Thursday, March 31, 2011

President Obama's Not-So-Clean Energy Future?

On Wednesday, President Obama addressed the nation about the energy crisis in a speech from Georgetown University. Although the president did mention climate change and the country's need for clean energy, he dismissed the opportunity to fight for such a future. He succumbed to pressure from industry and the election season by failing to address the urgent need for less dependence on fossil fuels like oil and coal.

Not only did President Obama miss the opportunity to reconstruct the energy debate, but he placed coal with potential energy sources such as wind and solar alternatives. Coal, unlike these other energy sources, pollutes the air with billions of tons of toxic substances such as carbon, lead, arsenic, and mercury. Not only did the president praise the use of coal and alternative energy sources concurrently, but he explained that the solution to the problem is more drilling. The unfortunate truth is that the reluctance to reduce our dependence on big oil is due to the fact that it would damage profits and CEO bonuses.

The president did acknowledge, however, that the constant change of these energy prices is due to our dependence on dirty energy sources. The solution is to find superior sources of energy, not increase the dependence on choices that hurt our finances, families, and the Earth.

President Obama desperately needs to stand up for a clean energy economy and climate action. It is not only our leaders, however, who have the power to enact change. We, as the people, need to stand united in the movement.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Arrival of Cherry Blossom Season in a Devastated Tokyo

As Tokyo is struggling to recover from this year’s devastation, cherry blossom season once again arrives in Japan. The Japan Meteorological Agency said that the country's capital is officially in bloom. This announcement is one of the most anticipated events of the season. Japan monitors certain species of trees across the country and a region is considered to be in bloom when at least five flowers can be summed on 80% of its trees.

The annual rite of spring in Japan began hundreds of years ago and it involves sitting under sakura (or cherry blossom) trees to take in the pink flowers. The Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is home to a celebrated grove, not to mention the benchmark tree. Each year, the Japanese people welcome the season with hanami (festivals organized to view the blossoming trees.) Originally, the purpose of these excursions was to ponder the transient nature of life in accordance with Buddhist thinking. This is represented by the short blooming season of the cherry blossom's flowers and their deep connection to innocence, spring, and simplicity.

This year, the enthusiasm has been overshadowed by the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that distressed the northeast coast. The cherry blossom flowers in regions hit the hardest by the tsunami are projected to make their appearance in early to mid April. The blooming of the cherry blossom trees in Japan is a reminder of the eternal rebirth in nature and reflection upon the Earth's beauty.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Earth Hour 2011

In 2007, 2.2 million individuals and over 2,000 businesses turned off their lights for one hour to demonstrate their intolerance for the human impact on climate change. This event became known as the first Earth Hour. Over the years, 128 countries and territories joined together in the multinational display of climate action. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbor Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum have all stood together in darkness for the world’s largest climate change initiative. People from across the planet turned off their lights in celebration of the Earth.

Tonight, March 26th, at 8:30 p.m., Earth Hour 2011 will take place. These actions represent hope for a cause that continues to grow in necessity every day. We are encouraged to take this time to show gratitude and love toward the environment for its never ending struggle to sustain life on this planet despite the humans that have at times forgotten and abused it. Take this day to meditate upon the significance of nature to our lives and return a bit of the love that we continually receive from the Earth. One may spend some time in the presence of nature, care for a diseased plant, tree, or animal, buy recycled goods, or conserve energy. This is the time to quiet our demanding lives and minds in order to express thanks to the Earth and get in touch with those closest to us. It is our responsibility to show our appreciation for the gift of life the Universe had bestowed upon us. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Celtic Tree Calendar: The Month of the Hawthorns

According to the ancient Celtic Tree Calendar, this period between March 21st to April 17th is the month dedicated to the hawthorn tree. This tree represents cleansing, purity and chastity because it is in preparation for the rebirth and union that accompanies the celebration of spring’s arrival. The ancient Britons believed that this month was a vital preparatory period in anticipation for Beltane on May 1st. The image of a virgin maiden with a unicorn companion represents this period and reminds us of the importance of purity.

Spending time with the hawthorn tree can help us to reach a deep spiritual understanding in our lives and once again find the love in our hearts. Liberate your ability to love all, especially yourself. The Buddha once said, "You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." The hawthorn reminds us to trust our innocence and abstain from judging our naïveté. This month gives us the opportunity to serve our bodies, minds and souls with sacred respect. It allows us to reclaim our inner power and quiet ourselves in order to find strength. It is encouraged for one to observe a period of ritual cleansing, fasting, and meditation, as well as refraining from poor habits in order to reconnect with the divine.

It is said that this is the hawthorn’s message, “We anchor the world of mystery and magic to your world. We are sacred. We protect the temple. We remind you to keep yourself sacred…We welcome you to the world of enchantment.”

(Inspired by Sharlyn Hidalgo’s The Healing Power of Trees)