Volume 12 Issue 9 May 2014
Nafeez Ahmed, Lionel Anet, John Scales Avery, Subhankar Banerjee, Dr. Glen Barry, William Blum,
Aaron Cant, Farooque Chowdhury, Countercurrents (2), Guy Crequie (3),
Suzanne Goldenberg, Rob Hopkins, Steve Horn, Julie Hyland,
Camila Ibanez, Alex Kane, Michael T. Klare, Alex Lantier,
Rajesh Makwana, Chris Marsden, Dr. Charles Mercieca, Mohammed Mesbahi, Andrew Nikiforuk, Dr Gideon Polya (2),
Jill Richardson, Paul Craig Roberts,
Richard Schiffman,Vandana Shiva, Rebecca Solnit, Johannes Stern (2), David Swanson (2),
Teresita Morán de Valcheff, Sophie Yeo, Alexandra Magalhaes Zeiner, Kourosh Ziabari
Nafeez Ahmed, Nasa-funded Study: Industrial Civilization Headed for 'Irreversible Collapse' Due to Inequality, Exploitation
Lionel Anet, Energy, Life, Economy
John Scales Avery, Europe Needs To Be Independent
Subhankar Banerjee, On Climate Impasse: Appetite And Substitutes
Dr. Glen Barry, God Pollution: Nature Is My Religion, Earth Is My Temple
William Blum, Indoctrinating A New Generation
Aaron Cant, Disturbing New Report: Air Pollution Killed 7 Million People in 2012?Or About 1 in 8 Premature Deaths
Farooque Chowdhury, Climate Crisis Is Increasing Insecurity
Countercurrents, Climate Crisis: Reduce Meat, Dairy Consumption
Countercurrents, IPCC Report Predicts A Dark Future For The Planet
Guy Crequie, Cri d'alarme d'un messager de la paix !
Guy Crequie, 21 MARS ! = journ?e internationale des Nations Unies contre toutes les formes de racisme et d?antis?mitisme
Guy Crequie, Rechauffement climatique : nouveau rapport alarmant du GIEC
Suzanne Goldenberg, UN: Climate Change Has Already Cut Global Food Supply, Caused Wars
Rob Hopkins, What Climate "Injustice" Means For Poorer Communities
Steve Horn, Lake Michigan Oil Spill: Did Toxic Tar Sands Pour Into One of Our Largest Fresh-Water Resources?
Julie Hyland and Chris Marsden, NATO's Aggression against Russia and the Danger of War in Europe
Camila Ibanez, Indigenous Vow: We'll Be 'Dead Or In Prison Before We Allow' Keystone Pipeline
Alex Kane, Nurses Union Warns Keystone Pipeline Could Harm Americans' Health
Michael T. Klare, Carbon Delirium: Shooting Up On Big Energy
Alex Lantier and Johannes Stern, Russia Warns NATO Over Military Build-Up In Eastern Europe
Rajesh Makwana, Equity + Sustainability = Sharing Globally
Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, NATO's Aggression against Russia and the Danger of War in Europe
Dr. Charles Mercieca, Creating World Peace and Harmony
Mohammed Mesbahi, Commercialisation: The Antithesis Of Sharing
Andrew Nikiforuk, Ukraine Crisis Highlights Ugly Global Energy Truths
Dr Gideon Polya, Western Hypocrisy: US Alliance Sanctions Russia Over Crimea-Backed Reunion While Backing Apartheid Israel's Occupation And Ongoing Palestinian Genocide
Dr Gideon Polya, Terracidal Climate Change Inaction
Jill Richardson, Changing our Climate of Indifference
Paul Craig Roberts, Is the US or The World Coming To An End? It Will Be One or The Other
Richard Schiffman, Riots, Towns Gone Dry, Soaring Prices: The Food-Pocalypse Is Already Upon Us
Vandana Shiva, Women Ecowarriors
Rebecca Solnit, Let's Call Climate Change What It Really Is: Violence
Johannes Stern and Alex Lantier, Russia Warns NATO Over Military Build-Up In Eastern Europe
Johannes Stern, Pro-Russian Protesters In Eastern Ukraine Demand Crimean-Style Referendum
David Swanson, What Do World's Two Biggest Dangers Have In Common?
David Swanson, War For Dummies
Teresita Morán de Valcheff, LOS NIÑOS Y LA PAZ ; ENFANTS ET LA PAIX ; CHILDREN AND PEACE; CRIANÇAS E PAZ
Sophie Yeo, Ten Reasons Why Food Will Be Scarce In A Warmer World
Alexandra Magalhaes Zeiner, A PAZ ; PAIX ; Peace; Paz ;
Kourosh Ziabari, Crimean crisis: The smell Of American Hypocrisy In The Air
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|March 18, 2014||
God Pollution: Nature Is My Religion, Earth Is My Temple
by Dr. Glen Barry, Glen Barry Blog, Countercurrents
There are no invisible ghosts in the sky ruling over and judging us. God pollution kills, obscures truth, and slows progress. All we have and need is each other, kindred species, ecosystems, and the biosphere.
On a small planet plagued by a myriad of life-threatening problems, it’s time to choose between truth and myth, superstition and wisdom, life and death. Either you believe in truth, justice, and knowledge, or you let ghosts, spirits, and superstition guide you.
Observable truths are the only basis for the necessary social change to bring about ecological sustainability and equitable justice. As long as we believe in ghosts in the sky more than the ecosystems that nurture us, there is no hope.
There are way too many false prophets, claiming absolute truth and being used for false profits. God pollution has decimated humanity, society, and ecology for millennia. Organized religions’ superstition and belief in ghosts limit the human family’s ability to come together to sustain global ecology.
It is better to live a life based upon doing what is observably right and good, and go to hell, than to waste a life following the edicts of invisible, nonexistent gods.
GOD POLLUTION has decimated humanity, society, and ecology for millennia. Superstition and belief in ghosts hold back human advancement. Belief in mythical, god ghosts in the sky is malarkey, the worst sort of mind pollution ever. Yet such irrational thought has become firmly entrenched in society and the body politic, with tremendous deleterious effects.
I am told religion is love. Yet, the crusades, the Inquisition, European colonialism under the cross, slave trades, and millennia of religious wars don’t seem to have been so full of love. Those who believe in various flavors of god have been at war for centuries, over who most fanatically believes in their invisible ghost and all-knowing book. Organized religion is organized delusional superstition devoid of fact and real truthful love.
Superstition has been the basis for much evil and ecosystem destruction and will never be the basis for ecological sustainability. Edicts to go forth and multiply, and to subdue nature and nonbelievers, have left a shameful legacy of genocide and ecocide. Even in this age of modernity and glittering technology, religious extremism of every type thrust upon the public sphere continues to be one of the gravest threats facing human well-being, advancement, sustainability, rights, liberty, and free thinking.
The amount of credence and power given to unknowable faith by organized religion – at the expense of observable science and other truths – in governing society is truly shocking. Medieval fairy tale beliefs in invisible ghosts have no place in governance or policy-making. These types of illogical, irrational god myths are largely responsible for many societal problems, including the current state of perma-war, abject poverty, and global ecosystem collapse.
It is time that nonbelievers demand that superstitious people keep their god myths off of our bodies, out of our government, and treading lightly upon Earth – retaining them (if at all) as personal spirituality. And stop denigrating – and even killing – those who have shrugged off the mental slavery of mindless faith and don’t believe in your threadworn, bloody myths.
Truth and Earth Are Godlike
One can believe in spirit, truth, and life – living in faith and grace – while rejecting absent god myths sold by corrupted and outdated organized religions. The myth of human superiority and the division caused by the belief in multiple “gods” have brought the Earth, her peoples, and all species to their knees.
We must embrace the truths before us that are vital for our survival and well-being. There are no nations, we are one human family, god is a myth, and Earth is alive and dying. And all humans have inalienable rights and sacred duties to live justly and sustainably.
Truth and wisdom matter. Having an opinion – particularly drawn from a book of dubious origins, full of contradictory statements – is not the same as education, knowledge, and wisdom. Much loudly spoken ignorance is the result of superstition, limited experience, and a brainwashed disregard for truth.
Truths exist and are being ignored, for instance: that we need clean water to survive, that land can only support so many people, that we are all one human species, and that there are no invisible ghosts in the sky ruling over us. All we have is each other, kindred species, ecosystems, and the biosphere.
Humanity is one species – separated by national, religious, and class lies, yet utterly dependent upon each other, on kindred species, and on our shared ecosystem habitats for a continued decent existence. If we don’t embrace such ecological truths and abandon superstition as the basis for living our lives, human and all being will end.
Look around you at the trees, animals, sky, and land; this is what there is to observable reality. You already exist in a paradise and don’t have to put off pleasure. Embrace the here and now of ecology that surrounds and nurtures us, to which our bodies return upon death.
God myths are dead and have no place in the movement to sustain ecology. Ecological sustainability – and a just, equitable world – will not come from superstitious zealots for organized religion. No climate, ecological, or social justice answers will come from such medieval, conflicting, and unknowable myths and superstitions.
Sustaining ecology requires a fresh way of thinking that stresses trained intuition, science, wisdom, and love for the human family and all life, while deeply valuing education, observation, and experience of many types. Commit yourself to Earth, truth, knowledge, wisdom, logic, rationality, justice, equity, rights, and duties now in order that humanity, all creatures, and Earth may survive and thrive together.
This rejection of organized religion does not mean one should be blinded to spiritual awe and to ritual that binds us to the Earth and the universe’s mysteries.
Gaia – the Earth System – is godlike and the giver of all life, the mother’s womb from which all life flows, a loving but firm nurturer, that provides as long as her rules (and her children’s duties) are recognized and respected. Gaia is spirituality that matters, because it is based upon truthful observation, not ancient and irrelevant god myths. Worshiping Earth and her life speaks to the challenges of ecocide, collapsing ecosystems, justice and equity, and truthfully sustaining global ecology, her peoples, and all life based upon what is observably evident.
Ecology is the ultimate truth. Without intact natural ecosystems there can be no life. Humanity is destroying natural life for fleeting comfort for some. It cannot last long. Either the human family changes – rejecting god myths for truthful knowledge – or ecology collapses and we all needlessly die in a final apocalypse. The god-freaks’ self-fulfilling prophecy will have come true, but I can assure you the only heaven is the Earth that will have been lost.
Nature is my religion, Earth is my temple.
The Unholy Trinity
Economics, religion, and nationalism are utter nonsense, and their teachings and organizations are destroying the ecological basis of being. Organized religion, nanny government, and authoritarian corporatism together combine to enslave humanity in abusive hierarchical structures, leading to overexploitation and even murder of other people, species, ecosystems, and the Earth for profit, god, and country.
Islamo- and Christo-fascists try to out-crazy each other. Christo-fascists lack none of the craziness of their Islamo-fascist counterparts, and are no less loony and dangerous, equally ready to murder for their false god. Indeed, right-wing nut-job Christians are much the greater threat to Earth and all peoples as they have nukes, money, and power over resources to utterly destroy being. In fact, Earth’s destruction is their goal as they fully expect to leave this tawdry world of their own making and be whisked away to paradise.
There will never be long-term ecological sustainability – or universal justice, equity, and rights – as long as corporatists, churches, nanny governments, and their media hold power. An economic system based upon infinite growth in a finite world can only spectacularly collapse. Despite being brainwashed to worship mythical ghosts and indoctrinated to salute authoritarian power, people have no excuse for ecocide, fascism, or stupidity.
In god’s name much evil is promulgated. Destroying ecosystems for “development” is evil. Standing armies to better wage perma-war are evil. Industrial speculative capitalism that commodifies nature and humanity is evil. Lack of global rights, justice, and equity is evil too. Why are we tolerating evil? Could it be that millennia-long proselytizing by zealots for personal gain has brainedwashed us to call hate love, war peace, and evil god?
The history of god fairy tales is the history of ecocide, injustice, and war. God pollution destroys ecology and all that is natural, decent, and good. Conflicting and militant superstitious myths undermine truth and threaten us all.
There is no god, and god pollution must be resisted if we are to survive. Those who don’t believe superstitious god myths have every right to speak up – at least as much as those promoting a plethora of god myths – as we watch the damage done to ecology, truth, peace, and society by adherence to unknowable fairy tales in an age of science and ecocide.
You can never know my dismay and outrage as society and governments – with innumerable social and ecology crises threatening the very existence of us all – are run by mythical edicts from absent gods rather than by truth, logic, wisdom, and knowledge. There can be no human progress or even survival from ecocide if the bastardized words of mythical ancient carpenters and warlords are all we have to go on.
Militant belief and public proselytizing on behalf of competing invisible gods and other nonsensical fairy tales are stopping humanity from urgently responding to clearly visible deterioration and looming collapse of global ecology and society. Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Christian fanatics lead mirror-image intolerant, superstitious, and truthless lives based upon false messiahs, failed dogma, a mythical afterlife, religious wars, and other deadly lies that are killing Earth and all life right before our eyes in the here and now.
We need to stop quibbling about whose invisible god is better and focus upon rational solutions to observed decline in the physical reality surrounding and nurturing us, which is collapsing and dying.
Free, Truthful Thinking Will Lead the Way
Our path to future well-being is simple, and rather than waiting for invisible ghosts in the sky to respond to our prayers, it focuses upon expecting more from ourselves. We must learn to rekindle connections to ecosystems, kindred life, each other, and nature, and in so doing to sustain being essentially forever. The power is within each of us to transform ourselves and our shared reality, in the here and now, for the better, based upon what is observably good and true.
Believe in truth and ecology; distrust partisan politics, corporations, organized religion, and the urge for more stuff; and educate and trust in yourself as well. Learn to identify observable threats from antiquated parables. Trust in radical freedom as long as one is not hurting oneself, others, or the Earth. Embrace obvious, scientifically validated truths such as this: together we either stop cutting old-growth forest ecosystems and burning fossil fuels or face final apocalyptic death.
Fairy tales don’t make good ecological policy. Toxic god pollution has a shameful history of killing all with which it comes in contact. Given their scurrilous, predatory, and ecocidal histories, religions including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism offer no basis for justly sustaining ecology. A few green initiatives here and there, after millennia of natural desecration, do not redeem ecocidal faith.
Declare yourself free from religion. Insist that the god-deluded please keep their Abrahamic god mythology to themselves. The key to living a good, truthful life is to think freely, resist indoctrination, unlearn myths and untruths, find your own road, and be about big, truthful ideas larger than yourself. And focus upon loving and defending Earth, the most observable and evident godlike being.
Beliefs in invisible, mythical gods are fundamentally incompatible with achieving a just, truthful, fair, and ecologically sustainable world. Such superstitious fairy tales serve only to lead humans, like lambs, to their unreasoned slaughter.
The issue is the corrosive role of organized religion upon society and ecology, not individual personal faith practiced in the privacy of one’s home. Believe whatever you want personally. But again, I insist that you please keep your god out of government, treading lightly upon Earth, and off of and out of nonbelievers’ bodies. Then all is fine.
I am not sure where we go when we die, yet I am unable and unwilling to accept millennial tales handed down without a shred of evidence to me by those with obvious conflicts of interest. Like fairies, religious belief is comforting and fun to think about for some, yet both are clearly myths. And untruthful myths stop us from focusing upon the here-and-now, observable world before us, which is in great need of reason-based social change.
There is nothing I hate more than being proselytized to by ignorant, small-minded, and superstitious people about ghosts in the sky – whom we can live with, if we follow their dogma. How stupid do you think we are? Geez, get a grip.
If superstitious religious people put half as much thought into caring for the world before our very eyes as they do about a mythical afterlife, everything – particularly global rights, ecology, and fairness – would be much improved.
Mythical gods can’t save ecology, celebrities aren’t able, and the oil oligarchy’s governments won’t. It is up to you and me to save being, based upon a reasoned sense of self-enlightenment. It is time to think freely to solve our problems with an open mind, unfettered by myth, or we are all going to die needlessly as ecology collapses.
Above all else, commit to truth – of all types, particularly Earth truth – as the only just and equitable basis to sustain ecology and universal well-being. Free, truthful thinking enmeshed within ecology’s warm embrace is the answer.
Achieving global ecological sustainability and rights for all living beings will require a sense of rationality and respect for knowledge that is lacking. Throw off indoctrination, mind control, and superstition; and instead THINK FREELY. And commit to large important ideas like Earth, equity, justice, and other self-evident truths. Together we can make it so. Only then will humanity live forever in an Earthly paradise.
Dr. Glen Barry is the President and Founder of Ecological Internet (EI). He is recognized internationally by the environmental movement as a leading global visionary, ecological policy critic and public intellectual committed to communicating the severity of global ecological crises - and related justice, rights and equity issues - while actively organizing with others sufficient solutions
|March 21, 2014||
Equity + Sustainability = Sharing Globally
by Rajesh Makwana , Sharing.org, Countercurrents
At a time when the risk of civilizational collapse is widely forewarned, it is time to recognise that the call for sharing is a cause that can unite concerned citizens working on a diverse range of interconnected global issues.
More than ever before, analysts and organisations are advocating for the process of sharing to guide our response to pressing global issues. One recent example is a research project sponsored by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which modelled a range of scenarios ?closely reflecting the reality of the world today? and found that civilizational collapse will be ?difficult to avoid?. Although the research is yet to be published, Nafeez Ahmed (executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development) recently outlined the report's dramatic findings in the Guardian, which led to a flurry of activity on the blogosphere as the content went viral. Putting aside the prospect of collapse that most commentators inevitably focussed on, the research adds further weight to the notion that only an international process of economic sharing can guarantee a just and sustainable future for humanity.
For many, any talk of civilizational collapse is viewed as an overreaction to world problems. But even without the historical references to failed empires mentioned in the NASA-funded report, it is now widely accepted that today's perfect storm of socio-economic, environmental and geopolitical crises means humanity is already in the midst of a global emergency . The study emphasises two distinct factors that most often lead to collapse. The first of these is "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity" of planet earth, which is already widely visible in the pervasive and increasingly harsh impacts of climate change. The second element is the economic stratification of society into a small group of powerful ?elites? and the rest of society ? the ?masses?. As the Occupy movement's infamous 1% vs the 99% slogans encapsulate, such polarisation is now almost universal, even though the evidence suggests that inequality is detrimental to economic growth and causes widespread social disruption and disenfranchisement.
A common response to this toxic mix of social and environmental dynamics is to look towards technological innovation to provide the necessary solutions. But according to the NASA report's authors, relying on technology is an evasive way of maintaining business as usual ? a familiar tendency in civilisations on the verge of collapse, where decision making is exercised by elites who are temporarily shielded from the devastating impacts of their policy decisions.
Equitably distributing the earth's resources
The potential triggers for civilizational collapse outlined in the report are already well-documented; people have long been calling for a more equal world , more sustainable global consumption patterns, and a shift away from techno-fixes and palliative economic reforms. But the solutions emphasised by the team of scientists who worked on the NASA paper demand further consideration. They suggest that collapse can be avoided ?if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion". Their conclusion essentially points to the need for a new paradigm for human progress that is broadly in line with the principle of sharing , and for this process of economic sharing to take place on an international scale. Unless nations can agree on a framework for sharing the world's natural resources in a sustainable manner, it will remain impossible to achieve the reductions in per capita resource use or the equitable distribution proposed by the authors.
However, within the current political and economic paradigm - characterised by national self-interest and fierce international competition - attaining agreement on how to share planetary resources is an almost insurmountable challenge. Given the enormity of this task, it is important to recognise that the demand for sharing is actually a common cause that connects a diverse range of local, national and global issues. Moreover, the call for a fairer sharing of wealth, power or resources is becoming more explicit by the day, and is now evident in numerous countries across the world.
Sharing in its multiple dimensions
For example, within local communities and cities, millions of people and organisations are embracing the sharing economy , which - if properly understood in relation to concerns for global equity and sustainability - has the potential to revolutionise our economic systems from the ground up. Similarly, many local initiatives that prioritise self-sufficiency work towards sharing available resources more fairly and sustainably, and the increasingly popular commons movement also draws on a conceptual framework that is based on the principle of sharing.
At the national level, the call for wealth and power to be shared more equally and democratically was popularised during the Arab Spring and Occupy protests, and is still making headlines . There is a growing movement of people calling for a proportion of revenues from the use of land and natural resources to be shared among citizens . And countless campaigns for tax justice , an end to austerity and the strengthening of social welfare are all predicated on the notion of sharing national resources more equitably.
Demands for sharing are also well established in relation to global issues. Given that half the world still has limited access to sufficient food, water and healthcare, many campaigns focus on the need for a just redistribution of the world's financial resources. Long established campaigns call for political power to be shared more inclusively in global governance bodies, and sharing is advocated as a key solution in international climate change negotiations. In recent years, a debate on fair shares in a constrained world has also emerged, in which major NGOs are investigating the complex issues around equity that arise in the context of resource limits and environmental boundaries.
Acknowledging the common ground
Innumerable other instances of individuals, organisations, businesses and people's movements calling for sharing in different ways could be mentioned. As yet, many of these campaigns exist in isolation, which is often a strategic necessity. But in light of the challenge articulated in the NASA-funded study, it may be time for those involved in sharing-related initiatives to explicitly acknowledge their common cause.
In an economic paradigm geared towards maintaining business as usual, it stands to reason that averting a civilisational collapse can only be possible if the demand for change connects disparate peoples' movements and informs public opinion beyond national borders. This does not mean abandoning the goals of existing initiatives, but rather supporting the emergence of a common platform for change that can be explicated in the simplest terms and embraced by the greatest number of people. With support for the principle of sharing rapidly growing across the globe, a united call for sharing the earth's resources could ultimately hold the key to safeguarding human progress in the 21st Century.
Rajesh Makwana is STWR's director and he can be contacted at rajesh [at] sharing.org
|March 26, 2014||
Energy – Life – Economy
by Lionel Anet , Countercurrents
The history of economics is the evolution of life, it's the way species access and use energy that maintains and spread itself to uses and fill all available niches. There's a tendency of life to self-regulate and to stabilise the chemistry of the biosphere within narrow limits that suit its needs. Mass extinctions were the effect of external causes; on the other hand many local failures can be attributed to an out of control specie.
Humans, since early civilisation have tried to bypass the constraints of nature, first, by using agriculture to appropriate a larger share of nature from the available renewable energy. This produced economic growth and a competitive setting; it also tends to produce population growth, which nature limits with starvation, and at times it leads to local collapses due to degrade land.
Nature, specifically plants, uses the sun radiative energy to produce almost all the food and maintained a fairly constant but unstable atmosphere due to its necessary oxygen. The excess carbon and hydrocarbon ended up in the ground and those that were left there hundred or so millions years ago, is now capitalism's main source of energy. That is, we are using millions of years of sunlight in a few centuries. No wonder capitalism can support over 7 billion people and many of them in extreme wasteful luxury. It's not only unsustainable in resources, but it's destroying the biosphere. This is probably sciences greatest failure. It's largely due to its disinterest in economics that has allowed the business sector's need to grow the economy for its own sake, which is now forsaking future lives.
Oil is the prime energy source we use to produce all other energies, which includes our food, it's also the energy that's essential for air transport, mining of coal and minerals, building industries, timber, wood chip, fishing, whaling, and warfare . Without cheap oil those activities would collapse, except wars. The present affluence in capitalism started with cheap oil and is ending with it.
To maintain the flow of oil, companies have to extract it from more difficult places that require increasing amount of energy. Therefore oil price are now determent by how much the world economy can afford , and that's a question of how much energy the world economy can use to get the oil to the petrol pump. It's hard to imagine global capitalism without cheap oil, as it will end up being uneconomical, even to mine coal. No matter how good our banks are at conjuring money out of nothing, that trick can only appear to work if there are substantial resources and the energy to extract them.
What we need to do. We must stop using oil because; there's not enough cheap oil to maintain us in a state we are accustom to under capitalism, however, if we attempt to use unconventional oil, there will be enough of it to make the planet uninhabitable.
It's obvious that if people realised how impossible the future will be in only a few decades, if we persist with business as usual, we would change our attitude. This is especially so the better off one is, but it's more difficult for them to see what they are facing when they see the future by looking at the past growth and extrapolating the future from it. The answer is very different when one observes the growing detrimental changes to the biosphere and ?our? finite resources diminishing.
It's clear we are burning too much carbon, so tax it instead of subsidising it, and likewise we are consuming too much so instead of advertising being a tax deduction we need to tax it. Without that pressure, people will buy less. As well, we can top up wages by removing charges from vital needs as they should be rationed. To eliminate unemployment we have to reduce the cost to employers of using people by removing taxes and charges on employing labour.
We all do our best at all times. This is so, regardless of how good or bad we think our action is. All our decisions are based on the information we get, seen with the experience we retain, within our genetic disposition, and with whatever ability we have to process it, and then there's the circumstances we find ourselves in. There are many things that contribute to our attitude, our past experience and genetic makeup is only the base we work from, but too difficult to change. Therefore the information we get and the circumstance we make our decision under directs the way we operate and this can and must be change.
Consequently, if we can have accurate and appropriate information within congenial circumstances we will be able to put our shoulder to the wheel to ensure our children will have the best possible life with what is left.
Lionel Anet is a member of Sydney U3A University of the Third Age, of 20 years standing and now a life member
|March 26, 2014||
by Vandana Shiva , The Asian Age, Countercurrents
Over the last four decades, I have served the Earth and grassroots ecological movements, beginning with the historic Chipko Movement (Hug the Tree Movement), in the Central Himalaya.
Every movement in which I participated, I noticed that women were the decision-makers — they decided the course of action and even were unrelenting in protecting the land and the sources of their sustenance and livelihoods.
Women who were a part of the Chipko movement were protecting forests because deforestation and logging in Uttarakhand led to floods, draughts, landslides and other such natural disasters. It led to scarcity of fuel and fodder. It led to the disappearance of springs and streams, forcing women to walk longer and further for water.
The dominant paradigm of forestry is based on monocultures of commercial species where forests are seen as timber mines that produce timber and generate revenue and leads to profits. The women of the Chipko Movement taught the world and me that timber, revenue and profits were not the real products of the forest; the real products were soil, water and pure air.
Today, science refers to these as ecological functions of ecosystems. Illiterate women of the Garhwal Himalaya were four decades ahead of the scientists of the world. By 1981, the government was compelled to stop logging in the Central Himalaya.
On April 22, 2002, which is recognised as Earth Day, I was invited by women from a small hamlet named Plachimada in Palghat, Kerala, to join their struggle against Coca Cola which was mining 1.5 million litres of water a day and polluting the water that remained in their wells.
Women were forced to walk 10 kilometres every day in search for clean drinking water. Mylamma, a tribal woman leading the movement, said they would not walk further for water. Coca Cola must stop stealing their water. These women decided to set up a satyagraha (struggle for truth) camp opposite the Coca Cola factory. I too joined them in solidarity and over the years supported them. In 2004, Coca Cola was forced to shut down.
In 1984, a terrible disaster caused by a leak from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal killed 3,000 people immediately. Still thousands of children are born with disabilities. Union Carbide is now owned by Dow, which refuses to take ownership of responsibility for justice. In 1984, as a response to the Bhopal disaster, I started a campaign, “No more Bhopals, plant a Neem”.
The women of Bhopal were also victims of the disaster. But they did not let their hopes and fight for justice wane. For example, Rashidabi and Champadevi Shukla continued their struggle for justice. They also provide rehabilitation to the children born with disabilities. They have set up a Chingari Trust to honour women fighting corporate injustice. In 2012, they invited me to give the Chingari award to the women fighting against the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu.
In 1994, I came to know that the use of neem to control pests and diseases in agriculture has been patented by US department of agriculture and multinational WR Grace. We launched a neem campaign to challenge the biopiracy. More than 100,000 Indians signed to initiate a case in the European Patent Office. I joined hands with Magda Alvoet, the president of the European Greens and Linda Bullard, president of International Foundation for Organic Agriculture to fight the case for 11 years. On March 8, 2005, on International Women’s Day, the European patent office struck down the biopiracy patent.
Why there’s a trend of women leading ecology movements against deforestation and pollution of water, against toxic and nuclear hazards? I partly believe that in the division of labour, it is women who have been left to look after sustenance — providing food, water, health and care.
When it comes to the sustenance of the economy, women act as both experts and providers. Even though women’s work in providing sustenance is the most vital human activity, a patriarchal economy which defines the economy only as the economy of the marketplace, treats it as non work.
The patriarchal model of the economy is dominated by one figure, the gross domestic product, which is measured on the basis of an artificially created production boundary (if you produce what you consume, you do not produce).
When the ecological crisis created by an ecologically blind economic paradigm leads to the disappearance of forests and water, spread of diseases because of toxics and poisons, and the consequent threat to life and survival, it is women who rise to wake up the society to the crisis, and to defend the Earth and lives. Women are leading the paradigm shift to align the economy with ecology. After all, both are rooted in the word “oikos” — our home.
Not only are women experts in the sustenance economy. They are experts in ecological science through their daily participation in processes that provide sustenance. Their expertise is rooted in lived experience and not in abstract and fragmented knowledge, which cannot see through the connectedness of the web of life.
The rise of masculinist science with Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton, Bacon led to the domination of reductionist mechanistic science and a subjugation of knowledge systems based on interconnections and relationships. This includes all indigenous knowledge systems and women’s knowledge.
The most violent display of mechanistic science is in the promotion of industrial agriculture, including genetically modified organisms as a solution to hunger and malnutrition. Industrial agriculture uses chemicals developed for warfare as inputs. Genetic engineering is based on the idea of genes as “master molecules” giving unidirectional commands to the rest of the organism. The reality is that living systems are self-organised, interactive and dynamic. The genome is fluid.
As these issues move centrestage in every society, it is women who bring the alternatives through biodiversity and agroecology that offer real solutions to the food and nutrition crisis. As I have learnt over 30 years of building the Navdanya movement, biodiversity produces more than monocultures. Small family farms based on women’s participation provide 75 per cent of the food eaten in the world. Industrial agriculture only produces 25 per cent, while using and destroying 75 per cent of the Earth’s resources.
When it comes to real solutions to real problems faced by the planet and people, it is the subjugated knowledge and invisible work of women based on co-creation and co-production with nature that will show the way to human survival and well being in the future.
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist and eco feminist. She is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology. She is author of numerous books including, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis; Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; and Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. Shiva has also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad as well as NGOs, including the International Forum on Globalization, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization and the Third World Network. She has received numerous awards, including 1993 Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) and the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.
© 2014 Asian Age
|March 26, 2014||
Ten Reasons Why Food Will Be Scarce In A Warmer World
by Sophie Yeo , RTCC, Countercurrents
The world is badly prepared to deal with the impacts to food supplies caused by climate change, warns a report by Oxfam.
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN's climate science body, prepares to release its new report on the effects of climate change, an Oxfam ?scorecard? shows how governments, international organisations and investors have failed to create a world that can deal with more frequent shocks to global food supply.
The next instalment of the IPCC report, currently under discussion in Yokohoma , Japan , is expected to warn that climate change will cause global agricultural yield to decline by 2% each decade, while at the same time the demand for food will increase by 14%.
In addition, Oxfam estimates that cereal prices could double by 2030, half of which would be a result of climate change.
But, they say in the report, ?Hunger is not and need never be inevitable? ? more action could ensure that people are less likely to hungry, even as the world gets warmer.
Here's how the world need to prepare ? and how it scores so far.
1. Adaptation finance ? 1/10
If a country is going to adapt to climate change, it needs money. Developed countries pledged in 2009 to provide US$ 100bn a year from 2020, alongside $30bn to be delivered between 2010 and 2012. But this money is not split evenly between adaptation and mitigation. This means that there is a shortfall between the amount provided and the amount needed to implement the necessary adaptation measures.
2. Social protection ? 3/10
Social protection schemes can ensure that no one is left desperate when a food crisis hits. Such programmes could include school feeding, cash transfers and employment guarantee schemes.
In rich countries, most people are covered by some form of social protection, but globally this figure is just 20%. In many poor countries, such as Zambia , Mali and Laos , it is less than 5%, leaving people less able to absorb shocks when food supplies decline.
3. Food crisis aid ? 6/10
Humanitarian aid is the last port of call when a food crisis hits. Over the past decade, UN calls for money to help out those facing disasters have on average raised only 66% of the amount requested ? and the gap is widening as the cost of aid increases. The shortfall has approximately trebled since 2001. Climate change could be an added burden on an already stretched pool of resources.
4. Food stocks ? 5/10
Food stocks provide stability in times of erratic harvests and high food prices, but the gap between the volume in storage and the amount being used is widening, leaving nations more vulnerable to starvation and financial problems when the next disaster hits. The depleted stores are due to extreme weather, the diversion of crops towards biofuels, and a lack of maintenance.
5. Gender ? 5/10
Women who live in rural areas are knowledgeable about seeds, crops and water. Their expertise could be harnessed to develop strategies on how to produce more food in a warming world. But so far, this has been a wasted opportunity: less than 5% of women in West Asia and North Africa own land, which means they have no incentive to invest and can't choose how it is farmed. They are also shut off from vital weather information, which tends to be passed between men in public spaces, and is rarely passed on to the women.
6. Public agricultural investment ? 7/10
Adequate public investment in agriculture is essential in helping food producers become more resilient to climate change, but assistance to agriculture has been slashed during the last 30 years. Investment has fallen from around 43% in the late 1980s to around 7% today.
This is despite a pledge from African leaders in 2003 to increase their spending on agricultural to 10% of their national budgets. A decade later, just four out of 20 countries surveyed have met this target.
7. Agricultural research gap ? 2/10
Research can help scientists figure out how to prepare the agricultural sector for a warmer world. Over the last 100 years, global seed diversity has declined by 75%, depriving communities of plants that may have been better suited to the local climate. Research can recover old varieties and develop new ones, but the investment is not yet there. In poor countries, an average of just $0.55 is spent on research per $100 of agricultural output, compared to $2.16 in rich nations.
8. Crop irrigation gap ? 1/10
Over 80% of global agriculture, and 95% in Africa , is kept watered by the rain. As climate change disrupts the once predictable cycles of wet weather, farmers across the world will suffer.
In southern Europe , just 16% of land is irrigated, leaving them poorly equipped for a hotter and drier climate. In Africa, the problem is even worse, with irrigation covering less than 1% of arable land in Niger , Burkina Faso and Chad . In many developing countries, the irrigation that does exist is restricted to big industrial farms, starving communities and small-scale irrigation projects of water.
9. Crop insurance gap ? 2/10
Farmers can depend on insurance to help them cope with climate change shocks ? but only if they're covered. But the majority of farmers across the globe are not. While 91% of farmers in the US have crop insurance, this compares to only 50% in Australia , 15% in India , 10% in China and 1% in Malawi and most low-income countries.
10. Weather monitoring gap ? 3/10
Data on what the weather's going to be like is important in guiding farmers on how to look after their crops. But the concentration of weather stations varies greatly around the world, and is particularly low in the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
While in California , for instance, there is a weather station every 2,000km square, in Chad , they only make an appearance every 80,000km square ? an area roughly the size of Australia ? which means the data may not even be relevant to their location.
|March 27, 2014||
What Do World's Two Biggest Dangers Have In Common?
by David Swanson , Warisacrime.org, Countercurrents
Anyone who cares about our natural environment should be marking with great sadness the centenary of World War I. Beyond the incredible destruction in European battlefields, the intense harvesting of forests, and the new focus on the fossil fuels of the Middle East, the Great War was the Chemists' War. Poison gas became a weapon -- one that would be used against many forms of life.
Insecticides were developed alongside nerve gases and from byproducts of explosives. World War II -- the sequel made almost inevitable by the manner of ending the first one -- produced, among other things, nuclear bombs, DDT, and a common language for discussing both -- not to mention airplanes for delivering both.
War propagandists made killing easier by depicting foreign people as bugs. Insecticide marketers made buying their poisons patriotic by using war language to describe the "annihilation" of "invading" insects (never mind who was actually here first). DDT was made available for public purchase five days before the U.S. dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. On the first anniversary of the bomb, a full-page photograph of a mushroom cloud appeared in an advertisement for DDT.
War and environmental destruction don't just overlap in how they're thought and talked about. They don't just promote each other through mutually reinforcing notions of machismo and domination. The connection is much deeper and more direct. War and preparations for war, including weapons testing, are themselves among the greatest destroyers of our environment. The U.S. military is a leading consumer of fossil fuels. From March 2003 to December 2007 the war on Iraq alone released more CO2 than 60% of all nations.
Rarely do we appreciate the extent to which wars are fought for control over resources the consumption of which will destroy us. Even more rarely do we appreciate the extent to which that consumption is driven by wars. The Confederate Army marched up toward Gettysburg in search of food to fuel itself. (Sherman burned the South, as he killed the Buffalo, to cause starvation -- while the North exploited its land to fuel the war.) The British Navy sought control of oil first as a fuel for the ships of the British Navy, not for some other purpose. The Nazis went east, among several other reasons, for forests with which to fuel their war. The deforestation of the tropics that took off during World War II only accelerated during the permanent state of war that followed.
Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. Perhaps the most deadly weapons left behind by wars are land mines and cluster bombs. Tens of millions of them are estimated to be lying around on the earth. The Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan have destroyed or damaged thousands of villages and sources of water. The Taliban has illegally traded timber to Pakistan, resulting in significant deforestation. U.S. bombs and refugees in need of firewood have added to the damage. Afghanistan's forests are almost gone. Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants.
The United States fights its wars and even tests its weapons far from its shores, but remains pockmarked by environmental disaster areas and superfund sites created by its military. The environmental crisis has taken on enormous proportions, dramatically overshadowing the manufactured dangers that lie in Hillary Clinton's contention that Vladimir Putin is a new Hitler or the common pretense in Washington, D.C., that Iran is building nukes or that killing people with drones is making us safer rather than more hated. And yet, each year, the EPA spends $622 million trying to figure out how to produce power without oil, while the military spends hundreds of billions of dollars burning oil in wars fought to control the oil supplies. The million dollars spent to keep each soldier in a foreign occupation for a year could create 20 green energy jobs at $50,000 each. The $1 trillion spent by the United States on militarism each year, and the $1 trillion spent by the rest of the world combined, could fund a conversion to sustainable living beyond most of our wildest dreams. Even 10% of it could.
When World War I ended, not only did a huge peace movement develop, but it was allied with a wildlife conservation movement. These days, those two movements appear divided and conquered. Once in a blue moon their paths cross, as environmental groups are persuaded to oppose a particular seizure of land or military base construction, as has happened in recent months with the movements to prevent the U.S. and South Korea from building a huge naval base on Jeju Island, and to prevent the U.S. Marine Corps from turning Pagan Island in the Northern Marianas into a bombing range. But try asking a well-funded environmental group to push for a transfer of public resources from militarism to clean energy or conservation and you might as well be trying to tackle a cloud of poison gas.
I'm pleased to be part of a movement just begun at WorldBeyondWar.org , already with people taking part in 57 nations, that seeks to replace our massive investment in war with a massive investment in actual defense of the earth. I have a suspicion that big environmental organizations would find great support for this plan were they to survey their members.
David Swanson's wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition . He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org . He hosts Talk Nation Radio . Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook .
|March 27, 2014||
What Climate "Injustice" Means For Poorer Communities
by Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture, Countercurrents
While the ecological and infrastructure impacts of climate change are becoming ever more self-evident, what about the social impacts? Do the impacts of climate change show that "we are all in this together", or are its impacts unevenly felt across society? Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) recently published a report called Climate Change and Social Justice: an evidence review which looked at this in more depth (as did a recent Oxfam report). It coins the term "climate injustice" and offers some very useful insights on community resilience in the face of climate change, and what that means for different communities. We talked to Katherine Knox, Programme Manager at JRF, who co-ordinates the Foundation's work on climate change issues.
From your research and from the recent floods, who can we argue will be most impacted and affected by climate change?
There are going to be impacts in many ways across the country. We’re looking at the UK in particular rather than internationally, and obviously there are different issues that might apply internationally from in the UK. What we’ve been thinking about is the multidimensional nature of vulnerability. If we think about flooding specifically, it’s easy just to focus on who lives in the floodplain areas, but not to think about the nature of how peoples’ wellbeing might be affected by the impacts. What JRF research has suggested is that there are particular factors that may make people more vulnerable and affect their wellbeing more.
There are some personal factors, so if you’re very old or very young you might struggle for particular reasons, ability and dependency on others might be an issue, if you’re in a care situation obviously you’re dependent on the care institution to support you in the context of a problem. But there are other factors. If we think about the environmental factors, it’s not just a case of whether you live in a floodplain, but also the nature of the built environment and natural environment around you.
If you’re in a basement flat you’re obviously going to be worse off than someone who’s in a highrise flat in terms of the impacts it might have upon you. Then there are questions about whether there are green spaces or “blue spaces” that might absorb water within your environmental surrounds which might make a big difference in terms of flood impacts.
Then if we think about the social factors which are perhaps the least well thought about at the moment, there are a range of things. We know for instance that people on low incomes are much less likely to take up flood insurance and so they might be particularly affected. Not only because they are affected in terms of the loss of their possessions, but also because they have less ability to then recover from those problems because they don’t have insurance and less of a safety net.
Other social concerns would be things like peoples’ social networks and if you’re isolated that you might be particularly at risk and more vulnerable, whereas if you’ve got social networks or people who can support you in the context of a crisis and help you recover from the event. We think vulnerability relates peoples’ ability to prepare for flooding and to respond and recover, as well as some of those other things that might be more familiar in terms of thinking about the impacts.
What does resilience to climate change look like, in particular for poorer communities?
It’s something that’s not really very well understood at the moment, and actually it’s the focus of work that we’ll be taking forward more in the next phase of our research here, but we do think that there’s a question of understanding how the social context and social fabric works in an area, so social links might be really important in terms of people’s ability to then get support from each other as well as thinking about some of the other provisions in place.
We’ve been doing some work in York in an area called New Earswick, initially first developed by Rowntree to provide housing for some of the workers in his factory. Over the years it’s an area that has grown and new housing has come on stream, but it remains a predominantly low income social housing area and we’ve been trying to work with people about some of the issues. What we found was that to awaken peoples’ interest in terms of what might be going on, in an area where there’s not a context of a threat from flooding or anything particular that’s happening at this point in time, people need to be connected through their local interests, rather than wider questions about sustainability and climate change.
The issue there was about tapping into local interests in nature and the natural environment, so there are lots of fruit trees that have been put in peoples’ gardens in these areas, which were not actually really well used, so one of the activities was done with the community was to support fruit picking and getting people working together in a natural environment.
There were some big initiatives to support tree planting and other activities in the environment that brought people together who didn’t necessarily know each other previously. The people we worked with were also very actively working in the schools in the area to support schoolchildren to start thinking about these issues. Those things that connected into peoples’ wider activities were really important in terms of getting people to start making links. So we think that might be a really important part of resilience to climate change, but again it’s not something that necessarily might be a focus, and it might need to take different forms in different places in terms of what you can actually do to engage people.
It sounds like research that very much supports and validates the approach that Transition groups have been taking for the past few years...
Yes indeed. In a context where there wasn’t a Transition group in that area. We were trying to support similar ideas I think.
Your recent report talked about the ‘Triple Injustice’, where people on low incomes pay more and benefit less from certain policy responses, especially energy bills, and are those responsible for the least emissions. In the context of that observation, was the government right recently to cut back on what it called ‘green taxes’, claiming that they were socially regressive?
That raises lots of questions actually. The general position here at JRF is that we recognise that we need to have a transition to deal with the consequences of climate change, and therefore we do need to provide funding to enable that change to happen. What’s happened is that some of the monies that are being raised to make that transition to a low carbon economy are being applied through peoples’ energy bills, rather than perhaps through general taxation. So, as a general principle, it’s more regressive to putting costs onto energy bills than paying things through taxation because lower income households pay a higher proportion of their income towards energy bills than people on higher incomes.
But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to take the steps to make the transition happen, and indeed fund them. There are questions about how you pay for things, and that can be done in different ways. What is also interesting is what are different measures that have been put on peoples’ energy bills, and there are a range of different things that are being applied, and actually some of the levies that are being put through are actually being applied to fund measures that many people will benefit from, and others are being applied and will only benefit a smaller number of people, people on higher incomes.
Is it possible to suggest whether the current austerity programme is helping or hindering communities’ ability to build resilience to climate change?
I think in general, JRF’s work is indicating lots of problems with the emerging picture on that side. We are concerned about how peoples’ incomes are being reduced in general, in such a way that will also affect their ability to deal with things like their fuel bills. There is a wider problem really. We perhaps haven’t looked at the detail of how those things connect, in terms of austerity and the links to climate change. In general, peoples’ ability to deal with a wide range of challenges they face is being affected, economic and social questions as well as environmental questions.
What’s your sense of the balance between adaptation and mitigation?
Clearly there is a question about the need to mitigate as a first priority to reduce emissions. What’s concerning is that the scientists are basically suggesting we need to peak our emissions within the next 10+ years, so there’s not a huge window of opportunity to peak global emissions now. There are really big questions around what international agreements can deliver, and then how those play out down at different national scales and within countries.
The question then becomes how are we going to adapt as well, because we know already that there are so many emissions in the atmosphere that we are going to have the consequences of those emissions in terms of climate change already happening. We’ve already seen the devastating floods that we’ve had recently here, even though the attribution is difficult in terms of climate change we can expect to see more frequent flooding, so we are going to have to adapt.
There are really big questions about how we are going to protect different communities, who has a voice in decisions that are going to be made, which resourcing is going to be put in, which are getting more focused now than perhaps they have been in the past, but are really important questions nationally. There are real issues there about smaller and more rural communities and how they will be protected in the future.
Our theme this month is ‘living with climate change’. Can you give us a sense of what living with climate change will look like for the poorest communities in the UK? What would it look like if we responded adequately, and what would it look like if we didn’t?
Some of our work already indicates that the poorest and lowest income households, the most disadvantaged groups, are already likely to be among those worst hit, both from climate impacts themselves but also the consequences of policy responses as indicated in our energy work. There are potentially very negative outcomes unless action is taken.
The alternative is to try and engage people now and use processes that we have, whether that’s Neighbourhood Planning, or community action through Transition groups and other opportunities to try and galvanise people to understand what the implications might be, and try to engage them in developing responses. However, I think that’s not just an issue for disadvantaged communities, that’s a national issue that really need attention from central government and from different stakeholders and from local government and others too, rather than just being an issue for disadvantaged groups.
In Transition, one of our conclusions is that local economies are key to building community resilience. That localisation is a powerful part of that. To what extent do you think that appropriate localisation could have a role to play in building community resilience?
I think it’s a really valid question and I’d be really interested to see how the learning from the Transition movement can help us in that. There is a wider debate at the moment about the need for more sustainable prosperity, the question of how growth creates prosperity, or what the limits are to the current economic model nationally, and so it relates to some of those questions. There are opportunities to have more of an asset-based approach locally, where we think about what skills and opportunities exist within an area and how those can support local economic development. That’s a really interesting area.
If you had the ear of the current government, what would be two or three things that you would recommend them to do in terms of helping low income communities to build more resilience to climate change?
There’s something about looking at what the impacts are more effectively. Our work has highlighted where think some of the most disadvantaged communities might be across the UK in relation to both flood and heat, but I’m not aware of this kind of thinking being taken up nationally in terms of thinking about preparedness and how we respond and how we prioritise responses. There’s not enough fine grain thinking about which people and places we need to support most effectively, there’s more of a general approach being taken.
So I would suggest that first we need to have a better understanding of vulnerability, and how that might inform what we do. That’s the vulnerability to the direct effects of climate change. Secondly we need to look at the current policy position, and try to create a more fair policy approach. What tends to happen is that policies aren’t really considered in terms of their distributional impacts very effectively. So if you look at energy policies, what should be happening when they’re being put in place is that there’s a proper understanding of how those policies will impact on different types of households, and where we know there are going to be negative impacts on particular groups there should be steps take to prevent that, or remediate it in some way or to design policy differently so that those things aren’t so regressive.
Thirdly I think there’s something about a process of engagement and trying to bring peoples’ voice into this discussion. I don’t think at the moment there’s enough communication from centre to communities themselves to actually understand peoples’ views and to try and bring people on a journey of understanding collectively as to what climate change might mean for them and then what the opportunities are for action.
Some of that action needs to be driven from communities themselves and needs to more of a kind of dialogue really, from central government and down through local government and other organisations, and the voluntary sector to make those links and start saying “what do we do”, “what are we going to where the impacts may be really acute?”
Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and of the Transition Network. This grew out of many years experience in education, teaching permaculture and natural building, and setting up the first 2 year full-time permaculture course in the world, at Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland, as well as co-ordinating the first eco-village development in Ireland to be granted planning permission. Rob is author of The Transition Handbook: from oil dependence to local resilience, which has been published in a number of languages, and which was voted the 5th most popular book taken on holiday by MPs during the summer of 2008, and more recently of The Transition Companion: making your community more resilient in uncertain times, published in October 2011. He publishes the blog www.transitionculture.org, recently voted ‘the 4th best green blog in the UK
|March 27, 2014||
On Climate Impasse: Appetite And Substitutes
by Subhankar Banerjee, Climatestorytellers.org, Countercurrents
Oso is a small rural community along the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River. It’s in the State of Washington, where I live. As of Wednesday morning, the death toll in the tragic mudslide in Oso has reached 24, and is expected to rise, with another 176 people still missing, although some may have been double–counted. It’s being called “one of the deadliest [mudslides] in recent U.S. history.” The near–record rainfall this month has been attributed as the likely cause of the mudslide. Although Washington residents are used to rain, this recent deluge seems like an extreme weather event.
Warm air holds more moisture, and consequently a globally warmed earth will cause more precipitation in some locations (while other places might suffer from extreme droughts). According to the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, some of the impacts of climate change in the Pacific Northwest include: “Decreased mountain snowpack; earlier snowmelt; higher winter streamflow in rivers that depend on snowmelt; higher winter streamflow in rain–fed river basins if winter precipitation increases in the future as projected; and increased landslides due to increased winter rainfall.” As the earth continues to warm, it is likely that there will be more frequent and deadly mudslides in Washington, not unlike the current one in Oso.
On Monday, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change plans to release the second part, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, of the multi–part Fifth Assessment Report. Till then, here is a bit more on climate impasse.
This piece is part II of a multi–part exploration on ‘climate impasse’. Most nation states are not interested in solving the climate crisis. This state of collective global inaction is what I call climate impasse. For the sake of continuity, I’ll repeat one paragraph from part I:
In part I, I had discussed mass consumption that you can read here. Let us now move forward, with Progress.
Progress As Paradox
Progress is a promise—for a better life. Some contemporary critics, however, have framed Progress as a modern myth. Philosopher John Gray’s book, The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths (2013), and writer Chris Hedges’ recent lecture “The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies” (26 January 2014), are notable examples.
In the pursuit of Progress, freedom is perhaps the most desirable aspiration. The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s incarcerated people; and tops the list on the rate of incarceration, with Rwanda occupying the second spot. With more than two and a quarter million people in prison (at year–end 2011); nearly seven million adults in correctional supervision (in 2011); more than 70,000 juveniles in detention (in 2010); and inmates in offshore gulags like Guantánamo—to think that America is the “land of the free” is an illusion. So, yes, Progress is a myth.
For the purpose of interpreting the climate impasse, however, I’d frame Progress, not as a myth, but as a paradox. Progress is as real as an apple, and it can also hold contradictions.
When I was growing up in India, I used to take bath with exactly one bucket of water. All aspects of taking a bath—pre–soak, putting body soap and shampoo, and finally rinse—would get accomplished with about twenty litres of water. Then, when I came to America, twenty–three years ago, in the desert of New Mexico, I started taking bath by standing underneath a modern invention, called shower, where a combination of hot and cold water flowed. The shower had significantly improved my experience of taking a bath. I tasted Progress. But that Progress came at what cost? By the time I finished taking a bath, I had no idea how many litres I had used, maybe 100, maybe less, maybe more, no one was counting.
Many activists and scholars point out that fresh water is becoming the scarcest resource, which will have severe consequences for human and nonhuman life on earth. As you can see Progress improves the quality of life for some, while degrades or destroys the same for others. In this sense, Progress is a paradox. I can also give examples where Progress simultaneously improves and degrades the quality of life for the same individual. But let’s move on to climate impasse.
Greed Is Good
“Aren’t the super rich worried about global warming?”
Those two questions have been on the minds of many people lately. The one answer I’ve come across more often than any other is: “Super rich are greedy bastards.”
To begin with, it’s a myth that super rich are not worried about global warming. They are. How else do you explain the fact that the not–climate–denying left–leaning philanthropist Bill Gates is perhaps the lead financier of geoengineering, and the climate–denying right–wing institutions, such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute are among the grand plan’s cheerleaders? In part III, I’ll say more about this nexus.
Secondly, there is no such thing as climate deniers anymore; it’s a myth, a farce. The so–called climate deniers, do believe that global warming is happening, that this time it is anthropogenic, that it is getting worse by the day, and that money could be made from the crisis. The tobacco industry was never worried that smoking that increases the risk of cancer could actually destroy that industry. The climate denying industry, however, is probably convinced by now that unless a quick fix is found (geoengineering is a candidate), anthropogenic global warming will destroy global capitalism, the very foundation that makes super rich—richer. In fact, anthropogenic global warming is the only thing that can destroy predatory capitalism. In this sense, the climate deniers are different than all the other Merchants of Doubts of the yesteryears. If you prefer calling people out by names, then I’d suggest that you start using ‘climate imposters’ instead.
Now, back to the “greedy bastards”. How did that subspecies evolve? To understand that evolution we need to look at three distinct phases of American consumption: consumption that shows that a person is rich; consumption that shows that a nation is rich; and finally, mass consumption.
In part I, I said much about mass consumption. Let us now turn our attention to the first two forms of consumption.
More than a century ago, in his pathbreaking book, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), economist–sociologist Thorstein Veblen had introduced the dark side of American consumption. It was the first in–depth socio–economic analysis of American consumption. That book isn’t an old relic, however, but a book of immense contemporary relevance, as the latest edition suggests (Oxford University Press, 2007). In that landmark study, Veblen had introduced the concept of ‘conspicuous consumption’, which is the form of consumption that makes visible that a person is indeed rich. While a rich person shows off with ‘conspicuous consumption’, the nation embraces the notion that ‘greed is good’.
The next phase of consumption shows that the whole nation is indeed rich. That concept was brilliantly articulated by economist John Kenneth Galbraith in his influential book, The Affluent Society (1958). That book isn’t an old relic either. The 40th anniversary edition is still in print (Mariner Books, 1998), and being read by many, including this writer. It isn’t Galbraith’s The Affluent Society, however, but instead, an eleven–page rather obscure essay he wrote in that same year, in 1958, to which we will turn our attention soon.
The Tragic Story of Joe
To understand climate impasse, we have to cast a net large enough to catch much more than just the “greedy bastards”. If you blow the dust away, and scrape the surface a bit, you will see that there is a common ground among…climate imposters, climate not–imposters, climate activists, and climate scientists. This common ground is commonly known as Progress. Of course, the motivations and aspirations of those four groups vary widely. Nevertheless, they are connected at the umbilical cord through their faith in Progress.
“Give me good statistics, hard facts, and hyperlinks that work, to back up your outrageous accusation,” an editor might shout. But, I’m neither a statistician, nor a politician; as a rhetorician, the best I can do is to begin with a fable instead: the tragic story of Joe. Joe is a glutton, loves potato, has diabetes.
Joe’s story is a good starting point for responding to a question that a climate activist might ask: “If we replace fossil fuels with clean, alternative technologies, won’t we be able to solve the climate crisis?”
Our daily life—from brushing teeth in the morning, to brushing teeth at night, before going to bed—is profoundly dependent on petroleum products and byproducts (not unlike potato in Joe’s diet). While we can certainly substitute some aspects of our lives with “clean, alternative technologies” (not unlike Joe, who was ready to substitute potato with broccoli), it is impossible for us to extrude ourselves from petroleum (not unlike how Joe found it impossible to give up on potato)—unless we fundamentally change how we live.
But What of the Appetite Itself?
Joe’s story highlights two concepts: ‘appetite’ and ‘substitutes’. While appetite is a human attribute, substitutes are either found in nature, or are products of Progress. The idea of appetite and substitutes, as it relates to materials consumption and conservation, was first articulated by John Kenneth Galbraith in an essay, “How Much Should a Country Consume?” that appeared in the anthology, Perspectives on Conservation: Essays on America’s Natural Resources (1958). In it, he had analyzed the unsustainability of materials consumption in America.
Galbraith had first acknowledged the important contribution that the conservationists had made in “dramatizing the vast appetite which the United States has developed for materials of all kinds.” He further went onto to say that “we now recognize [this appetite] to be exponential.” And finally, he critiqued the conservationists’ approach to addressing the issue of impending resource crisis: by increasing supply; by increasing efficiency; and by developing substitutes.
We are in a very similar situation today. The US is projected to become the largest oil producer in the world by around 2020. Additionally, the Obama administration is rapidly increasing the supply of natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, across the nation. The Environmental Defense Fund, a conservation organization, has been cheerleading the fracking boom.
The climate activist organizations, however, are campaigning to decrease production through the fossil fuels divestment campaign, and various resistance movements across geographies—Arctic, Alberta, Cove Point. Furthermore, the carbon ‘fee–and–dividend’ system that climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has proposed, is another attempt at reducing fossil fuels production. It should be noted, however, that both the divestment campaign and the ‘fee–and–dividend’ system rely on substitutes—that “clean, alternative technologies” will save the day.
Moreover, conservationists are championing projects that increase efficiency (the work of Amory Lovins, for example), and develop substitutes (“clean, alternative technologies”).
“But what of the appetite itself?” Galbraith had asked. “Surely this is the ultimate source of the problem. If it continues its geometric course, will it not one day have to be restrained? Yet in the literature of resource problem this is the forbidden question. Over it hangs a nearly total silence.”
Six decades later, we are faced with a similar “silence.” The Green Consumerism has hijacked the discussion of appetite (that Galbraith had suggested) and turned it into an optimistic, but deeply flawed and exploitative, future with green substitutes. “We can’t buy our way to a green planet,” is how Kendra Pierre–Louis articulates it.
At this juncture, I’d note that an attempt to get rid of fossil fuels, without also addressing the appetite, and believing in efficiency and substitutes to solve the climate crisis—is eventually a road to Mordor.
As I noted in part I, and will repeat here again: many people and communities are indeed addressing the issue of ‘appetite’, and many individuals are quietly practicing—living with less.
Let us now turn our attention to the follies of efficiency and substitutes.
Why Does the NSA Hate Efficiency?
The promise of solving resource crisis through efficiency has been thoroughly debunked. Consider this as an example. Personal automobiles have certainly become more fuel efficient. But the sizes of cars, at the same time, have gone up, up, and up. We may have forgotten that only a few years ago there was a craze for Hummers! And, you might not even know that almost exactly a decade ago, in 2005, the International RXT and International MXT were introduced at the Chicago Auto Show. At that time, some popular public figures, including Ashton Kutcher, Roy Jones Jr., Shaquille O’Neal, and Jalen Rose had given those cars visibility, by owning it—an example of twenty–first century ‘conspicuous consumption’. To give you an idea about how monstrous those cars were, the RXT weighted nearly three times, and the MXT about twice, the weight of a Hummer H1.
You might think that I’ve just given an extreme example that may never become an object of mass consumption. In the 1960s how many people would have imagined that half a century later, many middle–income families would own a 5,000+ sq feet home with three–car garage and large lawn, in a suburbia, in the water–stressed desert southwest? But that is the reality today in places like Phoenix—yet another example of ‘conspicuous consumption’.
Fortunately, the craze for Hummers, and the possibility of RXT and MXT as personal vehicles, faded away (blame it on the economic depression), and good many people happily opted for something smaller—one of the many gas–guzzling SUVs. But, America will soon be the largest oil producer in the world. Then, don’t be surprised if you see—Hummers, RXT, MXT, or their successors—further clogging up the already clogged up streets, from Seattle to Bellevue, and back.
There is nothing wrong with efficiency though. It’s just that as soon as we get efficient, we want more efficiency. Nowhere is this tendency more visible than in communication. We are communicating with each other with such efficiency that our attention span is diminishing rapidly, and steadily reaching toward the duration of a hummingbird’s wing beat. This super–efficiency is costing the US taxpayers serious money, like the whopping $2 billion that the NSA had to spend for building the largest Spy Center in America (in Bluffdale, Utah), to process all of our very efficient, and the enormous heaps of communications data that we are rapidly generating by using varieties of electronic gadgets.
“But why bring up speedy communication during a conversation on climate impasse?” you might ask. Wait till you hear about the connection between electronic gadgets and hybrid cars.
Now, back to substitutes.
The Delusion of Substitutes
Remember the biofuel–as–clean–alternative–energy boom? The production of biofuel started in the mid 90s, and had turned into a boom, after the Bush administration passed a law in 2005 that required refiners to mix large quantities of biofuel into gasoline. Less than a few years later, however, the boom had become a colossal bust—economically (for the “greedy bustards”), ecologically (biodiversity loss), and socially (destruction of indigenous communities). The icing on the cake was that the damn thing wasn’t even “clean” as promised, and contributed significantly to climate change.
The whole charade was nothing more than a delusion, as Mario Giampietro and Kazo Mayumi point out in their book, The Biofuel Delusion: The Fallacy of Large Scale Agro–Biofuels Production (2009).
Here are three quotes from articles published during 2008–2009 that I think collectively sum up the folly of the biofuel–as–clean–alternative–energy substitute:
Not unlike his predecessor, President Obama (with champion of fracking Ernest Moniz as the Secretary of Energy) is now drumming up a new charade—natural–gas–as–somewhat–clean–but–not–so–alternative–nevertheless–bridge–fuel. How long do you think before this delusion will be over and we nosedive into yet another colossal bust—ecological, social, and economic?
“Wait a minute, there are ways we can drive around and not pollute,” a friend insists. “Hybrid vehicles reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, right?”
The batteries on those cars, however, require hard–to–find rare earth elements. To meet our ravenous appetite for batteries for hybrid vehicles and varieties of electronic gadgets, the mining companies are now pushing to pry open the deep seabed, to extract “precious metals, methane gas, and rare minerals.” On 16 February at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago, “Deep–Ocean Industrialization: A New Stewardship Frontier,” scientists warned that the deep–sea ecosystems are now under threat of mass industrializations, and urged international co–operation and stewardship.
The prospect of deep ocean industrialization, forces us to think about varieties of ‘new frontiers’. To satisfy the promise of Progress, nation states are continuously looking for substitutes, in new frontiers. As you can see, Progress is intimately connected to climate impasse. The subject of new frontiers, however, is rather large. I’ll discuss it in part III. I’d also note here that, after reading part I, some readers complained about my silence on the subject of population. Population will be in part IV, when we discuss extinction.
Perhaps Joe could have lived a while longer, if the doctor had focused primarily on appetite, and to a lesser degree on substitutes.
Subhankar Banerjee is a photographer, writer, and activist. His most recent book is Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Seven Stories Press). He was recently Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Fordham University in New York, received Distinguished Alumnus Award from the New Mexico State University, and Cultural Freedom Award from Lannan Foundation. For more information visit his website www.subhankarbanerjee.org
Copyright 2014 Subhankar Banerjee
|March 27, 2014||
Ukraine Crisis Highlights Ugly Global Energy Truths
by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, Countercurrents
Anyone who thinks the crisis now unsettling Ukraine is purely about a people's quest for democracy and "the madness" of Vladimir Putin would be mistaken.
Ukraine, a semi-failed state due to energy debt and corruption, merely illustrates the new energy politics now unsettling governments from the United States to Crimea. It represents our collective global future, should governments and citizens continue to ignore energy flows and budgets.
The story should be familiar to most North Americans. In U.S. political lingo, Ukraine is a blue state dependent on energy imports from Russia, the powerful red state next door. They share a tense master-slave relationship.
The West, including the fantastically indebted G7 club, thinks it has some moral authority in this dispute, but has its own shackles to worry about. It doesn't export much energy these days, and it is singing the economic stagnation blues because cheap energy is disappearing.
Moreover, Western leaders ignore the realities of a shrinking global economy that can't grow on high-cost energy.
Russia, a true petro state, sits on one-fifth of the world's natural gas supply. About one-third of the natural gas burnt in Europe comes from Russia via Ukraine, which once housed the Russian capital centuries ago. In addition, Russia almost exports as much oil as Saudi Arabia.
Not surprisingly, Putin gets his political mojo from oil and gas revenues just as Margaret Thatcher once secured her power base on proceeds from the North Sea. Nearly 50 per cent of Russia's total budget depends on the sale of hydrocarbons.
Oil and gas production monopolize export revenues, and Russian GDP dances with oil production. Gazprom, Russia's gas monopoly, is as big as ExxonMobil. Only petrodollars could have fuelled the wasteful Olympic spending at Sochi.
Putin knows energy collapse
Let's be clear about this: Russia is a major energy exporter and global power. It plays the same role in Europe and the former Soviet Union that Texas, Wyoming and Alaska perform in North America: they, too, are red states with volatile and extreme politics.
Putin and U.S. Republicans share a common reality: they derive their power from energy revenues, and their retain their support by distributing petrodollars to their friends and allies.
Unlike the U.S. media, or Canadian politicians for that matter, Putin also knows what an energy collapse looks like. The Soviet Union experienced one in the late 1980s due to an internal oil crisis and rising oil prices.
It then suffered what Putin calls "the largest geopolitical catastrophe of the century." Stagflation, unemployment and gangsters walked over the corpse of the U.S.S.R., which, much like the U.S., spent its energy reserves badly on big armies, big space dreams and big, unsustainable unions.
So Putin, a master chessman, understands the critical importance of strategic energy flows. With just a few turns of a Gazprom valve, much of Europe freezes.
Ever since winning independence in 1991, Ukraine has been a poor blue state and energy slave. (And for much of its history, Ukraine has written one bloody political opera after another in eastern Europe: imagine a Guatemala with wheat and Cossacks.)
Half of Ukraine's gas comes from Russia, and at one time the heavily industrialized Ukraine was Gazprom's biggest and most prized customer. Ukrainians primarily use the gas to power electrical generation and heat apartment buildings.
Gas corrodes political systems
Over the last decade, Ukrainian and Russian politics have been dominated by gas wars. Whenever Ukraine has leaned too far to the West, Russia has pulled the nation back with an assortment of energy carrots and sticks. When Russia threatened to turn off the gas in 2006, Ukraine threatened to shut down the gas transit system.
The energy wars in 2006 and 2009 didn't change Ukraine's dependency, because too many middlemen make huge profits off the gas business with ritualized corruption. About one out of five cubic feet of gas passing through Ukraine goes to profiteers and Ukraine's elites. (Russia has almost completed a gas pipeline system that goes around Ukraine.)
In addition, the Ukrainian government subsidizes gas consumption in the country to keep a lid on political volatility. These subsidies, in turn, have generated a massive debt load. Ukraine, whose economy resembles many of Europe's basket cases, owes Gazprom more than $2 billion.
The International Monetary Fund recently described Ukraine's corrupt energy sector as wildly "inefficient and opaque" where "overall energy subsidies in Ukraine reached about 7.5 per cent of GDP in 2012. The very low tariffs for residential gas and district heating cover only a fraction of economic costs and encourage one of the highest energy consumption levels in Europe."
But in some respects Ukraine's energy woes aren't much different than those of the U.S., which has no energy policy other than fracking its landscapes with pornographic gusto. Two U.S. academics summed up Ukraine this way in 2009, but they could have been describing Canada, Mexico or England:
"The needs of the nation, for today and tomorrow, are consistently overridden by short-term political expediency and personal gain, creating a corrosive effect on the entire political system, as it contributes to a broad loss of faith in the political process among the Ukrainian public."
Because a few oligarchs can make a lot of money on the honeypot of fossil fuels, renewables remain less than one per cent of Ukraine's energy make-up.
US fracking cowboys kick into gear
Meanwhile, America's cowboy fracking industry (it actually spends more than it makes) has tried to make inroads in Ukraine, which has Europe's third-largest shale reserves. The cowboys talked up energy independence, because the destruction of farmland and groundwater make a poor incentive to invest in shale gas.
In 2013, the Ukrainian government signed a $10-billion deal with U.S. multinational Chevron. Shell signed a similar agreement. But these deals are now in energy limbo thanks to Putin. (He predictably disparages fracking as an environmental disaster.)
After Russia invaded Crimea, which it gave to Ukraine in 1954, U.S. Republicans, largely funded by oil and gas companies losing money due to a self-made and temporary natural gas glut, demanded quicker approval for liquified natural gas terminals.
They claimed that U.S. shale gas could bring energy dependence to Europe and Ukraine, and thereby kick Putin's arse.
But the MIT Technological Review challenged this. It noted that the U.S. has only one LNG facility, in Alaska. Another five have been approved, but only one is under construction. The complex facilities cost about $20 billion each and take years to build.
The shale business, a retirement party for industry, is also struggling with rapid depletion. It might eventually deliver some expensive gas to Europe, but don't bet on it. In any case, Putin's strategic energy advantage remains safe for some time.
The Europeans, of course, have built more LNG terminals and storage facilities in wake of the Ukrainian gas wars. They are also buying more gas from Norway and less from Russia. But they are still dependent.
The globalization and integration of natural gas markets will likely create more energy volatility, not less. Political upheaval in Indonesia, for example, disrupted gas supplies to Japan in 2003, forcing that country's utilities to burn oil instead of gas.
There will be more Ukraines
To date, Ukraine's crisis highlights a few energy truths:
• As long as energy prices remain high and fill government coffers, Putin will use energy to keep the former Soviet Union in his fold and to strut his stuff.
• It is unlikely that Ukraine will break free of its corrupt energy relationship with Russia anytime soon. Expect more oligarchs and instability.
• The West ignores its greatest vulnerability: unsustainable energy spending. Cheap energy created energy-intensive, capitalist, growth-oriented and market-driven systems, and expensive energy will unravel the miracle.
• Extreme and high-cost energy from unconventional resources, such as deep ocean oil and bitumen, with lower energy returns, has now constricted much of the industrial world and locked it in stagnation.
• Industrial nations are cannibalizing their economies to run faster on an energy treadmill. Strangely, they think Putin is mad.
• In this brave new world, energy exporters will behave like masters and energy importers will submit like slaves. And there will be more and more Ukraines.
U.S. ecologist Charles Hall recently defined the real problem in the journal Ecological Engineering:
"We think that future generations will look at our failure to think about, discuss intelligently, or prepare for the implications of peak oil, depletion of high-grade reserves of many critical metals, and continued population growth, as grand folly."
Andrew Nikiforuk has been writing about the oil and gas industry for nearly 20 years and cares deeply about accuracy, government accountability, and cumulative impacts. He has won seven National Magazine Awards for his journalism since 1989 and top honours for investigative writing from the Association of Canadian Journalists. Andrew has also published several books. The dramatic, Alberta-based Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig’s War Against Big Oil, won the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction in 2002. Pandemonium, which examines the impact of global trade on disease exchanges, received widespread national acclaim. The Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent, which considers the world’s largest energy project, was a national bestseller and won the 2009 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award and was listed as a finalist for the Grantham Prize for Excellence In Reporting on the Environment. Andrew's latest book, Empire of the Beetle, a startling look at pine beetles and the world’s most powerful landscape changer, was nominated for the Governor General’s award for Non-Fiction in 2011.
|March 31, 2014||
Crimean crisis: The smell Of American Hypocrisy In The Air
by Kourosh Ziabari, Countercurrents
The war of words between Russia and the United States is soaring these days over the sovereignty of the Crimean peninsula, and the White House officials are constantly directing accusations and excruciating verbal attacks against Kremlin in what seems to be the most serious dispute between Moscow and the West in the recent years.
The United States has pulled out all the stops to defeat and isolate Russia diplomatically, and has even gone so far as to impose economic sanctions against the Russian individuals and companies, and excluding Russia from the G8 group of the industrialized nations. The 40th G8 summit was slated to be held in Sochi, Russia on June 4-5, but following the suspension of Russia’s membership in the G8, the summit relocated to Brussels, Belgium, and it would be the first time that a G8 leaders’ convention is going to take place in a non-member state country. Some of the Western media outlets have even started to refer to G8 as G7, implying that Russia does not have any position in this influential group of the affluent, developed nations.
But as always, when it comes to flexing the muscles and showing political prowess, the United States and its partners are behaving in an intolerant, duplicitous and hypocritical manner. In a statement, the newly-termed G7 leaders reaffirmed that Russia’s “occupation of the Crimea” was against the principles of the G7 and contravened the United Nations Charter.
It’s interesting that the innumerable violations of the international law, the UN Charter and Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in time of War by the United States in the recent years have never caught the attention of the G8 leaders and never compelled them to at least consider warning the United States to behave more responsibly and respect the internationally recognized conventions and regulations or refraining from destroying and annihilating other nations through its “humanitarian” missions!
If Russia should be punished for sending troops to Crimea, while it’s legally entitled to do so, and if its military intervention in Crimea represents a violation of the UN Charter in the eyes of the Western leaders, then it will be taken for granted that all violations of the international law and the United Nations Charter should be reprimanded and responded appropriately and the wrongdoers should be penalized in a fair manner. If Russia has occupied a sovereign entity – which is of course not the case, and should bear the burden of sanctions and diplomatic isolation, it’s ok, but why shouldn’t the United States be castigated and prosecuted for the same reason? What makes the military intervention of Russia different from the wars the U.S. offhandedly wages across the world?
For those of us who willfully ignore the historical facts, it’s noteworthy that the Partition Treaty on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet signed between Russia and Ukraine on May 28, 1997, permits Russia to lawfully maintain up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems, 132 armored vehicles and 22 military planes on the Crimean peninsula. This agreement will be effective until 2017, and so it can be the most convincing logical justification for Russia’s military action in Crimea.
So, what has happened is not an “occupation” as the U.S. leaders claim, but that Russia has exercised its legal right for sending troops to a geographical area where the majority of inhabitants are ethnic Russians and don’t want to remain under the Ukraine autonomy and are overwhelmingly inclined to join Russia.
What every neutral and unbiased observer of the international political developments can easily note is that it’s the United States which is renowned for its hegemonic policies and its imperialistic modus operandi, not Russia. Russia’s intervention in Crimea took place after it felt that its national interests are being seriously endangered on its borders, where 58% of the population is consisted of indigenous Russians who prefer to be reunited with Russia, rather than being seen as an asset and prize for the United States under the leadership of a new government in Ukraine which has neo-fascist backgrounds.
The prominent American syndicated columnist and journalist Ted Rall has recently written on his website that there are traces of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the government of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk who has just come to power: “There’s no doubt that a Ukrainian nationalist strain runs deep in the new regime. It has been estimated that roughly 1/3 or more of the supporters of the new government come out of xenophobic, anti-Semitic, neo-fascist movements that draw much of their ideological heritage from the Nazi puppet regime that governed Ukraine under German occupation during World War II.”
So, on March 16, the Crimean parliament and the local government of Sevastopol held a public referendum in Crimea to give the citizens two choices for the future of their territory; either to remain associated with Ukraine or reunite with Russia. With a high turnout of 83.1% of the eligible voters, 96.77% of the participants in the plebiscite voted in favor of joining the Russian Federation. The United States and its allies didn’t hesitate to call the referendum as rigged and invalid, as they usually does with the elections in countries with which they are at odds. Washington even drafted a resolution in the United Nations Security Council to call the referendum null and void, but Russia used its veto power, while China abstained, and the United States simply pushed the General Assembly member states to pass a non-binding resolution, declaring the referendum invalid, which doesn’t seem to have any certain impact on the future of Crimea.
The policy of de-Russanization was long underway in the Crimean peninsula, and many other former Soviet Union republics, as Ted Rall elaborately details. Perhaps the fact that the Ukrainian Parliament Verkhovna Rada voted on February 23 to repeal the 2012 language law that had declared Russian an official language in Ukraine and allowed it to be used in the schools, media and official correspondence, was a driving force for the Crimean people to rise up and call for independence from Ukraine that they believed didn’t respect their cultural and lingual background.
The future of Crimea and the prospects of the marred relations between Russia and the West remain blurred and unknown, but the United States’ accusations that Russia is “occupying” Crimea and exerting military aggression and so should be punished with economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation sound gravely outrageous and entirely hypocritical. The United States has the biggest war machinery in the world, has been directly or indirectly involved in more than 50 wars and military strikes on other countries without the approval of the UN Security Council, and has incontestably perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As the prominent American lawyer and legal expert Marjorie Cohn has noted in a recent article, the United States is the largest user of unconventional and forbidden chemical weapons in the illegal wars it has waged across the globe. “The U.S. militarily occupied over 75% of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques for 60 years, during which time the Navy routinely practiced with, and used, Agent Orange, depleted uranium, napalm and other toxic chemicals and metals such as TNT and mercury. This occurred within a couple of miles of a civilian population that included thousands of U.S. citizens,” wrote Prof. Cohn.
“The use of any type of chemical weapon by any party would constitute a war crime. Chemical weapons that kill and maim people are illegal and their use violates the laws of war,” she added.
She also goes on to explain the use of chemical weapons by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria and also underlines that the majority of wars in which the United States has taken part were not ever approved by the Security Council. Aren’t these crimes a contravention of the UN Charter? Why don’t the G7 leaders and European Council and European Commission officials ever react to these violations? Does the United States have the prerogative to attack other countries and maim their people without any legal or moral justification and then get away with its crimes?
The United States is imparting a clear message by adopting this insincere and hypocritical approach toward Russia, which is also a message to other countries: We can invade your countries, we can kill your citizens, we can rule you tyrannically, we can behave in any way we desire, but if you do something which doesn’t please us, we will impose sanctions on you, we will banish you from international organizations, and we will come down on you like a ton of bricks. This is how the American hypocrisy works…
Kourosh Ziabari is an Journalist, writer and media correspondent
|March 31, 2014||
Climate Crisis: Reduce Meat, Dairy Consumption
by Countercurrents.org, Countercurrents
Greenhouse gas emissions from food production may threaten the UN climate target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, finds a research at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy and transportation sectors currently account for the largest share of climate pollution.
However, the study from Chalmers now shows that eliminating these emissions would not guarantee staying below the UN limit. Emissions from agriculture threaten to keep increasing as global meat and dairy consumption increases. If agricultural emissions are not addressed, nitrous oxide from fields and methane from livestock may double by 2070. This alone would make meeting the climate target essentially impossible.
"We have shown that reducing meat and dairy consumption is key to bringing agricultural climate pollution down to safe levels," says Fredrik Hedenus, one of the study authors. "Broad dietary change can take a long time. We should already be thinking about how we can make our food more climate friendly."
By 2070, there will be many more of us on this planet. Diets high in meat, milk, cheese, and other food associated with high emissions are expected to become more common. Because agricultural emissions are difficult and expensive to reduce via changes in production methods or technology, these growing numbers of people, eating more meat and dairy, entail increasing amounts of climate pollution from the food sector.
"These emissions can be reduced with efficiency gains in meat and dairy production, as well as with the aid of new technology," says co-author Stefan Wirsenius. "But the potential reductions from these measures are fairly limited and will probably not suffice to keep us within the climate limit, if meat and dairy consumption continue to grow."
Beef and lamb account for the largest agricultural emissions, relative to the energy they provide. By 2050, estimates indicate that beef and lamb will account for half of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, while only contributing 3 percent of human calorie intake. Cheese and other dairy products will account for about one quarter of total agricultural climate pollution.
|March 31, 2014||
Climate Crisis Is Increasing Insecurity
by Farooque Chowdhury, Countercurrents
Climate crisis generated increased insecurity is now boldly visible. IPCC, the global scientists’ panel on climate change, for the first time, has connected climate crisis to possibilities of conflicts.
The increasing insecurity is felt by the dominating global system and in concerned societies/economies.
Climate crisis has long ago reached the realm of geopolitics. Competition, geostrategy, and geo-tactical aspects are subtexts of climate crisis negotiations. A part of capital has already accepted the fact of climate crisis while a part is still busy with its dirty denial doings.
It’s the crook part of capital playing conservative. It’s the conservative character: deny changing reality, attempt to move backward, not only deny science, but also attempt to prove science wrong. Ultimately it comes to compromises or crashes down itself, a foolish consequence.
But geopolitics can’t rely on conservatism as reality is always changing, socioeconomic forces are confronting, and new forces are either emerging or changing position.
Or, geopolitics resorting to conservatism invites unhappy fate.
Not only geopolitics, security is also related to climate crisis. Actually, it’s the security of world powers that concerns the “guardians” of world affairs. Spheres of influence, countries/regions required for geopolitical “game”, are related to security concern of the world masters.
Citing the latest IPCC draft report AP on March 30, 2014 said: The climate crisis will complicate and worsen existing global security problems, such as civil wars, strife between countries and refugees. It will turn the reality more dangerous. Fights over resources including water and energy, hunger and extreme weather will destabilize the world.
Seven years ago, the Yokohama datelined AP report said, IPCC didn’t mention security issues. For the past seven years, social science has found more links between climate and conflict. Now, there are hundreds of studies on climate crisis and conflict.
It focused on the pressure on international governance that global warming will apply. “The pressures”, the report said, “caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world.” (ibid)
Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an NGO in the UK, in its report The Gathering Storm: climate change, security and conflict identified climate crisis as a possible “tipping point” for conflict, particularly in already fragile, post-war states.
Inaction on climate crisis, the report said, is the world’s “gravest threat to human and national security”. It cited warnings by military experts: Violence could escalate as a result of ever scarcer resources.
The issue has been raised by others also. About two years ago, the African Union considered climate crisis a security threat. About a year ago, G-8 ministers had, broadly, the same opinion. Last week, the US and EU said climate crisis is a threat to security and economy. The crisis, the two powers consider, is a “risk to global security”.
“[M]ilitary experts”, writes Sophie Yeo, “have reinforced that climate change could pose a threat to national security.” Retired US Brigadier General Chris King compared climate crisis to a “100 year war” without an exit strategy. (“Climate change is world’s ‘gravest security threat’ – report”, March 27, 2014)
Sir David King, the UK’s special representative on climate change, told MPs that climate change was an issue that needed to be “carefully addressed” by militaries across the world, due to their dependence on oil in conflict situations. (ibid.)
Militaries in a number of countries, as press reports say, have already started taking steps to face the crisis: a security risk. The steps range from relocation of bases to shifting of energy source, like, from hydrocarbon fuel to solar power.
No doubt, the steps will not be limited into the area of logistics. These will also cover areas of doctrine, strategy, tactics, training.
One can expect a new US-EU climate crisis strategy facing the rest of the world. The two powers will be “intensifying their cooperation” in climate diplomacy. They will have their joint bargaining chips for the periphery in areas of trade, growth, and development. It will be the old game with a new name: green growth, green trade, green export, green development, green aid and green diplomacy for conflict resolution.
But as the basic structure, regimes, pattern and relations will not be changed a cynic might add: green exploitation, green plunder, green appropriation, green loan, green interest, green dominance, green aggression and green intervention – a green show of force.
“Green” will be there in the world system, and all the old regimes of trade, loan, the so-called development assistance/aid and “cooperation” based on a dominance-subservience relation will be there. The US-EU-Japan triad, as Samir Amin identifies, is there occupying the global throne.
Questions of security/insecurity thus move in two spheres: in the sphere of dominating powers and in the sphere of dominated societies/economies.
Security/insecurity of the dominating powers’ is in two areas: within their societies and in the sphere of their dominance.
With increased vulnerabilities in many areas, death, hunger, destruction and damage (cities, infrastructure, utilities, etc.), drought, heatwave, flood, water shortage (mainly in cities and for irrigation), scarcity of food (fish, livestock, etc,), poverty and poor, the “key risks” as the IPCC identifies, economies in the periphery face the question of security/insecurity from within and from outside: the dominating powers and their wars, aggressions, interventions.
People face insecurity as food and water securities are threatened, their livelihood turns vulnerable, they face uncertain destination. The increasing insecurity in spheres of life and livelihood cuts down their democratic and human rights.
Mismanaged water resource is one example.
Tension and conflicts at regional level lurch around with increased competition for receding water from trans-boundary rivers. It damages in economy, displaces population, and ignites war.
Already a number of river basins in Asia had/are having the experience. The 251-kilometer Jordan River, the 2,700-kilometer Euphrates, the longest river in Southwestern Asia, the 2,540-kilometer Amu Darya, the longest river in Central Asia flow with tension and conflict.
Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan’s competition for control of the Amu Darya water “developed” to Uzbek troops, as was reported, taking control of water installations in Turkmenistan.
Parts of South Asia also face competition for water.
At the seemingly “heart” of the problems are intensified farming, increased irrigation, new hydroelectric dams, increased demand for fodder, etc. But is there any connection between these problems that are affecting millions of people and creating a security situation?
A closer look will find a common pattern: on the one hand, broadly, capitalist mode of production, and on the other, victim of the capitalist mode of production. The latter is the “product” of the mode of production.
The system is ever “hungry” for expansion; and it’s anarchic; and it’s based on narrowly defined self-interest. Its type of production creates causes for deterioration of nature, biodiversity and climate. Deterioration of climate affects nature, biodiversity and living condition of all life, not only human life. It’s like a multiplying act.
Capital’s expansionist hunger devours, defaces, destroys and demolishes everything around; and these in turn creates pressure on land including forest, soil, grazing land, water, mountains, glaciers, population, etc.; and these in turn again create “pressure” on climate; and the security situation emerges.
At the same time, capital’s expansion requires war, aggression, intervention as capital requires “occupation”, in many forms, and “security” that “induces” use of force. The force requires unhindered movement to any corner of the world, desert or deep in forest, and the unhindered movement again requires force.
This pattern – war, show and use of force, permanent presence of force in parts of the world and unhindered movement of force – taxes nature and climate. Again, a “contribution” to climate deterioration is made by the system.
The extent and level of deterioration turns immense and serious when an entire economy bases its expansion on war – real and imaginary.
Inefficient use of resources – wastage – by the system presses nature and climate. The wastage occurs in production, distribution, manipulation, war, war efforts and war postures.
“At present, around 168 countries are estimated to suffer from land degradation, costing the global economy an estimated US$ 40 billion a year. Global soil erosion exceeds new soil formation by as much as 23 billion tonnes per year, or 1% of soil stock, a process described by some scientists as the ‘skinning’ of the planet.” (The Economics of Land Degradation Initiative study) However, the study finds, “crop yields worth US$ 1.4 trillion could be grown if sustainable land management practices are introduced around the world.”
“Up to 1.3 billion people may be exposed to longer-term food insecurity in 2050 in low-income economies (mainly in Africa), if their economic development doesn’t allow them to afford productivity improvements, cropland expansion and/or imports from other countries.” (Marianela Fader, Dieter Gerten, Michael Krause, Wolfgang Lucht and Wolfgang Cramer, “Spatial decoupling of agricultural production and consumption: quantifying dependences of countries on food imports due to domestic land and water constraints”, Environmental Research Letters.)
The study found: “A number of developed countries including the UK, the Netherlands and Japan are already unable to meet the food requirements of their populations. This reliance on imports looks set to become worse as population levels rise. However, unlike the developing countries, these nations will probably be able to buy their way out of the problem.” Currently, says the study, only 950 million people (16% of world population) use the opportunities of international trade for covering their demand of agricultural products.
The reality, as the study found: Even, countries considered advanced economies are facing the problem of food. And, the question: The rich can buy, import, food, but what shall happen to the poor?
These are only a few examples from thousands and thousands of inefficient use and distribution of resources, and inefficient use of resources is “party” to generation of inequality and disparity, and it’s capitalism that’s sustaining this inefficient, unequal system.
Why doesn’t the system change the process that has emerged as a threat even to its rule? It can’t.
Changing the process is the ultimate threat to the capitalist system as the step will accelerate its downfall – a change in the entire regime. So, the only alternative available to the system is manipulation, a conflict with reality.
Manipulation of facts, science, public opinion and public “mind” are indivisible part of the world capitalist system. The system’s entire publicity and propaganda exposes this. Climate crisis politics and climate crisis diplomacy of the system are part of the manipulation mechanism. But the magnitude of the threat being created by the crisis is compelling the capitalist system to identify the reality, and it’s, the insecurity situation, threatening people everywhere.
Farooque Chowdhury is Dhaka-based freelancer.
|March 31, 2014||
IPCC Report Predicts A Dark Future For The Planet
by Countercurrents.org, Countercurrents
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II report published today in Yokohoma, Japan paint a dark future for global humanity and other species on earth. It predicts violent conflicts, food shortages and infrastructure damage in the coming decades, while a growing number of animals and marine species will face increased risk of extinction. The report was compiled by more than 300 authors from 70 different countries with contributions from thousands of global experts.
The report is the first of its kind to examine rising temperatures as a series of comprehensive global risks caused by increasingly perilous levels of carbon dioxide emitted by traffic, power stations and other fossil-fuel burners as well as methane from deforestation and farming.
Launching the report in Yokohama, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said: “Why should the world pay attention to this report? We have assessed impacts as they are happening, impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and oceans.
“I’d like to emphasise that in view of these impacts and those projected in the future, nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.”
Vicente Barros, a leading Argentine-born climate change expert and a co-chair of the report, added: “We live in an era of man-made climate change. In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”
Extreme weather patterns, including a higher risk of flooding, were cited as a growing consequence of rising greenhouse gas emissions, with Europe, Asia and small island states highlighted as being vulnerable, while droughts were also forecast to become more common.
Urban communities would also face “many global risks”, as a result of growing issues related to heatwaves, extreme rainfall, flooding, landslides, air pollution drought and water shortages, it warned.
The growing scarcity of freshwater sources and shrinking crop yields would lead to violent conflict, such as civil wars, the report warns, alongside the displacement of numerous communities, referred to as “climate refugees” by Dr Pachauri.
“We have reasons to believe that if the world doesn’t do anything [...] and the extent of climate change continues to increase, then the very social stability of human systems could be at stake,” he said.
A “large fraction” of animals and marine creatures also faced an increased risk of extinction over the coming decades if global warming continued as projected, according to the report.
Rising carbon dioxide concentrations were forecast to acidify oceans, destroying coral reefs and threatening shelled marine creatures, impacting communities reliant on the sea as a food source.
However, scientists behind the report also stated that by taking immediate steps to reduce carbon emissions over the coming decades, there could be a reduction in potential consequences by the end of the century.
Summary of projected changes in crop yields, due to climate change over the 21st century. Yellow indicates studies that project crop yield decreases, blue indicates studies projecting increases. From IPCC AR5 WGII SPM.
The report discusses the risk associated with food insecurity due to more intense droughts, floods, and heat waves in a warmer world, especially for poorer countries. .
The report also discusses risks associated with water insecurity, due for example to shrinking of glaciers that act as key water resources for various regions around the world, and through changing precipitation patterns. As a result of these types of changes, the IPCC also anticipates that violent conflicts like civil wars will become more common.
The number of people exposed to river floods is projected to increase with the level of warming over the remainder of the century. Sea-level rise will also cause submergence, flooding, and erosion of coastal regions and low-lying areas. And ocean acidification poses significant risk for marine ecosystems; coral reefs in particular.
The general risk of species extinctions rises as the planet warms. More climate change means that suitable climates for species shift. The faster these climate zones shift, the more species will be unable to track and adapt to those changes.
|April 2, 2014||
Western Hypocrisy: US Alliance Sanctions Russia Over Crimea-Backed Reunion While Backing Apartheid Israel's Occupation And Ongoing Palestinian Genocide
by Dr Gideon Polya , Countercurrents
International Law must be respected. National independence, national borders and national sovereignty are sacrosanct according to the UN Charter, and Russia under President Vladimir Putin has violated international law through the incorporation of Crimea into the Russia Federation. However in mitigation one cannot ignore the following realities: the Crimean Parliament unanimously voted for this incorporation; 97% of the participants in a Crimean Referendum supported incorporation; Russian military presence in the Crimea was below that permitted by Treaty with Ukraine; Crimea has been an important part of Russia since its conquest by Catherine the Great in 1783; there is a Russian-speaking majority in Crimea; the crisis was precipitated by US, NATO and the EU fostering of the neo-Nazi-complicit Coup that removed the democratically-elected pro-Russian President and installed a government with key positions held by neo-Nazis and which has removed Russian as an official language.
Looming over this crisis is the historical reality that the German Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and killed 25 million Soviet citizens, including 3 million Ukrainians, including about 1 million Ukrainian Jews. Ukrainian nationalists led by Stepan Bandera participated in this Ukrainian Holocaust and not just the neo-Nazis but the rest of the new Ukrainian regime regard Stepan Bandera as a national hero. Russia has faced nuclear weapons-backed Western hostility since 1945 and is now facing a NATO and neo-Nazi expansion into Eastern Europe to its very borders. Crimea is not just a mainly Russian speaking entity but is also strategically vital as the site of the Russian Black Sea fleet.
A. What hypocritical, war criminal Western leaders have said.
War criminal Western leaders have been correct in condemning the Russian incorporation of Crimea as illegal under international law but in so doing are grossly hypocritical in view of US Alliance invasion of non-contiguous countries in recent decades that, unlike Crimea, were linguistically, culturally and religiously utterly different from the invaders and were opposed to such alien Western invasion and devastation of their countries..
UK Prime Minister David Cameron: ? Russia has sought to annex Crimea . This is a flagrant breach of international law and something we will not recognise. This behaviour belongs to the Europe of the last century not this one. It cannot be ignored or we risk more serious problems in the future ? . Labor Opposition leader Ed Miliband has adopted the same position as Obama, stating that what Russia had done was ?unacceptable?. .
UK Foreign Minister William Hague: ?You just don't invade another country on phoney pretexts in order to assert your interests. The world cannot say it's OK to violate the sovereignty of another nation in this way? . The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Labor Opposition leader Ed Miliband have voiced similar opinions.
US Secretary of State John Kerry: " You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text ? It's an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President (Vladimir) Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine . Russia is in violation of its international obligations" .
US President Barack Obama: ?We will continue to say to the Russian government that if it continues on the path that is on, then not only us but the international community ... will be forced to apply a cost to Russia 's violations of international law. There is another path available, and we hope that (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin is willing seize that path? .
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: ?The claims by President Putin and other Russians that they had to go into Crimea and maybe further into eastern Ukraine because they had to protect the Russian minorities, that is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930s when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities in Poland and Czechoslovakia and elsewhere throughout Europe. I just want everybody to have a little historic perspective. I am not making a comparison, certainly. But I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before? .
Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister of the pro-Zionist, US lackey Australian Coalition Government, in announcing sanctions against Russia (that may, it is speculated, include exclusion of Russia from the forthcoming G20 meeting in Brisbane , Queensland , Australia ) : ?The actions taken by Russia are a clear violation of international rules prohibiting the use of force and protecting the territorial integrity of states. International law does not allow one state to steal the territory of another on the basis of a referendum that cannot be considered free or fair. I condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of violence against Ukraine and its citizens. The situation in Ukraine remains serious, with the potential for military confrontation." . The pro-Zionist, US lackey Australian Labor Opposition has voiced similar views.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Ukraine : "There is a requirement that must absolutely be respected - the territorial integrity of the country. Everything must be done for this integrity to be totally respected" . The French President Hollande and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius have voiced similar views and announced suspension of Russia from the G8.
German Chancellor Angel Merkel was unequivocal : ?"The so-called referendum breached international law, the declaration of independence which the Russian president accepted yesterday was against international law, and the absorption into the Russian Federation is, in our firm opinion, also against international law? .
However Nick Clegg, UK Deputy PM and leader of the Liberal Democrats, who had famously in parliament referred to ?the illegal invasion of Iraq?, has called for ?civilized dialogue?, pointing out that ?Crimea already has a semi-autonomous status within Ukraine and clearly has a different history to other parts of Ukraine and has a very pronounced Russian imprint on it, not least because of the presence of the Russian Black Sea naval operation. So it is already in a different category and I don't think anyone wants to deny that. No-one is somehow suggesting that Crimea should be treated exactly the same as other parts of Ukraine given that it hasn't been treated like that in the past by the Ukrainians themselves" . Interestingly the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage has clashed with Nick Clegg and declared that the EU has "blood on it hands" in the crisis from pursuing an "imperialist expansionist" policy in the east and giving "false hope" to people in the Ukraine .
B. One Ukrainian soldier killed in Crimea versus 12 million Muslim deaths in the post-1990 US War on Muslims.
Unfortunately 1 Ukrainian soldier was killed in the Crimea by a pro-Russian Crimean militia as compared to about 80 people were killed in the US-backed riots in Kiev that involved neo-Nazis as well as Israeli Special Forces killers . However the death of 1 Ukrainian in the Crimea contrasts with the 12 million Muslims (half of them children) who have died from violence or violently-imposed deprivation over the last quarter century in the Zionist-promoted, post-1990 US War on Muslims, the breakdown being 4.6 million (Iraq, 1990-2011), 6 million (Afghanistan (2001-), 2.2 million (Somalia, 1992-), 0.1 million (Palestine (1990-), 0.1 million (Libya, 2011-) and 0.1 million (Syria, 2011-) .
Indeed, while pro-Russian militia told Ukrainian soldiers ?We are brothers? and only 1 Ukrainian soldier died, the carnage in the Zionist-promoted US War on Muslims must be described in terms of ?holocaust? (death of a huge number of people) and genocide (defined by the UN Genocide Convention as ?any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group?).
Indeed one must talk of a Muslim Holocaust and Muslim Genocide , an Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide , an Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide, a Somali Holocaust and Somali Genocide , a Palestinian Holocaust and Palestinian Genocide , a Libyan Holocaust  and a Syrian Holocaust . The Ukraine has suffered holocaust and genocide in the last century, specifically the man-made famine (Holodomor) under Stalin in the 1930s that killed 7 million Ukrainians and the WW2 European Holocaust by the German Nazis in which 3 million Ukrainians died, including 1 million Ukrainian Jews . Neo-Nazi Ukrainian were involved in the WW2 Ukrainian Holocaust under Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera who is worshipped as a national hero by the new anti-Russian, neo-Nazi-linked regime in Kiev .
1.3 million Americans die preventably each year and one can also talk of an American Holocaust of about 16 million preventable American deaths since 2001 linked to the fiscal perversion of the US Government committing trillions of dollars to killing Muslims abroad rather than on keeping Americans alive at home. Thus the long-term accrual cost of the War on Terror is $6 trillion and the cost of US support for Apartheid Israel is an estimated $40 trillion since inception of the racism- and genocide-based rogue state) . A similar argument can be made in relation to the Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust in which currently 18 million people de avoidably from deprivation on Spaceship Earth with a violent and genocidally racist American Establishment in charge of the flight deck .
C. Continuing, appalling Western record of invading other countries.
The West, and the countries of NATO and the France-UK-US Coalition ((FUKUS Coalition ) in particular, have an appalling record of invading and occupying other countries that continued into the 21st century as outlined below..
The US has invaded 70 nations since 1776 and subverts and perverts every nation on earth including its craven allies like Australia . In the 21st century the US military has invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan with troops on the ground and has used its air force (conventional or unmanned drones) to attack Somalia ,. Libya , Mali , Yemen and Pakistan . The US also backed the excision of Kosovo from Serbia (analogous to Crimea excising itself from the Ukraine ).
France has invaded 80 nations since 800AD  and in the 21st century has invaded Afghanistan and Mali as well as helping its FUKUS Coalition allies bomb Libya back to the Stone Age.
The English and thence the British have invaded every country in the world ? all circa 200 countries and self-governing entities except for 22 - since 1066 . In the 21st century the UK has invaded, occupied and devastated Iraq and Afghanistan and its air force has smashed Libya as well as assisting in the French invasion of Mali .
Germany in the last 1-2 centuries has invaded all European countries except for Ireland , Iceland , Sweden , Cyprus , Malta , Spain , and Portugal (some 34 nations or self-governing entities in total) as well as invading what are today Papua-New Guinea, Tanzania , Burundi , Cameroon and Namibia . In Namibia (South West Africa) the Germans conducted mass murder of about 100,000 of the indigenous Herero and Nama people in a forerunner of the WW1 Armenian Genocide by Germany's ally Turkey and the Nazi German WW2 European Holocaust (30 million Slavs, Jews and Gypsies killed) . In 1945 many Germans said that they ?didn't know? about German atrocities and Germans adopted a CAAAA (C4A) protocol involving Cessation of the killing, Acknowledgment of the crimes, Apology and Amends for the crimes and Assertion ?never again to anyone?. However, by the 1990s the German Luftwaffe had resumed bombing and killing Serbs, and in the 21st century Germany participated in the US-led Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide (6 million dead from violence or war-imposed deprivation). A New Nazi Germany, a Corporatist Germany in the 21st century resolutely returned to the killing and genocide business in Afghanistan and is continuing to assist Apartheid Israel and its ongoing Palestinian Genocide and violent anti-Arab anti-Semitic imperialism with money and sophisticated weaponry.
US-backed Apartheid Israel in its short existence as an anti-Arab anti-Semitic, genocidal rogue state has invaded 12 countries and still occupies the territory of 3 countries whereas nuclear-weapons-free Iran - the bête noire (black beast) of the racist, pro-Zionist, nuclear terrorist and mendacious FUKUS Coalition and Apartheid Israel - has not invaded any country for centuries.
UK lackey and thence US lackey racist White Australia has invaded scores of countries, including Russia , with many of these invasions having devastating genocidal effects. Thus 40 million Asians have died from violence or from war-imposed deprivation in post-1950 US Asian wars, in all of which White Australia has been a participant [16, 21]. Australia hosts nuclear weapons-armed US vessels, hosts 2,500 child-killing US marines in Darwin, makes donations toward the Palestinian Genocide tax deductible, gives most-favoured entry status to Israeli war criminals visiting Australia, ignores traitorous Australians involved in Israeli war crimes, and is Apartheid Israel's moist vocal supporter after the US.
D. The human cost of Western nations invading other countries.
While largely Russian Crimea will be economically much better off with Mother Russia than with bankrupt Ukraine , countries occupied by Western countries end up far worse off. Foreign occupation means increased disregard of the people by the Ruler that is reflected in increased avoidable mortality (avoidable death, excess mortality, excess deaths or deaths that should not have happened). Avoidable mortality is defined as the difference between the actual mortality and the deaths expected for a peaceful, decently-governed country with the same demographics. In descending order of the ?victim country?/ ?occupier country? ratios of the ?post-1950 excess mortality/2005 population? ratios we have the following order: the Netherlands (60.6 ) > Spain (17.4) > Israel (15.9) > Portugal (14.5) > Australia (11.4) > US (8.5) > Belgium (6.9) > France (6.1) > New Zealand (5.9) > UK (4.4) > Indonesia (2.6) > Russia (1.7) > South Africa (1.1) = Pakistan (1.1) > Ethiopia (0.8) > Turkey (0.5) > Iraq (0.2). The very high ratios for occupier European countries (other than Russia ) simply indicate deep disregard for their colonial and neo-colonial subjects i.e. profound racism. Foreign occupation results in rulers with less intrinsic regard for the ruled than with indigenous rulers. In contrast, in the Soviet Union the average avoidable mortality of Russia 's former Soviet subjects was only 1.7 times greater than for Russians .
Another way of assessing the consequences of hegemony, neocolonialism, invasion and occupation is the total avoidable mortality per se of subject countries. Thus 1950-2005 avoidable deaths in countries occupied in the post-1945 era by the following Occupier countries (as major Occupiers) total 24 million (Apartheid Israel), 2 million (Australia), Belgium (36 million), 2 million (Ethiopia), 142 million (France), 17 million (Germany from joint Occupation of Afghanistan with the US Alliance), 0.7 million (Indonesia), 0.1 million (Iraq), 72 million (Netherlands), 0.03 million (New Zealand), 51 million (Pakistan), 23 million (Portugal), 37 million (Russia), 0.7 million (South Africa), 9 million (Spain), 0.05 million (Turkey), 727 million (UK), 82 million (US) .
Thus while one (1) Ukrainian soldier was killed in the Crimean Crisis and Crimean avoidable deaths are expected to decrease in the arms of Mother Russia, 1.7 million Iraqi have been violently killed by the US Alliance since 1990 and Iraqi avoidable deaths from war- and sanctions-imposed deprivation total 2.9 million since the beginning of the Iraqi Genocide in 1990 .
E. Western double standards over Crimea overwhelmingly demanding re-union with Mother Russia versus Apartheid Israel 's Occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine .
Hypocritical Western railings over Russia's admission of Crimea to the Russian Federation can be usefully dramatized by comparison with Western backing of Apartheid Israel's Palestinian Genocide and its Occupation since 1973 of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (the West Bank and the Gaza Concentration Camp) and the Golan Heights (part of Syria) Apartheid Israel comparisons are in brackets). .
1. Most Crimeans are Russian Orthodox and Russian speakers and there is a Muslim Tatar minority; Crimea has been Russian since 1783 (in 1880 there were about 500,000 largely Arab Palestinians and 25,000 Jews (of whom half were immigrants; apart from illegal Jewish settlers, the population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory are overwhelmingly Arab-speaking and Muslim with a declining but significant Christian Palestinian minority; none want to be ruled by racist Zionists who have now ethnically cleansed 90% of Palestine).
2. The Crimean Parliament voted unanimously for re-union with Russia (the UK unilaterally effectively gave the land of the Indigenous Palestinians to well-armed racist colonizers against the wishes of the Indigenous people).
3. In the Crimean Referendum 97% of participants voted for re-union with Russia (in the 2006 Occupied Palestinian elections held under Apartheid Israeli guns Hamas won with 74 seats out of the 132 seats, while the ruling Fatah won just 45; the Israelis, the UK, the US and White Australia conveniently declared the Hamas MPs to be terrorists to be hunted down, exiled, imprisoned or killed) ).
4. There were fewer Russian troops in Crimea than actually permitted by Treaty and pro-Russian militia took over Crimea after the US-backed, neo-Nazi-linked Coup in Kiev (Apartheid Israel seized land allocated by the UN to Palestinians and genocidally expelled 800,000 Palestinians in 1948; more Palestinian were expelled when Apartheid Israel invaded Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Egypt in 1967 and illegally occupied the Occupied Palestinian Territories).
5. One Ukrainian soldier was killed (Jewish deaths from Palestinians since 1920 total about 3,700 ; Palestinian deaths since 1936 total 2 million with 0.1 million violent deaths and 1.9 million deaths from violently-imposed deprivation ; in the 1967 Six-Day War the aggressor Apartheid Israel lost about 800 servicemen but Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian losses totaled about 24, 000 ).
6. Crimeans have full human rights joined with Russia, their overwhelming wishes for re-union are met, and their life expectancy will increase, noting that the Nationalist- and neo-Nazi-dominated Ukraine post-Coup regime has abolished Russian as an official language (Occupied Palestinians in West Bank Bantustans or in the Gaza Concentration Camp have zero human rights - n early 47 years after the 1967 Israeli conquest of all of Palestine, the Western-backed, invasion-, occupation- , theft- , genocide-, lying- and race-based Apartheid State of Israel still comprehensively violates all basic human rights of the Indigenous Occupied Palestinian People as set out in the 30 Articles of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights ).
7. While the democratically-elected, pro-Russian President of the Ukraine was removed by an Israeli Special Forces-complicit, neo-Nazi-led Coup, the Crimeans have overwhelmingly voted for re-union with Russia so that they do not have to be ruled by ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis who honor Ukrainian Nazi collaborators like Stepan Bandera and his followers who were complicit in the deaths of 3 million Ukrainians in WW2, including 1 million Ukrainian Jews (the race-based, racist Zionist-run Apartheid State of Israel is a democracy-by-genocide - of about 12 million Palestinians only 7%, the adults of 1.7 million Palestinian Israelis (21% of the Israeli population) can vote for the government ruling all of Palestine plus part of Lebanon and a near-completely ethnically cleansed part of Syria, albeit as third class citizens; 1.8 million Occupied Palestinians are abusively confined to the Gaza Concentration Camp; 2.5 million Occupied Palestinians live under highly abusive military rule in West Bank Bantustans; about 6 million Palestinians are forbidden to even live in Palestine; there are 5.9 million Jewish Israelis and 0.3 million non-Jewish and non-Arab Israelis ).
8. Crimean children will grow up permitted to speak their own languages in a democratic state and with improved health prospects (Occupied Palestinian children have zero human rights ; UNICEF data indicated that Apartheid Israel passively murders about 3,000 under-5 Palestinian infants and about 4, 200 Palestinians in total each year each year; 10% of the children in the Gaza Concentration Camp are stunted from deprivation due to the Apartheid Israeli blockade).
Yet the US , the UK , the EU and racist White Australia condemn Russia and the pro-Russian Crimeans while offering massive diplomatic and other support to nuclear terrorist, serial war criminal, democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel . Australia under the pro-war, pro-Zionist, US lackey, anti-Arab anti-Semitic Coalition Government is one of the more disgraceful offenders.
Thus after the November 2013 elections Australia abstained (with 7 other countries) from voting on a resolution demanding that Apartheid Israel cease ?all Israeli settlement activities in all of the occupied territories? (about 160 nations supported the resolution). In December 2013, Australia voted no (with 12 other countries) to a resolution calling on Israel to ?comply scrupulously? with the Geneva Convention (169 countries voted yes) .
New Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank : ?I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal? I don't think it's helpful to prejudge the settlement issue if you're trying to get a negotiated solution. And by deeming the activity as a war crime, it's unlikely to engender a negotiated solution?. She has also declared those supporting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Apartheid Israel as ?anti-Semitic?: ?It's anti-Semitic. It identifies Israel out of all other nations as being worthy of a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign? Hypocritical beyond belief? . One notes that many of those supporting BDS are anti-racist Jews inescapably obliged by the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5 million killed) to speak out for ?never again to anyone? and against racism, Apartheid, and genocide [25-27 ].
The Labor Right leader of the Australian Labor Opposition , pro-Zionist right-winger Bill Shorten, offered this rather slimy, incorrect and craven opinion to the powerful Australian Zionist Federation: ?We do acknowledge that some settlement activity in the West Bank is illegal under Israeli law and we encourage the Israeli authorities to act effectively with respect to this? . The reality is that all Apartheid Israeli settlements on the West Bank are illegal under International Law.
Outstanding anti-racist Jewish American linguistics scholar Professor Noam Chomsky from 83-Nobel-Laureate MIT has observed ?For the powerful crimes are those that others commit? . Similarly Drs Edward Herman And David Peterson in ?The Politics Of Genocide? have observed that as far as the Mainstream media and politicians are concerned genocide is something that is done by Africans, Asians and Serbs but not by members of the US Alliance . Mehdi Hasan (a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the political director of the Huffington Post UK ) applies Professor Chomsky's position to the Crimean Occupation: ? For our most hypocritical leaders, crimes are those that others commit ? .
One must reiterate that national independence, national borders and national sovereignty are sacrosanct according to the UN Charter, and Russia has violated international law through the incorporation of Crimea into the Russia Federation. However one cannot ignore the reality that 97% of the Crimean people who voted in a referendum supported this incorporation and rejected the Ukrainian nationalists and neo-Nazis who honor the Nazi collaborators involved the WW2 genocide of 3 million Ukrainians including 1 million Ukrainian Jews.
Western leaders have been highly hypocritical in condemning this overwhelmingly democratically-sanctioned re-union of Crimea with Russia while ignoring the US Alliance invasion and devastation of Muslim countries from Mali to Pakistan in a post-1990, Zionist-promoted War on Muslims that has killed 12 million Muslims through violence or violently-imposed deprivation (as compared to the death of one (1) Ukrainian soldier in the Crimean Crisis).
The war criminal leaders of the US Alliance condemn Russia but have remorselessly backed democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel in its over 46 year Occupation of Palestine and its ongoing Palestinian Genocide. However in advocating and applying Sanctions against Russia and Crimea the Western war criminals have unwittingly shown what decent people should do: they should apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Apartheid Israel, its supporters and the war criminals of the US Alliance involved in an ongoing Muslim Genocide.
. David Cameron quoted in James Legge, ? Ukraine crisis: David Cameron attacks Crimea vote ?under barrel of a Kalashnikov?, The Independent, 21 March 2014: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ukraine-crisis-david-cameron-attacks-crimea-vote-under-barrel-of-a-kalashnikov-9207145.html .
. William Hague quoted in Mehdi Hasan, ?For our most hypocritical leaders, crimes are those that others commit?, New Statesman, 21 Match 2014: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/03/our-most-powerful-and-hypocritical-leaders-crimes-are-those-others-commit .
. Quoted in Will Dunham, ?Kerry condemns Russia 's ?incredible act of aggression? in Ukraine ?, Reuters, 2 March 2013: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/02/us-ukraine-crisis-usa-kerry-idUSBREA210DG20140302 .
. Barack Obama quoted in Nick Paton Walsh, Laura Smith-Spark and Steve Almasy, ??, CNN, 13 March 2014: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/12/world/europe/ukraine-crisis/ .
. Hilary Clinton quoted in ?Hilary Clinton says Crimea occupation echoes Hitler?, Vladimir Putin's ?, The Guardian, 6 March 2014: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/06/hillary-clinton-says-vladimir-putins-crimea-occupation-echoes-hitler .
. Julie Bishop quoted in David Wroe, ?Crimea crisis: Australia declares sanctions on key Russian and Ukrainian figures?, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 March 2014: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/crimea-crisis-australia-declares-sanctions-on-key-russian-and-ukrainian-figures-20140319-3527r.html .
. Jean-Marc Ayrault q uoted in ? France calls for Ukraine 's integrioty to be respected as Crimea crisis deepens?, RFI, 1 March 20134: http://www.english.rfi.fr/europe/20140301-france-calls-ukraines-integrity-be-respected-crimea-crisis-deepens .
. Angela Merkel quoted in ? Crimea grab against ?international law??, The Local, 18 March 2014: http://www.thelocal.de/20140318/merkel-crimea-grab-against-international-law .
. Nick Clegg quoted in ?Clegg slams Putin's ?KGB mentality??, Sunday Post, 30 March 2014: http://www.sundaypost.com/news-views/uk/clegg-slams-putin-s-kgb-mentality-1.258696 .
. Peter Dominiczak, ?Nick Clegg: Nigel Farage is siding with Vladimir Putin?, The Telegraph, 27 March 2014: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/10726289/Nick-Clegg-Nigel-Farage-is-siding-with-Vladimir-Putin.html .
. Michel Chossudiovsky, ?Israeli special forces unit under neo-Nazi command involved in Maidan riots?? Global Research, 3 March 2014: http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukraine-israeli-special-forces-unit-under-neo-nazi-command-involved-in-maidan-riots/5371725 .Ukraine .
. ?Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide?: https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ ,
. ?Iraqi Holocaust Iraqi Genocide?: https://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/ .
. ?Afghan Holocaust Afghan Genocide?: https://sites.google.com/site/afghanholocaustafghangenocide/ .
. ?Palestinian Genocide?: https://sites.google.com/site/palestiniangenocide/ .
. Gideon Polya, ?Body Count. Avoidable global mortality since 1950? that includes an avoidable mortality-related history of every country since Neolithic times and is now available for free perusal on the web: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/body-count-global-avoidable-mortality_05.html .
. Gideon Polya, ? American Holocaust, millions of untimely American deaths and $40 trillion cost of Israel to Americans ?, Countercurrents, 27 August 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya270813.htm .
. Gideon Polya, "US has invaded 70 nations since 1776 - make 4 July Independence from America Day", Countercurrents, 5 July 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya050713.htm .
 Gideon Polya, "President Hollande And French Invasion Of Privacy Versus French Invasion Of 80 Countries Since 800 AD", Countercurrents, 15 January 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya150114.htm .
. Jasper Copping, ?British have invaded nine out of ten countries ? so look out Luxembourg . Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world in its long and colourful history, new research has found?, Telegraph, 4 November 2012: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9653497/British-have-invaded-nine-out-of-ten-countries-so-look-out-Luxembourg.html .
. Gideon Polya "Review The Cambridge History of Australia ignores Australian involvement in 30 genocides", Countercurrents , 14 October, 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya141013.htm .
. ?Six-Day War?, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War .
. Gideon Polya, ?Apartheid Israel Excludes Occupied Palestinians From All Provisions Of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights?, Countercurrents , 20 May, 2012: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya200512.htm .
. Raphael Ahren, ?Australian FM: don't call settlements illegal under International Law?, Times of Israel, 15 January 2014: http://www.timesofisrael.com/australia-fm-dont-call-settlements-illegal-under-international-law/
. ?Boycott Apartheid Israel ? : https://sites.google.com/site/boycottapartheidisrael/ .
. ?Jews Against Racist Zionism?: https://sites.google.com/site/jewsagainstracistzionism/ .
. ?Non-Jews Against Racist Zionism?: https://sites.google.com/site/nonjewsagainstracistzionism/ .
. ?Jewish community must speak out on race act changes, says Shorten?, The Guardian, March 2014: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/30/jewish-speak-out-race-act .
. Gideon Polya, ?Book Review: ?The Politics Of Genocide? By Edward Herman And David Peterson?, Countercurrents, 5 December, 2011: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya051211.htm .
Dr Gideon Polya has been teaching science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published ?Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950? (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007, including an avoidable mortality-related history of every country since Neolithic times and now available for free perusal on the web : http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions ?Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality? in ?Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics? (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and ?Ongoing Palestinian Genocide? in ?The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book ?Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History?(now also available for free perusal on the web: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the ?forgotten? World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .
|April 2, 2014||
Carbon Delirium: Shooting Up On Big Energy
by Michael T. Klare , TomDispatch.com, Countercurrents
The Last Stage of Fossil-Fuel Addiction and Its Hazardous Impact on American Foreign Policy
Of all the preposterous, irresponsible headlines that have appeared on the front page of the New York Times in recent years, few have exceeded the inanity of this one from early March: “U.S. Hopes Boom in Natural Gas Can Curb Putin.” The article by normally reliable reporters Coral Davenport and Steven Erlanger suggested that, by sending our surplus natural gas to Europe and Ukraine in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the United States could help reduce the region’s heavy reliance on Russian gas and thereby stiffen its resistance to Vladimir Putin’s aggressive behavior.
Forget that the United States currently lacks a capacity to export LNG to Europe, and will not be able to do so on a significant scale until the 2020s. Forget that Ukraine lacks any LNG receiving facilities and is unlikely to acquire any, as its only coastline is on the Black Sea, in areas dominated by Russian speakers with loyalties to Moscow. Forget as well that any future U.S. exports will be funneled into the international marketplace, and so will favor sales to Asia where gas prices are 50% higher than in Europe. Just focus on the article’s central reportorial flaw: it fails to identify a single reason why future American LNG exports (which could wind up anywhere) would have any influence whatsoever on the Russian president’s behavior.
The only way to understand the strangeness of this is to assume that the editors of the Times, like senior politicians in both parties, have become so intoxicated by the idea of an American surge in oil and gas production that they have lost their senses.
As domestic output of oil and gas has increased in recent years -- largely through the use of fracking to exploit hitherto impenetrable shale deposits -- many policymakers have concluded that the United States is better positioned to throw its weight around in the world. “Increasing U.S. energy supplies,” said then-presidential security adviser Tom Donilon in April 2013, “affords us a stronger hand in pursuing and implementing our international security goals.” Leaders in Congress on both sides of the aisle have voiced similar views.
The impression one gets from all this balderdash is that increased oil and gas output -- like an extra dose of testosterone -- will somehow bolster the will and confidence of American officials when confronting their foreign counterparts. One former White House official cited by Davenport and Erlanger caught the mood of the moment perfectly: “We’re engaging from a different position [with respect to Russia] because we’re a much larger energy producer.”
It should be obvious to anyone who has followed recent events in the Crimea and Ukraine that increased U.S. oil and gas output have provided White House officials with no particular advantage in their efforts to counter Putin’s aggressive moves -- and that the prospect of future U.S. gas exports to Europe is unlikely to alter his strategic calculations. It seems, however, that senior U.S. officials beguiled by the mesmerizing image of a future “Saudi America” have simply lost touch with reality.
For anyone familiar with addictive behavior, this sort of delusional thinking would be a sign of an advanced stage of fossil fuel addiction. As the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality evaporates, the addict persists in the belief that relief for all problems lies just ahead -- when, in fact, the very opposite is true.
The analogy is hardly new, of course, especially when it comes to America’s reliance on imported petroleum. “America is addicted to oil,” President George W. Bush typically declared in his 2006 State of the Union address (and he was hardly the first president to do so). Such statements have often been accompanied in the media by cartoons of Uncle Sam as a junkie, desperately injecting his next petroleum “fix.” But few analysts have carried the analogy further, exploring the ways our growing dependence on oil has generated increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior. Yet it is becoming evident that the world’s addiction to fossil fuels has reached a point at which we should expect the judgment of senior leaders to become impaired, as seems to be happening.
The most persuasive evidence that fossil fuel addiction has reached a critical stage may be found in official U.S. data on carbon dioxide emissions. The world is now emitting one and a half times as much CO2 as it did in 1988, when James Hansen, then director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, warned Congress that the planet was getting warmer as a result of the “greenhouse effect,” and that human activity -- largely in the form of carbon emissions from the consumption of fossil fuels -- was almost certainly the cause.
If a reasonable concern over the fate of the planet were stronger than our reliance on fossil fuels, we would expect to see, if not a reduction in carbon emissions, then a decline at least in the rate of increase of emissions over time. Instead, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that global emissions will continue to rise at a torrid pace over the next quarter century, reaching 45.5 billion metric tons in 2040 -- more than double the amount recorded in 1998 and enough, in the view of most scientists, to turn our planet into a living hell. Though seldom recognized as such, this is the definition of addiction-induced self-destruction, writ large.
For many of us, the addiction to petroleum is embedded in our everyday lives in ways over which we exercise limited control. Because of the systematic dismantling and defunding of public transportation (along with the colossal subsidization of highways), for instance, we have become highly reliant on oil-powered vehicles, and it is very hard for most of us living outside big cities to envision a practical alternative to driving. More and more people are admittedly trying to kick this habit at an individual level by acquiring hybrid or all-electric cars, by using public transit where available, or by bicycling, but that remains a drop in the bucket. It will take a colossal future effort to reconstruct our transportation system along climate-friendly lines.
For what might be thought of as the Big Energy equivalent of the 1%, the addiction to fossils fuels is derived from the thrill of riches and power -- something that is far more difficult to resist or deconstruct. Oil is the world’s most lucrative commodity on the planet, and a source of great wealth and influence for ruling groups in the countries that produce it, notably Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. The leaders of these “petro-states” may not always benefit personally from the accumulation of oil revenues, but they certainly recognize that their capacity to govern, or even remain in power, rests on their responsiveness to entrenched energy interests and their skill in deploying the nation’s energy resources for political and strategic advantage. This is just as true for Barack Obama, who has championed the energy industry’s drive to increase domestic oil and gas output, as it is for Vladimir Putin, who has sought to boost Russia’s international clout through increased fossil fuel exports.
Top officials in these countries know better than most of us that severe climate change is coming our way, and that only a sharp reduction in carbon emissions can prevent its most destructive effects. But government and corporate officials are so wedded to fossil fuel profits -- or to the political advantages that derive from controlling oil’s flow -- that they are quite incapable of overcoming their craving for ever greater levels of production. As a result, while President Obama speaks often enough of his desire to increase the nation’s reliance on renewable energy, he has embraced an “all of the above” energy plan that is underwriting a boom in oil and gas output. The same is true for virtually every other major government figure. Obeisance is routinely paid to the need for increased green technology, but a priority continues to be placed on increases in oil, gas, and coal production. Even in 2040, according to EIA predictions, these fuels may still be supplying four-fifths of the world’s total energy supply.
This bias in favor of fossil fuels over other forms of energy -- despite all we know about climate change -- can only be viewed as a kind of carbon delirium. You can find evidence of this pathology worldwide and in myriad ways, but here are three unmistakable examples of our advanced stage of addiction.
1. The Obama administration’s decision to allow BP to resume oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
After energy giant BP (formerly British Petroleum) pleaded guilty to criminal negligence in the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which resulted in the death of 11 people and a colossal oil spill, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suspended the company’s right to acquire new drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. The ban was widely viewed as a major setback for the company, which had long sought to dominate production in the Gulf’s deep waters. To regain access to the Gulf, BP sued the EPA and brought other pressures to bear on the Obama administration. Finally, on March 13th, after months of lobbying and negotiations, the agency announced that BP would be allowed to resume bidding for new leases, as long as it adhered to a list of supposedly tight restrictions
BP officials viewed the announcement as an enormous victory, allowing the company to resume a frenetic search for new oil deposits in the Gulf’s deep waters. “Today’s agreement will allow America’s largest investor to compete again for federal contracts and leases,” said BP America Chairman and President John Mingé. Observers in the oil industry predict that the company will now acquire many additional leases in the Gulf, adding to its already substantial presence there. “With this agreement, it’s realistic to expect that the Gulf of Mexico can be a key asset for BP’s operations not only for this decade but potentially for decades to come,” commented Stephen Simko, an oil specialist at Morningstar investment analysts. (Six days after the EPA announced its decision, BP bid $42 million to acquire 24 new leases in the Gulf.)
So BP’s interest is clear enough, but what is the national interest in all this? Yes, President Obama can claim that increased drilling might add a few hundred thousand barrels per day to domestic oil output, plus a few thousand new jobs. But can he really assure our children or grandchildren that, in allowing increased drilling in the Gulf, he is doing all he can to reduce the threat of climate change as he promised to do in his most recent State of the Union address? If he truly sought a simple and straightforward way to renew that pledge, this would have been a good place to start: plenty of people remember the damage inflicted by the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the indifference BP’s top officials displayed toward many of its victims, so choosing to maintain the ban on its access to new drilling leases on environmental and climate grounds would certainly have attracted public support. The fact that Obama chose not to do so suggests instead a further surrender to the power of oil and gas interests -- and to the effects of carbon delirium.
2. The Republican drive to promote construction of the Keystone XL pipeline as a response to the Ukrainian crisis
If Obama administration dreams about pressuring Putin by exporting LNG to Europe fail to pass the credibility test, a related drive by key Republicans to secure approval for the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline defies any notion of sanity. Keystone, as you may recall, is intended to carry carbon-dense, highly corrosive diluted bitumen from the Athabasca tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Its construction has been held up by concerns that it will pose a threat to water supplies along its route and help increase global carbon dioxide emissions.
Because Keystone crosses an international boundary, its construction must receive approval not just from the State Department, but from the president himself. The Republicans and their conservative backers have long favored the pipeline as a repudiation of what they view as excessive governmental deference to environmental concerns. Now, in the midst of the Ukraine crisis, they are suddenly depicting pipeline approval as a signal of U.S. determination to resist Putin’s aggressive moves in the Crimea and Ukraine.
“Putin is playing for the long haul, cleverly exploiting every opening he sees. So must we,” wrote former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a recent Washington Post op-ed. “Authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline and championing natural gas exports would signal that we intend to do precisely that.”
Does anyone truly believe that Vladimir Putin will be influenced by a White House announcement that it will allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline? Putin’s government is already facing significant economic sanctions and other punitive moves, yet none of this has swayed him from pursuing what he appears to believe are Russia’s core interests. Why, then, would the possibility that the U.S. might acquire more of its oil from Canada and less from Mexico, Nigeria, Venezuela, and other foreign suppliers even register on his consciousness?
In addition, to suggest that approving Keystone XL would somehow stiffen Obama’s resolve, inspiring him to adopt tougher measures against Moscow, is to engage in what psychologists call “magical thinking.” Were Keystone to transport any other substance than oil, the claim that its construction would somehow affect presidential decision-making or events on Russia’s borders would be laughable. So great is our reverence for petroleum, however, that we allow ourselves to believe in such miracles. This, too, is carbon delirium.
3. The Case of the Missing $20 Billion
Finally, consider the missing $20 billion in oil revenues from the Nigerian treasury. In Nigeria, where the average income is less than $2.00 per day and many millions live in extreme poverty, the disappearance of that much money is a cause for extreme concern. If used for the public good, that $20 billion might have provided basic education and health care for millions, helped alleviate the AIDS epidemic, and jump-started development in poor rural areas. But in all likelihood, much of that money has already found its way into the overseas bank accounts of well-connected Nigerian officials.
Its disappearance was first revealed in February when the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, told a parliamentary investigating committee that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had failed to transfer the proceeds from oil sales to the national treasury as required by law. Nigeria is Africa’s leading oil producer and the proceeds from its petroleum output not claimed by the NNPC’s foreign partners are supposed to wind up in the state’s coffers. With oil prices hovering at around $100 per barrel, Nigeria should theoretically be accumulating tens of billions of dollars per year from export sales. Sanusi was immediately fired by President Goodluck Jonathan for conveying the news that the NNPC has been reporting suspiciously low oil revenues to the central bank, depriving the state of vital income and threatening the stability of the nation’s currency. The only plausible explanation, he suggested, is that the company’s officials are skimming off the difference. “A substantial amount of money has gone,” he told the New York Times. “I wasn’t just talking about numbers. I showed it was a scam.”
While the magnitude of the scam may be eye-catching, its existence is hardly surprising. Ever since Nigeria began producing oil some 60 years ago, a small coterie of business and government oligarchs has controlled the allocation of petroleum revenues, using them to buy political patronage and secure their own private fortunes. The NNPC has been an especially fertile site for corruption, as its operations are largely immune from public inspection and the opportunities for swindles are mammoth. Sanusi is only one of a series of well-intentioned civil servants who have attempted to plumb the depths of the thievery. A 2012 report by former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu reported the disappearance of a hardly less staggering $29 billion from the NNPC between 2001 and 2011.
Here, then, is another, equally egregious form of carbon delirium: addiction to illicit oil wealth so profound as to place the solvency and well-being of 175 million people at risk. President Jonathan has now promised to investigate Sanusi’s charges, but it is unlikely that any significant portion of the missing $20 billion will ever make it into Nigeria’s treasury.
These examples of carbon delirium indicate just how deeply entrenched it is in global culture. In the U.S., addiction to carbon is present at all levels of society, but the higher one rises in corporate and government circles, the more advanced the process.
Slowing the pace of climate change will only be possible once this affliction is identified, addressed, and neutralized. Overcoming individual addiction to narcotic substances is never an easy task; resisting our addiction to carbon will prove no easier. However, the sooner we recast the climate issue as a public health problem, akin to drug addiction, the sooner we will be able to fashion effective strategies for averting its worst effects. This means, for example, providing programs and incentives for those of us who seek to reduce our reliance on petroleum, and imposing penalties on those who resist such a transition or actively promote addiction to fossil fuels.
Divesting from fossil fuel stocks is certainly one way to go cold turkey. It involves sacrificing expectations of future rewards from the possession of such stocks, while depriving the fossil fuel companies of our investment funds and, by extension, our consent for their activities.
But a more far-ranging kind of carbon detoxification must come in time. As with all addictions, the first and most crucial step is to acknowledge that our addiction to fossil fuels has reached such an advanced stage as to pose a direct danger to all humanity. If we are to have any hope of averting the worst effects of climate change, we must fashion a 12-step program for universal carbon renunciation and impose penalties on those who aid and abet our continuing addiction.
Michael T. Klare is the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. His newest book, The Race for What's Left: The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources, has just recently been published. His other books include: Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy and Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum. A documentary version of that book is available from the Media Education Foundation.
|April 4, 2014||
Russia Warns NATO Over Military Build-Up In Eastern Europe
by Johannes Stern & Alex Lantier , WSWS.org, Countercurrents
Russian officials formally protested NATO’s military build-up in Eastern Europe yesterday, warning that it is undermining treaties that have governed NATO-Russian relations since the dissolution of the USSR by the Stalinist bureaucracy in 1991.
This week, NATO broke off military cooperation with Russia and carried out military exercises in several countries bordering or near Russia, including the Baltic states and Bulgaria. This was part of a broader military build-up, pursued since the fascist-led putsch that installed a pro-Western regime in Ukraine in February, that has seen NATO forces deployed or military exercises planned in Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that Moscow is demanding explanations from NATO over this military build-up. “We have addressed questions to the North Atlantic military alliance. We are expecting not just any answer, but an answer fully respectful of the rules we have coordinated,” he said.
Lavrov accused NATO of breaching the 1997 agreement between NATO and Russia, which specifies that NATO will not carry out any new “permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.” He also accused NATO of breaching the Montreux convention on naval deployments to the Black Sea, which requires that warships from non-Black Sea countries stay in the region only 21 days. “US warships have recently extended their presence in the Black Sea several times. This extension did not always obey the rules of the Montreux Convention,” Lavrov said.
Russia recalled its ambassador to NATO, ostensibly for consultations, two days after NATO suspended cooperation with Russia. “The policy of whipping up tensions is not our choice. Nonetheless, we see no possibility to continue military cooperation with NATO in a routine regime,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said.
NATO officials indicated that they would press ahead with their escalation, ignoring Russian objections. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen dismissed Lavrov’s speech as “just another piece of Russian propaganda and disinformation.”
Rasmussen indicated that, in his view, NATO was no longer bound by the 1997 treaty. Citing the 2008 Georgian war and today’s crisis in Ukraine, he said: “Russia is violating every principle and international commitment it has made, first and foremost the commitment not to invade other countries.”
Rasmussen’s arguments to justify the reckless NATO escalation in Eastern Europe by portraying Russia as the aggressor are a pack of lies. The 2008 Georgian war, as was later admitted even by US officials, began when the US-backed Georgian regime assaulted Russian peacekeepers stationed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, who had attacked no one.
Attempts to portray NATO as a defender of world order and international law are transparent frauds. Even leaving aside the fact that the NATO powers operate global torture and drone murder operations, they have time and again—in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, or last year’s war scare in Syria—sought to wage aggressive war despite opposition at the UN Security Council, in violation of international law.
As for the current crisis in Ukraine, it exploded after the NATO powers brazenly backed a putsch in Kiev, led by fascist groups like the Right Sector and the Svoboda party, to topple a pro-Russian Ukrainian regime and install a regime militarily aligned on NATO directly on Russia’s borders.
NATO’s aggressive escalation, carried out over the Kremlin’s warnings that it is tearing up all the legal foundations of the highly fragile peace in Europe, threatens a war between NATO and Russia—a major military power with a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons. This reflects the intensifying international contradictions tearing at European and world capitalism, which can be fought only by unifying the international working class against the danger of imperialist war.
The corrupt Russian capitalist oligarchy for which the Kremlin speaks cannot make any appeal to the broad anti-war sentiment that exists in the international working class. Rather, it is desperately seeking to convince factions of the political establishment in the imperialist powers to strike a deal, even as NATO moves to blow up the limited forms of cooperation set up since the 1990s.
Thus Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich complained in a statement on Wednesday that NATO was returning to “the Cold War era.” He warned that this would hamper joint collaboration between Russia and NATO on “fighting terrorism, piracy, and natural and man-made disasters.”
Lukashevich’s positions epitomize the bankruptcy of the Kremlin. Its reactionary collaboration with NATO has seen Russia function as an accomplice of such crimes as NATO’s bloody war in Afghanistan—transporting supplies overland through Russia and ex-Soviet Central Asia to NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan.
The Western imperialist powers are scrapping their collaboration with the Kremlin on issues like anti-piracy operations, however, as they struggle over a far more significant prize: geo-strategic and financial control of Eastern Europe, and ultimately of Russia itself.
The day after NATO’s decision to end cooperation with Russia on Tuesday, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest national subscription daily newspaper, bluntly declared that “NATO now regards Russia as an enemy.”
Yesterday, in an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit published under the headline, “An invasion is possible,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk demanded the installation of a missile shield and the deployment of NATO troops to Poland. “Our accounting is simple,” he argued. “Better than all the reassurances written on paper is the physical presence of NATO in Poland. This is also in Europe’s interest, because here in the East, there is the [European] Union’s real external border.”
The disastrous consequences of the Stalinist bureaucracy’s restoration of capitalism in Eastern Europe, based on its light-minded view that imperialism was simply a fiction invented by Marxism, are coming fully into view. Driven by the escalating geo-strategic and socio-economic crisis of world capitalism, the imperialist powers in NATO are pressing ahead with an escalation designed to ruthlessly assert control of Eastern Europe and justify diverting massive funds to military spending.
They are raising unsubstantiated accusations of an imminent invasion of Ukraine by Russia as a pretext to build up their forces in Eastern Europe and work out war plans against Russia. Speaking to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, claimed that 40,000 Russian troops had massed on the Ukrainian border. He issued dire warnings of a looming Russian onslaught: “We think that it is ready to go, and we think it could accomplish its objectives in between three and five days, if it was directed to make the actions.”
Though Western officials and media have given no proof of Russia’s allegedly massive build-up at the Ukrainian border, they are hysterically brandishing the specter of an impending Russian invasion.
Calling the situation “incredibly concerning,” Breedlove warned that the Russian army has “the entire suite that would be required to successfully have an incursion into Ukraine, should the decision be made.” He suggested that Russia might try to overrun all of southern and eastern Ukraine, perhaps in order to establish overland communications to Transdniestria, a Russian-speaking, separatist region of Moldova, to the west of Ukraine.
Breedlove outlined NATO’s plans to encircle Russia by arming Eastern European states to the teeth and massively increasing military spending by the NATO countries: “We will work on air, land and sea ‘reassurances’ and we will look to position those ‘reassurances’ across the breadth of our exposure: north, center, and south… And now the tougher discussion will be with our allies about what is that land component that will be the reassurance piece that carries us into this new paradigm.”
Such plans would involve the militarization of Europe and deep attacks on the working class in the imperialist countries to finance the massive military escalation that NATO is preparing.
Terracidal Climate Change Inaction
by Dr Gideon Polya , Countercurrents
We are witnessing terracidal climate change inaction from both explicit, anti-science climate change denialism and craven effective climate change denialism. The world is facing a worsening climate emergency but remains committed to an ever-expanding carbon economy and is unable to take requisite effective climate change action. Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and the atmospheric CO2 continue to inexorably increase and it is becoming clear that we are rapidly running out of time to deal with the climate emergency [1-5]. This inaction derives not just from anti-science climate change denialism fostered by climate criminal fossil fuel companies but also from the effective climate change denialism of politicians and climate activists who understand the problem but are simply too cowardly or inept to bite the bullet and act effectively in the interests of Humanity and the Biosphere.
We know what we have to do in the little time that remains. We must urgently reduce atmospheric CO2 back down from the current dangerous 400 ppm CO2 to a safe and sustainable 300 ppm CO2  by re-afforestation, massive biochar production, stopping greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution  and rapid conversion to 100% renewable energy . But it is not happening, it is still Business As Usual (BAU) with an expanding Carbon Economy. This stasis derives from the collective economic self-interest of powerful corporation-dominated Establishments in the Western democracies that have become Murdochracies, Lobbyocracies and Corporatocracies in which Big Money buys people, politicians, parties, policies, public perception of reality and political power.
Scientists of the Australian Climate Commission (now re-formed as the privately- and self-funded Australian Climate Council after being abolished by the effective climate change denialist conservative Abbott Coalition Australian Government) have despairingly estimated that at current rates of pollution the World has only 14 years left (relative to 2014) before it exceeds a Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget of 600 Gt CO2 (600 billion tonnes CO2) that must not be exceeded if we are to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature rise  ? but a more stringent analysis estimates that we have only 4 years left .
Outstanding anti-racist Jewish Canadian humanitarian writer Naomi Klein has condemned the effective climate change inaction and effective climate change denialism of ostensibly pro-environmental groups who are too scared to accept and advocate the urgent action that is required: ?Well, I think there is a very a deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it's been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we've lost. Because it has steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results. I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto , of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union's emissions trading scheme ? we now have close to a decade that we can measure these schemes against, and it's disastrous. Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to, which gives fodder to the right. The right took on cap-and-trade by saying it's going to bankrupt us, it's handouts to corporations, and, by the way, it's not going to work. And they were right on all counts. Not in the bankrupting part, but they were right that this was a massive corporate giveaway, and they were right that it wasn't going to bring us anywhere near what scientists were saying we needed to do lower emissions? .
This is no better illustrated than in look-the-other-way, neoliberal, climate criminal Australia that is a world leader in annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution and in climate change inaction. Thus ?annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution? in units of ?tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year? (2005-2008 data) is 0.9 (Bangladesh), 0.9 (Pakistan), 2.2 (India), less than 3 (many African and Island countries), 3.2 (the Developing World), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 16 (the Developed World), 27 (the US) and 25 (Australia) - or 74 in 2010 for Australia if its huge Exported CO2 pollution is included [1, 5]. However, Australia's prosperity currently heavily depends upon huge exports of coal, gas and iron ore to Asia ? exported GHG pollution that is greater than Australia's Domestic GHG pollution and set to be 3 times greater by 2020 . Already about 7 million people die annually from carbon burning pollutants  and it is estimated that about 10 billion people will perish this century in a near-terminal Climate Genocide if man-made climate change is not properly addressed [3, 5].
Even though former Labor PM Kevin Rudd declared that ?climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time?, successive Australian Labor Governments have failed to act in a substantial way. Indeed the significantly climate change denialist conservative Liberal Party-National Party Coalition (currently in Government) and equally pro-coal and pro-gas Labor (currently in Opposition) have exactly the same climate change inaction policies of a derisory ?5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020? coupled with unlimited coal, gas and iron ore exports that would see Australia exceed the whole world's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget by a factor of three (3) . Global fossil fuel reserves are such that CO2 pollution from their use would exceed the Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget by a factor of 5  .
This extraordinary Australian refusal to face up to the reality of the worsening Climate Emergency is illustrated by a recent debate between leading Australian climate economist Professor Ross Garnaut (who advocated action by a Carbon Tax and an Emission Trading Scheme as implemented by the previous Labor Government) and Independent MP Clive Palmer (a mining billionaire who has just been given the green light for a massive new coal mine and a rail-linked port dangerously impinging on Australia's iconic, World Heritage-listed but critically endangered Great Barrier Reef). Non-scientist ABC journalist Tony Jones (who evidently accepts the Garnaut and Labor position ) compered this debate on climate change action between non-scientist economist Professor Ross Garnaut and non-scientist mining billionaire Clive Palmer . It should be noted that the Coalition Australian Government led by PM Tony Abbott hopes to shortly dismantle Labor's Carbon Tax and ETS with the help of Clive Palmer. The following 2 key exchanges in the debate illustrate the extraordinary ignorance of those overwhelmingly non-scientists permitted effective free speech to the exclusion of scientists in the public discussion about climate change action.
EXCHANGE #1. ROSS GARNAUT: Yes, the world's been taking substantial action? [advocacy of Carbon Price by an EU-style Emissions Trading Scheme]? Well, for thousands of years, for thousands of years there was a balance between natural emissions and natural absorption of emissions. The big increase in human emissions from burning fossil fuel since the Industrial Revolution and chopping down trees has changed that balance. So it's the human-induced changes that create the climate change problem. It's why there's been nearly a degree of warming in the last half century.
EXCHANGE #2. CLIVE PALMER: Well we should show leadership. The fact of the matter is we want to reduce carbon. 100 per cent of the carbon, 97 per cent of its from nature. If we reduce it by 20 per cent from industry, that's about 0.6 per cent of the 100 per cent overall because industry's only three per cent, so why don't we try to get a 0.6 per cent reduction of carbon from all sources of carbon? In New Zealand , they've got a fart tax because sheep give out the most methane. They've introduced things like that ...
Non-scientist Professor Ross Garnaut was WRONG in stating that ?the world's been taking substantial action?. As summarized in the latest IPCC AR5 Report Summary for Policy Makers, the atmospheric CO2 is higher than it has been for 1 million years and it is increasing at a rate of about 2.5 ppm CO2 per year that is over 2 times that in1960 when measurements by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) commenced at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, USA [13, 14]. Further, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports and projects correspondingly remorselessly increasing global energy-related CO2 pollution . The Australian Climate Commission has estimated that (relative to 2014) the World has only 14 years left before it exceeds the Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget of 600 Gt CO2 that must not be exceeded if we are to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature rise . However a more stringent analysis realistically considering the GWP of methane and the huge impact of livestock on man-made GHG pollution indicates that the World has only 4 years left (relative to 2014) at current rates of pollution before its Terminal Carbon Budget is exceeded .
Non-scientist Professor Ross Garnaut was WRONG in supporting a disastrous EU-style Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for Australia and the utility of the present Labor-installed Carbon Tax and ETS arrangements (Carbon Price $23 per tonne CO2-e but falling to a derisory $6 per tonne CO2-e in 2015 as compared to an expert UK assessment that a Carbon Price of $150 per tonne CO2-e is needed for effective climate action). Thus the ETS approach is empirically ineffective, is accordingly counterproductive and is inherently fraudulent in that it involves, for example, the Australian Government selling licences for corporations to pollute the one common atmosphere and ocean of all countries in the world. Many climate scientists, climate activists and climate economists favor a transparent and substantial Carbon Tax and slam the ETS approach [16-19]. Thus D r Chris Hope (Judge Business School, 90-Nobel-Laureate University of Cambridge) (2011): ?If the best current scientific and economic evidence is to be believed, and climate change could be a real and serious problem, the appropriate response is to institute today a climate change tax equal to the mean estimate of the damage caused by a tonne of CO2. emissions. The raw calculations from the default PASGE09 model suggest that tax should be about $100 per tonne of CO2 in the EU. But correcting for the limited time horizon of the model, and bringing the calculations forward to 2102, in year 2012 dollars, brings the suggested tax up to about $150 per tonne of CO2? .
Non-scientist Clive Palmer was utterly WRONG in rejecting ?human-induced climate change? by saying ?It's just not true?. The expert IPCC AR5 report, Summary for Policy Makers, based on the work of thousands of expert research scientists, has summarized the observed changes so far: ?Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased? Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding the climate system? .
Non-scientist Clive Palmer was utterly WRONG in his pronouncement that ?[of] 100 per cent of the carbon, 97 per cent of its from nature?, stating: ?[of] 100 per cent of the carbon, 97 per cent of its from nature . If we reduce it by 20 per cent from industry, that's about 0.6 per cent of the 100 per cent overall because industry's only three per cent, so why don't we try to get a 0.6 per cent reduction of carbon from all sources of carbon?. The reality qualitatively familiar to high school science students is that annually photosynthesis converts about 170 Gt C (624 Gt CO2) to carbohydrate (120 GtC terrestrially and 50 GtC in the ocean): nCO2 + nH2O -> (CH2O)n + nO2 . However of this all but about 4 GtC is re-oxidized back to CO2 by plants and plant-eating aerobic organisms deriving requisite energy from this catabolic process : (CH2O)n + nO2 -> nCO2 + nH2O  (anaerobic organism make things worse by generating methane, CH4, which is 105 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas (GHG) on a 20 year time frame and taking aerosol impacts into account [1, 20, 21]),. Non-scientist Clive Palmer evidently does not understand the basic high school biological chemistry that nearly all the carbohydrate generated by photosynthesis on Planet Earth is subsequently re-oxidized to provide energy for the survival, repair and replication of photosynthetic organisms and of all ultimately photosynthate-consuming organisms.
Non-scientist Clive Palmer was utterly WRONG in his pronouncement that ?[of the 100 per cent overall? industry's only three per cent]?. World Bank analysts have re-assessed annual man-made (anthropogenic) GHG pollution taking livestock into account as 17.4 GtC (64 Gt CO 2 -e or CO2-equivalent ), this being 50% bigger than the FAO estimate of 11.4 GtC (42 Gt CO 2 -e). Man's annual GHG contribution is thus about 17.4 GtC out of a annual biological GHG pollution total of 17.4 + 170 - 4 = 183.4 GtC or 9.5% (over 3 times greater than Clive Palmer's estimate of 3%) .
Non-scientist Clive Palmer was nevertheless qualitatively CORRECT in suggesting ?why don't we try to get a ? reduction of carbon from all sources of carbon?. Eliminating all aspects of livestock production from land clearing to eructation (belching) by methane-generating animals could, according to World Bank analysts, save 32 GtC , nearly 2 times the present annual anthropogenic GHG pollution . Conversion of forestry waste and agricultural straw waste to biochar (carbon, charcoal ) through anaerobic pyrolysis at 400-700C and then putting it into fire-proof holes in the ground (like old coal mines) could save 12 GtC annually but this would be associated with a minimum cost of the order of $200 per tonne C. Thus the cost of conversion of cellulosic waste to biochar in the US mid-West is about US$49-US$74 per tonne CO2 (US$210-US$303 per tonne CO2 in the UK ) i.e. $180-272 per tonne C (US-based) or $771-1,112 per tonne C (UK-based) [23, 24]. The current price of Australian thermal coal is about $90 per tonne or $90 per t C x (12t C/ 44 t CO2) = $24 per tonne of CO2 released on eventual combustion . Thus at the cheapest US-based rate, for every $1 coal miners like Clive Palmer get for coal, future generations will have to pay $2-3 to clean up the atmosphere. Ergo, future generations would like us to keep coal (and oil and gas) in the ground [4, 24].
Non-scientist compere Tony Jones was utterly WRONG in absurdly stating ?That's not carbon, that's methane?. The carbon compound methane (CH4) is a major, naturally-occurring greenhouse gas and derives from anaerobic degradation of biological material e.g. in swamps, waste dumps, and livestock digestion : (CH2O)n + 4H (derived from reduced coenzymes) -> nCH4 + nH2O or, overall: 2(CH2O)n -> nCH4 + n CO2. Global warming is already releasing CH4 from thawing H2O-CH4 clathrates in the tundra and in shallow parts of the Arctic Ocean . CH4 is the major constituent of natural gas and fugitive CH4 emissions occur from coal mines, coal seam gas (CSG) extraction, conventional natural gas extraction, from coal seam and shale fracking and from systemic gas reticulation leakage. It is estimated that 50 Gt CH4 will be released from the Arctic Ocean sea bed in coming decades . From a global warming and greenhouse gas pollution perspective, methane is not just a carbon compound but the worst such naturally-occurring compound in terms of Global Warming Potential, (GWP). The GWP of CH4 on a 20 year time frame and with aerosol impacts considered is 105 times that of CO2 [1, 21, 22]. The German WBGU (2009) and the Australian Climate Commission (2013) have estimated that no more than 600 billion tonnes of CO2 can be emitted between 2010 and zero emissions in 2050 if the world is to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature rise [1, 3, 8]. The 50 Gt (billion tonnes) CH4 expected to be released from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf in coming decades is thus equivalent to 50 billion tonnes CH4 x 105 tonnes CO2-equivalent/tonne CH4 = 5,250 tonnes CO2-e or about nine (9) times more than the world's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget. We are doomed unless we can stop this Arctic CH4 release . In the public arguments in Australia and elsewhere about what an effective Carbon Price should be, the Carbon Price is expressed in terms of dollars per tonne CO2-equivalent (CO2-e), noting that CO2-e expresses total greenhouse gases (mainly CO2 and CH4) as CO2 equivalents.
The world is facing worsening climate emergency and may have as few as 4 years before it exceeds the Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget that must not be exceeded if we are to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature rise. Global fossil fuel reserves are such that CO2 pollution from their use would exceeded the Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget by a factor of 5. Yet there is overall global climate change inaction as evidenced by remorselessly increasing energy-linked CO2 emissions and atmospheric CO2 increasing at over twice the rate of half a century ago.
The public debate largely sidelines scientists and is dominated by (a) climate change denialist conservative politicians and commentators backed by corporations committed to a continuing Carbon Economy and (b) politicians, journalists, and environmental groups who are effective climate change denialists in that they refuse to back the strong climate change action required to save Humanity and the Biosphere. The consequent massive misinformation is illustrated here by the serious errors in a major Australian public debate involving (a) a highly influential , non-scientist Australian economist who backs the demonstrably ineffective ETS approach and mistakenly asserts that the ? the world's been taking substantial action ?; (b) a non-scientist climate change denialist mining billionaire and highly influential MP who doesn't understand the basics of the Carbon Cycle by Life on Earth in which nearly all the carbohydrate generated by photosynthesis is subsequently re-oxidized to provide energy for the survival, repair and replication of photosynthetic organisms and ultimately photosynthate-consuming organisms; and (c) a highly influential, non-scientist journalist who does not appear to understand that the carbon compound methane is a major greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 105 times greater than that of CO2.
What is needed to save the Planet is: ( 1) a change of societal philosophy to one of scientific risk management and biological sustainability with complete cessation of species extinctions and zero tolerance for lying and misinformation; .(2) urgent reduction of atmospheric CO2 to a safe level of about 300 ppm from the current dangerous 400 ppm CO2 as recommended by leading climate and biological scientists; and ( 3) a rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as coal burning-based power) and to energy efficiency, public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar to soils coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production and population growth.
What can humane, civilized, science-informed people do in the face of massive climate change denialism and massive effective climate change denialism by even ostensibly pro-environment groups? We are badly running out of time to save the Planet. Science-informed people ? and especially the young who are most threatened by climate change, climate injustice and intergenerational inequity  - must (a) inform everyone they can, (b) vote 1 Green or Socialist, and (c) exercise zero tolerance for climate criminals by urging and applying Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, politicians, parties, countries, companies and corporations conspicuous in the War on Terra, the greed-driven, terracidal destruction of the Biosphere through unaddressed, man-made global warming.
Dr Gideon Polya has been teaching science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published ?Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950? (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007, including an avoidable mortality-related history of every country since Neolithic times and now available for free perusal on the web : http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions ?Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality? in ?Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics? (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and ?Ongoing Palestinian Genocide? in ?The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book ?Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History?(now also available for free perusal on the web: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the ?forgotten? World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .
|April 8, 2014||
Indoctrinating A New Generation
by William Blum , Williamblum.org, Countercurrents
Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he’s speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to “European youth”, the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk. Here’s a sample:
Most people who follow such things are convinced that the 1999 US/NATO bombing of the Serbian province of Kosovo took place only after the Serbian-forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic deportations of large numbers of people did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a reaction to it, born of Serbia’s extreme anger and powerlessness over the bombing. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, 1999, and the few days following. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:
On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that nature.
But the propaganda version is already set in marble.
None of that even came close to happening in Kosovo either. The story is false. The referendum the president speaks of never happened. Did the mainstream media pick up on this or on the previous example? If any reader comes across such I’d appreciate being informed.
Crimea, by the way, did have a referendum. A real one.
The president might have mentioned that the main beneficiary of the Marshall Plan was US corporations 1
In this talk, the main purpose of which was to lambaste the Russians for their actions concerning Ukraine, there was no mention that the government overthrown in that country with the clear support of the United States had been democratically elected.
The US did not get UN Security Council approval for its invasion, the only approval that could legitimize the action. It occupied Iraq from one end of the country to the other for 8 years, forcing the government to privatize the oil industry and accept multinational – largely U.S.-based, oil companies’ – ownership. This endeavor was less than successful because of the violence unleashed by the invasion. The US military finally was forced to leave because the Iraqi government refused to give immunity to American soldiers for their many crimes.
Here is a brief summary of what Barack Obama is attempting to present as America’s moral superiority to the Russians:
The modern, educated, advanced nation of Iraq was reduced to a quasi failed state … the Americans, beginning in 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one dubious excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, tortured without inhibition, killed wantonly … the people of that unhappy land lost everything – their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives … More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile … The air, soil, water, blood, and genes drenched with depleted uranium … the most awful birth defects … unexploded cluster bombs lying in wait for children to pick them up … a river of blood running alongside the Euphrates and Tigris … through a country that may never be put back together again. … “It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003,” reported the Washington Post. (May 5, 2007)
How can all these mistakes, such arrogance, hypocrisy and absurdity find their way into a single international speech by the president of the United States? Is the White House budget not sufficient to hire a decent fact checker? Someone with an intellect and a social conscience? Or does the desire to score propaganda points trump everything else? Is this another symptom of the Banana-Republicization of America?
Long live the Cold War
In 1933 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union after some 15 years of severed relations following the Bolshevik Revolution. On a day in December of that year, a train was passing through Poland carrying the first American diplomats dispatched to Moscow. Amongst their number was a 29 year-old Foreign Service Officer, later to become famous as a diplomat and scholar, George Kennan. Though he was already deemed a government expert on Russia, the train provided Kennan’s first actual exposure to the Soviet Union. As he listened to his group’s escort, Russian Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, reminisce about growing up in a village the train was passing close by, and his dreams of becoming a librarian, the Princeton-educated Kennan was astonished: “We suddenly realized, or at least I did, that these people we were dealing with were human beings like ourselves, that they had been born somewhere, that they had their childhood ambitions as we had. It seemed for a brief moment we could break through and embrace these people.” 2
It hasn’t happened yet.
One would think that the absence in Russia of communism, of socialism, of the basic threat or challenge to the capitalist system, would be sufficient to write finis to the 70-year Cold War mentality. But the United States is virtually as hostile to 21st-century Russia as it was to 20th-century Soviet Union, surrounding Moscow with military bases, missile sites, and NATO members. Why should that be? Ideology is no longer a factor. But power remains one, specifically America’s perpetual lust for world hegemony. Russia is the only nation that (a) is a military powerhouse, and (b) doesn’t believe that the United States has a god-given-American-exceptionalism right to rule the world, and says so. By these criteria, China might qualify as a poor second. But there are no others.
Washington pretends that it doesn’t understand why Moscow should be upset by Western military encroachment, but it has no such problem when roles are reversed. Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated that Russian troops poised near eastern Ukraine are “creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine” and raising questions about Russia’s next moves and its commitment to diplomacy. 3
NATO – ever in need of finding a raison d’être – has now issued a declaration of [cold] war, which reads in part:
Does anyone recall what NATO said in 2003 when the United States bombed and invaded Iraq with “shock and awe”, compared to the Russians now not firing a single known shot at anyone? And neither Russia nor Ukraine is even a member of NATO. Does NATO have a word to say about the right-wing coup in Ukraine, openly supported by the United States, overthrowing the elected government? Did the hypocrisy get any worse during the Cold War? Imagine that NATO had not been created in 1949. Imagine that it has never existed. What reason could one give today for its creation? Other than to provide a multi-national cover for Washington’s interventions.
One of the main differences between now and the Cold War period is that Americans at home are (not yet) persecuted or prosecuted for supporting Russia or things Russian.
But don’t worry, folks, there won’t be a big US-Russian war. For the same reason there wasn’t one during the Cold War. The United States doesn’t pick on any country which can defend itself.
Cuba … Again … Still … Forever
Is there actually a limit? Will the United States ever stop trying to overthrow the Cuban government? Entire books have been written documenting the unrelenting ways Washington has tried to get rid of tiny Cuba’s horrid socialism – from military invasion to repeated assassination attempts to an embargo that President Clinton’s National Security Advisor called “the most pervasive sanctions ever imposed on a nation in the history of mankind”. 5
And now it’s “Cuban Twitter” – an elaborately complex system set up by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to disguise its American origins and financing, aiming to bring about a “Cuban Spring” uprising. USAID sought to first “build a Cuban audience, mostly young people; then the plan was to push them toward dissent”, hoping the messaging network “would reach critical mass so that dissidents could organize ‘smart mobs’ – mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice – that might trigger political demonstrations or ‘renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society’.” 6
It’s too bad it’s now been exposed, because we all know how wonderful the Egyptian, Syrian, Libyan, and other “Arab Springs” have turned out.
Here’s USAID speaking after their scheme was revealed on April 3: “Cubans were able to talk among themselves, and we are proud of that.” 7
We are thus asked to believe that normally the poor downtrodden Cubans have no good or safe way to communicate with each other. Is the US National Security Agency working for the Cuban government now?
The Associated Press, which broke the story, asks us further to believe that the “truth” about most things important in the world is being kept from the Cuban people by the Castro regime, and that the “Cuban Twitter” would have opened people’s eyes. But what information might a Cuban citizen discover online that the government would not want him to know about? I can’t imagine. Cubans are in constant touch with relatives in the US, by mail and in person. They get US television programs from Miami and other southern cities; both CNN and Telesur (Venezuela, covering Latin America) are seen regularly on Cuban television”; international conferences on all manner of political, economic and social issues are held regularly in Cuba. I’ve spoken at more than one myself. What – it must be asked – does USAID, as well as the American media, think are the great dark secrets being kept from the Cuban people by the nasty commie government?
Those who push this line sometimes point to the serious difficulty of using the Internet in Cuba. The problem is that it’s extremely slow, making certain desired usages often impractical. From an American friend living in Havana: “It’s not a question of getting or not getting internet. I get internet here. The problem is downloading something or connecting to a link takes too long on the very slow connection that exists here, so usually I/we get ‘timed out’.” But the USAID’s “Cuban Twitter”, after all, could not have functioned at all without the Internet.
Places like universities, upscale hotels, and Internet cafés get better connections, at least some of the time; however, it’s rather expensive to use at the hotels and cafés.
In any event, this isn’t a government plot to hide dangerous information. It’s a matter of technical availability and prohibitive cost, both things at least partly in the hands of the United States and American corporations. Microsoft, for example, at one point, if not at present, barred Cuba from using its Messenger instant messaging service. 8
Cuba and Venezuela have jointly built a fiber optic underwater cable connection that they hope will make them less reliant on the gringos; the outcome of this has not yet been reported in much detail.
The grandly named Agency for International Development does not have an honorable history; this can perhaps be captured by a couple of examples: In 1981, the agency’s director, John Gilligan, stated: “At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.” 9
On June 21, 2012, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) issued a resolution calling for the immediate expulsion of USAID from their nine member countries, “due to the fact that we consider their presence and actions to constitute an interference which threatens the sovereignty and stability of our nations.”
USAID, the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy (and the latter’s subsidiaries), together or singly, continue to be present at regime changes, or attempts at same, favorable to Washington, from “color revolutions” to “spring” uprisings, producing a large measure of chaos and suffering for our tired old world.
William Blum is the author of:
Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.williamblum.org
Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website.
Email bblum6 [at] aol.com
1. William Blum, America’s Deadliest Export – Democracy: The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else, p.22-5
2. Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (1986), p.158
3. Washington Post, March 31, 2014
4. “NATO takes measures to reinforce collective defence, agrees on support for Ukraine”, NATO website, April 1, 2014
5. Sandy Berger, White House press briefing, November 14, 1997, US Newswire transcript
6. Associated Press, April 3 & 4, 2014
7. Washington Post, April 4, 2014
8. Associated Press, June 2, 2009
9. George Cotter, “Spies, strings and missionaries”, The Christian Century (Chicago), March 25, 1981, p.321
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.
|April 8, 2014||
Pro-Russian Protesters In Eastern Ukraine Demand Crimean-Style Referendum
by Johannes Stern , WSWS.org, Countercurrents
Tensions between the Western-backed interim government in Kiev and the eastern parts of Ukraine with close economic and linguistic ties to Russia are escalating, posing the threat not only of civil war in Ukraine, but of military conflict between the imperialist powers and Russia.
Yesterday, pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine’s industrial city of Donetsk set up a “people’s council” and announced the creation of a “republic of Donetsk.”
Three weeks after Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine, the council in Donetsk similarly called for a May 11 referendum on joining Russia and asked Russia to deploy “peacekeepers” to secure it. A statement of the council read: “Without support it will be hard for us to stand against the junta in Kiev… We are addressing Russian President Putin because we can only entrust our security to Russia.”
The announcement followed the occupation of local administration buildings in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and the eastern city of Luhansk by anti-government protesters on Sunday. Pictures and videos of the protests showed demonstrators setting up barricades and piling up tires and barbed wire, just as pro-Western protesters did in Kiev against former president Viktor Yanukovych before he was ousted in a Western-orchestrated and fascist-led putsch on February 22.
The imperialist powers’ installation of a far-right, anti-Russian government in Kiev, which quickly moved to eliminate Russian as an official language and impose IMF austerity measures on the working class, is producing an ever more volatile and explosive situation.
In Kharkiv, clashes erupted between anti-government activists and police forces that tried to recapture the administration building. Anti-government protesters violently dispersed a demonstration of Kiev government supporters.
In Luhansk, demonstrators seized a weapons depot. The Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported that nine people, including law enforcement officers, were injured in the attack.
The fatal shooting of a Ukrainian military officer in Crimea has further fueled tensions between the interim government in Kiev and Russia. The officer was shot in a dispute with Russian soldiers late Sunday night, according to a spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
The mounting tensions in eastern Ukraine testify to the recklessness of the imperialist powers, which are risking not only open civil war in Ukraine, but war with Russia itself in pursuit of their economic and geo-political goals. The protests against the Kiev regime by pro-Russian forces in sections of Ukraine that were Yanukovych’s political base are the result of the Western powers’ decision to illegally oust his regime, utilizing as their shock troops ultra-nationalist and fascist forces.
The regime installed by Washington and its European allies includes ministers from the fascistic Svoboda party. It has agreed to impose International Monetary Fund dictated energy price increases that will devastate eastern Ukraine’s industries and workers.
The Ukrainian regime and its imperialist backers are blaming the anti-government protests in eastern Ukraine on Russia and seizing on them to further escalate tensions. On Monday, Ukrainian interim President Oleksander Turchinov threatened to use “anti-terrorism” measures to suppress the protests, which he denounced as a Russian conspiracy. “Yesterday the second stage of a special Russian operation began, the aim of which is to destabilize the situation in the state, overthrow the Ukrainian authorities, disrupt the election and tear our country apart,” he said.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of carrying out a plan “to destabilize the situation, a plan to ensure that foreign troops could cross the border and capture the territory of the country.” At a government meeting, he declared: “There is a script being written in the Russian Federation, for which there is only one purpose: the dismemberment and destruction of Ukraine and the transformation of Ukraine into the territory of slavery under the dictates of Russia.”
The ultimate goal of the imperialist powers is not only to take over Ukraine, but to dismember Russia itself. They are intensifying their provocations, threats and sanctions in an attempt to undermine the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin. For its part, the Kremlin, well aware of widespread social discontent in the Russian population, fears it could be targeted for a similar regime-change operation to that which brought down Yanukovych.
Speaking at a meeting of Russia’s Federal Security Service on Monday, Putin said that Russia was on the alert against outside agitators seeking to create ethnic strife. “We must make a clear distinction between civilized opposition to the authorities and serving foreign interests to the detriment of our own country,” he said, “We will not accept a situation such as happened in Ukraine, when in many cases it was through non-governmental organizations that the nationalist and neo-Nazi groups and militants, who became the shock troops in the anti-constitutional coup d’état, received funding from abroad.”
Washington and the European powers are seizing on the protests in Eastern Ukraine to step up their war threats against Russia. Commenting on the protests in Donetsk, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter: “Sunday pattern that pro-Russian thugs try to stir up trouble in eastern Ukraine. Heavily supported by Kremlin propaganda machine.”
Czech President Milos Zeman went further, calling for a NATO intervention in Ukraine should Russia try to move into eastern Ukraine. “The moment Russia decides to widen its territorial expansion to the eastern part of Ukraine, that is where the fun ends,” Zeman told Czech public radio. “There I would plead not only for the strictest EU sanctions, but even for military readiness of the North Atlantic Alliance, like, for example, NATO forces entering Ukrainian territory.”
Washington warned Russia against trying to annex more Ukrainian territory “overtly or covertly” and accused pro-Russian demonstrators of being paid by Moscow. “There is strong evidence suggesting some of these demonstrators were paid and were not local residents,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Monday. “We’re concerned about several escalatory moves in Ukraine over the weekend, and we see those as a result of increased Russian pressure on Ukraine.”
Daniel Baer, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, claimed that Russia had amassed tens of thousands of troops near the border with Ukraine “not in their normal peacetime positions or garrisons.” Baer demanded that the Russian government takes steps to “de-escalate” the situation.
These statements are staggeringly hypocritical. What Carney and Baer are accusing the Kremlin of doing—intervening to politically manipulate protests in Ukraine—is precisely what the Western powers boast of having done. European Union and American officials joined anti-Yanukovych demonstrators on Kiev’s Independence Square and met with leaders of the neo-fascist Svoboda party. The Obama administration and its European allies have, according to US Undersecretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Victoria Nuland, spent some $5 billion to promote pro-Western regime-change in Ukraine since the 1990s.
|April 9, 2014||
Europe Needs To Be Independent
by John Scales Avery, Countercurrents
Legacies from the First and Second World Wars and the Cold War
In both World War I and World War II, participation by the United States brought victory to the Allies. In the years that followed 1945, the Marshall Plan helped Europe to recover. During the Cold War period that followed, many people in Europe saw NATO, and a close alliance with the United States, as means for preventing a takeover by the Soviet Union. However, whatever debt of gratitude Europe may owe to the United States for its past help, we must now ask whether the time has not now arrived for Europe to be independent. Just as the US once declared it is independence from England, Europe must now declare its independence from the United States.
The loss of democracy in the United States
Recent revelations by Edward Snowdon, Wikileaks and other whistle-blowers have made it clear that the United States has suffered a decay of its political institutions. The US can hardly be called a democracy today, since it seems to be ruled by an extremely wealthy oligarchy rather than by its people. In fact, the people of the US do not really know what their government is doing because the activities of the CIA, the NSA, Secret Service, Homeland Security the FBI, and many other agencies are masked in secrecy. A country where the people do not know what their government is doing, and where the people have no control over their government's actions, cannot be said to be a democracy.
The history of this huge secret side of the US government goes back to the Cold War period, during which both sides engaged in both covert and military interference with the internal affairs of smaller countries. The Soviet Union and China also intervened in the internal affairs of many countries, for example in Korea in 1950-53, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and so on; very long list.
Meanwhile the US interfered, militarily or covertly, in the internal affairs of a large number of nations: China, 1945-49; Italy, 1947-48; Greece, 1947-49; Philippines, 1946-53; South Korea, 1945-53; Albania, 1949-53; Germany, 1950s; Iran, 1953; Guatemala, 1953-1990s; Middle East, 1956-58; Indonesia, 1957-58; British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64; Vietnam, 1950-73; Cambodia, 1955-73; The Congo/Zaire, 1960-65; Brazil, 1961-64; Dominican Republic, 1963-66; Cuba, 1959-present; Indonesia, 1965; Chile, 1964-73; Greece, 1964-74; East Timor, 1975-present; Nicaragua, 1978-89; Grenada, 1979-84; Libya, 1981-89; Panama, 1989; Iraq, 1990-present; Afghanistan 1979-92; El Salvador, 1980-92; Haiti, 1987-94; Yugoslavia, 1999; and Afghanistan, 2001-present, Syria, 2013-present. Egypt, 2013-present,Venezuela, 2013-present. None of these interventions can be justified, since people have a right to live under governments of their own choosing, regardless of whether those governments are optimal.
With the fall of the Soviet Union, intoxication with the idea of the United States as the sole superpower expressed itself in the form of contempt for international law and the United Nations, and especially in the declarations of the “Project for a New American Century”, which many people have compared to Hitler's “Mein Kampf”. Here are some links:
Former UN Assistant Secretary General Hans Christof von Sponeck used the following words to express his opinion that NATO now violates the UN Charter and international law: “In the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, the Charter of the United Nations was declared to be NATO's legally binding framework. However, the United-Nations monopoly of the use of force, especially as specified in Article 51 of the Charter, was no longer accepted according to the 1999 NATO doctrine. NATO's territorial scope, until then limited to the Euro-Atlantic region, was expanded by its members to include the whole world”
One might say that in recent years, participation in NATO has made European countries accomplices in US efforts to achieve global hegemony by means of military force, in violation of the UN Charter and international law.
Article 2 of the UN Charter requires that “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” This requirement is somewhat qualified by Article 51, which says that “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Memeber of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”
Thus, in general, war is illegal under the UN Charter. Self-defense against an armed attack is permitted, but only for a limited time, until the Security Council has had time to act. The United Nations Charter does not permit the threat or use of force in preemptive wars, or to produce regime changes, or for so-called “democratization”, or for the domination of regions that are rich in oil. NATO must not be a party to the threat or use of force for such illegal purposes. At present the United States government is trying to force the European members of NATO to participate in aggressive operations in connection with the coup which it carried out in Ukraine. Europe must refuse. See the following link:
US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe
At present, NATO's nuclear weapons policies violate both the spirit and the text of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in several respects: Today there are an estimated 200 US nuclear weapons still in Europe The air forces of the nations in which they are based are regularly trained to deliver the US weapons. This “nuclear sharing”, as it is called, violates Articles I and II of the NPT, which forbid the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear-weapon states. It has been argued that the NPT would no longer be in force if a crisis arose, but there is nothing in the NPT saying that the treaty would not hold under all circumstances.
Article VI of the NPT requires states possessing nuclear weapon to get rid of them within a reasonable period of time. This article is violated by fact that NATO policy is guided by a Strategic Concept, which visualizes the continued use of nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.'
The principle of no-first-use of nuclear weapons has been an extremely important safeguard over the years, but it is violated by present NATO policy, which permits the first-use of nuclear weapons in a wide variety of circumstances.
NSA spying on European leaders
The massive illegal collection of private data by the National Security Agency has produced worldwide anger. The targeting of European leaders has included the famous bugging of Angela Merkel's cellphone.
In the words of former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, “Obama’s US Trade Representative, who has been negotiating secret trade agreements in Europe and Asia that give US corporations immunity to the laws of all countries that sign the agreements, has threatened WTO penalties if Europe’s communications network excludes the US companies that serve as spies for NSA. Washington in all its arrogance has told its most necessary allies that if you don’t let us spy on you, we will use WTO to penalize you.”
What will the future bring?
For many years, the US dollar has acted as a global currency. However, we can already see moves away from the “petrodollar”. When China, India, Russia, Iran and Brazil begin non-dollar trading, the value of the dollar will fall drastically, and US political and economic power will fall with it. This is just one more reason why European independence is desirable. But the most important reasons are ethical ones: Europe must not be the close ally (or puppet?) of the world's greatest purveyor of violence and war.
John Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965. He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Fellowships, memberships in societies: Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. He was the Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004. http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/ordbog/aord/a220.htm. He can be reached at email@example.com
|April 7, 2014||
NATO’s Aggression against Russia and the Danger of War in Europe
by Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, WSWS – TRANSCEND Media Service, IN FOCUS, Countercurrents
Since they mounted a coup in Kiev on February 22  with the aid of oligarchs and fascists, the United States and its allies in NATO have outlined measures against Russia that are tantamount to an unofficial declaration of war. In the space of just six weeks, the NATO powers have gone from helping stage a putsch, to imposing sanctions against Russia, to the most extensive military build-up in Europe since the Cold War.
The speed of these developments testifies to the fact that the coup against the Yanukovych regime was not the unexpected catalytic event it was made out to be, but a provocation carried out for the purpose of implementing plans long in preparation.
This was made clear by last week’s NATO foreign ministers summit, which set out plans for the military alliance’s expansion up to Russia’s borders, including extensive war games and the possible stationing of troops within neighbouring states.
Washington has led demands for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to be offered not only to Ukraine, but also the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia, and the former Russian republic of Georgia.
In 2008, at the time of the five-day war between Russia and Georgia, President George W. Bush was forced to back off from plans to admit Georgia to NATO, in large part because the move was opposed by Germany and France. The two European powers feared it would escalate the conflict between Russia and Georgia into a direct war with Russia.
This time, however, the plan to incorporate Georgia and Ukraine is supported by the European Union as part of a drive to intensify the confrontation with Moscow. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has repeatedly referenced Article 5 of the bloc’s treaty, requiring all member states to come of the aid of another member state under attack. Given the right-wing, rabidly anti-Russian character of the Georgian and Ukrainian regimes, they will be only too willing to provide such a pretext.
The MAP is to be discussed in July and the intent of the United States is that it be implemented as early as September. Military exercises are planned or are underway involving Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Poland, as well as other states in the Baltics and the Caucasus. Most provocative are two exercises agreed to take place on Ukraine’s territory—Rapid Trident and Sea Breeze.
Poland has played a key role in NATO’s plans, having revived previous proposals to install a US-designed multi-million-dollar “missile shield.” The government has now appealed for the stationing of a US military battalion, equivalent to 10,000 personnel, on its soil.
Discussions are underway in ruling circles in Finland and Sweden to end their official neutrality and join NATO, in what Stockholm has described as a “doctrinal shift” in defence policy.
In Orwellian fashion, this campaign of military encirclement is being justified with unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims of a build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border. The purpose of this propaganda is to portray Moscow as the aggressor, even though President Barack Obama has dismissed it as a “weak,” merely “regional” power.
As in the case of Iraq, Libya and Syria, such lies are meant to legitimize a sustained programme of imperialist re-armament, particularly in Europe.
The modus vivendi between imperialism and the capitalist oligarchies that emerged a quarter century ago in China and the USSR is rapidly unraveling. Beset by crisis, the major imperialist powers are no longer prepared to reconcile themselves to the bourgeoisie in Moscow and Beijing enjoying even relative autonomy. They are demanding direct access to the vast resources and markets that exist within the borders of Russia and China and the reduction of both countries to semi-colonial status.
The inexorable logic of this reckless policy is war.
To this end, Washington is demanding that Europe’s governments, above all Germany, step up to the mark. Obama hectored NATO members in his recent speech in Brussels, declaring, “We’ve got to be willing to pay for the assets, personnel and training required to make sure we have a credible NATO force and an effective deterrent force… Everyone has to be chipping in.”
Of the major European countries, only the UK and France presently meet the NATO requirement to spend 2.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on the military. Since 1998, military spending has declined in every European country, with Germany’s falling by 50 percent. To reverse such cuts and allow for increases would require the elimination of vast areas of public spending, under conditions where Europe has already been subjected to six years of austerity.
The turn to militarism demands a dramatic escalation in the assault on the democratic and social rights of the working class. There is overwhelming opposition to the war plans of Washington, Berlin, London and Paris. To impose more “sacrifices” and dragoon a new generation into the armed forces will require the full coercive powers of the state.
A warning must be sounded about the open embrace of far-right and fascist forces in Ukraine by the US and the European powers. After decades in which Europe’s governments proclaimed that the continent would “never again” witness the rule of the swastika, forces that glorify Hitler’s Ukrainian accomplices are being cultivated for use against the working class.
These developments underscore the timeliness of the intervention by the Socialist Equality Parties in Britain and Germany in May’s European elections.
In their joint manifesto for the European elections, they warn: “On the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, Europe once again stands on the brink of disaster.” The competing ambitions of the imperialist powers, the statement continues, have led to a situation in which “a tiny spark would again suffice—as in the 1914 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo—to turn a regional conflict into a global conflagration.”
The working class must mobilize its unified, international strength to prevent the imperialist ruling classes from plunging mankind into the catastrophe of a nuclear World War III. This requires the development of a mass movement based on socialist policies against the European Union and all of its constituent governments. It means a struggle to bring an end to the capitalist profit system and its division of the world into antagonistic nation states—the source of war—and establish the United Socialist States of Europe.
|April 10, 2014||
War For Dummies
by David Swanson , Warisacrime.org, Countercurrents
Sorry for the headline if it got you hoping for a quick 1-step guide on how to bomb a country without breaking a sweat. I didn't actually mean that I could teach a dummy to wage a war. I meant that only dummies want to wage wars.
Check out a recent Washington Post report .
Now there I go misleading you again. While it's true that the editors of the Washington Post are often dummies and often want wars to be waged, that's not what I mean right now. I think members of the U.S. government and its obedient media constitute an important but tiny exception to the rule this report points to.
The facts as reported on April 7th are these:
And here's the interesting bit:
I take this to mean that some people believe that attacking Alaska or the continental United States (where they believe Ukraine to be located) will advance "U.S. national security interests." This suggests one of two things: either they believe the United States would be better off bombed (and perhaps suicidal tendencies account for some of the staggering stupidity reported by the Washington Post ) or they believe the United States is located in Asia or Africa or somewhere other than where they've indicated that Ukraine is on the map.
I also take this report to mean the following: ignorant jackasses are the only statistically significant group that wants more wars. Virtually nobody in the United States wants a U.S. war in Iran or Syria or Ukraine. Nobody. Except for serious hardcore idiots. We're talking about people who can't place Ukraine in the correct landmass, but who believe the United States should go to war there.
People informed enough to find Ukraine on a map are also informed enough to oppose wars. People who can't find Ukraine on a map but possess an ounce of humility or a drop of decency also oppose war. You don't have to be smart to oppose wars. But you have to be an unfathomably ignorant jackass to favor them. Or -- back to that exception -- you could work for the government.
Why, I wonder, don't pollsters always poll and report sufficiently to tell us whether an opinion correlates with being informed on an issue? I recall a poll (by Rasmussen), tragic or humorous depending on your mood, that found 25% of Americans wanting their government to always spend at least three times as much on its military as any other nation spends, while 64% said their government spends the right amount on the military now or should spend more. This only gets tragic or humorous if you are aware that the United States already spends much more than three times what any other nation spends on its military. In other words, large numbers of people want military spending increased only because they don't know how high it is already.
But what I want to know is: Do the individuals who have the facts most wrong want the biggest spending increases?
And I wonder: do pollsters want us to know how much opinions follow facts? If opinions follow factual beliefs, after all, it might make sense to replace some of the bickering of pundits on our televisions with educational information, and to stop thinking of ourselves as divided by ideology or temperament when what we're divided by is largely the possession of facts and the lack thereof.
David Swanson's wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition . He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org . He hosts Talk Nation Radio . Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook .
|April 10, 2014||
Commercialisation: The Antithesis Of Sharing
by Mohammed Mesbahi, 10 April, Sharing.org, Countercurrents
'Sharing is the key to solving the world’s problems’. Such a statement is so simple that it may fail to make an appeal, so we must go much deeper into this subject if we want to comprehend what this means. In order to understand how sharing is the surest guide to justice, peace and right human relations, we need to investigate its meaning and significance from many angles – including psychologically and spiritually, as well as from a social, economic and political perspective. In the course of our enquiry it is therefore necessary to watch closely the movement of our thoughts so that no ideologies, beliefs or isms enter into our minds. There are myriads of ways to look at sharing because the nature of this principle is a powerhouse within the Laws of Life, and anyone can intuit and experience its extraordinary versatility. However, if it is true that sharing is so important to our continued evolution on this Earth, then the first question we need to examine is: why isn’t this principle understood as an answer to the crisis of our civilisation?
One way to find out how sharing has been subverted in our societies is to observe how commercialisation has slowly structured itself into our consciousness. It is easy to say that sharing is the solution to the world’s ills, but this assertion becomes merely another lofty belief unless we also consider how commercialisation is tightening its grip on our evolution by the hour. To find the key to solving the problems of humanity, we must also ask ourselves how and why we have allowed the authority of the politician to dominate our social and economic arrangements, our education and our everyday lives. Most importantly we also need to examine, through self-reflection and inner awareness, how our complacency and wrong education has led to a collective indifference to the suffering of others.
We all understand what sharing means on a personal level, as everybody shares within their homes and communities. So why do so few people understand the need to implement the principle of sharing on a national and worldwide level? A large part of the answer to this question can be simply put: it is because the foundations of our society have been constructed in such a way that market forces have become loose. We have developed complex economic and political systems that are increasingly geared towards profit and commercialisation: the tax structures, the large corporations, the countless legal regulations that are created to defend private interests - all of this creates a highly complicated and divisive society. Nobody understands the system in the end, but the system understands precisely how to manipulate us for its own purposes. And in such a complex society, with so many laws and policies created to facilitate commercialisation, the principle of sharing is almost non-existent.
As long as we live in a society that is driven by profit and commercialisation, the principle of sharing will always be eclipsed. In every sphere of human activity it can be observed that when commercialisation moves in, sharing moves out. The same reality also pertains to the environment: when commercialisation moves in, nature moves out. Indeed when commercialisation moves in it can be so invasive, so destructive, that it can break apart families. It can break apart traditions and national identities, as we have seen with many free trade agreements and the economic integration of Europe. Wherever these forces are unleashed it can lead to a widening gulf between rich and poor, a loss of community solidarity and a contagion of spiritual turmoil, and a diversion of man’s God-given intelligence in the opposite direction of social progress and evolution. And if commercialisation is left to blindly guide a society for a long enough period of time, it can even compromise human life.
The meaning of commercialisation
We are not talking about commerce per se, but about the greed and selfishness that is involved when market forces are let loose, and the complacency and indifference that is the result. It doesn’t mean that we have to work in commerce for this to apply to us – it applies to us all, because we all live in a world that is permeated by market forces. The danger is not even the process of commercialisation per se, but rather our constant identification with its inner and outer manifestation. There is no use in trying to grasp or define commercialisation in psychological terms, because we cannot understand the malefic forces that underpin its processes from a dictionary definition. The world situation has deteriorated to such an extent that a glossary meaning of commercialisation gives us no clue as to what is really happening in society today. The old understanding of commerce as simply buying and selling has almost been lost because, from a certain perspective, market forces have infiltrated our cells like a disease and transmuted into a silent killer called commercialisation. It is part of us and living within us. Commercialisation is the system we have created in relationship to the earth and to each other, and is inherent in the movement of people and life within society. Of course there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the systematic exchanging of goods and services within or between nations, but just as a knife can be used to cut vegetables or to kill people, so can commerce be used for good or ill.
Our enquiry therefore concerns how commercialisation has misled our creativity from fulfilling the simple needs that we all have in common, and skewed our motives toward the mindless pursuit of profit and endless consumption. Why do we fail to recognise, and therefore restrict, the destructive power of commercialisation despite all the harm that it is wreaking upon society and the environment? A response to this question can also be simply put: it is because we are all searching for happiness. And commercialisation is very clever in promising us happiness, a ‘good life’, a more comfortable life and security. We are all searching for security. But it is a false sense of security that we are being sold - a dangerous fantasy.
Again, we are not talking about security per se, such as the kind of physical security that a family needs for bread and shelter, but rather the search for psychological security that ultimately drives us to become more isolated from each other, and essentially denies our intelligence and freedom. It is the need for psychological security that impels us to constantly search for the personal delusion that we call happiness. And the forces of commercialisation are expert in offering us happiness by misdirecting our minds from awareness of the Self, which is the only place where any real contentment or joy can be found. Happiness in the context of a highly commercialised and inequitable society is one of the ugliest social fantasies that we are attached to, because in such a society individual happiness can only exist alongside misery and sorrow. Like a sink, it always comes with two taps; the hot and the cold. Happiness and misery in a sick society inevitably exist side by side. The yearning for an illusive happiness can also be dangerous, however, when in that process we become emotionally trapped and self-absorbed, and our lives become imitative and uncreative. Before long, our natural tendency to love and empathise with those less fortunate than ourselves can be overridden by complacency, indifference and fear. Which leaves us with an important question: what is the relationship that exists between fear and the search for happiness?
The ability to look at oneself inwardly without fear has been swiftly abducted by the forces of commercialisation. Even in our closest personal relationships we live in fear as a result of our continuous search for happiness and security, which is the point at which commercialisation enters human affairs and damages us psychologically. It creates endless desires for objects and possessions, and places a limit within our consciousness so that we do not see beyond our emotional attachments. It can reduce us to queuing all night long for the latest fad or gadget, and is capable of putting us into a trance until we think that shopping is our religion, or that the profoundest meaning of common sense is ‘buy two and get one for free’. It can lead a person to look at a prospective partner and think: ‘They are good looking, but do they have any money?’ Or it can induce the teenager to copy their schoolmates and aspire to be like them too, to wear the ever-changing fashions and flaunt the expensive ‘look’. It is very easy for commercialisation to manipulate the brains of young children, and to distort the true meaning of education which is concerned with inner freedom and Self-knowledge, not conformity or competition. Commercialisation makes us small, it makes us afraid, it degrades our humility, and we are not even aware of it. These forces have built into our minds such conditioning and fear that the simple way of sharing no longer makes an appeal, leading to mental blindness of the highest order.
Observe the basic psychological dynamic that is structured into our consciousness by commercialisation: constant measurement and comparison between different people, and the instinctive worshipping of success. The desire to ‘make it’, to become a ‘somebody’. And the same adulation of success and achievement is ingrained in our children from the youngest age; to make them want to look at themselves in the mirror one day and say: ‘I made it’. Even the artist strives to say ‘I achieved’, or desires others to say of him: ‘You know that man? He achieved so much’. But when we define ourselves in relation to others, when we constantly measure and compare ourselves with others who have what we don’t have, we end up creating a peculiar complex of inferiority that hinders the expression of our spiritual potential and right human relations. This dynamic suits commercialisation very well. Because in our continued worshipping of success and achievement, we thereby sustain the forces of profit and materiality in every area of our lives – in our schools, in our workplaces, in our homes, even in our dreams.
Imagine if a famous celebrity or a billionaire is brought into the room now, and how our attitude towards that person would be very different from normal. Because we are like that too, we are also conditioned to think: ‘Become successful, then you are a somebody’. We are all impelled through social conditioning to inwardly bow to the authority of a ‘somebody’, which is essentially how commercialisation creates machines out of people. Its first job is to make us believe that success is the way, but to achieve success we are told that we have to work very hard, that we have to achieve. Then we learn that to achieve we have to compete with everyone else, that we have to become a ‘winner’. It is not long before we have lost our inborn empathy and creativity, before we begin to follow ideologies and beliefs, and before we conform and become complacent.
This is the inevitable outcome of worshipping success and achievement: our complacency and indifference to the suffering of others. Because this is what the obsession with individual achievement in our societies inexorably does; it breeds indifference. So much so that even the virtuous person who we would call reasonably-minded – a respectable, law-abiding citizen who is more or less psychologically healthy – will say ‘there has always been hunger, and always will be’. Furthermore, it is curious to observe the obscure emotional effect that commercialisation has on the person who looks at this unfortunate planet and says: ‘I want to help, but I feel so helpless’. Of course there is always something we can do to help alleviate the suffering of the world, but it is largely the forces of commercialisation that lead us to feel overwhelmed, separated and helpless as individuals. The unchaining of market forces in every department of human life is gradually taking away our compassion, taking away our goodwill, taking away our awareness, taking away our common sense. These same forces have bullied the principle of sharing with all their might over several decades, growing in such an elusive and refined way that to be complacent is now the norm.
An invisible tsunami
Thus it is no exaggeration to say that commercialisation is the bête noire of human evolution, like an invisible tsunami that slowly deluges all levels and aspects of society. People who believe in the devil better think again about where the devil is, if such a thing exists. Our complacency and wrong education has led commercialisation to become like a powerful hammer, while sharing has become a miniscule nail. To the extent that it has become a way of life to know that people are dying from hunger in other parts of the world, while we ourselves do almost nothing to prevent it.
Not that we can excuse our complacency and indifference. Our complacency should be taken to court where we should all be judged for committing crimes against humanity. We should form a planetary queue outside the International Criminal Court in The Hague, because we are all complicit. Through our collective complacency and indifference we have remained silent while the earth was being pillaged and destroyed, and we have looked the other way while our brothers and sisters are dying in poverty. In the final analysis, the people who desecrated the earth and those who did nothing to stop them are one and the same, because one cannot exist without the other. We could even say that the one who looks the other way is even more culpable, because the one who is hoarding the world’s resources and destroying the earth is entirely dependent on the complacency of others – he could not do it otherwise.
In truth, commercialisation is nothing less than a silent war, a war against humanity’s growth and evolution. This point cannot be emphasised strongly enough: commercialisation is a war. Not just a war between different sides, between competing nations or rival tribes, but a war in itself. It is a war that is being waged within every household, community and nation because commercialisation is so devious, so intelligent, that it knows exactly the weaknesses of humanity. It knows our emotional nature intimately well because this is where it resides, and from where it manipulates. And from here it infiltrates our beliefs and ideologies, and fosters different factions, and feeds off the political parties fighting one another. It is so subtle that it is able to buy stocks and shares in our beliefs and isms, and this is where it invests in order to grow.
The hidden reality is that for several decades another Auschwitz is slowly being built, but this time in a different form by driving humanity to fully capitulate to the forces of profit and commercialisation. Global warfare today is not only being waged in the form of tanks and guns, but in the destruction that is concealed in the creed of market forces that has gradually overshadowed almost every region of the world. Who can deny that thousands of deaths from needless poverty-related causes is not already the equivalent of an Auschwitz that occurs every single day? As the economic situation deteriorates further in different countries, as the world’s stock markets continue to roar and then collapse, the forces of commercialisation are becoming ever more triumphant in bringing about international conflict, social chaos and life-threatening extremes of inequality. The minority rich are becoming ever richer, and the majority poor are becoming even poorer, until a worldwide Auschwitz could increasingly take the form of massive deaths due to poverty and hunger. A great, silent war is being fought on every plane of our existence which the men and women of goodwill throughout the world are only just beginning to sense, even if unconsciously. How we respond to this emergency on planet earth will determine the future prospects for the human race. The reader is urged to think very carefully for themselves over what has just been said.
The following points summarise only some of the veiled, pervasive and extremely dangerous effects on humanity of rampant commercialisation that:
Hence commercialisation is indeed a silent war - a war in which bombs are constantly dropped on the true meaning of education; that is, Self-knowledge. It is a war that both psychologically and materially drives millions of people into poverty, and that could eventually lead to outright war between all nations.
A vicious circle
To repeat: commerce in its own right is not dangerous, nor is capitalism. But it’s the implementation of the seeds of worshipping success that sustains the process of commercialisation in a dangerous, socially divisive and destructive way. Or to put it differently: the forces of commercialisation sustain us to worship success, and we, by worshipping success, sustain the forces of profit and commercialisation. It’s a vicious circle. We need these forces in our lives to sustain our pursuit of success and achievement, and these forces need us in order to sustain themselves. And the more energy we give to the politicians around the world to glorify the powers of commercialisation, the more that disciples of the creed of market forces will be bred up there in governments. Although in the end, nobody wins. Even if we leave the city to lead a quiet and peaceful life in the secluded countryside, we are dividing ourselves from the rest of society and its problems. Even if we receive the most exalted education from the best universities, the moment we leave school there are malevolent forces waiting for us, an immense tide of social pressure that is inescapable and omnipresent, and we will inevitably sink in the invisible tsunami. We can never win as long as market forces are let loose, as long as human consciousness is driven by profit, as long as young people are conditioned to worship success and achievement.
How then can we talk about sharing in its essence without having our eyes pointed towards the destructive effects of commercialisation? It is impossible, just as it is impossible to talk about justice without having our eyes pointed towards our brothers and sisters who are dying of hunger. How can we share when the influence of selfishness and greed has such a grip on our societies, and when we continue to worship success and achievement? Through its clever and manipulative ways of conditioning our minds, commercialisation has moulded the principle of sharing to become the miserable shadow of the poor and the helpless mother of the starving millions. In the face of its abysmal power and perpetual deluge, it is very normal that people will see the principle of sharing as naïve or utopian, and will think you are deluded if you say that sharing is the key to solving the world’s problems.
Mohammed Mesbahi is STWR's founder.
This article was based on a series of dialogues and edited by Adam Parsons, who can be contacted at adam[at]stwr[dot]org.
|April 10, 2014||
Is the US or The World Coming To An End? It Will Be One or The Other
by Paul Craig Roberts, Countercurrents
2014 is shaping up as a year of reckoning for the United States.
Two pressures are building on the US dollar. One pressure comes from the Federal Reserve’s declining ability to rig the price of gold as Western gold supplies shrivel and market knowledge of the Fed’s illegal price rigging spreads. The evidence of massive amounts of naked shorts being dumped into the paper gold futures market at times of day when trading is thin is unequivocal. It has become obvious that the price of gold is being rigged in the futures market in order to protect the dollar’s value from QE.
The other pressure arises from the Obama regime’s foolish threats of sanctions on Russia. Other countries are no longer willing to tolerate Washington’s abuse of the world dollar standard. Washington uses the dollar-based international payments system to inflict damage on the economies of countries that resist Washington’s political hegemony.
Russia and China have had enough. As I have reported and as Peter Koenig reports here http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38165.htm Russia and China are disconnecting their international trade from the dollar. Henceforth, Russia will conduct its trade, including the sale of oil and natural gas to Europe, in rubles and in the currencies of its BRICS partners.
This means a big drop in the demand for US dollars and a corresponding drop in the dollar’s exchange value.
As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear, the US economy has not recovered from the downturn in 2008 and has weakened further. The vast majority of the US population is hard pressed from the lack of income growth for years. As the US is now an import-dependent economy, a drop in the dollar’s value will raise US prices and push living standards lower.
All evidence points to US economic failure in 2014, and that is the conclusion of John Williams’ April 9 report.
This year could also see the breakup of NATO and even the EU. Washington’s reckless coup in Ukraine and threat of sanctions against Russia have pushed its NATO puppet states onto dangerous ground. Washington misjudged the reaction in Ukraine to its overthrow of the elected democratic government and imposition of a stooge government. Crimea quickly departed Ukraine and rejoined Russia. Other former Russian territories in Ukraine might soon follow. Protesters in Lugansk, Donetsk, and Kharkov are demanding their own referendums. Protesters have declared the Donetsk People’s Republic and Kharkov People’s Republic. Washington’s stooge government in Kiev has threatened to put the protests down with violence. http://rt.com/news/eastern-ukraine-violence-threats-405/ Washington claims that the protests are organized by Russia, but no one believes Washington, not even its Ukrainian stooges.
Russian news reports have identified US mercenaries among the Kiev force that has been sent to put down the separatists in eastern Ukraine. A member of the right-wing, neo-Nazi Fatherland Party in the Kiev parliament has called for shooting the protesters dead.
Violence against the protesters is likely to bring in the Russian Army and result in the return to Russia of its former territories in Eastern Ukraine that were attached to Ukraine by the Soviet Communist Party.
With Washington out on a limb issuing threats hand over fist, Washington is pushing Europe into two highly undesirable confrontations. Europeans do not want a war with Russia over Washington’s coup in Kiev, and Europeans understand that any real sanctions on Russia, if observed, would do far more damage to Europeans. Within the EU, growing economic inequality among the countries, high unemployment, and stringent economic austerity imposed on poorer members have produced enormous strains. Europeans are in no mood to bear the brunt of a Washington-orchestrated conflict with Russia. While Washington presents Europe with war and sacrifice, Russia and China offer trade and friendship. Washington will do its best to keep European politicians bought-and-paid-for and in line with Washington’s policies, but the downside for Europe of going along with Washington is now much larger.
Across many fronts, Washington is emerging in the world’s eye as duplicitous, untrustworthy, and totally corrupt. A Securities and Exchange Commission prosecuting attorney, James Kidney used the occasion of his retirement to reveal that higher ups had squelched his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other “banks too big to fail,” because his SEC bosses were not focused on justice but “on getting high-paying jobs after their government service” by protecting the banks from prosecution for their illegal actions. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/09/65578/
The US Agency for International Development has been caught trying to use social media to overthrow the government of Cuba.
This audacious recklessness comes on top of Washington’s overthrow of the Ukrainian government, the NSA spying scandal, Seymour Hersh’s investigative report that the Sarin gas attack in Syria was a false flag event arranged by NATO member Turkey in order to justify a US military attack on Syria, Washington’s forcing down Bolivian President Evo Morales’ presidential plane to be searched, Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” the misuse of the Libyan no-fly resolution for military attack, and on and on. Essentially, Washington has so badly damaged other countries’ confidence in the judgment and integrity of the US government that the world has lost its belief in US leadership. Washington is reduced to threats and bribes and increasingly presents as a bully.
The self-inflicted hammer blows to Washington’s credibility have taken a toll. The most serious blow of all is the dawning realization everywhere that Washington’s crackpot conspiracy theory of 9/11 is false. Large numbers of independent experts as well as more than one hundred first responders have contradicted every aspect of Washington’s absurd conspiracy theory. No aware person believes that a few Saudi Arabians, who could not fly airplanes, operating without help from any intelligence agency, outwitted the entire National Security State, not only all 16 US intelligence agencies but also all intelligence agencies of NATO and Israel as well.
Nothing worked on 9/11. Airport security failed four times in one hour, more failures in one hour than have occurred during the other 116,232 hours of the 21st century combined. For the first time in history the US Air Force could not get interceptor fighters off the ground and into the sky. For the first time in history Air Traffic Control lost airliners for up to one hour and did not report it. For the first time in history low temperature, short-lived, fires on a few floors caused massive steel structures to weaken and collapse. For the first time in history 3 skyscrapers fell at essentially free fall acceleration without the benefit of controlled demolition removing resistance from below.
Two-thirds of Americans fell for this crackpot story. The left-wing fell for it, because they saw the story as the oppressed striking back at America’s evil empire. The right-wing fell for the story, because they saw it as the demonized Muslims striking out at American goodness. President George W. Bush expressed the right-wing view very well: “They hate us for our freedom and democracy.”
But no one else believed it, least of all the Italians. Italians had been informed some years previously about government false flag events when their President revealed the truth about secret Operation Gladio. Operation Gladio was an operation run by the CIA and Italian intelligence during the second half of the 20th century to set off bombs that would kill European women and children in order to blame communists and, thereby, erode support for European communist parties.
Italians were among the first to make video presentations challenging Washington’s crackpot story of 9/11. The ultimate of this challenge is the 1 hour and 45 minute film, “Zero.” You can watch it here:
Zero was produced as a film investigating 9/ll by the Italian company Telemaco. Many prominent people appear in the film along with independent experts. Together, they disprove every assertion made by the US government regarding its explanation of 9/11.
The film was shown to the European parliament.
It is impossible for anyone who watches this film to believe one word of the official explanation of 9/11.
The conclusion is increasingly difficult to avoid that elements of the US government blew up three New York skyscrapers in order to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah and to launch the US on the neoconservatives agenda of US world hegemony.
China and Russia protested but accepted Libya’s destruction even though it was to their own detriment. But Iran became a red line. Washington was blocked, so Washington decided to cause major problems for Russia in Ukraine in order to distract Russia from Washington’s agenda elsewhere.
China has been uncertain about the trade-offs between its trade surpluses with the US and Washington’s growing encirclement of China with naval and air bases. China has come to the conclusion that China has the same enemy as Russia has–Washington.
One of two things is likely: Either the US dollar will be abandoned and collapse in value, thus ending Washington’s superpower status and Washington’s threat to world peace, or Washington will lead its puppets into military conflict with Russia and China. The outcome of such a war would be far more devastating than the collapse of the US dollar.
|March 14, 2014||
Indigenous Vow: We'll Be 'Dead Or In Prison Before We Allow' Keystone Pipeline
by Camila Ibanez, Waging Nonviolence, AlterNet
On February 27, Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement activists joined in a four-directions walk to commemorate Liberation Day, an event to mark the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. As they do each year, four groups gather to the north, south, east and west and then walk eight miles until converging on top of Wounded Knee, where they honor the fallen warriors and the tribe’s rich history of resistance.
“It is an acknowledgement of the resiliency of who we are as a people,” explains Andrew Iron Shell, an organizer and activist of the Sicangu Lakota Nation. “It gives permission and courage for our up-and-coming generations to face the challenges of their time.”
The history of the occupation began with a massacre more than 100 years ago. On a cold day in December 1890, the United States army killed 300 Lakota men, women and children in a massive shoot out after a member of the First Nations refused to give up his arms. It marked the first bloodshed on Wounded Knee – although there had been many massacres of First Nations people by the colonialists before it. The event was also considered the end of the Indian Wars.
Eighty-three years later, on Feb. 27, 1973, about 200 Lakota members took siege of the town of Wounded Knee. Reclaiming a location that was written in the history books as a place of defeat, the Lakota stood their ground. They were there in protest of a failed attempt at impeaching the tribal president at the time, Richard Wilson, who was known to be corrupt and abusive. Initially a protest against the tribal government, the occupation took a turn when U.S. police forces arrived. The protestors switched the occupation’s focus to the United States’ frequent violation of treaties.
The armed warriors maintained control over the town for 71 days while the FBI encircled them. At the final standoff, two warriors were killed, about 12 people were wounded and over 400 were arrested. The Oglala were able to harness national attention through their occupation, using the spotlight to question the United States’ treatment of First Nations people.
As history passed, later generations rarely heard about the occupation of Wounded Knee — or about first nation people at all. This skewed national memory should be unsurprising: When you have a society and a nation built upon the subjugation of people of color, you can expect nothing more than the constant erasing of certain histories.
I recently visited Prisoner of War Camp 344, also known as the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It wasn’t my first time in the sovereign Oglala Sioux Nation, but it was my first time joining in the ceremonies celebrating the 41st annual Liberation Day to remember the 1890 reoccupation of Wounded Knee.
The vibrant American Indian Movement flags waving in the harsh South Dakota winter wind reminded me of the old black and white photos I used to see in my history books. The Lakota would not disappear without a fight, regardless of what the United States’ intentions were. Children walked alongside elders who had taken part in the occupation, showing clearly the group’s intergenerational wisdom. These are children who are stripped of learning their people’s history in schools, but instead learn it through stories and dances. They are children who live in a sovereign nation that contains two of the poorest counties in the United States and who recognize the threats their families face every day.
One of these threats come from the so-called town of White Clay, Neb., where visitors can witness the way violence against the First Nations people has changed — but not disappeared — over the generations. Consisting of only 12 people and four liquor stores, White Clay was once part of a 50-square-mile buffer that prevented alcohol from entering the reservation. In 1904, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that removed 49 of those square miles. Since then, the town’s economy has been driven by the $4 million in alcohol sales to the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There is no legal place to drink in or around White Clay: Alcohol containers can’t be opened on the property of the distributor, it’s prohibited to drink in the street, and the reservation is dry territory. Yet, somehow, the town of 12 people manages to keep four liquor stores open. Barely two miles from the reservation’s epicenter, and less than 200 feet from the dry reservation line, the town perpetrates a type of violence that is, on the reservation, known as liquid genocide.
The reason for this name becomes apparent when one examines the teenage suicide rate on the reservation, which is 150 percent higher than the U.S. national average for this age group. Many attribute this death rate to the sale of alcohol to minors, which White Clay store owners are known to do. The liquor stores also break the law by selling to intoxicated people, and by trading alcohol for pornography, sexual favors — including from minors — and welfare checks. The effects of free-flowing alcohol are devastating: On the reservation, 90 percent of all court cases are related to alcohol use.
Kate, a Tokala warrior, believes that alcoholism is part of a larger problem of the disappearance of indigenous culture. For her, the only way to live in the geographical region of Pine Ridge is the indigenous way. “We are the ones on the back roads, still chopping wood. We are living the way we used to live,” she said. “It’s not hardship; it’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
Kate and many others know that alcohol was introduced to her people as a means to steal from them. Living deeply connected to the history of their nation, they believe that if they shake free of the colonized mindset, alcohol wouldn’t even be an issue.
Threats to the land
In addition to trying to close down White Clay, the Oglala Lakota Nation is actively fighting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day from western Canada through South Dakota en route to Texas. At two points it would even intersect with a pipeline that serves as a main water source for the Sioux Nation, affecting all of the Pine Ridge reservation as well as the nearby Rosebud reservation.
Advocates for the pipeline argue the pipeline is the safest way to transport crude oil. TransCanada, the company in charge of the pipeline, predicted that the first Keystone pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Illinois, would spill once every seven years. During its first year in operation, it spilled 12 times. The Lakota, along with other First Nations, have vowed to use direct action to stop construction of the pipeline.
For a nation whose land and sovereignty has been threatened for hundreds of years by U.S. politics, the Keystone XL pipeline is part of a long history of threats to the Lakota Nation – and to the earth itself.
“They want to get rid of the Lakota, the protectors of the earth,” said Olowan Martinez, an organizer in the Lakota community. “But what they don’t know is when they get rid of the Lakota, the earth isn’t too far behind. Our people believe the Lakota is the earth.”
President Obama is scheduled to be make a final decision on the pipeline by the middle of 2014. While the Lakota are hoping he will not approve the project, they are also getting ready to stand up and fight. During the Liberation Day celebrations, the Lakota’s dances and stories relayed messages about sacred water and Mother Earth. The tribe has also united with other First Nations to organize a three-day direct action training called Moccasins on the Ground, which was designed to prepare people to act if the pipeline is approved.
“Dead or in prison before we allow the Keystone XL pipeline to pass,” the Lakota warriors, many mounted atop horses, repeated during the Liberation Day celebration. Their words carried the weight of 521 years, and counting, of lived resistance.
Camila Ibanez is an organizer in New York City focusing on migrant rights, environmental justice and sexual liberation.
|March 14, 2014||
Nurses Union Warns Keystone Pipeline Could Harm Americans' Health
by Alex Kane, AlterNet
The country’s biggest nurses union is speaking out about the Keystone XL pipeline, warning that it may lead to adverse health effects. National Nurses United has called on the Obama administration to certify that the proposed Keystone pipeline, a plan which would see oil transported through the U.S., would not have a negative health impact on Americans before making a decision on the proposal.
The union made the request in a formal letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry, who holds the final say on the pipeline. It was announced at a press conference with California Senator Barbara Boxer, who is backing the union's demand.
A project that places the health and safety of Americans at substantial risk cannot possibly be in our national interest,” the nurses union says.
The nurses union has already come out in opposition to the pipeline. In a press statement, the National Nurses Union explained that “harmful health hazards” have emerged from tar sands oil.
“Tar sands mining pollutants, for example, have been linked to cancer, leukemia, genetic damage, and birth defects,” the union notes. “Tar sands pipeline spills in Michigan and Arkansas have beset local residents with cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, and respiratory impacts, as well as persistent coughs, headaches, nausea, eye and skin problems.”
The proposed plan to transport oil has sparked a movement--so far successful--to halt the building of the final phase of the pipeline.
|March 21, 2014||
Nasa-funded Study: Industrial Civilization Headed for 'Irreversible Collapse' Due to Inequality, Exploitation
by Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian, AlterNet
A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilizational disruption due to "precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common."
The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary 'Human And Nature DYnamical' (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.
It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:
By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.
These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."
Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with "Elites" based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both:
The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:
Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from "increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput," despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period.
Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under conditions "closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid." In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:
|March 26, 2014||
Disturbing New Report: Air Pollution Killed 7 Million People in 2012—Or About 1 in 8 Premature Deaths
by Aaron Cantú, AlterNet
About 7 million deaths were attributable to air pollution in 2012, according to new estimates released by the World Health Organization. This more than doubles the figure from 2011.
The WHO estimates that approximately 3.7 million premature deaths are attributable to outdoor air pollution, and another 4.3 million are atrributable to indoor air pollution. Both kinds of pollution tend to affect more people in poor and developing countries, especially in Asia. While outdoor air pollution tends to be an urban phenomenon, indoor air pollution affects more women and children in rural areas, where women are forced to cook with solid fuels like coal, dung and agricultural byproducts.
In total, most deaths-by-atmosphere in 2012 were the results of stroke: 2,296,900. A close second was coronary artery disease, followed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute lower respiratory infections. Nine percent of those killed were children, while the rest was about split even between men and women.
"Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe," said Dr. Maria Neira in a WHO press release.
By far the regions most at risk were located in South East Asia and the Western Pacific, which is perpetually blanketed by a haze of filth (the Southeast Haze) due to pollution from massive land-clearing fires mostly initiated by big palm oil companies.
The WHO says the figures are their most accurate yet due to advancements in atmospheric measurement technology. Distressingly, the number of deaths attributable to air pollution in 2012, doubled the estimate in 2011. Representatives from the organization said major policy changes are needed to counter the problem.
"Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains,” said Dr. Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, in a press release.
Aaron Cantú is an investigator for the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and an independent journalist based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @aaronmiguel_
|March 28, 2014||
Lake Michigan Oil Spill: Did Toxic Tar Sands Pour Into One of Our Largest Fresh-Water Resources?
by Steve Horn, DeSmogBlog, AlterNet
Is it conventional crude or tar sands? That is the question. And it's one with high stakes, to boot.
The BP Whiting refinery in Indiana spilled between 470 and 1228 gallons of oil (or is it tar sands?) into Lake Michigan on March 24 and four days later no one really knows for sure what type of crude it was. Most signs, however, point to tar sands.
The low-hanging fruit: the refinery was recently retooled as part of its “modernization project,” which will “provide Whiting with the capability of processing up to about 85% heavy crude, versus about 20% today.”
Albeit, “heavy crude” is produced in places other than Alberta's tar sands, with Venezuela serving as the world's other tar sands-producing epicenter. So, in theory, if it's heavy crude that spilled into Lake Michigan, it could be from Venezuela.
But in practice, the facts on the ground tell a different story. As a January 2014 article in Bloomberg outlined, the combination of the U.S. hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom and the Canadian tar sands boom has brought U.S. imports of Venezuelan oil to 28-year lows.
Which brings us to the next question: how does the Canadian “heavy crude” get to BP's Whiting refinery to begin with? Enter: Enbridge's Line 6A pipeline.
Alberta Clipper/Line 6A
Dan Goldblatt, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, told DeSmogBlog he wasn't sure what type of oil was spilled into Lake Michigan from the BP Whiting refinery — which goes back to why it's just being referred to as “oil” at this point by officials.
Goldblatt said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be looking into it as part of its investigation.
“Right now they're more focused on recovery than on what type of oil it is,” Goldblatt said. “That's a little further down the line.”
When asked about which pipeline feeds the BP Whiting refinery beast, Goldblatt told DeSmogBlog it's Enbridge's Line 6A pipeline.
Enbridge Line 6A; Map Credit: Enbridge
Part of Enbridge's “Lakehead System,” Line 6A stretches from Superior, Wis., to Enbridge's Griffith/Hartsdale holding terminal in northwest Indiana.
“Lakehead System serves all the major refining centers in the Great Lakes…through its connection with the affiliated Canadian pipeline,” explains Enbridge's Lakehead System website. “Total deliveries on the Lakehead System averaged 1.65 million [barrels per day] in 2009, meeting approximately…70 percent of the refinery capacity in the greater Chicago area.”
Enbridge's Line 67 (AKA Alberta Clipper) pipeline serves as the corridor between Alberta's tar sands and Line 6A. Alberta Clipper currently awaits a capacity expansion permit from the U.S. State Department, which it applied for in November 2012 and needs because it's a U.S.-Canada border-crossing line.
If approved, Line 67's expansion would morph it from a 450,000 barrels per day pipeline to a 570,000 barrels per day pipeline. Its “full design capacity is 880,000 [barrels per day] of heavy crude oil,” (emphasis mine) according to the expansion application it submitted to the State Department.
Map Credit: U.S. Department of State
Hydrocarbon Technologies, which offers “market insight tools covering all segments of the global hydrocarbons market,” also points to the ties that bind Alberta's tar sands, Enbridge's Line 6A and the BP Whiting refinery.
“Once the modernisation project is complete, BP aims to increase the use of Canadian crude from oil sands via the Enbridge [Line 6A] pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Illinois,” explains Hydrocarbon Technologies.
In 2010, Line 6A spilled in a major way in Romeoville, Ill., with 6,050 barrels of oil escaping. An account in oil and gas industry trade publication PennEnergy explains the pipeline was carrying “heavy crude oil.”
“When the leak occurred, the Line 6A was transporting approximately 459,000 barrels per day of heavy crude oil,” the reporter detailed.
The “Dilbit Disaster” Connection
Line 6A is connected to the 2010 spill of over 843,000 gallons of tar sands into the Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Literally.
When oil arrives at Enbridge's Griffith, Ind., terminal from Line 6A, much of it continues northeast on the connecting Line 6B pipeline.
Map Credit: Enbridge
That line was the one responsible for the “dilbit disaster,” as coined by InsideClimate News, because it was carrying tar sands diluted bitumen, or “dilbit.” More than three years after that spill, clean up efforts are still ongoing.
“Tar Sands Name Game”
After the 2010 Kalamazoo River, the same debate over what type oil had spilled ensued. Chicago-based investigative journalist Kari Lydersen coined it the “tar sands name game.”
“[L]inguistic gymnastics around the definition of tar sands have a long history,” she wrote. “Industry officials have sought to avoid the increasingly negative connotations of tar sands extraction, which has a devastating effect on boreal forests and produces huge carbon emissions.”
And of course, it's called “heavy crude” for a reason: it's heavy. That means it can and will sink in freshwater sources like Lake Michigan or the Kalamazoo River. It did just that in Kalamazoo, making it exceedingly difficult to clean up.
With a drinking water source for seven million people at stake, this “tar sands name game” is one with high stakes indeed.Steve Horn is a Researcher and Writer for DeSmogBlog, focusing primarily on domestic and international natural gas drilling operations and its interplay with international geopolitics. He lives in Madison, WI.
|March 31, 2014||
UN: Climate Change Has Already Cut Global Food Supply, Caused Wars
by Suzanne Goldenberg,
Climate change has already cut into the global food supply and is fueling wars and natural disasters, but governments are unprepared to protect those most at risk, according to a report from the UN's climate science panel.
The report is the first update in seven years from the UN's international panel of experts, which is charged with producing the definitive account of climate change.
In that time, climate change has ceased to be a distant threat and made an impact much closer to home, the report's authors say. "It's about people now," said Virginia Burkett, the chief scientist for global change at the US geological survey and one of the report's authors. "It's more relevant to the man on the street. It's more relevant to communities because the impacts are directly affecting people – not just butterflies and sea ice."
The scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found evidence of climate change far beyond thawing Arctic permafrost and crumbling coral reefs – "on all continents and across the oceans".
But it was the finding that climate change could threaten global food security that caught the attention of government officials from 115 countries who reviewed the report. "All aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change," the report said.
The scientists said there was enough evidence to say for certain that climate change is affecting food production on land and sea.
The rate of increase in crop yields is slowing – especially in wheat – raising doubts as to whether food production will keep up with the demand of a growing population. Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns could lead to food price rises of between 3% and 84% by 2050.
"Climate change is acting as a brake. We need yields to grow to meet growing demand, but already climate change is slowing those yields," said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor and an author of the report.
Other food sources are also under threat. Fish catches in some areas of the tropics are projected to fall by between 40% and 60%, according to the report.
The report also connected climate change to rising food prices and political instability, for instance the riots in Asia and Africa after food price shocks in 2008.
"The impacts are already evident in many places in the world. It is not something that is [only] going to happen in the future," said David Lobell, a professor at Stanford University's center for food security, who devised the models.
"Almost everywhere you see the warming effects have a negative affect on wheat and there is a similar story for corn as well. These are not yet enormous effects but they show clearly that the trends are big enough to be important," Lobell said.
Wheat is the first big staple crop to be affected by climate change, because it is sensitive to heat and is grown around the world, from Pakistan to Russia to Canada. Projections suggest that wheat yields could drop 2% a decade.
The report explored a range of scenarios involving a temperature rise of two degrees or more that saw dramatic declines in production in the coming decades. Declines in crop yields will register first in drier and warmer parts of the world but as temperatures rise two, three or four degrees, they will affect everyone.
In the more extreme scenarios, heat and water stress could reduce yields by 25% between 2030 and 2049.
The report acknowledged that there were a few isolated areas where a longer growing season had been good for farming. But it played down the idea that there may be advantages to climate change as far as food production is concerned.
Overall, the report said, "Negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive impacts." Scientists and campaigners pointed to the finding as a defining feature of the report.
The scientists also detected climate having an effect on heatwaves, droughts and flooding across the globe, and warned that those events would take a disproportionate toll on poor, weak and elderly people. The scientists said governments did not have systems in place to protect those populations. Warming of more than two degrees would increase the risks of "severe, pervasive and irreversible" consequences, the report said.
The report also warned for the first time that climate change, combined with poverty and economic shocks, could lead to war and drive people to leave their homes. "Climate change can indirectly increase risks of violent conflicts," the report said. It also warned that hundreds of millions of people in south Asia and south-east Asia will be affected by coastal flooding and land loss by 2100.
"The main way that most people will experience climate change is through the impact on food: the food they eat, the price they pay for it, and the availability and choice that they have," said Tim Gore, head of food policy and climate change for Oxfam.
Friends of the Earth's executive director, Andy Atkins, said: "We can't continue to ignore the stark warnings of the catastrophic consequences of climate change on the lives and livelihoods of people across the planet.
"Giant strides are urgently needed to tackle the challenges we face, but all we get is tiny steps, excuses and delays from most of the politicians that are supposed to represent our interests.
"Governments across the world must stand up to the oil, gas and coal industries, and take their foot of the fossil fuel accelerator that's speeding us towards a climate disaster."The Guardian, AlterNet
|March 31, 2014||
Riots, Towns Gone Dry, Soaring Prices: The Food-Pocalypse Is Already Upon Us
by Richard Schiffman, The Guardian, AlterNet
The mother of all climate reports is so scary that one of its authors resigned from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in protest. "Farmers are not stupid," the Sussex University economist Richard Tol said this past week, as hundreds of researchers cloistered away in Yokohama, Japan, hammering out the final wording of a document that he called "alarmist" when it comes to the many threats of global warming. The people who grow our food will find ways to adapt, said the rogue climate scientist at the most important climate science meeting in seven years.
But change isn't easy – especially not tectonic changes to the Earth. The final wording arrived today, and the IPCC report's most alarming projections make clear what many other studies have warned: the future of agriculture – of global hunger, of your grocery bill – is screwed. Or as UN secretary general Ban-Ki Moon put it rather more politely when he inaugurated the first rounds of the IPCC report last September: "The heat is on. We must act."
Glaciers will continue to shrink in the Himalayas, according to the IPCC, severely impacting the availability of water for farming in vast areas of south Asia and China. Climate change will damage heat-sensitive crops like wheat and corn, and have a smaller impact on rice and soy production. Prices for essential staples will rise on the global market. Hunger will increase in large parts of Asia and Africa. "Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change," predicted the IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri at a morning news conference.
The new report says that all of these very bad things will happen in future decades, as climate change picks up steam. But as I found out in east Africa last month, the future is already here for too many of the world's farmers. In Tanzania, the twice yearly seasonal rains upon which so many growers depend no longer come on time – and they're sporadic, drenching downpours at that, alternating with prolonged dry spells. Heat spikes have also been withering maize crop, and wells and streams are increasingly drying up.
The area where Dephath Omondi farms in southern Kenya looks lush, with emerald maize fields bordered by towering acacias. But he tells me that appearances are deceptive.
Similar disruptions are already challenging farmers worldwide. In Vietnam's Mekong Delta, rural people are losing ground as higher sea levels turn rivers too salty to grow rice. In Nicaragua, rising temperatures are spreading "coffee rust fungus", a disease which is killing thousands of trees and may render 80% of its the nation's coffee-growing areas unusable by 2050. And in the central Philippines, coconut farmers are struggling to recover from November's Typhoon Haiyan, which badly damaged or tore out an estimated 33m trees.
Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are few climate-change skeptics amongst those who grow the world's food – if any. Farmers don't have to read UN reports to know how radically their weather is changing. And consumers don't need academic studies or bullet points to know that food prices are steadily rising.
But you might need to know this: one such report published by the Institute of Development Studies in the UK predicts a whopping 20% to 60% rise in food prices by 2050, depending on the type of food, largely due to declining yields brought upon us by climate change. And if you think that's going to be painful, the entire world is in for some serious sticker shock: the IPCC predicts that a 2.5°C rise in global temperatures will cost the world economy up to 2% of its output, an estimated $1.4tn annually.
And you might want to know this: a report issued last week by the development group Oxfam warns that global warming may delay the fight against world hunger by decades and put an extra 50m people at risk. The world "is woefully unprepared" for the impacts on food, says Oxfam. Over 75% of global seed varieties have vanished over the last century, and spending on critical agricultural research and development is at an all-time low.
Lester Brown, the controversial founder of the Earth Policy Institute, warns that we face a looming "food crisis" not just from climate change – there are also escalating water shortages and the conversion of farmland to non-food uses. The vast amounts of land being used to produce biofuels and grain to feed livestock are also cutting down on the staple grains that people need to survive.
But make no mistake: the greatest single strain on our food supply will be our changing weather. "The agricultural system that we have today is designed to maximize production within a climate system that has existed over the past several thousand years," Brown told the Harvard Crimson. "Now suddenly, we don't know exactly what's going to happen in the future. We do know that we need to get the brakes on as quickly as possible."
Tol, the researcher who quit the IPCC in protest, says the farmers "will adapt". But that's like expecting squirrels to adapt to a forest fire. How will Amani Peter, a young farmer I met in Tanzania, adapt to his well going dry? How will he adapt to his corn withering when the rains stop a month early, as they did last year? And what will the nine out of 10 growers in western China who lack crop insurance do when the wheat harvests begin to fail? Even the smartest farmers may be unable to cope.
That is the bad news, and there is a lot of it. The good news? There willbe some global winners in this climate-change roulette. Yields for some warmth-loving crops are rising in the US and Canada, even as agriculture suffers from dry-out in the American Southwest and extreme drought in California.
And the IPCC has called on policymakers to prepare – right now: "Climate-change adaptation is not an exotic agenda that has never been tried," says Chris Field, co-chair of one of the working groups. Remember the $1.4 trillion a year that climate change will cost? If a small fraction of the $1.4tn in overall climate spending recommendations went to ramping up regionally-based agricultural research, it would go a long way. Farmers need new drought- and heat-tolerant seed varieties. They need outreach programs to train them in the latest farming techniques. And of course, we need to stop spewing ever more CO2 into the air. While the alarm is sounding.
Richard Schiffman is an environmental journalist, poet and author of two books. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Atlantic, Reuters, NPR and the Guardian, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @Schiffman108
|April 5, 2014||
Changing our Climate of Indifference
by Jill Richardson, Other Words, AlterNet
A new scientific report predicts more dire and irreversible consequences of the climate crisis than ever before.
“No one on this planet will be untouched by climate change,” declared Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which the UN runs jointly with the World Meteorological Organization.
I have struggled with the exasperating realization that I have so little power to make the big changes needed to fix the problem. Sure, I can change my light bulbs. I even drive a Prius.Even though it wasn’t news to me, I welled up with frustration when this news broke.
But I can’t make my city have better infrastructure for biking and public transportation, or put solar panels on my apartment, or influence the larger policy environment that impacts our climate much more than my light bulbs.
However, my discouragement runs deeper. I became a journalist to find and tell important stories. I didn’t go to Bolivia looking for a story on the climate crisis, but I found one when I got there.
In a million ways, the changing climate is ruining lives there: changing rain patterns, floods, mudslides, crop failures, and more. As if that wasn’t enough, reduced glacial melt in the Andes means decreased hydroelectric power. All of this is happening now.
My research later led me to Kenya, where the effects of climate change were just as shocking.
Why should things that happen half a world away matter to us? Our link to their misery is simple: The United States has arguably benefited more from industrialization and greenhouse gas emissions than any other nation on earth. People in these far-flung places are suffering for it.
That won’t matter to some people, so I’ll add this: Violence, instability, and disease don’t have borders.
In Kenya, I met Andrew Githeko, a scientist who has documented how malaria has already moved to new areas as the climate warms up. The people in these places have no immunity to the disease. When an epidemic occurs, as Githeko put it, “the bodies pile up.”
Newer projections find that the changing climate will jeopardize the world’s ability toproduce enough food for everyone on Earth. And the problems already hitting the tropical areas I’ve visited could be a harbinger of what’s to come here at home in the coming years.
Trying to tell these stories as a journalist makes me sometimes wonder why I even bother. I’ve been told flat out by editors that their readers are burnt out on depressing climate crisis stories. They don’t want to print a story that contains nothing but bad news.
Since readers would presumably prefer a hopeful story about the climate crisis, they suggest that I find an inspiring angle. Like how someone is adapting to the changing climate.
Entertaining readers is not my job. I became a journalist to tell people what they need to know. But it seems most publications are more interested in what sells than what’s important. Like that story about how a 10-foot Australian snake ate a crocodile. The images were absolutely captivating, but it’s not important news.
I wish there were more happy and hopeful angles to the climate crisis. The climate story is, and always has been, a huge bummer. Or, as Al Gore says, “an inconvenient truth.”
Journalists aren’t entertainers, and the media has a duty to inform the public about what they need to know. Perhaps if more reporters had done their job right from the start, we would have made the changes we needed years ago. Had that happened, maybe the latest reports on climate change would instead describe how we dodged a bullet.
|April 7, 2014||
Let's Call Climate Change What It Really Is: Violence
by Rebecca Solnit, The Guardian, AlterNet
If you're poor, the only way you're likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence, we could call it – by hands, by knife, by club, or maybe modern hands-on violence, by gun or by car.
But if you're tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you're the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers – the US and Russia – still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.
So do the carbon barons. But when we talk about violence, we almost always talk about violence from below, not above.
Or so I thought when I received a press release last week from a climate group announcing that "scientists say there is a direct link between changing climate and an increase in violence". What the scientists actually said, in a not-so-newsworthy article in Nature two and a half years ago, is that there is higher conflict in the tropics in El Nino years, and that perhaps this will scale up to make our age of climate change also an era of civil and international conflict.
The message is that ordinary people will behave badly in an era of intensified climate change.
All this makes sense, unless you go back to the premise and note that climate change is itself violence. Extreme, horrific, longterm, widespread violence.
Climate change is anthropogenic – caused by human beings, some much more than others. We know the consequences of that change: the acidification of oceans and decline of many species in them, the slowdisappearance of island nations such as the Maldives, increased flooding, drought, crop failure leading to food-price increases and famine, increasingly turbulent weather. (Think Hurricane Sandy and the recent typhoon in the Philippines, and heat waves that kill elderly people by the tens of thousands.)
Climate change is violence.
So if we want to talk about violence and climate change – and we are talking about it, after last week's horrifying report from the world's top climate scientists – then let's talk about climate change as violence. Rather than worrying about whether ordinary human beings will react turbulently to the destruction of the very means of their survival, let's worry about that destruction – and their survival. Of course water failure, crop failure, flooding and more will lead to mass migration and climate refugees – they already have – and this will lead to conflict. Those conflicts are being set in motion now.
You can regard the Arab Spring, in part, as a climate conflict: the increase in wheat prices was one of the triggers for that series of revolts that changed the face of northernmost Africa and the Middle East. On the one hand, you can say, how nice if those people had not been hungry in the first place. On the other, how can you not say, how great is it that those people stood up against being deprived of sustenance and hope? And then you have to look at the systems that created that hunger - the enormous economic inequalities in places such as Egypt and the brutality used to keep down the people at the lower levels of the social system, as well as the weather.
People revolt when their lives are unbearable. Sometimes material reality creates that unbearableness: droughts, plagues, storms, floods. But food and medical care, health and well-being, access to housing and education – these things are also governed by economic means and government policy. That's what the revolt called Occupy Wall Street was against.
Climate change will increase hunger as food prices rise and food production falters, but we already have widespread hunger on Earth, and much of it is due not to the failures of nature and farmers, but to systems of distribution. Almost 16m children in the United States now live with hunger, according to the US Department of Agriculture, and that is not because the vast, agriculturally rich United States cannot produce enough to feed all of us. We are a country whose distribution system is itself a kind of violence.
Climate change is not suddenly bringing about an era of equitable distribution. I suspect people will be revolting in the coming future against what they revolted against in the past: the injustices of the system. They should revolt, and we should be glad they do, if not that they need to (though hope they will recognize that violence is not necessarily where their power lies). One of the events prompting the French Revolution was the failure of the 1788 wheat crop, which made bread prices skyrocket and the poor go hungry. The insurance against such events is often thought to be more authoritarianism and more threats against the poor, but that's only an attempt to keep a lid on what's boiling over; the other way to go is to turn down the heat.
The same week during which I received that ill-thought-out press release about climate and violence, Exxon Mobil Corporation issued a policy report. It makes for boring reading, unless you can make the dry language of business into pictures of the consequences of those acts undertaken for profit. Exxon says:
Stranded assets that mean carbon assets – coal, oil, gas still underground – would become worthless if we decided they could not be extracted and burned in the near future. Because scientists say that we need to leave most of the world's known carbon reserves in the ground if we are to go for the milder rather than the more extreme versions of climate change. Under the milder version, countless more people – species, places – will survive. In the best-case scenario, we damage the Earth less. We are currently wrangling about how much to devastate the Earth.
In every arena, we need to look at industrial-scale and systemic violence, not just the hands-on violence of the less powerful. When it comes to climate change, this is particularly true. Exxon has decided to bet that we can't make the corporation keep its reserves in the ground, and the company is reassuring its investors that it will continue to profit off the rapid, violent and intentional destruction of the Earth.
That's a tired phrase, the destruction of the Earth, but translate it into the face of a starving child and a barren field – and then multiply that a few million times. Or just picture the tiny bivalves: scallops, oysters, Arctic sea snails that can't form shells in acidifying oceans right now. Or another superstorm tearing apart another city. Climate change is global-scale violence, against places and species as well as against human beings. Once we call it by name, we can start having a real conversation about our priorities and values. Because the revolt against brutality begins with a revolt against the language that hides that brutality.
|April 10, 2014||
Cri d’alarme d’un messager de la paix !
by Guy Crequie
Guy CREQUIE Global file
Ecrivain franÃ§ais Ã finalitÃ© philosophique. Blog http://guycrequie.blogspot.com
DJIHAD = quelques réflexions d’un auteur à finalité philosophique !
Cri d’alarme d’un messager de la paix !
Habituellement, ce sont les sociologues et les économistes qui analysent les comportements en relation avec la vie économique et sociale.
Cependant à l’heure de la mondialisation, le rapport global de notre pensée et de nos actions aux faits et aux choses a des incidences sur l’état des consciences, et interpelle nos capacités de jugement et d’anticipation.
En Afrique, la progression de la fièvre Ebola pose une grave question d’urgence sanitaire, l’OMS, est alertée et mobilisée. Comme cela a été le cas pour le Sida, les chercheurs du monde entier doivent se mobiliser car présentement de la Guinée au Libéria toute l’Afrique de l’ouest est menacée par la progression de cette épidémie. Rappelons qu’à c jour : il n’existe ni vaccin, ni traitement qui guérit.
L’épidémie peut être transmise par des animaux sauvages, mais aussi de façon humaine, salive, toucher.. Les malades doivent être mis à l’isolement.
Il devient urgent, de mobiliser les énergies mondiales pour stopper cette épidémie qui menace l’Afrique, comme peut-être ultérieurement d’autres continents.
Autre sujet grave : la relation avec les incidence sociales et sur la vie publique que pose l’Islam :sa perception, le sentiment d’incompréhension, d’exclusion que ressentent nombre de ses pratiquants et les dérives qui peuvent surgir lorsque des jeunes adolescents ne parvenant pas à se reconnaitre dans le fonctionnement de nos sociétés occidentales donnent prise, puis s’engagent dans la mouvance djihadiste croyant vivre l’épanouissement d’une aspiration identitaire qui les conduit à vouloir tuer ou mourir en héros !
J’ai toujours dit que les tensions avec la Russie et Vladimir POUTINE, retardaient la recherche d’une solution politique en Syrie pays où le drame se poursuit, les massacres continuent, des enfants sont affamés, le drame sanitaire se développe.
Autre les couloirs humanitaires pour l’aide, il faudrait arriver à un cesser le feu, à une solution politique avec des élections….Or, Vladimir POUTINE reste l’un des acteurs clé pour aboutir à une solution politique ; Il faut dialoguer avec lui non pour accepter tout de ce qui se passe en Ukraine, mais pour en appeler de part et d’autre l’esprit de responsabilité.
Combien de djihadistes européens sont en Syrie ? Des milliers sans doute =certes et dramatiquement pour l’angoisse des familles beaucoup y seront tués .Les services de renseignements des pays européens malgré leurs compétences, ne maîtriseront pas les agissements individuels de ceux qui reviendront : des risques d’attentats sont bien réels ! Le dire n’est pas agiter la peur, mais e mesurer le risque pour hâter la recherche de solutions.
Certains djihadistes éprouvent un sentiment d’exaltation à partir ainsi combattre l’armée de Bachar, puis envisagent au retour de punir les mécréants occidentaux
Par internet, des jeunes et des mouvements deviennent progressivement des proies idéologiques, des pris en otage de cet Islam Politique, qui n’a rien à voir avec la richesse culturelle d’un Islam Ouvert.
En France par exemple : y-a –t-il beaucoup d’observateurs politique qui ont révélé et analysé que si 80% des français issus de l’immigration maghrébine ont voté François HOLLANDE lors de l’élection présidentielle de 2012 = ils se sont massivement abstenus lors des élections municipales de 2014.
Depuis 2008 notamment , apparaissent des candidatures de personnes issues de l’immigration, certes parfois dans les grands partis traditionnels, mais de plus en plus dans des petits partis fragmentés dont la raison d’être est de protester contre l’exclusion sociale et les discriminations énoncées liées à l’ethnie. En 2012, lors des élections des députés, ils auraient été 400 sur 6000 candidats !
Y compris et paradoxalement la relation au FN (front national) ne signifie plus forcément s’agissant de ce parti un marqueur anti Musulman. Un tabou peut-être brisé, certains jeunes peuvent y compris s’identifier à lui comme un parti combattant le système, et donc : les exclusions que le système UMP-PS, n’aurait pas abolies.
Y compris, des dossiers comme celui du mariage pour tous qui heurte leurs convictions religieuses pourrait favoriser cette évolution.
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
EBOLA ..... IMMIGRATION ..... ELECTIONS ............
DJIHAD = some reflections of an author with philosophical purpose!
Cry of a messenger of peace!
Usually, they are the sociologists and the economists who analyze the behaviors in relation to the economic life and social.
However at the time of globalization, the report of our thought and our actions to the facts and the things affects the state of the consciences, and challenges our capacities of judgment and anticipation.
In Africa, the progression of the Ebola fever asks a serious question urgently medical, WHO, is alerted and mobilized. As that was the case for the AIDS, the researchers of the whole world must mobilize themselves because at present of Guinea in Liberia all West Africa is threatened by the progression of this epidemic. Let us recall that with C day: there exists neither vaccine, nor treatment which cures.
The epidemic can be transmitted by wild animals, but also in a human way, saliva, touch. The patients must be put at insulation.
It becomes urgent, to mobilize world energies to stop this epidemic which threatens Africa, like perhaps later on of other continents.
Another serious subject: the relation with the incidence social and on the public life which Islam poses:its perception, the feeling of incomprehension, exclusion which feel many its practitioners and the drifts which can emerge when young teenagers not managing to recognize itself in the operation of our Western companies give taken, then begin in mobility djihadist believing to live the blooming of an identity aspiration which leads them to want to kill or die as hero!
I always said that the tensions with Russia and Vladimir PUTIN, delayed the search for a political solution in Syria country where the drama continues, the massacres continue, of the children are famished, the medical drama develops.
Other the humane corridors for the assistance, it would be necessary to be able at one to cease fire, with a political solution with elections….However, Vladimir PUTIN remains one of the key actors to lead to a political solution; It is necessary to dialog with him not to accept very what occurs to Ukraine, but to call the spirit of responsibility on both sides of it.
How much European djihadists are in Syria? Thousands undoubtedly =certes and dramatically for the anguish of the families will be killed much there.The intelligence services of the European countries in spite of their competences, will not control the individual intrigues of those which will return: risks of attacks are quite real! To say is not to agitate the fear, but E to measure the risk to hasten the research solution.
Certain djihadists test a feeling of exaltation to be thus left to fight the army of Bachar, then plan with the return to punish the Western non-believers
By Internet, young people and movements become gradually ideological preys, taken hostage of this Political Islam, which has nothing to do with the cultural wealth of an Open Islam.
In France for example: y-a he much of observers policy which revealed and analyzed that if 80% of French resulting from Maghrebian immigration voted François Hollande at the time of the presidential election of 2012 = they are massively abstained at the time of the local elections of 2014.
Since 2008 in particular, candidatures of people resulting from immigration appear, certainly sometimes in the great traditional parties, but more and more in fragmented small parts whose raison d'être is to protest against social exclusion and stated discriminations related to the ethnos group. In 2012, at the time of the elections of the deputies, they would have been 400 out of 6000 candidates!
Including and paradoxically the relation with the FN (national front) inevitably any more does not mean as regards this party Moslem anti marker. A perhaps broken taboo, certain young people can including being identified with him like a party combatant the system, and thus: exclusions which system UMP-PS, would not have abolished.
Including, files as that of the marriage for all which runs up against their religious convictions could support this evolution.
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
|April 1, 2014||
Réchauffement climatique : nouveau rapport alarmant du GIEC
by Guy Crequie
Guy CREQUIE Global file
Ecrivain franÃ§ais Ã finalitÃ© philosophique. Blog http://guycrequie.blogspot.com
Réchauffement climatique : nouveau rapport alarmant du GIEC :
Le Monde.fr avec AFP | 31.03.2014 à 04h48 • Mis à jour le 31.03.2014 à 13h35
Sécheresses, inondations, maladies, migrations, pénuries alimentaires, risques de conflit, etc. : le deuxième volet du cinquième rapport du groupe intergouvernemental d'experts de l'ONU sur l'évolution du climat (GIEC), publié lundi 31 mars, recense les impacts déjà observables du changement climatique.
Selon ce texte du GIEC, résultat d'un immense travail de lecture et de compilation de douze mille publications scientifiques, le changement climatique a eu ces dernières décennies des impacts « sur tous les continents et dans les océans », essentiellement sur les systèmes naturels.
Dans de nombreuses régions, le changement dans les régimes de précipitations et la fonte des neiges et des glaciers ont modifié les systèmes hydrauliques, « affectant les ressources en eau en quantité et en qualité ».
Le changement climatique a également eu un impact plus « négatif » que positif sur la production alimentaire (blé et maïs). L'aire de répartition, le nombre d'individus ou les pratiques migratoires de nombreuses espèces marines et terrestres se sont modifiés.
Autant de constats qui poussent le GIEC à assombrir encore un peu plus ses perspectives sur les effets du rechauffement climatique au XXIe siècle. « La probabilité d'impacts graves, étendus et irréversibles s'accroît avec l'intensification du réchauffement climatique », avertit le GIEC.
Le GIEC parle de risques « élevés à très élevés » en cas de hausse moyenne des températures de 4° C par rapport à la période préindustrielle (« extinction substantielle d'espèces », « risques importants pour la sécurité alimentaire »), mais évoque des risques « considérables » dès un réchauffement de 1 à 2 °C.
Une augmentation d'environ 2 °C par rapport à la période préindustrielle pourrait entraîner une perte d'entre 0,2 et 2 % des revenus annuels mondiaux.
?Les pays du Sud davantage exposés à l'insécurité alimentaire
« Tous les aspects de la sécurité alimentaire sont potentiellement affectés », affirme le texte, notamment l'accès aux ressources et la stabilité des prix, dans un contexte où la demande mondiale va augmenter.
D'ici à la fin du XXIe siècle, le GIEC prévoit une baisse globale des ressources des océans, quel que soit le niveau de réchauffement. Sur terre, la production de blé, maïs et riz devrait être affectée avec une hausse locale du thermomètre de 2 °C par rapport aux niveaux de la fin du XXe siècle, « même si certaines régions pourraient en tirer bénéfice ».
La carte des zones de pêche devrait être redessinée, avec des espèces marines plus nombreuses dans les latitudes moyennes et hautes, et en baisse autour des tropiques avec « de forts taux d'extinction au niveau local ».
La situation s'aggravera, selon le GIEC, après 2050, exposant davantage les pays d'Afrique et d'Amérique du Sud.
?Moins d'eau disponible pour l'agriculture
Le GIEC craint une réduction « significative » des eaux de surface et souterraines dans la plupart des régions subtropicales sèches, avec des impacts attendus sur la qualité de ces eaux.
Le texte évoque des risques de pénuries en Afrique, en Asie et dans le sud de l'Australie, et parle d'une pression potentiellement accrue sur les ressources disponibles en Europe (particulièrement dans le sud du continent, qui devrait être soumis à une chaleur plus forte) et en Amérique du Nord.
? Davantage de pauvreté
Le changement climatique va « ralentir la croissance économique, rendre plus difficile la réduction de la pauvreté (...) et [en] créer de nouvelles poches », notamment dans les villes, selon le rapport.
?Plus de conflits et d'insécurité
Le GIEC table sur une augmentation des déplacements de population, et des « risques de conflit violent » avec « une aggravation des facteurs classiques que sont la pauvreté et les chocs économiques ». Risques de conflit entre Etats avec des rivalités autour de ressources plus rares, comme l'eau ou les stocks de poissons, ou de nouvelles opportunités générées par la fonte des glaces.
?Inondations et érosion
Selon le GIEC, ces phénomènes vont de plus en plus affecter les zones côtières et les basses terres en raison de la hausse du niveau de la mer. « La population et les biens exposés vont significativement augmenter » à cause de la croissance démographique et de l'urbanisation.
Par ailleurs, la proportion de la population affectée par des crues majeures va augmenter. Le GIEC cite notamment les aires urbaines d'Europe, d'Asie et d'Amérique latine, où l'urbanisation massive augmente les risques d'inondations.
Le GIEC s'attend à une augmentation des problèmes de santé dans de nombreuses régions, spécialement les pays en développement (accroissement des vagues de chaleur intense, mauvaise nutrition ou encore maladies liées à la contamination de l'eau ou de la nourriture).
Le texte évoque notamment pour l'Afrique une modification de la géographie des maladies dues aux changements du régime des pluies et des températures.
?Des risques accrus d'extinction
Ces risques concernent « une large partie » des espèces terrestres et marines, dont de nombreuses « ne seront pas capables de se déplacer suffisamment rapidement pour trouver des climats plus adaptés » après le changement climatique.
Des écosystèmes marins cruciaux, comme ceux des pôles et les barrières de corail, sont particulièrement exposés avec l'acidification des océans. Une hausse de la mortalité des arbres pourrait survenir dans de nombreuses régions.
?Des solutions existent
« Les risques liés au changement climatique peuvent être réduits en limitant sa vitesse et son ampleur », rappelle le GIEC, qui préconise des mesures « d'adaptation » au réchauffement attendu.
Parmi les mesures préconisées dans le rapport : l'installation de systèmes d'alerte, d'abris contre les cyclones et les inondations ; la protection des mangroves pour épargner les côtes ; améliorer le stockage d'eau et les techniques d'irrigation ; la création de nouvelles pratiques agricoles ; de meilleurs programmes de vaccination ; la création de zones protégées et l'identification de groupes vulnérables ; la diversification de l'économie.
Transmis par Guy CREQUIE
Climate warming: new alarming report of the GIEC:
Monde.fr with AFP | 31.03.2014 at 04:48 • Updated 31.03.2014 at 13:35
Food droughts, floods, diseases, migrations, shortages, risks of conflict, etc: the second shutter of the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Group of experts of UNO on the evolution of climate (GIEC), published Monday, March 31, counts the already observable impacts of the climate change.
According to this text of the GIEC, result of an immense work of reading and compilation of twelve thousand scientific publications, the climate change had these last decades of the impacts “on all the continents and in the oceans”, primarily on the natural systems.
In many areas, the change in the modes of precipitations and the snowmelt and the glaciers modified the hydraulic systems, “allocating the water resources in quantity and quality”.
The climate change also had a “negative” impact more that positive on the food production (wheat and corn). The surface of distribution, the number of individuals or the migratory practices of many marine and terrestrial species changed.
As many reports which push the GIEC to obscure still a little more its prospects on the effects of climate warming at the 21st century. “The probability of serious, wide and irreversible impacts increases with the intensification of climate warming”, the GIEC informs.
The GIEC speaks about risks “high with very high” in the event of average temperature rise of 4° C compared to the preindustrial period (“substantial extinction of species”, “significant risks for food safety”), but mentions “considerable” risks as of a warming from 1 to 2 °C.
An increase in approximately 2 °C compared to the preindustrial period could involve a loss among 0.2 and 2% of the world annual incomes.
?Les country of the South more exposed to the food insecurity
“All the aspects of food safety are potentially affected”, affirms the text, in particular the access to the resources and the price stability, in a context where the world demand will increase.
By the end of the 21st century, the GIEC envisages a total fall of the resources of the oceans, whatever the level of warming. On ground, the production of wheat, corn and rice should be affected with a local rise of the thermometer of 2 °C compared to the levels of the end of the 20th century, “even if certain areas could benefit from it”.
The chart of the fishing areas should be redrawn, with more marine species in the average and high latitudes, and drops some around the tropics with “strong rates of extinction at the local level”.
The situation will worsen, according to the GIEC, after 2050, more exposing the countries of Africa and South America.
water ?Moins available for agriculture
The GIEC fears a “significant” reduction of water surface and underground in most dry subtropics, with impacts expected on the quality of this water.
The text mentions risks of shortage in Africa, Asia and in the south of Australia, and speaks about a pressure potentially increased on the available resources in Europe (particularly in the south of the continent, which should be subjected to a stronger heat) and in North America.
? More poverty
The climate change “will slow down the economic growth, will make more difficult the reduction of poverty (...) and [in] will create new pockets”, in particular in the cities, according to the report.
?Plus of conflicts and insecurity
The GIEC counts on an increase in displacements of population, and “risks of violent conflict” with “an aggravation of the traditional factors which are the economic poverty and shocks”. Risks of conflict between States with competitions around rarer resources, like the water or stocks of fish, or new opportunities generated by the cast iron of the ices.
?Inondations and erosion
According to the GIEC, these phenomena more and more will affect the coastal areas and the lowlands because of the rise of the sea level. “The exposed population and goods significantly will increase” because of the population growth and by the urbanisation.
In addition, the proportion of the population affected by major risings will increase. The GIEC quotes in particular the urban surfaces of Europe, Asia and Latin America, where the massive urbanisation increases the risks of floods.
The GIEC expects an increase in the health problems in many areas, especially the developing countries (increase in the intense heatwaves, bad nutrition or diseases related to the contamination of water or food).
The text evokes in particular for Africa a modification of the geography of the diseases due to the changes of the mode of the rains and temperatures.
?Des increasing risks of extinction
These risks relate to “a broad part” of the terrestrial and marine species, of which the many ones “will not be able to move sufficiently quickly to find climates more adapted” after the climate change.
Crucial marine ecosystems, like those of the poles and the barriers of coral, are particularly exposed with the acidification of the oceans. A rise of the mortality of the trees could occur in many areas.
?Des solutions exists
“The risks related to the climate change can be reduced by limiting its speed and its width”, the GIEC recalls, which recommends measures “of adaptation” to the expected warming.
Among the measures recommended in the report: the installation of shelter, alarm systems against the cyclones and the floods; the protection of the mangrove swamps to save the coasts; to improve storage of water and the techniques of irrigation; the creation of new husbandries; better programs of vaccination; the creation of protected areas and identification of vulnerable groups; the diversification of the economy.
Transmitted by Guy CREQUIE
|March 20, 2014||
21 MARS ! = journée internationale des Nations Unies contre toutes les formes de racisme et d’antisémitisme
by Guy Crequie
Guy CREQUIE Global file
Ecrivain franÃ§ais Ã finalitÃ© philosophique. Blog http://guycrequie.blogspot.com
21 MARS ! = journée internationale des Nations Unies contre toutes les formes de racisme et d’antisémitisme :
J’écris ma contribution pour cette journée, laquelle, devrait symboliser une attitude permanente.
POEME d’UN HUMAIN AUX AUTRES HUMAINS !
Quelle que puisse être sa nationalité
La couleur de sa peau
L’aspect de ses cheveux
La forme et la couleur de ses yeux
Sa confession et, ou philosophie
A être toujours plus humain
Avec une empathie et une spiritualité élevées
Un sens et souci de la nécessité
Un respect inaliénable des droits et devoirs humains
Au service de l’humanité notre Aînée et destinée
Pour une planète terre d’harmonie et de paix
Laissée en héritage aux générations futures.
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Ecrivain français à finalité philosophique
March 21st! = international day of the United Nations against all the forms of racism and anti-semitism:
I write my contribution for this day, which, should symbolize a permanent attitude.
POEM of HUMAN WITH the OTHER HUMAN ones!
Whatever can be its nationality
The color of its skin
The aspect of its hair
The shape and the color of its eyes
Its confession and, or philosophy
Let us encourage it,
Let us encourage it,
Let us encourage them,
To be increasingly more human
With a high empathy and a spirituality
A direction and concern of the need
An inalienable respect of the rights and human duties
With the service of humanity our Elder and intended
For a planet covers over with soil of harmony and peace
Left in heritage with the future generations.
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
French writer with philosophical purpose
21 de marzo! = día internacional de las Naciones Unidas contra todas las formas de racismo y antisemitismo: Escribo mi contribución por este día, el cual, debería simbolizar una actitud permanente.
¡POEMA DE UN HUMANO AL OTRO HUMANOS!
Cualquiera que puede ser su nacionalidad
El color de su piel
El aspecto de su cabello
La forma y el color de sus ojos
Su confesión y, o filosofía
A ser cada vez más humano
Con una elevada empatía y una espiritualidad
Un sentido y preocupación de la necesidad
Un respeto inalienable de los derechos y deberes humanos
Al servicio de la humanidad nuestro Mayor y destinada
Para un planeta tierra de armonía y paz
Dejada en herencia a las generaciones futuras.
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Escritor francés con finalidad filosófica
Et par la musique je parle d’amour
Y por la música hablo de amor
And by the music I speak about love
|April 9, 2014||
Cercle Universel des Ambassadeurs de la Paix
Universal Ambassador Peace Circle
LOS NIÃ‘OS Y LA PAZ ; ENFANTS ET LA PAIX ; CHILDREN AND PEACE Ð”Ð•Ð¢Ð˜ Ð˜ ÐœÐ˜Ð ; CRIANÃ‡AS E PAZ
by Ambassadrice Teresita MorÃ¡n de Valcheff. ( R. Argentina )
LOS NIÑOS Y LA PAZ
Para construir el camino de la paz en el mundo
protejamos a los niños desde su más tierna infancia.
Atardece en los confines de la ciudad, asfixiada de asfalto y de ladrillos. El horizonte es una densa muralla de humo maloliente. Las volutas suben, se alargan como queriendo llegar al cielo. Pero éste es otro cielo, de estrellas impiadosas, que pronto empezarán a titilar indiferentes sobre la huella de los pies descalzos.
Temprano ha llegado la caravana bulliciosa de niños ateridos, algunos, empujando sus endebles carritos. El gris les ha robado el color del asombro y hasta el sol de herrumbres hilachentos, se agobia con las sombras que hurgan y que exploran en territorio ajeno, despojos de otro mundo donde reptan los gusanos de la indiferencia y la codicia abulta los vientres del poder.
El basural abre sus arcas nauseabundas y las manos buscan y rebuscan apremiantes; hay que llenar las bolsas y regresar a sus míseras viviendas, con los tesoros rescatados, porque el hambre es loba que acorrala como un fantasma recurrente que no deja descansar ni un solo instante.
Cuando retornen con su botín escaso, no habrá lluvia de estrellas alumbrando el camino, ni peregrinas rosas que se abran en el aire, fragantes de piedad.
Mientras, los que gobiernan el mundo, con sus arcas repletas, duermen tranquilos, con la impunidad que les da el dinero y medran en sus torres altas, inexpugnables, sin siquiera sonrojarse.
La noche desdibuja en sus tintas secretas los dos rostros de una realidad que con urgencia, debemos transformar, en pro de la paz y en bien de la humanidad toda y en especial de nuestros niños.
Están allí, muy cerca de sus precarias viviendas jugando a que no les importa el diario sufrir de sus pequeñas vidas.
El río se renueva a cada instante y mientras transcurre mansamente, acariciando la arena con lengua numerosa, los contempla con un dejo de compasión porque sabe por viejo, que ellos no tienen futuro.
Castigados por el olvido de los dueños del poder, los de millonaria fama y mezquina mano, no hay en sus vidas espigas florecidas de panes ni colmenas que enjambren las mieles de la risa.
Muy pronto sus ojos envejecidos y sus caritas tristes no sabrán de alegrías, el acerbo cáliz de la miseria y la desesperanza teñirá sus vidas y medrarán en esas mismas arenas que hoy acogen sus juegos, sin poder desplegar sus alas hacia un mañana feliz, de paz y bienestar.
“Ellos son el futuro de la Patria”, palabras mentidas por la falaz boca de muchos dirigentes en distintos lugares del mundo. Ellos son el presente y la Patria es una entelequia si los niños no constituyen la médula de todo el accionar de la sociedad; si no brilla sobre la infancia el jubiloso sol del presente y el promisorio porvenir, no pronunciemos con liviandad los sagrados nombres de la Paz, de la Patria y de sus niños.
ENFANTS ET LA PAIX
Pour construire le chemin de la paix dans le monde
protéger les enfants depuis leur plus tendre enfance.
C'est le coucher du soleil dans les confins de la ville, étouffé d'asphalte et de briques. L'horizon est une paroi dense de fumée nauséabonde. Défile vers le haut, allongé comme vouloir atteindre le ciel. Mais il s'agit d'un autre ciel, stars sans pitié, qui bientôt se mettra à clignoter indifférent sur l'empreinte aux pieds nus.
Au début, c'est devenu la caravane animée des enfants froids, certains poussant leurs charrettes fragiles. Gray a volé la couleur de l'étonnement et jusqu'à ce que le soleil rouille, il est débordé avec des ombres qui se plongent et qui explorent le territoire étranger, reste d'un autre monde où l'analyse vers d'indifférence et d'avidité gonflement du ventre du pouvoir.
La mise en décharge ouvre ses coffres nauséabonds et les mains cherchent et creusent le pressurage ; avec les sacs ils retournent dans leurs foyers misérables, avec les trésors sauvés, parce que la faim est une louve qui comme un fantôme récurrent qui ne laisse pas se reposer pour un moment unique.
Quand ils reviennent avec leur petit butin, il y n'aura aucun pluie d'étoiles qui illuminent le voyage, ni des pèlerins roses qui sont ouverts dans l'air, parfumé de piété.
Pendant ce temps, ceux qui gouvernent le monde, avec leurs coffres pleins, sommeil calme, avec l'impunité que leur donne l'argent et se développent sur ses tours hautes, invincibles, sans même rougir.
Nuit un peu floue dans leur secret encre les deux faces d'une réalité qui, de toute urgence, nous devons transformer, dans la paix et pour le bien de l'humanité de tous et surtout à nos enfants.
Ils sont là, très près de leurs habitations précaires jouant ne dérangeant pas par la souffrance quotidienne de leur petite vie.
La rivière est renouvelée à chaque instant et pendant son exécution doucement, caressant le sable avec nombreuses langues, leur fournit un soupçon de compassion parce qu'ils savent qu'ils n'ont pas d'avenir.
Punie par la négligence des propriétaires de la puissance, la renommée de millionnaires et de mains mesquines, il n'y a aucune floraison de pains dans leurs vies de la douceur du rire.
Très vite les yeux fatigués et leurs visages tristes n'auront pas de joies, la coupe de la misère et le désespoir colorise est maintenue dans leurs vies et dans ces mêmes sables accueillent aujourd'hui leurs jeux, sans pouvoir déployer leurs ailes vers un matin heureux, la paix et le bien-être.
« Ils sont l'avenir de la patrie », mots trouvés par la bouche fallacieuse de nombreux dirigeants dans différentes parties du monde. Ils sont aussi le présent et la patrie ! si les enfants ne constituent pas le cœur de toutes les actions de la société ; Si elle ne brille pas sur le soleil radieux du présent et l'avenir de nos enfants prometteurs, nous ne déciderons pas la paix légèrement sacré, la patrie et les noms de leurs enfants.
CHILDREN AND PEACE
To build the road to peace in the world
protecting children from their earliest childhood.
It is the sunset within the confines of the city, choked asphalt and bricks. The horizon is a dense wall of foul-smelling smoke. Scrolls upward, lying as you want to reach the sky. But there is another sky, stars without mercy, who soon will begin to Flash indifferent on the footprint barefoot.
At the beginning, it has become the bustling caravan of cold children, some pushing their fragile carts. Gray stole the color of astonishment and until the Sun rust, he is overwhelmed with shadows that will plunge and who explore the foreign territory, remains of another world where analysis of indifference and greed swelling of the belly of the power.
Landfill opens its stinking chests and hands seek and dig the pressing; with the bags they return in their wretched homes, with the saved treasures, because hunger is a she-Wolf who as a recurring ghost leaving step to rest for a unique moment.
When they return with their small booty, no there is no rain of stars that illuminate the journey, nor pink pilgrims that are open in the air, fragrant of piety.
Meanwhile, those who govern the world, with their coffers full, sleep calm, with the impunity that gives them money and grow on its towers high, invincible, without even blushing.
Night a little fuzzy in their secret ink two sides of a reality which, urgently, we must transform, in peace and for the sake of humanity of all and especially to our children.
They are there, very close to their precarious dwellings playing not disturbing the daily suffering of their little lives.
The river is renewed every now and while it runs gently, caressing the sand with many languages, provides them with a hint of compassion because they know they have no future
Punished by the negligence of the owners of the power, the fame of millionaires and mean-spirited hands, there is no flowering of breads in their lives from the sweetness of laughter.Very quickly tired eyes and their sad faces will not joys, the cup of misery and despair colorized is maintained in their lives and in these same sands today welcome their games without being able to deploy their wings towards a happy morning, peace and well-being
"They are the future of the motherland", words found by the false mouth of many leaders in different parts of the world. They are also present and the homeland! If children do not constitute the heart of all shares of the company; If it does not shine on the radiant Sun of the present and the future of our promising children, we do not decide slightly sacred peace, the homeland and the names of their children.
CRIANÇAS E PAZ
Para construir o caminho para a paz no mundo
proteger as crianças de primeira infância.
É o pôr do sol dentro dos limites da cidade, asfalto sufocado e tijolos. O horizonte é uma parede densa de fumo fétido. Rola para cima, deitado como quer alcançar o céu. Mas há um outro céu, estrelas sem piedade, que em breve começará a Flash indiferente sobre a pegada com os pés descalços.
No início, tornou-se a caravana movimentada de frias crianças, alguns empurrando seus carrinhos frágeis. Gray roubou a cor de espanto e até o sol ferrugem, ele está sobrecarregado com sombras que mergulhará e quem explorar o território estrangeiro, restos de um outro mundo onde análise de indiferença e ganância inchaço da barriga do poder.
Aterro abre seu peito fedorento e mãos seek e cava a prensagem; com as malas, eles retornam em suas casas miseráveis, com os tesouros guardados, porque a fome é uma loba que como um fantasma recorrente deixar descansar por um momento único.
Quando eles retornam com seus pequenos saques, não há nenhuma chuva de estrelas que iluminam a viagem, nem rosa peregrinos que estão abertos no ar, perfumado de piedade.
Enquanto isso, aqueles que governam o mundo, com seus cofres cheios, dormir calma, com a impunidade que lhes dá dinheiro e crescer em suas torres altas, invencível, sem sequer a corar.
Noite está um pouco confusa em seus lados de tinta secreta dois de uma realidade que, urgentemente, deve se transformar, em paz e por uma questão de humanidade, de todos e especialmente para os nossos filhos.
Eles estão lá, muito perto de suas habitações precárias jogando não perturbar o sofrimento diário de suas vidas.
O rio é renovado a cada momento e enquanto corre suavemente, acariciando a areia com vários idiomas, fornece-los com uma pitada de compaixão porque eles sabem que eles não têm futuro.
Punido por negligência dos donos do poder, a fama de milionários e mãos mal intencionadas, não há nenhuma floração de pães em suas vidas desde a doçura do riso.
Olhos cansados muito rapidamente e seus rostos tristes não será alegrias, a xícara de miséria e desespero colorido é mantida em suas vidas e estas mesmas areias bem-vindo hoje seus jogos sem ser capaz de implantar suas asas em direção uma manhã feliz, paz e bem-estar.
"Eles são o futuro da pátria", palavras encontradas pela boca falsa de muitos líderes em diferentes partes do mundo. Eles também estão presentes e a pátria! Se as crianças não constituem o coração de todas as ações da companhia; Se ele não brilha no sol radiante do presente e o futuro dos nossos filhos promissoras, não decidimos paz ligeiramente sagrado, a pátria e os nomes dos seus filhos.
|April 9, 2014||
Cercle Universel des Ambassadeurs de la Paix
Universal Ambassador Peace Circle
A PAZ ; PAIX ; Peace; Paz ; ÐœÐ¸Ñ€
by Ambassadrice Alexandra Magalhaes Zeiner Bresil
Postal address: 186 Bowlsby Street, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada V9R 5K1
Copyright 2014: Â© Global Community, Global Parliament, Federation of Global Governments