Category Archives: Climate Change

Masters of Illusion: Sociopathy from the Very Rich on Down

Nothing Changes With the Rich!

You just can’t make this stuff up as a fiction writer (also, see below, at the end of this piece**). Demonic, but sturdy. Boring actuarial folk, or in this guy’s case, making loot illegally in the legal channel that is Illegal Wall Street:

Thomas Peterffy became one of the world’s richest people by mastering risk on Wall Street. Building his Mediterranean-style mansion seven years ago on a vulnerable stretch of Florida’s Palm Beach Island was a matter of seeing the odds clearly once again. The consequences of climate change will play out over decades, and Peterffy is 76 years old.

“I don’t have a care about it at all,” he said over lunch at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year, just down the street from his home. “If something needs to be done to save it,” he added, “it’s not going to be my problem.” The founder of Interactive Brokers Group has a fortune of more than $21 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Thomas Peterffy with Lynne Wheat in Palm Beach in 2017 (Nick Mele/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images)

Glaser is building a new waterfront mansion designed by architect Kobi Karp, replacing a now-demolished estate owned by Jeffrey Epstein.
Seawall installation at property on the intracoastal in Palm Beach.

Nice guy, uh? And even younger ones, in the billionaire class, they whisper that, though they do have bullshit smoke and mirrors philanthropies and foundations to, well, shelter taxes and corrupt the world more with their sociopathy. In the old days, it would have been, “Eat the Rich,” “Kill the Rich,” “Banish the Rich.” Now, though, since they have created a vampire class of millionaires and media mental midgets with millions stashed away, the Rich Are a Protected Class. Until we get daily reminders of the collective insanity of Western culture, Western capitalism, Western cults. This is the rich, giving a damn about the future, or, spending millions and billions on their vaults and prison garden homes. Then, there are 10,000 in Del Rio, Texass:

a group of people in a forest: Large Migration Surge Crosses Rio Grande Into Del Rio, Texas

The temporary camp has grown six-fold since Monday and more migrants are expected in the coming days. Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano made a disaster declaration Friday. “I had thought that the alarm was sent on Monday. This is setting the nuclear bomb alarm that this is no longer sustainable or acceptable,” he said. Congressman Tony Gonzales, a Texas Republican, is calling on the Biden administration to come up with a solution for the chaos. “Please get engaged, get involved, do something. This is unsustainable. This is not America. This is not the way things should be,” he said. “Folks are coming over and across as if there is no border.” Also Friday, CBP closed the Del Rio Port of Entry and re-routed traffic.

Elevating a property in Palm Beach.

Elevating a property in Palm Beach.

I have years of writing about and researching urban planning, regional planning, all the gold, silver, platinum of LEED/Sustainability/New Urbanism building. It is a mighty thing to have a few degrees from elite schools (my schools, they are not elite), and then getting placed into the star chambers of planning, architecture and design. To the point of, the Eichmanns are deep into this lie, and there is really, the way they want smart cities and internet of bodies for the future, no global warming, no global climate chaos, no collapsing systems, water shortages, deaths in the millions annually just from air pollutants. No deaths in the hundreds of thousands because of higher and higher bulb temperatures. No reality about water shortages, failing sewage treatment, endless fires, pests-poisons-pestilence vis-a-vis profits at any cost, at costs to anyone or anything, albeit, not against the elite and star chamber folk. The reality is if you believe in capitalism, in all for one, or that technology is going to get us out of the muck, then, you are a denier. The worse kind!

If this doesn’t tell it all, here we are, the great profession (sic) of planners (misshapers, building and real estate protection racketeers) having yet another fake event, virtually. Imagine that, so planners are supposed to be on the land, in the muck, in neighborhoods, looking at systems, ecosystems, people, communities, towns and mega-cities, and, here the gutless wonders are, well, hiding again, in underwear and Snoopy slippers. This was a group I was sort of a member of when I was getting my graduate degree in , well, urban and regional planning:

Save the Date: 2021 OAPA/APA WA Virtual Joint Planning Conference

The 2021 conference continues with the theme of Growing Together Virtually, recognizing the importance and challenges of planning for evolving communities, large and small, in these challenging and polarizing times. The conference will offer more sessions than last year, allowing for greater variety in session content.

Oh, in polite company, we can’t call this a bunch of fucking shit, no? All the communities now within communities, the so-called subcommunities, struggling with forced jabs, forced passports, forced scrutiny, forced surveillance, facial recognition just to enter a football game or concert. Work, sure, servicing those maskless wonders with masks on, but not enough cash to pay the rent, or, all the cash for the rent. No health care, nothing of those safety nets that the RICH have, and do not get goofy on me to profess that the rich do not have entire lobbies upon lobbies in their sophisticated protection racket. The planners — many of them looking for sustainability and gardens and walkability and healthy small downsized living — in the end buckle under the weight of bureaucracy and the rich and powerful controlling the narrative and their own money stream. Look, I understand that every arena I have entered into since, oh, age 13, those places are sacred to liberals, lights, conservative, lights, and that I would also be an outlier or outcast anywhere, or the enemy in some regard, but now, it is way beyond “enemy” or “persona non grata” I represent. It is a matter of outcasting, men, an untouchable, while the APA-WA branch, peddles more lies, meaningless doublespeak:

“What is Planning? Planning is a dynamic profession that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities. Professional planners make great communities happen by working with civic leaders, businesses, and citizens to envision new possibilities and solutions to community problems.”

I wonder what the planners might do around those Haitians, all those cities that are in disrepair, all the rough sleepers, the homeless-in-vehicles, the sheltered-in-basements/garages/hotels. How to plan, man, those smart cities, those hipster places, those virtual venues, the Zoom Rooms, the isolation chambers, the places of mediocrity sold as cutting edge Musk-Apple joints. Imagine, maybe in a year, the Planners can hook into the Bezos Ejaculatory Space Suit Freaks, and have a live feed with Bezos and ask him what’s next in planning cities around his Gestapo-Gulag-Retail-Surveillance-Cloud world. In so many ways, I found the planning profession to be vapid, dead of creativity, and certainly no rabble rousers or deep thinkers in the bunch. They talk a good talk, but in the end, their jobs are the work of the real estate, developer, building and construction lobbies, and the planners I know would never speak up at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. They are the epitome of Eichmann, updated and retrofitted for Cancel Culture and Oh So Hip Stylists.

How about his Salem group, Salem for Refugees? You think planners would want to create grants for people like me to study the dynamics of community building-engagement-employment around these newest immigrants?


With the unfolding situation in Afghanistan, thousands of people are fleeing their home and looking for protection in the US. We have been preparing for refugees and SIV cases. Now we are preparing to also provide resettlement services for individuals who have been identified as special risk (journalists, NGO workers, humanitarian workers, political activists, etc.). Due to the rapid nature of the situation, this group of individuals will have a special Parolee status which will allow for immediate work authorization but limited access to State social services or Medicaid benefits. We need your help in bridging this gap and providing for the needs of these people. In an effort to bring Afghan Evacuees to Salem, the State Department has given us an early approval as an affiliate of World Relief and we are now an official Resettlement Agency! We will begin receiving cases through the Afghanistan Placement Assistance Program and in January for all other refugees through the Reception and Placement program!

The good old days when we truly hated the rich:

In 1920, Wall Street reporter Edwin Lefèvre derided “some wretchedly rich people” in a Post article called “The Annoyances of Being Rich Today.” Without naming names, Lefèvre detailed conversations with bankers and heirs about their gripes with imperfect service and ungrateful butlers. One rich man told the author that he feared a revolution was afoot after he asked a waiter for bread and — instead of silent obedience — the response came: “Sure thing!” Others complained about accusations of vanity or the prospect of their service staff seeking higher wages.

Lefèvre sums up the groans of the plutocrats by casting wealth as a sort of illness:

I am convinced that there is a definite social disease which we may call gold poisoning. When a man has too much gold, some of it gets into the system; through the pores, it almost seems. It causes deafness and affects the sight. These ailments, gold deafness and gold blindness, are responsible for most of the annoyances of which the stricken rich so bitterly complain today. Instead of seeing or hearing, they are merely aware of a rumbling sound—the tread of their fellow men marching toward them, armed with bombs, bitterness, and taxes.

Newspaper article

John Stuart Mill called the rich, “the unearned excrement.” Oh, what a day it would be to see that again, lifted up high, daily, in the media, but this is a world of valorizing the rich, listening to the liars and grifters — the thespians — and all the handlers, the hangers-on the rich-super rich employ to massage their messages.

Larry Glickman, a professor of history at Cornell University, says he has used this clip in one of his classes to illustrate the criticism of so-called robber barons of the late nineteenth century: “In the Gilded Age, ‘capitalist’ was really a term given by its enemies to people who had earned wealth in an unfair, immoral way, so a lot of small business men said something similar to what Hickenlooper said.” Glickman says the distrust of robber barons (or capitalists) comes back to the question of hard work. “There was this idea that you had labor producing things, and that accumulating wealth through honest production was a good thing,” he says, “but there was a new class of people called capitalists getting their wealth through unproductive, exploitative ways.” (Saturday Evening Post).

** So, Bloomberg the Billionaire with Billionaire Bloomberg News, has the answer for inequities, which in any other language is, well, wage theft, tax fraud, tax evasion, thievery of a general nature, war profiteering, penury, slave/sweatshop economy. The news just continues with these abhorrent items:

Amazon’s massive new distribution centers, soon to be surrounded by infrastructure built to serve workers, are being compared to Gilded Age company towns. While many are aghast at the idea, fellow billionaires are praising it.

The e-commerce empire founded by Jeff Bezos will offer the American working class a better option than scraping to get by in increasingly expensive cities, investment adviser Conor Sen wrote in a Friday oped for Bloomberg, the financial news outlet whose namesake is billionaire former New York mayor and failed presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg.

“Let’s call them ‘factory towns,’” Sen suggests, apparently in an effort to avoid the baggage that accompanies the concept of “company towns.” Popular in the late 19th century among the new breed of mega-corporations – railroads, steel mills, and the like – many of these dormitory communities held workers as veritable prisoners, paying them in scrip that was only redeemable at the company-run store and retaining groups of thuggish Pinkerton “detectives” to stamp out any attempts to unionize. (source)

Yet, Bezos is a joke with the power of deflection, the power of the rich to believe his own dirty secrets of domination. No number of jokes piled on by the millionaire comedian class or insightful (sic) commentaries by the millionaire presstitutes can buckle the Amazon formula. Here, the sweatshops of Amazon, providing slaves with, well, boxes of time out:

Amazon offers 'wellness chamber' for stressed staff - BBC News

 

The post Masters of Illusion: Sociopathy from the Very Rich on Down first appeared on Dissident Voice.

News Corp Turns Climate Change Inactivist

The faux Damascene converts have been doing the rounds in the Murdoch empire of late, stirring interest in matters green and attempting to shift, if ever so slightly, discussions on climate change.  Known for being a stable of environmental vandals and fossil fuel standard bearers, News Corp has gone for a green turn of sorts.

Within the media imperium, harmony on the issue of how to report climate has not been one of accord.  The patriarch, Rupert Murdoch, was unable to keep younger son James and wife Kathryn from venting on the issue.  “Kathryn and James’ views on climate change are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” a spokesperson for the couple told The Daily Beast in early 2020 as bushfires in Australia raged.  “They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among news outlets in Australia given the obvious evidence to the contrary.”

At the time these comments were made, a board member of News Corp who wished to remain anonymous and un-scalped, observed that the couple were “pissing inside the tent and that’s unusual. It’s evidence of how high tensions within the family are over climate change.”

All fanfare about family discontent and tent urination would ignore the fact that Rupert remains a person content to stir the pot of demagogy while seeing things rather differently from his own perch.  In a 2007 speech, he declared that, “Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats.”  While there might be disagreement about “the extent” of that change, “we certainly can’t afford the risk of inaction.”

In that same speech, he committed his organisation to the very goal platoons of his journalists and shock jocks biliously revile.  “We can do something that’s unique, different from just any other company.”  News Corp could set a sobering example: “Our audience’s carbon footprint is 10,000 bigger than ours.  That’s the carbon footprint we want to conquer.”

By 2011, the company had achieved carbon neutrality as part of its Global Energy Initiative, a program not only designed to maximise company efficiency but to woo the advertising dollar.  The initiative’s director, Liba Rubenstein, was unabashed on that score, telling a conference hosted by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change of a “great opportunity in incremental revenue from various companies who want to promote their own green practices on our platforms, and so it’s important for us to be a legitimate platform for that, if they’re going to spend their dollars with us.”

All this, from the outfit that gave us such specials as Rowan Dean of Sky News Australia, who called climate change in July 2019 “a fraudulent and dangerous cult, which has paralysed and bewitched the ruling elites, and is driven by unscrupulous and sinister interests including the power-hungry socialist mob at the UN.”  Or that particular favourite Andrew Bolt of The Herald Sun, who has warned everyone, including children, not to believe the “climate change hoax”.

When asked about why his company had provided a pulpit for such opinions at the corporation’s Annual General Meeting in 2019, Murdoch claimed none could be found in his employ.  To the questioner came the reply that “there are no climate change deniers around I can assure you”.

News Corp Australia, for its part, has decided from next month to execute what can only be regarded as a ceasefire of sorts against various climate goals such as zero emissions by 2050 or carbon reduction policies.  The editorial board is even considering endorsing the 2050 target.   Sky News chief executive Paul Whittaker resisted calling these moves as constituting a campaign.  “I would describe it, in terms of Sky News, as an exploration of what are very complex issues”, which has become News Corp-speak for inaction.

In doing so, this move promises to provide an alibi for a conservative Morrison government internally bruised by a battle between the fossil fuel lobbyists and supporters of firm climate change goals and harried by such countries such as the United States and United Kingdom.

The organisation denies that what is in the offing has anything to do with advertiser concerns or external pressures.  “No doubt other media and social platform users will try to take issue with our coverage to make News the story,” News Corp Australasia’s guarded executive chairman Michael Miller stated, “however we have never been afraid of pushing boundaries and facilitating tough and uncomfortable conversations.”

The move, timed to coincide ahead of the Glasgow climate change summit in November, conforms to the usual pattern of previous New Corp campaigns.  The more naïve sorts suggest that the news body has seen the light.  Richie Merzian, climate and energy program director at the Australia Institute, is not one of them, bluntly suggesting that this move amounted to “moving from an F to a D student”.  A genuine prospect in the offing was News Corp moving from a denialist frame of mind to one of prevarication, “delaying climate action with non-solutions and unaccountable long-term targets.”

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who lays his political assassination by his own party members in 2018 squarely at the feet of the News Corp press goons, is also far from convinced.  “That right-wing populist climate-denying section of the coalition is very influential, and its foundation is the News Corp media.”  He found it hard to give the organisation “credit for something they haven’t done yet.”

The calculated change of heart within Murdoch’s non-news machine will do little to editorially rein in the likes of Bolt and his merry denialists, many of whom have promised to keep the cannons firing and the fires burning.  As they do, climate change inactivism, code to preserve fossil fuel orthodoxy, promises to bloom.

The post News Corp Turns Climate Change Inactivist first appeared on Dissident Voice.

I Awakened Here When the Earth Was New

Alisa Singer (USA), Changing, 2021. Source: IPCC.

In late March 2021, 120 traditional owners from 40 different First People’s groups spent five days at the National First People’s Gathering on Climate Change in Cairns (Australia). Speaking on the impact of the climate crisis on First People, Gavin Singleton from the Yirrganydji traditional owners explained that ‘From changing weather patterns to shifts in natural ecosystems, climate change is a clear and present threat to our people and our culture’.

Bianca McNeair of the Malgana traditional owners from Gatharagudu (Australia) said that those who attended the gathering ‘are talking about how the birds’ movements across the country have changed, so that’s changing songlines that they’ve been singing for thousands and thousands of years, and how that’s impacting them as a community and culture. … We are very resilient people’, McNeair said, ‘so it’s a challenge we were ready to take on. But now we’re facing a situation that’s not predictable, it’s not part of our natural environmental pattern’.

Arone Meeks (Australia), The Gesture, 2020.

The Yirrganydji traditional owners live on Australia’s coastline, which faces the Great Barrier Coral Reef. That majestic reef faces extinction from climate change: a period of consecutive years of coral bleaching from 2014 to 2017 threatened to kill off the precious coral, during which fluctuating temperatures caused coral to expel symbiotic algae that are crucial to the nutritional health of the coral. Scientists assembled by the United Nations found that 70% of the earth’s coral reefs are threatened, with 20% already destroyed ‘with no hope for recovery’. Of the reefs that are threatened, a quarter are under ‘imminent risk of collapse’ and another quarter are at risk ‘due to long-term threats’. In November 2020, a UN report titled Projections on Future Coral Bleaching suggested that unless carbon emissions are controlled, the reefs will die and the species they support will die out too. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority notes that ‘climate change is the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs worldwide’. That is why the Yirrganydji traditional owners created the Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers to care for the reef against all odds.

‘Most of our traditions, our customs, our language are from the sea’, says Singleton, ‘so losing the reef would impact our identity. We were here prior to the formation of the reef, and we still hold stories that have been passed down through generations – of how the sea rose and flooded the area, the “great flood”’. The Yirrganydji Rangers, Singleton points out, ‘have their hearts and souls’ in the reef. But they are struggling against all odds.

Pejac (Spain), Stain, 2011.

Not long after the National First People’s Gathering disbanded, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth report. Based on the consensus of 234 scientists from over 60 countries, the report notes that ‘multiple lines of evidence indicate the recent large-scale climatic changes are unprecedented in a multi-millennial context, and that they represent a millennial-scale commitment for the slow-responding elements of the climate system, resulting in worldwide loss of ice, increase in ocean heat content, sea level rise, and deep ocean acidification’. If warming continues to reach 3 °C (by 2060) and 5.7 °C (by 2100), human extinction is certain. The report comes after a string of extreme weather events: floods in China and Germany, fires across the Mediterranean, and extreme temperatures across the world. A study in the July issue of Nature Climate Change found that ‘record-shattering extremes’ would be ‘nearly impossible in the absence of warming’.

Importantly, the 6th IPCC report shows that ‘historical cumulative CO2 emissions determine to a large degree warming to date’, which means that the Global North countries have already taken the planet to the threshold of annihilation before countries of the Global South have been able to attain basic needs such as universal electrification. For instance, 54 countries on the African continent account for merely 2-3% of global carbon emissions; half of Africa’s 1.2 billion people have no access to electricity, while many extreme climate events (droughts and cyclones in southern Africa, floods in the Horn of Africa, desertification in the Sahel) are now taking place across the continent. Released on World Environment Day (5 June) and produced with the International Week of Anti-Imperialist Struggle, our Red Alert no. 11 further explains the scientific and political dynamics of the climate crisis, the ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’, and what can be done to turn the tides.

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (Ivory Coast), Le serment du Jeu de Paume, 2010.

Governments will gather in October for the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Kunming (China) to discuss progress on the Convention on Biological Diversity (ratified in 1993) and in November for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow (UK) to discuss climate change. Attention is on COP26, where the powerful Global North will once more push for ‘net zero’ carbon dioxide emissions and thereby reject deep cuts to their own emissions while insisting that the Global South forgo social development.

Meanwhile, there will be less attention paid to COP15, where the agenda will include cutting pesticide use by two-thirds, halving food waste, and eliminating the discharge of plastic waste. In 2019, an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services report showed that pollution and resource extraction had threatened one million animal and plant species with extinction.

The link between the assault on biological diversity and climate change is clear: the opening of wetlands alone has released historic stores of carbon to the atmosphere. Deep emission cuts and better stewardship of resources are necessary.

Amin Roshan (Iran), Wandering, 2019.

Strikingly, just as the IPCC released its report, US President Joe Biden’s administration asked the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries to boost output of oil production. This makes a mockery of the Biden pledge to cut 50% of US greenhouse emissions by 2030.

A recent paper in Nature shows that the passage of the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer banned the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), whose gradual elimination from aerosol sprays, refrigerants, and Styrofoam packaging prevented ozone depletion. The Montreal Protocol is significant because – despite industry lobbying – it was universally ratified. That treaty provides hope that sufficient pressure from key countries, pushed by social and political movements, could result in stringent regulations against pollution and carbon abuse as well as meaningful cultural change.

Simone Thomson (Australia), Awakening, 2019.

Places associated with global negotiations to save the planet include cities such as Kyoto (1997), Copenhagen (2009), and Paris (2015). First amongst these should be Cochabamba (Bolivia), where the government of Evo Morales Ayma held the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in April 2010. Over 30,000 people from more than 100 countries came to this landmark conference, which adopted the Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth. Several points were discussed, including the demand for:

  1. The states of the Global North to cut emissions by at least 50%;
  2. Developing countries to be given substantial assistance to adapt to the effects of climate change and to transition away from fossil fuels;
  3. Indigenous rights to be protected;
  4. International borders to be opened to climate refugees;
  5. An international court to be set up to prosecute climate crimes;
  6. People’s rights to water to be recognised, and that people have the right not to be exposed to excessive pollution.

‘We are confronted with two paths’, former President Morales said: the path of ‘pachamama (Mother Earth) or the path of the multinationals. If we don’t take the former, the masters of death will win. If we don’t fight, we will be guilty of destroying the planet’. Gavin Singleton and Bianca McNeair would certainly agree.

So would the Yorta Yorta poet and educator Hyllus Noel Maris (1933-1986), whose ‘Spiritual Song of the Aborigine’ (1978) awakens hope and lays the soundtrack for those who march to save the planet:

I am a child of the Dreamtime People
Part of this land, like the gnarled gumtree
I am the river, softly singing
Chanting our songs on my way to the sea
My spirit is the dust-devils
Mirages, that dance on the plain
I’m the snow, the wind, and the falling rain
I’m part of the rocks and the red desert earth
Red as the blood that flows in my veins
I am eagle, crow and snake that glides
Through the rainforest that clings to the mountainside
I awakened here when the earth was new
.

Warmly,

Vijay

The post I Awakened Here When the Earth Was New first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Greed and Consumption: Why the World is Burning

Rome is scorching hot. This beautiful city is becoming unbearable for other reasons, too. Though every corner of the beaming metropolis is a monument to historical grandeur, from the Colosseum in Rione Monti to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in San Giovanni, it is now struggling under the weight of its own contradictions.

In Via Appia, bins are overflowing with garbage, often spilling over into the streets. The smell, especially during Italy’s increasingly sweltering summers, is suffocating.

Meanwhile, many parts of the country are literally on fire. Since June 15, firefighters have reportedly responded to 37,000 fire-related emergencies, 1,500 of them on July 18 alone. A week later, I drove between Campania, in southern Italy, and Abruzzo, in the center. Throughout the journey, I was accompanied by fire and smoke. On that day, many towns were evacuated, and thousands of acres of forests were destroyed. It will take months to assess the cost of the ongoing destruction, but it will certainly be measured in hundreds of millions of euros.

Additionally, the entire southern Europe is ablaze, as the region is experiencing its worst heat waves in many years. Greece, Spain, Turkey, and the Balkans are fighting fires that continue to rage on.

Across the Atlantic, the US and Canada, too, are desperately trying to battle their own wildfires, mostly direct outcomes of unprecedented heat waves that struck North America from Vancouver to California, along with the whole of the American northwest region. In June, Vancouver, Portland and Seattle all set new heat records, 118, 116 and 108 Fahrenheit, respectively.

While it is true that not all fires are a direct result of global warming — many in Italy, for example, are man-made — unprecedented increases in temperature, coupled with changes in weather patterns, are the main culprits of these unmitigated disasters.

The solution is more complex than simply having the resources and proper equipment to contain these fires. The impact of the crises continues to be felt for years, even if temperatures somehow stabilize. In California, for example, which is bracing for another horrific season, the devastation of the previous years can still be felt.

“After two years of drought, the soil moisture is depleted, drying out vegetation and making it more prone to combustion,” The New York Times reported on July 16. The problem, then, is neither temporary nor can be dealt with through easy fixes.

As I sat with my large bottle of water outside Caffettiamo Cafe, struggling with heat, humidity and the pungent smell of garbage, I thought about who is truly responsible for what seems to be our new, irreversible reality. Here in Italy, the conversation is often streamlined through the same, predictable and polarized political discourse. Each party points finger at the others, in the hope of gaining some capital prior to the upcoming October municipal elections.

Again, Italy is not the exception. Political polarization in Europe and the US constantly steers the conversation somewhere else entirely. Rarely is the problem addressed at a macro-level, independent from political calculations. The impact of global warming cannot and must not be held hostage to the ambitions of politicians. Millions of people are suffering, livelihoods are destroyed, the fate of future generations is at risk. In the grand scheme of things, whether the current mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, is elected for another term or not, is insignificant.

Writing in the Columbia Climate School website, Renee Cho highlights the obvious, the relationship between our insatiable appetite for consumption and climate change. “Did you know that Americans produce 25 percent more waste than usual between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, sending an additional one million tons a week to landfills?” Cho asks.

This leads us to think about the existential relationship between our insatiable consumption habits and the irreparable damage we have inflicted upon mother earth.

Here in Via Appia, the contradictions are unmistakable. This is the summer sales season in Italy. Signs reading “Saldi” – or “Sale” – are everywhere. For many shoppers, it is impossible to fight the temptation. This unhinged consumerism – the backbone and the fault line of capitalism – comes at a high price. People are encouraged to consume more, as if such consumption has no repercussions for the environment whatsoever. Indeed, Via Appia is the perfect microcosm of this global schizophrenia: people complaining about the heat and the garbage, while simultaneously consuming beyond their need, thus creating yet more garbage and, eventually, worsening the plight of the environment.

Collective problems require collective solutions. Italy’s heat cannot be pinned down on a few arsonists and California’s wildfires are not simply the fault of an ineffectual mayor. Global warming is, in large part, the outcome of a destructive pattern instigated and sustained by capitalism. The latter can only survive through unhindered consumption, inequality, greed and, when necessary, war. If we continue to talk about global warming without confronting the capitalist menace that generated much of the crisis in the first place, the conversation will continue to amount to nil.

In the final analysis, all the conferences, pledges and politicking will not put out a single fire, neither in Italy nor anywhere else in the world.

The post Greed and Consumption: Why the World is Burning first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Symbol of Our Age: Slime of the Sea

As a possibilist, I see all this progress, and it fills me with conviction and hope that further progress is possible. This is not optimistic. It is having a clear and reasonable idea about how things are. It is having a worldview that is constructive and useful. — Hans Rosling1

There are a thousands images each hour, if one were to scour the world wide net, and the news services, wires, that would put a pit in the stomach of any humane human.

You have one 9 minute video of hog-tied, tasered, knee-on-back, then flip  over to a story on how Idaho is murdering wolves the US and taxpayers set out as “protected” to the tune of millions of dollars. No water for Southern/Northern California farms and ranches, then flip to a mass shooting in San Jose.

Forget about the click-bait of celebrity-millionaire-billionaire-perverse politician/athlete/ actor/musician blurbs/features/stories on all the major and minor mush head “news” outlets, actually, news organs, as in the alimentary canal.

Blinded by the images, brought you/us via Yahoo, Bing, Google, you name it.

An aerial view of sea snot in Istanbul.

For months, Turkish fishermen in the Sea of Marmara have been running into a problem: They can’t catch fish.

Concerns that the unappealing mucus could discourage tourism abound, and some have called for the government to do more. Ismet Cigit, a columnist for the newspaper Ses Kocaeli, lamented that humans had “betrayed this world’s most beautiful sea” by allowing chemical storage facilities, fuel tanks, factories and other industrial sites to be built along the coast.

“Clearly, there are no deterrent penalties for those who pollute the sea,” he wrote in Turkish, adding, “Marmara is dying.”  (Source)

That, of course, in a nutshell, is the crux of the world — “no deterrence for those who pollute . . . the sea . . . soil . . . fetuses . . . air . . . food . . . the airwaves . . . humanity’s brain (collectively).”

“Polluted” as a term goes a long way in retail capitalism. Homo retailopithecus and Homo consumo erectus are the vessels for every known and soon-to-be-developed pollutant.

Given the images one might see to illustrate the rapacious, inhumane, murderous ways of big and little man business, and of the corporations, and of  the law makers (thugs in a protection racket for the corporations), compared to the murders of Palestinians over a 10-day bombing campaign seem small in comparison.

That’s the point, then, for those images after bloody images to mean, well, nothing in the end. We are in a constant chaotic and self-dellusional mindset, collectively, and those that resist, well, you know the story of Man/Woman against Nature; against God; against Culture; against Self; against Man/Woman; against Artificial Intelligence/Robotics/Internet of Things. Stirring a few wet tears, gulps, and then onto the next thing. Because capitalism is about stealth distraction, stealth and mostly overt ways to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone. Even those who doubt governments and corporations and so-called experts, yet, well, yet — Covid-19 Jab; Covid-19 Booster Jab; No Jab, No Job; Covid-19/SARS-CoV2 a Novel Man/Woman made (engineered) SUPER virus; Lockdown; Masks; Social 3, 6, 10, 20 feet Distancing.

Sometimes the wool is easily pulled over one’s eyes when that person wants no conscience. When the media and the mob/bandwagon pushes whichever narrative to force compliance, well, that is Capitalism. Things Go Better with Pfizer Jabs, err, better with CocaCola.

Tobacco kills, no? USA “aid” to Israel kills, no? Even those double cheeseburgers kill, no?

You think there’d be people on the streets protesting against and vying to stop the fast-food killers, no? It is so clear, however, if we put the brakes on bad stuff, which is all of capitalism, then there will be blood to pay. Even a small pumping of the brake pedal means war:

A chilling documentary released a few years ago, Fed Up, narrated by Katie Couric, highlighted how the U.S. government capitulates to Big Food lobbies such as the sugar industry and followed the money involved in keeping people fat. Moreover, labs across the country ensure that such junk food is addictive. Finally, Big Food has launched aggressive campaigns, sanctioned by governments, to cast obesity as “lack of exercise” and not something they cause.  (Source)

SCHOOL LUNCH EDITION: PEPPERONI PIZZA BROWNIE & CHOCOLATE MILK MUKBANG - YouTube

Think about this — if there were campaigns to cut the eating of bad food, fast food, by, oh, say, one-third, or even one-fifth, well, again, there would be blood. Capitalism is all about the business of making money any way possible, and once that money stream is steady — fats, sugars, salts, high calorie foods, nicotine, opioids  — no amount of action and citizen uprising could do shit. Kids born into one to six generations drive-thru, fast-food, Uber Eats normality (baseline), well, the eating and the wrongs of capitalism are baked into DNA. How many times were penny or three penny taxation bills against soda companies (so-called sugar taxes) fought and shot down? We are talking a few pennies tax.

And, let it be known, that High Fructose Corn Syrup has many wonderful things cooked into it to create an addiction cycle, and creates the “I am never full even after four Big Gulp Mountain Dews” biophysical reality. There are studies on the RNA of papa’s sperm baking in obesity for offspring. Oh, the epigenetics of bad food, chemical food, and high density calories, the like, well, I would have to say after decades of reading and being on the front lines, that obesity is actually cooked into the gene code, the epigenetics of it all.

Don’t be fooled by the lie after lie coming from industry lobbies and those sons of bitches who would file lawsuit after lawsuit against any citizens’ group or government group tying fast-food to faster death and plethora of chronic illnesses on the way to that death.

Svelte Biden and Svelte lawmaker x or y are all part of the show. The disease is the dollar, and each pinch of the profit margin precipitated by real sanctions and laws and regulations is a poke into the hornets nest that is rapacious capitalism.to

Oh, those Ivy Leaguers, all those beautiful people, running the show, they must get a kick out of the overweight, limping, ragged masses.  It is a tale of two worlds. They get stem cell cocktails, plasma and blood doping, IV’s full of herbs and vitamins and, well, the rest of us, we get, hmm, disease maintenance by USA Big Med/Big Pharma/ Big Insurance.

Parents Misperceive Weight Of Overweight Children - Gazette Review

There is no “choice” for this child. I have been in the schools, people, for more than 48 years. This is it for choice (habituation). It is criminal what we do to their minds, but absolutely sadistic what we do to their bodies:

By 2025, 43 million children under the age of five will be overweight

But the images are rarely tied to deep stories, deeper analyses, and deeper regard that the system is sick — that “system” is industrial food, education, media, social media, advertising, the entire system of “capitalism makes right” any form of “offering” or “choice” these Mengele Types continue to bark anytime groups of people decide to question their narrative, the entire wasted system of exploitation.

The exploitation is at the cellular level, at the nanoparticle level, even the electromagnetic waves exploit us, to the tune of profits galore, gushing in every which way possible under the mantel of dirty capitalism.

So we just continue to cruise the insanity of the wasteland, and here, in my neck of the woods, successionists: The proposed new border would encompass 18 full and three partial Oregon counties and account for about 860,000 people in Oregon, which is  21% of the state’s population; however, that chunk would represent 70% of its land.

The land of the original people’s — imagine if those Yanquis/Stars’n’Bars dudes and dudettes really looked at the land, the original benefactors and stewards of the land. Again, redneck, mean as cuss, and, yes, Portland is mean as cuss, sure, and this is what we have looking forward to. This is 2021, major snowpack deficits, major government subsidies to these big old tough independent farmers wanting to create a bigger Aryan Brotherhood Idaho. It ain’t your land, boys and girls.

 

native american tribes in oregon - Google Search | Native american tribes, Native american quotes, State of oregon

This is the reality of the White Settler/Colonial/Racist/Slave Embodied people. It may seem hickster out in Idaho, but you can find the same DNA and big mouthed whites in the Fatherlands —  Germany, Nordic countries, France, Belgium, UK. The amount of hate for anyone other than white, well, this is a disease throughout the land throughout the EU Zone.


Greater Idaho

Real issues of crop failures, cancer rates out the roof (all those poisons for all that farmland), extreme weather, and, well, just whose land and whose farms and ranches and goods and services are those?

The sham is the American system of bowing to two corrupt parties, allowing the elites and the riff-raff corrupt ones to run the society, through electoral politics, which is just a giant bribery scheme. All those sniveling Rachel Maddow freaks, with the Trump Derangement Syndrome, well, they do not give a shit:

Behind the scenes of Trump's Joe Biden obsession - Axios

“Biden says his hands are tied.”

The absence of a strong and well organized movement means that harm reduction is always a fantasy. The Democratic Party establishment chose Biden to be the nominee and didn’t get the pushback that was needed against their backroom deal making. Unscrupulous Black operatives derided anything other than obedience to their bosses. We were told to go along and be quiet and that any other response meant the return of Trump. The lack of demands set us up for failure, propaganda about cutting poverty, and phony progressives taking a dive instead of standing up for the people. Black people have nothing to show for a Biden presidency despite turning out in droves to put him in office.

The moment is ripe to acknowledge that this system is a complete sham and exists only to help the 1% do as much as they can to oppress the 99%. We will live with a cycle of Republicans and Democrats who use different methods but always end up working against our needs.  (Black Agenda Report)

The capitalists paint us all into their corners, while they reap the benefits of billions in bribery. We are children, unorganized, malcontents, wasted lives in their eyes. It’s how they see ‘us versus them.’ They as a collective go to the same schools, believe in the same propaganda, and tout the stupidity of patriotism and exceptionalism. Arrogant and dumb, this is the America we all have been sucked into. By birth, for fuck sake, some of us.

The scam is the scam, really, all those spinning bullshit and good cheer amongst themselves at their Aspen Institute conferences, or what have you. They have no plan, except for shoveling with front end loader, the cash they make in the big scam. There is no Green Deal for the Environment when it goes through the jagged teeth of the rich and superrich capitalists.

To the scientists’ warnings, there have been rumblings of concern from some financial investors, businesspeople (in non-oil-producing industries), and local politicians. But overall, the response of conventional politicians has been business-as-usual. The main proposals for limiting climate change has been to place some sort of taxes on carbon emissions. From liberals to conservatives, this has been lauded as a ”pro-market” reform. But, as Richard Smith (2018) has explained, these are inadequate, and even fraudulent, proposals. “If the tax is too light, it fails to suppress fossil fuels enough to help the climate. But…no government will set a price high enough to spur truly deep reductions in carbon emissions because they all understand that this would force companies out of business, throw workers out of work, and possibly precipitate recession or worse.” (Source)

 

434 - Wolf - Barsamian

Richard Wolff: The reason the U.S. government takes in less than it spends is because it chooses not to tax corporations and the rich at the rates applied to them in the 1950s and 1960s. Then the government turns around and borrows money. It borrows from foreign governments, but also from banks, insurance companies, large corporations, and rich individuals who purchase Treasury bills, notes, bonds, and securities. In effect corporations and the rich can not only keep more tax dollars; they can then turn around and loan the money they kept to the government and earn interest on it. The interest that must be paid to them comes either from taxes levied upon the mass of Americans or from the savings the government achieves by cutting its payrolls and programs. So the rising deficits are a result of an unjust tax system. Eventually, as the financial burdens grow and the public grasps why, social tensions will rise. The U.S. tomorrow could look like Greece today. [9 years ago, interview by David Barsamian]

Smoke rises from a fire onboard the MV X-Press Pearl container ship off the Colombo Harbor, in Sri Lanka May 25, 2021.

Oh boy, recall the Suez canal container ship logjam?

Now, this Singapore-flagged ship carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tons of nitric acid and other chemicals that were loaded at the port of Hazira, India, on May 15, is burning, baby, with a 25-member crew includes Philippine, Chinese, Indian and Russian nationals.

Globalization! Daily scene. How many oil spills, how many chemical spills, how many barrels of DDT or radioactive sludge are leaking? Christ, do the math.

capture1.png

[You’ll notice “Evergreen” is written across the Ever Given’s body, but confusingly, that’s branding for the Taiwanese company that operates the ship. (Julianne Cona/Instagram)]

All of this is unsustainable, way beyond insane, and, until we do more localized work big time, and until we stop cruise ships, container ships like these on a second to second basis; until we stop cutting down North American forests, to send logs (full trees, delimbed) to overseas markets, and then have that come back in another container ship as cardboard, fiberboard and wood products; until we stop California orange juice tankers meeting up with Florida orange juice tankers in Houston on their east-west crisscrossing journeys; until we go way beyond any new or old green deal; until we actually work with the poor, the subsistence farmers and fishers, and work on real harvest, real sustainable ecologies, with restorative conservation AND anti-poverty programs and peasant worker cooperatives; until, until and until.

I contacted this film maker/scientist/professor, and complained about how white, how “great white burden” like his short piece on net carbon zero, zero dark 2030, or what have is you coming off. No response, yet, however, we need to pushback on these people who always work within the frame of Capitalism. They will never see that, Capitalism, for how polluted, globally heating, water scarce, amazingly diseased the world and our food and sisters and brothers in flora/fauna land.

Stop the New Deal for Nature! – no "deal" for nature

James Dyke, Senior Lecturer in Global Systems, University of Exeter — I doubt he will respond.

  1. Hans Rosling, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, 2018.
The post The Symbol of Our Age: Slime of the Sea first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Insurgency Against Big Oil

While Australian politicians languish in a world blotched by climate change scepticism and fossil fuel love-ins, global oil and gas companies have been shaken.  Three titans of oil fame – Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron – faced a range of decisions in May that promise to dramatically shape their future operations.  The point is not negligible, given that this triarchy produced, between 1988 and 2015, 5% of total global scope 1 and 3 emissions.

Royal Dutch Shell was the first giant humbled by a Dutch court ruling that it was required to reduce total emissions by net 45% of 2019 levels by 2030.  “The reduction obligation relates to the Shell group’s entire energy portfolio and to the aggregate volume of all emissions (Scope 1 through to 3).”  The case had been brought by a number of environmental groups, including Milieudefensie, claiming that RDS had “an obligation … to contribute to the prevention of dangerous climate change through the corporate policy it determines for the Shell Group.”  To not do so would result in a breach of human rights.

The company submitted the rather amoral rationale that not selling its products would simply mean that others would do the same thing.  A vain effort was also made to convince Judge Larisa Alwain that RDS was sufficiently doing its bit to deal with climate change by reducing its Net Carbon Footprint comprising direct, indirect carbon emissions and customer emissions for products sold “by 20% in 2035 and by 50% in 2050.”

RDS also claimed that there should be no legal solution to this dispute: climate change policies were ultimately up to lawmakers and politics, not judicial heads.  These grounds were soundly dismissed by the court.  The judgment found that RDS was “free to decide not to make new investments in explorations and fossil fuels, and to change the energy package offered by the Shell group”.

While not facing the ire of courts, Chevron was tackling climate change activism from within, meeting a proposal by shareholder activist firm FollowThis to reduce its Scope 3 emissions by selling reduced quantities of fossil fuels.  The measure had the support of 61% of investors.   Other measures voted upon registered lower but not insignificant numbers: 48% of shareholders wished for a report on the impacts of a 2050 net-zero outcome while the same number also voted for a report on “dark money” lobbying.

One could hardly see this as a tree-hugging measure of ecological fancy.  Investments were potentially at stake.  “As shareholders, we understand this support to be part of our fiduciary duty to protect all assets in the global economy from devastating climate change.  Climate-related risks are a source of financial risk, and therefore limiting global warming is essential to risk management and responsible stewardship of the economy.”  Not willing to be dictators on the issue, those making the proposal did not wish to limit “the Company’s powers to set and vary their strategy or take any action which they believe in good faith would best contribute to reducing GHG emissions.”

To the two giants facing the headaches of necessary reform can be added Exxon Mobil.  Last month, Exxon Mobil’s CEO Darren Woods failed to quash what was described as an “insurgency” at the company’s Annual Shareholder Meeting.  Engine No. 1, a small activist hedge fund with a mere 0.02% stake and no history of oil or natural gas activism, daringly nabbed two seats on the board.  This took place, despite the warning by Woods that voting for such an environmentally minded concern would “derail our progress and jeopardise your dividend.”

One of Engine No.1’s backers, California State Teachers’ Retirement System, called the vote “historic”, representing “a tipping point for companies unprepared for the global energy transition”. Climate change constituted “the greatest threat to our future” and it was incumbent on shareholders “to hold the ExxonMobil board accountable to mitigate risk and contribute to the sustainable value of their investments.”

This would have come as a rude shock to a company with an extensive record of concealing its own research on climate change.  In September and October 2015, it was revealed by InsideClimate News, the Los Angeles Times and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism that one of the planet’s largest oil companies was well immersed in the study of global warming.  Its public front was one of scepticism.  In 1990, the board claimed that the company’s “examination of the issue [of global warming] supports the conclusions that the facts today and the projection of future effects are very unclear.”

Despite this terse dismissal, it transpired that engineers and researchers in the employ of Exxon were conducting work on how best to adjust the company’s approach to rising temperatures.  Internal briefing papers were circulated and discussed, data generated and mulled over.  In 1978, James Black of Exxon’s Products Research Division wrote a paper for discussion with the unmistakably relevant title of “The Greenhouse Effect”. This followed on from his 1977 presentation to the management committee.  “Present thinking holds,” writes Black, “that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”

In 1991, senior ice researcher Ken Croasdale of Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary told an engineering conference that “any major development with a lifespan of say 30-40 years will need to assess the impacts of potential global warming.”  This was particularly pertinent “of Arctic and offshore projects in Canada, where warming will clearly affect sea ice, icebergs, permafrost and sea levels.”  Not wishing to bite the hand feeding him, Croasdale brightly considered the benefit a warming planet might have for company operations in the Beaufort Sea: “potential global warming can only help lower exploration and development costs”.  This is no longer the case: the investors and funds are in revolt and such large oil companies are counting a different set of costs.

The post The Insurgency Against Big Oil first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Great Barrier Reef Wars

To float over such an aqueous body is to find a majestic creature unparalleled in beauty and expanse, stretching at 2,300km.  There are other stunning formations on the planet, but the Great Barrier Reef has such dimension, form and cocksure brilliance as to make others shrink, not so much because of beauty as due to sheer scale and ecological variety.

But the Reef’s health record has been patchy.  Each year brings a series of negative assessments about the patient. Its ticker is having palpitations; its central mineral supports in the form of coral life is being bleached.  Water quality is being affected.  The crown-of-thorns starfish, richly stimulated by nutrients from runoffs, has grown in number to savage the unmoving coral with relish.

With such activity, it was little wonder that the World Heritage Committee, under the umbrella of UNESCO, has suggested placing the Reef on the endangered list.  While taking note of “many positive achievements by the State Party [Australia], progress has been insufficient in meeting key targets of the Reef 2050 Plan.  The Plan requires stronger and clearer commitments, in particular towards urgently countering the effects of climate change, but also towards accelerating water quality improvement and land management measures.”

Despite the money committed by the Commonwealth government to protect the Reef, along with cross-institutional collaboration, “the long-term outlook of the ecosystem of the property has deteriorated from poor to very poor, and that the deterioration has been more rapid and widespread than was evident during the period 2009-2014.”  Bleaching events from 2016, 2017 and 2020 “as a result of global warming”, are also noted in the agenda.

Given such considerations, the World Heritage Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature recommended “that the property is facing ascertained danger” and should be placed upon “the List of World Heritage in Danger.”  Australia would be invited to collaborate with the World Heritage/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission “to develop a set of corrective measures” to enable the Reef to be removed from the list of world heritage in danger.

Richard Leck, Head of Oceans for the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia summed it up thus: “The recommendation from UNESCO is clear and unequivocal that the Australian government is not doing enough to protect our greatest natural asset, especially on climate change”.  Imogen Zethoven, consultant for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, saw the UNESCO recommendation as a chance to draw attention to Australia’s lethargic climate change policies.  “Australia’s climate record is more consistent with a 2.5 to 3 Celsius rise in global average temperature – a level that would destroy the Great Barrier Reef and all the world’s coral reefs.”

Members of Scott Morrison’s government violently disagreed.  Ministers claim, in outrage, that such moves to deem the sacred reef endangered is a profanity and in the spirit of diplomatic duplicity.  This is all the more tickling for the fact that Australia has one of the weaker environmental portfolios: Environment Ministers usually find themselves as fossil fuel cross dressers and apologists for mining.  “Australia believes,” claimed the startled Environment Minister Sussan Ley, “it is wrong to single out the best managed reef in the world for this potential ‘in danger’ listing.”  Ley also claimed to have been “blindsided by a sudden late decision.”  It was “unheard of for a site to be added to an endangered list, or recommended … without the necessary consultation leading up to it.”

In a press release, Ley claimed that “UN officials” had assured Australia that no such recommendation would be made prior to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting to be hosted by China in July.  The draft decision had been a mere “desk top review with insufficient first-hand appreciation of the outstanding science-based strategies being funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments.”

For a government that has politicised everything from renewable energy to the granting of mining permits, such anger was mildly amusing. In Ley’s barely credible words, “When procedures are not followed, when the process is turned on its head five minutes before the draft decision is due to be published, when the assurances my officials received and indeed I did have been upended.  What else can you conclude but that it is politics?”

The allusion lurking in such views was that the decision had been massaged.  In what is fast becoming a boring tic, Australian government sources pointed the eager finger at China.  One, who remained unnamed, told the South China Morning Post that Australia would “appeal but China is in control.”

Rupert Murdoch’s press outlets, showing how quickly they can change from ingratiating themselves with Chinese Communist officials to condemning them (the mogul’s failed dream to penetrate the Chinese market continues to rankle), is running the Yellow Devil story.  China, raged Sky News host Chris Kenny, was being aggressive towards Australia “under the guise of climate activism.”  The UN was being used as a vehicle for “environmental emotional blackmail”.  Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell was most pleased to reveal that the environment minister had “specifically mentioned China in the Coalition party room with the hint being this was another example of the coercion tactics that China has been using against Australia.”

The view from the other side was rather different.  Dr Fanny Douvere of the World Heritage Centre attempted to correct the record.  “We don’t share [decisions] before they are finalised,” she told Guardian Australia.  “That’s the simple truth.”  Nor was it credible to assume that China had been a factor.  “There is absolutely zero influence.  This is simply not the truth.  There is no interference at all.”  Beijing was not even aware of the recommendations being made.

Some of Ley’s angst may well be due to the return of the deputy prime minister, who hails from the junior partner, the National Party.  Barnaby Joyce remains wedded to the idea of nuclear energy and snorts at investing in renewables.  “What this insane lemming-like desire to go to renewables going to do to our economy?” he asked in 2013.  Having languished in backbench exile for alleged sexual harassment, exiting a long marriage and scooting off with his mistress, he has stormed back to the front of the Morrison cabinet, decapitating (politically speaking) the now former leader, Michael McCormack.  In doing so, he resumes a position he left in disgrace three years ago.  More to the point, the fossil fuel fanatics are now breathing more furiously than ever, being the types who think that the Great Barrier Reef is the sort of thing you see in specimen drawers and Madame Tussauds.

South Australia’s Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young saw the problem closer to home and rather damning. “You weren’t ‘blindsided’,” she scornfully tweeted about Ley, “you had your eyes closed [and] ignored the science and kept taking donations from the fossil fuel industry.”  The Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, had her own barb with the federal government, telling a press gathering on June 23 that the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef was none other than the National Party.

The one true victim in this international brawl is the Reef itself.  Bureaucrats will be haggling and disagreeing over data, labels and outcomes as the degradation continues.  And Australia, for its incessant resort to that fiction called the “rules-based international order” will seedily attack international institutions if it serves to placate domestic interests.

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The Net Zero Mirage

“Net Zero by 2050” is the rallying cry of scientists and policymakers throughout the world. However, that epithet echoes past decades of climate change/global warming mitigation plans, one after another, all failures.

The world’s continuing failure to come to grips with the dilemma led three notable climate scientists, deeply involved at the highest levels, to publicly ridicule past and future attempts to fix climate change in a blockbuster article entitled:1

That article is a must-read exposé of failed schemes that unintentionally hoodwink the general public, and scientists, and policymakers into believing in the merits of “feel-good proposals to save the planet.” But in reality, the scientists expose these projects as foolhardy, in part, based upon their own personal experience in actually helping to formulate some of the proposals in the first instance.

It is a thought-provoking article that cannot be dismissed, as it essentially implies we’re screwed unless global policymakers face up and react, immediately. They suggests foregoing the conceptual “Net Zero by 2050,” instead cut to the chase by cutting fossil fuels now!

As a follow up to the stirring article, Dr. Alison Green of ScientistsWarning interviewed the authors, May 8th, 2021:

The authors, not pulling any punches, take academia and international policymakers to the woodshed for decades of fairytale fixit schemes that always, always, always hold out hope, great promise to save civilization from burning up in a self-afflicted earthly hades, but never deliver, postage required.

The message behind the scathing article is simple, straightforward: Enough is enough, we’re fooling ourselves and getting nowhere fast, stop the madness, get real. Here’s how the authors see it:

Collectively we three authors of this article must have spent more than 80 years thinking about climate change. Why has it taken us so long to speak out about the obvious dangers of the concept of net zero? In our defence, the premise of net zero is deceptively simple – and we admit that it deceived us.2

A “Net Zero” search on Goggle brings up 1,630,000,000 hits within 0.89 seconds, and that’s just for starters. Deferring to the authors:

We have arrived at the painful realisation that the idea of net zero has licensed a recklessly cavalier ‘burn now, pay later’ approach which has seen carbon emissions continue to soar. It has also hastened the destruction of the natural world by increasing deforestation today, and greatly increases the risk of further devastation in the future.2

Their article goes on to describe “Steps towards Net Zero” starting with James Hansen, as administrator of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies June 1988 testimony to Congress, demonstrating how humans were warming Earth’s climate, famously stating, “The greenhouse (“GHG”) effect has been detected.” Then, four years later at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, all nations pledged to stabilize GHGs and the 1997 Kyoto Summit re-emphasized these goals, but at the time when something very constructive should have, could have been accomplished, the parties failed.  Subsequently fossil fuels never looked back, zooming ahead in the face of nations of the world agreeing to stabilize GHGs but continuing to fail.

As follows, the next approach was to link economic activity to climate change via “Integrated Assessment Models,” which became, and remain to this day, the principal guidance for climate policy, implicitly implying that “market-based” approaches work, thereby removing any requirement for “deep critical thinking.” This has been, and according to the authors, remains a huge mistake.

The next step to solving the problem was introduction of Carbon-Capture and Storage, a feel-good plan for policymakers but one that failed to address increasing levels of fossil fuel usage. By the Copenhagen 2009 summit it was clear that Carbon-Capture and Storage did not exist in the real world; it was another big bust.

Thereafter, a new magic bullet, Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage – BECCS, became the new savior technology, burning biomass instead of coal. However, BECCS, which is very much in favor today, carries manifold issues, including the insanity of burning trees that absorb & store CO2 if left alone.

According to the authors:

Alas, BECCS, just like all the previous solutions, was too good to be true.2

The following information about BECCS was not included in the relevant article but has been included herewith as BECCS has become the rage, especially in the EU, which generates more energy from burning wood than from wind and solar combined. Biomass is now a $50B global industry.

The title of a recent article tells the story of BECCS 3  For example:

Solar panels can produce 100 times as much power per acre as biomass.2

And here’s another snippet:

In February, more than 500 scientists and economists wrote to President Joe Biden and other leaders to warn that converting wood into power is a carbon disaster, a forest destroyer and an absurdly inefficient way to generate energy… Trees are more valuable alive than dead.2

According to Earth Institute, woody biomass power plants actually produce more “global warming CO2” than fossil fuel plants; i.e., 65% more CO2 per megawatt hour than modern coal plants and 285% more CO2 than natural gas. Meanwhile Canada and the U.S. deliver wood to Europe like there’s no tomorrow.

According to LSA – University of Colorado/Boulder: Wood accounts for 79% of biomass production and accounts for 3.2% of energy production. Wood dominates the worldwide biomass industry. Today 50% of EU renewable energy is based upon biomass, and it is on the rise.

For example, in the UK, the Drax Group converted 4 of 6 coal-generating units to biomass, powering 12% of UK electricity for 4 million households. The Drax biomass plant has an enormous appetite for wood; e.g., in less than two hours an entire freight train of wooden pellets goes up in smoke (easily qualifying for Ripley’s Believe It or Not).

According to Drax’s PR department, their operation has slashed CO2 by over 80% since 2012, claiming to be “the largest decarbonization project in Europe.”4 ; however, when scientists analyze Drax’s claims, they do not hold up.

When wood pellets burn, Drax assumes the released carbon is “recaptured instantly by new growth.” That is a fairy tale.

According to John Sherman, an expert on Complex Systems Analysis at MIT: The “carbon debt payback time” for forests in the eastern US, where Drax’s wood pellets originate, compared to burning coal, under the best-case scenario, when all harvested land regrows as a forest, the wood pellet “payback time is 44 to 104 years,” which is mindboggling, thus prompts a query: Whoever did the research on biomass? Fire them!

Study after study proves that “burning coal instead of woody biomass” reduces the impact of CO2 atmospheric emissions. Coal is the clear winner, but problematically coal has already been cast into no-man’s land as a horrific polluter. Therefore, a massive complexity is at work as countries commit to using trees to meet carbon neutral status, but the end results are appallingly diametrical to their own stated intentions, and flat-out wrong.

According to scientist Bill Moomaw, co-author of several IPCC reports and widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on “carbon sinks”:

If we let some of our forests grow, we could remove an additional 10 to 20 percent of what we emit every year. Instead, we’re paying subsidies to have people cut them down, burning them in place of coal, and counting it as zero carbon. 5

Dr. Moomaw led a group of 800 scientists that petitioned the EU parliament in January 2018 to: “End its support for biomass.” Nevertheless, in June 2018, the EU Commission voted to keep biomass listed as a renewable energy, joined in their position by the support of the U.S. and Britain. Is this conclusive proof that policymakers, at their peril, ignore science? Answer: Yes!

Back to the original article for this story, by 2015, with CO2 emissions still skyrocketing, Paris ’15 brought the world together to limit warming to 2°C, hopefully 1.5°C vs. pre-industrial levels. At the end of negotiations, predictably, worldwide media celebrated an alleged marvelous achievement by the nations of the world to limit global warming, actually implying a halt to global warming, full stop at 2°C. Oh, please!

Yet, the bitter truth about Paris ’15:

But dig a little deeper and you could find another emotion lurking within delegates on December 13. Doubt. We struggle to name any climate scientist who at that time thought the Paris Agreement was feasible. We have since been told by some scientists that the Paris Agreement was ‘of course, important for climate justice but unworkable’ and ‘a complete shock, no one thought limiting to 1.5°C was possible’. Rather than being able to limit warming to 1.5°C, a senior academic involved in the IPCC concluded we were heading beyond 3°C by the end of this century.2

But, at the conclusion of Paris ’15 policymakers and the world’s media focused on a celebration with bright colored streamers and champagne popping and lots of backslapping, continuing the false narrative that a fixit was orchestrated by the nations of the world by simply keeping temperatures below 2°C and maybe even 1.5°C. It’s that simple.

But, getting there may be very complex, accordingly, atmospheric CO2 emissions since 2015: 399.89 ppm January 2015 versus 419.05 ppm April 2021 and increasing at twice the rate of the last century, which makes Paris ’15 a laughing stock.

Furthermore, the three author/scientists discount all of the current proposals on the table like Direct Air Capture, BECCS, and Solar Radiation Management to control and reduce the impact of global warming: “The problems come when it is assumed that these can be deployed at vast scale. This effectively serves as a blank cheque for the continued burning of fossil fuels and the acceleration of habitat destruction.”2

Rather than acknowledge the seriousness of our situation, we instead continue to participate in the fantasy of net zero. What will we do when reality bites? The time has come to voice our fears and be honest with wider society. Current net zero policies will not keep warming to within 1.5°C because they were never intended to. They were and still are driven by a need to protect business as usual, not the climate. If we want to keep people safe then large and sustained cuts to carbon emissions need to happen now. That is the very simple acid test that must be applied to all climate policies. The time for wishful thinking is over.6

  1. “Climate Scientists: Concept of Net Zero is a Dangerous Trap”, The Conversation, April 22, 2021.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet,” Politico, March 26, 2021.
  4. Biomass Energy: Green or Dirty? Environment & Energy – Feature Article, January 8, 2020
  5. Europe’s Renewable Energy Policy is Built on Burning American Trees, Vox, March 4, 2019.
  6. Climate Scientists: “Concept of Net Zero is a Dangerous Trap”, written by: James Dyke/University of Exeter, Robert Watson/University of East Anglia, and Wolfgang Knorr/Lund University.
The post The Net Zero Mirage first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Virtual Bunny Hugging: Boasting About Climate Change Goals

He seemed frustrated.  While Scott Morrison’s international colleagues at the Leaders Summit on Climate were boastful in what their countries would do in decarbonising the global economy, Australia’s feeble contribution was put on offer.  Unable to meet his own vaccination targets, the Australian prime minister has decided to confine the word “target” in other areas of policy to oblivion.  Just as the term “climate change” has been avoided in the bowels of Canberra bureaucracy, meeting environmental objectives set in stone will be shunned.

Ahead of the summit, Nobel Prize laureates had added their names to a letter intending to ruffle summit participants.  Comprising all fields, the 101 signatories urged countries “to act now to avoid a climate catastrophe by stopping the expansion of oil, gas and coal.”  Governments had “lagged, shockingly, behind what science demands and what a growing and powerful people-powered movement knows: urgent action is needed to end the expansion of fossil fuel production; phase out current production; and invest in renewable energy.”

Deficiencies in the current climate change approach were noted: the Paris Agreement, for instance, makes no mention of oil, gas or coal; the fossil fuel industry was intending to expand, with 120% more coal, oil and gas slated for production by 2030. “The solution,” warn the Nobel Laureates, “is clear: fossil fuels must be kept in the ground.”

To Morrison and his cabinet, these voices are mere wiseacres who sip coffee and down the chardonnay with relish, oblivious to dirty realities.  His address to the annual dinner of the Business Council of Australia took the view that Australia would “not achieve net zero in the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities.”  Having treated environmental activism as delusionary, he suggested that industries not be taxed, as they provided “livelihoods for millions of Australians off the planet, as our political opponents sought to do when they were given the chance.”

US President Joe Biden had little appetite for such social distinctions in speaking to summit participants.  (Unfortunately for the President, the preceding introduction by Vice President Kamala Harris was echoed on the live stream, one of various glitches marking the meeting.)   After four years of a crockery breaking retreat from the subject of climate change, this new administration was hoping to steal back some ground and jump the queue in combating climate change.  The new target: cutting greenhouse gas emissions by half from 2005 levels by 2030.

Biden wished to construct “a critical infrastructure to produce and deploy clean energy”.  He saw workers in their numbers capping abandoned oil and gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal mines.  He dreamed of autoworkers in their efforts to build “the next generation of electric vehicles” assisted by electricians and the installing of 500,000 charging stations.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken laboured the theme of togetherness in his opening remarks: “We’re in this together. And what each of our nations does or does not do will not only impact people of our country, but people everywhere.”  But Blinken was also keen, at least in terms of language, to seize some ground for US leadership.  “We want every country here to know: We want to work with you to save our planet, and we’re all committed to finding every possible avenue of cooperation on climate change.”

A central part of this policy will involve implementing the Climate Finance Plan, intended to provide and mobilise “financial resources to assist developing countries reduce and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience and adapt to the impacts of climate change.”

While solidarity and collaboration were points the Biden administration wished to reiterate, ill-tempered political rivalries were hard to contain.  On April 19, Blinken conceded during his address to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that China was “the largest producer and exporter of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, electric vehicles.”  It held, he sulkily noted, almost “a third of the world’s renewable energy patents.”

Environmental policy, in other words, had to become the next terrain of competition; in this, a good degree of naked self-interest would be required.  “If we don’t catch up, America will miss the chance to shape the world’s climate future in a way that reflects our interests and values, and we’ll lose out on countless jobs for the American people.”  Forget bleeding heart arguments about solidarity and collective worth: the US, if it was to win “the long-term strategic competition with China” needed to “lead the renewable energy revolution.”

Others in attendance also had their share of chest-thumping ambition. The United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson was all self-praise about his country having the “biggest offshore wind capacity of any country in the word, the Saudi Arabia of wind as I never tire of saying.”  The country was half-way towards carbon neutrality.  He also offered a new target: cutting emissions by 78 percent under 1990 levels by 2035.  Wishing to emphasise his seriousness of it all, Johnson claimed that combating climate change was not “all about some expensive politically correct green act of ‘bunny hugging’.”

Canada also promised a more ambitious emissions reduction target: the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) would be reduced by 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.  “Canada’s Strengthened Climate Plan,” stated Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “puts us on track to not just meet but to exceed our 2030 emissions goal – but we were clearly aware that more must be done.”

Brazil’s President and climate change sceptic Jair Bolsonaro chose to keep up appearances with his peers, aligning the posts to meet emissions neutrality by 2050.  This shaved off ten years from the previous objective.  He also promised a doubling of funding for environmental enforcement.  Fine undertakings from a political figure whose policies towards the Amazon rainforest have been vandalising in their destruction.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also threw in his lot with a goal of securing a 46 percent reduction by 2030. (The previous target had been a more modest 26 percent reduction based on 2013 levels.)  This did little to delight Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor.  “What Japan needs to do now,” he warned, “is to expand its options for technology.”  Any immediate bans on gasoline-powered or diesel cars, for instance, “would limit such options, and could also cause Japan to lose its strengths.”

Toyoda’s sentiments, along with those of Japan’s business lobby Keidanren, would have made much sense to Morrison.  In a speech shorn of ambition, the Australian prime minister began to speak with his microphone muted.  Then came his own version of ambitiousness, certain that Australia’s record on climate change was replete with “setting, achieving and exceeding our commitments”.

It was not long before he was speaking, not to the leaders of the world, but a domestic audience breast fed by the fossil fuel industries.  Australia was “on the pathway to net zero” and intent on getting “there as soon as we possibly can, through technology that enables and transforms our industries, not taxes that eliminate them and the jobs and livelihoods they support and create, especially in our regions.”  His own slew of promises: Australia would invest in clean hydrogen, green steel, energy storage and carbon capture.  The US might well have Silicon Valley, but Australia would, in time, create “Hydrogen Valleys”.

With such unremarkable, even pitiable undertakings, critics could only marvel at a list of initiatives that risk disappearing in the frothy stew.  “Targets on their own, won’t lead to emission cuts,” reflected Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Kate Blagojevic.  “That takes real policy and money.  And that’s where the whole world is still way off course.”  Ahead of COP26 at Glasgow, Morrison will be hoping that the world remains divided and very much off course.

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A Winning Climate and Political Approach

I don’t have any regrets about the work, and the 32-day hunger strike, that I did last fall to get Joe Biden elected. I knew what we would be getting: first and most important, an end to Trump in the White House and second, someone replacing him who wasn’t a climate denier.

I support the Green New Deal idea, embodied in Congress in the Thrive Agenda, introduced in February by Senator Ed Markey and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. That agenda is much stronger than what President Biden put forward last week, much more realistic as far as what is needed to prevent worldwide societal breakdown via climate and environmental catastrophes. But, thinking big picture, it is a major improvement from the Trump years to have an opening-up, three-way, public debate between Republican climate change skepticism, centrist Democrat proposals not-to-the-scale of the need, and the progressive Green New Deal/Thrive Agenda.

It is absolutely essential that the much more realistic progressive approach continue to grow in popular understanding and support, this year, next year and as long as necessary. If the Biden proposal is the best that can be passed this year, then it should be supported and passed, but with a clear understanding that it is a beginning, not an end.

This three-way debate over government policy is not going away. One of the latest examples is an article, “What To Do About Natural Gas,” published in the April issue of Scientific American. It is authored by Michael E. Webber, a writer, educator and Chief Science and Technology Officer at ENGIE, a global energy and infrastructure company. From my research, ENGIE seems to be an all-of-the-above kind of energy company, though it’s selling some of its coal assets. Webber is definitely big on gas pipelines and infrastructure.

One of his sentences about hydrogen in the article is revealing: “Anticipation feels similar to what arose during the very early days of fracking shale: a huge resource is out there, if engineers can figure out how to harness it cheaply and safely.”

There’s not a word of substantive criticism of fracked gas in Webber’s article. Nothing about how people living near gas wells, compressors and pipelines have been poisoned. There is no mention of the fact that, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the overwhelmingly primary ingredient in gas, methane, is 86 times more impactful as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20 year period.

Also unmentioned is the clear need to stop building out new gas and oil infrastructure, stop the decades-long, rubber-stamp approval of industry expansion permit applications.

Webber quickly dispatches renewables in his third paragraph because of transmission issues. Then he never looks back as he proposes various ways to keep the gas and pipeline industries in business for seemingly forever through various still-to-be-proven proposals. In his final paragraph he opines that “climate change requires many solutions. Declaring who cannot be part of those, such as natural gas companies, only raises resistance to progress.”

Reading this yesterday, I was reminded of how Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm spoke in an interview April 1 on PBS. Talking about fossil fuels, she never used any language to the effect that we need to reduce, much less get off, fossil fuel use. She kept saying that what we need to do is “clean up fossil fuel emissions.”

That approach is directly tied to support of the holy grail of industrial carbon capture and sequestration, something I have been following since I became a climate activist in 2003. So far, 18 years later, it has yet to be commercially viable but, clearly, the fossil fuel industry and their active or passive supporters in government have every intention of getting as much money as they can for this failure of an approach to solving the climate emergency.

I’m not opposed to some funding going into research into potential new ways to advance genuinely clean technologies and reduce emissions. But that is not the same thing as research to prop up 20th century industries in a 21st century that must move as rapidly as possible to truly clean, renewable energy as the dominant energy sources. Fortunately, with the technology improving, the prices of solar steadily dropping, and the growth of battery storage technologies, renewables dominance can happen this decade.

And with polls for many years consistently showing that 75-80% of all US Americans, including about half of Republicans, support wind and solar, this is a political winner.

Progressives, let’s keep our eyes on the prize.

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