if we ever hope to reduce the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere to an acceptable level of 350 parts per million. 

Addressing the energy crisis will require millions of Americans to join in solidarity with those around the globe.  It will require that we get active; protest in the streets; overwhelm our representatives and the media with letters, emails, and phone calls; and yes, even risking arrest in acts of civil disobedience if we ever hope to avoid the worst of climate change. 

Thankfully, we live in a country where this is possible.  The birth of our nation, the end of slavery, the women’s right to vote, and the Civil Rights Movement are but a few examples of how the people fought power and money with TRUTH.  We can do this and it is our moral responsibility to do so. 

I’d like to ask that we take a few moments of silence to acknowledge and send our thoughts and prayers to the courageous youth protesting and committing civil disobedience for the past week on Wall Street to take back America from Corporate Fascism.  (Silence)

Thank you.  I have great hope when I see the youth rising up and taking on the injustices that exist in our country, and there are many.  It will be impossible to resolve our energy crisis without also reigning in the unprecedented powers of corporations.  I’m sorry Mitt Romney, my friend, but corporations are not people and it is imperative that we overturn Citizen United, the ability for corporations to spend freely in our political system and consequently, free to destroy our planet.


My life forever changed on April of 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and released an estimated 5 billion barrels of crude oil into the pristine Gulf waters.  We all watched in horror as the oil gushed freely from the faulty well.  Not long after, we saw the photos of the dead, oil soaked pelicans, turtles, crabs, and fish.  We heard from the angry and shocked Gulf coast communities whose livelihood disappeared and the land and sea that they love destroyed in an instant.  We witnessed the pitiful response of Big Oil- the cheap boons; the workers wiping up oil on blackened beaches with paper towels; and the release of millions of gallons of deadly dispersants that covered up the crime scene.  We heard the callous indifference of Big Oil who failed to take responsibility and minimized the consequences of their negligent actions.

Then equally disappointing, President Obama, after saying he was going to “kick some ass”, surprised us all when he suddenly unfurled his “mission accomplished” banner and told us that the crisis was over. We all knew it was a lie.  And since the single worst oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, not one single law has been passed to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again.  This is unacceptable.

Gulf Oil Crisis was my tipping point.  I was fed up that the environment and those who care deeply about it continue to get the short end of the stick.  I was fed up with those who think they have a right to do as they please without considering how their actions affect others and the future of generations to come.  I was fed up with Big Oil valuing corporate profits over the health and well-being of all living beings and our planet.  I was fed up that the most powerful nation in the world, the United States of America, was doing little to nothing to address the realities of our energy crisis.  It was in this moment that I vowed to use my body, my mind, and my soul to create real changes in the moral conscience of Americans.  It was in this moment that I became an activist. 


Last month, my call to action arrived when I went to Washington DC and was arrested, in an act of civil disobedience in front of the White House, to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, was leading two weeks of protests that would ultimately lead to the arrest of 1252 people from all over the country.  The protests succeeded in their effort to greatly increase the public’s awareness of the Canadian tar sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline as well as mobilizing people into action. 

We stood in front of White House because we wanted to speak directly to President Obama who has found himself in a most precarious of positions.  For he alone has the sole power to issue or not issue the required permit to build the 1700 miles of pipeline that will carry the dirtiest oil on earth from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.  He doesn’t need to compromise or make backroom deals with our dysfunctional Congress.  He doesn’t need to deal with the climate-deniers.  It’s all on him.  I committed civil disobedience because it is imperative that President Obama do the right thing and say NO to the Keystone XL Pipeline.


What Big Oil won't tell you is that the Boreal Forest accounts for 25% of the Earth’s remaining intact forest, an area larger than the Amazon basin.  The Boreal Forest is home to the world’s largest populations of wolves, grizzly bears, lynx, and moose as well as to such endangered species like the woodland caribou and the Whooping Crane.  The trees and wetlands provide vital breeding grounds for billions of songbirds and waterfowl.  These animals have no voice to protect their home and if the project is allowed to come to fruition, an area the size of Florida will be destroyed for thousands of years.  And for what, to fuel our insatiable appetite for consumption.


The tar sands oil requires intensive amounts of energy to extract.  To make one barrel of tar sands oil, four tons of the Earth’s soil must be destroyed; four barrels of water must be taken from the Athabasca River; and up to 1500 cubic feet of natural gas must be used.  The energy needed to make tar sand oil is enough to provide water for a city of 2 million people and to heat 3 million homes.  

Then there’s the climate.  The production of tar sand oil creates three times the green house gas emissions than conventional oil.  By 2015, the tar sands are expected to emit between 108 and 126 million tons of greenhouse gasses annually into our shared atmosphere.  That is more than half of the annual carbon dioxide emissions of the state of New York.


And you can’t make tar sands oil without also making highly toxic waste.  The tar sands have already produced 65 square miles of toxic sludge that are held in tailing ponds so huge that they can be seen from outer space.  This toxic waste, comprised of arsenic, carcinogens, and other harmful poisons, regularly leaks into the Athabasca River.  The indigenous First Nation people of Canada, who live downstream, depend upon this river for their livelihood; yet, they can no longer drink the water or eat the fish and now face unprecedented rates of cancer in their community.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is planned to go through the heartland of our nation and pass through Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest underwater reservoirs, that supplies clean water to much of the Midwest.  Now Big Oil says that we have nothing to fear and that the best technology will be used to prevent a spill.  Do you believe them?  I sure as hell don’t.  In the past year, the current Keystone Pipeline, a much smaller version of the proposed XL, has already spilled a dozen times.   

We are the largest consumers of this dirty oil.  60% of the 1.34 million barrels of tar sands oil produced daily is exported to the US.  This fulfills a mere 4% our domestic oil needs.  That is worth repeating, we are causing irreversible damage to our planet for 4%.  The construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline will increase production of the tar sands oil threefold, to a whopping 3.5 million barrels per day and 10% of our domestic use.  If approved, the pipeline will literally lock the United States into reliance on this high-carbon fossil fuel for decades.  Dr. James Hansen, the leading NASA climate expert says that if this were to happen, it is surely game over for the climate.  That’s right, “GAME OVER!”

So the time has come, now more than any time in our history, to create an economy based on clean, renewable energy sources.  The green revolution, which I promise will not be televised, will be a movement of the people who understand that what we do to the Earth, we also do to ourselves.  For at a fundamental level, there is no difference between Nature and humanity.  This can not be repeated enough, there is only ONENESS.  One planet.  One interdependent web of life.  When you disrespect, desecrate, or kill any part of that oneness, you also disrespect, desecrate, and kill a part of you, our children, and all the generations to come.  It is not a coincidence that as the health of our environment rapidly deteriorates, so too our culture is sick with addictions, violence, and diseases of the body and mind. 


If we are to survive as a culture, as a species, we must collectively awaken to this truth of ONENESS.  I am inspired by Bolivia who has taken bold steps to add to their constitution the inherent rights of Mother Earth.  This includes the right to life and to exist; the right to pure water and clean air; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.  And likely the most controversially, the right to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities.  

This is my vision for America, for all nations, for my children and all children, for all life on the planet, and for all unborn generations to come.  Such a dream will only come to be when the people collectively say it's time, then rise up and make it happen.  I say the time is NOW.  Let our collective voice become so loud that we can no longer be ignored.  Let us hold President Obama accountable to his promise to slow the rise of the oceans and to begin to heal the planet.  We will never give up this fight and we will prevail for we have truth and love on our side.  Thank you.   



Monday, September 12, 2011

My Arrest

I committed  civil disobedience and was arrested in front of the White House.  I joined 142 others, on this sunny Monday morning, in protest of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  The air was fresh after Hurricane Irene had just passed through on it's way to devastate Vermont with massive flooding.  I came to this place to join a growing movement that is asking President Obama to not issue TransCanada a permit to build 1700 miles of pipeline through the heart of our country.  This massive pipeline will carry some of the world's dirtiest oil from the tar sands mine to a tax-free port in the Gulf of Mexico where it's sold on the international market.  Bill McKibben, renowned writer and environmental activist, led two weeks of protests that ended with 1252 arrests and greater media attention to this environmental nightmare that had previously been ignored.  President Obama has said that a decision will be made toward the end of the year but most experts agree that the project will likely move forward.

With the White House behind me, I held my protest sign above my head that read "President Obama- keep your promise to heal the earth".  A reference to his fiery campaign speeches that promised to end the "tyranny of oil" and lead us on a path of sustainable, renewable energy sources.  The Keystone Pipeline is an environmental.  The heavy, crude tar sand oil is taken by  

We joined in solidarity for the health of our planet and the protection of our environment.  The