Category Archives: Extinction

In our hurry to conquer nature and death, we have made a new religion of science

Back in the 1880s, the mathematician and theologian Edwin Abbott tried to help us better understand our world by describing a very different one he called Flatland.

Imagine a world that is not a sphere moving through space like our own planet, but more like a vast sheet of paper inhabited by conscious, flat geometric shapes. These shape-people can move forwards and backwards, and they can turn left and right. But they have no sense of up or down. The very idea of a tree, or a well, or a mountain makes no sense to them because they lack the concepts and experiences of height and depth. They cannot imagine, let alone describe, objects familiar to us.

In this two-dimensional world, the closest scientists can come to comprehending a third dimension are the baffling gaps in measurements that register on their most sophisticated equipment. They sense the shadows cast by a larger universe outside Flatland. The best brains infer that there must be more to the universe than can be observed but they have no way of knowing what it is they don’t know.

This sense of the the unknowable, the ineffable has been with humans since our earliest ancestors became self-conscious. They inhabited a world of immediate, cataclysmic events – storms, droughts, volcanoes and earthquakes – caused by forces they could not explain. But they also lived with a larger, permanent wonder at the mysteries of nature itself: the change from day to night, and the cycle of the seasons; the pinpricks of light in the night sky, and their continual movement; the rising and falling of the seas; and the inevitability of life and death.

Perhaps not surprisingly, our ancestors tended to attribute common cause to these mysterious events, whether of the catastrophic or the cyclical variety, whether of chaos or order. They ascribed them to another world or dimension – to the spiritual realm, to the divine.

Paradox and mystery

Science has sought to shrink the realm of the inexplicable. We now understand – at least approximately – the laws of nature that govern the weather and catastrophic events like an earthquake. Telescopes and rocket-ships have also allowed us to probe deeper into the heavens to make a little more sense of the universe outside our tiny corner of it.

But the more we investigate the universe the more rigid appear the limits to our knowledge. Like the shape-people of Flatland, our ability to understand is constrained by the dimensions we can observe and experience: in our case, the three dimensions of space and the additional one of time. Influential “string theory” posits another six dimensions, though we would be unlikely to ever sense them in any more detail than the shadows almost-detected by the scientists of Flatland.

The deeper we peer into the big universe of the night sky and our cosmic past, and the deeper we peer into the small universe inside the atom and our personal past, the greater the sense of mystery and wonder.

At the sub-atomic level, the normal laws of physics break down. Quantum mechanics is a best-guess attempt to explain the mysteries of movement of the tiniest particles we can observe, which appear to be operating, at least in part, in a dimension we cannot observe directly.

And most cosmologists, looking outwards rather inwards, have long known that there are questions we are unlikely ever to answer: not least what exists outside our universe – or expressed another way, what existed before the Big Bang. For some time, dark matter and black holes have baffled the best minds. This month scientists conceded to the New York Times that there are forms of matter and energy unknown to science but which can be inferred because they disrupt the known laws of physics.

Inside and outside the atom, our world is full of paradox and mystery.

Conceit and humility

Despite our science-venerating culture, we have arrived at a similar moment to our forebears, who gazed at the night sky in awe. We have been forced to acknowledge the boundaries of knowledge.

There is a difference, however. Our ancestors feared the unknowable, and therefore preferred to show caution and humility in the face of what could not be understood. They treated the ineffable with respect and reverence. Our culture encourages precisely the opposite approach. We show only conceit and arrogance. We seek to defeat, ignore or trivialise that which we cannot explain or understand.

The greatest scientists do not make this mistake. As an avid viewer of science programmes like the BBC’s Horizon, I am always struck by the number of cosmologists who openly speak of their religious belief. Carl Sagan, the most famous cosmologist, never lost his sense of awestruck wonder as he examined the universe. Outside the lab, his was not the language of hard, cold, calculating science. He described the universe in the language of poetry. He understood the necessary limits of science. Rather than being threatened by the universe’s mysteries and paradoxes, he celebrated them.

When in 1990, for example, space probe Voyager 1 showed us for the first time our planet from 6 billion km away, Sagan did not mistake himself or his fellow NASA scientists for gods. He saw “a pale blue dot” and marvelled at a planet reduced to a “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam”. Humility was his response to the vast scale of the universe, our fleeting place within it, and our struggle to grapple with “the great enveloping cosmic dark”.

Mind and matter

Sadly, Sagan’s approach is not the one that dominates the western tradition. All too often, we behave as if we are gods. Foolishly, we have made a religion of science. We have forgotten that in a world of unknowables, the application of science is necessarily tentative and ideological. It is a tool, one of many that we can use to understand our place in the universe, and one that is easily appropriated by the corrupt, by the vain, by those who seek power over others, by those who worship money.

Until relatively recently, science, philosophy and theology sought to investigate the same mysteries and answer the same existential questions. Through much of history, they were seen as complementary, not in competition. Abbott, remember, was a mathematician and theologian, and Flatland was his attempt to explain the nature of faith. Similarly, the man who has perhaps most shaped the paradigm within which much western science still operates was a French philosopher using the scientific methods of the time to prove the existence of God.

Today, Rene Descartes is best remembered for his famous – if rarely understood – dictum: “I think, therefore I am.” Four hundred years ago, he believed he could prove God’s existence through his argument that mind and matter are separate. Just as human bodies were distinct from souls, so God was separate and distinct from humans. Descartes believed knowledge was innate, and therefore our idea of a perfect being, of God, could only derive from something that was perfect and objectively real outside us.

Weak and self-serving as many of his arguments sound today, Descartes’ lasting ideological influence on western science was profound. Not least so-called Cartesian dualism – the treatment of mind and matter as separate realms – has encouraged and perpetuated a mechanistic view of the world around us.

We can briefly grasp how strong the continuing grip of his thinking is on us when we are confronted with more ancient cultures that have resisted the west’s extreme rationalist discourse – in part, we should note, because they were exposed to it in hostile, oppressive ways that served only to alienate them from the western canon.

Hearing a Native American or an Australian Aboriginal speak of the sacred significance of a river or a rock – or about their ancestors – is to become suddenly aware of how alien their thinking sounds to our “modern” ears. It is the moment when we are likely to respond in one of two ways: either to smirk internally at their childish ignorance, or to gulp at a wisdom that seems to fill a yawning emptiness in our own lives.

Science and power

Descartes’ legacy – a dualism that assumes separation between soul and body, mind and matter – has in many ways proved a poisonous one for western societies. An impoverished, mechanistic worldview treats both the planet and our bodies primarily as material objects: one a plaything for our greed, the other a canvas for our insecurities.

The British scientist James Lovelock who helped model conditions on Mars for NASA so it would have a better idea how to build the first probes to land there, is still ridiculed for the Gaia hypothesis he developed in the 1970s. He understood that our planet was best not viewed as a very large lump of rock with life-forms living on it, though distinct from it. Rather Earth was as a complete, endlessly complex, delicately balanced living entity. Over billions of years, life had grown more sophisticated, but each species, from the most primitive to the most advanced, was vital to the whole, maintaining a harmony that sustained the diversity.

Few listened to Lovelock. Our god-complex got the better of us. And now, as the bees and other insects disappear, everything he warned of decades ago seems far more urgent. Through our arrogance, we are destroying the conditions for advanced life. If we don’t stop soon, the planet will dispose of us and return to an earlier stage of its evolution. It will begin again, without us, as simple flora and microbes once again begin recreating gradually – measured in aeons – the conditions favourable to higher life forms.

But the abusive, mechanistic relationship we have with our planet is mirrored by the one we have with our bodies and our health. Dualism has encouraged us to think of our bodies as fleshy vehicles, which like the metal ones need regular outside intervention, from a service to a respray or an upgrade. The pandemic has only served to underscore these unwholesome tendencies.

In part, the medical establishment, like all establishments, has been corrupted by the desire for power and enrichment. Science is not some pristine discipline, free from real-world pressures. Scientists need funding for research, they have mortgages to pay, and they crave status and career advancement like everyone else.

Kamran Abbasi, executive editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote an editorial last November warning of British state corruption that had been unleashed on a grand scale by covid-19. But it was not just politicians responsible. Scientists and health experts had been implicated too: “The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency.”     

He added: “The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.”

Global warming? We can create an even whiter paint to reflect back the sun’s heat. Plastics in every corner of our oceans? We can build giant vacuum-cleaners that will suck it all out. Vanishing bee populations? We can invent pollinator drones to take their place. A dying planet? Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk will fly millions of us to space colonies.

Were we not so technology obsessed, were we not so greedy, were we not so terrified of insecurity and death, if we did not see our bodies and minds as separate, and humans as separate from everything else, we might pause to ponder whether our approach is not a little misguided.

Science and technology can be wonderful things. They can advance our knowledge of ourselves and the world we inhabit. But they need to be conducted with a sense of humility we increasingly seem incapable of. We are not conquerors of our bodies, or the planet, or the universe – and if we imagine we are, we will soon find out that the battle we are waging is one we can never hope to win.

The post In our hurry to conquer nature and death, we have made a new religion of science first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“A Ghastly Future”? Israeli Apartheid, Biden, Starmer, Assange And Mass Extinction

Back in 2017, before WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was silenced by Twitter, he used the platform to highlight an immutable truth:

‘The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security not national security.’

Power hates being exposed. It hates having its inner machinations, its selfish priorities and ugly operations opened up to public scrutiny.

The omission of inconvenient facts, and the silencing of inadmissible viewpoints, are core features of the so-called ‘mainstream’ news media. Thus, it should be obvious by now why we always put ‘mainstream’ in quotation marks. Because, as increasing numbers of the public surely now recognise, the major news media are not impartial, or fair, or balanced. Nor do they truly represent and reflect the concerns and priorities of the vast majority of the population. Instead, the major newspapers and broadcasters represent, defend and project the interests of powerful state and corporate elites. The state-corporate media will not, and cannot, undertake consistent and reliable public scrutiny of these elites. That would make no sense since the mass media is the propaganda operation of state-corporate power.

Since we began Media Lens twenty years ago in 2001, we have amassed over 5,000 pages of media alerts detailing numerous examples of dangerous, power-friendly omissions, distortions and imbalances in UK state-corporate media. Rather than go for easy and obvious targets like the Sun, Express and Mail, we have focused on those media outlets the public is supposed to regard as the most fair, balanced, probing and challenging of governments and Big Business. ‘Thus far and no further’, as Noam Chomsky has described the most open or most liberal end of the narrow spectrum of establishment media.

BBC News deserves particular scrutiny, not least because it regularly declares itself  ‘the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster’. That is not much of an accolade given that public trust in the media is crumbling; particularly in a country which has some of the worst ‘news’ media anywhere on the planet. The UK has an overwhelmingly right-wing and establishment press dominated by rich owners, and edited by compliant editors with the required ideologically-aligned views. As for the Guardian, which has always been a ‘liberal’ gatekeeper on behalf of power, investigative journalists Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis reported in 2019 that the paper has been:

‘successfully targeted by security agencies to neutralise its adversarial reporting of the “security state”, according to newly released documents and evidence from former and current Guardian journalists.’

Moreover, other than a recent belated and mealy-mouthed defence, for many years the Guardian essentially abandoned and abused Julian Assange, along with the rest of the ‘mainstream’ media, after exploiting him and WikiLeaks.

Couple all that with the fact that BBC News regularly follows the skewed, power-serving agenda set by UK press coverage, and it is no surprise that overall British public trust in the media is so low. As we noted last year, the extensive annual Eurobarometer survey across 33 countries revealed that the UK public’s trust in the press is rock bottom. Indeed, 2020 was the ninth year out of the past ten that the UK had come last.

BBC Silence Over Israel As An Apartheid State

One of the most egregious recent omissions by BBC News was last week’s groundbreaking report by leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem naming Israel as ‘an apartheid state’ and ‘a regime of Jewish supremacy’:

‘In the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.’

Apartheid in the Palestinian Territories has long been recognised. For example, in 2004, a prominent South African professor of international law, John Dugard, then UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, wrote that there is ‘an apartheid regime’ in the territories ‘worse than the one that existed in South Africa.’

Noam Chomsky concurred:

‘In the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid. To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel, at least if by “apartheid” you mean South African-style apartheid.

‘What is happening in the Occupied Territories is much worse. There is a crucial difference. The South African Nationalists needed the black population. That was their workforce…

‘The Israeli relationship to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories is totally different. They just do not want them. They want them out, or at least in prison.’

All this was damning enough. But the publication of the new B’Tselem report was the first time that Israeli human rights and legal experts had publicly stated that apartheid exists not just in the Occupied Territories, but throughout the whole region that Israel claims for itself.

As the Israel-based British journalist Jonathan Cook observed:

‘By calling Israel an apartheid state and a “regime of Jewish supremacy”, B’Tselem has given the lie to the Israel lobby’s claim – bolstered by a new definition promoted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – that it is antisemitic to suggest Israel is a “racist endeavour”.

‘B’Tselem, a veteran Israeli Jewish organisation with deep expertise in human rights and international law, has now explicitly declared that Israel is a racist state. Israel’s apologists will now face the much harder task of showing that B’Tselem is antisemitic, along with the Palestinian solidarity activists who cite its work.’

As far as we are aware, there was no mention of the report on any of the flagship BBC News at 6 or 10 television programmes. Nor was there anything to be found on the BBC News website. Presumably, the BBC deemed it unworthy of the public’s attention. We challenged BBC foreign editor Andrew Roy, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson, BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet and BBC digital news editor Stuart Millar for a response. Not one of them replied. It is perhaps significant that Millar moved to the BBC from the Guardian where, as deputy editor of Guardian US, he had scoffed at Julian Assange:

‘I like to think that #Assange chose the Ecuadorean embassy because it’s so convenient for Harrods’

This is the archetypal sneering ‘mainstream’ journalist’s view of anyone who seriously exposes the truth and challenges power.

As for B’Tselem’s landmark report detailing the reality of the Israeli state as an apartheid regime, it is possible that there were sporadic brief mentions in some outlying parts of the BBC. Longtime readers will recall that the BBC infamously buried revelations by Scott Ritter, a former chief UN weapons inspector, that Iraq had been fundamentally disarmed of any weapons of mass destruction, at 3am on the BBC World Service.

In response to the B’Tselem report, John Pilger pointed out via Twitter:

‘Israel is top of the league for vaccinating its own people [against coronavirus]. The accolades say Israel is the “example”. False. Israel is denying the vaccine to Palestinians whose land and lives it controls. WHO has pleaded with Israel: to no avail. Apartheid in action.’

Glossing Over Brutal Imperialism

Here in the UK, the Tory government’s criminally incompetent response to the coronavirus pandemic has led to an appalling death toll – now the highest death rate of any country in the world – while ministers robotically repeat the mantra of ‘following the science’, with one U-turn after another. Meanwhile, many people are suffering tremendous hardship, losing their jobs or struggling to earn a living, or even unable to feed their children adequately.

As Phil Miller, a staff writer for the excellent investigative journalism website Declassified UK, noted:

‘The UK now has over 100,000 covid deaths. That’s a result of government failure on a grand scale. The lack of calls for Johnson and ministers to resign is extraordinary’

It is extraordinary. But, tragically, it is a natural consequence of how the state-corporate media represents and defends elite power, of which it is a key component. Any real dissent is smeared, swept to the margins or simply blanked. With the power of corporate media manifest in the demolition of Jeremy Corbyn’s prospects of becoming Prime Minister in 2019, it is entirely predictable that there is now no substantive political opposition to a destructive, elite-serving Tory government.

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s lame Blairite successor, is a stalwart establishment figure who, at best, would only ever paper over a few cracks in the edifice of neoliberal economics. This is the corporate- and finance-driven system that is crushing the vast majority of the world’s population, destroying the natural environment and species at an alarming rate, and driving us all towards the precipice of climate breakdown. As we have noted before, and as we will see again below, no world leader anywhere is doing anything remotely sufficient to address this disaster.

Starmer has actually called for the Labour party to emulate incoming US President Joe Biden’s ‘broad coalition’ to ‘see progressive values triumph over the forces of division and despair’. The stone-cold reality that Biden, set to be inaugurated today (20 January), represents huge financial interests and corporate power, and has an appalling record in supporting US imperialism and wars, appears to have escaped Starmer’s attention. But then, Starmer is also seemingly oblivious to the UK’s own imperial past and blood-soaked complicity in war crimes. How else could a Labour leader write:

‘We are at our best when the world knows we have the courage of our convictions and a clear moral purpose.’

Wiping away the blood of countless US/UK atrocities across the globe, he continued:

‘For the United States of America and for Britain, this is the time to return to the world stage. This is the time for us to lead.’

To gloss over Britain’s brutal past and present – to ignore the grievous crimes committed against Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, to name a few – is an insult to the UK’s many victims. For a supposed ‘progressive’ to do so is surely absurd. It can only result from being blind to the propaganda system so cogently explained by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in ‘Manufacturing Consent’ (Vintage, 1988). In this system, we are immersed in a brainwashing environment of mass media in which even the more ‘reputable’ news outlets such as Associated Press regurgitate doctrinal statements such as:

‘For decades, the U.S. has been an advocate for democracy abroad, using diplomatic pressure and even direct military intervention in the name of spreading the principles of a pluralistic system with a free and fair vote for political leaders. These tactics have generated both allies and enemies, and this year’s presidential vote perhaps more than any other is testing the strength of the values it promotes around the world.’

A safe pair of hands like Sir Keir would never recognise, far less, criticise such assertions for the dangerous, ideological and ahistorical nonsense that they are. Instead, Starmer is locked into an elite-friendly mindset apparent whenever he proclaims his establishment credentials, as here via Twitter:

‘This is also an important moment for the world. It is a chance to reassert America’s place as a force for good on the world stage. A nation that will work with Britain and other allies to defeat this pandemic and fight climate change.’

The reply from Media Lens reader Ryan Moon was apt:

‘When, specifically, has the US (& UK) been a “force for good in the world”? Supporting Suharto & Pinochet maybe? In Yemen & Libya? In the Chagos Islands? Nicaragua might have a few choice words about that description, too. Grow a spine.’

Biologist and science writer Richard Dawkins, like so many other prominent members of the liberal commentariat, once again revealed his deep ignorance of history and world affairs:

‘With few exceptions like Putin & Farage, the entire world welcomes President Biden and Vice-President Harris. After four years of lies, venal hypocrisy and vicious hostility to decency and humane values, America has taken a major step towards making America great again.’

Historian Mark Curtis, co-founder of Declassified UK, responded:

‘The thing is, @RichardDawkins, while you’re right to welcome the demise of the contemptible Trump, as I do, the “lies, venal hypocrisy and vicious hostility to decency and humane values” are just routine features of every US presidency, especially in foreign policy.’

Meanwhile, it was no surprise to see a senior Guardian journalist unleashing purple prose in praise of Biden. David Smith, the Guardian’s Washington DC bureau chief, declared that ‘with empathy and humility, Biden sets out to make America sane again’. The ideological rhetoric continued to gush out across Guardian column inches:

‘After the mental and moral exhaustion of the past four years, Biden made America sane again in 15 minutes. It was an exorcism of sorts, from American carnage to American renewal.’

Readers with long memories will recall similar Guardian effusions of liberal ordure when Barack Obama was elected in 2008 to ‘rebrand America’ and serve as the eloquent ‘cool’ figurehead of US corporate and imperial might. That is the Guardian worldview in a nutshell.

The harsh truth is that the corporate media, including BBC News and the Guardian, has a stranglehold on any prospect for changing society. The transfer of US power from Trump to Biden provided the briefest permissible glimpse of mild scepticism being broadcast from corporate newsrooms. This was most notable with Trump vociferously contesting the US presidential elections results, claiming election fraud on a grand scale. The repeated buzz phrase from journalists reporting Trump’s claims was ‘without offering evidence’. Thus, BBC news presenter Mishal Husain told the nation’s television audience on 8 November last year:

‘President Trump has been out on the golf course and made further claims of election fraud without offering evidence.’

The point was emphasised in a news piece by BBC North America correspondent Nick Bryant:

‘the president took to the golf course this morning continuing to make unsubstantiated claims that the election was rigged.’

This narrative was repeated across the ‘mainstream’ media.

But those important caveats – ‘without further evidence’ and ‘unsubstantiated claims’ – are routinely missing when propaganda declarations are, or were, made by the US/UK about Iraq’s mythical ‘WMD’; or when the public is told that the West’s ‘security’ and military forces need to counter the ‘threat’ from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or whoever the latest ‘enemy’ happens to be;  or that ‘we’ need to keep Saudi Arabia as an ‘ally’; that Israel only ever ‘retaliates’ in the face of Palestinian ‘provocation’, that the US is a neutral ‘peace broker’ in the Middle East; or that the US/UK defend freedom and human rights around the world. On and on flow the propaganda assertions, without serious challenge from a compliant media. Suddenly, when it really matters, the media’s supposed enthusiasm for ‘fact checking’ dries up.

Julian Assange And Guardian Hypocrisy

We have seen the ugly truth in the brutal, inhumane treatment of Julian Assange, arguably the most important Western dissident, journalist and publisher in recent years, by western ‘democracies’, the major news media, and a cruel system of court ‘justice’ operating in London. During a recent online conversation, acclaimed film director Ken Loach nailed the despicable role of the Guardian, in particular, in persecuting and undermining Assange:

‘It’s one of those cases that clarifies the role of the media […] there’s a collusion of silence. There doesn’t need to be an active conspiracy; they all understand the steps of the dance. “We’re going to keep quiet about this”. The Guardian did publish some [WikiLeaks] material, but then turned on Julian. And typical with the liberal press, there’s a degree of hypocrisy. They want to have a foot in both camps. They want to be both seen as part of the responsible establishment; they also want to speak truth to power. But they’re compromised on both fronts. And their attacks on Julian Assange were critical in undermining his presence as a journalist, and being seen as a journalist. And the scurrilous attacks on him, for year after year; [and their] failure to really campaign against the torture for ten years.’

He added:

‘There could not be a clearer case of shoot the messenger, and let the scoundrel go free. I mean, here you have people – Bush, Blair, propagandists like Alastair Campbell – wheeled out on the BBC, like Newsnight. They have season tickets to the current affairs programmes that tell us what to think. They are responsible for – what – up to a million deaths, four, five, million people made homeless, destruction of Iraq; the most atrocious war crimes, in an illegal war – an illegal war, so every activity is illegal on account of that, war crimes – they should be indicted. The man who told us about those crimes is condemned to rot, at the very least, and is in danger of never seeing the light of day again, or of being executed, and we know some politicians in the States have called for precisely that. There could not be a more outrageous, a more egregious example of the messenger being crucified and the scoundrels, the villains, the criminals getting away with this.’

As musician Brian Eno said during the discussion:

‘Julian is a threat [to power] because he exposes an illusion that we are generally being told to support. And that illusion is that we live in a democracy. So, the fundamental concept of democracy is that people make decisions about their future, and about the state they live in. And the fundamental assumption of democracy is that people have the information on which to make those decisions. So, clearly, for democracy to work we have to have good information, otherwise we’ll make bad decisions.’

‘The Gravity Of The Situation Requires Fundamental Changes To Global Capitalism’

The most compelling evidence that there is no functioning democracy in capitalist societies is all around us: global environmental collapse and climate breakdown.

A new scientific report this month warns that the planet is facing a ‘ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals’ that threaten human survival. The study, published in ‘Frontiers in Conservation Science’ by a group of 17 experts, observes that:

‘The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms – including humanity – is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts.’

Somewhat couched in academic language, the urgency and starkness of the warning are nevertheless clear:

‘The gravity of the situation requires fundamental changes to global capitalism, education, and equality, which include inter alia the abolition of perpetual economic growth, properly pricing externalities, a rapid exit from fossil-fuel use, strict regulation of markets and property acquisition, reigning in corporate lobbying, and the empowerment of women.’

They added:

‘the mainstream [sic] is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilization.’

Meanwhile, the climate crisis has been worsening, with 2020 declared by scientists as the joint hottest year ever recorded, despite the pandemic lockdowns. There were record Arctic wildfires and Atlantic tropical storms.

The European Commission’s Matthias Petschke said:

‘The extraordinary climate events of 2020 […] show us that we have no time to lose. We must come together as a global community, to ensure a just transition to a net zero future. It will be difficult, but the cost of inaction is too great…’

In the wake of the US presidential election last November, the BBC’s John Simpson had tweeted:

‘According to the New York Times, exit polls showed that 84% of people who voted for Trump thought that global warming wasn’t an important issue.’

But, of course, if political leaders everywhere believed that climate breakdown is an important issue – the overriding issue facing humanity – they would be tackling it with the urgency that it requires now.

As climate campaigner Greta Thunberg pointed out last week:

‘In 2010 our leaders signed “ambitious goals to protect wildlife and ecosystems”. By 2021 they’d failed on every single one. Each day they choose not to act. Instead they sign more “ambitious” non-binding future goals while passing policy locking in destructive business as usual.’

This was her acerbic summary of political discussions at the One Planet Summit in Paris on 11 January:

LIVE from #OnePlanetSummit in Paris:

Bla bla nature

Bla bla important

Bla bla ambitious

Bla bla green investments

Bla bla great opportunity

Bla bla green growth

Bla bla net zero

Bla bla step up our game

Bla bla hope

Bla bla bla…*

*locking in decades of further destruction

We have arrived at this terminal stage of capitalism because we are being held in a death-grip by a system of economics and exploitation that is coated with a veneer of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘progress’ and other convenient ideological myths. The corporate media has sold the public those myths, perpetuating and deepening the various interlocking crises that threaten to wipe out homo sapiens, along with countless other species.

We can still escape the worst if we face up to reality. As Gail Bradbrook and Jem Bendell, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion and founder of Deep Adaptation respectively, explain:

‘Our power comes from acting without escape from our pain.’

They continue:

‘Paying attention fully to what is around us and in front of us, even though it hurts, is to be fully alive. […] Once we accept that anxiety and grief will be constant companions in this struggle, we can stay fully present to what is happening and respond accordingly. It means we do not grasp desperately at the latest idea of what might fix the climate and ecological emergency. Instead, we can help each other stay fully present to the difficult mess, so that we can try to reduce harm, save what we can and plant some seeds for what might come next.’

A good start would be to reject the corporate media.

The post “A Ghastly Future”? Israeli Apartheid, Biden, Starmer, Assange And Mass Extinction first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Contemplating Human Extinction Terrifies Most People: A Strategy for Survival

Any serious study of the relevant scholarly literature reveals at least four possible paths to imminent human extinction, that is, human extinction within five years: nuclear war, the climate catastrophe, the deployment of 5G, and biodiversity collapse.

Moreover, as I have documented previously, under cover of the non-existent ‘virus’ labeled COVID-19, the global elite is conducting a coup against humanity. That is, by bombarding us with fear-mongering propaganda to focus our attention on the ‘virus’, the capacity of virtually all people, including activists, to devote attention to the coup, and to resist it, has been effectively eliminated.

Unfortunately, it has also meant that, despite the extensively documented evidence of the four paths to imminent human extinction, it is even more difficult than usual to get people to focus on this point. This means that engaging people to consider the evidence for themselves is extremely difficult: it is easier to live in delusion, reassured by elite-driven narratives promulgated through education systems and the corporate media which effectively convey the message that there is either no serious cause for concern (yet) or, perhaps, that the time frame allows for an adequate official response in due course. In either case we, as individuals or groups, do not really need to do anything differently; going along with the elite-driven narrative, including time frame, will ensure our survival.

Of course, as those paying attention to the evidence already know, being obedient to the elite-driven narrative is a recipe for extinction. We have already exceeded 2°C above the pre-industrial temperature, the ongoing and rapid deployment of 5G will be catastrophic, biodiversity is already collapsing (and will be seriously accelerated by the rising temperature and deployment of 5G) – for just the latest in the ongoing stream of disasters, hundreds of elephants have recently died in Botswana’s Okavango Delta – and, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, nuclear war is now a greater possibility than at any previous time in human history. For summaries of the evidence and further documentation in each case, see ‘The Elite’s COVID-19 Coup to Destroy Humanity that is also Fast-Tracking Four Paths to Human Extinction‘.

In this article I would like to explain why people are so terrified of the truth and what we can do about it so that an effective response to each of these threats can be implemented (assuming, problematically, that there is enough time).

Why are Most Human Beings so Terrified?

Virtually all human beings are terrified and they are terrified for the same reason: the child-raising process that sociologists like to label ‘socialization’ should be more accurately labeled ‘terrorization’. Why? Because from the moment of a child’s birth, parents, teachers, religious leaders and adults generally regard themselves as responsible for terrorizing the child into obedience of the commands, rules, conventions and laws that define the nature of permissible behaviour in their society.

This means that provided the child responds obediently to parental (or other adult) commands, obeys any rules imposed (by the parents, teachers and religious figures in the child’s life), learns all relevant social conventions for their society and, ultimately, obeys the law, they are allowed to live, recognized as compliant citizens, in their society.

Unfortunately, from society’s viewpoint, evolutionary pressures over vast time scales have led to each human individual being given Self-will to seek out and fulfill their own unique destiny: evolutionary pressures do not predispose any individual to obey the will of another for the simple reason that obedience has no evolutionary functionality.

Consequently, it takes enormous terrorization during childhood to ensure that the child surrenders their Self-will at the altar of obedience. To achieve this outcome and largely unknowingly, parents use a large range of behaviours from the three categories of violence that I have labeled ‘visible’ violence, ‘invisible’ violence and ‘utterly invisible’ violence.

A common element of this terrorization is that the child is frequently threatened with, and/or actually suffers, violence for being ‘disobedient’. Of course, this violence, assuming it is even recognized as such (given that ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence are just that to virtually everyone), is invariably labeled ‘punishment‘ so that we can delude ourselves that our violence is not harmful.

This means that virtually every single individual has been successfully terrorized into being submissively obedient. And, fundamentally, this obedience includes accepting the elite-driven narrative delivered by education systems and the corporate media in relation to issues crucial to human survival.

So despite our preference for believing otherwise, those individuals in our societies who survive the education system capable of thinking for themselves, or even of ‘clear thinking’, are rare. And then they must also survive (preferably by refusing to access it) the propaganda (that is, lies) presented as ‘news’ by the corporate media. Given that another outcome of being terrorized throughout childhood means that most people are very gullible, perceiving lies is a huge challenge in itself.

Of course, this powerless imperative to believe the lies we are told and to behave obediently in response is always reinforced by the fear of violence (‘punishment’), including the fear of social ostracism for resisting elite narratives, but it is also reinforced by other fears: for example, the fear that makes people feel powerless to respond in any meaningful way, the fear of changing their behaviour, and the fear of feeling out of control of their own destiny. After all, if extinction is imminent and we are to avert it, we will need to do some fundamental things – including thinking and behaving – very differently. But we are not allowed to think or behave differently, are we? That would be disobedient.

This can be readily illustrated. When a young child does not get what they need, the child will have an emotional reaction. This will always include fear, it will probably include anger and it will probably include sadness, among other feelings. However, almost invariably, parents behave in a manner intended to prevent the child from having their emotional response (and using this information in formulating the appropriate behavioural response in the circumstance). They do not listen to the child while they express their feelings. Instead, they act to make the child suppress awareness of their feelings.

At its simplest and apparently most benign, the parent might comfort the child in the misguided belief that this is helpful. But it is not, unless you want a submissively obedient child.

Another simple and common way in which we suppress the emotional awareness and, hence, capacity for emotional expression of a child is by giving them food or a toy to distract them from how they feel. The fundamental outcome of this act is that we unconsciously ‘teach’ the child to seek food and/or material items as substitutes for feeling and acting on how they feel. But this is absolutely disastrous.

The net result of this behaviour is that virtually all people in industrialized societies have become addicted to material consumption, and the direct (including military), structural and ecological violence that makes excessive consumption in these societies possible. All so that we can suppress how we really feel.

And, therefore, the very notion of substantially reducing consumption – a central part of any strategy for human survival by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial production and transport, checking the collapse of biodiversity by halting the destruction of habitat such as rainforests, denying financial incentive to deploy technology for 5G, ending wars (and the threat of nuclear war) for resources – becomes ‘unthinkable’.

Because the fundamental imperative of materialist societies is ‘Consume!’ (so that corporations can profit). And we do not have the emotional power to disobey that imperative because deep in our unconscious remains the childhood terror of resisting the offered food or toy and insisting on expressing how we feel and behaving powerfully in accord with that. It is far simpler to just put something more in our mouth or use one of our ‘toys’. Who wants to feel scared, sad or angry instead?

In essence, the individual who has been terrorized into obedience is no longer capable of thinking for themself and then behaving in accord with their own Self-will. This means that imperatives of the global elite – mediated through its agents such as governments, education systems and the corporate media and enforced by legal systems, the police and prison cells – are readily obeyed by the vast bulk of the human population.

And because the global elite is insane, this obedience means that we are submitting to the elite coup and complying with its imperatives that are fast-tracking humanity to extinction on four separate paths, as noted above.

To reiterate: At this most critical moment in human history, when a coup is being conducted against us and four separate threats to human existence and all life on Earth require our engaged attention and powerful response, it is almost impossible to get people to even acknowledge these threats, let alone to consider the evidence and act strategically in response.

Which means that profoundly altering our approaches to parenting and education, so that we produce powerful individuals, is critical to any strategy to fight for human survival.

So what can we do?

Well, if you would like to fight for human survival, it would be useful to start by giving yourself time to focus on feeling your emotional responses – fear, anger, sadness, dread…. – to the elite coup and the four most imminent threats.

If you do not do this, you are unlikely to be able to engage meaningfully and strategically in the effort. You will, most likely and unconsciously, simply put your attention elsewhere and go back to what you were doing.

So once you have a clearer sense of your emotional reactions to this knowledge and have allowed yourself time to focus on feeling these feelings, you will be in a far more powerful position to consider your response to the situation. And, depending on your interests and circumstances, there is a range of possible responses that will each make an important difference.

Fundamentally, you might consider making ‘My Promise to Children‘ which will include considering what an education for your children means to you, particularly if you want powerful individuals who can resist violence.

You might consider supporting others to become more powerful.

If you wish to strategically resist the elite coup against humanity, you can read about nonviolent strategy, including strategic goals for doing so, from here: Strategic Aims.

If you wish to powerfully resist the primary threats to human existence – nuclear war, the deployment of 5G, the collapse of biodiversity and/or the climate catastrophe – you can read about nonviolent strategy, including strategic goals to focus your campaigns, from here: Strategic Aims.

You might also consider joining those who are powerful enough to recognize the critical importance of reduced consumption and greater self-reliance as essential elements of these strategies by participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

In addition, you are welcome to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘.

Or, if you want something simpler, consider committing to:

The Earth Pledge

Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:

  1. I will listen deeply to children. See Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening‘.
  2. I will not travel by plane
  3. I will not travel by car
  4. I will not eat meat and fish
  5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  7. I will not own or use a mobile (cell) phone
  8. I will not buy rainforest timber
  9. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  10. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  11. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
  12. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  13. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  14. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

Conclusion

Given that submissive obedience is the primary behavioural characteristic of all ‘good citizens’, it is going to take a monumental effort to defeat the elite coup and avert the now imminent extinction of Homo Sapiens. This is because most common human behaviours – from parenting to consumption habits – have been shaped to serve elite interests, and it is these behaviours that must change.

Of course, this is also why lobbying elite agents – such as governments and corporations – cannot work. Apart from the fact that they exist to serve elite interests and obey elite directives accordingly (rather than respond to grassroots pressure which they function superbly to dissipate), governments and corporations cannot meaningfully impact the crises that confront us.

That power is ours but we must use it, and deploy it strategically.

“Six Months To Avert Climate Crisis”: Climate Breakdown And The Corporate Media

In his classic science fiction novel, Foundation, Isaac Asimov posited a future in which ‘psychohistorians’ could predict outcomes based on past history and the large-scale behaviour of human populations by combining psychology and the mathematics of probability. Using ‘psychohistory’, the protagonist Hari Seldon discovers that the 12,000-year-old Galactic Empire will collapse in 500 years. He warns the galactic rulers of this likely fate, while explaining that an alternative future in which human knowledge is preserved can be attained. For his trouble, he is exiled to the remote planet of Terminus.

In today’s world, the prospects for human civilisation, never mind the existence of historians in the future, look bleak indeed.  According to many leading climate scientists and biologists, the most likely outcome for humanity is the collapse of what is called ‘civilisation’. They warn that it may already be too late to change course. These are the shocking expert conclusions, rooted in scientific evidence and careful rational arguments, which are routinely underplayed, marginalised or simply ignored by ‘mainstream’ news media.

Last November, the world’s most prestigious science journal, Nature, published a study by eminent climate scientists warning that nine major ‘tipping points’ which regulate global climate stability are dangerously close to being triggered. These include the slowing down of ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, massive deforestation of the Amazon, and accelerating ice loss from the West Antarctic ice sheet.  Any one of these nine tipping points, if exceeded, could push the Earth’s climate into catastrophic runaway global warming. There could even be a ‘domino effect’ whereby one tipping point triggers another tipping point which, in turn, triggers the next one and so on, in a devastating cascade. Given the normal custom of academics to use sober language, the warning statements in the pages of Nature were stark:

‘The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel [our emphasis] political and economic action on emissions.’

The researchers are clear that:

‘We are in a climate emergency and [our study of tipping points] strengthens this year’s chorus of calls for urgent climate action — from schoolchildren to scientists, cities and countries.’

In short, there is ‘an existential threat to civilization’ and ‘no amount of economic cost–benefit analysis is going to help us.’This should have dwarfed news coverage of Brexit for months. One of the study’s co-authors, Will Stefen, emeritus professor of climate and Earth System science at the Australian National University, told Voice of Action, an Australian publication, that all this raises the ultimate question:

‘Have we already lost control of the system? Is collapse now inevitable?’

In other words, there may simply not be enough time to stop tipping points being reached, as he explained with this metaphor:

‘If the Titanic realises that it’s in trouble and it has about 5km that it needs to slow and steer the ship, but it’s only 3km away from the iceberg, it’s already doomed.’

We searched the ProQuest media database for mentions of this particularly disturbing quote by Steffen, a world-renowned climate expert, in national UK newspapers. We found the grand total of one in a short article in the Daily Express. What could better sum up the pathology of the ‘mainstream’ news media than ignoring urgent authoritative warnings of the likely collapse of the climate system?

Scientists have been sounding the alarm for some time that we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s long biological history. But this time the cause is not a natural calamity, such as a huge volcanism event or an asteroid strike, but human ‘civilisation’. Worse still, the careful evidence accrued by biologists in study after study indicates that the global mass loss of species is accelerating. In 2017, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reported that billions of populations of animals have disappeared from the Earth amidst what they called a ‘biological annihilation.’  They said the findings were worse than previously thought. Earlier this month, a new study revealed that five hundred species of land animals are likely to become extinct over the next two decades.  Gerardo Ceballos, an ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and lead author of the paper, declared:

‘We’re eroding the capabilities of the planet to maintain human life and life in general.’

While humans continue to destroy species and natural habitats, Ceballos and his colleagues warn of a ‘cascading series of impacts’, including more frequent occurrences of new diseases and pandemics, such as Covid-19. He summarised:

‘All of us need to understand that what we do in the next five to 10 years will define the future of humanity.’

But the crucial window for action is likely much shorter than that. And it is not just the ‘usual suspects’ of Greens and wild-eyed radicals who claim so.  According to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, the world has just six months to avert climate crisis. This is the timescale required to ‘prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe’.

Samuel Alexander, a lecturer with the University of Melbourne and research fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, told Voice of Action that the looming end of organised human society would not be a single event. Instead, we are approaching a stage:

‘where we face decades of ongoing crises, as the existing mode of civilisation deteriorates, but then recovers as governments and civil society tries to respond, and fix things, and keep things going for a bit longer.’

He added:

‘Capitalism is quite good at dodging bullets and escaping temporary challenges to its legitimacy and viability. But its condition, I feel, is terminal.’

Meanwhile, Steffen believes that current mass protests, such as Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion, are not yet a sign of collapse but one of ‘growing instability’. Alexander concurs, saying that it is a sign of ‘steam building up within a closed system’. Without large-scale grassroots action and radical shifts in government policies, we are ‘likely to see explosions of civil unrest increasingly as things continue to deteriorate’. However, he offered hope that, with sufficient public pressure, the future could still be ‘post-growth/post capitalist/post-industrial in some form.’

Graham Turner, a former senior Australian government research scientist, observed:

‘I think if we all manage to live a simpler and arguably more fulfilling life then it would be possible still with some technological advances to have a sustainable future, but it would seem that it’s more likely … that we are headed towards or perhaps on the cusp of a sort of global collapse.’

He fears that the public as a whole will only demand change once ‘they’re actually losing their jobs or losing their life or seeing their children directly suffer’.One positive practical step that people could take, he says, is to push for changes in the law governing corporations:

So that corporations don’t have more legal rights than people, and are not compelled to make a profit for shareholders.’

Meanwhile, Siberia, of all places, is undergoing a prolonged heatwave, described by one climate scientist as ‘undoubtedly alarming’, which is driving 2020 towards being the globally hottest year on record.Media ‘Failure’ Is Default Media PerformanceMany new and dramatic climate findings are, of course, reported in the science and environment sections of newspapers. But the compelling case for a radical shift in society towards sustainability are barely touched upon in corporate news media, for obvious reasons.In particular, the imminent threat of climate collapse rarely intrudes into the numerous pages devoted to ‘politics’, business and the economy. These pages feature a whole slew of correspondents, columnists and commentators who are rewarded for not questioning the status quo.Worse, no leading political editor – the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg and ITV’s Robert Peston spring to mind – ever seriously challenges the Prime Minister, or other senior politicians, on the huge risk of climate breakdown. The Westminster ‘village’ – surely as insular a social bubble as has ever existed in this country – is almost entirely divorced from the reality of onrushing climate chaos.As independent journalist Rebecca Fisher, formerly of Corporate Watch, noted recently:

‘UK’s current form of “democracy” cannot protect the public. The “Westminster model” was developed to promote unregulated economic growth and prevent the public from real participation in how society is run.’

And yet, unlike the power-hungry Westminster navel-gazers, the public does believe climate is an urgent issue. A new survey of 80,000 people conducted across forty countries reveals that fewer than three per cent believe climate change is not serious at all.But, as we and others have long argued, a fundamental obstacle to shifting to a saner, more democratic society is the narrow concentration of media ownership; a structural impediment in today’s world to truly free and open debate. This extreme state of affairs has been tracked in the UK by the independent Media Reform Coalition which represents several groups and individuals committed to promoting journalism and communications that work for the benefit of the public. The MRC is currently chaired by Natalie Fenton, professor of media and communications at Goldsmiths, University of London.The coalition’s most recent report on UK media ownership, published in 2019, revealed that the problem is now even worse than at the time of its previous report in 2015. Just three companies – Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, Daily Mail Group and Reach (publisher of the Mirror titles) dominate 83 per cent of the national newspaper market (up from 71 per cent in 2015). When online readers are included, just five companies – News UK, Daily Mail Group, Reach, Guardian and Telegraph – dominate nearly 80 per cent of the market.The report’s authors warned:

‘We believe that concentration in news and information markets in particular has reached endemic levels in the UK and that we urgently need effective remedies. Concentrated ownership creates conditions in which wealthy individuals and organisations can amass vast political and economic power and distort the media landscape to suit their interests.’

The warning is further backed up in a forthcoming book, The Media Manifesto (Polity Books, August 2020), by Fenton and co-authors Des Freedman, Justin Schlosberg and Lina Dencik. They emphasise a crucial point that is a longstanding characteristic of rational media analysis: we must stop using the misleading framework of media ‘failures’. As Noam Chomsky observed many years ago in describing media performance:

‘The basic principle, rarely violated, is that what conflicts with the requirements of power and privilege does not exist.’1

It is therefore not a ‘failure’ when newspapers and broadcasters neglect to scrutinise state-corporate power. Granting a free pass to power is virtually their raison d’être. Or, as ‘The Media Manifesto’ observes:

‘[The] inability to hold power to account shouldn’t be seen as an unprecedented “failure” of the media to perform its democratic role when, in fact, this has long been the media’s normal role under capitalism: to naturalize and legitimize existing and unequal social relations.’

The authors continue with examples:

‘It’s not about failing to hold banks to account but about the complicity of financial journalists and commentators in celebrating neoliberal economics ahead of the 2008 financial crash; it’s not about failing to be tough on racism but about the media’s historic perpetuation of racist stereotypes and promotion of anti-immigrant frames; it’s not about failing to recognize the challenges of apocalyptic climate change but about repeating tropes about “natural” disasters such as hurricanes, heatwaves and forest fires, together with routine “balanced” debates between climate change scientists and deniers. These are not examples of the media’s malfunctioning but of its default behaviour.’

But, goes up the cry from the back row, what about ‘our’ blessed BBC? It is, after all, obliged by its Royal Charter to report objectively and impartially, untrammelled by billionaire ownership or tawdry commercialisation. Right? Not so. As Des Freedman observes of the BBC:

‘[It] is a compromised version of a potentially noble ideal: far too implicated in and attached to existing elite networks of power to be able to offer an effective challenge to them’.2

As can be seen every day of the week, the BBC typically follows a similar agenda to UK newspapers in its own news coverage. Freedman adds:

‘Far from retaining its autonomy from all vested interests, and delivering a critical and robust public interest journalism, the BBC has been a key institutional mechanism for reinforcing establishment “common sense” and has represented the strategic interests of the powerful more than the disparate views of ordinary audiences.’

He continues:

‘It has reached the point where even the accomplished former World Service journalist, Owen Bennett-Jones, has condemned the BBC’s dependence on official sources and argues that “there is plenty of evidence that the BBC, in both its international and domestic manifestations, deserves the epithet ‘state broadcaster’.” Without significant reform, public service media are, in reality, just as likely to be embroiled in the reproduction of media power as their commercial counterparts and therefore just as likely to be part of the problem rather than the solution.’ (pp. 23-24)

Fenton emphasises the point later in the book:

‘despite its claims to be impartial and independent, the BBC has always sided with the elite and been in thrall to those in power.’ (p. 88)

Regular readers will be aware that, since we began publishing media alerts in 2001, we have examined in depth hundreds of examples of the BBC doing exactly this. If you include those examples that we highlight almost daily on Twitter and Facebook, they undoubtedly number in the thousands. Many of the most insidious examples of such bias, omission and distortion in BBC News have been expanded upon in several of our books. There is no shortage of evidence that BBC News functions as a propaganda outlet for state and corporate interests.

A fundamental obstacle to radical societal change to avert climate breakdown, therefore, is that ‘mainstream’ media, including BBC News, exist primarily to uphold the interests of capital and, in addition, particularly in the case of the BBC, the state:

‘Modern capitalism resides on the complex relationship between the neoliberal market and the neoliberal state. To address meaningfully the consequences of climate change, massively reduce inequality and eradicate poverty, would destabilize the power relations that underpin finance-led growth. For example, if the mainstream [sic] press industries do not attempt to maximise their profits in any way they can today, they will probably not exist tomorrow.’ (pp. 84-85)

Concluding Remarks:

In a sane world, if senior scientists who normally use understated academic language start warning of an ‘existential threat’ to human civilisation, then responsible news media would leap into action with huge headlines and in-depth coverage. There would be extensive interviews with scientists on BBC News at Ten, ITV News, Channel 4 News, Newsnight, Good Morning Britain, BBC Radio 4 Today, and other major programmes. They would all follow up with urgent analysis of what needs to be done immediately in the realms of politics and economics to avert the climate threat, or at least minimise the serious consequences of that threat. Instead, state-corporate media have, in effect, exiled scientists to a distant planet in a remote part of the Galaxy where they can be ignored.

Billionaire-owned media, controlled by corporate boards and dependent on corporate ad revenue, and a state broadcaster forever hobbled by bowing to corporate-beholden governments, can never provide the answers to climate breakdown.

As The Media Manifesto argues, with detailed recommendations, we need properly accountable, public-interest news media that are truly democratic, diverse and sustainable.  All the citizen movements that we see today, including Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion, will not succeed unless common aims are sought across diverse campaigns with a united goal; namely, dismantling the state-corporate media that are the propaganda wing for destructive state-corporate power, and replacing such media with news organisations that serve the public interest.We must be clear that the powerful need to be challenged directly; non-violently, yes, but with strength, persistence and wisdom on the basis of clear strategic aims. Meekly asking for change and accepting weak compromises will not work given the gravity of the climate crisis. Media academic Robert McChesney put it well:

‘Many liberals who wish to reform and humanize capitalism are uncomfortable with seemingly radical movements, and often work to distance themselves from them, lest respectable people in power cast a withering eye at them. “Shhh,” they say to people like me. “If we antagonize or scare those in power we will lose our seat at the table and not be able to win any reforms.” Yet these same liberal reformers often are dismayed at how they are politically ineffectual. Therein lies a great irony, because to enact significant reforms requires a mass movement (or the credible prospect of a mass movement) that does indeed threaten the powerful.’3

In short, the powerful need to have their power – originally stolen from us anyway – taken away from them in order to ensure human survival.

  1. Deterring Democracy’, Hill & Wang, 1992, p. 79.
  2. The Media Manifesto, op. cit., p. 88.
  3. Robert McChesney, Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century: Media, Politics, and the Struggle for Post-Capitalist Democracy’, Monthly Review Press, 2014, pp. 26-27.

The Decade Of Transformation: Being In Balance With Nature

Save Our Planet Save Our Future, Belgium, January 31, 2019 (Photo: EuroNews/Twitter)

This is the fourth newsletter in our series on the 2020s as a decade of transformation See Remaking International Relations, Remaking the Economy for the People, and Remaking Healthcare. In addition to COVID-19 and the economic collapse, multiple crises are reaching a peak and the world is changing as a result. How the world changes will be determined in some part by our actions. This week, we look at what can be done to bring our societies into balance with nature.

Biologist Elisabet Sahtouris describes an alternative theory of evolution to Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” in her book, “Earthdance: Living Systems in Evolution.” Sahtouris finds that evolution is cyclical, a spiral instead of linear. She describes how when a new species arises, it upsets the ecological equilibrium as it comes into competition with other species over habitat. The task of that species in the adolescent phase of its evolution is to find its niche in a way that is cooperative with other species. If it fails, it goes extinct.

The human species is in its adolescent phase, and now it is time to recognize our mistakes and change our behaviors. Sahtouris writes:

Like any adolescent who is suddenly aware of having created a very real life crisis, our species faces a choice — the choice between pursuing our dangerous course to disaster or stopping and trying to find mature solutions to our crises. This choice point is the brink of maturity — the point at which we must decide whether to continue our suicidal course or turn from it to responsible maturity. Are we going to continue our disastrously competitive economics, our ravaging conversion of our natural supply base into things, our pollution of basic soils, waters and atmosphere in the process? Or will we change the way we see life — our worldview, our self-image, our goals, and our behavior — in accord with our new knowledge of living nature in evolution?

We’re in for a rough patch

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic occurred quickly. The first documented cases occurred in Wuhan, China in late December. The first reported case outside of China occurred two weeks later in Thailand. At that point, it was also discovered that human-to-human transmission of the virus could occur. One week later, the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the United States. Within a month, 18 countries besides China had infections. By early March, there were 500 cases in the United States impacting 30 states plus the District of Columbia. And within another month, the number of cases in the US grew one thousand-fold to 500,000, with 20,000 deaths. These are only the ones we know about. It is certain that the number of cases in the US is being undercounted, perhaps by a factor of ten, as are deaths.

Within a matter of months, the pandemic has had wide-ranging and devastating impacts. There are nearly two million cases in 210 countries. Over 100,000 people have died. Health care systems are being overwhelmed. The pandemic triggered a global recession, which the world was on course to experience at some point soon, and this was before the economy started shutting down.

Nearly 17 million people in the US became unemployed in the last three weeks. This is also likely an underestimate as unemployment offices are overwhelmed. And a majority of workers in the fields of construction, manufacturing, and transportation, and in the service sectors are unable to meet their basic needs. Millions are losing their health insurance when they need it most.

As abruptly as the pandemic and global economic collapse have changed our lives, scientists predict another rapid disruption in our lives is on the horizon. A new study published in Nature predicts ecosystem collapse could start occurring within the next decade. Researchers found that many species are already living near the limits of the conditions they require to survive. As the planet heats up, many species will reach their limit simultaneously and there will be mass die-offs.

Bob Berwyn of Inside Climate News explains:

As global warming heats their habitat to the point that it is intolerable, many species have no place to go. Some will go extinct, with a domino effect that affects scores of other species. If it gets too hot for bumblebees, for example, it affects the reproduction of plants. If it gets too warm for insects and reptiles, it affects food supplies for birds and mammals.

When ecosystems start collapsing abruptly, we will face similar situations as we are facing today with the twin COVID-19 pandemic and global recession. We will be forced to adapt to a new reality, but this time it will be a reality that threatens the food supply in addition to increasing the risk of disease. Just as health professionals warned us for years that we were unprepared for an inevitable pandemic, climate scientists are warning us of ecosystem collapse. We can mitigate the crisis, but that is only going to happen if we take the initiative to make it happen.

COVID-19 will change the world (From News Karnataka)

We’re all connected and it’s all connected

Before we start looking at solutions, we must understand the roots of the crises we face. It is by changing systems at the root level that we will bring about the transformation we need. Of course, this won’t be an in-depth examination. That is beyond the scope of a newsletter.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we are a connected global community. Diseases, greenhouse gases, and capital are not restricted by borders. What we do in one place, impacts another. To stop the pandemic, we must control the infection everywhere or there will always be a repository perpetuating it and putting any of us at risk. International cooperation and solidarity are required to make the transition we need.

The same is true with the climate crisis and the globalized neoliberal economy. They are connected to each other and to our health. It is the globalized neoliberal financial system that has driven the race to the bottom. Capital moves freely about the world in search of the cheapest labor and resources. Many governments, especially those in the global south, compete with each other to loosen regulations that protect workers and the environment to attract capital to their countries. Corporate trade agreements make transnational corporate profits more important than protecting the planet. Humans have created multiple environmental crises from polluting the Earth, as Robert J. Burrowes writes, turning it into a junk planet.

Capitalism knows no limits when it comes to profits. People are being displaced from their land as corporations gobble it up for mining, energy production or industrial agriculture. This forces people deeper into wild habitats where they come in contact with wildlife and also pushes wildlife into human communities. It increases the chances of transmission of disease.

As Keishia Taylor explains, “…human activity disrupts ecosystems and damages biodiversity, shaking loose viruses, which then need a new host.” As the barriers between humans and wildlife break down, the greater the risk for zoonoses, diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans. COVID-19 “is the sixth major epidemic in the last 26 years that originated in bats, mediated by a range of farmed, domesticated or hunted animals.” Factory farming is a great culprit driving these epidemics. Large numbers of animals live in crowded and unnatural environments, which weaken their immune systems and make disease transmission more likely.

Biodiversity is key to healthy ecosystems, writes Eric Roston in TIME. He adds, “Almost half of the new diseases that jumped from animals to humans… after 1940 can be traced to changes in land use, agriculture, or wildlife hunting. …There may be 10,000 mammalian viruses potentially dangerous to people.” The climate crisis is another threat to biodiversity as described above, for which governments are not responding.

Capitalism drives the exploitation of people and resources for profit without regard for the consequences. The burning of cheap, dirty fossil fuels for transportation required to connect disparate parts of the global supply chain as well as the oil and gas industry’s history of pushing dirty forms of transit drives greenhouse gas emissions along with large polluting industries and factory farms. Destruction of the land, including our forests, has lowered the capacity for natural carbon sequestration. This has led to the high levels of carbon in the atmosphere that cause climate chaos; record high temperatures are heating the oceans and storms, fires and droughts are causing more damage.

Vijay Prashad describes the many ways neoliberal capitalism has also driven privatization of state institutions, such as healthcare, and has created precarious livelihoods in his newsletter “We Won’t Go Back to Normal, Because Normal Was the Problem.” And that is our task: to make sure that out of these crises come major changes, the maturation of our species to cooperate with the ecosystems in which we live.

Activists march in a climate change rally in London, Britain, September. 20, 2019 (Reuters)

Opportunities for change

Life has changed drastically for many people as we are suddenly required to stay in our homes. Education has moved online. People are doing more of their own food preparation. Conferences and other large gatherings have been canceled, and some have moved online. We’ve had to change our habits quickly to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases.

One positive side effect of our reduced activity is that greenhouse gas emissions have dropped significantly. Charles Komanoff and Christopher Ketcham of the Carbon Tax Institute estimate that the drop could be as much as 50% this year. They identify four positive lessons from the pandemic: greater reliance on science, the recognition that government action is required to confront crises, the knowledge that we can change our behavior quickly, and the necessity of social solidarity.

We can take rapid action to “flatten the curve” of greenhouse gas emissions just as we are for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is a list of ten basic steps we can take to reduce greenhouse gases and support the health of all living beings and the planet:

  1. Decentralize agriculture – End monopolized industrial agriculture and return to small and medium-sized farms owned by farmers who will manage the land in ways that support biodiversity, rebuild the soil and sequester carbon. This means organic farming methods and includes urban agriculture to produce food locally.
  2. End land grabs – Stop the land grabs that drive people off their land and allow them to return. Smaller landowners tend to be better stewards of the land.
  3. Sequester carbon naturally – Do this through regenerative farming methods, and by restoring wetlands which has the added benefit of buffering sea level rise, and protecting forests, especially mature forests.
  4. Restore wildlife habitat – Protect wildlife areas and plan our communities in ways that do not encroach upon them. This includes rethinking tourism. There are some areas humans ought to avoid out of respect for wildlife habitat.
  5. End fossil fuel and nuclear use – Move rapidly to a carbon-free and nuclear-free energy economy. To make this a just transition, areas that overuse energy will need to reduce consumption and areas that do not have enough energy to meet basic needs will need to increase energy use. This also means finding ways to reduce travel until we can reduce the carbon output. Many businesses and organizations are changing to online meetings and conferences instead of doing them in-person.
  6. Decentralize energy production – Massive solar and wind farms can be disruptive through displacement of communities and the destruction of wildlife areas. Energy production can be integrated into the infrastructure; e.g., on rooftops, parking lots and community solar. Decentralized production ends energy monopolies and allows many people to benefit from the energy they produce.
  7. Remake transportation – Reduce energy use significantly through investment in mass public transit and shared ownership of vehicles as cars are parked 95% of the time. Many cities already have fleets of cars for short-term rental. Fewer cars mean fewer resources being used. And we can increase bike and pedestrian areas to encourage less driving.
  8. Rebuild the rail system – Electrify our railroads and increase their use for moving goods and people. Decentralized energy production can feed into the rail line to power it. This is a concept called Solutionary Rail.
  9. Become zero waste communities – Rethink our consumption and reduce it to what is necessary and then find ways to meet our necessities through closed-loop production cycles, reuse of materials, sharing of items and more.
  10. Cooperate more – In this pandemic, people around the world are organizing mutual aid to provide food and other basic needs. Let’s build on this spirit to look out for each other and connect human-to-human. We may find that building our communities will increase sharing and reduce our desire for so much stuff.

There are more steps we could add to this list that include socializing sectors of the economy so that human rights and protection of the planet supersede corporate profits, remaking trade along the same lines and strengthening localized, worker or community-owned enterprises.

We are truly at a crossroads. The pandemic has taught us to act in solidarity and that we can alter our lifestyles drastically when necessary. The climate crisis requires us to flatten the curve of our greenhouse gas emissions and toxic, polluting society. We can’t go back to normal because normal is killing us. The time is now to create a new world in balance with nature.

Dammed Good Question about the Green New Deal

Hydroelectric power from dams might be the thorniest question that proponents of the Green New Deal (GND) have to grapple with. Providing more energy than solar and wind combined, dams could well become the backup for energy if it proves impossible to get off of fossil fuels fast enough.

Rivers and lakes are an integral part of human existence, with virtually all major inland cities being located next to one of them. They provide water for drinking, bathing, food, and medicine. Their sustenance is not just for humans but for untold numbers of tiny organisms, insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. Rivers integrate plant and animal life forms and connect human communities to each other.

As capitalism grew, rivers transported huge quantities of lumber from clear cuts, oil from under the ground and coal ripped from mountains. Rivers have been used for trash disposal, as if carrying it somewhere else would make it vanish. Nor can rivers make industrial and agricultural poisons disappear but can only carry them until they create huge dead zones. Victors of battles have let rivers float human bodies to remind those living downstream of their military prowess.

The advent of electricity meant that those seeking to dominate nature found an extraordinary tool at their disposal – hydro-electric power from dams. There are 57,000 large dams in the world and more could be on the way. Thus, it is important that GND advocates clarify whether they support building more dams or endorse a moratorium on their construction.

Dams were an integral part of economic expansion under Franklin Roosevelt’s original New Deal. Building new dams continued past FDR, providing about a third of US electrical power in the 1950s. That has declined in the twenty-first century, mainly because of expanded fossil fuel use. The greatest wave of global dam-building has been since World War II and 80% of their current use is for hydro-power. Dams have fragmented over two-thirds of long rivers.

One of the most infamous is Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River. Planned in 1975, it would be the second largest dam system in Brazil and the fourth largest in the world; but opposition stalled it. It was revived during the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and tension over its construction mounted under Dilma Rousseff’s government. In May 2016 the first turbine went online; 16 main turbines were functioning in September 2019, and completion is scheduled for 2020.

Mongolia hopes to use dams as part of a strategy to move away from fossil fuels. It’s action plan is called the “Green Development Policy,” which seems to echo “Green New Deal” proposals of western countries. The Selenge River, a transnational body of water originating in Mongolia, contributes over half the water to Russia’s Lake Baikal which is so huge that it contains about “20% of the worlds unfrozen fresh water.” Area lakes are already shrinking due to water withdrawal and Lital Khaikin writes that “encroachment of heavy industry threatens the fragile balance of the Baikal and the river-systems that are connected to it.”

With many calling for expansion of large dams, it is necessary to consider what this would mean for river life forms, people living next to or downstream from dams, economics of hydro-power, climate change and unforeseen dangers. Here are 10 potential problems with dams.

1. Dams destroy species and disrupt balances between species that make up ecosystems.

According to International Rivers: “The number-one cause of species extinction is habitat loss.” Due to the assault on rivers, freshwater ecosystems probably have the highest reduction in biodiversity, higher even than those on land.

The decline of a species often has ripple effects on other species. When salmon reproduction is interrupted on the lower Snake River Dams in the Pacific Northwest orcas may starve because so few reach the ocean. River dolphins of the Yangtze were the first human-caused extinction of dolphins, due to construction of China’s Three Gorges Dam. Less well-known examples abound. The Kihansi Spray Toad of Tanzania became extinct in the wild because of the Kihansi Dam in the southern Udzungwa Mountains. The dam reduced the spray zone around the waterfall by 90%, dooming the toad.

Plants, are likewise threatened by dams. Rowan Jacobsen’s 2019 article describes how the Falls-of-the-Ohio scurfpea, whose habitat was limited to a few Ohio River islets, became extinct in the 1920s due to dam construction. Another 2019 Scientific American article explains that 85% of bugs along the Colorado River lays eggs along its banks. As water levels go up and down according to power needs, the insect eggs often get too dry to survive, upsetting the balance between species in the ecosystem. This is particularly unnerving because a 2017 paper in PLOS ONE documented a greater than 75% decline in flying insect mass in Germany.

The plants and animals mentioned here are a small cross-section of known species rendered extinct by dams. The key phrase is “known species:” It is impossible to know how many reptiles, amphibians insects, microorganisms and even birds and mammals which were never discovered no longer exist due to dams. It is also unclear how these extinctions affect broader ecosystems.

Why do dams have such devastating consequences for life forms? They block fish migration and sometimes “completely separate spawning habitats from rearing habitats.” Still water in a dam’s reservoir is a profoundly different environment than flowing water in a river to which species have adapted over millennia. Sediments are critical for maintaining river life downstream but accumulate at the bottom of the reservoir. As International Rivers explains, “Changes in temperature, chemical composition, dissolved oxygen levels and the physical properties of a reservoir are often not suitable to the aquatic plants and animals that evolved with a given river system.” Industrial and agricultural chemicals that settle and concentrate in the reservoir are not healthy for fish and other living things.

2. Dams drive people out of their homes.

Those of us who grew up watching American TV in the 1950s and 60s had a steady diet of troops driving Indians off the landscape of the country’s West. An even more effective tool of America’s ethnic cleansing was undermining the species on which Indians depended, such as buffalo and fish. Roosevelt’s New Deal promised that building dams would help lift people out of poverty. Unfortunately, the Hoover Dam took reservation land from Yuma Indians during 1933-35. By the early 1940s, 22 dams were planned for North Dakota which required evacuating 20,000 people, including many Indians.

In Mexico, building 4000 dams from 1936 to 2006 involved the removal of 185,000 people. As Brazil built Belo Monte, the government claimed that only 16,000 people were displaced. But those affected indicated that a more realistic number was 40,000. As dams expanded, they pushed an estimated 80,000,000 out of their homes globally.

3. Dams undermine indigenous cultures.

Cultural traditions are often closely connected to specific plants, animals, landmarks and bodies of water. When the New Deal’s Grand Coulee Dam robbed land from Native Americans, it broke their connection to salmon. Little known in the western world are efforts by Mongolia to expand dam construction in its norther provinces on the Selenge River and its tributary Eg River. The proposed Shuren Dam on the Selenge would flood sacred heregsuurs (graveyards) and archaeological sites in neighboring areas. The Egiin Gol Dam on the Eg would cause extensive displacement which would include Mongolian herder communities whose link to (Omul whitefish) would be severed. Though opposition led to both projects’ being canceled in 2017, what remains is Mongolia’s hopes to attract foreign investment from multinational corporations seeking resource extraction and hydro-electricity to power mining operations. Similar projects are reaching their tentacles across the planet.

Re-emergence of stagnant plans is exactly what happened with the Belo Monte Dam, which was only a gleam in investors’ eyes in 1975. Its enormous displacement of native peoples required destroying their ways of life. When it was being massively opposed, a coalition formed between the Munduruku and other Amazonian tribes of Juruna, Kayapo, Xipaya, Kuruaya, Asurini, Parakana, and Arara who occupied the main construction site of the $14 billion undertaking.

In June 2013, Munduruku leaders released a letter (translated by Glenn H. Shepard) which included the following:

We know how the law of nature works through the teachings of the ancients … animals teach us things that we don’t know, and we can interpret the messages … The animals warn us of dangers that are about to happen… Non-Indians say these are just superstitions but it is for real… You should not play with nature: for us, this is very dangerous… All animals have have mother-spirits, whether fish, or forest animals, birds, plants, fire, earth, wind, waters, even spirit beings, they all have lives… We have sacred places along our Tapajós river and we, the Munduruku, do not disturb these places… What government is this that is speaking against us? And declaring war to finish us off in order to then give our lands to the big landowners, agribusiness, hydro-electric dams and mining companies?

4. Dams affect far more people than they displace.

People do not have to be pushed out of their homes or watch the flooding of sacred places to be affected by dams. An estimated 400-800 million people in the world who live downstream from dams lose access to clean water, are poisoned by industrial development, and watch resources such as fish shrink along with the quantity of water flowing through rivers. Especially those living in tropical areas can experience an increase in diseases such as malaria, filariasis, yellow fever, dengue, and schistosomiasis.

5. Conflicts over dams result in the arrest and killing of earth protectors.

Since 2009, the massive growth of dams in Mexico led to the arrest of over 250 and at least 8 deaths. Global Witness tabulated that “dams and other water resources” were the third leading industries (behind mining and agribusiness) to be associated with deaths of environmentalists in 2018.

Dams have also been linked to imprisonment and/or killings in many countries, including Burma, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Sudan. The greatest number of indigenous people massacred was when 440 were killed “to make way for Gautemala’s Chixoy Dam in 1982.” Extreme civil rights violations will undoubtedly rise in proportion to efforts to expand hydro-electric power.

6. Dams can increase the likelihood of wars over water resources.

Any time a river runs through two or more countries, there is a potential conflict over dam-building, especially if hostile relationships already exist. Shortly after Pakistan was created, on April 1, 1948 India began taking water from canals that went into Pakistan. The following month, the Dominion Accord required Pakistan to pay India in return for removing water. But a permanent solution was stalled until 1960 when Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Mohammad Ayub Khan of Pakistan signed the Indus Water Treaty. Many disputes were settled via the Permanent Indus Commission. But in 2017 India built the Kishanganga Dam in Kashmir and developed the Ratle hydro-power station in the Chenab River despite objections from Pakistan. With Narendra Modi’s siege of Kashmir, dams can only intensify hostilities.

Access to water is central to tensions in the Middle East. The Tigris-Euphrates basin, which includes Turkey, Syria, Iraq and western Iran, is rapidly losing water. Conn Hallihan writes “For Syria and Iraq, the problem is Turkey and Ankara’s mania for dam building. Since 1975, Turkish dams have reduced the flow of water to Syria by 40% — and to Iraq by 80%… Israel also takes 87% of the West Bank aquifers, leaving the Palestinians only 13%.” Water conflicts will get worse over time – by 2030, 4 out of every 10 people in the world may not have access to water.

Rivers cross international borders of 145 countries, not all of whom get along well. Rivers crossing 9 to 11 countries include the Congo, Nile, Rhine and Niger. Like nuclear power plants, dams would be sitting duck targets during a no-hold-barred war, especially for a country deprived of water due to its opponent’s dam.

7. Dams contribute to climate change.

It would be a tragic irony if dams were used to combat climate change because they are a huge source of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Currently, rivers remove about 200 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually, both by carbon absorption and by carrying silt to the sea where it feeds plankton. Yet, dams interfere with rivers’ being a carbon sink and increase their functioning as a carbon source in multiple ways.

Building the giant Hoover Dam required 6.6 million tons of concrete. The larger Grand Coulee Dam required 24.3 million tons. Since enormous heat must be used to produce concrete, each ton manufactured releases one ton of CO2 into the atmosphere. In addition, producing steel to reinforce the concrete and build other dam components requires enormous heat, resulting in CO2 releases. Of the tens of thousands of large dams in the world, these two required creating 30.9 million tons of CO2 just for the concrete: building dams has taken a huge bite out of the carbon sequestered by rivers.

In addition to CO2 release during manufacture of building materials for dams, organic matter rots in their reservoirs and produces the potent GHG methane. Far from being a minor source of carbon, this methane is estimated to “account for 4% of all human-made climate change, equivalent to the climate impact of aviation.”

Third, dams interfere with rivers’ transporting silt and nutrients downstream, which impairs their ability to remove carbon. Finally, some hydro-electric projects can create higher GHG emissions than coal-powered plants producing an equivalent quantity of electricity. Putting these together, dams are hardly a clean, green, carbon-free energy machine.

8. Dams increase differences between rich and poor.

Approval for building dams often begins with investors’ going to politicians who act as a link between them and the population. Politicians promise that the project will bring wealth to all. By the time it becomes clear that this is not happening, the politician is out of office or distracting people with another big promise.

In 1933, construction of the New Deal’s Hoover Dam meant pushing the Yumas off their reservation land so that a boom in energy production could swell corporate profits in the US Southwest. As a sop for losing the reservation, Yumas received five acres apiece with assurance that they could grow more crops due to new irrigation systems. Meanwhile, land was “sold to whites in 40- to 100- acre parcels.”

Construction of the Belo Monte Dam reflects a common occurrence. Though thousands of Indians were displaced, the energy created did not benefit them, but businesses such as aluminum smelters.

Since they can be constructed in small quantities, wind and solar power are often the best source of energy for sparsely populated areas. In contrast, “large hydro-power dams depend on central electric grids, which are not a cost-effective tool to reach rural populations, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Himalayas.”

9. Dams cost much more than promised.

Many factors feed into making dams hyper-expensive. The most obvious is construction costs which amounts to $2 trillion since 1950. A small country persuaded to use hydro-power as its major source of energy can find that the average cost overrun of 96% leaves it more indebted to and controlled by international lenders than it ever anticipated.

Dams lead to more dams. As investors and industrial manufacturers and mine owners reap riches from one dam, they have an incentive to construct more. This contributed to the US Colorado River’s being fragmented by at least 60 dams. Awareness that the Belo Monte Dam would make more upstream dams economically viable was a major source of opposition to it.

A third reason for dams’ being more expensive than promised is that maintenance is hardly, if ever, fully accounted for. Silt eventually interferes with the dam’s functioning. Turbines malfunction, cracks occur, design flaws appear and maintenance can be insufficient. For a combination of reasons, over 1000 dams have been removed in the US and the price of removal is rarely mentioned in cost projections.

The fourth, and most costly source of expense overruns for dams, is when they break. This brings us to the last of 10 problems. When negotiating over price, the construction company is highly unlikely to admit its life expectancy.

10. Dams break.

Unlike the extinction they cause, dams are not forever. And with today’s standards for privatized construction, they can be expected to last for shorter time periods than Roman coliseums and vastly less than Egyptian pyramids. As Worster wrote:

Steel penstocks [structures that carry water from the forebay tunnel to the power house to run the turbines] and headgates must someday rust and collapse. Concrete, so permanent-seeming in is youth, must turn soft and crumble. Heavy banks of earth, thrown up to trap a flood, must eventually, under the most favorable circumstances, erode away.

On March 14, 2019, the Spencer Dam on the Niobrara River in Nebraska, which was 90 years old, broke due to heavy rain and flooding. The community was left wondering if a missing person had been drowned.

Americans who are old enough might remember the February 1972 collapse of the Buffalo Creek Dam for coal waste that burst and sent water flowing into nearby mining towns, drowning 125. In June of the same year the Canyon Lake Dam in South Dakota got clogged with debris until it broke and downstream communities around Rapid City lost 238 lives.

Failure to learn from these events led to completion of the Teton Dam in southeastern Idaho. Scientists wrote of dangers of putting a large structure in one of the most active earthquake zones in the US, adjacent to cracked and fragile canyon walls. In less than a year after completion it began springing leaks and in June 1976 it collapsed, killing 11 people and 13,000 cattle and washing away homes and a billion tons of topsoil.

The New England Historical Society documented the first major disaster as the Mill River Dam collapse of 1874 which caused 139 deaths. The worst such disaster in the US happened only 15 years later when warnings regarding the South Fork Dam near Johnstown, Pennsylvania were followed by its collapse, which killed 2209.

Eric Fish penned the disturbing story of the 1975 Banqiao Dam collapse, by far the most deadly the world has experienced to date. As part of the “Harness the Huai River” campaign, the dam was completed in 1952 in China’s Henan Province. By the 1970s, thousands of dams had been built across China. Scientific studies warned that projects could raise Henan’s water tables over safe levels. More warnings were issued that deforestation and mining could further increase the danger of building yet more dams in an earthquake-prone zone already fraught with landslides. Committed to rapid economic growth, the government ignored the warnings.

Cracks appeared almost as soon as the reservoir began filling up. With Soviet help, the structure was reinforced and it was called the “Iron Dam” to assure everyone of its safety. Nevertheless,

on Aug 5, 1975, a typhoon collided with a cold front over Henan and dropped the area’s average yearly rainfall in less than 24 hours. The 106 cm of rain that fell that day dwarfed the 30 cm daily limit the dam’s designers had anticipated. Witnesses said that the area was littered with birds that had been pummeled to death by the intense rainfall.

In an effort to mitigate downstream floods that were already severe, Banqiao was ordered not to fully open its sluice gates early in the storm. Then communication lines were knocked out, leaving operators guessing as to how the situation outside was unfolding. By the time the gates were fully opened, it was too late. Water was rising faster than it could escape.

A hydrologist had recommended building 12 sluice gates (which let water flow out at the base of a dam), but only 5 went into the final design and they were partially blocked by silt. Collapse of the Banqiao unleashed a 50 km/hour tidal wave down the river that knocked out 62 additional dams. Entire villages were swept away within minutes. One survivor recalled “I didn’t know where I was – just floating around in the water, screams and cries ringing in my ears. Suddenly, all the voices died down, leaving me in deadly silence.”

During the six hours that water poured out of the reservoir 26,000 lives were lost. Those living downstream soon envied the dead. The same torrent that flooded the reservoirs also washed out roads and knocked out rescue communication systems. When the rescue teams finally arrived, they found people standing on rooftops, holding onto trees or stranded on bits of dry land. They had kept themselves alive by eating tree leaves, animal carcasses that floated by or scavenged food that was often rotten. Hunger was joined by disease and summer heat.

For every person who died after the initial dam collapse, five more died from disease or plague. The total estimated death count was 171,000.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the Banqiao is that the same dynamics for economic growth that laid its foundations continue to flourish. In 2011, Zhang Jinxuan, director of the Nujiang National Development and Reform Commission, spoke of China’s growth: “We must proceed. The resources here are too good. Not to develop is not an option.” China has thousands of dams at risk of breach, either because they are wearing out due to age or they are newer with poor construction. Zhou Fangping, with the Water Resources Department of Guangdong Province, has serious worries about the huge quantity. He told China Economic Weekly:

We have so many rivers to manage and so many irrigation and water conservancy projects. If there’s only one project, we can handle it, but there are so many… either we promise to complete all the projects but we don’t actually meet the targets, or we finish them all but with sub-standard quality.

China is hardly the only country which refuses to learn from Banqiao. Scientists still make recommendations that are ignored, either from a corporate desire to make more profits or from a bureaucratic state desire to expand its power. In the US, 24 of every 25 US dams are privately owned, with financial incentives to minimize repairs. Across the globe, more and more industrial plants full of toxic chemicals are located next to rivers, increasing potential hazards of flooding. Decision makers refuse to understand that climate crisis means that weather events which cause dam disasters are becoming more frequent and more extreme. They continue to build multiple dams on the same river. They seek to assure their citizens that past disasters were due to design problems and that “Generation Next” dams will be safe.

After thousands of years of warnings from philosophers and religious prophets that humanity can live prosperously by having less grandiose desires, political leaders insist that happiness flows from a fountain of possessions, which, in the 21st century, is a fountain of energy. The more power that leaders have over other people, the more power they seek over nature. Instead of trying to work with nature to strengthen local communities, they cling to technocratic ideologies that “bigger and more complicated” is better. If a previous dam broke, they fail to see the problem as the dam’s existence – they insist that if the next dam is bigger, with more concrete and more electrical parts, then the river can be controlled.

Though efforts to subdue rivers have long caused problems, modern capitalism has transformed this pathological view to cultural psychopathy. Psychopathy reflects a lack of guilt or shame over the damage that one causes. A corporation is a social entity which is unable to feel guilt or shame for undermining the survivability of humans and millions of other life forms.

After thousands of years of disrupting natural water flow, which has been exponentially accelerated during recent decades, it is past time for humanity to restore rivers and streams while maintaining a high quality of life. This is why “500 organizations from 85 countries call on governments, financiers and other institutions to keep large hydro-power projects out of their initiatives to address climate change.”

A critical question addresses what would happen if the goal of eliminating fossil fuels usage within 10 years cannot be accomplished with solar and wind power. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the massive growth of solar/wind technology cannot expand at such an enormous rate in this time period, and, if it were seriously attempted, it would cause disastrous ecological and human health problems. Though every source that provides data on sources of energy assigns different percentages to each sector, a reasonable estimate is that in 2018, global energy was supplied by 85% fossil fuels, 7% hydro-power, 4% nuclear power and 4% solar and wind power. Hydro-electric power from dams and nuclear power are obviously next in line for huge increases in sources of energy if solar/wind cannot replace fossil fuels rapidly enough.

There is another option; but GND plans are silent on it. That option is called “energy conservation.” It includes using vastly less energy by having compact communities that require less transportation, smaller home space that requires less heating and cooling, less production of energy-absorbing gadgets designed to fall apart or go out of style and a shorter work week via manufacturing less junk.

GND enthusiasts need to say which road they advocate traveling. Should we build more dams and nuclear plants even if that means sacrificing biodiversity and human health? Or, would it better to abandon the dream of infinite economic growth? Are GND proponents willing to consider the possibility that life would be better for all species, including humans, if corporations and governments are not allowed to increase energy production? If so, we might even save a few aquatic ecosystems.

Human Violence: Pervasive, Multi-dimensional and Extinction-threatening

Violence is pervasive throughout human society and it has a vast range of manifestations. Moreover, some of these manifestations – particularly the threat of nuclear war (which might start regionally), the climate catastrophe and the ongoing ecological devastation, as well as geoengineering and the deployment of 5G – threaten imminent human extinction if not contained. Separately from these extinction-threatening manifestations, however, violence occurs in a huge range of other contexts denying many people the freedom, human rights and opportunities necessary for a meaningful life. Moreover, human violence is now driving 200 species of life on Earth to extinction daily with another 1,000,000 species under threat.1

Given the expanding range of threats to human survival that require a strategic response if they are to be contained, is that possible?

Well, any candid assessment of the relevant scientific literature coupled with an understanding of the psychological, sociological, political, economic and military factors driving the violence, clearly indicates that the answer is ‘highly unlikely’. Particularly because so many people are so (unconsciously) terrified and incapable of responding powerfully.

However, this does not mean that many people are not trying and some of these people perceive the interrelated and synergistic nature of these threats and know that we must be addressing each of them strategically if humanity and an enormous number of other species are to have any meaningful chance of survival in a viable biosphere. These people range from ‘ordinary’ activists, who work passionately to end violence in one context or another, to globally prominent individuals doing the same. Let me tell you about some of them.

Ramesh Agrawal is a prominent social and environmental activist in India who has devoted many years to educating and organizing local village people, including adivasi communities, to defend their homes and lands from those corporations and governments that would deprive them of their rights, livelihoods, health and a clean environment for the sake of mining the abundant coal in the state of Chhattisgarh. However, because his ongoing efforts to access and share key information and his organization of Gandhian-inspired grassroots satyagrahas (nonviolent campaigns) have been so effective, he has also paid a high price for his activism, having been attacked on many occasions. In 2011, for example, he was arrested despite ill-health at the time and chained to a hospital bed. A year later he was shot in the leg, which required multiple operations. He still has difficulty walking with six metal rods inserted through his thigh.

The Jan Chetna (‘peoples’ awareness’) movement started by Ramesh has spread to several parts of Chhattisgarh as well as other states of India.2 For his nonviolent activism, Ramesh was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2014.

In Ghana, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) continues its work under the leadership of President Dr. Ayo Ayoola-Amale, a certified mediator and peacebuilder. One recent activity was a two weeks training course on negotiation and mediation as a tool for conflict resolution for women in the Upper West region of Ghana, particularly three districts: Lawra, Nadowli and Lambussie. The training was aimed at providing local NGOs, community elders, administrators and others with the skills and knowledge to further improve their capacity in the work they do. In such courses, Ayo emphasizes the importance of trust, identity and relationship building issues, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘Life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.’

But Ayo has also conducted other courses, such as a three day workshop on peacemaking and mediation skills for the teachers and students at Okyereko Methodist Junior High School which taught skills such as communication (listening, speaking, silence), cooperation, trusting, empathy, responsibility, reconciliation and problem solving. Ayo also used her storytelling skills to convey an understanding of what it means to be a responsible person and how that puts us in charge of our lives. Through the storytelling she reveals some of the personal benefits that come from being honest, reliable, trustworthy and principled and how treating people with respect helps us get along with each other, avoid and resolve conflicts, and create a positive social climate. She told workshop participants that every choice they make helps define the kind of person they are choosing to be and their character is defined by what they do, not what they say or believe.

Professor René Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens headquartered in France, has been involved for decades in efforts to engage people in world events rather than leave these events to be mismanaged by elites with a vested interest in a particular outcome. In this article, for example, he reflects thoughtfully on the ‘Iran Crisis: Dangers and Opportunities‘ by drawing attention to opportunities for citizen engagement through NGOs to influence how the conflict plays out. As he notes: ‘The dangers are real. We must make the most of the opportunities.’ René also continues to examine issues and throw light on subjects well outside the spotlight of the corporate media, such as conflicts in Africa.

Since 2017, Dr. Marthie Momberg in South Africa has been working with international colleagues to address Zionism amongst Christians. Along with a colleague from Kairos USA, Marthie offered, for example, a seminar entitled ‘Christianity and the Shifting of Perceptions on Zionism’ at Stellenbosch University’s Beyers Naudé Centre. ‘With some other colleagues we are also in the midst of a research project at this Centre to understand how to sensitise Christians on the nature of Zionism and how it serves as an important lens on so many other struggles in our world. I am also in the process of writing a number of scholarly articles on ethics and religion in the context of Israel and the Palestinian struggle.’

And while on Palestine, US activist journalist Abby Martin recently completed her debut feature film Gaza Fights for Freedom. Directed, written and narrated by Abby, the film had its origins while Abby was reporting in Palestine, where she was denied entry into Gaza by the Israeli government on the accusation she was a ‘propagandist’. Connecting with a team of journalists in Gaza to produce the film through the blockaded border, this collaboration shows you Gaza’s protest movement ‘like you’ve never seen it before.’ Filmed during the height of the Great March Of Return protests, it features riveting footage of demonstrations ‘where 200 unarmed civilians have been killed by Israeli snipers since March 30, 2018’ and is a thorough indictment of the Israeli military for war crimes, and a stunning cinematic portrayal of the heroic resistance by Palestinians. If you would like to buy or rent the film (and support Abby’s work) you can do so here: Gaza Fights For Freedom.

In Guatemala, Daniel Dalai continues his visionary work providing opportunities for girls to develop their leadership capacities at “Earthgardens.” If you haven’t previously been aware of their work, including in Bolivia and Nicaragua, you will find it fascinating to read how girls – including Carmen, Angelica, Reyna, Katiela, Yapanepet, Zenobia, Deysi, Rosalba, Charro, Katarina and Marleni – in this community each changed their society, often by forming ‘Eco-Teams’, with a remarkable variety of initiatives.

The Asia Institute ‘is the first truly pan-Asian think tank. A research institution that addresses global issues with a focus on Asia, The Asia Institute is committed to presenting a balanced perspective that takes into account the concerns of the entire region. The Asia Institute provides an objective space wherein a significant discussion on current trends in technology, international relations, the economy and the environment can be carried out.’ Focused on research, analysis and dialogue, and headed by president Emanuel Yi Pastreich, the Institute was originally founded in 2007 while Emanuel was working in Daejeon, Republic of (South) Korea. Emanuel writes extensively on culture, technology, the environment and international relations with a focus on Northeast Asia. He also serves as president of the Earth Management Institute, a global think tank dedicated to developing original approaches to global governance in this dangerous age. But for more on The Asia Institute, see the website above.

While the individuals and organizations mentioned above are just a sample of those directly involved, they are part of an expanding worldwide network in 105 countries committed to working to end human violence in all of its manifestations. Whatever the odds against it, they refuse to accept that violence cannot be ended, and each has chosen to focus on working to end one or more manifestations of violence, according to their particular circumstances and interests. If you would like to join these people, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of “The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.”

If your own interest is campaigning on a peace, climate, environment or social justice issue, consider doing it strategically.

If your focus is a defense or liberation struggle being undertaken by a national group, consider enhancing its strategic impact.

If your preference is addressing the climate and environmental catastrophes systematically while working locally, consider participating in (and inviting others to participate in) The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth.

If you would like to tackle violence at its source, consider revising your parenting in accordance with My Promise to Children.3

If you are self aware enough to know that you are not dealing effectively with our deepening, multifaceted crisis, consider doing the personal healing necessary to do so.

Perhaps ending human violence is impossible. If that is true, then human extinction is inevitable and it will occur as a result of one cause or another. Moreover, it will happen in the near term. But every person who believes that human violence can be ended, and then takes strategic action to end it, is participating in the most important undertaking in human history: a last ditch strategy to fight for human survival.

  1. For just a sample of the evidence in relation to the threats noted above see, for example, “Rapidly expanding nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India portend regional and global catastrophe,” “Plan A,” “City on Fire,” “Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival,” “Geoengineering Watch,” “International Appeal: Stop 5G on Earth and in Space,” and “5G and the Wireless Revolution: When Progress Becomes a Death Sentence.”
  2. For the latest account of his efforts including the recent ‘coal satyagrapha’ focused on coal blocks owned by state power companies but being developed and operated by Adani Enterprises, see “Thousands Hold ‘Coal Satyagraha,’ Allege Manufacturing of Consent at Public Hearing.”
  3. If you want the evidence to understand why this is so crucial, see “Why Violence?” and “Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.”

Crisis after Crisis and Still the Citizen in Capitalism Follows the Paymaster as God

I’ve been running into a lot of soft democrats and confused environmentalists lately who are all up in arms about things that really don’t mean diddly-squat in the scheme of things. You know, the presidential election (sic), all the perversity of not only Trump, but Holly-dirt, Mainlining Media, and the billionaire class, and this rotten society that still after 400 years of slavery and after a thousand treaties with indigenous peoples broken is as racist as ever.

Southern California Communist Party of USA:

slavery

More so racist in a time of supposedly more information and revised histories of this raping class of people who brought their sad, swathed-in-money-and-subjugation religion to these teeming shores. And other shores, too.

We’ve got people taking a hard position on …  we have to ban plastic straws and we have to ban grocery bags and we have to do something with all that plastic out there … when the positions should be centered around global justice, global poverty, the military industrial complex that is the purview of dozens of countries now, many of which are dealing with abject poverty — Pakistan, India, err, USA!

We never ever talk about the military, because that’s taboo, off limits, sacred cow of the Empire, even folks wearing Birkenstocks and bamboo underwear. Or mining operations by UK, French, USA, Australia, and Oh Canada.

Canadian Mining Companies Are Destroying Latin America1

Canada Mining Companies in Latin America Have Blood on Hands. An injured protester flees as riot police use tear gas and batons to disperse a protest

Canadian mining activity in Latin America has skyrocketed over the past decade. Acting on 1994’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada signed agreements with several Latin American countries to facilitate easy access for resource extraction. Those countries include Peru (2009), Colombia (2011), Panama (2013), and Honduras (2014). As such, five of the top ten locations for Canada’s international mining assets in 2014 were Latin American countries.

According to Natural Resources Canada, the value of Canadian mining assets abroad reached $148.7 billion in 2012, accounting for 66 percent of all Canadian mining assets.

Canadian activities in Mexico are especially pronounced. With nearly 200 companies in operation, Mexico is the top destination for Canadian mining investment outside of Canada. In Guerrero, terror, violence, and intimidation are a daily occurrence and the gold is said to be cheap and easy to mine. Indeed, Canadian companies such as Goldcorp, Newstrike Capital, Alamos Gold, and Torex Gold Resources all have a strong presence there.

So many of my friends want to move to Canada, cuz that paradise is so humane and loving! I try to talk sense in them, so they change the subject:

So, they spend countless hours thinking of ways to collect the plastic and incentivize schemes to have the stuff shredded and put into road asphalt. Ways to get that “precious plastic” into those 3-D printing machines.

Twisted up like pretzels, they go on and on about the ways we the people shall be/should be putting our effort/money in cleaning up our mess, err, created by corporations, and the plastics industries, which is just another front for the chemical industry, which is tied at the umbilical cord to the oil industry, since everything we do now is cooked and polymerized from that fossil goo we have so become not only addicted to but galvanized into.

Our human shit is bound up with plastics, and our food and air and soil are flogged with chemical after chemical, until all the residues and off-gassing and concomitant synergistic coalescing of physiological side effects have so altered Homo Sapiens before we are born that this is a massive, uncontrolled Doctor Frankenstein and Doctor Moreau  experiment  with outcomes we already see and feel:

  • lower sperm count in young boys and men
  • more than half of USA population cut with chronic illnesses
  • mental disturbances in more and more kindergartners and 1-12 students
  • allergies in more and more kindergartners and 1-12 students
  • more and more physical and intellectual anomalies in more and more kindergartners and 1-12 students
  • more collective passivity in the culture collectively — i.e. Stockholm Syndrome for the masses as their/our leaders-bosses-criminal politicians perpetrate the largest theft of human, monetary and ecological resources the planet or any country has ever seen
  • more and more dis-connectivity of certain melanin-starved racists to begin both mass suicides and mass shootings, as they see more and more people they are against while they continually self-medicate and calorically/chemically-abuse their own selves and zygotes
  • more mass delusion of the massive popular (insipid, droll, infantile) culture that takes more and more time and money away from individuals and families until they are indebted to the millionaire and billionaire class — the same class they now bow to, look up to, regal, valorize

Think about it for a second — Capitalism means we the people take it a million times a day, and we then believe we are the problem, we are the destroyers of the planet (we the 80 percent). We believe collectively that the corporations are mostly benevolent, that Stockholders R’ Us and that companies are people too!

I have had zero choice in all the plastics in 99 percent of the shit I have to have to be a writer, social services worker, contractor, naturalist, etc. Plastic in my car, around my car, even though it’s 2000 Chevy Metro, three-banger five speed with 220,000 original miles?

The externalities and economies of scale WE the PEOPLE pay for. It’s gotta stop —

Even though plastic is destroying our oceans, big corporations are being given money to produce cheap plastic. Taxpayers pay more than 90% of the cost of recycling, while huge subsidies are placed on fossil fuels, the major building block for plastic. This is unfair: we need to take bold action now.

Corporations should pay for the damage they cause. Only then will they be forced to create environmentally friendly alternatives. Fossil fuel companies received subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.7tn) worldwide in 2015, China alone provided subsidies of $2.3tn. As plastic is made out of fossil fuels, these are effectively colossal plastic subsidies.

Rather than being paid to pollute our waters, the polluters should pay for their plastic waste to be recycled. Currently that cost is covered by the taxpayer, but instead the cost of recycling should be part of the cost of the plastic itself – with the additional money being transferred to local governments to pay for recycling. The government should reward retailers who develop new sustainable ideas, and raise charges on packaging that is difficult to recycle. This would reduce the demand for deadly plastics among producers and retailers.

I could go on and on, but for brevity’s sake, I will shift this essay into the arena of just what is important to people in a time of mass surveillance, mass extinction, mass shootings, mass criminality of the FIRE brand class (sic)  — Finance Insurance Real Estate. What really is important to people who scoured Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and the infinite sound byte website and endless drivel of Youtube, TED-X and those top 10 “news” sites where all the news is unfit to send over the Internet.

If one were to have a one-on-one talk with supposedly enlightened ones, who care about the environment, know what the politics are and are on board for some massive change, they still get it so wrong, so dangerously wrong. Commie is not a good thing to them, and more and more greenies are telling me how they worry about China/Asia coming over the Pacific to take away the great resources from Canada and USA, since our (sic) North America is blessed with resources, blessed with money, blesses with less impacts from global heating.

It’s so sad, so sad, that the collective DNA of America still defaults to many of the myths and lies of both sides of the manure pile — anti Chinese, anti-Russians, anti-North Koreans, anti-Syrians, et al.

Then we drift into the prostitute line up on mainstream TV, prognosticating on who would be the best to replace Trump. Haha. It is a viscous carnival circle jerk, with all sorts of caveats on who is better than whom, and in the end, it’s always Biden would be the best, since the polls say that — oh the polls!

“We believe to put our time and money and brain-power into understanding the issues and priorities is where we can most have an impact,” Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport told Politico. Let other operations focus on predicting voter behavior, the implication went, we’re going to dig deeper into what the public thinks about current events.

Still, Gallup’s move, which followed an embarrassingly inaccurate performance by the company in the 2012 elections, reinforces the perception that something has gone badly wrong in polling and that even the most experienced players are at a loss about how to fix it. Heading into the 2016 primary season, news consumers are facing an onslaught of polls paired with a nagging suspicion that their findings can’t be trusted. Over the last four years, pollsters’ ability to make good predictions about Election Day has seemingly deteriorated before our eyes.

Out of all those “candidates,” I still hear from liberals here on the coast of Oregon say, Mayor Pete. “Oh, we want Mayor Pete!” This is that other disease that should have been listed above in the bullet points — some guy, who is a declared homosexual, who went to Iraq on his own in the US military, and he’s proud of it. These people don’t even bend knee for Bernie or Tulsi, because, alas, that Mad comics book guy might be the feminized or neutralized face of their own boys. Go Pete, right!

Here, some fun:

Bizarrely, at least for someone who needs to win Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina to be elected president, Mayor Pete began the evening with a long description of his Rhodes scholarship at Oxford (England, not Old Miss), where he took “a first in PPE” (philosophy, politics, and economics) at Pembroke College. (William Pitt the Younger and Monty Python’s Eric Idle are among its famous graduates.)

Acting like a kindly thesis adviser during orals, Capehart carefully went through each line of Mayor Pete’s curriculum vitae, just so the audience would not miss the fact that after the years at Harvard and Oxford, Pete also got his ticket punched as a 29-year-old mayor in South Bend and as an ensign in the U.S. naval reserve, in which he was deployed as an intelligence officer to NATO command in Kabul.

Oh, and by the way, he also worked as a consultant for McKinsey and, more recently, found time to write his memoirs, Shortest Way Home.It’s painting/writing by the numbers, so any aspiring candidate can sound like the father-dreaming Barack Obama (“A river is made drop by drop”).

In the end Mayor Pete will fall victim to what so far has delivered him to the presidential jamboree—the paper chase of credentialism.

Without Harvard, Oxford, McKinsey, and Afghanistan on his resumé, Mayor Pete would look more like an overly bright Jeopardy! contestant than a presidential candidate. (Alex Trebek: “He’s the mayor of a midwestern city and in his spare time he wants to be president. Let’s give a big welcome for Pete Buttigieg….”)

But with so many golden tickets in his background, after a while, when voters ask about what it will take to cut the $1 trillion blown on Homeland security or the best way to lower carbon emissions, they will want to hear more than Pete’s self-directed love songs. Whitman said, “I and this mystery, here we stand,” but he wasn’t running for president.

Thus, as Requiem for a Lightweight: the Mayor Pete Factor
by Matthew Stevenson points out, this guy, Mayor Pete, is the guy your old mother might like.

The heart of it is many women of the democratic party species think of some soft guy, some dude who goes on and on about his marriage vows, who is trapped in his own small world of faux intellectual pursuits — Rhodes Scholar, Oxford, and with a complete disconnect from the problems in his South Bend — as the leader of the world? Because of their perverted Trump, this fourth grade thinker, the art of the bad deal, the man who admits to all of the gross things and ideologies — they want, what, an opposite of the un-man Trump with another guy who is certainly not capable of real political work?

Democrats have no idea why Trump is in (voter suppression, and such illegalities) and why a good chunk of Americans are supporting his perversion. They don’t get that their own beds are messed up with that perversion — God, Country, Tis of Thee. Really, liberals have not fought hard enough in their own circles and families.

Just today, at Depoe Bay, working the naturalist volunteer gig, where I wander around the tourists gawking at the gray whales blowing real close by, I was talking with some guys from The Bay (Oakland-San Fran). They looked like partners, and the funny thing, they had this old guy in the car, one of the dude’s father.

These two thanked me for my naturalist talents, and fortunately, I also chime in while talking whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals and sea lions the connection to ecology and the lack of ecological health with the politics of deception.

Yeah, they hate Trump, make fun of Trump, and both men are articulate, probably in the Silicon Valley bubble of good times and big bucks. But, alas, they found out quickly I was more than just a cetacean naturalist under the auspices of a national organization that demands no politics in our spiels . . . when they know I am more than anti-Trump and that I have done my despicable stint in US military, worked in prisons, worked in immigration refugee outfits, and that I teach they want me to “have a talk with my dad back there — he’s so fucking pro-Trump.”

Out here watching these leviathans, as long as a school bus, 80,000 pounds, eating mysids the size of one rice grain to the tune of a ton a day, they wanted me to have a chat with the old guy, a chat that would end up in maybe the old man’s heart attack or stroke.

This is it, though, the end of discourse, the fear of having real conversations with embedded souls who have been sold down the river of stupidity and demigods and felons like Trump.

I also drive an old Honda Shadow, 1100cc, black, and most bikers or old men and women on $30k Harley’s, they too are MAGA. So, when I drive into a pub or bar with a bunch of weekend bikers, I don’t fear those conversations.

Hell, my Canadian mother always told me to hold steady and say it like it is. No fear, isn’t that some meme to sell some wasteful product!

Ahh, then I talked with an Italian family, and the father/husband, Justine, talked with me, wondered about Oregon, about the state’s politics (seems progressive, until you leave Portland). He said that in Italy, there is no environmental movement, that the news hardly covers climate change and food insecurity, and that in reality he is afraid for his 14-year-old daughter who was in the car with her mother. The mother thanked me for the whale tips, and she smiled when she saw her old man getting a primer on America, albeit, on the world according to an ecosocialist.

An Italian wanting to know why his own country’s media (controlled by a few Mafioso) haven’t done their job? More of the same in EU, in the colonized countries, those former-empires, now just little men and little women of old. The Media control the message!

I’ve had a few talks over the weeks with citizens from France, Germany, Portugal, Brazil, UK, etc. Hands down, they all have told me they have never had conversations in their vacations here about the things I broach. You see, it’s not anti-Trump that does it. It’s anti-Corporation, anti-Military, anti-Media, anti-Capitalism alongside pro-Green, pro-Socialista, pro-Ecosocialism, pro-retrenchment, pro-Global Collective Strategy, pro-Lock-Them-Up (we know who the “we” are, don’t you know). Most Americans, when talking with foreigners, do not get into the facts about this flagging empire. Maybe most don’t know the facts herein.

Just grounding people today who lean toward “play nice green,” who lean toward Tulsi or Beto or Pete, well, the jig is up.

Back to acceptable male characters:

The feminization of men and this homosexual bias (in favor of) that many in the democratic party parlay into what they believe are serious credentials to tackle climate change, to go after the banks, after the trillionaires with our loot, to draw down US military spending, to draw down the empire, to retrench during a time of hate and loathing inside climate change, well, this speaks volumes why Americans by and large are afraid of themselves, and have no stomach for hard work and the at least gutsy project of ecosocialism, even the work of one Howie Hawkins.

They would give Buttigieg the entire ranch, in this daft belief that a soft man, a cerebral (whatever that means) man of youth, is somehow capable of tackling these blood-sucker Republicans, their brawny lobbyists, and their perfectly criminal billionaire masters.

Forget Bernie, and they won’t touch Elizabeth Warren. Crazy liberals, man, with this Mayor Pete thing.

At least this millionaire Yang has some guts on the reality of global warming:

Here, on National Propaganda Radio, Andrew Yang:

Yang’s answer to his doom and gloom descriptions of the economy and many other problems is a universal basic income proposal he’s calling the “freedom dividend” — $1,000 a month to every U.S. citizen 18 years and older.

“Donald Trump is our president today, in large part, because he got some of the problems right, but his solutions are the opposite of what we need. His solutions were we’re going to build a wall, we’re going to turn the clock back, we’re going to bring the old jobs back,” Yang said. “We have to do the opposite of all that. We have to turn the clock forward. We have to accelerate our economy and society as fast as possible. We have to evolve in the way we see work and value.”

Most politicians will say, “We can do it; we can beat it.” I just told the truth [at the second Democratic debate], which is that we’re only 15% of the world’s emissions. Even if we were to go zero carbon, the Earth would continue to warm in all likelihood because of the energy composition of other countries. Now, I take climate change very, very seriously. It’s an existential threat to our way of life. Apparently, I might take it more seriously than even some other people who believe it’s serious because I think it’s worse than anyone thinks.

So I think we should move toward renewable energy sources as fast as possible but also proactively try and mitigate the worst effects and even try and restore our habitat in various ways by reforesting tracts of land and reseeding the ocean with kelp, marine permaculture arrays and things that can help rehabilitate what we’ve done — because right now, the Atlantic Ocean is losing 4 to 8% of its biomass every year. Then you can do the math on that — it’s a catastrophe in the making.

It is worse than these shills and candidates and their corporate backers are saying. Way worse, and for Yang to state that, well, he gets my applause in a field of ameliorators and idiots who want to go all hopey-dopey and pull some shit that we still have time.

We need just to pull down some of the carbon, 1.2 trillion trees planted.

Fox Maple Woods in Wisconsin.

There is enough room in the world’s existing parks, forests, and abandoned land to plant 1.2 trillion additional trees, which would have the CO2 storage capacity to cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new analysis by ecologist Thomas Crowther and colleagues at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university.

This is a powerful talking point for any candidate — fucking trees, man, it’s not rocket science —  and think of the world class diplomacy and goodwill this multi-country project would engender. Instead, we have criminals like Trump and his crony in Brazil, Bolsonaro, throwing their bizarro words out into the ether making a Hitler seem so-so cultured and hip to a more effective propaganda:

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro says non-governmental organisations may be setting fires in the Amazon to embarrass the Brazilian government after it cut their funding, despite offering no evidence to support the claim.

record number of fires — 72,843 — were recorded in the Amazon this year, according to The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).

But conservationists have blamed Mr Bolsonaro for the Amazon’s plight, saying he has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land.

“This is a sick statement, a pitiful statement,” said Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace Brazil’s public policy coordinator. “Increased deforestation and burning are the result of his anti-environmental policy.” Bolsonaro, a longtime sceptic of environmental concerns, wants to open the Amazon to more agriculture and mining, and has told other countries worried about rising deforestation since he took office to mind their own business.

In this context, it seems easy for democrats to hail Mayor Pete or Ms. Harris or Tulsi Gabbard has real home-run hitters in the game of life.

End ICE and CBP? That is one step, certainly easier than planting trees, or about the same?

The greens just can’t go far enough — and reference the above point that greenies out here in Portland’s haunts, the Oregon Coast, believe “they” will be coming to and flooding into the USA to get “our stuff.”

Last month, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Senator Kamala Harris released their Climate Equity Act – the first draft of a critical component of a Green New Deal. The act aims to protect marginalized communities as Congress attempts to “address” climate change by creating a system that gives environmental legislation an equity score based on its impact on “frontline communities.”

By their definition, frontline communities include people of color, indigenous and low-income people, as well as groups vulnerable to energy transitions – like rural, deindustrialized, elder, unhoused and disabled communities. The proposed bill would also create an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability, which would “work with” key federal departments – including the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS – which houses FEMA as well as predatory immigration agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

As the intensity of the climate crisis grows, migration will also increase. A 2018 report from the International Organization for Migration estimates 405 million people will be forced to emigrate by 2050. As lawmakers consider how to equitably respond to climate catastrophe, it’s critical that they do so with a clear vision in mind. Any definition of frontline communities must also include current and future undocumented immigrants. And a plan for climate justice cannot leave room for “working with” agencies like ICE and CBP, which should instead be abolished.

DHS has already laid out its response to climate change: a path that requires increased border security and deportations – all to preserve a status quo that harms people of color. A 2012 report from the department clearly elaborates how they imagine climate change will impact their role. “Over time,” the report states, “the Department will expand its planning to include potential climate change implications to securing and managing our borders, enforcing and administering our immigration laws, and other homeland security missions.”

The job of some of us is to rat out the lies, and lately while listening to Democracy Now (not the best, but for now, the only M-F single hour on the Internet, dealing with issues close to my heart, albeit, still pushed through the meat grinder that is a Soros World) I have been messing with LinkedIn people. The amount of trash from Barrons, Bloomberg, Forbes, NYT, WaPo on LinkedIn tells us who the paymasters are of this Microsoft thing which I end up linking into while listening/watching an hour’s worth of new here on the Oregon Coast. I have somehow connected (sic) to more than a thousand, and I am sure to play a little bit of havoc in many of the colonized’s minds.

For instance, I will get from some “sustainability officer” that Lightsource BP is doing great great things. This outfit is British Petroleum, and in fact, it’s more than greenwashing. It’s green pornography — selling a company as sustainable when it is involved in crimes against humanity and tax fraud and accounting fraud and the biggest single oil spill in the world in the Gulf of Mexico.

But in America, and Canada, this kind of crap leads the way in the minds of Americans — so happy millionaires and billionaires are taking control of the future!

BP (formerly known as “British Petroleum”) is a global oil, gas and chemical company headquartered in Britain and responsible for the largest environmental disaster ever in the United States, the April 20, 2010, blowout of its Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico (discussed in more detail below). The company owns numerous refineries and chemical manufacturing plants around the world.  BP is the United Kingdom’s largest corporation. Its global headquarters are in London, and its U.S. headquarters are in Houston, Texas. Its major brands include BP, AmPm, ARCO, and Castrol. The company reported in 2012 that natural gas makes up more than half of BP’s energy production, making us the largest producer and supplier in the U.S.

Access the BP’s corporate rap sheet compiled and written by Good Jobs First here.

Other BP spills and disasters

But when you engage with these people who vaunt the Exxon’s and US Forest Service and the BP’s of the world, they accuse one (me) of nay-saying, of being radicalized, of being outside the normal box. And, in one case, “Nuff said . . . you’re from Portland . . . can’t wait for the big one so I can have some beachfront property in Arizona.” This from people on LinkedIn who tout themselves as business leaders, members of their business round-tables in their respective locales.

Oh Americans . . . Oh Canadians . . . what a terrible lot we have become!

Except, when getting a cogent and smart response to one of my tame DV pieces: One Woman’s Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions, Seaweed, Wave Energy — The doors that science strives to unlock

Excellent article. I really enjoyed it as I have your others over the years at Dissident Voice. Interesting writing style that morphs with the subject.

I live at the other side of North America in Nova Scotia, whose capital is at the 45th parallel, about the same as Oregon. Part of our Canadian province has a shoreline with the Bay of Fundy which has the highest tides in the world for all practical purposes for a decent sized body of water, about 43 feet rise and fall almost twice per day. Capturing some of that energy has been the holy grail for decades. One of my Physics profs was gung-ho about it all back in 1964. It is caused by a resonance phenomenon not unlike the kids swilling the bath water back and forth until it slops over the ends, so detuning that is a big consideration to take into account. Fiddling too much with the physical size and shape of the bay could either cause even higher tides – or lesser ones. God knows what will happen with sea level rise.

We have had a functioning 25MW tidal generator for some decades at the end of the river that flows into an inlet of the bay, said inlet being twenty miles long and five wide itself. But that is small beans compared to what the main bay could provide.

Several multi-million dollar projects in recent years have had equipment ruined by the tides and particularly currents during trials and these were only proof of concept underwater machines of no huge size. So things have ground to a halt for the time being with the last company, Irish of all things, going bankrupt and leaving a broken machine in the waters. I’d be a bit worried about fish kill with that underwater propeller gizmo you illustrate – recent machines here look nothing like that.

We are served by a Federal Government’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography performing similar investigations I would presume to those you describe in the article but over the North Atlantic and up into Frobisher Bay, and locally have invasive species such as green crab ourselves.There are, however, marine “national park” areas along our Atlantic coast and up into the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence.

On land we are subject to similar depredations of forest clear-cutting you so clearly describe about Oregon but that is provincial rather than Federal jurisdiction and land owners run the local politicians as was ever the case, but on the whole I’d say our population is somewhat more green aware than seems to be the case in the US. And we are rural, the total population being under a million with great dependency on the ocean and little industry. Overall it ain’t a bad spot but likely to be coastally submerged by rising ocean waters soon, unfortunately. The rest of Canada tends to think of our Atlantic Region area as Hicksville and gives us a paternal pat on the head now and then, and frankly we like it that way. Being left alone, that is.

The Oregon connection I have is an old acquaintance from the US East Coast who lived in Nova Scotia for a time 50 years ago, and then went west. I recently recommended your blog to her.

Keep it up. You are an evocative writer.

Best, Bruce Armstrong

Now, that’s the ticket, really, getting pugnacious and pertinent commentary from afar. Indeed, and what Bruce says I didn’t say because part of my writing is about working for a rag that highlights coastal things to do, coming, staying, buying and doing. I pitched a column, Deep Dive, to allow for a longer form of people feature. Luckily, it’s been a green light, but I itch, oh do I itch, to go on the stream of consciousness and maybe off the rails for some polemics, but I understand audience awareness, the rhetorical tricks of Cicero. Ethos, Pathos, Logos!

As an ecosocialist and communist of the ultimate kind — democracy, freedom, collective consciousness and action, food, air, water, education, health, transportation for all — I understand that the science I described in the piece is tied to more of the same: making money from taxpayer coffers, utilizing land grant schools and their faculty and professional staff for free consultations and studies, and putting R & D into all the wrong baskets — that’s what blue energy is. Waves? Tides? Rivers? Whew, the conversation is always plumbed close to technology as savior, AI as implementation, robotics as freedom.

We are in many dire crises, and when we have a single look at some wave energy, as the article briefly covered, all stops are put back into the dialogue. The feature around the marine biologist did hook more into invasive species and the benthos — what’s happening at the bottom of the sea. That is the love of my life — the sea, ocean, marine systems. Thanks, Bruce, for the pugnacity in your timely and parallel observations in your comment to me.

Of course Howie Hawkins’s work and undying struggle to be heard as a Green Party Presidential candidate is worthy of DV, and thanks to DV, here it is: On Day One, the Next President Should Declare A Climate Emergency

I have a tough time getting people to read Howie’s statements and platform without the rejoinder — “Yeah, that stuff is really going to get through Congress, the Senate, ALEC and the Corporate powers!”

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another.

—Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment? (1784)

  1. https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/7b7ned/canadian-mining-companies-are-destroying-latin-america-924

Dear True Environmentalists: Fight Corporate Criminality, not Atmospheric Gases

Dear true environmentalists: I am with you.1

Corporate pollution and releasing of toxic substances should be treated as a criminal act, with full power to seize assets for reparations, actual reparations, not just punitive fines.

I would apply the same standard of prosecution to the “medical”/pharma2 and agri-food industries,3 also.

However, the planet and biosphere are not at risk of imminent collapse, and certainly not from CO2.

The “imminent collapse” fabrication serves powerful manipulators, and necessarily diverts us away from attaining actual democracy and fairness.  In the words of Chomsky:4

For example, suppose it was discovered tomorrow that the greenhouse effect has been way underestimated, and that the catastrophic effects are actually going to set in 10 years from now, and not 100 years from now or something. Well, given the state of the popular movements we have today, we’d probably have a fascist takeover—with everybody agreeing to it, because that would be the only method for survival that anyone could think of. I’d even agree to it, because there just are no other alternatives around right now.

Rather than accept fascism or totalitarianism, corporate and finance criminality can best be fought from a position of realistic perspective regarding the end of the world, sober analysis of means regarding leverage for change, and focused political targeting against corporate rule without accountability.

History of imbedded doomsday narratives

All societies are dominance hierarchies, and all large, human dominance hierarchies have hired high-priests that construct and maintain the State doomsday narrative. These high-priests constantly instruct us on required beliefs and behaviours that minimize the deleterious effects of the alleged impending catastrophe. The behavioural instructions fan everything from diet, to hygiene, to dress code, to physical activity, to work ethics, to attitudes and morals, to child rearing, to political positions, to deference to experts, and so on.

It would be delusional to believe that this structural feature of society is any different than it ever was. In present Western society, the high-priests are the “scientists”, which include the medical doctors and all the “experts”.

This does not mean that science itself is not a valid and rigorous method to test and eliminate hypotheses and theories. It only means that establishment scientists are hired high-priests, notwithstanding the rare exceptions that prove the rule. It also does not mean that scientists never tell the truth. It only means that establishment scientists never harm or rebel against the dominance hierarchy, except by accident or solely in appearance.

These days, there is an industry of scientists that indulge in generating, testing and ameliorating ever more creative doomsday predictions, which are hoped to be of utility to the bosses. The said utility is often termed “societal relevance”. As an eminent example, we have the theory of a “tipping point” towards irreversible total collapse of the ecosphere, often referred to as a “species mass extinction”. The notion of a tipping point has also been advanced for planetary climate, wherein, in the absence of any non-human cause, one crosses into a global climate regime of constant extreme weather and flooded continents.

Whereas past planetary transformations have been related to game-changers, such as the advent of photosynthesis, the calming of tectonic (volcanic) activity, and so forth, and whereas the known recurring climate catastrophe of ice ages is believed to be driven by variations in solar isolation, the new “tipping points” spontaneously occur from the gradual changes of increased modern human or industrial activity, including: habitat destruction, burning of fossil fuel, population growth, and dispersal of toxic substances.

The new “tipping point” theory is not unlike the deluge of the Old Testament, which followed an accumulation of human depravity, except that no god is postulated, and building the Ark requires a centralized and globally restructured economy, handled by overarching elite private institutions, of course. War, disease, hunger … are all defeated under the same umbrella, death itself eventually.

The accompanying calls from establishment icons are often shrill.  In the words of Prince Charles, in 2009:5,6

If we do nothing, the consequences for every person on this earth will be severe and unprecedented – with vast numbers of environmental refugees, social instability and decimated economies: far worse than anything which we are seeing today … We have 100 months left to act.

While the leader of the most warring nation on earth, President Barack Obama, concluded in his 2015 State of the Union speech:7

No challenge  poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.

The role of scientists

The scientists follow and are often not more contained than Prince Charles or President Obama:

Earth is rapidly approaching a tipping point. Human impacts are causing alarming levels of harm to our planet. As scientists who study the interaction of people with the rest of the biosphere using a wide range of approaches, we agree that the evidence that humans are damaging their ecological life support systems is overwhelming. We further agree that, based on the best scientific information available, human quality of life will suffer substantial degradation by the year 2050 if we continue on our current path. Science unequivocally demonstrates the human impacts of key concern: Climate disruption – more, faster climate change than since humans first became a species. …8

We maintain that humanity’s grand challenge is solving the intertwined problems of human population growth and overconsumption, climate change, pollution, ecosystem destruction, disease spillovers, and extinction, in order to avoid environmental tipping points that would make human life more difficult and would irrevocably damage planetary life support systems.9

But today, for the first time, humanity’s global civilization—the worldwide, increasingly interconnected, highly technological society in which we all are to one degree or another, embedded—is threatened with collapse by an array of environmental problems. Humankind finds itself engaged in what Prince Charles described as ‘an act of suicide on a grand scale’, facing what the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor John Beddington called a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental problems. The most serious of these problems show signs of rapidly escalating severity, especially climate disruption. But other elements could potentially also contribute to a collapse: an accelerating extinction of animal and plant populations and species, which could lead to a loss of ecosystem services essential for human survival; land degradation and land-use change; a pole-to-pole spread of toxic compounds; …10

The loss of biodiversity is one of the most critical current environmental problems, threatening valuable ecosystem services and human wellbeing. A growing body of evidence indicates that current species extinction rates are higher than the pre-human background rate, with hundreds of anthropogenic vertebrate extinctions documented in prehistoric and historic times.11

In fact, there is no science of a “tipping point” for earth biodiversity or for earth climate. No such testable theory has been elaborated. The entire notion of “tipping point” is hypothetical and tenuous. It is a product of bias to presume that a large and complex system (planet) would be susceptible to “tipping” rather than extraordinarily stable against internal superficial changes.  A recent paper describes how one might begin to define concepts or measures that would allow even discussing the topic of “tipping point” intelligently, for realistic ecological systems.12

Furthermore, even among scientists, still getting their bearings, there is persistent disagreement as to whether species extinction rates are higher in recent decades. A critical review concludes:13

Net species gains or losses should be assessed with respect to common baselines or reference communities. Ultimately, we need a globally coordinated effort to monitor biodiversity so that we can estimate and attribute human impacts as causes of biodiversity change. A combination of technologies will be needed to produce regularly updated global datasets of local biodiversity change to guide future policy. At this time the conclusion that there is no net change in local species richness is not the consensus state of knowledge.

Reality check

There is a large structurally imbedded industry of doomsday narrative. In addition, individuals are reared in a dominance hierarchy and therefore constantly seek messaging about fitting in. The result is that we adopt the State religion. Even if the State is occupied by an exploitative elite, we continue to uphold and follow any State religion that has been sufficiently implanted.

In this case, the State religion is that we are cared-for by mother earth but that our bad behaviour is poisoning mother earth and that we are therefore all at risk, unless we adopt the new stringent conditions that should be imposed globally. Non-believers should be rooted out and isolated. We should demand that all our peers and our representatives do what is proscribed by the State religion.

Meanwhile corporate criminality, while dressed in the colours of the State religion, will continue at an accelerated rate, and our minds and bodies will continue to be occupied.3

I say no. To escape this trap, we must realize that the planet is, well, a planet, with huge response capabilities; that the planet is far more resilient and robust than we imagine.

Habitat destruction and industrial practices are grotesque, and these cause real and significant harm to human communities and ecosystems — more so even than actual wars in the present era … although not more so than so-called economic sanctions and exploitative nation financing.  In contrast, “warming” itself cannot hurt the biosphere or humans, nor is the planet at risk of “collapse” from all the criminal practices. That is fabricated nonsense.

Our joint efforts should be on justice, attaining actual democracy, the elimination of criminal behaviour, extortion and exploitation, enforcement of reparations, enforcement of corporate transparency and accountability…

The problem is human behaviour against humans and nature, organized by an occupied dominance hierarchy, and the solutions are political; nothing to do with CO2, methane or anything else in the atmosphere.

  1. Questioning Climate Politics: Denis Rancourt says the ‘global warming myth’ is part of the problem” by Dru Oja Jay, The Dominion, 11 April 2007.
  2. Cancer arises from stress-induced breakdown of tissue homeostasis” by Denis Rancourt, Research Gate, December 2015, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.1304.7129.
  3. GEO-ECONOMICS AND GEO-POLITICS DRIVE SUCCESSIVE ERAS OF PREDATORY GLOBALIZATION AND SOCIAL ENGINEERING: Historical emergence of climate change, gender equity, and anti-racism as State doctrines” by Denis Rancourt, Research Gate, April 2019, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.26897.89449.
  4. Undertanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky”, by Noam Chomsky, edited by Peter Mitchell and John Schoeffet, The New Press, NY, 2002; at page 388, in Chapter 10 “Turning Point – Based on discussions in Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland in 1994 to 1996 and 1999”, ISBN 1-56584-703-2.
  5. As quoted in “Apocalypse Now! Fear and Doomsday Pleasures” by Erik Swyngedouw, Capitalism Nature Socialism, Volume 24, 2013 – Issue 1, pages 9-18.
  6. Climate change must be tackled before global poverty, says Prince Charles” by Andrew Alderson in Santiago, The Telegraph, 10 March 2009.
  7. Obama: No greater threat to future than climate change” by Madison Park, CNN, 21 January 2015.
  8. Introducing the Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support” by Anthony D Barnosky et al., The Anthropocene Review, 2014, 1: 78.
  9. Avoiding collapse: Grand challenges for science and society to solve by 2050, by Anthony D. Barnosky, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Elizabeth A. Hadly, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, 4: 000094, doi: 10.12952/journal.elementa.000094.
  10. Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?” by Ehrlich, P.R. and Ehrlich, A.H. (2013) Proc R Soc B, 280: 20122845.
  11. Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction” by Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv., 2015, 1: e1400253.
  12. Unifying Research on Social–Ecological Resilience and Collapse” by Graeme S. Cumming and Garry D. Peterson, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Review| Volume 32, ISSUE 9, P695-713, September 01, 2017.
  13. Estimating local biodiversity change: a critique of papers claiming no net loss of local diversity” by Andrew Gonzalez et al., Ecology, 97(8), 2016, pp. 1949–1960.

 “Child Actorvism” and the Extinction Agenda of Neoliberal Racists

There is no shortage of social justice causes trumpeted by the West† with a revolving medley of “child actorvists” at the forefront. The logical observer may question whether these endless multi-billion dollar campaigns have had any tangible effect at all, except in serving as a stalking horse for mass-mediated interferences in the affairs of other nations.

Whether it is about immigration, education or the whitewashing of terrorists, they are there, ready with their scripted messages. The latest sensation happens to be Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg who is trying to save humanity from an environmental apocalypse by playing truant from school.  Manufactured doyens, however, conveniently overlook real progress in the activist areas they were groomed for, revealing a strong pattern of bias in the process.

On Friday Aug 9 2019, more than a million Indians planted 220 million trees in a single day, with each tree representing a resident of the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP).  According to state government official Awanish K. Awasthi: “The pits are geo-tagged and the saplings carry a QR code. So we can record how many saplings are planted and where.” The BBC had earlier cast doubts on whether Ethiopia had actually planted 350 million trees in July due to the lack of a verification mechanism.

This was not India’s first afforestation feat. In 2016, nearly 800,000 volunteers in UP planted 50 million trees in a single day while a year later, 66 million saplings were embedded in just 12 hours by volunteers in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.

India has targeted a total forest cover comprising 33 percent of its landmass by 2030.  While this initiative was launched under the general rubric of climate change, there were more immediate issues at stake.  The spectres of desertification and groundwater depletion were enough to mobilize ordinary Indians into action.

The sheer design, organization and coordination involved in the Indian undertaking may be studied for years to come. Once verified, the afforestation model can be adapted in fields ranging from big data, artificial intelligence, sharing economy to contingency planning.  A somewhat similar mobilization model was employed when Cyclone Fani hit eastern India during the first days of May. As The Conversation reported on May 13:

A record 1.2 million people (equal to the population of Mauritius) were evacuated in less than 48 hours, and almost 7,000 kitchens, catering to 9,000 shelters, were made functional overnight. This mammoth exercise involved more than 45,000 volunteers.

After studying the grim statistics for Hurricane Maria (Puerto Rico, US; 2017), Hurricane Harvey (Texas, US; 2017) and Cyclone Idai (Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe; 2019), the authors concluded that the “world can learn from” from the Indian experience.

Yet, the momentary fascination with India’s mass mobilization skills dissipated just as quickly as the storm itself. The global risk researcher, stupefied by hours of BBC programming, was left to wonder: Where are those follow-up in-depth analyses? How come the world only came to know of India’s recent tree-planting milestone through a brief Associated Press report? Isn’t climate change the dernier cri?

One could excuse the BBC for disregarding Uttar Pradesh’s greening exploits as it was too busy fabricating videos on “large-scale protests” in Kashmir alongside usual suspects like Al Jazeera and Reuters. Even Malala Yousafzai stepped forward to test the waters, only to be summarily rebuffed.

There may be other reasons behind the neoliberal media’s indifference here. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier committed the cardinal sin of renaming the city of Allahabad as Prayagraj. This is a complete no-no in a West that inevitably sides with militant Islam. Take a look at Serbia, Syria, Libya and Myanmar, amongst numerous other examples. Additionally, India’s afforestation campaign (2016 to 2030) was being undertaken outside the ambit of parasitic Western NGOs at a paltry outlay of $6 billion. India was showing the way in cost savings and volunteer-based sustainability, without the need for star-studded events that child actorvism thrives on.

Neoliberal Selectivity

New Delhi’s indigenous efforts since 2015 were therefore deemed unsatisfactory by Extinction Rebellion superstar Thunberg.  She pilloried India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a February 2019 video post:

Dear Mr Modi, you need to take action now against the climate crisis, not just talking about it because if you keep going on like this, doing business as usual, and just talking about and bragging about the little victories, you are going to fail. And if you fail, you are going to be seen as one of the worst villains in human history in the future. And you don’t want that. (Emphasis added).

Do not seek a scintilla of sanity in the outburst above. Instead, note the timing:  It was posted during the run-up to the April-May 2019 Indian general elections where Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won by a landslide victory, surpassing expectations thanks to neoliberal hissy-fits typified by the likes of Thunberg.

Does Thunberg consider the planting of 50, 66 and 220 million trees overnight – involving schoolchildren no less – as one of those insignificant “little victories”? Who is doing the talking and bragging and who is doing the actual planting here? One of India’s other “little victories” was in lifting 271 million people – numbering more than half the EU population – out of poverty in a mere 10 years.

If Thunberg’s views aren’t reflective of Western neoliberal racism, tell me what is? Here is where racial supremacist undercurrents are cleverly masked by the clarion call of “social justice”. Nothing non-Westerners do is good enough unless it involves and profits vested Western interests. Neoliberals and their neoconservative cousins feel they are entitled to run the affairs of other nations. If the line is not toed, an army of “child actorvists” are ready to selectively name and shame national leaders. How is this different from the use of child soldiers and human shields by an assortment of violent thugs and jihadis? And much like jihadis, a false flag calamity inflicted on a child actorvist would reap international sympathy for the “cause”, would it not? We shall see what the future holds…

Quite tellingly, when it comes to the question of extinction, French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf sums up the prevalent Western hypocrisy perfectly: “Threats to pandas cause more emotion than threats to the extinction of Christians in the Middle East”. Another child actorvist, Bana Alabed, has been roped in to hasten that particular genocide.

The Incurably Colonized

Instead of India’s Modi, Thunberg could have trained her guns on Southeast Asian politicians for allowing the West to dump millions of tons of highly-toxic trash throughout the region. (India had another “little victory” by banning them). It cannot get more pathetic than Pakistani garbage appearing in an illegal Malaysian dumpsite! Is Thunberg really as environmentally literate as she claims to be?  The organized crime networks involved in the regional garbage racket are also into money laundering, smuggling, organ harvesting and human trafficking.

Neoliberals and neoconservatives, however, have a soft spot for Southeast Asia (sans Mynamar) for a good reason: Its leaders and societies have an incurable inferiority complex towards all things Western, rendering them supine and receptive to machinations from the other side of the world. The region hosts innumerable Western-backed NGOs and affiliates whose sole role is to disrupt and shape the local political process. That is, when they are not discriminating against native talent, native ideas and native solutions. For a region that has had several developmental head-starts over India, Southeast Asia has yet to produce world-class scientists, innovators and products of any import, making it easy for West to offer their “expertise” and goods at huge costs. The media in “Asian values” bastions like Malaysia and Singapore are more likely to celebrate Thunberg’s theatrics than investigate real Asian success stories.

Just like neoconservatism, neoliberalism neatly divides the world along classic colonial lines. Can George Soros and his neoliberal backers claim a single success story from the countless “social justice” agitprops unleashed worldwide? Instead, such interventions have left behind a string of broken, emasculated and dysfunctional societies. Women and children are the biggest victims here. One could also include Thunberg’s Sweden in the list of nations facing a surge in sexual violence against women and children. Swedish schools are no longer safe and somehow no child activist has emerged to publicize this highly-proximate issue. †† What is the celebrated “female education activist” Malala Yousafzai actually doing?

Redundant Societies

The idea that the East and West can cooperate, compliment and compete on an equal footing is an anathema to neoliberal and neoconservative minds. It is in “redundant societies” however where neoliberals find the most fertile ground for its destructive agendas. Redundant societies are ones the world would scarcely miss in case its populations were magically rendered extinct overnight – short-term raw material and supply chain disruptions notwithstanding. Is that the core idea behind Extinction Rebellion? Fewer humans are great for the environment, no?

A nation less contaminated by the neoliberal agenda is a nation poised for growth and technical breakthroughs.  Look at the world around us: the relatively nationalistic South Korea, Japan, China and India (the “effective Asia”), Israel, Russia, and Eastern Europe are already challenging the West’s dominance in many critical areas. Even Iran is not doing too badly considering the circumstances.

In the meantime, one hopes that Thunberg will encounter flotsams of plastic as she yachts towards the upcoming UN powwow in New York. If so, these may turn out to be trash that were supposedly repatriated by Southeast Asian nations but which were dumped en route by ships. To avoid “baseless allegations” like these, Thunberg could try some real environmental work by researching, tabulating and verifying claims that all repatriated trash had indeed reached their destinations in toto, as claimed. Maybe, this is a task too arduous for Thunberg. Let’s leave such little details to an Indian schoolgirl’s future dissertation, shall we? After all, she would have literally had her hands soiled in planting the future while others talked the big talk at big money events.

† The author defines the West as nations west of the Metternich line in Europe as well as the Anglo-American world, including geographically-dispersed nations such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It does not refer to European Civilization.

†† Anyone researching this topic should scrupulously avoid Google.