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 August 3, 2010   How We Wrecked The Oceans — Part II
by Dave Cohen , Countercurrent,
Decline of The Empire

The latest issue of Nature contained a paper by Daniel G. Boyce, Marlon R. Lewis & Boris Worm called Global phytoplankton decline over the past century. This research describes a planetary catastrophe which, on a scale of 1 to 10, ranks about 8.5 on the disaster scale. This post should be viewed as a follow-up to How We Wrecked The Oceans (DOTE, May 17, 2010).

Here's the Nature abstract—

In the oceans, ubiquitous microscopic phototrophs (phytoplankton) account for approximately half the production of organic matter on Earth. Analyses of satellite-derived phytoplankton concentration (available since 1979) have suggested decadal-scale fluctuations linked to climate forcing, but the length of this record is insufficient to resolve longer-term trends. Here we combine available ocean transparency measurements and in situ chlorophyll observations to estimate the time dependence of phytoplankton biomass at local, regional and global scales since 1899. We observe declines in eight out of ten ocean regions, and estimate a global rate of decline of ~1% of the global median per year. Our analyses further reveal interannual to decadal phytoplankton fluctuations superimposed on long-term trends. These fluctuations are strongly correlated with basin-scale climate indices, whereas long-term declining trends are related to increasing sea surface temperatures. We conclude that global phytoplankton concentration has declined over the past century; this decline will need to be considered in future studies of marine ecosystems, geochemical cycling, ocean circulation and fisheries.

Phytoplankton are microscopic photosynthesizers, which means that they use light energy from the sun and take in carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce oxygen. These tiny plants, along with cyanobacteria, do a lot of the work that keeps the biosphere stable. From the press release

The findings contribute to a growing body of scientific evidence indicating that global warming is altering the fundamentals of marine ecosystems. Says co-author Marlon Lewis, "Climate-driven phytoplankton declines are another important dimension of global change in the oceans, which are already stressed by the effects of fishing and pollution. Better observational tools and scientific understanding are needed to enable accurate forecasts of the future health of the ocean." Explains co-author Boris Worm, "Phytoplankton are a critical part of our planetary life support system. They produce half of the oxygen we breathe, draw down surface CO2, and ultimately support all of our fisheries. An ocean with less phytoplankton will function differently, and this has to be accounted for in our management efforts."

Doing the math, the researchers estimate that an astonishing 40% of ocean's phytoplankton population has disappeared since 1950! The fewer microscopic plants there are living in the ocean surface waters, the less CO2 is drawn down from the atmosphere. Thus, the Earth's carbon cycle is being fundamentally altered, with uncertain but surely deleterious effects.

As the press release indicates, the researchers found that warmer surface waters caused by global warming are the main suspect in the decline—

The scientists report that most phytoplankton declines occurred in polar and tropical regions and in the open oceans where most phytoplankton production occurs. Rising sea surface temperatures were negatively correlated with phytoplankton growth over most of the globe, especially close to the equator. Phytoplankton need both sunlight and nutrients to grow; warm oceans are strongly stratified, which limits the amount of nutrients that are delivered from deeper waters to the surface ocean. Rising temperatures may contribute to making the tropical oceans even more stratified, leading to increasing nutrient limitation and phytoplankton declines. The scientists also found that large-scale climate fluctuations, such as the El-Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), affect phytoplankton on a year-to-year basis, by changing short-term oceanographic conditions.

In other words, warmer oceans are not well mixed at the surface, with warmer water sitting atop colder deeper water. Photosynthesizers must live in the surface waters where there is access to sunlight, but do not get the nutrients from upwelling colder water required by their metabolism. So they die off.

It is clear that we have a disastrous positive feedback loop at work here, in which warmer surface water supports fewer phytoplankton, which then take up less CO2 from the atmosphere, which causes the surface water to warm some more due to the greenhouse effect, etc. In fact, one of the crazier geo-engineering solutions to global warming is to seed the ocean surface waters with iron filings to stimulate phytoplankton growth!

Up to this point, I have written up this disaster without much emotion. That's probably because it's so depressing. If this trend continues, we Earthlings are surely fucked. And maybe on relatively short time scales (a few decades). In fact, if we have indeed lost 40% of the phytoplankton in the oceans since 1950, I do not understand why we have not felt the terrible effects already. Perhaps the Earth's biosphere (primary productivity) and nutrient recycling (as with carbon) are more resilient than they appear. None of this is well understood, but our uncertainty cuts both ways.

I think there's a certain point—perhaps we have just now passed it—where all you can do is throw your hands up in the air and shout out what the fuck do we do now? Frankly, I hope this phytoplankton decline result is wrong, but I fear it is right.

  Read How We Wrecked The Oceans — Part II
 August 6, 2010   A Looming Oxygen Crisis And Its Impact On World’s Oceans
by Carl Zimmer , Countercurrent,
Yale Environment 360

As warming intensifies, scientists warn, the oxygen content of oceans across the planet could be more and more diminished, with serious consequences for the future of fish and other sea life.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is overshadowing another catastrophe that’s also unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico this summer: The oxygen dissolved in the Gulf waters is disappearing. In some places, the oxygen is getting so scarce that fish and other animals cannot survive. They can either leave the oxygen-free waters or die. The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium reported this week that this year’s so-called “dead zone” covers 7,722 square miles.

Unlike the Deepwater Horizon disaster, this summer’s dead zone is not a new phenomenon in the Gulf. It first appeared in the 1970s, and each summer it has returned, growing bigger as the years have passed. Its expansion reflects the rising level of fertilizers that farmers in the U.S. Midwest have spread across their fields. Rain carries much of that fertilizer into the Mississippi River, which then delivers it to the sea. Once the fertilizer reaches the Gulf, it spurs algae to grow, providing a feast for bacteria, which grow so fast they use up all the oxygen in their neighborhood. The same phenomenon is repeating itself along many coastlines around the world. This summer, a 377,000-square-kilometer (145,000-square-mile) dead zone appeared in the Baltic Sea. In 2008, scientists reported that new dead zones have been popping up at an alarming rate for the past 50 years. There are now more than 400 coastal dead zones around the world.

As serious as these dead zones are, however, they may be just a foreshadowing of a much more severe crisis to come. Agricultural runoff can only strip oxygen from the ocean around the mouths of fertilizer-rich rivers. But global warming has the potential to reduce the ocean’s oxygen content across the entire planet. Combined with acidification — another global impact of our carbon emissions — the loss of oxygen could have a major impact on marine life.

Scientists point to two reasons to expect a worldwide drop in ocean oxygen. One is the simple fact that as water gets warmer, it can hold less dissolved oxygen. The other reason is subtler. The entire ocean gets its oxygen from the surface — either from the atmosphere, or from photosynthesizing algae floating at the top of the sea. The oxygen then spreads to the deep ocean as the surface waters slowly sink.

Global warming is expected to reduce the mixing of the ocean by making surface seawater lighter. That’s because in a warmer world we can expect more rainfall and more melting of glaciers, icebergs, and ice sheets. Since freshwater is less dense than salt water, the water at the ocean’s surface will become lighter. The extra heat from the warming atmosphere will also make surface waters expand — and thus make them lighter still. The light surface water will be less likely to sink — and thus the deep ocean will get less oxygen. Instead, more of the oxygen will linger near the surface, where it will be used up by oxygen-breathing organisms.

The prospect that global warming could reduce the ocean’s oxygen has led some scientists to wonder if the predicted decline has already begun. It’s a maddeningly hard thing to determine, however. We can be very confident that humans have driven up the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because scientists have recorded a steady increase over the course of decades. The signal of human-produced carbon dioxide is stronger than the noise of nature’s ups and downs.

Fluctuations in oxygen levels, on the other hand, are a lot noisier. As ocean currents oscillate naturally, upwellings of deep-ocean water can deliver nutrients to coastal waters, triggering an explosion of growth and driving down oxygen levels. Volcanoes can alter oxygen levels, too, by creating a haze that blocks sunlight, thus temporarily cooling the ocean’s surface and allowing more oxygen to dissolve into the water.

In recent years some worrying signals have started to emerge from the noise. In 2006, for example, oxygen levels off the coast of Oregon dropped to record lows. Reefs that had been packed with rockfish and other animals suddenly became ecological ghost towns. Instead of agricultural run-off, studies on the Oregon dead zone suggest that global warming was partly responsible. Higher temperatures have reduced the oxygen in the ocean currents that deliver water to the Oregon coast.

It’s much harder for scientists to figure out what’s happening in the open ocean than along the coastlines, because the records are far spottier. But some recent studies have also offered cause for worry. In April, for example, Lothar Stramma of the University of Kiel and his colleagues published a study in Deep Sea Research in which they compared records of oxygen levels in the tropical ocean from two periods: from 1960 to 1974 and from 1990 to 2008. In some regions, the oxygen levels have gone up, the scientists found, but in most places they’ve gone down. In fact, the area of the global ocean without enough oxygen for animals to survive (less than 70 micromoles per kilogram to be exact) expanded by 4.5 million square kilometers (1.7 million square miles). That’s an area about half the size of the United States.

Because the records of oxygen levels in the past are so incomplete, many scientists are calling for a push for more research. An international collaboration started in 1995, the Climate Variability and Predictability Repeat Hydrography Program — CLIVAR for short — is beginning to gather better data. But in the latest issue of Annual Review of Marine Science , Ralph Keeling of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and his colleagues warn that the CLIVAR program may need 20 to 30 years to establish long-term trends of oxygen levels. To speed up the process, they call for a global network of floating sensors known as Argo to be brought into the effort. If scientists put oxygen sensors on a few hundred of the 3,000 Argo floats, Keeling and his colleagues predict that a clear pattern would emerge in as little as five years. Keeling and his colleagues believe that it’s urgent to speed up this research, because the deoxygenation of the oceans could have a major impact on marine life.

In order to project how global warming will alter oxygen in the oceans, climate scientists are developing a new generation of computer models. The models are still too crude to capture some important features of the real world, such as the way winds can change how deep water rises in upwellings. But the models are good enough to replicate some of the changes in oxygen levels that have already been recorded. And they all predict that the oxygen in the world’s oceans will drop; depending on the model, the next century will see a drop of between 1 and 7 percent.

That could be enough to have a profound effect on life in the ocean, according to Daniel Pauly, a fisheries biologist at the University of British Columbia. In his new book, Gasping Fish and Panting Squids: Oxygen, Temperature and the Growth of Water-Breathing Animals, Pauly argues that getting oxygen is the most important constraint on the growth of fishes and many other marine animals. That’s because it takes a lot of energy to extract oxygen from water, and the bigger animals get, the more energy they have to invest.

Pauly and his colleagues are working on computer models to project how global warming will affect the world’s fisheries. Many species of fishes will shift their ranges away from water that’s too warm for them. But this flight from heat may force them into regions of the ocean with low levels of oxygen, where their growth will be limited. Pauly and his colleagues predict that the drop in the ocean’s oxygen and pH levels will together reduce the world’s fish catch by 20 to 30 percent by 2050.

While fishes and other animals with high oxygen demands suffer, jellyfish may thrive. Jellyfish can tolerate lower oxygen levels than fish, in part because they can store reserves of the gas in their jelly. Free from competition and predators, jellyfish will be able to feast on the microscopic animals and protozoans that feed on algae. They may thus leave more food for bacteria, spurring a further drop in oxygen levels.

A drop in oxygen may also cause the ocean's bacteria to change. Bacteria that need oxygen will no longer be able to thrive in oxygen-free zones of the ocean. But these dead zones will foster the growth of many species of bacteria for whom oxygen is toxic. Some of these oxygen-hating microbes produce nitrogen compounds that are among the most potent greenhouse gases ever measured. In other words, a drop in oxygen levels could further intensify global warming.

Unless we find a way to rein in our carbon emissions very soon, a low-oxygen ocean may become an inescapable feature of our planet. A team of Danish researchers published a particularly sobering study last year. They wondered how long oxygen levels would drop if we could somehow reduce our carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2100. They determined that over the next few thousand years oxygen levels would continue to fall, until they declined by 30 percent. The oxygen would slowly return to the oceans, but even 100,000 years from now they will not have fully recovered. If they’re right, fish will be gasping and squid will be panting for a long time to come.

  Read A Looming Oxygen Crisis And Its Impact On World’s Oceans
 August 15, 2010   Saving The Earth For Our Grandchildren
by Steve Hochstadt , Countercurrent,
LA Progressive

I’ll be 62 this month. Even if I live another 30 years, I won’t have to suffer much from the effects of global warming.

Some more uncomfortably hot days, a few more storms, perhaps more expenses for air conditioning. I’ll be gone before it gets too hot.

My children are in their late 20s. By the time they are ready to retire, they’ll be facing a different world for their “golden” years. Dangerously hot summers will be common across the southern U.S. Coastal cities in Louisiana and Florida will be flooded. Thousands of animal and plant species will be extinct, with huge dead zones in the oceans. Unless we act now, these disasters will then accelerate during the lives of my grandchildren.

Science can deliver uncomfortable truths. When Rachel Carson announced in Silent Spring in 1962 that DDT was killing wildlife, agriculture had to abandon one of its basic tools. She was relentlessly attacked by politicians and the chemical industry. It took years to overcome resistance to her truths. When Dr. Herbert Needleman discovered in the late 1970s that lead was harming children’s brains, politicians and industrialists selling leaded paint and gasoline fought to discredit him.

This crisis is much worse. Until recently, nobody knew that the unprecedented wealth of American society carried extreme dangers for our own future. Our modern lifestyles of consumption are slowly killing the planet. The truth of global warming and its long-term effects is scarier than vampires, aliens and Bret Favre’s retirement put together.

According to the latest issue of National Wildlife, “70 percent of all known plant species, 37 percent of all known freshwater fish species, 30 percent of all amphibians, 28 percent of all reptiles, 22 percent of all mammals, and 12 percent of all birds now face threats to their survival.”

Once again politicians, big industry and the professional deniers in the media say “Do nothing.” They rely on tortured logic, personal attacks and outright lies to argue that the world’s scientists are wrong. The so-called Climategate scandal is an example of their tactics. Some stolen e-mails were massaged by climate change deniers to “prove” that scientists were lying. Further investigation shows that these e-mails were embarrassing about the researchers’ tactics, but say nothing against the scientific facts of global warming.

A July 28 editorial laid out that uncomfortable truth, but you don’t see the deniers on TV or in local columns taking back their trumped-up charges.

The deniers have no credibility. They represent the same forces who have tried to prevent every attempt to protect our environment, which means to protect our health. They are afraid of the truth.

Do we as a society really care about anything but our own lives? Are we capable of seeing further into the future than tomorrow?

Global warming is not a party issue. Democrats and Republicans may not agree on the right means to reverse our production of greenhouse gases. But they must agree that it needs to be begun right away.

Hunters and farmers, bird watchers and truckers, rural and urban Americans will all suffer unless we act. Giant corporations will do nothing to change their methods unless they are forced to. Only government can stop global warming. Not just our government, either, but the world’s governments acting together. No amount of ideological posturing or flag-waving will help.

I’m sick of politicians who think only about their reelection, their campaign contributors and their pictures on TV, who put ideology above country. I don’t expect them to come up with brilliant solutions. I just want them to take seriously the job we elected them to do — to think of the future, to gather the best information, to do what’s best for all Americans, those alive today and those not yet born.

I want them to stop fiddling, while we burn up in this heat.

Mr. Hochstadt is professor of history at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, and author of Sources of the Holocaust (Palgrave, 2004) and Shanghai-Geschichten: Die jüdische Flucht nach China (Berlin: Hentrich und Hentrich, 2007).

  Read Saving The Earth For Our Grandchildren
 August 9, 2010   Runaway Climate Change Is Here
by Dr Andrew Glikson , Countercurrent

PDF Version

2010 is shaping up as the warmest in the instrumental record, as recorded by the National Climate Data Centre (NCDC ? the worlds largest active archive of weather data), NASA Goddard Institute of Space Science (GISS), Hadley-Met/Climate Research Unit, Remote Sensing Satellite survey (RSS) and  Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU), and as shown by the plot (Figure 1) below http://www.remss.com/msu/msu_data_description.html , http://www.ssmi.com/msu/msu_browse.html

According to NOAA (July 15, 2010): ( http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100715_globalstats.html )
? June, April to June, and Year-to-Date Global Temperatures are Warmest on Record Last month's combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the warmest June on record and the warmest on record averaged for any April-June and January-June periods ? Worldwide average land surface temperature was the warmest on record for June and the April-June period, and the second warmest on record for the year-to-date (January-June) period, behind 2007 ?. The monthly analysis from NOAA is based on records going back to 1880?.

But you will not read about it in much of the media.

A string of extreme weather events monitored by NASA portrayed on http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/ tells the story, including:

1.  Last month saw the hottest temperature on record for Asia, with 53C in Pakistan. The mega-floods in this part of the world are the result of the increased capacity of the warming atmosphere to hold moisture, precipitated when the humid air masses rise above the Himalaya.

2.  Moscow has also been recording temperatures of 37.4 degrees C, the monthly anomaly will be a record of around +7.5 degrees C, with a death toll reaching 2000 people. Extreme temperatures, reaching 40 degrees C in Moscow, have set large parts of Russian forests and wheat belts on fire http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-wildfires-2010-8#more-first-just-294-miles-south-of-moscow-7   *

3.  Beijing had it hottest day on record earlier in the month, 40.6C. 

4.  Japan scored a 39.4C on 22nd July.

5.  Hundreds of maximum and minimum temperature records have been broken across the U.S. and Canada in the last two months. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/records.php?ts=daily&elem=
maxt&month=7&day=26&year=2010&sts[]=US&submitted=Get+Records#recs
; http://blogs.sacbee.com/photos/2010/07/roasting-under-a-hot-summer-su.html

6.  Raging wildfires broke out July 29 just south of Los Angeles, CA, forcing mandatory evacuations and major firefighting response. http://www.businessinsider.com/big-breathtaking-photos-of-california-burning-2010-7#-5#ixzz0vseD4yf6

*  The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 chokes Moscow with smoke for a third day

Smoke from wildfires cause by the worst heat wave in Russia's history are choking Moscow for a third straight day today, bringing air pollution levels to three times the safe level and forcing cancellation of dozens of flights. However, air pollution is not quite as bad as it was yesterday, when carbon monoxide levels peaked at 6.5 times the safe level. Visibilities at Moscow's airport were higher today (500+ meters), but temperatures still hit 97°F (36°C). The past 26 days in a row have exceeded 30°C in Moscow, and there is no relief in sight--the latest forecast for Moscow calls for high temperatures near 100°F (37.8°C) for the majority of the coming week. As I reported in Friday's post , the number of deaths in Moscow in July 2010 was about 5,000 more than in July 2009, suggesting that the heat wave has been responsible for thousands of deaths in Moscow alone. I would expect that by the time the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 is over, the number of premature deaths caused by the heat wave will approach or exceed the 40,000 who died in the 2003 European Heat Wave. As seen in Figure 3, the Russian heat wave of 2010 is more intense and affects a wider region than the great 2003 European heat wave.




A comparison of August temperatures, the peak of the great European heat wave of 2003 (left) with July temperatures from the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 (right) reveals that this year's heat wave is more intense and covers a wider area of Europe. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL .

From: http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1570

Australia

It has been very warm across northern, north-western and some inland parts of Australia over recent weeks. We broke quite a few minimum temperature records- including Darwin, which broke its July minimum record by 1.5 degrees C.

Though most of what you would read about in the media is the manufactured CRU E-mail story, which tries to obfuscate climate science and cast doubt on the integrity of climate scientists. This is despite recent investigations showing climate scientists right, as stated:

?On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.? ? ''We did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.'' http://www.cce-review.org/pdf/FINAL%20REPORT.pdf
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/you-wouldnt-read-about-it-climate-scientists-right-20100725-10qev.html .

The newspapers that gave greatest play to the allegations tended to give less attention to these findings. The columnists who gave greatest vent to their indignation have not made any revisions or corrections, let alone apologised to the scientists whose integrity they so sweepingly impugned.

Those who would like to see themselves as ?sceptics?, but commonly present climate plots which inexplicably depart in essential detail from original datasets measured by the worlds premier climate research organizations, as well as ignore the basic physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, would suggest the current extreme weather events are ?natural? and not to do with human Carbon emissions.

By contrast, consistent with the Stefan-Boltzmann and Krichhoff laws of infrared radiation  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan%E2%80%93Boltzmann_law ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirchhoff's_law_of_thermal_radiation ), these events manifest the increase in energy (temperature) levels of the atmosphere and oceans, consequent on the emissions of about 370 billion tons of carbon since 1750, currently at a rate of about 2 ppm per year, reaching 391 ppm, namely near 40 percent higher that during the last 10,000 years, when agricultural cultivation became possible thanks to stabilization of the Holocene climate.




Figure 1.  Global surface temperature anomalies
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/

Dr Andrew Glikson
Australian National University
Canberra, A.C.T. 0200

Affiliations:
Climate Change Institute /
School of Archaeology and Anthropology /
Planetary Research Institute /

E-mail:    (W)  Andrew.Glikson@anu.edu.au
               (H)  Geospec@iinet.net.au
mail:       P.O. Box 3698 Weston A.C.T. 2611

http://www.anu.edu.au/climatechange/content/author/Andrew%20Glikson
http://arts.anu.edu.au/AandA/people/visitors/glikson.asp
http://rses.anu.edu.au/highlights/view.php?article=10
http://rses.anu.edu.au/highlights/view.php?article=11
http://rses.anu.edu.au/highlights/view.php?article=12

  Read Runaway Climate Change Is Here
 August 11, 2010   Greenland Ice Sheet Faces 'Tipping Point In 10 Years'
by Suzanne Goldenberg, Countercurrent,
The Guardian

Scientists warn that temperature rise of between 2C and 7C would cause ice to melt, resulting in 23ft rise in sea level

WASHINSTON - The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress Tuesday.

An enormous chunk of ice, roughly 97 square miles in size, has broken off the Petermann Glacier along the northwest coast of Greenland. (Photograph: Aqua/Modis/Nasa)
Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century last week, and faces an even grimmer future, according to Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University

"Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive," Alley told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2C to 7C would mean the obliteration of Greenland's ice sheet.

The fall-out would be felt thousands of miles away from the Arctic, unleashing a global sea level rise of 23ft (7 metres), Alley warned. Low-lying cities such as New Orleans would vanish.

"What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done," he said.

Speaking by phone, Alley was addressing a briefing held by the House of Representatives committee on energy independence and global warming.

Greenland is losing ice mass at an increasing rate, dumping more icebergs into the ocean because of warming temperatures, he said.

The stark warning was underlined by the momentous break-up of one of Greenland's largest glaciers last week, which set a 100 sq mile chunk of ice drifting into the North Strait between Greenland and Canada.

The briefing also noted that the last six months had set new temperature records.

Robert Bindschadler, a research scientist at the University of Maryland, told the briefing: "While we don't believe it is possible to lose an ice sheet within a decade, we do believe it is possible to reach a tipping point in a few decades in which we would lose the ice sheet in a century."

The ice loss from the Petermann Glacier was the largest such event in nearly 50 years, although there have been regular and smaller "calvings".

Petermann spawned two smaller breakaways: one of 34 sq miles in 2001 and another of 10 sq miles in 2008.

Andreas Muenchow, professor of ocean science at the University of Delaware, who has been studying the Petermann glacier for several years, said he had been expecting such a break, although he did not anticipate its size.

He also argued that much remains unknown about the interaction between Arctic sea ice, sea level, and temperature rise.

Muenchow told the briefing that over the last seven years he had only received funding to measure ocean temperatures near the Petermann Glacier for a total of three days.

He was also reduced, because of a lack of funding, to paying his own airfare and that of his students to they could join up with a Canadian icebreaker on a joint research project in the Arctic.

© 2010 Guardian News and Media Limited

  Read Greenland Ice Sheet Faces Tipping Point In 10 Years
 August 20, 2010   Criminal Neglect Of Future Generations
by Dr. Brian Moench, Countercurrent,
CommonDreams.org

When "snowmageddon" buried the nation's capital in February, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Ok) cheered on his grandchildren in building an igloo on the Capitol grounds and couldn't have been prouder of them in mocking Al Gore. But even the grandchildren of Congress's "Climate Denier-in-Chief" are likely to change targets for their mockery and scorn as it becomes obvious how grandpa has risked their own future.

By every scientific measure greenhouse gases are heating the Earth rapidly and forcing us all to participate in a game of climate Russian roulette. In fact, Russia is one of this year's biggest losers. Temperatures 25 degrees hotter than normal, causing apocalyptic wildfires, have turned central and western Russia, including Moscow, into a ghoulish hell to rival J.R.R. Tolkien's Mordor. Death rates are double the norm from the heat and smoke, thousands have already died.

20 million Pakistanis are now homeless because of flooding from monsoon rains. Flooding in China has killed thousands. Desperation, starvation and diseases like cholera are inevitable. Crops in Russia, China and Pakistan and many other countries have been devastated, causing suspension of grain exports and price spikes. Millions who struggle to feed themselves in a normal climate will be unable to afford enough food to survive.

In many countries like the Sudan, Kenya and Bangladesh, millions of people have already become climate refugees, abandoning their homes and countries because sustaining life there is no longer possible. Climate disasters are mounting in on virtually every continent. Record breaking heat in our East and South, unprecedented flooding in Tennessee and Iowa, and a chronic, deepening drought in the Western US have given us just a taste of the misery other countries are now enduring.

This summer's events fit exactly the scientists' projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming. Notwithstanding the Kool Aid being broadcast at Fox News, even "snowmageddon" fits into the models of a human caused climate crisis.

Last year the lead article in the Lancet, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals, written by 29 distinguished medical scientists called the climate consequences of the greenhouse gas phenomenon, "The biggest global health threat of the 21st century," and will "put the lives and well being of billions of people at increased risk." The report goes on to state that, "Even the most conservative estimates are profoundly disturbing and demand action. Less conservative climate scenarios are so catastrophic that adaptation might be unachievable." The authors said "what is needed now is a public health movement that frames the threat of the climate crisis for humankind as a health issue."

Note these words from the president of the World Medical Association. "Climate change represents an inevitable, massive threat to global health that will likely eclipse the major known pandemics as the leading cause of death and disease in the 21st century."

Many of the same politicians who supported preemptive war in Iraq either to protect ourselves or to save the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein don't believe in preemptive rescue of their fellow men from climate disaster. Then-Vice President Dick Cheney said if there was a one in a 100 chance Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, the invasion was worth it. So far, we've spent $2 trillion on that 1 in a 100 chance. Those same people seem to be unwilling to spend a fraction of that addressing what our best scientists say is a 98 in a 100 chance that CO2 is turning the climate into a global weapon of mass destruction.

A skeptical, but still qualified and honest investigation of climate science could lead one to challenge the scientific community's consensus on the odds of imminent disaster, but not defiantly dismiss it as an impossibility or a hoax. The "see no warming, hear no warming, speak no warming" posture can only come from ideological rigor mortis or ulterior motives.

With every passing day the deniers seem more and more absurdly detached from climate science, wallowing instead in climate witchcraft. Taunting them now might bring some satisfaction were it not for the fact that through their obstructionism they have grabbed the steering wheel of this country's energy policy which is rapidly becoming a ship not just of fools, but a ship of the selfish and cruel.

It's one thing to turn your back on the suffering of the masses half way across the world and rationalize that it is not your problem. But to listen to the scientists' warnings of the risk we are subjecting our own children and grandchildren to and proudly dismiss even the possibility, is criminal neglect of future generations.

Dr. Brian Moench is President of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. He can be reached at: drmoench@yahoo.com

  Read Criminal Neglect Of Future Generations
 August 5, 2010   The Temperature Is Getting Hot as Hell and We're Not Going to Take It Any More
by
Bill McKibben, AlterNet

Try to fit these facts together:

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet has just come through the warmest decade, the warmest 12 months, the warmest six months, and the warmest April, May, and June on record.

* A "staggering" new study from Canadian researchers has shown that warmer seawater has reduced phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain, by 40% since 1950.

Nine nations have so far set their all-time temperature records in 2010, including Russia (111 degrees), Niger (118), Sudan (121), Saudi Arabia and Iraq (126 apiece), and Pakistan, which also set the new all-time Asia record in May: a hair under 130 degrees. I can turn my oven to 130 degrees.

* And then, in late July, the U.S. Senate decided to do exactly nothing about climate change. They didn't do less than they could have -- they did nothing, preserving a perfect two-decade bipartisan record of no action. Senate majority leader Harry Reid decided not even to schedule a vote on legislation that would have capped carbon emissions.

I wrote the first book for a general audience on global warming back in 1989, and I've spent the subsequent 21 years working on the issue. I'm a mild-mannered guy, a Methodist Sunday School teacher. Not quick to anger. So what I want to say is: this is fucked up. The time has come to get mad, and then to get busy.

For many years, the lobbying fight for climate legislation on Capitol Hill has been led by a collection of the most corporate and moderate environmental groups, outfits like the Environmental Defense Fund. We owe them a great debt, and not just for their hard work. We owe them a debt because they did everything the way you're supposed to: they wore nice clothes, lobbied tirelessly, and compromised at every turn.

By the time they were done, they had a bill that only capped carbon emissions from electric utilities (not factories or cars) and was so laden with gifts for industry that if you listened closely you could actually hear the oinking. They bent over backwards like Soviet gymnasts.  Senator John Kerry, the legislator they worked most closely with, issued this rallying cry as the final negotiations began: "We believe we have compromised significantly, and we're prepared to compromise further."

And even that was not enough.  They were left out to dry by everyone -- not just Reid, not just the Republicans. Even President Obama wouldn't lend a hand, investing not a penny of his political capital in the fight.

The result: total defeat, no moral victories.

Now What?

So now we know what we didn't before: making nice doesn't work. It was worth a try, and I'm completely serious when I say I'm grateful they made the effort, but it didn't even come close to working. So we better try something else.

Step one involves actually talking about global warming.  For years now, the accepted wisdom in the best green circles was: talk about anything else -- energy independence, oil security, beating the Chinese to renewable technology. I was at a session convened by the White House early in the Obama administration where some polling guru solemnly explained that "green jobs" polled better than "cutting carbon."

No, really?  In the end, though, all these focus-group favorites are secondary.  The task at hand is keeping the planet from melting. We need everyone -- beginning with the president -- to start explaining that basic fact at every turn.

It is the heat, and also the humidity.  Since warm air holds more water than cold, the atmosphere is about 5% moister than it was 40 years ago, which explains the freak downpours that seem to happen someplace on this continent every few days.

It is the carbon -- that's why the seas are turning acid, a point Obama could have made with ease while standing on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. "It's bad that it's black out there," he might have said, "but even if that oil had made it safely ashore and been burned in our cars, it would still be wrecking the oceans." Energy independence is nice, but you need a planet to be energy independent on.

Mysteriously enough, this seems to be a particularly hard point for smart people to grasp. Even in the wake of the disastrous Senate non-vote, the Nature Conservancy's climate expert told New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, "We have to take climate change out of the atmosphere, bring it down to earth, and show how it matters in people's everyday lives." Translation: ordinary average people can't possibly recognize the real stakes here, so let's put it in language they can understand, which is about their most immediate interests. It's both untrue, as I'll show below, and incredibly patronizing. It is, however, exactly what we've been doing for a decade and clearly, It Does Not Work.

Step two, we have to ask for what we actually need, not what we calculate we might possibly be able to get. If we're going to slow global warming in the very short time available to us, then we don't actually need an incredibly complicated legislative scheme that gives door prizes to every interested industry and turns the whole operation over to Goldman Sachs to run.  We need a stiff price on carbon, set by the scientific understanding that we can't still be burning black rocks a couple of decades hence. That undoubtedly means upending the future business plans of Exxon and BP, Peabody Coal and Duke Energy, not to speak of everyone else who's made a fortune by treating the atmosphere as an open sewer for the byproducts of their main business.

Instead they should pay through the nose for that sewer, and here's the crucial thing: most of the money raised in the process should be returned directly to American pockets. The monthly check sent to Americans would help fortify us against the rise in energy costs, and we'd still be getting the price signal at the pump to stop driving that SUV and start insulating the house. We also need to make real federal investments in energy research and development, to help drive down the price of alternatives -- the Breakthrough Institute points out, quite rightly, that we're crazy to spend more of our tax dollars on research into new drone aircraft and Mars orbiters than we do on photovoltaics.

Yes, these things are politically hard, but they're not impossible. A politician who really cared could certainly use, say, the platform offered by the White House to sell a plan that taxed BP and actually gave the money to ordinary Americans. (So far they haven't even used the platform offered by the White House to reinstall the rooftop solar panels that Jimmy Carter put there in the 1970s and Ronald Reagan took down in his term.)

Asking for what you need doesn't mean you'll get all of it.  Compromise still happens. But as David Brower, the greatest environmentalist of the late twentieth century, explained amid the fight to save the Grand Canyon: "We are to hold fast to what we believe is right, fight for it, and find allies and adduce all possible arguments for our cause. If we cannot find enough vigor in us or them to win, then let someone else propose the compromise. We thereupon work hard to coax it our way. We become a nucleus around which the strongest force can build and function."

Which leads to the third step in this process. If we're going to get any of this done, we're going to need a movement, the one thing we haven't had. For 20 years environmentalists have operated on the notion that we'd get action if we simply had scientists explain to politicians and CEOs that our current ways were ending the Holocene, the current geological epoch. That turns out, quite conclusively, not to work. We need to be able to explain that their current ways will end something they actually care about, i.e. their careers. And since we'll never have the cash to compete with Exxon, we better work in the currencies we can muster: bodies, spirit, passion.

Movement Time

As Tom Friedman put it in a strong column the day after the Senate punt, the problem was that the public "never got mobilized." Is it possible to get people out in the streets demanding action about climate change? Last year, with almost no money, our scruffy little outfit, 350.org, managed to organize what Foreign Policy called  the "largest ever coordinated global rally of any kind" on any issue -- 5,200 demonstrations in 181 countries, 2,000 of them in the U.S.A.

People were rallying not just about climate change, but around a remarkably wonky scientific data point, 350 parts per million carbon dioxide, which NASA's James Hansen and his colleagues have demonstrated is the most we can have in the atmosphere if we want a planet "similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted." Which, come to think of it, we do. And the "we," in this case, was not rich white folks. If you look at the 25,000 pictures in our Flickr account, you'll see that most of them were poor, black, brown, Asian, and young -- because that's what most of the world is. No need for vice-presidents of big conservation groups to patronize them: shrimpers in Louisiana and women in burqas and priests in Orthodox churches and slumdwellers in Mombasa turned out to be completely capable of understanding the threat to the future.

Those demonstrations were just a start (one we should have made long ago). We're following up in October -- on 10-10-10 -- with a Global Work Party. All around the country and the world people will be putting up solar panels and digging community gardens and laying out bike paths. Not because we can stop climate change one bike path at a time, but because we need to make a sharp political point to our leaders: we're getting to work, what about you?

We need to shame them, starting now. And we need everyone working together. This movement is starting to emerge on many fronts. In September, for instance, opponents of mountaintop removal are converging on DC to demand an end to the coal trade. That same month, Tim DeChristopher goes on trial in Salt Lake City for monkey-wrenching oil and gas auctions by submitting phony bids.  (Naomi Klein and Terry Tempest Williams have called for folks to gather at the courthouse.)

The big environmental groups are starting to wake up, too.  The Sierra Club has a dynamic new leader, Mike Brune, who's working hard with stalwarts like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. (Note to enviro groups: working together is fun and useful). Churches are getting involved, as well as mosques and synagogues. Kids are leading the fight, all over the world -- they have to live on this planet for another 70 years or so, and they have every right to be pissed off.

But no one will come out to fight for watered down and weak legislation.  That's not how it works. You don't get a movement unless you take the other two steps I've described.

And in any event it won't work overnight.  We're not going to get the Senate to act next week, or maybe even next year. It took a decade after the Montgomery bus boycott to get the Voting Rights Act. But if there hadn't been a movement, then the Voting Rights Act would have passed in... never. We may need to get arrested.  We definitely need art, and music, and disciplined, nonviolent, but very real anger.

Mostly, we need to tell the truth, resolutely and constantly. Fossil fuel is wrecking the one earth we've got. It's not going to go away because we ask politely. If we want a world that works, we're going to have to raise our voices.

Bill McKibben is founder of 350.org and the author, most recently, of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. Earlier this year the Boston Globe called him "probably the country's leading environmentalist" and Time described

him as "the planet's best green journalist." He's a scholar in

residence at Middlebury College. To hear him discuss why the public

needs to lead the fight against global warming in Timothy MacBain's latest TomCast audio interview, click here or, to download it to your iPod, here.

  Read The Temperature Is Getting Hot as Hell and We're Not Going to Take It Any More
 August 16, 2010   Noam Chomsky: The Real Reasons the U.S. Enables Israeli Crimes and Atrocities
by
Kathleen Wells, AlterNet

Noam Chomsky is internationally recognized as one of America’s most critically engaged public intellectuals today. He spoke with Kathleen Wells, a political correspondent for Race-Talk, about Israel and its interplay with the United States.  

Kathleen Wells: I’m speaking with Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and renowned political activist and writer. He has written over 100 books on linguistics, human rights, economics, and politics. Thank you, Professor Chomsky, for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon.  

Noam Chomsky: Very pleased to be with you. 

KW: Speak to me about the relation between the United States and Israel. Specifically, address, as you have previously stated, how every crime, violation of international law, that Israel commits is done through the direct participation and authorization of the United States.

NC: That’s a ... as a descriptive statement, that is pretty close to accurate. I mean "all" is a very strong word but it is certainly generally true. And, in fact, the United States has overwhelmingly vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli crimes and atrocities, prevented the Security Council from calling on Israel to terminate aggression, and so on and so forth. The descriptive comment is not really controversial. There are interesting questions about why it’s true. There were also interesting questions about the sources of support for this position in the United States, which helps us explain why it is true. 

The history is reasonably clear. This was not the case up until 1967. In fact, before 1967, the relationships were not very different from relationships among other powers. There was sympathy and support for Israel, which has many, many sources, including the Christian Zionism, which is a very powerful force that precedes and is numerically far stronger than Jewish Zionism. But for somebody like, say, Harry Truman, raised in a deeply Christian tradition, it was just taken for granted that the Bible instructs us that God gave the land of Palestine to the Jews. So it is kind of like in his bones. And that’s true for a very large part of the American population, much more so than -- far more than any other country.  So that is one factor, and there are other factors. 

But the major change in relationships took place in 1967. Just take a look at USA aid to Israel. You can tell that right off. And in many other respects, it’s true, too. Similarly, the attitude towards Israel on the part of the intellectual community -- you know, media, commentary, journals, and so on -- that changed very sharply in 1967, from either lack of interest or sometimes even disdain, to almost passionate support. So what happened in 1967? 

Well, in 1967, Israel destroyed the source of secular Arab nationalism -- Nasser's Egypt -- which was considered a major threat and enemy by the West. It is worth remembering that there was a serious conflict at that time between the forces of radical Islamic fundamentalism, centered in Saudi Arabia -- where all the oil is -- and secular Arab nationalism, centered in Nasser's Egypt; in fact, the two countries were at war. They were fighting a kind of a proxy war in Yemen at that time. The United States and Britain were supporting the radical Islamic fundamentalism; in fact, they’ve rather consistently done that – supporting Saudi Arabia.  And Nasserite secular nationalism was considered a serious threat, because it was recognized that it might seek to take control of the immense resources of the region and use them for regional interest, rather than allow them to be centrally controlled and exploited by the United States and its allies. So that was a major issue.

Well, Israel effectively destroyed Nasserite secular nationalism and the whole Arab nationalist movement that was centered in it. That was considered a major contribution to U.S. geopolitical strategy and also to its Saudi Arabian ally. And, in fact, that's when attitudes toward Israel changed sharply and the U.S. support for Israel -- material, diplomatic, and other -- also increased sharply.  In 1970, there was another turning point. In 1970, the Jordanian army (Jordan was a strong, close U.S. ally) – the Jordanian dictatorship was essentially massacring Palestinians during what's the month that's called Black September.

And the U.S. was in favor of that; it supported that. It looked as though Syria might intervene to support the Palestinians against the attack by the Hashemite dictatorship. The U.S. didn't want that to happen. It regarded it as a threat to its Jordanian ally and also a broader threat, ultimately, to Saudi Arabia, the jewel in the crown. 

While the U.S. was mired in Southeast Asia at the time -- it was right at the time, a little after the Cambodia invasion and everything was blowing up -- the U.S. couldn't do a thing about it. So, it asked Israel to mobilize its very substantial military forces and threaten Syria so that Syria would withdraw. Well, Israel did it. Syria withdrew. That was another gift to U.S. power and, in fact, U.S. aid to Israel shot up very sharply -- maybe quadrupled or something like that -- right at that time. Now at that time, that was the time when the so-called Nixon Doctrine was formulated.

A part of the Nixon Doctrine was that the U.S., of course, has to control Middle-East oil resources -- that goes much farther back -- but it will do so through local, regional allies, what were called “cops on the beat” by Melvin Laird, Secretary of Defense. So there will be local cops on the beat, which will protect the Arab dictatorships from their own populations or any external threat. And then, of course, “police headquarters” is in Washington. Well, the local cops on the beat at the time were Iran, then under the Shah, a U.S. ally; Turkey; to an extent, Pakistan; and Israel was added to that group. It was another cop on the beat. It was one of the local gendarmes that was sometimes called the periphery strategy: non-Arab states protecting the Arab dictatorships from any threat, primarily the threat of what was called radical nationalism -- independent nationalism -- meaning taking over the armed resources for their own purposes.

Well, that structure remained through the 1970s. In 1979, Iran was lost because of the overthrow of the Shah and pretty soon the Khomeini dictatorship -- clerical dictatorship -- and the U.S. once tried to overthrow that and supported Iraq's invasion of Iran, and so on. But, anyway, that “cop” [Iran] was lost and Israel's position became even stronger in the structure that remained. Furthermore, by that time, Israel was performing secondary services to the United States elsewhere in the world. It's worth recalling that especially through the '80s Congress, under public pressure, was imposing constraints on Reagan's support for vicious and brutal dictatorships. The governments around the world -- say Guatemala -- the U.S. could not provide direct aid to Guatemala, because -- which was massacring people in some areas in a genocidal fashion up in the highlands -- Congress blocked it.  Congress was also passing sanctions against aid to South-Africa, which the Reagan administration was strongly supporting South Africa and continued to do so right through the 1980s.

This was under the framework of the war on terror that Reagan had declared. The African National Congress -- Mandela’s ANC -- was designated as one of the more notorious terrorist groups in the world as late as 1988. [So] that it [could] support South-African apartheid and the Guatemalan murderous dictatorship and other murderous regimes, Reagan needed a kind of network of terrorist states to help out, to evade the congressional and other limitations, and he turned to, at that time, Taiwan, but, in particular, Israel. Britain helped out. And that was another major service. And so it continued.   

KW: I want to come up to today, because I only have 30 minutes.   

NC: So, it basically continues. I mean, if we go right up till this moment ... simply ask, where are the strongest sources of support for Israeli actions?  Well, pick the newspapers. By far the most rabid pro-Israel newspaper in the country is the Wall Street Journal. That's the journal of the business community, and it reflects the support of the business world for Israel, which is quite strong. There's a lot of high-tech investment in Israel. [Our] military industry is very close to Israeli military industry. There's a whole network of interactions. Intel, for example, is building its next facility for construct development of the next generation of chips in Israel. But, altogether, the relations are very tight, very intimate, quite natural. And it's not surprising that the main business journal in the country would be supporting Israeli expansion and power. Take a look at the two political parties. Most Jewish money goes to Democrats and most Jews vote Democratic. But the Republican Party is much more strongly supportive of Israeli power and atrocities than the Democrats are. Then again, I think that reflects their closer relations to the business world and to the military system.  There is, of course, also a Jewish lobby – an Israeli lobby -- AIPAC, which is a very influential lobby. And so there are many... and there's Christian Zionism, which is a huge element. Well, you know, all of these combined to provide a background for U.S. support for Israel, and they're facing virtually no opposition. Who's calling for support of the Palestinians?  

KW: Exactly, and so when you hear statements being made that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and yet you see the occupation and the blockade on Gaza, the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, what shall one think about this fact?

NC: First, let's ask about being the only democracy in the region. First of all, it’s not true. There were free elections in Palestine in January 2006. There were free elections in Palestine, carefully monitored, recognized to be free. The victor was Hamas, okay, centered in the Gaza Strip. Israel and the United States instantly, within days, undertook perfectly public policies to try to punish the Palestinians for voting the wrong way in a free election. I mean, it couldn’t have been... you couldn't see a more dramatic illustration of hatred and contempt for democracy unless it comes out the right way.    

A year later, July 2007, the U.S. and Israel, together with the Palestinian authority, tried to carry out a military coup to overthrow the elected government. Well, it failed. Hamas won and drove Fatah out of the Gaza Strip. Now, here, that's described as a demonstration of Hamas terror or something. What they did was preempt and block a U.S.-backed military coup to overthrow the democratically elected government.   

KW: What do you say to the fact that Hamas is listed on the United States State Department terrorist list? So they're characterized as terrorist?  

NC: Yeah, they are. Because they do things we don't like. The terrorist list has been a historic joke, in fact, a sick joke. So take a look at the history of the terrorist list. Up until 1982, Iraq -- Saddam Hussein's Iraq -- was on the terrorist list. 

In 1982, the Reagan administration removed Iraq from the terrorist list. Why? Because they were moving to support Iraq, and, in fact, the Reagan administration and, in fact, the first Bush administration strongly supported Iraq right through its worst – Saddam, right through his worst atrocities. In fact, they tried to ... they succeeded, in fact, in preventing even criticism of condemnation of the worst atrocities, like the Halabja massacre -- and others. So they removed Iraq from the terrorist list because they wanted to support one of the worst monsters and terrorists in the region, namely Saddam Hussein.

And since there was an empty position on the terrorist list, they had to fill it, so they added Cuba. Cuba's probably the target of more terrorism than any country in the world, back from the Kennedy years. Right? In fact, just at that time, there had been a rash of major terrorist acts against Cuba. So Cuba was added to the terrorist list to replace Saddam Hussein, who was removed because the U.S. wanted to support him.  Now, you take a look through the terrorist list, yeah, that's the way it is. So, for example, Hezbollah is on the terrorist list. Well, you know, probably it's carried out terrorist acts, but by the standards of the U.S. and Israel, they're barely visible. The main reason why Hezbollah is on the terrorist list is because it resisted Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon and, in fact, drove Israel out of Southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation -- that's called terrorism. In fact, Lebanon has a national holiday, May 25th, which is called Liberation Day. That's the national holiday in Lebanon commemorating, celebrating the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in year 2000, and largely under Hezbollah attack.  

KW: How would you characterize Hezbollah and Hamas?

NC: Hezbollah happens to be the major political grouping in Lebanon. It's the Hezbollah-based coalition, handily won the last election in the year 2009. Now you know it's not a perfect election, but it's one of the ... by the standards of U.S.-backed dictatorships it was an amazing election, and they won it. They didn't happen to win the largest number of representatives because of the way the confessional system works, but they won the popular vote by about the same amount that Obama had won.   So they're the main political grouping in the country. They largely -- almost completely -- control southern Lebanon. They're a national Lebanese organization. They've ... they're charged with some terrorist acts outside of Lebanon, maybe correctly. But again, if the charges ... we take all the charges and weigh them against U.S./Israeli violence, aggression, and terror, they don't even count. But that's basically what they are.  As far as Israel's concerned, Hezbollah‘s position is they don't recognize Israel. 

They don't ... they... but they say their position is, well, they'll accept any agreement with Israel that the Palestinians accept; we're a Lebanese organization. What about Hamas? Hamas is a ... its background is it's an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization, which would be a major competitor in Egypt's elections, if Egypt permitted democratic elections, which it won't.  The Egyptian dictatorship -- which the U.S. strongly backs, Obama personally strongly backs -- doesn't permit anything remotely like elections and is very brutal and harsh. But they don't ... they hate the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas is an offshoot. In its early days, Israel supported Hamas as a weapon against the secular PLO. Later, when Hamas really crystallized, became a significant organization, Israel turned against them, and it became bitterly opposed to them in January 2006, as the U.S. did, when they won a free election.

That was intolerable and they had to be overthrown. Hamas's position is that as a political party it does not recognize Israel, but that doesn't mean much: the Democratic Party doesn't recognize countries either. It says that their position is that they’re willing to accept a two-state settlement in accordance with the international consensus, which the U.S. and Israel have blocked for 35 years. So they say, "Yes, we'll accept that, but we don't want to recognize Israel." Well, okay, that's their position. Are they a nice organization? No. I wouldn't ... I certainly wouldn't want to live under their clerical rule.

But compared with organizations and states that the United States strongly supports, they don't stand out as particularly harsh, say Egypt, for example.   

KW: So respond to those who defend Israel's policy and state that Israel is surrounded by enemies. Their Arab neighbors -- Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Ahmadinejad in Iran -- they pose a threat to Israel. They want to see Israel's destruction, and they feel like these Arab countries are an imminent threat to Israel. Give me your thoughts on those who defend Israel's policies.   

NC: Well, the truth of the matter is that Israel and the United States, which act in tandem, are a tremendous threat mainly to the Palestinians. In fact, while we're discussing the potential threat to Israel that might exist, the United States and Israel are crushing and destroying the Palestinians. That's the live reality.  Now what about the threat? Well, yeah, there's a potential threat, and Israel and the United States are substantially responsible for it. I mean, if the U.S. and Israel would accept the overwhelming international consensus on a political settlement, that would very sharply reduce the threat.  But Israel and the U.S. prefer Israeli expansion to diplomatic settlement and, therefore, are blocking that settlement -- they're alone. I mean, Europe, the non-aligned countries -- the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic States, which includes Iran -- have all accepted the international consensus on the two-state settlement. I mean, there are details to be worked out, but the basic structure is clear. For 35 years, the U.S. and Israel have been blocking it. There are a few rare and temporary exceptions, but that's basically the story. I don't have time to run through all the details here.   

KW: But what's the rationale?  

NC: The rationale‘s very simple.   

KW: Exactly. 

NC: They prefer expansion to security. That's been explicitly true since 1971. I think the most fateful decision that Israel and the U.S. made in this regard was in February 1971 when President Sadat of Egypt offered Israel a full peace settlement -- full peace settlement; no conditions -- nothing for the Palestinians, in return for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, and, in fact, he cared only about Sinai.  Jordan made the same proposal a year later with regard to the West Bank.  Israel had to decide, at that point, whether to accept security -- which would certainly have followed from the withdrawal from the conflict of the major Arab military forces, primarily Egypt, secondly Jordan -- whether to accept security or to insist on expansion.  Now expansion at that time was mostly into the Sinai. Israel was developing plans for substantial expansion into the Egyptian Sinai, including a major city, Yamit, supposedly a million people, a lot of settlements, and so on. And that was a very clear choice: do we choose expansion or security? They chose expansion.  The crucial question is what would the United States do? Well, there was an internal bureaucratic battle in the U.S., and Henry Kissinger won out. He was in favor of what he called “stalemate.” A stalemate meant no negotiations, just force.

So the U.S. and Israel proceeded with expansion. Sadat, for the next... he made gesture after... move after move for the next year or two to try to convince the U.S. to accept the political settlement. It was disregarded. He kept threatening war if Israel continued to develop the northeast Sinai.  It was dismissed. Then came the October 1973 war, which was a very close thing for Israel, the worst moment in its history. Well, at that point, Kissinger and the Israeli leaders recognized they can't simply dismiss Egypt, and they moved slowly toward the Camp David Settlement in 1978, which pretty much accepted what Sadat had offered in 1971 -- a diplomatic catastrophe. Meanwhile, Israel has continued its expansion, by then mostly into the West Bank, and the U.S. was supporting it all the way, and so it continues.  So, sure, if Israel continues to settle in the occupied territories -- illegally, incidentally, as Israel recognized in 1967 (it's all illegal; they recognized it) -- it's undermining the possibilities for the viable existence of any small Palestinian entity. And as long as the United States and Israel continue with that, yes, there will be insecurity.   

Read the rest of the interview on Race Talk.

Kathleen Wells is a political correspondent for Race-Talk. A native of Los Angeles with degrees in political science and law from UCLA and UC Berkeley, respectively, she writes/blogs on law and politics.
  Read Noam Chomsky: The Real Reasons the U.S. Enables Israeli Crimes and Atrocities
 July 26 , 2010   "Fracking" Poisons Your Drinking Water: Stand Up to the Oil Giants and Help Stop the Catastrophe
by
John Sellers , AlterNet
Gas extraction, made possible by hydraulic fracturing (or fracking for short), pumps dangerous toxins into our drinking water.

Seems like everyone is singing the praises of Natural Gas, our newest greenest most homegrown and secure source of American Energy. NOT!  "Clean Natural" Gas is neither. Gas extraction, made possible by hydraulic fracturing (or fracking for short) has to sit right beside Deep Sea Drilling, Mountain Top Removal, and Dirty Tar Sands Oil in the pantheon of insane ways to get our carbon fix.

Did you know that Halliburton (yes that Halliburton) pantented fracking: a process that mixes millions of gallons of precious fresh water with a proprietary cocktail of toxics, injects it through our drinking water table, and into the ground at a pressure that will fracture rock? Did you know that when Dick Cheney (yes that Dick) was the VP he fracked the EPA to make sure that this insanity would be exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act?

Stand Up, New York!

Fracking has brought the gas rush to New York. Some of the biggest and dirtiest names in Big Oil are coming to frack you. And they will not be gentle with New York's world class water features.

You can expect the same dirty drilling that has poisoned the water in Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Ohio. Who will be at risk? Everyone downstream. Including the drinking water of tens of million in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

  Read
 July 30 , 2010   Fracking With Food: How the Natural Gas Industry Poisons Cows and Crops
by
Byard Duncan, AlterNet

On the morning of May 5, 2010, nobody could say for sure how much fluid had leaked from the 650,000-gallon disposal pit near a natural gas drill pad in Shippen Township, Penn. -- not the employees on site; not the farmers who own the property; not the DEP rep who came to investigate.

But there were signs of trouble: Vegetation had died in a 30’ by 40’ patch of pasture nearby. A “wet area” of indeterminate toxicity had crept out about 200 feet, its puddles shimmering with an oily iridescence. And the cattle: 16 cows, four heifers and eight calves were all found near water containing the heavy metal strontium. Strontium is preferentially deposited in cows’ bones at varying levels depending on things like age and growth rates. Since slaughtering 28 cattle on mere suspicion can devastate a farmer financially, nobody knows what, if anything, the cows ingested. They're now sitting in quarantine.

The Shippen Township incident isn’t the first time hydraulic fracturing, a controversial gas extraction technique that involves shooting water, sand and a mix of chemicals into the ground to release gas, has been blamed for livestock damage. But for farmers in the northeast whose land sits atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation, it is a wake-up call – an event that raises questions about fracking’s compatibility with food production.

“I’ve already heard from a couple of customers that they’re concerned about the location of a drill site near my farm – in terms of the quality and safety of my food,” said Greg Swartz, a farmer in Pennsylvania’s Upper Delaware River Valley. Swartz, who sells all his products locally, fears that leaked fracking fluid could seep into his soil, bioaccumulate in his plants and cost him his organic certification. “There very well may be a point where I am not comfortable selling vegetables from the farm anymore because I’m concerned about water and air contamination issues,” he said.

Air contamination – specifically the production of ozone – is what worries Ken Jaffe, another farmer in Meredith, NY. When excess methane gas, coupled with volatile compounds like benzene, toluene and xylene, are released into the air in a process the gas industry calls “venting,” it can inhibit lung function and wreak havoc on plant life. In Sublette County, WY, fracking has been blamed for ozone levels that are comparable to those in Los Angeles.

Without healthy pasture, Jaffe said, his cows won’t grow. Which means his beef won’t sell. “The economics of my operation are in part based on how many animals I can graze per acre and get them to grow fat,” he told me. “And if I have less grass and less protein and less clover, then I have a problem.”

Over the past two years, horizontal hydraulic fracturing has garnered a lot of attention. Advocates of the practice believe the staggeringly high amounts of gas it makes accessible could serve as a “cleaner-burning” bridge between fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. But critics blame fracking for a whole range of problems -- house explosions, flammable drinking water, chronic sickness, crop failure and air contamination, to name a few. In 2005, the Bush administration introduced the Energy Policy Act, which exempted hydraulic fracturing from several key environmental regulations, including parts of the Clean Water Act and CERCLA (Superfund). Since then, drilling operations (along with corresponding environmental problems) have begun to extend like spiderwebs across states like Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

For all their concerns, farmers like Swartz and Jaffe comprise only one side of a larger debate over drilling. Leasing one’s land, after all, carries the promise of a comfortable retirement -- sometimes even millions of dollars. And with milk prices making small-scale dairy operations harder and harder to maintain, many farmers are looking for the light at the end of the pipeline.

Some have found it. According to one Penn State study, Pennsylvania made a $2.95 billion profit from drilling in 2008 alone; the state also gained 53,000 new jobs. And in the Windsor/Deposit area of New York, 300 property owners have signed a lease with XTO Energy that covers 37,000 acres and is worth $90 million (notably, the lease contains a provision that indemnifies drillers against damage to livestock). Though New York is still waiting on its Department of Environmental Conservation for the go-ahead to start horizontal drilling, much of the state’s topography has already been carved, cordoned and auctioned off to eager gas companies.

“The way things are now financially, it would be hard to turn [leasing] down,” said Richard Dirie, a dairy farmer near Youngsville, NY. “Farming is definitely a physical occupation. You definitely reach an age where -- I don’t care if you want to do it or not -- you just can’t do it anymore.”

Dirie has not yet leased his land. But at 59, he’s not sure he would reject an offer if it came his way. “I keep saying, ‘I hope they don’t come and talk to me.’ That way I don’t have to make a decision, you know?”

Gas drilling raises a lot of questions for farmers short on options. Is it worth the risk to retire comfortably? What are the implications for future use of the land? Perhaps most importantly: How does fracking affect crops, livestock and, by extension, the people who consume them? Answers are scarce.

“There’s a lot going on out there and we don’t know most of it,” Swartz said.

The Knowledge Vacuum

It’s with good reason that Jaffe describes fracking’s relationship to food as “a knowledge vacuum.” Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture can’t say for sure whether or not any cows in the state came into contact with fracking fluid before the Shippen Township incident in May. Nor can it guarantee similar things won’t happen in the future. “We hope that this is the exception rather than the rule,” said spokesman Justin Fleming. “We hope that this is an extraordinarily rare occurrence.”

A representative for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service -- the organization in charge of testing milk and meat for chemicals – neglected to comment on whether or not heavy metals like the strontium found in Shippen Township were considered “adulterated” under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. He also did not immediately comment on whether naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMS) -- known to surface after a well has been fractured – fall under the act’s clause banning meat from being “intentionally subjected to radiation.”

Scientists, too, are grappling for information. Though there exists an increasingly comprehensive catalog of knowledge about water problems related to fracking, little work has been done to determine how the practice affects animals and crops.

“I see very little research being done on cows,” said Theo Colborn, founder of the non-profit Endocrine Disruption Exchange. Because animal testing with many chemicals known to be involved in fracking has historically failed to deal with instances of a) limited exposure and b) prolonged exposure, no one really knows what the potential health effects are – for cows or humans.

“It’s very difficult to deal with this problem,” Colborn said. “Who has the money? Who can perform the tests?”

Certainly not the federal EPA. Earlier this year, it announced plans to launch a two-year study of hydraulic fracturing’s effects on water. According to an EPA spokesperson, no part of that study will deal with plants or animals.

And yet, there is significant anecdotal evidence that suggests fracking can seriously compromise food. In April 2009, 19 head of cattle dropped dead after ingesting an unknown substance near a gas drilling rig in northern Louisiana. Seven months before that, a tomato farmer in Avella, Penn. reported a series of problems with the water and soil on his property after drilling started: he found arsenic levels 2,600 times what is recommended, as well as dangerously high levels of benzene and naphthalene – all known fracking components. And in May 2009, one farmer in Clearview, Penn. told Reuters he thought that gas drilling operations had killed four of his cows.

Occurrences like these aren’t just limited to the eastern U.S. In Colorado, a veterinarian named Elizabeth Chandler has documented numerous fertility problems in livestock near active drill sites, including false pregnancy, smaller litters and stillbirths in goats; reduced birth rates in hogs; and delayed heat cycles in dogs.

In another case, Rick Roles, a resident of Rifle, Colorado, reported that his horses became sterile after three disposal pits were installed near his home. Like those in Chandler’s study, Roles’ goats began yielding fewer offspring and producing more stillbirths. Roles himself suffered from swelling of the hands, numbness and body pain – symptoms, he said, that subsided when he stopped eating vegetables from his garden and drinking his goats’ milk.

Actual scientific studies are few and far between, but what’s out there paints a pretty damning picture. One, titled “Livestock Poisoning from Oil Field Drilling Fluids, Muds and Additives,” appeared in the journal Veterinary & Human Toxicology in 1991. It examined seven instances where oil and gas wells had poisoned and/or killed livestock. In one such case, green liquid was found leaking from a tank near a gas well site. The study’s authors found 13 dead cows, whose “postmortem blood was chocolate-brown in color.” Poisoning cases involving carbon disulfide, turpentine, toluene, xylene, ethylene, and complex solvent mixtures “are frequently encountered,” the study concluded.

Another study, this one conducted in Alberta, Canada in 2001, investigated the effects of gas flaring on the reproductive systems of cattle near active gas and oil fields. Its conclusions: “One of the most consistent associations in the analysis was between exposure to sour gas flaring facilities [as opposed to “sweet” ones, which contain more aromatic hydrocarbons, aliphatic hydrocarbons and carbon particles] and an increased risk of stillbirth. In 3 of the 4 years studied, cumulative exposure to sour flares was associated with an increased risk of stillbirth.”

'Rare Cases'

When questioned about fracking and food, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, an organization composed of the nation’s leading gas production and exploration companies, neglected to get into any specifics. Instead, it offered this response:

“In rare cases where incidents have occurred, companies have worked with the appropriate regulatory authority to identify, contain and correct the issue, and to implement measures to ensure they don’t recur. ANGA member companies understand and respect people’s concerns about the safety of their water and air, and we are committed to engaging in dialogue with community members, policymakers and stakeholders to talk about the safety of natural gas production and the opportunities natural gas offers communities across our country.”

Environmental groups have a markedly different perspective on the issue. “There’s a lot of violations that happen out there that are never documented,” said Wes Gillingham, program director of Catskill Mountainkeeper.

When we talked, Gillingham took out an enormous aerial photo of a drill rig. One disposal pit was surrounded by gray blotches of moisture: leaked fracking fluid. “The stuff that’s coming up – this stuff is getting into the environment,” he said, pointing at the blotches. “You’ve got heavy metals and normally occurring radioactive materials, all of which bioaccumulate in a grazer. That stuff is coming up in the grass where the grass is growing.”

So what sorts of concerns should people have about eating animals that have themselves ingested xylene, benzene, heavy metals, radioactive material? Gillingham, like so many farmers, federal officials and industry reps, can’t say for sure.

“It’s a serious issue in terms of potential contamination getting to market and nobody knowing about it,” he said. “It’s an important piece of research that needs to be done.”

Byard Duncan is a contributing writer and editor for AlterNet.
  Read Fracking With Food: How the Natural Gas Industry Poisons Cows and Crops
 September 1, 2010   Sustainable Development Policy Making – Challenges and Opportunities
published in the Journal of Europe’s World
by
Leslaw Michnowski Co-author: Marek Haliniak, PAPER and PRESENTATION of paper for Conference: Creativity and Innovation, European Year 2009, International Greening Education Event, Karlsruhe, Germany, 30th September – 2nd October 2009.

Member of the Committee of Prognosis “Poland 2000 Plus”
by the Presidium of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Polish Association for the Club of Rome
Chairman of Sustainable Development Creators'Club
The Polish Federation for Life
http://www.psl.org.pl/kte
kte@psl.org.pl
elmamba@poczta.onet.pl
leslaw.michnowski@neostrada.pl
The Sustainable Development Global Information Society website is managed by Leslaw Michnowski

  Read Sustainable Development Policy Making – Challenges and Opportunities
 September 1, 2010   Ecohumanism as a Developmental Crossing (with Supplement)
published in the Journal of Europe’s World
by
Leslaw Michnowski The PelicanWeb's Journal of Sustainable Development, Research Digest on Integral Human Development, Spirituality, Solidarity, Sustainability, Democracy, Technology, Nonviolence, Vol. 5, No. 10, October 2009:
http://pelicanweb.org/solisustv05n10page2michnowski2.html

Member of the Committee of Prognosis “Poland 2000 Plus”
by the Presidium of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Polish Association for the Club of Rome
Chairman of Sustainable Development Creators'Club
The Polish Federation for Life
http://www.psl.org.pl/kte
kte@psl.org.pl
elmamba@poczta.onet.pl
leslaw.michnowski@neostrada.pl
The Sustainable Development Global Information Society website is managed by Leslaw Michnowski

  Read Ecohumanism as a Developmental Crossing (with Supplement)
 September 1, 2010   How to overcome the EU and global crisis?
published in the Journal of Europe’s World
by
Leslaw Michnowski The PelicanWeb's Journal of Sustainable Development, Research Digest on Integral Human Development, Spirituality, Solidarity, Sustainability, Democracy, Technology, Nonviolence, Vol. 5, No. 10, October 2009:
http://pelicanweb.org/solisustv05n10page2michnowski2.html

Member of the Committee of Prognosis “Poland 2000 Plus”
by the Presidium of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Polish Association for the Club of Rome
Chairman of Sustainable Development Creators'Club
The Polish Federation for Life
http://www.psl.org.pl/kte
kte@psl.org.pl
elmamba@poczta.onet.pl
leslaw.michnowski@neostrada.pl
The Sustainable Development Global Information Society website is managed by Leslaw Michnowski

False diagnosis of global crisis leads world society to III World War or pathological diminishing world population (Meadows Euronatur, 2009) up to 1-2 bn by means of global Orwellian totalitarianism and “ecological holocaust”.
http://www.kte.psl.pl/artlm.htm
Download full WORD document by author  How to overcome the EU and global crisis?
  Read How to overcome the EU and global crisis?
 July 23, 2010

We need energy to heat our homes and provide electricity for our appliances.

Most commonly in our world, coal, oil, natural gas, and radioactive [nuclear] materials, especially the heavy metal, Uranium, supply our energy.

Radioactive elements that produce nuclear energy do it a certain way – and the same way each time. The basics are easy to understand:

These materials, such as Uranium, change into other materials during which a huge amount of energy is released. Remember Albert Einstein’s famous equation, e=mc2. Well, it is kind of like magic – that c2 is a very large number; e is the energy you get at the end; m is the very tiny amount of mass or “stuff” that changes from stuff you can see into unseen but powerful energy.

But before we go on we need to make sure we know what we are talking about. What is energy? Several kinds come to mind. We have mentioned three already: nuclear, electricity and heat. There is also “mechanical motion”; think about working out at the gym. Notice another thing at the gym – one’s muscles get warm; so heat is produced as well as mechanical motion.

Another thing about energy: once it is released, it never goes away. It can never be destroyed. This is a perfect rule with which everyone agrees. It is actually called a “law” – the first law of thermodynamics.

What happens to the energy, after we use it, such as when I have finished moving my fingers typing this sentence?

It is lost as waste heat out “there” somewhere. It is dispersed and spreads out in all directions and can not be reused. This is called entropy and is the second law of thermodynamics.

Now what does that have to do with nuclear power and global warming?

Once you release all that energy from Uranium, as in a nuclear reactor, it is here forever, except for some fraction that radiates out into outer space as “long-wave radiation.” The rest goes into the air, waterways, glaciers, dirt and rocks as waste heat, also called thermal [heat] pollution, increasing the temperature, thereby bringing about global warming.

Is nuclear the only the only source of energy that releases waste heat?

No. Coal, oil and natural gas [hydrocarbons, so-called “fossil fuels”] also release waste heat when burned.

Why is this fact not included in the title of this article?

Because many people already know that use of hydrocarbons causes global warming. Also, many believe that nuclear power does not cause global warming and that it may actually solve the global warming problem. Nothing could be further from the truth, because it produces heat and, therefore, thermal pollution.

What about greenhouse gases that are discussed on TV and the internet, such as carbon dioxide? What about other greenhouse gases such as water vapor and methane?

This is best approached by admitting that this is an area of great conflict. Well-connected scientists almost universally claim that global warming is occurring, that it is from human activity, that activity that causes the emission of “greenhouse gases” [especially carbon dioxide or CO2]. These are gases that make up a small part of the air we breathe, but they are able to hold in heat.

Millions of people agree with this. Other millions disagree. Leaders [or misleaders] of both factions present plausible evidence of wrongdoing by and conflict of interest on the other side. Both are correct about this and we should not be surprised that this is the case. Though startling claims are made about the need to save the planet, it is really about money and power, meaning here a different kind of power, that of authority and control. Imagine the wealth and personal power to be derived from selling and controlling the flow of energy to billions of people.

Hydrocarbons produce CO2. Businessmen and their agents who back hydrocarbons stand to lose a great deal of money and power if CO2 elimination is made a top priority. The other side has its own investors who stand to profit by promoting nuclear power in competition with coal, oil, and natural gas energy sources, and also by selling CO2 reduction technologies. There are also military and political reasons for nuclear promotion. [Incidentally, this side also erroneously claims that nuclear power does not result in CO2 pollution.]

In fact, it appears that greenhouse gases have a small but definite effect and work together with the direct heat pollution discussed here to make the problem of global warming worse.

Neither side is interested in promoting the facts as presented in this report, because they both stand to lose. They both cause thermal pollution [global warming].

Fortunately solar and wind power do not cause thermal pollution because they use the Sun’s heat, which we will get whether we use it for our energy needs or not. These technologies have matured and their costs have come crashing down and will continue to do so. The best solution for the long-term supply of electrical energy is to institute these renewable sources at the municipal level and as a cooperative effort. This gives everyone energy independence.

Of course, municipally owned, cooperatively run energy sources will be vigorously opposed by hydrocarbon and nuclear barons and those who will want to privatize, for their own profit, renewable energy sources. They will want to centralize renewable energy, and dole it out to large areas through grids under centralized control.

We, the public, must assert and struggle for what is best for us and our Planet. If we do not switch to non-heat adding solar and solar-derived energy sources, we will burn to a crisp.

– Morton S. Skorodin, MD, is a retired physician living in Oklahoma, USA, working on anti-war, anti-nuclear and global warming issues.

  Read Nuclear Energy Causes Global Warming
 July 7, 2010

There is a close relationship between peak oil and population. Since the 1950s there have been many estimates of the rise and fall of global oil production, but it was perhaps inevitable that the shift has been from optimistic to realistic. After all, it is better for one’s reputation to make errors on the side of caution than to look like foolish by announcing a catastrophe that does not occur. With increasing studies, however, and with increasing proximity to the critical events, realism at last takes over.

We begin with two basic facts. The first is that the world’s present annual consumption of oil is nearly 30 billion barrels. The second is that the world’s present population is nearly 7 billion. From there we can add some reasonable estimates of both oil decline and population decline.

The peak of world oil production is about 2010, and the most likely rate of decline after the peak is 6 percent. [5, 7, 11] That means production will fall to half of the peak level in 11 years, i.e. in 2021.

Population size is directly correlated with oil supply. Oil has been the main source of energy within industrial society. It is only with abundant oil that a large global population has been possible, and it was oil that allowed population to grow so quickly. [1]

If oil production drops to half of its peak amount in 11 years, therefore, world population must also drop by half, i.e. to 3.5 billion. A drop from 7 billion to 3.5 means that, as with oil production, the annual population decline rate will be 6%.

But how will it be possible to reduce the population from 7 billion to 3.5 billion in 11 years? Would such a reduction be possible with a program of voluntary cessation of all childbirth, but with no other drastic global change in human behavior? Would a no-child policy be workable? Unfortunately, such a program would be quite unlikely to succeed. In the first place, in order to have any significant effect the program would have to be both global and immediate. In addition, most of the world is hardly amenable to the suggestion of a one-child policy, such as that of China, so it is not likely that it would tolerate a no-child policy.

In any case, cutting the birth rate without increasing the death rate would not have a great enough effect on the final numbers. Since most of the people now living would still be alive in 2021, the population would not be reduced sufficiently. There is, in fact, no feasible political means of reducing population by 6 percent annually.

The only solution will be famine, and that solution will not be one that is chosen by humans. It will be chosen by Nature, as she does for so many other species. The process will be set in place by the ubiquitous and systemic decline in resources, and the consequent decline in industrial production. Without fossil fuels, agricultural yields will decline to about 30 percent. [7, 8, 9] The famine has already started, to judge from the decline in world food supplies. [3, 4] Roughly similar declines will occur in everything from mining, electricity, and manufacturing, to transportation and communication. [2, 6]

Planning for such a scenario should have been started long ago. Even at this late date, however, what is needed is to accept the facts and to ease the way for those relatively few who will constitute the future of humanity. At least on a small scale, such a program will succeed.

REFERENCES:

1. Catton, William R., Jr. Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1982.

2. Duncan, Richard C. The Olduvai Theory: Energy, Population, and Industrial Civilization. The Social Contract, Winter 2005-2006. http://www.thesocialcontract.com/pdf/sixteen-two/xvi-2-93.pdf

3. Earth Policy Institute. Earth Policy Indicators. 15 June 2006. Grain Harvest: http://www.earth-policy.org/index.php?/indicators/C54/

4. -----. Earth Policy Indicators. 22 June 2005. Fish Harvest. http://www.earth-policy.org/index.php?/indicators/C55/

5. Foucher, Sam. Analysis of Decline Rates. The Oil Drum. 25 February 2009. http://iseof.org/pdf/theoildrum_4820.pdf

6. Gever, John, et al. Beyond Oil: The Threat to Food and Fuel in the Coming Decades. 3rd ed. Boulder, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 1991.

7. Höök, Mikael, Robert Hirsch, and Kjell Aleklett. Giant Oil Field Decline Rates and Their Influence on World Oil Production. Energy Policy. June 2009. http://www.tsl.uu.se/uhdsg/Publications/GOF_decline_Article.pdf

8. Pimentel, David. Energy Flows in Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems. CIHEAM (International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies). 1984. ressources.ciheam.org/om/pdf/s07/c10841.pdf

9. -----, and Carl W. Hall, eds. Food and Energy Resources. Orlando, Florida: Academic Press, 1984.

10. -----, and Marcia H. Pimentel. Food, Energy, and Society. 3rd ed. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2007.

11. Poston, Steven W. Decline Curves. Hamilton Group. http://www.hamiltongroup.org/documents/Decline%20Curves%20-%20Dr%20Stephen%20Poston.pdf

Peter Goodchild is the author of Survival Skills of the North American Indians, published by Chicago Review Press. His email address is odonatus@live.com.

  Read Peak Oil, Time, And Population
 July 7, 2010

WASHINGTON -- A sobering new report warns that oceans face a "fundamental and irreversible ecological transformation" not seen in millions of years as greenhouse gases and climate change already have affected temperature, acidity, sea and oxygen levels, the food chain and possibly major currents that could alter global weather.

The report, in Science magazine, doesn't break a lot of new ground, but it brings together dozens of studies that collectively paint a dismal picture of deteriorating ocean health.

"This is further evidence we are well on our way to the next great extinction event," said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia and a co-author of the report.

John Bruno, an associate professor of marine sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the report's other co-author, isn't quite as alarmist, but he's equally concerned.

"We are becoming increasingly certain that the world's marine ecosystems are reaching tipping points," Bruno said, adding, "We really have no power or model to foresee" the effect.

The oceans, which cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface, have played a dominant role in regulating the planet's climate. However, even as the understanding of what's happening to terrestrial ecosystems as a result of climate change has grown, studies of marine ecosystems have lagged, the report says. The oceans are acting as a heat sink for rising temperatures and have absorbed about one-third of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities.

Among other things, the report notes:

* The average temperature of the upper level of the oceans has increased more than 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 100 years, and global ocean surface temperatures in January were the second-warmest ever recorded for that month.

* Though the increase in acidity is slight, it represents a "major departure" from the geochemical conditions that have existed in the oceans for hundreds of thousands if not millions of years.

* Nutrient-poor "ocean deserts" in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans grew by 15 percent, or roughly 2.5 million square miles, from 1998 to 2006.

* Oxygen concentrations have been dropping off the Northwest U.S. coast and the coast of southern Africa, where dead zones are appearing regularly. There is paleontological evidence that declining oxygen levels in the oceans played a major role in at least four or five mass extinctions.

* Since the early 1980s, the production of phytoplankton, a crucial creature at the lower end of the food chain, has declined 6 percent, with 70 percent of the decline found in the northern parts of the oceans. Scientists also have found that phytoplankton are becoming smaller.

Volcanic activity and large meteorite strikes in the past have "resulted in hostile conditions that have increased extinction rates and driven ecosystem collapse," the report says. "There is now overwhelming evidence human activities are driving rapid changes on a scale similar to these past events.

"Many of these changes are already occurring within the world's oceans with serious consequences likely over the coming years."

One of the consequences could be a disruption of major ocean currents, particularly those flowing north and south, circulating warm water from the equator to polar regions and cold water from the poles back to the equator. Higher temperatures in polar regions and a decrease in the salinity of surface water because of melting ice sheets could interrupt such circulation, the report says.

The change in currents could further affect such climate phenomena as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation. Scientists just now are starting to understand how these phenomena affect global weather patterns.

"Although our comprehension of how this variability will change over the coming decades remains uncertain, the steady increase in heat content in the ocean and atmosphere are likely to have profound influences on the strength, direction and behavior of the world's major current systems," the report says.

Kelp forests such as those off the Northwest U.S. coast, along with corals, sea grasses, mangroves and salt marsh grasses, are threatened by the changes the oceans are undergoing, the report says. All of them provide habitat for thousands of species.

The polar bear isn't the only polar mammal that faces an escalating risk of extinction, the report says; penguin and seal populations also are declining.

"It's a lot worse than the public thinks," said Nate Mantua, an associate research professor at the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group.

Mantua, who's read the report, said it was clear what was causing the oceans' problems: greenhouse gases. "It is not a mystery," he said.

There's growing concern about low-oxygen or no-oxygen zones appearing more and more regularly off the Northwest coast, Mantua said. Scientists are studying the California Current along the West Coast to determine whether it could be affected, he added.

  Read Oceans' Demise Near Irreversible
 July 13, 2010

Fred Pearce keeps on saying that population growth is no longer a problem. He said it again as part of his World Population Day message.

In Fred's view, it's very simple. Fertility rates have come down sharply over the past half century. Problem solved.

Sorry, Fred, saying that population growth is no longer a problem doesn't make it so, no matter how many times you say it. Neither does wishful thinking.

While admitting that world population may increase by another 2 billion or so by midcentury, he dismisses this increment as a "time-lag" problem.

Earth to Fred: 2 billion more people is a lot of people to a world that is already struggling to feed 6.8 billion people. It's a lot of people to a biosphere that is threatened with what leading biologists refer to as the Sixth Mass Extinction. And it's a lot of people to a planet that is already threatened with the effects of climate change. And while "population momentum" (i.e., large numbers of people entering their reproductive years) may account for some of the projected increase in human numbers, much of it is being driven by the fact that fertility rates in many developing countries around the world are still well above the "replacement rate."

Yes, Fred, we must do something about consumption. Unless we in the developed world do more to curb our consumption of fossil fuels and scarce minerals, the world is headed for an ecological and humanitarian disaster. We need to lower our per capita consumption of fossil fuels and other scarce resources. A lot. But I don't see the G8 or the G20 putting their heads together right now in an effort to lower consumer spending. Really, I don't. Neither do I see anything happening with respect to climate change.

And that's why it's especially important to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the U.S. and other developed nations. Sorry, Fred, it doesn't matter that America's fertility rate is right around the "replacement rate" or that Europe's is well below it. A baby born here or elsewhere in the developed world will still consume a disproportionate share of the world's resources and contribute disproportionately to the world's environmental problems.

It's also important to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the developing world. The reasons, however, are different. It really doesn't matter whether global fertility rates have dropped sharply; they remain unsustainably high in many of the least developed areas of the world. Yes, Fred, fertility rates have come down sharply in Iran and Bangladesh, but women in Afghanistan and Somalia and other desperately poor countries are still having four, five, or six children on average. Some poor countries, like Uganda and Niger, are on track to triple their populations over the next 40 years. Africa's population will likely double by mid-century.

Looking ahead, Fred, will these countries be able to feed themselves? Will they have enough safe drinking water? Will their lands be deforested or their rivers polluted? Will their maternal mortality rates and infant mortality rates remain unacceptably high? Will they be caught in a demographic poverty trap? Will they become failed states? If you have good answers to these questions, please let me know. Because if you don't, then we need to ensure that women in these developing countries are given the information and the access to contraceptives that they need to prevent unwanted and unintended pregnancies.

Someday we will be able to declare victory. Someday every woman will have access to family-planning services and reproductive health care. Someday world population will be in decline. Someday world population levels will pose no danger to the health of the planet. But that day has not arrived. Not yet. In the meantime, your breezy dismissal of the "population problem" does an enormous disservice to the planet and every living creature that calls it home.

Robert Walker is executive vice president of the Population Institute.

Also Read

Population Isn’t The Problem
By Fred Pearce

  Read Of Course Population Is Still A Problem
 July 19, 2010
Undergraduate Dissertation, Lent 2010
Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

Preface

The Transition Model has advanced a pathway towards ‘local sustainability’ distinct from previous sustainability models in a clear and important way: it is a grassroots, non-governmental model and also a networking movement. Still in its infancy, and with little academic attention so far having specifically focused on it; there is a clear gap in understanding of the Transition Model’s role in relation to (local) sustainability, which this research has sought to bridge. ...

Transition Towns in Context

... While local sustainability has become a politically important discursive goal, in practice neither top-down governmental nor grassroots community models have gained widespread uptake or success: the former have failed to connect with or involve a grassroots public; the latter generally have few resources and limited capacity.

It is in this context that the Transition Model is interesting. A non-governmental community-led model: Transition advances an action-based approach, comparable to community sustainability models. Yet, with a fast growing network of Initiatives, Transition is much closer to the top-down governmental models. Transition combines the advantages of an organic support base, with the capacity and resources of a networking organisation.

The ‘Transition’ concept, co-founded by Rob Hopkins, who has a background in permaculture, builds upon a core thesis: that the modern industrial capitalist economic and social system, based upon cheap oil and resources, is unsustainable, making a major restructuring of economy and society imperative, and inevitable. Transition contends that citizens and communities need to act proactively and positively at the local scale, in a process of ‘Transition’ and ‘powerdown’ to build localised and resilient communities in terms of food, energy, work and waste (Hopkins, 2008). The goal is a societal paradigm in which de-carbonised local communities are resilient in their capacity to “hold together and maintain their ability to function in the face of change and shock from outside.” (Hopkins, 2008:8). Transition is modelled to be a self-organising community-led model, for people to ‘act now and act collectively’.

... Since the establishment of the Transition Network, the movement has mushroomed, with over two hundred participating Initiatives; now including Initiatives around the world (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/initiatives). Looking within the field of environmentalism, I found no precedence for a model of local sustainability that involved the networking of spatially dispersed, local self-organising groups within the framework of a single model. How the Transition Model has achieved this was a question that needed addressing. ...

Conceptual and Theoretical Review

Transition: the Concept:

... What I see as ‘push factors’ contend that materialistic and capitalist economic and social structures are unsustainable, with the following principle issues outlined: climate change; peak oil - see the World Energy Outlook (2008); environmental degradation; and discourses on the finite planet thesis.

Outlining these ‘push factors’, Heinberg’s (2004) Powerdown argues that: “we have already overshot Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans – to such an extent that some form of societal collapse is now inevitable.” (Heinberg, 2004:10).

... On the ‘pull factor’ side, Transition theory celebrates the perceived benefits of a paradigm of re-localised and resilient communities. Arguments to this extent include Holmgren’s Permaculture (2002), calling for permaculture ecology principles to be applied to human settlement and agriculture. Similarly the Blueprint for Survival (1972) and Jackson’s more recent Prosperity without Growth (2009) outline re-localisation paradigms.

Social Movements and Networking:

Social movement theory helps explain how the Transition Model has built up grassroots support, bringing in new community-based Initiatives at an exponential rate across space and time.

... Pepper (1984) speaks of the period in the late-1970’s to early-1980’s when a series of ‘drop-out’ communities formed, seeking to re-establish close and fundamental ties with nature and ‘mother-earth’. Transition is in many respects ideologically and theoretically comparable to such models; however it differs in that it has spawned a network, becoming a ‘viral social movement’.

... Through this research, I have come to understand that the internet is crucial for networking. On this issue, the work of Gary Alexander (2000, 2004) was useful. He sees online tools facilitating a ‘sustainable collaborative economy’; where the internet is shifting the economy towards collaboration and community, based on trust and with respect for the environment, rather than competition and individualism. Central to this in his view, are “grassroots and civil society initiatives linking together.” (Alexander, 2004:2), which through the internet are “beginning to form a network of networks, a co-operative of co-operatives.” (Alexander, 2004:14). ...

Discussing Transition:

... Transition: Radical Theory and Mainstream Practice:

Looking specifically at the theory and ideology of the Transition Model, it lies at heart within the environmental field of political ecology or ‘ecologism’. The Transition Model proposes a radically reformist shift away from industrial society, which it sees as heading towards a ‘crunch’; where resource depletion, climate change and environmental degradation threaten some form of societal collapse. Critiquing materialistic and capitalistic modernity, Transition seeks a new paradigm involving re-localisation and ‘powerdown’.

Transition’s radical agenda has been crucial in attracting people to the movement; especially those with past environmental activity, many of whom believe that radical change is essential. Around half the people I interviewed held strong ‘ecologist’ positions, critical of the status quo; Transition forums similarly reflecting this position. Eleven of my interviewees foresaw drastic scenarios resulting from climate change, peak oil, power and food shortages. The majority of interviewees believed it inevitable that societies and economies would need to re-localize. Crucial to this point, Transition was seen by all as a viable and workable model and pathway to sustainability.

While Transition theory proclaims a radical message, in practice Initiatives are developing ideas and projects that can be characterised as ‘mainstream’ environmental work, including: community gardens, pushing funding for renewable energy projects, encouraging recycling and raising awareness. Such projects hardly indicate the radical aspects of Transition theory.

Yet these kinds of projects, and the mainstream ‘image’ Transition has gained in the process of raising awareness and participation, attracts people with environmental and community concerns who do not want involvement with radical environmental groups. Importantly ‘respectable’ strategies and projects do not alienate communities either. The belief that the Transition Model was, and needed to be, respectable and mainstream emerged equally as often as radical views in interviews. Mark in High Wycombe said their Initiative was not an “irrational, woolly, thinking kind of initiative to perhaps go and hug a tree; no, this is cold, rational… this is science, this is the voice of business speaking.” Similarly, Richard in New Forest argued: “This is sensible, and it is not full of people who you’d want to cross the street to avoid.”

Bringing together a grassroots base of support around the principles of Transition, into what I call a ‘Transition Coalition’ is crucial to the model. The Transition Model has to date successfully merged radical and mainstream views and practice, creating a ‘brand’ and image that attracts a wide base. This is a key primary element that allows Transition, a community-led and action-based model, to extend itself beyond any one place or core issue, while retaining grassroots support. In contrast, other grassroots community models, whether groups radically isolating themselves from mainstream society or communities seeking to ban plastic bags, struggle to gain participation beyond their issue base and their place of operation; while most governmental initiatives fail to connect to a grassroots base.

Having people with radical reformist agendas working alongside moderate environmentalists and people without past environmental organisation participation of course raises questions over how Transition is able to structurally incorporate this diversity, which I address later. However, the successful bringing together of a wide ‘Transition Coalition’ has been key to the ability of the Transition network to expand. Evidently Transition is doing something other sustainability models do not. ...

Transition: Democratic Success?

My research shows that the democratic and ‘umbrella’ organisational structure of the Transition Model is crucial to its success in bringing new Initiatives and people within a single organisational framework. Transition’s structure performs core functions, including:

Incorporating and supporting self-organising Initiatives
Establishing an identifiable ‘brand’, defining general principles and goals.
Providing a networking framework. (I address this last function separately).

... As a national ‘brand’ the model has been building momentum, capacity and visibility, which individual Initiatives can latch onto. For example, in Berkhamsted I was told that the Transition group was considered by the Council to be bigger and more influential than it perhaps was. Additionally, Transition’s brand is perceived to come without negative ‘baggage’ or stereotypes associated with many environmental organisations.

The Transition Model aims to have covered much of the groundwork in practical areas of sustainability, so that for Initiatives ‘the wheel is not continually re-invented’. To this extent a key function of the model is to provide resources, information, knowledge, training and support. Included in this is: material and information for recently established Initiatives; the twelve steps of Transition; and ideas, experience and information shared on Transition websites and forums. For example talks, films, discussion topics, and project ideas are shared, especially for awareness raising.

... Above these core functions is the principle of self-organisation. Beyond their approval by the trustees of the Transition Movement, Initiatives structure and organise their activities independently. The theory and practice is simple: any ideas, strategies or projects a group has, they can just get on with it. Responsibility is passed down, with the principles of Transition adapted to local conditions. This self-organising and fundamentally democratic structure is crucial to bringing in new Initiatives, people, ideas and projects.

... Indeed, most Initiatives follow locally adapted strategies, few follow the twelve steps of Transition closely, and almost none have considered an EDAP to date. Further, many Initiatives rarely used online materials or resources. A minority were applying these materials closely. Transition more than anything was seen to provide the vision, values and principles that Initiatives could independently work with.

... This democratic pattern stretches again to the level of individuals involved in Transition. Whether someone is interested in the funding of renewables or the psychology of change, they can establish or join a sub-group with like-minded people and seek to foster projects. Ben Brangwyn argues this is crucial, as it allow Transition to be a holistic model in which people concentrate where they are interested and skilled, leaving other areas to other people; whilst all coming under the Transition umbrella. ...

Transition: People and Place

... Initiatives that are thriving are those with motivated, energetic and skilled individuals in the core team, driving strategy and projects. Indeed, in several cases, where members of the core group had left, the Initiatives struggled to continue. Further, personal networks were crucial to people becoming involved with Transition and for new Initiatives being formed. People I interviewed had been members of environmental organisations from the Green Party through to Climate Camp, as well as coming from academic, community, social justice and peace group backgrounds. Networks and contacts within these organisations play a central role in bringing new people into the ‘Transition Coalition’.

... However, in the longer-term place does matter, with certain communities appearing to be better suited to Transition. Communities with past social activity provide a good base, such as Ottery St. Mary, famous for the protests of ‘Swampy’ against road-building: “Ottery is a funny little place in that its got a good community but it has also got a history of green social enterprise... it acted as a sort of base for an anti-road protest.” (Clive, Ottery). Similarly, pioneering Initiatives such as Totnes, Stroud, Lewes and Glastonbury are all communities with histories of ‘alternative’ action. It further seems likely that in smaller market towns and to an extent in the city neighbourhoods: community size and cohesion offers the greatest potential for Initiative’s to embed locally. This is crucial for longer-term grassroots community participation, momentum and energy.

Transition: A Networking Social Movement:

A bottom-up, grassroots movement with collective goals and principles: Transition can be characterised as a social movement. I have conceptualised Transition as a discourse coalition, enabled by a democratic and self-organising structure. Crucial to Transition being good at building a ‘Transition Coalition’ is the movement’s ability to tap into a latent demand, and in many cases a sense of urgency for reformist action. The idea is that “something needs to change, something needs to happen” (Gill, Bruton). Transition’s promotion of a paradigm of localised sustainability taps into a groundswell of opinion, mobilising a grassroots base much as a social movement.

It “was the frustration that at that point nothing was happening at the governmental level that was addressing issues of climate change or peak oil” (Mark, Bath).

“We’re here really because there was a need to… a small group of us really wanted to do something else following on from the inspiration of... Rob Hopkins. ” (Steve, Llandeilo).

“You know for me it is the bigger picture, I see this as part of a grassroots movement; eventually to grow big enough so that politicians sit up and take notice. ” (Willi, Marlow).

“We… bill ourselves as a cultural organisation. We are wanting to change perceptions, educate people ” (Mark, High Wycombe).

Indeed, Ben Brangwyn sees Transition as “creating an environment where currently unelectable policies become electable. ” ...

However, while Transition is attracting people with environmental and community concerns to join and establish Initiatives, this does not mean that whole communities are participating. My research shows that participation of communities is in every case a minority, usually five to ten percent of a population on mailing lists. Whether this is a weakness in the Transition Model is unclear; especially as gaining majority participation for any ‘cause’ within communities is rare.

... Personal contacts, including links through third party organisations facilitate networking. Yet it is the internet that is crucial in growing the Transition Network. The internet allows people to network cheaply; sharing information, expertise and best practice as well as building the capacity of Transition as an organisation. From Initiatives networking to understand the funding options for installing solar panels, to city initiatives sharing their experiences of raising awareness, the Internet provides an indispensible tool. My research showed that the internet is arguably being underutilized, with some Initiatives not using the internet to network.

Transition: Localism and Community:

The ideology and theory of localism lies at the heart of the Transition model, with my research showing it was, and is, a key condition to a majority of people’s initial and continued participation. There is a clear ideological support for decentralized, strong, empowered and resilient communities. ...


Transition: Utopia for Local Sustainability?

... Being a self-organising model at the local scale, whilst having the coherence of an umbrella ‘brand’ and organisational structure: the Transition Model is primarily a discourse coalition, rather than a prescriptive model. The diversity of people and places involved in Transition could not otherwise be held together within one model. The Transition Model’s primary role is that of facilitator, acting as a central focal point that unifies the multiple individual Initiatives, people and projects who otherwise have no connection. ...

A PDF of the complete dissertation is online (54 pages,633 KB).

Author Jonathan Balls writes:
My dissertation was written as part of my final year undergraduate course. I therefore don't really have a long biography to attach to the work, except that I have just graduated this year in Geography from the University of Cambridge and that I will hopefully be moving on to further phd work around sustainability in the next year.

  Read Transition Towns: Local Networking For Global Sustainability?
 July 6, 2010   Spiritual Leadership to bring Africa into the Global Community
Jacques L. Hamel
Scientific Affairs Officer
Science, Technology and Innovation Cluster
Sustainable Development Division
Economic Commission for Africa
UNECA
Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jacqueshamel
Email: jachamel@gmail.com
Published in the Global Community website at http://globalcommunitywebnet.com/GlobalFiles/2004WorkHamel.htm

  Read Spiritual Leadership to bring Africa into the Global Community
 July 21, 2010

In the meeting I had with the economists of CIEM (World Economy Research Center) on Tuesday, July 13, I talked to them about an excellent documentary film by the French director Yann Arthus-Bertrand which includes statements by the most farsighted and well informed international personalities about another terrible danger threatening the human species that is cropping up right before our eyes: the destruction of the environment.

The documentary clearly and categorically asserts as follows:

“In the great adventure of life on Earth, each species has a role to play; each species has its place. None of them is either useless or harmful; they all balance one another. And it is right there when you, Homo sapiens, the intelligent human, come into history. You are the beneficiary of the fabulous legacy of 4 billion years provided by the Earth. You are only 200 000 years old, but you have already changed the face of the world.”

“The invention of agriculture changed our history. This happened less than 10 000 years ago”.

“Agriculture was our first great revolution. It produced the first surpluses and gave rise to cities and civilizations. The memories of the thousands of years spent looking for food faded away. Having turned grains into the yeast of life, we multiplied their varieties and learned to adapt them to our soils and climates. We are like any other species on Earth. Our main daily concern is feeding ourselves. When soils are less than generous and water becomes scarce we are capable of making incredible efforts to get enough from the earth in order to continue living.”

“Half of mankind tills the land; more than three fourths do it with their bare hands.”

“Pure energy. The energy that comes from the sun has been captured by millions of plants for more than 100 million years. It is coal; it is gas, but, most of all, it is oil.”

“During the last 60 years, the Earth population has almost tripled. More than 2 billion people have moved into the cities.”

“New York, the world’s first megalopolis, is the symbol of the exploitation of the energy that the Earth provides human ingenuity with: The labor of millions of immigrants, the energy that comes from coal, the indispensable power of oil. The United States was the first to ride on the phenomenal, revolutionary power of ‘black gold’. In the countryside, machines replaced men. One liter of oil generates as much energy as 100 pairs of hands in 24 hours.”

“They produce enough grain to feed 2 billion people. But much of that grain is not used to feed persons. Here, as well as in other industrialized nations, grains are transformed into animal feed or biofuels.”

“Fertilizers below and plastics above as far as the eyes can see. The greenhouses of Almería, in Spain, are Europe’s vegetable garden. Day after day, a city of vegetables, all of them the same size, awaits the hundreds of trucks that will take them to the supermarkets of the continent. The more developed a country is, the more meat its inhabitants consume. How could the world demand be satisfied without resorting to concentration camp-like cattle farms? Things move faster every time. It is like the life cycle of cattle; quite likely they never catch sight of a prairie.”

“In these food plots, crowded with millions of livestock units, not even a blade of grass grows. A whole fleet of trucks coming from every part of the country bring in tones of grain, soybean food and granules of proteins that will be turned into tones of meat. As a result, 100 liters of water are required to produce 1 kilogram of potatoes; 4000 liters are required to produce I kilogram of rice and 13 000 liters are required to produce 1 kilogram of beef, not to mention the amount of oil burned during production and transportation.”

“We know that the end of cheap oil is imminent, but we refuse to believe it.”

“Los Angeles. In this city that spans more than 100 kilometers, the amount of cars is almost the same as the amount of inhabitants.”

“Daytime is nothing but a faint image of the nights that turn the city into a star-spangled sky.”

“Everywhere there are machines digging, extracting and grabbing the pieces of stars buried deep into the Earth since its creation: The minerals.”

“…Eighty per cent of that mineral wealth is consumed by 20 per cent of the world population. Before this century comes to an end, excessive mining would have used up almost all reserves in the planet.”

“Since 1950, the volume of international trade has twenty folded; 90 per cent of trade is travels by sea; 500 million containers are transported every year; they are sent to the biggest consumption centers…”

“Since 1950, fishing has five folded –from 18 to 100 million metric tones per year. Thousands of factory-vessels are leaving the oceans empty. Three fourths of the fishing areas are depleted, terminated or face the risk of becoming so.”

“Five hundred million human beings live in the desserts of the world –this is more than the total population of Europe.”

“Israel turned the dessert into arable land.

While these farms now have a drip irrigation system, water consumption continues to grow as much as exports.”

“The once powerful Jordan river is now only a stream. Its waters have flown inside fruits and vegetables crates to supermarkets all over the world.”

“India is facing the risk of becoming the country that would suffer the most in the coming century out of lack of water. Mass irrigation has nurtured its growing population and during the last 50 years 21 million new wells have been dug.”

“Las Vegas was built in the dessert. Millions of persons live there. Thousands arrive in every month. Its inhabitants are among the world’s biggest water consumers.”

“Palm Springs is another dessert city with tropical vegetation and luxurious golf courts. For how long will this mirage continue to thrive? The Earth can not withstand it.”

“The Colorado River, which supplies water to these cities, is one of those rivers that no longer make it to the sea.”

“The lack of water could affect 2 billion people before 2025.”

“All living matter is interconnected: water, air, earth, trees.”

“Primitive forests provide a habitat to three fourths of the biodiversity of the planet –that is, three fourths of the whole life on Earth.”

“…in only 40 years, the Amazon, the world’s biggest rainforest, has shrunk by 20 per cent to make room for cattle farms or soybean fields; 95 per cent of this soybean is used to feed livestock and poultry in Europe and Asia. Thus, a forest has been turned into meat.”

“More than 2 billion people, almost one third of the world’s population, still depend on charcoal. In Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, charcoal is one of the population’s main consumer goods.”

“Up in the mountains of Haiti, only 2 per cent of forests remain…”

“Every week, the cities of the world increase their population by more than one million persons. One out of six human beings lives now in a precarious, unhealthy and overpopulated environment, deprived from daily needs such as water, sewage or electricity. Hunger is expanding again. It is affecting almost 1 billion people. All over the planet, the poor are struggling to survive, while we continue digging for the resources we can no longer live without.”

“Our actions cause the release of huge amounts of carbon dioxide. Without even realizing it, we have affected, molecule by molecule, the climate balance on Earth.”

“The ice cover of the Arctic is melting away as a result of global warming. After 40 years it is now 40 per cent thinner. This area shrinks year after year during summer time. It could disappear by the summer of the year 2030. Some say it could disappear by the year 2015.”

“By 2050, one fourth of the terrestrial species could be facing the risk of extinction.”

“…Since Greenland is warming up very quickly, the fresh water of a whole continent is flowing into the ocean.”

“The ice of Greenland accounts for 20 per cent of all the fresh water of the planet. If it melts away the sea level will increase by almost 7 meters. Our planet’s atmosphere is an indivisible whole. It is an asset we all share.”

“Lakes are becoming part of Greenland’s landscape. The ice cover is melting at a pace not even the most pessimistic scientists could have predicted 10 years ago. More and more these rivers, nurtured by the glaciers, are merging and emerging to the surface. It was thought that, deep into the ice, water would freeze. Quite on the contrary, water flows under the ice, pushing the ice cover into the sea, where it breaks up and become an iceberg.”

“Only in the 20th century, the expansion of warmed up water caused a 20 cm sea level increase. Everything becomes unstable. Coral reefs are extremely sensitive to the slightest change in water temperature. Thirty per cent of them have disappeared. They are an essential link in the chain of species.”

“If the sea level continues to rise quicker and quicker, what will big cities like Tokyo –the most densely populated of the world- do?”

“…in Siberia as well as in many other parts of the world it is so cold that the soil is permanently frozen. This phenomenon is known as permafrost. Beneath that surface lies a climatic time bomb: methane, a greenhouse effect gas that is twenty times more powerful than carbon dioxide. If the permafrost melts, the release of methane could cause the greenhouse effect to go out of control, the consequences of which no one could predict.”

“Twenty per cent of the world’s population consumes 80 per cent of the world’s resources.”

“The world invests twelve times more in military expenses than in the assistance to developing countries.”

“Five thousand persons die everyday after drinking contaminated water; 1 billion persons do not have access to potable water.”

“Around 1 billion are afflicted by hunger.”

“More than 50 per cent of the grain that is marketed in the world is used for animal feed or biofuels.”

“Species are dying one thousand times faster than the natural pace.”

“Three fourths of the fishing areas are depleted, diminished or are dangerously decreasing.”

“The average temperature during the last 15 years has been the highest ever recorded.”

“The ice cover is now 40 per cent thinner that it was 40 years ago.”

During the final minutes of the documentary, director Yann Arthus-Bertrand uses a milder language to praise some positive actions by countries he was forced to mention –and I don’t mean to offend or hurt anyone.

His final words went as follows:

“It is time for us to be all together. What matters now is not what is gone, but what still prevails. There are still half of the world’s forests, thousands of rivers, lakes and glaciers and thousands of successful species. Today we know that solutions are right here. We all have the power to change. Then, what are we waiting for?

It is up to us to write what comes next, together.”

The topic that has absorbed most of my efforts –the imminent risk of a war that would be the last in the prehistory of our species-, to which I have devoted 9 Reflections since June 1st, is a problem that becomes more and more serious by the day.

Obviously, 99.9 per cent of persons entertain the hope that elemental common sense would prevail.

Unfortunately, based on all the elements from the reality I perceive, I don’t see there is the slightest chance that this could be so.

Therefore, I think it would be far more practical for our peoples to be prepared to cope with that reality. That would be our only hope.

The Iranians have done precisely that, just as we did in October 1962, when we would rather disappear than put down our banners.

Out of mere chance -and not because of the merits of the intelligence or the individual history of anyone of us- things are evolving today just as they were then.

News coming from Iran everyday are not even one millimeter away from their announced position to uphold their just rights to peace and development, but they include a new element: they have already managed to produce 20 kilograms of 20 per cent enriched uranium –an amount enough to produce a nuclear artifact-, which is making all those who long ago decided to attack them to go even crazier. I discussed this with our ambassadors on Friday 16.

Not even Obama could change that decision –nor has he given so far any indication he would be determined to do that.

Fidel Castro Ruz
July 18, 2010
4:28 p.m.

  Read The Other Tragedy
 June 23, 2010   The Coming Era of Energy Disasters
by Michael T. Klare, Countercurrents.org,
TomDispatch.com

BP-Style Extreme Energy Nightmares to Come. Four Scenarios for the Next Energy Mega-Disaster

On June 15th, in their testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the chief executives of America’s leading oil companies argued that BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was an aberration -- something that would not have occurred with proper corporate oversight and will not happen again once proper safeguards are put in place. This is fallacious, if not an outright lie. The Deep Horizon explosion was the inevitable result of a relentless effort to extract oil from ever deeper and more hazardous locations. In fact, as long as the industry continues its relentless, reckless pursuit of “extreme energy” -- oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium obtained from geologically, environmentally, and politically unsafe areas -- more such calamities are destined to occur.

At the onset of the modern industrial era, basic fuels were easy to obtain from large, near-at-hand energy deposits in relatively safe and friendly locations. The rise of the automobile and the spread of suburbia, for example, were made possible by the availability of cheap and abundant oil from large reservoirs in California, Texas, and Oklahoma, and from the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But these and equivalent deposits of coal, gas, and uranium have been depleted. This means the survival of our energy-centric civilization increasingly relies on supplies obtained from risky locations -- deep underground, far at sea, north of the Arctic circle, in complex geological formations, or in unsafe political environments. That guarantees the equivalent of two, three, four, or more Gulf-oil-spill-style disasters in our energy future.

Back in 2005, the CEO of Chevron, David O’Reilly, put the situation about as bluntly as an oil executive could. “One thing is clear,” he said, “the era of easy oil is over. Demand is soaring like never before… At the same time, many of the world’s oil and gas fields are maturing. And new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract, physically, economically, and even politically.”

O’Reilly promised then that his firm, like the other energy giants, would do whatever it took to secure this “difficult energy” to satisfy rising global demand. And he proved a man of his word. As a result, BP, Chevron, Exxon, and the rest of the energy giants launched a drive to obtain traditional fuels from hazardous locations, setting the stage for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and those sure to follow. As long as the industry stays on this course, rather than undertaking the transition to an alternative energy future, more such catastrophes are inevitable, no matter how sophisticated the technology or scrupulous the oversight.

The only question is: What will the next Deepwater Horizon disaster look like (other than another Deepwater Horizon disaster)? The choices are many, but here are four possible scenarios for future Gulf-scale energy calamities. None of these is inevitable, but each has a plausible basis in fact.

Scenario 1: Newfoundland -- Hibernia Platform Destroyed by Iceberg

Approximately 190 miles off the coast of Newfoundland in what locals call “Iceberg Alley” sits the Hibernia oil platform, the world’s largest offshore drilling facility. Built at a cost of some $5 billion, Hibernia consists of a 37,000-ton “topsides” facility mounted on a 600,000-ton steel-and-concrete gravity base structure (GBS) resting on the ocean floor, some 260 feet below the surface. This mammoth facility, normally manned by 185 crew members, produces about 135,000 barrels of oil per day. Four companies (ExxonMobil, Chevron, Murphy Oil, and Statoil) plus the government of Canada participate in the joint venture established to operate the platform.

The Hibernia platform is reinforced to withstand a direct impact by one of the icebergs that regularly sail through this stretch of water, located just a few hundred miles from where the Titanic infamously hit an iceberg and sank in 1912. Sixteen giant steel ribs protrude from the GBS, positioned in such a way as to absorb the blow of an iceberg and distribute it over the entire structure. However, the GBS itself is hollow, and contains a storage container for 1.3 million barrels of crude oil -- about five times the amount released in the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

The owners of the Hibernia platform insist that the design will withstand a blow from even the largest iceberg. As global warming advances and the Greenland glaciers melt, however, massive chunks of ice will be sent floating into the North Atlantic on a path past Hibernia. Add increased storm activity (another effect of global warming) to an increase in iceberg frequency and you have a formula for overwhelming the Hibernia’s defenses.

Here’s the scenario: It’s the stormy winter of 2018, not an uncommon situation in the North Atlantic at that time of year. Winds exceed 80 miles per hour, visibility is zilch, and iceberg-spotter planes are grounded. Towering waves rise to heights of 50 feet or more, leaving harbor-bound the giant tugs the Hibernia’s owners use to nudge icebergs from the platform’s path. Evacuation of the crew by ship or helicopter is impossible.

Without warning, a gigantic, storm-propelled iceberg strikes the Hibernia, rupturing the GBS and spilling more than one million barrels of oil into rough waters. The topside facility is severed from the base structure and plunges into the ocean, killing all 185 crew members. Every connection to the undersea wells is ruptured, and 135,000 barrels of oil start flowing into the Atlantic every day (approximately twice the amount now coming from the BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico). The area is impossible to reach by plane or ship in the constant bad weather, meaning emergency repairs can’t be undertaken for weeks -- not until at least five million additional barrels of oil have poured into the ocean. As a result, one of the world’s most prolific fishing grounds -- the Grand Banks off Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Cape Cod -- is thoroughly poisoned.

Does this sound extreme? Think again. On February 15, 1982, a giant drillship, the Ocean Ranger (the “Ocean Danger” to its habitués), was operating in the very spot Hibernia now occupies when it was struck by 50-foot waves in a storm and sank, taking the lives of 84 crew members. Because no drilling was under way at the time, there were no environmental consequences, but the loss of the Ocean Ranger -- a vessel very much like the Deepwater Horizon -- should be a reminder of just how vulnerable otherwise strong structures can be to the North Atlantic’s winter fury.

Scenario 2: Nigeria -- America’s Oil Quagmire

Nigeria is now America’s fifth leading supplier of oil (after Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela). Long worried about the possibility that political turmoil in the Middle East might diminish the oil flow from Saudi Arabia just as Mexico’s major fields were reaching a state of depletion, American officials have worked hard to increase Nigerian imports. However, most of that country’s oil comes from the troubled Niger Delta region, whose impoverished residents receive few benefits but all of the environmental damage from the oil extraction there. As a result, they have taken up arms in a bid for a greater share of the revenues the Nigerian government collects from the foreign energy companies doing the drilling. Leading this drive is the Movement for the Emancipation for the Niger Delta (MEND), a ragtag guerrilla group that has demonstrated remarkable success in disrupting oil company operations.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) rates Nigeria’s innate oil-production capacity at about 2.7 million barrels per day. Thanks to insurgent activity in the Delta, however, actual output has fallen significantly below this. “Since December 2005, Nigeria has experienced increased pipeline vandalism, kidnappings, and militant takeovers of oil facilities in the Niger Delta,” the department reported in May 2009. “[K]idnappings of oil workers for ransom are common and security concerns have led some oil services firms to pull out of the country.”

Washington views the insurgency as a threat to America’s “energy security,” and so a reason for aiding the Nigerian military. “Disruption of supply from Nigeria would represent a major blow to U.S. oil security,” the State Department noted in 2006. In August 2009, on a visit to Nigeria, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised even more military aid for oil protection purposes.

Here, then, is scenario #2: It’s 2013. The Delta insurgency has only grown, driving Nigeria’s oil output down to a third of its capacity. Global oil demand is substantially higher and rising, while production slips everywhere. Gasoline prices have reached $5 per gallon in the U.S. with no end in sight, and the economy seems headed toward yet another deep recession.

The barely functioning civilian government in Abuja, the capital, is overthrown by a Muslim-dominated military junta that promises to impose order and restore the oil flow in the Delta. Some Christian elements of the military promptly defect, joining MEND. Oil facilities across the country are suddenly under attack; oil pipelines are bombed, while foreign oil workers are kidnapped or killed in record numbers. The foreign oil companies running the show begin to shut down operations. Global oil prices go through the roof.

When a dozen American oil workers are executed and a like number held hostage by a newly announced rebel group, the president addresses the nation from the Oval Office, declares that U.S. energy security is at risk, and sends 20,000 Marines and Army troops into the Delta to join the Special Operations forces already there. Major port facilities are quickly secured, but the American expeditionary force soon finds itself literally in an oil quagmire, an almost unimaginable landscape of oil spills in which they find themselves fighting a set of interlocked insurgencies that show no sign of fading. Casualties rise as they attempt to protect far-flung pipelines in an impenetrable swamp not unlike the Mekong Delta of Vietnam War fame.

Sound implausible? Consider this: in May 2008, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and the Joint Forces Command conducted a crisis simulation at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, that involved precisely such a scenario, also set in 2013. The simulation, “Unified Quest 2008,” was linked to the formation of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom), the new combat organization established by President Bush in February 2007 to oversee American military operations in Africa. An oil-related crisis in Nigeria, it was suggested, represented one of the more likely scenarios for intervention by U.S. forces assigned to Africom. Although the exercise did not explicitly endorse a military move of this sort, it left little doubt that such a response would be Washington’s only practical choice.

Scenario 3: Brazil -- Cyclone Hits “Pre-Salt” Oil Rigs

In November 2007, Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras), announced a remarkable discovery: in a tract of the South Atlantic some 180 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, it had found a giant oil reservoir buried beneath a mile and a half of water and a thick layer of salt. Called “pre-salt” oil because of its unique geological positioning, the deposit was estimated to hold 8 to 12 billion barrels of oil, making this the biggest discovery in the Western Hemisphere in 40 years. Further test drilling by Petrobras and its partners revealed that the initial find -- at a field called Tupi -- was linked to other deepwater “pre-salt” reservoirs, bringing the total offshore potential to 50 billion barrels or more. (To put that in perspective, Saudi Arabia is believed to possess reserves of 264 billion barrels and the United States, 30 billion.)

With this discovery, Brazil could “jump from an intermediate producer to among the world’s largest producers,” said Dilma Rousseff, chief cabinet official under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and thought to be his most likely successor. To ensure that the Brazilian state exercises ultimate control over the development of these reservoirs, President da Silva -- “Lula,” as he is widely known -- and Rousseff have introduced legislation in the Brazilian Congress giving Petrobras control over all new fields in the basin. In addition, Lula has proposed that profits from the pre-salt fields be channeled into a new social fund to alleviate poverty and underdevelopment in the country. All this has given the government a huge stake in the accelerated development of the pre-salt fields.

Extracting oil a mile and half under the water and from beneath two-and-a-half miles of shifting sand and salt will, however, require the utilization of technology even more advanced than that employed on the Deepwater Horizon. In addition, the pre-salt fields are interspersed with layers of high-pressure gas (as appears to have been the case in the Gulf), increasing the risk of a blow-out. Brazil does not experience hurricanes as does the Gulf of Mexico, but in 2004, its coastline was ravaged by a surprise subtropical cyclone that achieved hurricane strength. Some climatologists believe that hurricane-like storms of this sort, once largely unknown in the South Atlantic, will become more common as global warming only increases.

Which brings us to scenario #3: It’s 2020, by which time the pre-salt area off Rio will be host to hundreds of deepwater drilling rigs. Imagine, then, a subtropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds and massive waves that suddenly strikes this area, toppling dozens of the rigs and damaging most of the others, wiping out in a matter of hours an investment of over $200 billion. Given a few days warning, most of the crews of these platforms have been evacuated. Freak winds, however, down several helicopters, killing some 50 oil workers and flight crew members. Adding to the horror, attempts to seal so many undersea wells at such depths fail, and oil in historically unprecedented quantities begins gushing into the South Atlantic. As the cyclone grows to full strength, giant waves carry the oil inexorably toward shore.

Since the storm-driven assault cannot be stopped, Rio de Janeiro’s famous snow-white beaches are soon blanketed in a layer of sticky black petroleum, and in a matter of weeks, parts of Brazil’s coastal waters have become a “dead ocean.” Clean-up efforts, when finally initiated, prove exceedingly difficult and costly, adding immeasurably to the financial burden of the Brazilian state, now saddled with a broken and bankrupt Petrobras. Meanwhile, the struggle to seal all the leaking pre-salt wells in the deep Atlantic proves a Herculean task as, month after month, oil continues to gush into the Atlantic.

Scenario 4: East China Sea -- A Clash Over Subsea Gas

At one time, most wars between states were fought over disputed borders or contested pieces of land. Today, most boundaries are fixed by international treaty and few wars are fought over territory. But a new type of conflict is arising: contests over disputed maritime boundaries in areas that harbor valuable subsea resources, particularly oil and natural gas deposits. Such disputes have already occurred in the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea, the East and South China Seas, and other circumscribed bodies of water. In each case, the surrounding states claim vast offshore tracts that overlap, producing -- in a world that may be increasingly starved for energy -- potentially explosive disputes.

One of them is between China and Japan over their mutual boundary in the East China Sea. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both countries have signed, each is allowed to exercise control over an “exclusive economic zone” (EEZ) extending 200 nautical miles (about 230 standard miles) from its coastline. But the East China Sea is only about 360 miles across at its widest point between the two countries. You see the problem.

In addition, the U.N. convention allows mainland states to claim an extended EEZ stretching to their outer continental shelf (OCS). In China’s case, that means nearly all the way to Japan -- or so say the Chinese. Japan insists that the offshore boundary between the two countries should fall midway between them, or about 180 miles from either shore. This means that there are now two competing boundaries in the East China Sea. As fate would have it, in the gray area between them houses a promising natural gas field called Chunxiao by the Chinese and Shirakaba by the Japanese. Both countries claim that the field lies within their EEZ, and is theirs alone to exploit.

For years, Chinese and Japanese officials have been meeting to resolve this dispute -- to no avail. In the meantime, each side has taken steps to begin the exploitation of the undersea gas field. China has installed drilling rigs right up to the median line claimed by Japan as the boundary between them and is now drilling for gas there; Japan has conducted seismic surveys in the gray area between the two lines. China claims that Japan’s actions represent an illegal infringement; Japan says that the Chinese rigs are sucking up gas from the Japanese side of the median line, and so stealing their property. Each side sees this dispute through a highly nationalistic prism and appears unwilling to back down. Both sides have deployed military forces in the contested area, seeking to demonstrate their resolve to prevail in the dispute.

Here, then, is Scenario #4: It’s 2022. Successive attempts to resolve the boundary dispute through negotiations have failed. China has installed a string of drilling platforms along the median line claimed by Japan and, according to Japanese officials, has extended undersea drill pipes deep into Japanese territory. An ultra-nationalistic, right-wing government has taken power in Japan, vowing finally to assert control over Japanese sovereign territory. Japanese drill ships, accompanied by naval escorts and fighter planes, are sent into the area claimed by China. The Chinese respond with their warships and order the Japanese to withdraw. The two fleets converge and begin to target each other with guns, missiles, and torpedoes.

At this point, the “fog of war” (in strategic theorist Carl von Clausewitz’s famous phrase) takes over. As a Chinese vessel steams perilously close to a Japanese ship in an attempt to drive it off, the captain of that vessel panics, and orders his crew to open fire; other Japanese crews, disobeying orders from superior officers, do the same. Before long, a full-scale naval battle ensues, with several sunken ships and hundreds of casualties. Japanese aircraft then attack the nearby Chinese drill rigs, producing hundreds of additional casualties and yet another deep-sea environmental disaster. At this point, with both sides bringing in reinforcements and girding for full-scale war, the U.S. president makes an emergency visit to the region in a desperate effort to negotiate a cease-fire.

Such a scenario is hardly implausible. Since September 2005, China has deployed a naval squadron in the East China Sea, sending its ships right up to the median line -- a boundary that exists in Japanese documents, but is not, of course, visible to the naked eye (and so can be easily overstepped). On one occasion, Japanese naval aircraft flew close to a Chinese ship in what must have seemed a menacing fashion, leading the crew to train its antiaircraft guns on the approaching plane. Fortunately, no shots were fired. But what would have happened if the Japanese plane had come a little bit closer, or the Chinese captain was a bit more worried? One of these days, as those gas supplies become even more valuable and the hair-trigger quality of the situation increases, the outcome may not be so benign.

These are, of course, only a few examples of why, in a world ever more reliant on energy supplies acquired from remote and hazardous locations, BP-like catastrophes are sure to occur. While none of these specific calamities are guaranteed to happen, something like them surely will -- unless we take dramatic steps now to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and speed the transition to a post-carbon world. In such a world, most of our energy would come from renewable wind, solar, and geothermal sources that are commonplace and don’t have to be tracked down a mile or more under the water or in the icebound north. Such resources generally would not be linked to the sort of disputed boundaries or borderlands that can produce future resource wars.

Until then, prepare yourselves. The disaster in the Gulf is no anomaly. It’s an arrow pointing toward future nightmares.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, TomDispatch.com regular, and the author, most recently, of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet. A documentary movie version of his previous book, Blood and Oil, is available from the Media Education Foundation. To catch him discussing our dystopian energy future on the latest TomCast audio interview, click here, or to download it to your iPod, click here.

  Read The Coming Era of Energy Disasters
 June 17, 2010   Tax the Wall Street Casino
by
Chuck Collins , AlterNet

Angry about the greedy financial speculation that wrecked the economy? Got a deficit headache? Anxious about where the money will come from for long overdue investments in energy independence that will create good jobs in the new economy?

How do we spell relief? Try F.S.T. – which stands for Financial Speculation Tax.

A financial speculation tax is a modest levy on financial transactions such as the purchase and sale of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and swaps. England and Taiwan have such taxes on securities that encourage productive investment and discourage reckless trading behavior.

Leaders in the U.S. Congress have introduced a proposal to collect a penny on every four dollars of financial transactions, a fraction of what people pay in broker fees. This FST would exempt retirement funds and the first $100,000 of individual investment transactions. So it would target the fast-buck flippers, the same financial gamblers who crashed the economy through reckless speculation.

The financial speculation tax would raise an estimated $177 billion a year –which makes it the potentially biggest revenue raiser on the table right now.

The deficit hawks should be thrilled about a financial speculation tax. Last week, President Obama issued a directive to federal agencies to propose ways to cut their budgets by 5 percent. The Sustainable Defense Task Force identified $960 billion over ten years in wasteful military spending that could be eliminated without compromising national security. Combine that military savings with a financial speculation tax and we have key components to a new budget and spending plan.

As President Obama heads to Toronto on June 26th for the Summit of the G-20 leaders, he’s going to find lots of other presidents asking about the F.S.T. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have renewed calls for a financial speculation tax.

President Obama will argue in support of his bank tax proposal which will raise an estimated $9 billion a year. The G-20 leaders may also debate a proposal from the International Monetary Fund to institute a “financial activities tax” on profits and employee compensation of all financial institutions. We estimate such a tax would raise $28 billion a year in the U.S.

Yet given our national revenue challenges, why wouldn’t we consider the biggest potential revenue raiser, a financial speculation tax? According to a new report that I co-authored, Taxing the Wall Street Casino a financial speculation tax will raise 20 times as much as President Obama’s proposed bank levy and six times as much as the IMF’s proposed Financial Activities Tax.

A financial speculation tax would have tremendous benefits. It would discourage the short-term investment outlook that lay at the heart of the financial crisis. And it would encourage a healthier marketplace in real goods and services. “We have lost the distinction between real investment in the real economy and short-term speculation,” said John Fullerton, a former JP Morgan Managing Director. “A financial transactions tax should, at the margin, shift investment horizons out to longer holding periods by making high turnover trading strategies marginally less profitable.”

Other leaders from business and finance have stepped up to talk about the value of a financial speculation tax. Wealth for the Common Good has initiated a campaign of business leaders and investors who support the tax. John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard Mutual Fund, supports the tax as “a way to slow the rampant speculation that has created such havoc in our financial markets, but also for its revenue-raising potential in this time of staggering government deficits.”

Obviously what stands in the way of implementing such a common sense proposal is the powerful banking and finance lobby, the same interest group that tried to block and is now trying to water down financial reform. But while Wall Street lobby groups have formidable political and economic clout, a growing global “people power” campaign behind financial speculation taxes has a good chance of winning.

Senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where I direct the Program on Inequality and the Common Good (www.ips-dc.org/inequality). Co-founder of Wealth for the Common Good (www.wealthforcommongood.org). Co-author with Bill Gates Sr. of Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes. Co-author with Mary Wright of The Moral Measure of the Economy.
  Read Tax the Wall Street Casino
 June 4, 2010   India's War On People
by Gautam Navlakha & Arundhati Roy, Countercurrents.org
Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights held a public lecture by Gautam Navlakha and Arundhati Roy on the 2nd of June in Mumbai.

This was purportedly Arundhati Roy's first public meeting in India after her visit to Maoist controlled territories in Dantewada. She outlines her views and clarifies a lot of her 'controversial' opinions and paints it in the larger canvas of the nation and the globe as a whole. What comes out from this series of videos is her appreciation for the wide spectrum of resistance against state oppression and brutality that is being waged by different types of people in India of which the Maoist resistance is at one extreme.

Gautam Navlakha, another writers and a passionate opponent of state brutalities on people and who has also lived amongst the Maoists and written a beautiful essay, puts across his views.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB6MXtxvJSs&feature=related
  Read India's War On People
 June 17, 2010   Rights And Wrongs Of Armed Resistance
by Gautam Navlakha , Countercurrents.org, Frontierweekly.com
A discussion on armed resistance in the context of the Maoist resistance in India

Civil Liberties/Democratic Rights groups have for long grappled with the problem of their relationship with groups and organizations which subscribe to armed resistance and/or have been proscribed by the authorities. In truth it is a senseless policy to suppress any political ideology, because ideas and issues should not be shackled. It is not acceptable that just because the State has declared some ideas to be abhorrent, and proscribed proponents of such views. People are witness to systematic abuse by authorities of these arbitrary powers for their self-interest or for narrow consideration. Especially because the provision invoked for imposing a ban fall under the genre of “national security” guided legal provisions where parliamentary oversight and judicial redressal in reality get circumscribed. What compounds the problem is when a crackdown ensues even the routine formality of what passes for ‘rule of law’ gets suspended to the exigencies of war where kill or get killed becomes the reigning doctrine.

Thus from fighting legal provisions, accompanied by procedures and rules that enhances the power of police and prosecutor at the expense of the accused, and simultaneously relaxes the exacting standards for collecting, collating and use of evidence, to the next where rules of military engagement take over and general demand becomes asking the warring sides to adhere to international covenants and protocols governing war [protocol III of Geneva Convention which apply for non-international conflicts] a seminal jump in public understanding is compulsorily brought about.

At the time Operation Steeplechase was launched by the Eastern Command of Indian army against the Naxalites in 1971 (few months before the war with Pakistan) 45,000 crack troops were deployed. Indian Express (October 14, 2009) quotes Lt General Jacob to claim that there were neither a written order nor record of this operation. At that moment Naxalites did not have much of experience with weapons, armed resistance, or art of war either. Going by what Shivraj Patil told the Lok Sabha on March 1, 2006, Maoists in 60-70s possessed country made guns, axes and swords rather than guns or had squads and PGLA. But there was hardly any notice taken of the war then. It passed un-noticed except for those who became its victims. But one thing remains unchanged. State’s approach remains essentially unchanged.

Of course, there are many who believe that Maoists have brought this war upon themselves and in turn this will invite repression on adivasis lured by them. How a force which has “modest capabilities” according to the PM, speaking to the CMs on 6th January 2009, with an approximate total of 8000 weapons, large quantities of explosives and country made weapons can pose a threat to Indian State which possesses fourth largest armed force in the world and which has deployed 75,000 central para military forces trained in jungle warfare colleges backed by, at least 150,000 state armed constabulary, air support and using light to heavy weaponry, is somehow never explained. What is important is that questions of ethics are, however, posed to CL-DR groups; how can they, under any pretext, justify use of violence to achieve political ends?

For one thing by outlawing a political manifestation State succeeds in criminalising an idea and destroying an organization, especially one which enjoys mass support. In past experience outlawing ideologies and ideological organizations acts as a ‘force multiplier’ in that these laws accord legitimacy to armed resistance. How? Because if non-violent activism i.e. dissemination of literature, mobilizing and organizing people to politically articulate their demands, hold mass meetings….are outlawed; if Maoists, their sympathizers or anyone who even remotely speaks the language of resistance, can be hunted, arrested, tortured, killed or persecuted, even denied humanitarian assistance then the State forecloses the appeal of what passes for “mainstream politics”. By allowing such groups to organize, work, hold mass meetings, as any other organization increases the appeal and persuasive powers of other ways of offering resistance. In other words, appeal of un-armed resistance gets enhanced only when the State begins to cease to wage war against its own people. It is this that forms part of the world view of CL/DR groups and informs their activities.

However, history moves in a different way. Without armed people, organized and therefore properly harnessed violence, there can be no transformation of society. Without the protracted people’s war and PLA as well as people’s militia it would have been well nigh impossible for Nepal Maoists to compel the political formations to forge a front with them in 2005. In fact they would have never reached the status of strength from which to bargain/negotiate had they remained unarmed. Indeed in Nepal after a long debate the party has agreed that had it not been for their armed cadres they would have faced a bloodbath probably at the scale of Indonesia. Nepal Maoists do not however, believe that they need to renew military operations. What they say is that the fact that they are armed, legitimized through the UN sanctioned agreement, provides them with a strength and their opponents know that they cannot be crushed militarily.

Without this to believe that ruling classes, so well armed, will peacefully submit/surrender may remain a wishful thinking. True, revolutions may have failed after the initial phase of success but there are few instances of revolution which has managed to retain power without arms. Either armies have split to lend support to the rebels or the ruling left combine has managed to neutralize the army of the ruling classes by arming the people or in some other ways. But nowhere has any revolution ever succeeded simply by remaining non-violent.

VIOLENCE
Question of means and ends, of natural aversion of people towards violence, the fact that an armed group/party can end up using its weaponry to impose its will etc have been employed to argue against violence. And yet, it cannot be denied that violence has and will continue to play an emancipatory and empowering role. How else can one describe the fight against imperialism in Indochina or elsewhere? Did not the victory of Japanese against Russia in 1905 enthuse Asian people to challenge European racism? Did not the experience of Indian soldiers who fought for the British Empire in Sudan, Iraq, China, Crimea bring to realize that they were as good, if not better, than the European soldier colleague of theirs. Did it not persuade many to become radicalized and get inspired by 1917 Russian revolution? Can one deny that the heroism and bravery of Russians led then by Stalin during the second world war, especially the defeat of the German elite forces in Stalingrad mark the beginning of the end of the defeat of German Nazi army? Why should one dismiss this reality? Some argue that they are not against war but use of political violence to achieve political goals? Thus the opposition is not per say against violence, only to organized violence because the very fact of organization is anti-democratic. This is a strange argument and actually diabolical. There is nothing more harmful than so-called spontaneous uprising of the people where mob mentality takes over and killing spree ensues. This causes more harm than good. In France after the war 45,000 “nazi collaborators” were lynched to death. How is this superior to relatively fewer deaths at the hands of say Maoists in last 42 years? It is claimed that presence of a force with weapons intimidates dissent. But when every second person is armed who intimidates whom? Indeed violence demands that it be harnessed and used sparingly which it can only be with training and discipline.

But are not means important? Can one reach the ends people desire by recourse to means which are violent? As Prof Randhir Singh says “it is axiomatic that the means are justified by the end they achieve; there is simply no other way to justify them.” Now, if the state and its votaries can justify its monopoly of violence by referring to the use of force to restore law and order say in a situation of rioting, civil strife etc, notwithstanding acceptance that state also engages in use of force/violence to militarily suppress people’s movements, then why is it that political activists should fight shy in accepting that use of force in pursuit of freeing people from exploitation and oppression is wrong, even when everybody acknowledges that not every act of theirs furthers people’s cause?

Even the most ardent proponents of non-violence concede that violence in certain conditions/circumstances is legitimate and needed. Stopping a riotous mob from lynching those less privileged, raping women, killing children….Death of a tyrant or mass murderer does not melt the heart of the most peaceable person. Which is to say, that people do condone violence. Besides, citizens are trained to accept legitimacy of state using violence, even when it can be demonstrated that in 63 years since ‘transfer of power’ not a single year has passed when the Indian military has not been used against their own people demanding and raising the most valid concerns. The enumerable crimes committed by the military in the ignoble task of military suppression has not resulted in the ‘good’ people in India ever demanding that war as a matter of state policy against their own people under any pretext ought to be ruled out. If the PM on July 7, 2009 on the floor of the Lok Sabha could declare that war as an option is ruled out against Pakistan, a country painted in the most vile manner by the media and establishment, then why not rule it out against his own people? If engagement and dialogue is the only way out why not pursue the same approach with the aggrieved people. If constituency for peace exists in India and rapprochement with Pakistan will see it expand then why cannot the government have the same approach towards its own people? Now if one does not do that and instead prepares for war what are the people supposed to do? Sue for peace? Surrender?

The point is as Prof Randhir Singh points out “(s)ound ethics requires us to always to judge the action by the results, good or bad, and not by its conformity to a rule, regardless of results”. And then goes on to argue that “(t)he principle that it is never right to depart from moral principles, even to achieve some good end, no matter how many people would suffer if the rule were not broken, far from reflecting a superior ethical standpoint, is supremely unethical and is generally regarded as such.” And therefore, draws public attention to the “real issue….over means and ends is not therefore as to whether we may or may not adopt means involving evil to attain a good which outbalances that evil or to avoid a still greater evil, but as to whether the good attained is really worth the cost, or whether there is another route to that good involving less evil”.

This writer begs to differ from Prof Randhir Singh. Violence plays an emanicipatory role, when the weaker is able to defend themselves, when they can save people from being trampled upon by ruthless military which invariably in matters of rich and poor sides with the rich and the powerful and the privileged. To pick up guns, to learn to handle guns, to harness it for a purpose which is greater common good, why should one consider such violence per say as “evil”? Which is to say, that people need to consider violence as value neutral. It is how it is used, harnessed, for what purpose is used that becomes more relevant. Thus people have to look closely before concluding one way or another. To assume that just because communal fascists use violence and therefore there is no difference between how they use and anyone else uses it, or that it is one and the same, is grossly erroneous. In fact the big difference is that for the communal fascist a community becomes enemy and taking civilian lives is considered perfectly legitimate. Then they are invariably backed and patronized by the state, Indian State in so far Hindu communal fascists are concerned, which molly coddles them, reduces the nature of their homicidal crimes, treats them with kid gloves, refuses to accept that they are the treacherous force which targets Indian people. This is something Indian security apparatus refuses to accept.

There are some who point to certain action of the Maoists, (beheading, people’s court awarding death, killing of ‘informers’, attack on economic ‘assets’), and from that arrive at the conclusion that these acts carry within them “social impact”, and insist that no achievement lasts if it is brought about violently. There are others who go a step further and argue that whether or not crimes get committed the very fact that they are armed and justify violence suffices to raise questions about strategy and tactics of a movement, its understanding of social reality, and mars the chances of a state and society, where weapons in possession of one party can be used to cow down people in general and dissidents in particular. Both arguments have to be addressed. Furthermore, it is the ‘poorest among the poor’ who are used as foot soldiers and they are the ones who suffer most? Finally, how will an armed movement agree to disarming itself in order to ensure that others are not harmed who too work among the people, albeit may not agree with the politics of armed movement?

Unless one party seizes power and imposes its diktat over everyone such a situation cannot arise. Because it took place in China or Soviet Union does not mean that this will happen in India in the 21st century with its own political history. In fact it did not happen in Nepal where a protracted people’s war pitch-forked CPN(Maoist) to become the leading political force. In contrast to CPN(M) all the other parties have used and see National Army (NA) and police as their force, there to protect them. In India political parties who accept the present status quo know that when they acquire government power they have access to a huge repressive force at their command. And even as opposition parties they are not defenseless. Even in the best of circumstances the forces commanded thus by political parties is many times stronger than that of the left wing rebels.

Besides, the unfolding dynamics of a political development are not predictable or uni-linear. Maoists in Nepal, once they reached strategic equilibrium with Nepal’s royal military, decided to replace strategic offensive with democratic closure. In conditions which apply in India, where one party hegemony is difficult to envisage considering the diversity and political plurality with which people have lived for more than six decades to believe that CPI(Maoist) can impose their one party rule is good for fear inflators but for any sober scholar this is well nigh impossible. This way or that without having armed cadres and without recourse to using weapons in some areas where war is imminent, social transformation of Indian State and society is not possible. But this does not mean that in every instance and everywhere there has to be or will be war. Those who work in say Delhi do not feel the need for arming themselves because so far they are able to work un-thwarted. Of course Delhi is a bad example because in some places in India state has had no compunction in assassinating a dissident. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the conditions which operate in DK for instance do not operate everywhere, uniformly, across India. But in J&K, NE and now tribal region of central India are different. Conversely, where left and progressive sections dominate and spearhead popular resistance use of weapons may not be necessary. In any case, size and spread of political consciousness in India is vastly different than elsewhere in the world.

It is often argued by some that any organized military force is in itself anti-democratic whereas violence which ensues as a result of mass uprising is alright. Contrarily it should be pointed out that a spontaneous recourse to violence can cause greater harm. In France as mentioned earlier after 2nd war more than 45,000 people were lynched for being “collaborators” of Nazi occupation force. Would people justify this lynching in the name of spontaneous reaction of masses freed from Nazi tyranny? In fact it is in the nature of violence, as with fire, that it must be harnessed or else it can cause greater damage than good. Therefore, what is regarded as anti-democratic i.e. training, hierarchy and discipline, are of utmost necessity. Indeed fascist political formations use the spontaneous mass violence path to gloss over their deliberate targeting of minorities or left and progressive elements. It is when force is organized that one stands chance for compelling them to ensure that those who violate ethics of war can be brought to justice. This writer’s experience is that working to get armed rebels to agree to abide by ethics of war, or be held publicly accountable, is best possible when they are a disciplined and organized force. A rag-tag band is incapable of adhering to this and tends to be less accountable. When armed forces are sent to suppress a people it is part of their brief to terrorise the civilians. They are expected to burn, loot and kill precisely in order to crush an insurgency. Whereas insurgents cannot afford to do that or else they will lose what is their biggest advantage; mass support. Indeed pitting mass spontaneous violence is a patently irresponsible, if not convenient, way to accuse left radical rebels.

Finally, it is intriguing as to how the left radical rebels whose numbers are variously said to be 5600, 8000, 10,000 and even 20,000 pose a threat? While they are better armed than before, they are organized better and receive fairly rigorous arms training, incidents of violence were confined to 400 police station areas out of 14,000. Yet, why is it that possession of 8000-10,000 guns by Maoists and explosives a bigger problem when, according to International Action Network on Small Arms India has more than 40 million private guns. And most of it is with the upper class/caste men. Besides, is possession of weapons more important than who possess them, given the power equation in the society? Or is it that people resent that Maoists refuse to give up armed struggle?

There is violence and violence. Therefore, a distinction must be drawn between spectacular raids such as for looting armouries, freeing prisoners and defending what is called “janta sarkar” as in Bastar and heinous acts such as beheading or custodial killing. But not all crimes attributed to Maoists/Naxalites have been committed by them. In the Nayagarh (Orissa) in 2008 incident the media carried unsubstantiated report of Maoists mutilating the bodies of dead soldiers. And some eminent persons issued a statement without even bothering to verify the facts of the matter. The Khagaria massacre in September 2009 was attributed to them although it later turned out to be a caste conflict over 40 bighas of land. Thus, Jehanabad jail break, for example, was criticized by ‘good’ people of India for inviting possible retaliation by landlord armies in Bihar upon the poor. This did not happen. But it exposed the administration as being capable of stopping landlord armies if it so wishes. This enhanced rather than eroded the sense of security of landless dalit agricultural labour.

This is not to say that Maoists have been upright in all circumstances, and above criticism or fault. The recurring mistakes committed by the armed cadres and targeting of passenger train etc do raise question about the socalled ‘people’s war’ when they have yet to curb such attacks on civilians. However, their critics should know that Maoists have been rather forthright in accepting criticism as well as engaging in debate. In fact no other Naxal group has ever engaged in debate with so many groups and individuals over the past 40 years as the Maoists and their forerunner PU and PWG. The question is all that is fine but what about killing of ‘informers’ and the role of the so called ‘people’s court’, which is cited against them? As a DR activist this writer damns mad at them for engaging in custodial killing. But four years of efforts has at least brought them to accept that the party will consider the issues raised as well as take a position on compliance with Geneva protcol III. And rights activists must remain engaged with them, precisely because they form an integral and leading part of resistance against neo-liberal policies which continue to rule the roost.

Under such circumstances to essentialize the issue of Maoist violence is the way in which class society dehumanizes struggles and movements. There are, besides, as many instances of movements degenerating because they use violence as there are of those, which use non-violent methods. But the bottomline is that reproduction of social inequality is unacceptable. Those who believe in step-by-step process, and others in leap or qualitative jump, from one stage to another, must accept that there will remain a divide and both must respect each other. Those who decry armed struggle claim that popular movements can make existing institutions responsive to people’s needs. The point is that these movements get crushed, co-opted and contained before they ever reach a stage where they can challenge authority. These efforts have not come to standstill because of Maoist rebellion, but, actually gained some space and used their presence to espouse their politics, which would probably have been ignored otherwise.

Here is a quote from a very senior IPS officer and believer in crushing Maoist movement RK Raghavan : “to say that … (the tribal person) would have remained mute and soft forever is being somewhat naïve, especially at a time when the divide between… (them) and the rest of the lot is becoming more and more galling. The average tribal person believes he/she has nothing to lose in life, and the only way he/she could make himself/herself heard is by fighting an unjust social order”.

The rout of NDA government in 2004 was directly related to its pursuit and promotion of predatory global capitalism. The experience of the ‘silenced majority’ under UPA rule I and II has been of big words and small deeds. The biggest deal for “aam aadmi” was NREG. But was it not the fear of Maoists, which ensured passage of ‘national rural employment guarantee scheme’ and the formulation of the forest bill? Why NREGA but the recent decision of the Jharkhand administration to withdraw cases filed against at least one lakh adivasis to wean them away from Maoists not something where credit goes to Maoists? Maoists have their use too for reformers who leverage them for pushing reforms.

Consider, for instance, what the Home Minister told the Lok Sabha on last 7 July, that “(n)axalism is no longer a disjointed or uncoordinated actions by groups in states. Today naxalism is directed by CPI(Maoist) which is now a very structured organization. It even has a Central Military Command.” In other words they are now a strong organized military force capable of launching multiple simultaneous attacks, in which several groups of 200-500 armed cadres, travel long distances, escaping a network of surveillance/intelligence/informers. Equally important to note that without people identifying themselves with the Maoists, voluntarily and not out of fear, this fairly large social support base cannot be sustained.

To vanquish such a force is of course not impossible. Indian state possesses immense arsenal and laws to suppress rebels. But, it is not improbable that the Indian State may find for once its resilience tested. So, it is unlikely that the war will end by 2012, as the UPA government believes. But now even the Union home minister has begun hedging his bets by saying that it will be a “long drawn” out war. One reason is because unlike what intellectual detractors of Maoists have to say, when the State cracks down on Maoists they will not be cracking down on some alien armed cadres, but will be taking on the people because there is no difference between people and Maoists. Moreover, it is in the nature of sub conventional warfare, an euphemism for counter-insurgency, that first task is to wean away the people from the rebels. On all sides of the jungle exit and entry is now controlled by armed forces. Medicines, food stuffs, pencil (lead is dual use) and notebooks are not allowed into areas held by Maoists. It is yet to hear the mealy mouthed pacifists ever open their mouth to condemn the government. Recent experience of the team which visited Nendra in south Dantewada district of Bastar is noteworthy because after the SP Dantewada threatened the team members; anyone seen in the jungle will be shot dead it was left to Union home secretary GK Pillai to order that they be allowed. Those who do not have access to the home secretary stand little chance of getting in or getting out. Strangely enough, some even deny that there is a war being launched against the Maoists!

Now Indian State propagates that Naxalites are irredeemably bent upon waging a war against the Indian State and are anti-development. Thus short of suppressing them there is no other option. Of course Maoists want to seize power. And certainly those who take up arms cannot escape opprobrium for violations of principles, in what they themselves regard as ‘people’s war’. But the more important question is what brought this about? It did not happen overnight but over forty three years? In this period several groups gave up this path to pursue non-violent parliamentary or extra parliamentary struggle. Their experience hardly inspires confidence that the Indian state has become amenable to people’s concerns now that some of these left wing rebels gave up arms. In this sense, appeal if not prospect of non-violence has been undermined, by the state itself. What is so remarkable about this? How does it make non-violent political transformation attractive? If struggle for power requires positioning for strength why should Maoists try what is not possible (peaceful way), and not do what is necessary (offer armed resistance)?

Or else what are the Maoists supposed to do, say in Bastar? Surrender to enable corporation a free run of forest, land and waters of adivasis? Will this provide tribals a better deal? Has the condition of people improved since Maoists retreated from north Telengana? Will the three districts of Purulia, Bankura and West Mednipur in West Bengal usher in prosperity were the Maoists to pullout from there? Will the UP government bother about the 30 year long struggle of dalit ‘patta’ holders to get possession of land when they woke up to their plight only when Maoists began to organize them? Will the NDA government in Bihar, engaged in distributing arms, begin to distribute land were Maoists not around? Will the UPA II give up its corporate led ”development” program? Will they return the land grabbed through coercion and fraud? Reverse privatization of rivers in Chattisgarh? Will they allow adivasis to return to their village from where they have been displaced? Let critics of Maoists ponder over these issues first.

www.frontierweekly.com
Vol.42, No.45, May 23-29, 2010

Gautam Navlakha is Editorial Consultant, Economic and Political Weekly.

  Read Rights And Wrongs Of Armed Resistance
 May 23, 2010   Venezuela's Economic Woes?
by Federico Fuentes , Countercurrents.org,

In recent weeks, local and international media have attacked the left-wing Venezuelan government over alleged “economic woes”.

Pointing to Venezuela’s inflation rate — the highest in Latin America — and an economy that shrank 3.3% last year, the private opposition media is raising fears of a serious economic crisis.

These same media outlets, which have been predicting the fall of President Hugo Chavez for years, argue recent government actions will worsen the situation.

Venezuelan business federation Fedecamaras warned on May 5 that Venezuela faces an “economic and social crisis”.

The federation helped organise a 2002 military coup against Chavez that briefly installed Federcamaras leader Pedro Carmona president before a mass uprising restored Chavez.

Federcarmaras argued: “The government has to be called to account [and] assume the cost of its errors [and the] destructive economic, social and moral process it has submitted Venezuela to.”

Speaking on the rabidly pro-coup TV station Globovision, Fedecarmaras president Noel Alvarez said: “The government is radicalising, therefore businessmen should radicalise also to defend private property.”

Behind such attacks is the fact that, faced with the deepening world economic crisis, the Venezuelan government is taking stronger measures against those responsible — the capitalists.

These measures include new nationalisations to tackle food hoarding and underproduction, a clampdown on illegal money trading and speculation, and the creation of a new state import-export company.

The government is also promoting the process of workers’ control in the industrial heartland of Guayana, swearing in several new presidents of state companies selected by the workforce.

These measures occur in the context of an intense campaign for the September 26 National Assembly elections.

Crisis?

Contrary to claims the Venezuelan economy is worse off because of government policies, the worst aspects of the crisis have been avoided because of these policies.

A crucial turning point for Venezuela was the two-month long battle that began in December 2002 over who would control the state oil company, PDVSA, which represents almost a third of Venezuela’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The right-wing opposition launched a two-month long bosses’ lockout, which included the shutting down of PDVSA by its corrupt management, aimed at economically strangling the country and bringing down the Chavez government.

The mobilisation of workers, poor communities and the armed forces was able to restore control of PDVSA to the Chavez government. Counter-revolutionary elements, encrusted in PDVSA upper and middle management levels, were removed.

The lockout caused GDP to fall by 27.8% in the first quarter of 2003. But over the next 11 quarters, government policy of redirecting oil rents to social spending meant the economy rebounded.

It grew by 94.7%, or 13.5% annually. During the same period, extreme poverty fell by 72% and unemployed more than halved.

Ironically, while the government nationalised a number of companies in strategic sectors, the private sector grew the most. Between 2004 and the third quarter of 2008, the private sector grew by 49.5%, representing 70.9% of total GDP.

Meanwhile, the national currency, the bolivar, which was subject currency controls to prevent capital flight, becoming increasing overvalued.

This made it difficult for the government to move away from dependency on oil. An overvalued currency made imports artificially cheap, disadvantaging national production.

It also created an unofficial, or parallel, currency rate two or three times higher than the official one. Speculators tended to import at the official currency rate of US$1 to 2.15 bolivars, but sell at the much higher unofficial rate.

In 2009, after a sharp drop in oil prices and the onset of the global economic crisis, Venezuela’s economy began to shrink for the first time since 2003.

But Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, said in a May 9 British Guardian article that talk of economic ruin is misplaced.

Rather, Venezuela faces “a policy choice”.

Weisbrot said that in 2009, “the government’s fiscal policy was too conservative — cutting spending as the economy slipped into recession”. As a result, public sector growth dropped from 16.3% in 2008 to 0.9% in 2009.

However, Venezuela’s control over its oil resources, low debt level (20% of GDP compared with 115% for Greece, 100% for the US and 79% for the European Union) and high level of international currency reserves means it has room “to try new economic and political experiments and learn from its mistakes as well as successes”, Weisbrot said.

Attacks on capital

This is exactly what the Venezuelan government has done since announcing the bolivar’s devaluation. It is using its strong position to move against private capital, punish those sabotaging the economy and promote workers’ control experiments.

In January, the government adjusted the exchange rate, introducing a two-tier system. The rate is now $1 to 2.6B for essential imports, such as food and state industrial needs, and $1 to 4.3B for other imports.

Receiving 4.3B instead of 2.15B for every $1 of oil sold, the government has significantly increased its revenue.

It also partially corrected the grave distortion caused by an overvalued bolivar by making it more expensive to import. Together with promises of government loans, domestic production will benefit.

With the advantage of the lower bolivar rate for state imports, it has begun to move against those using speculation and sabotage aimed at causing discontent via rising inflation, increasing food shortages caused by hoarding and underproduction.

Since February, the government has taken over two private supermarket chains. Using the preferential exchange rate, the government will now import food and white goods via a newly created state import-export company.

The products will be sold cheaply in the state-owned supermarket chains, undercutting speculators. Six formerly private-owned Bicentenary hypermarkets now offer goods up to 50% cheaper than private supermarkets.

The aim, Chavez said, is to “displace the hegemony of the bourgeoisie in handling resources that belong to the people”.

On May 13, Chavez announced the takeover of Mexican-owned food processor Gruma, which had refused to sell flour in April despite a national shortage.

This was just the latest of a series of nationalisations carried out to stimulate food production, and stop hoarding and speculation.

These included the takeover of three sugar mills accused of hoarding and under-producing, a coffee processing company, and the expropriation of land belonging to Venezuela’s largest food and beverage company, Polar.

To combat speculation in the informal currency market, the government has intervened in 31 of the country’s 107 brokerage firms during May over accusations of illegal currency-trading and money laundering.

Chavez said: “If we have to eliminate the whole bunch of brokerages ... well eliminate them. This country doesn’t need them, we don’t need the savage capitalism of these rich money-bags.”

The government also halted trading of government bonds. Under a reformed law passed by the National Assembly, only the Central Bank of Venezuela will be able to authorise the purchase and sale of foreign currencies.

Workers’ control

Using its strong economic position, the government borrowed $20 billion from China in April as advanced payment for future oil deliveries. This is helping fund an increase in public investment.

To tackle decades of disinvestment, the government plans to spend $6 billion on the state electricity sector — strengthened by the nationalisation of six private companies in 2007.

It has initiated a process of workers’ control in the sector. Workers are organising committees to help reorganise the industry. Workers have also elected representatives to management boards.

The government has also increased the minimum wage by 25% this year and raised pensions for widows and widowers.

On April 30, Chavez announced a $1.168 billion investment package for the state-owned iron, steel and aluminium companies in Guayana. The package will fund projects discussed and approved by workers in the relevant companies.

On May 16, Chavez swore in new presidents in eight out of the 15 state-owned basic industry factories in Guayana that had been chosen by the workers.

Chavez also ordered the nationalisation of transport companies related to the industrial complex and Venezuelan chemical company Norpro.

‘Destroy the bourgeois state’

The new attacks on capital have also led to further splits in the pro-Chavez camp.

The Homeland For All (PPT) party, until recently allies of the Chavez-led United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), said it would not form an alliance for the September elections, but would stand against PSUV candidates.

The PPT has stepped up criticism of the government’s economic measures.

Lara state governor Henri Falcon defected from the PSUV to the PPT in opposition to the government’s moves against Polar in his state.

At a May 19 public meeting to welcome discontented PPT members into the PSUV, Chavez denounced the PPT as “reformists” unwilling to deepen the anti-capitalist revolution.

Chavez told a May 7 meeting of PSUV candidates for the National Assembly that the government’s actions meant a battle against “the capitalist state and the hegemony the capitalists still exercise in different sectors of national life”.

He said: “We cannot plan out measures thinking that we can or are going to execute measures in normal conditions ... we have to take into account that an adversary with a lot of forces is also involved: the bourgeoisie, with its economic and media power.”

With elections in September, the capitalists are playing hardball. They are trying to provoke economic chaos and shortages of essential goods — as they did before the defeat of Chavez’s proposed anti-capitalist constitution reforms in 2007.

“They are seeking out a way to retake the path of destabilisation”, Chavez said. “Either we finish off capitalism or capitalism will finish off the revolution.”

He said the revolutionary forces needed to win the elections and then push to “accelerate the destruction of the bourgeois state”.

[Federico Fuentes is a member of Australia’s Socialist Alliance and is based in Venezuela as part of Green Left Weekly’s Caracas bureau.]

  Read Venezuela's Economic Woes?
 May 23, 2010   It's Time To Rid The World Of Nuclear Weapons
by Archbishop Desmond Tutu , Countercurrents.org,
Skeptics may say a nuclear-free world is an impossible dream, but they said that about slavery and apartheid too.

This year the nuclear bomb turns 65 - an appropriate age, by international standards, for compulsory retirement. But do our leaders have the courage and wisdom to rid the planet of this ultimate menace? The five-yearly review of the ailing nuclear non-proliferation treaty, currently under way at the United Nations in New York, will test the strength of governments' commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

If they are serious about realizing this vision, they will work now to shift the focus from the failed policy of nuclear arms control, which assumes that a select few states can be trusted with these weapons, to nuclear abolition. Just as we have outlawed other categories of particularly inhuman and indiscriminate weapons - from biological and chemical agents to anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions - we must now turn our attention to outlawing the most iniquitous weapons of all.

Gains in nuclear disarmament to date have come much too slowly. More than 23,000 nuclear arms remain in global stockpiles, breeding enmity and mistrust among nations, and casting a shadow over us all. None of the nuclear-armed countries appears to be preparing for a future without these terrifying devices. Their failure to disarm has spurred nuclear proliferation, and will continue to destabilize the planet unless we radically alter our trajectory now. Forty years after the NPT entered into force, we should seriously question whether we are on track to abolition.

D is not an option for governments to take up or ignore. It is a moral duty owed by them to their own citizens, and to humanity as a whole. We must not await another Hiroshima or Nagasaki before finally mustering the political will to banish these weapons from global arsenals. Governments should agree at this NPT review conference to toss their nuclear arms into the dustbin of history, along with those other monstrous evils of our time - slavery and apartheid.

Skeptics tell us, and have told us for many years, that we are wasting our time pursuing the dream of a world without nuclear weapons, as it can never be realized. But more than a few people said the same about ending entrenched racial segregation in South Africa and abolishing slavery in the United States. Often they had a perceived interest in maintaining the status quo. Systems and policies that devalue human life, and deprive us all of our right to live in peace with each other, are rarely able to withstand the pressure created by a highly organized public that is determined to see change.

The most obvious and realistic path to a nuclear-weapon-free world is for nations to negotiate a legally binding ban, which would include a timeline for elimination and establish an institutional framework to ensure compliance. Two-thirds of all governments have called for such a treaty, known as a nuclear weapons convention, and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has voiced his support for the idea. Only the nuclear weapon states and NATO members are holding us back.

Successful efforts to prohibit other classes of weapons provide evidence that, where there is political momentum and widespread popular support, obstacles which may at first appear insurmountable can very often be torn down. Nuclear abolition is the democratic wish of the world's people, and has been our goal almost since the dawn of the atomic age. Together, we have the power to decide whether the nuclear era ends in a bang or worldwide celebration.

Last April in the Czech capital, Prague, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, but he warned that nations probably would not eliminate their arsenals in his lifetime. I am three decades older than the US president, yet I am confident that both of us will live to see the day when the last nuclear weapon is dismantled. We just need to think outside the bomb.

Desmond Tutu is a patron of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Desmond Tutu.
Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town.

  Read It's Time To Rid The World Of Nuclear Weapons
 June 17, 2010   Hightower: BP Is a Corporate Criminal
by
Jim Hightower , AlterNet
BP has been implicated in bribery, overthrowing governments, plunder and money laundering, plus having established one of the worst safety records in the industry.

Gosh, how quickly things turn. One day, you're a strutting peacock -- the next day, you're just another gasping, oil-covered bird.

In early April, BP was strutting about in full corporate splendor, showing off the $9 billion in profits that it had soaked up in just the first three months of this year. It was also basking in a corporate re-imaging campaign, depicting itself as a clean-energy pioneer and declaring that BP now stood for "Beyond Petroleum."

Since its Gulf of Mexico well blew out on April 20, however, BP has proven to be beyond belief. The wider and deeper that this catastrophe spreads, the more we discover just how oily this giant is.

From the time it was known as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and set out to grab and control the rich petroleum reserves owned by what is now Iran, BP has been a recidivist global criminal. In the past three decades, it grew huge by swallowing such competitors as Standard Oil of Ohio, Amoco and Arco. Along the way, it has been implicated in bribery, overthrowing governments, plunder and money laundering, plus having established one of the worst safety and environmental records in an industry that is notoriously reckless on both counts.

And now, its rap sheet grows almost daily. In fact, the Center for Public Integrity has revealed that the oil giant's current catastrophic mess should come as no surprise, for it has a long and sorry record of causing calamities. In the last three years, the center says, an astonishing "97 percent of all flagrant violations found in the refining industry by government safety inspectors" came at BP facilities. These included 760 violations rated as "egregious" and "willful." In contrast, the oil company with the second-worst record had only eight such citations.

While its CEO, Tony Hayward, claims that its gulf blowout was simply a tragic accident that no one could've foreseen, internal corporate documents reveal that BP itself had been struggling for nearly a year with its inability to get this well under control. Also, it had been willfully violating its own safety policies and had flat out lied to regulators about its ability to cope with what's delicately called a major "petroleum release" in the Gulf of Mexico.

"What the hell did we do to deserve this?" Hayward asked shortly after his faulty well exploded. Excuse us, Tony, but you're not the victim here -- and this disaster is not the work of fate. Rather, the deadly gusher in the gulf is a direct product of BP's reckless pursuit of profits. You waltzed around environmental protections, deliberately avoided installing relatively cheap safety equipment, and cavalierly lied about the likelihood of disaster and your ability to cope with it.

"It wasn't our accident," the CEO later declared, as oil was spreading. Wow, Tony, in one four-word sentence, you told two lies. First, BP owns the well, and it is your mess. Second, the mess was not an "accident," but the inevitable result of hubris and greed flowing straight from BP's executive suite.

"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean," Hayward told the media, trying to sidestep the fact that BP's mess was fast becoming America's worst oil calamity. Indeed, Tony coolly explained that the amount of oil spewing from the well "is tiny in relation to the total water volume." This flabbergasting comment came only two weeks before it was revealed that the amount of gushing oil was 19 times more than BP had been claiming.

Eleven oil workers are dead, thousands of Gulf Coast people have had their livelihoods devastated and unfathomable damage is being done to the gulf ecology. Imagine how the authorities would be treating the offender if BP were a person. It would've been put behind bars long ago -- if not on death row.

  Read Hightower: BP Is a Corporate Criminal
 May 26, 2010   Will the Obama Administration Allow Shell Oil to Do to Arctic Waters What BP Did to the Gulf?
by
Subhankar Bannerjee , AlterNet
Bad as the Gulf may be, a damaged Arctic will take far more time to heal. Do we want to risk it?

Bear with me.  I’ll get to the oil.  But first you have to understand where I’ve been and where you undoubtedly won’t go, but Shell’s drilling rigs surely will -- unless someone stops them.

Over the last decade, I’ve come to know Arctic Alaska about as intimately as a photographer can. I’ve been there many times, starting with the 14 months I spent back in 2001-2002 crisscrossing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- 4,000 miles in all seasons by foot, raft, kayak, and snowmobile, regularly accompanied by Inupiat hunter and conservationist Robert Thompson from Kaktovik, a community of about 300 on the Arctic coast, or with Gwich’in hunters and conservationists Charlie Swaney and Jimmy John from Arctic Village, a community of about 150 residents on the south side of the Brooks Range Mountains.

In the winter of 2002, Robert and I camped for 29 days at the Canning River delta along the Beaufort Sea coast to observe a polar bear den. It’s hard even to describe the world we encountered.  Only four calm days out of that near-month.  The rest of the time a blizzard blew steadily, its winds reaching a top speed of 65 miles per hour, while the temperature hovered in the minus-40-degree range, bringing the wind-chill factor down to something you’ll never hear on your local weather report: around minus 110 degrees.

If that’s too cold for you, believe me, it was way too cold for someone who grew up in Kolkata, India, even if we did observe the bear and her two cubs playing outside the den.

During the summer months, you probably can’t imagine the difficulty I had sleeping on the Alaskan Arctic tundra.  The sun is up 24 hours a day and a cacophony of calls from more than 180 species of birds converging there to nest and rear their young never ceases, day or “night.” Those birds come from all 49 other American states and six continents. And what they conduct in those brief months is a planetary celebration on an unimaginably epic scale, one that connects the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to just about every other place on Earth.

When you hear the clicking sound of the hooves of the tens of thousands of caribou that also congregate on this great Arctic coastal plain to give birth to their young -- some not far from where my tent was set up -- you know that you are in a place that is a global resource and does not deserve to be despoiled.

Millions of Americans have come to know the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, even if at a distance, thanks to the massive media attention it got when the Bush administration indicated that one of its top energy priorities was to open it up to oil and gas development. Thanks to the efforts of environmental organizations, the Gwich’in Steering Committee, and activists from around the country, George W. Bush fortunately failed in his attempt to turn the refuge into an industrial wasteland.

While significant numbers of Americans have indeed come to care for the Arctic Refuge, they know very little about the Alaskan Arctic Ocean regions -- the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea (which the refuge abuts).

I came to know these near-shore coastal areas better years later and discovered what the local Inupiats had known for millennia: these two Arctic seas are verdant ecological habitats for remarkable numbers of marine species, including endangered Bowhead whales and threatened polar bears, Beluga whales, walruses, various kinds of seals, and numerous species of fish and birds, not to mention the vast range of “non-charismatic” marine creatures we can’t see right down to the krill -- tiny shrimp-like marine invertebrates -- that provide the food that makes much of this life possible.

The Kasegaluk lagoon, which I spent much time documenting as a photographer, along the Chukchi Sea is one of the most important coastal treasures of the entire circumpolar north. It is 125 miles long and only separated from the sea by a thin stretch of barrier islands.  Five icy rivers drain into the lagoon, creating a nutrient-rich habitat for a host of species. An estimated 4,000 Beluga whales are known to calve along its southern edge, and more than 2,000 spotted seals use the barrier islands as haul-out places in late summer, while 40,000 Black Brant goose use its northern reaches as feeding grounds in fall.

In July 2006, during a late evening walk, wildlife biologist Robert Suydam and I even spotted a couple of yellow wagtails -- not imposing whales, but tiny songbirds.  Still, the sight moved me.  “Did you know,” I told my companion, “that some of them migrate to the Arctic from my home, India?”

Can Oil Be Cleaned Up under Arctic Ice?

Unfortunately, as you've already guessed, I’m not here just to tell you about the glories -- and extremity -- of the Alaskan Arctic, which happens to be the most biologically diverse quadrant of the entire circumpolar north.  I’m writing this piece because of the oil, because under all that life and beauty in the melting Arctic there’s something our industrial civilization wants, something oil companies have had their eyes on for a long time now.

If you’ve been following the increasing  ecological devastation unfolding before our collective eyes in the Gulf of Mexico since BP’s rented Deepwater Horizon exploratory drilling rig went up in flames (and then under the waves), then you should know about -- and protest -- Shell Oil’s plan to begin exploratory oil drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas this summer.

On March 31st, standing in front of an F-18 "Green Hornet" fighter jet and a large American flag at Andrews Air Force Base, President Obama announced a new energy proposal, which would open up vast expanses of America’s coastlines, including the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, to oil and gas development. Then, on May 13th, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed a victory to Shell Oil.  It rejected the claims of a group of environmental organizations and Native Inupiat communities that had sued Shell and the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS) to stop exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic seas.

Fortunately, Shell still needs air quality permits from the Environmental Protection Agency as well as final authorization from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar before the company can send its 514-foot drilling ship, Frontier Discoverer, north this summer to drill three exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea and two in the Beaufort Sea. Given what should by now be obvious to all about the dangers of such deep-water drilling, even in far less extreme climates, let’s hope they don’t get either the permits or the authorization.

On May 14th, I called Robert Thompson, the current board chair of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL). “I’m very stressed right now,” he told me. “We’ve been watching the development of BP’s oil spill in the Gulf on television. We’re praying for the animals and people there. We don’t want Shell to be drilling in our Arctic waters this summer.”

As it happened, I was there when, in August 2006, Shell’s first small ship arrived in the Beaufort Sea. Robert’s wife Jane caught it in her binoculars from her living-room window and I photographed it as it was scoping out the sea bottom in a near-shore area just outside Kaktovik.  Its job was to prepare the way for a larger seismic ship due later that month.

Since then, Robert has been asking one simple question: If there were a Gulf-like disaster, could spilled oil in the Arctic Ocean actually be cleaned up?

He’s asked it in numerous venues -- at Shell’s Annual General Meeting in The Hague in 2008, for instance, and at the Arctic Frontiers Conference in Tromsø, Norway, that same year. At Tromsø, Larry Persily -- then associate director of the Washington office of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and since December 2009, the federal natural gas pipeline coordinator in the Obama administration -- gave a 20-minute talk on the role oil revenue plays in Alaska’s economy.

During the question-and-answer period afterwards, Robert typically asked: “Can oil be cleaned up in the Arctic Ocean? And if you can’t answer yes, or if it can’t be cleaned up, why are you involved in leasing this land? And I’d also like to know if there are any studies on oil toxicity in the Arctic Ocean, and how long will it take for oil there to break down to where it’s not harmful to our marine environment?”

Persily responded: “I think everyone agrees that there is no good way to clean up oil from a spill in broken sea ice. I have not read anyone disagreeing with that statement, so you’re correct on that. As far as why the federal government and the state government want to lease offshore, I’m not prepared to answer that.  They’re not my leases, to be real honest with everyone.”

A month after that conference, Shell paid an unprecedented $2.1 billion to the MMS for oil leases in the Chukchi Sea. In October and December 2009, MMS approved Shell’s plan to drill five exploratory wells. In the permit it issued, the MMS concluded that a large spill was “too remote and speculative an occurrence” to warrant analysis, even though the agency acknowledged that such a spill could have devastating consequences in the Arctic Ocean’s icy waters and could be difficult to clean up.

It would be an irony of sorts if the only thing that stood between the Obama administration and an Arctic disaster-in-the-making was BP’s present catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

The First Oil Rush in Arctic Waters

This isn’t the first time that America’s Arctic seas have been exploited for oil.  If you want to know more, check out John Bockstoce’s book, Whales, Ice, and Men: The History of Whaling in the Western Arctic. Throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century, commercial whalers regularly ventured into those seas to kill Bowhead whales for whale oil, used as illuminant in lamps and as candle wax.  It was also the finest lubricating oil then available for watches, clocks, chronometers, and other machinery. Later, after petroleum was discovered, whale baleen became a useful material for making women’s corsets.

In 1848, when the first New England whaling ship arrived in Alaska, an estimated 30,000 Bowhead whales lived in those Arctic seas. Just two years later, there were 200 American whaling vessels plying those waters and they had already harvested 1,700 Bowheads.

Within 50 years, an estimated 20,000 Bowhead whales had been slaughtered. By 1921, commercial whaling of Bowheads ended as whale oil was no longer needed and the worldwide population of Bowheads had, in any case, declined to about 3,000 -- with the very survival of the species in question.

Afterwards, the Bowhead population began to bounce back.  Today, more than 10,000 Bowheads and more than 60,000 Beluga whales migrate through the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. The Bowhead is believed to be perhaps the longest-lived mammal.  It is now categorized as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and receives additional protection under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.  It would, of course, be unforgivably ironic if, having barely outlived the first Arctic oil rush, the species were to fall victim to the second.

Inupiat communities have been hunting Bowheads for more than two millennia for subsistence food. In recent decades, the International Whaling Commission has approved an annual quota of 67 whales for nine Inupiat villages in Alaska. This subsistence harvest is deemed ecologically sustainable and not detrimental to the recovery of the population.

My first experience of a Bowhead hunt in Kaktovik was in September 2001.  After the whale was brought ashore, everyone -- from infants to elders -- gathered around the creature to offer a prayer to the creator, and thank the whale for giving itself up to, and providing needed food for, the community. The muktuk (whale skin and blubber) was then shared among community members in three formal celebrations over the year to come -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Naluqatuk (a June whaling feast), two of which I attended.

In 2007, with writer Peter Matthiessen I visited Point Hope and Point Lay, two Inupiat communities of about 1,000 inhabitants on the Chukchi Sea coast. Point Hope is considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America. At Point Lay, we accompanied Bill and Marie Tracey on a 17-hour boat ride during a Beluga whale hunt. After the whales were beached, four generations gathered in a circle to offer prayer and thanks to the whales. In other words, for such Alaskan Inupiat communities whales are far more than food on the table.  Their cultural and spiritual identity is inextricably linked to the whales and the sea.  If Shell’s vessels head north, the question is: How long will these communities survive?

And it’s not just whales and the communities that live off them that are at stake.  Oil drilling, even at a distance, has already taken a toll in the Arctic.  After all, the survival of several Arctic species, including polar bears, walruses, seals, and sea birds, is seriously threatened by the widespread melting of sea ice, the result of climate change (caused, of course, by the use of fossil fuels).

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Interior listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. In addition, millions of birds use the near-shore Arctic waters, barrier islands, coastal lagoons, and river deltas for nesting and rearing their young in spring, and for feeding in summer before they start migrating to their southern wintering grounds. When the Arctic wind blows in one direction, nutrient-rich fresh water from the rivers is pushed out into the ocean; when it blows in the other direction, saltwater from the sea enters the lagoon. This mixing of fresh and saltwater creates a nutrient-rich near-shore ecological habitat for birds, many species of fish, and several species of seals.

All this is my way of saying that if oil drilling begins in the Arctic seas and anything goes wrong, the nature of the disaster in the calving, nesting, and spawning grounds of so many creatures would be hard to grasp.

Don’t Let Shell’s Drilling Ship Head North

With the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico ongoing, scientists are beginning to worry about hurricane season.  It officially begins on June 1st and doesn’t officially end until November 30th.  Any significant storm entering the Gulf would, of course, only exacerbate the disaster, moving oil all over the place, while hindering clean-up operations. Now, think about the Arctic Ocean, where blizzards and storms aren’t seasonal events, but an all-year-round reality and -- thanks (many scientists believe) to the effects of climate change -- their intensity is actually on the rise. Even in summer, they can blow in at 80 miles per hour, bringing any oil spill on the high seas very quickly into ecologically rich coastal areas.

On May 5th, Native Village of Point Hope and REDOIL joined 14 environmental organizations in sending a letter to Interior Secretary Salazar.  In light of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it urges him to reconsider his decision to allow Shell to proceed with its drilling plan. That same week, Secretary Salazar did finally order a halt to all new offshore drilling projects and asked Shell to explain how it could improve its ability to prevent a spill -- and, if one happens, to respond to it effectively in the Arctic.

On May 18th, Shell responded publicly that it would employ a pre-made dome to contain any leaking well and deploy chemical dispersants underwater at the source of any oil leak. From what I gather, both methods have been attempted by BP in the Gulf of Mexico.  The dome has so far failed, developing hydrates and becoming unusable before ever being placed over the leak. Scientists now believe that those toxic chemical dispersants have resulted in significant ecological devastation to coral reefs and could be dangerous to other sea life. None of this bodes well for the Arctic.

There is, I’m beginning to realize, another crisis we have to face in the Gulf, the Arctic, and elsewhere: How do we talk about -- and show -- what we can’t see? Yes, via video, we can see the gushing oil at the source of BP’s well a mile below the surface of the water, and thanks to TV and newspapers we can sometimes see (or read about) oil-slicked dead birds, dead sea turtles, and dead dolphins washing up on coastlines.

But what about all the other aspects of life under water that we can’t see, that won’t simply wash up on some beach, that in terms of our daily lives might as well be on Mars?  What’s happening to the incredible diversity of marine life inhabiting that mile-deep water, and what cumulative impact will all that still-spilling oil have on it, on the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico, and possibly -- in ways we may not yet be able to imagine -- on our lives?

These are questions that desperately need to be asked and answered before we allow oil ships to head north and drilling to spread to America’s Arctic Ocean. Keep in mind that there, unlike in the temperate and tropical oceans where things grow relatively fast, everything grows very slowly.  On the other hand, toxins left behind from oil spills will take far longer to break down in the frigid climate. Bad as the Gulf may be, a damaged Arctic will take far more time to heal.

Whatever we can’t see, what we already can see on the front pages of our newspapers and in the TV news should be more than enough to convince us not to take seriously the safety claims of giant oil companies desperate to drill under some of the worst conditions imaginable.  Send those drill rigs into Arctic waters and, sooner or later, you know just what you’ll get.

If the remaining permits are approved for Shell in the coming weeks, the Frontier Discoverer will be in the Chukchi Sea less than six weeks later.

President Obama and Secretary Salazar should stop this folly now.  It’s important for them to listen to those who really know what’s at stake, the environmental groups and human rights organizations of the indigenous Inupiat communities.  It’s time to put a stop to Shell’s drilling plan in America’s Arctic Ocean for this summer -- and all the summers to come.

  Read Will the Obama Administration Allow Shell Oil to Do to Arctic Waters What BP Did to the Gulf?
 May 22, 2010   Some Clarifications Regarding Kashmir Dispute
by Dr. Shabir Choudhry , Countercurrents.org

In order to justify the Tribal Invasion, which to many experts is the root cause of problems of people of Jammu and Kashmir, some pro Pakistan writers and agents of the Pakistani establishment claim that the Tribal Invasion was the result of mass killings of Muslims in Jammu. According to these claims they went there to help Muslims. Let us analyse that in light of historic evidence.

No doubt Muslims were killed in tens of thousands in Jammu province, but the Tribal Invasion had no link with that mass killing. Those who managed the Tribal Invasion tried to link it with the Jammu Massacre after the planned invasion proved disastrous.

Apart from the Valley and some other parts of the State, the whole of Sub Continent was suffering from communal violence at that time. Tens of thousands of non Muslim migrants entered Jammu from Sialkot and other parts of Pakistan and aggravated the situation there. The Muslims in Jammu were targeted and killed. This started in the third week of August 1947.

The Tribal Invasion started on 22 October 1947. If those who planned the Tribal Invasion sincerely wanted to help Muslims of Jammu, why did they remain quiet for nearly two months? Why didn’t they send Tribesmen and other armed men towards Jammu from Sialkot which is about 28 miles from there; or from the side of Bhimber – Kot Jaimel? Instead they sent the Tribesmen via Muzaaffarbad which has vast Muslim majority and had no direct link with Jammu.

Between third week of August 1947 and second week of October the government of Pakistan remained quiet as they didn’t want to annoy the Maharaja. Plight of Jammu Muslims was not their big concern, as territory of Kashmir was much closer to their hearts.

Until second week of October the government of Pakistan assumed that the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir would join Pakistan. When the Maharaja indicated that he wanted to remain independent the government of Pakistan decided to punish him and dethrone him.

It was because of this they sent the Tribesmen to Muzaffarabad even though there was no communal violence there; and Muslims were in majority there. They knew the road to Kashmiri capitol went through Muzaffarabad. They almost succeeded in their plan to get Kashmir; but the Tribesmen let them down who wasted three valuable days in killing, looting and raping in Baramula.

Jammu massacres were tragic and shameful in which Muslims were hunted and killed, and this must be condemned; but it would be historically wrong to link the Tribal Invasion with that. The Tribal Invasion was an attempt of Pakistan to conquer Kashmir and to punish the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir for disobeying the whims of the Pakistani rulers.

Was Kashmir given to Pakistan?

Some Pakistanis and pro Pakistan Kashmiris claim that Kashmir was given to Pakistan in 1947, and India with its superior force invaded Kashmir. All this is wrong. No one gave Kashmir to Pakistan. No one had this right to give Kashmir to Pakistan.

It was a desire of Pakistani rulers that Kashmir should become part of Pakistan. We have many desires and not all of them come true. My desire is to have an oil well in my village, but this is only a desire and it won’t come true; even if it did, Pakistani rulers will take over and expel me from there and take all the benefits as they did with Mangla Dam.

After 15 August 1947 the State of Jammu and Kashmir was independent. It had bilateral agreement with Pakistan, known as Standstill Agreement; and Kashmir was in a process to finalise a similar agreement with India.

Pakistan in clear breach of this Agreement stopped all the essential items like food, petrol etc going to Kashmir in the second week of October; and on 22 October Pakistan sent its armed officers and Tribesmen to conquer Kashmir. It resulted in killings of thousands of innocent people and rapes of our mothers and daughters.

The Maharaja of Kashmir was not expecting this breach of agreement and panicked. He asked help from India. India urged the Maharaja to sign an Instrument of Accession which was signed and accepted as ‘provisional’.

To us, the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed. However, the arrival of the Indian army in Kashmir, no matter how much we dislike it and condemn it because of human rights abuses, was a result of an agreement between the ruler of Kashmir and India. But the Pakistan army and the tribesmen moved in to the Kashmir territory without any agreement; and they continue to remain there.

Right of self determination or right of accession

Many people, either innocently or by design, try to confuse the Right of self determination with right of accession. The UN gave people of Jammu and Kashmir a right of self determination in its Resolution of 13 August 1948, which on request of Pakistan, was changed to right of accession to either India or Pakistan in the next resolution passed on 5th January 1949.

When people demand implementation of the UN resolutions, assuming that they will get right of self determination, in actual fact, they demand the right of accession which was given to them in the UN Resolution of 5th January 1949. Pakistani policy makers laugh at our innocence and urge us Kashmiris to keep on demanding this, as it goes in favour of Pakistan.

This controversy has been going on for decades now, as to who is responsible for non implementation of the UN Resolutions. Pakistani propaganda in this regard has been very effective, and a lot of Pakistanis and Kashmiris believe it was India who created obstacles in implementation of the UN Resolutions. Historic facts, however, do not support this contention.

In short, the UNCIP resolution of 13 August 1948 had three parts to it, namely a cease - fire, withdrawal of Pakistani troops and irregulars present inside the State. Once the UN was satisfied that the Pakistan has withdrawn, India had to withdraw a ‘bulk’ of her forces from the State. The third stage was a plebiscite.

First stage was completed with the cease fire on 1st January 1949. In the second stage, Pakistan had to withdraw her regular and irregular forces from Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, followed by a withdrawal of ‘bulk’ of the Indian forces. Only after completion of the second stage as explained in the UN Resolution, the third stage could be started?

To date Pakistan has not vacated these areas as demanded by the UN Resolution; but cleverly stated that India is not abiding by the Resolutions. Many Pakistanis and Kashmiris argue that even if Pakistan had vacated these areas India still would not have held the plebiscite. Here we are dealing with facts and not assumptions. It is difficult to give a definitive reply to this hypothetical situation - we cannot say with certainty that India would have held plebiscite or not.

Apart from that some religious extremists and agents of Pakistan try to confuse people by saying that because of the Two Nations Theory Kashmir should have become part of Pakistan. This is not true. The British Raj in India consisted of two units: British India and the Princely India. British India was directly ruled by the British through the Governor General, and the Princes were ruled indirectly by treaties.

The Two Nations Theory was applicable to the British India and not to the Princely States. There is ample evidence to prove this point, even Mohammed Ali Jinnah agreed with this. The Instrument of Accession was designed for the Princely States. Vast majority of the Princely States either willingly or by pressure joined India and some joined Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir was among those States which did not join either India or Pakistan, hence became independent.

Some agents of the Pakistani establishment, while defaming me accuse me that I am ‘satisfied’ with the ‘accession’ to India. This is nothing else but a white lie, which these agents and foot soldiers of agencies use in order to hide their nefarious designs on Kashmir.

All my written work and speeches are available on my blog and on blogs of many other people; and all of that is compiled and regularly published. I challenge all the critics to find one speech of mine or one article which gives slightest inclination that I am satisfied with the ‘accession’ with India. I have always called the ‘accession’ as ‘provisional’ and promoted unification and independence of the entire State. Anyone who is satisfied with the accession does not fight for unification and independence of the entire State; and I have done that throughout my life.

Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email:drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com
To view other articles see my blog:
www.drshabirchoudhry.blogspot.com

  Read Some Clarifications Regarding Kashmir Dispute
 May 14, 2010   The Rape Of The Earth And The Human Ego
by Mary Hamer M.D. , Countercurrents.org

*CLAIM: I believe humans are destabilizing the Earth's crust & predisposing the Earth to earthquakes & a shift in the Earth's orbit-- as a result of Oil drilling, Nuclear bomb testing, Mining, Dams, Ground Injections of Waste Products, Skyscrapers & other human destructive activities in the Earth's outer land mass. As an example, I believe humans are converting the relatively low seismic Gulf of Mexico to a seismic geologic location ? due to Oil drilling.  I am not a geologist; I am not a seismologist; I am not a volcanologist.  But, I am concerned Homo Sapien technological activities in the Earth's crust are putting locations such as the Gulf of Mexico at great risk for seismic events i.e. Earthquakes & other geologic events.

*WARNING by INDIADAILY.COM: Indiadaily.com states: ?Uncontrolled drilling of (the) Earth's crust ? will cause major problems. The Earth's crust is brittle ?According to a computer model, if these drilling projects below the ocean & ? on the continental crust are continued, it will cause ? complete destruction of the crust?. ?Some experts believe that (the) earth's crust weakening experiments should be ? monitored by the United Nations?. (1) If humans destroy the Earth's crust & expose or breach the mantle, What unknown risks do we face? ? Do we risk increased Earthquakes &/or Volcanic activity? Do we risk a shift in the Earth's axis? Do we risk a tilt in the Earth's axis?

*RAPE METAPHOR: Humans are raping the Earth. Rape is about Power, control & domination of another entity. Homo Sapiens are Penetrating, drilling, mining, blasting, damming, extracting & bombing the Earth's outer land mass -- As a sexual predator rapes it's victim & then leaves the victim for dead. & The Earth is hurting.

*BULLFIGHTING METAPHOR: Another metaphor to describe what humans are doing to the Earth is Bullfighting symbolism. Humans are goring the Earth's crust like a Matador spears a Bull to death during a Spanish Bullfight.

*HOMO SAPIEN AGENDA: Why are humans destroying the planet Earth's crust? In my opinion these human acts of exploitation of the Earth's outer land mass are due to:

#1. Human Overpopulation.

#2. Excessive Consumption of Natural resources.

#3. The human addiction to War & Military activities.

Homo Sapiens have excessive Self-interest & addictions to pleasure that drive human Overpopulation, the super-Consumption & depletion of natural resources and the creation of Pollution & waste ? At the expense of other Animals, Trees & the Earth. Also, the Homo Sapien desire for wars consumes significant resources including Oil. Humans lack: Compassion, proactive behavior & impulse control for the Earth due to Greedy, glutinous & carnal drives for Oil, coal, dams & nuclear bomb testing.

*EVIDENCE of Human Destabilization of the Earth's crust by: Nuclear Bombs, Oil-Well Drilling, Coal Mines, Natural Gas Production, Dams & Reservoirs, Skyscrapers, etc.: While many Anthropocene (2) discussions in the media are focused on Human destruction of the Biosphere (3) i.e. the Atmosphere, Hydrosphere (oceans) & the living organic Lithosphere (4) ? What about destructive human activities in the less sensational more inorganic solid component of the Earth's Crust? [Note: Synonym of Earthquake: Temblor (5), seismic activity or tremor. (6)] The Key Sections of this paper are: I. Nuclear Bomb Testing & Earthquakes, II. The 2004 Indonesian Earthquake, III. Oil & Gas Drilling & Earthquakes, IV. Coal Mining & Earthquakes, V. Dams, Reservoirs & Earthquakes, VI. Injection of Toxic Waste Products Underground, VII. Military Testing, VIII. Skyscrapers, IX. Miscellaneous Topics, X. Discussion.

*DEFINITION:

*THE EARTH'S CRUST: The Earth's Crust is the outermost layer of the Earth & it ranges from 5-70 km in depth. The thin parts are the oceanic crust (5-10 km) ? The thicker crust is the continental crust. [en.wikipedia.org: The Structure of the Earth.]

*?The crust thickness averages about 18 miles under the continents, but is only about 3 miles under the oceans. (The ocean's floor) is light & brittle & can break. ? It is where most earthquakes originate?. (7)

I. NUCLEAR BOMB TESTING & EARTHQUAKES:

*Whiteford studied earthquakes before nuclear testing & after nuclear testing: ?In the fifty years before testing, large earthquakes of more that 5.8 occurred at an average rate of 68 per year. With the advent of testing the rate rose ?suddenly & dramatically' to an average of 127 a year. The earthquake rate has almost doubled? as a result of nuclear bomb testing. Some studies warn that ?Nuclear tests are weakening the earth's crust triggering earthquakes & causing the earth's pole to shift?. Shigeyoshi Matsumae, President of Tokai Univ. Department of Aerospace Science states: ?Earthquakes & fluctuations of the earth's axis are related in a direct cause-and-effect to testing of nuclear devices?. ?In 1991, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation published Whiteford's findings in an article called: ?Is Nuclear Testing Triggering Earthquakes & Volcanic Activity?'?

(8)

*NUCLEAR WEAPONS & VOLCANIC ACTIVITY: Babst & Krieger state: ?In the early 1980's, the world had it's greatest volcanic activity in 70 years ? At this time, many nuclear tests were being carried out by the U.S. & U.S.S.R.?. (9)

II. THE INDIAN OCEAN EARTHQUAKE OF 2004:

*MILITARY TESTING & EARTHQUAKES: On 12/26/4 , a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean caused a tsunami & it killed more that 300,000 people. ?For some, the finger of blame doesn't point squarely at nature but at top secret Military testing in the waters of the Indian Ocean . The Egyptian weekly magazine Al-Osboa claimed that (this earthquake) ?was possibly' caused by an Indian nuclear experiment in which ?Israeli & American nuclear experts participated?. (10)

*NUCLEAR TESTING: Are humans causing earthquakes, volcanic activity & changes in the Earth's axis due to nuclear testing? Should nuclear agencies, governments & nuclear corporations conducting nuclear testing be held accountable for the negative effects of these tests on the planet Earth?

*CASCADE of ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS: SEISMIC TESTS of the OCEAN FLOOR for OIL & GAS, WHALE & DOLPHIN BEACHINGS & EARTHQUAKES:

?On 11/28/4 , Reuters reported that during a 3 day span 169 whales & dolphins beached themselves in Tasmania ?. Bob Brown, a senator in the Australian Parliament, said ?Sound Bombing' or seismic tests of ocean floors to test for Oil & gas had been recently carried out near the sites of the Tasmanian beachings??

?These (sound waves) are known to affect whales & dolphins, whose acute hearing & use of sonar is very sensitive?. ?

?On 12/24/4 , there was a magnitude 8.1 earthquake more than 800 km southeast of Tasmania near New Zealand .? ?

?Interestingly, the locations of the whale beachings over the previous 30 days correlates with the same general area struck by the 8.1 Australian earthquake. The seismic testing also took place in the same area. Then 2 days after the Australian tectonic plate shifted, the 9.0 earthquake shook the coast of Indonesia ?. (11)

*CONCLUSION: The Earth & it's animals & ecosystems are suffering due to Homo Sapien greed for Oil & gas and our addiction to consumer goods.

III. OIL-WELL DRILLING & EARTHQUAKES: e.g. the Gulf of Mexico .

*THE BRITISH PETROLEUM GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL: The British Petroleum oil drilling rig fire & oil spill was originally called an ?Incident? by the U.S. government ? The truth is that this man-made disaster is a major catastrophic event for the Gulf of Mexico & the world.

*THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION's Response to the BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: Shannon Jones in her Gulf Oil Spill article states: ?The response of the Obama administration to the (BP Gulf of Mexico) disaster is indicative of it's prostration before the powerful corporate & financial interests it serves?. ?Following the oil rig explosion the Obama administration remained Silent & indifferent?. ?The White House continued it's silence as the scale of the disaster widened, continuing it's calls for expanded offshore drilling?. Downplaying the significance of the unfolding environmental catastrophe, (President Obama) merely called the oil spill an ?Incident'?. (12)

*SAFETY EXEMPTIONS: The U.S. exempted British Petroleum from Safety Study: ?The ( U.S. ) Interior Department exempted BP's calamitous Gulf of Mexico (Oil) drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact study. ?. Three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely?. (13)

*RESPONSIBILITY: Who is Responsible for this Environmental Catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico ? British Petroleum, Halliburton, Trans Ocean & Cameron International are responsible for the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the destruction of Gulf of Mexico ecosystems near Louisiana, the damage to the fishing industry and the killing of birds & animals including dolphins & pelicans -- & the risk for a Seismic event in the Gulf of Mexico. I feel BP, Halliburton, TransOcean & Cameron International failed to apply the Precautionary Principle in their Deepwater Horizon Oil well operation in the Gulf of Mexico ? especially with respect to safety measures such as the Blowout Preventer. (14) (15)

* GULF of MEXICO OIL RIGS : Number of Violations of the Earth's crust in the Gulf of Mexico : ?The number of U.S. (oil rigs) in the Gulf (of Mexico ) is roughly 4,000?. (16) *DEEPEST OIL WELL: The Depth of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Well: The Deepwater Horizon was ?The deepest oil & gas well ever drilled with a vertical depth of 35,050 feet (10,680 m)? (about 6.6 Miles). (17)

*OIL WELLS CAUSE EARTHQUAKES: ?Pumping out underground crude contracts the rock in oil reservoirs & sets up large pressure changes over short distances?. (18) Segall states: ?Seismicity is correlated in space & time with production from some oil & gas fields?. (19)

*HUMAN-TRIGGERED EARTHQUAKES IN SEISMICALLY INACTIVE AREAS: ?The rate of seismicity in the Gulf of Mexico is relatively low?. (20) Klose states: ?Human-triggered earthquakes are particularly dangerous ? if they occur in seismically inactive areas?. (21) Question: If a human-induced earthquake occurs in a low seismicity area such as the Gulf of Mexico , will such an earthquake be as ?dangerous? as Klose warns?

* GULF of MEXICO 2006 EARTHQUAKE: In 2006 a ?Magnitude 6.0 temblor, centered ? southeast of New Orleans , Louisiana , occurred. ?Powerful earthquakes are rare but not unheard of in the Southeast U.S. ? Most earthquakes take place near the edges of the tectonic plates ?The recent Gulf of Mexico earthquake ? occurred in the middle of a plate?. (22) Question: Was this rare 2006 Gulf of Mexico earthquake related to oil drilling in the Gulf?

*GULF of MEXICO POLLUTION: Secondary Effects of Damage to the Gulf of Mexico's Earth's Crust: The Gulf of Mexico is becoming a Toilet, a Sewer of man-made pollution from: The BP Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, Debris from land sources (including waste disposal facilities, waste water treatment plants & post-storm runoff from urban & agricultural sites) (23), Tanker debris & chemical pollutants (24), Mississippi River run-off including Dead zones & Red tide algae blooms (25), (26), etc.. Also, University studies identify: ?Flame retardant materials in ? (the) Gulf of Mexico ? & ?Human & animal feces in the Gulf of Mexico ?. (27)

* HAITI EARTHQUAKE: Was the Haiti Earthquake near the Port-au-Prince of January 12, 2010 with a magnitude of about 7 (28) -- affected by Oil drilling in the Gulf of Gonave ?

*CONCLUSION: Humans are penetrating the Gulf of Mexico with oil wells to satisfy modern society's addiction to fossil fuels ? While at the same time Homo Sapiens are putting the Gulf of Mexico at risk for earthquakes & polluting this ecosystem.

*NATURAL GAS-INDUCED EARTHQUAKES:

*Klose states ?Three of the biggest human-caused earthquakes of all time ? were a trio that occurred in Uzbekistan 's Gazli natural gas field between 1976 & 1984?. (29)

IV. COAL MINE-INDUCED EARTHQUAKES:

*?Klose has identified more than 200 human-caused temblors, mostly in the past 60 years. ?They were rare before World War II' (Klose) said. ?Most were caused by mining'?. (30)

?The most powerful earthquake in Australian history (1989) magnitude 5.6 ? was caused by human beings!? ?That quake was triggered by changes in tectonic forces caused by 200 years of under ground coal mining, according to a study by Christian D. Klose of Columbia University 's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades , New York ?. ?'Klose has indentified more than 200 human-caused trembles, mostly in the past 60 years. ?There were rare before World War II'? (Klose) said. Klose states ??Most were caused by mining ? but nearly one-third came from reservoir construction. Oil & gas production can also trigger earthquakes'?. (31)

*OTHER MINING ACTIVITIES & EARTHQUAKES: Lendman quotes Klose as stating: ?Mining activites disturb the ? stress in the upper continental crust & can trigger earthquakes?; Lendman goes on to cite past examples of human-induced earthquakes including: Potash mining, copper mining & ore mining. (32)

V. RESERVOIR-INDUCED EARTHQUAKES:

*The Koyna Dam & the Koyna Reservoir in India were built & filled with water in 1962 & 1963, respectively. In 1967 ?An earthquake with an approx. magnitude of 7.0 shook the region in & around the dam?. ?The area was believed to be seismically stable prior to this event. Most experts are convinced that this earthquake was reservoir-induced. The concept of a reservoir-induced (or dam-induced) earthquake is that the enormous pressure of the water behind the dam actually causes shifting in the underlying earth, eventually leading to increased seismicity?. (33)

* Hoover Dam: ?Perhaps the most famous example (of Reservoir Loading & Earthquakes) in the United States is that of Hoover Dam. Hundreds of earthquakes occurred as the water level rose. ? The level of seismicity ? fluctuated in direct response to (the) water level. ? The largest (shock) was about magnitude 5 ? The area had no record of being seismically active?. (34)

*Regarding China 's Zipingpu Dam & the subsequent earthquake in 2008, Lendman quotes Science magazine as stating: ?The added weight (affected the) fault, weakening it & increased the stress tending to rupture (it). The effect was 25 times that of a year's worth of natural stress loading from tectonic motions. When the fault did finally rupture, it moved just the way the reservoir loading had encouraged it to (move)?. (35)

VI. INJECTION of WASTE PRODUCTS INTO THE GROUND & EARTHQUAKES:

*Lendman states: In 1961, ?(the Army) injected ?Napalm toxic waste into the earth's crust (in the Rocky Mountains ) ? (that) likely trigger(ed) regional earthquakes?. Lendman quotes seismologist Dave Wolney as stating: If you are doing deep well injection, you are altering the stress on the underlying rocks & at some point, (it) will be relieved by generating an earthquake?. (36)

*CARBON DIOXIDE CAPTURE & STORAGE & Climate Change Management: ?During the 1950's, it was discovered that injection of fluids (into the earth) at high pressures could cause small-to-medium sized earthquakes. ? Guidelines have been developed to prevent injection-induced microseismicity. Now, regulatory agencies limit injection rates & pressures to avoid unintentional hydrofracturing. Microseismic monitoring is often done (during a project) to establish operational parameters for injection. Carbon dioxide storage projects would operate under similar guidelines (to minimize the risk of earthquakes). (37)

VII. U.S. MILITARY HAARP TESTING: Although the HAARP program involves primarily the atmosphere with secondary effects on the Earth's crust, it is another illustration of potential man-made earthquakes that can cause damage to the Earth. ?A number of independent researchers have warned? that the Military's HAARP (High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) ?Operation has a secret agenda including weather modification, mind control, hi-tech military experiments & the triggering of earthquakes?. (38)

VIII. LARGE BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION:

*Lendman states regarding Ravilious' UK Guardian article titled: ?Skyscraper May Cause Earthquakes?: The Taipei #101 (building) in Taiwan , the world's tallest building weighing 700,000 tons: ?The building's stress may have reopened an ancient fault. Before it's construction, the Taipei basin was very stable ? Thereafter, ?The number of earthquakes increased?. (39), (40).

IX. MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS:

*THE LINK BETWEEN EARTHQUAKES & VOLCANIC ACTIVITY:

?New evidence showing that very large earthquakes can trigger an increase in activity at nearby volcanoes ? has been uncovered by Oxford University scientists?. (41)

*VOLCANIC ACTIVITY & VIOLATIONS of THE EARTH'S CRUST: Question: If Volcanic activity is defined as: ?An opening or rupture in (the Earth's) surface or crust, (through) which ? hot magma, ash & gases ? escape? (42)? & Volcanoes & Earthquakes are strongly related (43) -- & There is proof of human-induced earthquakes [Material presented in this paper.] --Then why wouldn't Oil drilling or other violations of the Earth's crust predispose the Earth not only to Earthquakes, but also to increased Volcanic activity ? Or other yet unknown disasters?

*CHILEAN EARTHQUAKE in 2010 & the SHIFT IN the EARTH'S AXIS:

Although there is no evidence that the Chilean earthquake was human-induced, this earthquake demonstrates the potential of earthquakes to cause tsunamis & to affect the earth's orbit.

*?The 8.8 earthquake in ( Chile ) ? has caused considerable changes throughout the world. No only was there a tsunami some 6,700 miles away on the other side of the ocean, but the force of the earthquake ? caused the earth to shift 3 inches off her axis?. (44)

-- ?Which will shorten our day by a little over 1 microsecond?. (45) Note: ?The climate & weather patterns are determined by the earth's tilt & not rotation. The quake didn't knock the earth off it's current tilt?. (46)

*GLOBAL WARMING & TILT OF THE EARTH'S AXIS: While global warming generally involves the atmosphere, it's effects upon the ice sheets of the Earth's crust classifies it as a relevant topic for discussion in this paper. ?Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory say that global warming could actually alter the tilt of our planet's axis due to instability from (& redistribution of the Earth's weight from) melting ice sheets?. (47)

*THE HUMAN EGO: The goal of the Kola Superdeep Borehole was ?To drill as deep as possible into the Earth's crust? -- about 7 & ½ miles deep into the Earth. It is the deepest hole ever drilled -- & For what purpose? The human Ego? (48)

*NUMBER OF TOTAL PENETRATIONS OF THE EARTH'S CRUST: Due to All Human Exploitative Activities: It is difficult to quantify the total number of all human destructive events in the Earth's outer land mass. Here is a sample of numbers of exploitations of the Earth's crust: U.S. Oil wells in 2006: over 500,000; Chinese large Dams: over 22,000; France: 160 underground Nuclear tests; China : 22 underground nuclear tests; India : 6 underground nuclear tests; Pakistan : 6 underground nuclear tests. (49), (50), (51)

X. DISCUSSION:

*PENETRATING, DRILLING, MINING, EXTRACTING & BOMBING: Given the increasing Human population, the demand for Natural resources such as Oil & Technology ? Humans are destroying the Earth's crust. As we keep penetrating, drilling, mining, extracting & bombing the Earth's crust, I believe that humans are weakening the Earth's outer land mass. Also, nuclear bomb explosions underground & in the oceans are weakening the Earth's crust.

*EARTHQUAKE & VOLCANIC RISK: As we weaken the Earth's crust, we are increasing the risk of earthquakes & secondarily volcanic activity.

*THE EARTH'S AXIS: These earthquakes then have a potential to cause a shift in the Earth's axis. Climate change is also affecting the make-up of the Earth's crust & hence the tilt of the Earth's axis.

*CONSENT: We all give our consent to the Governments & Corporations to abuse the Earth. We are all responsible for this Rape of the Earth. But, the masses of people also have the power to withdraw their consent for this Violence to the Earth.

*VIOLATION of the Earth's Crust below a Sacred NATIVE AMERICAN Site: The Black Hills of South Dakota are a sacred site for the Lakota Nation -- & yet the Black Hills are being exploited for ?Scientific purposes? deep below the Earth's surface in the old Homestake gold mine. ?Far below the Black Hills of South Dakota, crews are building the world's deepest underground science lab(oratory) ? -- A place uniquely suited to scientists' quest for mysterious particles known as dark matter?. One person states regarding this Black Hills scientific laboratory: (It) ?Tickles us pink?. (52) Are the Native Americans ?Tickled pink? about this scientific project located about a mile below one of their religious sites? Are U.S. scientists placing a higher value on science & dark matter than on Respecting the Earth's crust & a sacred Native American site at Black Hills ?

CONCLUSION:

*THE HUMAN EGO: We are Not a wise species as our Homo Sapien name suggests. Rather we are Homo Violent. We humans do Not live in harmony with the Earth ? Rather we Homo Sapiens are separate from the Earth.  We are enemies of the Earth. We are predators. We seek to Dominate, conquer & destroy: the Earth, the Native Americans, the Tibetan people, the Mustangs, the Eagles, the Dolphins, the Trees, etc.. We lust for Power & Control.  Why?  The HUMAN EGO -- It is a very dangerous thing.  & I Apologize to the Universe for the Human Ego out to the 10K-1 Galaxy.

Namaste. Salaam. Shalom. Shanti. Peace.

Thank you. Respectfully, Mary Hamer, M.D.

REFERENCES:

1. www.indiadaily.com: Drilling Earth's Crust to Break into the Earth's Mantle?. Staff Reporter. 4/8/5 .

2. en.wikitionary.org: Anthropocene Definition.

3. www.google.com: Definitions of Biosphere on the Web: Referencing: www.scienceshopswales.org.uk.

4. www.google.com: Lithosphere Definitions.

5. www.google.com: Referencing: en.wiktionary.org: Temblor Definition.

6. en.wikipedia.org: Earthquake.

7. www.livescience.com: Hole Drilled to Bottom of the Earth's Crust. By Robert Roy Britt. 4/7/5 .

8. www.ratical.org : #1. Nuclear Bomb Tests & Their Relationship to Earthquakes Planetwide. Silicon Graphics. 1992. #2. Bomb Tests & Earthquakes Section: British, German, Japanese & Canadian studies & Shigeyoshi Matsumae, President Tokai Univ. Yoshio Kato, Dept. of Aerospace Science. #3. Killer Quakes & Bomb Tests Section.

9. www.wagingpeace.org: Consequences of Using Nuclear Weapons. By Babst, Dean. & Krieger, David. 1997. Referencing: Kerr, Richard A. ?Long Valley is on Low Simmer for Now?, Science. June 1984.

10. www.newdawnmagazine.com. Jeffrey, Jason. Earthquakes: Natural or Man-Made?

11. www.newdawnmagazine.com. Jeffrey, Jason. Earthquakes: Natural or Man-Made?

12. Jones, Shannon. Gulf Oil Spill Threatens Economic, Environmental Catastrophe. www.countercurrents.org. 4/30/10 .

13. www.washingtonpost.com: Eilperin. U.S. Exempted BP's Gulf of Mexico . 5/5/10 .

14. en.wikipedia.org: Precautionary Principle Definition.

15. www.aolnews.com: Oil Spill Points to Rig Fail-Safe as Utter Failure. 4/30/10 .

16. www.csmonotor.com: Science of Oil Rigs: Surviving Gulf Storms. By Kris Axtman. 7/26/5 .

17. en.wikipedia.org: Deepwater Horizon. History. Referencing: TransOcean. 9/2/9 . Deepwater Horizon Drills World's Deepest Oil & Gas Well? Press release.

18. www.thefreelibrary.com: Oil Wells Cause Earthquakes. Gale Group. Referencing Paul Segall. Earthquakes triggered by fluid extraction. Geology: October 1989. V 17. Pg 042-046.

19. Segall, Paul. Earthquakes triggered by fluid extraction. Geology. October 1989.

20. www.clas.ufl.edu: Earthquakes in the Gulf of Mexico .

21. news.nationalgeographic.com: Coal Mining Causing Earthquakes.

22. news.nationalgeographic.com: Rare Earthquake Shakes Gulf of Mexico. By Richard Lovett. National Geographic News. 9/11/6 .

23. www.gulfbase.org: Pollution. 2004.

24. www.gulfbase.org: Pollution. 2004.

25. en.wikipedia.org: Gulf of Mexico : Pollution Section.

26. www.tulane.edu: The Louisiana Environment: The Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone & Red Tides by Elizabeth Carlisle.

27. pollution-control.suite101.com. Unhealthy Water Pollution in Coastal Oceans. By Bernard Nelson. 7/31/9 .

28. www.foxnews.com: Fast Facts: Haiti Earthquake.

29. www.wired.com: People Can Cause Earthquakes. By Adam Rogers. 1/5/7 . Referencing Richard A. Lovert's article at National Geographic Online.

30. news.nationalgeographic.com. Coal Mining Causing Earthquakes.

31. www.wired.com: People Can Cause Earthquakes. By Adam Rogers. 1/5/7 . Referencing Richard A. Lovert's article at National Geographic Online.

32. www.thepeoplesvoice.org: Haiti 's Earthquake: Natural or Engineered. By Lendman, Stephen. 1/27/10 .

33. www.eco.lass.org : 1967 Earthquake at Koyna Dam , India . By Adrienne Catone-Huber & Jennifer Smith.

34. www.gi.alaska.edu. by Larry Gedney. 10/21/85 .

35. www.thepeoplesvoice.org: Haiti 's Earthquake: Natural or Engineered. By Lendman, Stephen. 1/27/10 .

36. www.thepeoplesvoice.org: Lendman, Stephen. Haiti 's Earthquake: Natural or Engineered. 1/27/10 .

37. Benson, Sally. Carbon Dioxide Capture & Storage. Lawrence Berkeley National laboratory. 4/2/6 .

38. www.newdawnmagazine.com. Jeffrey, Jason. Earthquakes: Natural or Man-Made?

39. www.thepeoplesvoice.org: Lendman, Stephen. Haiti 's Earthquake: Natural or Engineered. 1/27/10 .

40. tenthmil.com: Waking a Sleeping Giant: Human-Induced Earthquakes. By Johnny Kilroy. 1/21/10 . Referencing Science Magazine 2006.

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44. www.associatedcontent.com: Chile Earthquake, Earth's Rotation & Big Changes. Meg G. 3/4/10 .

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47. inhabitat.com. Global Warming Could Actually Tilt the Earth's Axis. By Ariel Schwartz. 8/21/9 .

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49. www.worldoil.com: United States Producing Oil Wells.

50. www.infoplease.com: Country with the Most Dams?

51. en.wikipedia.org: Nuclear Weapons Testing.

52. www.nydailynews.com: Dark Matter Research Excites Scientists. By Dirk Lammers. 6/24/9 .

  Read The Rape Of The Earth And The Human Ego
 May 5, 2010   A Letter To the American people From The Heart Of A Muslim Woman
by Nahida , Countercurrents.org
Poetry For Palestine
To the American people who support Israel and its wars

Dear friends

I am writing this letter to you because of the devastation that is caused by your government in our lands, and because of the immanent threat to world peace that I see your government pushing for, again.

The way things are moving now, I foresee great danger, and terrible risk to peace and security to the whole world.

I am writing to you because I care very much about humanity and I love our planet, with all its inhabitants.

I am writing to you because I believe in civilised dialogues, where people can express themselves freely, without being patronized, silenced, ridiculed, imprisoned or even killed for their beliefs.

I am writing to you to build bridges not walls, and to take you on a short journey so you may see things from our perspective.

I am writing to you for the purpose of advancing more realistic and humanistic understanding and for trying together to achieve a more tolerant and peaceful world.

I see systematic efforts by most of your media pundits, to work endlessly at dehumanizing Muslims and their faith, and I see that as pre-emptive justification for more military attacks against more innocent civilians, aiming at our total destruction.

When a group of people (Muslims in this case) are seen as intrinsically evil, and when their faith and beliefs are portrayed as violent, malicious, and aggressive, then, anything done to those people is acceptable and defensible.

Without talking to one another, and without trying sincerely to put extra effort to understand the other, we will all be losers, and we’ll be driving our beautiful world towards catastrophe and devastation… that breaks my heart, as a mother, and as a human being.

Is it too much to ask “to open our hearts and our minds and listen to what the other has to say” ?

Can we learn something from little children; where prejudice and bigotry are non-existent ?

Words in your media are used and manipulated to imply deceptive meanings, so you are kept in a state of constant fear, watching over your shoulders in panic from "Islamist monsters bent on invading and destroying you", never mind how absurd and ridiculous such allegations in reality are.

The zionist-controlled media has hijacked our language, and vocabulary and disfigured our religion

They drilled in people’s heads that:

Islam is terror

Jihad is holy war

Fatwa is death penalty

Muslim women are the manifestation of oppression, uneducated, forced into wearing the veil, and enslaved by their men.

Muslim men are fanatics, cruel, sadistic wife beaters

Muslim children are terrorists in the making

When a c rime is committed, the criminal is a criminal, but when a Muslim commits a crime, even a petty one, he is immediately labelled a "Muslim criminal" irrespective the fact that his faith opposes such crimes. A Muslim criminal committing a crime becomes "a Muslim terrorist", and he committed the crime because he is a Muslim and his faith teaches evil!

If only Americans could understand that what is published in US medias and blogs, is not the truth, but as much a lie as when your bankers all told you could borrow almost limitless and never suffer any economic consequences.

The hard facts about Islam and Muslims, are different, and the vast majority of Muslims would not fit to this ugly stereotype.

Islam is peace: the root of the word Islam is Salam, which is one of the Holy Names of God. Salam is Arabic for Peace. The meaning of the word Islam is beautiful as Islam is Arabic for bring into Peace.

The word Salam is used for greeting others. Saying "as'Salam alaikum" to someone means "Peace be upon you!"

When a Muslim greets another person with "Peace be upon you," the greeter is in fact proclaiming a contract of Peace with the other person. Hence, if the greeter has non-peaceful intentions towards the other person, he would be engaging in hypocrisy, which is one of the Major Sins in Islam!

“When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. God takes careful account of all things” Quran (4:86)

Jihad is an Arabic word that means the endeavour to do your best to make this world a better one:

Any effort to help achieve that is called jihad, or struggle, going to school to learn is a form of jihad, being a mother rearing children is jihad, spreading knowledge through teaching or writing is jihad, treating patients is jihad, looking after sick parents is jihad, also defending yourself when attacked is jihad, and struggling against oppression is jihad.

Any action that one undertakes in order to bring good to mankind is jihad

Life with all its ups and downs is a jihad

The highest form of Jihad, however, is the inner Jihad, which is the Major Jihad that means the never ending inner struggle against one’s arrogance, greed, and selfishness in order to achieve the Generous Temperaments.

The Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him, declared "Verily I was sent to this World to define (and live by) the Generous Temperament."

According to him, the codes of Generous Temperament (makarem elakhlaq) are seven:

“Pardoning those who have oppressed you

Giving to those who have deprived you

Connecting with those who have shunned you

Benefiting those who have abused you

Counselling those who have deceived you

Forgiving those who have maligned you

Forbearing with those who have angered you.”

Contrary to common beliefs, the concept of holy war does NOT exist in Islam; it is a European concept from the days of the crusaders, and has absolutely no equivalent in Islam, it does however in the minds of the new crusaders as it seems from so many video clip we have seen, of your hypocrite politicians and zionist "evangelists", and in the sick minds of those who invaded our lands and murdered our people.

To translate the concept of Holy War into Arabic is almost impossible. It would sound something like “Harb Muqaddassah” which does not exist in Arabic, even the concept of it is unheard of, never used in spoken or written language, as it is too contrary to Islamic principles and values !

How misleading and dishonest is the translation and misconception of jihad as a holy war then!

By writing this, all I am doing is reclaiming my language back.

Fatwa is nothing but an expression of an opinion by an informed person:

Being what it is, it is not for any one to enforce their “fatwa” / opinion upon anyone.

There is no hierarchy system, no priesthood, no church institution, and no clergy in Islam; and that is something totally misunderstood, and rarely ever mentioned.

Any Muslim is entitled to make his/ her opinion from their understanding of the Qur’anic text.

If those opinions are expressed by some knowledgeable person, they are called “fatwa”.

All this falsification, distortion, and misrepresentation of Islam (deliberate or not) if not addressed and sorted out urgently, logically and with open-mindedness and compassion, then our world is doomed!

Being a Muslim woman and knowing exactly what Islam teaches, I feel dismayed and heartbroken at the image that you are made to believe as a true representation of us and of our faith

Now, if I come to you and say: “well, no in fact Islam teach this or does not teach that” would you take my word for it?

Of course not, so, I “quote” some of the specific teachings in order to reflect-precisely- the position of Islam, from the most authentic source to Muslims: the Qur’an.

Democracy and Freedom of choice:

“No compulsion in religion or ideology” (2:256).

“Say: O you that reject Faith! I worship not that which you worship, and you do not worship that which I worship... To you be your Way, and to me mine”. (109:1-6)

“We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will)”. (76:3)

“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity”. (3:104)

"And their affairs are (conducted) through consultation among themselves." (42:38)

“If any one does a righteous deed, it ensures to the benefit of his own soul; if he does evil, it works against (his own soul). In the end will you (all) be brought back to your Lord”. (45; 15)

Relations with others:

'O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honoured of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in righteousness. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware'. (49.13)

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are Signs for those who know”.(30-22)

Women’s’ issues

“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions”. (16-97)

“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey God and His Messenger. On them will God pour His mercy: for God is Exalted in power, Wise”. (9:71)

“If any do deeds of righteousness, be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them”. (3-124)

“Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it”. (99:7-8)

“It is He who created you from a single soul, and made its mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love)”. (7:189)

“And among His Signs is this: He created for you mates from among yourselves that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He plants love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect. 30-21

“For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise; for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward”. (33:35)

War and peace:

The general rule is:

Fighting is only allowed in case of self-defence, against Aggression (odwan) or Persecution (fitnah).

'You may fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not initiate aggression. God does not love transgressors.' (2.190)

"O believers, be you guardians of justice, witness for God. Let not a group's hostility to you cause you to deviate from justice; be equitable - that is nearer to being God-conscious." (5:8)

“To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight back), because they are wronged; and verily, God is most powerful for their aid; (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,-(for no cause) except that they say, our Lord is God”. (22:39-40)

“God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and antagonism: He advices you, that ye may be reminded.” (16-90)

"No soul shall be made to bear the burden (liability) of another." (35:18)

“But show them forgiveness, and say "Peace!" and soon shall they know!” (43; 89)

“The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God; for (God) loveth not those who are wrong-doers”. (42:40)

'If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things.' (8.61)

“But God does call to the Home of Peace” (10-25)

“Ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the desires (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do. Thus, have We made of you a nation justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves” (2-143)

“Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” (7:199)

“It may well be that God will bring about love (and friendship) between you and those with whom you are now at odds.” (60:7)

“Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel evil with what is best: if you do so, he who is your enemy will become a close friend.” (41.34)

**********************

I am only a mother, and I am also a person who detests violence, war, weapons, killings…etc

I am sick to death with war and violence

And I wish what I have seen and what my people had seen on nobody.

Centuries of imperialism, and illiteracy followed by the brutal uprooting of a whole nation from their homeland in order to give it away to people from other parts of the world just because of their Jewish-ness, and to free the European’s mind of the guilt of the holocaust (which we –Muslims and Palestinians- had nothing to do with, but ended up having to pay the price for Europe’s crimes)

Year after year, decade after decade of injustice towards the Palestinians, accompanied by unequivocal support from USA and Europe to the Zionist entity, led the Muslims to resent the hypocritical policies of the Western world.

This blind support of the Zionists was/ is perceived by Muslims as an act of aggression and grave injustice.

Yet those fundamental basic facts are not represented to you, what you led to believe is that Muslims hate your freedom, your democracy, they are jealous of your way of life, and they hate peace… what a load of nonsense!!!

Muslims feel oppressed and persecuted by YOUR government, its unjust policies, its unconditional support of the terrorist zionist regime and its criminal wars and aggression

They feel that justice had been denied to them, and that they have been constantly under attack.

Exposed to so much injustice and oppression it is only natural that people would have resentments and would look for ways to liberate themselves from oppression and modern slavery, which is precisely the case in many Muslim countries nowadays.

And instead of trying to right the wrongs you’ve done over decades of oppression and injustice, what do you do?

You go yet again and attack more Muslim countries; you bomb Afghanistan and Iraq reducing them to rubble! And go on to threaten Iran with nukes!

You kill over a million more!

And what is more ridiculous is that you are doing so whilst claiming that you’re doing it for the sake of liberating us from our backwardness, ignorance, and our fanatics…

What are you thinking? Do you think we are idiots?

We are sick to death with your interference in our lands, and our countries

We are sick to death with your domination and your attitude of superiority towards us and the rest of the world.

We are sick to death of you trying to impose on us your ways, your thinking, your problems and your solutions.

Imperialism has no room in the future of our world, and most certainly, that must include thought imperialism.

WE WANT TO BE FREE

We want to be free in our homelands

We want to be able to exercise our rights to choose our representatives and our governments

We want our human rights that enable live peacefully and with dignity with no threat of bombing or ethnic cleansing

We want our right to go home and not to live forever as refugees

We want our right to believe in God or not to believe if we so wish to

We want our right to be equal human beings with equal value to our lives

We want to be free to solve the ills of our societies in our own ways not by copy-pasting your experiences and your solutions.

It’s not good enough to try to justify the horrors that you’ve inflected and still inflecting upon us, by dehumanizing us and belittling our faith. Period

Where to go from there?

Yes indeed, where to go from there?

Is there a way out?

As an optimist, yes of course there is always a way out:

To begin with, you must start with opening your hearts and minds to see us as equal human beings, worthy of life, love, and freedom.

Remove your prejudice against us, and with sincere efforts open dialogues with us, not to tell us what should we do or how should we think, or whom to elect as our leaders, but to listen to us as your equals in humanity. A dialogue is a two way system.

It’s also good to start educating yourselves a bit more about us, not taking your information from Hollywood but from us and our authentic sources.

We have so much to tell you, so much to share, so much good we can offer you and the world.

And that is not exaggeration; that is simply the truth. Because we are humans just like you. We all have so much to offer the world.

May I give some suggestion towards a solution?

Why not end your occupation of our lands?

Why not stop supporting those puppet regime and dictators your successive governments have forces upon Arabs for the sake of "Nation Building" which is the most heinous word one can imagine, and why not continuing by accepting our FREELY elected representatives, whom we chose through democracy ?

Why not visit and even come and live in Muslim countries without your army uniform, and without offering your bombs and missiles as gifts?

Why not drop your arms and come to us with open arms rather than coming carrying machine guns and riding offensive tanks?

Instead of pushing like crazy towards Armageddon; why not gently, lovingly, tenderly and with compassion, why not embrace a world of justice, tolerance and respect, as Jesus “peace be upon him” would’ve done if he was alive today?

Why not attentively listen to each other? Why not dream and work for a more peaceful world built upon diversity and richness of multiplicity, a world where humanity is celebrated and variety is rejoiced, a world where all are respected, where all are free to think, to believe, and to live their own way without infringing on each other, or imposing our ways upon each other?

As of now, the world already can see that the American dream is a nightmare, your s-elected and corrupt governments have made your country the most loathed country, and they have robbed you exactly as they robbed those "Arabs out there"

If you look more vigilantly, more attentively, and closer to home, you will find the REAL terrorist worthy of your alarm and disgust, are the ones amongst your midst, ruling your country, robbing your resources, thriving on your poverty, rejoicing your misery.

So why not transform this mad nightmare and ideologically driven devastation, back into a dream…. a reality?

Who is there?

Oh human

Can’t you see!

I am precisely like you

I don’t like being humiliated

I am no one’s doormat

I’m person in my own right

When I was born

I was born innocent

Happy and free

And I want to live

A normal life

With dignity

Wouldn’t you?

I realise there is a dawn

Waiting to be born

And that… after hardship… passes away

Ease will come to life… very soon

But… they’ve inflected so much

Pain and cruelty

Upon this little girl

And upon her homeland

The world is watching

Eyes open wide

In bewilderment

And disbelief

“What we are watching

Is a fiction movie

It’s not really true”

While in exile

Puzzled… I agonize

Wiping tears off my saddened face

Searching around

Any one there?

Looking up… into sky

Did You hear my cries?

Did You witness the crime?

Suddenly

Knock… knock

A gentle tap

 

Yes, coming

Who is there?

Hope is here

Smiling at my heart

Standing by my door

I am a Jerusalem-born Palestinian refugee living in exile for over 42 years. I was forced to leave my homeland, Palestine at the age of seven during the six-day war. I am a mathematician by profession. I started writing about three years ago when my friends insisted I should write about my memories, experiences, and feelings as a Palestinian. I did… but it all came out -for some strange reason- sounding -as I am told- like poetry! So I self published two books (I Believe in Miracles, and Palestine, The True Story. Write to me at: nahidaexiledpalestinian@gmail.com

  Read A Letter To the American people From The Heart Of A Muslim Woman
 April 29, 2010   World Peoples’ Conference On Climate Change And The Rights Of Mother Earth
by Indegenous Peoples’ Declaration, Countercurrents.org
Mother Earth can live without us, but we can’t live without her.

We, the Indigenous Peoples, nations and organizations from all over the world, gathered at the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, from April 19th to 22nd, 2010 in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, after extensive discussions, express the following:

We Indigenous Peoples are sons and daughters of Mother Earth, or “Pachamama” in Quechua. Mother Earth is a living being in the universe that concentrates energy and life, while giving shelter and life to all without asking anything in return, she is the past, present and future; this is our relationship with Mother Earth. We have lived in coexistence with her for thousands of years, with our wisdom and cosmic spirituality linked to nature. However, the economic models promoted and forced by industrialized countries that promote exploitation and wealth accumulation have radically transformed our relationship with Mother Earth. We must assert that climate change is one of the consequences of this irrational logic of life that we must change.

The aggression towards Mother Earth and the repeated assaults and violations against our soils, air, forests, rivers, lakes, biodiversity, and the cosmos are assaults against us. Before, we used to ask for permission for everything. Now, coming from developed countries, it is presumed that Mother Earth must ask us for permission. Our territories are not respected, particularly those of peoples in voluntary isolation or initial contact, and we suffer the most terrible aggression since colonization only to facilitate the entry of markets and extractive industries.

We recognize that Indigenous Peoples and the rest of the world live in a general age of crises: environmental, energy, food, financial, ethical, among others, as a consequence of policies and attitudes from racist and exclusionary states.

We want to convey that at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the peoples of the world demanded fair treatment, but were repressed. Meanwhile the states responsible for the climate crisis were able to weaken even more any possible outcome of negotiations and evade signing onto any binding agreement. They limited themselves to simply supporting the Copenhagen Accord, an accord that proposes unacceptable and insufficient goals as far as climate change action and financing to the most affected countries and peoples.

We affirm that international negotiation spaces have systematically excluded the participation of Indigenous Peoples. As a result, we as Indigenous Peoples are making ourselves visible in these spaces, because as Mother Earth has been hurt and plundered, with negative activities taking place on our lands, territories and natural resources, we have also been hurt. This is why as Indigenous Peoples we will not keep silent, but instead we propose to mobilize all our peoples to arrive at COP16 in Mexico and other spaces well prepared and united to defend our proposals, particularly the “living well” and plurinational state proposals. We, Indigenous Peoples, do not want to live “better”, but instead we believe that everyone must live well. This is a proposal to achieve balance and start to construct a new society.

The search for common objectives, as history shows us, will only be completed with the union of Indigenous Peoples of the World. The ancestral and indigenous roots shared by the whole world must be one of the bonds that unite us to achieve one unique objective.

Therefore we propose, require and demand:

1. The recovery, revalidation and strengthening of our civilizations, identities, cultures and cosmovisions based on ancient and ancestral Indigenous knowledge and wisdom for the construction of alternative ways of life to the current "development model", as a way to confront climate change.

2. To rescue and strengthen the Indigenous proposal of “living well”, while also recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with whom we have an indivisible and interdependent relationship, based on principles and mechanisms that assure the respect, harmony, and balance between people and nature, and supporting a society based on social and environmental justice, which sees life as its purpose. All this must be done to confront the plundering capitalist model and guarantee the protection of life as a whole, through the search for inclusive global agreements.

3. We demand States to recognize, respect and guarantee the application of international standards of human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights (i.e., The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Convention 169) in the framework of negotiations, policies, and measures to confront climate change.

4. We demand States to legally recognize the preexistence of our right to the lands, territories, and natural resources that we have traditionally held as Indigenous Peoples and Nations, as well as restitution and restoration of natural goods, water, forests and jungles, lakes, oceans, sacred places, lands, and territories that have been dispossessed and seized. This is needed to strengthen and make possible our traditional way of living while contributing effectively to climate change solutions. Inasmuch, we call for the consolidation of indigenous territories in exercise of our self-determination and autonomy, in conformity with systems of rules and regulations. At the same time we demand that states respect the territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation or in initial contact, as an effective way to preserve their integrity and combat the adverse effects of climate change towards those peoples.

5. We call on States not to promote commercial monoculture practices, nor to introduce or promote genetically-modified and exotic crops, because according to our people’s wisdom, these species aggravate the degradation of jungles, forests and soils, contributing to the increase in global warming. Likewise, megaprojects under the search for alternative energy sources that affect Indigenous Peoples’ lands, territories, and natural habitats should not be implemented, including nuclear, bio-engineering, hydroelectric, wind-power and others.

6. We demand changes to forestry and environmental laws, as well as the application of pertinent international instruments to effectively protect forests and jungles, as well as their biological and cultural diversity, guaranteeing Indigenous Peoples’ rights, including their participation and their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.

7. We propose that, in the framework of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, states establish a policy that Protected Natural Areas must be managed, administered and controlled directly by Indigenous Peoples, taking into account the demonstrated traditional experience and knowledge towards the sustainable management of the biodiversity in our forests and jungles.

8. We demand a review, or if the case warrants, a moratorium, to every polluting activity that affects Mother Earth, and the withdrawal of multinational corporations and megaprojects from Indigenous territories.

9. We urge that states recognize water as a fundamental human right, avoiding its privatization and commodification.

10. We demand the application of consultations, participation, and the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples and affected populations in the design and implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures and any other intervening actions on Indigenous territories.

11. States must promote mechanisms to guarantee that funding for climate change action arrives directly and effectively to Indigenous Peoples, as part of the compensation for the historical and ecological debt owed. This funding must support and strengthen our own visions and cosmovisions towards “living well”.

12. We call for the recovery, revalidation and strengthening of Indigenous Peoples’ technologies and knowledge, and for their incorporation into the research, design and implementation of climate change policies. This should compliment Western knowledge and technology, ensuring that technology transfer processes do not weaken indigenous knowledge and technologies.

13. We propose the recovery, development and diffusion of indigenous knowledge and technology through the implementation of educational policies and programs, including the modification and incorporation of such knowledge and ancestral wisdom in curricula and teaching methods.

14. We urge States and international bodies that are making decisions about climate change, especially the UNFCCC, to establish formal structures and mechanisms that include the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples. They must also include local communities and vulnerable groups, including women, without discrimination, as a key element to obtain a fair and equitable result from climate change negotiations.

15. We join in the demand to create a Climate Justice Tribunal that would be able to pass judgement and establish penalties for non-compliance of agreements, and other environmental crimes by developed countries, which are primarily responsible for climate change. This institution must consider the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, and their principles of justice.

16. We propose the organization and coordination of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, through our local, national, regional, and international governments, organizations, and other mechanisms of legitimate representation, in order to participate in all climate change related processes. With that in mind, we call for an organizational space to be created that will contribute to the global search for effective solutions to climate change, with the special participation of Elders.

17. We propose to fight in all spaces available to defend life and Mother Earth, particularly in COP16, and so we propose a 2nd Peoples’ Conference to strengthen the process of reflection and action.

18. The ratification of the global campaign to organize the World March in defense of Mother Earth and her peoples, against the commodification of life, pollution, and the criminalization of Indigenous and social movements.


Created in unity in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, the 21st day of April, 2010.

  Read World Peoples’ Conference On Climate Change And The Rights Of Mother Earth
 May 17, 2010   Brace Yourself: This Is the Tip of the Iceberg for Oil-Induced Enviro Catastrophes
by
Scott Thill , AlterNet
The blame-game theory is still a red herring distracting us from the environmental disaster's prime suspect: All of us.

After considering laughably titled solutions like the top hat (a containment dome), the junk shot (a pressurized blast of golf balls and shredded tires) and worse, British Petroleum has proven one thing above all else: When the fossil fool hits the fan, it simply has no plan.

The fact that BP was allowed to drill along the shores of the United States in spite of its unwillingness to plan and prepare for accidents is only stunning to those haven't been paying attention to the feverish pace of deregulation since the rapacious Reagan conservatives took global culture by blitzkrieg. It certainly isn't surprising to anyone who has been paying even slight attention to BP, which boasts a decorated resume of spills and screw-ups.

According to recent revelations, a blowout preventer that could have halted the Deepwater Horizon clustergush failed a crucial pressure test hours before the April 20 explosion, and was never tested by the government engineer who approved BP's drilling operation. Those kinds of safety lapses are standard operating procedure, an oil industry whistleblower told the Huffington Post, saying he routinely witnessed 100 such shortcuts on BP rigs and others throughout 18 years of service in the sector. The fallback plan, a relief well, won't be finished until after the summer, by which there will be little reason left to live in New Orleans. Great. 

But if you've been railing for decades against the fossil fuel sector for everything from deliberately removing safeguards that could have prevented what will likely end up being the worst U.S. oil disaster in history to its lethal emissions that could, in the extreme, end up warming planet Earth to the point that human habitation is an impossibility, well, this is all old, sad news. 

Cold Oil Turkey 

"While this is a horrible disaster, it occurs to me that Americans cannot accept the fact that getting oil out of the earth is dirty, difficult, hazardous work, with great risks for society," said James Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency and Geography of Nowhere. "We don't want to know about it, as long as we can drive comfortably to the strip mall, enjoy NPR and an iced beverage. When something happens to prick our bubble of unreality, we're indignant." 

The counter-argument to Kunstler's hard-eged realism -- which is thankfully gaining steam every day the Deepwater Horizon disaster gushes hundreds of thousands, if not a million, gallons of crude into the Gulf -- is that further regulation and safety enforcement could put at least a partial stop to the fossil foolishness. Which means legally proving that BP, Halliburton and Transocean deliberately obviated what safety requirements existed so that the United States can conduct criminal proceedings which could then levy heftier damages than $75 million cap on liability under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which itself was hastily enacted by Congress under President George H.W. Bush shortly after the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

It also means exacting deeper regulation on the nation's compromised Minerals Management Service, which the Department of the Interior is considering splitting into two separate agencies. From taking drugs and having sex with energy company reps to being exempted from delivering detailed environmental analyses, the MMS is a controversy-soaked frat house. And its parent agency at Interior is the same hot mess. It's obvious that, when it comes to America's oil regime, the lunatics are drilling the asylum into the bedrock. So it's probably no surprise that neither agency returned several calls for comment. 

But add it up and it's one hell of a cleanup for a country with an unceasing appetite for hyperconsumption but little stomach for hard work. Which is why the blame-game theory, while it makes for good theater and hopefully better punitive damages, is still a red herring distracting us from the environmental disaster's prime suspect: All of us.

"BP, Haliburton and Transocean will all be financially punished for this, and they, along with other oil companies, will say, 'Screw you, America, we're moving our operations to Angola,'" added Kunstler. "All of this shucking and jiving over blame is a Chinese fire drill concealing the fact that we are all complicit in this disaster, and refuse to even consider changing our underlying behavior." 

But this is what most junkies do, when the drugs start to wear off and run out: Keep tapping that vein. A new Associated Press/GfK poll on the spill released in mid-May supports that madness. While 42 percent of respondents felt that the Obama administration is properly prosecuting the spill, even more, 50 percent to be exact, are cool with further coastal drilling for oil and gas. In spite of all that has happened, they'd rather drill for what's left of our domestic oil supply than prepare, plan and proselytize for our inevitable post-oil future. Itinerant laziness is the true culprit in this spill. BP, MMS and other alphabet nightmares are monsters of our own consumptive creation. 

"In the most general terms, I think the answer to drilling problems is better regulation and taxes to fund cleanup efforts," explained Mother Jones and Washington Monthly journalist Kevin Drum, who like Kunstler is a peak oil theorist. "Because the plain fact is that drilling is going to happen one way or another, as long as we're addicted to oil. And the answer to that is unrelated to drilling at all." 

When it comes to killing addiction, the first stage is always acknowledging one. Optimistic estimations of peak oil theory explain that global supply will start dwindling in 2020, a clear-sighted metaphor if there ever was one. Even without factoring in the always reliable underestimation that leads to disasters like Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon, that's only a decade to get our heads and engines together. In other words, a light-speed snapshot of time compared to the insane workload. 

"The administration needs to take this opportunity to explain the multiple hidden costs to our addiction to fossil fuels," argued Center for American Progress climate analyst Joseph Romm, the author of Straight Up: America's Fiercest Climate Blogger Takes on the Status Quo Media, Politicians, and Clean Energy Solutions. "As we're finding out with Goldman Sachs, you just can't let the industry regulate itself. But ultimately we have to get off the addiction. If the administration doesn't help us do that, it will be an incomprehensible missed opportunity." 

"We need a serious carbon tax and serious climate legislation to reduce our reliance," said Drum. "I care a lot more about that than I do about the specific issues related to oil rig safety." 

Infinite Step Recovery 

The prospects for such serious campaigns against carbon are practically dead in the water, just like the collateral damage washing up in Louisiana and elsewhere in the Gulf. The current climate legislation drafted by senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman is a capitulation to the fossil fuel industry, offering concessions like increased offshore drilling and a doubtlessly unregulated cap-and-trade derivatives market in exchange for greenhouse gas limits. This mind-numbing arrogance and collusion between the energy sector and rich nations is precisely what led to the failure of last year's climate summit in Copenhagen, according to ex-World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern, who crunched the numbers in 2006 and decided that doing nothing about global warming would end up costing the world around $5 trillion dollars and rising.

The prospects for this year's retreat in Cancun similarly suck. The Obama administration's special climate envoy Todd Stern admitted in May that the United States will probably have no climate bill in place by the time it gets to Mexico. Factor in robust public support for further coastal drilling in the midst of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and it becomes clear that the political will to change our energy game is weak.  

But the political capital to be reaped by anger over the spill is strong. On May 13, senators Barbara Boxer, Ron Wyden, Dianne Feinstein, Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation to ban offshore oil drilling along the West Coast. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger withdrew support for a drilling operation off the coast of Santa Barbara. On the other side of the country, Florida representative Corrine Brown has proposed similar legislation, while governor Charlie Crist has suggested a possible constitutional amendment mandating the same. 

Yet the Obama administration is openly supporting not an outright ban on offshore drilling, but Kerry and Leiberman's weak-kneed concessions. Their bill does include provisions that allow states to ban operations within 75 miles of their coastlines, as well as a sweetener that allows them to siphon off larger revenue from those operations. But they should already have that anyway. And the Deepwater Horizon clustergush occurred over 40 miles offshore; Kerry and Lieberman's bill would have bought the Gulf coast a few extra days before it was soaked in oil. Plus, fisheries and other natural environments utterly necessary to the economic and civic health of the entire country aren't strictly on the coastline; some are miles offshore, closer to the rigs than you or I. 

Take a look at what the Department of the Interior calls "President Obama's comprehensive energy plan for the country," and it's clear that we're in for much more, not less, offshore drilling. The color-coded graphics tell it all: Exploration and production plans to cruise northeastward up from the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico to its Eastern region and up into the South and mid-Atlantic. Same goes for the comparatively oily Alaskan region. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Shell Oil starts  drilling in Alaska's cold Chuchki and Beaufort seas starting in July. 

"The Arctic region is, in nearly every respect, the exact opposite of the temperate conditions of the Gulf of Mexico,” said WWF president and CEO Carter Roberts. “Technology simply does not exist to clean up a spill in Arctic waters. And, unlike the Gulf with its robust response apparatus close at hand, the Coast Guard lacks the capacity to adequately respond to a spill in the Arctic." 

While the West Coast is currently off-limits, the Interior reminds, especially given the new legislation from Boxer and company, it's just a matter of diminishing supply until we start tapping that vein. If not for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we might already have. But with public support and White House support fully behind further offshore drilling, and the paranoid specters of foreign terrorism rearing their fear-inducing heads up in Times Square and Arizona, it's probably going to be a long time before the United States does anything substantial about the Deepwater Horizon incident, much less greater oil exploration or even climate change.  

But one thing is most likely certain: We won't be ready as a nation to mandate change until the peak oil gong rings in 2020, or earlier. And by then, it could be too late. 

"Big Oil has obviously funded major disinformation campaigns to mislead the public about the threat of global warming, and the worst-case scenarios for a spill," Romm said. "But at some point, the painful reality of warming will be so clear that we will be desperate and start to do things differently. But what we need to do first and foremost is pass a climate and clean-energy bill. That is our top priority: Get off the unsafe dirty fuels of the 20th century and get on the safe fuels of the 21st century like wind and solar, which never run out."

Scott Thill runs the online mag Morphizm.com. His writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others.
  Read Brace Yourself: This Is the Tip of the Iceberg for Oil-Induced Enviro Catastrophes
 May 6, 2010   My Mother's Day Gift to the Planet: Not Having Kids
by
Chris Bolgiano , AlterNet
Like me, many women could discover that a childfree life offers meaningful experiences that balance the loss of mothering, and theirs could be a great gift to a beleaguered planet.

It was Mother's Day, and the staff of the independent-living community where my mother resides had arranged a nice luncheon, with roses for all the mothers. When a cherubic child with golden ringlets pressed a flower into my hand, and I politely refused it, she became confused. No wonder, since it was assumed by everyone, that of course all adult women in attendance were mothers

At fifty-something I am an adult, but not a mother. And though some will gasp in horror, I consider that to be my greatest achievement as a conservationist, although finding the first saw-whet owl ever reported in my part of Virginia ranks pretty high, too.

For millennia, the relentless ticking of a woman's biological clock has equated her entire life with only one purpose: childbearing. And for my gender, menopause has always largely meant the end of meaning.

I've lived through that transition now, without despair or Prozac. And I'm not alone. Today large numbers of married women are choosing not to have children, if only because more opportunities are being offered to more women than ever before. It was my good fortune to come of age with such choices, and to find a husband who honored them.

It always seemed to me that childbearing was a quick way out of a hard hunt - providing instant meaning to life. I wanted to search for purpose elsewhere. Plus, when I first read the ingredients on jars of industrial baby food - this was long before "organic" was even a gleam in Gerber's eye - I couldn't imagine inflicting that stuff on an infant.

Which brings me to the state of the world.

Although few journalists cover this angle, almost every environmental disaster is caused by overpopulation - but not the kind many assume. It's not the black and brown babies of the developing world that most threaten our planet, but our own desire for stuff - a hunger for iPods and starter castles.

American consumption, and the global pollution associated with supplying it, is unsurpassed. It takes a Third World village to use all the resources that a single American consumes and, often, wastes every day. So even though the birthrate in America is historically low, curbing it further would be a good place to begin when trying to save the world. I am pleased to do my part.

But what about the joys that children bring? Isn't there a basic biological drive to reproduce? And aren't children our future, after all?

The only sadness occasionally seeping from my childfree decision is not having grandchildren - which my mother would have loved. Now and then, I've also wondered if my husband would have enjoyed life more with children, but I doubt it.

As for the future, I'm more concerned about the precarious outlook for saw-whet owls than the human race, which far outnumbers owls and has all the advantages. And I grieve for the generations of all living creatures that will suffer from our toxic legacy.

Meanwhile, a few fundamentalist preachers have noticed the childfree trend and condemned it because marriage, they say, is only for procreation. Others question whether the Lord really wants the world to have 9 billion people, many dying as babies because clean air, water, and enough food are only available to those able to afford them.

It seems to me that the encouragement of childfree couples is crucial to saving the planet.

A childfree life celebrates humanity's most profound conquest of nature: not the engineering of dams or genes, but control of conception. Give every woman that choice, and the world will change.

Like me, many women could discover that a childfree life offers meaningful experiences that balance the loss of mothering, and theirs could be a great gift to a beleaguered planet.

 

Chris Bolgiano lives in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and has authored or edited five books, several of which have won literary prizes. She was a talking head in the 4-part PBS Series, "Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People."
  Read My Mother's Day Gift to the Planet: Not Having Kids
 April 23, 2010   What Happened in Bolivia This Week Could Save Our Failing Democracies
by
Naomi Klein , AlterNet
When Morales invited "social movements and Mother Earth's defenders" to a new kind of climate summit, it was an attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive.

It was 11 am and Evo Morales had turned a football stadium into a giant classroom, marshaling an array of props: paper plates, plastic cups, disposable raincoats, handcrafted gourds, wooden plates and multicolored ponchos. All came into play to make his main point: to fight climate change, "we need to recover the values of the indigenous people."

Yet wealthy countries have little interest in learning these lessons and are instead pushing through a plan that at its best would raise average global temperatures 2 degrees Celsius. "That would mean the melting of the Andean and Himalayan glaciers," Morales told the thousands gathered in the stadium, part of the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. What he didn't have to say is that the Bolivian people, no matter how sustainably they choose to live, have no power to save their glaciers.

Bolivia's climate summit has had moments of joy, levity and absurdity. Yet underneath it all, you can feel the emotion that provoked this gathering: rage against helplessness.

It's little wonder. Bolivia is in the midst of a dramatic political transformation, one that has nationalized key industries and elevated the voices of indigenous peoples as never before. But when it comes to Bolivia's most pressing, existential crisis -- the fact that its glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, threatening the water supply in two major cities -- Bolivians are powerless to do anything to change their fate on their own.

That's because the actions causing the melting are taking place not in Bolivia but on the highways and in the industrial zones of heavily industrialized countries. In Copenhagen, leaders of endangered nations like Bolivia and Tuvalu argued passionately for the kind of deep emissions cuts that could avert catastrophe. They were politely told that the political will in the North just wasn't there. More than that, the United States made clear that it didn't need small countries like Bolivia to be part of a climate solution. It would negotiate a deal with other heavy emitters behind closed doors, and the rest of the world would be informed of the results and invited to sign on, which is precisely what happened with the Copenhagen Accord. When Bolivia and Ecuador refused to rubber-stamp the accord, the U.S. government cut their climate aid by $3 million and $2.5 million, respectively. "It's not a free-rider process," explained U.S. climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing. (Anyone wondering why activists from the global South reject the idea of "climate aid" and are instead demanding repayment of "climate debts" has their answer here.) Pershing's message was chilling: if you are poor, you don't have the right to prioritize your own survival.

When Morales invited "social movements and Mother Earth's defenders ... scientists, academics, lawyers and governments" to come to Cochabamba for a new kind of climate summit, it was a revolt against this experience of helplessness, an attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive.

The Bolivian government got the ball rolling by proposing four big ideas: that nature should be granted rights that protect ecosystems from annihilation (a "Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights"); that those who violate those rights and other international environmental agreements should face legal consequences (a "Climate Justice Tribunal"); that poor countries should receive various forms of compensation for a crisis they are facing but had little role in creating ("Climate Debt"); and that there should be a mechanism for people around the world to express their views on these topics ("World People's Referendum on Climate Change").

The next stage was to invite global civil society to hash out the details. Seventeen working groups were struck, and after weeks of online discussion, they met for a week in Cochabamba with the goal of presenting their final recommendations at the summit's end. The process is fascinating but far from perfect (for instance, as Jim Shultz of the Democracy Center pointed out, the working group on the referendum apparently spent more time arguing about adding a question on abolishing capitalism than on discussing how in the world you run a global referendum). Yet Bolivia's enthusiastic commitment to participatory democracy may well prove the summit's most important contribution.

That's because, after the Copenhagen debacle, an exceedingly dangerous talking point went viral: the real culprit of the breakdown was democracy itself. The UN process, giving equal votes to 192 countries, was simply too unwieldybetter to find the solutions in small groups. Even trusted environmental voices like James Lovelock fell prey: "I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war," he told the Guardian recently. "It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while." But in reality, it is such small groupings--like the invitation-only club that rammed through the Copenhagen Accord--that have caused us to lose ground, weakening already inadequate existing agreements. By contrast, the climate change policy brought to Copenhagen by Bolivia was drafted by social movements through a participatory process, and the end result was the most transformative and radical vision so far.

With the Cochabamba summit, Bolivia is trying to take what it has accomplished at the national level and globalize it, inviting the world to participate in drafting a joint climate agenda ahead of the next UN climate gathering, in Cancún. In the words of Bolivia's ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solón, "The only thing that can save mankind from a tragedy is the exercise of global democracy."

If he is right, the Bolivian process might save not just our warming planet but our failing democracies as well. Not a bad deal at all.

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (September 2007); an earlier international best-seller, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies; and the collection Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (2002). Read more at Naomiklein.com.
  Read What Happened in Bolivia This Week Could Save Our Failing Democracies
 May 18, 2010   Introducing the World's Biggest Forest Conservation Deal
by Greenpeace International,
international@mailing.greenpeace.org


Major gains for caribou and conservation in the Boreal Forest.

Greenpeace lauds historic new pact to save Canada’s Boreal Forest.

After years of campaigning for protection of the Boreal Forest, we're happy to announce one of the biggest, most ambitious conservation agreements ever. With the co-operation of major logging companies, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement begins with a three-year planning period to identify 72 million hectares of new conservation areas, an area larger twice the size of Germany, while immediately establishing a moratorium on 28 million hectares of critical woodland caribou habitat. There is still a lot of work to do, but this landmark agreement promises vast new protected areas across Canada's Boreal Forest.

The Agreement, announced by environmental groups and FPAC at news conferences in Toronto and Montreal, covers 72 million hectares of Boreal Forest, a massive sweep of forest twice the size of Germany that stretches almost from coast to coast. Included in the agreement is an immediate moratorium on logging in 28 million hectares, covering virtually all the critical habitat of the threatened woodland caribou.

“This is our best chance to save woodland caribou, permanently protect vast areas of the Boreal Forest and put in place sustainable forestry practices,” said Richard Brooks, Greenpeace forest campaign coordinator at the news conference. “The interest of the marketplace and public has been critical in this agreement. We have a lot of work to do together to make this agreement successful and we are committed to make it happen.”

The goals of the 90-page Agreement include commitments to developing joint proposals for networks of protected areas, especially areas of intact forest, joint proposals for the recovery of species at risk, including woodland caribou, the development of world-leading practices in forest management and harvesting.

In addition, when the Agreement the FPAC companies will have established their leadership on conservation issues and will be able to operate in a more certain business environment. As a result, the forest industry in Canada will be stronger, forest communities will have a better economic future and Canadian forest products will have a stronger position in global markets.

“The importance of this Agreement cannot be overstated,” said Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of FPAC at the news conference. “FPAC member companies and their ENGO counterparts have turned the old paradigm on its head. Together we have identified a more intelligent, productive way to manage economic and environmental challenges in the boreal that will reassure global buyers of our products’ sustainability. It’s gratifying to see nearly a decade of industry transformation and hard work greening our operations, is culminating in a process that will set a forestry standard that will be the envy of the world,”

As part of the Agreement, Greenpeace, along with ForestEthics and Canopy, two other groups involved, have immediately suspended their “Do-Not-Buy” and divestment campaigns against the FPAC companies.

Greenpeace played a leading role in developing the agreement which includes a three-year timeline for completing conservation planning across the whole 72-million-hectare area.

In addition to the work of environmental groups, the Pew Environment Group and the Ivey Foundation have played an important role in supporting negotiations.

The Agreement also includes commitments to continue work already under way to involve First Nations in implementation. The role of First Nations is considered essential to full implementation.

Go to Boreal Resources for a complete set of documents on the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Media can download high resolution photos at http://www.greenpeace.ca/gallery. For Video b-roll, please contact aube.giroux@greenpeace.org
  Read Introducing the World's Biggest Forest Conservation Deal
 April 24, 2010   Building a Climate Justice Movement
by
Tina Gerhardt, AlterNet
The climate justice movement has taken up two enormous concerns: How to address ecological catastrophe and how to develop a new global economic model.

In the Bolivian village of Tiquipaya, just outside of Cochabamba, 15,000 people from 125 countries gathered for the People’s World Conference on Climate Change, which Bolivian President Evo Morales organized after the failed Copenhagen climate talks. Under a beaming sun, indigenous groups dedicated the conference to Pachamama (Mother Earth in the native Quechua), dancing, singing and playing traditional instruments like charangos and zampoñas, as rainbow-checkered flags of the Andean indigenous peoples waved.

From the podium, President Morales clarified the reason for gathering: “Either capitalism lives or Mother Earth lives.” Morales criticized capitalism: "The main cause of climate change is capitalism. As people who inhabit Mother Earth, we have the right to say that the cause is capitalism, to protest limitless growth. Capitalism is the source of the problem. More than 800 million people live on less than $2 a day. Until we change the capitalist system, our measures to address climate change are limited.”

The conference brought indigenous groups and climate justice action networks together with government delegates and several heads of state from 70 countries. There were 17 working groups and panels, which drafted in a final declaration that the Bolivian government has pledged to present to the UNFCCC’s COP 16 talks in Cancun at the end of the year.

Working groups were to hash out concerns on topics such as agriculture and food sovereignty, financing and technology transfer, the dangers of the carbon market, the impact of climate change on indigenous people and how it produces climate refugees, among others.

Expressing frustration with the non-democratic manner in which the Copenhagen Accord was drawn up, Morales underscored that it was a backroom deal between five countries -- the U.S., China, India, South Africa and Brazil.

Criticism of the UN was evident at the opening ceremony: when Alicia Barcena, representative of UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, attempted to give her speech, she was booed.

Morales underscored that the Copenhagen Accord ran counter to and disrespected the UNFCCC process, which stipulates transparency in protocol drafting and consensus in decision-making. It ignored the progress of the UN’s two working groups -- AWG-KP and AWG-LCA -- responsible for drafting an agreement extending the Kyoto Protocol.

Numerous countries from groupings such as the G77 (130 nations), the Alliance of Small Island States (42 countries) and the Least Developed Countries (49 nations) echoed his criticism at the recent preparatory UNFCCC meeting in Bonn, Germany.

Bolivia’s lead climate negotiator Angelica Navarro described what happened in Copenhagen: “That is not democracy. That is not the UN. For months, we were discussing our proposals with other countries. They did not listen. What we want in Bolivia is a true and participatory democracy, a grassroots democracy. If the governments do not come up with a plan for climate change, the people have to lead with a plan."

The conference sought to establish a balance of power by bringing together governmental representatives and climate justice groups from around the world.

Navarro echoed Morales’ criticism of free market solutions to global warming, saying, “You cannot create a climate market to solve climate change. You have to address the structural causes. These causes are not only to be measured in terms of greenhouse gases. They are trade, finances and economy.”

As an alternative, Morales has called for a “communitarian socialism” that would equally distribute resources and re-establish harmony between humans and nature. He outlined his plan to achieve this balance:

  1. Reparations from rich countries to poor and low-lying nations, to assist them with adaptations to climate change;
  2. The creation of an International Climate Justice Tribunal, modeled on the UN’s International Court of Justice;
  3. The development and transfer of technology by developed nations to developing countries; and
  4. A Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, modeled on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Additionally, Morales called for borders to be opened to climate refugees.

In many ways, the conference was a success.

Some working groups reached agreements, which, if taken to the COP 16 and recognized, could be pivotal in shifting climate change policy. The forest working group starkly rejected the UN program REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). REDD is a shell game, using market mechanisms to offset carbon emissions, which allows for speculation and for companies to get around actual carbon reductions.

“REDD is branded as a friendly forest conservation program, yet it is backed by big polluters and climate profiteers. We cannot solve this crisis without addressing the root cause: a fossil fuel economy that disregards the rights of Mother Earth,” said Alberto Saldamando, legal counsel for the International Indian Treaty Council.

Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), added that “REDD is a predatory program that pretends to save forests and the climate, while backhandedly selling out forests out from under our indigenous people."

Others reached decisions outside of the working groups. Climate Justice Action (CJA) and Via Campesina left the action strategy working group the first day. To some extent, as CJA organizer Tadzio Mueller explained, “Networking is better done outside of working groups.” CJA met with various organizations -- such as 350.org, Jubilee South and Via Campesina -- outside of the PWCCC working group structure, in order to plan a series of actions for October 2010.

Even if the concluding statements developed by the working groups are not recognized by the UN, the conference gave climate justice movements the opportunity to meet, discuss and hash out differences, and reach consensus on pivotal issues related to climate change, preserving and building momentum in organizing, be it locally, regionally or internationally, be it around specific issues outside of the UN process or in preparation for the COP 16.

Yet there is also dissent. Despite Morales’ recent work on climate change -- calling for April 22 to be recognized as Earth Day by the UN, and creating this forum -- within Bolivia, various groups argue that there is a discrepancy between the president's rhetoric for Mother Earth and his policy of mineral extraction, where revenues from natural gas help to keep the poorest country in South America flush.

An 18th unofficial working group (Mesa 18) argued that its criticisms had been excluded from the conference, emphasizing the contradiction in Morales’ stance and environmental degradation brought about by mining, oil and gas extraction.

Conamaq, one of the groups within Mesa 18, called attention to environmental degradation of mining practices at San Cristobal. On the border between Bolivia and Chile, activists blocked roads and railway lines. Although the mine is owned by a Japanese company, Sumitomo Corporation, protests this week have sought to call attention to the Bolivian government’s responsibility in attending to environmental pollution. The silver and lead mines are wasting and contaminating local waters supplies.

In nearby salt flats, Sumitomo is also vying for the right to extract lithium, a key ingredient in the batteries used in cell phones, laptops and electric cars. Bolivia contains the largest lithium reserves in the world, which will become increasingly valuable as transportation shifts away from fossil fuels and to alternative energy sources.

The conference closed on Thursday, April 22, in conjunction with Earth Day. In the morning, various heads of state and government delegates met with representatives of organizations and civil society. In the afternoon, leaders met in the coliseum to present the conference’s declaration.

It was consistently underscored at the conference that it is not enough to address only the symptoms of climate change, such as greenhouse gas emissions; one must go to the source of the problem -- the economic system that commodifies every aspect of our lives. In this way, the climate justice movement has taken up not one, but two, enormous concerns: how to address ecological catastrophe and how to develop a new global economic model.

Tina Gerhardt is a freelance journalist and academic who has contributed to In These Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, TheNation.com and Salon. In December, she wrote daily dispatches about the UNFCCC and climate justice actions in Copenhagen. In April, she covered the UNFCCC preparatory meeting for the COP 16 in Mexico.
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