The Weekly Watch

Directing the Flow with the Magic of Water

What a long, wet week its been. About a foot of rain last week. It rained every day. It's just breaking up today with a forecast of a few dry sunny days. So with water flowing everywhere, it seems a natural topic for this column. Like other lifeforms, we are mostly water. Water is life. Over two thirds of our planet is covered with water. However less than 2% is fresh water, and most of that tied up as ice. As the climate continues to become more extreme, we can expect both more droughts and more flooding. However if we manage our environment sustainably we can cope with these wild variations.

water cycle.jpg

Consider the same farm flooding and in a drought. The same design and management scheme helps the farm to weather both extremes. Let's look at a permaculture approach in Australia in both extremes...(10 min)

...and the same farm a year or two earlier in drought. (4.5 min)

Every ecosystem is unique. Here in NE Alabama, the temperate deciduous forests are the sponge and the storage. Before the advent of fossil fuels (somewhere around 1900), the forest provided fuel and raw materials for construction and so on. Lookout Mountain was denuded. Even as coal was mined on the mountain, trees were used.

FtPayne1889 021.jpg

By the turn of the century erosion was extensive across the south. Cotton is not a nutrient demanding crop, but it takes a long time to mature, accelerating erosion with mule width rows and bare soils. Southern soils were washed away. The dust bowl awoke many, and
in the '30's, FDR's SCS (soil conservation service) assisted farmers in creating terraces and other water management projects (as did TVA).

This is nothing new. Humans have dealt with both flood and drought over time. When studentofearth was writing his farm reports, he had a pivot to China. As a result I learned about the Great Yu a historical myth famed for his water engineering.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6ZqdrBwGYI (3 min)

Remnants of 5000 year old canals, dikes, and dams have recently been discovered.

Four years of research have revealed that the water management system of the Liangzhu, an agricultural Neolithic society known for their jade objects, took an estimated 3,000 people nearly a decade to build, and pushes back the date of China's earliest known large-scale water engineering project to about 5,100 years ago.

https://www.newsweek.com/ancient-china-colossal-waterway-system-built-50...

The artificial control of water at Liangzhu enabled an unprecedented scale of rice farming and support of thousands of people within the city’s sphere of influence, but furthermore it represented an opportunity to consolidate political power. This political aspect cannot be observed directly in an ancient archaeological context without written records, yet it can be inferred through the numbers of functional elements in the Liangzhu hydraulic landscape, the scale and complexity of labor organization, and associated religious beliefs potentially reflecting social order and political authority. A labor force of thousands of people must have been organized in divisions and possible subdivisions by a central authority and likely an organizational hierarchy.

https://www.pnas.org/content/114/52/13637

Two thousand years after Yu, around 250 BC, Li Bing, built the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project. This system is still in use.

Dujiangyan is the oldest and only surviving no-dam irrigation system in the world; and a wonder in the development of Chinese science. The project consists of three important parts, namely Yuzui, Feishayan and Baopingkou scientifically designed to automatically control the water flow of the rivers from the mountains to the plains throughout the year.

Yuzui, like a big fish lying in the Minjiang River, is a watershed dividing the river into two parts: inner river and outside river. Feisha Yan is a spillway that diverts the sand and stones of the inner river into the outer river. Baoping Kou, like a neck of a bottle, is used to bring water into the inner river from Minjiang. At the same time, Baoping Kou controls the amount of the intake water due to its reasonable location. These three parts interact with each other perfectly to form an effective water conservancy project. During the low-water season, 60% of the Minjiang water is brought into the inner river for irrigation while 40% of the water is drawn into the outside river. The situation is reversed in the flood season ensuring the water supply for irrigation and protection from flooding on the Chengdu Plain.

The Dao philosophy came about as these projects were created...

Very little is known about the author of the DAO DE JING, which is attributed to Lao-zi. According to the historian Sima Qian who wrote about 100 BC, Lao-zi lived during the sixth century BC in the state of Chu in China and in the imperial capital Luoyang held the office of shi which in ancient China meant a keeper of the archives and sacred books who also may have been skilled in astrology and divination.

http://www.san.beck.org/Laotzu.html
Water Metaphors in Dao de jing: A Conceptual Analysis
Water is explicitly described as sustaining the growth of 萬物wan wu “everything in the world” but willing to dwell at the lowest places. For this reason, it resembles the features of dao. In other chapters, it is described as flowing from higher to lower places and the lower it goes, the greater the power it gathers. it appears to be soft and weak, but it can overcome the hard and strong ...

Nothing in the world is as soft and weak as water and yet in attacking what is hard and strong, there is nothing that can surpass it

Dao flows easily which can run in any direction. Dao is the pouring together of all things. One of the central concepts of Dao de jing is the the image of water flowing downwards to gather its strength. Moreover, strength-through-weakness can be thought of as supporting Dao de jing’s view on the relationship between the two opposites.

Water is and has been a spiritual guide for many civilizations.
Master Gu explains the yin yang and touches on how water reflects it's nature
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJNEvjwipO0 (8 min)
Master Gu on finding your Yin Yang balance
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFhZo4QjhQI (9 min)

First nations people also have a spiritual relationship with water. A story from Pat McCabe, a Navajo and Lakota activist, explains how to tap into the magic and mystery of water.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeeAMNxuqio (5 min)

So it is in the nature of things to see...

Flood

flood.jpg


Normal or typical flow

normal.jpg


...and Drought

(standing on the top of the falls looking upstream)
drought.jpg
The yin and yang of rain.

So to manage water, you slow down its flow and create storage features like swales and ponds. You use the contours, the topography of the land to design for good water management. https://permaculturenews.org/2013/02/22/before-permaculture-keyline-plan...

keyline.jpg

The first Keyline book was published in 1954. In it, P.A. Yeomans exploded the myth that it takes 1,000 years to produce an inch of topsoil. Yeomans pioneered, among other things, the use of farm irrigation dams in Australia, as well as chisel plows and subsoil aerating rippers. Yeomans perfected a system of amplified contour ripping that controlled rainfall run off and enabled the fast flood irrigation of undulating land with out the need for terracing.
http://www.keyline.com.au/

Keyline planning
A keyline design is unique to each property and will be formed from evaluation of water movements over the land with the idea of controlling and making use of this resource in the management of the land.
Water movement over the land and the land's features are directly related to each other, and water resources can only be used if they can be controlled.
Other factors such as climate, geology and rainfall patterns originally determined the land's topography. Water is the main focus in keyline planning as this is one variable which is easily controlled and manipulated.

Keyline cultivation
Once the keypoints and keylines have been identified the control of water movement over the land can be achieved through a keyline pattern of cultivation.
Keyline cultivation aims to spread the run-off water away from the centre of the valley to minimise the flow concentration in this area.
By cultivating parallel to identified keylines, both above and below the line, a cultivation pattern is developed which spreads the run-off evenly across the valley and does not allow the water to follow its natural path and concentrate in the valleys. This aids in the stabilisation of the valley and increases its ability to resist erosion and wash-outs.

http://www.keyline.com.au/liqasset.htm

keyline-plowed.jpg

Ironically this is also the technique to green deserts. Using the process and other tricks to capture water. Watch this desert project become green (10 years in 4 minutes)...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W69kRsC_CgQ
Here's more on the construction of wicking beds (which might be of interest to those of you gardening in a dry climate.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxXfa0YGQvM (8.5 min)

So we know we face ever more extremes. Higher temperatures means air can hold more water, thus increasing the severity of both droughts and floods. Managing water is something humans have done for thousands of years. Perhaps we have forgotten more than we remember, but new ways of practicing these old techniques are emerging.

So why all this focus on agriculture, water, and soils? Well it really touches all the issues we usually discuss at c99. The level of change required to escape extinction can't be overstated. Reconnecting to the planet is something we must do in order to survive. The society, the global community will have to be restructured. I think the sunrise movement, extinction rebellion, and Greta's school strikes show us that young people are ready for that change. We can and should help. Be a gardening revolutionary.

revolution.jpg

"The ultimate purpose of farming is not the cultivation of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of the human being"

Masanobu Fukuoka, the Author of 'The One-Straw Revolution', and the originator of Natural or 'do-nothing' farming.

This green revolution is political, and water is a perfect example of what I mean. Consider the water crisis in California for example...
After years of drought, California has finally had a deluge of rain. But with much of the state's water supply being sent to LA, people in drought-affected areas feel they've been left high and dry. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ts8PfO4KSk (22 min)

Supply isn't the only issue. Pollution can make an ample water supply toxic.

Notice how no one mentions Flint anymore? Well their water still contains lead...
Jordan Chariton is still reporting on the situation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7E_ORlzRIwQ (10 min)

Contaminated groundwater is common. I would have my well tested if I lived near a military base or superfund site. In more than a dozen other states, the Air Force has acknowledged contaminating drinking water in communities close to its bases. They finally admit it.
https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/01/06/contaminated-groundwater-...
For more on this topic, here's an interview with two investigative reporters focused on this problem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifvZo7fmHmc (15 min)

When the MSM covers water issues they always seem to focus on the third world global south. Here's a National Geo / p&g piece about the very real water crisis people face, and how clean water can change peoples lives..but it is presented as a third world problem.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vsgVqsZ3Po (44 min)

Cape Town may be the first major city to run out of water. They are in crisis.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iamRLhjuZwA (24 min)

Water (and food) is political and has been through time.

Vandana Shiva was interviewed about her new book, “Oneness vs. the 1%.” Shiva is an Indian scholar, physicist, and food sovereignty and seed freedom advocate. She was was born in Doon Valley in the Himalayan foothills.

...central India is called Vidarbha. It is the place where Gandhi moved to create his final ashram, to create a totally democratic society. And for him, democracy began with economic democracy. You’ve got to produce what you need. That’s why he pulled at the spinning wheel. And for me, the seed is today’s spinning wheel.

...in the United States, half the farmlands are overtaken by superweeds. The most important one is Palmer amaranth. Amaranth is a sacred crop for us. We eat it. Now, the U.S. Defense system DARPA and Bill Gates have joined hands for a new technology called gene drives to push species to extinction. And they want to drive the amaranth to extinction. And there’s a footnote in that report saying, “Oh, yeah, there will be a food insecurity impact on India. They eat amaranth.” No, there will be a food security impact on the world. There is an—this is an acceleration of the race to extinction. It is immoral. It should be made illegal.

So, we’ve just done a book on biodiversity, agroecology and regenerative organic agriculture, which is 31 years of our practice and research, because I can’t see thinking separate from action. We find we can feed two times India’s population—two times India’s population—by conserving biodiversity, providing more nutrition per acre, the more biodiverse the system, and organic systems produce more nutrition. Farmers earn 10 times more by not spending precious money on chemicals and big machines.

And the Monsantos and the Bayers of the world are imagining an agriculture without farmers, farming without farmers, farming with drones, farming with spyware in the tractors, farming with robots, farming with artificial intelligence. They’re talking about digital agriculture where you don’t need people. But that means no one to care for the land, because agriculture means care for the land.

You get rid of chemicals, you get rid of fossil fuels, and you start doing organic, all that excess carbon can be pulled back by the plants and put back in the soil, which is why I wrote the book Soil Not Oil. When you put nitrogen-fixing plants, the pulses—you know, everyone’s now talking of plant-based diets, proteins from plants. We did it in India forever with our lovely dal, our pulses. They fix nitrogen nonviolently. You don’t have to blast fossil fuels at high temperature to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The plants have the intelligence to do it, peacefully, and give us good protein, the same way, while fixing the broken nitrogen cycle, which if you look at the planetary boundaries graph, the nitrogen cycle is and the biodiversity system is the most abused.

https://www.democracynow.org/2019/2/22/vandana_shiva_we_must_fight_back
(worth watching or reading the entire interview)

To tie this all together, and emphasize the way it is all connected, I want to feature this interview with Dahl Jamail and Chris Hedges...(27 min)

There is so much more to discuss about the magic of water. It is a polar or magnetic molecule. It expands when it freezes (so that ice floats). It releases (or requires) great energy to change phases...solid, liquid, and vapor. It heats differently than land masses creating winds and currents. The ancients considered it to be one of the four elements of the universe. Quite simply, water is life. Too much water and we drown. Not enough, and we die of dehydration. It is a balance, which adds to the spiritual nature people place on water. The way we live on our planet is a balance that we currently are tipping in the direction of extinction. It is beyond politics (although that plays a role), and requires we adapt to this rapid change which is coming. Water will be key in our transition and will require planning, justice, and equity.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

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Lookout's picture

...and some are easier than we think. Consider this fellows project to change his Texas environment...(8 min)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSPkcpGmflE

I forgot to add this to the essay so I'll just drop it in here.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Raggedy Ann's picture

Great topic, water. I enjoyed the short vid in your comment above. Our native grasses also have those long roots, which is why I get infuriated with our state for promoting the planting of Kentucky blue grass. In fact, one of those grass operations is just a half mile east of my home. Our native grasses do not provide the lush green that people desire, because they are drought tolerant and yellow and green alternately with moisture. People can't seem to live with that anomaly.

Our home sits on the bottom of an old lake bed, so we have that same limestone problem. The dairy farmers are depleting our aquifer by raising corn and alphalfa, two of the most water-thirsty crops (which is why I stay away from dairy as much as possible) and now we need to drill a new well, probably have to go 350-400 feet. It's a shame we are not good tenets of our earth, but science isn't real, after all.

Well, better go back and read/listen more!

Have a beautiful Sunday, folks! Pleasantry

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"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." E.M.Foster

Lookout's picture

@Raggedy Ann

Here's a more in-depth look at that project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xcZS7arcgk (37 min)

Thanks for coming by and reading. Always enjoy your visits.

EDIT to add -
A bit of trivia...
As to roots, Louis Bromfield taught me that trick in his Malabar Farm book series. In Ohio he used the long roots of alfalfa to pull nutrients up from deep in the soil. Additional alfalfa is a nitrogen fixing crop. He brought his family farm into high fertility and productivity.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

I find myself questioning everything I've ever done because the passion has been beaten out of me by the system. That's right. I'm completely jaded.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

Lookout's picture

@The Aspie Corner

....with career and school, wondering if there is a way to take your talents and use them to create a business which you could operate from home or within walking distance. We could help you with initial fund raising if that is an issue.

So I may be talking out of line, but an independent occupation is liberating and you're no longer under someone else's thumb. Is this something you are (or would) consider?

Wishing you the best!

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The Aspie Corner's picture

@Lookout Given that I sent out hundreds of resumes in 2 years with only a single callback that ended in a stopped interview because I couldn't drive to multiple locations, I should have just seen the writing on the wall and moved on.

After everything I've experienced in life I have no desire to manage or be managed by anyone. I don't want to play the game anymore. There's no incentive. No light at the end of the tunnel.

I did try a home business before and it didn't go anywhere. How would I do it this time?

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

Lookout's picture

@The Aspie Corner

I have some thoughts. Take or leave them. Please take no offense...it's all I can think to offer.

I have no desire to manage or be managed by anyone. I don't want to play the game anymore.

Me either. I was told to play the game one time. They came up with some absurd rule that when we returned our student's standardized test booklets to the councilor we must count them out loud as we returned them. I had counted them after I took them up from the kids, to make sure I had them all - 36 kids in my homeroom (and classes). Took them to the office telling them all 36 were there. "Count them out loud." Me: No you recount them if you them if you want. Principal came to me asking me to just play the game. I did, I called in sick the rest of testing period.

Pete Seeger was good at not playing the game...

In the 1970s, Pete Seeger was invited to sing in Barcelona, Spain. Francisco Franco's fascist government, the last of the dictatorships that started World War II, was still in power but declining. A pro-democracy movement was gaining strength and to prove it, they invited America's best-known freedom singer to Spain. More than a hundred thousand people were in the stadium, where rock bands had played all day. But the crowd had come for Seeger.

As Pete prepared to go on, government officials handed him a list of songs he was not allowed to sing. Pete studied it mournfully, saying it looked an awful lot like his set list. But they insisted: he must not sing any of these songs. Pete took the government's list of banned songs and strolled on stage. He held up the paper and said, “I've been told that I'm not allowed to sing these songs.” He grinned at the crowd and said, “So I'll just play the chords; maybe you know the words. They didn't say anything about *you* singing them.” He strummed his banjo to one song after another, and they all sang. A hundred thousand defiant freedom singers breaking the law with Pete Seeger, filling the stadium with words their government did not want them to hear, words they all knew and had sung together, in secret circles, for years. What could the government do? Arrest a hundred thousand singers? It had been beaten by a few banjo chords and the fame of a man whose songs were on the lips of the whole world.

- Scott Alarik, Revival

https://forum.bandmix.com/viewtopic.php?p=229447

There's no incentive. No light at the end of the tunnel.

My concept is you must create a imagine of what you want your life to be. Do what you love and speaks to you. Don't look at the money you can make, but at the joy it will bring.

I did try a home business before and it didn't go anywhere. How would I do it this time?

If it is something you enjoy, that enriches you. You just do it. Persistence is the key to any dream or goal. I'm not saying it is easy. But you have to be the person you are in order to find contentment...No one can tell you what that is. The only answer is in you.

Just my thoughts on how to seek happiness, and nothing to diminish you efforts. The system is fucked up...figure out a way to side step it.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Bisbonian's picture

So much to pick through, here. The wicking planters were very interesting. I would sure love to do it without plastic, though. We'll be putting up a greenhouse, soon, definitely going to have raised beds inside, and the wicking looks like a tremendous idea...except for plastic tubs, plastic pipes, etc.

I'm sure glad I found this place we're in...across a watershed divide from Bisbee's former mining operation, across the river and uphill from Fort Huachuca's military messes. Our well is pretty good (some local sulphur), and we are catching rainwater, too (more plastic!).

Thanks for the inspiration...so much work to do!

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

Lookout's picture

@Bisbonian

...that's just the easiest. We have a local septic tank manufacturer. He cast some modified tanks for me which I use for my in-ground cisterns. My point being he could also cast large planters which could be used as wicking beds.

Wooden planters could be lined with tiles too. They would last many years before rotting. Just a couple of alternatives.

Glad you came by, and sorry to read about your razor wire issues in your community. What an evil government we have.

Best of luck with your projects. Keep us posted.

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mimi's picture

to say 'hi' and say thank you.

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"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS

Lookout's picture

@mimi

I can't tell you how much the sun today has lifted my spirits. After a gray week it is so nice to see blue sky. The wind is howling though. With the ground so wet, I expect a tree or to will come down. Going out to walk here in a minute and enjoy the rain cleaned (and washed) world.

All the best!

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mimi's picture

@Lookout
and the sun was georgeous and yesterday night even the moon was superb too. Thank God the sky knows no limits and borders and the light ain't scared of the bs that is rumored around on planet earth. Smile

Hope it stops raining over at your corner of the world.

Hope you had a nice walk.

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"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS

Lookout's picture

@mimi

One ocean of air isn't it?

Well the walk was nice. Wind is strong, but that will help drying. Lots of water flowing and standing. That standing water will soak in and help fill the aquifer.

The road has some wash, but should be able to drag it back tomorrow after a little more drying. Thankful for today's sun!

Hope you have a good one!

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The Aspie Corner's picture

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

Lookout's picture

@The Aspie Corner

An ocean of lies indeed. Vietnam in the neighborhood....how convenient. Plus all that oil. Win win isn't it?

It is like wmd's in Iraq all over again.

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Lookout's picture

@The Aspie Corner

Abby does a great job explaining the story. Too bad most media won't tell the real story. Anyway, thanks for the clip!

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Azazello's picture

I'm pretty sure that Tulsi would win a straw-poll at c99.

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It didn't have to be this way.

Lookout's picture

@Azazello

Jimmy is good at dissecting those sorts of broadcast.

We used to have straw polls here back during the Bernie run. Anybody remember how those were conducted?

Thanks for the visit and the clip!

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Lookout's picture

@DonMidwest

What a great idea. Will it pass?

Round and round we go. I guess this same fight is constant.

Thanks for the articles!

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studentofearth's picture

is fairly comprehensive at the Homefact site. Drill down to the state or local area. The EPA site had some of the local sites I know existed missing.

Enjoying the diary. Have been looking at wicking gardens and pots as a method to get a way for a few days and not worry about a power bump disrupting an electric system. Found the video on wicking beds by Geoff Lawton very interesting and good instructions.

Very old technique using whatever local materials were available. Was going to try with olla type pots.

For smaller pots may use wicks to draw in the water. Can use multiple material for the wicks like cotton, fiberglass or polyester.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

Lookout's picture

@studentofearth

...and as you remind me, I neglected to mention terra cotta...at least for the internal piping.

We all face the unique challenges of our varied ecosystems. Adapting to your microclimate/system is the key. People want a silver bullet, but it is dependent on your local conditions. There isn't one approach, there are many.

Thanks for coming by. I miss your farm reports and hope all is well on your homestead!

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magiamma's picture

thanks for the all the great links. I will savor them as I have time. something I am very interested in and that will need more and more attention.

I have mentioned Rajendra Singh before. waterman of Rajasthan. he initially went there to help with local health issues and the locals said if we don't have water our health won't matter. so one of the older men who remembered how to build a johad (small dam) - worked with the community and they rebuilt the one they had many years before. this community has been transformed and johads have been adopted all over Rajasthan maybe further. I could not find the video from years ago. edit

but here is one that captures the early movement.

and another after he got really famous

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation

Hot Air Website, Twitter, Facebook

Lookout's picture

@magiamma

So many heroic people doing the work to bring our planet to a healthy condition. Thanks for the part you do in your hot air series.

I'm sure you will find the last video in the essay of value. I did. We need truth tellers, and although Dahl isn't a scientist, he is a good reporter.

All the best!

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Lookout's picture

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”