My local community, Bellingham, Washington, is facing whether to allow development of the largest coal terminal in North America for shipping of massive amounts of coal to Asia.

“GPT (Gateway Pacific Terminal) filed papers for the terminal project on 2/28/11 and announced it already had a contract with Peabody Energy to export up to 24 million metric tons of coal per year – half of its planned capacity (making it the largest coal terminal on the continent). ” Source:  Community Wise Bellingham

Here’s what Bill McKibbin, environmentalist, activist, and author has to say about coal in last week’s Cascadia Weekly:

“’Consider,” McKibben observes, “’what has to happen if we’re going to deal with global warming in a real way. Concentrations of carbon dioxide greater than 350 parts per million in the atmosphere is not compatible with the planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted. The world as a whole must stop burning coal by 2030—and the developed world well before that—if we are to have any hope of ever getting the planet back down below that 350 number.’”
While writing Ancestral Blueprints: Revealing Invisible Truths in America’s Soul, I experienced many “aha” moments. One of the most sobering ones relates to the relationship between our European immigrant ancestors’ profound disconnection from the web and subsequent movement of Americans leading the way toward global warming.  “America has been producing more CO2 than any other country, and leads the industrialized world in per capita emissions. Even though China now produces as much CO2 annually, the US still produces many times more carbon per person than China, India, and most other countries. ” Source:

According to  Ancestral Blueprints “Americans have led the way toward climate change out of a context of inherited, severed relationship with indigenous European homelands and extended family networks. The immigrant, colonial experience is the backdrop for today’s disconnetion from the natural world and confusion about our human family’s place within nature’s web.

“I invite Americans from all lineages  to recognize that our ancestral blueprints — not oil reserves or coal — are America’s untapped natural energy resource…As we enter the era of exploration of energy sources invisible to the eye, like wind and solar energy, consider that our ancestors — also invisible to sight, but no less present than sun and air — are sources of guidance and sustenance for America’s soul.”

It’s from disconnection from our ancestors and the web that we got here — and it’s by reconnection that we can wake up from the trance of numbness that says climate change, energy sources, jobs, and other collective  challenges are too big. There is simply no replacement for embodied connection with who and where we come from.

Here’s to us re-membering our place in the web.

Climate change, coal, and ancestors
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6 thoughts on “Climate change, coal, and ancestors

  • June 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Date: Friday, June 3, 2011, 10:42 PM

    Dear Lisa, how sad to think of beautiful Bellingham becoming a port for shipping coal. Every word you said in your thoughts is so true. Prince Rupert, on the Canadian northern coast faces a similar possibility, shipping oil on pipelines that will cross I think from the Alberta tar sands to the coast through First Nations and so far unspoiled land. The task of shifting gears and changing direction seems so formidable. I hope your meeting regarding coal goes well. You will all be in my heart.

    Peace be with you.

    • June 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      Thanks for your well wishes and comments about Prince Rupert, Kathleen. Since writing this post, our Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike offered a listening session to learn what citizens have to say about this development. He just publicly announced his opposition, saying, “Jobs, but at what cost?” Read his inspiring letter at the following link:

      What a pleasure it was to just write him the following thank you note:

      Dear Mayor Pike,

      Thank you for your bold, clear stand for our community. I am inspired by your statement regarding the SSA Marine development.

      I attended your listening session last week. Had I joined others in submitting verbal comments, I would have asked that together we remember that Environmental Impact Statements are western culture’s way of trying to remember what Indigenous rooted cultures have not forgotten: to consider the impact of today’s decisions and practices on the seven generations that follow us. (

      Thanks again for your leadership.

      Warm Regards,
      Lisa Iversen

  • June 6, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Lisa, That is powerful. This is a very timely message in all of our lives. It really resonates with me right now. I have just finished teaching a US History class to 8th graders and we have ended just after the civil war with “Reconstruction”. It’s essentially a history of severed bonds. I appreciate that our curriculum offers a truthful depiction of the suffering of Native and African Americans in American history.

    Also, I am planning to spend a good part of the summer at a sustainable community/retreat center in Queensland, Australia. I will volunteer my time there & look forward to learning more about wind & solar energy, community living & organic farming.

    I am currently living in Asia. Coal doesn’t feel like the answer here. Nor does nuclear power. We need alternatives and a simpler life.

    Thank you for your blog post. I think so many of us are feeling the urgency for change.

    • June 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      Thanks for your comments, Erin. From Asia to Australia to the Pacific Northwest, here’s to all of us learning from one another. All blessings on your teachings and travels, Lisa

  • June 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    The European heritage and core wounding info is a brilliant piece of truth/awareness and path to healing. I have often wondered where we as a people got so off track from our indigenous roots of harmony and respect for life and land.

    Thank you!!

    • June 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      Many thanks, Shannon. Check out the photo on page 13 of this weekly’s Cascadia Weekly — hundreds of Bellingham residents (looks like most with European heritage) saying “no to coal.”


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