Politics and Justice Without Borders
Politics and Justice Without Borders
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Global Community Newsletter main website
Volume 15 Issue 7 March 2017

Theme for this month

Global Civilization Politics and Justice Without Borders.

Table of Contents of March 2017 Newsletter

Global Dialogue 2016 Proceedings (September 1st 2015 to August 31st 2016). Global Dialogue 2016 Proceedings (September 1st 2015 to August 31st 2016).
Global Peace Earth. Global Peace Earth.
Global Community days of celebration or remembering throughout the year. Global Community days of celebration or remembering throughout the year.
Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for this month. Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for this month.

Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for this month

John Abraham, David Anderson, John Scales Avery (2), Harold Becker, Editor Countercurrents, Teressa Rose Ezell, Andrea Germanos, Brian Kahn, Nika Knight, Elizabeth Kolbert, William H Kotke, Nadia Prupis, Shareable, Dr. David Suzuki (3), Emily Spence.

John Abraham, Climate Thresholds Climate Thresholds
David Anderson, Scenario Homo sapiens Scenario Homo sapiens
John Scales Avery, We Must Not Demonize And Threaten Russia. We Must Not Demonize And Threaten Russia
John Scales Avery, Individual Responsibility Individual Responsibility
Harold Becker, Embracing Your Magnificence Embrasser votre magnificence Abrace a sua magnificencia Abrazar a su. Embracing Your Magnificence Embrasser votre magnificence Abrace a sua magnificencia Abrazar a su
Countercurrents Editor, Global Warming: We Are Living In Dangerous Times. Global Warming: We Are Living In Dangerous Times
Teressa Rose Ezell, Black Snakes On The Move: Pipeline Expansion Out of Control. Black Snakes On The Move: Pipeline Expansion Out of Control.
Andrea Germanos, 2014 Was Hottest Year Ever Recorded. Then It Was 2015. Now It’s 2016. 2014 Was Hottest Year Ever Recorded. Then It Was 2015. Now It’s 2016.
Brian Kahn, Antarctica Just Shed a Manhattan-Sized Chunk of Ice Antarctica Just Shed a Manhattan-Sized Chunk of Ice
Nika Knight, Ticking Carbon Clock Warns We Have One Year To Avert Climate Catastrophe. Ticking Carbon Clock Warns We Have One Year To Avert Climate Catastrophe
Elizabeth Kolbert, Obama’s Top Scientist Explains the Climate Challenge Ahead. Obama’s Top Scientist Explains the Climate Challenge Ahead
William H Kotke, Civilization Falls: A New Culture Emerges. Civilization Falls: A New Culture Emerges
Nadia Prupis, Global Sea Ice Hits Lowest Levels ‘Probably In Millenia’ Global Sea Ice Hits Lowest Levels ‘Probably In Millenia’
Shareable, Can Commons Thinking Drive A New Health System? Can Commons Thinking Drive A New Health System?
Dr. David Suzuki, The Only Way to Understand Climate Change in a Post-Truth World. The Only Way to Understand Climate Change in a Post-Truth World.
Dr. David Suzuki, 5 Steps Society Must Take to Avoid the Worst Impacts of Climate Change. 5 Steps Society Must Take to Avoid the Worst Impacts of Climate Change
Dr. David Suzuki, How Anthropocentrism Puts All Species at Risk—Including Ours. How Anthropocentrism Puts All Species at Risk—Including Ours
Emily Spence, The Economic And Social Losses On The Way. The Economic And Social Losses On The Way

Articles and papers from authors


Day data received Theme or issue Read article or paper
 February 11, 2017
The Only Way to Understand Climate Change in a Post-Truth World.
by Dr. David Suzuki, AlterNet

Close-up Of Businessman Reading Weather News On Newspaper
Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Seeing terms like "post-truth" and "alternative facts" gain traction in the news convinces me that politicians, media workers and readers could benefit from a refresher course in how science helps us understand the world. Reporting on science is difficult at the best of times. Trying to communicate complex ideas and distill entire studies into eye-catching headlines and brief stories can open the door to misinformation and limited understanding.

Recent headlines about a climate study, "Shifting patterns of mild weather in response to projected radiative forcing," in the February 2017 issue of Climatic Change illustrate the predicament. Some news outlets implied the study showed countries such as Canada and the U.K. would benefit from increasingly frequent "mild weather days" brought on by climate change. Many failed to convey the true take-home message: Climate change will have devastating consequences for human civilization. 

Just ask the study's author, Karin van der Wiel, a research scientist at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. She studied the frequency of mild weather days as a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. She found a few countries, mostly in the mid-latitudes, will experience slightly more frequent mild weather—defined as days between 18° and 30°C with less than one millimeter of rain and dew point temperature not exceeding 20 C.

But that's not the whole story.

"The climate is changing in many places over the world and these changes are ongoing now," Van der Wiel said in an email. "Globally, mild weather is decreasing and in many locations summers are going to be increasingly too hot and too humid to be considered mild. These are not desirable changes."

Van der Wiel chose to examine climate change and mild weather rather than extreme events such as floods, wildfires and drought to make it easier for people to relate to the issue and inspire them to learn more. 

"I am happy the research was picked up so widely; that way more people hopefully will learn that climate is changing the weather near them and in the coming decades," she said, adding, "mild weather is not the only important thing in climate change, and therefore the other, more alarming aspects of climate change should not be forgotten." 

Van der Wiel points out that mild weather isn't necessarily good, as it can also create negative conditions. 

"If there are projected changes in mild weather, that means there are changes in temperature, precipitation and/or humidity," she said. She noted that although mild weather could create more opportunities for things such as outdoor recreation, it could also have negative consequences like changing snowmelt patterns and threatening water resources.

Mild weather at the wrong time and place can be disastrous. The wildfire that devastated Fort McMurray last year reached city limits on a mild weather day, with an average temperature of 22.1 C and no precipitation, after several weeks of unseasonably warm and dry weather. 

"Mild weather is not good for everything," Van der Wiel wrote. "If you like skiing, increasing mild weather is bad. We haven't investigated the coincidence of wildfires with mild weather, but such a link might exist and would indicate again that climate change is something the global community should try to mitigate as much as possible."

This research is an important piece of the emerging narrative about the impacts of climate change, but we must consider it in the context of all the work on climate. Prior to her work on mild weather, Van der Wiel studied extreme precipitation and flooding in the U.S. She has since moved to a project investigating climatic conditions that could negatively affect agriculture, to determine if it's possible to warn farmers and communities in advance of bad crop years.

Science is the most useful tool we have to adapt to climate change and avoid its worst outcomes. But it requires critical thinking and a big-picture perspective to ensure we consider all available evidence. With so many people scrolling through social media feeds for news rather than reading entire articles, facts and clarity can become elusive. It's up to us all—media and consumers alike—to dig deeper for the full story.

David Suzuki Foundation, with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Climate Change and Energy Policy Analyst Steve Kux.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation

  Read The Only Way to Understand Climate Change in a Post-Truth World
 February 16, 2017
Antarctica Just Shed a Manhattan-Sized Chunk of Ice
by Brian Kahn, Climate Central, Countercurrents

iceberg breaking off the calving front of the Pine Island Glacier.
Photo Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The growing crack in the Larsen C ice shelf is the most dramatic example of change in Antarctica right now. But it isn’t the continent’s only frozen feature changing in a warming world.

Ice around the continent is disappearing as the air and water heat up and the less dramatic breakdowns are just as important to understanding the fate of the ice and the world’s coastal areas.

Before and after satellite imagery show an iceberg breaking off the calving front of the Pine Island Glacier. (Credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

The Pine Island Glacier on the coast of West Antarctica is a case in point. A massive iceberg roughly 225 square miles in size — or in more familiar terms, 10 times the size of Manhattan — broke off in July 2015. Scientists subsequently spotted cracks in the glacier on a November 2016 flyover. And in January, another iceberg cleaved off the glacier.

Satellite imagery captured the most recent calving event, which Ohio State glaciologist Ian Howat said “ is the equivalent of an ‘aftershock’” following the July 2015 event. The iceberg was “only” the size of Manhattan, underscoring just how dramatic the other breakups have been.

Simon Gascoin, an ice and remote sensing expert at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, noted on Twitter that another crack could be seen just inland from where the iceberg calved off, raising the possibility of another calving event.

In an email, he said that it’s hard to tie these individual events to climate change, but “many studies have shown that Pine Island Glacier is retreating and thinning. That the recent rifting and calving could totally be evidence of an ongoing, rapid disintegration of the ice shelf, mostly due to ocean warming.”

  Read Antarctica Just Shed a Manhattan-Sized Chunk of Ice
  January 11, 2017
Ticking Carbon Clock Warns We Have One Year To Avert Climate Catastrophe
by Nika Knight, Climate Change, Countercurrents

Our window of time to act on climate may be shrinking even faster than previously thought.

We may only have one year remaining before we lock in 1.5ºC of warming—the ideal goal outlined in the Paris climate agreement—after which we’ll see catastrophic and irreversible climate shifts, many experts have warned.

That’s according to the ticking carbon budget clock created by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC). The clock’s countdown now shows that only one year is left in the world’s carbon budget before the planet heats up more than 1.5º over pre-industrial temperatures.


The current carbon budget countdown, as of January 10, 2017. (Screenshot: MCC)

That’s under the most pessimistic calculations. According to the most optimistic prediction, we have four years to kick our carbon habit and avert 1.5º of warming.

And to limit warming to 2ºC—the limit agreed upon in the Paris climate accord—we have nine years to act under the most pessimistic scenario, and 23 years to act under the most optimistic.

“So far, there is no track record for reducing emissions globally,” explained Fabian Löhe, spokesperson for MCC, in an email to Common Dreams. “Instead, greenhouse gas emissions have been rising at a faster pace during the last decade than previously—despite growing awareness and political action across the globe. Once we have exhausted the carbon budget, every ton of CO2 that is released by cars, buildings, or industrial plants would need to be compensated for during the 21st century by removing the CO2 from the atmosphere again. Generating such ‘negative emissions’ is even more challenging and we do not know today at which scale we might be able to do that.”

(Climate activists and environmentalists have also long warned of the potential negative consequences of geoengineering and other carbon capture schemes, as Common Dreams has reported.)

“Hence, the clock shows that time is running out: it is not enough to act sometime in the future, but it is necessary to implement more ambitious climate policies already in the very short-term,” Löhe added.

“Take all of the most difficult features of individual pathways to 2ºC—like fast and ambitious climate action in all countries of the world, the full availability of all required emissions reduction and carbon removal technologies, as well as aggressive energy demand reductions across the globe—the feasibility of which were so heatedly debated prior to Paris,” Löhe said. “This gives you an idea of the challenge associated with the more ambitious 1.5°C goal.”

First published in CommonDreams.org

  Read Ticking Carbon Clock Warns We Have One Year To Avert Climate Catastrophe
  January 14, 2017
Can Commons Thinking Drive A New Health System?
by Shareable, Counter Solutions, Countercurrents

Cat Johnson: What would it take to move from planetary imbalance into a state of sustained health and healing? In a recent report, Jamie Harvie, Executive Director of the Institute for a Sustainable Future and founder of the Commons Health Network, argues that we need a new health system, one based on a “profound appreciation of the complexity and interconnectedness of life across traditionally silo-ed institutional spheres of influence—healthcare, economics, agriculture, and others.”

Harvie points to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risks report, which states that “global risks remain beyond the domain of just one actor” and that to create a healthy planet and people we must focus on collaborative and multi-stakeholder action. He also calls for a decentralization of our food systems using ecological principles and local knowledge and input.

Recognizing that clinical care determines only about 10% of health outcomes, Harvie explains that it’s essential to shift our health system to one that sees health as an interconnection of emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical well-being driven by social, economic and environmental factors.

As our current healthcare system is profit driven and externalizes social and environmental costs “in a manner that is inconsistent with health,” our next health system needs to “untangle deeply enmeshed financial incentives within the business of healthcare, so as unlock the true health potential within us all” and create a healthcare approach that recognizes the body as a complex, interrelated system.

To address the immense challenge of creating the next health system, Harvie turns to complexity science which provides the following insights into how a systems worldview changes our perception:

  • From parts to the whole
  • From objects to relationships
  • From knowledge to contextual knowledge
  • From quantity to quality
  • From structure to process
  • From contents to patterns

To create new systems of collaboration, empowerment, self-organization, transparency and more, he looks to the principles of the commons, where communities work together to “craft, monitor, enforce, and revise rules to limit their behavior and keep their resources available for the long term.” Harvie explains: “At their core is an acknowledgement of the importance of an approach that has a fair set of rules, a means to represent a voice, transparency, self-determination, localized boundaries or a sense of place, inclusivity and the right to health and well-being.”

Creating the next health system is a big task that will not happen overnight. The importance of rethinking the health of the planet and its inhabitants requires long-term commitment, collaboration and a new perspective. As Harvie writes:

“As we move forward, we must keep in mind that these issues are complex and require ongoing experimentation to test and probe the potential of nascent models and approaches. This uncertainty is challenging for our culture, which is accustomed to long term planning and the belief in predictability, especially in the context of impending climate change impacts. Moreover, we are accustomed to working within silos of expertise and have undeveloped interpersonal tools to work in this new networked, relational space. We must incorporate commons principles and subsidiarity in the context of a strong national and global rights framework.”

Shareable is an award-winning nonprofit news, action and connection hub for the sharing transformation. What’s the sharing transformation? It’s a movement of movements emerging from the grassroots up to solve today’s biggest challenges, which old, top-down institutions are failing to address. Behind these failing industrial-age institutions are outmoded beliefs about how the world works – that ordinary people can’t govern themselves directly; that nonstop economic growth leads to widespread prosperity; and that more stuff leads to more happiness. Amid crisis, a new way forward is emerging – the sharing transformation. The sharing transformation is big, global, and impacts every part of society. Visit Shareable.net for more.

  Read Can Commons Thinking Drive A New Health System?
  January 15, 2017
We Must Not Demonize And Threaten Russia
by John Scales Avery, Countercurrents

In his famous farwell address, US President Dwight Eisenhower eloquently described the terrible effects of an overgrown military-industrial complex. Here are his words:

“We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions…. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence, economic, political, even spiritual, is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government…[and] we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

In another speech, he said: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. “

The devil’s dynamo

The military-industrial complex involves a circular flow of money. The cash flows like the electrical current in a dynamo, driving a diabolical machine. Money from immensely rich corporate oligarchs buys the votes of politicians and the propaganda of the mainstream media. Numbed by the propaganda, citizens allow the politicians to vote for obscenely bloated military budgets, which further enrich the corporate oligarchs, and the circular flow continues.

Today the world spends more than 1.7 trillion dollars ( $1,700,000,000,000) every year on armaments. This vast river of money, almost too large to be imagined, is the “devil’s dynamo” driving the institution of war. Politicians notoriously can be bought with a tiny fraction of this enormous amount; hence the decay of democracy. It is also plain that if the almost unbelieivable sums now wasted on armaments were used constructively, most of the pressing problems now facing humanity could be solved.

Because the world spends almost two thousand billion dollars each year on armaments, it follows that very many people make their living from war. This is the reason why it is correct to speak of war as an institution, and why it persists, although we know that it is the cause of much of the suffering that inflicts humanity.

We know that war is madness, but it persists. We know that it threatens the survival of civilization, but it persists, entrenched in the attitudes of historians, newspaper editors and television producers, entrenched in the methods by which politicians finance their campaigns, and entrenched in the financial power of arms manufacturers, entrenched also in the ponderous and costly hardware of war, the fleets of warships, bombers, tanks, nuclear missiles amd so on.

The military-industrial complex needs enemies

The military-industrial complex needs enemies. Without them it would wither. Thus at the end of the Second World War, this vast power complex was faced with a crisis. It was saved by the discovery of a new enemy: Communism.

This new enemy saved the military-industrial complex for a long time, but at the end of the Cold War, there was another crisis: the threat that arms profits would be converted into a  “peace dividend”. Would this be the end of unlimited corporate greed? Heaven forbid! There was a desparate search for a new enemy. What about Islam? The Crusades could be revived, and all would be well. This seemed, for a long time to be a good solution.

But recently, with the Middle East in flames, Islam no longer seemed to be a sufficiently strong enemy justiify the collossal budgets of armaments industries. A new enemy was urgently needed. One  look at our mass media tells us the solution that our military-industrial complex has come up with: Revival of the Cold War!

Nuclear war by accident or miscalculation.

As a concequence of our oligarchy’s decision to revive the Cold War, we are witnessing increasing demonization of Russia as well as flagrant provocations, such as the recent massive NATO manovres on Russia’s borders.

With unbelievable hubris and irresponsibility, western politicians are risking the destruction of human civilization and much of the biosphere through a thermonuclear war. Such a cataclysmic war could occur through technical or human error, or through escalation. This possibility is made greater by th fact that despite the end of the Cold War, thousands of missiles carrying nuclear warheads are still kept on a “hair-trigger” state of alert with a quasi-automatic reaction time measured in minutes.

A number of prominent political and military figures (many of whom have ample knowledge of the system of deterrence, having been part of it) have expressed concern about the danger of accidental nuclear war.

Colin S. Grey, Chairman of the US Institute for Public Policy, expressed this concern as follows: “The problem, indeed the enduring problem, is that we are resting our future upon a nuclear deterrence system concerning which we cannot tolerate even a single malfunction.”

General Curtis E. LeMay has written, “In my opinion a general war will grow through a series of political miscalculations and accidents rather than through any deliberate attack by either side.”

Bruce G. Blair  of the Brookings Institute has remarked that “It is obvious that the rushed nature of the process, from warning to decision to action, risks causing a catastrophic mistake.”… “This system is an accident waiting to happen.”

The duty of civil society

Civil society must make its will felt. A thermonuclear war today would be not only genocidal but also omnicidal. It would kill people of all ages, babies, children, young people, mothers, fathers and grandparents, without any regard whatever for guilt or innocence. Such a war would be the ultimate ecological catastrophe, destroying not only human civilization but also much of the biosphere. Each of us has a duty to work with courage and dedication to prevent it.

  Read We Must Not Demonize And Threaten Russia
 January 17, 2017
Global Sea Ice Hits Lowest Levels ‘Probably In Millenia’
by Nadia Prupis, Climate Change, Countercurrents

Global sea ice levels are at their lowest in recorded history, according to new statistics from the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center.

In the Arctic, the loss is due to climate change and extreme weather events that are likely influenced by global warming, while the changes in the Antarctic may be attributed to natural variability, the center said.

(Image: U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center)(Image: U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center)

But as a result of the declines in both regions, the total loss of ice is likely at the lowest it’s been for thousands of years, said meteorologist Eric Holthaus.

It’s “probably the lowest in millenia,” he tweeted.

Environmental and social justice writer Robert Scribbler noted that global sea ice “fell off a cliff” in December 2016—or, as 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben put it, 2016 was the year “global sea ice fell off the table.”

“The human world has never experienced a time when global sea ice was so weak and reduced,” Scribbler wrote.

That’s important because, as Common Dreams has reported, sea ice loss is linked to extreme weather and rising waters, while fewer glaciers mean a darker surface of the Earth—which in turn increases absorption of the sun’s energy, further fueling climate change.

Climate scientists warned last year that Arctic ice is at risk of disappearing for the first time in more than 100,000 years.

  Read Global Sea Ice Hits Lowest Levels ‘Probably In Millenia’
 January 19, 2017
2014 Was Hottest Year Ever Recorded. Then It Was 2015. Now It’s 2016.
by Andrea Germanos, Climate Change, Countercurrents

For the third year in a row, the world experienced its warmest year on the books, global scientists have determined.

The new assessments come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the UK’s Met Office, as well as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which relies in part on data from those agencies. The findings also back up the declaration made earlier this month by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

“2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). “We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear.”

NOAA’s calculations put the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces at 1.69°F (0.94°C) above the 20th century average, while NASA puts the globally-averaged temperatures for the year at 1.78°F (0.99°C) warmer than the mid-20th century average.

NOAA produced the visualization below showing annual temperatures since 1880 compared to the 20th-century average, and the graphic below it:

Selected Significant Climate Anomolies and Events in 2016 (Credit: NOAA)Credit: NOAAMeteorologists Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, citing data from climatologist Maximiliano Herrera, also note:

From January through December 31, 2016, a total of 22 nations or territories tied or set all-time records for their hottest temperature in recorded history. This breaks the record of eighteen all-time heat records in 2010 for the greatest number of such records set in one year. Just one nation or territory—Hong Kong—set an all-time cold temperature record in 2016.

NOAA also lists as highlights of its global assessment for the year:

  • During 2016, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.57°F (1.43°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of 2015 by 0.18°F (0.10°C).
  • During 2016, the globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.35°F (0.75°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of last year by 0.02°F (0.01°C).
  • Recent trends in the decline of Arctic polar sea ice extent continued in 2016. When averaging daily data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and noting that there was an unanticipated sensor transition during the year, the estimated average annual sea ice extent in the Arctic was approximately 3.92 million square miles, the smallest annual average in the record.
  • The annual Antarctic sea ice extent was the second smallest on record, behind 1986, at 4.31 million square miles. Both the November and December 2016 extents were record small.

Reacting to the record warmth, David Titley, director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State University, told the Washington Post:

We are heading into a new unknown. It’s like driving on a new road, at night, at speed, without headlights, and looking only through the rearview mirror. Hope we don’t meet Thelma and Louise along the way.

For climate advocacy group 350.org, the findings from the agencies further ground its call to keep fossil fuels in the ground—a call whose urgency is made more clear by the incoming Trump administration, which, as Common Dreams wrote,

has given signs that it will go full-speed ahead at driving further climate change. Among other things, Donald Trump has chosen climate change skeptic and “fossil fuel industry puppet” Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, while the president-elect himself falsely declared last month that “nobody really knows” if climate change is real, and has also threatened to cancel the Paris climate deal.

And as Astrid Caldas, climate scientist with the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, writes Wednesday, “many of the Cabinet nominees in the new administration insist that yeah, there may be warming, but we don’t know the actual role of human emissions, and/or we cannot tell what is going to happen. Those are absurd statements.” She adds:

To deny scientific facts and data to make a misleading point meant to cater to one’s interests will NOT change the facts or the data—and yet, we are seeing it every day at the nominations hearings, especially when it relates to climate (not to mention for the past decade or longer). To say that “we don’t know what will happen” is an actual lie. We DO know what will happen, temperatures will keep going up. What we don’t know is the pace and magnitude of global warming—because it depends on the actual amount of emissions dumped in the atmosphere, an obviously unknown fact which depends on our energy choices, which in turn depend on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, on the fulfillment of each nation’s pledges, the successful transition to renewable energy, and the timeline of all these actions.

“2016 was the year climate change took hold of the world more clearly than ever, with serious humanitarian and environmental consequences. No part of the world can now avoid the fact that climate change is striking harder and faster than many scientists predicted, and that its impacts are taking a higher toll on the most vulnerable communities,” said 350.org Climate Impacts Program coordinator Aaron Packard. “As important as marking that the record is yet again broken, we need to loudly mark what needs to be done to hold back such destruction: we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. To make that clear, that means no new oil, coal, or gas projects.”

“Decades of progress from scientists and engineers has made renewable energy the cheapest and cleanest source of energy in the world, creating the technological momentum that is matched by the millions of people in all parts of the world demanding climate action,” Packard continued. “Elected representatives must heed this momentum—it won’t cost the earth to keep fossil fuels in the ground, but it will cost the earth if they are dug up.”

First published in CommonDreams.org

  Read 2014 Was Hottest Year Ever Recorded. Then It Was 2015. Now It’s 2016.
 April 29, 2011
The Economic And Social Losses On The Way
by Emily Spence, Countercurrents

What sorts of problems will exist in times ahead? What can we do to deal with them? A suggestion ...

At present, numerous environmental researchers are warning of future resource shortages. The list of them is large and includes water, oil, a variety of minerals and metals, as well as other materials.

Yet, most people carry on as if they do not hear the message at all. They refuse to cut back in their dreams of continuing economic growth.

In relation, part of the problem with them is perhaps an inability to make connections. For the most part, they seem to have little or no idea about the collective consequences of their individual behaviors.

For example, they can't walk into a super-sized Wal Mart or a mall and see the environmental destruction and energy use behind each type of product on the shelves, nor that the whole gargantuan conglomeration of products could cause a problem. They can't look at cotton goods or food and imagine the huge oceanic dead zones and the annihilation of many diverse organisms caused by farm runoff. They can't go to the paper isle and picture that, aside from all of the multitudes of items derived from timber, U.S. toilet paper use alone destroys thirteen million acres of forests per year, along with all life dependent on those forests.

Particularly the loggers, the paper mill operators, the truckers hauling raw materials and final products, and the store clerks don't want to visualize such images. They don't want to see their own roles in the process any more than do the people who, while complaining about the impacts of overpopulation on crowded highways, chose to have many children, which, of course, will lead to many more toilet paper purchases in times to come. In fact, they, like the individuals who wring their hands over mountaintop blowups for coal and the slaughter of indigenous forest dwellers by oil company hired thugs, don't want to be told of cut-backs of any types at all, let alone just bathroom paper.

Especially if they are fond of vacation travel or have seen their home energy use spike due to lots of appliances running at once, they don't want to picture that they possibly could be implicated in anything having to do with the downside of their lifestyles. They don't want to link their habits to the fact that over seventy percent of electricity in the U.S. comes from fossil fuels. They don't want to think that maybe their rising demand for oil at the pump or penchant for air travel is somehow indirectly related to the types of damage seen in the Amazon forests, the Appalachians, the Niger Delta or the Gulf of Mexico.

Above all, they do not want to be told that the economic growth is not coming back. They don't want to picture that life will dramatically change as the oil runs out while the price for it and everything dependent on it will continuously rise. They don't want to question about whether the capitalist system of economics will cause further ecological ruin and social inequality as it plays itself out.

Further, they don't want to consider that maybe they will be forced to change some of their life's major goals and the ways that they live in times to come due to a combination of factors, such as the coming energy power-down, climate change variables, diminishing resource bases and overpopulation. No, they, instead, want to rise up the socio-economic chain so as to be able to consume even more goods and, if they're particularly adept at obtaining riches, maybe even be able to purchase a vacation home, a yacht, an RV or some other coveted treasure.

Moreover, they don't want to imagine that maybe two groups will make out okay in times ahead and one of them probably won't be the (ever shrinking) middle class. They don't want to note that the successful ones just could be the very wealthy people, who can afford to buy anything regardless of its costliness and scarcity, and the people at the other end of the spectrum, who have simply walked away from the status quo to form self-sufficient farming communities, transition towns and egalitarian co-ops able to provide for the majority of their members' needs.

Instead, they simply want to envision that everything will get better overall in life after a spell. Yet, here we are all together stuck in a situation in which there exist seven billion humans all needing food, water, shelter and other things while increasing in number at a rate unprecedented in human history. All together, we're digging up and plowing every parcel of land on which we can manage to lay our hands. We're trawling and dredging every ocean and sea onto which we can stake our claims. We're damming every waterway that can be controlled. We're pumping and polluting the world's fresh water supply faster than it can be replenished, using up other resources in entirety, turning the Earth's oceans into acid, fouling the atmosphere, scarring the land with deep mining holes, blowing up mountains to extract their coal and, in exchange, creating mountains of trash.

Simultaneously, we're methodically ripping apart the planet's forests at the rate of about one acre per second, destroying multitudinous species one after another, creating climate change on a scale that staggers the imagination, and generating explosions of radiation to blow into every outdoors nook and cranny in existence. (Recent news headlines include Radiation Readings in Fukushima Reactor Rise to Highest Since Crisis Began. Imagine the hubris of a species that refuses to learn from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, such that even now the desire exists to build even more nuclear plants and A-bombs!)

At the same time, we're warring with each other over resources between and within nations, and always, always ... insisting upon more things to own. In relation, the proliferation of wants and needs is limitless.

So, we're demanding more food, more water, more construction for our ever burgeoning masses, more jobs and, especially, more spaces into which to fan out as we add 219,000 more humans every single day (eighty million people each year) while simultaneously displacing other types of life whose environments we take over in the process. Meanwhile, billions are sunk in poverty largely due to having already exceeded their regions' carrying capacity and, as they did so, they often took the last trees with them, just as had happened on Easter Island.

At some point, something has to give. The pattern, the rapacious ravage, cannot persist indefinitely. Indeed, it won't do so because the resource base, itself, is largely disappearing across the globe. The ocean fisheries are depleting and expected to run out by mid-century. Climate change has brought pine and spruce beetles in such high numbers that they are eating millions upon millions of acres of trees and spreading out everywhere that they can, much like their human counterparts.

Concurrently, methane is releasing from underwater beds and permafrost to join the carbon releases from humanity's use of fossil fuel from rich underground deposits that took millions of years to form, and that will be gone in the blink of a century's time. In relation, the looming climate change effects will be horrendous and will curtail many areas of human activities.

Yet, the main reason that the whole mess will be curbed is a simple one: Infinite growth, whether economic growth or population growth, cannot continue indefinitely. As the economist Kenneth Ewart Boulding reputedly said, "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

Accordingly, one can envision that a crash is coming -- one far worse than the current recession. In large measure, it's because environmental tipping points are on the way and, for those people in the worst locations for the collapse -- the desperation, conflicts and chaos will likely be horrific in scale and ferocity.

How could they not be when our governments and the status quo do not encourage our transitioning to a steady state economy, business based on regionalized commerce and a cooperative inclusive economic arrangement rather than out of control global competition? How can further troubles not come into being when a vicious globalized capitalist system is in existence for which maximal profits, not people and their needs, is always the overriding goal? Despite its desirably from many standpoints, how can an alternative scheme be put in place when it bumps up against the prevailing paradigm and the corporatists -- the powerful über-elites that control the gargantuan transnational companies and our fawning government toadies?

All considered, the best course of action, unless one is incredibly affluent, is to run for the hills -- almost quite literally so. Under the circumstance, it could be sensible to find a quiet niche somewhere in which there's already a community in place whose members have the appropriate skills sets, constructive understandings and a supportive intact surrounding environment so as to be able to create a largely self-reliant way of life. Even though such a change could be hard, the option of doing nothing different could become increasingly problematic in light of the further social and ecological breakdown that's assuredly on the way.

Emily Spence is an author living in Massachusetts. She has spent many years involved in human rights, environmental and social services efforts.

  Read The Economic And Social Losses On The Way
  January 20, 2017
Individual Responsibility
by John Scales Avery, Life/Philosophy Countercurrents

The duty of individuals living under an unjust government.

There are many governments today that can be described unjust, and some that even deserve to be called fascist. What is the duty of the individual citizen, living under such a government? What was the duty of a German, living under Hitler? The thoughts of Thoreau, Tolstoy, Gandhi and Martin Luther King can help us answer this question. The Nuremberg Principles can also help us to answer it.

Henry David Thoreau and Civil Disobedience

We usually think of Thoreau (1817-1862) as a pioneer of ecology and harmony with nature, but he was also a pioneer of non-violent civil disobedience. Thoreau refused to pay his poll tax because of his opposition to the Mexican War and to the institution of slavery. Because of his refusal to pay the tax (which was in fact a very small amount) he spent a night in prison.

To Thoreau\s irritation, his family paid the poll tax for him and he was released. He then wrote down his ideas on the subject in an essay entitled “The Duty of Civil Disobedience”, where he maintains that each person has a duty to follow his own individual conscience even when it conflicts with the orders of his government.

“Under a government that which imprisons any unjustly”, Thoreau wrote, “the true place for a just man is in prison.”

Thoreau’s “The Duty of Civil Disobedience” influenced Martin Luther King, and it anticipated the Nuremberg Principles.


Tolstoy: The Kingdom of God is Within You

As an old man, Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) had achieved all of the goals that humans normally set for themselves. He was extremely wealthy, happily married, with a large family, and he was universally acknowledged to be the greatest living novelist in the world. Nevertheless, he began to search desparately for life’s meaning. His books “The Kingdom of God is Within You” and “What Then Shall We Do?” describe this search, and the answers that he found.

“I searched for enlightenment everywhere in the hard-won accumulated knowledge of mankind”, he wrote. “I searched passionately and long, not in a lazy way, but with my whole soul, day and night. I searched like a drowning man looking for safety, and found nothing. I searched all the sciences, and not only did I find nothing, but I also came to the conclusion that everyone who, like myself, had searched in the sciences for life’s meaning had also found nothing.

“I then diligently studied the teachings of Buddhism and Islam in the holy books of those religions; but most of all I studied Christianity as I met it in the holy Scriptures and in the living Christians around me…

“I began to approach the believers among the poor, simple ignorant people: pilgrims, monks and peasants… The whole life of Christians of our own circle seemed to be a contradiction of their faith. By contrast, the whole life of Christians of the peasant class was an affirmation of the view of life which their religious faith gave to them. I looked more and more deeply into the faith of these people, and the more deep my insight became, the more I became convinced that they had a genuine belief, that their faith was essential to them, and that it was their faith alone which gave their life a meaning and made it possible for them to live… I developed a love for these simple people.”

Moved by the misery of the urban poor whom he encountered in the slums of Moscow, Tolstoy wrote: “Between us, the rich and the poor, there is a wall of false education, a before we can help the poor, we must first tear down that wall. I was forced to the conclusion that our own wealth is the true cause of the misery of the poor.”

Tolstoys book, “What Then Must We Do?”, tells of his experiences in the slums and analyses the causes of poverty. Tolstoy felt that the professed Christian belief of the Czarist state was a thin cosmetic layer covering a structure that was fundamentally built on violence. Violence was used to maintain a huge gap between the rich and the poor, and violence was used in international relations.

Tolstoy felt especially keenly the contradiction between Christianity and war. In a small book entitled “The Kingdom of God is Within Us” he wrote: “All other contradictions are insignificant compared with the contradiction which now faces humankind in international relations. and which cries out for a solution, since it brings the very existence of civilization into danger. This is the contradiction between the Christian conscience and war.

“All of the Christian peoples of the world, who all follow one and the same spiritual life, so that any good and fruitful thought which is put forward in any corner of the world is immediately communicated to all of Christiandom, where it arouses feelings of pride and happiness in us regardless of our nationality; we who simply love the thinkers, humanitarians, and poets of other countries; we who not only admire their achievements, but also feel delight in meeting them and greet them with friendly smiles; we will all be forced by the state to participate in a murderous war against these same people, a war which if it does not break out today will do so tomorrow.

“…The sharpest of all contradictions can be seen between the governments professed faith in the Christian law of the brotherhood of all humankind, and the military laws of the state, which force each young man to prepare himself for enmity and murder, so that each must be simultaneously a Christian and a gladiator.”


In 1894, the young Indian lawyer, Mohandas K. Gandhi, (who was then working for the civil rights of Indians in South Africa), read Tolstoys books on Christianity and was greatly influenced by them. Gandhi wrote a review of “The Kingdom of God is Within Us”, and in 1909 he sent Tolstoy an account

of the activities of the civil rights movement in South Africa. He received a reply in which Tolstoy said:

“…The longer I live, and especially now, when I vividly feel the nearness of death, the more I want to tell others what I feel so particularly clearly and what to my mind is of great importance, namely that which is called passive resistance, but which is in reality nothing else but the teaching of love, uncorrupted by false interpretations. That love, i.e. the striving for the union of human souls and the activity derived from that striving, is the highest and only law of human life, and in the depth of his soul every human being knows this (as we most clearly see in children); he knows this until he is entangled in the false teachings of the world.

“This law was proclaimed by all, by the Indian as by the Chinese, Hebrew, Greek and Roman sages of the world. I think that this law was most clearly expressed by Christ, who plainly said that in this alone is all the law and the prophets…

“…The peoples of the Christian world have solemnly accepted this law, while at the same time they have permitted violence and built their lives on violence; and that is why the whole life of the Christian peoples is a continuous contradiction between what they profess, and the principles on which they order their lives,  a contradiction between love accepted as the law of life, and violence which is recognized and praised, acknowledged even as a necessity in different phases of life, such as the power of rulers, courts, and armies…”

Both in the struggle for civil rights in South Africa, and afterwards in the struggle for the independence of India, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) demonstrated that non-violent civil disobedience can be an extremely effective political force.

Today we read almost every day of killings that are part of escalating cycles of revenge and counter-revenge, for example in the Middle East. Gandhi’s experiences both in South Africa and in India convinced him that such cycles could only be ended by unilateral acts of kindness and understanding from one of the parties in a conflict. He said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

To the insidious argument that “the end justifies the means”, Gandhi answered firmly: “they say that ‘means are after all means’. I would say that ‘means are after all everything’. As the means, so the end. Indeed, the Creator has given us limited power over means, none over end… The means may be likened to a seed, and the end to a tree; and there is the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree. Means and end are convertible terms in my philosophy of life.”

Gandhi’s advocacy of non-violence is closely connected to his attitude towards ends and means. He believed that violent methods for achieving a desired social result would inevitably result in an escalation of violence. The end achieved would always be contaminated by the methods used. As mentioned above, he was influenced by Leo Tolstoy with whom he exchanged many letters. Gandhi in turn influenced Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Gandhi believed that at their core, all religions are based on the concepts of truth, love, compassion, nonviolence and the Golden Rule. When asked whether he was a Hindu, Gandhi answered, “Yes I am. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew.” When praying at his ashram, Gandhi made a point of including prayers from many religions.

Martin Luther King

The son of a southern Baptist minister, Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968) received his Ph.D. in theology from Boston University in 1955. During his studies, he had admired Thoreau’s essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” and he had also been greatly moved by the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.

Martin Luther King Jr. had been pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama for only a year when he was chosen to lead a boycott protesting segregation in the Montgomery buses. Suddenly thrust into this situation of intense conflict, he remembered both the Christian principle of non-violent protest. In his first speech as President of the Montgomery Improvement Association (a speech which the rapid pace of events had forced him to prepare in only twenty minutes, five of which he spent in prayer), he said:

“Our method will be that of persuasion, not coercion. We will only say to people, ‘Let your conscience be your guide’. Our actions must be guided by the deepest principles of our Christian faith. Love must be our regulating ideal. Once again we must hear the words of Jesus echoing across the centuries: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.’ If we fail to do this, our protest will end up as a meaningless drama on the stage of history, and its memory will be shrouded by the ugly garments of shame.

“In spite of the mistreatment that we have confronted, we must not become bitter and end up by hating our white brothers. As Booker T. Washington said, ‘Let no man pull you down so low as to make you hate him.’

“If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say, ‘There lived a great people, a black people, who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.’ This is our challenge and our overwhelming responsibility.”

In 1967, a year before his assassination, Dr. King forcefully condemned the Viet Nam war in an address at a massive peace rally in New York City. He felt that opposition to war followed naturally from his advocacy of non-violence.

In his book “Strength to Love”, Dr. King wrote, “Wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete… I am convinced that the Church cannot be silent while mankind faces the threat of nuclear annihilation. If the Church is true to her mission, she must call for an end to the nuclear arms race.”

The Nuremberg Principles

In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously affirmed “the principles of international law recognized by the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the judgement of the Tribunal”. The General Assembly also established an International Law Commission to formalize the Nuremberg Principles. The result was a list which included Principle VI (a), which is particularly important in the context of individual responsibility:

Principle VI: The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

  1. a) Crimes against peace:

I Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

II Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for accomplishment of any of the acts under (I),

Robert H. Jackson, who was the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials said that “To initiate a war of aggression is therefore not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Furthermore, the Nuremberg Principles state that “The fact that a person acted persuant to an order of his Government or a superior does not relieve him of responsibility under international law, provided that a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

The training of soldiers is designed to make the trainees into automatons, who have surrendered all powers of moral judgement to their superiors. The Nuremberg Principles put the burden of responsibility squarely where it ought to be: on the shoulders of each indiviidual.

Each individual citizen must recognize his or her responsibility for preventing catastrophic climate change.

Modern warfare cannot function without the cooperation of scientists and technicians. They must accept their responsibility and refuse to be part of an institution that threatens the world with a genocidal and all-destroying thermonuclear war.

We must all say, as the American poet Millay did, “I shall die, but that is all I shall do for Death… I am not on his payrole.”

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 avery.john.s@gmail.com

  Read Individual Responsibility
 January 28, 2017
Global Warming: We Are Living In Dangerous Times
by Countercurrents Editor, Climate Change

When Countercurrents.org started 15 years ago CO2 level in the atmosphere was 372 ppm. In the last 15 years it increased only at the rate of less than 2 ppm/year. This year we are seeing a jump of 3.5 ppm over the past year. United Nations climate change secretariat tweeted “January Mauna Loa record shows atmospheric CO2 concentration accelerating, now at 406 ppm and +3.5 ppm over last year”

No, we don’t have an El Nino effect as an excuse this year. Have we crossed the threshold? Tipping point? Point of no return?

By the way, US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Nareandra Modi says global warming is a hoax. Should we believe in science or should we believe in politicians?

Isn’t it time that a movement to protect planet earth grew from below that demands accountabilitiy from our politicians?

  Read Global Warming: We Are Living In Dangerous Times
  January 30, 2017
Black Snakes On The Move: Pipeline Expansion Out of Control.
by Teressa Rose Ezell, Environmental Protection Countercurrents

A Lakota prophecy tells of a mythic Black Snake that will move underground and bring destruction to the Earth. The “seventh sign” in Hopi prophecy involves the ocean turning black and bringing death to many sea-dwelling creatures. It doesn’t take an over-active imagination to make a connection between these images and oil pipelines and spills.

It’s troubling enough that the growing “Black Snake” has branched out at an alarming rate, forming a massive subterranean coast-to-coast web. But to make matters worse, the nefarious reptile seems to suffer from leaky gut syndrome, so that it functions as a toxic underground sprinkler system, spreading gas, oil, and poisonous byproducts everywhere it goes—including into waterways and drinking water sources.

Protest actions against major pipelines such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline have called attention to the potentially devastating effects of pipelines, but much of the general public still doesn’t understand the scope of the existing and proposed pipeline network in the US and around the globe. Executive actions by Donald Trump just four days into his presidency practically guarantee expedited approval for DAPL, as well as for Keystone XL. This indicates, among other things, that the maze of oil and gas pipelines in the US will continue to expand at an unprecedented and reckless pace.

The US is already home to approximately 2.5 million miles of underground gas and oil pipeline. For the sake of comparison, only one other country exceeds 100,000 pipeline miles: Russia, with 161,502 miles. Canada places third, with just over 62,000 miles of pipeline, and all other countries fall far below that, with most containing fewer than 10,000 pipeline miles.

Over 72,000 miles of the US conduits carry crude oil, and more than 20 pipelines directly threaten Native lands. The reach of the “Black Snake” is mind boggling, especially considering that every one of these pipelines has already contributed to or is almost certain to contribute to the ongoing devastation of Mother Earth.

Effectively opposing new pipelines and pipeline extensions will require the active participation of thousands, if not millions, of determined citizens. Water is necessary for the life of every person on the planet, and the seriousness of the current situation compels each and every one of us to become involved to the greatest extent feasible.

The Dakota Access Pipeline remains a serious threat, not only to the water supply and sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, but to all waterways and lands along the pipeline’s 1,200-mile path through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. This monstrosity is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. The heroic water protectors at Standing Rock have achieved much, but now the ground they’ve gained must be fought for all over again. With the stroke of a poisonous presidential pen, Trump has already managed to betray both long-standing treaty and recent agreement, bringing dishonor and disgrace on the US government while jeopardizing water supplies and planetary well-being.

There are a number of other significant pipeline battles that must be fought with the same tenacity that the water protectors have shown at Standing Rock, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Diamond Pipeline, the Atlantic Sunrise expansion to the Transco Pipeline, the Transmountain Pipeline expansion, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, the Pilgrim Pipeline, the Trans-Pecos and Comanche Trail Pipelines, the Algonquin Incremental Pipeline, the Alberta Clipper pipeline expansion project, Northern Gateway Pipeline, and more. Some of these projects involve the transport of natural gas, while others will carry refined or crude oil—including the particularly filthy Bakken oil.

The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), which has an anticipated construction start date of mid-2017, will—if allowed to proceed—carry fracked natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions along a route beginning in northwestern West Virginia and ending in southern Virginia, with a detour into Pennsylvania. Objections to the project include the conduit’s proximity (one-tenth of a mile in some places) to two major water supplies and countless residential wells. The MVP would cross 377 bodies of water, the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway, and could adversely affect thousands of acres of forest habitat.

The Diamond Pipeline, which was approved in August of 2016, is intended to transport “sweet” crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, across Arkansas, to the Valero Memphis (Tennessee) Refinery. Along the way, the Diamond will cross the Arkansas River, the Illinois Bayou, the White River, St. Francis River, and the Mississippi River.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Diamond Pipeline is its point of origin. Cushing, Oklahoma, is the self-proclaimed “Pipeline Crossroads of the World,” a title proudly announced on signs placed at the entrances and exits to the town, which was once a part of the Sac and Fox reservations. The “tank farm,” which occupies several square miles, is one of the largest oil storage facilities in the world, and thirteen major pipelines run into and out of the busy hub.

As if pipeline leaks and spills weren’t enough cause for concern, the area surrounding Cushing has recently become incredibly earthquake prone, thanks to the large number of waste-water injection wells. The US Geological Survey reports 825 earthquakes of a 1.5 magnitude or greater in the Cushing area between January 14, 2016 and the same date in 2017, with an alarming 5.8 record-setter in nearby Pawnee in September 2016. If Arkansas water protectors do not succeed in halting construction, the Diamond Pipeline will add one more spoke to Cushing’s mammoth oil storage hub, and will become a major conduit spreading pollution and potential devastation across Arkansas, a state that has for years been promoted as “the Natural State.”

Each of the planned, proposed, and under-construction pipelines listed above is deserving of strong opposition, as are the many other pipelines still in the planning and approval stages. Why? Because they are dangerous, as evidenced by the number of leaks, spills, and explosions.

In the six-year period between 2010 and 2016, 4,215 pipeline incidents occurred. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration reports that pipeline accidents between 2010 and 2015 were responsible for a total of 7 million gallons of crude oil being leaked into surrounding soil and waterways, and the as-yet-untallied quantities lost in 2016 and early 2017 incidents will add significantly to that total. Many of the existing pipelines are old and poorly maintained, and for some reason, the newer pipelines are even more accident prone.

Human error causes some of the pipeline accidents, while natural occurrences are responsible for others. In 2013, for example, lightning struck a pipeline in North Dakota, causing 840,000 gallons of crude oil to spill onto a nearby wheat field. One wonders what will happen when the ongoing swarm of fracking-related Oklahoma earthquakes damages the Cushing oil storage tanks or the pipelines connected to the facility.

Oil pollutes the water and land, sickens, and kills. Natural gas contributes to climate change, pollutes the air, and explodes. Oil and gas pipelines create temporary jobs for a relative few and permanent jobs for a small handful.

In the long run, the only people who benefit financially from the “Black Snake” are the already wealthy oil corporations. The oil industry gives new meaning to the term “filthy rich,” while individuals living near petrochemical plants contend with chronic respiratory illnesses and high rates of cancer. With so many clean, green energy sources ready to be put into place, there is no reason to allow the Lakota legend of the planet-destroying Black Snake to become a permanent and fatal reality.

The turnaround will not happen easily. In fact, it will be quite a struggle. Greed is strong, and the oil corporations wield unreasonable power—and now they have even more friends in high places, including the one who may as well be referred to as the CEO of the USA. But the previous halting of the Keystone XL, and the tenuous and seemingly temporary victory at Standing Rock have proven that it is indeed possible to make a difference with determination and solidarity.

The frightening number of proposed pipelines and the fact that those pipelines will likely receive swift approval make it clear that the battle for Mother Earth is indeed a war. This war cannot be won by an unknown, faceless “them,” because there is no “them.” There is only us, and each and every one of us is needed—now.

Teressa Rose Ezell is a St. Louis writer and activist. She and her family live in the Tower Grove South neighborhood, where she was her district’s Green Party candidate for the Missouri House of Representatives. Teressa can be reached at teressa.rose.ezell@gmail.com, or connect via Facebook.
A version of this article appeared in greensocialthought.org

  Read Black Snakes On The Move: Pipeline Expansion Out of Control
 February 11, 2017
Scenario Homo sapiens
by David Anderson, Life/Philosophy, Countercurrents

A metamorphosis of the human mind far surpassing others seen throughout history will be occurring. Humans finally will have come to an understanding of a harsh reality; by their own actions and inactions they have brought on the beginning of their end. A painful lesson will have been learned, one forcing them to accept the fact that their continued existence on Planet Earth is dependent on their ability to live in consonance with its natural rhythm, even broken as that rhythm has become.

Recent global temperatures these last two years have been the highest in recorded history. CO2 ppm has now reached the 400 level. It is estimated that the 450 level will be reached by 2030 and will continue to rise. Then, far higher temperatures leading to events such as a methane hydrate feedback loop could occur.

Given this dismal futuristic scenario, two questions arise: Will Homo sapiens survive on Planet Earth? And if it does survive, how?

Here I will make the case for survival; however, only after pain and suffering of enormous proportion. Also I will describe how this pain and suffering will bring about change. I will also describe how this change will result in a planetary/cosmic interdependency far removed from the interdependency that brought human civilization to the present religious philosophical economic scientific industrial Age we live in today.

Pain and suffering among humans is not new. As we moved forward past the hunter/gatherer stage, at each step along the way our species endured pain and suffering. After that pain and suffering there always followed adjustments in political, economic, social and religious thought and the institutions that supported that thought.

After disintegration, there always follows a “transition” leading to a new period. At first the transition moves slowly. Then it gathers steam and builds in intensity. There is never a sudden epiphany, no visitation from god or the gods above, no sudden global understanding that brings on sudden normalcy.

As the ecological events begin to unfold for our civilization and powerful planetary forces begin to cascade, tipping points being reached, we can conclude that the same process will unfold.

We are about to enter a period of such change as a result of our present abuse of the planet. A short description of the 100/200 year scenario follows:

Temperatures will be far higher than now. Weather patterns and over-use will be extremely damaging to agricultural production. The coastal cities will all be gone. Acidification in the oceans will have destroyed much of the fish and crustacean food stock. Population size at the 8/9 billion level will be pressing on all available resources. In order for humans to exist away from harsh climatic and atmospheric conditions, self-contained enclosed structures will be needed in parts of the planet.

Following is a capsule description of the transition leading to the end of the scenario. Reaching it will take time:

As the above scenario is unfolding, a global body politic will begin to find empowerment through a revision of collective world consciousness on an intellectual level. Groups of rational individuals will gain power and begin to institute meaningful change. This will be preceded by successive waves of anxiety reverberating throughout the general population. All levels of society will finally come to the realization that Homo sapiens may be facing its end. Ecological tipping points will be the stimulus bringing on a new form of human consciousness and willingness to adapt and accept social, political, economic and religious change. Expressed in metaphysical terms; there will be a change in human consciousness that will forge a new form of human life perspective.

The obstinacy and lack of desire to understand, being witnessed today, will slowly give way to a world-wide understanding of both ecological and human planetary/cosmic reality. This will begin to form in 25/50 years. High speed internet will be one of the reasons to make this so. Almost every human being will be interconnected by way of the internet through visual imaging and simultaneous language translation. Scientists will be disseminating information on the internet detailing the ecological breakdown and offering “reality” explanations for the ecological disturbances. Realization that society must recognize the ecological forces working against species survival will be entering the public mind on a universal scale.

As “panic” stages build, political leaders will be taking steps to maintain power by making their countries habitable for themselves and their constituents. A political/financial elite in each advanced country will attempt to preserve its status quo by maintaining self-serving law and order internally through existing institutions. Ecological matters will be made important, but not all important. At the same time a broad range of internal fixes will come into play. International institutions will take on an key role. At the global political level, climate and other forms of ecological treaties will be signed. Humanitarian organizations will also play an active role. What is important to understand here is that all of these 21st century “fixes” will be coming out of past institutional and cultural frameworks and as such they will not be capable of solving the underlying ecological problems; any more than would those institutional and cultural frameworks from past ages such as a transplanted 3000 BCE Egyptian framework or a 400 BCE Greek framework or a 100 BCE Roman framework or a 1776 AD American framework. The point here is that an entirely new societal architecture will be required.

As seen today, quasi political organizations will attempt to have their say. They will want to dominate the conversation in order to protect their private their interests. They will use every means of coercion available to them to exercise power over the masses so as to achieve their objectives, including methods such as marginalizing data. These organizations will include Army Brass, political and religious groupings, unions, corporations and individuals with extreme privilege and wealth. In the face of the ecological downturn taking place, they will go to extraordinary ends to preserve their power in society. However; more often than not, their objectives will not coincide with the public interest or human survival, and they will ultimately fail, if for no other reason than that they will not be able to offer lasting solutions to the ecological catastrophe clearly and visibly unfolding before all humanity.

As the suffering for billions continues, there will be attempts in most countries—at least those not in complete chaos, to implement some form of internal societal architecture. Spearheading this will be a new generation of enlightened individuals following new and radically advanced political, religious, social and economic formulae designed for sustainability. After prolonged and bitter challenges from traditionalists and deniers of all sorts, these new movements country by country will at some stage take on a universal force of their own. Internet communication and educational institutions will play a large role.

The planet will see the beginning of the dominance of a new human ethic. It will come from an intellectual elite who will place value on not only human life but all life lived in consonance with the energies of the planet. This intellectual elite will remove value from any form of human behavior that destroys the regeneration of planet. The ethic will penetrate all human thought and action. It will do more than just add appendages to existing ethics.

As this change is building, a new form of ecologically congruent authoritative leadership will be given extraordinary political power. The central organizing principal will be the setting out of rules of conduct that can assure the survival of human life on Planet Earth. Political, social and economic changes that would not have been acceptable in years past will be readily accepted. There will be broad consensus. Opposition will be muted.

The adjustment over a 100/200 year period will be brought on by extreme pain and suffering. Overpopulation and rapidly deteriorating living conditions will persist throughout much of the planet. Billions will be caught in the storm. Change will occur organically in the more advanced countries. In some it will come by way of top down beneficent authoritarianism.

Even those “privileged” elite who first gamed the system by isolating themselves and their families and friends from the contagion will be impacted by the scarcity of available resources. Additionally, outbursts of violent civil conflict will be reaching them wherever they are.

Many of the collective archetypal symbols; religious, social, political, economic and other, grounded at the deepest level of human anthropological consciousness; symbols that had since the Sumerian period propelled humans over the many generations to think and to act as they did, that have now become antithetical to human survival will begin to see their end, if for no reason other than from the collapse of those societies in which they have had their presence. The fear of extinction will be blotting old archetypal symbols out of the collective psyche. A feeling of desperation will be driving them out.

At this stage in our discussion an important question must be addressed. Will this inevitably lead to repressive Orwellian police states or even a single world police state? The answer is No. Humans have come a long way intellectually. Cooperative action among a critical mass of the population will bring about a collective determination to foster needed changes without the violent authoritarian rule of yesteryear. At the same time one would be naïve to assume that order will come about without some forms of violent authoritarianism exercised in spasmodic fashion. Human innate behavior has always leaned toward this.

It must be acknowledged that even beneficent authoritarian change is fraught with the risk of failure. There is unpredictability in human affairs. The desire for more and more power is deeply ingrained in the human psyche; in combination with deception and egoistic behavior to attain and preserve that power. Sigmund Freud and his accurate analysis of human nature showed this to be true. History has proved Freud right. Given this observation, we can conclude that as environmental tipping points are reached and humanity enters into an age of ecological collapse, violent counterproductive patterns of egoistic authoritarian behavior will come to the surface. Those in authority following the path of non-violence and reason will again and again lose control. Charismatic power-seeking individuals in nation states will take control. Counter forces will build and then erupt beyond the ability of existing beneficent authority to contain them. As this is occurring, the carnage throughout the planet could become very “ugly.” Cyber, atomic, chemical warfare could make use of that word an understatement.

We should note however that the overall planetary trauma will nevertheless be forcing constructive solutions very broadly. At the same time, as noted above, the internet and educational facilities will be working to propagate constructive information. There will be an increasing educational level of the world population overall. International organizations also will be playing a positive role in this regard.

As a result, there is a strong likelihood that out of the confusion a new form of global governance will evolve. Its primary function, as we see in much of governance today, will be to provide citizens with protection against themselves. Human strength and determination at some point along the way will trump chaos. People will come to understand that the past has been too horrific to be repeated.

This new form of governance will not find its power in the broadly based democratic process that had become a part of many advanced Nations. Nor will it follow any particular Eastern model. It will find its power within the confines of a sensitized public conversation among an informed powerful global intellectual elite centered on the care of mind, body and spirit of Homo sapiens, as well as all other life and all non life on the planet. This cadre will be heavily populated by scientists from all fields. Social theorists will assume a key role. Economic theory will take on an entirely new form. The physical sciences will become an all important part of the decision making process. Their aim will be to assure planetary preservation and continuation.

On a personal level the elite governing group will necessarily be without special privilege materially. This is an important point. We have already seen such behavior in isolated pockets of our civilization; Jesus, Gandhi, the Buddha for example. And there have been very many others. Human society will have recognized that Kleptocracy must be a thing of the past.

The population on the planet will allow these empowered persons broad powers, but only as long as they demonstrate an understanding of the need for planetary survival. Yet, the process will not be democratic as we define that term today. The masses will have come to understand that the stakes will be too high to return governance to them in the Western democratic model of the past, with its bent toward dominance of special interests among the economically and politically privileged.

A new form of jurisprudence will arise based on penalties for crimes against Planet Earth and human society. The good of the planet and every life form on it will take precedence over all else. It will be grounded on an empirically formulated global ethic. The long term survival and welfare of the human species will set the foundation for this jurisprudence. Crimes against misuse of the planet and harm to society will take on a far more clear definition than is seen today. These crimes will take center stage and make the individual personally responsible. To illustrate; expressed in today’s framework of today’s corporate structure, (The corporate form as we know it will cease to exist.) this new form of jurisprudence will take away protection of executives and employees who knowingly deceive the public and cause harm.

This reinvention of the powers of the state will grow out of past lessons learned. Ultimately, they will be accepted by a critical mass of the global population, if for no other reason than that people will see no other way to escape from the unfolding pain and suffering caused by a broken ecological and political/judicial system. They will be powers giving meaning to the actions of the state in a way that transcends today’s democratic and judicial powers and directs humans to acknowledge that they live in a finite world and only by living in consonance with all of Nature, and each other, can they survive. As such, the changes will be accepted universally.

Some of these futuristic ideas may seem improbable and even unthinkable to the reader in the context of the relative instability of today’s world and its political systems; however, it must be kept in mind that the veil of death will be fast closing in on all corners of human civilization and a critical mass of the population will have become very much aware of that frightening reality. Also, one should recognize that abrupt shifts in political systems and social cohesion have occurred throughout history. For example, Alexander in his conquests forced cultural change on those in the Persian Empire. Communism in 1917 very quickly overwhelmed an ancient and solidified hierarchal Russian state. We must also keep in mind though that in almost all cases abrupt change was accompanied by extreme suffering. However, it should be recognized that change also can come without violence. Certainly the Swedish political model today is far different from what it was one hundred years ago. This was accomplished without violence. With each new generation comes an advanced perspective and understanding of the world, at least among the educated.

The road, unfortunately, will not be a Swedish one. As outlined here, there will be enormous pain and suffering. However; after the obstacles been overcome, the understanding of each and every individual in society will be far elevated. It will be molded into a new understanding of common purpose; by which each person becomes an integral part of planetary human societal unity. This common purpose and planetary unity can be broadly defined as one where every person has the opportunity to achieve his or her societal goals within the confines/constraints of ecological balance. This concept of balance will replace the western emphasis on the singularity and freedom of the human. Nature will no longer be seen as the servant of humanity to be used and abused at will. An understanding of the “oneness” of all life on Planet Earth will take its place. Accordingly, many concepts built on our Western Abrahamic Greco-Roman past will be redefined. This will call for a new understanding and definition not only of the “personhood” of each human life but also the sacredness of all other life on the planet.

This redefined definition of common purpose and planetary unity will be spreading throughout the human population. With transformation will emerge belief in shared responsibility for broad societal planetary goals. A critical mass will come to realize that the more shared is this responsibility, the more stable becomes the society, and the greater the chance for the individual to achieve his or her “personhood.” Over time this understanding will become part of the fabric of governance. Out of this transformation a human/planetary interdependency will arise, as well as recognition of cosmic interdependency.

Humans finally will have come to an understanding of a harsh reality; by their own actions and inactions they have brought on the beginning of their end. A painful lesson will have been learned, one forcing them to accept the fact that their continued existence on Planet Earth is dependent on their ability to live in consonance with its natural rhythm, even broken as that rhythm has now become.

A metamorphosis of the human mind far surpassing others seen throughout history will be occurring. It will be grounded on a deeper understanding of the complexity of human life as well as its planetary and cosmic purpose. Humans will see themselves as a form of intelligence able to participate in the unfolding mystery of the universe. Secular naturalistic humanism in some form will open itself to this new form of cosmic determinative thought. Many past philosophical and religious beliefs will be recast into this new perspective.

All matter (substance) in the cosmos will be seen as having a complementary purpose. The desire of every person to find within him and her that complementary purpose will be the new religious force taking the place of the old. This vision of purpose will manifest itself in each person as an intense desire to fill his and her unique role—and share responsibility for the survival of not just him or her life but for all other life on the planet.

Not that the dark side of human nature will suddenly be “lobotomized.” Deviant behavior will continue as an interactive self-destructive part of the human psyche. And it will remain a serious social problem. However, the vast majority of humans will learn to live their lives within a narrow band of acceptable behavior supported by rules designed to check their primitive impulses. The evolutionary drives that are the worst part of their nature and have led to consumptive abuse of the planet—and each other, will be brought under control. As generations pass, these antisocial behavioral patterns will only be noticeable as random psychotic outbursts.

A new form of economics will take on an important role. It will not be like any form from the past; communist central planning or free-market laissez-faire. The resource-exploitive capital market system as it exists today will be transformed into a constrained algorithmic driven, yet incentive directed, market system emphasizing the equitable provision of both the material and psychological needs of all humanity. The ecological long term functionality of all the earth’s resources will take on the highest priority. Today’s energy intensive market driven consumerism will end. Croplands, grasslands, forests, fisheries and inorganic resources will be subject to strict surveillance and control so as to be able to meet human population needs while at the same time preventing exploitation.

As the environmental collapse becomes worse, past economic experiments such as the one that began with the Enlightenment and then the Industrial Revolution will be exposed for those parts that have become social as well as planetary failures. As an example; in the search for new economic theories, the concept of negative externalities in pricing will take on far broader meaning. That meaning will be used to measure every human economic activity. Economic outcomes with negative social and/or ecological value will not be tolerated. The world will have learned the importance of making incorrect judgments for resource allocation. It will have learned that neither free-markets nor central planning can be trusted. It will have learned that every investment decision must lead to a socially and ecologically constructive outcome. Questions such as; is it delivering real worth to society and to the health of the planet will be intensely debated. The conclusions will determine the ultimate value and external cost of every good and service that enters the marketplace. Investment decisions that do not recognize negative externalities will not be tolerated, nor will speculation without social usefulness, nor will transactions that simply shift money and privilege around in the financial markets. An entirely new form of economic/monetary theory will emerge.

Population control will also play an important role. Family and end of life planning will assure a population size able to live within the balance of planetary sustainability.

Since many “tipping” points will already have been reached, the general population will have come to understand that as the end of the human species hangs in the balance and a return to the old way of thought is not an option, those who refuse to accept this and become a social and ecological threat to human civilization will be incarcerated or eliminated. Preventive wars against nations both failed and functioning that will not accept the new world order will be rationalized by way of an ecological justification. Individuals who are caught “cheating” the system will be removed from the system. Those with uncontrollable psychotic problems will be institutionalized.

There will be no compromises, nor can there be. The capacity of the human species to destroy the planet and its own existence on it will be well understood. Finally after many years of denial, a new Age will have begun. Fear of extinction will drive humans to accept a new form of behavior.

We leave this on a cautionary note. The fact is; science has not been able to determine conclusively how far climatic tipping points could take us. Global temperatures could rise to the range of 66 Celsius (150 degrees Fahrenheit) and beyond in vast areas of the planet bringing on ocean water rise by 61 meters (200 feet) thus inundating land mass now inhabited by over half of the world’s population and destroying vast agricultural land.

We are living in dangerous times.
David Anderson brings together a wide range of interests in his writings, namely; theology, history, evolutionary anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, and economics.

He has written three books. A fourth is near completion. It is about a necessary geo political, social, religious, economic paradigm shift for human survival.

See: http://www.inquiryabraham.com/new-book.html

David is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Hawaii (Harvard Asia Pacific) Advanced Management Program. Over his career he was an international risk manager and senior executive at several of America’s premier multinational institutions.

  Read Scenario Homo sapiens
 February 14, 2017
Civilization Falls: A New Culture Emerges
by William H Kotke , Countercurrents

The human species cannot exist in perpetuity on the earth unless it lives in biological balance with the life around it. Running a net deficit drawdown of the earth’s fertility will not work. Is it not strange that children can understand this statement but world leaders cannot?
Ten thousand years in the past, the earth existed in a condition of health. This was a condition in which all of the earth’s ecosystems existed in ecological climax. When we experience a wound on our bodies, first a scab is formed and then gradually it returns to a condition of health as it originally existed. Ecosystems function in the same manner. After a wound such as fire or flood, the “first aid” group moves in, the pioneer species, which are usually annual forbs and grasses. As the bodies of these plants ultimately becomes soil the soil chemistry is prepared for the next succession which normally would be small bushes and larger forbs. As the progression continues, larger bushes, small trees, larger trees and then finally back to the climax of high species diversity which maintains itself in a state of equilibrium and health.
For several million years the human species was successful in maintaining balance with nature. When agriculture first began, the earth was in a state of health. With farming and herding humans began to drain the ecosystems of their fertility in order to collect “surpluses.” Soils became exhausted, deforestation occurred and overgrazing was rampant.
Half of China was once a thriving temperate zone forest, the Indus Valley was once a thriving semi-arid grasslands, Mesopotamia, once considered an Eden, now has one third of the soils (of Iraq) so salted from Babylonian irrigation five thousand years ago it still cannot be used. The deforestation and over grazing of that watershed has caused the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to extend their mouths into the Gulf for one hundred and eighty five miles, all filled in by erosion material from that watershed!
North Africa was considered to be the “breadbasket” of both the Greek and Roman empires. Now that semi-arid ecosystem is gone and some of the ports from which the grain, meat and hides were shipped are ten and fifteen miles from the water, all filled in with erosion material. With the advance of civilization, the great forests of Europe were destroyed as well as the migrating salmon and much of the wildlife.
When the Industrial Revolution began, European population began to explode and ultimately an estimated five hundred million people began to invade the planet from Europe in the form of empire. Now only ten percent of the earth’s closed canopy forest remains. Now, in the last forty years the earth has lost one third of its arable land. Now, it is estimated the ninety per cent of the large fish in the ocean are gone. Now, many of the large underground water aquifers are being drawn down toward zero. When we add chemical pollution, plastics in the ocean and the melting of the ice caps, even civilized people are beginning to distinguish a crisis. An exploding population based on dwindling resources will not work!
How could this happen? What went wrong? Surely the first agriculturists did not start out to ruin the life of the earth. Previously, forager/hunter cultures were adapted to their food sources. People lived on the salmon migrations, the bison herds, the reindeer herds and many other sources such as a migratory mode in which they followed the seasons and natural harvests in a circular fashion. This created the form of their culture. Anthropologists calculate that roving forager/hunter bands averaged twenty-eight people. Obviously this group would need to be cooperative in order to survive. Traveling on foot they wouldn’t be trying to hang on to many material possessions when what they needed could be created out of the landscape where they were. Sharing, cooperation and humility were their values and competition and arrogance were discouraged. In those times the women were powerful. They gathered the vegetable foodstuffs which anthropology says was seventy per cent of their diet. They cooked the food, they tanned the hides, they sewed the garments, they bore the children and looked after them. The women and children grouped around the campfire as the men because of their strength, tended toward the periphery of  the camp to defend it and to hunt in the area.
When agriculture began, the functional relationships of humans inverted, there was no linear development because the form of the culture simply developed around the food supply. When the people stopped in one place on the land to begin agriculture, they established civis, village life. Historically, they began to farm the soil toward exhaustion and graze the landscape toward denudation. The surpluses were stored in the village. Thus, the strongest, the males, had to be organized to guard the valuables. This was the nascent seed of the patriarchy and the warrior cult. This functional relationship around the food supply also encouraged materialism, competition and private property. Soon, coercive hierarchical command systems developed into empires, such as Sumer and Babylon.
This new type of society grouped around agriculture, started out on its trajectory extorting the fertility of the ecosystems in order to expand power, populations and material wealth. In the beginning it must have seemed that the fertility was endless but we now see the result of that imbalance. That imbalance is the suicide of the human species. In previous history the empires believed the new “frontiers” were infinite but we have now reached the final round. As the population continues to explode and the underpinnings dwindle there will be conflict to see who gets what remains, until that too is gone. The patriarchy, that stunted aberration of a healthy, gender balanced society, knows only conflict, war and consumption/destruction. That is the final scenario. Unless the laws of physics are changed, there will be no silver bullet, there is no fix, this is the end.
The narrative created by the ruling elite of that human culture called civilization has inculcated a bedrock belief in linear increase. This is the idea of inevitable progress. This subconscious belief system will hold the consumerist masses enthralled as they look for the silver bullet or the easy technological fix until the last inch of topsoil and the last drop of potable water is reached. It is not a matter of tinkering with the “system” when the entire “system” is a cancerous tumor body on the living earth.
So what is the problem? The problem is that the human species cannot live on the earth in perpetuity unless it lives in biological balance with the life around it. How is that rectified? It is rectified by the human species living in biological balance with the life around it.

The Seed Communities

These are times of apocalyptic desperation. We must invent a whole new human culture. If we are mature, adult humans existing on this living planet we would desire the positive – a healthy earth, our home. This suggests a guiding principle for a new culture of restoration. Restore the earth to health. This is an initiation into a new level of human existence when we actually take responsibility for our existence and the existence of the life force of the earth. How do we do this? We re-inhabit the earth with small colonies/communities that are living in balance. A responsible human society, facing a dilemma such as we are would sponsor any experimental community to find a way out. But no need; we can do this ourselves. As we establish these communities of ecological stability around the planet we will have the possibility that some of them will survive and spread to become the enduring human culture of the future. As the world falls around them these islands of stability, these survival groups, may endure. Possibly, the image of an old, worn out cultural form setting seed is appropriate.
As the future loomed ahead of us intuitive responses began to percolate from the population in the past era. A compelling idea of setting boundaries is the bioregionalism movement. Rather than the straight line grid system over the earth established by the industrial society we would establish boundaries according to watersheds. This will establish the boundaries of our living world as to how the water flows, a biological unit or entity.
In our village watershed we begin the ecological restoration. We can begin with the recently created ideas of Permaculture, a method of food growing originated by the Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holgrem. This method of food growing can produce more food per acre than the industrial agricultural system. It does this by mimicking the ecological pattern. A wide variety of perennial plants are placed so that plant “guilds” are created whereby the association of plants aid each other. This results in a rudimentary, permanent ecology which builds soil and aids in water retention. A forest garden aspect of Permaculture can produce much more protein per acre of fruit and nuts than can grazing cattle. Other aspects of the Permaculture design would emphasize large and small bushes, forbs, cacti, grasses, mushrooms and any other type plants that would fit into the design. The idea is to place a large variety of species into niches that are offered in the design so as to maximize the photosynthetic income.
In the Amazon rainforest anthropologists describe not slash and burn but native rainforest gardens. When they clear an area for a garden they leave any beneficial plants or trees in the plot. They then begin adding other productive species until the plot resembles just another part of the rainforest to the uninformed observer.  Anthropologists say that these plots of several  acres or so may contain in the order of two hundred species. In a Permaculture design wildlife will be more attracted because of the greater diversity, especially of insects.
Birds are especially important in the design because they carry seeds from other areas in their droppings which helps increase the diversity of the design. It also contains diverse minerals important to the soils. Very important is beaver restoration. Beavers, with their dams, create rich habitat for trees, bushes, animals, fish and wet land plants. The dams raise the water table in the area and when the beavers leave, a flat beaver meadow where the dam water had been remains as a rich soil.
The use of perennial plants means a permanent design where the soil is not disturbed. Water retention is increased and as leaves and organic debris fall, topsoil is increased. This serves to illustrate another basic principle. Rather than draining the fertility of the earth, by filling niches and creating more diversity we add to the photosynthetic income and live from the increase.
Close to our housing we create the kitchen garden which will be a mix of perennial plants, annual plants and herbs. Farther out will be zones for bushes and hardy plants and then further the forest garden with trees inter-planted with smaller useful species. Even further will be the “wild” areas of native ecology which would be assisted to recover in whatever manner possible .

Much has been done in recent years to create new methods of building shelter. There are housing designs now that can heat and cool themselves without outside energy inputs. In our watershed we would want to build with local materials. Recent materials are; straw bales, cob (a mixture of sand and clay), adobe, rammed earth, bamboo and wood. These materials can be used by regular people and the methods can be quickly learned and put into practice. One design that adds much to the shelter is an attached greenhouse. In winter the south facing greenhouse accumulates heat that can be drafted into the house and can provide a pleasant sitting room to enjoy the winter sun. In summer the heat can be drafted outside.

We could not do better in our new community of self-sufficiency than to pattern the community values based upon the behavior of the life of the earth. One basic pattern is diversity within unity. There are diverse species within whole, unified ecologies such as a forest ecology or a desert ecology. Within our bodies there is a diversity of cells and organs contained within the unity of us. We find the sharing of energies in ecosystems. The leaves fall from the tree and are digested by the thousands of species within the soil community. The excrement of this community is held in solution to be taken up by plant roots and by the trees. Usually the mycelium (underground body of the mushroom) attaches its hairs to the fine roots of trees and plants so that energies can be exchanged. This is important because the mushrooms cannot photosynthesize. Vital relationships and shared energies exist throughout ecosystems. Ecosystems also display balance and adaptability.

Within the culture of civilization parliamentary structures with political parties are used. This is consonant with the culture of competition/conflict. When fifty-one per cent gain power, forty-nine are aggrieved and continue the conflict/competition. The Hopi elders say, “Why should we adopt a tribal council form of government urged on us by the U.S. when we have successfully governed our villages for a thousand years by consensus so that there is no aggrieved minority.” Consensus government is a government of cooperation. In the context of industrial society many points of view compete for attention coming from the many diverse interests in that society. If we exist in a self-sufficient community restoring the earth’s life and raising our own food we will be protecting our food supply and watershed and we would then politically re-present the life of the earth.

The Economics of Life
The economics of village life are simple. It begins with photosynthetic income. With sun, soil and water we create a new kind of economics. Any gardener knows that with these three factors we create life which begets new life. In a self-sufficient community we grow what we need. Food, oils, heat, healing substances, building materials and even clothing from flax and hemp are possible. This is the economics of self-sufficiency and non-dependency.

Village Society
We want to defend the life force if for no other reason than it feeds us. Within the conflict/competition of civilization the opposite is true. After the birth trauma of industrial medicine the young advance to killing hundreds of people per hour on their video games. Then the youth are exposed to the mass media of violence where even thousands of years in the future in science fiction, humans are still killing each other with some kind of hand held weapon.

Consistently in the field of industrial medicine, not nurturing but killing is practiced with the use of anti-biotics and other toxins. Industrial agriculture offers the same with its vast array of poisons to kill insects, weeds and other life forms. The impact of the post traumatic syndrome that drives people into great fear and isolation that is caused by growing up in a society of violence /competition /conflict is so great that recently a million people have been killed in Iraq with seven million caused to become homeless and no one notices, nor do they care.
We do not want to live in that reality, nor do we have to. Our new culture will nurture life. As we return to nature we see that much of the adult activity of the natural world is devoted to nurturing the young. The birthing, the nesting and the teaching of the young take up much of adult life. In many tribes of our ancient human heritage such as the Hau de no sau nee, also called the Six Nations Iroquois of the Northeastern U. S., tribal council decisions are reviewed as to their impact on the seventh generation. The child-bearing women are a central focus of tribal life. This is from whence new life comes. In a life nurturing culture much social attention would be devoted to them. The pregnancy, the birthing, the nurturing, would be a central effort toward our attempt to raise children that are not emotionally damaged by their social environment. In our efforts we exchange fear and violence for love and laughter.

We Are Powerful

Dependency is not power it is control. Self-sufficient communities do not depend on the industrial food system to feed them nor do they depend on other hand outs from the industrial system to survive. We also have powerful resources with which to create our new world. We already have a vast network of many hundreds of eco-villages spread around the planet, pointed toward self-sufficiency. The Permaculture Movement has trainings and training centers spreading rapidly around the globe. In recent years alternative medicine has made a strong come back. Herbalism, energy medicine such as massage, Reiki and nutrition have returned. Encounter groups have become popular as a means of therapy. We can learn a principle from our friends in the Navajo (Dine) culture. In their culture there are no isolated individualists. Their concept is that harmony is broken if one of the band is ill. It is not simply one individual but the whole band is put into disharmony when this occurs. Within the tribe are healers, called Singers. Each singer may know several “sings” and there are many dozens of sings each being appropriate for a particular malady. A sing may last a day, several days or up to a Nine Day, Day and Night Yebei Chi sing. The sing is attended not only by the individual but by the whole clan that is suffering the disharmony. At the beginning of the sing, the Singer creates a beautiful sand painting on the floor of the hogan, The individual is then placed sitting on the sand painting which is swept away at the end. This process illustrates the sense of a tribal community. It is our ancient culture that saw things in wholes not as isolated individuals in the lonely crowd.
The specter of seven billion people hurtling toward the abyss of no potable water, dwindling food supplies and immature patriarchs brandishing nuclear weapons is daunting. We do not have to board that train, we have a new world that we are creating.

  Read Civilization Falls: A New Culture Emerges
 January 12, 2017
5 Steps Society Must Take to Avoid the Worst Impacts of Climate Change
by Dr. David Suzuki,

Woman and Man Watching Earth Global Warming 3D Illustration
Photo Credit: boscorelli/Shutterstock

The longer we delay addressing environmental problems, the more difficult it will be to resolve them. Although we’ve known about climate change and its potential impacts for a long time, and we’re seeing those impacts worsen daily, our political representatives are still approving and promoting fossil fuel infrastructure as if we had all the time in the world to slow global warming.

We can’t say we weren’t warned. In 1992, a majority of living Nobel prize-winners and more than 1,700 leading scientists worldwide signed a remarkable document called "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity."

It begins, “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that we will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.”

It then outlines critical areas where the collision was and is still occurring: the atmosphere, water resources, oceans, soil, forests, species extinction and overpopulation. In the 25 years since it was published, the problems have worsened.

The document grows bleak: “No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished. We the undersigned, senior members of the world’s scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.”

Now, as monthly and annual records for rising global average temperatures continue to break, as extreme weather events become more frequent and severe, as refugees overwhelm the capacity of nations, and as tipping points for climatic feedback loops and other phenomena are breached, the need to act is more urgent than ever.

The warning suggests five steps needed immediately. That was a generation ago. They can still help prevent the worst impacts:

1) “We must bring environmentally damaging activities under control to restore and protect the integrity of the earth’s systems we depend on.” It specifically mentions reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air and water pollution. It also highlights the need to address deforestation, degradation and loss of agricultural soils and extinction of plant and animal species.

2) “We must manage resources crucial to human welfare more effectively.” This one is obvious. Finite resources must be exploited much more efficiently or we’ll run out.

3) “We must stabilize population. This will be possible only if all nations recognize that it requires improved social and economic conditions, and the adoption of effective, voluntary family planning.”

4) “We must reduce and eventually eliminate poverty.”

5) “We must ensure sexual equality, and guarantee women control over their own reproductive decisions.”

The warning recognizes that we in the developed world are responsible for most global pollution and therefore must greatly reduce overconsumption while providing technical and financial aid to developing countries. This is not altruism but self-interest, because all of us share the same biosphere. Developing nations must realize environmental degradation is the greatest threat to their future, while rich nations must help them follow a different development path. The most urgent suggestion is to develop a new ethic that encompasses our responsibility to ourselves and nature and that recognizes our dependence on Earth and its natural systems for all we need.

The document ends with a call for support from scientists, business and industrial leaders, religious heads and all the world’s peoples. Like Pope Francis’s groundbreaking 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si," the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” was an attempt to galvanize the world to recognize the dangerous implications of humanity’s path and the urgent need for change.

Forewarned is forearmed. We can’t let the lure of the almighty buck blind us. We must come together, speak up and act for the good of all humanity.

This article was originally published by the David Suzuki Foundation.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation

  Read 5 Steps Society Must Take to Avoid the Worst Impacts of Climate Change
 January 16, 2017
Obama’s Top Scientist Explains the Climate Challenge Ahead
by Elizabeth Kolbert, Yale Environment 360 AlterNet

President Obama meets with John Holdren, Office of Science and Technology Policy, in the Oval Office prior to Stem Cell Executive Order "Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells" and Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity, March 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Photo Credit: Pete Souza/White House

John Holdren is the longest-serving presidential science adviser in U.S. history. He’s also probably one of the most influential, having advised President Obama on key energy issues for the last eight years. “Mr. Holdren has this president’s ear,” is how The New York Times put it in 2014. 

A physicist by training, Holdren is among the chief architects of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan. 

This makes him one of the more controversial science advisers, as well. The plan has been lauded by environmentalists, but is loathed by conservative politicians, some of whom have filed suit against it. The future of the plan, which rests almost entirely on executive authority, is now very much in doubt. 

Holdren spoke to Yale Environment 360 about the difference between “dangerous” and “catastrophic” warming, the incoming Trump administration, and how to talk to people who deny the existence of climate change. “Part of the reason that I retain some optimism about the future is that there are these fundamental forces pushing us toward doing the right thing,” he said. 

e360: There's obviously a lot of concern out there right now about a new administration and what’s going to happen to the steps President Obama has taken on climate. How do you feel about this? 

Holdren: We don't know at this point what the next administration is going to do. I think everybody saw the interview with The New York Timesin which President-elect Trump said his mind is now open on climate change. That is certainly progress compared to some of what went before. 

I don't know what's going to happen, but what I know is that a lot of what is going on in the positive sense on climate has a lot of momentum to it. It has momentum because it makes sense to people. People understand that renewables have been getting cheaper. People understand that energy efficiency saves them money. People understand that climate change is happening around them. Just the increase in torrential downpours and the flooding associated with that is so conspicuous, so damaging, that I think anybody that did want to roll back the sensible things we're doing would find there was a lot of opposition to it. 

You know, the business community is on board now in a way that goes way beyond what was true before. You have so many of the Fortune 500 companies with policies aimed at reducing their own greenhouse emissions and supportive of government policies to help that along. You've got the environmental community. You've got a substantial fraction of the economic community, who understand that the damage to the economy from not addressing climate change will be far, far greater than the costs of addressing it. There are a lot of constituencies out there who will act to defend the positive things that are going on. That gives me reason for optimism. 

e360: Still, we have a president-elect and many high-ranking members of Congress who’ve said they don't believe in climate change. What's your analysis of what's gone wrong here? 

Holdren: I think a number of Republicans believe that if the public ever accepted the reality of what climate science is telling us, the country would embrace a regulatory regime which Republicans would not welcome. There has been a leaning toward questioning the science, which is really based on fear of over-regulation. I think that's particularly unfortunate because economists on all parts of the political spectrum have agreed for a long time that the single most effective thing you could do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be a market-based approach, which puts a price on carbon emissions and then lets the market decide how to reduce it. And if you wanted to make such a thing revenue-neutral, you could reduce capital gains taxes or reduce income taxes in proportion to the revenue you got from a carbon tax. The reality is that some of this thinking, which is reflected in the positions of some folks on the Republican side of the aisle, is actually out of date. 

We need to focus more on solutions, irrespective of whether you are convinced humans are altering the climate."

It isn't true that accepting the science requires a draconian regulatory regime. 

e360: How can we get out of this situation where people can still say, "I don't believe in climate change"? And what is the role of scientists who have been sounding the alarm on this for really a long time now? 

Holdren: I have long held the possibly naïve view that giving people more information will help. There have been a number of studies lately that have indicated that that may not be right. One of the conclusions I draw from that is we need to focus more on the solutions and their attractiveness irrespective of whether you are convinced that humans are altering the climate to our detriment. 

Let me give you a couple of examples: One of the big drivers of the reductions in emissions that have been achieved in recent years is that renewable energy and natural gas have been cheaper than the more greenhouse-gas-intensive alternatives, particularly coal. That has been driven by the market above all. If the climate-friendly energy sources are also less expensive, and that trend appears to be continuing, then you don't need to "believe" in human-caused climate change to embrace them. 

I think everybody who's paying close attention to climate understands now that we need to do a lot on the preparedness, resilience, and adaptation sides, because no matter what you do on the mitigation side, you can't stop climate change overnight. Adverse impacts are already occurring, so we need to do what we can to reduce our vulnerability. Well, it turns out a lot of those strategies are win-win strategies in the sense that they would make sense even if the climate weren't changing. There have always been powerful storms. There have always been droughts. We have always under-invested in preparation for those kinds of events. The fact that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of those events strengthens the argument for investing in preparedness, resilience, and adaptation, but the argument stands even without that. 

Part of the reason that I retain some optimism about the future is that there are these fundamental forces pushing us toward doing the right thing. One is a set of economic forces. Another is a set of historic underinvestment in infrastructure, which we should be improving in terms of its resilience in any case. 

e360: Well, if these are underlying trends, what difference does public policy make? 

Holdren: Policy can accelerate the good trends. Again, let me give you some examples: We've had a policy of investing in research and development on clean energy and energy efficiency. One of the results of that policy has been a 90-percent-plus reduction in the cost of light-emitting diodes, LED bulbs. The investments in clean energy R&D have contributed to the reduction in the price of wind and solar. Also important has been the tax credits, the production tax credits [for wind and solar], which we just got extended in law for five years with bipartisan support in the Congress. You can reinforce positive trends with policy. 

e360: What do you think the most important policy measures that have been taken over the last eight years with regard to climate change are? I know you don't want to speculate, but how hard or easy would they be to undo? 

Holdren: First of all, and this is sometimes forgotten when people think that the whole interest of the Obama administration in climate change originated with the Climate Action Plan in 2013, the down payment took place in the Recovery Act [of 2009]. There was $80 billion for clean and efficient energy, the biggest boost for clean and efficient energy in the history of the country, probably in the history of the world, which again had a big effect. It led to advances in technology, reductions in cost that have been extraordinary. 

Then you look at the rest of the first term, we had the first set of combined fuel economy CO2 emissions standards for light-duty vehicles, followed by heavy-duty vehicles. 

Now, of course, in the second term, we had in 2013 the Climate Action Plan with its three pillars – reduce domestic emissions, build up domestic preparedness, resilience, and adaptation, and the third international pillar, work with countries around the world both bilaterally and multilaterally to get them to do the same. That has been immensely effective. It led to the joint announcement by [Chinese] President Xi and President Obama in Beijing in November 2014 saying, "We are the two biggest emitters. We are the two biggest economies. We are going to lead." That made possible Paris. It transformed the international discussion. 

e360: There's been talk recently that China will be stepping into the leadership role that the U.S. has occupied for the last several years. Do you buy that? 

Holdren: There is no doubt in my mind that the Chinese are serious. The Chinese are not doing what they're doing because we urged them to do so. They are doing it because they understand that climate change is already adversely impacting China. It's adversely impacting their agricultural production. It's adversely impacting the East Asia monsoon, aggravating historic problems of flooding in the south and drought in the north. 

The other thing about China is most of the leadership was trained in engineering. They can do arithmetic. They are absolutely convinced and committed, so the question of whether they will take over the lead internationally in addressing the climate change challenge is partly up to us. They're going to keep going. We should keep going as well. 

e360: You’ve said that the goal of avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system is gone. We're already experiencing that, and the question is can we avoid catastrophe? Where do we draw the line between dangerous and catastrophic? 

Holdren: I’ve likened the current situation with respect to climate change to driving a car toward a cliff in the fog and the car has bad brakes. 

Energy represents an enormous capital investment. In the global energy system, replacement cost is probably $25 trillion or even $30 trillion. That's an investment that turns over in the normal course of things in 30 to 40 years. That's the average lifetime of these energy facilities – refineries, transmission lines, power plants, drilling rigs. You can't take a $25 trillion investment and turn it over overnight. So there's this enormous amount of inertia in the energy system. That's the bad brakes in the car. And the fog is we don't know exactly where the tipping points that could really turn it into a catastrophe are, but there are quite a few of them that are understandable in terms of how they would work. 

For example, we are busy not only heating the ocean, but acidifying it. Nobody can figure out at what point the oceans could exhibit changes that become catastrophic for human society. 

We know with pretty high confidence that we're likely to have lost the majority of the world's coral reefs by the middle of the century we're now in from a combination of heating and acidification.  

e360: Doesn't that lead us to the idea that, well, we don't have 30 years to turn this around? 

Holdren: I'm not saying, "Business as usual is fine." We're not in business as usual at the moment. We are moving faster to turn that over. We are retiring coal plants. China is retiring coal plants at a rate that was unimaginable a few years ago. It's showing in the data, in the emissions data. We're not in business as usual. But still, no matter what we do, we can't stop it overnight. 

e360: You mentioned retiring coal plants. A lot was said during this past campaign about coal. What future does coal have? 

Holdren:First of all of course, we're not shutting down the whole coal industry. What has mostly been shut down are the dirtiest and least efficient plants and probably the costliest mines. The long-term future of coal is going to depend on whether we can master CO2 capture and sequestration. About which I'm more optimistic than many. 

Without that, the long-term future of coal is continuing decline and its replacement by cleaner things. In the short- to medium-term, natural gas and in the longer-term, some combination of nuclear and renewables. 

e360: What do you say to people who say that natural gas will get us to the same disastrous place, it's just going to take a bit longer? 

Holdren: We can't burn natural gas indefinitely as a society and expect to surmount the climate challenge. I think those of us who have welcomed the degree to which natural gas has been replacing coal in electricity generation are aware that it is an interim solution and not a permanent solution, again, unless and until you capture and sequester the CO2. 

This whole question of fossil fuel and leaving it in the ground, there's a short-term and there's a long-term aspect. In the short term, we can't leave it all in the ground because the United States and the world as a whole are still 80-plus-percent dependent on fossil fuels for our primary energy. As I've already argued in terms of just the capital investment in that energy system, you can't change that overnight. If someone says, "Leave it in the ground" meaning leave it all in the ground starting now, I say, "That's simply not feasible." 

If, on the other hand, somebody says, "By leave it in the ground, I mean we know that we cannot afford from the standpoint of climate to burn all the fossil fuel that's out there" – that’s a different matter. There have been very good studies that show if you burn all the fossil fuel that's out there, both the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheet go away and sea level goes up by about 65 or 70 meters [213 or 230 feet].  

I subscribe to the leave it in the ground notion – as a long-term proposition, we've got to leave a lot of the fossil fuel that's out there in the ground, or else learn how to burn it and put the CO2 back in the ground. 

There was some controversy because in a public speech I gave, I was asked in the Q&A period if it is technically feasible to leave it all in the ground. I answered it as a technical question, the way I've answered it here: No, it is not feasible to leave it all in the ground starting now. Somebody tweeted that I had disparaged the Leave It In The Ground movement. The next thing I know I had 23,000 emails complaining about this — 23,000 emails, all identically worded, an orchestrated campaign. 

e360: Do you think that the movement has been politically effective? 

Holdren: Well, most of the people associated with the Leave It In The Ground movement actually want to stop federal leasing of fossil fuel development on federal lands, saying sort of that's the least we can do. That's not the same thing as leaving it all in the ground. It just says, "The United States government should be a leader in accelerating the reduction of the use of fossil fuels.” That is at least an interesting argument. 

I'm basically of the view that almost every discussion of different ways to address the climate challenge is helpful because the discussion calls to people's attention that there is a climate change challenge. What is the best way to deal with this challenge? That's the debate I wish we were all having, rather than a continuing debate about whether or not it's happening, which has become kind of ridiculous in the face of the evidence.

e360: You've spent a lot of time dealing with people on Capitol Hill. Do you have advice for your colleagues moving forward? What should scientists be doing? 

Holdren: Scientists, number one, should keep talking about the science and what it's telling us, what the implications are. That includes the implications of delay. How much more damage are we buying into if we say, "Let's deal with this later,” rather than dealing with it now. It's becoming possible to talk about that. The other thing that is becoming possible is to talk about impacts in a much more regional way. The third U.S. National Climate Assessment, which was released in 2014, succeeded in disaggregating things regionally and sectorally to a much greater extent than any previous assessment had done. 

I went around the country that year, and talked to state, local, and tribal leaders. And I was actually astonished by the number of people, including mayors, governors, who came up to me and said, "For the first time, this is a report about climate science that's useful to us because it brings it to the level that we have to operate at." What's going to happen to fisheries? What's going to happen to farming? What's going to happen to forests? How is it different in the Northwest and the Southeast? 

That's going to be important for scientists: to focus on what's happening where people live and in relation to what they do for a living or what they enjoy. 

e360: What arguments do you find really get to people? 

Holdren: The local gets them, the relation to things they care about. The productivity of farms, forests, and fisheries. Hey, that matters. The prevalence of oppressive heat and humidity. That matters to folks. 

One of the things I found very effective is explaining to people that the global average surface temperature is simply an index of the state of a very complicated system, just like your body temperature is an index of the state of a very complicated system. When your body temperature goes up 2 degrees C, you know it's telling you that something's amiss in the system. What could be going on can be extremely complicated and extremely dangerous. 

e360: One last question. I don't think that the president-elect is reading environmental websites, but if you could offer some advice to the incoming administration, what would it be? Maybe he will read it – if I tweet it, or something. 

Holdren: We have a transition process. I don't think we should be talking about the details of the transition. But I've written down a lot of advice and my colleagues have written down a lot of advice. I just have to hope that at least some of that advice will be taken. 

I got such advice when I came in from my predecessor, John Marburger, who not only wrote a superb transition book for me, but met with me personally at great length. You don't have to take all the advice of your predecessor. No one expects that to happen in a new administration with a different political cast. But there are things that ought to make sense regardless of political leaning. We hope that those will register.

Elizabeth Kolbert is an American journalist and author. She is best known for her 2006 book Field Notes from a Catastrophe, and as an observer and commentator on environmentalism for The New Yorker magazine. She received the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for her book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.

  Read Obama’s Top Scientist Explains the Climate Challenge Ahead
 January 26, 2017
Climate Thresholds
by John Abraham, The Guardian, AlterNet

We don’t want the Earth to warm more than 1.5–2°C (2.7-3.6°F) compared to the pre-industrial climate. These targets are not magical; they are expert judgements about what it takes to avoid some of the more serious effects of climate change. We know the seas will rise (they already are). We know droughts and flooding will get more severe (they already are). We know there will be more heat waves, more intense storms, and ocean acidification (all happening now). We cannot stop some of the changes. But if we keep climate change to these limits, we think we can avoid the worst effects. 

Where did these targets come from? Well, I mentioned that they are expert judgements but they are based on science. For instance, we can look into the deep past using ice cores, sediment records, and other tools to see how the past climate changed. We can also look into the future with computer models to predict how the future climate will evolve. Through these tools we can get a sense of how large the impact is if temperatures rise.

The obvious question is, where are we at? How much have temperatures risen since the pre-industrial time period? It might seem like that is a simple question. In fact, groups like NASA in the USA regularly provide temperature data as below. According to this image, the 2016 temperature increase has just hit 1°C (1.8°F). So, it would appear that we have some ways to go before hitting our target, right? 

Not so fast. Whenever you see an image like the one below, you should ask what years are the baseline. These graphs are termed “temperature anomaly plots.” They don’t show the actual temperature; rather they show the temperature difference between two time periods. It turns out the figure below is oriented so that it is relative to the time period 1951-1980. So when we say that 2016 had a temperature anomaly of 1°C, we really mean that it was 1°C warmer than the 1951-1980 time period.

So, some important questions are, what were the temperatures prior to the graph shown here? What was the pre-industrial temperature? If the pre-industrial temperature is cooler than 1951-1980, it would mean that we have warmed even more than 1°C (1.8°F).

A study just out in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society tackles this question head on. In this article, lead author Dr. Ed Hawkins from the University of Reading and an international team of colleagues take into account many climate records that date back decades and centuries. Based on their analysis, they determined that the period 1720-1800 is the best selection for “pre-industrial.” 

Prior to this publication, some choices were made based on expediency. For instance, in the latest IPCC report, the global reference period was 1850-1900 because it was thought that high-quality records could go back as far as 1850. However, some warming had already occurred by 1850. For instance, greenhouse gases were already being emitted then. Perhaps more importantly, humans had already changed the landscape through practices such as farming and animal husbandry. These land changes can affect temperatures as well. By using 1850 as a start date, you miss these changes and underestimate the total change in the global climate.

The authors considered a number of issues when selecting their recommended period. First, they attempted to select a period prior to significant global warming – before many greenhouse gases and land changes occurred. Second, it would be best to have a choice that didn’t have natural forcings (natural climatic changes such as volcanoes, significant solar changes, and so forth). Using three different analysis methods, the authors are able to conclude that from their pre-industrial time to the 1986-2005 period, there was a likely global temperature increase of 0.55–0.80°C (1–1.4°F).

When you use the recommended time period, it turns out that 2015 was the first year on record that passed the 1°C (1.8°F) mark. It means that 2016 was approximately 0.1°C (0.2°F) warmer than we had thought relative to the pre-industrial time period. To put this in perspective, it is almost an extra decade of warming. 

Why does this matter? Well it means that we have about a decade less time to act on climate change if we are going to avoid the most serious consequences. It means we simply have no time to waste, and no room for error. It also means that even if we take action right now, there will be consequences. That said, it is better in the long run to act now than to wait. The people denying or delaying action are costing us, and our future generation much in terms of financial, social, and human capital.


Dr. John Abraham is a professor of thermal sciences. He researches in climate monitoring and renewable energy generation for the developing world. His energy development work has extended to Africa, South America and Asia.

  Read Climate Thresholds
 February 4, 2017
How Anthropocentrism Puts All Species at Risk—Including Ours
by Dr. David Suzuki, AlterNet

For decades, scientists have warned that we’re on a dangerous path. It stems from our delusion that endless growth in population, consumption and the economy is possible and is the very purpose of society. But endless growth is not feasible in a finite biosphere. Growth is not an end but a means.

Humans are one species among countless others to which we are connected and on which we depend. Viewed that way, everything we do has repercussions and carries responsibilities. That we are part of a vast web is a biocentric way of seeing that we’ve followed for most of our existence. But in assuming the mantle of “dominant” species, we’ve shifted to thinking we’re at the center of everything. This anthropocentric perspective leads us to imagine our needs and demands supersede those of the rest of nature.

The failure to see our interconnectedness and interdependence is most striking in the way we manage government affairs. Forestry, environment and fisheries and oceans ministers’ priorities are not to protect forests, the environment or fish and oceans, but to rationalize our actions and ensure that whatever we do benefits us.

In an anthropocentric world, we attempt to manage important factors through separated silos, shattering the sense of interconnection. We draw arbitrary lines or borders around property, cities, provinces and countries and try to manage resources within those boundaries. But salmon may hatch in B.C. rivers and migrate through the Alaskan panhandle along the coasts of Russia, China, Korea and Japan before returning to their natal streams. To whom do they “belong”?

How do we manage monarch butterflies born in Ontario that travel through numerous U.S. states into Mexico? Grizzly bears are protected as an endangered species in the U.S. but can be shot if they cross into Canada.

This absurd disconnection was illustrated when provincial first ministers and the federal government met to discuss climate change and health in December. It was an opportunity to recognize the enormous health implications and costs of climate change. Instead, talks proceeded as if the two subjects were unrelated.

The repercussions of a mere 1 Celsius rise in global average temperature over the past century have been enormous. In 2015, climate negotiations in Paris were meant to signal a shift away from fossil fuels to prevent an increase of more than 2 Celsius this century. Though the Paris commitment dictates that most known deposits must be left in the ground, governments like Canada’s continue to support new pipelines and continued exploitation of fossil fuel reserves. Efforts by Canada, the U.S. and other major greenhouse gas emitters have been so minimal that scientists now openly discuss global temperature rises of 4 to 6 Celsius this century. Because we can’t seem to curb our emissions, many suggest we must geoengineer the planet!

As top predator, our species remains dependent on clean air, water and soil and biodiversity, making our ability to survive catastrophic planetary disruption questionable. Surely that should be a top line in discussions about health.

At the December meeting, having ignored the effects of climate change on health, our political representatives simply assumed health-care costs will rise steadily (they have) without attempting to understand the cause. Instead, they focused on provincial demands for and federal resistance to annual payment increases. But health costs can’t continue to rise indefinitely.

We are accelerating degradation of the very source of our lives and well-being — air, water and soil — through massive use of pesticides, artificial fertilizers and literally tens of thousands of different molecules synthesized by chemists. Scientists suggest up to 90 per cent of cancer is caused by environmental factors. It’s lunacy to ignore widespread and pervasive pollution as a primary health hazard. What we put into the biosphere, we put into ourselves.

If we want to keep health costs from rising, we should focus on keeping people healthy rather than dealing with them after they’re sick. The highest priorities must be to stop polluting the biosphere and clean up what we’ve already dumped into it. Most importantly, we have to rid ourselves of anthropocentric hubris and return to the biocentric view that we are biological beings, as dependent on the rest of nature for our survival and well-being as any other. 

This article was originally published by the David Suzuki Foundation.

  Read How Anthropocentrism Puts All Species at Risk—Including Ours
 February 4, 2017
Embracing Your Magnificence Embrasser votre magnificence Abrace a sua magnificência Abrazar a su

by Harold Becker, USA

Embracing Your Magnificence

Each of us is such an amazing amalgamation of thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, experiences and emotions, all seemingly contained in this singular physical embodiment that we focus our perceived identity upon. We are also a part of an intricate web of life that permeates the very subatomic aspects of our being, of which we are just beginning to realize even exists, to a universe that is so expansive, we can barely grasp and understand the enormity of it all. Our consciousness is connected to every particle and parsec, yet somehow through these extraordinary characteristics that we are continually discovering, we keep forgetting just how miraculous and incredible our actual lives really are.

Right here and now, in this corporeal body we occupy, we have some 32 trillion cells collaborating like an immense symphony providing us an opportunity to make the most out of this dance of life. Each cell itself is comprised of countless atomic and subatomic particles working in harmony, creating their own contribution to this masterpiece. The innate wisdom of the body communicates seamlessly and faster than nanoseconds throughout the whole, orchestrating everything we need to experience life. Every one of these components simultaneously communicates with the electromagnetics and environment, in and around us, and beyond, into the heavens themselves. Alas, we rarely give more than a brief cursory thought to the intricacy of our interactive and intelligent body we call home.

When we gaze into the night sky, we are tuning our awareness towards an estimated 10 billion galaxies in the observable universe. It is suggested that each of these galaxies may have 100 billion stars in them which would give us a billion trillion stars. Like our own physical body, the universe is interacting with itself throughout the cosmos in its own dance of galactic proportions. On many levels, everything is connected and responsive to the whole and contributing to our existence.

Born with boundless potential, we have a tendency to identify instead with our intellect and personality rather than incorporating our connectedness. As we grow and mature, we frequently narrow and limit our attention to the outer details, reactions and responses occurring in our immediate lives. This problematic alignment to an individuated persona, rather than the whole of which we are all a part, further fragments our awareness, keeping us wholly unaware of how fantastic and astonishing everything in life really is.

The power of our imagination propels us to an even wider comprehension that we are, in fact, multidimensional and capable of far more than just our limited and linear defined life. Through our conscious awareness and intuition, not only do we have the capacity to envision, create and manifest material things, we have the ability to imbue and share the vital and nonmaterial qualities that include compassion, joy, peace and love into every facet of our expression.

From the electric spark that fires our heart, to the breath of life that infuses our body with oxygen, these physical components are intertwined with our mental and emotional capacity to think and feel, which when combined with our imagination and willpower, compose the very opus of our lives. Our song of life is a natural vibrational part of the universe itself just as its gifts provide the foundation for us. As each aspect plays its unique role, the whole becomes infinitely greater and grander than the sum.

Embrace your magnificence. Life is awaiting your unique expression from the heart.

Embrasser votre magnificence

Chacun de nous est une fusion étonnante de pensées, de sentiments, d'espoirs, de rêves, d'expériences et d'émotions, tous apparemment contenus dans cette incarnation physique singulière sur laquelle nous concentrons notre identité perçue. Nous faisons également partie d'un réseau de vie complexe qui imprègne les aspects très subatomiques de notre être, dont nous commençons tout juste à réaliser même l'existence, à un univers si expansif, que nous pouvons à peine saisir et comprendre l'énormité de tout celui-ci. Notre conscience est liée à chaque particule, mais en quelque sorte à travers ces caractéristiques extraordinaires que nous découvrons continuellement, nous oublions toujours combien miraculeuses et incroyables sont nos vies réellement.

Juste ici et maintenant, dans ce corps corporel que nous occupons, nous avons quelques 32 trillions de cellules collaborant comme une immense symphonie nous donnant l'occasion de tirer le meilleur parti de cette danse de la vie. Chaque cellule elle-même est composée d'innombrables particules atomiques et subatomiques travaillant en harmonie, créant leur propre contribution à ce chef-d'œuvre. La sagesse innée du corps communique de façon transparente et plus rapide que nanosecondes dans l'ensemble, orchestrant tout ce dont nous avons besoin pour vivre la vie. Chacune de ces composantes communique simultanément avec l'électromagnétique et l'environnement, dans et autour de nous, et au-delà, dans les cieux eux-mêmes. Hélas, nous donnons rarement plus d'une brève pensée sommaire à la complexité de notre corps interactif et intelligent que nous appelons la maison.

Lorsque nous regardons dans le ciel nocturne, nous sommes en train d'accorder notre conscience vers une estimation de 10 milliards de galaxies dans l'univers observable. Il est suggéré que chacune de ces galaxies peut avoir 100 milliards d'étoiles en eux, ce qui nous donnerait un milliard de billions d'étoiles. Comme notre propre corps physique, l'univers interagit avec lui-même dans tout le cosmos dans sa propre danse de proportions galactiques. À plusieurs niveaux, tout est connecté et réceptif à l'ensemble et contribue à notre existence.

Abrace a sua magnificência

Cada um de nós é uma fusão surpreendente de pensamentos, sentimentos, esperanças, sonhos, experiências e emoções, todos aparentemente contidas nesta encarnação física singular em que nos concentramos nossa identidade percebida. Nós também fazem parte de uma complexa teia da vida que permeia os aspectos muito subatômicas do nosso ser, nós estamos apenas começando a perceber até mesmo a existência, em um mundo tão amplo, não podemos compreender e entender a enormidade de qualquer destes. Nossa consciência está ligada a cada partícula, mas de alguma forma através destas características extraordinárias que descobrimos continuamente, sempre esquecer como milagrosa e incrível são as nossas vidas realmente.

Aqui e agora, neste corpo físico que ocupamos, temos cerca de 32 trilhões de células que trabalham como uma imensa sinfonia dando-nos a oportunidade de aproveitar ao máximo esta dança da vida. Cada célula em si é composto de inúmeras trabalho partícula atômica e subatômica em harmonia, criando o seu próprio contributo para esta obra-prima. A sabedoria inata do corpo se comunica de forma transparente e mais rápido do que nanossegundos globais, orquestrando tudo o que precisamos para viver a vida. Cada um desses componentes comunicar simultaneamente com a eletromagnética e o ambiente dentro e em torno de nós, e além, nos próprios céus. Infelizmente, raramente dão mais de um breve resumo pensado para a complexidade do nosso corpo interativo e inteligente que chamamos de lar.

Quando olhamos para o céu noturno, estamos a dar a nossa consciência para um número estimado de 10 bilhões de galáxias no universo observável. Sugere-se que cada uma dessas galáxias podem ter 100 bilhões de estrelas neles, que nos daria uma bilhões de trilhões de estrelas. Tal como o nosso próprio corpo físico, o universo interage com o próprio todo o cosmos em sua própria dança proporções galácticas. Em vários níveis, tudo está conectado e responsivo a todos e contribui para a nossa existência.

Abrazar a su magnificencia

Cada uno de nosotros es una increíble fusión de pensamientos, sentimientos, esperanzas, sueños, experiencias y emociones, todas aparentemente contenida en esta encarnación física singular en el que nos centramos nuestra identidad percibida. También somos parte de una compleja red de vida que impregna los aspectos muy subatómicas de nuestro ser, estamos empezando a darse cuenta de la existencia, incluso, en un mundo tan expansivo, difícilmente podemos captar y comprender la enormidad de cualquiera de los mismos. Nuestra conciencia está ligada a cada partícula, pero de alguna manera a través de estas características extraordinarias que descubrimos de forma continua, que siempre se olvide de lo milagroso e increíble son realmente nuestras vidas.

Aquí y ahora, en este cuerpo físico que ocupamos, tenemos unos 32 billones de células que trabajan como una inmensa sinfonía que nos da la oportunidad de sacar el máximo provecho de esta danza de la vida. Cada célula en sí se compone de innumerables partículas de trabajo atómica y subatómica en armonía, creando su propia contribución a esta obra maestra. La sabiduría innata del cuerpo se comunica de forma transparente y más rápido que nanosegundos generales, la orquestación de todo lo que necesitamos para vivir la vida. Cada uno de estos componentes se comunican simultáneamente con el electromagnético y el medio ambiente en y alrededor de nosotros, y más allá, en los cielos mismos. Desafortunadamente, rara vez damos más que un breve resumen cree que la complejidad de nuestro cuerpo interactivo e inteligente que llamamos hogar.

Cuando miramos hacia el cielo nocturno, debemos dar nuestra conciencia a un estimado de 10 mil millones de galaxias en el universo observable. Se sugiere que cada una de estas galaxias pueden tener 100 mil millones de estrellas en ellas, lo que nos daría un billón de billones de estrellas. Al igual que nuestro propio cuerpo físico, el universo interactúa consigo misma a través del cosmos en su propia danza proporciones galácticas. En varios niveles, todo está conectado y que responda a todos y contribuye a nuestra existencia. lo nocturno, debemos dar nuestra conciencia a un estimado de 10 mil millones de galaxias en el universo observable. Se sugiere que cada una de estas galaxias pueden tener 100 mil millones de estrellas en ellas, lo que nos daría un billón de billones de estrellas. Al igual que nuestro propio cuerpo físico, el universo interactúa consigo misma a través del cosmos en su propia danza proporciones galácticas. En varios niveles, todo está conectado y que responda a todos y contribuye a nuestra existencia.

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