Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Killing “the bird that made the breezes blow:” the EPA’s Neptune challenge

Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.
-Samuel Coleridge, “The Rime of the   Ancient    Mariner”

In October 2003, the Pentagon released a report—far from confidential, easily available in PDF form on the Internet—entitled “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States National Security.”[1]  Its title basically states the report’s purpose, “…to imagine the unthinkable—to push the boundaries of current research on climate change so we may better understand the potential implications on United States national security.” 

This report was issued under the George W. Bush administration, so it certainly wasn’t an exercise in bleeding heart liberalism—it was an exercise in foreseeing security issues before they smack us upside the head. It was very much in keeping with Bush’s preference for “pre-emptive strike” before problems develop. 

In fact, it’s a startlingly frank document that puts to shame Trump’s recent executive orders rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations, the Clean Water Rule, and Trump’s all-out assault on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), now under Cabinet Secretary Scott Pruitt’s direction. Pruitt is an Oklahoma oil industry booster to the core and claims to doubt any science that says carbon dioxide emissions play a key role in climate change. Vested interests, anyone?

It’s hard to tell if Trump knows or even cares one way or the other on climate change, but we know that the issue has no caché for him—it’s like a “chick flick” in the movie theater of his mind, and he’s only interested in action films where things get blown up. Never mind that Mar-a-Lago is vulnerable to the physics of sea level rise—that’s an inconvenient fact.

From his perspective as the “9/11 president,” Bush had more reason than most U.S. presidents to be hyper-sensitive to national security issues, so the contrast between his response to climate change and Trump’s attitude is striking. The irony, of course, is that Trump attempts to justify all kinds of environmentally-destructive actions on the basis of national security. 

Interestingly, the 2003 report foresees the possibility that “The United States turns inward, committing its resources to feeding its own population, shoring up its borders, and managing the increasing global tension.”[2]
Obama chose to address the broader dangers head on by cooperating with 200 other nations in the COP21 Paris agreement; Trump is choosing the self-protective option. The scenarios offered in the report’s vision of “the unthinkable” may very well be at the heart of Trump’s obsession with closing our borders and building that ridiculous wall. 

So, even though a celebration of science (including a powerful video by Neil deGrasse Tyson seen here) was great to see, it’s still pretty troubling that on this recent Earth Day 2017, the world’s scientists felt they had to take to the streets in search of a little respect and support, not to mention the freedom to pursue the very important work they do on behalf of all of us. 

Even if we understand little of what they do, we should at least be grateful that they are the keeper of the FACTS—the experimentally confirmed and peer-reviewed realities of the physical world that we rely on for our wellbeing and survival. 

Consider the migration crisis of the past few years, for example—it’s been directly impacted by the climate-based degradation creeping up on Eurasia, Africa and the Middle East. We just finished a ten-year drought in California! Scientific facts predicted all that. These facts also show us a way forward, towards halting climate change before it becomes globally catastrophic—why wouldn’t we want to cooperate in that project? 

The 2003 Pentagon report thus anticipated a long-term, but eventually dire situation (Neptune’s forte is in slowly unfolding situations) by saying: “Either way, it is not implausible that abrupt climate change will bring extreme weather conditions to many of the world’s key population and growing regions at the same time—stressing global food, water and energy supplies.”[3]
Especially in these doubly Neptunian times (transiting Pisces), there’s no exaggerating how seriously we need the expertise and dedication to objective facts that scientists provide. 

Killing the albatross 

By actively undermining and potentially even eliminating the EPA, Pruitt and Trump are threatening to set U.S. environmental policy adrift on a leaky raft, so-to-speak—an appropriate metaphor if we consider that the EPA (12/2/1970) has been experiencing its first transiting Neptune (Pisces) square to its radix Neptune (Sagittarius).  

This transit—considered one of three transitional “mid-life” outer planet transits—is hard on any entity, personal or collective, and the stakes are often high. Here’s what transits expert Robert Hand[4] has to say:

“During this period you are likely to intensely question your life, your goals and how far you have fulfilled your ideals…It is very important to use this period for self-scrutiny, but it is not a good idea to act yet…Many of the insights you receive during this period will be real, and many will not be real. Only the passage of time will allow you to determine which are which.”
In the poem excerpted above, Coleridge’s “ancient mariner,”—a truly tragic Neptunian character—despairs that he has brought down calamity on his shipmates by killing an albatross, then considered the spirit of a successful sea voyage. “And I had done an hellish thing, and it would work ‘em woe: For all averr’d, I had kill’d the bird that made the breeze to blow.” 

Stranded in a deathly still sea of undrinkable saltwater, the crew was condemned to die. Such tragic irony reflects Neptune’s darker moods and the real perils we face today.  By removing funding and attempting to delegitimize the EPA’s mission, the Trump administration is thumbing its nose at the potentially dire, real physical consequences of this choice in the natural world. Trump is setting us adrift with no wind at our backs. 


In fact, the ancient mariner’s plight echoes a growing danger with the earth’s oceans that scientists are monitoring closely: the potential shutdown of the ocean system’s “thermohaline circulation”—our planet’s natural circulatory system, if you will. This is a complicated physical phenomenon that I encourage you to explore at the links provided. Suffice to say here that this system directly impacts the climate on planet earth and determines whether that climate renders this “3rd rock from the Sun” uninhabitable over time or not. 

The fact that 20+ million people are suffering famine or near-famine conditions at this moment (now in 4 regions at once) is a shrill troubling sign. Climate affects weather, which in turn affects agricultural conditions (water supplies, soil health, pestilences, etc.), and if people can’t grow food, famine follows. Sometimes politics and power struggles are involved, but resource shortages always cause turmoil and tension. 

This is not Trump’s “Chinese scam.” If anything, China has been stepping into the leadership vacuum we’re leaving open in the fight against global climate change because it recognizes it will benefit, too. The 2003 report projected what might happen to China this way, and they seem to have gotten the message:

“Longer, colder winters and hotter summers caused by decreased evaporative cooling because of reduced precipitation stress already tight energy and water supplies. Widespread famine causes chaos and internal struggles as a cold and hungry China peers jealously across the Russian and western borders at energy resources.”[5]
Trump would have been briefed on all this: what, we might wonder, is he trying to accomplish or to prove by ignoring the dangers, rolling back progress and possibly pulling the U.S. out of the Paris agreements? That it’s “U.S. against the World?” This is a fruitless, delusional (Neptune) position, given the interconnected, global scope of the challenge.

As ruler of the oceans, Neptune thus has a lot of say-so in whether humanity survives into the next centuries on this planet or not (the planet will survive without us, by the way—in fact, it might thrive without us). The fate of the EPA matters, not just for its own sake as a distinctive government agency (founded by Richard Nixon, believe it or not)—it matters because its problems are our problems. 

We’ve been focused on the rug being pulled out from under health care—if we care about health, we can’t be complacent about the EPA, either. These dynamics work together seamlessly—on the local and the global level. That’s how Neptune rolls.  

So, will Trump and Pruitt be allowed to destroy America’s environmental progress in the name of corporate profit? Let’s examine the astrology for some clues. 

To manage the scope here, we’ll use the U.S. Sibly chart as “ground zero” for this study, next to the EPA’s effective “birth” chart. To represent the present challenge, we’ll complete the triwheel with the Election Day 2016 chart. We have every reason to believe that Trump’s election marked a challenging threshold in this issue, so it will undoubtedly lend some insight. 

Triwheel #1: (inner wheel) US-Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (middle wheel) EPA, December 2, 1970, 12:00 p.m. ST (no exact time known), Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) Election Day 2016, November 8, 2016, 7:20 a.m. ST (sunrise chart), Washington, D.C..

Interchart Mutable T-Square: EPA Sun widely conjoins EPA Neptune (Sagittarius) and opposes Sibly Uranus (Gemini); this axis squares Election Neptune (Pisces). The tension in this configuration sort of says it all, if Trump’s motives for undermining the EPA (Sun) are to remove any obstacles to building up our military and fossil fuel sector jobs (6th house Uranus). The square from Election Neptune (Pisces) helps to cloud the nation’s thinking (Neptune over Sibly 3rd house) regarding the benefits and risks at stake. 

Unfortunately, with the EPA’s radix Sun under the influence of its Neptune, maintaining its integrity and ideals can be a challenge. It was also, from its inception, at odds with Sibly Jupiter-Venus (quincunx from Cancer)—economic interests have always had a love-hate relationship with environmental efforts and the regulations that go along with them.  This is reinforced by EPA Chiron (Aries) square Sibly Jupiter-Venus (Cancer). Allowing security issues (Cancer) to “trump” environmental priorities is sort of baked into the cake.

Interchart Mutable Grand-Cross: Sibly Neptune (Virgo) is opposed by Election Chiron (Pisces); this axis squares Election Saturn/Venus (midpoint, Sagittarius)- EPA Mercury (Sagittarius) opposite Sibly Mars (Gemini). Transiting Chiron has finally separated from transiting Neptune, but here, it’s threatening to wound the nation’s “dreams and aspirations” (Sibly Neptune); enter Election Saturn/Venus (Sagittarius-incidentally, conjunct Trump’s natal Moon) with its compelling quest to grow America’s military as a route to financial gain (opposite Sibly Mars), and we can see the potential for misguided adventures. 

War has a curious way of loosening restrictions on some (the corporate world) while it puts added restrictions on others (travelers, refugees, immigrants), so clear minds and dedicated corruption watch dogs (a rare commodity in Neptunian times) are needed. 

Interchart Cardinal T-Square: Election Pluto (Capricorn) opposes Sibly Sun (Cancer); this axis squares Election Jupiter-EPA Uranus-Sibly Saturn (all Libra. It’s good to remember that this election chart would have been the same, no matter who won the presidency, but this configuration suggests that, even though Trump crows about his role as a change agent, the presidency and the nation (Sibly Sun) would be undergoing a Plutonian transformation anyway. 

The added factors of Election Jupiter and EPA Uranus suggests that a “shake-up” of Congress and the EPA is right on cosmic schedule. There are positive and negative ways to navigate these changes, of course, which is where Trump’s influence matters. 

Jupiter isn’t particularly powerful in Libra, but being in mutual reception with Sagittarius Venus gives it a bit more clout. Interestingly, we usually equate Jupiter with the GOP and Saturn with the Dems (the GOP hates regulations that restrain business in any way; the Dems believe regulations can be an important tool for balancing out the inequities inherent in capitalism). 

It follows that in this tense t-square, we see the GOP at odds with POTUS (Sun), which isn’t too far from the reality. The GOP is probably more responsible for slowing down Trump’s legislative aspirations than anyone, and some of them are even speaking out against Trump’s “holy grail”—his “big, beautiful wall.” Lawrence O’Donnell characterizes the relationship as “Trump v. Capitol Hill” in his latest report. 

As for the EPA’s prospects with this “shake up,” it’s helpful to notice that its Uranus is also sextile its radix Sun and Election Saturn (both Sagittarius) and trine EPA progressed Sun (Gemini, not shown), so it may be fairly resilient. Even so, with Election Pluto (Capricorn) square radix Uranus, a certain amount of turmoil and transformation can be expected. That’s Scott Pruitt’s job in a nutshell, so the challenges are far from over. 


Election Moon-EPA Node-Sibly Moon conjoin (Aquarius) and semi-sextile/quincunx Sibly Pluto opposite Sibly Mercury (Capricorn-Cancer). We can expect that the EPA will be forced to give corporate interests (Capricorn) precedence over environmental ones, but this interesting convergence in Aquarius suggests that public outcry and activism will be the most important countervailing force.
It’s also interesting that these Aquarius points directly oppose Trump’s natal Mars (Leo, not shown): it’s very possible that his will-to-overpower public sentiment on important issues like the EPA will meet with sufficient resistance. It does appear here that public sentiment is aligned with the EPA (Moons-Node) and more likely to oppose Trump. 

Interchart Cardinal T-Square: Election Mars-EPA Moon-Sibly Pluto (Capricorn) oppose Sibly Mercury (Cancer); this axis squares Election Uranus (Aries). The Moon is a bit uncertain here, since the EPA chart is a noon chart, but we can see here that Wall Street (Pluto) has been riding high on the promise of environmental regulation rollbacks. Even so, gone are the days when fossil fuels drive the Market entirely: billions are being invested in clean energies and clean energy-based industries, and many Market watchers feel that the “good old days” of carbon-intensive industries like coal are simply never coming back, no matter how protectionist we become. Oil and natural gas pipelines are another story, and the controversies will undoubtedly continue there.  

Final thoughts
Returning to that important Neptune-square-Neptune transit that’s in progress at the EPA, the orb is already very generous, so the period for soul-searching and re-envisioning its mission is rapidly turning into a call for action. Unfortunately, the agency is not out of the woods and free to move full-steam-ahead, yet—Neptune will continue transiting square the EPA Sun well into 2018. 

This will probably mark Scott Pruitt’s tenure as Secretary of the agency, unless being actually involved in its mission wakes him up to its importance. Coming out of a Neptune transit is a lot like waking up, so stranger things have happened. 

It’s enlightening to see how tightly the EPA’s destiny connects with public sentiment (the Aquarius connection discussed above). It makes sense: transiting Neptune also squares Sibly Uranus, the planet disposing our Sibly Moon, so long story short, what happens to the EPA happens to us. So, if we allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency and delusionary thinking about the environment’s resilience and of our rightful “dominion” over Nature (after all, our IRAs aren’t doing so badly these days), we’re coming down on the wrong side of this Neptune transit.

If we allow ourselves to fall into the “false choice” mindset—i.e., that we can either create jobs and feather Wall Street nests, or we can steward the environment, but we can’t do both—then again, we’re on the wrong side of this Neptune transit. With Neptune, the answers are never either/or; they’re always all of the above, and then some

Since Coleridge envisioned his infamous shipboard calamity, the “albatross” has come to signify an onerous burden that somehow never goes away. In fact, the “albatross” was a blessing—a sign of a safe voyage—on that ship, and killing it was the tragic error. About as bad an idea as killing the EPA would be. Nature calls the shots in the end, and the hubris of denying its power is a “hellish thing,” indeed. 

There’s a lot of talk about the next wave of innovation in technologies on the horizon—robotics, AI, “smart” everything: instead of designing autonomous vehicles and destroying more job sectors for human workers, how about directing some of this massive innovation to creating that clean energy-powered infrastructure that other nations are achieving even as we speak? 

Neptune transits undermine progress by overwhelming us with inertia—we may go through the motions of activity (the kind that happens in a recurring, labyrinthine dream), yet nothing really breaks through as progress until we “wake up.” I’m hopeful that the Trump administration will, for better or worse, be the “wake up call” that we need. This need extends to many key areas of government, and even to our role as the “leader of the free world,” but the time has never been more critical for our relationship with the EPA and with the environment itself. 

Efforts to roll back federal control of public lands and national parks, to drill for oil in the Arctic wildlife refuge, among other environmentally-sensitive areas (remember the BP oil spill in the Gulf?) are all on the table right now. Can we shake off Neptune’s inertia before it’s too late? A few thoughts from the New York Times puts it all into perspective:

“President Trump’s environmental onslaught will have immediate, dangerous effects. He has vowed to reopen coal mines and moved to keep the dirtiest power plants open for many years into the future. Dirty air…kills people. It’s much the same as his policies on health care or refugees: Real people (the poorest and most vulnerable people) will be hurt in real time.
But there’s an extra dimension to the environmental damage. What Mr. Trump is trying to do to the planet’s climate will play out over geologic time as well. In fact, it’s time itself that he’s stealing from us.” [emphasis added]

Next stop, the budget battle!

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at: robertsonraye@gmail.com.

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved. 

[1] Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security,” http://eesc.columbia.edu/courses/v1003/readings/Pentagon.pdf. Accessed 4/25/2017.
[2] Schwartz and Randall, p. 13.
[3] Schwartz and Randall, p. 12.
[4]Robert Hand, Planets in Transit: Life Cycles for Living. Whitford Press, Atglen, PA, 1976, pp. 462-463.
[5] Schwartz and Randall, p. 13.