Essays On Blogspot

“Dance Don’t Drive: Resilient Thinking in a Turbulent World.”

I get tired of telling people I write about "the environment." Recently someone asked me what I write about andI answered, “hubris, humility, resilience, and folly.” A blank stare and an awkward silence followed - not quite the response I was looking for. Hopefully, the following essays illustrate my point.

"Dance Don’t Drive: Resilient Thinking in a Turbulent Worldis first up.It’s an abridged version of a keynote speech I delivered at a conference on sustainability organized by the Stegner Center at the University of Utah’s Law School in March of 2010.Wrap-up keynote speeches are supposed to be upbeat and this one is, though it is hard to be optimistic about the inevitability of economic and social collapse.Until we find the humility to see ourselves as bounded by the limits of a finite natural realm that includes us, we have no hope of living sustainably.Since what is unsustainable eventually fails, we need to learn how to build resilient communities and economies that can survive when the culture of faster-bigger-more fails. Citizens across the world have begun this important work – “transition” towns, “post carbon” projects, and “relocalization” networks are being built from the grassroots up.Unlimited growth for growth’s sake without regard to ecological context is folly, plain and simple.I may escape the consequences of our wasteful ignorance and hubris, but my grandchildren will not.Hopefully we will shed our self-destructive habits and reconnect ourselves to the living communities that sustain us before it is too late.

The first link is to an abridged version of my speech was published at The Catalyst Magazine, a magazine based in Salt Lake City that is run by friends. It's a great example of how a local publication can serve a community and achieve excellence. Thanks Greta and John. The second link is to a more complete version published by the University of Utah's "Environmental Law Review." The University printed many copies for distribution at conferences and so on.

A substantially edited, expanded, and improved version of this is being published by the University of Utah and printed in a booklet in the spring of 2012. the link to the booklet at Amazon is here:

I have reprinted the opening paragraphs of that newer version of Dance, Don't Drive below the links to the Catalyst and Law Review versions that follow because they are the most direct statement I have written about the subject of sustainability.

Note:if you are unfamiliar with the web format at the Catalyst site and how to navigate this page, go to the icons at the top of the text and find tools for enlarging the type.The little hand icon can be used to move the page after you enlarge it.

Catalyst version:

Law Review version:

New introduction:

"The fundamental contradiction of our time is this: we have built an all-encompassing economic engine that requires constant unending growth- a contraction of even a percent or two is a crisis -but we are embedded in ecosystems that are indeed limited.There is only so much fertile soil, so much fresh water, so many fish in the ocean.The atmosphere can only absorb only so much CO2 and stay benign.You can get around this contradiction for awhile by conquering your neighbor’s habitat after you have used up your own, by extending your natural resources through technological advancement, or by stealing from the future by using up soil, minerals, and water that your grandchildren will need.But there are limits to those familiar and largely successful strategies, too.At some point humans discover that they do not live outside the boundaries of a natural world and, as it is with every other species, if you overload the carrying capacity of your habitat, you crash."

When I am told that industrial civilization as currently configured is “unsustainable,” I think the statement is so plain and bloodless that it anesthetizes the listener.You could say, accurately enough, that a bus full of children that is careening madly down a steep road that dead-ends at a cliff is on an “unsustainable path,” too, but that description hardly conveys the horror that is likely to unfold unless that bus is stopped.Our civic discourse about sustainability needs to be reframed to convey its importance, the consequences we face, and the choices we are making. "

"Occupy Earth: Nature is the 99 Percent, too"

The Occupy Wall Street movement inspired many of us who have been on the barricades for years and waiting for others to wake up and join us. This essay was a response to Occupy's main theme, the glaring and dysfunctional disparity between the so-called 1 percent and the 99. It was my way of bearing witness and I was proud that it was distributed at Zucotti Park by a local Utah-based group, Peaceful Uprising. The essay appeared first at my friend Tom Englehardt's site, and went out far and wide from there. The link is to the version at

"After BP, the Age of Precaution?"

The ecological and economic catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the accident on BP's deep sea oil rig is, hopefully, a watershed event in our understanding of the consequences and limitations of our carbon-based industrial way of life. I wrote an essay for about the meaning of the disaster. The original title is above. Writers don't always get to have the titles they choose - that's negotiated with editors and I've never been too pleased with what Alternet's editors do to my titles. Still, I am thankful for the coverage.

Throughout my work as an organizer/activist, I confronted again and again a regulatory regime based on the notion that risks from technology can be adequately assessed by hired "experts." Most risk assessments were woefully inadequate even by their own minimum (and delusional) standards. The bogus risk assessments justified all sorts of dubious projects that endangered people and creatures who live downwind and downstream from them. I named the first grassroots organization I co-founded Families Against Incinerator Risk because the acronym was FAIR. It spoke to a theme we repeated as we organized: risk is not a math problem to be solved by distant experts, but is a question about who is put at risk and for whose benefit, about whether the distribution of risks, liabilities, costs, rewards, and benefits is FAIR. Those are political questions that should be answered in an open, inclusive, and informed civic dialog. Based on my hard experiences with our current risk assessment regime, I believe a paradigm based on the precautionary principle is a better model.

"How the Peaceful Atom Became a Serial Killer"

The tragic nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima facility in Japan was another wake-up call that tells us that nuclear power is not the answer to our energy crisis. My essays on nuclear power can be found further down at this blogspot in the "older posts." I put this one up front because it is my most recent essay on the subject and because the catastrophe at Fukushima is ongoing. Consider this testimony from someone who spent many years on the frontlines of struggles to keep nuclear utilities from rolling over impoverished people and remote communities in the American West. Friends and neighbors are "downwinders." The essay speaks for itself. The link is to the copy at Mother Jones. As is the case with most of my writing, the essay first appeared at and went across the web from there.

"How the West Was Lost" or "Fire's Manifest Destiny"

Another recent essay, this one solicited by my friend/mentor Tom Englehardt for his web site and out from there to scores of other sites. Epic wildfires are becoming routine in the West as the weather becomes more extreme and unpredictable on a globally warming planet. This piece generated a surprising volume of hysterical hate mail. I was labeled a "warmist," a term I had not heard before. My critics called me a clueless idiot or a clever conspirator, depending on if they saw me as a conscious agent of the global warming hoax or a mere "sock puppet" of the real conspirators. I am no stranger to hostile responses. I encountered plenty of that while organizing campaigns to make polluters accountable. But in those cases, jobs and profits were at stake. In this instance I had only offered observations and opinions about forest fires. I suspect that my critics understand intuitively that admitting humans have altered the very climate of the planet we live on and then deciding to do something about it means that an entire way of life and way of looking at life is threatened. Ideas about the necessity and value of economic growth, of progress and success, are challenged as soon as we get it into our heads that the earth is finite and has a carrying capacity that cannot be indefinitely violated. Here is the essay as it appeared at Huffington Post:

"The Big Bad Wolf Makes Good: A Yellowstone Success Story"

Over the years I have researched and written about conservation issues, I have been inspired by the conservation biologists I have met. They are devoted to both the rigors of science and also to the health and integrity of the ecosystems they study. In Yellowstone, they put forward a bold experiment that worked - a cherished and unraveling American ecosystem is being restored. Sadly, outside of Yellowstone, uncivil and hyperbolic discourse has muted the valuable lessons we could be learning about the ecological role of large "charismatic carnivores." Ranchers understand that restoring wolves to Western landscapes requires change they don't want. Hunters understand that the days of fat elk and easy hunting are over. But do the rest of us understand what is at stake?

A shorter version of this essay appeared in the Los Angeles Times. From there, it went to the Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Kansas City Star, Denver Post... In its original and complete form, it appeared first at and then to the usual online sites that my essays go to - Huffington Post, Truthout, Mother Jones, Atlantic Free Press, and dozens of others, even the CBS web site. Although I appreciate the broader audience I got from the LA Times, I prefer the full version and the link to that at Tom Englehart's blog is below.

**“It has been the design of Jehovah, from the commencement of the world, and is His purpose now, to regulate the affairs of the world in His own time, to stand as a head of the universe, and take the reins of government in His own hand. When that is done, judgment will be administered in righteousness; anarchy and confusion will be destroyed, and ‘nations will learn war no more.’ It is for want of this great governing principle, that all this confusion has existed. … The Lord has at various times commenced this kind of government, and tendered His services to the human family.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [1974] 250-51; emphasis added)


      Adamic Theocracy

a.       Adam given dominion over all the earth Moses 2:26-28

                                                               i.      Joseph Smith: The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed, as in Gen. 1:26, 27, 28. He had dominion given him over every living creature.  (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007] 104)

b.      Theocratic Government (Patriarchal Order) under direction of God established Moses 6:1-22; D&C 107:40-52

                                                               i.      McConkie: A theocracy cannot operate except among righteous people who voluntarily submit to its authority. Under this system of government, which is the Lord's way of ruling on earth, there is and must be absolute freedom of worship. It is, in effect, a system of government in which the Church, which is the kingdom of God on earth, rules over the Lord's people. The Church, being true and being the Lord's, of necessity administers the gospel. The gospel is the plan of salvation presented by the Father in the Grand Council, the chief characteristic of which is agency. Thus, in a theocracy, "men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil." The theocracy of the Adamic age was patriarchal, and from Adam to Noah all the legitimate powers of government, both civil and religious, descended from father to son. That is to say, government in all its forms and with all its powers was centered in the family. (A New Witness for the Articles Faith [1985] 657-58; emphasis added)

2.       False and Imitation Theocracy

    1. Cain established an imitation theocracy (Moses 5: 18-42)
    2. McConkie: “And thus the pattern was set. Ever thereafter, when evil and carnal men set up governments of compulsion, governments in which the secular arm imposed a way of worship upon men, such governments were not of God and such ways of worship had no divine approval.” (A New Witness for the Articles Faith [1985] 658)

3.       Enoch's Theocracy Moses 7

    1. McConkie: By the time of Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, the population of the earth was great and the governments among men diverse. Adam and his faithful seed gloried in their divine system of government; Cain and his seed, and all who had fallen away, had nations and governments and religions—imposed religions—of their own. Up to this point in time, a separation of church and state had never entered the minds of men. All anyone knew about was a government that controlled both civically and religiously. When Enoch preached among the wicked, made converts, and built his City of Holiness, that original Zion operated so perfectly upon theocratic principles that the Lord of heaven himself came and dwelt with his people. So perfect was the system and so righteous were the people that they received instruction from the Lord in person as well as from his duly constituted servants on earth. What better system of government could there be? Providentially it is one that will differ only in size and complexity from the government that shall prevail over all the earth when the Lord reigns during the Millennial era. (A New Witness for the Articles Faith [1985] 659; emphasis added.)
    2. McConkie: “After the immersion of the earth in the waters of Noah came a day of new beginning. As in Adam's day, the faithful lived under a theocratic system, and as in the days before the flood, those who chose to live after the manner of the world set up their own governments and their own ways of worship. The seed of Shem, Ham, and Japheth began to populate the earth, and it so continued for more than four hundred years, when Abraham, who received theocratic power from Melchizedek, went down into Egypt. There he found a descendant of Ham, reigning as Pharaoh, whose government was patterned after the patriarchal governments of old, but which was devoid of priesthood and revelation, and hence, as far as worship is concerned—a worship prescribed, mandated, and commanded by Pharaoh—had turned to ‘idolatry.’ (Abraham 1:20-27.) “That which prevailed in Egypt was symbolical of false worship among all peoples and races of the day. No one was free to worship as he chose; all people in all nations worshipped as their governments prescribed, and the head of their government was ordinarily the head of their religious system. This is a concept we must understand if we are to put the worship of all people in all ages in its proper perspective. The worship of the world was decreed and required by Satan, who proposed in preexistence to deny men their agency and save all mankind by forcing them to worship as he decreed.”  (A New Witness for the Articles Faith [1985] 660

4.       Theocracy reestablished through Moses

    1. Joseph Smith: When the children of Israel were chosen with Moses at their head, they were to be a peculiar people, among whom God should place His name; their motto was: "The Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our Judge; the Lord is our King; and He shall reign over us." While in this state they might truly say, "Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord." Their government was a theocracy; they had God to make their laws, and men chosen by Him to administer them; He was their God, and they were His people.  Moses received the word of the Lord from God Himself; he was the mouth of God to Aaron, and Aaron taught the people, in both civil and ecclesiastical affairs; they were both one, there was no distinction; so will it be when the purposes of God shall be accomplished: when "the Lord shall be King over the whole earth" and "Jerusalem His throne." "The law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [1974] 252)
    2. McConkie: Israel inherited the patriarchal system from the Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and, with the exodus from Egypt, it was renewed by revelation given to Moses.  Ancient Israel was a theocracy.  God governed.  He revealed his religion; he called his prophets; he designated the Levites as the priests; he appointed judges and kings; and he defined their foreign policy and directed when they should go to war.                                                 (A New Witness for the Articles Faith [1985] 660)

5.       Israelite Government

a.       Government with God at the Head

b.      The law was administered according to "The Law of Moses"

c.       Administered by three categories of people:

                                                               i.      Religious Officers

1.       High Priest (Urim & Thummim) 1 Samuel 28:6

2.       Priests & Levites:

a.       Residence: Num. 25:1-8; Num 35:2-8

                                                                                                                                       i.      Levitical Cities - Only tribe who did not receive land of an inheritance. About 40 cities were interspersed among all other tribes, where they carried out the following:

b.      Responsibilities:

                                                                                                                                       i.      Teaching Law Lev. 10:11, Deut 33:10

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Ceremonies & Ordinances

                                                             ii.      Civic Offices (Joshua 24:1)

1.       General Level:

a.       Chief Judge Deut. 17:8-13

2.       Local Level:

a.       Elders Deut. 19:12

b.      Judges & Officers Deut 16:18

                                                            iii.      Prophetic Offices (Instructors, Warners) Deut. 18:9-22

1.       Prophets, Men of God (and Angels)

2.       Scriptural Examples:

a.       Jonah

b.      Lehi

c.       Samuel the Lamanite

d.      Abinidai

3.       Duties

a.       Seers & Revelators (1 Sam 28:6)                                  

b.      Preaching (2 Chron. 15:1-13)

c.       Warning (1 Sam. 2:27-36)

                                                           iv.      Kings introduced into Law of Moses (Works as long as King acknowledges higher power of God)

1.       What happened in the days of wicked and rebellious kings? They simply instituted their own ways of worship, appointed their own priests, and, when it pleased them so to do, commanded the worship of Baal, or Ashtoreth, or Molech, or whatever deity pleased their fancy. The religions of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and all the nations that inhabited the land before Israel, were state religions. The worship in Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, and all the nations of the Gentiles was by government edict. People were not free to choose their own gods and to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. In the minds of the credulous and superstitious Gentiles, the issues of war and peace, life and death, national survival or defeat were all tied in to the proposition of whose god was the greatest – Baal or Jehovah; the god of the Assyrians or the God of Jacob; the gods of the Canaanites or the Lord of Hosts who camped with Joshua; the god of whatever nation or the God of Israel. (A New Witness for the Articles Faith [1985] 661)

6.       The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

    1. BIBLE DICTIONARY: (Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven) The kingdom of God on earth is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (D&C 65). The purpose of the Church is to prepare its members to live forever in the celestial kingdom or kingdom of heaven. However, the scriptures sometimes call the Church the kingdom of heaven, meaning that the Church is the kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth, but it is at present limited to an ecclesiastical kingdom. During the Millennium, the kingdom of God will be both political and ecclesiastical.

b.      Elder Oaks talk on Priesthood roles in the church and priesthood roles in the family.,+family,+patriarchal

c.       Said Brigham Young: “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. … Let every man and woman know, by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.” (JD, vol. 9, p. 150.)

** The first portion of these notes on government largely come from the work of Bruce Satterfield

This list is not complete, and is a work in progress

Time PeriodReligious OfficeCivic OfficeProphets / Warners / Teachers
Aaron / EleazarMosesMoses?
Eli / SamuelSamuel (Judge)Samuel
1000-961Abiathar / ZadokDavidSamuel / Nathan / Gad?
975-957RehoboamAhijah / Shemaiah
954NadabOded / Azariah
953BaashaHanani / Jehu
914JehoshaphatElijah / Micaiah
898AhaziahJahaziel / Eliezer
897JehoramElisha / Obadiah
826Jeroboam IIHosea / Jonah
811Azariah or UzziahAmos
715-687HezekiahIsaiah / Micah
640-609Hilkiah (Daniel in Babylon)JosiahHuldah (woman), Jeremiah, Zephaniah (woman), Hananiah
597-590Jeremiah - High PriestMattaniah - Zedekiah KingEzekiel / Lehi
520JoshuaZerubbabel - Governor of JudahHaggai / Zechariah
444Nehemiah - Gov. of Judea
413JoiadaNehemiah - Gov. of Judea
321Onias I
300Simon the Just
250Onias II
217Simon II
195Onias III
156Jonathan - Ruler of Judea
142Simon - Prince of the Jews
135John Hyrcanus
105Alexander Jannaeus
78Hyrcanus IIAlexandra
41Herod / Phasael - Tetrarchs
0-33Ananus / CaiaphasHerodJohn the Baptist: Jesus Christ
Time PeriodReligious OfficeCivic OfficeProphets / Warners / Teachers
600 BCJeremiahKing ZedekiahLehi
544Jacob?King NephiJacob/Joseph have 'spirit of much prophecy', "Consecrated preists and teachers…"Jacob 1:6, 18; Jacob 2:2-3; 2 Ne. 5:26
544Jacob / Joseph ("errand from the lord" - Jacob 1:17)King Nephi II (Jacob 1:9, 15)Jacob/Joseph
Enos?"Exceedingly many prophets"
"Mighty men in the faith of the Lord" (Jarom 1:7)Jarom"Many among us who have many revelations", "Prophets of the Lord", "Prophets, priests, and teachers…"
Mosiah I (seer - interpreted writings)King Mosiah I (Omni 1:19)
King Benjamin (WOM 17)"the holy prophets", "Many holy men", "the prophets", "Just men appointed"
Alma I (Mosiah 6:3; 23:16; 26:7-8)King Mosiah II (Mosiah 1:15)
False PriestsKing Noah - False GovernmentAbinidai (Mosiah 26:15)
91 BCAlma II (Mosiah 29:42); Giddonah (Alma 30:23); Ammon "…over that people…" (Alma 30:20)Alma II - 1st of General Chief Judges (younger); Mosiah 29:42; Alma 4:4; Local Chief Judge mentioned in Alma 30:21,29Alma II (Alma 16:5 - has "spirit of prophecy"), "Fellow laborers -over the church" Mosiah 26:38
83 BCNephihah (Alma 4:17,20)
73 BCHelaman I (Alma 37:1; 45:20-23)Chief Judges (Alma 46:34); Captain Moroni"Priests and Teachers" Helaman 3:25
68/67Pahoran I (Alma 50:39-40)
52Pahoran II (Hel 1:1,5)
52Pacumeni (Hel 1:13)
50Helaman II (Hel 2:1-2)
39Nephi II (Hel 3:37)Samuel the Lamanite
30Cezoram (Hel 4:18;5:1)
26Cezoram's son (Hel 6:15
Seezoram (Hel 6:39; 9:23
1Lachoneus I (3 Ne 1:1)
30Lachoneus II (3 Ne 6:19)
Nephi III
AD 110Amos I
AD 194Amos II
AD 305Ammaron
AD 321-335Mormon
AD 385Moroni


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