Too much, unfortunately.

This past week I watched the new Netflix film, Radium Girls. Radium Girls were the young women who painted luminous watch faces with radium paint and were taught by their supervisors to shape the brushes with their lips to keep their work precise. Of course, they got radium poisoning, their bones (where radium concentrates) turning cancerous or crumbling in their bodies — including pieces of their jaws literally falling out.

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1921 magazine advertisement for Undark, a product of the Radium Luminous Material Corporation which was involved in the Radium Girls scandal. Retouched version (Public Domain from Wikipedia)

The story focuses on two sisters and two other Radium Girls who sued the United States Radium Corporation for damages. …

Perhaps instead of doing more for the climate, we simply need to do more nothing. So why not #DoNothingForTheClimate for a day?

Lately, I’ve been reading an increasing number of articles about how many young people now suffer from climate anxiety, and watching talks about how young climate organizers are “burning out,” including this Keynote presentation from the 2020 Bioneers conference by youth organizer, Jamie Margolin, cofounder of the climate organization, Zero Hour. As an environmental organizer in the early 2000s, I certainly saw many colleagues chewed up and spit out by the organizations I worked for and with. …

Reining in nukes is essential in case the United States fails

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Montage of an inert test of a United States Trident submarine launched ballistic missile. (From Wikipedia)

Dear President Biden,

As you noted in a tweet shortly after protestors stormed the Capitol on January 6th, “Today is a reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile.” Indeed it is. And so are nation-states.

The fall of the Soviet Union is surely well-cemented in your memory. And history shows time and again that empires end, sometimes surprisingly quickly. …

Two new Gaian Kōans help us explore the universe and the nature of Gaia.

During dinner one evening, a student turns to her teacher and asks, “Teacher, is Gaia unique in the universe or are there other planetary beings like Gi?”

The teacher puts her spoon down, looks at her student, and replies:


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The name of this photo is: ” Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way.” How could I not use it? [Gaia is the name of the satellite] (ESA/ATG medialab; background: ESO/S. Brunier)

Truthfully, this needs no commentary. Just as all humans are unique but have the same 99.9 …

Introducing the Babylonian Breath Meditation: a new meditation and a new way to count.

Is there any other way to count on your fingers other than by tens? Sure, you could count by fives but that’s kind of the same thing. Or ones. But that’s not what I mean. We’re such a product of our culture that few of you probably said by threes or by twelves — the answer I was looking for. But the ancient Babylonians counted by twelves not by tens on their hands. How?

It’s surprisingly simple: each finger has three segments. So use your left…

Will this be a year of unprecedented consumerism or a year of bold and beautiful climate action?

2020 was a year lived in fear — fear of the surprise arrival of a novel coronavirus, of not understanding it, of getting it, of watching a loved one get it — never being sure if they’d survive. Now, with the vaccine being distributed (4.2 million doses have been given in the US as of 01/02/21), I find myself, probably like many others, daydreaming about what I’m going to do post-COVID. But that brings about a new kind of fear. As we get…

Perhaps a little ‘good trouble’ now will ward off the greater trouble ahead.

The Earth is not dying.
Gaia is not changing.
Gi is responding.

So often we hear the phrase ‘save the world’ or the ‘save our planet.’ We may even use it. But sometime back in my career someone wise corrected that, explaining that the planet is not dying but changing — and through that change many species, including our own, will probably die. But the Earth, in all likelihood, will not die.*

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Save the Earth, I stand for the Earth, Make our Planet Great Again are sentiments visible in this scene from a climate strike. (photo of 2019 Geneva Climate Strike from MHM55)

But to say the Earth is changing, just as to say it is dying, is…

Is meditation a distraction from action or is it essential in rehabilitating our brains and our relationship with Gaia?

A final endnote in last week’s reflection brought me down an unexpected path this week. I had wondered whether humans could move out of their swarm state — possibly neurochemically induced as locusts’ behaviors are — through exercises to modulate their neurobiochemistry. In other words, can we meditate our way out of this crisis?

I ask that question because over the past few months, as I’ve taken to meditating more, I’ve also come across a couple of sharp critiques of meditation…

Exploring outbreak population dynamics, epidemics, and behavior changes.

We’re in an outbreak currently. But I don’t mean the COVID pandemic. It turns out that outbreak has a second definition: it means when populations grow dramatically large, beyond their carrying capacities. As David Quammen details in his book Spillover, disease outbreaks can be considered “as a subset” in this broader category. [495]

In Spillover, Quammen goes into detail about one outbreak — that of tent caterpillars — and how, inevitably, it is controlled by a virus that literally melts them from the inside. These viruses are then eaten by other caterpillars…

Walking you through a diverse ecosystem of Tree Meditations.

Trees have somehow become central in my life experience these days. I’m in the woods far more during COVID-times than I used to be. But more than that, trees seem to be in the news a lot now, from forests burning down to critiques of a 75-foot Norway Spruce being chopped down to bring ‘cheer’ and a refugee owl to Rockefeller Center.

Even last week’s quotation from the Center for Spirituality in Nature was tree-themed:

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to…

Erik Assadourian

Sustainability researcher, ecophilosopher, Gaian, and father of one.

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