Category Archives: Environment

US Marine Press Takes on Hothouse Earth

America loves its military. It should because it’s the most expensive defense force of all time. $778B was allocated for defense spending in 2022. China comes in a distant second at $229B.

All of which prompts a provocative question: What if the Marine Corps publishes a landmark study that claims recipients of the US government defense budget are collectively responsible for accelerating the danger of climate change to very dangerous levels, in fact, to unlivable levels?

As of June 2022, that’s precisely what’s happened.

The world’s militaries, intelligence agencies, foreign affairs strategies, and think tanks are unwittingly advancing the hyperthreat, which is an acceleration of climate and environmental change leading to Hothouse Earth. This startling information is explained in detail in an eye-opening analysis in which hyperthreat is the primary subject, to wit:1

The analysis is published in two parts in the Journal of Advanced Military Studies and by the US Marine Corps University Press, which is a professional university of the US Marine Corps located in Quantico, Virginia, listing the analysis as: “An Introduction to PLAN E.”

The publications contain the following clause: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Marine Corps University, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy, or the U.S. government.

Publishing an article is ordinarily consistent with some level of tacit approval of its general tenor, especially when the article points an accusing finger at the publishing entities’ main source of existence. That’s tacit approval, in spades. Further to the point, by all appearances, the military seems to want Boulton’s thesis in the public domain as a wake up call and more likely as a brilliant strategy going forward.

The analyst/author Elizabeth G. Boulton, PhD (Australian National University) and MA of Climate Policy (University of Melbourne) is a former army major in the Australian Defence Force, serving in East Timor (1999) and Iraq (2004) and undertaking logistics work in Ghana, Nigeria, and Sudan, and a lead research officer at army headquarters.

All quotations within this article come from Boulton’s article or from the following synopsis of the article:2

A key finding in the landmark study, which applies war theory and military strategy to the dynamics of the climate and ecological crises, states that activities of military and intelligent agencies are: “Accelerating the likelihood of triggering a worst-case ‘Hothouse Earth’ scenario that would make the planet ‘unlivable for most species.”

That’s a very powerful statement that’s seldom found outside of spirited scientific analyses. Yet, it is lodged within the heartbeat of the US Marine Corps, a tacit endorsement that’s desperately needed for the political establishment to get the hint, hello out there, all is not well. For decades now Congress has handled climate change like a hot potato. That’s an amateurish way to approach an existential threat.

Moreover, and even more damning, the study argues that various agencies of government “have become the biggest danger to planetary security, in effect, working to accelerate the ‘hyperthreat’ of climate and environmental change.”

According to the study: “The hyperthreat impact is an unprecedented combination of rapid global warming and the unraveling of Earth’s ecological systems.” Of heightened concern, the study warns that the hyperthreat’s most dangerous course of action is provoking cascading tipping elements thereby accelerating a transition to: “Hothouse Earth state uninhabitable for most species.”

That statement has strong endorsements throughout the world of science, to wit: “In 2019, Ripple and colleagues (2020) warned of untold suffering and declared a climate emergency together with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from 153 countries. They presented graphs of planetary vital signs indicating very troubling trends, along with little progress by humanity to address climate change. On the basis of these data and scientists’ moral obligation to ‘clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat,’ they called for transformative change.”3

Timeline for Action

The Boulton study places a timeline on taking action in order to prevent a worst case scenario: “Without concerted global action between 2022 and 2025, the most dangerous course of action is also the most likely course of action.”

Failure to address the danger within the 2022-25 timeline with proactive real time actual policies is explained in war terms: “The hyperthreat has ‘war-like destructive capabilities’ that make it hard to recognize the enormity of its destructive impacts or ‘who is responsible for its hostile actions.’ This is a phenomenon that humanity has never encountered before.”

The study identifies the difficult-to-grasp and stealthy nature of the hyperthreat by focusing on the main centre of gravity, which is its freedom of movement via invisibility and unknowability and human hesitancy to respond: “Human activity that fuels the hyperthreat is (1) often legal (2) has social license or (3) is understood as legitimate business or security activity; its contribution to slow violence is often obscured.”

For example, legitimate activity includes plans to exploit fossil fuel and natural ecological resources at rates and scales that exceed safe planetary boundaries: “Indeed, while declaring all manner of ‘net zero’ commitments, oil and gas firms continue to plan vast fossil fuel production projects. If executed, these would drive climate change beyond internationally-agreed temperature limits, leading to potentially catastrophic impacts.

The world’s biggest oil and gas companies are projected to spend $932 billion by the end of 2030 developing new oil and gas fields, according to a new analysis of Rystad Energy, data by Global Witness and Oil Change International… And by the end of 2040, this figure grows to an even more staggering $1.5 trillion.”4

But, what if that same $1.5T was spent on renewables and mitigation measures, e.g., retrofitting buildings to maximum energy efficiency or sustainable public transportation or enhancing carbon sinks?

As for coal, China is now building or planning to build in China and elsewhere in the world new coal plants amounting to 176 gigawatts of coal capacity, enough to power 123 million homes. 5

Additionally: 6

“By seeking to protect the existing fossil fuel system, humanity’s security agencies are in effect working for the enemy.”  Yet, this is not intentional behavior, rather, it’s the effect of national security institutions entangled within the status quo. It’s normal operational behavior.

Further clarification by Boulton: “After the Second World War, military strategy traditionally involved securing resources and protecting supply chains – all considered crucial to post-war rebuilding and prosperity narratives. But it is now clear that this very system, which military and security strategies are designed to support, is the primary driver of global insecurity.”

In a twisted manner, the very resources regarded as good and critical for functioning of the global system now threaten all forms of planetary life. “By applying economic, diplomatic, military, and other tools of force and power to participate in the ‘race for what’s left’ of Earth’s resources, humanity is unwittingly aiding the hyperthreat.”

Plan E

Dr. Boulton has elaborate plans to head off the biggest threat of all time, including a radical transformation of security paradigms. The next 8 years are pivotal. Defense resources need to develop a “whole of society approach, bringing into the fold numerous civilian capabilities to leverage Earth’s entire human population as an asset.”

The list of recommendations is beyond the scope of this article, but a couple of ideas follow herein:

For a full explanation, the link to Dr. Boulton’s article in the Journal of Advanced Military Studies, Marine Corps University Press go to: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/857233

One idea is establishment of a Global Climate Emergency Peace Treaty from 2022 to 2030 to allow nations to focus on the emergency hyper-response.

Another idea is to use international diplomacy to create a new, neutral, rules-based governing architecture for the world based on “ecological survival and safe Earth requirements… For this, we need to reimagine the role of great powers in the world, realigning geopolitical security with the overarching aim of containing the hyperthreat.”

Dr Boulton explores how ecological thinking can be used to reinvent traditional political institutions. Multilateralism should become ecomultilateralism to facilitate cooperation on caring for ecosystems and disaster response. “Earth citizenship’ could allow nations to mobilise the world’s 18 million work-ready forcibly displaced people in hyper-response work.”

In essence, “Plan E or a Grand Strategy for the Twenty-first Century Era of Entangled Security and Hyperthreats” utilizes a transdisciplinary approach to the idea of framing climate and environmental change as a new type of threat, a hyperthreat and when properly framed: “This approach contrasts to prior literature and longstanding geopolitical discourse that identify the risks of taking a securitization approach.” Instead, the author argues that it is now riskier not to consider climate and environmental change within a mainstream geopolitical and nation-state security strategy.

Dr. Boulton’s detailed analysis, combined with a generous layout of how to tackle the issue, is perhaps one of the finest approaches extant, bringing together a well-reasoned all-in all-together approach of forces to defeat a monster by the same forces that bred and fed the monster at its inception.

The Boulton thesis is an extraordinarily important statement of facts about the invisibility and difficultly of identifying risks that, in point of fact, are normal operating behavior inbred into the socio-economic fabric of late stage capitalism which, according to the Boulton thesis, can be detoured and maybe even defeated but only by well-directed powerful universal action commencing this decade.

But, the window for achievement is narrow.

Postscript: The US Supreme Court has declared war against the EPA by hampering, effectively eliminating, public policy to control polluting fossil fuels. This dangerous ruling effectively pokes a stick in the eye of military security concerns about Hothouse Earth by its own military and tens of thousands of scientists throughout the world, as the US takes one more gigantic step backwards into an era known as the Wild West when rugged individualism ruled the domain with guns blazing.

  1. “Plan E: A Grand Strategy for the Twenty-first Century Era of Entangled Security and Hyperthreats” by Elizabeth G. Boulton, PhD, Publisher – Journal of Advanced Military Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2022.
  2. “Defence Agencies ‘Accelerating’ Risk of ‘Hothouse Earth’, US Military Study Warns”, David Spratt, Climate Code Red, June 27, 2022.
  3. “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021”, BioScience, Oxford Academic, September 9, 2021.
  4. “World’s Biggest Fossil Fuel Firms Projected to Spend Almost a Trillion Dollars on New Oil and Gas Fields by 2030”, Global Witness and Oil Change International, April 12, 2022.
  5. New Scientist, April 26, 2022
  6. “India Expected to Commission 10 Thermal Coal Power Plants in 2022-23, add 7,010 MW.” S&P Global Commodity Insights, June 3, 2022.
The post US Marine Press Takes on Hothouse Earth first appeared on Dissident Voice.

War on a Burning Earth

According to the Fermi Paradox, the failure to date to achieve radio communication between Earth and extraterrestrial civilizations can be attributed to their inevitable short-term self-destruction, a consequence of uncontrolled dispersion of toxic substances, contamination of air, water and land, and construction of deadly weapons. On Earth this includes saturation of the atmosphere by greenhouse gases and production of nuclear weapons. The most extensive mass extinction event in the history of Earth, represented by the Permian-Triassic boundary 251 million years-ago, involved warming, acidification and oxygen depletion of the oceans, with consequent emanations of toxic H2S and CH4, leading to a loss of some 57% of biological families, 83% of genera and 81% of marine species.

If the history of the 21st century is ever written it would report that, while large parts of the planet were becoming uninhabitable, the extreme rate and scale of global warming and the migration of climate zones (>100 km per decade), the extent of polar ice melting, ocean warming and acidification, microplastic pollution and methane release from permafrost, threatened to develop into one of the most extensive mass extinction events in the geological history of planet Earth.

As concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases exceed 500 ppm CO2-equivalents, consistent with global temperatures to well above 4oC and threatening to rise at a higher rate than those of the great mass extinctions. Climate scientists have been either silenced or replaced by an army of economists and politicians mostly ignorant of the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, but quantifying the cost-benefit economies of mitigation like corner shop grocers. Proposed mitigation action were mostly focused on reduction of emissions, neglecting the amplifying feedbacks and tipping points projected by leading climate scientists such as James Hansen.

But climate change was not the only threat hanging over the head of humanity and nature. As nations kept proliferating atomic weapons, with time the probability of a nuclear war increased exponentially. At the root of the MAD (mutual assured destruction) policy, or omnicide, resides the deep tribalism and herd mentality of the species, hinging on race, religion, ideology, territorial claims and the concept of an “enemy” perpetrated by demagogues and warmongers, leading to an Orwellian 1984 world where “Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia,” as in the current “forever wars.” Prior to World War I two social forces collided, fascism and socialism. While the former has changed appearances, the latter weakened. At the core of superpower conflict between the Anglo-Saxon world and the Slavic or Chinese worlds are claims of moral superiority, but in reality naked grabs for power.

At the centre of human conscience is its mythological nature, a mindset closely related to the mastery of fire where, for longer than one million years, Homo erectus, perched at campfire, watching the flickering flames, has grown its insights and imagination, developing a fear of death, dreaming of omniscience and omnipotence, aspiring for eternal life.

As civilization developed in the Neolithic these sentiments drove humans to construct pyramids to enshrine immortality, undertake human sacrifice, to perpetrate death to appease the gods, expressed in modern times through world wars.

For an intelligent species to be able to explore the solar system planets but fail to protect its own home planet defies explanation. For a species to magnify its entropic effect on nature by orders of magnitude, developing cerebral powers which allow it to become the intelligent eyes through which the Universe explores itself, hints at yet unknown natural laws which underlie life, consciousness and complexity.

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Urban Grassroots


Bram Büscher and Robert Fletcher point to the need for profound systemic change if we are to ensure the integrity of our natural world and its ability to regenerate so that future generations may thrive. The ecological emergency is now; further delay only intensifies the crisis. The core question for all our efforts at protecting biodiversity is how to create a virtuous feedback loop that (1) supports nature’s regeneration and (2) generates stronger political will.

Clearly social transformation can take years of preparation, building solidarity among the constituency advocating for change. This work requires daily habit building as well as mobilizations and political strategies. Yet, when the dam bursts, mainstream adoption of new values and institutions can happen quickly, sometimes virtually overnight (see gay marriage or the fall of the Berlin Wall). The Great Transition framework asserts that human history is punctuated by collective action seizing the possible from the jaws of the probable; with pragmatic hope, we can catalyze collective action powerful enough to bend the arc of history toward a thriving planetary civilization. As with other aspects of the GT, the concept of “convivial conservation” begs the question: how?

Cities might not be the obvious place to begin if our goal is large-scale habitat conservation and transformation of industrial agriculture. However, as the urban habitat is where we encounter the most people in their daily routines, working in cities is critical for generating the politics for change. This work will look different in different parts of our world as there are different cultural and economic challenges.

Using my work as the example with which I am most familiar, the Boston Food Forest Coalition (BFFC) aims to endow healthy food forests as part of the renewable green infrastructure of Boston. In fifty years time, at a slow and steady rate of growth, this could mean more than a hundred food forests have taken root throughout the city (each with their own annual harvest festivals and cultural events). Every healthy food forest park is a garden of connectivity, renewing community leadership for adaptation and resilience, and signifies a cultural realignment of urban life with the natural world, creating nourishing relationships between neighbors, land, and food. Together, we are asking a vital question: How do we embody the ideal of the “beloved community” (in which all people are cherished and nurtured) as we engage gracefully with the work of realigning humanity with nature?

BFFC responds to the global crisis by inviting people to join together in the adventure of adapting our lives, urban infrastructure, economic relations, and mental models to create a thriving future for future generations in harmony with the web of life. BFFC makes this journey tangible and immediate, planting trees today that will bear fruit for decades. BFFC embodies a new culture (e.g., collective land ownership), teaches new practices, and grows a learning community. The food production aspect of food forests is not the only way to do urban agriculture, but it is a particularly innovative way to bring ecological agriculture principles into the city to grow more per square foot than conventional agriculture does in terms of food crops while creating space for nature to live side-by-side with humans.

The beauty of BFFC is that it is not just about food and urban agriculture; it is about exercising the “Democracy Muscle” through collective action. Growing the commons by planting new food forests is weaving a web of mutual aid among neighbors, city officials, and local leaders. As Boston transforms, so do other cities in a global effort to realign lifestyles and the infrastructure that supports new ways of living with the natural world. Nature’s capacity to regenerate the complex web of life is truly astonishing.

BFFC emerges from grassroots energy, and this energy is always deeply personal. In my case, I have two young daughters, 6 and 9 years old, and like all children, they are in love with their world and thrilled to be discovering its nuances and complexity. It is important to emphasize that they are also realizing that they are inheriting a world in crisis. I believe having tangible examples of the adults in their world coming together and trying to face that crisis head-on is critical. Yes, the climate is changing, and we don’t know what’s going to grow here in the future. The only way we’re going to figure that out is by getting out there and experimenting and doing the observations and the citizen science and rebuilding cities so that they are in balance with nature, and then lead the way in terms of how to get involved and do that work. That is what I want to see now and in the future. I want to see more connection to the next generation, more ability to bring them along and say, “Welcome to the world you’re inheriting, and we’re not just gifting you a crisis; we’re also gifting you our best efforts and ways to come up with continued sustainable solutions.” This, for me, is the locus of the needed work of systems change and cultural transformation.

  • Originally published as part of the forum “Conservation at the Crossroads.” 
  • The post Urban Grassroots first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Reality Privileged: Orwell/Huxley/McLuhan on Steroids

    You can go through life with a thousand epigrams or deep quotes that you might come back to over two, four, six decades. Then, the disrupters pop up, those techno fascists, the tinkers and culture blasters.

    These sociopaths who get the limelight then become part of a new set of epigrams, but not grand ones, but totally emblematic of a new normal of Triple Speak, Capitalism Porn, and the Stiff Arm to the Coders and their Masters.

    It’s sad, really. Here, quality ones of very different and varied origins:

    • Timothy 6:10 “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
    • Pierre Joseph-Proudhon: “Property is Theft.”
    • Karl Marx: “Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ours when we have it – when it exists for us as capital.”
    • “It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.”
      ― Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?
    • “It is capitalism, not Marxism, that trades in futures.”
      ― Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right

    We don’t think you fight fire with fire best; we think you fight fire with water best. We’re going to fight racism not with racism, but we’re going to fight with solidarity. We say we’re not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism, but we’re going to fight it with socialism. We’re stood up and said we’re not going to fight reactionary pigs and reactionary state’s attorneys like this and reactionary state’s attorneys like Hanrahan with any other reactions on our part. We’re going to fight their reactons with all of us people getting together and having an international proletarian revolution.
    ― Fred Hampton (source: “Fred Hampton Speech Transcript on Revolution and Racism” ) 

    “Only from a capitalist viewpoint being productive is a moral virtue, if not a moral imperative. From the viewpoint of the working class, being productive simply means being exploited.”
    ― Silvia Federici, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle

    One might wake up after two decades of capitalist slumber and feel like Rip Van Winkle while observing how deep the slide into those circles of capitalist hell we have all ended up. Exhumed from the grave all the felons, high and midddling, and then see that the world is still valorizing . . . Kissinger, Albright, Bush, Trump, Biden, Obama, et al. Shocks to the system every nano second. Capitalism with a gun, with a drug, with a bank.

    Here, McLuhan:

    Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to commercial interests is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation, or like giving the earth’s atmosphere to a company as a monopoly. (Marshall McLuhan rocketed from an unknown academic to rockstar with the publication of Understanding Media: The Extensions of Manin 1964.)

    Concentrated power — information age, and now, it’s even so much worse, 60 years later.

    Get these people’s aims and goals. These are the powerful, work with the powerful, are armies unto themselves, and they take no prisoners. We are all Luddites if we resist their machinations, their totalitarianism in skinny jeans, on the spectrum, vegan and all.

    I’ll let the guy’s words flow here, longish. Monsters, really:

    Marc Andreessen (“The Internet King on why the Internet is a force for good, on media conformity, the inevitable triumph of the WEIRD, Crypto, ‘Retards,’ etc. — Source) breaks down Reality Privilege:

    Your question is a great example of what I call Reality Privilege. This is a paraphrase of a concept articulated by Beau Cronin: “Consider the possibility that a visceral defense of the physical, and an accompanying dismissal of the virtual as inferior or escapist, is a result of superuser privileges.” A small percent of people live in a real-world environment that is rich, even overflowing, with glorious substance, beautiful settings, plentiful stimulation, and many fascinating people to talk to, and to work with, and to date. These are also *all* of the people who get to ask probing questions like yours. Everyone else, the vast majority of humanity, lacks Reality Privilege—their online world is, or will be, immeasurably richer and more fulfilling than most of the physical and social environment around them in the quote-unquote real world.

    The Reality Privileged, of course, call this conclusion dystopian, and demand that we prioritize improvements in reality over improvements in virtuality. To which I say: reality has had 5,000 years to get good, and is clearly still woefully lacking for most people; I don’t think we should wait another 5,000 years to see if it eventually closes the gap. We should build—and we are building—online worlds that make life and work and love wonderful for everyone, no matter what level of reality deprivation they find themselves in.

    Here’s a thought experiment for the counterfactual. Suppose we had all just spent the last 15 months of COVID lockdowns *without* the Internet, without the virtual world. As bad as the lockdowns have been for people’s well-being—and they’ve been bad—how much worse would they have been without the Internet? I think the answer is clear: profoundly, terribly worse. (Of course, pandemic lockdowns are not the norm—for that, we’ll have to wait for the climate lockdowns.)

    Is this an easy target? Am I just poking fun at culture, the new masters of the metaverse? Are we speaking two very “man who fell to earth” languages? Or, is this fellow above, misanthrope on a very pathetic scale? We know he’s got hundreds of millions, and he is the guru, and governments and the Titans of Media all have his ear.

    Oh, I have old people whispering how they feel for today’s kids, how they feel for the young adults who are stuck in this bubble inside a bubble. I hear them while they have grand machinations of flipping a home into a bank account and some smaller home. Too expensive in Pacific Northwest or California? Then, sell sell sell, and end up in Appalachia. Lewisburg. Get a home and two acres for $250K, and bank the rest, and be damned, the rest of the world.

    Me-myself-I, that’s the reptilian brain angle these Titans of the Screen/Black Mirror in the Hand have going for them (not a great term, really, repitilian, but you get the picture — food, sex, water, fight or flight, flash, rest, run, jump, gobble, hump).

    Indonesia cancels Komodo island closure, saying tourists are no threat to dragons | Indonesia | The Guardian

    Get these stats, mom and pop, uncle and aunt, cuz:

    In Chain Reactions, he writes about how stunning the scale of the internet has become; every minute on the internet:

    • Netflix users stream 404,444 hours of video
    • Instagram users post 347,222 stories
    • YouTube users upload 500 hours of video
    • Consumers spend $1,000,000 online
    • LinkedIn users apply for 69,444 jobs
    • TikTok is installed 2,704 times
    • Venmo users send $239,196 worth of payments
    • Spotify adds 28 tracks to its music library
    • Amazon ships 6,659 packages
    • WhatsApp users send 41,666,667 messages
    • And 1,388,889 people make video and voice calls

    Every minute. American adults spend over 11 hours interacting with digital media every day. Daily media consumption on mobile has grown 6x from 45 minutes in 2011 to 4 hours and 12 minutes in 2021.

    The Brains Development - The Cavern

    The “entire world is a stage” is played out minute by minute, in Ukraine by the Zionist Comic Nazi-loving Jew (not-not), or the charades of Biden and the gang (media). Now? Every man, woman, child is an island — connected to the WWW — unto him-her-them SELF:

    Biden mocks himself and roasts Trump

    This is it, while the crocodile tears are spewing for the poor Ukrainians, and the trillion$ soon for guns, nukes, these idiots try a Jon Leibowitz Stewart thing: White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on Saturday night. The dinner was shunned by Trump and canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    But then, they all are misanthropes, and again, the optics, man, the optics of the USA decaying while Biden shits his pants: “I’m really excited to be here with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have,” Biden joked to the Washington, DC crowd, referring to his own sub-40% polling and to surveys showing just 36% of Americans trust the mass media.

    This is insane, of course, on many levels. It is the inside joke, and the giant overt joke. This is the spokesperson for the free world, and these are the minutes they spend in their spare time. All puppets, all wind-up dolls, and the media, they are the lever pullers. Behind the media? Oh, man, you don’t need a recap on who the monster men (a few women, too) are?

    Okay, now down the other rabbit hole: Go to Alison McDowell’s work (Wrench in the Gears (dot) com) recently in Salt Lake City, following the LDS/Mormons capitalization of transhumanism, blockchain, social impact investing, cyber everything, internet of bodies, brains, babies. Slide show/stack here, Ignorance is Bliss?

    Check out 36 videos looking into this dispicable system of mind-matter-money control: Transhumanism, CIA Enslavement, Faith and Technology, Digital Education. YouTube.

    I have those discussions now, with former students, who want to know from me, what I think of Zoom Doom Rooms, or where I think education, both K12 and higher (sic), is going. Of course, the language we use is not always in synch, since I think the systems of education were flawed from the beginning, and that capitalism and fascism as it is delineated by GloboCap, set people up to accept lies, and the systems of oppression are about getting people to learn how to lie to themselves.

    I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my thirty years of teaching: schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers do care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic — it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.
    ― John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

    I talked recently with a teacher who knew me, and wondered where I was, in the substitute teacher stable. I informed her that this county, the school district, has banned me for pushing high school students to think about their own lives tied to stories like Of Mice and Men and Animal Farm, two books the teacher of record was having me, the substitute of record, work with. Amazing, I was frog marched out of the classroom and school, and there was zero recourse, no audience to be gained, and alas, I couldn’t defend myself: this is how one system of oppression works.

    This fourth grade teacher went on and on about how oppressive it is to be that elementary grade teacher in this district, and how the higher ups, the school board, they have scorn for the teachers, the paraeducators, the staff.

    Hell, I was teaching a community education class, and it took me more than a month and a half to be paid by the community college. This is the new normal, but not so new. This is the mentality whichruns the world. And, more and more people want to be their own boss, but their options are limited — really, a cinnamon roll shop, beads, candles, more deep fried oysters?

    Capitalism is lovely, so creative, open, available for smart small and tiny entrepeneurs. Wrong!

    Disdain, just like the fellow announcing that Reality Privilege is dead. The world of games, the world of on-line shopping, dating, hunting, driving, hiking, that is it for the world from here on in. Get on the phone, six hours a day, at least. Plug in.

    Zoom Zelensky from Britain or Poland. Watch Sean Penn or Pelosi fly into some staged area, then, long-live the ZioLenksy Nazi, and then, more dialing for dollars. Stage left, masks on, start themusic, do the edits, cut cut cut, and then let the lies fly.

    Reality. Here, from Farnam Street Articles!

    “The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts,” wrote McLuhan. Rather they “alter patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance.”

    In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, McLuhan proffered,

    “A new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them.”

    We see this today as newspapers transition to a digital world and how the medium—the internet—remakes the papers to fit its own standards. Not only have newspapers moved from physical to virtual but now they are hyperlinked, chunked, and embedded within noise. If he were alive (and healthy) McLuhan would argue these changes impact the way we understand the content.

    McLuhan foresaw how all mass media would eventually be used for commercialization and consumerism:

     “Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit by taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left.”

    Carry on:

    CM 170: Nicholas Carr on What the Internet Does to Our Brains

    And, finally, reality is reality, all those down-home chemicals, cancers, catastrophies. A new outfit with the Environmental Working Group, The New Lede.   PFAS, Monsanto, other pesticides, all covered by investigative journalists. You can attempt to “virtual reality” away the reality world. These are freaks!  However, a hero like Carey Gillam has spent more than 25 years reporting on corporate America. She is the managing editor at The New Lede. Watch her over at RFK Jr’s site!

    Reality for Us, the Unprivileged.

    For a visitor to this rural part of eastern Nebraska, the crisp air, blue skies and stretch of seemingly endless farm fields appear as unspoiled landscape. For the people who live here, however, there is no denying that they are immersed in an environmental catastrophe researchers fear may impact the area for generations to come.

    The signs of a silent poisoning are everywhere: A farmhouse has been abandoned by its owners after their young children experienced health problems; a pond once filled with fish and frogs is now barren of all life; university researchers are collecting blood and urine from residents to analyze them for contaminants; and a local family now drinks water only from plastic bottles because tests show chemical contamination of their drinking well.  — Source, Carey Gillam

    No matter how many hours you might be connected to a gamefied world, virtual and augemented, the chemicals will still bore their toxins into your cells until no amount of AI-VR-AR can save you!

    Listen to these monsters . . .

    And then, four hours learning about this global brain mentality. Good work by Wrench In the Gears:

    And how many people are willing to go down these blockchain, decentralized technologies, social impact and reality priviledge and digital ID and crypo-funding? The Church of LDS is into Transhumanism. Keep your eye close on these folk, synthetic biology eugenics freaks.

    The post Reality Privileged: Orwell/Huxley/McLuhan on Steroids first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    With Clenched Fists, They Spend Money on Weapons as the Planet Burns

    Dia Al-Azzawi (Iraq), Sabra and Shatila Massacre, 1982–⁠83.

    Dia Al-Azzawi (Iraq), Sabra and Shatila Massacre, 1982–⁠83.

    Two important reports were released last month, neither getting the kind of attention they deserve. On 4 April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group III report was published, evoking a strong reaction from the United Nations’ Secretary General António Guterres. The report, he said, ‘is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unliveable world’. At COP26, the developed countries pledged to spend a modest $100 billion for the Adaptation Fund to assist developing countries adapt to climate change. Meanwhile, on 25 April, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) issued its annual report, finding that the world military spending surpassed $2 trillion in 2021, the first time it has exceeded the $2 trillion mark. The five largest spenders – the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom, and Russia – accounted for 62 percent of this amount; the United States, by itself, accounts for 40 percent of total arms expenditure.

    There is an endless flow of money for weapons but less than a pittance to avert planetary disaster.

    Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World (Bangladesh), The resilience of the average Bangladeshi is remarkable. As this woman waded through the flood waters in Kamalapur to get to work, there was a photographic studio ‘Dreamland Photographers’, which was open for business, 1988.

    That word ‘disaster’ is not an exaggeration. UN Secretary General Guterres has warned that ‘we are on a fast track to climate disaster… It is time to stop burning our planet’. These words are based on the facts contained in the Working Group III report. It is now firmly established in the scientific record that the historical responsibility for the devastation done to our environment and our climate rests with the most powerful states, led by the United States. There is little debate about this responsibility in the distant past, a consequence of the ruthless war against nature carried out by the forces of capitalism and colonialism.

    But this responsibility also extends to our present period. On 1 April, a new study was published in The Lancet Planetary Health demonstrating that from 1970 to 2017 ‘high-income nations are responsible for 74 percent of global excess material use, driven primarily by the USA (27 percent) and the EU-28 high-income countries (25 percent)’. The excess material use in the North Atlantic countries is due to use of abiotic resources (fossil fuels, metals, and non-metallic minerals). China is responsible for 15 percent of global excess material use and the rest of the Global South is responsible for only 8 percent. The excess use in these lower-income countries is driven largely using biotic resources (biomass). This distinction between abiotic and biotic resources shows us that the excess resources use from the Global South is largely renewable, whereas that of the North Atlantic states is non-renewable.

    Such an intervention should have been on the front pages of the newspapers of the world, particularly in Global South, and its findings debated widely on television channels. But it was barely remarked upon. It proves decisively that the high-income countries of the North Atlantic are destroying the planet, that they need to change their ways, and that they need to pay into the various adaptation and mitigation funds to assist countries that are not creating the problem but that are suffering from its impact.

    Having presented the data, the scholars who wrote this paper note that ‘high-income nations bear the overwhelming responsibility for global ecological breakdown, and therefore owe an ecological debt to the rest of the world. These nations need to take the lead in making radical reductions in their resource use to avoid further degradation, which will likely require transformative post-growth and degrowth approaches’. These are interesting thoughts: ‘radical reductions in resource use’ and then ‘post-growth and degrowth approaches’.

    Simon Gende (Papua New Guinea), The US Army Find Osama bin Laden Hiding in a House and Kill Him, 2013.

    The North Atlantic states – led by the United States – are the largest spenders of social wealth on arms. The Pentagon – the US armed forces – ‘remains the single largest consumers of oil’, says a Brown University study, ‘and as a result, one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters’. To get the United States and its allies to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the UN member states had to allow greenhouse gas emissions by the military to be excluded from the national reporting on emissions.

    The vulgarity of these matters can be put plainly by comparison of two money values. First, in 2019, the United Nations calculated that the annual funding gap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) amounted to $2.5 trillion. Turning over the annual $2 trillion in global military expenditure to the SDGs would go a long way toward dealing with the major assaults on human dignity: hunger, illiteracy, houselessness, lack of medical care, and so on. It is important to note here, that the $2 trillion figure from SIPRI does not include the lifetime waste of social wealth given to private arms manufacturers for weapons systems. For example, the Lockheed Martin F-35 weapons system is projected to cost nearly $2 trillion.

    In 2021, the world spent over $2 trillion on war, but only invested – and this is a generous calculation – $750 billion in clean energy and energy efficiency. Total investment in energy infrastructure in 2021 was $1.9 trillion, but the bulk of that investment went to fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal). So, investments in fossil fuels continue and investments in arms rise, while investments to transition to new forms of cleaner energy remain insufficient.

    Aline Amaru (Tahiti), La Famille Pomare (‘The Pomare Family’), 1991.

    Aline Amaru (Tahiti), La Famille Pomare (‘The Pomare Family’), 1991.

    On 28 April, US President Joe Biden asked the US Congress to provide $33 billion for weapons systems to be sent to Ukraine. The call for these funds comes alongside incendiary statements made by the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who said that the US is not trying to remove Russian forces from Ukraine but to ‘see Russia weakened’. Austin’s comment should not come as a surprise. It mirrors US policy since 2018, which has been to prevent China and Russia from becoming ‘near-peer rivals’. Human rights are not the concern; the focus is preventing any challenge to US hegemony. For that reason, social wealth is wasted on weapons and not used to address the dilemmas of humanity.

    Shot Baker atomic test under Operation Crossroads, Bikini Atoll (Marshall Islands), 1946.

    Consider the way the United States has reacted to a deal between Solomon Islands and China, two neighbours. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said that this deal sought to promote trade and humanitarian cooperation, not the militarisation of the Pacific Ocean. On that same day of Prime Minister Sogavare’s address, a high-level US delegation arrived in the nation’s capital Honiara. They told Prime Minister Sogavare that if the Chinese establish any kind of ‘military installation’, the United States would ‘then have significant concerns and respond accordingly’. These were plain threats. A few days later, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, ‘Island countries in the South Pacific are independent and sovereign states, not a backyard of the US or Australia. Their attempt to revive the Monroe Doctrine in the South Pacific region will get no support and lead to nowhere’.

    The Solomon Islands has a long memory of the history of Australian-British colonialism and the scars of the atom bomb tests. The practice of ‘blackbirding’ abducted thousands of Solomon Islanders to work the sugarcane fields in Queensland, Australia in the 19th century, eventually leading to the Kwaio Rebellion of 1927 in Malaita. The Solomon Islands has fought hard against being militarised, voting in 2016 with the world to prohibit nuclear weapons. The appetite to be the ‘backyard’ of the United States or Australia is not there. That was clear in the luminous poem ‘Peace Signs’ (1974) by Solomon Islands writer Celestine Kulagoe:

    A mushroom sprouts from
    an arid pacific atoll
    Disintegrates into space
    Leaving only a residue of might
    to which for an illusory
    peace and security
    man clings.

    In the calm of the early morning
    the third day after
    love found joy
    in the empty tomb
    the wooden cross of disgrace
    transformed into a symbol
    of love service
    peace.

    In the heat of the afternoon lull
    the UN flag flutters
    hidden from sight by
    national banners
    under which
    sit men with clenched fists
    signing peace
    treaties.

    The post With Clenched Fists, They Spend Money on Weapons as the Planet Burns first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    From “Drill, Baby, Drill” to “Mine, Baby, Mine”

    In 2015, former President Barack Obama said “If we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them.” Despite this, Obama’s energy policy was called “All of the Above,” and his administration supported and subsidized drilling for oil, fracking for gas, coal mining, damming rivers, building nuclear power plants, erecting wind turbines on mountaintops, capping hot springs for geothermal energy, and covering sunny regions with solar panels.

    President Trump followed a similar policy; despite publicly joking about wind and solar, his administration fast-tracked infrastructure permits for energy projects of all kinds as well as for mining to extract materials for electric vehicles (such as the Thacker Pass lithium mine).

    Clearly, politicians lie.

    President Biden is following in their footsteps. Even before the war in Ukraine broke out and Biden began taking action to increase domestic oil drilling, the U.S. was on track to break an all-time record for oil production in 2023.

    On March 31st, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA)—a cold-war era bill giving broad powers the Executive Branch—and directed the Department of Defense to provide up to $750 million in subsidies to the mining industry for five “critical materials”: lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, and manganese. The Administration’s stated goal is to develop the domestic supply chain for critical minerals used by the military, in industry, and in the energy system, including batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage.

    The DPA allows the military to do pretty much whatever it feels is necessary, without much oversight from the people of the United States, to extract resources for domestic supplies of these “critical” materials, in the name of national security and national defense.

    This subsidy will mean more mining, more land bulldozed, more mountains blown up, more water polluted. It will mean more biodiverse, sacred places like Thacker Pass on the chopping block. It will further mute the voices of people and communities already drowned out by the howling of corporate power, lobbyists, and campaign contributions. And we believe it is very unlikely to substantially reduce carbon emissions.

    Since the founding of the United States, political parties have battled over slavery, poverty, and military intervention. But the need to destroy wild lands to “develop natural resources” has never really been up for debate. And now this problem is global, since the U.S. way of life has been pushed on the world via economic and military colonization, structural adjustment policies, “free” trade, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation for the better part of 100 years.

    This is the “good-cop bad-cop” routine that the Democrats and Republicans play with our society, and our planet. While the partisan gridlock continues and political battles shift one way, then another, we find ourselves in an environmental crisis, with 200 species being driven extinct every day, dead zones in the ocean, toxic chemicals inside every person’s body, 40% of all deaths being attributable to pollution, the erosion of soil fertility, and with climate destabilization promising a future of mass refugee crises, resource wars, and social chaos.

    There is irony in President Biden invoking the “Defense Production Act” and putting funds to subsidize the mining industry in the hands of the U.S. Military. Here in Nevada, where we have been fighting to protect Thacker Pass from a proposed lithium mine permitted by the Trump administration and touted by the Biden administration, there is a history of linkages between mining and warfare.

    In 1865, U.S. Cavalry soldiers slaughtered a group of Paiute men, women, and children camped at Thacker Pass. The soldiers attacked at dawn, riding down from the east on the unsuspecting Paiutes, who fled west into what could soon become an open-pit mine. One contemporary, Sarah Winnemucca, writes of the Snake War that “the only way the cattlemen and farmers get to make money is to start an Indian war, so that the troops may come and buy their beef, cattle, horses, and grain.” In the slaughter, between 31 and 70 Paiutes were killed, or as a newspaper article stated, made “permanently friendly,” and “a troubled peace” settled over “ranches, mines, and prospect camps” in Northern Nevada.

    Within empires, there is a symbiotic relationship between military and economic spheres. War is good for business, and business is good for war. If war is a continuation of politics by other means, as the Prussian strategist Clausewitz said, then economics is the engine that powers both peacetime and wartime politics. Armies have always marched on their stomachs, but in the last century they have also been whisked along on jet fuel and diesel. Biden’s strategy is clear: the five minerals he has subsidized will not only be used directly in military hardware including nuclear weapons, their mining and consumption will also provide the tax base to fuel increasing military spending, and their domestic production will defuse economic weapons that could be leveraged by China and Russia.

    To critique U.S. economic and military hegemony is to make yourself a pariah, especially when one utters such blasphemy during a “just war”—or, as is happening in Ukraine now, a proxy war. In superpower conflicts, economic dominance and military power are twin raised fists. The neoliberal New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, in one of his more lucid moments, that “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist — McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”

    Unlike Mr. Friedman, we do not see this as positive. Our world is crumbling under the incessant assaults of McDonalds, McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing), and Silicon Valley. These companies and industries are ecoterrorists and are raping our planet. Their shareholder wealth grows proportion to the number of bombs dropped, the gallons of jet fuel burned, the pounds of toxic waste emitted from factories around the world, and the number of animals cruelly sacrificed in industrial slaughterhouses. Their products are made of shattered mountains and shattered soils. They are Faustian devils, providing short-lived benefits to a few, while damming us and our grandchildren to a hellish future.

    But perhaps we are being unfair. The benefits packages must be nice. Perhaps destroying the natural world, driving entire species to extinction, dooming future generations to starvation and war, trampling local communities opposition, and burying native sacred sites is less important than seeing your stock portfolio rise.

    Here in Nevada, Governor Sisolak is already using the White House announcement to promote Nevada as a key source of these critical materials, to make sure his state gets some of the funding that will be handed out by the Biden administration to extract even more resources and develop more industry. Nevada is consistently the state with the highest release of toxic pollution in the country each year, thanks to the mining and military activities in the state. It’s also a state being devastated right now with thousands of acres of desert ecosystems being razed for new industrial solar farms and the grids that accompany them. Nevada has a long history of extraction and destruction for mining and the military, at the expense of the fragile arid high desert ecosystems which make up the state, and the communities of people and wild beings who live there. Governor Sisolak’s plans to cash in on the federal government’s plans to develop domestic mining and industry for “national defense” will ensure that this doesn’t change.

    In times of war, and in times of peace, the poor, women and children, elderly people, and the living planet all pay the price.

    The post From “Drill, Baby, Drill” to “Mine, Baby, Mine” first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Tectonic Shifts in the World Economy: A World Systems Perspective

    Orientation 

    One of the main problems with Western media (other than their non-stop anti-Russian propaganda), is the narrow and parochial manner in which they conceive world events. Like realists and liberals of international relations theory, they analyze world events two countries at a time, for example, the U.S. vs Russia. They appear to have little conception of interdependence, like Russia, China, and Iran as a single block. Or the U.S., England, and Israel as another block. No state can make any moves without considering the causes and consequences of their actions for their interdependent states. Secondly, these talking heads fail miserably in understanding that conflicts between states are inseparable from the evolution of global capitalism which, in many respects, is stronger than any state. Thirdly, their “analysis” fails to consider that the world capitalist system has evolved over the last 500 years, as I will soon present. We will see that what is going on in Ukraine is part of a much larger tectonic struggle between Eastern China, Russia, and Iran to create a multipolar world while being desperately opposed by a declining West, headed by the United States and its minions.

    A Brief History of Modern Capitalism

    According to world systems theory, the global capitalist system has gone through four phases. In each phase, there was a dominant hegemon. First, there was the merchant capital of Italy that lasted from 1450-1640. This was followed by the great Dutch seafaring age from 1610-1740. Next, there was the British industrial system from 1776 to World War I. Lastly, the Yankee system which lasted from 1870 to 1970. Note that over these 500 years the pace of change quickened. In the Italian phase, the city states of Venice and Genoa rose and fell over 220 years. By the time we get to the United States, the time of rise and decline is 100 years. All this has been laid out by Giovanni Arrighi in The Long 20th century. In Adam Smith in Beijing, Arrighi also lays out the reasons he is convinced that China will be the leading hegemon in the next phase of capitalism.

    Five Types of Capitalism   

    Historically there have been five types of capitalism. The first is merchant capital in which profits are made by trade, selling cheap and buying dear. This is what Venice and Genoa did, as did Dutch seafarers on a grander scale. Next, is agricultural capitalism, including the slave system of the United States, Britain, and parts of the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. Then, the British invented the industrial capitalism system in which profit was made by investing the infrastructure of society: railroads, factories, and surplus labor from the wage labor system. Lastly, especially in the 20th century, we have two other forms of capitalism. In addition to being an industrial power after World War II, the United States used its industrial power to invest in the military arms industry and relied on finance capital (stocks and bonds).

    Destructive Forms of Capitalism

    In the later stage of all four systems, making money from commodities or technologies becomes problematic because it becomes unpredictable what people will buy. For example, after the Depression from 1929-1941, the United States got out of the depression by investing in the military. This was so successful that after World War II, capitalists began investing in the military even during peacetime (Melman, After Capitalism). It provided a much more predictable profit as long as countries continued to go to war. This encourages arming your own country or supplying the whole world, which is what the United States does today. There is also finance capital, where banks invest in stocks, bonds and financial instruments rather than infrastructure (as industrial capitalists did). For the past 50 years military and finance capital are primarily where the ruling class in Yankeedom has made its profits.

    In the early phases of capitalism, in all four cycles, commodities were produced which required money as mediation, but the purpose was to produce more commodities and technologies. In the decaying part of the cycle, capitalists would rather invest in finance capital than industrial capital because of the quick turn-around in profits. Investing in building bridges, repairing roads, or building schools will surely benefit capitalists in the long run. Smooth supply chains for capitalist profit and a sound education in high school and college would ensure that workers not only know how to do their jobs but that they would be creative-thinkers and innovators. Capitalists these days don’t want to invest in these things, and this is why the infrastructure in Yankeedom is falling apart and the Yankee population cannot compete with students from other countries with better educational systems.

    What is World Systems Theory?

    World systems theory is a macro-sociological theory of long-term social change which includes economic theory and world history. It is provocative in at least three ways. One, its basic unit of analysis is the entire world-system of capitalism rather than nation-states. Second, it argues that the so-called socialist societies were not really socialist, but rather state-capitalist. Third, global capitalism organizes itself into a transnational division of labor which ignores the boundaries of nation-states. World-systems theory has been used by historians, international relations theorists, and international political economists to explain the rise and fall of nation-states, the increase and decrease in stratification patterns, as well as rise and decline of imperialism. Christopher Chase-Dunn and Terry Boswell have specialized in understanding social movements and the timing and placing of revolutions from a world-systems perspective.

    Economic Zones Within the World-system

    Overview of the core, periphery                                                 

    World-systems are divided into three zones: the core, the semi-peripheral, and the peripheral countries. Economically and politically, core countries dominate other countries without being dominated. Semi-periphery countries are dominated by the core, and, in turn, dominate the periphery. The periphery are dominated by both. Part of the wealth of core countries comes from their exploitation of the peripheral countries’ land and labor through colonization.

    Core and periphery

    The core countries control most of the wealth in the world capitalist system. Workers are highly specialized, high technology is used. It has an industrial-electronic base. They extract raw materials from the peripheral countries and sell peripheral countries finished products. Core countries have the most highly specialized workers and a relatively small agricultural base, whereas peripheral countries have strong agricultural or horticultural bases and have a semi-skilled urban working class. The peripheral countries have relatively unspecialized labor whose work is labor-intensive with low wages. Much of the work done in peripheral countries is commercial agriculture—the production of coffee, sugar, and cotton.

    The core countries are the home of the transnational corporations who control the world. Additionally, the core countries control the major banking institutions that provide international loans, such as the IMF and the World Bank. Finally, the core countries have the most powerful militaries. Paradoxically, when core countries are at their peak, their militaries are not very active. They only become more active as a core country goes into decline, as in the United States. Core countries typically have the most highly trained workers. In their heyday, core countries have strong centralized states that provide for pensions, unemployment, and road construction. In their weak stage, states withdraw these benefits and invest in their military to protect their assets abroad as their own territory falls apart. Core countries have large tax bases and, at their best, support infrastructural development.

    The periphery nations own very little of the world’s means of production. In the case of African states or tribes, they have great amounts of natural resources, including diamonds and minerals, but these are extracted by the core countries. Furthermore, core states are usually able to purchase raw materials and cheap labor from non-core states at low prices and yet demand higher prices for their exports to non-core states. Core states have access to cheap skilled professional labor through migration (brain drain) from semi-peripheral states . Peripheral countries don’t have a solid tax base because their states have to contend with rival ethnic and tribal forces who are hardly convinced that taxes are good for them and their sub-national identities.

    Peripheral countries often do not have a diversified economic base and are forced by the world market to produce one product. A good example of this is Venezuela and its oil. Peripheral countries have relatively steeper stratification patterns because there are no middle classes for the wealth to spread across. A tiny landed elite at the top sells off most of the land to transnational corporations. The state tends to be both weak and strong. States in the periphery have difficulty forming and sustaining their own national economic policy because foreign corporations want to come and go as they please. On the other hand, if a nationalist or a socialist rise to power, the state will be very strong and dictatorial. This is because they are constantly at war with transnational corporations who seek to overthrow them. Since transnational corporations often do this through oppositional parties, those in power are extremely suspicious of oppositional parties. Hence their label as “authoritarian”. In contemporary world systems, peripheries are found in parts of Latin America and in the most extreme form in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Semi-periphery                                                 

    The semi-periphery contains countries that as a result of national liberation movements and class struggles have risen out of the periphery and have some characteristics of the core. They can also be composed of formerly core countries that have declined. For example, Spain and Portugal were once core countries in Early Modern Europe. Semi-peripheral countries often take over industries the core no longer wants such as second-generation computers, appliances, or transportation systems. Semi-peripheral states enter the world systems with some degree of autonomy rather than simply a subordinate country. These industries are not strong enough to compete with core countries in “free trade”. Therefore, they tend to apply protectionist policies towards their industry. They tend to export more to peripheral states and import more from core states in trade. In the 21st century, states like Brazil, Argentina, Russia, India, Israel, China, South Korea and South Africa (BRICS) are usually considered semi peripheral.

    As I said above, the world capitalist system has changed four times in the last 500 years and each time not only have the configurations of the core countries changed but so have the semi peripheral countries in the world systems. For at least half of capitalist world systems, there were some countries that were outside the periphery, including the United States. Semi-peripheral countries are not fully industrialized countries, but they have scientists and engineers which can lead to some wealth.

    Which countries are in the core periphery and semi periphery countries today?

    The core countries in the world today are the United States, Germany, Japan, and the Scandinavian social democratic countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Minor core countries are England, France, Italy, and Spain. Eastern European countries are in the semi-periphery. South of the border, there are four semi-periphery countries: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. More powerful up and coming semi-peripheral states include Saudi Arabia, Israel, Russia, China, and India. Most of Africa is in the periphery of the world systems with the exception of South Africa (semi-periphery).

    Where did world systems theory come from?

    Immanuel Wallerstein was a sociologist who specialized in African studies, so he had first-hand knowledge of the reality of exploitation by colonists. He was influenced by the work of Ferdinand Braudel who wrote a great three-volume history of capitalism. Wallerstein was also influenced by Marx and Engels, but he thought their history of capitalism was too Eurocentric. He emphasized that the core countries did not just exploit their own workers, but they have made great profits through the systematic exploitation of the peripheral countries for hundreds of years.

    Modernization theory

    World systems theory was in part a reaction against the anti-communist, modernization theory of international politics that prevailed after World War II into the 1960’s. Please see the table below which compares world systems theory to modernization theory.

    Dependency theory of Andre Gunder Frank

    Around the same time as world systems theory developed, Andre Gunder Frank developed what came to be called “dependency theory”. This theory also challenged modernization theory’s assumption that countries that were called “traditional societies” were improved by contact with the core countries. He claimed that they were systematically exploited by the core countries, made worse than they were before they had any contact with them. As long ago as 1998, Gunder Frank predicted the rise of China. See his book ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age.

    Karl Polyani

    Other influences on the world-systems theory come from a scholar of comparative economic systems, Karl Polyani. His major contribution is to show that there was no capitalism in tribal or agricultural civilizations and that the “self-subsisting” economy of capitalism was a relatively recent development. Wallerstein reframed this in world systems terms, with the tribal as “mini-systems”, agricultural civilization as “empires” and the capitalist system as “world economies”. Nikolai Kondratiev introduced patterns he saw in the capitalist world economy that centered around cycles of crisis and wars within very specific time periods.

    Interstate System

    As I said earlier, in international relations theory, realist and neo-conservative theory and neoliberal theories of the state treat each state as if they were separate units. Applied to today, that would formulate world conflict as a battle between, say, the United States and Russia. Neo-conservative and neoliberal theory treat any alliance between states as secondary epiphenomenon that can be dissolved without too much trouble. Secondly, both these theories operate as if interstate politics are relatively autonomous from economics. To the extent to which these theories mention capitalism, it is the domestic economy of nation-states. Each tries to hide the international nature of capitalism and the extent to which transnational corporations can, and do, override national interests. The ideology of the interstate system is sovereign equality, but this is practically overridden as states are treated as neither sovereign nor equal, especially in Africa.

    World systems theory sees states differently. For one thing, nation-states are not like Hobbes atoms which crash against each other in a war of all against all. The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, fresh after the Thirty Years’ War, was an attempt to move beyond dynastic empires to nation-states. In core capitalist countries there were never single nation states. The Treaty created a system of nation-states which had rules of engagement, treaties, do’s and don’ts.

    Today, between the core, periphery, and semi-periphery countries lies a system of interconnected state relationships. This interstate system arose either as a concomitant process or as a consequence of the development of the capitalist world-system over the course of the “long” 16th century as states began to recognize each other’s sovereignty.

    Between these economic zones there were no enforceable rules about how nation-states should act, outside of not impeding the flow of capital between zones. Political domestic elites, international elites, and corporations competed and cooperated with each other, the results of which no one intended. Unsuccessful attempts have been made by the League of Nations and later the United Nations to create an international state. However, nation-states have been unwilling to give up their weapons. Therefore, the international anarchy of capitalist production is still unchecked. The function of the state is to regulate the flow of capital, labor, and commodities across borders and to enforce the structure of market rates. Not only do strong states impose their will on weak states. Strong states also impose limitations on other strong states, as we are seeing with US sanctions against Russia.

    Who Will Be the Next World-Economy Hegemon?

    Situation in Ukraine

    Everything about Ukraine needs to be understood as the desperate clawing of a Yankee empire terrified of being left behind. The U.S. has so far convinced Europe to stay away from Russia and China, but it has nothing to offer. As Gary Olsen said, the Europeans may slowly make deals with Russia and China because they have some sense of where the future lies. So, Western hydra-headed totalitarian media all speak with the same voice: RUSSIA, RUSSIA, EVIL RUSSIA. EVIL PUTIN. Putin certainly had nerve wanting a national economy with its own economic policy. God forbid! But the time is up for Yankeedom and no terrorist police, no military drones, no Republicrats, and no stock exchange jingling with the trappings of divine honor can stop it.

    The weakness of Europe

     So, if Yankeedom is in decline (and even Brzezinski admitted this) who are the new contenders? Up until maybe five years ago, I thought Germany might be, with its industrial base and its strong working class. But in the last five years German standards of living have declined. It seems that the EU is in the midst of cracking up. There is no leadership with the departure of Angela Merkel. Macron is on the way out in France. All the other countries in Europe, including Italy, are under water with debt. England is the puppy dog of the United States and hasn’t been a global power in over 100 years. Germany, Spain, Italy, and Greece could be helped enormously by allaying themselves with Russia and China, but at this point most Europeans have been bullied and complicit in myopically siding with a collapsing United States. There is a good chance the US will drag most of Europe down with them.

    Collapse of the core zones?

    As we have seen, according to world systems theory, the history of capitalism has had three zones: core, periphery, and semi-periphery. The countries that have inhabited the three zones have changed along with the dominant hegemon over the last 500 years, and we are now in unprecedented territory. There is a good chance that the entire batch of formerly core states, the United States, Britain, France, and the west will collapse and that the core capitalist system will be without a hegemon (with the possible exception of the Scandinavian countries). China seems to be about ten years away from assuming that position.

    2022-2030 the reign of the semi-periphery?

    So, is it fair to say there is a huge tectonic shift where most of the core countries will collapse and the world system will have no core for maybe 20 years? It seems clear that the new hegemon is going to be China. Arrighi and Gunder Frank both thought this. But China is still a semi-periphery country and it might take 10-15 years to enter the core. Meanwhile its allies, Russia and Iran, are also semi-periphery countries. In South America, Argentina had the foresight to sign on the Chinese Belt Road Initiative. Brazil and Chile are still uncommitted to China and occupy a semi-peripheral status. The big country in Asia is India. It is very important to the Yankees not to lose control of India, and they have all the reason in the world to beat war drums in an attempt to demonize China. If a right winger such as Modi can refuse to side against Russia in the current events in Ukraine, will a more moderate or social democratic president of India have the vision to see the future lies in aligning with China? I wouldn’t count on it given the behavior of green-social democrat leadership in Germany.

    The only European countries who seem to have made their way through 40 years of Neoliberal austerity, the collapse of Yugoslavia, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the rise of fascist parties in Europe are the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. There is no reason why they could not maintain core status, though China would be the leading power.

    The new hegemon China and the world-system in 2030  

    I can imagine the world-system in 2030 could consist of China and the Scandinavian countries in the core, with Russia, Iran, and maybe Brazil, Argentina and Chile on the semi-periphery along with possibly India. I don’t know where to place the US and Europe. Since they are drunk with finance capital, it is unfair to put them in the semi-periphery, which is usually involved in productive scientific endeavors. Yet they are more productive than the peripheral countries. Africa could be the last battleground between the decadent Yankee and European imperialists who live on as neo-colonial crypto-imperialists attempting to either sell arms to Africans or directly set up regimes and enslave Africans to work the mines.

    If China is able to develop African productive forces with the Belt Road Initiative, it might be an incentive to calm down the ethnic warfare there. It would be a wonderful thing if the African states could finally control the enormous wealth of their country. We cannot expect too much from China. The best they could do would be to invest in cultivating scientists and engineers to build up Africa as a fully industrialized continent. To me, what matters about China is not arguing whether or not it is really socialist, but that it is doing what Marx liked best about capitalism: developing the productive forces.

    The prospects for a world state?

    We cannot expect the Yankee state to decline peacefully and not start World War III. Is it possible to have a global capitalist realignment without starting World War III? As Chris Chase-Dunn has advocated for decades, we need a world state that has the capability to enforce a ban on interstate warfare. That is not likely now. The only attempts at this: the League of Nations and the United Nations happened after the misery of two world wars. Both attempts at world state have failed because nation-states would not agree to give up their weapons.

    What about world ecology?                                                                              

    But as world systems theorist Chris Chase Dunn points out, a Chinese-centered world still inherits the increasing ecological destruction that has been an inherent part of the world system since the industrial revolution and now the global pandemic. This includes extreme weather (hot and cold), pollution of land and oceans with plastics and the products of industrialization like carbon, flooding from global warming, and desertification of lands due to droughts and monocropping.

    What about Marx’s dream of shrinking the ratio between freedom and necessity in the light of ecological disaster?

    For Marx and Engels, the dream of socialism was based on abundance. Unfortunately, because socialism first took place in what Wallerstein would call peripheral or semi-peripheral countries, socialism has come to be associated with poverty. An implication that could be drawn under socialism is that people should expect to be poor and share the poverty equally. That is the opposite of how Marx and Engels saw things. They hoped that socialism would first break out in the west in an industrialized country, with an organized working-class party taking the lead. They hoped that the revolution of overthrowing capitalism would preserve its material abundance, technology, and scientific achievements, not tear them to the ground. They wanted to develop the forces of production that capitalism unleashed while abolishing the political economy of private property over means of production. As socialism developed, the collective creativity of workers would shrink the ratio between necessary work and freedom. What does this mean?

    This meant that workers would either:

    1. a) work less and produce the same amount
    2. b) work the same amount but produce more
    3. c) work more and produce much more

    In other words, workers would have an increase in the number of choices of what to do with their free time because of an increase in the technology and collective creativity to produce more with less. My question is, given the irreversible ecological situation we are in, is it still realistic to expect socialism will continue to be based on abundance? I can imagine that the way China is going, in that part of the world it may still be possible. I also suspect that in the Scandinavian countries it might be possible. The problem is that global pandemics, extreme weather, flooding, desertification, and pollution cannot easily, if at all, be contained within countries that are capitalist or socialist.

    How Reliable is World-systems Theory?

    I will limit criticisms of world systems theory to those of a political and economic nature. One common criticism is the struggle to do empirical research with a unit of analysis being the entire world system. This is not to say world systems theorists do not do empirical work, because they do. It is more a matter of how to derive meaningful relationships between variables at such a complex level of abstraction. Statistics for individual nation states are easier to manage, although nation-states are not autonomous actors.

    Another criticism is that the successes of existing socialist states are in danger of being given the short shrift. Like many in the West, the first line of criticism by world systems theorists of socialist countries is that they are one-party dictatorships. While this may be true, there is good reason why communist parties in power are nervous about the prospect of oppositional parties being used by foreign capitalists to overthrow them. In addition, socialist countries have better records than capitalist countries on the periphery in the fields of literacy (reading and writing), low-cost housing, healthcare, and free education. Please see Michael Parenti, Black Shirts and Reds for more on this.

    The third major criticism comes from orthodox Marxist, Robert Brenner. Brenner claims that the emphasis by world systems theorists on the relationship between economic zones comes at a cost to understanding the class structure within and between nation-states. I think world systems theorists are well aware of class relationships, but they choose to focus on the capitalist relationships between states. Lastly, Theda Skocpol argues that world systems theory understates the power of the state in international affairs. The state is not just the creature of transnational capital. States engage in military competition which long s capitalism. State structures compete with each other.

    On a positive note, as I said earlier, Christopher Chase-Dunn has done some creative work with Terry Boswell in tracking the timing and location of rebellions and revolutions in the 500 years of the world systems in Spirals of Capitalism and Socialism. In addition, he wrote a very groundbreaking book with Tom Hall Rise and Demise, which challenges Wallerstein by suggesting that there were precapitalist world systems that go all the way back to hunter-gatherers. Also see my book with him, Social Change: Globalization from the Stone Age to the Present.

    • First published in Socialist Planning Beyond Socialism

    The post Tectonic Shifts in the World Economy: A World Systems Perspective first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Wood-Pellet Manufacturing in a Rainforest

    A wall of logs that will become wood pellets sits at a mill in Houston, B.C. (Stand.earth)

    The wood-pellet industry has full-scale operations smack dab in the heart of British Columbia’s Inland Temperate Rainforest, the last rainforest of its kind in the North.

    The fabled rainforest contains cedars of up to 12-15 feet in diameter and up to 2,000 years old. Its extraordinarily rich ecosystem is home to 2,400 plant species and numerous wildlife species.  It is one of only three inland temperate-boreal rainforest in the world. The others are in southern Siberia and Russia’s Far East.

    Of significant concern, according to criteria by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) BC’s inland rainforest is endangered, susceptible to ecological collapse within only one decade, assuming current logging rates continue. Remarkably, a study found that 95% of the rainforest’s “core habitat” has been lost since 1970. 1

    However, the wood-pellet industry says, “not to worry.” Pacific BioEnergy, the major wood-pellet manufacturer in the rainforest, claims the wood-pellets are made from low-grade timber. Accordingly, they claim to make pellets that are, “sustainable by-product of forests already being cut by using lumber waste such as sawdust and slash.” meaning larger debris left by loggers.

    But, according to the independent NGO Sustainable Biomass Program, the use of whole logs has ballooned from 6% in 2019 to 50% in 2020. That is not slash or sawdust as represented by the company.

    Moreover, satellite imagery by the Living Atlas of the World “confirmed a shift to whole trees.”

    A 2021 Google Image shows log piles around the wood-pellet plant that’s equivalent to four soccer fields, which is an eye-opening 6xs the area of wood residuals on the property.

    According to IUCN, ‘despite evidence to the contrary,’ the pellets are marketed as ‘clean, renewable energy’ by Pacific Bioenergy located near Prince George, BC and by bioenergy facilities in Europe.” 2

    The Inland Temperate Rainforest is called the “forgotten rainforest” because, unlike its coastal counterpart, which is protected by the “Great Bear Rainforest Agreement” with 85% under conservation protection, it is does not have conservation protection status. It’s wide-open for development.

    The Inland Temperate Rainforest needs similar protection. It’s a key part of Canada’s efforts to meet climate mitigation objectives, notably Article 5 of the Paris ’15 climate agreement that calls for conservation measures to enhance “carbon sinks,” especially forests.

    Then, what purpose does woody biomass serve… other than as a profit source for private industry and serving as a faux alternative green energy source for electricity plants in Europe?

    Wood-pellet manufacturing, a multi-billion dollar global industry, is expected to double again in the next five years. “European power plants have been among the biggest consumers—pellet-fired power plants are uncommon in North America—but demand from Japan and South Korea has also increased in recent years.” 3

    Canada is knee-deep in the woody biomass industry. According to the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, BC’s forests produce more pellets than anywhere else in the world.

    But, how is it possible with a straight face for anybody to claim burning trees is a substitute for fossil fuels? Wood-pellets emit carbon the same as coal. And, it’s pure poppycock to claim that new trees are planted to replace the cut downs to sequester the carbon released when the pellets burn. The science does not supp0rt that flimsy argument; it’s not even close!

    “A forest of saplings may take a century or more to mature into an ecosystem that holds as much carbon as the one it replaced. An open letter from 500-plus scientists and economists sent last year to world leaders warned that burning pellets ‘is likely to add two to three times as much carbon to the air as using fossil fuels.’ Nearly 800 scientists and academics, including two Nobel laureates and three winners of the US National Medal of Science, signed a similar letter in 2018.4

    The whole thing boils down to the obvious fact that burning things emits carbon quickly and regrowing things to sequester carbon takes a long time, according to Mary Booth, director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, a US-based environmental nonprofit critical of the pellet industry: In other words, climate change will have wreaked havoc long before those young trees mature into an ecosystem that holds as much carbon as the one they replaced. 4

    The UN and several nations classify woody biomass as “carbon neutral”. Yet, it is not carbon neutral, which isn’t even a scientific term. It is a carbon emitter, plain and simple!

    “The wood pellet industry is a monster out of control… Burning wood puts out more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity produced then coal does.” 5

    A letter from 500 scientists and economists: “Overall, for each kilowatt hour of heat or electricity produced, [burning] wood initially is likely to add two to three times as much carbon to the air as using fossil fuels,’ refuting the policy and industry claims of biomass zero emissions.” 6

    “Because the combustion and processing efficiencies for wood are less than coal, the immediate impact of substituting wood for coal is an increase in atmospheric CO2 relative to coal. This means that every megawatt-hour of electricity generated from wood produces more CO2 than if the power station had remained coal-fired.”7

    Stop woody biomass: (1) “The influx of 1/3 more trees would buy humanity time by adding 20 years to meet climate targets.”8; (2)  Carbon is emitted in the biomass combustion process, resulting in a net increase of CO2 9;  (3) Woody biomass power plants actually produce more global warming CO2 than fossil fuel plants. 10

    An article entitled “The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet” appeared in Politico in March 2021:

    Here’s a multibillion-dollar question that could help determine the fate of the global climate: If a tree falls in a forest—and then it’s driven to a mill, where it’s chopped and chipped and compressed into wood pellets, which are then driven to a port and shipped across the ocean to be burned for electricity in European power plants—does it warm the planet? Most scientists and environmentalists say yes.

    Yet, as the article suggests, governments around the world, as well as the UN, have embraced “biomass power” as a legitimate zero-emissions renewable energy. Europe now generates more energy from burning wood that from wind and solar combined, even though solar produces 100 times as much power per acre as biomass.

    Biomass power is now a $50B global industry and growing fast, as it is now spreading to Asian countries. Policy-makers throughout the world believe they’ve discovered an answer to meeting carbon mitigation goals. Eureka! Burn wood!

    But, what if woody biomass, like fossil fuels, causes global warming?

    Academics and scientists say, yes, it does. Woody biomass blends with fossil fuels as a radical enhancement of global warming emissions.

    It’ll put global warming on a rip-snorting bender. Buckle up!

    1. Brian J. Barth, “Burning Up: The Controversial Biofuel Threatening BC’s Last Inland Rainforests”, The Whale, 2022,
    2. “Primary Forest Case Study – British Columbia’s Forgotten Inland Temperate Rainforest”, IUCN.
    3. The Whale
    4. The Whale.
    5. Bill Moomaw, emeritus professor Tufts University and co-author of several IPCC reports — 2019 Mongabay interview.
    6. 500+ Experts Call on World’s Nations to Not Burn Forest to Make Energy, Mongabay, February 16, 2021.
    7. John Sherman, Complex Systems Analyst, MIT.
    8. ETH Zurich
    9. Columbia University
    10. Earth Institute
    The post Wood-Pellet Manufacturing in a Rainforest first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Wood-Pellet Manufacturing in a Rainforest

    A wall of logs that will become wood pellets sits at a mill in Houston, B.C. (Stand.earth)

    The wood-pellet industry has full-scale operations smack dab in the heart of British Columbia’s Inland Temperate Rainforest, the last rainforest of its kind in the North.

    The fabled rainforest contains cedars of up to 12-15 feet in diameter and up to 2,000 years old. Its extraordinarily rich ecosystem is home to 2,400 plant species and numerous wildlife species.  It is one of only three inland temperate-boreal rainforest in the world. The others are in southern Siberia and Russia’s Far East.

    Of significant concern, according to criteria by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) BC’s inland rainforest is endangered, susceptible to ecological collapse within only one decade, assuming current logging rates continue. Remarkably, a study found that 95% of the rainforest’s “core habitat” has been lost since 1970. 1

    However, the wood-pellet industry says, “not to worry.” Pacific BioEnergy, the major wood-pellet manufacturer in the rainforest, claims the wood-pellets are made from low-grade timber. Accordingly, they claim to make pellets that are, “sustainable by-product of forests already being cut by using lumber waste such as sawdust and slash.” meaning larger debris left by loggers.

    But, according to the independent NGO Sustainable Biomass Program, the use of whole logs has ballooned from 6% in 2019 to 50% in 2020. That is not slash or sawdust as represented by the company.

    Moreover, satellite imagery by the Living Atlas of the World “confirmed a shift to whole trees.”

    A 2021 Google Image shows log piles around the wood-pellet plant that’s equivalent to four soccer fields, which is an eye-opening 6xs the area of wood residuals on the property.

    According to IUCN, ‘despite evidence to the contrary,’ the pellets are marketed as ‘clean, renewable energy’ by Pacific Bioenergy located near Prince George, BC and by bioenergy facilities in Europe.” 2

    The Inland Temperate Rainforest is called the “forgotten rainforest” because, unlike its coastal counterpart, which is protected by the “Great Bear Rainforest Agreement” with 85% under conservation protection, it is does not have conservation protection status. It’s wide-open for development.

    The Inland Temperate Rainforest needs similar protection. It’s a key part of Canada’s efforts to meet climate mitigation objectives, notably Article 5 of the Paris ’15 climate agreement that calls for conservation measures to enhance “carbon sinks,” especially forests.

    Then, what purpose does woody biomass serve… other than as a profit source for private industry and serving as a faux alternative green energy source for electricity plants in Europe?

    Wood-pellet manufacturing, a multi-billion dollar global industry, is expected to double again in the next five years. “European power plants have been among the biggest consumers—pellet-fired power plants are uncommon in North America—but demand from Japan and South Korea has also increased in recent years.” 3

    Canada is knee-deep in the woody biomass industry. According to the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, BC’s forests produce more pellets than anywhere else in the world.

    But, how is it possible with a straight face for anybody to claim burning trees is a substitute for fossil fuels? Wood-pellets emit carbon the same as coal. And, it’s pure poppycock to claim that new trees are planted to replace the cut downs to sequester the carbon released when the pellets burn. The science does not supp0rt that flimsy argument; it’s not even close!

    “A forest of saplings may take a century or more to mature into an ecosystem that holds as much carbon as the one it replaced. An open letter from 500-plus scientists and economists sent last year to world leaders warned that burning pellets ‘is likely to add two to three times as much carbon to the air as using fossil fuels.’ Nearly 800 scientists and academics, including two Nobel laureates and three winners of the US National Medal of Science, signed a similar letter in 2018.4

    The whole thing boils down to the obvious fact that burning things emits carbon quickly and regrowing things to sequester carbon takes a long time, according to Mary Booth, director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, a US-based environmental nonprofit critical of the pellet industry: In other words, climate change will have wreaked havoc long before those young trees mature into an ecosystem that holds as much carbon as the one they replaced. 4

    The UN and several nations classify woody biomass as “carbon neutral”. Yet, it is not carbon neutral, which isn’t even a scientific term. It is a carbon emitter, plain and simple!

    “The wood pellet industry is a monster out of control… Burning wood puts out more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity produced then coal does.” 5

    A letter from 500 scientists and economists: “Overall, for each kilowatt hour of heat or electricity produced, [burning] wood initially is likely to add two to three times as much carbon to the air as using fossil fuels,’ refuting the policy and industry claims of biomass zero emissions.” 6

    “Because the combustion and processing efficiencies for wood are less than coal, the immediate impact of substituting wood for coal is an increase in atmospheric CO2 relative to coal. This means that every megawatt-hour of electricity generated from wood produces more CO2 than if the power station had remained coal-fired.”7

    Stop woody biomass: (1) “The influx of 1/3 more trees would buy humanity time by adding 20 years to meet climate targets.”8; (2)  Carbon is emitted in the biomass combustion process, resulting in a net increase of CO2 9;  (3) Woody biomass power plants actually produce more global warming CO2 than fossil fuel plants. 10

    An article entitled “The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet” appeared in Politico in March 2021:

    Here’s a multibillion-dollar question that could help determine the fate of the global climate: If a tree falls in a forest—and then it’s driven to a mill, where it’s chopped and chipped and compressed into wood pellets, which are then driven to a port and shipped across the ocean to be burned for electricity in European power plants—does it warm the planet? Most scientists and environmentalists say yes.

    Yet, as the article suggests, governments around the world, as well as the UN, have embraced “biomass power” as a legitimate zero-emissions renewable energy. Europe now generates more energy from burning wood that from wind and solar combined, even though solar produces 100 times as much power per acre as biomass.

    Biomass power is now a $50B global industry and growing fast, as it is now spreading to Asian countries. Policy-makers throughout the world believe they’ve discovered an answer to meeting carbon mitigation goals. Eureka! Burn wood!

    But, what if woody biomass, like fossil fuels, causes global warming?

    Academics and scientists say, yes, it does. Woody biomass blends with fossil fuels as a radical enhancement of global warming emissions.

    It’ll put global warming on a rip-snorting bender. Buckle up!

    1. Brian J. Barth, “Burning Up: The Controversial Biofuel Threatening BC’s Last Inland Rainforests”, The Whale, 2022,
    2. “Primary Forest Case Study – British Columbia’s Forgotten Inland Temperate Rainforest”, IUCN.
    3. The Whale
    4. The Whale.
    5. Bill Moomaw, emeritus professor Tufts University and co-author of several IPCC reports — 2019 Mongabay interview.
    6. 500+ Experts Call on World’s Nations to Not Burn Forest to Make Energy, Mongabay, February 16, 2021.
    7. John Sherman, Complex Systems Analyst, MIT.
    8. ETH Zurich
    9. Columbia University
    10. Earth Institute
    The post Wood-Pellet Manufacturing in a Rainforest first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Gaza’s Forthcoming Crisis Might Be Worse than Anything We Have Ever Seen

    “The water is back,” one family member would announce in a mix of excitement and panic, often very late at night. The moment such an announcement was made, my whole family would start running in all directions to fill every tank, container or bottle that could possibly be filled. Quite often, the water would last for a few minutes, leaving us with a collective sense of defeat, worrying about the very possibility of surviving.

    This was our life under Israeli military occupation in Gaza. The tactic of holding Palestinians hostage to Israel’s water charity was so widespread during the First Palestinian Intifada, or upirising, to the extent that denying water supplies to targeted refugee camps, villages, towns or whole regions was the first measure taken to subdue the rebellious population. This was often followed by military raids, mass arrests and deadly violence; but it almost always began with cutting Palestinians off from their water supplies.

    Israel’s water war on the Palestinians has changed since those early days, especially as the Climate Change crisis has accelerated Israel’s need to prepare for grim future possibilities. Of course, this largely happens at the expense of the occupied Palestinians. In the West Bank, the Israeli government continues to usurp Palestinian water resources from the region’s main aquifers – the Mountain Aquifer and the Coastal Aquifer. Frustratingly, Israel’s main water company, Mekorot, sells stolen Palestinian water to Palestinian villages and towns, especially in the northern West Bank region, at exhorbitant prices.

    Aside from the ongoing profiteering from water theft, Israel continues to use water as a form of collective punishment in the West Bank, while quite often denying Palestinians, especially in Area C, the right to dig new wells to circumvent Israel’s water monopoly.

    According to Amnesty International, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank consume, on average, 73 liters of water a day, per person. Compare this to an Israeli citizen, who consumes approximately 240 liters of water a day, and, even worse, to an illegal Israeli Jewish settler, who consumes over 300 liters per day. The Palestinian share of water is not only far below the average consumed by Israelis, but is even below the recommended daily minimum of 100 liters per capita as designated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

    As difficult as the situation for West Bank Palestinians is, in Gaza the humanitarian catastrophe is already in effect. On the occasion of the World Water Day on March 22, Gaza’s Water and Environmental Quality Authority warned of a ‘massive crisis’ should Gaza’s water supplies continue to deplete at the current dangerous rate. The Authority’s spokesman, Mazen al-Banna, told reporters that 98 percent of Gaza’s water supplies are not fit for human consumption.

    The consequences of this terrifying statistic are well known to Palestinians and, in fact, to the international community as well. Last October, Muhammed Shehada of the Euro-Med Monitor, told the 48th UN Human Rights Council session that about one-quarter of all diseases in Gaza are caused by water pollution, and that an estimated twelve percent of deaths among Gaza’s children are “linked to intestinal infections related to contaminated water.”

    But how did Gaza get to this point?

    On May 25, four days after the end of the latest Israeli war on Gaza, the charity Oxfam announced that 400,000 people in besieged Gaza have had no access to regular water supplies. The reason is that Israeli military campaigns always begin with the targeting of Palestinian electric grids, water services and other vital public facilities. According to Oxfam, “11 days of bombardment … severely impacted the three main desalination plants in Gaza city.”

    It is important to keep in mind that the water crisis in Gaza has been ongoing for years, and every aspect of this protracted crisis is linked to Israel. With damaged or ailing infrastructure, much of Gaza’s water contains dangerously high salinity levels, or is extremely polluted by sewage and other reasons.

    Even before Israel redeployed its forces out of Gaza in 2005 to impose a siege on the Strip’s population from land, sea and air, Gaza had a water crisis. Gaza’s coastal aquifer was entirely controlled by the Israeli military administration, which diverted quality water to the few thousand Jewish settlers, while occasionally allocating high saline water to the then 1.5 million Palestinian people, granted that Palestinians did not protest or resist the Israeli occupation in any way.

    Nearly 17 years later, Gaza’s population has grown to 2.1 millions, and Gaza’s already struggling aquifer is in a far worse shape. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that water from Gaza’s aquifer is depleting due to “over-extraction (because) people have no other choice”.

    “Worse, pollution and an influx of seawater mean that only four percent of the aquifer water is fit to drink. The rest must be purified and desalinated to make it drinkable,” UNICEF added. In other words, Gaza’s problem is not the lack of access to existing freshwater reserves as the latter simply do not exist or are rapidly depleting, but the lack of technology and fuel that would give Palestinians in Gaza the ability to make their water nominally drinkable. Even that is not a long term solution.

    Israel is doing its utmost to destroy any Palestinian chances at recovery from this ongoing crisis. More, it seems that Tel Aviv is only invested in making the situation worse to jeopardize Palestinian chances of survival. For example, last year, Palestinians accused Israel of deliberately flooding thousands of Palestinian dunums in Gaza when it vented its southern dams, which Israel uses to collect rain water. The almost yearly ritual by Israel continues to devastate Gaza’s ever shrinking farming areas, the backbone of Palestinian survival under Israel’s hermetic siege.

    The international community often pays attention to Gaza during times of Israeli wars; and even then, the attention is mostly negative, where Palestinians are usually accused of provoking Israel’s supposed defensive wars. The truth is that even when Israel’s military campaigns end, Tel Aviv continues to wage war on the Strip’s inhabitants.

    Though militarily powerful, Israel claims that it is facing an ‘existential threat’ in the Middle East. In actuality, it is the Palestinian existence that is in real jeopardy. When almost all of Gaza’s water is not fit for human consumption because of a deliberate Israeli strategy, one can understand why Palestinians continue to fight back as if their lives are dependent on it; because they are.

    The post Gaza’s Forthcoming Crisis Might Be Worse than Anything We Have Ever Seen first appeared on Dissident Voice.