We are the first species on Earth that will have to limit itself for its own survival and that of all life.
This picture was designed in 1985 by Germain Dufour, and represented at the time the vision of the world in 2024. The picture was all made of symbols. At the back is "the wall" where a group of people are making sure those coming in have been properly check out before being let in. Many of the requirements for being let in have already been defined and described over time in many of the monthly Newsletters published by Global Civilization. In the middle is a couple with a child actually going through the screening process. At the front people from all over the world are waiting to be checked in as global citizens. The 2 star like objects that seem to be flying above the people are actually drone-like objects keeping peace and security.
Letter to Donald John Trump, President of the United States, Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, concerning "Canada, the overseer, stewardship and custodianship of the Earth's north polar region. (A proposal of Global Community)" , from Germain Dufour, President of Global Government of North America (GGNA) .
Global Community will celebrate its 35th year in 2020. Prepare now! More significant and meaningful actions needed to save the Earth, all life.
Paper and animations concerned about the Global Community 35th year achievements and celebration from its beginning in 1985 to 2020 .
In this paper it is shown that saving humanity, all life on Earth, requires that Global Civilization be a civilizational state.
Note to the reader:
The following link and text were based on the articles, letters, reports, research papers, discussions and global dialogues, and messages written by author(s) whose work were published in monthly Newsletters of years mostly 2017 and 2018, and 2019. All published work can be found in the Global Dialogue Proceedings (check link http://globalcommunitywebnet.com/GIMProceedings/). Scroll down to years 2017 and 2018 and follow the Proceedings sections, and you will find the actual authors lists, with their papers and all references. Global Community Media is a way to communicate workable sound solutions to problems arising in the world. Let us share our problems and workable sound solutions. Sharing information is a necessity to all life and humanity's survival. Our world is changing fast before our eyes, and we must react quickly and hard to protect all life on Earth. No hesitation! Right now and no waiting! Life on the planet is our first priority. We must protect it at all costs. We, global citizens, fight to protect life on Earth for this generation and the next ones. We are the defenders of the environment and the global life-support systems. We know who the beasts are, and how they destroy the living on our planet. We have rallied together all over the world to protect our home, Earth. Just so you all know we don't pay anyone, and we don't pay expenses. We do volunteer work for humanity. We expect volunteers to be responsible and accountable of all their actions. We do soft activism work. We do not have a copyright research expert to do this work. In order to create a harmonious and compassionate Global Civilization, and to protect our planetary environment, the global life-support systems, we want to help you concerning all issues, and you may become a volunteer yourself. Check our volunteer page at: http://globalcommunitywebnet.com/GPA/gpahelpsyou.htm
Love the world, save the world! Rise up global citizens! You are needed! Life needs you, now.
Table of Contents of June 2019 Newsletter.
- 1. Summary.
- 2. Definition of a civilization.
- 3. Characteristics of a civilization.
- 4. Past and modern day civilizations on our planet.
- 5. Present day world situation.
- 6. Ecosystem services.
- 7. The new economic and political distribution of power around the world.
- 8. The extinction crisis is an environmental issue and also a social justice issue.
- 9. Vision of a new economic system giving rise to an adapting, evolving, surviving, successful and hopeful world with limits.
- 10. Global concepts and principles for life survival on Earth: morality and ethics, global citizenship, timeless values, commons, measure of right and wrong, knowledge is an essential good, symbiotical relationship.
- 11. Scale of Global Rights.
- 12. Global Peace.
- 13. Vision of Earth in 2024.
- 14. United Nations Security Council.
- 15. Earth governance.
- 16. Federation of Global Governments.
- 17. Global Parliament.
- 18. Global Government of North America.
- 19. Global Community of North America.
- 20. A successful Global Civilization made universal for all space and time by extra-terrestrial Elohim beings: La civilisation de l'infini.
- 21. Conclusion.
David Anderson, William J Astore, Dr Glen Barry, Robert J Burrowes, Countercurrents Team (3), Dr James M Dorsey, Tom Engelhardt, Pepe Escobar, Luis Garcia, Subhash Gatade, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, Dr Andrew Glikson, Howie Hawkins, Robert Hunziker (3), Irwin Jerome, Edward J Martin, Chandra Muzaffar, Dr Gideon Polya (2), Moin Qazi, Anna Tolstoyevskaya, Andre Vltchek, Rene Wadlow .
David Anderson, The Time Has Come for You to Unravel the Disconnect between Your Religious Beliefs and Our Ecological Dilemma.
William J Astore, Six Ways to Curb America’s Military Machine
Dr Glen Barry, Regenerating Gaia: Imagine a Peaceful Rebellion that Regrows Nature
Robert J Burrowes, The Disintegrated Mind: The Greatest Threat to Human Survival on Earth
Countercurrents Team, One million species face extinction, world is on notice, says major UN report.
Countercurrents Team, Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa hits 415 ppm
Countercurrents Team, Goods Trade: EU’s surplus with U.S. and deficit with China grows
Countercurrents Team, Africa is now world’s largest free trade zone.
Dr James M Dorsey, Want to curb violent attacks? Curb civilisationalism.
Tom Engelhardt, Suicide Watch on Planet Earth.
Pepe Escobar, ‘Clash of civilizations’ or crisis ofcivilization?
Luis Garcia, VENEZUELA: Westerners have lost the ability to reason! (PART 14)
Subhash Gatade, Democracy as Majoritarianism
Abdus Sattar Ghazali, From BRI to Clash of Civilization: Beijing conference refutes Huntington
Dr Andrew Glikson, The climate crisis and the extinction rebellion.
Howie Hawkins, Planetary Boundaries, and the Green New Deal
Robert Hunziker, The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems.
Robert Hunziker, Bavarians Vote to Stop Extinction
Robert Hunziker, Ozone-Depleting CFCs Return.
Irwin Jerome, World’s Youth Blow Bubbles For the Earth; While Voters Say No To Carbon Tax & Life in Climate Change
Edward J Martin, Robert Owen, Worker Cooperatives, and Democratic Socialism
Chandra Muzaffar, OBOR – Towards A Just World?
Dr Gideon Polya, Water Crisis, Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust, Water Apartheid, Global Warming & Mina Guli
Dr Gideon Polya, Inescapable $200-250 Trillion Global Carbon Debt Increasing By $16 Trillion Annually.
Moin Qazi, Beyond GDP: Time for Inclusive Growth
Anna Tolstoyevskaya, Manifesto of Survival
Andre Vltchek, Europe in Irreversible Decay, EU Elections Are Proof of It!
Rene Wadlow, The Day of Mother Earth: Living in Harmony with Nature
|Day data received||Theme or issue||Read article or paper|
|May 19, 2019||
Manifesto of Survival
by Anna Tolstoyevskaya, InformationClearing House
We have come such a long way since time immemorial, since we were hunters and gatherers living in caves and bundled in hides, trying to invent fire.
Now we have TV and iPhone, we drive cars and fly planes. We can talk to and see each other from the opposite sides of the world.
Our civilization has reached amazing heights of scientific and technical development, but we still have not learnt to see a human being in each other. And a friend. We are still throwing sticks and stones at one another, except they have become so much bigger and heavier. Too heavy even for our planet.
And now we are facing the question of whether anyone will be around tomorrow to greet the sunrise.
Yet, we still have a chance to save our mother planet from and for ourselves, and continue meeting sunsets and sunrises with her. And with our friend, in humanity and in spirit.
Who is he, or her, this friend? Why do we like or hate him? How can we understand and forgive him? Learn to see yourself in her. And your own reflection. After all, we all learn from each other.
How can we learn to love truth and peace, and do no harm to each other, and respect others in ourselves?
Our time in this Universe is not unlimited, and we still have so much to discover.
To help our planet heal from the wounds caused by us and time. To protect and save our disappearing siblings, sharing with us this magnificent ecosphere. To slow down, or at least not exacerbate with emissions and pollution, the ominous warming of our shared environment. It is truly, in the prophetic words of Chris Hedges, “The Last Battle.”
As for the modern sticks and stones, they will be of no use to us. About the only thing we can do to save ourselves from them now is remove all the fast fingers from the proverbial button.
All nuclear sticks with short fuses on hair trigger alert have long outlived their senselessness. Launch on warning will save no one, but destroy us all.
We’ve had a number of close calls already. Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov was one such “man who saved the world” on the night of September 26, 1983. There were others. Next time, we may not be so lucky.
We are playing the Russian roulette as a race, and in the barrel of cosmic odds all it takes is one evil nuclear bullet. We must at least take the finger off the trigger, so we don’t do the irreparable by accident. We must heed the call of the courageous Daniel Ellsberg, the author of terrifying but largely overlooked The Doomsday Machine and a nuclear war planner in the early part of his career. And Global Zero, ICAN (winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize), and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists with its Doomsday Clock, moving ever closer to midnight, who have all been working for years to bring this about, to give us all our mind and survival back.
Our common most-pressing universal task is to help them bring it about. Every action in this direction counts. As Nikola Tesla, whose genius brought us so many of the comforts of our civilization, put it, “The action of even the tiniest creature leads to changes in the entire Universe.”
We don’t have much time left to make it happen in our lifetime, and not pass this problem to our children, if they should have a future at all.
It’s high time to end all wars. We certainly have no business in Iran or Venezuela after Iraq and Libya.
Israel, first and foremost, needs to understand that you can’t build your own happiness on other people’s grief and graves. Even if you have suffered much in your own life. The law of karma doesn’t change because of it. There will still be heavy consequences, and you still have to pay what you owe, and reap what you sow, even if you conceal it really well. Sooner or later, if not for us, for our children. That was to a large extent the meaning of the Shoah last tragic century.
Truth is one and the same for everyone. To love and trust is always better than to fear and hate.
Let us all love one another. You never know if you are saying goodbye for the last time. Nobody wants to be ill remembered.
Let’s stop giving our attention to all the gossips, scandals and squabbles that are broadcast at us from every screen. They might be profitable for someone for some time, but definitely not for us.
We need to work and take care of each other, our young and our old, and not get plunged as a whole society into massive karmic debt that no one will be able to repay.
We need to learn to listen and understand what we are being told and why. No need to hypnotize us. It won’t work anyway when we are all awake and withdraw our consent. There are many spiritual and conscious streams flowing through us. As Rudolph Steiner used to say, we can and should learn to recognize and tell them apart. The success and happiness of our own life depend on it.
And we need to pay attention to these streams and not to the venal voices of the mass media. Let them show their true selves for what it’s worth, but don’t be swayed by them. “The traits we see most clearly in others exist most strongly in ourselves,” according to the ancient wisdom of Vedanta expressed in the words of Deepak Chopra.
We have no use for the representatives and leaders who think only of themselves. Lots of money and power doesn’t make you either good or happy. They can spew their silliness, court intrigues and lies to themselves for now.
When big money is removed from politics through the grassroots efforts of organizations such as RepresentUs, others, like Ilhan Omar and Bernie Sanders, whom we can trust and respect, will come to replace them.
And no one will be able to manipulate and scare us any longer.
“When human beings today speak of ‘God’ they mean only their angel, the angel who guides them through life,” taught Rudolf Steiner in The Karma of Untruthfulness, a series of lectures on the origins of WWI. “But they persuade themselves that they are speaking of a being higher…”
At long last, we’ll recognize in Yahweh but one of our jealous tribal angelic reflections from the time of sticks and swords, as explained masterfully in Laurent Guyénot’s From Yahweh to Zion.
And we’ll finally find Christ in each and every one of us. A true son and daughter of our true god, infinitely beautiful universal consciousness in all its manifestations on earth and in heaven.
Let there always be the Sun!
|May 19, 2019||
‘Clash of civilizations’ or crisis ofcivilization?
by Pepe Escobar, InformationClearing House
Organized under the direct supervision of President Xi Jinping it took place amid an “Asian Culture Carnival.” Sure, there were dubious, kitschy and syrupy overtones, but what really mattered was what Xi himself had to say to China and all of Asia.
In his keynote speech, the Chinese leader essentially stressed that one civilization forcing itself upon another is “foolish” and “disastrous.” In Xi’s concept of a dialogue of civilizations, he referred to the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as programs that “have expanded the channels for communication exchanges.”
Xi’s composure and rationality present a stark, contrasting message to US President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign.
West vs East and South
Compare and contrast Xi’s comments with what happened at a security forum in Washington just over two weeks earlier. Then, a bureaucrat by the name of Kiron Skinner, the State Department’s policy planning director, characterized US-China rivalry as a “clash of civilizations,” and “a fight with a really different civilization and ideology the US hasn’t had before.”
And it got worse. This civilization was “not Caucasian” – a not so subtle 21st century resurrection of the “Yellow Peril.” (Let us recall: The “not Caucasian” Japan of World War II was the original “Yellow Peril.”)
Divide and rule, spiced with racism, accounts for the toxic mix that has been embedded in the hegemonic US narrative for decades now. The mix harks back to Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, published in 1996.
Huntington’s pseudo-theory, coming from someone who did not know much about the multi-polar complexity of Asia, not to mention African and South American cultures, was mercilessly debunked across vast swathes of the global South. In fact, Huntington did not even come up with the original, flawed concept. That was the work of Anglo-American historian and commentator Bernard Lewis, who passes for a Middle East guru in the US.
Divide, rule, conquer
As Alastair Crooke, the founder of the Conflicts Forum, has outlined, Lewis consistently preached divide and rule, tinged with racism, in Islamic states. He was a fervent proponent of regime change in Iran and his recipe for dealing with Arabs was “to hit them between the eyes with a big stick” because, in his world view, the only thing they respect is power.
Crooke reminds us that since the 1960s, Lewis has been a master at spotting vulnerabilities in “religious, class and ethnic differences as the means to bring an end to Middle Eastern states.” Lewis is a hero across a certain spectrum – a spectrum that includes former US Vice President Dick Cheney and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Now, we live in the era of “Lewis redux.” Given that the Islamic world is largely subdued, in torpor or in turmoil, the clash of civilizations basically applies, on a downsized scale, to containing or destroying Shi’ite Iran.
Meanwhile the real clash – as the State Department insists – is with China.
Huntington, the sub-Lewis, did not include Russia among “The West.” The revisionist State Department does. Otherwise how could “Nixon in reverse”be justified? (“Nixon in reverse,” let us remember, is the Kissingerian recommendation to President Donald Trump: Apply divide and rule between Russia and China – but this time seducing Russia.)
A revisionist Pentagon also came up with the “Indo-Pacific” concept. The only justification for the amalgam is that these two zones should conduct a foreign policy subjected to American hegemony.
The logic is always divide and rule and clash of civilizations – divisions provoking chaos all across Eurasia.
But this strategy is being applied against the background of a crucial historical juncture: The era when BRI is being configured as the road map for progressive Eurasian integration.
Quo vadis, humanity?
It’s not hard to detect the faintest of smiles on the faces of Chinese strategists as they survey “The Big Picture” from the vantage point of 5,000 years of civilization. The Christian West as the unique road map to deliver humanity from evil – in fact, the foundation of Pax Americana – is regarded as an amusing fiction at best.
That fiction is now looking downright dangerous, wallowing in exceptionalism and demonization of “The Other” in myriad forms. The Other – from the Islamic Republic of Iran to atheist China, not to mention “autocratic” Russia – automatically qualifies as a manifestation of “evil.”
China, by contrast, is polytheist, pluralist, multi-polar – embracing Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism. That is mirrored by the current drive towards a multi-polar world-system. What matters is unity in multiplicity – as Xi stressed in his keynote speech. In it, we find China and Persia, two ancient civilizations – not by accident linked by the Ancient Silk Road – thinking alike.
Then there’s the appalling state of the planet, which dwarfs the current appalling spectacle of political madness. UCLA geographer and global best-selling author Jared Diamond is not being terribly precise, but he estimates there’s a 49% chance “that the world as we know it will collapse by about 2050.”
As encapsulated by author Nafeez Ahmad: “Over the last 500 years or so, humanity has erected an ‘endless growth’ civilization premised on a particular patchwork of ideological worldviews, ethical values, political and economic structures, and personal behaviors. This is a paradigm that elevates the vision of human beings as disconnected, atomistic, competing material units, which seek to maximize their own material consumption as the principal mechanism for self-gratification.”
What we’re living now is not a clash of civilizations; it’s a crisis of civilization.
If the paradigm under which most of humanity barely survives is not changed – and there’s precious little evidence it will – there won’t be any civilizations left to clash.
|May 28, 2019||
Regenerating Gaia: Imagine a Peaceful Rebellion that Regrows Nature
by Dr Glen Barry, in Counter Solutions, Countercurrents.org
Gaia – the living global ecological system – is collapsing and dying as human industrial growth overruns natural ecosystems and climate. Yet the biosphere can regenerate, as it has done before, given the time and space, free from human burning and cutting. As the twin emergencies of climate and ecosystem loss threaten the end of being, I join in calls for an “Extinction Rebellion” whereby people together do what they can, do what they must, for Earth and our shared habitat. Let’s start by regenerating nature in order to sustain creation.
One of many amazing things about nature is it can grow back. 10,000 short years ago much of the Northern hemisphere was covered by a mile of glacial ice, scouring the land of all-natural vegetation. Before that, cataclysmic asteroid strikes virtually annihilated biological life, in moments of immense planetary scale death. In each case, fragmented life re-emerged, renewed and diversified, in relatively short order. Critically, enough natural remnants remained, and were able to recover.
For eons biological life of all sorts including natural terrestrial ecosystems have shown an innate, indomitable will to be. This is not necessarily the case. Gaia, the planetary organism that is the sum of all ecosystems, can – like all life – collapse and die. Yet creation has proven to be amazingly resilient. When adequate remnant nature remains, and once pressure is taken off quickly and long enough, life is able to regenerate; genes evolve, wildlife has babies, and natural ecosystems repopulate denuded land and sea.
Gaia is a living organism. And once again, all her organic and naturally evolved life is in peril. This time at the hands of humanity.
It is difficult to fathom the degree to which natural ecosystems and climate have been disrupted by human industrial growth, and the potential for spiraling collapse should natural ecosystems and climate not be allowed to recover. The biosphere is already bifurcating between extremes (a sure sign of impending collapse) – demonstrated by trends as diverse as climate weirding, rising authoritarianism, collapsing ecosystems, mass migration, and a state of perma-war – before settling into a new normal of a depauperate and perhaps lifeless planet.
Now living in New York City and working in financial IT, much of my formative years unfolded in close proximity to nature. Some of my most pleasant memories as a child include fishing for bass from a canoe with my parents, the smell of the Earth waking in a tent, and partaking in the symbiotic ecological cycles of animal husbandry and gardening as my family homesteaded. Over the past two decades I have restored a natural ecosystem on a few acres of denuded farm fields – a gratifying yet grueling task.
From an early age I sensed Earth was alive and gravely threatened, intuitions fortified by over a decade of graduate studies in ecology, and a lifetime of rainforest and climate activism. It has been 5 years since I published Terrestrial Ecosystem Loss and Biosphere Collapse, ground-breaking peer-reviewed science identifying a tenth planetary boundary. There I hypothesized that 66% of Earth’s land must be covered with natural and agro-ecological ecosystems to sustain the biosphere; and foresaw the need for a revolutionary response to ecosystem and climate emergencies, now being realized with global climate strikes and extinction rebellions.
Given such a massive and unprecedented global ecological emergency, surely a peaceful “Extinction Rebellion” is long overdue.
Imagine a peaceful rebellion that regrows nature.
The place to start is to let Earth rest and recover. And most importantly, to allow and assist natural ecosystems to regrow. We must once again put our faith in seeds, and the ability of nature to sustain all life.
Massive nurseries of natives plants from local genetic stock, nearby genotypes adapted to warmer conditions, and species suitable for forest gardens will be required to provide seed stock to re-establish intact and functioning ecosystems over two-thirds of the Earth’s surface. Enormous deforested areas exist, particularly in the tropics, that must be quickly reforested. Replenishment planting surrounding and reconnecting natural remnants over vast areas will yield ecosystem services and store carbon, as well as provide massive employment. Science knows much regarding how to harness ecosystems’ natural restorative processes, carefully targeting for augmentation the re-establishment of dominant and keystone species, as remnant ecosystems are aided to expand and reconnect.
There exists enormous potential to carry out landscape scale ecological restoration activities which assist natural remnants to age, expand, and reconnect. Protecting and restoring old-growth forests, other natural ecosystems, and all kindred species are a huge part of the climate change and ecosystem solutions, and a prerequisite to solve a whole host of other ecological issues including biodiversity, soil, wildlife, and water crises.
We are speaking of restoring natural ecosystems, going well beyond tree farms. Such rewilding focuses upon assisting natural ecosystems to recover their full ecological integrity. This is demonstrated by their possessing the full range of natural species, composition, structure, and function. Diverse agro-ecological systems that emphasize organic perma-culture will play a vital role, when interspersed with intact and regenerating forests, in order to once again ensure ecosystems provide the ecological context within which humans and other species can live forever.
Much of the foundation-fed climate and environment movements have myopically focused upon technical solutions to climate change, failing to understand the role intact and regenerating ecosystems play in sustaining Gaia. We must go far beyond technophile solutions and harness the Earth system’s amazing ability to regenerate herself.
This is what makes the Extinction Rebellion movement so exciting – it correctly diagnoses the threat to the biosphere, humanity, and kindred species as emanating from both climate change AND biodiversity/ecosystem loss.
Ecology is the answer.
There is no way the human family emerges intact from the climate and ecosystem emergencies and achieves global ecological sustainability unless we grow justice, peace, and equity as well. This will require powering down the industrial growth economy, demobilizing the military-industrial complex, and coming together as one human family to stop those destroying nature. Solutions include not only ending burning of fossil fuels and destruction of natural ecosystems. We must also make peace and demilitarize, promote greater fairness and justice, and limit human numbers and inequitable over-consumption.
Let’s return to and tend our planetary garden. We once shared creation with other creatures, let’s do so again. Gaia can regenerate herself if given enough time, space, and love.
Dr. Glen Barry is the President and Founder of Ecological Internet (EI). He is recognized internationally by the environmental movement as a leading global visionary, ecological policy critic and public intellectual committed to communicating the severity of global ecological crises – and related justice, rights and equity issues – while actively organizing with others sufficient solutions. This article originally appeared in http://ecointernet.org/
|May 27, 2019||
From BRI to Clash of Civilization: Beijing conference refutes Huntington
by Abdus Sattar Ghazali, in World, Countercurrents.org
China hosted a two-day Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC), to boost exchanges and mutual learning among Asian civilizations. The CDAC theme was “Exchanges and Mutual Learning among Asian Civilizations and A Community with A Shared Future.”
It brought together more than 2,000 government officials and representatives of various circles from 47 Asian countries and other nations outside the region.
Among those attending were: King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Singapore President Halimah Yacob, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
In his inaugural address, the President of China, Xi Jinping, underlined that this Conference “creates a new platform for civilizations in Asia and beyond to engage in dialogue and exchanges on an equal footing to facilitate mutual learning”.
President Xi highlighted the importance of the interactions in Asia, as these interactions between civilizations “have enriched each other and written an epic development”. He elaborated also:
“Our forefathers in Asia have long engaged in inter-civilizational exchanges and mutual learning; the ancient trade routes notably the Silk Road, the tea road and the spice road brought silk, tea, porcelain, spices, paintings and sculpture to all corners of Asia, and they have witnessed inter-civilizational dialogue in the form of trade and cultural interflow.”
“No civilization is superior over others. The thought that one’s own race and civilization are superior and the inclination to remold or replace other civilizations are just stupid,” the Chinese leader said adding:
“All civilizations are rooted in their unique cultural environment. Each embodies the wisdom and vision of a country or nation, and each is valuable for being uniquely its own. Civilizations only vary from each other, just as human beings are different only in terms of skin color and the language used. No civilization is superior over others. The thought that one’s own race and civilization are superior and the inclination to remold or replace other civilizations are just stupid. To act them out will only bring catastrophic consequences…. What we need is to respect each other as equals and say no to hubris and prejudice.”
Pehaps Xi was alluding to Huntington’s theory of Clash of Civilizations. In 1992, American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington proposed the hypothesis of the Clash of Civilizations that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Huntington later expanded his thesis in a 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.
Huntington argued: “It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”
In short, Huntington suggests that in the future the central axis of world politics tends to be the conflict between Western and non-Western civilizations. Huntington divided the world into the “major civilizations” in his thesis as such:
Western civilization comprising the United States and Canada, Western and Central Europe, Australia and Oceania; Latin American, Includes Central America, South America; The Orthodox world of the former Soviet Union; The Eastern world is the mix of the Buddhist, Chinese, Hindu, and Japonic civilizations; The Muslim world of the Greater Middle East, (the Islamic civilization) and The civilization of Sub-Saharan Africa located in southern Africa, Middle Africa.
Huntington’s hypothesis was criticized by various academic writers. They challenged his claims empirically, historically, logically, or ideologically.
Edward Said, the late University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, issued a response to Huntington’s thesis in his 2001 article, “The Clash of Ignorance”. Said argues that Huntington’s categorization of the world’s fixed “civilizations” omits the dynamic interdependency and interaction of culture. Edward Said (2004) also argues that the clash of civilizations thesis is an example of “the purest invidious racism, a sort of parody of Hitlerian science directed today against Arabs and Muslims” (p. 293).
According to Edward Said “Huntington is an ideologist, someone who wants to make “civilizations” and “identities” into what they are not: shut-down, sealed-off entities that have been purged of the myriad currents and countercurrents that animate human history, and that over centuries have made it possible for that history not only to contain wars of religion and imperial conquest but also to be one of exchange, cross-fertilization and sharing.
“This far less visible history is ignored in the rush to highlight the ludicrously compressed and constricted warfare that “the clash of civilizations” argues is the reality. When he published his book by the same title in 1996, Huntington tried to give his argument a little more subtlety and many, many more footnotes; all he did, however, was confuse himself and demonstrate what a clumsy writer and inelegant thinker he was.
“These are tense times, but it is better to think in terms of powerful and powerless communities, the secular politics of reason and ignorance, and universal principles of justice and injustice, than to wander off in search of vast abstractions that may give momentary satisfaction but little self-knowledge or informed analysis. “The Clash of Civilizations” thesis is a gimmick like “The War of the Worlds,” better for reinforcing defensive self-pride than for critical understanding of the bewildering interdependence of our time.”
Noam Chomsky called it just being a new justification for the United States “for any atrocities that they wanted to carry out”, which was required after the Cold War as the Soviet Union was no longer a viable threat.
“We have to support oppressive states, like Saudi Arabia and others, to make sure that they guarantee that the profits from oil (it’s not so much the oil as the profits from oil) flow to the people who deserve it: rich western energy corporations or the US Treasury Department or Bechtel Construction, and so on. So that’s why we need a huge military budget. Other than that, the story is the same,” Chomsky said in a lecture delivered at the Delhi School of Economics on November 5, 2001.
He went on to say: “What does this have to do with Huntington? Well, he’s a respected intellectual. He can’t say this. He can’t say, look, the method by which the rich run the world is exactly the same as before, and the major confrontation remains what it has always been: small concentrated sectors of wealth and power versus everybody else. You can’t say that. And in fact if you look at those passages on the clash of civilizations, he says that in the future the conflict will not be on economic grounds. So let’s put that out of our minds. You can’t think about rich powers and corporations exploiting people, that can’t be the conflict. It’s got to be something else. So it will be the ‘clash of civilizations’ – the western civilization and Islam and Confucianism.”
Jochen Hipplier, author of The Next Threat: Western Perception of Islam, has said: By caricaturing different cultures, by arbitrarily and willfully misrepresenting Islamic societies we grant ourselves absolution. Others are fanatical, we are not. Other are irrational, we are not. Furthermore, it is clearly very important for us in the West to feel superior and to see Western culture as the ‘best’ and ‘most progressive.
The term civilization is usually used in the singular to mean Western civilization which since the eighteenth century has been in the West as the civilization that has set about to destroy and obliterate systematically all other civilizations including the Islamic.
To borrow from Hippler: In a certain sense you could call Huntington’s argument ‘culturally racist’. The Muslims (or Chinese) are different from us and therefore dangerous. Unlike in classic racism, this difference is not generically but culturally-based. There is such a gulf between their values and ways of thinking and ours that understanding or cross-pollination is almost unthinkable. Only military solutions can promise result.
Hippler further elaborates this point very convincingly: Huntington’s image of Islam (or of other Asian cultures) is hardly original. It follows the current stereotypes and clichés of popular literature and some of the media. Yet he manages brilliantly to embellish these repeated fears pseudo-scientifically and elevate them ideologically. His success is in making the old clichés acceptable in foreign policy debate. For Huntington, Islam is ideologically hostile and anti-Western. It is also a military threat in itself due to Chinese (Confucian) arms supplies. Islam is bloody, with a long warring tradition against the West. (The fact that Muslims have often been the victims rather than the perpetrators of violence from Bosnia to India hardly troubles him.)
According to Stephen M. Walt, The Clash of Civilizations is also strangely silent about Israel, which has been a central concern for U.S. foreign policy since its founding in 1948. During the Cold War, U.S. support for Israel could be justified on both ideological and strategic grounds. From a cultural perspective, however, the basis for close ties between Israel and the “West” is unclear. Israel is not a member of the West (at least not by Huntington’s criteria) and is probably becoming less “Western” as religious fundamentalism becomes more salient and as the Sephardic population becomes more influential. His silence on this issue may reflect an awareness that making this conclusion explicit would not enhance the appeal of the book, or Israel may simply be an anomaly that lies outside of his framework. In either case, however, the issue reveals a further limitation of the civilizational paradigm. [Building Up New Bogeyman by Stephen M. Walt- Foreign Policy, Spring 1997]
|May 17, 2019||
Water Crisis, Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust, Water Apartheid, Global Warming & Mina Guli
by Dr Gideon Polya,in Environmental Protection, Countercurrents.org
The world faces a worsening global water crisis that is compounded by remorselessly increasing carbon pollution, population, and economic output. For the 5.0 billion people of the impoverished global South (the Developing World minus China) the worsening water crisis is a present reality. However endless growth in a carbon economy means that all 7.6 billion of Humanity are threatened. Dire warning is now being given by the need for bottled potable water in some towns in the rich global North. Unfortunately rational and humane solutions are being trumped by ruthless and deadly neoliberalism.
The UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) has summarized Humanity’s dilemma thus (2018): “The stakes are high. Current trends suggest that around two thirds of forests and wetlands have been lost or degraded since the beginning of the 20th century. Soil is eroding and deteriorating in quality. Since the 1990s, water pollution has worsened in almost all rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These trends pose broader challenges from the increased risk of floods and droughts, which, in turn, has an impact on our ability to adapt to climate change. We know also that water scarcity can lead to civil unrest, mass migration, and even to conflict within and between countries” .
The worsening global water crisis has many major elements that are systematically and succinctly dealt with in this well-documented essay under 30 headings as set out below.
(1) Global fresh water resources. 2.00-2.75% % of the Earth’s water is fresh water (less than 500 ppm NaCl) including about 1.75-2.00% as glaciers, ice or snow, 0.5–0.75% fresh groundwater and soil moisture, less than 0.01% surface water in rivers, swamps and fresh water lakes ( lakes constituting 87% of liquid fresh surface water), and less than 0.04% in the atmosphere . Humanity derives nearly all of its fresh water (about 4,600 km3 pa ) from rain, lakes, rivers and groundwater [2, 3]. There is a hydrological cycle of solar energy-driven evaporation with subsequent precipitation.
(2). Desalination by reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis, the most widely used desalination technique, involves pumping water through a succession of membranes that allow passage of water (H2O) but not of larger molecules . The world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination plant is at Sorek, Israel, has an output of 624,000 cubic metre per day that is sold for about $0.5 per cubic metre ($500/ML i.e. $500 per million Litres) , and provides potable (drinkable) water for over 1.5 million people, this constituting 20% of the municipal water demand in Israel [4, 5]. 2015 there were 18,426 desalination plants globally, producing 86.8 million cubic meters per day of potable water for 300 million people . Reclamation of used water for sanitation and agricultural use is now widespread .
(3) Water use. Global water demand (2018) is 4,600 km3 [cubic kilometers] per year and projected to increase by 20%–30% to 5,500-6,000 km3 per year by 2050. Agriculture uses about 70% of global water withdrawals (i.e. about 3,220 km3 pa) , with most being used for used for irrigation. Industrial water use is about 20% of global withdrawals (i.e. about 920 km3), 75% for energy production (690 km3 pa) and 25% for manufacturing (230 km3). Water demand for manufacturing will increase by 400% over the period 2000–2050. Global water withdrawals for energy production have been projected to rise by 20% in the period 2010–2035. Domestic water use is 10% of total global water withdrawals (i.e. about 460 km3), and is expected to increase greatly over the 2010–2050 period (3-fold in Africa, 2-fold in Latin America, but with little change in zero population growth Western Europe) .
The UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) (2018): “Throughout the early-mid 2010s, about 1.9 billion people (27% of the global population) lived in potential severely water-scarce areas and in 2050 this could increase to some 2.7–3.2 billion. However, if monthly variability is taken into account, 3.6 billion people worldwide (nearly half the global population) are already living in potential water-scarce areas at least one month per year and this could increase to some 4.8–5.7 billion in 2050. About 73% of the affected people live in Asia (69% by 2050). Factoring in adaptive capacity, 3.6–4.6 billion people (43–47%) will be under water stress in the 2050s with 91–96% living in Asia, mainly Southern and Eastern, and 4–9% in Africa, mainly in the north… Groundwater use globally, mainly for agriculture, amounts to 800 km3 per year in the 2010s, with India, the United States of America (USA), China, Iran and Pakistan (in descending order) accounting for 67% of total abstractions worldwide … Water withdrawals for irrigation have been identified as the primary driver of groundwater depletion worldwide … A large surge in groundwater abstractions amounting to 1,100 km3 per year has been predicted to occur by the 2050s, corresponding to a 39% increase over current levels… at about 4,600 km3 per year, current global withdrawals are already near maximum sustainable levels… A third of the world biggest groundwater systems are already in distress… An estimated 80% of all industrial and municipal wastewater are released to the environment without any prior treatment, resulting in a growing deterioration of overall water quality with detrimental impacts on human health and ecosystems.Globally, the most prevalent water quality challenge is nutrient loading, which depending on the region is often associated with pathogen loading” .
The enormous, quasi-linear increase in world water use in the period 1900-2000 has been graphically presented by the World Water Council, with usage dominated by agricultural use, thence much lesser industrial use and then relatively minor municipal use . As outlined later below, water use is already severely stressing reservoirs, aquifers and rivers. Thus by 2025 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity, 60% of European cities with populations greater than 0.1 million are using groundwater faster than the replenishment rate, and in the last 20 years 55% of China’s rivers have run dry due to industrial over-exploitation .
(4) Clean drinking water. In 2015 89% of people globally had access to potable water, 40- 80% of sub-Saharan Africans had access to potable water, nearly 4.2 billion people worldwide had access to tap water, and 2.4 billion had access to wells or public taps. About 1- 2 billion people presently lack safe drinking water, this being associated with avoidable deaths of 1.5 million people each year . By 2025 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity .
(5) Sanitation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2018): “In 2015, 39% of the global population (2.9 billion people) used a safely managed sanitation service – defined as use of a toilet or improved latrine, not shared with other households, with a system in place to ensure that excreta are treated or disposed of safely; 27% of the global population (1.9 billion people) used private sanitation facilities connected to sewers from which wastewater was treated; 13% of the global population (0.9 billion people) used toilets or latrines where excreta were disposed of in situ; 68% of the world’s population (5.0 billion people) used at least a basic sanitation service; 2.3 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines; of these, 892 million still defecate in the open, for example in street gutters, behind bushes or into open bodies of water; at least 10% of the world’s population is thought to consume food irrigated by wastewater; poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio; inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 280 000 diarrhoeal deaths annually and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, and trachoma. Poor sanitation also contributes to malnutrition. Hygienic sanitation facilities are crucial for public health. Since 1990, the number of people gaining access to improved sanitation has risen from 54% to 68% but some 2.3 billion people still do not have toilets or improved latrines” . India has embarked on a massive increase in sanitation in which 0.5 million villages been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) in the past 5 years. PM Modi has stated (2019): “Sanitation coverage has crossed 98 percent, over 100 million toilets have been built for our people” .
(6) Water deficits, the Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust and crippling Carbon Debt. An estimated 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation each year in a Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust  that is set to worsen as the climate emergency [14-16] and climate genocide  both worsen. That deadly deprivation includes lack of water for basic food production, lack of clean drinking water, and lack of sanitation. About 1 million people die from climate change each year with too little water (droughts) or too much water (floods and storm surges) being key agents. There is a worsening climate genocide in which the direst estimates are for 10 billion deaths this century in the absence of requisite action on climate change . The damage-related cost of carbon pollution has been estimated at about $200 per tonne CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) as determined by climate economist Dr Chris Hope from 118 Nobel Laureate Cambridge University [18, 19] and independently by leading climate scientist Professor James Hansen from 96 Nobel Laureate Columbia University [18, 20]. This huge damage-related carbon pollution cost means that the world has an inescapable Carbon Debt of $200- $250 trillion that is increasing at $19 trillion per year , with this inevitably impacting the capacity of the world to realistically tackle climate change.
(7) Aquifer depletion and toxic contamination. Groundwater aquifers are major sources of usable fresh water  but major problems are aquifer depletion, salinization of coastal aquifers due to lowering of the water table, high saline and other mineral content, and contamination of groundwater (notably by toxic free arsenic arsing from anaerobic bacterial action, this being a major problem in South Asia, South East Asia, East Asia and the US ) [22-25]. Aquifer depletion has been cited by Professor Lester Brown as one of the causes of food price rises (2011): “Meanwhile aquifer depletion is fast shrinking the amount of irrigated area in many parts of the world; this relatively recent phenomenon is driven by the large-scale use of mechanical pumps to exploit underground water. Today, half the world’s people live in countries where water tables are falling as overpumping depletes aquifers. Once an aquifer is depleted, pumping is necessarily reduced to the rate of recharge unless it is a fossil (nonreplenishable) aquifer, in which case pumping ends altogether. But sooner or later, falling water tables translate into rising food prices… The Arab Middle East is the first geographic region where spreading water shortages are shrinking the grain harvest. But the really big water deficits are in India, where the World Bank numbers indicate that 175 million people are being fed with grain that is produced by overpumping. In China, overpumping provides food for some 130 million people. In the United States, the world’s other leading grain producer, irrigated area is shrinking in key agricultural states such as California and Texas… It is no longer conflict between heavily armed superpowers, but rather spreading food shortages and rising food prices — and the political turmoil this would lead to — that threatens our global future. Unless governments quickly redefine security and shift expenditures from military uses to investing in climate change mitigation, water efficiency, soil conservation, and population stabilization, the world will in all likelihood be facing a future with both more climate instability and food price volatility. If business as usual continues, food prices will only trend upward” .
60% of European cities with populations greater than 0.1 million are using groundwater faster than the replenishment rate . India (population 1.34 billion) illustrates the problem for the global South. Thus Caleb Gorton (Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme): “India is the world’s highest user of groundwater. It consumes over a quarter of the global total – equivalent to 230 cubic kilometres per year. Groundwater from over 30 million access points supplies 85 per cent of drinking water in rural areas and 48 per cent of water requirements in urban areas. Most groundwater is used for irrigation, which accounts for 88 per cent of total groundwater usage. Groundwater is required for the daily needs of around 700 million Indians living in the country’s villages. An assessment of 6,607 groundwater units in 2011 found that 1,017 were “overexploited”, indicating the rate of groundwater extraction exceeded replenishment. Around one-third of all units in India were under stress. The World Bank predicts that by 2032, around 60 per cent of aquifers in the country will be in a critical state” .
In Palestine, Apartheid Israel controls water supply, notably that from the largely West Bank-based Mountain Aquifer with 8.9 million Israelis getting 87% of Mountain Aquifer water whereas 5 million Occupied Palestinians get a mere 13% . While the WHO minimum daily per capita water allocation is 100 litres, Israelis get 240-300 litres and West Bank Palestinians get 73 litres. Israelis have deliberately demolished 50 water extraction facilities in the West Bank and by bombing have destroyed water and sewerage infrastructure in the Gaza Concentration Camp to the point that it is approaching unliveable conditions [28- 30]. In relation to this massive and deliberately imposed domestic water deficit, a serial war criminal Apartheid Israel is grossly violating Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War that state that an Occupier must provide the Conquered Subjects with life sustaining food, medical and other conditions “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”. Apartheid Israel is stealing Mountain Aquifer water that derives from rain falling on the West Bank and in doing so is violating the Hague Regulations of 1907, which prohibit an occupying power from expropriating the resources of occupied territory .
(8). Crop agriculture via drip irrigation and closed greenhouses. Agriculture consumes 70% of global water withdrawals  but there is massive water loss associated with evaporation. Fertilizer and water loss can be greatly decreased through plastic-based drip irrigation systems developed initially in the US and Israel. In California there was 5% drip irrigation in 1988 and 40% by 2010 . Of massive potential are closed system glass houses for hydroponic horticulture .
(9). Evaporation. Massive water loss occurs through evaporation. In 1995 evaporative losses from reservoirs totalled 200 kilometer3 and of the 10% of water from renewable resources withdrawn for human use, about 50% was lost through run off and evaporation. Depending on the technology, consumption can range from 30–40% for flood irrigation to 90% for drip irrigation. In 1995 11% of water withdrawn for agricultural use was lost through evaporation . In hot countries like Australia over 33% of stored water can be lost by evaporation from surface storages, with this leading to proposals for underground storage of surplus water in aquifers . Evaporation from surface dams can be reduced by 80% through use of six-sided floating disks that spread out to cover water surfaces and also cut down on algal growth .
(10) Salinization. The World Water Council (2001): “Unless carefully managed, irrigated areas risk becoming waterlogged and building up salt concentrations that could eventually make the soil infertile. This process probably caused the downfall of ancient irrigation-based societies and threatens the enormous areas brought under irrigation in recent decades. By the late 1980s an estimated 50 million hectares of the world’s irrigated areas, or more than 20%, had suffered a buildup of salts in the soil” .
10. Cost of water. The cheapest water in the world is that from the Mountain Aquifer in Palestine that is simply expropriated (stolen) by the international law-violating, war criminal Occupier, Apartheid Israel for $0.0 per megalitre (ML) . The most expensive water is bottled water which costs about $1 per litre or $1,000,000/ML in a Western supermarket or $200,000/ML in India. However there are numerous other rates in between these extremes.
Thus, for example, the Murray-Darling Basin in south eastern Australia is a major irrigation area and “Australia’s food bowl”. However overuse of water has resulted in decreased flows in the Murray River and the Darling River, with the latter now reduced to a succession of dead pools. A politically contentious Federal Murray-Darling Plan has involved “water buy-back” for the environment from users whose forebears ( like the Israelis today and their ongoing Palestinian Genocide ) had stolen the land and the water rights from Indigenous people in a 2-century Australian Aboriginal Genocide . Reviewers of the scheme stated (2018): “Overall, the average cost of water recovery by RTB [Restoring The Balance] since 2007–2008 was AUD2,026/ML [US$1,418/ML],while infrastructure cost was AUD4,970/ML [US$3,479/ML]. But the costs of water recovery from subsidies from infrastructure could, in fact, be many times more costly per megaliter of water recovered than these figures suggest because of the decline in return flows associated with upgrades in infrastructure” . In a worsening “Watergate scandal”, a corporate entity with links to the National Party (the ecocidal farmer’s party that is part of the Australian Coalition Government) and with corporate structures involving the Cayman Islands tax haven, sold 28,700 ML of “overflow” surface water to the Australian government for A$78.9 million, this yielding a water price of A$2,749 /ML (US$1.924/ML) (this “overflow” water from rare excessive precipitation would normally have flowed to downstream creeks, rivers and users, but was retained by artificial levees for private profit , and one notes that the cost of expensively desalinated water is about $500/ML [4, 5]).
11. Water Apartheid in Apartheid Israel and North versus South. While the state-of-the-art Sorek desalination plant in Apartheid Israel supplies high quality drinking water at $500/ML, the Occupied Palestinians have to pay huge prices for dangerously insufficient and dangerously low quality water as revealed by the World Bank (2009): “[West Bank] Water prices that before the Intifada were generally in the range 5-10 NIS/m3 were now typically in the range 10-20 NIS/m3 [$2,800 – $5,600/ML; 1 New Israeli Shekel= 0.28 USD; 1 m3 = 1000 L]… There is a high incidence of water related diseases. Water-borne disease is a major problem for Palestinians, creating substantial costs and losses … The health impacts can be gauged by the high incidence of diarrhoea amongst infants, and the health costs of poor water and sanitation services have been estimated at 0.4% of GDP … In Jenin, farmers are paying up to NIS 12/m3 [$3,360/ML] for water to irrigate plastic houses… These prices are considerably higher than those paid by (competing) Israeli farmers, who pay less than 1 NIS/m3 (0.818 NIS/m3) [$229/ML]… [In Gaza] between 5% and 10% of water supplied through the network meets potable standards” .
This deadly, Zionist-imposed Water Apartheid is a direct consequence of the Zionist imposed political Apartheid in Palestine. Of about 14 million Palestinians (50% children, 75% women and children), 7 million are forbidden to even step foot in their own country, 5 million are highly abusively imprisoned in the blockaded and bombed Gaza Concentration Camp (2.0 million) or in ever-dwindling West Bank ghettoes (3.0 million), and 1.9 million live as Third Class citizens as Israeli Palestinians under over 60 Nazi-style Apartheid Israeli race laws. GDP per capita is $3,000 for Occupied Palestinians as compared to $40,000 for Israelis. Through imposed deprivation, each year Apartheid Israel passively murders about 2,700 under-5 year old Palestinian infants and passively murders 4,200 Occupied Palestinians in general who die avoidably from deprivation each year under Israeli Apartheid (in the 21st century Israelis have also violently killed an average of 550 Occupied Palestinians each year) . There is a circa 10 year life expectancy gap between Occupied Palestinians ands Israelis, this grossly violating Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War that demand that an Occupier must provide life-sustaining food and medical services to the Occupied “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”. Nuclear terrorist, serial war criminal, genocidally racist, democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel determines that 72% of its now 50% Indigenous Palestinian subjects who are Occupied Palestinians cannot vote for the government ruling them i.e. egregious Apartheid [40-44].
While the US lackey and Zionist -subverted West largely ignores these horrible Zionist crimes, numerous anti-racist Jewish and non-Jewish humanitarians endlessly protest the gross violation of Palestinian human rights by Apartheid Israel in its ongoing Palestinian Genocide [45-53]. Of course the same moral indignation in decent people is also elicited by the desperate lot of 1 million Rohingya refugees , of 70 million refugees worldwide  and of 5.0 billion people in the Developing World (minus China) who are suffering deprivation in general and variously suffering deadly deprivation in relation to water quantity and quality . Thus 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation each year on Spaceship Earth with One Percenters in charge of the flight deck – deadly Apartheid indeed, with Water Apartheid being a major factor and directly causing about 10% of these deaths .
12. Per capita water use by country. There is wide variation in per capita water use for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes . However a stand-out is Australia at 5,104 m3 per person per year as compared to 1,600 (the US), and 305 (Apartheid Israel) . Under Apartheid Israeli occupation the Occupied Palestinians score a deadly 91.5 m3 per person per year  (an Olympic swimming pool contains 2,500,000 L or 2,500 m3 of water, and 1 m3 is equivalent to 3.2 forty-four gallon drums).
13. Aqua nullius and terra nullius. Just as the genocidally racist Zionists stole all of Palestine and all of its surface and underground water, so the genocidally racist British invaders did the same to Indigenous Australians. Thus R. Quentin Grafton and Sarah Jane Wheeler (2018): “[Re] Australia’s First Peoples, water is a part of everything in their culture, such as their dreaming stories, art, songs, and dance, and there is evidence that they have been managing water in the MDB [Murray-Darling Basin] for perhaps as long 40,000 years. Indeed, the Brewarrina fish traps (Baiame’s Ngunnhu) on the Barwon River are possibly the oldest continuously used human water construction in the world… By comparison, European settlers typically viewed water as a resource to be used, manipulated, and harnessed for economic benefits. These two vastly different worlds have often clashed. Along with the legal fiction of terra nullius, there was also the myth of “aqua nullius” that rendered existing Indigenous water relationships invisible” . Capitalist greed by the descendants of the genocidal British invaders has meant that the Darling River has now been reduced to a succession of putrid water holes . For the dispossessed and impoverished survivors of the Aboriginal Genocide along the Darling River and its tributaries the Barwon and Namoi Rivers (that meet at the town of Walgett that means “the meeting of the two waters”) there is no water to drink, fish or swim in [58-60].
14. Water footprint for meat. The water footprint in litres per kilogram (L/kg) is as follows for milk (1,020), eggs (3,265), chicken meat (4,325), butter (5,553), pig meat (5,988), sheep or goat meat (8,763) and beef meat (15, 415) [61, 62]. In contrast, the the water footprint for vegetables and potatoes is 300-400 L/kg . Animal-based food is also very expensive in terms of conversion of plant material to animal meat. Thus consider the following conversion efficiencies (kg grain to produce 1 kg gain in live weight): herbivorous farmed fish (e.g. carp, tilapia, catfish; less than 2), chicken (2), pork (4), and beef (7) . Annual per capita meat consumption (in kg per person per year)  very roughly correlates with annual per capita income (in USD per person per year) (UN, 2014) [65, 66 ] (while noting the exceptions of livestock-based but impoverished Mongolia and the fishing-rich but impoverished Island States of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Samoa).
Annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions presently total 64 billion tonnes CO2-equivalent with methanogenic livestock production and associated land use contributing over 50%. With annual emissions of CO2 per se from industry at a record high, grossly insufficient global climate change action, and with Humanity and the Biosphere existentially threatened by the Methane Bomb of the warming Arctic in coming decades , Humanity must urgently adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet to help save the Planet . Several recent reports collectively endorsed by thousands of expert scientists have warned the world that time is running out to save Humanity and the Biosphere from further catastrophic climate change and further massive biodiversity loss [68-75]. Massive harm has already occurred due to continuing carbon pollution, population growth and economic growth, and it is clear that zero growth in these areas is insufficient – there must be negative carbon pollution (atmospheric CO2 draw-down to about 300 ppm CO2) [76-80], negative population growth (50% population decline)  and negative economic growth (50% degrowth with most of the burden in Developed countries)  to halt and reverse this worsening disaster.
Much of eastern Australia has recently been in the grip of years of severe drought, and sheep and cattle production has suffered in huge swathes of country without a blade of grass. Yet neoliberal governments have moved to support continued methanogenic livestock production that is immensely environmentally destructive. The Indigenous Australians had a 65,000 years old farming civilization based on use of fire to encourage pasture for kangaroos and other soft-footed macropod marsupials, with areas of strict conservation as emergency resources in times of drought. The British invaders actively and passively exterminated most of the Indigenous people in an ongoing Aboriginal Genocide and Aboriginal Ethnocide, engaged in massive ecosystem destruction (ecocide) and speciescide. The hard hooves of the ungulate sheep and cattle compacted soil and introduced feral animals (rabbits, rats, cats, dogs, foxes, camels, cane toads and pigs) wiped out much of the Indigenous fauna. Professor Jared Diamond in his seminal book “Collapse” described this carnage as “mining the land” and predicted that Australia would eventually become a food importer . Australia is among world leaders in 14 areas of environmental destruction and climate criminal activities or parameters, to whit: (1) annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution, (2) live methanogenic livestock exports, (3) natural gas exports, (4) recoverable shale gas reserves that can be accessed by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), (5) coal exports, (6) land clearing and deforestation, (7) speciescide – species extinction, (8) coral reef destruction, (9) whale killing and extinction threat through global warming, (10) terminal carbon pollution budget exceedance, (11) per capita carbon debt, (l2) GHG generating iron ore exports, (13) climate change inaction, and (14) climate genocide [83, 84].
15. Crop agriculture water footprint. M.M. Mekonnen and A.Y. Hoekstra (2010): “The water footprint of a product is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the product… The bluewater footprint refers to the volume of surface and groundwater consumed (evaporated) as a result of the production of a good; the greenwater footprint refers to the rainwater consumed. The grey water footprint of a product refers to the volume of freshwater that is required to assimilate the load of pollutants based on existing ambient water quality standards” . The water footprint in litres per kilogram (L/kg) is as follows for various food crops: sugar (197), vegetables (322), starchy roots (387), fruits (962), cereals (1,644), oil crops (2,364), pulses (4,055) and nuts (9,063) [62, 85].
The water footprint is 9,113 L/kg for cotton lint and 9,982 L/kg for cotton textile . Australia is heavily involved in arid zone cotton production and in cotton export that amounts to an absurd export of water from the world’s most arid inhabited continent. Upstream irrigation for cotton has massively contributed to the near- death of the Darling River that is at the heart of the Murray-Darling Basin that is “Australia’s food bowl”. Neoliberal greed and corruption are at the core of this terracidal disaster. Neoliberalism demands maximal freedom for the rich and advantaged to exploit natural and human resources for maximum private profit. Conversely, social humanism (socialism, democratic socialism, eco-socialism, the welfare state) aims to sustainably maximize happiness, opportunity and dignity for everyone through evolving intra-national and international social contracts [86, 87].
16. Manufacturing industry water footprint. Water footprint: “The average Briton drinks about 2 to 5 litres of water each day, and then uses another 145 or so litres for cooking, cleaning, washing, and flushing. Does that sound like much to you? Now multiply that figure by 23, and you have just uncovered a hidden truth: the average Briton really consumes about 3,400 litres of water every day – well over a million litres a year!… Embedded water refers to the amount of water necessary to produce a product. It takes about 140 litres to grow one cup of coffee; about 11,000 litres to produce a pair of jeans; and about 400,000 litres to build a car. When we add to the amount of water running from our taps the amount hidden in everything we consume, our true water consumption is exposed – about 3,400 litres per Briton per day” . Between 2000 and 2050 manufacturing industry use of water will increase by 400% .
17. Deforestation. Forests have major roles in the hydrological cycle (involving transpiration, water evaporation and subsequent water precipitation)  and the carbon cycle (involving photosynthetic CO2 fixation in cellulosic and non-cellulosic carbohydrates and subsequent CO2 release through oxidation of carbohydrates) [90-93]. Trees consume water through photolysis, release water through respiration, and move water from roots to escape via leaf stomata through transpiration. Trees also retain water in living cells and in the soil through generation of water-retaining soil carbon. Water from transpiration in the Amazon rainforest is so large as to affect continent-scale weather and precipitation. Deforestation and land clearing (most notably in countries like Brazil, Australia and Indonesia [94-96]) has a huge impact on the water cycle, the carbon cycle, biodiversity, greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, global warming, drought, precipitation and soil water retention.
Climate change economist Sir Nicholas Stern critically stated (2006) “The science tells us that GHG emissions are an externality; in other words, our emissions affect the lives of others. When people do not pay for the consequences of their actions we have market failure. This is the greatest market failure the world has seen” [96, 97], and also argued for an international programme to combat deforestation, which contributes 15-20% of greenhouse gas emissions (2006): “For $10-15bn (£4.8-7.2bn) per year, a programme could be constructed that could stop up to half the deforestation” .
18. Global warming. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in circa 1750, the atmospheric level of CO2 has increased from 280 ppm CO2 to the present circa 410 ppm CO2. Increases in other GHGs such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) mean that the CO2-equivalent in the atmosphere is presently about 490 ppm CO2-e, and the average global surface temperature has increased by about 1 degree Centigrade (1C). This has been associated with the world’s Sixth Mass Extinction event in which species extinction is 100-1,000 greater than normal in what is now described as the Anthropocene Era [66-81]. The world already has an inescapable Carbon Debt of $200-250 trillion that – instead of being urgently reduced by massive atmospheric CO2 draw-down – is relentlessly increasing at about $16 trillion per year . In a domestic household budget setting this would be utter lunacy – in a global setting it is mass suicide of humanity. This utterly disastrous present scenario means that a catastrophic plus 2C temperature rise is now evidently unavoidable – we have only 10 years at the current rate of GHG pollution before a 50% probability of a catastrophic plus 2C exceedance [72-74]. However we are obliged to do everything we can to make the future “less bad” for future generations. 90% of the extra heat has gone into the oceans [72-74].
As further detailed below, global warming is variously associated with increased drought and forest fires in some regions, and increased evaporation, increased atmospheric H2O and thence increased precipitation in others. Global warming-driven changes in ocean currents and stratospheric jet streams have paradoxically been associated with colder winters in Europe. In Australia global warming has been associated with increased precipitation in the tropical north and decreased precipitation and drought in southern Australia. Global warming and increased sea temperature in the tropics has been associated with more intense storms (cyclones, hurricanes). Global warming-driven sea level rise is associated with more damaging storm surges impacting coastal parts of Island Nations and of low-lying, mega-delta countries (notably north eastern India and Bangladesh most recently devastated by Cyclone Fani ).
19. Floods. Increased ocean temperature leads to increased evaporation and thence increased precipitation, floods and flash floods that are compounded by the effects of deforestation [99-101]. Lin et al (2018): “Weather extremes have widespread harmful impacts on ecosystems and human communities with more deaths and economic losses from flash floods than any other severe weather-related hazards. Flash floods attributed to storm runoff extremes are projected to become more frequent and damaging globally due to a warming climate and anthropogenic changes” . The recent huge Kerala flood disaster (350 deaths and 1 million people displaced) was not a natural disaster – it was a man-made disaster involving local Indian contributions (inadequate water storage hazard response and landslides from deforestation) and a major international contribution from global warming due to ever-increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, with the prosperous First World and Anglosphere countries being disproportionately high contributors on a per capita basis .
20. Drought and soil loss. Global warming variously impacts drought and precipitation. The overall global drought risk as variously determined from tree rings and meteorological data shows an increase in the period 1900-1950, a paradoxical decrease in the period 1950-1975 and a steady state since 1975. Nevertheless increasing global drought risk is implicit in the data [102, 103]. Thus in specific areas (the Sahel, the Middle East and Southern Australia) drought is having a big impact. The African Sahel has experienced a 50% increase in record dry months in recent decades . Famine from drought is impacting 30 million people from Niger to Yemen  and is compounded by the obscene war on starving Somalis and starving Yemenis by the obscenely wealthy US Alliance . Drought in the Middle East has contributed to the Syrian War catastrophe  that was also driven by US and Apartheid Israeli desire for fossil fuel resources and hegemony. Loss of vegetation means that topsoil in drought-ravaged South East Australia has been blown in huge dust storms into the Tasman Sea . The Australian Climate Council states that climate change has exacerbated the present disastrous drought, and that Southern Australia is predicted to become drier. The Australian Murray-Darling Basin, which produces more than 33% of Australia’s food, has experienced a 41% decline in streamflow over the past 2 decades [109, 110].
21. Ice sheet melting, glacier melting and sea level rise. Global warning has resulted in a circa 25 cm rise in sea level since 1880 through the effects of thermal expansion and ice melting, with the current rate being about 30 cm per century and a predicted rise to 1 metre by 2100 . There is massive loss of Arctic summer sea ice that is predicted to disappear completely over the next several decades . There is also massive melting of the Antarctic ice sheet with about 159 Gt being lost per year . Greenland contains enough ice that when melted would raise sea levels by 7 metre, and has already lost about 10,000 Gt . Complete melting of the Antarctic ice sheet would increase sea level by 57 metres. Glaciers around the world are melting and western North American glaciers are losing 12.3 Gt annually . 327 million Gt of melting would increase sea level by 1 mm . In the Arctic there are huge stores of methane (CH4) that exists with water (H2O) in clathrate crystal arrays. CH4 has 105 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2 (on a 20 year time frame with aerosol impacts considered). The predicted released of 50 Gt CH4 (5,250 Gt CO2-equivalent) from the Arctic in coming decades means game over for Humanity and the Biosphere . Compounding this nightmare is a positive feedback loop in which warming -> decreased sea ice -> decreased albedo (reflectivity) -> increased light absorbance – > increased warming.
22. Paleoclimatology and sea level. Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleo-climate research scientist at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia) (2009) has commented thus on the long-term implications of the present CO2 level rise : “The continuing use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for industrial pollution has already added some 305 GtC to the atmosphere together with land clearing and animal-emitted methane. This raised CO2 levels to 387 ppm CO2 to date, leading toward conditions which existed on Earth about 3 million years (Ma) ago (mid-Pliocene), when CO2 levels rose to about 400 ppm, temperatures to about 2–3 degrees C and sea levels by about 25 +/- 12 metres [79, 80, 116].
23. Storm surges, inundation and salinization. 90% of the extra heat from the greenhouse effect has gone into the oceans. Ocean surface warming of circa 2C means increased water evaporation and increased energy of tropical storms associated with precipitation. Global warming has meant increased energy of tropical hurricanes (cyclones)  that with increased sea level means inundation of coastal areas with destructive and deadly sea surges. Higher sea level and storm surges means increasing salinization of coastal areas and consequent decrease in crucial agricultural productivity. Low-lying tropical Island Nations and mega-delta regions (e.g. Bengal) are existentially threatened by sea level rise, high energy hurricanes and storm surges [17, 118].
24. Forest fires including tropical and temperate rainforest combustion. Global warming and dry conditions have been associated with increased forest fires around the world, notably in western North America, southern Europe, Indonesia and Australia. Climate change is a major contributor to this world-wide conflagration [119-121]. Warmer and drier conditions lead to a greater probability of undergrowth ignition due to loss of moisture and humidity. There is a positive feedback loop associated with this massive ecosystem destruction: greenhouse gases (GHGs) -> global warming -> dryness -> increased wildfires -> more CO2 release -> more warming. Alarmingly, wet, tropical forests are now burning due to deforestation and drought. Thus forest fires in the Amazon emit twice the GHGs due to deforestation . Edges of the extraordinary temperate rainforests of southwest Tasmania may now be susceptible to burning due to drought .
25. Death of rivers and lakes. In the last 20 years 55% of China’s rivers have run dry due to industrial over-exploitation . In Australia the Darling, Barwon and Namoi Rivers of the key food-producing Murray-Darling Basin have become successions of putrid puddles due to drought and over-exploitation of scarce riverine water for irrigation agriculture in a very dry region (notably for cotton production) [58-60]. In Central Asia, the Aral Sea was once the fourth largest lake in the world but due to water use for agriculture (notably for cotton production) has almost disappeared [124, 125]. Salinization of rivers is a major problem across America because of the use of salt (sodium choride, NaCl) to clear roads of snow and ice. In Flint, Michigan, the authorities stoped sourcing water from Detroit and to save money took it from the Flint River. Consequent corrosion of lead piping lead to lead poisoning of 27,000 children [126, 127], this being reminiscent of the waste methylmercury neurotoxic poisoning of the people of Minamata in Japan . The Jordan River, immortalized in Christianity and in African American spiritual songs, has become an agricultural run-off-, sewerage- , saline-polluted stream , and the Jordan Valley has been largely ethnically cleansed of Indigenous Palestinians by the genocidally racist Zionists .
26. Desertification. Drought and over-exploitation of water resources is contributing to the growing cancer of desertification around the world. The regions of high to highest vulnerability to desertification are those contiguous with existing desert regions in the Western USA, Central Asia, the Sahara (North Africa and the Sahel), southern Africa, the Middle East, Australia and parts of South America and South Asia. Desertification is increasing while population and the need for arable land is also increasing, Drylands represent about 40% of the Earth’s land area and are inhabited by about 2 billion people. About 1 billion people are presently threatened by desertification .
27. Ecocide, speciescide, omnicide and terracide. The Earth is presently undergoing a 6th extinction event in what has been described as the Anthropocene Era [68-71, 131-133]. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) re Summary of the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019): “ 75%: terrestrial environment “severely altered” to date by human actions (marine environments 66%)… >85%: of wetlands present in 1700 had been lost by 2000 – loss of wetlands is currently three times faster, in percentage terms, than forest loss… 8 million: total estimated number of animal and plant species on Earth (including 5.5 million insect species)… Tens to hundreds of times: the extent to which the current rate of global species extinction is higher compared to average over the last 10 million years, and the rate is accelerating… Up to 1 million: species threatened with extinction, many within decades… >500,000 (+/-9%): share of the world’s estimated 5.9 million terrestrial species with insufficient habitat for long term survival without habitat restoration … >40%: amphibian species threatened with extinction… Almost 33%: reef forming corals, sharks and shark relatives, and >33% marine mammals threatened with extinction… 25%: average proportion of species threatened with extinction across terrestrial, freshwater and marine vertebrate, invertebrate and plant groups that have been studied in sufficient detail… 33%: marine fish stocks in 2015 being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% are maximally sustainably fished; 7% are underfished… >55%: ocean area covered by industrial fishing … 70%: proportion of cancer drugs that are natural or synthetic products inspired by nature” .
The summary for policy makers of the global assessment report on the biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) (2019): “Scenarios project mostly adverse climate change effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, which worsen, in some cases exponentially, with incremental global warming. Even for global warming of 1.5°C to 2°C, the majority of terrestrial species ranges are projected to shrink profoundly. Changes in ranges can adversely affect the capacity of terrestrial protected areas to conserve species, greatly increase local species turnover and substantially increase the risk of global extinctions. For example, a synthesis of many studies estimates that the fraction of species at risk of climate-related extinction is 5 per cent at 2°C warming, rising to 16 per cent at 4.3°C warming. Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to climate change and are projected to decline to 10-30 per cent of former cover at 1.5°C warming and to less than 1 per cent at 2°C warming. Therefore, scenarios show that limiting global warming to well below 2°C plays a critical role in reducing adverse impacts on nature and its contribution to people” .
Warming, acidification and pollution of the oceans is killing the world’s coral reefs, complex ecosystems associated with many species. Fertilizer run-off and warming are creating huge dead zones in the oceans. Over-fishing is driving species to extinction. More complex pathways are threatening ocean species. Thus, for example, man-made global warming is decreasing Antarctic sea ice and hence the substratum for photosynthetic algae that are consumed by krill, with the consequent decline in krill impacting krill-eating species such as whales. Massive land clearing, forest fires, desertification, wetland “reclamation” and urbanization are destroying habitats, ecosystems and species. Violation of water systems is variously associated with ecocide and speciescide, with this putting the planet on a path towards omnicide and terracide.
28. Water theft and water wars. The Palestinian Genocide (commonly described by the Mainstream media as the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”) has been about land, fossil fuel and water resources as well as race-based colonization and ethnic cleansing [39-55]. Drought, displacement and disaffection had a major role in the related US Alliance- and Apartheid Israel-backed Syrian Civil War (aka Syrian Holocaust and Syrian Genocide) [54, 55]. Major potential conflict arises from multi-national upstream exploitation and damming of major rivers such as the Nile, the Indus, the Ganges and the Mekong.
29. Australian water and environmental lunacy. Australia is the driest inhabited continent but is profligate in the use of water and in the effective export of water through export of goods with a high water footprint (e.g. cotton and cattle). The worsening water crisis and the worsening climate emergency are intimately connected. Rich Australia is among world leaders for the following 14 climate criminal activities or parameters: (1) annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution [134-136], (2) live methanogenic livestock exports [82, 137-144], (3) natural gas exports [145-147], (4) recoverable shale gas reserves that can be accessed by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) , (5) coal exports [149-153], (6) land clearing, deforestation and ecocide [154, 155], (7) speciescide – species extinction , (8) coral reef destruction [78-80, 156-163], (9) whale killing and extinction threat through global warming , (10) terminal carbon pollution budget exceedance [165-168], (11) per capita carbon debt [18-20, 169-172], (12) GHG generating iron ore exports [173-175], (13) climate change inaction  and (14) climate genocide and approach towards omnicide and terracide . Thanks to the homicidal greed of climate criminal countries such as Australia, the present plus 1C is already devastating Island Nations and a catastrophic plus 2C warming is now unavoidable [14-17, 177].
30. Mina Guli, activism and Mainstream media unresponsiveness. Mina Guli is an Australian science and law graduate with an impressive business background in carbon trading and energy policy. She founded the water use advocacy and education organization Thirst, and courageously attempted to run an extraordinary 100 marathons over 100 days to bring global attention to the water crisis, but was stopped after 60 by a bone fracture [178, 179]. It is a sad testament to entrenched denialism in public life in neoliberal Western democracies that an informed, skilled and articulate professional such as Mina Guli found it necessary to embark on such an extraordinary physical endeavour in order to achieve effective free speech and be able educate the public on the worsening water crisis. Indeed I was inspired by Mina Guli’s courageous and ethical example to research and write this wide-ranging, science-based and documented sketch of the water crisis in the interests of Humanity.
The world faces a worsening water crisis that is inextricably linked to a worsening climate emergency and climate genocide. Presently 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease in the Developing World minus China . This Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust is significantly linked to water-related impacts including drought, storms, fires, inundation, biosphere degradation, lack of water for agriculture, and lack of potable water. However a worsening, water-related climate genocide may see up to 10 billion people dying this century if man-made global warming is not requisitely addressed . Technological solutions exist for water deficiency problems in rich countries e.g. urban water recycling, hydroponic agriculture, desalination, and rational industrial and domestic water use. However the linked water crisis, biodiversity crisis and climate crisis require drastic global action, specifically negative greenhouse gas pollution (CO2 draw-down to 300 ppm CO2 from the present dangerous and damaging 410 ppm CO2), negative population growth (a halving of population) and negative economic growth (a 50% decrease with the burden to be largely borne by the rich North) . Fundamentally these water-related crises require replacement of neoliberal facilitation of untrammelled individual greed with balanced and sustainable resource utilization for the benefit of all peoples and all species. Please inform everyone you can.
. WWAP (United Nations World Water Assessment Programme)/UN-Water. 2018. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2018: Nature-Based Solutions for Water. Paris, UNESCO: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/261424e.pdf .
|May 14, 2019||
The Disintegrated Mind: The Greatest Threat to Human Survival on Earth
by Robert J Burrowes, in Counter Solutions, Countercurrents.org
Like many people who have struggled to understand why human beings are driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history, which now threatens imminent human extinction as well, over many decades I have explored the research and efforts of a great many activists and scholars to secure this understanding. However, with many competing ideas from the fields of politics, economics, sociology and psychology, among others, this understanding has proved elusive. Nevertheless, I have reached an understanding that I find compelling: Human beings are driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history because of the disintegrated nature of the human mind.
While the expression ‘mental disintegration’ has been used in a number of contexts previously, for the purpose of my discussion in this article I am going to redefine it, explain how it originates, describe several ways in which it manifests behaviorally and the profoundly dysfunctional outcomes this generates, and suggest what we can do about it.
Given that the expression, as I am using it, describes a shocking psychological state but also one that is so widespread it afflicts virtually everyone, it can be described as posing the greatest threat to human survival on Earth. Why? Simply because it caused – and now prevents virtually everyone from thinking, feeling, planning and behaving functionally in response to – the multifaceted threats to humanity and the biosphere.
So, for the purpose of this article: Mental disintegration describes a state in which the various parts of the human mind are no longer capable of working as an integrated unit. That is, each part of the mind – such as memory, thoughts, feelings, sensing capacities (sight, hearing…), ‘truth register’, conscience – function largely independently of each other, rather than as an integrated whole. The immediate outcome of this dysfunction is that human behaviour lacks consideration, conviction, courage and strategy, and is simply driven compulsively by the predominant fear in each context.
The reason this issue first attracted my attention was because, on many occasions, I observed individuals (ranging from people I knew, to politicians) behaving in ways that seemed outrageous but it was also immediately apparent that the individual was completely unaware of the outrageous nature of their behaviour. On the contrary, it seemed perfectly appropriate to them. With the passage of time, however, I have observed this dysfunctionality in an enormously wide variety of more subtle and common forms, making me realise just how widespread it is even if it goes largely unrecognized. After all, if virtually everyone does it in particular contexts, then why should it be considered ‘abnormal’?
One version of this mental disintegration is the version usually known as ‘cognitive dissonance’. The widely accepted definition of this state, based on Leon Festinger’s research in the 1950s, goes something like this: Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we have an inner drive to hold all of our attitudes, beliefs, values and behavior in harmony and to avoid disharmony (or dissonance). This is known as the principle of cognitive consistency. When there is an inconsistency between attitudes, beliefs and/or values on the one handand behaviors on the other (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance.
The problem with this approach to the issue is that it assumes awareness of the inconsistency on the part of the individual impacted and also assumes (based on Festinger’s research) that there is some inclination to seek consistency. But my own observations of a vast number of people in a substantial variety of contexts over several decades have clearly revealed that, in very many contexts, individuals have no awareness of any discrepancy and, hence, have no inclination to seek consistency between their attitude, belief and/or value and their behavior. Moreover, even if they do have some awareness of the inconsistency, most people simply act on the basis of their predominant emotion – usually fear – in the context and pass it off with a rationalization. For example, that their particular work/role is so important that it justifies their excessive consumption on a planet of limited and unequally shared resources.
Consequently, to choose an obvious example, most climate, environmental, anti-nuclear and anti-war activists fail to grapple meaningfully with the obvious contradiction between their own over-consumption of fossil fuels and resources generally and the role that consumption of these resources plays in driving the climate and environmental catastrophes as well as war. The idea of reducing their own personal consumption is beyond serious contemplation (let alone action). And, of course, it goes without saying that the global elite suffers this disintegration of the mind by failing to connect their endless acquisition of power, profit and privilege at the expense of all others and the Earth, with the accelerating and multifaceted threats to human survival including the future of their own children. But the examples are endless.
In any case, leaving aside ‘cognitive dissonance’, there are several types of mental disintegration as I define it in this article. Let me briefly give you five examples of mental disintegration before explaining why it occurs.
So why does this mental disintegration – this disintegration of the mind so that its many components are essentially unaware of the others – happen? In brief, it happens because, throughout childhood, each individual is endlessly bombarded with ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence in the name of socialization, which is more accurately labeled ‘terrorization’. This is done to ensure that the child is obedient despite the fact that obedience has no evolutionary functionality whatsoever. See ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.
A primary outcome of this terrorization in materialist cultures is that the child learns to suppress their awareness of how they feel by using food and material items to distract themselves. By doing this, the child rapidly loses self-awareness and learns to consume as the substitute for this awareness. Clearly, this has catastrophic consequences for the child, their society and for nature (although it is immensely profitable for elites and their agents). For a fuller explanation, see ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.
Beyond this, however, this terrorization ensures that the human mind is so disintegrated that virtually all humans have no problem living in denial, delusion and projectionand using ‘magic rats’ and lies on a vast range of issues because they simply have no awareness of reality in that context. Different parts of their disintegrated mind simply hold one element of their mind separately from all others (thus obscuring any denial, delusion and projection and the use of ‘magic rats’ and lies), consequently precluding any tendency to restore integrity from arising.
This is why, for example, most people can lie ‘outrageously’, including under oath, without the slightest awareness that they are doing so and which, as an aside, is why oaths to tell the truth in court, and even lie detector tests, are utterly meaningless. If the person themself is unaware they are lying, it is virtually impossible for anyone else – unless extraordinarily self-aware – to detect it. And, of course, judges and juries cannot be self-aware or they would not agree to perform their respective roles in the extraordinarily dysfunctional and violent legal system. See ‘The Rule of Law: Unjust and Violent’.
In essence then, the process of ‘socializing’ (terrorizing) a child into obedience so that they will ‘fit into’ their particular society has the outcome of scaring them into suppressing their awareness of reality, including their awareness of themself.In this circumstance, the individual that now ‘survives’ does so as the ‘socially-constructed delusional identity’ (that is, obedient and, preferably, submissive individual) that the significant adults in their childhood terrorized them into becoming.
To reiterate: Because social terrorization destroys the emergence of an integrated mind that would enable memory, sensing capacities, thoughts, feelings, conscience, attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviours to act in concert, the typical individual will now invariably act in accord with the unconscious fear that drives every aspect of their behavior (and ‘requires’ them to endlessly seek approval to avoid the punishment threatened for disobedience when they were a child).
Moreover, this disintegrated mind has little or no capacity to ‘observe reality’ in any case, such as seek out genuine news sources – like the one you are reading now – that accurately report the biodiversity, climate, environmental, militaryand nuclear catastrophes and, having done so, to be truly aware of this news in the sense of deeply comprehending its meaning and implications for their own behaviour.
So, to elaborate one of the examples cited above, even most individuals who self-identify as climate, environmental, anti-nuclear and/or anti-war ‘activists’ go on over-consuming (which is highly socially approved in industrialized societies) without any genuine re-evaluation of their own behaviour in light of what should be theobserved realityabout these crises (or, if their mind allows a ‘re-evaluation’ to commence, to dismiss it quickly with a rationalization that their over-consumption is somehow justified).
One obvious outcome of this is that elite-controlled corporations and their governments can largely ignore ‘activist’ entreaties for change because activist (and widespread) over-consumption constitutes financial endorsement of the elite’s violent and exploitative economy. In other words: If people are buying the products (such as fossil fuels for their car and air travel, and hi-tech devices), made possible by fighting the wars and exploiting the people in countries where the raw materials for this production are secured, then why pay attention to calls for change? Dollars speak louder than words.
So what can we do?
Well, given that the above describes just a small proportion of the psychological dysfunctionality of most humans, which is why we remain on the fast track to extinction despite overwhelming evidence of the profound changes that need to occur – see ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’– I encourage you to seriously consider incorporating strategies to address this dysfunctionality into any effort you make to improve our world.
For most people, this will include starting with yourself. See ‘Putting Feelings First’.
For virtually everyone, it will include reviewing your relationship with children and, ideally, making ‘My Promise to Children’.
For those who feel readily able to deal with reality, consider campaigning strategically to achieve the outcomes we need. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy or Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy. The global elite is deeply entrenched – fighting its wars, exploiting people, destroying the biosphere – and not about to give way without a concerted effort by many of us campaigning strategically on several key fronts.
If you recognize the pervasiveness of the fear-driven violence in our world, consider joining the global network of people resisting it by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.
But, most fundamentally of all, if you understand the simple point that Earth’s biosphere cannot sustain a human population of this magnitude of which more than half endlessly over-consume, then consider accelerated participation in the strategy outlined in‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’.
Or, if this feels too complicated, consider committing to:
The Earth Pledge
Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:
There is a vast array of ‘professional help’, literature, video material, lecturers and other ‘resources’ from a wide range of perspectives that advocate and ‘teach’ one or a variety of ways that people can use to change their behaviour to get improved outcomes in their lives (whether from a personal, economic, business, political or other perspective). Virtually all of these constitute nothing more than psychological ‘tricks’ to achieve a short-term outcome by ‘working around’ the fundamental truth: As a result of terrorization during childhood, virtually all humans are unconsciously terrified and this makes their behaviour utterly dysfunctional.
The point is this: there is no trick that can get us out of the catastrophic mess in which we now find ourselves. Only the truth can do that. Psychological and behavioural dysfunctionalities notwithstanding, if we do not address this fear as part of our overall strategy, then this fear will destroy us in the end. And the evidence of that lies simply in the fact that the daily updates on the already decades-long but ongoing horrific biodiversity, climate, environmental, nuclear, war and humanitarian crises are testament to our ongoing failure to respond appropriately and powerfully. Because our (usually unconscious) fear prevents us from doing so.
So if you believe that human beings are going to get out of our interrelated social, political, economic, military, nuclear and ecological crises with a largely psychologically dysfunctional population, I encourage you to re-evaluate that belief (paying attention, if you can, to how your disintegrated mind intervenes to prevent you doing so). And I encourage you to ask yourself if the value we get out of improving the psychological functionality of our species might not be worth considerable effort as part of our overall strategy to avert human extinction.
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his website is here.
|May 7 2019||
Robert Owen, Worker Cooperatives, and Democratic Socialism
by Edward J Martin, in Life/Philosophy, Countercurrents.org
Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) – and its two predecessor organizations, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) and the New American Movement (NAM) – had their origins in the early 1970s, at the beginning of a long-term rightward shift of United States and global politics. This shift to the right – from the 1980s of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher – to the 2016 Donald Trump charade – overshadowed the central role these organizations played in the movements of resistance to corporate domination, as well as in today’s ongoing project: organizing an ideological and organizational socialist presence among trade union, community, feminist and people of color and other activists.
DSA made an ethical contribution to the broader American Left by being one of the few radical organizations born out of a merger rather than a split. DSA also helped popularize the vision of a democratic, ecumenical, multi-tendency socialist organization, an ethos that enabled it to incorporate many thousands of new members, mostly out of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. Nevertheless, it was under the leadership of DSA Michael Harrington and his groundbreaking The Other America (1963) that catalyzed the civil rights movement, its leaders and the Kennedy Administrations to prioritize not only issues of race but equal attention to domestic poverty and inequality.This set the stage for Martin Luther King’s “Poor People’s Campaign.”
The foundations of democratic socialism have its origins in the eighteenth century and the breakdown of feudal Europe, specifically England, where the medieval guilds and the protection of workers’ rights was subsequently replaced as a commodity. The emergence of capitalism during this period further reinforced the subordination of labor under the domain of capital and the nightmarish results of this priority in the Industrial Revolution. Confronting this crisis were religious leaders, philosophers, and economic reformers arguing that labor creates profit, not capital which is the hallmark of democratic socialism and today the DSA. The origins of this position can be traced to such reformers as Robert Owen.I argue that Owen’s model represents the initial development of what today has become known as “democratic socialism.”
Robert Owen and the Industrial Revolution
The negative externalities of the Industrial Revolution provided the context for a democratic socialist economy movement. Led by Robert Owen (1771–1858) and the utopian socialists, private property understood as the exclusive right of industrialists, was identified as the source of existing exploitation and inequality. While the Industrial Revolution brought about unprecedented wealth, only capitalists received the lion’s share. Though labor created massive profits (surplus value) for the capitalist class, labor received a subsistence wage. Owen and the utopian socialists sought to counter this injustice by opting for labor’s democratic ownership of capital and the surplus value they produced.
The Industrial Revolution that gathered momentum ineighteenth centuryEurope and the United States created the historical context for democratic socialism. Utopians argued that private property (capital) was the source of existing inequalities, but the framework of their thought, based on conceptions of a preindustrial society, is today remote. The extensive development of factory production and the social conditions that ensued – and the laissez-faire interpretation of these events favored by conventional economists – created the conditions in which modern socialism was born. Nonetheless, the Industrial Revolution brought about unprecedented increases in productivity based on the development of factories and the widespread use of machinery.
The major cost of these innovations was borne by society’s least powerful – the working class – or, for all intents and purposes, the vast majority of poor. In 1750 the working class in Europe, specifically England and the United States, lived near subsistence levels, and the purchasing power of wages deteriorated considerably during the second half of the eighteenth century. National income grew over this period, so that workers’ relative living standards fell and the potential consumption they involuntarily sacrificed financed the investment required for industrialization. Had working-class incomes kept in step with national income, the average worker would have been approximately 50 percent richer in 1840 than thirty years earlier.
The Industrial Revolution replaced traditional occupations – typically rural farming or guild status as an artisan in various crafts. This change resulted from the breakdown of the old feudal societies of Europe and the industrialization of those same economies due to mechanistic innovations in the means of production. Mechanization facilitated the division of labor, creating tasks that women and children could perform. Entire families often worked to achieve subsistence. The conditions under which labor was performed were unregulated and dangerous and involved long hours in dehumanizing conditions. Moreover, the growth of factory production stimulated urbanization in Europe and the United States. As a result, roads, water, sewage, waste management, public health, and provisions for open spaces failed to keep pace with urban migration, while housing was concentrated in crowded slums. The inevitable result manifested itself in air and water pollution, epidemics of typhoid and cholera, and widespread respiratory and intestinal disease, with a consequent low expectation of life.
Successive administrations in England, specifically during the nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution, were slow to intervene and remedy social problems and maintain the price of bread and impeded, or subverted, the development of trade unions. Within this context it can be asserted that the period of Napoleonic war and the subsequent economic crisis constituted the bleakest chapter in British labor history, precisely because the foundations of modern industry were erected on the suffering of workers denied access to the fruits of an expanding economy. By contrast, capitalists enjoyed absolute power over their labor force. Thus the Industrial Revolution created the modern working class, nominally free but able to live only by selling their labor power. Suffice it to say, Great Britain witnessed a considerable development of radical economic doctrines in the first half of the nineteenth century.
The Radical Response
Owen’s prestige was based on his reputation as a businessman, an economic theorist, and a social reformer. From the age of ten he served as a draper’s apprentice, but at twenty he was the manager of a large cotton factory at New Lanark, which became renowned throughout Great Britain for its conditions of work. Owen was a benevolent autocrat who insisted on strict industrial discipline, but in combination with living wages, a decent work environment, abolition of child labor and compulsory education for workers’ children. The profitability of New Lanark demonstrated the shortsightedness of other capitalists’ notion that profit maximization is best achieved through the alienation and exploitation of labor. New Lanark provided a viable moral counterstrategy to neoliberal market rationality.
Late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century industrialization rested on three sets of institutional principles: (1) the absolute nature of private property, (2) a self-regulating laissez-faire market economy, and (3) the transformation of labor into a commodity. While Owenaccepted industrial innovations he did not agree with the unrestrained rule of private capital, self-regulating markets, and the exploitation of human labor. He argued these three economic “truths” were the ultimate causes of contemporary inequalities and social injustice and thus urged their elimination. Owen believed that an industrial economy, if it is to be moral, must be created based on the principles that every person must be treated with dignity and the proceeds of production were divided equitably. The operation of any economy was then to be criticized and evaluated according to such principles.Owen believed that a more just and efficient economy should be focused on his experimental model at New Lanark. Thus Owen’s political economy was based on three important “radical” tenants.
The first tenant is based on what Owen described as an “Economy of High Wages.” Owen held the view that a wage increase – or higher labor costs – leads to: (1) an improvement in the living standards of workers, (2) which then leads to greater efficiency and production by workers. In other words, increased wages generate additional revenue for both company and workers. Yet Owen’s theory conflicted with the prevailing orthodoxy, which argued that any wage increase occurred at the expense of profits and hence led to a diminution in employment and economic activity. Nevertheless, by extending the “Economy of High Wages” from an individual firm to the nation, Owen embraced an embryonic under-consumption theory of depressions. He advocated a high-wage policy that maintained purchasing power as a cure for unemployment and promotion of economic growth.
The second tenant on which Owen based his political economy was a belief that an individualistic economy is inequitable, irrational, and antisocial. Moreover private ownership is an institution whereby one class gains power over the rest in order to maximize profits. In contrast, Owen did not attack industry or new technology as it manifested itself in the burgeoning Industrial Revolution. Rather, he denounced private ownership of the means of production, the spread of unfettered and unregulated economic competition, and elements of narcissistic individualism propagated through Enlightenment liberalism. Owen argued to the contrary that private ownership and unrestrained competition destroys social cohesion. Furthermore, he argued that individuals by themselves cannot simply improve their own lot in life. Rather it was within the context of a community and its many support networks that the betterment of individuals was realized.
The third tenant is based on Owen’s labor theory of value premised upon the priority of labor. He viewed human labor as “the natural standard of value” and that this concept required capital and machinery to become the servant of labor. Owen believed that capital and profit are designed to serve the human person and community as its first moral priority. Public policy and not the “market” should determine the amount of labor expended on commodities, and workers ought to be compensated based on both human needs and effort. Owen argued for economic cooperation, rather than competition, through a network of self-governing communes, where private ownership of the means of production was transformed into a democratic alliance eliminating any labor-ownership conflict. Owen argued that capital and profit should never come at the expense of labor.
Owen as Social Reformer
Owen’s career as a national reformer can be understood in different stages. Between the publication of Towards a New View of Society in 1813 and A Report to the County of Lanark in 1821, he concentrated on ameliorating existing social problems such as poverty, child labor, inhumane work hours and unemployment. He thought that these social injustices could be avoided if other manufacturers replicated New Lanark on grounds of “enlightened self-interest.” Indeed, his arguments applied to capitalists more concerned with long-term profitability than with immediate gains, but he found that his appeals met with little response. He then attempted to persuade government to alleviate poverty and inequality and was popular in official circles after 1815, only by virtue of the fact that he focused on the importance of environmental improvements more than his personal brand of socialism. As he advanced beyond the role of wealthy philanthropist to structural reforms that threatened the establishment power centers, he became decreasingly influential in elite circles.
Between 1824-1835,Owen established what he described as “communist” communities. The cities of Orbiston (near Glasgow), Tytherley (in Hampshire) and New Harmony in Indiana were three of the most prominent. The aim was to settle unemployed laborers on the land in self-governed “Villages of Unity and Cooperation.” Such schemes reflected his conviction that society as then constituted would permit cooperatives to supplant existing institutional structures. Owen did this by attempting to persuade the rich and influential about his ideas for social and economic transformation. Nevertheless the Owenite settlements were challenged partly because of the hostile external environment of the business community and the agricultural depression, which generated an influx of unemployed workers which exceeded capacity. Consequently an excess supply of labor to the villages of cooperation proved counterproductive to the communist communities yet not insurmountable..
Owen persisted in his collectivist experimentations. In 1824 the London Co-operative Society was formed as a store for cooperative trading, designed to supersede competitive distribution and allow craftsmen to exchange goods without capitalist intermediaries. It aimed to sell at trade prices and use the savings accumulated through elimination of retailers’ profits to financially bolster socialist communities. The next envisaged stage of development involved members’ cooperation to produce directly for each other rather than choosing between capitalist goods sold in their stores.For example, the London Society opened an Exchange Bazaar for societies and individuals to engage in mutual exchange. Owen returned from the United States in 1829, after establishing more than three hundred cooperative societies, in the United States and England. This figure rose to almost five hundred by 1832, although many pursued solely educational objectives.
Cooperative stores bought wholesale and sold retail, the commodities demanded by their members, but cooperative producers faced the difficult problem of obtaining a market for all their products. This problem stimulated development of labor exchanges where workmen and producers’ cooperatives could exchange products directly and thus dispense with both employers and merchants. The most important such institution, the National Equitable Labor Exchange, was established by Owen in 1832 and stimulated the formation of similar exchanges in provincial cities. They sought to secure a wider market for cooperative groups and to enable them to exchange their products at an equitable valuation resting on labor time.
Owen appointed trade union “valuers” to price goods on the basis of the cost of raw materials plus the amount of labor time expended on them. A new currency of labor notes was issued for the conduct of transactions. Crucial weaknesses emerged, however. Labor and commercial prices coexisted; goods the exchanges offered more cheaply were soon disposed of, while the more expensive remained unsold. Exchanges would not control their stocks to demand levels and movements in the manner of capitalist retailers, since they had to take what members brought them. Consequently, they became overstocked where there were many cooperative producers and understocked in trades where there were few.
In particular their supplies were concentrated on goods that could be produced by craftsmen possessing little capital. Despite this major weakness, they enjoyed considerable success for a time but collapsed in the general crash of the movement in 1834. Even then some exchanges balanced their books while the National Equitable Labor Exchange incurred a heavy debt, which then fell to Owen. When Owen returned to England in 1829, he found that a trade-union movement had emerged after the repeal of the Combination Acts in 1824, and in 1829 he witnessed the formation of the first modern national union, the Operative Spinners.
While this was happening, the next two years saw much social unrest in the form of agricultural riots and a wave of strike activity in the northern textile towns as a means of achieving the eight-hour workday. Then, by 1832 several distinct but related bodies, such as, the Owenite societies, cooperative stores, cooperative producers, labor exchange, and trade unions, looked to Owen for leadership. Most were growing rapidly as workers, disillusioned by the terms of the 1832 Reform Act, swung away from political mobilization toward organized labor action. Owen sought the fusion of these groups into one national organization, centrally directed and under worker control, which would challenge and transform economic relations through its practice of cooperative production.
By 1833 the Operative Builders’ Union was the largest in the country, with a membership of sixty thousand. The OBU adopted an Owenite agenda to take over the construction industry and reorganize it as a national guild. To implement this program none of its members would work for capitalist builders who refused to join the guild. The owners attempted to destroy the OBU by a lockout by forcing those reemployed to sign a document (i.e., a written pledge not to join a union, which gives the employer the right to fire them if they violate the pledge). The workers lost as the OBU simultaneously fought the lockout and attempted to launch the guild with inadequate financial resources. Its members were then forced back to work by various regions during 1834, and by the end of that year the OBU ceased to exist. It split into craft sections with a greatly reduced membership.
Owen, nevertheless, sought to unite all the associations intended for the improvement of the working class. To this end he inspired the formation of the Grand National Consolidated Trades Union—or GNCTU—which was intended to be a single inclusive union aiming to supersede capitalism by a cooperative system based on workers’ control of production. It sought to implement on an economy-wide basis a plan similar to the OBU guild for construction. Ultimately the GNCTU would control, through its constituent members, all industry, thereby taking over the functions of capitalists, parliament, and local government. It would become the locus of economic, and ultimately political, power. The GNCTU’s formation was followed by feverish organization by discounting cooperative retail and producer societies; unions alone attracted over one million members.
As with the OBU, owners reacted to the GNCTU by presenting the document to workers, with the threat of a lockout if not signed. This response originated in Derby; it was imitated in other towns, but Derby remained the test struggle. The workers lost, being forced back to work after a lockout lasting four months. Given the repeal of the Combination Acts, the case was pursued under the 1797 Naval Mutinies Act, which was never intended to apply to trade unions. Nonetheless, this opportunity for the government to deter union organization arose because many unions adopted secret initiation ceremonies under the threat of employer retaliation. As a result, the GNCTU encountered severe administrative problems. The recruits it made and the disputes it faced were so abundant that urgent problems of management were inevitably ignored.
Internal dissention developed, and Owen became disillusioned; he hoped to initiate bloodless revolution by providing examples of the benefits derived from cooperation. Accordingly he dissolved the GNCTU in August 1834, arguing for a return to education and the need for an ethical appeal in preference to coercion. The GNCTU faded away, but some of its constituent groups and elements of its cooperative ideology remained. Owen returned to establishing villages of cooperation (e.g., Queenswood in 1839), and in 1844 the Rochdale Pioneers’ Cooperative Society developed from a local Owenite body. However, after 1834 the thrust of working-class agitation moved from industrial to political arenas, focusing on the demands of the Chartists.
The Grand National Consolidated Trades Union was undoubtedly a failure in its implementation, yet it was attempting an impossible task that no leadership could have achieved. This is because trade unions were still learning the art of organizing into a cohesive, effective unit. At the time, workers were only able to accomplish sporadic results from organizing into unions and cooperatives. However, they were unable to achieve any sustained action. By contrast, having just won a significant political victory in the 1832 Reform Act, factory owners and burgeoning industrialists were determined in their resolve to counter any form of organized-labor movement or cooperative-based industry. They also possessed the support of a Whig government determined to show that the Reform Act would not destroy property rights. Against such power, workers were poorly paid, uneducated, and only beginning to understand the importance to organized efforts to seek improved working conditions and living-wage salaries.
Although Owen’s innovations beyond the sphere of New Lanark failed during his lifetime, he left an enduring legacy to the future of radical theory. The influence of Owen’s would be: (1) he established a personal example of one who cast aside his personal wealth in an endeavor to secure a more just future for others, (2) the economic measures at New Lanark illustrated that a policy of high wages and improved conditions need not destroy profitability, (3) many of Owen’s theoretical innovations (e.g., labor value to replace money as an Equitable Labor Exchange) are not inherently impractical, (4) his theories of, and attempts to establish, workers’ cooperatives made Owen the instigator of a significant movement of later times, as developments from the Rochdale Pioneers of 1844 demonstrate, and (5) Owen’s appreciation of the role of trade unions in replacing individual worker motivations by collective policy provided a clue to improving quantitative and qualitative living standards and also pointed to a force that could potentially be harnessed for achieving a future transformation of just and productive economic relations.
Owen’s approach to resolving economic injustice epitomized the Utopian approach to resolving exploitation. He hoped for individual conversion, then government action. Yet this was an unrealistic ambition given the existing power structure at the time. What Owen lacked was a theory of class struggle, believing instead that the transition to socialism, or a more democratic economy, would occur through the influence of reason and persuasion. Nevertheless, Owen’s worker co-operatives represent what is, arguably, the initial stages of democratic socialism, to legacy of FDR, Michael Harrington, and the Democratic Socialists of America, urged the same Owenite plan for a more just economy and society,
Marx, in Capital, discusses the expropriation of agricultural land from the poor who are dependent on that very land for their basic needs. The historical context of the enclosure movement was based on a policy measure initiated by the aristocracy and wealthy land owners in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England. The movement was aimed at confiscating land that was owned in common by a village or at least available to the village for grazing animals and growing food. The enclosure movement was designed to expropriate village land and redistribute it to the aristocracy and wealthy for their ownership. In 1845 British Parliament passed the Enclosure Act of 1845, in which the British government started “enclosing” land (walls, fences, or hedges) and awarding this land to the aristocracy and wealthy land owners who, arguably, knew how to make more efficient use of it. The consequence for the people who were using this land was often eviction, sending many of them to slums in the cities in hopes of finding work in low-paying jobs such as factory work spawned by the Industrial Revolution. The most well-known enclosure movements were in the British Isles, but the practice had its roots in the Netherlands and caught on to some degree throughout Northern Europe and elsewhere as industrialization spread.
Edward J. Martin, Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration, California State University, Long Beach
|May 7, 2019||
One million species face extinction, world is on notice, says major UN report.
by Countercurrents Team, in Environmental Protection, Countercurrents.org
Nearly one million species risk becoming extinct within decades while current efforts to conserve the earth’s resources will likely fail if radical action is not taken, says a major UN report on the impact of humans on nature.
Speaking in Paris at the launch of the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – the first such report since 2005 – UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said that its findings put the world “on notice”.
“Following the adoption of this historic report, no one will be able to claim that they did not know,” the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said. “We can no longer continue to destroy the diversity of life. This is our responsibility towards future generations.”
Highlighting the universal importance of biodiversity – the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems – Ms. Azoulay said that protecting it “is as vital as fighting climate change”.
Presented to more than 130 government delegations for their approval at UNESCO headquarters, the report features the work of 400 experts from at least 50 countries, coordinated by the Bonn-based Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
The Global Assessment made after a three-year review of some 15,000 scientific papers that showed the profound impact of the rise of a globalized industrial society on the planet over the past half-century.
In addition to providing exhaustive insights on the state of nature, ecosystems and how nature underpins all human activity, the study also discusses progress on key international goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The report examines five main drivers of “unprecedented” biodiversity and ecosystem change over the past 50 years, identifying them as (1) Changes in land and sea use; (2) Direct exploitation of organisms; (3) Climate change; (4) Pollution; and (5) Invasion of alien species.
One in four species at risk of extinction
On at-risk fauna and flora, the study asserts that human activities “threaten more species now than ever before” – a finding based on the fact that around 25 per cent of species in plant and animal groups are vulnerable.
This suggests that around one million species “already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss”.
Without such measures there will be a “further acceleration” in the global rate of species extinction, which is already “at least tens to hundreds of times higher, than it has averaged over the past 10 million years”, the report states.
559 domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture were extinct
It notes that despite many local efforts, including by indigenous peoples and local communities, by 2016, 559 of the 6,190 domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture were extinct – around nine per cent of the total – and at least 1,000 more are threatened.
Crop security threatened
In addition, many crop wild relatives that are needed for long-term food security “lack effective protection”, the report insists while the status of wild relatives of domesticated mammals and birds “is worsening”.
At the same time, reductions in the diversity of cultivated crops, crop wild relatives and domesticated breeds mean that farming will likely be less resilient against future climate change, pests and pathogens.
“While more food, energy and materials than ever before are now being supplied to people in most places, this is increasingly at the expense of nature’s ability to provide such contributions in the future,” the report states, before adding that “the biosphere, upon which humanity as a whole depends is declining faster than at any time in human history”.
Marine pollution ‘has increased tenfold since 1980
On the issue of pollution, although global trends are mixed, air, water and soil pollution have continued to increase in some areas, the report insists. “Marine plastic pollution in particular has increased tenfold since 1980, affecting at least 267 species”, it says, including 86 per cent of marine turtles, 44 per cent of seabirds and 43 per cent of marine mammals.
The Assessment Report is also the first of its kind to examine and include indigenous and local knowledge, issues and priorities, IPBES said in a statement.
The IPBES noted that its mission is to strengthen policy-making for the sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.
“The loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human well-being,” insisted Sir Robert Watson, IPBES Chair. “Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge of decades to come. Policies, efforts and actions – at every level – will only succeed, however, when based on the best knowledge and evidence.”
Business as usual has to end
The relentless pursuit of economic growth, twinned with climate crisis has put brought forth this risk.
Only a wide-ranging transformation of the global economic and financial system could pull ecosystems that are vital to the future of human communities worldwide back from the brink of collapse, concluded the report.
The report has been endorsed by 130 countries, including the United States, Russia, and China.
“We have been running from one frontier to another frontier trying to find cheap nature (to exploit) in every corner of the planet,” Eduardo Brondizio, a professor of anthropology at Indiana University in the United States who co-chaired the Global Assessment, told Reuters. The scientists said: “The key message: business, as usual, has to end.”
“The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Professor Josef Settele, co-chair of the study.
“This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world”, said Professor Josef Settele
The study is a cornerstone of an emerging body of research that suggests the world may need to embrace a new “post-growth” form of economics if it is to avert the existential risks posed by the mutually-reinforcing consequences of pollution, habitat destruction, and carbon emissions.
The report identifies industrial farming and fishing are identified as major drivers of extinction. Climate crisis is aggravating the situation.
Robert Watson, a British environmental scientist said one could go back only if societies were prepared to confront “vested interests” committed to preserving the status quo.
“The report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” Watson said in a statement.
“By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals, and values.”
“We know that the way people eat today is often unhealthy for them and for the planet,” said Dr. Kate Brauman, one of the report’s authors.
“We can become healthier as individuals by eating more diverse diets, with more vegetables, and we can also make the planet healthier by growing that food in more sustainable ways.”
According to the report, the loss of the natural world would also affect human lives. From the disappearance of insects vital for pollinating food crops, to the destruction of coral reefs, which support fish populations that sustain coastal communities, or the loss of medicinal plants, all would inevitably risk human lives.
The threatened list includes more than 40 percent of amphibian species, almost 33 percent of reef-forming corals, and more than a third of all marine mammals. The picture was less clear for insect species, but a tentative estimate suggests 10 percent are at risk of extinction.
Sixth mass extinction already underway
Biodiversity loss and global warming are closely linked, according to the 44-page Summary for Policy Makers, which distills the 1,800-page UN assessment of scientific literature on the state of nature.
The accelerating loss of clean air, drinkable water, CO2-absorbing forests, pollinating insects, protein-rich fish and storm-blocking mangroves – to name but a few of the dwindling services rendered by nature – poses no less of a threat than climate change, says the report.
“We need to recognize that climate change and loss of nature are equally important, not just for the environment, but as development and economic issues as well,” Robert Watson, chair of the UN-mandated body that compiled the report, told AFP in late-April.
“The way we produce our food and energy is undermining the regulating services that we get from Nature,” he said, adding that only “transformative change” can stem the damage.
Deforestation and agriculture, including livestock production, account for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, and have wreaked havoc on natural ecosystems as well.
The IPBES report warns of “an imminent rapid acceleration in the global rate of species extinction.”
The pace of loss “is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years,” it notes.
Many experts think a “mass extinction event” – only the sixth in the last half-billion years – is already under way.
The most recent is the end of the Cretaceous period some 66 million years ago, when a 10-kilometer-wide asteroid strike wiped out most lifeforms.
Scientists estimate that Earth is today home to some eight million distinct species, a majority of them insects.
A quarter of catalogued animal and plant species are already being crowded, eaten or poisoned out of existence.
The drop in sheer numbers is even more dramatic, with wild mammal biomass – their collective weight – down by 82 percent.
Humans and livestock account for more than 95 percent of mammal biomass.
“If we’re going to have a sustainable planet that provides services to communities around the world, we need to change this trajectory in the next ten years, just as we need to do that with climate,” noted WWF chief scientist Rebecca Shaw, formerly a member of the UN scientific bodies for both climate and biodiversity.
The direct causes of species loss, in order of importance, are shrinking habitat and land-use change, hunting for food or illicit trade in body parts, climate change, pollution, and alien species such as rats, mosquitoes and snakes that hitch rides on ships or planes, the report finds.
“There are also two big indirect drivers of biodiversity loss and climate change – the number of people in the world and their growing ability to consume,” said Watson.
Once seen as primarily a future threat to animal and plant life, the disruptive impact of global warming has accelerated.
Shifts in the distribution of species, for example, will likely double if average temperature goes up a notch from 1.5 degrees Celsius to 2C.
So far, the global thermometer has risen 1C compared with mid-19th century levels.
The 2015 Paris Agreement enjoins nations to cap the rise to “well below” 2C. But a landmark UN climate report in October said that would still be enough to boost the intensity and frequency of deadly heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms.
Other findings in the report include:
The report cautioned against climate change solutions that may inadvertently harm Nature.
The use, for example, of biofuels combined with “carbon capture and storage” – the sequestration of CO2 released when biofuels are burned – is widely seen as key in the transition to green energy on a global scale.
But the land needed to grow all those biofuel crops may wind up cutting into food production, the expansion of protected areas or reforestation efforts.
The world is losing the biodiversity that secures food production
Bees, soil, trees – even tiny organisms we can’t even see – all play a vital role in producing the world’s food. Yet, this biodiversity, which supports our food and agriculture systems, is under stress. A new report by the United Nations Food Organization (FAO) issued this warning in February 2019.
The report found 33 per cent of fish stocks is estimated to be overfished and bee colony losses are on the rise – all factors that endanger the world’s future security.
|May 7, 2019||
Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa hits 415 ppm
by Countercurrents Team,in Climate Change, Countercurrents.org
When Countercurrents.org was founded in 2002 the atmospheric CO2 level was 370 ppm. Today we have the terrifying news that it has reached 415 ppm according to measurement at at Mauna Loa in Hawaii.
The carbon dioxide data measured as the mole fraction in dry air, on Mauna Loa constitute the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. They were started in March of 1958 at a facility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The average readings reached 400 ppm in 2015 and have continued to trend upwards.
Hawaii is remote from major direct human emissions, but is an active volcanic zone.
|May 2, 2019||
Democracy as Majoritarianism
by Subhash Gatade, in Book Review, Countercurrents.org
“We can never forget that everything that Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal,’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany, but I am sure that if I lived in Germany during that time I would have comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal… we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
What is the signature of democracy?
It is the understanding that minority voices will be allowed to flourish and they will not be bulldozed.
At the apparent level majoritarianism – rule by majority – sounds very similar to democracy but it essentially stands democracy on its head. For real democracy to thrive, it is essential that ideas and principles of secularism are at its core. The idea that there will be a clear separation between state and religion and there won’t be any discrimination on the basis of religion has to be its guiding principle.
Majoritarianism clearly defeats democracy in idea as well as practice.
While democracy’s metamorphosis into majoritarianism is a real danger, under rule of capital – especially its present phase of neoliberalism – another lurking danger is its evolution into what can be called as plutocracy – government by the rich.
As India enters the race for elections to the 17 th Lok Sabha, these are the two broad questions which are staring in everyone’s mind, whether the same dynamic – which has made the last five years as unique in Independent India’s history – will continue or we will witness a rupture.
It is a disturbing scenario when the biggest democracy in the world seems to have taken a ‘[Q]uantum Jump In Wrong Direction Since 2014’ (Amartya Sen) – prompting even the normally reticient community of scientists to ask people to reject the politics which ‘.[d]ivides us, creates fears, and marginalises a large fraction of our society’ and remind them that “[D]iversity is our democracy’s greatest strength; discrimination and non-inclusivity strike at its very foundation.’
What has added a new dimension to this dynamic is the existence of a ‘self proclaimed cultural organisation’ called RSS – whose principles, ideology and activities contravene the very basis of Constitution – which is de facto ruling the country. It is an organisation whose principles “[d]epicting Indian nationalism in terms of the faith of the religious majority – have serious negative social and political implications for sections of the citizen-body and are in violation of the Constitution.” ( http://caravandaily.com/rss-principles-are-in-violation-of-constitution-detrimental-to-india-hamid-ansari/)
It was exactly 42 years back that Indian people defeated the attempts to throttle the democratic experiment by their united struggle, whether they would be we able to have an encore when more secretive, sinister and communal forces are on ascent who are also popular among a significant section of people.
Section I tries to situate these developments in India in South Asian context and search for any commonality in the experiences of people and also looks at the societal roots for this fascination of hate filled ideologies and leaders.
Section II deals with the ‘pioneers of the Hindutva Supremacist movement and the new icons they want to present for a ‘New India’ which is supposedly taking shape under their wings. Section III tries to offer tentative suggestions to fight the menace which is trying to overwhelm the Indian republic.
What was remarkable that Pramoedya, a leftist, was jailed not only during the anti-colonial struggle but had to undergo a long phase of detention which started in mid-sixties when Indonesia witnessed a CIA sponsored military coup – which witnessed killings of lakhs of people. He was released from imprisonment in 1979, but remained under house arrest in Jakarta until 1992.
His tetralogy of novels – for which he is best known – ‘Buru Quartet’ was written during the tormenting period of detention only. “Is it possible,” Pramoedya asked later, “to take from a man his right to speak to himself?”
Glory to his memory !
Subhash Gatade ( born 1957) is a left activist, writer and translator. He has done M Tech ( Mech Engg 1981) from BHU-IT, Varanasi. He has authored few books including Modinama : On Caste, Cows and the Manusmriti ( Leftword, in press), Charvak ke Vaaris ( Authors Pride, Hindi, 2018), Ambedkar ani Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ( Sugava, Marathi, 2016), Beesavi Sadi Mein Ambedkar ka Sawal ( Dakhal, Hindi, 2014), Godse ki Aulad ( Pharos, Urdu, 2013) , Godse’s Children – Hindutva Terror in India (Pharos, 2011), The Saffron Condition ( Three Essays, 2011)
|May 2, 2019||
Beyond GDP: Time for Inclusive Growth
by Moin Qazi, in India, Countercurrents.org
Development can be seen as a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy
– Amartya Sen
The pursuit of growth over social justice, which has been the defining credo of classical economists, has brought prosperity to most developing societies. But it has also created huge inequalities. The argument that economic growth is the road to social justice has been relentlessly advocated for a long time with several wrong consequences for poor societies. The question that has now engaged development economists and proponents of social justice is: Does accelerated growth translate into inclusive growth? Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen believed that to think just in terms of income rather than achievements of particular living conditions, like health and well-being, is to miss something critical.
The dichotomy between the economic might of India vis-a-vis the reality of our crumbling development sectors, leading to India being ranked in the lowest percentile in Human Development Index, is a pointer to what is wrong with our development paradigm. What are the ends of development — growth in GDP or enhancement of people’s capabilities and widening of their choices and freedom?
For too long, we have been over-obsessed with two concepts: Top-down bureaucracy and trickle-down economics. We have believed that the policy makers have allthe solutions for problems of the grassroots communities and that aggressive growth can generate wealth at the top and this will trickle down to deeper ranks where the poor live. But this has not helped. Many have argued that we need to find a new measure to assess the health of our economies and more importantly, the people. GDP simply totals up everything made within an economy in a year, from widgets to whizzy financial products at their market value. GDP is regarded as a poor indicator of progress and there have been persuasive calls to change the way we measure economic and social development.
Dubbed as one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, GDP has long been a the most significant metric for politicians, administrators, policy doctors and journalists alike. But it is now no longer lionised and the love-affair with GDP may come to an end because as economic historian Adam Tooze calls, it is “a narrow and somewhat arbitrary slice of reality.”An increasing GDP is often seen as a measure of welfare and economic success. However, it fails to account for the multi-dimensional nature of development or the inherent short-comings of capitalism, which tends to concentrate income and, thus, power. GDP is not, on its own, an adequate gauge of a country’s development. Development is a multi-dimensional concept, which includes not only an economic dimension, but also involves social, environmental, and emotional dimensions.
There are several social economists, who believe inclusive growth has to be grounded in inclusive governance. In the absence of inclusive governance, people at the grassroot level that is, the intended beneficiaries of social programmes, are left dependent on a top-down bureaucratic delivery mechanism over which they have no effective control. The alternative system would be participatory development, where people themselves are enabled to build their own future through elected representatives who are responsible to address local community needs.For all-pervasive prosperity, we need a tide that can lift all boats.
One expanded indicator, which attempts to measure the multi-dimensional aspect of development, is the Human Development Index (HDI), conceived by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Mahbud ul Haq and Amartya Sen developed the index, which is better suited to track the progress, not only of rich, but also of poor nations.
The first report on HDI was conducted in 1990. It incorporates the traditional approach to measuring economic growth, as well as education and health, which are crucial variables in determining how developed a society is.
2018, The World Bank launched the Human Capital Index (HCI). This newly created index ranks 157 countries’ performances on a set of four health and education indicators according to an estimate of the economic productivity lost due to poor social outcomes. The main benefit is that it focuses on outcomes, rather on inputs,
Amartya Sen’s revolutionary conceptualisation led to the evolution of Social Progress Index., a refinement of HDI. The SPI was developed by the non-profit, Social Progress Imperative. It is one of the outcomes of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress – or simply, Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi, after its leaders. The main objective of the Commission was to investigate how the wealth and social development of countries could be measured beyond the uni-dimensional GDP measure. It is still a relatively new indicator, with data only for four years, however it covers a wide span of more than 130 countries.
The SPI it expands the number of composite indicators from only four in HDI to fifty-four andcovers a wide array of areas, including basic human needs, foundations of well-being, and opportunities to progress.it is capable of synthesising the most relevant aspects that determine development. Naturally, the main drawback of the SPI is its comparatively large complexity and lack of practicality when used to inform policy making.
The various facets of SPI are:
The view underlying the SPI is based on Amartya Sen’s conceptualisation of economic growth as not an end in itself, but rather, an effective means of expanding personal and societal freedoms – the impact it has on people’s lives. For example:
Hence, development consists of the elimination of deprivations of liberty that limit the choices and opportunities of persons in the exercise of their agency in their own lives.
The greater value of the SPI is that it combines various indicators of subjective components that are often missing from the economic debate. These include: freedom of expression, assembly and religion, political rights, tolerance for, and discrimination and violence against, minorities and immigrants, the levels of corruption and policies to curb it.
No single aspect of the index demotes a country. Instead, a combination of variables provides expanded insight into the level of development of a country.
There are three main explanations why countries underperform in relation to the size of their economies:
Although the third is captured by the SPI, the two former explanations are not. Poverty and inequality are increasingly being debated in academic literature, not only due to their negative impacts on human development, but because they drag GDP growth.
The last two decades have seen a phenomenal rise in market-driven philosophy of growth over State-driven development models that dominated the developing countries in the years that followed their birth. One section embodied the values and principles of the older non-profits and other collectives, including social movements, mass organisations and community-based groups. The other section was located in market and technology spaces and got rapidly populated by new-age non-profits, social enterprises and online collectives.
There is a fundamental contradiction between these spheres. The old non-profits’ worldview is premised on integrated social sciences and systemic approach in which complexity, interdependence and inter-relatedness of diverse factors at work need to be addressed. By contrast, the approach of new-age non-profits emphasises on finding technology-based managerial solutions for complex social, economic and political issues. One is empathetic and human-driven, the other is rational and techno-centric.
Those who look through the techno-managerial lens encourage and enable development groups to zoom straight into the middle of the problem, without the need to engage with contextual complications. This devalues deeper socio-cultural nuances. In this process, the real world, existing in all its complexity, is circumscribed or left behind. It is like creating a bubble in which technical linear solutions are expected to solve complex problems.
The whole issue of development gets artificially locked into a bubble, which is then presented as fertile ground for systems change and innovation. These developments in turn lead to more investment, which results in the bubble growing into a balloon till it punctures. The complexity of the socio-economic and political systems and human behaviour remain peripheral to the issue until the bubble bursts. In the meantime, the process of formation of new bubbles sets in.
A large part of the development work is ‘change’. It requires the ability to collectively envision a different future — about ‘design thinking’, ‘direction setting’ and ‘influence making’ i e, leadership. The most profound lessons in development are grounded in the philosophy of Gandhism. Gandhi’s leadership was anchored in strong ethical principles. He was convinced that real India lived in villages where the pattern of life was not only timeless but also insulated from the pernicious influence of industrial civilisation.
Taking cue from the hallowed Gandhian traditions, development professionals have plumbed a more democratic planning model, participatory development. It involves a tough balance between not being subservient to the beneficiaries and not coming across as disrespectful to them. Winning a point is not as important as achieving long-term change. If, for this, we have to compromise for the time being, we must be prepared. The core of our relationship must be with the people as also with the Government. We must deal with people who are more permanent in the system and are the key interface with their societies.
A good society is one that enables each individual to realize his or her aspirations. It is the duty of everyone to cooperate for creating such a society. The NITI Aayog’s policy document, ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ marks an infusion of more democratic ideas and an acknowledgement of the illusory character of the concept of GDP. The drive to shift the approach from assembling plans and budgets in the rarefied atmosphere of bureaucratic corridors to the creation of a mass movement for development in which “every Indian recognises her role and experiences the tangible benefits”, is noteworthy. The strategy affirms that “policymaking will have to be rooted in ground realities” rather than economic abstractions.
Successive governments have often recognised and affirmed this truth but had taken their eyes off the ball when it came to actual implementation of the idea because it was perceived as a threat to vested interests in the planning apparatus. In a world where villagers and project beneficiaries are atomised as individuals, they must be given a platform to aggregate themselves to have more voice and weight in the development debate. for these people, development process matters more than the size of the GDP. Development must be by the people (more participative), of the people (education, health, skills), and for the people (growth of their well-being, incomes and happiness). India’s impressive GDP growth has not been able to to generate enough employmentfor India’s large youth population. Whereas India’s economy should have been a powerful job generator, the employment elasticity of India’s growth — the numbers of jobs created per unit of GDP growth — has been among the lowest in the world.
Successful development practitioners have always recognised the richness of this local wisdom. By involving local communities in development, we can ensure more equitable and just growth — something which is not captured by Gross Domestic Product. This should be the true metric of both inclusive and sustainable development. For example, rapid growth, which involves faster growth in agriculture, especially in rain-fed areas where most of the poor live, will be much more inclusive than a GDP growth that is driven entirely by mining or extraction of minerals for exports.
Amartya Sen had consistently said that “growth rate is a very daft and a deeply alienated way of judging economic progress.” Sen and Jean Druze warned as early as 1995 that reforms that boost growth, though important, were not enough to improve the living conditions of the poorest, let alone dismantle caste and gender hierarchies and generate employment.”
“They have to be supplemented by a radical shift in public policy in education and health,” they wrote.
Moin Qazi is the author of the bestselling book, Village Diary of a Heretic Banker .He has worked in the development finance sector for almost four decades .He can be reached at email@example.com
|May 2, 2019||
Bavarians Vote to Stop Extinction
by Robert Hunziker, in Environmental Protection, Countercurrents.org
The world is in the throes of an extinction crisis unlike any throughout paleoclimate history, aka: the Sixth Mass Extinction, keeping in mind that the normal “background rate” for extinction is 1-to-5 species gone per year. But, what if it’s five (5) every 24 hours?
Answer: It’s a lot more than that.
The current worldwide extinction rate is more than 1,000xs the normal background rate, or, in the simplest of terms, instead of 1-to-5 species extinct per year, it’salarmingly somewhere between 25-to-250 (maybe more) species of plant, insect, bird, and mammal extinct every 24 hours.
In fact, crucial resources for sustaining life have already been severely weakened, as demonstrated in studies of mass loss of arthropods, and other key elements of biodiversity happening all over the planet from Australia to pristine European nature preserves to uninhabited tropical rain forests, as the Anthropocene (the current geological age during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment) haphazardly destroys and poisons life-sourcing ecosystems.
For example ecosystems are negatively impacted far and wide by chemicals to such an extreme that chemical toxins are now found in Mt. Everest’s snow at 29,000 feet as well as in deep-water squid at 3,800 feet, proving that what’s ordinarily considered “hard to believe” is in fact “almost beyond comprehension.”
Meanwhile, the world has started taking notice, and it’s Germany where the Age of Enlightenment has fortunately been resurrected by enlightened skeptics, known as “liberals” back in the 18th century, challenging current societal values and exposing false truths.
This quasi-enlightenment surge is happening in Bavaria, Germany’s most conservative of 16 federal states, led by the Christian Social Union (“CSU”)ever since 1946, as this powerful bastion of political conservatism responds to grassroots citizen campaigns and a recently passed referendum to “Protect Nature,” primarily via major changes in industrial farming.
As one conservationist remarked upon passage of the referendum: “The times when it was enough for politicians to pay lip service to biodiversity are over.” (Source: Christian Schwägerl, In Conservative Bavaria, Citizens Force Bold Action on Protecting Nature, Yale Environment 360, April 25, 2019)
Henceforth, Bavarians will implement a sweeping set of conservation measures, including: (1) Setting aside 13% of state land in special ecological zones, inclusive of ecosystem infrastructure of hedgerows, meadows, and wetlands (2) Organic agriculture must be practiced in 1/3 of Bavarian farmland, as well as cutting out fertilizers on all state-owned farms to reduce nitrogen pollution (3) Protection of wetlands, waterways, and threatened insect populations by eliminating insecticides as much as possible.
Already, three more German states are considering biodiversity referendums, as well as inquiries from Sweden and Australian. Another proposal would designate large portions of EU agricultural subsidies diverted forprotection of biodiversity.
The motivation behind Bavarian citizens reacting so strongly in the face of opposition by the ruling political establishment was awareness that native landscapes had turned monotonous, overly developed, and strikingly “empty of life.”
Another motivating catalyst was the landmark 2017 Krefeld Insect Study conducted by German researchers, as well as citizen scientists, that clearly delineated a mouth-dropping 75% loss in biomass of flying insects in a large number of nature reserves over a period of 25 years.
Krefeld Entomological Society, est. 1905 in Germany, trapped insect samples in 63 nature preserves. They consistently found massive declines of up to 80% in every kind of habitat sampled.
For example, data for hover flies, a pollinator often mistaken for a bee, registered 17,291 trapped in a reserve in 1989. Twenty-five years later at the same location, it was 2,737 or a whopping loss of 84%! That number is well beyond classification for an extinction event. There after, the only question going forward is whether species comeback is possible.
Today’s Sixth Extinction is so prevalent that scientists prefer to designate species loss as “functional extinctions,” which means functionally extinct animals and plants are still present but no longer prevalent enough to affect an ecosystem, e.g., a shortage of insect pollinators in the Maoxian Valley in China forced farmers to hire human workers at $19 per worker/per day to replace bees. Each worker pollinated 5-to-10 apple trees by hand per day.
Scientists from Bavaria’s leading research institutions are hopeful that their referendum will trigger a massive worldwide reduction in the use of insecticides and herbicides in agriculture, which should, in turn, boost insect populations.
According to the renowned Harvard entomologist E.O. Wilson, without insects and other land-based arthropods, humanity would last all of a few months.
It’s been nearly six decades since Rachel Carson wrote: “The more I learned about the use of pesticides, the more appalled I became. I realized that here was the material for a book (Silent Spring). What I discovered was that everything which meant most to me as a naturalist was being threatened.”
Well, finally, Bavarians discovered that fact 60 years later (whew!)
Robert Hunziker, MA, economic history DePaul University, awarded membership in Pi Gamma Mu International Academic Honor Society in Social Sciences is a freelance writer and environmental journalist who has over 200 articles published, including several translated into foreign languages, appearing in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He has been interviewed on numerous FM radio programs, as well as television.
|May 1, 2019||
Want to curb violent attacks? Curb civilisationalism.
by Dr James M Dorsey,in World, Countercurrents.org
Decades of Saudi global funding of Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism is perceived to have created breeding grounds for radicalism in Muslim communities even if it was largely not directly responsible for the rise of jihadism.
The same is true for civilisationalism of which jihadism is just one expression as are intolerant, supremacist expressions of Evangelism, Hinduism and Buddhism.
Civilisationalism, wittingly or unwittingly, plays with the fire of processes of radicalization that may or may not lead to political violence, a fixture of human history.
Given that societies’ moral and ethical backbone invariably is rooted in values promoted by religion, religion often provides a convenient civilizationalist framework for the justification of violence. Religion, however, is seldom, if ever, the driver.
Recent attacks on mosques in New Zealand, churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, synagogues in the United States and numerous other incidents across the globe demonstrate that civilizationalist ideologies that promote supremacy and exclusivism and dehumanize the other resonate with the most vulnerable groups in society.
Perpetrators of violence, irrespective of social background or economic class, tend to be people who are on the lookout. More often than not they are susceptible to charismatic figures, struggle to deal with personal problems or seek to fill a void in their lives.
They can be loners or products of a group that increasingly isolates them from society and/or convinces them of an imaginary threat posed by one segment of society.
What acts of political violence, recent and longer ago, demonstrate is that the fire civilisationalists play with more often than not erupts at home rather than on the other side of the globe.
The fire fuels the politics of fear on which civilisationalists thrive, distorts inter-communal relations, hijacks public debate, and disrupts development of inclusive policies that would significantly reduce the risk of violence.
A recent study of Saudi foreign fighters, the second largest contingent to join the Islamic State in Syria, showed that civilisationalism was their main driver. Products of an education system that long promoted a Sunni Muslim ultra-conservative brand of Islam that was exclusivist and supremacist, particularly towards Shiites, many of them were driven by sectarian concerns.
Those concerns stemmed from the decision of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, a member of a sect deemed heretical by ultra-conservatives to project his brutal suppression of anti-government protests as a struggle against Sunni militants and the support he enjoyed from predominantly Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite militia.
Anthropologist Scott Atran and journalist Jason Burke note that the phenomenon of foreign fighters joining struggles far from home does not contradict the fact that most recent and less recent acts of political violence were carried out either by homegrown loners or militants.
Some were instigated by recruiters who were nonetheless dependent on locals susceptible to their civilizationalist ideology.
Civilisationalism’s witting or unwitting appeal to vulnerable individuals is mirrored in the perpetrators of non-political incidents such as mass shootings who often are troubled males groping with personal problems and/or demons.
The fact that civilizational and political violence draw from the same pool that produces troubled mass shooters calls into question efforts to prevent incidents that almost exclusively focus either on civilizationalist notions that marginalize groups through stereotyping and other techniques, or criminalization and security measures.
What the communality of the pool highlights is that violence, political or not, is as much a security and law enforcement issue as it is one of public health and social service. It calls for mechanisms that provide early warnings, stop individuals from going off the deep end, and offer them the assistance they need to deal with their personal problems, grievances and voids.
Two separate incidents in October 2014 prove the point.
On first glance, Jaylen Fryberg, a popular freshman, who opened fire on classmates during lunch at a high school near Seattle, appeared to be a happy student. He was a well-liked athlete who shortly before he went on his shooting spree had been named his school’s freshman homecoming prince.
Mr. Fryberg, who shot himself during the incident, no longer is able to explain what prompted him to shoot fellow students and put an end to his own life. But the subsequent police investigation suggested that he was angry at being rebuffed by a girl that chose his cousin rather than him.
By contrast, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year old convert to Islam, who killed a guard at Ottawa’s National Monument and then stormed the Canadian parliament, had all the trappings of a troubled down-and-out individual.
Canadian media reported that Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau had a history of mental illness and a criminal record that included drug possession, theft, and issuing threats. He was addicted to crack cocaine and spent the last weeks of his life in a homeless shelter.
The Globe and Mail quoted a friend of his, Dave Bathurst, as being told by Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau that the devil was after him. “I think he must have been mentally ill,” Mr. Bathurst said.
The cases of Messrs. Fryberg and Zehaf-Bibeau raise the question of what the difference is between a school shooting and a politically motivated terrorist attack in terms of how societies can pre-empt violence.
The cases suggest that community engagement as well as social psychological and psychiatric services may be as important as security and law enforcement. Both Mr. Fryberg and Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau had issued cries for help in their own ways.
Writing on Twitter, Mr. Fryberg warned the woman who had rejected him that “your gonna piss me off… And then some (expletive) gonna go down and I don’t think you’ll like it.” Several days later, he tweeted “It breaks me… It actually does… I know it seems like I’m sweating it off… But I’m not… And I never will be able to.”
Mr. Bathurst, like Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau, a convert to Islam, was perhaps the one person Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau appeared to confide in. He described how he felt being persecuted by the devil.
Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau’s sense of alienation was deepened when the mosque that he and Mr. Bathurst attended asked him to no longer come to prayer because of his erratic behaviour.
Messrs. Fryberg and Zehaf-Bibeau’s communalities point, on the one hand, to a need for policies and tools that allow society to step in before individuals like them resort to violence.
On the other hand, they highlight the threat posed by civilizationalist ideology, irrespective of its religious, national or civilizational packaging.
Both cases, together with the attacks in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the United States suggest that the rise of civilisationalists, be it to the highest office in the land or as increasingly acceptable social and political groups, raise the spectre of a world in which violence becomes the new normal.
Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, an adjunct senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and co-director of the University of Wuerzburg’s Institute of Fan Culture.
|May 1, 2019||
Six Ways to Curb America’s Military Machine.
by William J Astore,in Imperialism, Countercurrents.org
Donald Trump is a con man. Think of Trump University or a juicy Trump steak or can’t-lose casinos (that never won). But as president, one crew he hasn’t conned is the Pentagon. Quite the opposite, they’ve conned him because they’ve been at the game a lot longer and lie (in Trump-speak) in far biglier ways.
People condemn President Trump for his incessant lying and his con games — and rightly so. But few Americans condemn the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state, even though we’ve been the victims of their long con for decades now. As it happens, from the beginning of the Cold War to late last night, they’ve remained remarkably skilled at exaggerating the threats the U.S. faces and, believe me, that represents the longest con of all. It’s kept the military-industrial complex humming along, thanks to countless trillions of taxpayer dollars, while attempts to focus a spotlight on that scam have been largely discredited or ignored.
One thing should have, but hasn’t, cut through all the lies: the grimly downbeat results of America’s actual wars. War by its nature tells harsh truths — in this case, that the U.S. military is anything but “the finest fighting forcethat the world has ever known.” Why? Because of its almost unblemished record of losing, or at least never winning, the wars it engages in. Consider the disasters that make up its record from Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s to, in the twenty-first century, the Iraq War that began with the invasion of 2003 and the nearly 18-year debacle in Afghanistan — and that’s just to start down a list. You could easily add Korea (a 70-year stalemate/truce that remains troublesome to this day), a disastrous eight-year-old intervention in Libya, a quarter century in (and out and in) Somalia, and the devastating U.S.-backed Saudi war in Yemen, among so many other failed interventions.
In short, the U.S. spends staggering sums annually, essentially stolen from a domestic economy and infrastructure that’s fraying at the seams, on what still passes for “defense.” The result: botched wars in distant lands that have little, if anything, to do with true defense, but which the Pentagon uses to justify yet more funding, often in the name of “rebuilding” a “depleted” military. Instead of a three-pointed pyramid scheme, you might think of this as a five-pointed Pentagon scheme, where losing only wins you ever more, abetted by lies that just grow and grow. When it comes to raising money based on false claims, this president has nothing on the Pentagon. And worse yet, like America’s wars, the Pentagon’s long con shows no sign of ending. Eat your heart out, Donald Trump!
“So many lies, so little time” is a phrase that comes to mind when I think of the 40 years I’ve spent up close and personal with the U.S. military, half on active duty as an Air Force officer. Where to begin? How about with those bomber and missile “gaps,” those alleged shortfalls vis-à-vis the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s? They amounted to Chicken Little-style sky-is-falling hoaxes, but they brought in countless billions of dollars in military funding. In fact, the “gaps” then were all in our favor, as this country held a decisive edge in both strategic bombers and nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs.
Or consider the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that served to authorize horrific attacks on Vietnam in retaliation for a North Vietnamese attack on U.S. Navy destroyers that never happened. Or think about the consistent exaggeration of Soviet weapons capabilities in the 1970s (the hype surrounding its MiG-25 Foxbat fighter jet, for example) that was used to justify a new generation of ultra-expensive American weaponry. Or the justifications for the Reagan military buildup of the 1980s — remember the Strategic Defense Initiative (aka “Star Wars”) or the MX ICBM and Pershing II missiles, not to speak of the neutron bomb and alarming military exercises that nearly brought us to nuclear war with the “Evil Empire” in 1983. Or think of another military miracle: the “peace dividend” that never arrived after the Soviet Union imploded in 1991 and the last superpower (you know which one) was left alone on a planet of minor “rogue states.” And don’t forget that calamitous “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq in 2003 in the name of neutralizing weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist or the endless global war on terror that still ignores the fact that 15 of the 19 September 11th terrorist hijackers came from Saudi Arabia.
And this endless long con of the Pentagon’s was all the more effective because so many of its lies were sold by self-serving politicians. Exhibit one was, of course, John F. Kennedy’s embrace of that false missile gap in winning the 1960 presidential election. Still, the Pentagon was never shy in its claims. Take the demand of the Air Force then for 10,000 — yes, you read that right! — new ICBMs to counter a Soviet threat that then numbered no more than a few dozen such missiles (as Daniel Ellsberg reminds us in his recent book, The Doomsday Machine).
To keep the Air Force happy, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara settled on a mere 1,000 land-based Minuteman missiles to augment the 54 older Titan II ICBMs in that service’s arsenal, a figure I committed to memory as a teenager in the 1970s. And don’t forget that some of those missiles were MIRVed, meaning they had multiple nuclear warheads that could hit many targets. It all added up to the threat of what, in those years, came to be called “mutually assured destruction,” better known by its all-too-apt acronym, MAD.
And the Pentagon’s version of madness never ends. Think, for instance, of the planned three-decade $1.7 trillion “modernization” of the U.S. nuclear triad now underway, justified in the name of “overmatching” China and Russia, “near-peer” rivals in Pentagon-speak. No matter that America’s current triad of land-based, submarine-based, and air-deployed nukes already leave the arsenals of those two countries in the shade.
Reason doesn’t matter when the idea of a new cold war with those two former enemies couldn’t be more useful in justifying the through-the-ceiling $750 billion defense budget requested by President Trump for 2020. The Democrats have pushed back with a still-soaring budget of $733 billion that accepts without question the “baseline” minimum demanded by Pentagon officials, a level of spending Trump once called “crazy.” Talk about resistance being futile!
In other words, when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars, the Washington establishment of both parties has essentially been assimilated into the Pentagon collective. The national security state, that (unacknowledged) fourth branch of government, has in many ways become the most powerful of all, siphoning off more than 60% of federal discretionary spending, while failing to pass a single audit of how it uses such colossal sums.
All of this is in service to what’s known as a National Defense Strategy (NDS) whose main purpose is to justify yet more prodigious Pentagon spending. As Vietnam War veteran and professor at National Defense University Gregory Foster wrote of the latest version of that document:
“In the final analysis, the NDS is an unadulterated call for a new Cold War, with all its attendant appurtenances: more gluttonous defense spending to support escalatory arms races in all those ‘contested domains’ of warfare; reliance on bean-counting input measures (weapons, forces, spending) for determining comparative ‘competitiveness’; reinforcement and reaffirmation of the sacrosanct American way of war; and the reassuring comfort of superimposing an artificially simplistic Manichean worldview on the world’s inherent complexity and thereby continuing to ignore and marginalize actors, places, and circumstances that don’t coincide with our established preconceptions.”
Such a critique is largely lost on Donald Trump, a man who models himself on perceived tough guys like Andrew Jackson and Winston Churchill. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he did, at least, rail against the folly and cost of America’s wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. He said he wanted better relations with Russia. He talked about reinvesting in the United States rather than engaging in new wars. He even attacked costly weapons systems like the sky’s-the-limit $1.4 trillion Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter.
Suffice it to say that, after two-plus years of posing as commander-in-chief, strong man Trump is now essentially owned by the Pentagon. America’s wars continue unabated. U.S. troops remain in Syria and Afghanistan (despite the president’s stated desire to remove them). Relations with Russia are tense as his administration tears up the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty negotiated by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.
What to make of the president’s visible capitulation to the Pentagon? Sure, he’s playing to his conservative base, which is generally up for more spending on weaponry and war, but like so many presidents before him, he’s been conned as well. The con-man-in-chief has finally met his match: a national security state that, when you consider its record, has had far greater success at lying its way to power than Donald J. Trump.
The Biggest Lie of All
Now, let’s take a hard look at ourselves when it comes to weaponry and those wars of “ours.” Because the most significant lies aren’t the ones the president tells us, but those we tell ourselves. The biggest of all: that we can continue to send young men and women off to war without those wars ever coming home.
Think again. America’s shock-and-awe conflicts have indeed come home, big time — with shocking and awful results. On some level, many Americans recognize this. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is now a well-known acronym. A smaller percentage of Americans know something about TBI, the traumatic brain injuries that already afflict an estimated 314,000 troops, often caused by IEDs (improvised explosive devices), another acronym it would have been better never to have to learn. Wounded Warrior projects remind us that veterans continue to suffer long after they’ve come home, with roughly 20 of them a day taking their own lives in a tragic epidemic of suicides. Meanwhile, surplus military equipment — from automatic weapons to tank-like MRAPs — made for the mean streets of Iraq are now deployed on Main Street, USA, by increasingly militarized police forces. Even the campus cops at Ohio State University have an MRAP!
Here, Americans would do well to ponder the words of Megan Stack, a war correspondent for the Los Angeles Times who drew on her own “education in war” when she wrote: “You can overcome the things that are done to you, but you cannot escape the things that you have done.” She was undoubtedly thinking about subjects like the horrors of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, torture at the CIA’s “black sites,” cities rubblized in the Greater Middle East, and refugees produced by the tens of millions. Somehow, sooner or later, it all comes home, whether we as Americans admit it, or even realize it, or not.
“Here is the truth,” Stack notes:
“It matters, what you do at war. It matters more than you ever want to know. Because countries, like people, have collective consciences and memories and souls, and the violence we deliver in the name of our nation is pooled like sickly tar at the bottom of who we are. The soldiers who don’t die for us come home again. They bring with them the killers they became on our national behalf, and sit with their polluted memories and broken emotions in our homes and schools and temples. We may wish it were not so, but action amounts to identity. We become what we do… All of that poison seeps back into our soil.”
And so indeed it has. How else to explain the way Americans have come to tolerate, even celebrate, convenient lies: that, for instance, Tomahawk missile strikes in Syria could make a feckless figure like Donald Trump presidentialor even that such missiles are beautiful, as former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams once claimed. Imagine if leading media and political figures boasted instead of taking on the Pentagon, reining in its ambitions, and saving taxpayers trillions of dollars, as well as countless lives here and overseas.
Ending the Pentagon’s Long Con
War is the ultimate audit and, as any American should know, the Pentagon is incapable of passing an audit. Sadly, even when Congress acts to end U.S. support for a near-genocidal war that has nothing to do with any imaginable definition of national defense, in this case in Yemen, President Trump vetoes it. Remember when Candidate Trump was against dumb and wasteful wars? Not anymore. Not, at least, if it involves the Saudis.
The best course for this country, unimaginable as it might seem today, is to fight wars only as a last resort and when genuinely threatened (a sentiment that 86% of Americans agree with). In other words, the U.S. should end every conflict it’s currently engaged in, while bringing most of its troops home and downsizing its imperial deployments globally.
What’s stopping us? Mainly our own fears, our own pride, our own readiness to believe lies. So let me list six things Americans could do that would curb our military mania:
The Pentagon will never be forced to make significant reforms until Americans stop believing in (and consenting to) its comforting lies.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.
Originally published by TomDispatch.com
|May 1, 2019||
OBOR – Towards A Just World?
by Chandra Muzaffar, in World, Countercurrents.org
The Belt Road Initiative (BRI) also known as the One Belt One Road ( OBOR) project could well emerge as the obor ( the flame in Indonesian or Malay) that will blaze the trail in the evolution of a new epoch in history.
Chinese President Xi Jinping must have sensed its historical significance when he announced OBOR in 2013. Essentially an infrastructure development endeavor it seeks to initiate and support the construction of roads, railways, ports and bridges in at least 65 other countries spanning four continents. With a commitment of over 900 billion US dollars, OBOR is the biggest infrastructure development project ever undertaken in the history of our planet.
It is more than infrastructure in the conventional sense. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for instance which connects China’s Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province will strengthen Pakistan’s energy sector, contribute to economic growth and reduce its severe trade deficit. The CPEC will also enhance cooperation between the two countries in agriculture. There are other projects in other countries that will impact positively upon education and health care.
There is no doubt at all that OBOR will also facilitate the interaction of cultures and communities across national boundaries. This may lead to better understanding and appreciation of cultural and religious diversity. Greater respect for the differences and similarities that distinguish religions and cultures could help create an atmosphere that conduces towards social harmony.
If OBOR paves the way for positive interaction between different ethnicities and nationalities it would be replicating one of the outstanding achievements of the ancient Silk Route which was the inspiration for OBOR. Ideas and beliefs flowed along the Silk Route which connected East Asia and Southeast Asia with West Asia and East Africa to Southern Europe from about 130 BC until perhaps the middle of the 15th century. It is significant that it was through the Silk Route that Buddhism, Christianity and Islam spread at different times in history. It was “the cauldron where language groups competed, where Indo-European, Semitic and Sino-Tibetan tongues wagged alongside those speaking Altaic, Turkic and Caucasian.” Places of worship and libraries dotted the region “connecting Constantinople to Damascus, Isfahan, Samarkand, Kabul and Kashgar.”
These fabulous cities were not only centres of culture and learning but also hubs of thriving commercial enterprise. Silk was an important element in the trade that connected the sprawling network of links which was why a German geologist in the 19th century gave it the name the “Silk Roads”. Precious stones and metals, paper and artwork, leather and hides, grains and spices, fruits and vegetables were all part of the trade and commerce that brought China and India close to Persia and Rome and vice versa. The variety of goods and commodities available and the lands and nations that produced them endowed the Silk Route with an unprecedented global character. It was truly humankind’s first wave of globalization.
A variety of factors brought the wave to an end, among them Christopher Columbus’s expedition to the Americas and Vasco da Gama’s journey around the southern tip of Africa and on to India at the end of the 15th century, both of which opened up new sea routes for Europe’s ascending maritime powers. Columbus in relation to the Americas and da Gama in relation to India and Asia heralded the rise of European colonialism which over the next four centuries embarked upon the conquest of land, the subjugation of people and the usurpation of natural resources that ushered in a pattern of power, control and dominance centering around Europe and later, the United States of America. Indeed, western colonialism as it expressed itself in almost every sphere of life laid the basis for a new form of globalization which has perpetuated itself beyond the end of formal colonial rule. It is what one would call ‘hegemonic globalization’. Hegemonic globalization has resulted in the dissemination of ideas and methods in economics and finance, politics and administration, education and science which by and large emanate from the centers of power in the West. It has shaped a world in which the interests and agendas of the dominant West supersede everything else. This is why the second wave of globalization is perceived as unjust and inimical to the well-being of the majority of the world’s citizens.
As globalization’s third wave, OBOR is opposed to hegemony.The Chinese leadership sees relationships among OBOR states as a partnership. It has no intention of imposing its will upon any other state. This was put to the test in the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) issue which saw Malaysia objecting to various terms of the agreement forged between a Chinese company and the previous Malaysian government that were clearly detrimental to the nation’s interests. After strenuous negotiations, the agreement was revised extensively for the good of both parties.
It is not just China’s willingness to consider the interests of a partner state that facilitated a solution to the ECRL issue. The partner state should also be free of those vested interests that impede a just solution. It is important to observe that even in other collaborative efforts in which China has played a leading role such as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) network and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), China has adopted a collegial approach. Given its record, China should now elevate the principle of partnership in OBOR to a higher level by establishing an international panel consisting of seven to ten OBOR states that would be given the task of monitoring and evaluating the implementation of OBOR projects and activities. The proposed panel would of course work closely with the Chinese authorities.
It could also help ensure that OBOR is corruption- free which is the wish that Xi expressed at the recently concluded Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. There will be other challenges facing OBOR in the years ahead. But the governments that are committed to the project should remain steadfast in their determination to achieve its goals.
For apart from the economic and cultural benefits that OBOR will bring to the human family which we have noted, OBOR is the best hope we have for evolving a just and equitable world which is not dominated by a few. Only in such a world will human dignity flourish. This is perhaps the most compelling reason why the citizens of the world should strive with all their energy to keep the flame alive.
Dr Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Malaysia
|April 28, 2019||
The climate crisis and the extinction rebellion.
by Dr Andrew Glikson, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.org
The first law of humanity is not to kill your children”
Joachim Hans Schellnhuber,Germany’s and the EU’s chief climate scientist.
“we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will most likely lead to the end of our civilization as we know it”… “Now we probably don’t even have a future anymore, because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once.You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard.Greta Thunberg
In his novel “First and Last Man”Olaf Stapledon describes a future human species, realizing the Earth is about to be scorched by a growing red giant sun, attempting to disseminate human genes in spores through space.
Compare with the 21st century world wherechildren protest the climate extinctionwhile climate denial advocates and their political mouthpieces proceed to overlook and even promote carbon emissions, dancing on the graves of future generations.
Everyday news arrive of the opening of new coal mines, oil and gas fields around the world,as well as new coal combustion plants, including by countries like China which supposedly pledged to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, while climate change denial persists and misinformed people rally in support of carbon and nuclear mining.
China has committed more than $20bn in funding for coal plants around the world
As election cycles come and go and as the climate warms toward four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, the demise of much of the living world remains but a footnote in the mainstream media, owned by vested interests, the tail which wags the political dog.
Scientists know, many people know, many children know, yet those in power and conveniently ignore it, dragging the living world to the greatest crisis nature and humanity have suffered since the rise of civilization some 10,000 years ago.
Yet it is almost impossible to speak directly to“democratic leaders”, with their umbilical ties to manufactured consent. The principal methods of mainstream mouthpieces and appended politicians are half-truths and Orwellian newspeaklanguage, including:
IPCC trends and global climate conferences, while highlighting the dangers, have been dominated by politicians and economists but remarkably divorced from contributions from climate science.
The specter of arunaway greenhouse effect elaborated by James Hansen, enhanced by continuing carbon emissionsleading to atmospheric 2 to 3 parts per million CO2 per year,reinforced by amplifying feedbacks from melting ice sheets and the albedo flip, the oceans’ reduced CO2 intake, desiccated and burnt land and release of methane from permafrost, is upon us.
This projection is underpinned by studies of the history of the terrestrial climate and modelling of global warming elaborated by Hansen et al. (2016) in the paper ‘Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimatedata, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2◦C globalwarming could be dangerous”. A corollary of Hansen et al.’s projection is that global warming, rather than gradual, will include a rise in extreme weather events, including transient freeze events induced by the cooling effects of ice melt water such as the recent “Beast from the East” freeze in North America and Europe (Glikson, 2019).
According to Foster et al. (2017) “Humanity’s fossil-fuel use, if unabated, risks taking us, by the middle of the twenty-first century, to values of CO2 not seen since the early Eocene (50 million years ago). If CO2 continues to rise further into the twenty-third century, then the associated large increase in radiative forcing, and how the Earth system would respond, would likely be without geological precedent in the last half a billion years.”
According to Stephen Hawking a principal characteristic of a black hole resides in the loss of all information as matter and energy fall through the event horizon. In a similar vein, as the world’s “powers that be” ignore the basic laws of physics, the rise of extreme weather events bears portents of a demise of much of nature, and with it human civilization.
Andrew Glikson, Earth and climate scientist
|May 31, 2019||
VENEZUELA: Westerners have lost the ability to reason! (PART 14)
by Luis Garcia,in World, Countercurrents.org
False Humanitarian Aid has been used to promote violence in synchrony with violent and criminal “opposition” funded with dozens of millions of US dollars.
Violence is incredibly common in Venezuela but not has the West portrays it. The West never reports crimes like the one that happened a few days ago, when a Venezuelan policeman was shot dead in the streets of Caracas. What is the percentage of acts of violence with US dollars behind it? Surely high, Eva Golinger and other researchers already proved. But who cares about real facts and real reality in the West, right?
There is more than enough data to prove the US has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars in South America alone. A good part has been spent in illegal US interventions and interferences in Venezuelan, invested in NGOs, civil society organizations, criminal organizations, movements like Súmate [meaning: “get lost” Maduro], new political parties and so on, to create anti-socialism dissent and foment “regime changes” recurring to extremely violence (call it “terrorism”) and even coup attempts.
|May 31, 2019||
Africa is now world’s largest free trade zone.
by Countercurrents Team , in World, Countercurrents.org
Map of Trans-African Highways © Wikipedia
Africa is now the world’s largest free trade zone, which bears big implications with expectation to boost regional and international trade.
Media reports said:
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) came into being on May 30, 2019. It is the largest free trade agreement by population that the world has seen since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 195.
The AfCFTA opens way for a continent-wide market of 1.2 billion people worth $2.5 trillion.
The agreement’s operational phase will be launched on July 7 at an AU summit in Niger.
There are still some issues to be resolved.
“This is a historic milestone!” tweeted Albert Muchanga, AU commissioner for trade and industry.
Muchanga wrote: “We celebrate the triumph of bold, pragmatic and continent-wide commitment to economic integration.”
Fifty-two of the African Union’s (AU) 55 member states have signed the agreement to establish the free trade area since March 2018. But Nigeria, the largest economy on the continent, is the notable exception.
However, some of Africa’s other economic heavyweights including Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa are among the 24 nations that have formally ratified it. In the last month, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso joined the deal.
The AU envisions the free trade zone, once fully implemented, driving economic integration and spurring investment within the continent.
The AfCFTA proposal was approved in 2012 and the members started working on a draft in 2015. In March 2018, the leaders of 44 African countries endorsed the agreement in Rwanda. AfCFTA participants are reportedly weighing the possibility of using a common currency.
Liu Yuxi, Chinese ambassador to the AU, welcomed the agreement, saying it will help forge closer economic and trade ties with China.
“It is a milestone in Africa which has in recent years been upholding the banner of unity and promoting economic integration,” Liu said, adding that the sides are expected to “build closer economic and trade ties by developing the free trade area and promoting the Belt and Road cooperation.”
Christoph Kannengiesser, the head of the German-African Business Association, said nearly all the AU member states have signed the accord and thus voiced their interest in free trade.
He added that Africans should not rush things and should make sure their trade relations grow sustainably.
Kannengiesser noted the European single market didn’t come about overnight either, adding that other trade agreements such as NAFTA or TTIP are still controversial as there tend to be winners and losers in the process.
“That can trigger distributional conflicts and may prompt attempts to push and preserve your own national interests too much,” he said.
Kannengiesser believes there’s no big harm in Africa’s most populous, oil-rich state, Nigeria, not wanting to join the AfCFTA.
He thinks that while pursuing its own national interests and feeling stronger on its own, Nigeria won’t be able to ignore Africa’s economic dynamics in the long term.
Lifting trade barriers across Africa should “increase the value of intra-African trade by between 15 percent (or $50 billion) and 25 percent (or $70 billion),” by 2040, wrote Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in a January 2019 essay.
AfCFTA has been a flagship project of the African Union’s “Agenda 2063” development vision for five years.
Currently, only 16 percent of trade by African nations is with continental neighbors. The new deal is expected to cut duties on 90 percent of goods.
Some critics, however, say that poor infrastructure and a lack of diversity between the continent’s economies could throw up barriers to the hoped-for integration.
Internal trade in its infancy
Already there are other free trade zones in Africa, where tariffs have at least been partly removed. There’s the Union Douaniere de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, founded in 1959 and a precursor to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) comprising 15 states.
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) can serve as yet another example.
|May 31, 2019||
Ozone-Depleting CFCs Return.
by Robert Hunziker, in Environmental Protection, Countercurrents.org
In August of 1987 the world came together after a panic-attack over ongoing depletion of atmospheric ozone, aka: The Ozone Hole. Subsequently, global agreements to stop ozone depletion became the first ever “universally ratified treaties in UN history.” Theworld banned CFCs.
Thereafter, an era of good feelings about ozone restoration swept the world community and 25 years afterwards Science News magazine reported: “Ozone Hole at Smallest Size in Decades” d/d October 26, 2012.
Glory hallelujah! As a glorious Great Exhale spread across the land, similar to releasing pressurized air out of a humongous balloon, wheezing and hissing for days on end, in celebration of The Shrinking Ozone Hole! It was the first time in history that people celebrated a Shrinking Hole, and for good reason.
Ozone molecules are crucial to sustaining life. Those feisty powerhouse molecules shield the planet from destructive Ultraviolet B or UV-B, which can become big-time killers if left unchecked. According to NASA: “Without ozone, the Sun’s intense UV radiation would sterilize the Earth’s surface” which is a gentle way of saying “Mass Extinction.”
The problem is multiplied as CFCs have a lifetime in the atmosphere of 20 to 100 years, thus, one free chlorine atom from a CFC molecule can do a lot of damage by destroying crucial life-supporting ozone molecules over lengthy periods of time.
Sadly, the world must now reconsider holding its collective breath once again.On May 22nd 2019, the same Science News magazine that broke the good news and celebrated “A Shrinking Ozone Hole in 2012” newest headline reads: “Emissions of a Banned Ozone-Destroying Chemical Have Been Traced to China.”
As it happens,CFC-11 was, and is,used in manufacturing foams for construction materials, refrigerators, aerosol sprays, blowing agents, packing materials, solvents, and other consumer goods.
The Montreal Protocol of 1987 called for phasing out production of chlorofluorocarbons by 2010 when CFC-11 production was banned. However, by all appearances, China never got the memo.
Atmospheric observations, as well as on-the-ground investigations, have discovered a link of illegal CFC-11 in manufacturing districts in China.It should be noted that there are substitutes for CFC, but CFC-11 is less costly, easier, and faster than substitutes.
Ergo, it’s simply mind-blowing that “costs and profits and markets” supersede careful husbandry of the planet. Actually, more to the point, ignoring the CFC ban goes well beyond mind-blowing; it’s (1) criminal,(2) insane, (3) underhanded, and (4) deplorable, beyond reproach!
Air samples collected in South Korea and Japan point a very big fat guilty finger directly at eastern China where CFC-11 emissions averaged 6,400 metric tons annually from 2008-2012. That number increased to 13,400 metric tons annually from 2014-17.Additionally,on-the-ground investigations by the International Environmental Investigation Agency confirmed the atmospheric tests of Chinese manufacturing of CFC-11, the infamous killer of the world’s precious ozone layer.
Dismally, it’s not only China. There are additional increases of CFC-11 detected from other parts of the world that have not yet been specifically identified. Those signals come from parts of Asia, Africa and South America.
According to the most recent Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018, Executive Summary, commissioned by the World Meteorological Organization, the UN Environment Programme, NASA, NOAA, and the European Commission: “There has been an unexpected increase in global total emissions of CFC-11. Global CFC-11 emissions derived from measurements by two independent networks increased after 2012, thereby slowing the steady decrease in atmospheric concentrations reported in previous Assessments.”
As for the timing of CFC’s impact on ozone molecules, there’s a lag effect, meaning it takes two to five years for CFC molecules to become exposed to ultraviolet radiation, resulting in chlorine molecules that then seek and destroy ozone molecules. Zap!
It’s the chlorine from CFC-11, as well as similar molecules, collectively referred to as chlorofluorocarbons that destroy thousands of atmospheric ozone molecules per chlorine atom. Therefore, disproportionately, one chlorine atom searches, finds, and zaps thousands(1000s) of ozone molecules; keeping in mind the fact that one atom is a sub-component of a molecule.
Appallingly,and sure enough,chlorine atoms have been turned loose once again to feast on precious ozone molecules located at 6 miles to 30 miles altitude, widely dispersed hither and thither to an extreme.
Remarkably, if all of the ozone molecules that are scattered in a 24-mile zone of atmosphere could be squeezed together into an encircling dome over Earth, it would be no more than the thickness of one copper penny.It’s true!
All of which brings to mind the astounding realization that the planet is, and always has been, very resilient over millennia of earthquakes and asteroid collisions but in certain crucial aspects, meaning life support systems, it can be dreadfully fragile.
Are cheaper consumer goods really worth it?
Robert Hunziker, MA, economic history DePaul University, awarded membership in Pi Gamma Mu International Academic Honor Society in Social Sciences is a freelance writer and environmental journalist who has over 200 articles published, including several translated into foreign languages, appearing in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He has been interviewed on numerous FM radio programs, as well as television.
|June 1, 2019||
Europe in Irreversible Decay, EU Elections Are Proof of It!
by Andre Vltchek,in World, Countercurrents.org
Europe, an “old” colonialist continent, is decaying, and in some places even collapsing. It senses how bad things are going. But it never thinks that it is its own fault.
North America is decaying as well, but there, people are not even used to comparing. They only “feel that things are not going well”. If everything else fails, they simply try to get some second or third job, and just survive, somehow.
On both sides of the Atlantic, the establishment is in panic. Their world is in crises, and the ‘crises’ arrived mainly because several great countries, including China, Russia, Iran, but also South Africa, Turkey, Venezuela, DPRK and the Philippines, are openly refusing to play in accordance with the script drawn in Washington, London and Paris.In these nations, there is suddenly no appetite for sacrificing their own people on the altar of well-being of Western citizens. Several countries, including Venezuela and Syria, are even willing to fight for their independence.
Despite insane and sadistic embargos and sanctions imposed on them by the West; China, Russia and Iran are now flourishing, in many fields doing much better than Europe and North America.
If they are really pushed any further, China, Russia and their allies combined, could easily collapse the economy of the United States; an economy which is built on clay and unserviceable debt. It is also becoming clear that militarily, the Pentagon could never defeat Beijing, Moscow, even Teheran.
After terrorizing the world for ages, the West is now almost finished: morally, economically, socially, and even militarily. It still plunders, but it has no plan to improve the state of the world. It cannot even think in such terms.
It hates China, and every other country that does have progressive, internationalist plans. It smears President Xi Jinping and his brainchild, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but there is nothing new and exciting that the West is able to offer to the world. Yes, of course, those regime changes, coups, military interventions and theft of natural resources,but anything else? No, silence!
During my two weeks long working visit to Europe, in the Czech Republic (now renamed to Czechia), a country that enjoys a higher HDI (Human Development Index defined by UNDP) than Italy or Spain, I saw several young, decently dressed men, picking through garbage bins, right in front of my hotel, looking for food.
I saw young Europeans kneeling and begging in Stuttgart, the second richest city in Germany (where both Mercedes and Porsche car are produced).
What I observed in all seven countries of the EU that I visited, was confusion, but also indifference, extreme selfishness and almost grotesque idleness. In great contrast to Asia, everybody in Europe was obsessed with their ‘rights’ and privileges, while no one gave a slightest damn about responsibilities.
When my plane from Copenhagen landed in Stuttgart, it began to rain. It was not heavy rain; just rain. The Canad air jet operated by SAS is a small aircraft, and it did not get a gate. It parked a few meters from the terminal and the captain announced that ground staff refused to bring a bus, due to lightning and the downpour. And so, we stayed inside the plane, for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour. The lightning ended. The drizzle continued. 40 minutes, no bus. One hour later, a bus appeared. A man from the ground staff emerged leisurely, totally wrapped in plastic, protected hermetically from rain. Passengers, on the other hand, were not even offered umbrellas.
“I love myself”, I later read graffiti in the center of the city.
The graffiti was not far from the central train station, which is being refurbished at the cost of several billion euros, and against the will of the citizens. The monstrous project is marching on at an insanely lazy pace, with only 5-6 construction workers detectable at a time, down in the tremendous excavations.
Stuttgart is unbelievably filthy. Escalators often do not work, drunkards are all over, and so are beggars. It is as if for decades, no one did any face-lift to the city. Once free museums are charging hefty entrance fees, and most of the public benches have disappeared from parks and avenues.
The decay is omnipresent. The German rail system (DB) has virtually collapsed. Almost all trains are late, from the ‘regional’; to the once glorified ICE (these German ‘bullet trains’ are actually moving slower, on average, even in comparison to some Indonesian inter-city expresses).
The services provided everywhere in Europe, from Finland to Italy, are grotesquely bad. Convenience stores, cafes, hotels – all are understaffed, badly run and mostly arrogant. Humans are often replaced by dysfunctional machines. Tension is everywhere,the bad mood omnipresent. Demanding anything is unthinkable; one risks being snapped at, insulted, sent to hell.
I still remember how Western propaganda used to glorify services in the capitalist countries, when we were growing up in the Communist East: “The customer is always treated like a god”. Yes, right! How laughable.
For centuries, “European workers” were ‘subsidized’ by colonialist and neo-colonialist plunder, perpetrated in all non-white corners of the world. They ended up being spoiled, showered with benefits, and unproductive. That was fine for the elites: as long as the masses kept voting for the imperialist regime of the West.
“The Proletariat” eventually became right-wing, imperialist, even hedonistic.
I saw a lot this time, and soon I will write much more about it.
What I did not witness, was hope,or enthusiasm. There was no optimism. No healthy and productive exchange of ideas, or profound debate; something I am so used to in China, Russia or Venezuela,just confusion, apathy and decay everywhere.
And hate for those countries that are better, more human, more advanced, and full of socialist enthusiasm.
Italy felt slightly different. Again, I met great left-wing thinkers there; philosophers, professors, filmmakers, journalists. I spoke at Sapienza University, the biggest university in Europe.I lectured about Venezuela and Western imperialism. I worked with the Venezuelan embassy in Rome. All of that was fantastic and enlightening, but was this really Italy?
A day after I left Rome for Beirut, Italians went to the polls. And they withdrew their supports from my friends of the 5-Star-Movement, leaving them with just over 17%, while doubling the backing for the extreme right-wing Northern League.
This virtually happened all over Europe. UK Labor lost, while right-wing Brexit forces gained significantly. Extreme right-wing, even near-fascist parties, reached unexpected heights.
It was all “me, me, me” politics. An orgy of “political selfies”. Me had enough of immigrants. Me wants better benefits. Me wants better medical care, shorter working hours. And so on.
Who pays for it, no one in Europe seems to care. Not once did I hear any European politicians lamenting about the plundering of West Papua or Borneo, about Amazonia or the Middle East, let alone Africa.
And immigration? Did we hear anything about that nuisance of European refugees, millions of them, many illegal, that have descended in the last decades on Southeast Asia, East Africa, Latin America, and even Sub Continent? They are escaping, in hordes, from meaninglessness, depressions, existential emptiness. In the process, they are stripping the locals of land, real estate, beaches, everything.
“Immigrants out”? Fine; then European immigrants out from the rest of the world, too! Enough of the one-sidedness!
The recent EU elections clearly showed that Europe has not evolved. For countless dark centuries, it used to live only for its pleasure, murdering millions in order to support its high life.
Right now, it is trying to reshuffle its political and administrative system, so it can continue doing the same.More efficiently!
On top of it, absurdly, the world is expected to pity that overpaid and badly performing, mainly right-wing and lethargic European proletariat, and sacrifice further tens of millions of people, just in order to further increase its standard of living.
All this should not be allowed to happen. Never again! It has to be stopped.
What Europe has achieved so far, at the expense of billions of lives of “the others”, is definitely not worthy of dying for.
Beware of Europe and its people! Study its history. Study imperialism, colonialism and the genocides it has been spreading all over the world.
Let them vote in their fascists. But keep them away. Prevent them from spreading their poison all over the world.
They want to put the interests of their countries first? Wonderful! Let us do exactly the same: The people of Russia first, too! China first! And, Asia, Africa, Latin America first!
|April 27, 2019||
The Time Has Come for You to Unravel the Disconnect between Your Religious Beliefs and Our Ecological Dilemma.
by David Anderson,in Climate Change, Countercurrents.org
As the Sixth Extinction moves in, Jews, Christians, Muslims and those of other religious beliefs will be forced to confront this question: Have I the courage to challenge those of my religious presuppositions that are working against the formation of a new world society living in consonance with our planet even if it requires that I question the past and present validation of much of what I now believe and take for granted?
And that is just the beginning. Now comes the hard part. Challenging beliefs and the institutional structures supporting them will by itself not solve our ecological problem. The Biosphere will be changing with rapidity. It will take more than just a change in your “belief” or my “belief.” That will be no better than placing bandages on a fatal wound. We as a planetary corporate human body will have to find the courage to face who we really are, to confront the dark retrogressive side of our human condition. We will have to examine that mysterious and often deadly juxtaposition between our dark side and our loving side. We will have to acknowledge it as a dichotomy that has in the past and continues to haunt our species.
Jeremiah over 1200 years before the Common Era identified it. Here I quote him.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”
Now to our present era: Noted theologian Karen Armstrong in her book Fields of Blood Religion and The History of Violence writes about the Reptilian part of our brains as being part of the problem. She was correct.
But our brain deficiency goes far beyond that. We cannot discuss this subject without also discussing all the other aspects of our human deficiency.
Here is an example of a deficiency. Some years ago during a trip to Egypt I came upon similarities between our own religious structures and those of early Egyptian society.
From the beginning of Egyptian history the priestly class had had a strong hold on Egyptian society; the same with our society. The priestly class had the answer as to how to get to Heaven; the same with our society.
My guide was an Egyptian Coptic Christian. We talked about the Akhenaten story.
Here it is: Over one thousand years after the Great Pyramid of Giza Pharaoh Khufu there appeared the monotheist Pharaoh Akhenaten. (Reign 1350-1334 BCE) He had rejected the priestly God AMON as well as all others in favor of one eternal Sun God. (more precisely defined in contemporary terms as the one monotheistic source of all life sustaining energy)
(Some in recent years have related this to the beginning of the Hebraic GOD interpretation although there is no proof)
Akhenaten had challenged over 3000 years of multiple god worship on which the power of the priestly class in Egypt rested its power. (They collected the taxes for the Pharaoh and controlled the thought process of the people)
Along with his beautiful commoner bride Nefertiti, Akhenaten moved across the Nile River to the western desert at Tell-el-Amana where he and his followers built a small city. There they worshiped the SUN GOD.
In the end his blasphemy could not escape the clutches of the Priests. Upon his death, as Egyptologists have speculated, they moved his young son and heir Tutankhamen to their enclave on the other side of the Nile, murdered him and then gave him a quick burial in The Valley of The Kings, thus taking back power and reinstating their many ancient gods.
The Tomb was unmarked and sealed. Tutankhamen disappeared from the scene as did his father’s singular God.
After years of search by many before him, British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922 finally discovered and unsealed the tomb. It was small; showing the boy and his simple treasures. My visit to the tomb confirmed Carter’s observation of the quickness of the burial.
From this Egyptian experience I came to the conclusion that one aspect of “Religion” has always been the same. Once the Priests, Rabbis, Islamic Mullahs get the power, they do not give it up easily.
Now let us move forward one/two thousand years
Jerusalem during the Jesus period
Roman Catholicism during the post fourth century period after his death
Again and again we are reminded of the words of Jeremiah:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”
Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 speaks of a future king of the Jews presenting himself to Jerusalem while riding on a humble donkey. The Christian Gospel as recorded in Luke explains that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and presented himself as the Messiah.
Then he enters the Temple.
To quote from Luke:
“Then he went into the Temple and began driving out the traders, with these words: My house shall be a house of prayer; but you have made it a robbers’ cave.”
“So he (Jesus) made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”
Jesus was arrested and turned over to the Sanhedrin, the Temple Priestly body, for trial. Jesus was then brought before the high Priest Caiaphas and charged with blasphemy and threats against the Temple.
The Priests then took Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Roman Judaea, and asked that he be tried for claiming to be the King of the Jews. Since Herod Antipas, Roman ruler of Galilee and Perea at that time happened to be in Jerusalem Pontius Pilate decided to send Jesus to Herod Antipas to be tried. Herod Antipas is the same man who had ordered the death of John the Baptist.
Herod Antipas makes his decision. Jesus is crucified.
A few words here about the Second Temple: It was first built after the return from Babylonian Captivity around 536 BCE. But that one was not like the original pre Babylonian.
The Book of Ezra recounts that old people who had seen the splendor of the First Temple wept because of the second’s relative shabbiness.
So King Herod of the Jews (73 B.C – 4 B.C.) father of Antipas over four centuries later set about rebuilding it in a whole new dimension; vastly bigger and grander. How better for the Romans to please the local Jewish populace! To provide the setting he leveled a section on the hill equivalent to five American football fields.
It was that temple the young Nazarene visited in roughly 33 C.E. at the time Herod Antipas.
We should note that Jesus was not the only problem for the Romans and the Priests. There was dissension throughout the region. The Priestly class lived in a close mutual beneficial relationship with the Romans; as did the Jewish Sadducees and Pharisees. The Jewish populace however was heavily taxed and often faced Roman brutality.
In fact it got so bad that in 66 C.E. after the death of Jesus there were a number of ill-fated rebellions against the Roman regime. The Emperor Titus then decided to quash the Jewish revolt with a heavy hand. The Romans had had it. In 70 CE, they sent in an entire Roman Division into Jerusalem. The Temple was set ablaze. Then they proceeded to kill all Jews they could find. A remnant of the elite went up to Masada and under siege they all finally committed suicide. Others who could left the region. The great Diaspora had begun.
Let us now go back again to that Jesus period. He began his mission at about the age of 30. He was crucified at about the age of about 32.
During his lifetime there was a melding of Greco/Roman and Hebraic thought in the very prominent town of Sepphoris. (about four miles from his home) His father was a scaffold builder. (not a carpenter as is generally understood) Jesus would have spent time in Sepphoris during his juvenile years accompanying his father in his work there. He would have been able to absorb a wide range of Greco/Roman Jewish thought. There is a biblical Jerusalem synagogue reference to his brilliance as a young boy.
Now let us move forward 300 years to the Council of Nicaea and the codification Christianity. Christianity by that time had spread throughout the Empire.
Certain selected writings compiled over the prior three hundred years were made sacrosanct. All other writings were declared heretical. Christian churches that did not accept the Nicaean conclusions were defunded. The Roman idea of political power grounded on subjugation of the population was reinforced.
What we saw was what we now call doctrinaire Roman Catholic Orthodoxy and now doctrinaire Evangelical Protestant Orthodoxy. The question all of this raises is: Was that the original message of Jesus? Many scholars today say part of Nicaea “yes,” part of it “no.”
Recent discoveries of manuscripts have showed that there were many other interpretations of the message of Jesus in his time, some in conflict with present day Christian scriptural and interpretative Orthodoxy.
As an example:: There is evidence in the Gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945 (remains declared heretical by the Roman Catholic Church) that Jesus had said you do not have to believe in me, you have to be like me.
Another one of them: Catharism.
Catharism (also known as Gnosticism) thrived for over one thousand years after the death of Jesus in some areas of Europe, particularly what is now northern Italy and southern France.
From 1209 to 1215, the Crusaders captured Cathar lands and perpetrated acts of extreme violence. Catharism was driven underground never to resurface with its former dynamism.
The Roman Christian violence was not limited to the Cathars.
During the First Crusade, Christian knights from Europe invaded Jerusalem. After the city was captured, tens of thousands of its occupants were slaughtered.
Now let us take a look at distortions of Jesus thought in our own American history:
The New England Puritans arrive in America and exterminate native populations.
Note that the Mayflower settler Pilgrims got along well with the indigenous “Indians.”
The native inhabitants of the region around the Mayflower Plymouth Colony were the various tribes of the Wampanoag people who had lived there for some 10,000 years before the Europeans arrived. Soon after the Pilgrims built their first winter shelters, they came into contact with Tisquantum, an English-speaking Native American. (prior to the Mayflower arrival European hunter trappers had taken him to England and then returned him) He spoke English and was a friend of the local chief. The Pilgrims benefited greatly that first winter from his directing them to food buried in the ground near their settlement.
After the Mayflower there came many ships from England filled with Calvinist Puritans. Immediately these Calvinist settlers began taking Native American lands and killing the indigenous “Indians.”
Commander-in-charge John Mason wrote after one massacre of Native Americans:
“And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished. God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven. Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies.”
“Thus the Lord was pleased to smite our enemies in the hinder parts and to give us their land for an inheritance; who remembered us in our low estate, and redeemed us out of our enemies’ hands. Let us therefore praise the Lord for his goodness and his wonderful works to the Children of men!”
A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, referred to that slaughter as a “barbeque.”
And then to bring us up-to-date:
X American Korean and Vietnam massacres
X Islamic Al-Quaeda hatred of the West expressed by 9/11 bombing of the New York World Trade Center.
X American Christian Evangelical President George W. Bush invading Iraq.
(His daily briefing books often had militaristic biblical verses printed on the covers. Just prior to the war he phoned French President Jacques Chirac suggesting that the War was “Biblically Ordained” according to the story of “Gog and Magog”)
X Ireland: 30 years of conflict between Catholic republicans and Protestant unionists. Riots, shootings, bombings.
X Evangelicals in America telling us that TRUMP was sent to us by GOD’
X Shite Islam in Iran orchestrating violence in Yemen and elsewhere
(The Iranian Revolutionary Guards today are the enforcers of the Islamic Shiite code. They report to the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah. The Guards control as much as 20% of the economy)
X Intractable Israeli/Palestinian conflict used as an excuse for Israeli government to turn over land on the West Bank to Israeli settlers.
X And most recently in Sri Lanka where over 369 Roman Catholics and others died as Muslim Radicals bombed Catholic churches and nearby hotels. Zaharan Hashim, radical Muslim preacher, is now accused of masterminding the Easter Sunday attacks. He had been vehemently spreading Wahhabism and calling for jihad.
Now back to our topic:
Given the events above, clearly “Religion” as it exists today is in crisis and will not be able to counter the ecological events in front of us. In fact to some degree it will be an impediment to progress.
Now back to the warning of Jeremiah
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”
This is a human weakness that again and again usurps underlying value in the Abrahamic religions – and the others.
Let me emphsize what our problem is and what it is not:
Religion overall as an attempt to understand who and what we are in relation to ourselves and each other is not our problem. To the sceptic it may appear to be, but it is not.
As Jeremiah and Karen Armonstrong point out; it is we, you and I, as we have used and abused religion in the past and are using and abusing religion today that is our problem.
This is my message to all religious followers and leaders throughout the world.
David Anderson brings together a wide range of interests in his writings, namely; theology, history, evolutionary anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, and economics. He has written four books. The fourth has just been published. It is about the necessary geo political, social, religious, economic paradigm shift for human survival.
|April 27, 2019||
Inescapable $200-250 Trillion Global Carbon Debt Increasing By $16 Trillion Annually.
by Dr Gideon Polya, in Environmental Protection, Countercurrents.org
Carbon Debt is simply the damage-related cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution that if not addressed now will inescapably have to be paid by future generations. However GHG emissions continue to rise inexorably and there is no global program to draw down CO2 and other GHGs from the atmosphere. While young people are now vociferously demanding massive climate action, inescapable global Carbon Debt is $200- $250 trillion and increasing by $16 trillion each year.
Unlike Conventional Debt that can be variously expunged by bankruptcy, printing money or default, Carbon Debt is inescapable – thus, for example, national commitments to GHG pollution reduction made to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference amount to a temperature rise of over 3 degrees Centigrade (3C) , and unless huge sea walls are built Netherlands-style , coastal cities of the world housing hundreds of millions of people will be submerged by rising sea levels (notably in Asia), mega-delta agricultural lands vital for feeding Humanity will be subject to inundation and salinization, and low-lying Island States will cease to exist [1-3].
While outright, anti-science climate change denialism is politically entrenched in climate criminal Trump America and its climate criminal lackey Australia, most governments around the world are politically committed to effective climate change denialism through climate change inaction. That climate change inaction is most clearly quantitated in terms of Carbon Debt, but the very term has been white-washed out of public perception by US owned or subverted Mainstream media. Thus the Australian ABC (the taxpayer-funded Australian equivalent of the UK BBC) is self-assertedly “progressive” but a Search of the ABC for the term “Climate Debt” reveals zero (0) reportage. A Search of the self-assertedly “ethical” UK BBC for the term “Climate Debt” yields 9 items with none later than 2009, defining the term or quantifying global or national Carbon Debt.
Explanations for this extraordinary Mainstream media lying by omission over Carbon Debt can be variously advanced, ranging from entrenched mendacity by US- and corporate- subverted media to cognitive dissonance in the face of a worsening climate emergency. However I am confident in predicting that if governments do not take action on the world’s massive Carbon Debt then intergenerational justice action by the utterly betrayed and robbed young people of the world will make the present Extinction Rebellion climate demonstrations in London look like a proverbial Teddy Bear’s Picnic. A young people-led Climate Revolution (non-violent one hopes) is coming [4-8], but the horrendous numbers elicited in this analysis tell us that it is probably much too late.
Set out below are various approaches to estimating the world’s horrendous Carbon Debt and the numbingly gigantic annual increase in Carbon Debt. In considering these huge numbers, one must note that the global wealth was $317 trillion in 2018, an estimated $333 trillion in 2019, $350 trillion in 2020 and $399 in 2023 . The aggregate world wealth in the global carbon economy is increasing at about $14 trillion per year , but the top 1% (the One Percenters who own half the wealth of the world ) have secured 82% of this wealth increase , while the poorest 3.7 billion of the world have secured zero .
Professor James Hansen (of 96 Nobel Laureate Columbia University): “One ppm of CO2 is 2.12 billion tons of carbon or about 7.77 billion tons of CO2. Recently Keith et al. (2018) achieved a cost breakthrough in carbon capture, demonstrated with a pilot plant in Canada. Cost of carbon capture, not including the cost of transportation and storage of the CO2, is $113-232 per ton of CO2. Thus the cost of extracting 1 ppm of CO2 from the atmosphere is $878-1803 billion. In other words, the cost, in a single year, of closing the gap between reality and the IPCC scenario that limits climate change to +1.5°C is already about $1 trillion. And that is without the cost of transporting and storing the CO2, or consideration of whether there will be citizen objection to that transportation and storage. This annual cost will rise rapidly, unless there is a rapid slowdown in carbon emissions… cost of CO2 storage… has been estimated as $10-20/tCO2” .
Taking Professor Hansen’s data, and including his estimates of the cost of transport and storage of CO2, indicates that this “best so far” cost of atmospheric CO2 draw-down is $123-252/tCO2. Accordingly, the upper estimate of the cost of reducing the atmospheric CO2 by 1 ppm = 1 ppm x 7.77 Gton CO2/ppm x $252/ton CO2 = $1,958 billion. Using this upper estimate one can calculate the cost of CO2 draw-down to various targets.
(a) James Hansen has estimated a required CO2 draw-down to 342 ppm CO2 if the Earth’s energy imbalance is 1 W/m2 . The upper estimate of the Carbon Debt for a transition from the present 407 ppm CO2 to 342 ppm CO2 is 65 ppm CO2 x $1,958 billion per ppm CO2 = $127.3 trillion or $12.7 trillion per year if we did this over 1 decade.
(b) The World’s top coral scientists have collectively that world coral reefs started dying when the atmospheric CO2 reached 320 ppm CO2 and that a CO2 draw-down to this level is required for sustainability of the world’s coral reefs [12, 13]. The upper estimate of the Carbon Debt for a transition from the present 407 ppm CO2 to 320 ppm CO2 is 87 ppm CO2 x $1,958 billion per ppm CO2 = $170.3 trillion or $17.0 trillion per year if we did this over 1 decade.
(c) Many scientists and science-informed activists demand a reduction of atmospheric CO2 to a safe and sustainable level of about 300 ppm CO2 [14, 15]. The upper estimate of the Carbon Debt for a transition from the present 407 ppmCO2 to 300 ppm CO2 is 107 ppm CO2 x $1,958 billion per ppm CO2 = $209.5 trillion or $21.0 trillion per year if we did this over 1 decade.
(d) Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany) (2008): “Perhaps it will not matter whether we have 270 ppm or 320 ppm [CO2], but operating well outside the [historic] realm of carbon dioxide concentrations is risky as long as we have not fully understood the relevant feedback mechanisms” [280 ppm is the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentration] . The upper estimate of the Carbon Debt for a transition from the present 407 ppm CO2 to 280 ppm CO2 is 127 ppm CO2 x $1,958 billion per ppm CO2 = $248.7.0 trillion or $24.9 trillion per year if we did this over 1 decade.
Unfortunately there is presently no significant global effort to draw down atmospheric CO2, and indeed global greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is remorselessly increasing and with it a relentlessly increasing Carbon Debt as set out below. In the last year the atmospheric CO2 as measured by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, rose by 2.6 ppm CO2 . The upper estimate of the annual increase in Carbon Debt associated with this annual increase in CO2 is 2.6 ppm CO2 per year x $1,958 billion per ppm CO2 = $5.1 trillion.
However there are GHGs other than CO2 that contribute to global warming, notably methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). CH4 derives from anaerobic bacterial metabolism in the rumens of ruminant livestock (it is voided by eructation or belching) and in anaerobic swamps or urban tips . N2O derives from oxidation of nitrogenous agricultural fertilizers and also derives from nitrogen (N2) oxidation associated with high temperature fossil fuel (coal, gas and oil) combustion. The Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CH4 relative to the same mass of CO2 on a 20 year time frame and with aerosol effects considered is 105 times that of CO2 (1) but is 21 on a 100 year time frame [18-21]. The GWP of N2O on a 20 year time frame relative to the same mass of CO2 is 289 .
The combined global warming potential of atmospheric GHGs is expressed as CO2-equivalent (CO2-e). Thus while the atmospheric CO2 is presently 407 ppm , the combined GHGs amount to 527 ppm CO2-e . According to Professor Ronald Prinn (Professor of Atmospheric Science in the 93 Nobel Laureate Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences), when the CO2 was 400 ppm in 2013, the CO2-e was 478 ppm , this suggesting a 2019 level of 486 CO2-e. World Bank analysts have re-assessed the annual global GHG emissions taking livestock, land use and a 20-year time frame GWP of methane of 72 into account – this analysis revised the annual GHG pollution upwards from 41.8 Gt CO2-e to 63.8 Gt CO2-e .
Assuming that CH4 and N2O can be removed from the atmosphere for the same cost as removal of CO2, then the resultant upper estimated cost of $252 per ton CO2-e (see section 1 above) translates to an annual increase in Carbon Debt of 63.8 Gt CO2-e per year x $252 per ton CO2-e = $16.1 trillion per year.
This upper estimate of the annual cost of $16.1 trillion per year for GHG pollution is similar to the present annual wealth generation of $14 trillion per year . Indeed this equivalence should not be surprising – in our presently carbon pollution-based economy, productivity can be measured either in the net dollar worth of production or in GHGs produced in the process. One notes that the world’s annual GDP (nominal) is about $85 trillion [25, 26]
Dr Chris Hope (Judge Business School, University of Cambridge) has estimated the damage-related cost of carbon pollution (2011): “If the best current scientific and economic evidence is to be believed, and climate change could be a real and serious problem , the appropriate response is to institute today a climate change tax equal to the mean estimate of the damage caused by a tonne of CO2 emissions . The raw calculations from the default PAGE09 model suggest the tax should be about $100 per tonne of CO2 in the EU. But correcting for the limited time horizon of the model , and bringing the calculations forward to 2102  , in year 2012 dollars , brings the suggested tax up to about $150 per tonne of CO2 . There are good arguments for setting the initial tax at about $250 per tonne of CO2 in the US , while starting off at a much lower level , may be $15 per tonne of CO2 ,in the poorest regions of the world ,all in the year 2012 , in year 2012 dollars” .
If we use the $200 per tonne CO2 average of the damage-related $250 per tonne CO2 (US) and $150 per tonne CO2 (EU), we can determine the annual increase in Carbon Debt as 63.8 billion ton CO2-e per year x $200 per tonne CO2-e x 0.907 tonne / ton = $11.6 trillion per year, similar to the upper estimate of $16 trillion estimated in section 2 above based on the cost of removing GHGs from the atmosphere .
4. The $16 trillion annual Carbon Debt increase, Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) and the $13.5 trillion annual cost of the Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust of 15 million deaths from deprivation annually.
There is a largely ignored Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust in which currently 15 million people die avoidably each year from deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease in the Developing World (minus China) . Avoidable mortality from deprivation (avoidable deaths, excess mortality, excess deaths, premature deaths, untimely deaths, deaths that should not have happened) can be simply estimated from UN Population Division demographic data as the difference between the actual deaths in a country and deaths expected for a peaceful, decently-run country with the same demographics . For impoverished, high birth-rate, Developing countries the baseline mortality rate is about 4 deaths per 1,000 of population per year . For such impoverished countries the avoidable mortality is about 1.4 times the under-5 infant deaths, the latter information being readily obtained from the UN Population Division .
This carnage is happening on Spaceship Earth with the flight deck under the control of the 10% richest people who have about 90% of the wealth of the World and who in turn are controlled by One Percenters who own about 50% of the wealth of the World. An annual global wealth tax of about 4% would yield $16 trillion annually (as assessed in 2014)  and enable raising all countries to an annual per capita GDP equivalent to the presently circa $8,500 per person per year of China and Cuba, countries for which annual avoidable mortality is zero (0) [28, 29, 31, 32]. This is a feasible option for stopping the Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust. Indeed a progressive annual wealth tax ranging up to 10% for the richest has been proposed for democracy and economic sustainability reasons by French economist Professor Thomas Piketty in his important book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” [33, 34]. Indeed Islam has mandated a 2.5% annual wealth tax (zakkat) for about 1,400 years .
For Americans the risk avoidance-based Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) is about $9 million , and for people in the South with GDP per capitas of the order of 10 times lower than for the North  we could roughly estimate a 10 times lower VSL of $0.9 million. Accordingly, committing to a 4% annual wealth tax realizing $16 trillion (in 2014) to save 15 million lives annually would be balanced by VSL-based “savings” of 15 million people per year x $0.9 million per person = $13.5 trillion per year.
The profligate $16 trillion annual increase in Carbon Debt (see section 2) is numerically the same as the 4% annual wealth tax realizing $16 trillion (in 2014) that could abolish the Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust in which currently 15 million people die avoidably each year from deprivation at a VSL-based cost of $13.5 trillion per year.
The top 10 countries in terms of their percentages of total global personal wealth as determined by Allianz, are as follows: (1) United States (41.6%), (2) China (10.5%), (3) Japan (8.9%), (4) U.K. (5.6%), (5) Germany (3.9%), (6) France (3.5%), (7) Canada (3.0%), (8) Italy (2.9%), (9) Australia (2.0%), and (10) South Korea (1.6%) – the rest account for 16.5% of the world’s wealth . The total accumulated wealth of the world in 2019 is $333 trillion and the average wealth of Americans in 2018 was $63,100 , this being similar to the GDP (nominal) per capita for Americans of $60,000 . A global 4% annual wealth tax would presently garner $13.3 trillion per year, similar to the $15.7 trillion per year for a decade to get back to the coral reef-based “canary in the mine” required 320 ppm CO2 (see section 1).
However Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren’s recent “radical” wealth tax proposal – a 2% annual tax on household net worth on all dollars above $50 million and an additional 1% surtax for those with above $1 billion in income – would only garner an utterly paltry $0.275 trillion each year over 10 years from an America with 4.3% of the world’s population, 41.6% of the world’s wealth , 14.75% of world GHG pollution (minus land use) of 45.367 Gt CO2-e in 2014  i.e. 6.67 Gt CO2-e and corresponding to an annual Carbon Debt (minus land use) of at least $1.7 trillion per year. Of course one must recognize that her ignorant opponent, Donald Trump, dismissed climate change as a “hoax” in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The upper estimate of the Carbon Debt for a transition from the present 407 ppm CO2 back to the pre-Industrial Revolution level of 280 ppm CO2 is 127 ppm CO2 x $1,958 billion per ppm CO2 = $248.7.0 trillion , a sum that is 78% of the 2018 accumulated wealth of the world of $317 trillion in 2018 , and if paid off over 1 decade would require payment at $24.9 trillion per year.
Alternatively, the historical Carbon Debt of a country can be measured by the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) it has introduced into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century. Thus the total Carbon Debt of the world (in Giga tonnes CO2-e i.e. billions of tonnes CO2-e) from 1751-2019 (including CO2 that has gone into the oceans) is about 346 Gt CO2-e (1750-2008)  + 638 Gt CO2-e (2009-2019)  = 984 Gt CO2-e. Assuming a damage-related Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2-equivalent , this corresponds to a Carbon Debt of $197 trillion, about two-thirds of the total wealth of the world ($317 trillion in 2018) and 2.3 times the world’s total annual GDP ($85 trillion in 2018). Payment of this debt over 1 decade would require payment at $19.7 trillion per year.
The US has a huge GHG pollution of 5.14 Gtonnes CO2-e per year and of about 51.4 Gtonnes CO2-e (for the period 2009-2019)  with an historical GHG pollution of 99.1 Gtonnes CO2-e (1750-2008) [40, 41], for a total Carbon Debt of 51.4 + 99.1 = 150.5 Gtonnes CO2-e that corresponds (at $200 per tonne CO2-e) to a Carbon Debt of $30.1 trillion that is increasing at $1.0 trillion per year (6.3% of the world’s $16 trillion per year). However a revised estimate of US GHG pollution taking land use and CH4 into account [45, 46] is 41 tonnes CO2-e per person per year for the US, or 19.6 Gt (based on a present population of 327 million) and hence an annual Carbon Debt increase of $2.0 trillion per year (12.5% of the world’s $16 trillion per year increase in Carbon Debt). This revised estimate is more consistent with the US (population 327 million, 4.3% of that of the world ) being responsible for 24.1 % of the world’s GDP in a global carbon economy (world population 7,530 billion) .
My own country, Australia, that is among world leaders in 14 GHG pollution-related areas [42, 43] has a Carbon Debt of US$5.1 trillion (A$7 trillion) that is increasing at US$400 billion (A$556 billion) per year and at US$40,000 (A$56,000) per head per year for under-30 year old Australians . However a revised estimate of Australian annual GHG pollution taking land use and CH4 into account [44, 45] is 52.9 tonnes CO2-e per person per year, or (based on a population of 25 million) 1.32 Gt CO2-e and an annual increase in Carbon Debt of $0.26 trillion per year (1.7 % of the world’s $16 trillion per year Carbon Debt increase). Taking Australia’s huge coal and gas exports into account, Australia’s annual GHG pollution is 116 tonnes CO2-e per person per year or (with a population of 25 million) 2.9 Gt CO2-e and an annual Carbon Debt increase of $0.6 trillion (3.8% of the world’s $16 trillion per year increase in Carbon Debt, noting that Australia’s population is only 0.3% of the world’s population and contributes 1.4 % of world GDP ).
The revised annual GHG emission of China (population 1,390 million) taking land use and CH4 into account, is 7.4 tonnes CO2-e per person per year (2013), and 10.3 Gt CO2-e in total per year, with this corresponding to an annual increase in Carbon Debt of $2.1 trillion per year (13.1% of the world’s annual Carbon Debt increase , noting that China has 18.5% of the world’s population and contributes 12.2% of world GDP).
India does even better than China on a per capita basis. The revised annual GHG emission of India (population 1,340 million) taking land use and CH4 into account, is 2.1 t CO2-e per person per year (2013), and 2.8 Gt CO2-e in total per year with this corresponding to an annual increase in Carbon Debt of $ 0.56 trillion per year (3.5% of the world’s annual Carbon Debt increase, noting that India has 17.8% of the world’s population and contributes 2.6% of world GDP).
From the above it is apparent that on a per capita basis the US and Australia contribute disproportionately and vastly more to the annual increase in global Carbon Debt than China that (contributes its fair share) and India that contributes much less to the human world’s suicide mission.
About 7 million people die each year from the effects of pollutants from carbon fuel burning . It has been estimated that 0.4 million people die each year from climate change [48, 49], but this is surely an underestimate because each year 15 million people die avoidably from deprivation in the impoverished tropical and sub-tropical South that is disproportionately impacted by climate change . Accordingly, one can reasonably posit that annual climate change deaths are of the order of 1 million. Adopting a risk avoidance-based Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) of $0.9 million per person for impoverished countries, one can see that 8 million annual deaths from carbon fuel burning and climate change correspond to 8 million deaths x $0.9 million per person = $7.2 trillion. Unfortunately the Climate Genocide that presently kills about 1 million people per year is worsening. Several leading climate scientists have estimated that as few as 0.5 billion people will survive this century if man-made climate change is not requisitely addressed., with this translating to about 10 billion climate deaths this century and an extremely academic Carbon Debt of $9,000 trillion .
If we accept that “all men are created equal” then it is a no-brainer that polluters should fully pay for the social and environmental cost of their pollution. Indeed Pope Francis has unequivocally stated that the social and environmental cost of pollution should be “fully borne” by the polluters. In stark contrast to the terracidal One Percenters, Pope Francis recognizes a looming climate catastrophe and millions of premature deaths from carbon burning pollutants, demands massive decarbonisation and conversion to renewables starting without delay in the next few years, rejects Carbon Trading as a dishonest ploy, advocates a “fully borne” Carbon Price (Carbon Tax) on polluters, proposes boycotts of polluters, condemns loss of biodiversity and advises intergenerational solidarity [50, 51].Two expert estimates of a required Carbon Tax (Carbon Price) are considered above, to whit $200 per tonne CO2-e from climate economist Dr Chris Hope of 118 Nobel Laureate Cambridge University , and up to $252 per ton CO2-e ($229 per tonne CO2-e) from Professor James Hansen of 96 Nobel Laureate Columbia University . Nevertheless the politically dominant, climate criminal One Percenters who control half the wealth of the world have responded to such expert opinion with massively funded climate change denialism  and thence variously with fall-back positions of grossly insufficient, corrupt and counterproductive Carbon Trading schemes to preserve the present suicidal Carbon Economy . A $200 per tonne CO2-e Carbon Tax can help drive rapid transit to zero emissions and thence massive required negative carbon emissions as set out above.
8. Any species is priceless – Anthropocene Era mass extinctions imply infinite Carbon Debt.
We must not destroy what we cannot replace – .any species is accordingly priceless. Yet mass extinctions are now occurring at such a level to have prompted scientists to call the present era the Anthropocene Era. The extinction rates are now 100-1,000 above normal. [54-60]. Thus, for example, coral reefs are hugely complex, multi-species ecosystems and the IPCC has recently projected a further 70-90% decline of coral reefs at global warming of +1.5C versus more than a 99% loss at +2C [56-58]. Anthropocene Era mass extinctions imply infinite Carbon Debt. That said, environmental economists have assessed the economic value of nature as of the same order as the annual world GDP. Dr Andrew Balmford and colleagues have stated (2002): “On the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, it is timely to assess progress over the 10 years since its predecessor in Rio de Janeiro. Loss and degradation of remaining natural habitats has continued largely unabated. However, evidence has been accumulating that such systems generate marked economic benefits, which the available data suggest exceed those obtained from continued habitat conversion. We estimate that the overall benefit:cost ratio of an effective global program for the conservation of remaining wild nature is at least 100:1” .
9. Impossibly high Carbon Debt from unlimited Australian coal and gas exports ($353 trillion) and adumbrated Arctic CH4 release ($1,050 trillion).
Climate criminal Australia (0.3% of the world’s population) has a bipartisan policy – fervently adhered to by the present Liberal Party-National Party Coalition Government and the Labor Party Opposition that are collectively known as the Lib-Labs – of unlimited coal, gas an iron exports. In contrast, the science-informed Australian Greens want to achieve 100% renewable energy and cease all thermal coal exports by 2030 . However it is estimated that feasible exploitation of Australia’s presently discovered conventional and unconventional gas resources would generate 61.5 billion tonnes of CO2-e and combustion of Australia’s huge coal resource potential of 1 trillion tonnes of coal would be an estimated 692.7 Gt CO2 (from brown coal) plus 1,073.9 Gt CO2 (from black coal), for a total of 1,766.6 Gt CO2, with this corresponding to a Carbon Debt of 1.7666 trillion tonnes CO2 x $200 per tonne CO2 = $353 trillion (similar to the accumulated global wealth of $350 trillion in 2020 ). Australia has always been a deeply racist country [64, 65], but this takes racism and exceptionalism to an extraordinary, genocidal and indeed terracidal level.
It gets worse. Professor Peter Wadhams (professor of Ocean Physics, and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, 118-Nobel-Laureate University of Cambridge, UK) and colleagues on the threat of a 50Gt methane release from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (2013): “Economic time bomb. As the amount of Arctic sea ice declines at an unprecedented rate, the thawing of offshore permafrost releases methane. A 50-gigatonne (Gt) reservoir of methane, stored in the form of hydrates, exists on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. It is likely to be emitted as the seabed warms, either steadily over 50 years or suddenly” . The Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CH4 on a 20 year time frame and with aerosol impacts included is 105 relative to CO2 (1), and this 50 Gt CH4 release corresponds to 50 Gt CH4 x 105 t CO2-e/ t CH4 = 5,250 Gt CO2-e , which in turn corresponds to a Carbon Debt (at $200 per tonne CO2-e) of $1,050 trillion or 3 times greater than the accumulated wealth of whole world.
The world already has an inescapable Carbon Debt of $200-250 trillion that – instead of being urgently reduced by massive atmospheric CO2 draw-down – is relentlessly increasing at about $16 trillion per year. In a domestic household budget setting this would be utter lunacy – in a global setting it is mass suicide of humanity. This utterly disastrous present scenario means that a catastrophic plus 2C temperature rise is evidently unavoidable. However we are obliged to do everything we can to make the future “less bad” for future generations. A London wall mural attributed to the famed street artist Banksy declares: “From this moment despair ends and tactics begin” . The young have no choice but to revolt (non-violently of course) – as exampled by the present Extinction Rebellion by young people in London [4, 5] – against the destruction of the Biosphere (speciescide, ecocide, omnicide, and terracide).
Decent people must oppose the neoliberal Gadarene rush to global suicide by (a) informing everyone they can, and (b) urging and applying Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, politicians, parties, collectives, corporations and countries disproportionately involved in the worsening climate emergency, climate genocide and Biosphere destruction. There is no Planet B and there must be zero tolerance for the neoliberal, genocidal and terracidal climate criminals. In climate criminal Australia that is among world leaders in GHG pollution, Biosphere destruction and climate change inaction, decent people will utterly reject the climate criminal Coalition Government, vote 1 Green and put the Coalition and its extremist associates last.
|April 26, 2019||
Suicide Watch on Planet Earth.
by Tom Engelhardt, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.org
As Notre Dame burned, as the flames leapt from its roof of ancient timbers, many of us watched in grim horror. Hour after hour, on screen after screen, channel after channel, you could see that 850-year-old cathedral, a visiting spot for 13 million people annually, being gutted, its roof timbers flaring into the evening sky, its steeple collapsing in a ball of fire. It was dramatic and deeply disturbing — and, of course, unwilling to be left out of any headline-making event, President Trump promptly tweeted his advice to the French authorities: “Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” No matter that water from such planes would probably have taken the cathedral’s towers down and endangered lives as well — “the equivalent,” according to a French fire chief, “of dropping three tons of concrete at 250 kilometers per hour [on] the ancient monument.”
Still, who could doubt that watching such a monument to the human endeavor being transformed into a shell of its former self was a reminder that everything human is mortal; that, whether in a single lifetime or 850 years, even the most ancient of our artifacts, like those in Iraq and Syria recently, will sooner or later be scourged by the equivalent of (or even quite literally by) fire and sword; that nothing truly lasts, even the most seemingly permanent of things like, until now, Notre Dame?
That cathedral in flames, unlike so much else in our moment (including you-know-who in his every waking moment), deserved the front-and-center media attention it got. Historically speaking, it was a burning event of the first order. Still, it’s strange that the most unnerving, deeply terrifying burning underway today, not of that ancient place of worship that lived with humanity for so many tumultuous centuries but of the planet itself, remains largely in the background.
When the cathedral in which Napoleon briefly crowned himself emperor seemed likely to collapse, it was certifiably an event of headline importance. When, however, the cathedral (if you care to think of it that way) in which humanity has been nurtured all these tens of thousands of years, on which we spread, developed, and became what we are today — I mean, of course, the planet itself — is in danger of an unprecedented sort from fires we continue to set, that’s hardly news at all. It’s largely relegated to the back pages of our attention, lost any day of the week to headlines about a disturbed, suicidal young woman obsessed with the Columbine school massacre or an attorney general obsessed with protecting the president.
And let’s not kid ourselves, this planet of ours is beginning to burn — and not just last week or month either. It’s been smoldering for decades now. Last summer, for instance, amid global heat records (Ouargla, Algeria, 124 degrees Fahrenheit; Hong Kong, over 91 degrees Fahrenheit for 16 straight days; Nawabsha, Pakistan, 122 degrees Fahrenheit; Oslo, Norway, over 86 degrees Fahrenheit for 16 consecutive days; Los Angeles, 108 degrees Fahrenheit), wildfires raged inside the Arctic Circle. This March, in case you hadn’t noticed — and why would you, since it’s gotten so little attention? — the temperature in Alaska was, on average, 20 degrees (yes, that is not a misprint) above normal and typical ice roads between villages and towns across parts of that state were melting and collapsing with deaths ensuing.
Meanwhile, in the Antarctic, ice is melting at a rate startling to scientists. If the process accelerates, global sea levels could rise far faster than expected, beginning to drown coastal cities like Miami, New York, and Shanghai more quickly than previously imagined. Meanwhile, globally, the wildfire season is lengthening. Fearsome fires are on the rise, as are droughts, and that’s just to begin to paint a picture of a heating planet and its ever more extreme weather systems and storms, of (if you care to think of it that way) a Whole Earth version of Notre Dame.
The Arsonists Arrive
As was true with Notre Dame, when it comes to the planet, there were fire alarms before an actual blaze was fully noted. Take, for example, the advisory panel of scientists reporting to President Lyndon Johnson on the phenomenon of global warming back in 1965. They would, in fact, predict with remarkable accuracy how our world was going to change for the worse by this twenty-first-century moment. (And Johnson, in turn, would bring the subject upofficially for perhaps the first time in a Special Message to Congress on February 5, 1965, 54 years before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal proposal.) As that panel wrote at the time, “Through his worldwide industrial civilization, Man is unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment. Within a few generations he is burning the fossil fuels that slowly accumulated in the earth over the past 500 million years…” In other words, the alarm was first sounded more than half a century ago.
When it comes to climate change, however, as the smoke began to appear and, in our own moment, the first flames began to leap — after all, the last four years have been the hottest on record and, despite the growth of ever less expensive alternative energy sources, carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere are still rising, not falling — no firemen arrived (just children). There were essentially no adults to put out the blaze. Yes, there was the Paris climate accord but it was largely an agreement in principle without enforcement power of any genuine sort.
In fact, across significant parts of the planet, those who appeared weren’t firefighters at all, but fire feeders who will likely prove to be the ultimate arsonists of human history. In a way, it’s been an extraordinary performance. Leaders who vied for, or actually gained, power not only refused to recognize the existence of climate change but were quite literally eager to aid and abet the phenomenon. This is true, for instance, of the new president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who came to power prepared to turn the already endangered carbon sink of the Amazon rain forest into a playground for corporate and agricultural destroyers. It is similarly true in Europe, where right-wing populist movements have begun to successfully opposegestures toward dealing with climate change, gaining both attention and votes in the process. In Poland, for instance, just such a party led by President Andrzej Duda has come to power and the promotion of coal production has become the order of the day.
And none of that compared to developments in the richest, most powerful country of all, the one that historically has put more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere than any other. On taking office, Donald Trump appointed more climate-change deniers to his cabinet than might have previously seemed possible and swore fealty to “American energy dominance,” while working to kneecap the development of alternative energy systems. He and his men tried to open new areas to oil and gas drilling, while in every way imaginable striving to remove what limits there had been on Big Energy, so that it could release its carbon emissions into the atmosphere unimpeded. And as the planetary cathedral began to burn, the president set the mood for the moment (at least for his vaunted “base”) by tweetingsuch things as “It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!” or, on alternative energy, “You would be doing wind, windmills, and if it doesn’t if it doesn’t blow you can forget about television for that night… Darling, I want to watch television. I’m sorry, the wind isn’t blowing.”
Among those who will someday be considered the greatest criminals in history, don’t forget the Big Energy CEOs who, knowing the truth about climate change from their own hired scientists, did everything they could to increase global doubts by funding climate-denying groups, while continuing to be among the most profitable companies around. They even hedged their bets by, among other things, investing in alternative energy and using it to more effectively drill for oil and natural gas.
Meanwhile, of course, the planet that had proven such a comfortable home for humanity was visibly going down. No, climate change won’t actually destroy the Earth itself, just the conditions under which humanity (and so many other species) thrived on it. Sooner or later, if the global temperature is indeed allowed to rise a catastrophic seven degrees Fahrenheit or four degrees Celsius, as an environmental impact statement from the Trump administration suggested it would by 2100, parts of the planet could become uninhabitable, hundreds of millions of human beings could be set in desperate motion, and the weather could intensify in ways that might be nearly unbearable for human habitation. Just read David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth, if you doubt me.
This isn’t even contestable information anymore and yet it’s perfectly possible that Donald Trump could be elected to a second term in 2020. It’s perfectly possible that more right-wing populist movements could sweep into power in Europe. It’s perfectly possible that Vladimir Putin’s version of great powerdom — a sagging Russian petro-state — could continue on its present globally warming path well into the future.
Understand this: Trump, Bolsonaro, Duda, Putin, and the others are just part of human history. Sooner or later, they will be gone. Climate change, however, is not part of human history (whatever it may do to civilization as we know it). Its effects could, in human terms, last for almost unimaginable periods of time. It operates on a different time scale entirely, which means that, unlike the tragedies and nightmares of human history, it is not just a passing matter.
Of course, the planet will survive, as will some life forms (as would be true even if humanity were to succumb to that other possible path to an apocalypse, a nuclear holocaust resulting in “nuclear winter”). But that should be considered small consolation indeed.
Putting the Planet on a Suicide Watch
Consider global warming a story for the ages, one that should put Notre Dame’s near-destruction after almost nine centuries in grim perspective. And yet the planetary version of burning, which should be humanity’s crisis of all crises, has been met with a general lack of media attention, reflecting a lack of just about every other kind of attention in our world (except by those outraged children who know that they are going to inherit a degraded world and are increasingly making their displeasure about it felt).
To take just one example of that lack of obvious attention, the response of the mega-wealthy to the burning of Notre Dame was an almost instantaneous burst of giving. The euro equivalent of nearly a billion dollars was raised more or less overnight from the wealthiest of French families and other .01%ers. Remind me of the equivalent for climate change as the planet’s spire threatens to come down?
As for arsonists like Donald Trump and the matter of collusion, there’s not even a question mark on the subject. In the United States, such collusion with the destroyers of human life on Planet Earth is written all over their actions. It’s beyond evident in the appointment of former oil and gas lobbyists and fellow travelers to positions of power. Will there, however, be the equivalent of a Mueller investigation? Will the president be howling “witch hunt” again? Not a chance. When it comes to Donald Trump and climate change, there will be neither a Mueller Report, nor the need for a classic Barr defense. And yet collusion — hell, yeah! The evidence is beyond overwhelming.
We are, of course, talking about nothing short of the ultimate crime, but on any given day of our lives, you’d hardly notice that it was underway. Even for an old man like me, it’s a terrifying thing to watch humanity make a decision, however inchoate, to essentially commit suicide. In effect, there is now a suicide watch on Planet Earth. Let’s hope the kids can make a difference.
Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs TomDispatch.com and is a fellow of the Type Media Center. His sixth and latest book is A Nation Unmade by War (Dispatch Books).
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands,Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.
Originally published in TomDispath.com
|April 19, 2019||
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems.
by Robert Hunziker, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.org
Sometime in the near future it is highly probable that the Arctic will no longer have sea ice, meaning zero ice for the first time in eons, aka: the Blue Ocean Event.
Surely, the world is not prepared for the consequences of such an historic event, which likely turns the world topsy-turvy, negatively impacting agriculture with gonzo weather patterns, thus forcing people to either starve or fight. But, the problem may be even bigger than shortages of food, as shall be discussed.
Still and all, it’s somewhat consoling to know that the Blue Ocean Event is quite controversial within the scientific community. There are climate scientists that believe Arctic ice will be there beyond this century. One can only hope they are right because an ice-free Arctic will indubitably create havoc for life on the planet.
However, disturbingly, the prospects for enduring sea ice don’t look good.
Here’s why: Dr. Peter Wadhams (professor emeritus,University of Cambridge) who’s the leading authorityon Arctic sea ice (A Farewell to Ice, Oxford University Press) was recently interviewed re the current status of Arctic sea ice, as of 2019,and recorded on TUC radio (live broadcasts on KALW/San Francisco and independent internet radio)
Here are snippets from that interview: Over the past 40 years the loss of Arctic sea ice has rapidly progressed, e.g., from 1976-87 Arctic sea ice thickness decreased by 15%… during the 1990s, thickness decreased by 43% … and today 75% of the sea ice is gone… resulting in an impairment of sea ice albedo, which reflects solar radiation back into outer space by 80-90% with sea ice, but conversely,without sea ice, it absorbs 80-90% of solar radiation into the dark background of iceless water where crucial untold dangers lurk.
Accordingly, the Arctic has experienced “the biggest transition of albedo on the planet.” (Wadhams)The consequences are unimaginably challenging, kinda like trying to calculate, beforehand, what happens when fallen into an ontological rabbit hole, or in other words, expect the unexpected!
Not only that but, the Arctic is already a hothouse in the hemisphere. For example, permafrost samples in the Yukon near Dempster Highway registered temps, as of April 2019, nearly 2° Chigher than at any point in time over the past 10,000 years.(Source: CBC News, Arctic is Warmest It’s Been in 10,000 Years, Study Suggests,” April 12, 2019)
As far as that goes, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) suggests an upper limit, or guardrail, of 2°C post-industrial temperature.If exceeded, primary ecosystems that support life are at risk of breaking down.
In fact, aside from the Arctic,pivotal ecosystems are already starting to break down around the world, especially in the rainforests of Puerto Rico and Mexico (experiencing high temperature variations of 2C) where, shockingly, arthropods are disappearing, nearly en masse; as well as documentation of over 100 separate locations of Flying Insect Armageddon in Europe (likely caused by toxic chemicals) registering mass losses of 75%over a few decades, which characterizes an extinction event!
As for the Arctic sea ice scenario, one critical question is not discussed in public: What happens next?
What happens when all of the sea ice is gone?
According to the tenacious climate scientist Paul Beckwith, the “refrigerator effect” is lost in the Blue Ocean Event, meaning the “water temperature is not pegged close to the freezing point when there is no ice left to melt.” (Source: Paul Beckwith, climate system scientist, University of Ottawa)
Thereafter, by default, the only major source of ice remaining in the Northern Hemisphere will be Greenland. Thenceforth, the “Center of Cold” in the Northern Hemisphere will shift to Greenland, no longer the Arctic, likely shifting from the North Pole to approximately 73° North Latitude or the center of Greenland (Beckwith) …Then what?
Unfortunately, that creates a whole new category of risks asweather patterns throughout the Northern Hemisphere depend upon jet streams (20K to 39K feet above sea level) that rely upon the “Center of Cold” over the North Pole interceding with warm air currents from the tropics to generate jet stream gusto. If the “Center of Cold” shifts,who knows for sure what’ll happen to the crucial jet streams?
The short answer may be the jet streams will go bonkers more so than ever before. Of course, to a lesser degree, this is already happening right now and causing extreme weather events like massive flooding in the Midwest: Hello, Kansas.
As of 2019, all-time record-setting heavy weather hit the U.S. with humongous amounts of snow throughout the northern Midwest as a result of slow-moving wobbly jet streams that loop and bring Arctic weather directly south. Believe it or not, the resultant massive flooding (also record-setting)may be a minor event in the context of a newly released chilling study about the impact of Arctic sea ice loss, as follows:
The study of ancient ice cores by a team from the British Antarctic Survey, University of Cambridge and University of Birmingham found“major reductions in sea ice in the Arctic” cranked up (temperature amplification as a result of no Arctic sea ice) Greenland regional temperatures “by 16° C in less than a decade.” (Source: Louise C. Sime, et al, Impact of Abrupt Sea Ice Loss on Greenland Water Isotopes During the Last Glacial Period, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 5, 2019)
According to the study: “This work confirms the significance of sea ice for past abrupt warming events… This is important because changes in sea ice have profound consequences on both global and local scales, including impacts on global climate and local ecosystems,”Ibid.
Significantly, if the “Impact of Abrupt Sea Ice Loss on Greenland” scenario were to recur, it would create havoc, and panic within a decade. Could it happen? Well, it happened in the past without the assistance of human-influenced GHG emissions. Therefore, the answer seems to be: Yes, it could happen again. End of Story!
But, on second thought: The 16° C increase in temps in less than a decade is difficult to fathom, even though the paleoclimate record shows it did happen.After rereading the British Antarctic Study again, and again, it goes without saying that a temperature increase of “16° C within a decade” would destroy most life. One can only hope that the British Antarctic Survey team made a big fat mistake, or there are extenuating circumstances of some kind or other.
But, make no mistake about this:Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today are rip snorting faster than almost any paleoclimate time scale, likely setting a new 62-year record for CO2 emissions in 2019.Precariously, that feeds directly into increased planetary heat and loss of more Arctic sea ice. The end results cannot be good, an understatement.
According to NASA, Global Climate Change – Vita Signs of the Planet: “Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient or paleoclimate evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten (10) times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.”
Meanwhile, according to the aforementioned interview withDr. Peter Wadhams: Currently, the Arcticis heating up about 4xs faster than the rest of the planet… the temp difference between the Arctic and the tropics is dropping precipitously … thus, driving the jet streams less… creating meandering jet streams… in turn, producing extreme weather events throughout the Northern Hemisphere, especially in mid latitudes where most of the world’s food is grown.
Not only is future food production seriously at risk,but as well, massive quantities of buried seabed methane (much more powerful in its initial years at influencing global warming than CO2) in the Arctic could release suddenly because of loss of albedo, no longer reflecting solar radiation out into space, rather absorbing it down to massive quantities of CH4 (methane) under seabed permafrost, which is: “The greatest single threat we face… It would be a catastrophe because the temperature would suddenly rise… It wouldn’t rise smoothly”(Wadhams).
But, really, honestly, come on now, something’s gotta (hopefully) be wrong with the aforementioned British Antarctic Survey’s scientific data.Could it be a misplaced decimal point?
Astonishingly, it is factual data. In the simplest of terms, Greenland’s 16° C temperature increase in less than a decade ismind-blowing, especially in consideration of the survey team’s statement that it:“Confirms the significance of sea ice for past abrupt warming events.”
Hmm! Déjà vu, the Arctic sea ice scenario today seems curiously similar tothe British Antarctic Study.Prospectively, that’s really horrible news!
Robert Hunziker is a writer based in Los Angeles
|April 19, 2019||
Planetary Boundaries, and the Green New Deal
by Howie Hawkins, in World, Earth Day, Countercurrents.org
As we celebrate Earth Day in 2019, we need to recognize that more than climate change threatens our environment and our very existence. We have passed or are approaching several Planetary Boundaries outside of which human society may not survive.
Environmental scientists have developed the concept of Planetary Boundaries to identify Earth system processes that human activity is disrupting. They have tried to identify boundaries beyond which that disruption will trigger radical planetary environmental changes that endanger the survival of human society.
Of the nine planetary boundaries these scientists have identified, they say that we have already passed four of them:
Climate Change: At 412 ppm atmospheric carbon last month, we have already passed the safe zone of below 350 ppm that would keep global temperature rise to under 1ºC and within the range of the current interglacial Holocene climate in which agriculture, the material foundation for human civilization, developed.
Biogeochemical Cycles: Earth’s biogeochemical nitrogen and phosphorus cycles have been disturbed even more than the carbon cycle. Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers pollute waterways and coastal zones overwhelm ecosystems’ capacity to absorb and recycle them, resulting in ecosystem collapse and low-oxygen dead zones.
Biodiversity: The 6th Mass Extinction in Earth’s history is underway and threatening to collapse ecosystems and hence agriculture and food production. For example, scientists recently reported that insects have declined at a 2.5% rate of annual loss over the last 25-30 years, a reduction of 80% of insect biomass. Insects are at the base of every terrestrial ecosystem food web and energy pyramid. Agricultural pesticides, along with climate change and habitat destruction, are killing off the insects.
Land Use: Forests, wetlands, and biomes have been converted to industrialized agriculture and urban sprawl to the degree it is disrupting biogeochemical cycles and reducing biodiversity.
The other five boundaries these scientists identify are:
Ocean Acidification: Oceans are acidifying as atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves into the water as carbonic acid. Acidification is already killing off the corals, threatening the ability of shellfish to form their shells, and thus threatening the stability of ocean ecosystems. The greatest danger is posed by the threat of acidification to phytoplankton. Recent scientific reports warn that by 2100, ocean heating and acidification could so reduce phytoplankton, the source of two-thirds of atmospheric oxygen, that it may result in the suffocation of animal life on Earth. If we have not passed this planetary boundary, we are fast approaching it.
Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: We have good news here thanks to the Montreal Protocol adopted in 1987 by the world’s nations to ban the production of the chemicals that depleted stratospheric ozone. This ozone layer that protects life from excessive ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the Sun is recovering. The Montreal Protocol is a model for the kind of binding international agreements we must forge to address climate change and other environmental threats
Freshwater: Intense water use by industrialized agriculture and urban systems is depleting fresh water faster than it is naturally replenished. Pollution, aquifer depletion, and water-conserving habitat destruction are the causes. At present trends, half of the world’s people and agriculture will face water shortages by 2050.
Atmospheric Aerosols: Microscopic particles in the atmosphere affect the climate and living organisms. Some aerosols warm and others cool the planet, with a slight net cooling affect so far, though it is far from overriding the warming effect of greenhouse gases released by human activity. But aerosols have a negative affect on human respiratory organs, resulting in an estimated 4 million premature deaths annually.
Novel Chemicals and Materials: These include chemical pollutants, heavy metals, radioactive materials, nanomaterials, and micro-plastics. Barry Commoner, the late environmental scientist and Citizens Party presidential candidate in 1980 (which German Green Petra Kelly called America’s Green Party), warned us in his book Making Peace with the Planet (1990) that these novel entities disrupt the biosphere in which every new chemical created in the course of evolution co-evolved with enzymes to break them down to be recycled in the web of life. Without these enzymes for biodegradability, these novel entities bioaccumulate in the ecosystems and organisms, with potentially dangerous consequences to ecosystems and human health. While it is debatable how close we are to overshooting this planetary boundary, there is no debate that microplastics, for example, are now in our food and our organs. Of the over 80,000 novel chemicals created for commercial use, only 200 have been tested for safety by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Expanded Green New Deal
What the Planetary Boundaries analysis means is that a Green New Deal must do more than build a clean energy system by 2030. It must be must be expanded into a full-scale Green Economy Reconstruction Program that not only transforms energy production to renewables, but transforms all our production systems to ecological sustainability. We can’t even get to 100% clean energy without reconstructing all of our production systems, from agriculture to transportation.
Industrial corporate agriculture must be converted to regenerative organic agriculture to eliminate pesticides and draw atmospheric carbon into living soils. Manufacturing must converted to processes that rely on biodegradable or recyclable chemicals and materials. Transportation must electrified, powered by clean renewables, with more emphasis on freight rails, high-speed rails, and urban light rails than trucking, personal vehicles, and air travel for intermediate distances. Urban systems must be reconfigured around walkable communities where homes, work, shopping, and mass transit are within a short walk of each other.
The vast majority of the military-industrial complex must be converted to ecological civilian production. The U.S. should be the world’s humanitarian superpower, not its sole military superpower. We should be helping poor countries meet basic needs and jump over the fossil fuel age into the solar age. We should be making friends with a Global Green New Deal instead of enemies with endless wars and a military empire of over 800 military bases placed in other countries to make the world safe for exploitation by global corporations instead of safe for the world’s peoples.
Ecosocialist Green New Deal
Conversion to an ecologically sustainable and just economy cannot happen under the capitalist system. Capitalism’s competitive structure drives blind, relentless growth that is consuming and destroying the biosphere. Its competitive international structure breeds wars for resources, markets, cheap labor, and geopolitical military advantages. With the nuclear weapons of the nuclear powers on hair-trigger alert and a new nuclear arms race now underway, the capitalist system will annihilate us if we don’t replace it with an ecosocialist system first.
We need an ecosocialist Green New Deal in order to coordinate the conversion of all production systems to sustainability. We need social ownership of key industries, like the energy sector. Exxon and the Koch Brothers are not going to reinvest their fossil fuel earnings in renewables. We must nationalize big oil. We need a bottom-up democratic process of economic planning so the public sector—public enterprises, infrastructure, and services—is responsive to the people in their communities.
We need a Just Transition to a green economy so no one is harmed in the process. The Green New Deal must include an Economic Bill of Rights that guarantees to all a living-wage job, an income above poverty, decent housing, comprehensive health care, and a good tuition-free public education from pre-K to college.
We need system change, not business as usual.
Howie Hawkins in 2010 became the first person to run for office on the Green New Deal is now exploring the possibility of running for president as the Green Party nominee.
|April 19, 2019||
The Day of Mother Earth: Living in Harmony with Nature
by Rene Wadlow , in Counter Solutions, Countercurrents.org
International Mother Earth Day on 22 April each year was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. Its aim is to promote living in harmony with Nature and to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations. The concept of living in harmony with Nature was seen by the U.N. delegates as a way “to improve the ethical basis of the relationship between humankind and our planet.” It is the biosphere we all belong to which is becoming the common heritage of mankind which we must defend.
The term “Mother Earth” is an expression used in different cultures to symbolize the inseparable bonds between humans and Nature. Pachamama is the term used in the Andean cultures of South America. The Earth and the ecosystem is our home. We need to care for it as a mother is supposed to care for her children and the children to show love and gratitude in return. However, we know from all the folk tales of the evil stepmother as well as the records of psychoanalytic sessions that mother-children relations are not always relations of love, care and gratitude. Thus to really live in harmony with Nature requires deep shifts in values and attitudes, not just “sustainable development” projects.
The United Nations began its focus on ecological issues with the preparations for the 1972 Conference in Stockholm and has continued with the 1992 Rio Declaration followed by the Rio plus 20 conference 20 years later. However the concept of living in harmony with Nature is relatively new as a U.N. political concept. Yet it is likely to be increasingly a theme for both governmental policy making and individual action.
As Rodney Collin wrote in a letter “It is extraordinary how the key-word of harmony occurs everywhere now, comes intuitively to everyone’s lips when they wish to express what they hope for. But I feel that we have hardly yet begun to study its real meaning. Harmony is not an emotion, an effect. It is a whole elaborate science, which for some reason has only been fully developed in the realm of sound. Science, psychology and even religion are barely touching it as yet.” (1)
Resolutions in the U.N. General Assembly can give a sense of direction. They indicate that certain ideas and concepts are ready to be discussed at the level of governments. However, a resolution is not yet a program of action or even a detailed framework for discussion. “Living in harmony with Nature” is at that stage on the world agenda. Since the start of the yearly observation of Mother Earth Day in 2010, there have been useful projects proposed around a yearly theme. The 2018 theme is to reduce pollution from plastics. The exponential growth of plastics is now a real threat by injuring marine life, littering beaches and landfills and clogging waste systems. There is a need to reduce the single use of plastic objects by reusing and recycling plastic objects.
However reducing pollution from plastic objects, while useful, is not yet living in harmony with Nature. There is still efforts to be made to spell out the ethical base and the necessary shifts in attitudes and actions.
1) His letters have been assembled after his death by his wife into a book:
Rodney Collin. The Theory of Conscious Harmony (Boulder, CO: Shambhala, 1958)
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens
|April 18, 2019||
Goods Trade: EU’s surplus with U.S. and deficit with China grows.
by Countercurrents Team, in World, Countercurrents.org
Interesting trends in the area of goods trade between the EU and U.S., and between the EU and China have emerged recently. These trends carry possibility of increased global economic tension.
Media reports said:
The EU’s trade surplus in goods with the U.S. increased in the first two months of 2019 while its deficit with China widened.
According to Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, the EU’s surplus with the U.S. grew to €21.6 billion in Jan-Feb 2019 from €20.9 billion in the same period of 2018, while with China, the EU’s trade deficit expanded to €37.8 billion from €35.5 billion.
The U.S. has hit the EU with tariffs. The EU’s ally has also threatened more in complaint over the trade balance.
At the same time, both the U.S. and the EU have complained that China wants free trade without playing fair.
Overall, the goods trade deficit of the EU has increased to €28.4 billion in Jan-Feb 2019 from €20.7 billion a year earlier.
Energy imports were the chief cause of the deficit, especially from Russia and Norway.
For the narrower 19-country euro zone, exports grew by 4.4 percent year-on-year in February and imports by 4.0 percent, leading to an expansion of its trade surplus to €17.9 billion in February from €16.5 billion a year earlier.
EU targets Trump’s heartland with retaliation plan
The EU has published its preliminary list of U.S. goods being targeted in a $12 billion plan for retaliatory tariffs over subsidies to Boeing Co., with a focus on farm products from areas that help form U.S. President Trump’s political base.
The European Commission began a public consultation Wednesday over the American products ranging from ketchup and nuts to video-game consoles and bicycle pedals.
The European Commission issued the 11-page document listing US goods being considered for additional import duties.
The long list covers a considerable amount of agricultural products, including fruits, coffee and tobacco, and extends to other spheres such as aviation. The possible levies may hit various items ranging from ketchup, vodka, chocolate and lobsters to video-game consoles, bicycle pedals, tractors, shovels and handbags.
A discussion on the proposed list is open until May 31 and the commission said it is up to the World Trade Organization (WTO) arbitrator to determine the exact level of countermeasures.
“European companies must be able to compete on fair and equal terms,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement.
The Trade Commissioner’s statement said: “We must continue to defend a level-playing field for our industry.”
She added that the retaliatory measures are on the agenda so that the EU is ready “in case there is no other way out.”
However, the official stressed that the bloc still does not want to be embroiled in “tit-for-tat” measures and hopes that dialogue will prevail.
She said: “The EU remains open for discussions with the U.S., provided these are without preconditions and aim at a fair outcome.”
A 15-years battle
The U.S. and EU have been locked in a bilateral dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO), with each claiming that Airbus and Boeing benefitted from illegal subsidies given to them. The two sides have been battling for almost 15 years over the matter, before it escalated, last week, when the US vowed to impose import tariffs on $11 billion worth of European goods.
In late March, the WTO appellate body confirmed that the US failed to comply with the organization’s rules on subsidies and “continued unabatedly its illegal support of its aircraft manufacturer Boeing to the detriment of Airbus,” according to the European Commission.
The WTO will ultimately decide the level of damages the EU can seek, with a verdict possible toward the end of this year or in early 2020.
The EU retaliation plan follows a U.S. threat to seek $11 billion in damages through duties on European goods ranging from helicopters to cheeses to counter state aid to Airbus SE. Both moves stem from parallel, 14-year-old, disputes at the WTO over market-distorting support for aircraft makers.
The EU and U.S. are preparing for negotiations on removing industrial tariffs. The two sides are engaging in renewed sparring over aircraft aid and Trump’s “America First” protectionism, especially his controversial duties on foreign steel and aluminum based on national-security grounds and a threat he has kept alive to apply automotive levies on the same basis.
The EU imports of the goods on the preliminary retaliation list in the Boeing dispute have a total value of around $20 billion and the bloc would eventually apply duties on some or all of the products once the WTO sets the damages limit, according to the commission, the bloc’s executive arm.
The U.S. products also include casino game tables, tobacco-seed oil, vodka, orange juice and a range of foods including chocolate and frozen lobster.
So far, the EU has applied tit-for-tat tariffs on €2.8 billion ($3.2 billion) of U.S. goods in response to Trump’s metal duties and threatened to hit a further €20 billion of U.S. products with levies should Washington restrict automotive imports.
In 2008, the EU had a trade deficit with China of €171 billion. There was a deficit throughout the period between 2008 and 2018, reaching €185 billion in 2018. During this time, EU exports to China were highest in 2018 (€210 billion) and lowest in 2008 (€78 billion). EU imports from China were highest in 2018 (€395 billion) and lowest in 2009 (€215 billion).
China is the top trading partner with the EU and accounted for 20% of EU imports in 2018. In terms of EU exports, China was the second largest export partner (11% of EU exports) in 2018, preceded by the United States (21% of EU exports).
|April 18, 2019||
World’s Youth Blow Bubbles For the Earth; While Voters Say No To Carbon Tax & Life in Climate Change
by Irwin Jerome, Countercurrents.org
Youth of the World Blowing Bubbles in Front of the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin
The youth of the world everywhere blow bubbles on behalf of Mother Earth in support of implementing in every nation things like, a: Carbon Tax; New Green Deal; Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground; institute a World Peace Academy; Ban all Nuclear Weapons and Plastic Bottles; and so many other things that corrupt and pollute this world and all of life. Always with the hope in mind that their elders will suddenly wake up, follow their lead and create a truly multicultural coexistence in a truly worldwide human nation based upon: One Human Race, One Nation, One Mother Earth.
Meanwhile, however, the adults of the world and their political parties in every nation continue to either totally deny these needs, pay lip service to them ormove at a glacial rate of speed to do anything positive to implement them all. The gap is monstrously huge between those who truly love the earth, all of life and want to preserve it while those who don’t care don’t mind continuing to rape her and rip everything they can out of her bowels while pillaging everything atop her whole body until the point where she’s virtually camatose and all but dead.
The youth of the world, and all those adults who would follow their lead, are starved for the essence of a healthy life and a healthy planet that will continue forever, while their so-called adult leaders may continue to talk a good game about the need to preserve the earth and make the world a better place in which to live and raise all the children of the future, but in the end remain too selfish, too self-centered, and always want their cake and eat it too.
Greta Thunberg, the 16 year-old Swedish climate protector activist who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on behalf of the environment, and more recently was the recipient of a Golden Camera (Goldene Kamera) Award for her environmental activism, recently spoke in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to 25,000 demonstrators who were protesting in support of preserving their Hambach Forest that is being threatened by the expansion of a German RWE coal mine.
Following her Goldene Kamera award, Greta commented on Facebook:
There is no recording available of the speech I gave at the Golden Kamera Award ceremony without being dubbed into German so, here it is in English: I dedicate this award to the people fighting to protect the Hambach Forest. And to activists everywhere who are fighting to keep the fossil fuels in the ground.
We live in a strange world where here all the united sciences tell us that we are about 11 years away from setting off an irreversible chain reaction way beyond human control that will probably be the end of our civilization as we know it. We live in a strange world where children must sacrifice their own education in order to protest against the destruction of their future: where the people who have contributed the least to this crisis are the ones who are going to be affected the most; where politicians say it’s too expensive to save the world, while spending trillions of euros subsidizing fossil fuels. We live in a strange world: where no one dares to look beyond our current political systems even though its clear that the answers we seek will not be found within the politics of today; where some people seem to be more concerned about the presence in school of some children than the future of humankind; where everyone can choose their own reality and buy their own truth; where our survival is depending on a small, rapidly disappearing carbon budget, and hardly anyone even knows it exists. We live in a strange world; where we think we can buy or build our way out of a crisis that has been created by buying and building things; where a football game or a film gala gets more media attention than the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced; where celebrities, film and pop-stars who have stood up against all injustices will not stand up for our environment and for climate justice because that would inflict on their right to fly around the world visiting their favorite restaurants, beaches and yoga retreats.
Avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown is to do the seemingly impossible. And that is what we have to do. But here is the truth: we can’t do it without you in the audience here tonight. People see you celebrities as Gods. You influence billions of people. We need you. You can use your voice to raise awareness about this global crisis. You can help turn individuals into movements. You can help us wake up our leaders – and let them know that our house is on fire.
We live in a strange world. But it’s the world that my generation has been handed. It’s the only world we’ve got. We are now standing at a crossroads in history. We are failing but we have not yet failed. We can still fix this. It’s up to us.
Listening to Greta Thunberg’s words, the lyrics from Midnight Oil’s legendary song The Bed is Burning began to echo over and over again in this writer’s mind: :
The time has come. A fact’s a fact It belongs to them Let’s give it back! How can we dance when our earth is turning? How do we sleep while our beds are burning? How can we dance when our earth is turning? How do we sleep while our beds are burning? The time has come to say fair’s fair! To pay the rent now,. to pay our share. The time has come! A fact’s a fact! It belongs to them. We’re gonna give it back. How can we dance when our earth is turning? How do we sleep while our beds are burning?
Reporter Reto Thumiger (https://www.pressenza.com/2019/03/fridays-for-future-25000-demonstrate-in-berlin-with-greta-thunberg) said that while listening to Greta Thunberg’s speech another related speech he previously had heard at a Silo.com celebration in 2004 in Punta de Vacas, Argentina, given by Mario Rodriguez Cobos, also began to simultaneously echo in his head. Especially when Cobos began:
Dear Friends. We have failed… but we keep insisting! We have failed but keep insisting with our project of humanizing the world. We have failed and we will continue to fail not just once but a thousand times again, because we ride on the wings of a bird named Intent that soars above frustration, weakness and pettiness. The force that gives life to our flight is faith in our destiny, it is faith in the justice of our action, it is faith in our selves it is faith in the human being. Because this is not the end of History, nor the end of ideas, nor the end of mankind; neither is it the definitive triumph of wickedness and manipulation. And for this reason we can always continue on in our attempt to change things and to change ourselves. This is the intent worth living because it is the continuation of the best aspirations of the good people who came before us. It is the intent worth living because it is the precursor of future generations who will transform the world. Two great souls who struggled against discrimination and injustice accompany our gathering. Inspirational guides of non-violence: Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, who both knew failure but never slackened in their intent. Today they are very much present in our minds and in our hearts in this unfortunate world where force and injustice reign over the countryside and the cities. How are they thinking of ending the violence?
Perhaps they think they are an inspiring example for new generations when they rant against the world in the guise of a: video game; when they threaten like the worst kind of bully, or; when they send their children to invade, to kill, and to die in distant lands.
This is not a good path, nor is it a good example. Perhaps they think that returning to the primitive practice of the death penalty will set a great social example. Perhaps they think that by increasingly penalizing the crimes committed by children, crime will disappear… or the children will disappear! Perhaps they believe that by applying “iron fist” tactics on the streets, the streets will become safe. Certainly these problems exist and are today multiplying, but peace will not result from a violent approach to violence.
Peace will not be achieved from a zoological vision of life that promotes the struggle for survival, the struggle for the domination by the fittest. That myth will not work. Peace will not come about by manipulating words or by censuring genuine protests against all abuses and all atrocities perpetrated against the human being. At this point I will be careful not to mention “human rights” because these have also been emptied of content and falsified in their meaning. Nowadays, defenseless populations are bombed so that their human rights may be protected
Peace will not be achieved from that zoological vision of life that encourages a social order based on reward and punishment, transferring animal domestication to the honorable citizen who begins to be trained in mistrust, accusation and the marketing of affection. “Something needs to be done”, is what you hear everywhere. Very well then I will tell you what must be done, but nothing will come of it because no one will listen.
At the international level, all who are invading territories of others should withdrawn immediately and comply with the resolutions and recommendations if the United Nations. I say that at the internal level of each nation, an effort must be made to make law and justice function, as imperfect as they may be, before making laws tougher and enacting represssive measures that play into the very hands of those who now obstruct law and justice. I say that at the domestic level people should practice what they preach and leave behind the hypocritical rhetoric that poisons the new generations. I say that at the personal level each person should strive to make their thoughts coincide with their feelings and their actions, shaping a coherent life and thus escaping from the conradicition that generates violence.
But nothing of what is said will be listened to. Nonetheless, events themselves will succeed in making the invaders retreat, will cause the tough guys to be repudiated by the people, who will demand the simple observance of the law; will result in children rejecting the hypocrisy of their parents; and cause each person to reporach the contradiction that they generate in themselves and in those around them.
We are at the end of a dark period in history and nothing will ever be the same as before. Little by little, the dawning of a new day will come. Cultures will begin to understand one anodther; the peoples will experience a growing yearning for progress for all. Understanding that progress for the few ends up being progress for no one. Yes, there will be peace, and out of necessity it will be understood that the outline of a universal human is taking shape. In the meantime we, the unheard, will work from today on, all over the world, to put pressure on the decision makers, to disseminate the ideals of peace based on the methodology of non-violence so as to prepare the way for the new times.
Yes, it is worthwhile that this Message and that this Universal Humanism gain strength. It is worthwhile for young people to swell the ranks of this Moral Force as a variant of History….so that this current becomes unstoppable and its murmur hears in all the languages of the Earth. Then the new generation will begin to teach the adults with new affection and new understanding.
Finally, my friends, I want to share with all of you this profound certainty that says, “The Sacred is within us and nothing bad can happen in this profound search for the Un-nameable. I believe that something very good will happen when human beings find the Meaning, so many times lost and so many times found again in the twists and turns of History.
Friends, I would like this Message of the Profound to be heard. It is not a strident Message but a quiet message that cannot be heard when one tries to trap it. Friends, I would like to transmit the certainty of immortality. But how could what is mortal generate something immortal? Perhaps we should rather ask ourselves, how it is posssible for the immortal to generate the illusion of mortality. How good it is to be here and together considering the present and the future. How good it is that at this moment thousands of friends in different latitudes are witnessing this gathering. On the other hand, these words reach very far and we no longer need to seek out of the way places in order to express ourselves without giving offense. Therefore, it becomes necessary to apologize to those who might have felt attacked by our words; words which have not been intended to be taken personally but rather refer to specific situations and historical moments. As our words die away into the calm, our looks take their place…our looks find one another and are deeply understood as we greet all of you, from heart to heart.
One wonders what other words of wisdom were echoing in the minds of all those who gathered at the recent Hambach Forest protest in Berlin, or who were present in 2004 in Punta de Vacas, Aargentian when Mario Rodriguez Cobos poured forth his own words of wisdom? Or what thoughts simultaneously are echoing ‘round the world as Youth for Climate continue to everywhere gather to blow their bubbles to our Mother Earth, to Life and to One Another in the hope that their elders finally will hear their hearts?
Bio Note: Jerome Irwin is a freelance writer-activist who, for decades, has sought to call attention to problems of sustainability caused by excessive mega-development, over-population and the ensuing horrors of degradation to the earth and host of related environmental-ecological-spiritual issues and concerns that exist between the conflicting philosophies of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.