Recently, Forbes, the Economist, and Thinkprogress, did articles on Trump’s threat to cut the ACA’s cost sharing reduction payments (CSRs) if the AHCA isn’t passed.

Make no mistake, the POTUS and his administration have chosen to use the threat of cutting off, immediately, the access of our most vulnerable populations to healthcare as a bargaining chip if he does not get what he wants.

Nor is there any chance I’m misunderstanding Trump’s administrations intent. In an interview with The Economist in May, Trump was very definite: “There is no Obamacare, it’s dead. Plus we’re subsidizing it and we don’t have to subsidize it. You know if I ever stop wanting to pay the subsidies, which I will,” Trump said. “Anytime I want.”

Trumps administration has made good on their promise to destabilize the ACA in spades. Committing to only paying the CSRs one month at a time is another tactic designed solely to continue this destabilization. Sean Spicer explained even further when he said “We committed to making them last month, and that’s as far as we will go at this time, We’re not committing to them this month.”
“But Spicer then signaled that the “dynamic” will change if the Senate passes a health care bill. The bill on the table — which was written in secret by Republican senators and hasn’t been subject to a hearing — is in some ways harsher than the House version that would result in 23 million Americans losing their health insurance. But unlike the House bill, the Senate version continues to temporarily provide tax subsidies for consumers to buy health insurance on exchanges, albeit ones that are much less generous than Obamacare.
“If we can pass health care overall, then that changes the dynamic,” Spicer said. “It will ultimately be up to the president to decide.”

Access to healthcare, educating those we serve on how to use their healthcare, and providing them with the necessary supports to understand what their medical practitioner is telling them is a huge part of my work world. My CKF staff eats, lives, & breathes healthcare and the intricacies of both the ACA & proposed AHCA because I need them to be fully informed experts for our clients; I’m no slouch with this either.

Knowing what I do professionally, and as a Holy Ghost filled seasoned saint who does my best to walk my talk, I need Trump’s “Christian” supporters to explain to me exactly where in the Word it says blackmail and subjecting those least able to afford CSR cuts and the loss of their healthcare is remotely Christ like.

The latest “Trump is led by God to hurt the poor” fiasco, which came out on the Jim Bakker show this week, I think is the most ashamed and embarrassed I have ever been by and for people who call themselves a pastor. Paula White held that record previously, but, Jim Bakker and Frank Amedia just laid her support of Trump in the shade.

If you haven’t listened to, or read, what these two pathetic excuses for “men of God” said you need to. They remind me of Eli’s sons because their lies are defiling the house.

You cannot extol what Donald Trump does and says as a result of the gifts of wisdom, discernment, and him repeating what God downloads into his head. As if this heresy isn’t enough, Amedia calls North Korea, and their mentally & emotionally unstable leader out and challenges them; unbelievable.

Anyone reading this who honestly believes Bakker, Amedia, White, Trump, and all the others of their ilk, are being led of the Lord: shut up, don’t say a word, unfriend and block me as fast as your little fingers can type because I refuse to tolerate your willful ignorance of the Spirit, the Word, and the neglect of those very people that Christ said, “whatever ye do to the least of these you do to me”.

Don’t waste your time, or mine, by calling me out as being un-Christian because I’m intolerant. I’ve got news for you, being intolerant of hatred, of those who incite violence, bigotry, racism, misogyny, greed, treason, and abusing those in poverty, those who are most vulnerable is something I’m willing to take my chances with God on.

Christ ran the money changers out of the temple because they brought greed and avarice into his house. When we don’t call these things out: We. Are. Complicit. When, as believers, we cover those who commit these vile, unseemly, forbidden acts with the skirt of the church and under the guise of doing God’s work -we are in danger of hellfire and damnation.

Finally, Christ was a brown skinned Middle Easterner who was a refugee, who fed the hungry, healed the sick, hung out with low lifes, and didn’t have a job. If this administration wouldn’t let him in the country how on earth can they let him in their hearts.

Here’s the link to the video:



Americans have seen corporate influence surge, in both elections and the crafting of policy, since the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision of 2010, which granted corporations the right to influence the outcome of elections.  While corporations still cannot contribute directly to candidates the Supreme Court’s ruling opened the floodgates by allowing unlimited funds to be channeled into efforts to elect or defeat candidates by corporations; indirectly giving them and the lobbies they power political influence individuals are simply incapable of mustering.

Corporate personhood uniquely distorts political process in that a corporation is dedicated to one purpose and as such is not bound by moral and ethical constraints.  The constitutional rights of a corporation should be extremely limited. Concerning corporations, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “Few of us are only our economic interests. We have beliefs. We have convictions. Corporations engage the political process in an entirely different way, and this is what makes them so much more damaging.”  Should corporations ever be granted all of the rights of an individual the consequences would change America’s social and political landscapes completely  as unlike individuals, corporations tend to have bottomless pockets, their influence is far reaching both in distance and time,  and they never die meaning they have undue political clout not available to the average American.

The Supreme Court’s decision essentially gave corporate “persons” the same first amendment free-speech rights as biological humans, this is an unfair gift as the gulf between a corporate “person’s” resources and those of an individual, or a grassroots group, are unequal. The purpose of a corporation is to provide a profit to its members whether that profit is financial or influential. When corporations dictate the policy of Congress and the judicial system the best interests of American citizens are not served; the rights of the individual are in fact subjugated for the profit of the corporate “person”.

Corporations are not people, they are tools and a tool does not dictate to the artisan how it will be used. Crony politics has elevated corporations above their tool status and given them creative license which diminishes the rights of living, breathing, feeling, human beings. A corporate “person” has no soul, no conscience, no concept of right and wrong, and if they have been endowed with enough money and the members have enough influence, there is no higher power they recognize or answer to.  Individuals who come together for a common purpose and incorporate are not a bad thing. As individuals, they maintain the rights which have been constitutionally granted to them however when we grant a corporation those same constitutional rights the balance is unjustly weighted on the side of the corporation. By virtue of the vast resources a corporation has access to granting full constitutional rights to a corporate “person” makes the American dream of a level playing field impossible to attain.

We the People, that’s us, that’s you and me regardless of our political affiliation, must come together  and demand  an amendment to the Constitution which makes it clear the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States of America are the rights of natural human beings and not corporate “persons” because money and influence do not equal free speech.  Move to Amend (https://movetoamend.org/wethepeopleamendment)  is spot on when they say, “Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidates own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure. Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed. The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.”

It’s time we take our government back and say no to the corporations which have usurped the political process; a corporation is not a person, you and I are  –we are “We the People”.

So, let me be sure I got this right:  A 65 year old man, a 59 year old man, and an 84 year old nun (this already sounds like a bad joke) break into a nuclear weapons complex in an act of peaceful civil disobedience. They get three to five years in prison and have to do restitution and be probies afterwards.  That’ll be a serious bitch on their social security, frankly I’m surprised the judge didn’t order their SS garnished but that’s probably only because he didn’t think of it, amateur.  I can’t even seriously discuss just how much training a security force needs to stop an 84 year old nun from breaking into what is supposed to be a top notch national security complex. Yeah, I’d be pretty ticked to get my gun toting butt kicked by three card carrying senior citizens too but hey, I’m touchy.

Am I the only one who has serious issues with the so called “secure facility” gettin whupped on by a bunch of geriatrics??? I’m thinking the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge has a security problem which is a whole heap bigger than three peaceful old folks trespassing during an act of civil disbedience.  Let’s be clear here,  three people, with no intent of doing harm took part in an act of civil disobedience and did so knowing their actions would likely put them behind bars; elders which believed in the moral and ethical rightness of what they stand for enough to act on it in hopes of a better future for the world’s children.  Fine, they knew what they were doing and what the consequences might be.  According to U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar, he sentenced “the Oak Ridge 3” as he did because he was concerned the demonstrators showed no remorse and he intended their punishment to be a deterrent for other activists. To Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Theodore’s mind, the true crime these three committed is that they “destroyed the ‘mystique’ of the “Fort Knox of uranium.” Once again a government agency gets it’s fingers slammed in the barn door and hopes to deflect their incompetence by essentially sentencing three good people to what amounts to life in prison because they destroyed the myth of a government agency’s awesome super powers.  I hate to spring this on Mr. Theodore but there isn’t much about our current government agencies which hasn’t already been tarnished and usually the tarnish comes via their own stupidity, but I digress.

What really burns me about this fiasco? The verdict of guilt, not just of tresspassing but of “destroying the mystique” of our government’s ability to protect America’s assets and her people; a verdict which mocks  all of us who have had to pay and pay and pay for the misdeeds committed by corporate jokers. Where was the will to judge harshly Wall Street, the banking industry, all of the collateral business entities involved, and the political cronyism which had evil intent and and led to horrific consequences for millions?  The bad guys, and gals, who trashed the US economy, impacted the world economy, and left those of us least able to afford the bill to pay the piper they danced to have walked away scott free with impunity. Those who brought about our latest economic crisis were aided and abetted by the politicians we elected to serve our best interest but whom the Wizards of Wall Street bought and paid for. The financial debacle of 2008 cost the American people billions –we”re still paying and will contintue to pay for years to come the cost of this folly. The guilty, who acted solely out of greed and avarice, who believe only in the almighty dollar, did not receive even a slap on the wrist and yet these three who believe so strongly in Christ’s teaching and acted in their belief have been egregiously punished.  What about the mystique of financial security, fair political process, and justice the Wall Street crowd robbed the American people of Mr. Theodore?  Judge Thapar, do you believe we should have made an example of the Wall Street Thieves Guild?  God knows those responsible for the 2008 crash have given you have grounds to be supremely concerned since not a one of them has shown one iota of remorse; don’t you think future masters of finance should look on this current batch miscreants with horror because the punishment meted out to them has been harsh enough to stand as a prime deterrent to future financial hijinks?

The Boston Tea Party was an act of civil disobedience; sheltering Jewish children during the Holocaust was an act of civil disodedience; tearing down the Berlin Wall was an act of civil disobedience; a black woman sitting on bus was an act of civil disobedience; protesting nuclear proliferation and WMD’s was an act of civil disobedience; a carpenter healing a blind man on the Sabbath was an act of civil disobedience; an act of civil disobedience is to those in power something to fear. Megan and her friends are walking their talk and willingly paying the unjust price, it’s pretty clear their boss is a carpenter. Mr. Theodore, Judge Thapar, and all the rest of y’all in charge of justice and government in this case, here’s a little heads up, you ain’t workin for the same guy.


Photo courtesy of Knoxnews.com


The 99 Percent and Romney’s 47 percent, I’m a member of both these groups; nearly everyone in the country instantly recognizes the significance of these numbers and what they symbolize. I don’t believe in idle complaining about the one percent or the politicians they have bought and paid for, particularly when the well being of my family and I are the currency. My introduction to healthcare.gov and the travesty which has been made of the Affordable Care Act last week have not turned me against the President and Obamacare but what I learned galvanized my determination to become part of the solution.  I want to share with you the letter I sent to Sen. Elizabeth Warren concerning my experience.

Senator Warren & Staff,

You and your staff have consistently spoken up for those of us who have small voices politically. I’m grateful and appreciate knowing there is at least one elected official who truly has the best interests of the people at heart. Your work on behalf of those of us with ungodly student loan burdens was what spurred me to become a “Warrenite”.  Your caring and outspoken defense of us small folk gave me the confidence to share my story.

I have a job interview Dec 5th with Teach for America. The last thing on the planet I want to do is go to that interview with no front teeth. Have you ever had a dental abscess? The pain is unbelievable, when it finally bursts you understand for the first time in your life the age old mystery of why dogs lick their butts; it’s to get the taste of road kill out of their mouth.  My quip likely made you laugh but the reality of no health, dental, or vision insurance is anything but.

I was fortunate,  I went to a dentist last week who had compassion on my situation. He only charged twenty bucks for my xrays then prescribed the cheapest antibiotics and pain medication available so I can attend my interview with my front teeth; December 6th he is pulling them.  You see, ONE root canal and crown is over 1400 dollars but it only costs a hundred to have a tooth pulled. I have two abscessed teeth which would cost almost three thousand dollars to keep and that ma’am is as impossible for me as it is for those butt licking dogs to sprout wings and fly. I’ve laughed and said the instant you walk into someone’s office and open your mouth and the folks behind the desk see bad, or no teeth, your IQ immed drops 40 points. My comment is funny in the sad way only the disadvantaged can truly know.

 The DCCC has sent repeated emails out in the last week asking for donations to help ensure the future of Obamacare. Ma’am for myself, and millions like me -the very people the affordable care act was designed to help; I can’t keep my teeth in my own mouth let alone help folks, who make more in one month than I do all year, put teeth in legislation which has already failed me.

Please find below the letter I sent to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence concerning the choices he, other elected officials made, which resulted in my lack of affordable insurance and healthcare.  I campaigned for, voted for, and still believe in the vision POTUS and likeminded elected officials had for our country’s health care.  I respectfully am asking that your staff would take the time to read my letter, and the healthcare.gov help desk transcript following. It is my sincere hope that it will touch someone in your office who will share with you what policy which does not see individual faces has been allowed to do.

I know the power of one small voice, of what many small voices joined together can do. I will not be quiet, I refuse to accept the position elected officials have chosen to put me in.  I am one of the 99%, one of Mitt Romney’s 47% and I will be heard.

Dear Gov. Pence,

           The transcript of the conversation I had with the help desk at healthcare.gov, following the body of this letter, took place Friday, Nov. 11, 2013 when I went to healthcare.gov to sign up.

Currently healthcare.gov refers you to the Kaiser Family Foundation Calculator to get an idea of insurance costs while you are waiting for your ID to be validated. There appeared to be a HUGE glitch with the Kaiser Family Foundation Calculator and the information on their website as the calculations revealed I am at 67% of the poverty level and ineligible for both Medicaid and subsidies.

My annual income (I work as an intern 40+ hours per week) is $7680. My insurance premium would be $6454 per year leaving me 1226 dollars to live on for the rest of the year. Does 84.3% of my annual income to pay for my insurance seem more than a little outrageous to you? It certainly does to me.  I’m 53 and working as an SCA intern in Texas, Mr. Pence, so I can have both insurance and a roof over my head as I have not been able to find a job in Indiana which will allow me to do both as well as pay for my student loans.

Since the conversation recorded in the transcript below I’ve learned when Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the law included two ways of getting subsidized or no-cost health coverage. The first was expanding Medicaid to anyone who earns up to 133 percent of the poverty level, which is about $15,300 for a single person. The second is tax credits to cut insurance premiums, which are available to people earning between 100% of poverty and 400% (about $11,500-$46,000 for a single person). People eligible for Medicaid would be required to sign up for Medicaid, anyone else could go on the exchanges; mostly because it costs less money to cover someone through Medicaid than to subsidize private health insurance.

This arrangement was thrown out of whack when the Supreme Court ruled on the law last year. In addition to upholding the Affordable Care Act, the Court said states didn’t have to expand Medicaid, which was a pretty big surprise. Indiana and Texas are among the more than 20 states that aren’t doing the expansion.

A perverse result of this ruling is that people who earn less than poverty in those states aren’t eligible for any help paying for their health coverage. To be sure, people are free to pay full price for the insurance, in theory, but as my case, who could afford that? My meager consolation:  individuals who earn up to 133 percent of poverty in states that aren’t expanding Medicaid are exempt from the individual mandate to get health coverage, so we won’t have to pay a fine in addition to being uninsured.

 What has happened to the Affordable Care Act is not the fault of POTUS or the whole of Congress; it’s a result of the way the Court ruled and the decisions made by elected officials in those states. I’m one of the folks with a pre-existing condition Obamacare would have helped, now I will fall between the cracks because of the Medicaid issue.

 Kaiser’s calculator wasn’t wrong  –your choice condemned myself, and millions of others like me, earning LESS than the poverty level to no insurance, no subsidies, and no hope.  Perhaps, this is the worst thing republican elected officials have done to people like me, people who work over forty hours a week and make less than the poverty level -you have stolen our hope.

I would appreciate it greatly if you had the moral courage of your convictions to tell me to my face, in front of the media, that basic health care is an entitlement and that I don’t deserve health care.


Laurie-Ann Curry

Transcript from Help Desk at Healthcare.gov Nov. 11, 2013:

“[1:51:12 pm]: Thanks for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. Please wait while we connect you to someone who can help.

[1:51:16 pm]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.

[1:51:26 pm]: Welcome! You’re now connected to Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat.

Thanks for contacting us. My name is Steph. To protect your privacy, please don’t provide any personal information, like Social Security Number, or any other sensitive medical or personal information.

[1:55:19 pm]: Laurie-Ann

Hello Steph, Thought I would check in and ask it anyone else has questioned the Kaiser Family Foundation Calculator? It cannot be right, at least I hope there is something wrong with it! My annual income is 7680.00, the KFC is saying I don’t qualify for tax credits (Indiana)  and my insurance at the silver level will run 6654/year since I am at 67% of the poverty level; girl that is over 80% of my annual income

[1:56:11 pm]: Laurie-Ann

Tell me that they are having issues please, please, please

[1:57:06 pm]: Steph

have you filled out the application through the marketplace?

[2:00:27 pm]: Laurie-Ann

yes, I’m waiting on income verification. Herein lies the issue, alot of folks here at the Park, I work for the NPS, have used the KFFC to see where they would be and they all, to a person have been screaming bloody murder that Obamacare is crazy, girl I am in Texas, can we say repub????? I voted for POTUS because I believe in this but if my results are typical y’all have a problem and need to not send folks to KFFC

[2:01:23 pm]: Laurie-Ann

ID verification is what I am waiting on not income, sorry

[2:02:40 pm]: Steph

its okay, well with the marketplace we can give you options about health insurance

[2:04:45 pm]: Laurie-Ann

I understand that. What I am essentially asking is do the powers that be understand what people are seeing when they go to look prior to signing up are causing much grief and bad press

[2:05:15 pm]: Laurie-Ann

Unless it really is going to take over 80% of what I make to pay for insurance

[2:06:35 pm]: Steph

we are trying to make it where every one can get health insurance

[2:08:30 pm]: Laurie-Ann

Steph, have you actually taken the time to really read what I have sent to you? If you have and what you have posted in return really is what cs is telling people like me I thank you for your time but this plan is in trouble

[2:10:04 pm]: Steph

i personally dont know how the plans are i can only give general information. i cant see what you are seeing

[2:11:31 pm]: Laurie-Ann

This is EXACTLY what the KFFC site says after I input my information “Because your income is equal to 67% of the poverty level, you will not be eligible for tax credits in the exchanges. Tax credits are only available to people who make between 100% and 400% of the poverty level. Keep in mind that these results are estimates and you can still apply for exchange coverage if you are interested in receiving a tax credit. The information below is about unsubsidized exchange coverage:

Household income in 2014:

67% of poverty level

Maximum % of income you have to pay for the premium, if eligible for a subsidy:


Health Insurance premium in 2014 (for a silver plan, before tax credit):

$6,454 per year

You could receive a government tax credit subsidy of up to:

$0 per year

(which covers 0% of the overall premium)

Amount you pay for the premium:

$6,454 per year

(which equals 84.03% of your household income and covers 100% of the overall premium) “

[2:13:43 pm]: Steph

i have no control over what the insurance companies charge if i did i would make it affordable for every one who needs insurance

[2:14:30 pm]: Laurie-Ann

Sweetie, I understand you don’t have all the answers but will you please pass along to your supervisor that there may well be serious issues with the Kaiser Family Foundation Calculator site healthcare.gov sends us to. Anyone in their right mind will immed see the information cannot be correct, 7680-6454= leaves me 1226 dollars to live on for the rest of the year, honey there is a PROBLEM

[2:15:41 pm]: Laurie-Ann

Alright, thank you for your time. You are not hearing what I am saying and I do not know how to make it plainer. Have a good day and I hope I have not stressed you out, I appreciate what you do.

[2:16:22 pm]: Steph

yes ma’am i will pass it along and thank you for your time to contact us “

Carmel, Indiana’s Mayor James Brainard, has been appointed to President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Change. Below is the letter I wrote and sent to the Mayor earlier today.  I invite everyone reading this to take a few minutes to write, not only to Mayor Brainard, but each member of the Task Force on Climate Change encouraging them to take decisive and meaningful action on climate change issues.   It only takes ten percent of the population to come together in one mind and one accord in order for a whole society to change how they think and what they do. We can effect positive and lasting change, as I tell the Mayor in my letter our children and grandchildren’s future is worth sacrificing for. http://tinyurl.com/ny3knm8 is a link to an article which lists each member of the Climate Change Task force and where they are from. If you don’t know what to tell the members of the task force feel free to use my letter as a template.



Dear Mayor Brainard,

I was pleased to read a fellow Hoosier had been appointed to the President’s task force on climate change, congratulations on your appointment. As a trained Climate Reality Leader, environmental educator, and some one engaged in public service, I cannot stress enough how important taking strong action to curb anthropogenic climate change is to our children and grandchildren’s future.

I responded to a post by climate denier John Crimmins, who posted at IndyStar.com (http://tinyurl.com/kngwnhy) in the comments on the article the Indianapolis Star wrote announcing your appointment.

“Mr. Crimmins, I’m a native born Hoosier, I have spent the last several years doing contract work across the country. Indiana is one of the states which is located in a very special water abundant area. I spent a year in Alaska, followed by a year in Nebraska, six months in Maine, and this past six months in Far West Texas; areas where climate change and water issues are far more visible to the eye than back home. John, climate change has always occurred and will continue to do so, but this change has happened GRADUALLY in geological time. Human beings have altered the equation -speeding up a natural process by highly unnatural means. We forget the holocene was a very unique moment in planetary history. a very rare moment. Human beings are the most plastic, no pun intended, species on the planet which means we have been able to exploit highly marginal areas/niches. The majority of the worlds population resides in in these marginal areas and will continue to bear the brunt of accelerated climate change’s costs. Again, 97% of all climate scientists agree climate change is occurring and that the unnatural acceleration is anthropogenic in nature. 19 oncologists say you have stage 3 colon cancer, 1 says you don’t; tell me, who are you going to believe? 97% is consensus”

Mayor Brainard, I have spent the last six months watching towns in Far West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico drain every drop of water from their wells, their towns are bone dry; they have to have water trucked in. Farmers and land owners who see this with their own eyes but still have water in their aquifer are choosing to sell their precious, precious fresh water to the frackers to be used in extracting oil in the most unsustainable way possible. Black Water Draw, New Mexico used to be home to a lake, irrigation drained the last drop of water from the lake in 1974 but few paid attention to the warning sign.

Here at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, where I serve as the Community Outreach & Public Relations specialist, eight of Texas ten tallest mountains can be found raising majestically up from the floor of the Chihuahuan Desert. Guadalupe Mountains is a hiking park, there’s no road wending through the mountains and canyons, if you climb your way up the mountain trails to the top of this ancient Permian reef you can experience first hand what the Chihuahuan desert was like twelve thousand years ago. There is a forest up there, mountain lions, black bears, and other forest dwellers live in this sky island. It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact just a few thousand years ago much of the Chihuahuan Desert looked like our mountain top oasis.

When I served at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in 2011 I was shocked to see the retreat of Alaska’s glaciers. I nearly fell over when I read a news article in which a climate denier stated boldly “there are more glaciers in Alaska now than ever before”. You see, it simply isn’t true, what has happened is the massive ice sheets have retreated back up the valleys so far that they leave little pockets of snow and ancient ice, remnants which are quickly disappearing themselves. If you ride the White Pass & Yukon train from Skagway up to the top of the mountain you might experience a short stop while hikers disembark so they can hike up to Laughton Glacier. A two mile or so hike is required from the tracks to the glacier’s edge; most folks don’t make it to the glacier itself as it is a rather daunting hike but most of those who do don’t recognize the dirty, debris filled, nearly black snow as a glacier. Roughly one hundred years ago Laughton Glacier flowed under the railroad track, now it’s a memory.

When I first came to Guadalupe Mountains National Park in June of this year I couldn’t figure out what town I was seeing at night from the park housing compound. Highway 62/180 curves around the Guadalupe Mountains hiding the lights of Carlsbad, New Mexico from view; It was possible I was seeing Black Water Village or Loving but I didn’t realize they were so good sized, in fact they’re not. The thousands of lights flickering down the valley are the flares of fracking wells hidden from view in the draws and arroyos of Far West Texas during the day. Fracking flares are lights the desert darkness doesn’t comprehend and are an incredible danger to a already fragile ecosystem.

Mayor Brainard, big oil, big business, men and women like the Koch’s, cannot be trusted to police themselves. These people and entities have spoken, it has been their money and their influence which has done the talking; talking which has cost the rest of us dearly. President Obama, yourself, and the other members of the Climate Task Force, have what is perhaps the most important job in the history of humanity. Framing the war on climate change in terms of a David and Goliath scenario is not hyberbole. I have seen with my own eyes ranchers sell their children’s future in the form of a water station for frackers, when the town ten miles over is bone dry. I’ve watched Nebraska farmers cry because the Platte’s trickle wasn’t enough to irrigate their fields. I’ve watched lawsuits over water rights in Nebraska be sent back east for a fair trial and when I was in Maine those lawsuits, which will eventually effect every single American at the grocery, never raise an eyebrow or receive more than the obligatory legal notice in the paper.

Big oil and other traditional energy providers have essentially been allowed to run amok, it will be no easy task to rein them in. You are one of twenty six elected officials who are in the unique position of being able to fell Goliath. Do well by us, do not be intimidated or bought off by these so called “captains of industry”. I hope and pray that this climate task force will be the men and women my grandchildren need you to be in order for them to have a future which is positive and bright. Writing this letter to you publicly is enough to cost me my job and any future employment with a government agency. My children and my grandchildren are worth that sacrifice, and so many more. Mayor Brainard, be the David the world needs you to be.


Laurie-Ann Curry

Snorkeling in Far West Texas

A fun article I wrote for the National Park Service’s Fossil Day page. If you are a hiker, backpacker, or trail rider and you haven’t yet been to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, come and explore over 80 miles of wilderness trails, eight of the ten tallest mountains in Texas, spectacular fall colors, and of course snorkel a far west Texas sea.

My Brothers Keeper

The wolf came again tonight. I think he only comes when the hunt has failed for a few days and the pains in his belly drive him past the fringe of the little wood behind the house. The neighbors two black labs, Mischa, and I are the only ones who ever notice him. I’ve christened the labs owner “Crabman” since he scuttles back and forth from the car to the house to the dog run. I suspect the only time he man walks is when he escapes to the fenced backyard to play frisbee or fetch with his beloved dogs and provide them belly rubs. The instant his wife appears he shrinks back into his shell and the dogs ears and eyes fall in unison with the man, they are brothers in their fear of her. Crabman’s nickname is even more apt than the casual observer of the neighborhood is aware. His wife shrieks like a fishwife at her husband’s dogs when they explode with one of their occasional evening barking fits. Whichever I hear first, Fishwifes shrill shrewing of “shut the f*** up you **d d***ed mutts” or the labs excited barking as nights ink flows down days leavings, dripping from the naked canopy to the waiting snow crust, I know the wolf has come.

Whether it’s genetic memory from the days this little strip of wildness was part of the country’s largest contiguous forest, when the wolf would have come with a pack to call at whatever passed for a door or the disengagement most humans have for the world outside of ourselves, my landlady’s and neighbors disinterest in the wood have made co-conspirators of the three dogs and I; as no one else in the houses flanking the little wood peer out in the darkness as dusk’s dimness slides into what passes for dark in Bangor.

I wonder about the wolf, I never see two, only one shadow gliding from the woods scrubby fringe to the berry brambles in the backyard then on up to the apple tree when he is satisfied, that like it is to so many other things, the city is oblivious to his presence. There is something about the wolf which says it’s a male. When we first met I thought he was a coyote and was well enough pleased to welcome such an unexpected guest to “my” garden but then he rose to his full height, turned to look at me, and I knew that like me, he was not what he first appeared to be. Wolf sniffs ever so delicately under the apple tree for a few seconds then digs one apple from it’s snowy resting place with quick flips of his right paw, perhaps wolves are handed as he never uses his left paw to break the crust and bring his treasure to the surface. He snatches his supper up and trots to the bramble sliding through the canes with practiced grace; the thorns slide down his thick winter coat never breaking the skin and he quickly eats. He repeats this process for each apple, he ate five tonight. I think he would have liked to sate the pangs in his belly even more but my landlady came home, wolf knows exactly where to melt into the shadows so the SUV lights never catch him. Shortly thereafter Crabman let the labs out and wolf’s disgust with the dogs yammering is palpable. He doesn’t bolt for the wood when anyone pulls into one of the drives anymore since he knows by now he is invisible to them; they get out of the car and walk to their respective doors never looking up, never looking out. Tonight he sat between the apple tree and berry patch for several minutes watching me as I watched him. It occurs to me as we take each others measure that I too have grown a thick coat over the years and life’s thorns seldom bring blood on me either; far better to be wolfs sister than Crabman’s and the labs. If wolf doesn’t deign to claim me as kin he at least does not see me as a threat. Like the harbor seals and otters at Dyea, he has become accustomed to my presence. He no longer runs when I open the window to see him better and hear his footsteps on the brittle snow. My landlady tells me she sits in front of her wood stove and watches the flames dance because she longs be in the wilderness, to camp, be a part of nature. I resist the urge to tell her no matter what humans would like to think we are a part of nature, it is absurd to think we are apart from that which created us nor do I suggest she enjoy what she has in her own backyard. I refuse to betray wolf and the others who come to “my” apple tree, best they stay invisible to those who don’t see, Me and mine take care of family and wolf is brother to me.


The Buck Stops Here


4 in a 4 part series


Planning and proper preparation is everything! We knew, without doubt,  one day the odds would finally deal New Orleans the category five hurricane card and we thought we were prepared for such a disaster. Hurricane Katrina opened our eyes to the fact there is a huge disparity between being aware an environmental disaster is possible and truly being prepared to deal with the aftermath of that disaster; which clearly in the case of Katrina we were not. Sending financial and physical aid to an area hit by disaster is far different from having to take care of it’s mess from the ground up and the commitment of the resulting years of restructuring lives as well as the areas infrastructure and economy. Climate change, environmental change and natural disasters are inevitable, it is the nature of the climate beast, so it behooves us to plan for the worst to the utmost of our abilities.

“Charity begins at home” is a proverb we will see come into play more and more as the United States has to pay for the effects and prevention of climate change and more frequent environmental catastrophes, as well as the care of an aging and uninsured population, here at home while being called upon to help foot the bill elsewhere for humanitarian aid. As these costs mount the U.S. may become reluctant or even unable to send financial and humanitarian aid to other countries. Greater storm intensity alone may see huge increases in humanitarian aid needed domestically in addition to the billions of dollars we already spend annually in natural disaster related costs. Our nation’s already burgeoning healthcare costs will rise in response to more frequent heat waves, deteriorating air quality and water borne disease. Sadly, the more that we wrestle with our own demons we may simply become desensitized to the plight of others as we are continually and in greater depth exposed to a world consumed by the ravages of conflict, famine, disease and death.

Since the industrialized countries are the greatest causative factor in anthropogenic global warming and environmental degradation there is a certain moral obligation implied towards climate refugees since the great majority of these will be from undeveloped countries who have contributed little to the problem. It is only fair to note that the people and governments of undeveloped countries do commit actions that lead to climate change and environmental degradation, such as deforestation, abuse of water resources, and pollution. Generally though, it is comparing apples to oranges to suggest the contribution of the undeveloped world to these changes is on the same level as the output of the industrialized world. The industrialized nations and the wealthy of the undeveloped nations must realize that their wealth will not insulate them from the degradation of our ecosystem s or from climate change; it may postpone their acquaintance but the piper will ultimately have to be paid for the dance. Humanity shares the same water, air, and food resource base and there is nowhere else for us to go when these things fail us.

We have had seminal moments of global accountability; the founding of the United Nations came about through the need to have a global point where, to paraphrase Harry S. Truman’s desk plaque: the buck stops here. Climate change and environmental degradation brings the politics of accountability to the forefront of a global stage where no one has the desire to be the star. Accountability is about power, without a global entity that has the means to demand accountability from the nations of the world it is impossible to enforce answerability and deliver true social justice. In the instances of climate change, environmental degradation, and manifold other eco issues, the un-accountability of offenders, and lack of social justice is manifested in that those who contribute the most to the problem bear the consequences the least and have little incentive to ameliorate the problem.

The results of climate change, environmental degradation and overpopulation cannot be left on the level where we think only in terms of a warmer globe, higher sea level, and formulating refugee policies. We need to consider how climate change will influence the shift of resources and population and how those shifts will contribute to economic and social disruption, terrorism, shifts in national power, and ultimately the possibility of conflicts; even full blown war over resources. Consider a population of eight billion, if only one percent is faced with climate change caused, directly or indirectly, migration that is eight million people will have to be relocated either within their own country or abroad. If we move the percentage to five percent it becomes forty million displaced refugees, how would we meet their needs? Where do we put them? To keep this in perspective, if sea level rises to moderate predicted levels we are looking at thirty million refugees from Bangladesh alone.

Conflict in a resource stressed world is inevitable. There are 260 trans-boundary rivers in the world; as the demand for and shortages of water grows there are at the bare minimum 260 places for conflict to erupt, especially in the arid parts of the world where tensions over water already exist. The United States government began to take the consequences of climate change seriously at the national security level in the late eighties and early nineties as a scan of the articles published, in the last twenty years, in the journal International Security will show. In 1992 the U.N. Security Council issued a paper saying their studies revealed continuing environmental degradation could threaten world peace and security through conflicts over water (and the pollution of water resources), food shortages, fuel shortages, drought, and the refugees fleeing these things.

As our global population increases, the disparity between rich and poor will become greater, environmental damage will increase, and climate change will continue to put pressure on already stressed resources. Should we as a global community continue to stonewall on preventative and ameliorating measures the environmental pressures will continue to escalate while the world’s policy makers will have less and less capacity to intervene and prevent or lessen environmental damage, social disruption and conflict. The importance of the security of the world’s fresh water supply cannot be overstated. Waters intrinsic value to us is that life cannot exist without it. Our very survival and that of all living things depends on water. Overall, the last few decades have seen increased water demand due to: 1) growing population, 2) economic growth, 3) expanding agriculture, and 4) lifestyle change amongst all populations, not just the developed world. Irrigation is responsible for roughly 70% of fresh water use worldwide and irrigated crops compose 40% of the total world crop, a substantial amount by any reckoning. It takes little imagination to see many ways climate change, environmental degradation, and continued flagrant over use will impact the planets freshwater cache directly and indirectly; as the population and global economy grow so will our voracious appetite for water.

Scientists and academics need to assume some responsibility for the way the public perceives climate change/ global warming, environmental degradation, and overpopulation. Science tends not to present its findings as part of an integrated whole but in bits and pieces which we do our area of study in. The sciences are, until rather recently, very compartmentalized yet we as individuals and a society operate the best and the most efficiently when we see the “big picture” in its entirety. The stereotype of the academic in their ivory tower is not too far off target for the majority of the public because we do not speak the same language they do and we do not make our work relative to them. As a global community humanity cannot afford to be wrong about the consequences of climate change, environmental degradation, and over population; the stakes are too important — too high — to allow us that luxury. If scientists and academics want and expect the public to take these issues and their consequences seriously, after 25 years of scientists, industry, and politicians arguing over them, then we have to make our work relative to them and their best interest; we have to put a face on it. God bless his heart, Sir Crispin Tickell was on the money when he said, “….We need to recast our educational system to promote better understanding of broad issues and lateral thinking between them. Specialization is the bane of wisdom (emphasis mine)”.

In humanity’s long term big picture it does not matter who or what causes climate change, as it is as inevitable as death and taxes, what matters is: can we adapt to the changes that are coming about via climate change, environmental degradation and over-population? And, there is this: If the global temperature never rises another tenth of a degree, from now until the sun burns itself out, the issues of environmental degradation, water scarcity, and a population greater than the earth has resources to provide for will have to be dealt with. The World Hunger Project at the University of Rhode Island found, based on diet alone and with all food shared equally, the earth could sustain comfortably the following populations:

0% animal products – 5.5 billion people Completely vegan diet


15% animal products – 3.7 billion “


25% animal products – 2.8 billion “


35% animal products – 2 billion “ Typical American diet


These are sobering figures indeed when you consider in July of 2012 we will have reached the mind numbing number of seven billion human beings on this planet. 2024 will see eight billion people, and by mid-century we expect the world’s population to hit 9 billion; eventually leveling off at roughly 11 billion. Even more distressing, the earth is experiencing the same phenomena with population as she does with climate change –some areas are severely overpopulated while others are experiencing under-population. Some of the developed nations, like France and Germany, are encouraging fertile women to have children as the country has reached the demographic transition stage where they have an aging population and births are not at replacement level; creating incredible economic stress and fear immigrants will change the face of the nation. Developed countries, such as the U.S., which are at replacement level births seldom take into account the immigrant births bolstering their numbers. It is inconceivable for most nations to consider greater immigration levels as a partial solution to their under-population problem as they fear losing their identity. Frankly, climate change and global warming are just two more complications in our species life, huge ones to be sure, but complications nonetheless. This complex mesh of issues created by a changing climate, burgeoning population, and environmental degradation is forcing us to answer questions that we do not fully understand.

As a society, in general, Americans and other Westerners are woefully ignorant of all that goes into maintaining the lifestyle to which we are accustomed. We are disconnected and distanced physically, mentally, and emotionally, from the resources which sustain us. We live in an age of genetically enhanced food crops, we spend millions on research in the hope we can manipulate our genes to allow us to live a longer and more vibrant life; it is time for us to eradicate Dawkin’s “selfish gene” that gave our ancestors their edge. Our earth has become far too small and limited for us to allow our genetic hardwiring to continue leading us into a global “tragedy of the commons”. Humans have always known the climate and environment affected our survival and affluence, but it is only recently have we began to understand the complex relationships existing between ourselves, the climate, and environment. The bonds between these three factors are not only intertwined  but they are intrinsic parts of our economies, politics, and cultural infrastructures. In order for our children and grandchildren to embrace a sustainable and prosperous future we must rise above our hardwired hubris and realize we do not stand outside of nature nor does nature exist merely to serve us;  we are part of nature and it is vital we learn to exist in harmony with the world around us.


This document is available in with footnotes, references, and full bibliography upon request.



Probable Cause

3 in a 4 Part Series

We buy vehicle insurance on the probability, not the surety mind you, but the probability, that we will have an accident that we will need help meeting the cost for. The IPCC took 29 thousand observational data series from 75 different studies and found roughly 89% of the series agreed with the projected changes predicted by climate scientists. If there is an 89% probability I am going to have a serious car accident I can do one of three things: take my chances driving uninsured, have the bare minimum of insurance required, or purchase full coverage insurance. The costs of driving uninsured, both the direct and indirect costs, are higher than the cost of my bare minimum premium, should I “get caught” driving without insurance. If I never have an accident, never get stopped and ticketed, then the insurance costs more; but the 89% probability of having an accident far outweigh the 11% chance I won’t. The insurance premiums may be expensive but the insurance will pay for itself should an accident occur. There is the issue of diminishing returns but when the stakes are as high for humanity as worst case scenario climate change makes them, then the issue of diminishing returns becomes relative.

Some of the world’s wealthiest coastal cities are “buying full coverage insurance” by building bulwarks and floodgates to stem the damage from predicted rising sea levels. Rotterdam, Europe’s busiest port, spent $600 million on floodgates. Venice, London and New York are planning similar projects, at a cost of $51 billion, to protect their interests. Yet as a global community we are essentially uninsured; having earmarked only $398 million and some change for climate adaptation in the developing world, where the most severe effects of climate change will be felt.

The correlation between climate change, environmental degradation, over population, and human migration is undeniable. The ability of our ancestors to adapt, with both their brains and their feet, to changing environmental conditions is found in the flowing waves of human migration recorded in the genetic and archeological record. Climate change and environmental degradation directly affect us in the following ways: rising sea levels, the intensity and/or frequency of storms, drought, desertification, and water shortages; the indirect ways we are affected by them are nearly innumerable. All of these singly are sufficient to start migration activity if they are severe enough but when more than one of these is occurring in an area at one time and there are any other social, economic or political pressures, it is a recipe for disaster.

Any discussion of refugees created by climate change or environmental degradation begins with a handicap -we do not have a working definition, that is accepted across the board, of what such a refugee is. The scientific, academic, and political, communities must come to a consensus on what the definition of a person who flees their home due to climate change and/or environmental degradation is. Climate change refugees and environmental refugees are not the same thing, although a climate change refugee is most assuredly an environmental refugee the reverse is not true.

Essam El-Hinnawi ,of the United Nations Environmental Programme , brought the term environmental refugee into the public arena fully when he used it in a 1985 policy paper but it was Norman Myer’s who hammered out the first serious definition.

Myers defined environmental refugees as people who can no longer gain a secure livelihood in their homelands because of drought, soil erosion, desertification, deforestation and other environmental problems, together with the associated problems of population pressures and profound poverty. In a 2007 paper, Biermann and Boas stipulated that climate refugees had to be fleeing one or more of three climate change impacts: 1) sea level rise, 2) extreme weather conditions, and 3) drought and water scarcity. Harvard’s Environmental Law Review ran an article in 2009 which defined climate change refugees, even more narrowly, as people whom climate change forces to relocate across national borders. The authors of this document also believe that we need a new, international legal instrument to deal with the plight of climate refugees guarantying them human rights protections as well as humanitarian aid. They further propose we should seek to prevent the situations which cause people to become climate refugees, remediating where prevention is not possible. There are those who separate the migration causing events even further by dividing events into sudden and gradual causation and whether the events are triggered by human activity or nature.

The closest thing we have to a working global definition is the one settled on by the United Nations, a definition markedly similar to Myer’s. The U.N. defines an environmental refugee as someone who is forced to leave their traditional habitat permanently, or temporarily, due to natural or anthropogenically caused environmental disruption. The environmental disruption may be the result of physical, chemical or biological changes in the ecosystem or resource base that render it unsuitable to support human life.

Theoretically, it does not matter what we label the millions of people who flee their homes due to environmental degradation and/or climate change because nomenclature does not change their circumstances. At the very best the label we will finally give climate refugees is a tool to ensure that they receive what we in the developed world take for granted: human rights, social justice, sufficient food, water and shelter to live a life of dignity and worth. At its worst, the final label we will give to climate refugees will be a tool of semantics; a device by which to dole out the blame and therefore the cost of these people. If climate change scientists are correct in their predictions the developed world will see climate refugees of its own. At that point a new ethical question will be wrestled with as we will have to ask ourselves “Is it ethical to treat first world refugees differently than the third world refugees who will fall victim first? “

Estimates on the number of climate refugees varies from 26 million to 1 billion by 20501; a number that can change tomorrow due to deteriorating conditions in the environment, natural disasters, as well as better, more detailed information from ongoing and new studies. The deputy high commissioner of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the U.N. agency whose primary function is the protection of refugees, said in February of 2008 that “by 2050, hundreds of millions more people may become permanently displaced due to rising sea levels, floods, droughts, famine and hurricanes. The melting or collapse of ice sheets alone threaten the homes of one in twenty people. Increased desertification and the alteration of ecosystems…. are also likely to trigger large population displacements”.

The wide range in the estimates of refugees is due to the fact that researchers use differing definitions of what actually constitutes a climate refugee and that each study works from a different set of assumptions, uses different methods, timeframes, scenarios and measures different variables.

The only thing all the definitions agree on is that climate and environmental refugees may not ever be able to return to their homes. Climate refugees will arrive in groups, since a whole area will be affected at once by any said climatic event, which is something fairly unusual as people tend to migrate or immigrate as individuals or family groups. Permanent climate change and environmental refugees will have to be assimilated into either the population of a new area of their own nation or whatever country will accept them; creating new pressures on existing services and resources.

It is naivety of the highest degree to think that we can prevent environmental refugees from coming to the developed countries of the world, or that we will not have internal refugees of our own. One needs to look no further than the Mexican-American border so see how difficult it is to successfully halt illegal immigration of a determined population. The flow of immigrants across the Mexican-American border is a small number compared to the global potential. Climate change is projected to send immigrants from South and Central America, to the United States and Canada. People fleeing North Africa and the Middle East will go to Europe and those leaving South and Southeast Asia will go to Australia. Asia in particular is seen to be the greatest source of environmental refugees globally because of their profound rise in natural disasters, due in part to Asia’s phenomenal population growth; which has moved greater numbers of people into marginal areas. Refusing asylum to climate and environmental refugees is the ultimate act of moral denial.

A secondary aspect to climate refugees which receives negligible attention is the well being of those who cannot speak for themselves; what do we do about the about the plant and animal life endangered by the same climate and environmental factors which cause humans to flee an area? According to the United Nations 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, humans have increased the species extinction rate by over one thousand times the rate it was before we emerged from the mists. The global community must deal with the ethical issues surrounding floral and faunal refugees which will share, or should share, our exoduses.

While it is impossible to predict exactly what, where, when and how the vagaries of climate change will come into play it is in a very real sense predictable as to what the outcome will be in a given area and it is prudent for us to act on that knowledge. For example, it is no secret that island states such as the Maldives and low lying areas such as Bangladesh will be affected by rising sea levels and we know the approximate number of people who will be dislocated on a permanent basis. With strategic planning the disruption to both the refugees and the receiving area can be minimized somewhat and we owe the courtesy of preparation for these events to ourselves as global citizens.

Critical Thinking

 2 in a 4 Part Series

Critics of climate change  often point out  our current environment is not the warmest period the earth has seen, which is true; the Eemian interglacial, which peaked 125,000 years ago, gave us the warmest period in the last 150,000 years. However, it’s important to note during the Eemain it was also cooler in some areas than now. What is new to the climate change scene, and what the critics fail to consider, is the greatly increased human population level we have, the marginal environments a large portion of the world’s population inhabits, and how much human activities have and continue to increase the rate of climate change as we enter into the earth’s newest warm episode. The “Blame Game” has no place in this discussion; it politicizes the issue further while it channels energy and resources away from solving the problems we face.

Two of the greatest misunderstandings, which fuel both our indifference to and the arguments about climate and environmental change are:

1)  We do not understand the difference between weather and climate nor do we realize climate change will not be uniform around the globe. Weather is a local occurrence while climate is regional and in the expansive sense of the word, global. If the current warming trend continues we will see regional and seasonal variations in climate. There will be warmer nights, fewer extremely cold days, and oddly enough, some regions will cool down while other areas of the world warm up; but the average global temperature will rise. Climate change is most evident at the higher latitudes where we see ice melting, changes in growing seasons, and migrations. It is ironic the ecosystems which are likely to suffer the most damage from a warmer climate are the tropics.  Tropical flora and fauna  are not required to adapt to seasonal changes. Research has revealed that a two degree temperature fluctuation is more than some tropical species are capable of adapt to.

2) The vastness of geological time.  Geological time is difficult for us to wrap our minds around yet, in spite of that difficulty, we couch climate change in broad, sweeping, geological terms, making “it” a thing distant from ourselves. Climate change, by and of itself, is not the problem, the rate at which current climate change is occurring however, is. We tend to think of climate change as a slow, insidious, creeping thing, which alters the world gradually. McKenzie Funk called climate change “incremental… it is an ocean that rises slowly, a glacier that melts gradually or a dry spell that lasts a little longer” in his 2009 book “Come Hell or High Water”. Like McKenzie, most of us think of typical climate change in a way similar to not realizing that someone you see every day is failing until an old acquaintance, who hasn’t seen them in a long time, stops in for a visit and takes you aside before they leave to ask you what is wrong with their friend. Paleoclimate records reveal a dramatically different version of climate change, one where drastic climate change can, and often has, occurred rapidly, in some cases taking only a few decades. There is little serious disagreement in the scientific community as to whether climate change is occurring, the disagreement is on the rate of change, the implications of those changes, and whether it is a completely natural occurrence, anthropogenic in nature or a combination of the two.

The old cliché “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it” contains a basic truth; we must learn from the experience and events of the past. Jared Diamond did a masterful job of illustrating how past societies either collapsed, dispersed, or did both when faced with major environmental change in his book “Collapse”. The climate and environmental related failures of the Anasazi and their neighboring cultures in the American Southwest, the Norse colonies in Greenland, the Haruppa, the Akkadians, and other ancient cultures is a clear signal to us from the past that climate change is a trigger event which disrupts the social, economic and political fabric of the civilizations affected. In hindsight it is easy for us to see that these ancestor societies did not understand the interconnectedness of the systems which composed their environment, the signal events taking place in their environment, or the consequences of those events. Humans tend to see themselves as extant and outside the environmental system as a whole; a conceptualization made possible because of the uniquely human ability to live in denial, something no other species is capable of doing.