Politics and Justice Without Borders
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Volume 19 Issue 7 March 2021:

Theme for this month:

Back to March 2021 Newsletter

Global Civilizational State:
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First species on Earth that will have to limit itself for its own survival and that of all Life.
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We are the first species on Earth that will have to limit itself for its own survival and that of all Life.

This picture was designed in 1985 by Germain Dufour, and represented at the time the vision of the world in 2024. The picture was all made of symbols. At the back is "the wall" where a group of people are making sure those coming in have been properly check out before being let in. Many of the requirements for being let in have already been defined and described over time in many of the monthly Newsletters published by Global Civilization. In the middle is a couple with a child actually going through the screening process. At the front people from all over the world are waiting to be checked in as global citizens. The 2 star like objects that seem to be flying above the people are actually drone-like objects keeping peace and security.

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Short and long terms solutions to the survival of all Life on Earth
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Vision of Earth in 2024. gg

Finding Global Civilization vision of Earth in 2024. gg

Global Civilization issues today. gg

Short term solutions to saving all Life form species on Earth. gg

Long term solutions to saving all Life form species on Earth. gg

Values, solutions, vision, for survival as a species.
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Global Civilizational State.
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Clobal Civilizational State: Summary. Global Civilizational State dependable and trustworthy leadership to guard over and and care for all Life on Earth. vv

  • a)   Global Civilizational State and America modernizing the world. Global Civilizational State and America modernizing the world.
  • b)   Commonalities between Asia and the West engendered and self-disciplined global citizens to prepare them for Life survival now and long after Earth has ceased to exist. Commonalities between Asia and the West engendered and self-disciplined  global citizens to prepare for Life survival now and long after Earth has ceased to exist.
  • c)   Global crises and existential threat to humanity, all Life on Earth. Global crises and existential threat to humanity, all Life on Earth.
  • d)   Description of modern day civilization-states. Description of modern day civilization-states.
  • e)   Past and modern civilization-states on our planet and government. Past and modern civilizations on our planet and government.
  • f)   Global crises need a sound Global Civilizational State leadership. Global crises need a sound Global Civilizational State leadership.
  • g)   How and why capitalism has been a failure of our democratic system of governance. How and why capitalism has been a failure of our democratic system of governance.
  • h)   Democratic socialism plus. Democratic socialism plus.
  • i)   Morality and ways of doing business within Global Civilizational State. Morality and ways of doing business within Global Civilizational State.
  • j)   Earth governance and Global Ministries. Earth governance and Global Ministries.
  • k)   Global consumption and sustainability. Global consumption and sustainability.
  • l)   Earth environmental governance can only be achieved successfully within the larger context of sustainable development and Earth management.Earth environmental governance can only be achieved successfully within the larger context of sustainable development and Earth management.
  • m)   Global Civilizational State strongly opposes environmental, economic, population, and military warfares.Global Civilizational State strongly opposes environmental, economic, population, and military warfares.


Global peace movement.
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Global Community Anniversary.
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Watch promoting animation. (50 MBs) Global Community will celebrate its 35th year  in 2020. Prepare now! More significant and meaningful actions needed to save the Earth, all Life.

Prepare now for Global Community Anniversary.
( see enlargement Prepare now for Global Community Anniversary. )
Watch animation promoting participation. (41 MBs) Global Community will celebrate its 35th year  in 2020. Prepare now! More significant and meaningful actions needed to save the Earth, all Life.

Global Civilizational State Proceedings.
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Theme for this month March 2021:

Reporting News
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Reporting News.
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Global Civilizational State

A cause and effect relationship was applied to each global issue.

In a cause and effect relationship, one event causes another to happen. The cause is why it happened, and the effect is what happened or is a consequence of the cause. In scientific research, cause and effect refers to a relationship between two phenomena in which one phenomenon is the reason behind the other. Let us apply a cause and effect relationship to each critical global issue.

Table of Contents of March 2021 Newsletter.

A cause and effect relationship was applied to each global issue.

  • A) The replacement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the Scale of Global Rights;ss
  • B) SoulLife and the Universe;ss
  • C) The second law of thermodynamics and Life extinction;ss
  • D) The ways Society view Nature and the capitalist system of governance;ss
  • E) Fossil fuels being used only for essential services;ss
  • F) The global tipping points of greatest concerns and the emergence and spread of deadly pathogens;ss
  • G) Life on our planet will gradually be extinct sooner than later;ss
  • H) Children and future generations; andss
  • I) Global Civilizational State, good governance, and Peace in the world. ss


Note: We do not have any funds to pay anyone and for anything. We work strictly on a volunteer basis Volunteering..

Proceedings of Global Dialogue 2020

Proceedings of Global Dialogue 2020 (September 1st, 2019 to August 31, 2020) are ready for reading. Please do verify that your articles, comments and papers were correctly published, and that recommendations were appropriate, useful, pertinent, and proper. Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for Global Dialogue 2020 were published in the Dialogue Overview section at Dialogue Overview

Proceedings of the Global Dialogue 2020

Proceedings of Global Dialogue 2020.
Artwork by Germain Dufour
August 2020
( see enlargement Proceedings of the Global Dialogue 2020)

Canadian Maple Leaf.

Global Peace Earth

Ministry of Global Peace in government

Over the past decades we have shown that peace in the world and the survival and protection of all life on our planet go hand in hand. Asking for peace in the world means doing whatever is necessary to protect life on our planet. Protecting life implies bringing about the event of peace in the world. Let our time be a time remembered for a new respect for life, our determination to achieve sustainability, and our need for global justice and peace.

Our Global Peace Mouvement is about the courage to live a life in a harmonious peace order and showing by example, thus preventing poverty, wars, terror and violence. We need to educate the coming generations with good principles, being compassionate, social harmony and global sustainability being some of them.

Soul of all Life said in Global Peace Earth "Soul of all Life teaching about Peace: Introduction"

Peace is being who you are without fear. It is the "being who you are" who must be taught a value based on principles to live by. Only principles described in Global Law are necessary and required to attain Peace in the world.

Global Community days of celebration or remembering throughout the year.

Cultural Appreciation Day: August 22 Cultural Appreciation Day

Along with all the global communities, the Global Community, all life on Earth, and the Soul of Humanity can rightfully claim ownership of the Earth as a birthright: October 6 Claiming ownership of the Earth as a birthright

Founding of the Global Community organization, Global Community and the Federation of Global Governments: October 6 , 1985Founding of the Global Community organization, Global Community  and the Federation of Global Governments

Global Citizenship Day: October 6 Global Citizenship Day

Tribute to Virginie Dufour, the first Secretary General of the Global Community organization, who passed away April 28,2000 Tribute to Virginie Dufour

The Global Exhibition: August 17-22 The Global Exhibition

Nationalization of natural resources: October 6 Nationalization of natural resources

Global Peace Movement Day: May 26 Global Peace Movement Day

Global Movement to Help: May 26 Global Movement to Help

Global Justice for all Life Day: October 6 Global Justice for all Life Day

Global Justice Movement: October 6 Global Justice Movement

Global Disarmament Day: May 26 Global Disarmament Day

Planetary State of Emergency Day: May 26 Planetary State of Emergency Day

Global Community 25 th Anniversary Celebration (1985 - 2010): October 6 Global Community 25 th Anniversary Celebration (1985 - 2010)

Celebration of Life Day: May 26 Celebration of Life Day

Planetary Biodiversity Zone Day: September 26 Planetary Biodiversity Zone

Authors of research papers and articles on global issues since 1985.

  • List of all author names in all papers, articles, comments, opinions, recommendations of all Global Dialogues since 1985. Global participants files.jj

    List of all participants and authors with their work from 1985 to 2007.jj
    All work can be found in Global Proceedings.jj

    Global Information Media (GIM) publishing monthly Newsletters dealing with global issues. Global Information Media (GIM) publishing monthly Newsletters dealing with global issues.

  • List of all author names in all papers, articles, comments, opinions, recommendations of Global Dialogue 2020.

  • List of all author papers, articles, comments, opinions, recommendations of Global Dialogue 2020.

  • List of all Monthly Newsletters with all author names in papers, articles, comments, opinions, recommendations concerning the issues of Global Dialogue 2020.

  • We thank authors for their hard work and activism this dialogue. Over the past several decades, they have fought hard for the protection of the global life-support systems. Proceedings of all dialogues are available at:

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

David Anderson, John Scales Avery (2), Subhankar Banerjee, Dr Glen Barry (3), Nadine Campbell, R Chowdhury, Countercurrents Collective (7), Jonathan Cook, Guy Crequie, Bharat Dogra (6), Tiffany Duong, Syed Ehtisham, Dr Andrew Glikson (2), Bill Henderson, Robert Hunziker (5), Yanis Iqbal, Thomas Klikauer(2), Peter Koenig, Bruce Lerro, Tarun Meena, Nomi Prins, Fred Reed, Amir Mohammad Sayem, Mohamad Shaaf, TanayShah, Amandeep Singh, Colin Todhunter, Akshay Verma, T Vijayendra, Richard D. Wolff, Oscar Zambrano.

David Anderson, China vs America China vs America
John Scales Avery, Human Society And The Biosphere. Human Society And The Biosphere.
John Scales Avery, Our Suicidal War Against Nature. Our Suicidal War Against Nature.
Subhankar Banerjee, Biden on Biodiversity: The Silence and the Promise. Biden on Biodiversity: The Silence and the Promise.
Dr Glen Barry, The End of Being. The End of Being
Dr Glen Barry, Antifa(scism) is the Antidote to Full-Throated American Fascism. Antifa(scism) is the Antidote to Full-Throated American Fascism
Dr Glen Barry, Ecology Is the Meaning of Life. Ecology Is the Meaning of Life.
Thomas Klikauer and Nadine Campbell, What Philosophers say about Coronavirus Prevention? What Philosophers say about Coronavirus Prevention?
R Chowdhury, Covid-19 Makes the Rich Richer, the Poor Poorer: That is Capitalism Covid-19 Makes the Rich Richer, the Poor Poorer: That is Capitalism
Jonathan Cook, The planet cannot heal until we rip the mask off the West’s war machine. The planet cannot heal until we rip the mask off the West’s war machine.
Countercurrents Collective, Denmark to end oil and gas extraction in North Sea. Denmark to end oil and gas extraction in North Sea.
Countercurrents Collective, Oceans without oxygen. Oceans without oxygen
Countercurrents Collective, World could lose coral reefs by end of century, warns UN environment report. World could lose coral reefs by end of century, warns UN environment report.
Countercurrents Collective, Climate crisis: Lakes to shrink. Climate crisis: Lakes to shrink.
Countercurrents Collective, Earth’s ice melting at record rate, finds study. Earth’s ice melting at record rate, finds study.
Countercurrents Collective, The Pandemic: Global cases top 100 million. The Pandemic: Global cases top 100 million
Countercurrents Collective, The Pandemic: Half a million lives lost in U.S., more than the two World Wars and Vietnam War combined. The Pandemic: Half a million lives lost in U.S., more than the two World Wars and Vietnam War combined.
Guy Crequie, Poésie planétaire. Poésie planétaire
Bharat Dogra, Education for a Better World Needs New Thinking, Not a Polishing of Old Systems. Education for a Better World Needs New Thinking, Not a Polishing of Old Systems.
Bharat Dogra, Eight Essentials of Human Progress, Always Crucial But Often Neglected. Eight Essentials of Human Progress, Always Crucial But Often Neglected.
Bharat Dogra, Common Myths About Human Progress. Common Myths About Human Progress
Bharat Dogra, Now is the Time to Press for Long-Needed Rural Changes Based on Justice and Protection of Environment. Now is the Time to Press for Long-Needed Rural Changes Based on Justice and Protection of Environment.
Bharat Dogra, Why Concepts of Earth Without Borders and One World Have A New and Wider Relevance Now. Why Concepts of Earth Without Borders and One World Have A New and Wider Relevance Now
Bharat Dogra, How the Modern World Started–On A foundation of Violence and Dominance, but in the Name of Civilization. How the Modern World Started–On A foundation of Violence and Dominance, but in the Name of Civilization.
Tiffany Duong, Amazon Rainforest Will Collapse by 2064, New Study Predicts. Amazon Rainforest Will Collapse by 2064, New Study. Predicts
Syed Ehtisham, Mercenaries of Capitalism. Mercenaries of Capitalism
Dr Andrew Glikson, How long for civilization? How long for civilization?
Dr Andrew Glikson, The extreme rate of global warming: IPCC Oversights of future climate trends. The extreme rate of global warming: IPCC Oversights of future climate trends.
Bill Henderson, The world is trapped in a spiral to climate catastrophe. The world is trapped in a spiral to climate catastrophe
Robert Hunziker, Doughnut Economics Boots Capitalism Out! Doughnut Economics Boots Capitalism Out!
Robert Hunziker, Menacing Methane – An Analysis. Menacing Methane – An Analysis.
Robert Hunziker, Religion Meets Climate Change. Religion Meets Climate Change.
Robert Hunziker, An Exhausted Planet Limps Into 2021. An Exhausted Planet Limps Into 2021
Robert Hunziker, Ecocide! Ecocide!
Yanis Iqbal, Multipolarity and the Prospect for Socialism. Multipolarity and the Prospect for Socialism.
Thomas Klikauer and Nadine Campbell, What Philosophers say about Coronavirus Prevention? What Philosophers say about Coronavirus Prevention?
Thomas Kilkauer, Human Rights and Germany’s New Supply Chain Law. Human Rights and Germany’s New Supply Chain Law.
Peter Koenig, China – Peacefully Forward into the Great Change. China – Peacefully Forward into the Great Change
Bruce Lerro, Name Me One Country Where Capitalism Works: A Thirty-Year Reckoning. Name Me One Country Where Capitalism Works: A Thirty-Year Reckoning.
Tarun Meena, Internationalization Of Humanity – Erase The Boundaries? Internationalization Of Humanity – Erase The Boundaries?
Nomi Prins, War of the (Financial) Worlds Or Let the Markets Go Wild While the People Go Down. War of the (Financial) Worlds Or Let the Markets Go Wild While the People Go Down.
Fred Reed, Questions for My Betters Dijjywan—Dijjydo or Dijjydon’t? Questions for My Betters Dijjywan—Dijjydo or Dijjydon’t?
Amir Mohammad Sayem, Is de–nuclearization possible after all? Is de–nuclearization possible after all?
Mohamad Shaaf, Why China Surpassed the United States. Why China Surpassed the United States.
Tanay Shah, Climate Change and Inequality. Climate Change and Inequality.
Amandeep Singh, How consumption is the core of the climate change problem, and the decline in climate activism. How consumption is the core of the climate change problem, and the decline in climate activism.
Colin Todhunter, Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as ‘Feeding the World’. Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as ‘Feeding the World’.
Akshay Verma, Before it is too late. Before it is too late
T Vijayendra, Population Problem Today. Population Problem Today
Richard D. Wolff, The U.S. Economy Excels at One Thing: Producing Massive Inequality. The U.S. Economy Excels at One Thing: Producing Massive Inequality
Oscar Zambrano, Beware the Beginning of Unreason. Beware the Beginning of Unreason.

Articles and papers from authors


Day data received Theme or issue Read article or paper
  February 13, 2021
The extreme rate of global warming: IPCC Oversights of future climate trends.
by Dr Andrew Glikson,
Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and comprehensive summaries of the peer-reviewed literature raise questions regarding the assumptions inherent in computer modelling of future climate changes, including the supposed linearity of future global temperature trends (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Global mean surface temperature increase as a function of cumulative total global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from various lines of evidence. IPCC

Computer modelling does not necessarily capture the sensitivity, complexity and feedbacks of the atmosphere-ocean-land system as observed from paleoclimate studies. Underlying published IPCC computer models appears to be an assumption of mostly gradual or linear responses of the atmosphere to compositional variations. This overlooks self-amplifying effects and transient reversals associated with melting of the ice sheets.

Leading paleoclimate scientists have issued warnings regarding the high sensitivity of the atmosphere in response to extreme forcing, such as near-doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations: According to Wallace Broecker, “The paleoclimate record shouts out to us that, far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth’s climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts to even small nudges, and humans have already given the climate a substantial nudge”. As stated by James Zachos, “The Paleocene hot spell should serve as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of climate”.

Holocene examples are abrupt stadial cooling events which followed peak warming episodes which trigger a flow of large volumes of ice melt water into the oceans, inducing stadial events. Stadial events can occur within very short time, as are the Younger dryas stadial (12.9-11.7 kyr) (Steffensen et al. 2008) (Figure 2) and the 8.2 kyr Laurentian cooling episode,

Despite the high rates of warming such stadial cooling intervals do not appear to be shown in IPCC models (Figure 1).

Figure 2. The younger dryas stadial cooling (Steffensen et al., 2008). Note the abrupt freeze and thaw boundaries of ~3 years and ~1 year.

Comparisons with paleoclimate warming rates follow: The CO₂ rise interval for the K-T impact is estimated to range from instantaneous to a few 103 years or a few 104 years (Beerling et al, 2002), or near-instantaneous (Figure 3A). An approximate CO₂ growth range of ~0.114 ppm/year applies to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) (Figure 3B) and ~0.0116 ppm/year to the Last Glacial Termination (LGT) during 17-11 kyr ago (Figure 3C). Thus the current warming rate of 2 to 3 ppm/year is about or more than 200 times the LGT rate (LGT: 17-11 kyr; ~0.0116 ppm/yr) and 20-30 times faster than the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) rate of ~0.114 ppm/year.

Therefore the term “climate change” for the extreme warming reaching +1.5°C over the continents and more than +3°C over the Arctic over a period of less than 100 years, requires reconsideration.

However, comparisons between the PETM and current global warming may be misleading since, by distinction from the current existence of large ice sheets on Earth, no ice was present about 55 million years ago.


Figure 3. (A) Reconstructed atmospheric CO₂ variations during the Late Cretaceous–early Tertiary, based on – Stomata indices of fossil leaf cuticles calibrated using inverse regression and stomatal ratios (Beerling et al. 2002); (B) Simulated atmospheric CO₂ at and after the Palaeocene-Eocene boundary (after Zeebe et al., 2009); (C) Global CO₂ and temperature during the last glacial termination (After Shakun et al., 2012) (LGM – Last Glacial Maximum; OD – Older dryas; BA – Bølling–Alerød; YD – Younger dryas)

Observed climate complexities leading to the disturbance of linear temperature variations include:


  1. The weakening of climate zone boundaries, such as the circum-Arctic jet stream, allowing cold air and water masses to shift from polar to mid-latitude zones and tropical air masses to penetrate polar zones (Figure 4), induce collisions between air masses of contrasted temperatures and storminess, with major effects on continental margins and island chains.
  2. Amplifying feedbacks, including release of carbon from warming oceans due to reduced CO₂ solubility and therefore reduced intake from the atmosphere, release of methane from permafrost and from marine sediments, desiccated vegetation and extensive bush firesrelease of CO₂.

  3. jj
  4. The flow of cold ice melt water into the oceans from melting ice sheets—Greenland (Rahmstorf et al., 2015) and Antarctica (Bonselaer et al., 2018)—ensuing in stadial cooling effects, such as the Younger dryas and following peak interglacial phases during the last 800,000 years (Cortese et al., 2007Glikson, 2019).

In the shorter term such international targets as “zero emissions by 2050” apparently do not include the export of petroleum, coal and gas, thus allowing nations to circumvent domestic emission limits. Australia, the fifth biggest miner and third biggest exporter of fossil fuels, is responsible for about 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

At present the total CO₂+CH₄+N₂O level (mixing ratio) is near 500 ppm CO₂-equivalent (Figure 5). From the current atmospheric CO₂ level of above ~415 ppm, at the rise rate of 2 – 3 ppm/year, by 2050 the global CO₂ level would reach about 500 ppm and the CO₂-equivalent near 600 ppm, raising mean temperatures to near-2°C above preindustrial level, enhancing further breakdown of the large ice sheets and a further rise of sea levels.

nnFigure 4. Weakening and undulation of the jet stream, shifts of climate zones and penetration of air masses across the weakened climate boundary. NOAA.

Andrew Y Glikson is an Earth and climate scientist

  Read The extreme rate of global warming: IPCC Oversights of future climate trends
  February 20, 2021
Why Concepts of Earth Without Borders and One World Have A New and Wider Relevance Now
by Bharat Dogra ,
Countercurrents.org, in Counter Solutions


  The beautiful phrase ‘Earth Without Borders’ has been used in more than one contexts from time to time. This is often used to convey the idea that those who work with a spirit of serving humanity should not be confined merely to serving their own country.

This may be particularly true of a profession of doctors which ideally should serve those the most who need care the most. Hence the USA may be attacking Iraq at a point of time but a US  doctor may go to heal the people of Iraq injured in a bombing attack as she feels that it is these innocent victims who need her care the most.  Hence the concept of doctors without borders or doctors without frontiers which has been taken forward by several senior and eminent public-spirited doctors in recent times.

Similarly we can  speak of public service by other professions going beyond any narrow thinking to serve the entire humanity based on where it is needed the most. Somewhat similar is the concept of one world. In this thinking  public spirited  professionals such as doctors say that they regard the entire world as one, all people as one people, and they do not discriminate among them. They are willing and eager to serve anyone anywhere depending on where their services are needed more.

This concept has been important also for the spread of philanthropic activities to those areas where their care is needed the most as thousands of people have been enduring great risks and hardships to work in the most risky and difficult zones to serve the most needy persons, abandoning the comforts and security they can easily get in their own country.

All these understandings of ‘earth without borders’ and ‘one world’ are very noble but these have been confined to a very narrow base of some professionals and philanthropic organizations. We need to consider now if the time has come to move these to a wider level where the thinking of the entire world or most people can move much beyond the confines of nation states.

Like other concepts of human history the concept of nation state evolved in terms of certain needs and served its purpose at a certain stage of human history in terms of providing unity of certain people at a  certain time. But it also led to a lot of problems when this unity of some more powerful people was use to dominate and exploit other people. This created enormous distress in the world. Of course this needs to be checked. In addition we need to look at changing times. There has been a certain need for the strong concept of nation state at a certain stage of history,   but is this still the most important need today , or does the entire humanity have some bigger needs today?

If there are more pressing needs today then should the concept of nation state change in important ways, and should it give way partially to the concept of earth without borders and one world in such a way that in most important and urgent contexts the care and protection of the entire world without any discrimination can receive more attention?

Most of us have been accustomed to thinking of our world as being structured mainly on the basis of nation-states. However there is another way in which we can look at world, and this is to look at the world as just one unit, one vast family of human beings.

Of course for day to day governance decentralization is best – the more the better – and so for smooth and people-friendly functioning districts or provinces have to be created, and in fact decentralization has to proceed much beyond this. But this is only for managing daily affairs better (decentralisation is always better than top-heavy centralisation) and the basic reality should remain that of one world, in which all people are equal and live without any discrimination as equal citizens of this world, with equal access to certain basic human rights.

To this we should add that Earth is not just for human beings. The concept of one world should therefore include the welfare of all forms of life (and not just human beings).

From the point of view of welfare of all forms of life this is obviously a much better way of looking at world, and it is not surprising that several eminent and thoughtful persons have been supporting the idea of one world in one form or the other at various times.

However, more than any other point in human history, there is now more compelling need for this ideal to be advanced and realized to the extent possible. The reason why this time is so crucial for this viewpoint is that in recent times a survival crisis or existential crisis has emerged on our planet.

To understand the very critical times through which all  inhabitants of planet earth are passing, the concept of a survival crisis is of crucial importance. Briefly, this concept refers to a range of serious problems which taken together can badly disrupt the special life-nurturing conditions of earth due to which such a wide diversity of life has flourished here. This disruption can take place within the 21st century, in fact as early as within the next few decades. Several very senior scientists have argued along these lines in several statements in recent times.

The serious problems which constitute the survival crisis include nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction including robot or AI weapons, climate change, ocean acidification, freshwater crisis, air pollution , disruption of food safety and around half a dozen other serious environmental and safety problems. Most discussion on these dozen or so survival problems takes place in isolation from each other but in the practical world we are more likely to face the combined threat of several of them taken together, increasing the risks .

From the point of view of the welfare of all living beings on earth this survival crisis constituted by all these problems taken together is clearly the  most important issue. This is true for this generation but this is even more true regarding the welfare of future generations, our children and grandchildren as well as the next generations of other life-forms.

The present world leadership and international institutions have miserably failed to find timely and credible solutions for this survival crisis taken as a whole. There are several statements by leading scientists, experts and statesmen testifying to this. In fact some of the problems which constitute the survival crisis have worsened rapidly in the recent past.

Increasingly in my recent writings and books I have been pleading  that the greatest importance must now be accorded at world level to resolving the survval crisis within the framework of justice, democracy and peace. While very significant reforms in governance at world level are needed to find and implement solutions which work, these can come only if there is a great resurgence of people’s movements at the grassroots and a yearning for social values in tune with the big challenges ahead. More specifically I have suggested the coming together of the movements of justice ( including gender justice), peace, environment protection, democracy and sincere spirituality to make it  possible for people to respond adequately to the challenges ahead. It is tough, it is possible.

Is it possible to resolve the survival crisis within the existing structure of the world based on around 200 nation states of highly varying sizes but dominated by just about one-tenth (or even less) of the total number of nation states?

Unfortunately much less complex issues have not been solved despite efforts being made for several decades by the existing world system of power rivalries among and within the existing nation states and their vision guided by narrow self-interest. This self-interest is in turn guarded by powerful, highly resourceful elites and corporations which dominate the deep establishments of various nation-states.

In the context of survival crisis we cannot wait for too long. We have just a few years to take the most critical decisions, and to ensure that critical ‘tipping points’ and ‘planetary boundaries’ in important contexts are not crossed or transgressed.

Hence we cannot delay any further big reforms and changes which are long overdue, which in the interests of welfare of all people and all forms of life should have been made long ago, but their need is much more compelling now. The least we can do immediately is to at least put these reforms on agenda.

Of course no one is saying that merely restructuring the world at governance level will be adequate. We also need very basic changes in value systems and in human thinking to create and sustain a safer world within the framework of justice, peace and democracy. This is a continuing task which too is helped by the ‘one world’ and ‘world as family’ concepts.

While the concept of one world has often been discussed before, the special context  todayis at two levels –

       Firstly, we should link this concept of one world with the special need of our times to resolve the survival crisis.

       Secondly, the concept of one world should co-exist well with increasing decentralization on managing daily routine affairs, with emphasis on justice and equality.

Bharat Dogra is a veteran  journalist and Convener of Campaign for Saving the Earth with Its SED ( Save the Earth Decade) Demand, a campaign endorsed by many eminent persons. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children and Earth Without Borders. Web-site bharatdogra.in

  Read Why Concepts of Earth  Without Borders and One World Have A New and Wider Relevance Now
  February 20, 2021
by Robert Hunziker,
Countercurrents.org, in Environmental Protection


Ecocide is the destruction of large areas of the natural environment as a consequence of human activity.

That destruction of “large areas” has grown so conspicuously large, so threatening to all species, including human existence, that a group of international legal experts is working to submit a draft of a new law “Ecocide” to the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) at The Hague.

Stop Ecocide is the group supporting this initiative. The Stop Ecocide website mission statement says: “Protecting the future of life on Earth means stopping the mass damage and destruction of ecosystems taking place globally. We call this serious harm to nature ‘ecocide’. And right now, in most of the world, it is legally permitted. It’s time to change the rules. We’re working to make it an international crime at the International Criminal Court.”

It’s no small undertaking. The European Parliament supports the effort, the Canadian government is closely following it, President Macron of France champions it, and Belgium has already raised the issue at the ICC in its official 2020 statement. Meanwhile, a drafting panel of powerful legal minds plans to complete its work for submission to the ICC in June 2021.

There’s something horribly disturbing about this effort to label Ecocide alongside (1) Genocide (2) Crimes Against Humanity (3) War Crimes and (4) Crimes of Aggression, all four within the auspices of the International Criminal Court. More on that later, but first the genesis of ICC goes back to recognition of the necessity of such a court via UN Resolution #260 in December 1948, in response to the fascists of the prior decade. Thereafter, the UN adopted the Rome Statute, providing for the ICC on July 17, 1998. That statute at The Hague, Netherlands is enforced as of December 2015.

The ICC, after way too many years of consideration and procedural moves, is now officially recognized by approximately 123 states; however, that recognition is a moving target, as today’s brand of fascism doesn’t necessarily buy into it. Some signatories have withdrawn, like the Philippines (2019) and some countries have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute and four signatory states have informed the UN Secretary General that they no longer want to play ball. These are Israel, Sudan, the U.S. and Russia. Prompting the query: What’s the common interest in degrading the effectiveness of the ICC? Answer: The distinct likelihood of being nailed as a defendant.

The Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte withdrew as soon as the ICC opened preliminary investigations into its drug war. The Trump administration (fascism-lite), assuming it can be called an administration, which is likely a misnomer, went so far as to threaten prosecutions and financial sanctions on ICC judges and staff as well as imposing visa bans in response to any American charged, especially regarding crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. Of course, the U.S. did not ratify the Rome Statute in the first instance, and under Trump it went even further down the rabbit hole, openly challenging “the honesty, the integrity, the truthfulness” of the ICC in addition to various harsh (juvenile) threats to the international organization. The world community was not blind-sided by that rogue behavior, not in the least. They expected it. (Footnote: As of Jan. 26th the Biden administration is “thoroughly reviewing” U.S. sanctions imposed on ICC officials.)

Still, in all, the most disturbing aspect of the Ecocide movement is the simple fact that it is necessary. The initiative speaks volumes about the broken-down status of various ecosystems, which are starting to crumble, as some are starting to disintegrate right before humanity’s eyes, especially in the far north. In fact, the brutal truth is the Ecocide movement may be too late. After all, the planet’s already wobbly.

The earmarks of a lost planet in its final throes of life support are abundant, for example, complex life forms such as wild mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians nowadays only constitute 5% of the planet’s total biomass with the remaining 95% livestock and humans. As such, cows, chickens, pigs, and humans huddle together in a vast free-for-all, chasing nature’s leftovers.

Two-thirds (67%) of all wild vertebrate species are gone in only 50 years. Poof!  That’s only 3-points off the Permian-Triassic extinction event of 252MYA when 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species (and 95% of marine species) went extinct in the planet’s worst-ever extinction, aka: The Great Dying. Clearly, today’s Anthropocene Era is already “in the thick of it.” What of the next 50 years?

And, global wetlands have been hammered, badly destroyed, plowed under to only 13% of 300 years ago, as some insect populations have been decimated by up to 80%, just ask Krefeld Entomological Society (est. 1905) Germany about insect abundance plummeting in 63 nature preserves, where the environment is protected.

Along the way, human population grows like a weed whilst spraying or implanting toxic insecticides onto everything in sight. In fact, not much remains that hasn’t been directly or indirectly lathered in toxins, including humans and domestic animals based upon, mostly untested, chemicals; in fact, 80,000 in the U.S. alone. Meantime, one-half of the U.S. population suffers from a chronic disease (Rand study, 2017): (1) arthritis (2) asthma (3) cancer (4) ALS (5) cystic fibrosis (6) Alzheimer’s (7) other dementias (8) osteoporosis (9) heart disease and (10) diabetes, any one of which could have been environmentally induced.

Toxins tyrannize the planet, found everywhere, from the top of Mount Everest, 29,032 feet, where climbers discovered arsenic and cadmium in the snow exceeding EPA guidelines, to the bottom of the Mariana Trench -36,069 feet below, where undersea explorers discovered crustaceans with toxin levels 50 times greater than crustaceans that live within China’s most heavily polluted rivers, and that takes some doing!

All of which brings to mind a proper description for a planet that’s deadening, on its last leg, with natural resources of kelp forests

(-40%) coral reefs (-50%) and all plant life (-40%) widely decimated, including 103,000 wildfires in the Brazilian rainforest alone in only one year (2020) almost entirely (90%) of human origin?

This is deadly serious stuff that gets posted in articles like this, read by a designated number of people (thx), but regrettably, not much gets done about it, as the horrors continue to worsen by the year. We’re gonna run out of years!

For significantly deeper concern, look to wetlands, disappearing three times faster than forests, which are at the heart of the biosphere, the wetlands are colloquially known as the “kidneys of the world”: (a) cleanse water, (b) mitigate flooding (Midwest and Houston), (c) recharge aquifers (Middle East dilemma) and (d) support habitat for biodiversity, only 13% remains after a 300-year span. Ergo: “We are in a crisis!” (Martha Rojas Urrego, head of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands)

How does the planet continue supporting life with only 13% of original wetlands whilst world human population grows by 200,000 newborns per day? Nobody has an answer for that all-important aspect of survival. Do the math! Then, must it be reduced to Darwin’s survival of the fittest? Maybe, but the big truth/lie is: Nobody knows what to do other than pretend that growth to infinity, the hallmark of capitalism, is just fine and dandy. Is it? Really, is it?

Doughnut Economics may be a good, solid sustainable alternative? (For planet-friendly relief, Google: “Doughnut Economics Boots Capitalism Out!”)

All of which helps explain why some really smart people are drafting a new law for the ICC to stop ecocide. Honestly though, it’s already so obvious that it prompts an important question, which is: How could concerned parties not be incited to draft a law to prevent what’s already happened? Hmm! Nevertheless, will it be soon enough to make a difference? For certain, it’ll require a helluva lot more than drafting a new law!

Postscript: There is a real danger of losing our tenure on the planet altogether… Earth is in dire trouble. (James Lovelock, The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning, Publ. Allen Lane/Basic Books, 2009)

Additionally:  You cannot plant an ecosystem. An ecosystem includes: Bacteria or haematids, insects, invertebrates and all kinds of stuff, all the way up to big trees. You cannot plant ecosystems… it has to come naturally. (Lovelock, at 101-years, walks 3-5 miles daily and has planted over 2,000 trees, motto: “Keep walking – that’s the secret to longevity. And keep interested.”)

Robert Hunziker is a writer from Los Angeles USA

  Read Ecocide!
  February 21, 2021
China vs America
by David Anderson,
Countercurrents.org,in World


Human survival on this planet has now become a battle between two systems of thought and governance; one the American based on vestiges of Western Neo-Liberalism and the other the Chinese under President Xi Jinping based on a restating of Marxist Socialism. The implications for the future of human civilization are profound. In competition with the American are 1.388 billion Chinese citizens as well as those citizens in silk-road nations outside of China. As this is occurring, globally American power and by extension its “Western” value system is diminishing. However, internally the American originating belief in its value system – so defined within the nation as “Freedom” remains strong.

Not only China

But most of the other nations around the world

Now see America in a state of political and societal confusion, a nation engulfed in stew of lies and deceit; all being powered by an unrelenting flow of false information empowered by an unrestrained media and internet.

A nation with gaping inequality, a nation dangerously politically divided, a nation overpowered in large part by a secular theology, that secularity embraced within Evangelical Christianity, its most powerful religious order.

And a nation recently under the control of a psycho who dispatched a mob to ransack the Capitol in hopes of overturning his loss in an election.

What is all this saying to the other nations in the world?

What is it saying to China?

It is saying that large segments of the population are without social coherence. Far-Right antidemocratic extremists are in control of parts of the American society. It is saying that the future of America is uncertain. America has lost direction.

There is a stark contrast between the American version of society as it was established at its founding and that version in recent history. Something changed in the aftermath of the Second World War and then the post – Cold War era after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

All of this raises the questions: Why is America unable to adjust to this change? Why has rational thought become redundant? Why is America unable to draw the line among its citizens between constructive Free Speech and extreme opinions that foster violent action?

The answers are being exposed by a restating of Marxist Socialism under Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. It is the message of this essay.

The implications for the future of American are profound. In ideological competition are 1.388 billion Chinese citizens as well as those in the so called “Belt and Road Initiative” nations.

As this battle of ideas is unfolding, America and by extension its unrelenting flow of liberalism and resultant Neo-Liberal value system is being seen throughout the world – both East and West – as being in a state of diminishing relevance.

One reason is that the American gives full rein to the dark neurotic psychotic me/me/mine side of the human impulse. Those who adhere become blinded to the suffering of the downtrodden. An offshoot is that personal influence through wealth is given the highest priority. Autocratic power becomes the rule.

China would appear to be moving toward a counteraction to this American/Western societal dysfunction. For example it has been able to control the coronavirus crisis as well as take necessary climate emergency initiatives; also it has been able to contain the threat of internal terrorism; religious, psychotic and other. The list goes on.

The following Countercurrents essays attempt to explain why China, if it succeeds in its experiment, may have a better chance of becoming the template for a new and creatively cohesive global human civilization – a reordering of the world. Its success however remains conditional – only if it succeeds in controlling the “dark side” of human nature now so prevalent in the West and long in evidence throughout its own history.

It should be noted here that China is having some success; not so easy with over 1.3 billion people!

The essay by Irwin Jerome about the state of confusion that exists in Texas and the inability for such an American “Democratic” society to correct the problems that its Freedoms have over the years engendered is not just about Texas. It is an illustration of American dysfunction. (I lived in Texas as a senior officer in the largest bank. I have travelled extensively throughout the country. I know)



David Anderson brings together a wide range of interests in his writings, namely; theology, history, evolutionary anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, and economics. He has written four books. The fourth (Below) is about a necessary geopolitical, social, religious, economic paradigm shift for human survival.



  Read China vs America
  February 22, 2021
Human Rights and Germany’s New Supply Chain Law.
by Thomas Kilkauer,
Countercurrents.org,in World


In February 2021, Germany’s main business daily, The Handelsblatt, reported that Germany’s grand coalition, consisting for the social-democratic SPD and Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU –reached an agreement on the introduction of a new Supply Chain Law, which in German goes by  the unpronounceable word Lieferkettengesetz.

The new supply chain act is intended to hold companies liable for human rights, labour standards, minimum wages, and environmental protections that purchase goods and finished products from abroad. This applies to all stages of their supply chain. The goal of the law is to eliminate or minimize  harm done to the environment, violate working conditions and abuse human rights.

For years, if not for decades, German companies and corporations have violated basic human rights and damaged the environment when operating global value chains. Until now, companies could not be sued for the damages they create. In global trade, many questionable production practices have been outsourced to low-wage countries with little or no respect for human rights. Such companies and corporations were difficult to control when operating a long distance away.

For many years, too, there have been specific criticisms of excessive workloads, lax or non-existent occupational health and safety regulations, long working hours, exploitation, child labour, lack of compliance with local environmental standards—the list is almost endless. Many of these problems have fallen to the legal responsibility of enterprises in the Global South where local authorities mis-(or non-) supervise these regulations.

Even today, it remains difficult to sue corporations in industrialized countries for crimes committed elsewhere. The only weapon available to hold such corporations to account has been to boycott foreign suppliers who allow inhuman working conditions to flourish. This has rarely been effective in doing more than having foreign enterprises make superficial changes or close down and move elsewhere.

In recent months the Coronavirus pandemic has dramatically worsened the situation at overseas textile production facilities, for example, in Africa or Southeast Asia. Most of which are located in so-called developing countries (what rare better denominated deliberately un-developed). After the temporary lockdown in the Western industrial nations, orders were initially cancelled, leading to an immediate loss of wages at 98% of production sites. Later, some factories re-opened, often in complete disregard of local hygiene rules.

To alleviate this problem, Germany’s federal government committed itself in its Coalition Agreement of 2018 to introduce a supply chain law. After delaying the supply chain law for three years, Merkel’s government is now finally edging closer to turn the promise into reality.

Over the last few years, Germany’s government has been monitoring the extent to which companies that operate inside Germany with more than 500 employees comply with the duty of care and protect workers in their supply chain. A report on this was presented in October 2020. The report showed three things:

  1. Just 13% to 17% of the surveyed companies fulfilled their voluntary human rights, environmental, and decent working conditions requirements;
  2. Another 10% to 12% of companies simply announced they were on track to meet these requirements but did nothing;
  3. At least 50% of companies and corporations missed their target.

Faced with such devastating figures, the neoliberal illusion of self-regulation evaporated into thin air, and Germany’s government saw itself forced into a position where it had to act on its 2018 promise. After all this scurrying about, the final text of the law has still not been published. The federal government admits that, because of “internal considerations”, no draft for the supply chain law has been presented. Does this mean anything or is it all window-dressing?

Despite all these glitches, Germany’s chancellery now wants to close the issue. The government sees a need for action because so far only around one in five companies have complied with its human rights due diligence obligations. This is nothing less than an abysmal showing, given the widespread ideology of business ethics and corporate social responsibility.

Most recently, the supply chain bill was blocked by Merkel’s pro-business Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier, even though Germany’s Development Minister and its Labour Minister pressed for an agreement on the supply chain law.

Despite this, there were movements in the legislative process. On 12 February 2021, for instance, all three ministers agreed on a compromise to act on the supply chain act. However, the law has yet to be approved by Merkel’s cabinet and eventually it will have to pass the parliament – the Bundestag. In order to give companies and corporations a sweet run, the supply chain law will come into effect only in 2023.

In other words, companies and corporations have been given another two years of inaction on humane working conditions, decent wages, and the environmental vandalism they often cause. Another spanner in the works: initially the law applies to companies with more than 3,000 employees and only from 2024 will it apply to companies with more than 1,000 employees. The bigger the business the bigger the win, as they have more time and more money to implement the measures of the law, and, of course, to work out means for getting around it.

Disapproval of the supply chain act came above all from corporate entrepreneurs and business lobbyists. As always, they fear negative consequences for the economy – the mythical end of capitalism as we know it. As Frederic Jameson once said, It has become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. Painting an utterly apocalyptic picture, corporate lobbyists warn against uncontrollable legal consequences and complaining that Nanny State (another character in their allegorical drama) is trying to impose unnecessary controls on companies and corporations.

Germany’s powerful corporate lobbying organisation, the Federal Association of German Employers’ Associations, sees a few small problems in the implementation of the law, considering it impractical. Together with other corporate lobbyists, they aim to exploit to the full the period until the law take effect. These corporate lobbyists find themselves in a rather isolated position, even among German companies and corporations.

Today, according to German pollster Infratest, 75% of Germans supported the new supply chain law. Only 22% reacted negatively to the concept. On the upswing, there are plenty of large German companies that are hopeful the new law will create an equal playing field. By December 2019, forty-two German companies had called on the federal government to introduce a legal framework to ensure fair competition. These companies and corporations begged for binding and comprehensible guidelines for all companies, so that fair supply chain management won’t become a competitive disadvantage.

Since 2019, many organisations from human rights, environmentalism, aid organisations, as well as trade unions and churches have joined forces. They set up the Supply Chain Law Initiative. After years if not decades of human rights violations and environmental destruction, Germany’s government finally brought forth (or eventually will introduce) a law covering the entire corporate value chain. The new law even provides sanctions in the case of corporations breaking the law. The Initiative groups want to monitor and ensure proper implementation of the law as it comes into effect.

There are encouraging signs from within the government. During a trip to Ethiopia, Germany’s Development Minister expressed his interest in the law. Support also came from Germany’s neoliberal and conservative Institute for World Economics. It considers the law feasible while stressing its positive impacts on environmental and working standards in the global supply chain.

With clear support for a supply chain law, more than seventy economists contradicted Germany’s business lobbyists and its conservative Minister of Economics. At the same time, the economists outlined a multitude of market and policy failures in the production of goods that had let to a considerable social and environmental cost. Yet Germany is not alone in working on such a law.

The European Union’s Justice Commissioner announced in 2020 that the EU would present a draft law on corporate due diligence in 2021. This was welcomed by MEPs and supporters of a German supply chain law. On 26 October 2020, the EU Commission launched a public consultation on sustainable corporate governance in which various economic actors and public institutions participated. Meanwhile, the European Parliament has adopted its own initiative, one which provides for strict due diligence obligations for companies.

These obligations will require companies and corporations to avoid negative impacts on human rights and the environment and to establish good corporate governance in their production and business. Like the German law, the European Parliament’s due diligence strategy also covers the entire value chain. This is intended to ensure that goods produced under forced labour can no longer enter the EU’s $15 trillion market of 450 million people. This will affect not only imports from China and other offending countries by them to adhere to human rights.

Human rights are universal. They apply to everyone, worldwide. Yet in many places these rights exist only on paper. Inside companies and corporations, the rights are often not enforced. Many companies can also easily escape national legal frameworks. Neoliberal globalization and pro-business regulation – framed as deregulation, getting rid of red tape and the demonizing Nanny State – allows this to occur on a massive scale. Germany’s and eventually the EU’s supply chain law will hopefully counteract this.

Since civil society’s most effective lever against the worst excesses of corporate exploitations is the law, legal regulation is the future. It is better than actions by civil rights organizations and trade unions. With the new law, Germany’s Office for Economic Affairs (Bafa) will be responsible for monitoring the law. It is likely that this will increase effectiveness of the law.

There are sanctions against corporate criminality, but sanctioning remains a hotly debated issue in Germany. Nevertheless they have entered into the design stage of the supply chain law. The NGO Supply Chain Law Initiative has identified two approaches to corporate liability:

  1. The first approach is Germany’s civil code, while the other is
  2. Administrative law used to reprimand violations of bureaucratic rules and regulations.

The key to understanding the lobbying power of corporations rests in the fact that Germany’s criminal law does not apply to corporations operating overseas when they violate human rights, labour rights and environmental standards. In short, companies and corporations that kill 1,000 women in a fire in a textile factory like that in Bangladesh in 2013, will still not be seen as corporate criminals. This is not just part of the high cost of fashion we pay. It is also a fact that corporate criminality of this scale is – even after the new law came into effect–still seen as being merely a side issue of compensation and administrative rule-breaking, not a major crime.

Today, Germany’s power, including its corporate power, is not exercised in counties where legal standards are low to non-existent and certainly not enforced. Rather, on the contrary, this laxity is the very reason why companies and corporations produce in the Global South. Depending on the legal basis of the country concerned, this free-for-all can significantly complicate civil, never mind criminal, liability. As a consequence, a legal liability regime needs to be designed in such a way that companies with business activities or headquarters in Germany may be held accountable in German courts for their crimes.

Overall, the supply chain law acts as a sort of interventionist standard check. As a result, a legal case against violating companies and corporations can be made, even though such a company does not have to do damage inside Germany. Yet purely administrative liability, on the other hand, is to be enforced by the public prosecutors’ offices in Germany. Under the new law companies would have to prove that they comply with their duty of care. In the end, Germany’s supply chain law seems to be a step into the right direction, even though corporations can continue to get away with a small fine when violating human rights, labour standards, or environmental regulations. He results remain to be seen. So don’t hold your breath.

Thomas Klikauer is the author of over 600 publications including a book on the AfD.

Norman Simms is a retired academic who lives in New Zealand and continues to write articles and books, as well as editing an online journal.

  Read Human Rights and Germany’s New Supply Chain Law
  February 23, 2021
How the Modern World Started–On A foundation of Violence and Dominance, but in the Name of Civilization.
by Bharat Dogra,
Countercurrents.org, in World


    The beginnings of the modern world are generally traced to the sixteenth century. Most descriptions of the period of human history since then have described this period as a period of the greatest human progress and the special role of the countries which started playing a more leading role in world affairs in the 16th and 17th centuries is shown generally to be that of preparing the foundation for such a period of the greatest progress. However a more careful look at what actually happened would reveal a history of extreme violence and cruelty on the part of the leading forces to establish their dominance during this period of the emergence of the so-called modern world..

While earlier wars also witnessed much cruelty and distress, the scale of this was limited by the technology available at that time. From 16th century onwards new discoveries and inventions opened up the entire world to invaders, and in addition armed them increasingly with weapons of much larger-scale destruction.

The French philosopher Montaigne wrote at the end of the sixteenth century, “So many goodly cities ransacked and razed; so many nations destroyed and made desolate; so infinite millions of harmless people of all sexes, states and ages, massacred, ravaged and put to the sword; and the richest, the fairest and the best part of the world topsy-turvied, ruined and defaced for the traffic of pearls and pepper.”

Las Casas who was an eyewitness to the Spanish conquest of South America described the genocide of the native American population in Espanola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) as follows : “As they rode along, their lances were pierced into women and children, and no greater pastime was practised by them than wagering as to a cavalier’s ability to completely cleave a man with one dexterous blow of his sword. A score would fall before one would drop in the divided parts essential to winning the wager. No card or dice afforded equal sport. Another knight from Spain must severe his victim’s head from the shoulder at the first sweep of his sword. Fortunes were lost on the ability of a swordsman to run an Indian through the body at a designated spot. Children were snatched from their mother’s arms and dashed against the rocks as they passed. Other children they threw into the water that the mothers might witness their drowning struggles. Babes were snatched from their mother’s breasts, and a brave Spaniard’s strength was tested by his ability to tear an infant into two pieces by pulling apart its tiny legs. And the pieces of the babe were then given to the hounds that in their hunting they might be the more eager to catch their prey. The pedigree of a Spanish blood-hound had nothing prouder in its record than the credit of half a thousand dead or mangled Indians. Some natives they hung on gibbets, and it was their reverential custom to gather at a time sufficient victims to hang thirteen in a row. I have been an eye-witness of all these cruelties, and an infinite number of others which I pass over in silence.”

This cruel behavior, at least for some time, had the support in the home countries at the highest levels: “In 1775 King George III of Britain in a Royal Proclamation decreed that ‘For every scalp of a male (American) Indian brought in as evidence of their being killed… forty pounds, … for every scalp of such female Indian or male Indian under the age of 12 years…twenty pounds’.” Third World Resurgence magazine has written : “Indian generosity and honour were repaid with European treachery and cruelty. The whites broke every treaty they made with the Indians to deprive them of their lands. Between 1887 to 1934 the Indians lost some 100 million acres of their land to the white man. Nations of Indians were destroyed and European diseases were used to exterminate them.”

At the time of Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 the Americas were the home, according to the most recent estimates, of some 100 million people – compared to a European population of only about 70 million (in 1500). “Within a century after 1492, the indigenous population had dropped by 90 percent – the greatest demographic collapse in the history of the planet and the proportional equivalent of nearly half a billion people today.”

In the nearly four centuries of the slave trade nearly 10 to 12 million slaves were obtained and captured from Africa and ‘exported’ mainly to the Americas to labour, and perish, there in the most inhuman conditions. About 2 million died along the way. This was the largest forced migration in history, says Chris Brazier in the New Internationalist, and adds,  “The experience of being ripped from your home, of being squeezed onto a deck with no room to move, of lying in chains for weeks amid your own excrements, of staggering out at the other end into a half-life of back breaking labour at the crack of a whip – all of this is beyond imagination.”

In the late 18th and 19th century it was the turn of the aborigines of the Australian continent to be subject to large-scale killing by the newly arriving British convicts. The British Commissioner reported from here in 1833, “I have heard men of culture and refinement, of the greatest humanity and kindness to their fellow whites… talk, not only of wholesale butchery… but of the individual murder of natives, exactly as they would talk of a day’s sport, or of having to kill some troublesome animal.” Two thirds of Koorie natives of Australia perished within a century.

Charles Darwin had observed, “Wherever the European has trod death seems to pursue the aboriginal.”

The spirit of imperialism was voiced loud and clearly by Cecil Rhodes, founder of Rhodesia, who is reported to have stated : “I would annex the planets if I could.” Rhodes explained the motivation behind British imperialism in this way : “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.” In 1820 the Indian, subcontinent took 11 million yards of British cotton textiles; by 1840 this had grown to 145 million yards. British goods were forced upon India without paying any duty and the foreign manufacturer employed the arm of political injustice to keep down and ultimately strangle a competitor with whom he could not have contended on equal terms. William Bentick, the British Governor General in India, reported in 1834-35, “The misery hardly finds a parallel in the history of commerce. The bones of cotton weavers are bleaching the plains of India.” John Sullivan, President of the Board of Revenue, Madras remarked, “Our system acts very much like a sponge drawing up all the good things from the banks of the Ganges and squeezing them down on the banks of the Thames.”

According to a study of year 1878 published in the prestigious Journal of the Statistical Society there were 37 serious famines in 120 years of British rule against only 17 recorded famines in the entire previous two  millennia in India.

However it is important to note that during the entire course of all these extreme injustices, the leaders of the dominant forces were saying that they are actually helping those whom they were plundering and killing. Joseph Chamberlain, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies , stated, “ Through our colonial policy , as soon as we acquire and develop a territory , we develop it as agents of civilization, for the growth of world trade.” This discourse on presenting themselves as harbingers of civilizations continued unabated during most of colonial violence and plunder.

Why is it important to recall this today? Because to understand the world today it is important to know and understand its roots, its beginnings in such violence and dominance. These tendencies exist to this day but it is more important today for the most powerful persons and institutions to hide them and hiding these tendencies takes very strange forms. Some of the worst and most harmful things are still being done in the name of development, help, assistance, protection, piety etc. and it is very important to understand such tendencies and forces, so that these can be checked and the creative energies and efforts and wisdom of the world can instead be channelized towards building a safe and peaceful world, a world based on justice and equality.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include Planet in Peril and Protecting Earth for Children.

  Read  How the Modern World Started–On A foundation of Violence and Dominance, but in the Name of Civilization
  February 23, 2021
The Pandemic: Half a million lives lost in U.S., more than the two World Wars and Vietnam War combined.
by Countercurrents Collective,
Countercurrents.org, in World


Over half a million people have died of coronavirus in the U.S. Grasping the enormity — half a million people gone — is difficult to visualize.

More people have died in the U.S. due to COVID-19 than any other country in the world.

With 4% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 20% of all COVID deaths and one of the highest rates of deaths per 100,000 residents, exceeded by only a few countries such as Belgium, the United Kingdom and Italy.

January became the deadliest month of the pandemic so far with an average of 3,000 people dying every day.

With total deaths above 500,000, one in every 673 U.S. residents has succumbed to the pandemic. Global deaths have reached 2.57 million or one out of every 3,000 people on the planet.

The U.S. has reported over 28 million cases to date, about 25% of all global infections.

After peaking at nearly 300,000 new cases in a single day on Jan. 8, the United States is now reporting about 70,000 new infections each day.

However, new variants of the virus threaten to disrupt the path to normalcy.

Officials have also warned that most of these cases are from a more transmissible variant first discovered in the U.K. called B.1.1.7, which could become the dominant variant in the United States by March.

Health officials are also worried about a variant first identified in South Africa called 501Y.V2, which has multiple mutations in the important “spike” protein that current vaccines are targeting.

About 15% of the U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose so far and more than 63 million doses have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At the current rate, the U.S. would take more than nine months or until the end of November this year to vaccinate 75% of the country’s population. Even if the current rate doubled, it would still take until early July to vaccinate 75% of residents.

U.S. President Joe Biden said in early February that it would be difficult for the United States to reach herd immunity, at least 75% of the population inoculated, by the end of this summer.

U.S. also lacks a national healthcare system and often relies on grocery stores and drug store chains to provide immunizations.

This has led to a growing disparity among states on vaccination progress, including that Blacks and Hispanics are lagging in getting inoculations. In many parts of the country, long lines and hours of waiting was not an uncommon sight.

White House officials said last week that the country has a backlog of 6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses due to inclement weather that swept much of the United States.

For some, the numbers might just be numbers, meaningless to anyone untouched by the virus’s cruelest of consequences.

U.S. news outlets have tried to conjure the image through various comparisons.

From the death toll being akin to the loss of a major city like Atlanta or Sacramento, to being enough to instantly fill a cemetery the size of Arlington.

Others have made comparisons to the scale of life lost in the theatre of war.

The US COVID-19 death toll over the past year has now surpassed the number of Americans killed on battlegrounds in both World Wars and the Vietnam War.

It is a race against time to vaccinate enough Americans before they spread out of control.

Life expectancy is dropping in U.S.

It was not until a year after the first reported case that the monthly death rate would peak.

One fifth of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths were recorded in the midst of a long, cold, January this year.

On average, 3,100 people died each day during the month. That is one every 28 seconds, a September 11-scale tragedy, every single day.

It took just five weeks to record the last 100,000 deaths.

The ripple effect of the misery and loss has in recent days come into sharp focus.

The average life expectancy in the US dropped by a full year in the first half of 2020 — the largest drop since World War II. The main reason: Deaths from COVID-19.

And just like the disproportionate impact of the pandemic itself, it’s been split down racial lines.

Life expectancy at birth for the total population was 77.8 years — a decline of one year from 78.8 in 2019.

For males, a decline of 1.2 years was recorded to 75.1. For females, it declined to 80.5, a fall of 0.9 years.

The group that suffered the largest decline was non-Hispanic black males, whose life expectancy dropped by three years.

Hispanic males also saw a large decrease, with a decline of about 2.4 years.

Throughout the pandemic, black and Latino Americans have died from COVID-19 at twice the rate of white Americans.

It is a black mark against a country that prides itself on exceptionalism and is sure to go down in history as one of this nation’s darkest chapters.

While the milestone does come at a hopeful time for the country, with new infections and deaths down dramatically in the past few weeks, the next big challenge facing the country is fast-spreading variants of the virus.

Unfolding of this U.S. disaster

To truly understand how the U.S. got here, it needs rewinding.

When the invisible enemy was breaching American shores, the country was caught up in a turbulent election season and the daily unpredictability of the Trump presidency.

While top health officials saw the threat, the Trump administration played it down.

I remember the day the president stepped up to the podium to announce the US would be banning travel from Europe on March 12. It felt like that was when the country sat up and realized this was serious.

But the virus was already here and had been circulating for months.

By and large, the nation as a whole was unaware and perhaps naive about the damage the pandemic would wreak upon its towns, cities and communities in every pocket of this vast country.

As the deputy editor at Foreign Policy, James Palmer, recently put it: “For too many Americans, disasters are things that happen to other people, not themselves.”

Many Americans are simply not used to the idea that what is happening on the news could affect their day-to-day life.

No other country has counted this many deaths in the pandemic.

Plenty of Americans wore masks and stayed home, but many did not.

Despite the horrific numbers and a death rate sharply climbing around the Thanksgiving holiday in November 2020, millions still travelled against health advice.

Some conservative members of Congress went online to boast about mass gatherings they planned to hold in defiance of physical distancing guidelines.

Tens of thousands continued to attend Trump’s post-election rallies and gathered to march on Washington several times.

The denial of basic scientific facts and the very presence of a deadly virus has extended right to the very end, even for some breathing their final moments.

South Dakota nurse Jodi Doering made national headlines in November when she spoke to CNN.

“People are still looking for something else and they want a magic answer, they don’t want to believe COVID is real. Their last dying words are: ‘this can’t be happening. It’s not real,'” she told national television.

  Read The Pandemic: Half a million lives lost in U.S., more than the two World Wars and Vietnam War combined.
  October 20, 2013
Ecology Is the Meaning of Life.
by Dr. Glen Barry,


Naturally evolved ecosystems are marvels that make Earth habitable, yet sadly they and all life are threatened

Miraculous Nature Ultimately, all humanity and all life have is the biosphere, the thin layer of life just above and below Earth’s surface, composed of ancient, miraculously evolved natural ecosystems. The natural Earth is a marvel – a complex coupling of species within ecosystems, whereby life begets life.

Ecology is far more than the study of life and its environment. The word is used here as a synonym for ecosystems – the vibrant connections that emerge between species across scales, which cumulatively make life on Earth possible.

Nature is far, far more than pretty plants and animals. Ecosystems make Earth habitable, providing water, food, air, shelter, and more – everything that we need and desire to live well. In naturally evolved ecosystems, from genes to individual organisms and species, to ecosystems and everything else in between, each living being present fulfills a niche which sustains itself, its neighbors, and the whole.

All species uniquely express evolutionary brilliance and have a purpose, a reason for being, a right to exist, and are necessary to maintain life’s full potential. From the lowly worm to soaring eagles, to the human race – all naturally evolved life has value and relies upon all the rest. Even seemingly noxious disease organisms and man-eating predators have a role to play in maintaining ecological balance.

The Earth as a whole is a living organism, similar biologically to a cell, plant, animal, or ecosystem. Without large intact ecosystems, Earth becomes uninhabitable. Yet sadly, she is being murdered by industrial human growth at the expense of ecosystems. Past certain planetary boundary conditions, like any life, Earth can die.

The vibrant mélange of life found in natural ecosystems is godlike in its all-embracing nurturing. Ecology is the meaning of life.

Ecosystem Collapse

Humankind’s demand for resources and growth overwhelms nature, our steady diminishment of ecosystems abruptly changes climate, and this is collapsing the biosphere. Global ecosystems – water, air, food, forests, oceans, wetlands, and more – are collapsing and dying under the burden of human industrial and population growth.

Human destruction of natural ecosystems and disintegrating climatic integrity are already past critical thresholds. Humanity (meaning each of us) can’t dump filth into air, defecate into water, kill and diminish natural vegetation, plunder oceans, and expect a habitable Earth and decent lives. Abrupt climate change is indicative of much broader decline, both ecological and social – habitat loss, water shortages, inequitable overconsumption, dead oceans, nationalistic injustice, and industrial agriculture – that threatens life itself.

Comforts of modern life for some come at the expense of utterly decimating natural ecosystems required to sustain life; such comforts cannot last. Mass chaos and death are sure to ensue. No one will survive abrupt climate change, ecosystem loss, and biosphere collapse.

Ecosystems are being wantonly liquidated based upon the myth that we can grow forever. Yet we know perpetual exponential economic growth is impossible on a finite planet. Humanity is systematically dismantling Earth’s environmental life support systems, and at most a few more decades of industrial growth will be inevitably followed by ecosystem and biosphere collapse.

The human family is epically failing to protect and restore ecosystems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to avert global ecosystem collapse, achieve ecological sustainability, and enjoy universal well-being forever. The brutal manner in which humankind treats Earth, other species, and each other makes a mockery of claims of being civilized. At our worst, we have become out-of-control vermin destroying our own habitat for momentary pleasure.

The human family is in ecological overshoot, having exceeded Earth’s carrying capacity, and is pulling down all species and the biosphere with us, as Earth’s life collapses into nothingness. There is no easy way out, as together we face an end to ecology, and thus life itself.

Sustainability Solutions Exist

Workable solutions to climate change and broad-based environmental decline exist; they include ending fossil fuels, protecting and restoring ecosystems, agro-ecological food production, reducing population and inequity, and establishing a steady state economy. Plainly, however, such a transition is not going to be easy. Solutions to avert global ecosystem collapse will be disruptive. Yet there is no alternative if together humanity is to survive and enjoy well-being within Earth’s ecological boundaries.

Industrial growth at the expense of ecosystems and climate must end as soon as possible. For human and all life’s survival and well-being, intact ecosystems must remain the context for human endeavors. Huge potential exists to further develop organic, permaculture based agro-ecological systems for growing our food. Ultimately, we are all challenged to create something of worth from our hands and minds working on the land, based upon regenerating and nurturing ecosystems, for our daily sustenance.

We each must nurture a sense of enoughness, realizing more isn’t always better, particularly if it undermines our natural habitat, and thus our ability to persist.

It is not too late to embrace an ecology ethic. But the longer we wait, the more limited our options. Despite pernicious trends in ecological decline – and allowing for the possibility of a deep resiliency to the Earth System of which we are unaware – out of love of life, we owe it to Earth, kindred species, and kids everywhere to try everything possible to save being.

Growth in industry, population, consumption, and inequity cannot be maintained. Together we must reach a steady state economy whereby natural capital is replenished, not diminished. Through measures like educating all girls and providing birth control to all, we must urgently pursue reductions in human population, the most basic human impact upon the climate and ecosystems, or the biosphere collapses.

Ignorance and superstition must be banished through education and promoting a love of truth, justice, knowledge, wisdom, and fairness.

For capitalism to have any future and avoid social, ecological, and economic collapse on a dead planet, it must learn to price external costs and environmental risk now, while rejecting its obsession with growth as the ultimate measure of well-being. Otherwise industrial capitalism will have to be replaced soon just so most may survive, let alone thrive.

Alternatives exist that are fair and reward hard work, but sadly we find it easier to consider the end of life on Earth, rather than embrace essential social change.

For human survival and well-being, committing acts of ecocide that destroy ecosystems must somehow be made unacceptable, and this must be enforced. The environment movement must make more of an effort to communicate the complexity of ecological crises, their profound risk, and these and other sufficient solutions – while resolutely rejecting and outing greenwash that legitimates ecocidal activities.

The green movement must also move beyond awareness-raising stunts and build a broad-based movement to seize power and to implement the ecological policies necessary to sustain being.

Only total societal reorganization away from destroying ecosystems and burning fossil fuels can save Earth and humanity. Either humanity finds a way together to implement difficult ecological policies to end fossil fuels, protect ecosystems, and achieve a steady-state economy – or it is the end. No measures except indiscriminate terrorism targeting innocents can be off the table in efforts to together protect ecology.

Hope in Ecosystems

Today free your mind and senses to see ecology everywhere, in everything you do, and the myriad ways it suffers from human hubris, indifference, ignorance, and overuse.

As long as together we still breathe, there is hope we can sustain Earth, but realistically the state of ecosystems and the biosphere is grim and worsening. We must start in haste, today, to build the world that is possible and needed.

Love of other peoples and species, nature, truth, justice, and equity are the only lasting basis of global ecological sustainability and show the only effective way forward to avoid final ecosystem collapse. For a sustainable, decent future we must go back to the land, stop burning fossil fuels, and nurture ecosystems and one another.

We are one human family with inalienable rights and duties to freedom, work, equity, peace, justice, and sustained ecology. Profound inequity, ecological collapse, persistent injustice, nationalistic perma-war, superstition, and ignorance when faced with truth – all are sicknesses that mar human potential and will prove fatal.

Together the human family either learns to live well together within intact ecosystems and without fossil fuels or faces a period of profound suffering, followed by biosphere collapse and the end of being. Together we could end the current system’s elite rule, inequity, injustice, and gross ecological negligence at any time. Either we act together soon, courageously, on the basis of truthful ecological knowledge, or else each of us alone faces misery and a final apocalyptic global ecological collapse.

Ecology is the meaning of life. Truth, justice, equity, and sustainability are the ideals whereby ecology can be maintained. Let’s make it so.

  Read Ecology Is the Meaning of Life
  February 04, 2021
Why China Surpassed the United States.
by Mohamad Shaaf,


 Following its revolution in1949, China adopted a new economic model based on the basic needs of the population instead of profit. This vital switch resulted in lifting over one billion people out of poverty. Disregarding flaws of the Chinese political model, when measured by Purchasing Power Parity its economy is larger than that of the US by 25 percent. Becoming an economic superpower in this short period of time, and getting ahead of the US, China has already changed the world balance of power. The purpose of this essay is to use several historically proven criteria to determine how China’s dream happened, and why it will continue to win the economic race with the US, peacefully or otherwise. It starts with comparing the Chinese and US economic models, their goals that are reflected by policies, and the race itself. Finally, it will discuss the outcomes, options, and best choices in dealing with China.

II. Economic Model Criteria

1. Primacy of Needs versus Corporate Profit: China’s economy, like that of the US, is a market economy with profit-making and capital accumulation. The main difference is that China’s primary goal is meeting the basic needs of the population, while that of the US is profit. This implies that the Chinese Communist party develops plans based on the provision of basic needs, while the US-two main parties primarily stand for big corporations and monopolies, protecting their profit, and interests. Accordingly, their governments’ goals, priorities, functions, structures, and organizations are different.

2. Public versus Private Ownership: In the US natural resources, land, oil, gas, and other minerals, are mainly owned by private corporations compared to China where all are owned and regulated publicly (collectively). China’s government regulates large and highly profitable state enterprises, which dominate key sectors of the economy; it discourages private ownership of enterprises to limit private-capital accumulation. Also, the majority of banks in China are publicly owned, while in the US all banks, other than one in North Dakota, are privately-owned where profit is in command, rather than responding to the needs of the community including housing, healthcare, and education.

III. Reflections of the Models

1. Stable vs Unstable Economy: The dynamics of the US model leads to structural imbalances: overproduction, over-accumulation of capital, concentration of wealth, monopolies; commodification and privatization of public assets, resources, housing, healthcare, and education. It opens the way for risky speculation and cycles of bubbles and crashes. All the above further increase polarization and inequality.

Historically, the US has had several depressions, and many recessions, about every four years. The Great Depression that started in the US, was the worse and the largest economic disaster in history, with wide and massive cuts in production and employment, widespread poverty, social unrest, family disintegration, suicides, and homicides.

Economic depressions have frequently led to large-scale wars between imperialist rivals for markets: WWI followed the 1907 crash of 50%1910-191126%, and WWII came after the Great Depression80%. Generally, after an economic downturn the US government steps in by stimulating spending in war or the economy. However, these types of remedies shift the problems, without solving them. In contrast, China’s model does not generate structural imbalances, continuing its steady-state growth. During the US-2008 major economic downturn, considered by Bernanke to be worse than the Great Depression, China continued to have a booming economy with full employment.

The current crises of the economic depression starting prior to and the Covid-19 pandemic have been much worse in the US than in China; confirmed by faster action due to a higher degree of readiness, fewer deaths, and full recovery compared with the US, that is still struggling with waves of infections and economic depression, millions of unemployed who cannot pay their rents and mortgages, anxiety and homelessness, and little hope it will get better.

2. Dynamics of Inequality: Declining vs. Rising: China’s model tends towards a reduction of inequality in wealth, income, wages, housing, healthcare, and educational services, compared with that of the US where the inequality in all of those areas has been trending upward; since the early 1980s with the adaptation of neoliberal policies of the laissez faire and less of government help, such as minimum wage and housing subsidies that inequality has been rising more rapidly.

All land in China is publicly owned, corporations and individuals are not permitted to own land, but business entities and individuals in China may own the structures above the land. This policy makes absolute rent zero, differential, and monopoly rent low due to public ownership of enterprises, which leads to affordable housing. Also, China regulates the housing market, and ensures that housing for low-income residents is affordable, resulting in relatively less expensive houses in China than in the US.

Chinese healthcare is largely publicly owned, leading to less inequality compared with that of the US where healthcare is largely provided by private corporations for profit. Starting from far behind, China has had its own set of healthcare problems. Many indications suggest that the speed of improvement in China’s healthcare is much faster than that of the US. This is confirmed by the speed of Chinese of Covid-19 recovery, and Chinese visitors to the US are often surprised by the high price and long waits at healthcare facilities. While 5% of Chinese have no health coverage, the rate of uncovered in the US is 8.5%.

In China, education is considered a public good. Nine-year compulsory education in China is free, but secondary school and college are not compulsory, nor free. College tuition in China is ranked seventh, $3,300-$9,900, and its best universities are public, unlike the US, where the highest-ranked colleges are private.

Therefore, housing, healthcare, and education are more affordable in China than in the US enabling the Chinese to live better and be content, confirmed by the population’s support of their government.

3. Postures: Defensive vs Offensive: The US has invaded 70 nations since 1776 compared with China which invaded the Korean peninsula during1950-1953, but has not invaded any country sinceVery lately China began expansion of trade agreements and created several large free trade zones with other countries, based on mutual respect, and win-win cooperation. China’s defensive posture costs much less than the offensive posture followed by the US, which enables China to grow faster.

4. Dollar Scam Made US the Economic Super Power: The dollar is a tool the US has been using to rob commodities from the world peacefully. The US dollar was originally backed by gold, and since the late 1960s, US dollar creation has far exceeded the stock of gold in US possession. In 1971, Nixon had to stop converting the dollar into gold.

The US covertly replaced gold with oil; five steps were necessary. First, the oil-exporting countries must sell their oil only in dollars; oil importers had to use the dollar to buy oil, which required exchange of their real commodities and assets for the fiat dollar. The real reason why the US invaded Iraq was because Iraq was not selling its oil in dollars, and its leader was hanged (Video). Similarly, the Libyan leader, Gaddafi, was sodomized (Video) and killed. Second, the price of oil was increased quickly by 300%, and continued to be raised gradually to match the dollars stock in circulation. Third, oppose any substitute for oil: sun, wind, and nuclear energy as in France, South Korea, and Iran. Fourth, the US had to control world supply of oil. Fifth, prevent any global-warming agreements and keeping economies dependent on oil.

Moreover, the dollar has been used by the US as a weapon against countries such as Iran, by blocking it from having access to SWIFT. The US has not used this weapon against China and Russia, although they and some other countries have prepared themselves for that possibility by trying not to use the dollar in their transactions with other nations. Now that the US is in an economic dip, it is injecting trillions of dollars, at no cost, to bailout banks, and pay for huge budget and trade deficits. This action and using the dollar as a weapon have both raised the probability of de-dollarization and the loss of US dominance.

IV. War with China

1. An Economic Offensive against China: On day one of a full-scale trade war with ChinaReed explains, all the American factories in China would be shut down. Apple would lose its factories, its products, and its Chinese market of 1.4 billion consumers. That action would be repeated for industry after industry; within weeks, Walmart’s shelves would be bare. Not only plastic buckets and mops but chain saws, pharmaceuticals, motorcycles, and blood-pressure cuffs. The US buys 472 billion in goods annually from China, high-tech, low-tech, consumer goods, and manufacturing components. That would cease. The US-China Trade War might be expected to become a war of military resources, under Biden.

2. A Strategic War against China: Rand, a Pentagon think tank has conducted war games and concluded that a war with China could be both very long and a loss for America. It is no longer 1961. In 2021, with her defensive posture, China is not the USSR of 1989, and will not lose. Of utmost importance, the US must stop the aggressive doctrine of Full Spectrum Dominance (Video), a dream more now than ever, pushed by discredited neocons who strongly believed in 2003 the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would be a cakewalk. Since the war in Syria, Russia and China with superior defensive weapons such as S-400 and S-500 (Video), wars of aggression should not happen; in fact, it could bring peace.

V. Conclusions

Being far behind with poverty and hunger before1949, today China has eliminated poverty, though the US has not. China, as the winner of the economic race with the US, has consolidated its position on the world stage. The only way the US can catch up is by moving toward the Chinese model with a US-democratic character, and make peace and cooperate with all countries. That will lead to coming out of the current depression for good. The sooner the US revises its model the better; it will be less costly economically and politically. This revised model is an updated version of President Kennedy (HereVideo) and that of President Franklin Roosevelt (HereVideo).

The Western establishments must recognize that, while their economic model already contributed to the material wellbeing of mankind in the past three centuries, it now creates massive unsustainable imbalances. The model of for-profit military-industrial-Congressional-intelligence-media-prison-healthcare-education complex resulted in larger numbers of incarcerated persons, poor public health, loss of innovative spirit, permanent wars, and more “defense” costs. The political system becomes even less democratic, the government becomes like a large-scale organized-crime entity that cannot be controlled and no longer functions at the service of the population. It can only be sustained with more lies, blackmail, distortions, crimes, and aggressions against far-distance defenseless people who have not done any harm against the aggressors. It is about time for the US and its “allies” to accept the fact that the profit-only model is outdated and cannot lead to peace even for their own population, much less for the world.Thus, it is time for the West to cut their losses and stop their propaganda and lies, to discontinue using highly expensive, useless, and ineffective institutions, such as media and think tanks, to justify their aggressive conduct. It is not the time for a new cold war: provocation and aggression against China’s defensive-posture. Failure to change will result in the defeat of the West, at best, and loss of humanity at worse.

Mohamad Shaaf, MBA, PhD, is an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Central Oklahoma, an empirical research-analyst and has published on a variety of economic issues in professional journals, using Artificial Intelligence, Dynamic Programing, and Econometric Models. His email is: mshaaf@uco.com

  Read Why China Surpassed the United States
  January 31, 2021
China – Peacefully Forward into the Great Change
by Peter Koenig,
"Information Clearing House"


On 25th January, during the first session of the virtual World Economic Forum (WEF), President Xi Jinping, in his address stated clearly that China’s agenda was to move forward in the World of Great Change, with their renewed policy of multilateralism, aiming for a multi-polar world, where nations would be treated as equals. 

China will continue to vouch for strong macroeconomic growth – and pledge assistance for those that are suffering the most during this pandemic-induced crisis – in view of a balanced development of all countries.

There is no place in this world for large countries dominating smaller ones, or for economic threatening and sanctions, nor for economic isolation. China is pursuing a global free trade economy. BUT – and this is important – when one talks of “globalism” – respect for political and fiscal sovereignty of nations, must be maintained.

At the same time, promoting cultural and research exchange, joint industrial and transport ventures between countries will bring people together, fostering cooperation and collaboration among nations.

This is the chief purposes of President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or One Belt One Road (OBOR) – and also called the New Silk Road. Currently more than 130 countries and more than 30 international organizations are part of BRI, including 34 countries in Europe and Central Asia, of which 18 countries of the European Union (EU). OBOR offers the world participation – no coercion. The attraction is the philosophy behind the New Silk Road – which is shared benefits – the concept of win-win.

The same win-win concept is part of the recently signed (11 November 2020 in Vietnam) free trade agreement with 14 countries – the ten ASEAN, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, altogether 15 countries, including China. The so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was in negotiations during eight years – and achieved to pull together some 2.2 billion people, commanding some 30% of the world’s GDP. This is a never before reached agreement in size, value and tenor.

In addition, China and Russia have a longstanding strategic partnership, containing bilateral agreements that also enter into this new trade fold – plus the countries of the Central Asia Economic Union (CAEU), consisting mostly of former Soviet Republics, are also integrated into the eastern trade block. The conglomerate of agreements and sub-agreements between Asian-Pacific countries that will cooperate with RCEP, is bound together by, for the west a little-understood Asian Pact, called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO’s purpose is to ensure security and maintain stability across the vast Eurasian region, join forces to counteract emerging challenges and threats, and enhance trade, as well as cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

In the hard times emerging from the covid crisis, many countries may need grant assistance to be able to recover as quickly as possible their huge socioeconomic losses. In this sense, it is likely that the new Silk Road / OBOR may forge a special “Health Road” across the Asian Continent. President Xi says China is committed to assisting in lifting the world out of this gigantic macroeconomic crisis.


The RCEP may, over time, open a window of opportunity for integrating the huge Continent of Eurasia that spans all the way from western Europe to Asia and covering the Middle East as well as North Africa, of about 5.4 billion people, stretching across some 55 million square kilometers.

The RCEP agreement’s trade deals will be carried out in local currencies and in yuan – no US dollars. The RCEP is, therefore, also a convenient instrument for dedollarizing, primarily in the Asia-Pacific Region, and gradually moving across the globe.

China’s new digital Renminbi (RMB) or yuan may soon be rolled out internationally as legal tender for international payments and transfers. This will further drastically reduce the use of the dollar. The new digital RMB will become attractive for many countries which are fed up with being subjected to US sanctions, because using the US-dollar, they automatically become vulnerable to being punished with dollar blockages, confiscations of resources, whenever their international “behavior” doesn’t conform with the mandates of Washington’s.

The yuan is already increasingly used as a reserve currency and may within the next three to five years dethrone the dollar as chief reserve currency. The RMB / yuan is based on a solid economy, whereas the US-dollar and its European offspring, the euro, are fiat moneys, backed by nothing. -------

Entering this new “Time of Great Change”, China may envision leading a reform of the west-biased WTO – to give the Global South, alias developing countries, a greater say in international trade policies, to bring the world onto a more balanced development for all countries.

China may also strive at shifting the IMF’s fiscal policies, to better allow emerging countries to develop their own capacities and use their natural resources independently, according to their needs, and if necessary, with international technical assistance that does not enslave them – which under current IMF / World Bank rules and conditions is not the case.

In this sense, China may take a leading role in helping better coordinating countries’ macro-economic policies, through the G20 mechanism. ----

Thanks to China’s endless creation and peaceful advancements, she has gained experience in resistance and resilience against adversities. Therefore, when in early 2020 the Chinese economy was in covid-shock, the Chinese Government applied drastic and disciplined social measures. The country recovered in the same year.

China, like no other major economy in the world, grew in 2020 by about 2.3% - maybe more when the final figures are in. China has mastered the covid crisis within six to eight months, and has revamped an industrial and construction apparatus that was basically locked down by 80% during the 4 or 5 covid-peak months. By the end of 2020 it was 100% back in operation.

Compare this to western economies which are way down – Europe, according to official figures, by 12% to 15%. In the US, the FED predicted already last November that the country may lose up to a third of its economic output / GDP in 2020 / 2021.

The situation in the Global South is much worse. Catastrophic labor losses due to uncountable bankruptcies, are the result of generalized lockdowns in all 193 UN member countries simultaneously.

The International Labor Office (ILO) has predicted that global unemployment in 2021 may reach up to 50% of the world’s labor force of 3.5 billion (WB, June 21, 2020); meaning, about 1.7 billion people may be jobless. Most of them in the Global South, where about 70% of labor is informal, no contracts, no social safety nets, no social health care, no income, no shelter, no food --- leading to total despair. According to both the British Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) – suicide rates are rampant.

Over the past 40 years, China has made historic gains in ending extreme poverty, bringing over 800 million people out of poverty, representing over 70 percent of global poverty reduction. In 2020 – despite covid – China has achieved zero poverty.

The most effective condition to achieve prosperity is societal harmony and PEACE. President Xi, in his address to the WEF last Monday, also called on the world to avoid confrontation. Instead, the world should stick to cooperation based on mutual benefits and resolve disagreements through consultation and dialogue.

To conclude, China has committed herself to help alleviate this ongoing epic crisis, Striving for balanced development for all countries, with the objective of an enhanced and continued cooperation for a world community with a shared future and common prosperity for mankind.

Peter Koenig's presentation at the International Symposium (webinar) hosted by the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China (RDCY), Beijing - “China and the World at the Time of Great Change”

Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020). "Source" -

  Read China – Peacefully Forward into the Great Change
  January 29, 2021
Questions for My Betters Dijjywan—Dijjydo or Dijjydon’t?
by Fred Reed,
"Information Clearing House"


January 29, 2021 "Information Clearing House" -  China is now vigorously testing a digital yuan and threatens to have it ready for prime time for the 2022 Winter Olympics. This seems, to me anyway, important. It will be a real, workaday yuan, not a speculative cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. It will use a digital wallet via a cellphone app, and will not require an internet connection. Beyond this, I know about it only what I read, which may be wrong. To avoid endless qualification, I will write the following as if it were fact, but really I mean it more as an extended question. Any correction, amplification, or thought will be welcome.

I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that all currencies of any worth will eventually become digital. Many countries, the EU, and Google are now pondering the idea. There are serious objections to digital money, which we will come to shortly but, if all countries have them, the question will become which is least bad.

I also assume, tentatively, that Beijing will want to make the dijjywan as nearly universal as possible. The Chinese will accept it with little concern since they are accustomed to making payments with mobile apps. To have people adopt it in countries still mired in the Paper Age, the dijjywan will have to be attractive. To whom will digital currency appeal, and why? What will be the appeal? Some ideas:

It will not require a bank account, making it attractive to people who have a cell phone but not a bank account. While these folk do not on average have a lot of money, their use of dijjywan will be a step toward universalizing the currency. And of course, many who do have bank accounts may want another repository for money. It will require only the app and a QR code.

Transactions will be instantaneous and free of bureaucracy, such as the filling of forms and handling of SWIFT codes. (I suspect that Washington has thought of this latter point.) This feature will appeal to everybody.

As with paper currency, there will be no transaction fees. This will make it popular with merchants, though not with Visa and Mastercard. These charge a percentage of the purchase price of merchandise. A wan-wallet with no rake-off would have interesting consequences for the credit-card companies, such as bankrupting them. The threat to such companies as Western Union would be, well, gratifying. They would quickly become extinct.

Since the dijjywallet is a debit device, not offering credit, it will cut down on the impulse buying on which Visa and Mastercard rely to manufacture debt slaves. Goodbye twenty-percent interest rates on unpaid balances.

Armed robbery and theft will become almost impossible. I could put a pistol to your head and demand your money, but you would have to transfer it to my own phone. This would create a record of amount, date, time, GPS (or Beidou) position, as well as the identity of both of us. This would reduce the enthusiasm of most armed robbers. You would of course report the robbery, and your money could simply be pulled from my phone and returned to yours. In America’s dangerous cities, and Brazilian favelas, this might be appealing.

In countries vulgarly but accurately referred to by Mr. Trump, the currency can be, and often is, inflated into the 1923 Deutschemark by exuberance with the printing press. By adopting the Chinese dijjymoney as a national currency (or somebody else’s when available) said country would have a stable, grownup currency. This might actually appeal to some Third World countries. China might make such adoption a condition of loans.

An enormous appeal of dijjywan is that transactions are completely independent of and opaque to the American government. Even it its early form as a retail instrument, it will appeal to governments such as that of Cuba and Iran, which might like an influx of dijjywan into their tourist and retail industries. People who want to send remittances to countries being sanctioned, which does not yet include all countries but Washington is working on it, could do so unfettered.

It will appeal to people in badly governed countries, for example Zimbabwe, because it is portable. For example, the owner of a store there cannot easily today travel because Zimbabwean currency is worthless outside of Zimbabwe. But the dijjywan will be accepted around the world.

Washington will go into gibbering gollywobbles at the idea of dijjywan being used in the US, and outlaw it. So might other countries on, among other grounds, of not collecting sales taxes. However, Beijing could easily charge such taxes and deliver the proceeds to the local government.

The obvious, and entirely justified, objection to the dijjywan is that it would be transparent to, and controllable by, the People’s Bank of China. The possibility for social control is immense since, if you should be a bad boy, the PBOC could disappear your money. Note, though, that this will be true of all dijjymoney from whatever country. If—when—all major currencies become digital, you will have to decide which is least unreliable. And for most people, digital tracking of their money would make no difference. When was the last time you paid for anything illegal or that would upset Washington?

As a wild thought, might some international entity want to establish a planetary digital currency? We live in wild times.

Along with the downsides, there would be advantages. For example, the drug cartels would be very, very, very, very unhappy. Carlos lands daringly by dark of night at a clandestine airstrip in Florida with a ton of cocaine. Willy Bill the dealer steps from the jungle and pays Carlos for flying, which creates a record of time, place, amount, identity of both, and trips an alarm at FinCin in Washington. In the drug racket, this sort of thing is suboptimal. Money laundering would become the Achilles heel of the drug racket.

At this point the dijjywan sounds retail, not suited to purchases of oil. Could it be scaled up for larger transactions? I don’t know, being blankly ignorant of high finance but, if it could…Good Heavens, it would evade American sanctions. Oh no! I doubt, though, that Beijing has thought of this. Probably Washington hasn’t either.

Them is some thoughts. I don’t know whether they are good thoughts.

  Read Questions for My Betters Dijjywan—Dijjydo or Dijjydon’t?
  February 02, 2021
Beware the Beginning of Unreason.
by Oscar Zambrano,

"Information Clearing House"


We’re watching America turn unreason against itself on a massive scale, and the whole world is watching too. By the day now, even by the hour, we’re losing ground – the ground of reality and truth.

Ignorance doesn’t know it doesn’t know, so it’s hard to make a dent on it. When you add entitlement and hatred to it, ignorance hardens into violence and destruction.

Our current state of affairs was long in the making but its undoing is happening quickly.

Immense catastrophes can have banal beginnings. World War I comes to mind. It was moved by local events none of which by itself could have possibly portended the unleashing of the long-lasting darkness that followed. One by one, countries made choices that got tangled up in the pre-existing web of alliances and ententes, quickly leading to The Great War. It lasted four years, brought down four empires, and created such immense debris the world today is still recovering from it.

One by one today, the errors within the United States are piling up. Tensions are mounting. But our life-long habits and expectations die hard so we keep rationalizing away the absurd.

When scared, we go back to what’s familiar. We hold on to it, trusting it will be there no matter what. Like a prayer, we defend from anxiety by denying the gravity of our massive current decline.

The Titanic was unsinkable until it sank. And like the Titanic, American might also can sink.

We’re past the time of “normal” politics, or normal anything. We have a dire national emergency staring us in the face. The Covid-19 stimulus as planned and defined so far, will be far from sufficient to redress our abysmal economic descent, and yet the political will to do more is lacking, like reason is lacking. So mistakes accumulate, too many too quickly, from all directions and we can’t catch up, let alone change course.

We’ve been asleep at the wheel, and perhaps lulled by past glories of empire we failed to check in real time and in a timely fashion, the relentless torrent of incendiary disinformation with which Trump and followers have been drowning our national reason and our rational governance. Trump was allowed to spread unreason and Covid-19 at the same time and no one ever stopped him.

In recent years, American reason has not matched the energy, the rage, the aggressiveness and the sheer brute force of American unreason which stops at nothing. Unreason is unburdened by facts, logic, history, common sense, or commity. Does reason not know how to fight?

It is true that American unreason is formidable now. It has the momentum of forty years of neglect and abandonment by its own neoliberal, financialized government, owned and managed as it is by a small number of people with extreme wealth and influence.

We’ve already hit the iceberg of Covid-19, recession, racial animus, and climate change. Only a realistic assessment of the damage incurred could lead to effective action. But with half the country living in unreason, refusing reality, and denying any crisis is taking place other than their unthinkably bizarre conspiracies, this assessment will not get done. The impasse will slow, or even block the implementation of an effective recovery.

Long ago, KGB poachers in Russia spotted Donald Trump from oceans away as the obtuse pachyderm of ego he is. And Trump delivered for them even more than they expected.

Today the GOP is an irrational, dysfunctional cabal still bewitched by Trump’s shadow. It has no agenda going forward. It delivers nothing besides treasonous insurrection and the Big Lie of a stolen election in 2020.

The GOP has not only ceased to be a political party, it is now a fact-free fifth column wedded to QAnon conspiracy, and firmly committed to destroying the American government as it stands. Their only plan is more voter suppression, and the politics of brute force. Their authoritarian existence is about seizing total power for its own sake, wanting nothing to do with democracy or with the interests of the American people.

Reason, already something of an insecure entity in many of Trump’s QAnon followers, can be entirely dispensed with.  Breaking things and looking for people to hang are clear, concrete actions that are visceral and cathartic.

The unreason of conspiracy is effective for many because it is simple-minded — anyone can get it — and it serves to vent emotion.  For the true believers, the unreason of lies and fantasy also confers on them a special insider status: secret knowledge that no one out there suspects.  The whole thing works like a cult, complete with those who are considered initiates.  Membership is thrilling. It gives a home to many disempowered people who now have a simpler alternative world they can understand, and where they’re actually welcome.

What’s not to like?

On the tabula rasa of their ignorance Trump rewrites reality for them. His message comes fact-free and simple, loud and flamboyant, custom-fitted to whatever racist or nativist prejudices may be there which Trump reinforces. That’s his energizing nexus with them.

Trump bribed everybody. He gave poor Whites the satisfaction of hating the so-called caravans of Brown people invading the US.  The military got more cash than they ever asked for. Wall Street wealth received a two-trillion dollar tax windfall.  The NRA had a boon. Even Evangelicals got Trump’s attention in his infamous photo op when he brandished a Bible in their behalf, upside down as it was but mostly no one minded that.

We’ve just been through four years of the gaudy Trump piñata going around, spreading a few peanuts but mostly planting rage, lies, and coronavirus disease. With great skill, Trump gave the whacking stick to various groups of people who then pounded away with it at whatever they liked to hit.

This is why unreason finds Trump invigorating. You don’t have to think to hit a piñata, you do it with your whole body, like breaking windows and doors at the U.S. Capitol, and looking for people to lynch.

And speaking of lynching, to this day there is still no written American law against lynching that has ever been approved by both houses. As we head towards unreason, new anti-lynching legislation is urgent. Biden could add that item to his already endless to-do list.

At this point in time I regard the men and women in Congress who promote unreason and the Big Lie to be a fifth column. Some of them are well educated, which makes them far worse than Trump’s street thugs.

These Republicans in Congress may not like Trump in private, but in public they keep diving again and again into his effluvia for their own personal profit, like hyenas diving whole into a rotting elephant carcass.

Their cowardly unreason is really hurting the United States, although with the Congress this may be less a case of unreason and more one of treason.

"Source" - 

  Read Beware the Beginning of Unreason
  February 02, 2021
The U.S. Economy Excels at One Thing: Producing Massive Inequality
by Richard D. Wolff,

"Information Clearing House"


To grasp the sheer magnitude of U.S. economic inequality in recent years, consider its two major stock market indices: the Standard and Poor (S&P) 500 and Nasdaq. Over the last 10 years, the values of shares listed on them grew spectacularly. The S&P 500 went from roughly 1,300 points to over 3,800 points, almost tripling. The Nasdaq index over the same period went from 2,800 points to 13,000 points, more than quadrupling. Times were good for the 10 percent of Americans who own 80 percent of stocks and bonds. In contrast, the real median weekly wage rose barely over 10 percent across the same 10-year period. The real federal minimum wage fell as inflation diminished its nominal $7.25 per hour, officially fixed and kept at that rate since 2009.

All the other relevant metrics likewise show that economic inequality in the United States kept worsening across the last half-century. This happened despite “concerns” about inequality expressed publicly across the years by many establishment politicians (including some in the new Biden administration), journalists, and academics. Inequality worsened through the capitalist downturns after 1970 and likewise through the three capitalist crashes of this century (2000, 2008, and 2020). Nor did the deadly pandemic provoke soul-searching or policies adequate to stop, let alone reverse, the ongoing redistribution of income and wealth upward.

No advanced economics is required to grasp that divisions, bitterness, resentment, and anger flow from such a persistently widening gap between haves and have-nots. Among millions who search for explanations, many become prey for those mobilizing against scapegoats. White supremacists blame Black and Brown people. Nativists (calling themselves “patriots” or “nationalists”) point to immigrants and foreign trade partners. Fundamentalists blame those less zealous and especially the non-religious. Fascists try to combine those movements with economically threatened small-business owners, jobless workers, and alienated social outcasts to form a powerful political coalition. The fascists made good use of Trump to assist their efforts.

U.S. history adds a special sharpness to the search for explanations. The dominant argument for capitalism in the 20th century after the 1930s Great Depression was that it “produced a great middle class.” Real U.S. wages had risen even during the Depression. They were generally higher than elsewhere across the globe, and especially in comparison with those in the USSR. High wages showed the superiority of U.S. capitalism according to the system’s apologists in politics, journalism, and academia. Demolition of that middle class at the end of the 20th and into the new century pained especially those who had bought the apologies.

And indeed, the Great Depression and its aftermath had lessened inequality significantly, enabling such a defense of capitalism to have some semblance of validity. However, for that defense to be persuasive required two key facts to be forgotten or hidden. The first is that the U.S. working class fought harder for major economic gains in the 1930s than at any other time in U.S. history. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) then organized millions into labor unions utilizing militants from two socialist parties and a communist party. Those parties were then achieving their largest-ever numerical strengths and social influences. That is how and why together the unions and the parties won the establishment of Social Security, federal unemployment compensation, a minimum wage, and a huge federal jobs program: all firsts in U.S. history. The second fact is that capitalists in the 1930s and afterward fought harder than ever against each and every working-class advance. The “middle-class” status achieved by a large portion of the working class (by no means all and especially not minorities) happened despite not because of capitalism and capitalists. But it was certainly clever propaganda for capitalism to claim credit for working-class gains that capitalists tried but failed to block.

The reduction of U.S. economic inequality accomplished then proved temporary. It was undone after 1945. Particularly after 1970, capitalism’s normal trajectory of deepening economic inequality resumed through to the present moment. Simply put, capitalism’s basic structure of production—how it organizes its enterprises—positioned capitalists to reverse the New Deal’s reduction of economic inequality. Much of the temporary U.S. middle class is now gone; the rest is fading fast. Over the last half-century, U.S. capitalism brought inequality to the extremes surrounding us now. No wonder a population once persuaded to support capitalism because it fostered a middle class now finds reasons to question it.

In capitalist enterprises, tiny minorities of the persons involved occupy positions of leadership, command, and control. The owner, the owner’s family, the board of directors, or the major shareholders comprise such minorities: the class of employers. Opposite them are the vast majorities: the class of employees. The employer class determines, exclusively, what the enterprise produces, what technology it uses, where production occurs, and what is done with its net revenue. The employee class must live with the consequences of employers’ decisions from which it is excluded. The employer class uses its position atop the enterprise to distribute its profits partly to enrich itself (via dividends and top executive pay packages). It uses some of its profits to buy and control politics. The goal there is to prevent universal suffrage from moving the economic system beyond capitalism and the economic inequality it reproduces.

Deepening U.S. inequality flows directly from this capitalist organization of production—its class system. Occasionally, under exceptional circumstances, rebellious social movements win reversals of that inequality. However, if such movements do not change the capitalist organization of production, capitalists will render such reversals temporary. To solve the extreme inequality of U.S. capitalism requires systemic change, an end to capitalism’s specific class structure pitting employers against employees. If production were organized instead in enterprises (factories, offices, stores) that were democratized—one worker, one vote—as worker cooperatives, economic inequality could and would be drastically reduced. Democratic decisions over the distribution of individual incomes across all the participants in an enterprise would far less likely give a small minority vast wealth at the expense of the vast majority. The same logic that dispensed with kings in politics applies to employers in capitalism’s enterprises.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Richard Wolff is the author of Capitalism Hits the Fan and Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens. He is founder of Democracy at Work.

  Read The U.S. Economy Excels at One Thing: Producing Massive Inequality
December 3, 2020
Poésie planétaire
by Guy Crequie,

Ecrivain français à finalité philosophique.

Guy Crequie
Email: guy.crequie@wanadoo.fr
Guy CREQUIE Global file



Consommer les ténèbres
Leur cortège insolite
De bruits de frémissements
Et de silences nocturnes

Découvrir la faille
De l’interruption des sons
Jusqu’aux senteurs
Des premières lueurs du jour.

Voir la rose s’entrouvrir
Sous la brise du matin
Lorsque pénètre l’éclat de la perle solaire
Sur les corps de la terre ocre

Le gazon sous la rosée
Présente la prairie reverdie
Comme la mer des oliviers
Empreinte de la beauté
Des herbes mêlées
Par la chaleur du ciel après l’orage
L’incandescence du soleil
Emerveille la vie diurne de la mousse

Respirons à plein poumon
La saveur du spectacle naturel
Empreinte de la vie
Jusqu’au tréfonds ultime
De l’essence d’existence.

Copyright Guy CREQUIE





Ci-joint la présentation de mon livre publié le 8 décembre « POESIE PLANETAIRE » ! Pour les lectrices et lecteurs de langue française !
Cet ouvrage bien que consacré à la poésie fait référence au GANDHICA et aux travaux de notre groupe GHA
On m’annonce le proche envoi de la version en langue française = je l’espère ENFIN !Ceci car cette réalisation  fut éprouvante et pour ma santé et pour ces péripéties successives = j’espère pouvoir très prochainement vous transmettre la couverture du livre 

« Poésie planétaire » Celui-ci est mon 36e livre publié depuis 1980
Voici le livre à offrir en cadeau pour les fêtes de fin d’année. Avec le regard acéré du poète, dans le langage poétique en vers ou en prose, l’auteur traite  de tous les enjeux de la planète :la beauté de la nature sur les continents, le climat et ses enjeux, les droits fondamentaux de la femme, le refus du racisme, la pandémie, la paix, le  dialogue entre les civilisations, le terrorisme, la pauvreté et la relation Nord/Sud, les droits et devoir humains, l’avenir de la jeunesse, la relation entre les peuples et les élites dirigeantes …..
Ce recueil se compose en 3 parties :hommage à la nature à partir des impressions de voyages par l’auteur,
Ensuite, la seconde partie du recueil est un vibrant hommage à la femme :l’avenir de l’homme !
Enfin, la troisième partie traite des maux, espoirs et solidarités de nos sociétés.

Ce recueil vendu 12 euros pour 150 pages environ - ISBN 978-7-38153-316-2-  bénéficie de 3 préfaces de qualité par des personnalités différentes !

Nathalie LESCOP BOESWILLWALD Docteur en histoire de l’art, poétesse, Directrice de la revue littéraire et picturale « Les Amis de Thalie ».Cette revue a reçu le prix de la presse poétique en 1998 ,

Jean ETEVENAUX, historien , Président de la Société des écrivains et du livre lyonnais et rhônalpins ,

Jean–Paul DE BERNIS, Président du mérite et dévouement français, Président de l’Académie internationale des arts et des lettres, récipiendaire des grandes distinctions de notre pays :légion d’honneur, ordre nationale du mérite, arts et lettres, Assemblée nationale………

L’une des 3 préfaces ci-dessous




Lorsque que mon ami Guy Créquie m’a demandé de préfacer son nouveau recueil de poésie, je n’ai pas hésité une seconde à lui répondre par l’affirmative même si la période ne s’y prêtait guère tant nous avions l’esprit encombré par la crise sanitaire sans précédent qui secouait le monde.

Sincèrement, je ne pouvais qu’accéder à l’invite de cet ami de longue date en terre-poésie et humaine, fidèle parmi les fidèles des Amis de Thalie, notre revue littéraire et picturale qui a fêté l’an passé ses 25 ans d’existence. Je savais d’expérience, ayant déjà préfacé l’un de ses ouvrages par le passé, combien ce nouveau recueil véhiculerait d’humanisme profond et d’engagement.


Guy Créquie, tant le poète que l’humaniste au service de la paix dans le monde, n’est plus à présenter, voici plusieurs décennies qu’il œuvre en France mais également aux quatre coins de la planète, pour interpeller les puissants sur les causes à effet de leurs décisions ultra-libérales, pour mettre en garde l’humain à l’échelle universelle contre les méfaits de nos sociétés capitalistes mettant en péril notre planète (guerres, destruction de la nature...).


Guy Créquie se fait le messager d’une Terre mise à mal par l’homme et sa soif de pouvoir, dénonçant avec intelligence la misère, la guerre, le consumérisme, l’intolérance, l’individualisme qui depuis trop longtemps entraînent l’humanité dans une spirale de violence et d’anéantissement.

Evoquant avec bienveillance et savoir la beauté du monde, nous faisant partager son émerveillement, Guy Créquie sait également rendre compte du périlleux sabotage de la planète par l’homme, tâchant de nous faire prendre conscience de l’essentialité à retrouver un équilibre perdu avant qu’il ne soit trop tard...
Guy Créquie fait acte de résistance face au saccage de la planète par ces hommes assoiffés de puissance et d’argent, leur opposant solidarité et fraternité ! Certains pourront penser qu’il est utopique d’encore espérer en l’avenir, pourtant l’espoir allié à l’action positive demeure notre seule échappatoire pour croire en un possible futur pour notre humanité.

Sachons aux côtés d’hommes et de femmes à l’image de Guy Créquie et de ses confrères, porter un regard humble et aimant sur le monde, reconnaître notre appartenance au grand Tout et accepter qu’il en va de notre survie ici et maintenant !
Guy Créquie nous dit simplement, avec les mots/maux du cœur, qu’il est de notre devoir d’ouvrir les yeux et de changer nos comportements pour contrer une vision supérieure et erronée de l’humain. Nous ne sommes qu’un maillon de la chaîne, ne nous rêvons pas dieu ! N’oublions jamais qu’ici-bas nous sommes mortels et que l’univers n’a nul besoin de nous pour être et continuer à être...

Méditons sur la question de notre finitude, et apprenons en compagnie du poète et de l’humaniste Guy Créquie à être vigilants quant au devenir altruiste de l’humanité.
Prenons le temps de nous attarder en ces pages où la poésie se fait le chantre d’une pensée fondamentale diseuse de partage, d’écoute pour que demain les jeunes générations puissent rêver, vivre, inventer, espérer sans épée de Damoclès au-dessus de leurs têtes, en parfait accord avec la nature et les énergies universelles.
Interrogeons-nous sur notre désir d’un Vivre ensemble et agissons sans plus attendre de nouveaux cataclysmes ou alertes à l’instar de ce Covid-19, comme le souligne Guy Créquie en ouverture de ce recueil, le prochain avertissement sera peut-être le dernier, agissons en pleine conscience.

Nathalie Lescop-Boeswillwald
Directrice de « Les Amis de Thalie » revue littéraire et picturale
Poète, collagiste
Docteur en Histoire de l'art


Poète, écrivain observateur social français

Messager de la paix de l’UNESCO depuis juin  2000 (Manifeste 2000 et autres réalisations ), auteur de 36 ouvrages publiés, a chanté la paix de par le monde et fait des conférences, participé à des congrès, et a connu   :chars russe à Prague en aout 1968, expulsion par la police franquiste en 1971, tirs autour de lui au Sri LANKA en 1989, ……………………
Lauréat de l’Académie Européenne des arts, Docteur Honoris Causa de l‘Académie mondiale de la culture et des arts et le congrès mondial des poètes,  Représentant français d’ONG internationales de paix et d’harmonie, Médaillé d’or par la société académique « Arts-Sciences- Membre de l’Association internationale des auteurs et artistes…………..
Membre de la Commission diplomatique mondiale des éducateurs pour la paix affiliée à l’ONU et représentant pour l’Europe !



To consume darkness
Their strange procession
Noises of quiverings
And of night silences

To discover the fault
Interruption of the sounds
Until the scents
First gleams of the day.

See the pink to half-open
Under the breeze of the morning
When the glare of the solar pearl penetrates
On the bodies of the ocher ground

Grass under the dew
Present the meadow reverdie
Like the sea of the olive-trees
Print of the beauty
Grasses frays
By the heat of the sky after the storm
The incandescence of the sun
Fill with wonder the diurnal life at foam

Let us breathe with full lung
The savor of the natural spectacle
Print of the life
To the ultimate subsoil
Petrol of existence.

Copyright Guy CREQUIE





Herewith presentation of my book published on December 8th “PLANETARY POETRY”! For the readers and readers of French language!
This work although devoted to poetry refers to the GANDHICA and work of our group GHA !

One announces to me the close sending of the version in French language = I hope for it FINALLY! This because this realization was testing and for my health and these successive adventures = I hope to be able very to soon to transmit the cover of the book you 

“Planetary Poetry” This one is my 36e delivers published since 1980
Here the book to be offered in gift for the festivals of end of the year. With the sharp-edged glance of the poet, in the poetic language in worms or prose, the author deals with all the challenges of planet:the beauty of nature on the continents, the climate and its challenges, basic rights of the woman, the refusal of racism, pandemia, peace, the dialog between the civilizations, terrorism, poverty and the relation NORTH-SOUTH, human rights and duty, future of youth, the relation between the people and elites leading .....
This collection is composed in 3 parts:homage to nature starting from the impressions of voyages by the author,
Then, the second part of the collection is a vibrating homage to the woman:future of the man!
Lastly, the third part treats evils, hopes and solidarity of our companies.

This collection sold 12 euros for 150 pages approximately - ISBN 978-7-38153-316-2- profits from 3 forewords of quality by different personalities!

Nathalie LESCOP BOESWILLWALD Doctor of art history, poetess, Director of the literary and pictorial review “Friends of Thalie”.This review received the prize of the poetic press in 1998,

Jean ETEVENAUX, historian, President of the Company of the writers and the Lyons book and rhônalpins,

Jean-Paul OF BERNIS, President of the merit and devotion French, President of the international Academy of arts and the letters, member elect of the great distinctions of our country:legion of honor, national order of merit, arts and letters, National Assembly .........

One of the 3 forewords below




When that my friend Guy Créquie asked me to preface his new collection of poetry, I did not hesitate a second to answer him by the affirmative even if the period hardly lent itself to it so much we had the spirit encumbered by the medical crisis without precedent which shook the world.

Sincerely, I could not that to reach invites this old friend in cover over with soil-poetry and human, faithful among the faithful ones of the Friends of Thalie, our literary and pictorial review which celebrated the last year its 25 years of existence. I knew experiment, having already prefaced one of his works in the past, how much this new collection would convey major humanism and of commitment.


Guy Créquie, as well the poet as the humanistic one with the service of peace in the world, is not any more to present, several decades as it works in France but also with the four corners of planet, to challenge the powerful ones here on the causes for purpose of their ultra-liberal decisions, to warn the human one on a universal scale against the misdeeds of our capitalist companies putting in danger our planet (wars, destruction of nature…).


Guy Créquie is made the messenger of a Ground put at evil by the man and his thirst for being able, denouncing with intelligence misery, the war, the consumerism, intolerance, individualism who since too long involve humanity in a spiral of violence and destruction.

Evoking with benevolence and knowledge the beauty of the world, making us share his amazement, Guy Créquie can also give an account of the perilous sabotage of planet by the man, trying to make us become aware of the essentiality to find a lost balance before it is too late…
Guy Créquie makes act of resistance vis-a-vis the confusion of planet by these thirsty men of power and money, their opponent solidarity and fraternity! Some will be able to however think that it is utopian still to hope in the future, the hope combined of the positive action remains our only loophole to believe in a possible future for our humanity.

Let us know at the sides of men and women with the image of Guy Créquie and his fellow-members, to carry a glance humble and liking on the world, to recognize our membership of the Great Whole and to accept that it goes from there from our survival here and now!
Guy Créquie tells us simply, with the words/evils of the heart, which it is of our duty to open the eyes and to change our behaviors to counter a higher and erroneous vision of the human one. We are only one chain link, we do not dream god! Never let us forget that here below we are mortals and that the universe does not have no need for us to be and continue to be…

Let us meditate on the question of our finitude, and learn accompanied by poet and from humanistic Guy Créquie to being vigilant as for becoming altruistic of humanity.
Let us take the time to delay us on these pages where poetry is made to the cantor of a fundamental thought monologuist of division, of listening so that tomorrow the young generations can dream, live, invent, hope without sword of Damocles above their heads, in perfect agreement with universal nature and energies.
We question on our desire of a Food together and act without more expecting new cataclysms or alarms following the example of this Covid-19, as underlines it Guy Créquie in opening of this collection, the next warning will be perhaps the last, act as full conscience.

Nathalie Lescop-Boeswillwald
Director of “the Friends of literary and pictorial Thalie” re-examined
Poet, collagist
Doctor of Art history


Poet, French social observant writer

Messenger of the peace of UNESCO since June 2000 (Express 2000 and other achievements), author of 36 works published, sang peace all over the world and made conferences, took part in congresses, and knew:tanks Russian with Prague in August 1968, expulsion by the pro-Franco police in 1971, shootings around him in Sri Lanka in 1989, ........................
Award-winning of the European Academy of arts, Docteur Honoris Causa of L ` world Academy of the culture and arts and the world congress of the poets, French Representative of ONG international of peace and harmony, Gold medal by the academic company “Art-Sciences Member of the International association of the authors and artists ..............
Member of the world diplomatic Commission of the teachers for peace affiliated to UNO and representing for Europe!

Copyright Guy CREQUIE Social observant French writer French singer, messenger of the culture of peace Award-winning of the European Academy of arts - Doctor Honoris causa by the world Academy of the culture and arts and the world congress of the poets. French representative of ONG international of peace and harmony    Presented by the French federation for UNESCO and international personalities for the international prize 2016 of UNESCO Madanjeet Singh of the tolerance and the non-violence which was allotted to the center of tolerance of the federation of Russia. Gold medal of the French academic company “Art-Sciences-Lettes and the French merit and devotion. Member of the International association of the authors and artists Had in 2011 by the Academy of Cambridge like one by 2000 outstanding personalities of the year.

  February 2, 2021
Doughnut Economics Boots Capitalism Out!
by Robert Hunziker, Countercurrents.org, in Counter Solutions.

The rapid rise of Covid-19 has spawned a renaissance in socio-economic thinking about the best way to face the future, as mayors of cities throughout the world search for answers in the face of declining revenues while society demands more urgent help.

Eureka! Amsterdam, the Venice of the North, discovers doughnut economics. With a click of fingers, it abandons the major tenets of the neoliberal brand of capitalism’s insatiable thirst for growth to infinity at any and all costs. This city where capitalism spawned via the Dutch East India Company first issuing shares in 1602 has turned agnostic on 400 years of embedded capitalism.

In the face of a virus that has turned the world to a state of reflection of how to best cope, new ideas bring new hope. After all, the virus has exposed the utter fragility, vast inequity, and incongruity of the engulfing neoliberal machine as conceived under the auspices of Reaganism/Thatcherism over four decades ago. Nowadays, its results are aptly summarized by the universally accepted epithet “The One Percent.”

Meanwhile, Covid-19 has exposed the radical cockeyed dynamics of infinite growth at any and all costs with profits of billions, and even trillions, atop lopsided pyramids of a sick and hungry forlorn bourgeoisie, analogous to late 18th century France when thousands of aristocrats, holding onto their heads, fled the streets of Paris.

Suddenly, out of the blue, doughnut economics to the rescue, as it levels the playing field, dismantling the wobbly pyramid of growth at any and all costs in favor of learning how to “thrive” rather than grow, and grow, and grow a lot more until ecosystems that support life crumble.

The doughnut economy, in contrast to capitalism, takes its cue from nature. Trees grow to maturity and then thrive for years. Trees do not grow to the top of the sky. Similarly, doughnut economics respects the ecological ceiling by focusing on a reduction of ecological overshoot. It’s a new pathway to a better way of life that blends with nature. At first blush, the Great Doughnut is so appealing that 25% of the world’s economy already has it under consideration as a good substitute for capitalism’s commodification of nature.

Today in central Amsterdam a shopper at a local grocery will find new price tags on potatoes, including 6c extra per kilo for the carbon footprint, 5c extra for the toil farming takes on the ecosystem, and 4c extra as fair pay for workers. It’s the “True-Price Initiative” creating awareness amongst buyers of true ecological costs of products essential to the city’s official adoption, as of April 2020, of doughnut economics.

An all-important aspect of doughnut economics is attention to the needs of all citizens by building a strong interconnected social foundation. For example, with the onset of Covid-19, the city realized that thousands of residents did not have access to PCs needed to connect with society during a lockdown. Instead of dialing up a manufacturer to buy new PCs, the city collected old and broken laptops from residents, hired a company to refurbish, and distributed computers to needy citizens. That’s a prime example of the Great Doughnut at work.

British economist Kate Raworth outlined the theory of doughnut economics in a 2012 paper followed by her 2017 book, Doughnut Economics (Chelsea Green Publishing). It defies traditional economics that she studied at the University of Oxford by focusing on a doughnut symbol of planetary boundaries and social boundaries that define safe and just space for humanity, along with healthy ecosystems, or to put it another way, living harmoniously with nature as opposed to neoliberalism’s indifference and overuse.

According to Ms. Raworth, 20th century economic thinking is not equipped to deal with the 21st century reality of a planet on the edge of climate breakdown. Therefore, her theory establishes a “sweet spot” where citizens have everything needed for a good life while respecting the environmental ceiling, avoiding ecological overshoot, like excessive freshwater withdrawals, chemical pollution, and loss of biological diversity to mention only a few.

The doughnut economy is displayed in a visual circular schematic with a green inner circle, which represents a “regenerative and distributive economy that is a safe and just space for humanity” surrounding a list of items that, when in shortfall, need to enter the green doughnut’s “social foundation,” like housing, energy, water, health, income & work, etc.  At the outer edge of the doughnut, an “ecological ceiling” lists “ecological overshoots” that threaten the social fabric.

As the world turns, with today’s universality of entrenched capitalism, people in rich countries are living in an ecological overshoot while people in poor countries fall below the social foundation. Thus, both rich and poor are living outside of the regenerative and distributive economy found in the green inner circle of the Great Doughnut.

Amsterdam is working to bring its 872,000 residents into the sweet spot for a good quality of life without putting pressure on the planet beyond nature’s normal rate of sustainability. It’s the Amsterdam Doughnut Coalition as established by 400 locals and orgs within an intertwined network that runs programs at grassroots levels. Thus, the economy sprouts up from ground level rather than dictated from above in lofty boardrooms.

Of more than passing interest, doughnut economics is spreading throughout the world. Copenhagen’s city council is following in Amsterdam’s footsteps. Brussels is following and a city in New Zealand named Dunedin, as well as Nanaimo, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon preparing to roll out their own versions of the doughnut economy. Austin, Texas has the Great Doughnut under consideration.

A sizeable portion (25%) of the world’s economy is already studying what Raworth recognized while studying at Oxford about old school economic supply/demand, efficiency, rationality, and infinite GDP growth but missing a key ingredient known as the web of life.  Economists refer to the ecological web of life as an “externality.” Is it really an externality? Such labeling removes the prime source of life from consideration in the fabric of economic development.

Raworth’s theory does not provide for specific policies that must be adopted. That is up to stakeholders to decide on a local basis. In fact, setting benchmarks is the initial step to building a doughnut economy. As for Amsterdam, the city combines doughnut’s goals within a circular economy that reduces, reuses, and recycles materials of consumer goods, building materials, and food products.

In Amsterdam “Policies aim to protect the environment and natural resources, reduce social exclusion and guarantee good living standards for all. Van Doorninck, the deputy mayor, says the doughnut was a revelation. ‘I was brought up in Thatcher times, in Reagan times, with the idea that there’s no alternative to our economic model,’ she says. ‘Reading the doughnut was like, Eureka! There is an alternative! Economics is a social science, not a natural one. It’s invented by people, and it can be changed by people.” (Source: Clara Nugent, Amsterdam Is Embracing a Radical New Economic Theory to Help Save the Environment, Could It Also Replace Capitalism? Time, January 22, 2021)

Of special interest, C40: A Mayors Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery intending to deliver an equitable and sustainable recovery from Covid-19. C40 consists of 96 cities around the world representing 25% of the global economy; it’s a network of megacities. Significantly, C40 has asked Raworth to report on the progress of its doughnut members Amsterdam, Philadelphia, and Portland.

The Great Doughnut overtaking neoliberal capitalism is much more than a simple story. It’s working! It’s brilliant! Yet, the designation doughnut has a peculiar ring that foretells a name change, but maybe not. It’s kinda cute.

Robert Hunziker is an independent writer from Los Angeles

  Read  Doughnut Economics Boots Capitalism Out!
  November 28, 2020
Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as ‘Feeding the World’.
by Colin Todhunter , Countercurrents.org, in Globalisation.

The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of rich and powerful land speculators and agribusiness corporations. Smallholder farmers are being criminalised and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. They are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion.

In 2014, the Oakland Institute found that institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity and pension funds, are eager to capitalise on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class. Financial returns are what matter to these entities, not food security.

Consider Ukraine. The organisation Grain found that in 2014 small farmers operated 16% of agricultural land in that country, but provided 55% of agricultural output, including: 97% of potatoes, 97% of honey, 88% of vegetables, 83% of fruits and berries and 80% of milk. It is clear that Ukraine’s small farms were delivering impressive outputs.

Following the toppling of Ukraine’s government in early 2014, the way was paved for foreign investors and Western agribusiness to take a firm hold over the agri-food sector. Reforms mandated by the EU-backed loan to Ukraine in 2014 included agricultural deregulation intended to benefit foreign agribusiness. Natural resource and land policy shifts were being designed to facilitate the foreign corporate takeover of enormous tracts of land.

Frederic Mousseau, policy director at the Oakland Institute, stated at the time that the World Bank and IMF were intent on opening up foreign markets to Western corporations and that the high stakes around the control of Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector, the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, constitute an overlooked critical factor. He added that in recent years, foreign corporations had acquired more than 1.6 million hectares of Ukrainian land.

Western agribusiness has been coveting Ukraine’s agriculture sector for quite some time, long before the coup. That country contains one third of all arable land in Europe. An article by Oriental Review in 2015 noted that since the mid-90s the Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council had been instrumental in encouraging the foreign control of Ukrainian agriculture.

In November 2013, the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation drafted a legal amendment that would benefit global agribusiness producers by allowing the widespread use of genetically modified seeds. When GMO crops were legally introduced into the Ukrainian market in 2013, they were planted in up to 70% of all soybean fields, 10-20% of cornfields and over 10% of all sunflower fields, according to various estimates (or 3% of the country’s total farmland).

Interestingly, the investment fund Siguler Guff & Co acquired a 50% stake in the Ukrainian Port of Illichivsk in 2015, which specialises in agricultural exports.

In June 2020, the IMF approved an 18-month $5 billion loan programme with Ukraine. According to the Brettons Wood Project website, the government committed to lifting the 19-year moratorium on the sale of state-owned agricultural lands after sustained pressure from international finance. The World Bank incorporated further measures relating to the sale of public agricultural land as conditions in a $350 million Development Policy Loan (COVID ‘relief package’) to Ukraine approved in late June. This included a required ‘prior action’ to “enable the sale of agricultural land and the use of land as collateral.”

In response, Frederic Mousseau recently stated:

“The goal is clearly to favor the interests of private investors and Western agribusinesses… It is wrong and immoral for Western financial institutions to force a country in a dire economic situation amidst an unprecedented pandemic to sell its land.”

But morality has little to do with it. The September 2020 report on the grain.org website ‘Barbarians at the barn: private equity sinks its teeth into agriculture’ shows that there is no morality where capitalism’s profit compulsion is concerned.

Private equity funds – pools of money that use pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, endowment funds and investments from governments, banks, insurance companies and high net worth individuals – are being injected into the agriculture sector throughout the world. This money is used to lease or buy up farms on the cheap and aggregate them into large-scale, US-style grain and soybean concerns. The article outlines how offshore tax havens and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has targeted Ukraine.

In addition to various Western governments, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the foundation’s endowment, is also investing in private equity, taking positions in farm and food businesses around the world.

Grain notes that this forms part of the trend whereby the world of finance – banks, funds, insurance companies and the like – is gaining control over the real economy, including forests, watersheds and rural people’s territories.

Apart from uprooting communities and grabbing resources to entrench an industrial, export-oriented model of agriculture, this process of ‘financialisation’ is shifting power to remote board rooms occupied by people with no connection to farming and who are merely in it to make money. These funds tend to invest for a 10-15 year period, resulting in handsome returns for investors but can leave a trail of long-term environmental and social devastation and serve to undermine local and regional food insecurity.

This financialisation of agriculture perpetuates a model of farming that serves the interests of the agrochemical and seed giants, including one of the world’s biggest companies, Cargill, which is involved in almost every aspect of global agribusiness.

Still run as a privately held company, the 155-year-old enterprise trades in purchasing and distributing various agricultural commodities, raises livestock and produces animal feed as well as food ingredients for application in processed foods and industrial use. Cargill also has a large financial services arm, which manages financial risks in the commodity markets for the company. This includes Black River Asset Management, a hedge fund with about $10 billion of assets and liabilities.

A recent article on the Unearthed website accused Cargill and its 14 billionaire owners of profiting from the use of child labour, rain forest destruction, the devastation of ancestral lands, the spread of pesticide use and pollution, contaminated food, antibiotic resistance and general health and environmental degradation.

As if this is not concerning enough, the UN Food and Agriculture is now teaming up with CropLife, a global trade association representing the interests of companies that produce and promote pesticides, including highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs).

In a 19 November press release issued by PAN (Pesticide Action Network) Asia Pacific, some 350 organisations in 63 countries representing hundreds of thousands of farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and other communities, as well as human rights, faith-based, environmental and economic justice institutions, delivered a letter to FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu urging him to stop recently announced plans to deepen collaboration with CropLife International by entering into a formal partnership.

HHPs are responsible for a wide range of devastating health harms to farmers, agricultural workers and rural families around the world and these chemicals have decimated pollinator populations and are wreaking havoc on biodiversity and fragile ecosystems.

Marcia Ishii, senior scientist at PAN North America, explained the serious implications of the proposed collaboration:

“Unfortunately, since Mr. Qu’s arrival at FAO, the institution appears to be opening up to deeper collaboration with pesticide companies, which are likely to exploit such a relationship for bluewashing, influencing policy development and enhancing access to global markets.”

She went on to state:

“It is no surprise that FAO’s recently appointed Deputy Director General, Beth Bechdol, comes to FAO with a history of close financial ties to Corteva (formerly Dow/DuPont).”

The FAO has in recent years shown a commitment to agroecology but, in calling for an independent FAO, Susan Haffmans from PAN Germany, argues:

“The FAO should not jeopardize its successes in agroecology nor its integrity by cooperating with precisely that branch of industry which is responsible for the production of highly hazardous pesticides and whose products contribute to poisoning people and their environment worldwide.”

The July 2019 UN FAO High Level Panel of Experts concludes that agroecology provides greatly improved food security and nutritional, gender, environmental and yield benefits compared to industrial agriculture.

Agroecological principles represent a shift away from the reductionist yield-output chemical-intensive industrial paradigm, which results in among other things enormous pressures on human health, soil and water resources. Agroecology is based on a more integrated low-input systems approach to food and agriculture that prioritises local food security, local calorific production, cropping patterns and diverse nutrition production per acre, water table stability, climate resilience, good soil structure and the ability to cope with evolving pests and disease pressures.

Such a system is underpinned by a concept of food sovereignty, based on optimal self-sufficiency, the right to culturally appropriate food and local ownership and stewardship of common resources, such as land, water, soil and seeds.

However, this model is a direct challenge to the interests of CropLife members. With the emphasis on localisation and on-farm inputs, agroecology does not require dependency on proprietary chemicals, pirated seeds and knowledge nor long-line global supply chains.

By seeking to develop a formal partnership with the FAO, CropLife aims to further entrench its interests while derailing the FAO’s commitment to agroecology. This much has been apparent in recent times with US Ambassador to the FAO Kip Tom having attacked agroecology –  and like CropLife members – he perpetuates the myth (recently debunked by Dr Jonathan Latham in the new book   ‘Rethinking Food and Agriculture’) of impending disaster if we do not accept the chemical-industrial paradigm.

Whether it involves farmers in India recently taking to the streets to protest against legislation that will throw the sector wide open to foreign agricapital, land acquisitions in Ukraine or struggles for land rights and seed sovereignty (etc) elsewhere, it is clear that a small cabal of unscrupulous global agribusiness giants are driving and benefitting from deregulated capital flows, peasant displacement, land acquisitions and decisions made at international and national levels via the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

The web that global capitalism weaves in a quest to seek out new profits, capture new markets and control common resources (commonwealth) is destroying farmer livelihoods, the environment and health under the bogus claim of ‘feeding the world’.

Those farmers who survive the profiteering strategies of dispossession and imperialism are to become incorporated into a system of contract farming dictated by global agri-food giants tied to an exploitative food regime based on market dependency and corporate control. A regime that places profit ahead of biodiverse food security, healthy diets and the environment.

Colin Todhunter is an independent writer: https://twitter.com/1ColinT

  Read  Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as ‘Feeding the World’
  November 29, 2020
Human Society And The Biosphere.
by John Scales Avery, Countercurrents.org, in Book Review.

Mass extinctions due to human activities

According to a recent United Nations report, more than a million species of plants and animals are currently threatened with extinction because of human activities. Rates of extinction today are as much as 1,000 times greater than the normal background rate.

As the greenhouse gas emissions of human society push the earth towards catastrophic climate change, rates of extinction in the biosphere will certainly become higher.

Are humans threatened with extinction?

What about our own species? Are we too threatened with extinction?

There are certainly several threatened catastrophes that might greatly reduce the global population of humans. In a thermonuclear war, followed by nuclear winter, a large part of the world’s population might perish.

We must also consider the danger of an extremely large-scale famine, involving billions rather than millions of people. Such a famine might occur by the middle of our present century, as the result of population growth, combined with climate change and the end of the fossil fuel era. As glaciers melt in the Himalayas, depriving India and China of summer water supplies; as sea levels rise, drowning the fertile rice fields of Vietnam and Bangladesh; as drought threatens the productivity of grain-producing regions of North America; and as the end of the fossil fuel era impacts modern high-yield agriculture, there is a threat of wide-spread famine. There is a danger that the 1.5 billion people who are undernourished today will not survive an even more food-scarce future.

Finally, if human society fails to curb its emissions of greenhouse gases, much of the earth will become so hot as to be uninhabitable, not only for humans, but also for the plants and animals of the biosphere. This does not necessarily mean that our species will become extinct, since there will still be regions of the earth where it will be possible to survive. However, it does mean that the future population of humans will be very much reduced unless catastrophic climate change is avoided.

 Links between militarism and climate change

In our efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change, we should be aware of the links between global warming and militarism. Military activities use enormous amounts of fossil fuels.

There is a close relationship between petroleum and war. James A. Paul, Executive Director of the Global Policy Forum, has described this relationship very clearly in the following words:

“Modern warfare particularly depends on oil, because virtually all weapons systems rely on oil-based fuel – tanks, trucks, armoured vehicles, self-propelled artillery pieces, aeroplanes, and naval ships. For this reason, the governments and general staffs of powerful nations seek to ensure a steady supply of oil during wartime, to fuel oil-hungry military forces in far-flung operational theatres.

“Just as governments like the US and UK need oil companies to secure fuel for their global war-making capacity, so the oil companies need their governments to secure control over global oilfields and transportation routes. It is no accident, then, that the world’s largest oil companies are located in the world’s most powerful countries.

“Almost all of the world’s oil-producing countries have suffered abusive, corrupt and undemocratic governments and an absence of durable development. Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Angola, Colombia, Venezuela, Kuwait, Mexico, Algeria – these and many other oil producers have a sad record, which includes dictatorships installed from abroad, bloody coups engineered by foreign intelligence services, militarization of government and intolerant right-wing nationalism.”

There is also another link between militarism and climate change:

Today, both in the United States and elsewhere in the world, the Green New Deal is being considered as a means of making the urgently needed transition form fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The Green New Deal concept is inspired by the New Deal by which Franklin D. Roosevelt ended the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Like FDR’s original New Deal, it involves massive government spending to simultaneously create jobs and much-needed infrastructure. In the case of the Green New Deal, this would be renewable energy infrastructure.

But is there money enough for the Green New Deal? In order to free the necessary funds, we need to divert the vast river of money that is currently wasted – or worse than wasted – on militarism, and use it to save human society and the biosphere from catastrophic climate change. How much money is involved? According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the world currently spends 1.8 trillion dollars each year on armaments. The indirect costs of militarism are far greater.

The human footprint is too large

The total ecological footprint of humanity is a concept used to measure the relationship between the resources that humans demand from their environment, compared with the ability of nature to provide those resources. In recent years humans have been asking the earth to provide them with much more than the earth can regenerate. Our collective footprint on the face of nature has become too large. Because of the danger of environmental collapse as well as the danger of widespread famine, we must stabilize global population and end excessive consumption of goods.

Socialism and ecology in Scandinavia

Excessive contrast between the rich and the poor has become an acute problem, both within nations and between nations. It is demonstrably true that in more equal  societies, economies function better and people are happier.

In this context, it is interesting to look at the Scandinavian countries, where the contrast between rich and poor has been very much reduced.

Denmark, for example, has a market economy, but a high and steeply progressive rate of taxation has essentially eliminated poverty within the country, while also making it difficult for anyone to become extremely wealthy.

Denmark has very high taxes, but in return for these, its citizens receive many social services, such as free health care. If they qualify for university education, the tuition is free, and students are given an allowance for their living expenses. Mothers or alternatively fathers, can take paid leave of up to 52 weeks after the birth of a child. After that, a cresch is always available, so that mothers can return to their jobs. When the child become too old for the cresch, day care centers are always available. For children of school age, after-school clubs are available where children can practice arts and crafts or other activities under supervision until their parents come home from work.

Denmark has an outstanding program of renewable energy research and development. Danish wind energy design is famous throughout the world, and Danish wind turbines are exported to many countries. The Danish Technical University also has an extremely strong research program addressing the problem of intermittency. One of DTU’s programs focuses on the development and use of fuel cells for energy storage.

In corporate-controlled countries like the United States, the word “socialism” is an anathema; but nations everywhere in the world might benefit from the Scandinavian model of socialism.

A new freely downloadable book

I would like to announce the publication of a new book, which discusses relationships between human society and the biosphere The book may be downloaded and circulated free of charge from the following link:


Other books and articles about  global problems are on these links




I hope that you will circulate the links in this article to friends and contacts who might be interested.

John Scales Avery is a theoretical chemist at the University of Copenhagen. He is noted for his books and research publications in quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and history of science. His 2003 book Information Theory and Evolution set forth the view that the phenomenon of life, including its origin, evolution, as well as human cultural evolution, has its background situated in the fields of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. Since 1990 he has been the Chairman of the Danish National Group of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Between 2004 and 2015 he also served as Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy. He founded the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, and was for many years its Managing Editor. He also served as Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (19881997). http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/
. He can be reached at avery.john.s@gmail.com. To know more about his works visit this link. http://eacpe.org/about-john-scales-avery/

  Read Human Society And The Biosphere
  November 29, 2020
Is de–nuclearization possible after all?
by Amir Mohammad Sayem, Countercurrents.org, in World,

Nuclear weapons are rendered as the most dangerous threat to human civilization. At least nine countries including five permanent members of the UN Security Council presently have approximately 14000 nuclear warheads, around 4000 which are active for operation within minutes. Current versions of nuclear bombs are obviously more powerful than those hurled over Hiroshima and Nagasaki of Japan in the World War II. A single bomb can now completely destroy an entire city. Unsurprisingly, public opinions across the world are on the rise since the beginning of the Anti-nuclear Movement in the 1940s; along with peace loving countries and people, intergovernmental organizations — including the United Nations — and NGOs seek complete elimination of nuclear weapons from the world.

But a significant question still remains: is de–nuclearization — a state losing nuclear weapons program or the entirety of its nuclear inventory either voluntarily or by force — possible at all? It has no straightforward answer. In fact, there are apparent disagreements on whether nuclear weapons should be abolished. On the one hand, proponents usually argue that there is no scope of peaceful situations among great powers and, hence, there is no possibility of complete abolition of nuclear weapons from the world for security reasons. Realists consider total elimination a utopian idea that can never be realized. On the contrary, abolitionists of nuclear arsenal usually claim that it is a threat to human survival with its catastrophic consequences and, hence, it should be eliminated altogether.

Existence of nuclear warheads and nuclear development programs clearly reflect the victory of the realist stance so far. Countries having nuclear arsenal and nuclear development programs perceive these to be crucial for the protection from security threats. Treaties and agreements — both bilateral and multilateral — have hitherto been made on nuclear weapons including SORT, START I and II, and New START mostly aim at banning nuclear testing, reduction of nuclear arsenal, their prevention, etc. rather than complete abolition. Additionally, nuclear arms reduction agreements are mainly made between the USA and Russia. Though the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) aims at complete elimination of nuclear weapons, it has not been signed by many countries, including nuclear powers, claiming it unable to reflect the reality of security environment.

Nonetheless, the undeniable fact is that the reality does not represent realist stance for all time. Up until now, four countries have disarmed nuclear weapons all in all. South Africa is the most commonly cited successful case of complete disarmament of nuclear weapons; as it appears, following the end of the apartheid regime, it voluntarily dismantled an indigenously–developed nuclear arsenal completely and entered the non–proliferation regime in the 1990s. The other three countries such as Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus which got nuclear status in 1991 — especially when the USSR collapsed after the end of the cold–war — acceded to the Nuclear Non–Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as non–nuclear states and voluntarily gave up their nuclear weapons for dismantlement.

Nuclear weapons programs, furthermore, were voluntarily abandoned by a significant number of countries across the world. As is well known, Sweden ran a nuclear program in the 1950s and 1960s for both nuclear power and weapons research but latter abandoned because of its high cost and the difficulty of developing a delivery system. In the 1970s, Brazil began a secret nuclear program parallel to civilian power program; nevertheless, it later stepped back and signed several treaties for non–proliferation. In the 1970s and 1980s, Argentina also developed a secret nuclear program but afterward abandoned it by reason of more pressing domestic security issues and signed the NPT.

It is often criticized that countries which abandoned nukes and national nuke development programs do not hold any significant position in the present hegemonistic global structure, whereas global powers, which perceive that losing a means of self–defense such as nuclear weapons can increase the vulnerability, have not abandoned nuclear weapons. Moreover, the undeniable fact is that there are some practical limitations to complete eradication of nuclear arsenal including complex technical process and the problem of verification. As is rightly said, there is a complex technical process of weapons elimination, disposition of nuclear and other associated radioactive materials, and dismantlement of the infrastructure that produce nuclear devices and materials as well as the means of delivery.

On most occasions, security strategists say that it is really a difficult task to confidently verify that every country possessing nuclear arms abolishes with confirmation and honesty. The verification problem consequently raises a number of crucial questions: What will happen if one country keeps nuclear arms while others destroy? Will not such a situation be more dangerous? Is there any guarantee that countries having know–how won’t later make nuclear bombs after abolition? These are surely unavoidable dangers with unplanned de–nuclearization. Yet, is it not simultaneously undeniable that countries abandoning nukes or nuke development programs show the light of hope for total de–nuclearization in the future?

I believe that geo–politics and pursuance of leadership position in the world order are possible without nuclear arms at present too. In fact, before the development of nuclear bombs the world had leaders. It is now crucial for all nuclear powers and states having nuclear programs to realize that nuclear weapons do not give security as deemed, and that it is rather a type of weapon which can destroy all including global powers, given that any nuclear war occurs defying existing treaties and agreements. For security of all, the world should, therefore, make de–nucleariztion possible, even if it may be difficult to eliminate nuclear bombs suddenly due to the problem of verification and some other reasons.

In my opinion, all nuclear powers and countries having nuclear programs may make some promising efforts probably with the TPNW or any other legally binding treaty — which reflects all genuine concerns of underlying security threats — aiming at securing complete nuclear disarmament someday in phase by phase approach. Of course, nuclear powers should make sure that nuclear weapons are not used in any warfare; in addition, the United Nations and NGOs including the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons need to play crucial roles for the realization of de–nuclearization goal. But public voice in favor of complete nuclear disarmament needs to be made consistently stronger across the world.

Amir Mohammad Sayem – Researcher and writes of Op-eds on miscellaneous issues including social, environmental, political, public health and international relations Dhaka, Bangladesh


  Read  Is de–nuclearization possible after all?
  November 30, 2020
The planet cannot heal until we rip the mask off the West’s war machine.
by Jonathan Cook , Countercurrents.org, in Counter Solutions.

Making political sense of the world can be tricky unless one understands the role of the state in capitalist societies. The state is not primarily there to represent voters or uphold democratic rights and values; it is a vehicle for facilitating and legitimating the concentration of wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands.

In a recent post, I wrote about “externalities” – the ability of companies to offset the true costs inherent in the production process. The burden of these costs are covertly shifted on to wider society: that is, on to you and me. Or on to those far from view, in foreign lands. Or on to future generations. Externalising costs means that profits can be maximised for the wealth elite in the here and now.

Our own societies must deal with the externalised costs of industries ranging from tobacco and alcohol to chemicals and vehicles. Societies abroad must deal with the costs of the bombs dropped by our “defence” industries. And future generations will have to deal with the lethal costs incurred by corporations that for decades have been allowed to pump out their waste products into every corner of the globe.

Divine right to rule

In the past, the job of the corporate media was to shield those externalities from public view. More recently, as the costs have become impossible to ignore, especially with the climate crisis looming, the media’s role has changed. Its central task now is to obscure corporate responsibility for these externalities. That is hardly surprising. After all, the corporate media’s profits depend on externalising costs too, as well as hiding the externalised costs of their parent companies, their billionaire owners and their advertisers.

Once, monarchs rewarded the clerical class for persuading, through the doctrine of divine right, their subjects to passively submit to exploitation. Today, “mainstream” media are there to persuade us that capitalism, the profit motive, the accumulation of ever greater wealth by elites, and externalities destroying the planet are the natural order of things, that this is the best economic model imaginable.

Most of us are now so propagandised by the media that we can barely imagine a functioning world without capitalism. Our minds are primed to imagine, in the absence of capitalism, an immediate lurch back to Soviet-style bread queues or an evolutionary reversal to cave-dwelling. Those thoughts paralyse us, making us unable to contemplate what might be wrong or inherently unsustainable about how we live right now, or to imagine the suicidal future we are hurtling towards.

Lifeblood of empire

There is a reason that, as we rush lemming-like towards the cliff-edge, urged on by a capitalism that cannot operate at the level of sustainability or even of sanity, the push towards intensified war grows. Wars are the lifeblood of the corporate empire headquartered in the United States.

US imperialism is no different from earlier imperialisms in its aims or methods. But in late-stage capitalism, wealth and power are hugely concentrated. Technologies have reached a pinnacle of advancement. Disinformation and propaganda are sophisticated to an unprecedented degree. Surveillance is intrusive and aggressive, if well concealed. Capitalism’s destructive potential is unlimited. But even so, war’s appeal is not diminished.

As ever, wars allow for the capture and control of resources. Fossil fuels promise future growth, even if of the short-term, unsustainable kind.

Wars require the state to invest its money in the horrendously expensive and destructive products of the “defence” industries, from fighter planes to bombs, justifying the transfer of yet more public resources into private hands.

The lobbies associated with these “defence” industries have every incentive to push for aggressive foreign (and domestic) policies to justify more investment, greater expansion of “defensive” capabilities, and the use of weapons on the battlefield so that they need replenishing.

Whether public or covert, wars provide an opportunity to remake poorly defended, resistant societies – such as Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria – in ways that allow for resources to be seized, markets to be expanded and the reach of the corporate elite to be extended.

War is the ultimate growth industry, limited only by our ability to be persuaded of new enemies and new threats.

Fog of war

For the political class, the benefits of war are not simply economic. In a time of environmental collapse, war offers a temporary “Get out of jail” card. During wars, the public is encouraged to assent to new, ever greater sacrifices that allow public wealth to be transferred to the elite. War is the corporate world’s ultimate Ponzi scheme.

The “fog of war” does not just describe the difficulty of knowing what is happening in the immediate heat of battle. It is also the fear, generated by claims of an existential threat, that sets aside normal thinking, normal caution, normal scepticism. It is the invoking of a phantasmagorical enemy towards which public resentments can be directed, shielding from view the real culprits – the corporations and their political cronies at home.

The “fog of war” engineers the disruption of established systems of control and protocol to cope with the national emergency, shrouding and rationalising the accumulation by corporations of more wealth and power and the further capture of organs of the state. It is the licence provided for “exceptional” changes to the rules that quickly become normalised. It is the disinformation that passes for national responsibility and patriotism.

Permanent austerity

All of which explains why Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, has just pledged an extra £16.5 billion in “defence” spending at a time when the UK is struggling to control a pandemic and when, faced by disease, Brexit and a new round of winter floods, the British economy is facing “systemic crisis”, according to a new Cabinet Office report. Figures released last week show the biggest economic contraction in the UK in three centuries.

If the British public is to stomach yet more cuts, to surrender to permanent austerity as the economy tanks, Johnson, ever the populist, knows he needs a good cover story. And that will involve further embellishment of existing, fearmongering narratives about Russia, Iran and China.

To make those narratives plausible, Johnson has to act as if the threats are real, which means massive spending on “defence”. Such expenditure, wholly counter-productive when the current challenge is sustainability, will line the pockets of the very corporations that help Johnson and his pals stay in power, not least by cheerleading him via their media arms.

New salesman needed

The cynical way this works was underscored in a classified 2010 CIA memorandum, known as “Red Cell”, leaked to Wikileaks, as the journalist Glenn Greenwald reminded us last week. The CIA memo addressed the fear in Washington that European publics were demonstrating little appetite for the US-led “war on terror” that followed 9/11. That, in turn, risked limiting the ability of European allies to support the US as it exercised its divine right to wage war.

The memo notes that European support for US wars after 9/11 had chiefly relied on “public apathy” – the fact that Europeans were kept largely ignorant by their own media of what those wars entailed. But with a rising tide of anti-war sentiment, the concern was that this might change. There was an urgent need to futher manipulate public opinion more decisively in favour of war.

The US intelligence agency decided its wars needed a facelift. George W Bush, with his Texan, cowboy swagger, had proved a poor salesman. So the CIA turned to identity politics and faux “humanitarianism”, which they believed would play better with European publics.

Part of the solution was to accentuate the suffering of Afghan women to justify war. But the other part was to use President Barack Obama as the face of a new, “caring” approach to war. He had recently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – even though he had done nothing for peace, and would go on to expand US wars – very possibly as part of this same effort to reinvent the “war on terror”. Polls showed support for existing wars increased markedly among Europeans when they were reminded that Obama backed these wars.

“Obama’s most important value was in prettifying, marketing and prolonging wars, not ending them. They saw him for what U.S. Presidents really are: instruments to create a brand and image about the U.S. role in the world that can be effectively peddled to both the domestic population in the U.S. and then on the global stage, and specifically to pretend that endless barbaric U.S. wars are really humanitarian projects benevolently designed to help people — the pretext used to justify every war by every country in history.”

Obama-style facelift

Once the state is understood as a vehicle for entrenching elite power – and war its most trusted tool for concentrating power – the world becomes far more intelligible. Western economies never stopped being colonial economies, but they were given an Obama-style facelift. War and plunder – even when they masquerade as “defence”, or peace – are still the core western mission.

That is why Britons, believing days of empire are long behind them, might have been shocked to learn last week that the UK still operates 145 military bases in 42 countries around the globe, meaning it runs the second largest network of such bases after the US.

Such information is not made available in the UK “mainstream” media, of course. It has to be provided by an “alternative” investigative site, Declassified UK. In that way the vast majority of the British public are left clueless about how their taxes are being used at a time when they are told further belt-tightening is essential.


The UK’s network of bases, many of them in the Middle East, close to the world’s largest oil reserves, are what the much-vaunted “special relationship” with the US amounts to. Those bases are the reason the UK – whoever is prime minister – is never going to say “no” to a demand that Britain join Washington in waging war, as it did in attacking Iraq in 2003, or in aiding attacks on Libya, Syria and Yemen. The UK is not only a satellite of the US empire, it is a lynchpin of the western imperial war economy.

Ideological alchemy

Once that point is appreciated, the need for external enemies – for our own Eurasias and Eastasias – becomes clearer.

Some of those enemies, the minor ones, come and go, as demand dictates. Iraq dominated western attention for two decades. Now it has served its purpose, its killing fields and “terrorist” recruiting grounds have reverted to a mere footnote in the daily news. Likewise, the Libyan bogeyman Muammar Gaddafi was constantly paraded across news pages until he was bayonetted to death. Now the horror story that is today’s chaotic Libya, a corridor for arms-running and people-trafficking, can be safely ignored. For a decade, the entirely unexceptional Arab dictator Bashar Assad, of Syria, has been elevated to the status of a new Hitler, and he will continue to serve in that role for as long as it suits the needs of the western war economy.

Notably, Israel, another lynchpin of the US empire and one that serves as a kind of offshored weapons testing laboratory for the military-industrial complex, has played a vital role in rationalising these wars. Just as saving Afghan women from Middle Eastern patriarchy makes killing Afghans – men, women and children – more palatable to Europeans, so destroying Arab states can be presented as a humanitarian gesture if at the same time it crushes Israel’s enemies, and by extension, through a strange, implied ideological alchemy, the enemies of all Jews.


Quite how opportunistic – and divorced from reality – the western discourse about Israel and the Middle East has become is obvious the moment the relentless concerns about Syria’s Assad are weighed against the casual indifference towards the head-chopping rulers of Saudi Arabia, who for decades have been financing terror groups across the Middle East, including the jihadists in Syria.

During that time, Israel has covertly allied with oil-rich Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, because all of them are safely ensconced within the US war machine. Now, with the Palestinians completely sidelined diplomatically, and with all international solidarity with Palestinians browbeaten into silence by antisemitism smears, Israel and the Saudis are gradually going public with their alliance, like a pair of shy lovers. That included the convenient leak this week of a secret meeting between Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia.

Israel’s likely reward is contained in a new bill in Congress for even more military aid than the record $3.8 billion Israel currently receives annually from the US – at a time when the US economy, like the UK one, is in dire straits.

The west also needs bigger, more menacing and more permanent enemies than Iraq or Syria. Helpfully one kind – nebulous “terrorism” – is the inevitable reaction to western war-making. The more brown people we kill, the more brown people we can justify killing because they carry out, or support, “terrorism” against us. Their hatred for our bombs is an irrationality, a primitivism we must keep stamping out with more bombs.

But concrete, identifiable enemies are needed too. Russia, Iran and China give superficial credence to the war machine’s presentation of itself as a “defence” industry. The UK’s bases around the globe and Boris Johnson’s £16.5 billion rise in spending on the UK’s war industries only make sense if Britain is under a constant, existential threat. Not just someone with a suspicious backpack on the London Tube, but a sophisticated, fiendish enemy that threatens to invade our lands, to steal resources to which we claim exclusive rights, to destroy our way of life through its masterful manipulation of the internet.

Crushed or tamed

Anyone of significance who questions these narratives that rationalise and perpetuate war is the enemy too. Current political and legal dramas in the US and UK reflect the perceived threat such actors pose to the war machine. They must either be crushed or tamed into subservience.

Trump was initially just such a figure that needed breaking in. The CIA and other intelligence agencies assisted in the organised opposition to Trump – helping to fuel the evidence-free Russiagate “scandal” – not because he was an awful human being or had authoritarian tendencies, but for two more specific reasons.

First, Trump’s political impulses, expressed in the early stages of his presidential campaign, were to withdraw from the very wars the US empire depends on. Despite open disdain for him from most of the media, he was criticised more often for failing to prosecute wars enthusiastically enough rather than for being too hawkish. And second, even as his isolationist impulses were largely subdued after the 2016 election by the permanent bureaucracy and his own officials, Trump proved to be an even more disastrous salesman for war than George W Bush. Trump made war look and sound exactly as it is, rather than packaging it as “intervention” intended to help women and people of colour.

But Trump’s amateurish isolationism paled in comparison to two far bigger threats to the war machine that emerged over the past decade. One was the danger – in our newly interconnected, digital world – of information leaks that risked stripping away the mask of US democracy, of the “shining city on the hill”, to reveal the tawdry reality underneath.

Julian Assange and his Wikileaks project proved just such a danger. The most memorable leak – at least as far as the general public was concerned – occurred in 2010, with publication of a classified video, titled Collateral Murder, showing a US air crew joking and celebrating as they murdered civilians far below in the streets of Baghdad. It gave a small taste of why western “humanitarianism” might prove so unpopular with those to whom we were busy supposedly bringing “democracy”.

The threat posed by Assange’s new transparency project was recognised instantly by US officials.

Exhibiting a carefully honed naivety, the political and media establishments have sought to uncouple the fact that Assange has spent most of the last decade in various forms of detention, and is currently locked up in a London high-security prison awaiting extradition to the US, from his success in exposing the war machine. Nonetheless, to ensure his incarceration till death in one of its super-max jails, the US empire has had to conflate the accepted definitions of “journalism” and “espionage”, and radically overhaul traditional understandings of the rights enshrined in the First Amendment.


Dress rehearsal for a coup

An equally grave threat to the war machine was posed by the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of Britain’s Labour party. Corbyn presented as exceptional a problem as Assange.

Before Corbyn, Labour had never seriously challenged the UK’s dominant military-industrial complex, even if its support for war back in the 1960s and 1970s was often tempered by its then-social democratic politics. It was in this period, at the height of the Cold War, that Labour prime minister Harold Wilson was suspected by British elites of failing to share their anti-Communist and anti-Soviet paranoia, and was therefore viewed as a potential threat to their entrenched privileges.

As a BBC dramatised documentary from 2006 notes, Wilson faced the very real prospect of enforced “regime change”, coordinated by the military, the intelligence services and members of the royal family. It culminated in a show of force by the military as they briefly took over Heathrow airport without warning or coordination with Wilson’s government. Marcia Williams, his secretary, called it a “dress rehearsal” for a coup. Wilson resigned unexpectedly soon afterwards, apparently as the pressure started to take its toll.

‘Mutiny’ by the army

Subsequent Labour leaders, most notably Tony Blair, learnt the Wilson lesson: never, ever take on the “defence” establishment. The chief role of the UK is to serve as the US war machine’s attack dog. Defying that allotted role would be political suicide.

By contrast to Wilson, who posed a threat to the British establishment only in its overheated imagination, Corbyn was indeed a real danger to the militaristic status quo.

He was one of the founders of the Stop the War coalition that emerged specifically to challenge the premises of the “war on terror”. He explicitly demanded an end to Israel’s role as a forward base of the imperial war industries. In the face of massive opposition from his own party – and claims he was undermining “national security” – Corbyn urged a public debate about the deterrence claimed by the “defence” establishment for the UK’s Trident nuclear submarine programme, effectively under US control. It was also clear that Corbyn’s socialist agenda, were he ever to reach power, would require redirecting the many billions spent in maintaining the UK’s 145 military bases around the globe back into domestic social programmes.

In an age when the primacy of capitalism goes entirely unquestioned, Corbyn attracted even more immediate hostility from the power establishment than Wilson had. As soon as he was elected Labour leader, Corbyn’s own MPs – still loyal to Blairism – sought to oust him with a failed leadership challenge. If there was any doubt about how the power elite responded to Corbyn becoming head of the opposition, the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Times newspaper soon offered a platform to an unnamed army general to make clear its concerns.

Weeks after Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, the general warned that the army would take “direct action” using “whatever means possible, fair or foul” to prevent Corbyn exercising power. There would be “mutiny”, he said. “The Army just wouldn’t stand for it.”


Such views about Corbyn were, of course, shared on the other side of the Atlantic. In a leaked recording of a conversation with American-Jewish organisations last year, Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state and a former CIA director, spoke of how Corbyn had been made to “run the gauntlet” as a way to ensure he would not be elected prime minister. The military metaphor was telling.

In relation to the danger of Corbyn winning the 2019 election, Pompeo added: “You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

This was from the man who said of his time heading the CIA: “We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses.”

Smears and Brexit

After a 2017 election that Labour only narrowly lost, the Corbyn threat was decisively neutralised in the follow-up election two years later, after the Labour leader was floored by a mix of antisemitism slurs and a largely jingoistic Brexit campaign to leave Europe.

Claims that this prominent anti-racism campaigner had overseen a surge of antisemitism in Labour were unsupported by evidence, but the smears – amplified in the media – quickly gained a life of their own. The allegations often bled into broader – and more transparently weaponised – suggestions that Corbyn’s socialist platform and criticisms of capitalism were also antisemitic. (See here, here and here.) But the smears were nevertheless dramatically effective in removing the sheen of idealism that had propelled Corbyn on to the national stage.

By happy coincidence for the power establishment, Brexit also posed a deep political challenge to Corbyn. He was naturally antagonistic to keeping the UK trapped inside a neoliberal European project that, as a semi-detached ally of the US empire, would always eschew socialism. But Corbyn never had control over how the Brexit debate was framed. Helped by the corporate media, Dominic Cummings and Johnson centred that debate on simplistic claims that severing ties with Europe would liberate the UK socially, economically and culturally. But their concealed agenda was very different. An exit from Europe was not intended to liberate Britain but to incorporate it more fully into the US imperial war machine.

Which is one reason that Johnson’s cash-strapped Britain is now promising an extra £16.5bn on “defence”. The Tory government’s priorities are to prove both its special usefulness to the imperial project and its ability to continue using war – as well as the unique circumstances of the pandemic – to channel billions from public coffers into the pockets of the establishment.

A Biden makeover

After four years of Trump, the war machine once again desperately needs a makeover. Wikileaks, its youthful confidence eroded by relentless attacks, is less able to peek behind the curtain and listen in to the power establishment’s plans for a new administration under Joe Biden.

We can be sure nonetheless that its priorities are no different from those set out in the CIA memo of 2010. Biden’s cabinet, the media has been excitedly trumpeting, is the most “diverse” ever, with women especially prominent in the incoming foreign policy establishment.

There has been a huge investment by Pentagon officials and Congressional war hawks in pushing for Michèle Flournoy to be appointed as the first female defence secretary. Flournoy, like Biden’s pick for secretary of state, Tony Blinken, has played a central role in prosecuting every US war dating back to the Bill Clinton administration.

The other main contender for the spot is Jeh Johnson, who would become the first black defence secretary. As Biden dithers, his advisers’ assessment will focus on who will be best positioned to sell yet more war to a war-weary public.

The role of the imperial project is to use violence as a tool to capture and funnel ever greater wealth – whether it be resources seized in foreign lands or the communal wealth of domestic western populations – into the pockets of the power establishment, and to exercise that power covertly enough, or at a great enough distance, that no meaningful resistance is provoked.

A strong dose of identity politics may buy a little more time. But the war economy is as unsustainable as everything else our societies are currently founded on. Sooner or later the war machine is going to run out of fuel.

This essay first appeared on Jonathan Cook’s blog: https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

  Read The planet cannot heal until we rip the mask off the West’s war machine.
  December 5, 2020
Denmark to end oil and gas extraction in North Sea.
by Countercurrents Collective, Countercurrents.org, in World,

Denmark has decided to end all oil and gas activities in the North Sea by 2050 and has cancelled its latest licensing round, saying the country is “now putting an end to the fossil fuel era.”

“We are now putting a final end to the fossil era,” said Denmark’s climate minister Dan Joergensen, a Social Democrat.

Greenpeace called it “a landmark decision toward the necessary phase-out of fossil fuels.”

“This is a huge victory for the climate movement,” said Helene Hagel of Greenpeace Denmark. Wealthy Denmark has “a moral obligation to end the search for new oil to send a clear signal that the world can and must act to meet the Paris Agreement and mitigate the climate crisis.”

The Danish Parliament voted late Thursday to end offshore gas and oil extraction, which had started in 1972 and made the country the largest producer in the European Union. Non EU-members Norway and Britain are larger producers, with a bigger presence in the North Sea.

Denmark is currently the largest oil producer in the European Union, although it produces much less than non-EU members Norway or the UK.

Denmark this year estimated to pump a bit over 100,000 barrels of crude oil and oil equivalents a day, according to the government.

That is relatively little in a global context. The U.K. produces about ten times that amount while the U.S., the world’s largest producer, pumped over 19 million barrels of oil a day last year. Environmental activists nevertheless said the move was significant as it shows the way forward in the fight against climate change.

The 2015 landmark Paris climate deal asks both rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Denmark has been an early adopter of wind power, with more than a third of its electricity production deriving from wind turbines. They are considered key in the transformation of the energy system and should enable Denmark to no longer be dependent on fossil fuels in 2050 for electricity production.

The agreement to end oil and gas extraction means that a planned eighth licensing round and any future tenders have been cancelled and makes 2050 the last year in which to extract fossil fuels in the North Sea.

Both the left-leaning parties and the center-right opposition, suggesting the policy is unlikely to be reversed, backed it.

“It is incredibly important that we now have a broad majority behind the agreement, so that there is no longer any doubt about the possibilities and conditions in the North Sea,” said the climate minister.

According to official figures, the move would mean an estimated total loss for Denmark of 13 billion kroner ($2.1 billion). The industry has earned the small Scandinavian country over 500 billion kroner ($81.5 billion) since the 1970s.

In October, energy group Total pulled out of the latest tender process leaving only one applicant, Ardent Oil, according to authorities.

In June, the Danish Council on Climate Change – an independent body that advises the government – recommended ending any future exploration in the North Sea, saying a continuation would hurt the country’s ambitions as a front-runner on fighting climate change.

There are 55 drilling platforms on Denmark’s territory, across 20 oil and gas fields.

“We’re the European Union’s biggest oil producer and this decision will therefore resonate around the world,” the climate minister Dan Jorgensen said on Thursday.

“We want to be climate neutral in 2050. And if we are to have any credibility in that, then this is a necessary decision,” the minister said.

When the current government came to power, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called it “the first climate election.”

Recently it has faced criticism for not taking more ambitious steps to reach its climate goal. This latest decision now sends a stronger message.

Economic factors have played a role. Lower oil prices and higher costs have seen interest wane in the latest round of oil bloc tenders.

Even so, about 4,000 jobs depend on the sector, mostly on Denmark’s west coast.

As part of the new plan, the climate minister said carbon capture and storage technology will be developed in the area, and new job creation will come from the country’s growing offshore wind sector.

Denmark is regarded as having one of the world’s most ambitious climate targets.

It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 70% by 2030, as well as reach net zero emissions by 2050 – both targets which have been passed into law.

Scientists have said, however, that even if the UK and other nations keep their promises on cutting emissions there was no guarantee the world would avoid serious global warming.

Danish oil production, which began in 1972, has been on the decline for several years, and has been halved in the past decade.

Its gas production has also become minimal, at 3.2 billion cubic meters last year.

Denmark’s oil fields are located about 150 kilometers off its west coast, near its maritime borders with Britain and Norway.

  Read Denmark to end oil and gas extraction in North Sea
  December 8, 2020
The End of Being
by Dr Glen Barry, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

“I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round…”

John Lennon

“Regain a sense of wonderous awe at the miracle of creation and work tirelessly to protect and restore nature’s splendor.”

Dr. Glen Barry

Look out the window, any window, and behold portends of the end of being. The very ecological fabric of being is unraveling. Disease, famine, false prophecy, and authoritarianism are rife.

The biosphere – the thin mantle of life upon the Earth that holds ecosystems that are the habitats for all life – is dying. And all Earth’s life is threatened with prolonged collapse followed by extermination. There can be no escape. Unless as individuals, societies, and humanity we dramatically change. And fast.

These are hard topics to talk about. Where to start? Religion and overpopulation, given the level of ignorance that exists regarding these topics, are as good as any.

Living our lives based upon millennial old myths, for which there is no evidence and the messaging is ecocidal, shackles the human family to a most ominous fate. Invisible ghosts living in the sky in constant judgment, and if we do not do as religious authorities say, we will burn forever; is a false, tawdry and dated manner to organize society. Particularly as we are told without proof that the ghosts want us to go forth and multiply and subjugate the Earth. And murder for our tribe’s rich old men.

Please, enough already.

We break free of god pollution or in a self-fulfilling prophecy all that we love will assuredly be unnecessarily destroyed.

The multiply part – from one to eight billion human beings in about 130 years – has led to exponential growth in human numbers, fueling the stripping of Earth’s life support systems. Some say the ghosts don’t want us to control our fertility, relegating humanity to disease status upon the biosphere.

Grotesque inequity, a handful of super-predators possessing half of Earth’s wealth, while billions live on a few dollars a day, exacerbates the physical conundrum that Earth can not produce as much as we desire in total to consume. Vast forests, waters, oceans, and even the atmosphere have been fouled and destroyed to meet humanity’s insatiable hunger.

And then there is looming demise of nature. For millennia since humans settled, ancient naturally evolved ecosystems have been destroyed for “development”. Nature is destroyed for consumer goods, allowing human nerve endings for some to be positively stimulated for a while, as the habitats that constitute our life support systems are weakened. And eventually natural systems collapse and die. First the woodlot out back, then your city’s surroundings, next your bioregion’s ecosystems collapse, even whole countries’ and continent’s natural assets are lost, and eventually and finally Earth as a whole will follow in-kind and become a tawdry, denuded mess. And die.

The spilling forth of European ecocidal genocide into indigenous nations and their natural habitats represented an infection upon Gaia that has festered and grown. And may well prove fatal. Innumerable worldviews that understood the harmony between humans, nature, animals, and the stars have been wiped from being.

The industrial revolution, building wealth by murdering plants, wildlife, and non-white people, became a universally accepted twisted concept upon which to build society and individual aspiration. Wave upon wave of disease spilt forth from the destruction of wildlife and natural ecosystems and continues to do so. Most recently coronavirus, and any number of pathogens are yet to emerge during the collapse as nature ends.

Priceless ecological systems – that evolved novel and miraculous structures and patterns across scales from genes, to organisms, to communities, upward to ecosystems and landscapes; and together constitute our one shared biosphere – continue to be cut to wipe your ass. Nature is being liquidated for consumer throw-away crap, as basic human needs of so many go unmet.

Major ecological crises (sadly for which there are solutions) fester and grow, any one of them capable of toppling civilizations, and together capable of ending the conditions for life on Earth. Topsoil erodes. Rainforests fall. Diseases emerge. Water gone. Oceans die. Harvests fail. Toxics accumulate. Climate heats. War murders. And tyrants reign.

Granted, the momentary abundance provided for by market economies has led to the rights of man, slowly expanding (though not yet universally) to include all human beings. Democracy and liberty have made for greater well-being, remarkable liberties, unprecedented comfort, with less violence. Yet universal human rights have not been achieved and piece-meal advances have recently been shown to be weak and flaccid.

Resource scarcity and declining prospects have led to a surge in authoritarian tyranny, with petty dictators of all types in power over much of Earth’s inhabitants. One great people recently narrowly averted collapse into full-throated authoritarian fascism (for a while anyway). Other great peoples live under constant surveillance and threats of violence for thinking and acting freely.

Universal human rights are a precondition for just and equitable global ecological sustainability.

And then there is war. Huge amounts of Earth’s productive capacity continue to be siphoned off by the Congressional-Military-Industrial complex. Murdering other usually less fortunate people in the name of your god and country for the economic benefit of elite, usually white old men is good business if you can get it. Mass hysteria accepts war as patriotic. Yet free-thinkers and many vets know war is murder.

Humanity’s state of perma-war and resurgent tyranny is a direct result of environment decline.

There can be no just, equitable, sustainable future until guns are beaten into plowshares one last time. Standing armies in times of peace are wasteful and evil. Imagine what could be done with these resources to educate, feed, clothe, house, employ, and limit the fecundity; while otherwise maximizing the shared well-being and sustainability of humanity. The obscene amount of armaments that presently exist greatly increase the potential for violence as ecosystems continue to collapse, making regeneration and reconciliation much more difficult.

The time for global demilitarization is long past due.

What philosophy remains unthought, technology un-invented, words unwritten, songs unsung, stories untold, and sport feats undone because we toil all day to destroy ecosystems and wage war? Humanity and you are capable and worthy of better.

And finally we have arrived at that painful matter of the entire biosphere collapsing and dying. Abrupt climate change and natural ecosystem loss are diseases of the Earth System that threaten an end to being for the human family and all kindred species. We immediately power down our fossil fuel use and destruction of nature or it is the end.

Failure to embrace a great transition means decades of war, pestilence, famine, and disease. Your family either starving or being raped and then murdered in front of your eyes. For the lucky, nuclear explosions to mercifully wipe the human taint. Before widespread collapse and mass die-offs, perhaps of all life.

Gaia, the Earth System, is a living organism. There are no guarantees that the tremendous destructive impacts of so many types, so quickly, upon already diminished biological systems will not end the billions of years of conditions conducive to live, or that a re-radiation of evolutionary diversity is assured.

The biosphere too can die. Being can end. It’s happening now, creation is in its death-throes. Unless the will is found from watching the multitudes of looming warnings, and necessary changes are made in how we relate to each other, kindred species, and nature.

There are things that can be done. Survival for awhile will be local, we need to grow our own food and find livelihoods that are local. Much can be done to limit consumption, but that will not be enough. Many of these problems are societal and can only be defeated through rationale thought, improved education, and global people power.

We know what must be done, all that is lacking is the will, even in the face of self-evident disease, fascism, hunger, and war caused by nature’s decline. Regenerative agriculture, population control, restoration ecology, bans on natural ecosystem clearing, universal human rights, global demilitarization, ending fossil fuels, energy conservation, and major expansion in renewable energy are all key (there are others).

The great transition will require far more than teenage girls striking. However well intentioned, if most others are self-righteously vilified, social change cannot succeed. We need allies of every type; including farmers, business people, veterans, people of color, labor unions, financiers, indigenous peoples, and particularly the rich and powerful. History has shown that when the elite are made to understand it is in their interest to change, only then does social change come. Engage with efforts to reform finance in service for Earth.

Even as you grow coalitions, set your sights high, based upon what is ecologically sufficient. The business of war murders must end. Nothing short of societal transformation that eliminates the destroyers while fostering regenerative systems will suffice. Only a broad-based movement can avert being’s end.

Watch and understand the wheels going round and round. And then become a cog in the wheels of ecocide. Re-localize, grow food, make more with less, organize, convince others, take actions for Earth you deem necessary.

Understand that ecology is the meaning of life.

Regain a sense of wonderous awe at the miracle of creation and work tirelessly to protect and restore nature’s splendor. The human family must embrace the great transition – powering down, making love not war, and returning to nature – coming together to avert biosphere collapse

Starting now. Make it so. For Earth and all species. Or it is good-bye.

Originally published in EcoInternet

  Read The End of Being
  December 12, 2020
Name Me One Country Where Capitalism Works: A Thirty-Year Reckoning.
by Bruce Lerro , Countercurrents.org, in Life/Philosophy.


When I first considered myself a socialist revolutionary in 1970, I was hounded by free marketers’ challenge: “name me one country where socialism works”. These market fundamentalists would then hold up the most strident expectations for socialism:

  • Everyone is exactly equal with no classes.
  • There is an abundance of goods which are conveniently circulated.
  • Political rule is not dictatorial.
  • All competition is banished.
  • There are no capitalist markets.
  • People are working together, collectively and creatively.
  • The state has withered away.
  • Anything less than this was proof that it didn’t work.

Without really understanding how difficult it is to create any of these conditions when surrounded by a sea of capitalist sharks, I was at first intimidated. I was driven away from examining Russia, China and Cuba because they were “authoritarian”. Without realizing it, I had accepted that more than one political candidate was the ultimate measuring rod. I didn’t know how high the literacy rate was in socialist countries, that they had health care systems that were affordable or free, low-cost housing, free education, and there was little or no unemployment. What mattered was there was a single party rule. I was intimidated by that argument, without knowing that for the people in those countries having two parties to vote for instead of one was not their priority. As first an anarchist and then a council communist, I then would refer to the workers’ councils that existed during the Paris Commune, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Revolution and say, “here you are, that works”. While I was right that workers’ councils were a stunning achievement, the rebuttal would be “why didn’t they last?” At 20 years old I didn’t really have an answer for this.

Ten years later things got really bad when capitalism seemed to be restored in China in the 1980s and when the Soviet Union fell apart ten years later.  Now I would hear: “the Cold War is over, capitalism has won.” Writers like Francis Fukuyama would announce this in his book End of History and Samuel Huntington would crow about the glories of the West.

Six varieties of socialism

There are at least six socialist tendencies on the left. Moving from right to left, the first school is social democracy, typified by the SPD in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; the Socialist Party of Debs in Yankeedom at the turn of the 20th century and then the Social Democratic Labor Party in power in Sweden from the 1930s to the 1970s. There are three varieties of Leninism – Trotskyism and Stalinism, typified by Russia and Cuba, and Maoism, mostly prevalent in China from 1949-1976. Then there are small grouplets of council communists who were prevalent during the Russian and Spanish revolutions and among the Dutch and Germans.  Lastly, anarchism was prevalent during the Russian and Spanish revolutions and in Rojava today. The criticism that capitalists usually make of socialism is really only of the Stalinist or Maoist version. They are also the only types of socialism that ever succeeded in defeating the bourgeoisie—at least for a while, and built powerful and in many regards extraordinary nations.

Adam Smith’s Criteria for a well-functioning capitalist society.

Well, it has been 30 years since the “fall of communism”. Thirty years in which capitalists could show the world why Margaret Thatcher was right when she said, “There is no alternative (TINA)”. No more communist menaces to gum up the free market. What do we have? What do capitalists have to show the world after their so-called victory?

Adam Smith —in his time seen, like many of his peers, as a “moral philosopher” trying to discover the “maximum social good”—is considered by capitalists to be their founding father. His criteria for a highly functioning capitalist society is a high standard of living, not just for the elites but for the middle classes, the working classes and gradually the poor; a decrease in the amount of work done because of high technology; opportunities for anyone to start a small business who wants to; and a relatively stable economic life. No reason for wars because the invisible hand of the market would benefit all countries and make fighting over resources a thing of the past.

The purpose of this article is to assess what capitalism has done. The books I’ll be referring to are Introduction to Political Economy by Zachary, Schneider and Knoedler; David Harvey’s The Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism; Michael Roberts The Long Depression; Michael Parenti’s Blackshirts and Reds and Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine.


Capitalism has always existed

One of the first things you will be told about capitalism is that it has always existed. This is claimed by Adam Smith as well as the neoclassical economists. This is hardly the case for the entire school of Marxists and economic institutionalists who will tell you that capitalism is roughly 500 years old. In addition, no anthropologist will agree that tribal societies or even agricultural civilizations like Egypt, Mesopotamia, China or India had purely capitalist economic exchanges within their societies. Even external trade cannot be characterized as capitalist. The merchants in these civilizations were given lists of goods to buy by temple administrators. They did not “truck, barter and exchange” independently of the ruling elite.

Capitalism commences when hardworking, thrifty, shrewd capitalists take risks

Smith claims that capitalism starts when frugal, hard-working, shrewd traders identify a need and invest capital in land, goods or services. In the best of all possible worlds, the product sells and the budding capitalist makes a profit. This capitalist has to compete with other traders and the results of this competition are better products for everyone. Smith called this process “the invisible hand” of the market. Today Smith might be surprised to find out that the wealth capitalists possessed was less the result of personal ingenuity but more based on inheritance. Last time I checked, about 2/3 of capitalist got their wealth from the inheritance they received.

Marxists and post-Keynesians contest that the origin of capitalism begins with trade. Marx argued that capitalism begins with what he called “the primitive accumulation of capital” when peasants are thrown off the land (to create enclosures) and their tools and animals are taken away from them. The capitalist uses the land for commercial farming, growing coffee, sugar, cotton and tobacco which are tended by slaves. Meanwhile, former peasants are driven to work in cities and eventually in factories the capitalists built in the 19th century. Michael Perelman in his book The Invention of Capitalism describes how Smith papered over the primitive accumulation process.

Specialization of labor is justified because it produces a high volume of cheap projects

Adam Smith was sensitive to the cost the specialization of labor might have on the body and mind of the worker that resulted in alienation on the job. Despite that, he felt that the volume of goods that would result from specialization was worth that cost. If capitalists today wished to have a stable, satisfied work-force they would pay attention to what factory work does to workers. The most obvious effect of aliening conditions on workers is that as a class, working-class men die on the average at about 67-72 years of age, which is at least seven years earlier than middle-class men and women. That’s seven years of lost labor and the training of labor for capitalists.

Workers are lazy and need a carrot to motivate them

Capitalists imagine that people are generally stupid, unmotivated and shortsighted and it is only the few, heroic, risk-taking capitalists who show creativity and ingenuity. But capitalists take how workers behave in their leisure time, after they are exhausted from 50 hours a week (or more) of work, as their point of departureThese workers do want to cool-out, sleep, watch a ballgame or get drunk. But capitalists pay no attention to the fact that workers will work on their cars, build engines and create all kinds of crafts with their free time without being paid at all. Capitalists also ignore the fact that in cases when workers have control of what, how and when they produce – as in worker self-management or worker cooperative experiments – they have higher rates of productivity than they do when working for a capitalist.

Competition between capitalists leads to better products and lower costs

Adam Smith believed that the fruits of competitive capitalism would lead to lower prices for consumers. This is not what has happened.  Competition between capitalists leads to a concentration of capital in a few corporations and the elimination of smaller capitalists. As Marxists Baran and Sweezy point out, corporate capitalists agree not to engage in cut-throat competition and the prices of commodities are pretty much the same. Corporations compete through advertising, not on the prices themselves.

The state is minimally necessary in the orchestration of capitalism

State intervention was extremely important in helping to get the United States out of the depression through the New Deal programs. Furthermore, today the lack of state intervention is directly connected to the amplification and spreading of COVID-19 because there has been no national plan developed at the federal level. Additionally, their professed but rarely implemented ideology of patriotism notwithstanding, capitalists are globalists, and they need the state to intervene in the process of both subordinating workers in colonized countries and attacking and overthrowing governments who do not want to hand over all their natural resources to foreign corporations. Capitalists require a visible fist to work hand and glove with the invisible hand.

The abundance of goods and services is what justifies capitalist profits

In Adam Smith’s time, making a profit on material [consumer] goods was the only way to make a profit. However, after World War II, capitalists realized that there were great profits to be made on war industries – and that it was far less risky. In addition, with the rise of the banks in the 20th century, it was profitable to make money based on the speculation of stock and bonds. This means that today capitalists are far more interested in making a profit in defense of spending and stock-market speculation than investing in commodities or building infrastructures. The fickle moods of the spending public are too dangerous to invest in on their own. So too, profits made on infrastructure is too slow a turn-around time to wait for. This is the reason Yankeedom has trillions of dollars of infrastructural work that sits waiting. One problem for capitalists is that profits made on the military destroy productive forces and the wealth made on paper transactions produces no social wealth. Yet both are counted as profits along with the real wealth based on selling goods and services. The result is a society whose profit claims are wildly exaggerated if wealth is judged the way Adam Smith thought best.

The wealth of capitalists will have a trickle-down effect on workers

Roughly 50 years ago, Yankeedom was rated around fifth in the world in the steepness of its stratification system. Today it is number one. The standard of living for the average working-class person today is nowhere near what it was in 1970. The average work-week is at minimum 10 hours longer. One of the clearest indicators of the decline in the standard of living is the amount of debt working-class people have been accumulating over the past 50 years. This is because their wages or salaries cannot keep up with the cost of living.

Capitalism works for all social classes

Capitalism has never worked for people in poverty, which over the last 70 years has fluctuated between 10% and 20%. Capitalism (in America and then gradually in Western Europe) has worked for white working-class people within a window of time between 1948-1970. [That was an anomaly caused by the devastation of industrial capacity and financial ruin in most nations during WW2 which made the US the world’s chief center of production for consumer and capital goods).  Since then, it has ceased to benefit white working-class people. Since the crash of 2008, political economist Richard Wolff has said that those who have benefited from capitalism are the upper middle class (10%), the upper class (5%), and the ruling class (1%). Actually, the actual ruling class is far more concentrated than 1% of the population, an arbitrary figure chosen by the Occupy Wall Street activists for the sake of expedient propaganda. A more realistic estimate is between 0.2 and 0.01% of the total population. As of today, capitalism works for less than 20% of the population.

Capitalism shrinks racial tensions because it doesn’t pay to exclude skilled workers

This is the argument made by neo-classical economist Gary Becker. Judging from the behavior of Trump followers, the militarization of the police and the number of racial minorities killed by the police or in prison, race relations have gotten worse than they were 60 years ago. Far from refining their work skills to compete with white prison workers, minorities work for slave wages. The lack of class mobility for working- class whites and minorities has inflamed race relations as many working-class whites have blamed minorities (including “illegal” immigrants) for a decline in their standard of living. A far better explanation for inflamed race relations is that capitalists benefit from racial competition for jobs, by a divide-and-conquer strategy:

  • By paying white workers a little more;
  • By keeping a pool of unemployed minorities available to work in order to keep wages low and undermine strikes by white working-class workers. This is part of the “army of the unemployed” mentioned in Marxist literature, never quite eliminated by the capitalists since it acts as a wage depressant and facilitates working class docility. 

There are no significant capitalist downturns, it’s just the oscillation of business cycles

Michael Roberts in his book The Long Depression, names four major global capitalist crises: the long depression of the 1870s; the Great Depression of the 1930s; the Great Recession of the 1970s and the Great Financial crisis of 2007 – which we are still in. For Roberts, when there is a recovery, it is not truly a recovery in that it returns us to previous levels. It starts at a lower level. The concept of “business cycles” is a flat denial of long-term irreversible capitalist crisis.

Economics can be best understood by separating it from politics

Neoclassical economics, unlike Adam Smith, imagine that economic exchanges can be understood as separate from politics. This completely ignores all the money capitalists invest in controlling their political parties. William Domhoff in his book Who Rules America and the Powers that Be researched all the mediating institutions that influence both the Republican and Democratic parties long before the population actually votes. These mediating organizations include universities, foundations, think tanks, policy campaigns, news dissemination, book publications and lobbyists. Capitalists absolutely need to be in control of politics in order to control the state’s domestic and foreign policies.

The invisible hand: the pursuit of individual self-interest leads to economic order

The Yankee population satisfies their self-interest by driving their big cars and paying their taxes to a military that is the world’s greatest polluter. The collective result is extreme weather and fires. Another example is that some people find it convenient to not wear masks during the pandemic while others do wear them. Each produces what seems to be in their short-term self-interest, but the result is an expansion of the virus, the loss of work and the shutting down of small businesses. The invisible hand in the present leads to a long-term collective disaster.

People have unlimited individual wants and needs and the market scurries to satisfy them all. The consumer is king.

If this were true, there would be no need for advertising. Through advertising wants are artificially created and then are turned into perceived “needs”. Many actual wants are neglected if the rate of profit on them is too low. Planned obsolescence makes sure that products don’t last too long.

Economics is a science

If neoclassical economics were a science, it would have an agreed-upon explanation for the causes of previous depressions and it would predict what is likely to happen in the future. Mainstream economics is propaganda for a particular school of economics – neoclassical economics. The use of mathematical formulas does not make neoclassical economics a science. It only obscures all the myths we have been challenging.

The size of the income is directly proportional to contributions to production and choosing work over leisure

Income is hardly proportional to contributions to production. In the case of doctors, architects or lawyers this may be true. Conversely, there are jobs that are highly dangerous that have low compensation. Working class exposure to hazardous waste is an example. On the other hand, the salaries of those in the insurance industry, real estate, and finance is completely disproportionate to the goods and services they actually produce.

Poverty and unemployment are linked to bad individual choices between leisure and work

Unemployment is a necessary part of the capitalist system. An unemployed army of workers is necessary to keep workers from working together and joining unions to raise wages and better their working conditions. Many workers are in poverty, not because they “choose” to stay home, watch tv and play poker. The “choice” of workers is between working at various kinds of low wage job or starving.

Causes of downturns are “externalities”: bad crops, bad weather

Neoclassical economists deny that there are any built-in problems intrinsic to the capitalist economy. It is claimed that “externalities” such as bad weather or crop failure can be overcome by changes in monetary policy. But in this “externalities” claim neoclassical economists are in the vast minority. Marxians, post-Keynesians and Keynesians all agree that downturns are internal to the capitalist system. Keynes said downturns are due to inadequate spending by capitalists on infrastructure and wages. Wages are too low for workers to buy products off the shelf.  Institutionalists like Thorstein Veblen would say the problem is in the gap between industrial wealth and pecuniary wealth (conspicuous consumption). Michael Hudson would say that crises are due to the accumulating bubble between finance and industrial capital. Marxians like Michael Roberts and Anwar Shaikh say crisis is due to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.


Capitalism appeals to rationality and is the opposite of fascism

As it turns out, there is an invisible fist of fascism behind the invisible hand. Apologists of capitalism treat fascism as having nothing to do with capitalism. They would say it was just a spontaneous irruption of irrationality as a result of the existence of conflicts within “mass society”. In fact, capitalists have been very friendly to fascists both before and after World War II and continue to be so today. Franz Neumann has argued that fascism is a product of monopoly, finance capital. Fascism provides a simplistic outlet for some working-class whites and large numbers of small business owners who are being crushed by large corporations. The outlet is to blame religious or racial minorities for their problems rather than capitalists.

Michael Parenti tells us that in Germany the greatest source of Hitter’s wealth was a secret slush fund to which the leading German industrialists regularly contributed. Fascism in Germany was favorably looked on in Yankeedom. Henry Ford traveled to Rome to pay homage to and strike economic deals with Mussolini. Mussolini was hailed by the press in Yankeedom throughout the 1920s and 1930s including Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street journal, the Saturday Evening Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor. They hailed Mussolini as the bearer of order to Italy. Newspaper giant William Randolph Heart instructed his correspondents in Germany to only file positive reports about Hitler’s regime. They even opened their columns to the occasional writings of major Nazi leaders like Alfred Rosenberg and Hermann Goring. During the early war years, western capitalist states were still cooperating with fascism. English prime minister Chamberlain was on very good terms with Hitler and like many members of the ruling class saw fascism as a defense against communism.

The Rockefellers’ Chase Manhattan Bank used its Paris office in France to launder German money to facilitate Nazi trade during the war. Corporations like DuPont, Ford, General Motors and ITT owned factories in enemy territories that produced fuel, tanks and planes. Pilots were given instruction not to hit factories that were owned by US firms including those that produced military equipment for the Nazis. See Charles Higham’s Trading With the Enemy for more.

Within a year after the war, almost all Italian fascists were released from prison while the communists who fought the fascists languished in prison. According to Parenti, “under the protection of the Yankee occupation authorities, the police, the courts, military, security agencies and bureaucracy remained largely staffed by those who had served the former fascists regimes.” (18). After World War II, the United States brought the top military and scientists from fascist Germany to the United States to work for them. See Martin Lee’s The Beast Reawakens for more on this. Between 1945-1975 the Yankee rulers helped to keep fascism afloat in Italy, suppling roughly $75 million to right-wing organizations in Italy.

The modernization process is inevitably good for all societies

Modernization theory divided modern societies into western Europe and the United States and the rest were “traditional societies”. Fascist and communist societies were excluded from the category of modernization. Traditional societies (tribal and agricultural societies) were seen as economically and technologically backward, superstitious and driven by irrational customs. Modernization theorists believe modernization would improve traditional societies. In fact, modernization is relatively good for Western Europe and the United States core. Modernization theory ignores the fact that an increasing number of traditional societies have been colonized and this is the reason for their lack of material resources. Andre Gunder Frank’s book The Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America demonstrates this.

Nation-states are autonomous from each other and whether their country is wealthy or poor depends on the economic policies of that country

Capitalism is a global system that is far more powerful than any individual nation-state. Capitalism constantly needs new markets and imperialistically exploits countries on the periphery in the core states’ quest for cheap land, natural resources and labor. Nation-states are interdependent.

Western societies have created a model for modernization because of something inherent to them

There is nothing in the inherent make-up of western societies that makes them more suitable to modernization. It is true that western societies developed capitalism first because their adequate rainfall and mountainous terrain made it unnecessary to develop a unitary empire based on centralized irrigation system. Merchants were not beholden to emperors or kings as in the great agricultural civilizations. But that was happenstance and had nothing to do with any immanent “European miracle”.

Western European societies developed capitalism without any pressure or colonization from other parts of the world. Countries outside of Western Europe that are striving to modernize have to overcome their history of colonization by western societies. Furthermore, it is difficult to develop a scientific and engineering base. Many of these colonized nations are in debt and beholden to the IMF and World Bank for loans. These banks do not want colonized countries to develop an independent scientific base because those scientists and engineers might develop a resource base that is separate and might make obsolete the resource bases of the west.

Economic history and cross-cultural economics are not very important

Since neoclassical economists like to think that capitalism has always existed, they tend to play down the history of European economic systems. They also are not very aware of the comparative economic systems of tribal societies or agricultural states. Both the study of history and other cultures from around the world give a relativity to the current capitalist system that works against its propaganda.

International trade benefits all nations: theory of comparative advantage

In her book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein identifies “the Chicago Boys” (meaning the followers of Milton Friedman) as initiating the economics of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Poland, Russia, South Africa and Iraq for the glories of market fundamentalism. Was the result what Adam Smith would have expected? Hardly. These economies had their social safety nets decimated, conditions for workers resulted in insecure jobs, lower income, longer hours and growing debt to the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. They were given loans for the support of the tourist industry, growing of cash crops rather than for subsistence or taking care to develop industries that were most efficient in developing the natural resources of their own country.

History has proven that capitalism works and socialism is a failure

This assessment is purely propaganda. When a neoclassical economist picks a capitalist society it picks the most favorable example, such as the United States in the 1960s or Germany in the 1990s. It fails to acknowledge that since most of the world is capitalist, this includes authoritarian capitalist dictatorships that exist in many parts of the world, especially the so-called “capitalist periphery”, places such as Indonesia ruled by military tyrants and oligarchic cliques beholden to foreign interests. These dictators were installed by core capitalists to repress rebellion. Conversely, when a neoclassical economist picks a socialist country it usually refers to the worst time periods in Russian, Chinese, Cuban, Venezuelan or North Korean history. It conveniently ignores Sweden, Norway or Denmark in their best periods (even if these Scandinavian nations were still far more capitalist than socialist) or the achievements of Russia, China or Cuba in their best periods.


I am not a Leninist but since capitalists insist that Leninism is the only kind of socialism, Leninism is worth defending. To do this I will be guided by Michael Parenti’s book Blackshirts and Reds. One of the things Parenti points out is that capitalists make unfalsifiable claims, putting state socialist countries in a position of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” For example:

“If Soviets refuse to negotiate a point, they were intransient and belligerent. If they appeared willing to make concessions, this was a skillful ploy to put us off our guard.

By opposing arms limitations, they would have demonstrated their aggressive intent; but when in fact they supported most armament treaties, it was because they were mendacious and manipulative.

If the churches in the USSR were empty, this demonstrated that religion was suppressed; but if the churches were full, this meant the people rejected the regime’s atheistic ideology.

If the workers went on strike, this was evidence of their alienation from the collectivist system; if they didn’t go on strike, this was because they were intimidated and lacked freedom

A scarcity of consumer goods demonstrated the failure of the economic system; an improvement in consumer supplies meant only that the leaders were attempting to placate a restive population.” (pgs. 41-42)

So, in other words, capitalists fail to state the conditions in which they could be proven wrong.

The performance of socialist states must be compared to the political economy of the country before socialism came to power

What is not considered by capitalists in challenging socialist institutions is those countries that became socialist societies were far worse off before socialism arrived. So, for example, whatever the shortcomings of state socialism under Leninist/Stalinist/Maoist rule in Russia, China, and Cuba must be seen against what life was like for workers and peasants under Czarist Russia, China under Chiang Kai-shek or Cuba under Battista. Other countries were subjected to the miseries of colonial rule by the West before becoming socialist. Relative to those conditions socialism in those countries was a clear improvement.

Cuba: Improvements in housing, schools, literacy, sanitation, health clinics, jobs, human services, life expectancy

Speaking of Cuba, Michael Parenti writes:

For all its mistakes and abuses, the Cuban Revolution brought sanitation, schools, health clinics, jobs, housing and human services to a level not found throughout most of the Third World and in many parts of the first world.

Life expectancy rose from 55 to 75. Smallpox, malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, polio and numerous other diseases have been wiped out by improved living standards. Cuba has enjoyed a level of literacy higher than the US. The Cuban revolution has sent teachers, doctors, and workers to dozens of Third World countries without charging a penny. It is the country with the most teachers and doctors per capita of all counties. Most third world capitalist regimes are far more oppressive. (38-39)

In Russia less stratification between classes in income housing and gender relations

In Russia within thirty years after the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviets made industrial advances equal to what capitalism took a century to accomplish. In communist countries there was less economic inequality than under capitalism. Parenti continues:

The perks enjoyed by party and government elites were modest by corporate CEO standards in the West as were their personal incomes and lifestyles.

Soviet leaders live in large apartments in a large housing project near the Kremlin, set-aside for government leaders.

The income spread between the highest and lowest earner in the Soviet Union was about five to one. In the US the spread is 10,000 to one.

There is guaranteed education, employment, housing and medical assistance.

(Blackshirts and Reds, 45)

The fall of the Soviet Union had a negative impact on revolutionary movements all over the world

With capitalist fundamentalism having taken over Russia, that meant that any liberation struggles on the capitalist periphery were on their own. In the past they had received aid from Russia (and its allies in the Soviet sphere of influence, such as Eastern Germany, Poland, etc.). In addition, capitalists would no longer have to convince workers or national leaders of liberation movements that they offered a better way of life than communism. They seemed to be the only game in town.


Why the standard of living is not higher and political governance less democratic

It must be said that all socialist countries are not free upgrades for the living standards of their population in a timely way. All socialist countries are under constant attack from capitalist countries and have to devote a great deal of their economy to building up their military. All this is revenue taken away from domestic infrastructure projects and consumer goods. Additionally, socialist states have to be extremely cautious in both setting up their political systems and holding elections. Capitalists will do everything they can to overthrow socialism as a system as well as the socialist leaders. Given the record of the CIA attempting to overthrow roughly 60 governments since its inception, socialist revolutionaries have good reason for being cautious and less willing to have elections resembling a free-for-all. Yet, there were a number of difficulties that seemed inherent in the system itself.

Despite his sympathy for Russia, Parenti is no true believer. He says “The exigencies of the revolutionary survival did not make inevitable”:

  • The heartless execution of hundreds of Old Bolshevik leaders.
  • The suppression of party-political life through terror, or peer pressure.
  • The eventual silencing of debate regarding the pace of industrialization and collectivization.
  • The ideological regulation of all intellectual and cultural life. 
  • The mass deportation of suspect nationalities. (57)

In his book Inventing Reality, Parenti admits:

“The truth is, in the USSR there exist serious problem of labor productivity, industrialization, urbanization, bureaucracy, corruptions and alcoholism. There are production and distribution bottlenecks, plan failures, consumer scarcities, criminal abuses of power, and the suppression of dissidents.“ (287)

Limits of centralized planning

Parenti points out the centralized planning in some historical periods is better than others:

“Central planning was useful and even necessary in the earlier period of siege socialism to produce steel, wheat and tanks to build an industrial base and withstand the Nazi onslaught. But it eventually hindered technological development and growth.  No system could gather and process the immense range of detailed information needed to make correct decisions about millions of production tasks.” (59-60)

Had they tapped the collective creative energy of the workers and included them in the planning process via workers councils, things might have been different.

Disincentives for innovation

Managers were little inclined to pursue technological paths that might lead to their own obsolescence. Managers received no rewards for taking risks. Experimentation increased the chances one might miss their quotas.

Improvements in production would lead only to an increase in one’s productive quota. In effect, well-run factories were punished with greater workloads. There would be deliberate slowdowns so as to not surpass the quotas. Or they would work faster, finish the job in 4-6 hours and go somewhere to work for extra money. High-priced quality goods and luxury items were hard to come by. All this affected work performance. Why work hard to earn more when there was not that much to buy? There was strong resentment concerning consumer scarcities, the endless shopping lines and housing shortages.

Greater affluence rather than political democracy mattered

Usually there were relatively prosperous craftsmen, small entrepreneurs, well-educated engineers, architects and intellectuals that were the most aggressive about becoming richer. It was this desire for greater affluence rather than the quest for political freedom that motivated most of those who emigrated to the West.


In my article Like a Rowboat in a Typhoon I’ve identified 12 crises that face Western capitalism. Each crisis was either there before the 1990 breakup of the Soviet Union and has continued to become worse during the next thirty years of the free reign of market fundamentalism or the crisis is new and the result of neo-liberal economic policies.

COVID-19 has expanded rather than leveled off because the nation-state is not allowed to have a national plan since that is against the ideology of neoliberal economics. Local states are left to fend for themselves and the results are an incoherent mess. Large parts of the Yankee population, full of rugged individualism, are in denial there even is a pandemic. They are ignoring what scientists say and are spreading the virus as they dance together in clubs and on beaches. Other countries have risen to the occasion with half the resources. Socialist countries like Cuba, China, Venezuela and North Vietnam have responded well and admirably.

Extreme weather is a very serious problem that has been building for 50 years, if not longer, but it has become especially obvious in the last 20 years. There is no long-term plan to address this problem either. Every year we have record-breaking heat in the summer, along with fires and in the winters, record cold spells in the east and north-central states. Glaciers are melting and water is rising. Has the absence of the Soviet Union unleashed market forces to solve this extreme weather problem? No.

Police departments have turned into state terrorist organizations which have been gathering more and more weapons for the last 50 years. There is no structural reform, as the police are handed bloated budgets while they are trained to mutilate and kill as a matter of course. Now that neoliberal capitalism does not have to worry about communism, have they reigned in the police? Is it a new day for racial minorities to enjoy the blessings of the free market as its minority citizenry? Far from it. The problems with the police have only gotten worse.

There is an open rebellion against police terror which the ruling class has failed to address structurally. Besides police attacks there is the prison industrial complex, filled with a disproportionate number of minorities, many in for minor crimes. Any claim for reparation for minorities is like spitting in the wind. This has gotten even worse since the killing of Oscar Grant in Oakland in 2011. Since 1990, when the capitalists thought they won, things have gotten worse. Kamala Harris refused to let non-violent prisoners out, because capitalists who have invested in prison labor needed the workers!

Has market fundamentalism, triumphant since 1990, given the working class and small business owners a better life? The answer is a resounding no. In fact, it has attracted them to fascism. Openly armed fascistic groups publicly wave confederate flags and white power signs. We know better than to think these groups originated with Trump. With its policy mantra of austerity at home and abroad, it is more likely that white working-class people and small business owners will continue to be drawn to fascism – with or without Trump. Their economic circumstances have deteriorated particularly since 2008, especially because of the absence of a socialist alternative here.

We are in the worst capitalist crisis in history because the Coronavirus has crippled the physical economy: political economist Jack Rasmus says the real unemployment rate is between 25-30%. Those who are working are working at reduced workloads. Consumer spending is very low. Both parties sing a capitalist tune that workers might die so the economy can live. This is an economic policy? This is what capitalists say we can look forward to with its happy victory over socialism?

For Adam Smith, capitalist wealth was based on building infrastructures, goods and services and making life easier for the lower classes. Free market fundamentalists since 1990 has continued to ignore these things. After 1970 finance capital got increasingly out of control. Has the absence of the Soviet Union allowed neo-classical economists to reign in the banks? Fat chance. Today fictitious capital greatly outstrips industrial capital in terms of its claim on social wealth. The banks were responsible for the crash in 2008.

The ruling class made a decision shortly after World War II that more stable (bigger) profits could be made from the military than investing in commodities. After all, we have to defend ourselves against the Cold War nemesis – the Soviet Union – that wants world communism. Surely by the mid 1990s the military budget would shrink because after all, capitalism had slain the communist dragon. What do we have today? The US military budget is larger than the whole world military budget combined.

Now that capitalists no longer had to worry about the communist menace, we might think the role of the Federal Reserve would be smaller because markets would be stable after 1990. Today 30 years after the reign of market fundamentalism the Federal Reserve has to pump blood transfusions (money) on a regular basis into financial markets to keep them from tanking. Would Adam Smith think there might be something wrong with printing more money as an economic policy? We think he would be horrified.

Politically, both major political parties are hated by their populations with the winning party not being able to attract more than about a third of the vote. More people don’t vote than do vote. Has the absence of the Soviet Union and a world socialist threat (to the capitalists not the people of the US at large) brought more people out to vote? I would think that if under capitalism “all boats will rise”, the voter turnout would be more active because voting is an expression of faith in the system.  It hasn’t brought more people out to vote. In fact, the Democratic Party in the wake of the 2016 debacle developed a conspiracy theory that they lost the elections because of the Russians. But these Russians aren’t even communists anymore. Yoo-hoo, Democratic Party, you can’t have an evil red menace if you’ve already slain the communist menace.

Now that the Western Free World has triumphantly won over communism, it can set its sights on dealing with long-term problems, ecological, climatic, infrastructural and political. Has this happened since the evil Russians were defeated? Capitalists—for whom short-term thinking is natural and endemic— continue to not expand their vision beyond “quarterly objectives”. They want their assets liquid and ready to move at any time. Is this the economic rationality capitalist are yammering about?


The origins of capitalist mythology go back to Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. This mythology is told and retold in introductory economic classes at the undergraduate college level. The trouble is, market fundamentalism today is nothing like what Smith argued for. I’ve exposed 25 myths of Smith’s that have been broken by the neoclassical, finance, monopoly capitalism of today. At the same time, I’ve tried to show that the socialism of Lenin-Stalin had some commendable qualities as well as shortcomings.

Lastly, I’ve named twelve crises that economies all over the world must face. How well has market fundamentalism solved them since 1990 when it had triumphed over socialism? The answer is that many of the crises have predated the capitalist restoration, but neoliberal capitalism has done nothing to solve them and, in most cases, made things worse. In addition, some crises are new and broke out after 1990 when market fundamentalism had control.

So, I ask you, name me one capitalist society that works? “Works” means it does what Adam Smith promised. A high standard of living not just for the elites but for the middle classes, the working classes and gradually the poor. A decrease in the amount of work done because of high technology. Opportunities for anyone to start a small business who wants to and a relatively stable economic life. Where is this happening? The United States? Hardly. The standard of living has been declining for 50 years. Germany? Up until about seven years ago, this claim might have been valid. No more. Japan? They have never recovered from the 1987 crash. Brazil, possibly for a while under Lula but no more. Argentina? Decades ago, but not since they were visited by the Chicago boys and now buried in debt. It’s a similar case as Chile. Western capitalism all over is a failure, it is incapable of solving the 12 problems I identified. It is collapsing.

Meanwhile, whether we call China state-capitalist or “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, it is clearly becoming a powerhouse. With its infrastructural projects including the Belt Road Initiative, it is providing selective countries with infrastructure and work. Through its alliance with Russia and Iran, it is helping the besieged socialist countries like Cuba and Venezuela survive the collapse of western capitalism and the constantly rising imperialist threats. Western capitalism is a collapsing failure and all the king’s’ horses and all the king’s’ men won’t be able to put Humpty together again.

Bruce Lerro has taught for 25 years as an adjunct college professor of psychology at Golden Gate University, Dominican University and Diablo Valley College. He has applied a Vygotskian socio-historical perspective to his four books: From Earth-Spirits to Sky-Gods: the Socio-ecological Origins of Monotheism, Individualism and Hyper-Abstract Reasoning Power in Eden: The Emergence of Gender Hierarchies in the Ancient World Co-Authored with Christopher Chase-Dunn Social Change: Globalization from the Stone Age to the Present and Lucifer’s Labyrinth: Individualism, Hyper-Abstract Thinking and the Process of Becoming Civilized He is also a representational artist specializing in pen-and-ink drawings. Bruce is a libertarian communist and lives in Olympia WA.

Originally published in Planning Beyond Capitalism

  Read Name Me One Country Where Capitalism Works: A Thirty-Year Reckoning
  December 15, 2020
Climate Change and Inequality.
by Tanay Shah, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

Climate change truly is a global phenomenon whose ripple effects remain invisible to even the most well-read and educated. Part of the challenge is in understanding how an activity as simple as burning coal to generate electricity in India can have ramifications for the icecaps and glaciers in the Arctic. The human mind simply cannot fathom these far-reaching implications. We also tend to see only the first-order effects-or the immediate result-of any action. First-order effects are simple and visible links between a cause and its effect. A 21-day lockdown for instance (cause) will slow down the virus is a first-order effect. But in complex situations (like a pandemic, financial upheaval, or climate change), second and third-order effects are much more important which unfold later. But we are not trained to visualize them. This is precisely why humans remain optimistic that even after the Earth’s surface temperature rises and ice caps melt at an alarming rate, there will be a panacea to this problem. We may not be considering second and third-order (negative) effects this time because of how we think naturally.

The question then arises: where do we go from here? While individual efforts can help mitigate climate change and its environmental impacts, collective efforts remain the key to truly controlling the problem. The urgency of this global situation demands a global solution and emphasizes the fact that it simply cannot be regulated by one government alone. Curbing our air travel, walking, using sustainable products, etc. are noble acts but influencing members of our communities and starting conversations remains a critical aspect. As trite as it sounds, creating awareness is of paramount importance especially where world views about climate change being a hoax abound. Before spreading the message, however, an important distinction is to be understood. Very often people conflate environmental sustainability with climate change. While there is an overlap in terms of measures taken, key differences remain. In climate change literature, these common outcomes are called “co-benefits”. Simply put, a policy to introduce more buses and shut coal power plants and move to cleaner energy reduces air pollution (improving the environment) and helps climate change. Co-benefits include cleaner air, the creation of green jobs, improved public health from active travel, and can support biodiversity due to the expansion of green space. One way in which environmental sustainability and climate change are different in the way they are understood by the public. Environmental sustainability refers directly to human actions that are easily classified as sustainable or unsustainable. However, scientists have difficulty proving how much of climate change is attributed to human behavior and bringing studies to the layman’s level of understanding.

Keeping these differences and similarities in mind, our approach of constant engagement and dialogue needs to take a more focused approach. By deeply internalizing questions of inequality, we can recognize our position of privilege. Privilege not only in terms of wealth, income, caste, or gender but the privilege of polluting far more than the marginalized and not face the consequences of those actions. This chasm of inequality was evident during the forced migration but remains invisible when it comes to climate change. According to a new report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the wealthiest 1% account for more than twice the carbon emissions of the poorest 50%. To slow the rise in global temperatures, the top 10% of earners must cut their carbon emissions to a tenth of their current levels. Clearly, the over-consumption of a wealthy minority that bears no responsibility is fueling the climate crisis for which the poor communities and young people pay the price.  Kicking the can further down the road is not an option. The buck stops with our generation. Greta Thunberg’s “School Strike for Climate Change” which spread like wildfire is a testament to the gravity of the problem.

In my conversation with Mr. Nagraj Adve, an advocate for climate change, he highlighted some of the lessons learned along the way. Drawing from some of them, we can learn to be patient with the process and never give up despite pushback from family members. Restricting our consumption to need-based as opposed to want-based can go a long way in reducing our carbon footprint. Gadgets and travel have been glamorized by social media and conveniently ignores the massive contribution to our carbon footprint. Being mindful of these activities while also adopting renewable energy like solar wherever possible is a good starting point.

In a country like India, where a lot of development is yet to be realized in terms of infrastructure, public transport, last mile connectivity and power plants, etc., actions against climate change will be a slow process. It is easy to lose hope and be dismissive of any positive measures, but we must focus on the positives. A decade ago, China had one of the highest number of cities featured in the world’s most polluted cities while today Indian cities dominate that list. We can take heart from the fact that China was able to take corrective action and remedy itself from an irreversible situation.

In conclusion, I firmly believe we must rid ourselves of the delusion that everything will work out in the end. There is no silver bullet. There is no magic pill. We must endure and strive for the sake of our planet and for the sake of humanity. Humans do have certain ethical obligations toward the environment and other living beings. Wasteful use of natural resources deprives future generations of those resources. Biocentrism espouses that humans are one species among many in this ecosystem and that the natural environment has some intrinsic value independent of its ability to be exploited by humans. Flora and fauna can have an aesthetic appreciation and not necessarily have to be viewed as a resource.

Tanay Shah is a PGP 2 Student at IIM Ahmedabad

  Read Climate Change and Inequality.
  December 15, 2020
The world is trapped in a spiral to climate catastrophe
by Bill Henderson , Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

Ed Yong is a very insightful science journalist. In an article published in The Atlantic in September Yong lists what he calls nine errors of intuition, conceptual errors that still hamstring the US pandemic response. Remarkably many of Yong’s errors of intuition offer valuable insight into the global failure to enact effective climate mitigation.

The successful and not very successful attempts to mitigate Covid-19 by differing countries should be valuable learning for governments faced with the existential climate crisis. For at least three decades governments around the world have failed to mitigate the accidental climate sideffects of our use of fossil fuels. Have our intuitions wrongfooted our conception of the climate mitigation problem?

Are we still making ‘conceptual errors’ in our mitigation planning and implementation? Do we suffer from ‘magical thinking’? Are we caught in a ‘reality trap’? Have we pursued a ‘serial monogamy of solutions’ when we should have been hammering GHG emissions with the whole kit bag of policies, especially emergency coalition governments and a regulated managed decline of fossil fuel production?

Have we been prey to ‘false dichotomies’? Countries that reacted fast, that contained the virus early, have been far more successful than countries that dithered, particularly out of economic concerns. Turns out that containing the virus effectively was good for business while not acting effectively led to much worse economic dislocation.

“(W)e presumed a trade-off between saving lives and saving the economy,” says Danielle Allen, a political scientist at Harvard. “That was foolishness of the most profound degree.” The two goals were actually aligned: Epidemiologists and economists largely agree that the economy cannot rebound while the pandemic is still raging.   Ed Yong

Governments who initially wanted to let the virus rip in order to get to herd immunity blew containment, risked overwhelming their health care services, and then had to compensate with draconian lockdowns that could be only partially effective.

Climate wise, powerful economic actors, refusing to be proactive about mitigation out of concern for the economy and their own particular economic growth, have not allowed effective mitigation. A global ‘immunity via collective inertia‘ has resulted.  There is a  lack of ambition to raise Paris Accord targets in line with what the climate budget science requires. There is a lack of urgency to use the needed pandemic recovery stimulus to build a much more resilient economy as well as reduce emissions. All but the most intransigent climate deniers recognize that lack of effective mitigation risks the collapse of modern economies but money making this quarter remains vastly more important than climate mitigation. Damage from extreme weather or sea level rise will not force governments to initiate the equivalent of a climate lockdown.  But the prospect of needed draconian intervention while there is still time is now emerging.

The ‘normality trap’. Certainly now with the dislocation of the pandemic people crave normality, but even before Covid-19 we have been living in unprecedented and uncertain times. The populist surge is a reaction to great change that is threatening to many groups either in rustbelts or in emptying churches, emptying rural areas, etc. There is a growing conservatism catalyzed by rapid progress that overturns existing order.

People don’t want to even consider a world where they might have to live without cars, planes or burgers. Advocates of climate mitigation have been forced to message that needed emission reduction can be accomplished with merely a tweak of everybody’s very fortunate economy and lifestyles. This brightsiding was maybe understandable a decade ago but it is clearly denial today. This messaging – a puny carbon tax or 100% renewables as climate salvation – is no longer tenable, increasingly restrictive and mis-education we can’t afford. Especially in a world of culture wars, paralyzed partisan government and Babelesque misinformation.

‘Magical thinking’. A craving for normalcy also leads to magical thinking. Trump, Bolsonaro and many other political leaders did not want the pandemic to get in the way of their agenda or did not want to implement heretical government intervention so they played down the Covid-19 dangers: ‘It’s just another flu’ or ‘it will go away with summer warmth’. Magical thinking about climate change has always undermined attempts at mitigation. Decades of kicking the climate mitigation can down the road (because carbon dioxide is really just plant food or we will have the technology to pull the carbon back out of the atmosphere or build giant sunshades in orbit) has been the equivalent of recommending going maskless or ingesting hydroxychloroquine.

Governments, media and publics continue to focus upon the monotonic climate dangers like extreme weather or sea level rise instead of the potentially existential  threatening runaway warming or abrupt climate change.  In developed, western countries these incrementally building dangers are still only a minor inconvenience, like a cold or a minor increase of death rates in the old and infirm (who are going to die anyway).  This magical thinking remains pervasive. Even the climate equivalent of public health, the climate intelligentsia, greatly minimize both the climate dangers and the deep systemic changes that effective mitigation requires. For example, it is estimated that emission reduction promised by the US and EU is only a fifth of what is needed to achieve climate safety. There has been a $2.7 trillion investment in fossil fuels since the Paris agreement. Exported emissions is the biggest climate scandal you’ve never heard of – if climate is an existential crisis, why are the world’s main fossil fuel exporters continuing to expand production?

To follow a 1.5C- consistent pathway, the world will need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6% per year between 2020 and 2030. Countries are instead planning and projecting an annual increase of 2%, which by 2030 would result in more than double the production consistent with the 1.5C limit.”

The ‘complacency of inexperience’. With Covid-19 we can look back a century at an almost identical pandemic in 1919, the lives lost and damage done, the mitigation efforts then, both successful and overridden, but there is no equivalent with climate change. Yes, scientific study of  previous eras offer some limited insight, but the effects of burning fossil fuels (and the landuse changes fossil fuel use allow) are unprecedented. In this novel situation our intuition is not action but complacency; there is no alarming, remembered example of collapse, pain, death and loss.

This complacency is made worse by leaders constantly undermining the arguments for action with their continuing procrastination. ‘Climate change can’t be that bad if we are still exploring for oil and building pipelines’. Humans watch their leaders actions in novel situations and take their cues. Implicatory denial -the  refusal to act as if climate is the existential emergency we know it is –  is society-wide and this complacency is a foremost impediment to effective mitigation.

The ‘reactive rut’ precludes long range planning. Three decades of failure seems to be reinforcing our inability to imagine effective mitigation. We need urgent 7-10% annual emission reduction urgently but are instead deluding ourselves with messaging like net zero by 2050.

“(W)e don’t understand that things look fine until right before they’re very not fine,” says Beth Redbird, a sociologist at Northwestern…. Pandemic data are like the light of distant stars, recording past events instead of present ones. This lag separates actions from their consequences by enough time to break our intuition for cause and effect. Policy makers end up acting only when it’s too late.  Ed Yong

That human intuition could hamstring needed human action is not news in the history of science. Man isn’t the measure of the cosmos; human perception of reality is always a reality bubble, a small subset of wider reality. But obviously – with a cascade of feedbacks potentially only some few years of continuing fossil fuel use away – these conceptual errors frustrating needed effective climate mitigation have to be overcome, urgently.

Unfortunately there is only limited precious time for climate learning and escaping these conceptual errors. A needed first step might be a detailed accounting of our ‘habituation of horror’ – how as each of our governments failed to act on climate we have allowed a potentially humanity threatening diagnosis to maybe become fatal.

Canadian climate activist Seth Klein has a great new book on finally taking the climate emergency seriously – A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency. Klein offers these markers to tell you if your government is now taking climate change seriously:

  • It spends what it takes to win;
  • It creates new economic institutions to get the job done;
  • It shifts from voluntary and incentive-based policies to mandatory measures;
  • It tells the truth about the severity of the crisis and communicates a sense of urgency about the measures necessary to combat it.

Intuition can be faulty. Seems most US Republican voters thought that the Trump Admin was doing a good job in mitigating the pandemic. Better to make sure that your government is taking climate seriously.  There will be no filling hospitals to force needed action. No climate vaccine. It’s way past time to insist that fossil fuels really stay in the ground. We need a global agreement to wind down all fossil fuel production on as urgent a timeline as is possible.

Yong begins his essay with a metaphor of army ants trapped in a death spiral by their own instincts. Three decades of mitigation failure and with emissions still rising we are still spiraling down to climate catastrophe. Past time for needed learning and a radical change of direction.

Bill Henderson is an independent writer

  Read The world is trapped in a spiral to climate catastrophe
  December 16, 2020
Menacing Methane – An Analysis.
by Robert Hunziker, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

“The story of methane really is a story of a very serious definitive threat to our future existence on this planet.” (Peter Wadhams)

Legendary Arctic explorers Sir James Clark Ross, who located the northern magnetic pole in 1831 and Sir William Edward Parry, who set a record in 1827 for the Farthest North exploration serve as footnotes in the context of the Arctic’s most prolific scientist, Peter Wadhams, professor emeritus, University of Cambridge, with more than 50 expeditions to the world’s poles under his belt.

Dr. Peter Wadhams (A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic, Oxford University Press) delivered the principal lecture for a very special presentation by Scientists Warning/Europe ‘20: “The Threat from Arctic Methane” Nov. 24, 2020 (1:32 m)

Within two weeks of his presentation, the annual Arctic Report Card, December 9, 2020, was released by NOAA: “Record wildfires, dwindling sea ice and ecosystem disruptions all point to the rapid change besetting the region.” (Source: Three Signs a ‘New Arctic’ Is Emerging, Scientific American, Dec. 9, 2020)

In his lecture, Dr. Wadhams accentuated profound Arctic changes unprecedented throughout recorded history that go well beyond the context of NOAA’s Arctic Report Card. He discussed far-reaching Arctic changes with a distinct possibility of dire consequences for the planet’s climate system.

Based upon his presentation, highlighted herein, unless and until ongoing experimental efforts in England for remediation of the Arctic are proven to work, meaning revival of the Arctic, the planet is destined to become a vastly different place, not for the better, and likely not in the distant future but much sooner than that. The Arctic is changing too fast for comfort.

“The Arctic is no longer the Arctic” (Wadhams). It is something entirely different. The change is palpable. It has morphed into a looming threat of radical climate upheaval.

Regrettably, neither the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) nor any major nation/state is braced for Arctic upheaval. It is not universally recognized as an impending threat in the near future.

World opinion is broadly shaped by the IPCC narrative, which does not recognize a methane threat from the seas off Russia’s northern coastline. But, according to Professor Wadhams: They’re wrong!

Explained in detail during Dr. Wadhams’ lecture, the Arctic’s disintegration stems from rapid loss of sea ice due to global warming, specifically over the past 40 years, which now exposes shallow continental underwater shelves along Russia’s northern coastline to unheralded bouts of solar radiation because of loss of albedo, meaning loss of reflectivity (sea ice is very reflective, 80%-90%, of solar radiation). Nowadays, dark water absorbs that same extra heat that had been reflecting back into outer space for centuries upon centuries.

The major issue is continental shelves above Russia in extremely shallow water, only 50-100m in depth. Solar radiated warming now extends all the way to the bottom of the seabed, in turn, thawing the underwater sediment, which contains eons of accumulation of frozen methane.

That dangerous thawing process is happening now. Recent Russian expeditions discovered water columns with methane bubbling, emitting directly into the atmosphere on a scale never witnessed before.

“That is the threat. The thawing of the seabed … giving us a rapid increase in emissions… in this case of methane.” (Wadhams)

When Dr. Wadhams recently sailed north of the Bering Sea, which divides Russia from Alaska, he found temps of 17°C (62.6°F) and 11°C (51.8°F) in the Arctic Ocean. “These are temperatures like you get in the North Sea in summer when people go swimming. It’s not typically Arctic conditions anymore.” (Wadhams)

“When we look at temperatures at the bottom on the seabed, we find temperatures above the freezing point… Under the water we find a layer of permafrost and underneath that permafrost a couple hundred meters of sediment, and that sediment is filled with methane gas which reacts with the sediment to produce methane hydrate, which is ice that contains methane molecules… remove it from the sea and put a match to it and it burns.” (Wadhams)

In the end, as the permafrost protective layer melts, like it’s actually doing, the methane hydrates in shallow waters become unstable and release methane gas.

Among the seas north of Russia, the East Siberian Artic Shelf is the one continental shelf that combines a curiously unique dangerous cocktail: (1) Extremely low water depth (2) High concentrations of hydrates in the sediment. The methane layer is approximately two kilometers (1.25 miles) thick. “So, that’s 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) of sediment that contains high concentrations of methane.” (Wadhams)

As the seabed warms, the permafrost melts, leaving naked hydrates. Naked hydrates are not stable. They quickly decompose into methane gas released in water columns directly into the atmosphere. Areas where naked hydrates are melting show methane measurements so extensive that a ship randomly sailing by, if it created a spark or dropped a cigarette overboard, would blow up.

“This is truly a frightening circumstance of huge amounts of methane released from the seabed coming up to the sea surface where it is released into the atmosphere.” (Wadhams)

Dr. Wadhams discussed the approach of mainstream science: “Scientists have been very complacent and the IPCC, in fact, has been totally complacent about this, because they say, oh well, methane released in the seabed dissolves in the ocean and doesn’t reach the surface. That’s actually wrong. It is true if the water depth is great, meaning in water depth greater than 200 to 300 meters. But, it is not true in water depth of only 50-60 meters because the methane gas rises quickly… it doesn’t have time to dissolve… a lot of scientists who’ve never been to the Arctic imagine that the methane dissolves in the water so we don’t have anything to worry about. They’re just not aware that the water depth is very shallow.”

The proof is convincing as methane emissions are rapidly increasing: “We know that something has been going on in the last few years because if we look at the amount of methane in the atmosphere, it rose steadily from the 1980s and then it reached a peak in the year 2000… since 2007, an increase once again, and it’s been going up ever since in an accelerating way.” (Wadhams)

What’s the risk?

Scientists who study the Arctic fear the whole complex of protective permafrost will thaw and expose the shelf along the East Siberian Artic Sea, as well as other seas nearby, like the Laptev Sea and the Kara Sea. In turn, causing a big burst of methane, an outbreak. Russian scientists have estimated such an outburst could be 50 gigatons, but that’s only for the initial release. That’s equivalent to 50 billion tons.

“I did an analysis with two colleagues on what that would do to global warming… we’d be getting an extra 0.6°C more or less immediately, a sudden rise of global temperatures… Now, this is not good news because the entire move up since the 19th century has only been one degree centigrade for the planet as a whole, and here we are… adding 0.6°C instantly, within a few months or weeks, we don’t know how instant, but it would be very instant. It’s something we’ve never experienced on this planet.” (Wadhams)

Unfortunately, o.6°C would be just the start followed by more, as additional sediment thaws. Furthermore, the economic costs would likely be one trillion pounds per year.

What can be done?

CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere via Direct Air Capture (DAC), but it is very expensive. However, it’s an enormous job on the scale of existing planet-wide fossil fuel infrastructure. Even then, DAC does not apply to removal of methane.

Emergency plans should be formulated by nation/states and especially by coastal cities because a “big burst” could happen at any time. Estimates are within the next few years. Certainly, the underwater permafrost is thinning. Russian scientists measure it.

Other geo-engineering measures for amelioration of Arctic disintegration are under study. For example, Marine cloud brightening via drone ships at sea is one study underway in order to reflect solar radiation back into outer space. It could reduce temperatures to help stem and possibly (hopefully) reverse Arctic sea ice loss. This can be attempted on a localized basis.

A group of scientists in England is currently working on solutions for the Arctic, experimenting with a technique that blows a powdered solution on the sea surface where it’ll thwart the methane before it emits into the atmosphere. This is still only theoretical, as experimentation is ongoing.

Throughout the virtual online session with Dr. Wadhams, he emphasized the disconnect between the scientific community and the reality of what’s happening in the shallow waters of the East Siberian Arctic Sea (ESAS), which region is equivalent in combined size to Germany, France, Gr Br, Italy, and Japan with 75% of the area in 50-80m, shallow waters, allowing methane (CH4) release from the subsea permafrost without oxidation in the water column directly into the atmosphere. That is a very bad setup, just itching for trouble.

“I think you should be worried about the methane threat despite the fact that the International Panel on Climate Change is keeping very quiet about it.” (Wadhams)

Robert Hunziker, MA, economic history DePaul University, awarded membership in Pi Gamma Mu International Academic Honor Society in Social Sciences is a freelance writer and environmental journalist who has over 200 articles published, including several translated into foreign languages, appearing in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He has been interviewed on numerous FM radio programs, as well as television.

  Read Menacing Methane – An Analysis.
  December 18, 2020
Oceans without oxygen
by Countercurrents Collective , Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

With no dissolved oxygen to sustain animals or plants, ocean anoxic zones are areas where only microbes suited to the environment can live.

These strange ecosystems are expanding, thanks to climate change – a development that is of concern for fisheries and anyone who relies on oxygen-rich oceans.

Escaping predators, digestion and other animal activities — including those of humans — require oxygen. But that essential ingredient is no longer so easy for marine life to obtain, several new studies reveal.

But what piques UC Santa Barbara biogeochemist Morgan Raven’s interest is the changing chemistry of the oceans – the Earth’s largest carbon sink – and how it could move carbon from the atmosphere to long-term reservoirs like rocks.

“You don’t get big fish,” said Raven. “You don’t even get charismatic zooplankton.” But although anoxic oceans may seem alien to organisms like ourselves that breathe oxygen, they’re full of life, she said.

“What happens to our carbon cycle as we get these large areas of the ocean that are oxygen-free?” she said. This question was central to research conducted by Raven and colleagues Rick Keil (University of Washington) and Samuel Webb (Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory) in a paper published in the journal Science.

‘A spinning wheel’

In oxygen-rich oceans, carbon is moved around largely by food web processes that begin with carbon dioxide-fixing phytoplankton that photosynthesize at the water’s surface.

“Most of the time they just get eaten by zooplankton,” Raven said. But if they are not eaten by larger animals, they head to the depths where they respire carbon dioxide and excrete organic carbon.

“It’s like a spinning wheel – CO2 goes to plankton, goes to CO2,” Raven said.

In the absence of zooplankton and fish, however, more of the sinking organic carbon can survive and be deposited at depth, she said. In fact, sediments under these anoxic zones generally have more organic carbon deposits than their oxygen-rich counterparts. But, according to the researchers, we lack a “full mechanistic understanding” of how this occurs.

“It’s been a bit of a mystery,” Raven said.

The team did have a clue in the form of a hypothesis formed about a decade ago by University of Southern Denmark geologist Don Canfield and colleagues.

“They put out this idea that maybe inside of these zones, microbes are still eating organic carbon, but respiring sulfate,” Raven said. Called “cryptic sulfur cycling,” the idea was somewhat difficult to accept largely because the products of this microbial sulfate reduction (MSR) were difficult to detect, and because other compounds in the area, such as nitrates, were more energetically favorable to metabolize.

However, according to the study, “there is emerging molecular and geochemical evidence that suggests MSR may occur in (oxygen-deficient zones) despite plentiful dissolved nitrate.”

The researchers tested whether this enigmatic process might be hiding inside of large (>1mm), fast-sinking organic particles by collecting particles from the Eastern Tropical North Pacific oxygen-deficient zone, roughly located off the northwestern coast of Mexico.

“It really is just this polymeric, sticky stuff,” Raven said of the aggregations of mostly dead phytoplankton, fecal matter, other small organisms and bits of sand and clay that get glued together in a “fluffy” matrix. Collection of these particles is itself an accomplishment for researchers combing the vast oceans for relatively small, diffuse particles.

“My colleagues from the University of Washington had this collection device that was really the thing that made it possible to do this,” she said. The collected particles were sent to the Stanford Synchotron Radiation Lightsource for analysis.

Pickled phytoplankton

Results of the analysis, such as evidence of the production of organic sulfur within the samples, demonstrate what Raven calls a “pickling” of the dead phytoplankton, as they sink through the anoxic area.

“Phytoplankton grow in the surface ocean, but due to gravity, they sink,” she said. As they fall through the anoxic region, these organic aggregates undergo sulfurization, which has the effect of shielding the carbon at their core from enzymes or other substances that would otherwise wear them away.

“Even when it gets to the sediment, bacteria there can’t eat these organic particles,” noted Raven. And just like the pickles we know and love, the preservation process makes the organic particle resistant to bacteria, she said, which could explain why more organic carbon is found in the sediments below anoxic ocean zones.

Sulfurization of organic carbon particles in anoxic ocean zones, while newly confirmed in modern-day oceans, is actually an ancient process, Raven explained.

“It’s the same process that can also make petroleum,” she said, pointing out that where oilbeds are found, so, too, is sulfur. This process may have been widespread during the Cretaceous period (145.5 to 65.5 million years ago), when the Earth was consistently tropical and the ocean was subject to geologic and mass extinction events that resulted in the burial of massive amounts of carbon, and anoxic waters throughout the Atlantic.

“What we didn’t know is whether this was also going on in these less extreme modern environments,” Raven said.

What remains to be seen is how these growing oxygen depleted zones will interact with climate change.

“Potentially as these zones expand, there could be a negative feedback – more CO2 in the atmosphere makes higher temperatures, which makes these zones bigger,” Raven said. “These bigger zones then trap more CO2 and put it in the sediment and rocks.” This feedback might help the Earth balance its carbon cycle over time, she said, “but we need to know how this connects to everything else.”

An earlier report said:

“A warming ocean loses oxygen for two reasons: First, the warmer a liquid becomes, the less gas it can hold. That is why carbonated beverages go flat faster when left in the sun, said Andreas Oschlies, an oceanographer at the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany. Second, as polar sea ice melts, it forms a layer of buoyant water at the sea surface above colder, more saline waters. This process creates a sort of lid that can keep currents from mixing surface water down to deeper depths. And because all oxygen enters this habitat at the surface — either directly from the atmosphere or from surface-dwelling phytoplankton producing it during photosynthesis — less mixing means less of it at depth.”

In the past decade, ocean oxygen levels have taken a dive — an alarming trend that is linked to climate change, Oschlies said.

Oschlies’ team tracks ocean oxygen levels worldwide. “We were surprised by the intensity of the changes we saw, how rapidly oxygen is going down in the ocean and how large the effects on marine ecosystems are,” he said.

  Read  Oceans without oxygen
  December 23, 2020
Internationalization Of Humanity – Erase The Boundaries?
by Tarun Meena , Countercurrents.org, in Life/Philosophy.

From fighting with wooden sticks to carrying guns in school, humans evolved. Centuries of technological advancement has made the world more connected and integrated than ever. As the age of IoT dawns upon us, humans can expect numerous unimaginable experiences moving forward. With the escalating innovations in the field of AR/VR, even video calls can be expected to go out of style and overshadowed by calls using holograms. Technology is helping people compensate for the real distance with virtual screen-time. But, I wonder, in times when millions can rally to Greta Thunberg’s climate cause across the globe, why do we still feel the need to isolate ourselves by drawing imaginary lines, or real ‘walls’, on our motherland ‘the Earth’?

This growing interdependence of earthlings has been termed ‘Globalization’, being brought about by increased cross-border migration, trade, investments, and information. Most of the products and services that we have today are the result of Globalization that began centuries before the word was even coined. The professional, elitist and capitalist classes have all gained and are gaining tremendously. More importantly, millions of unprivileged people were also lifted out of poverty in the process. But Globalization also seems to magnify large-scale problems, like rapid deforestation for industrial land, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions (Global Warming). A recent skirmish also comes to mind. The concepts of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ or ‘Vocal for Local’, that the Indian government is promoting, implicates a sense of nepotism (favor ‘ours over theirs’). The central government is selling the idea that certain products can be and thus, should be discriminated against based on their origin. How can the world move towards inclusivity when the idea of privileging domestic products and marginalizing high quality, low-cost international products is seen as an act of nationalism? This concept gives me Deja Vu; what about you?

One side of the coin says that Globalization evokes certain reactionary movements that reinforce parochial differences among people. In response, communities tend to focus on favoring one’s own ethnic, racial, national, or language group. The other side suggests that Globalization strengthens universal attitudes by weakening the relevance of ethnicity, language, locality, or nationhood as a source of identification. Therefore, the increasing network of people worldwide is forcing people to disregard the traditional rules of identity and become more inclusive. Each hypothesis seems correct in its own standing, but conservatives’ reactionary movements to favor their community are generally regressive and at the expense of others’ peace. Whereas, I believe that the inclusive reaction of the alternative hypothesis leads to equality and progress. Let’s term the community against trading and immigration as ‘Anti-globalists’. The Anti-globalists are making it clearer and clearer that they see the world as ‘us vs them’. Figuring that they won’t raise barriers to trade and immigration using outdated methods, they are evolving. Despite being against technological advancement, they are incorporating technology in their methods to spread misinformation campaigns and gain popular support.

Thus, Globalization has been a constant cause of geopolitical conflicts, nations trying to compete to claim economical and technological superiority. It’s not just about India vs. China. It’s also about the politicians trying to manipulate and brainwash brilliant young minds to work for their supreme leader’s legacy. Competition is supposed to be a progressive phenomenon, but enmity based on hypothetically-drawn geographical boundaries seems counterintuitive. There is a famous quote by Albert Einstein, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” I believe humanity’s 55 minutes of mulling over Globalization’s problem is over. Human cooperation and trust is needed to overcome these problems.

Is complete Globalization,i.e., ‘Internationalization’ of humanity the right path to follow at this moment? Imagine a hypothetical world of 50 countries. Let’s suppose that all countries have equal population and enough number of people such that the number of globalists and anti-globalists are in same proportion (‘law of averages’). Let the number be N. Who will have the higher bargaining power a community of 50 * N /2 = 25N demanding/aspiring peace, tranquility and inclusion, or the 50 uncooperative communities trying to get the better of one another? I was baffled by Far-right Indian citizens’ uproar over Justin Trudeau’s support for Farmer’s right to protest. Indian government criticized his remarks and called the Canadian envoy terming them unwarranted and illegal involvement in internal matters. Maybe after internalization, authoritarian governments won’t get away with large-scale human rights violations citing some ridiculous arguments.

This article was inspired by a talk I had with Mr. ID Khajuria (President of International Democratic Party,x Jammu & Kashmir). During the session, he was advocating a joint India-Pakistan administration for Jammu and Kashmir. The talk of collaborative efforts and unification of opposite sides struck a chord with me, and I decided to pen my thoughts on this unpopular concept, ‘Internationalization of Humanity.’

Tarun Meena is Pursuing MBA (2nd year) from IIM A

  Read Internationalization Of Humanity – Erase The Boundaries?
  December 23, 2020
Before it is too late
by Akshay Verma, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

“Climate change is posing one of the greatest threats to our existence on the planet Earth. It is real, and we need to panic.”

It has already been five years since 196 countries signed Paris Agreement, but we are still miles away from the target of limiting global warming to well below 2 (preferably 1.5) degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. To add to the worries, covid-19 has induced extra packaging for consumables and medical waste – adding to the already high GHG emissions even if packing has minuscule effect on it.

There is no scope for complacency in the fight against climate change. As per Soumya Dutta, an early nuclear energy enthusiast & scientist turned leading green activist, Paris agreement is not a sufficient answer to the climate change problem because it is a pledge and review system wherein no country is liable if it breaches its so-called ‘commitments’. These pledges are as you like and not dictated by the scientific commitments.. Public shame seems to be the only downside of non-compliance and is bizarrely taken for granted by a lot of countries. Talking about India’s NDCs (nationally determined contributions), Mr. Dutta also noted the disheartening stance of India on the continued use of coal as a dominant energy source even in future even when newer coal has a high cost. Sadly, India’s pledge to reduce emission intensity by 30-35% from 2005 levels by 2030 is nothing more than a standard industrial practice which is usually expected to happen with capitalism induced improvement in technology. It is not wrong to say that political propaganda has painted a different picture in the minds of even educated folks.

In the last 15 years, India has observed a noteworthy improvement in the grassroots level understanding of climate change. Recounting the experiences from 2013 Uttarakhand floods, Mr. Dutta noted how difficult it was for climate change discussions to gain acceptance in masses. Once mostly involved with the free distribution of t-shirts, caps, utensils, food, & sweaters, NGOs have now started relating climate change with floods, water crisis and crop damage which communities can relate with. With movements such as Narmada Bachao Andolan now also getting linked with climate change, communities have understood that not all awareness actions initiatives mean free items and photos.

While discouraging the careless actions of those environmentalists who prefer a flight over a train (1/5th carbon emissions than flights) for short-distance travel or who drive 20 km to the supermarket to buy organic rice, Mr. Dutta cleared a lot of misconceptions regarding the loss of jobs if we go with environment-friendly options. In the Fact Finding Report  “Real cost of power“, Mr. Dutta discussed the 4000MW coal power plant (Tata Mundra Project) operated by Coastal Gujarat Power Limited which provided ~700 jobs out of which only a handful were for locals. However, the plant’s operations damaged the coastline and led to 50-70% reduction in high-value lobsters and Pomfret catch impacting the self-sustaining livelihood of ~7-8,000 fishers. This way, the report busted the myth of artificial dilemma which is propagated between social and environmental concerns. Further, as per Mr. Dutta, small-mid scale solar and wind projects can provide many more employment as compared to traditional energy projects. A few social enterprises, such as SELCO are already working in this area.

As the 4th largest renewable power producer in the world, India has magnificent potential to solve multiple social problems just by concentrating on the right way to promote renewable power. Talking about the modular technology in solar, Mr. Dutta believes that farmers can be empowered if the government encourages locally operated small/mid-scale solar power plants in villages. This would not just save ~22% energy otherwise lost in T&D but also provide alternate livelihood options in villages. With the rise in distributed production technology and the introduction of net-metering policy by the government, village operated solar power plants can become a reality in future.

Closing remarks

To tackle the climate change monster, India needs not just densification of existing forest cover and environmentally friendly government policies, but also a change in the way we behave socially. As global citizens, we must sacrifice some convenience which can include – limiting our air travel which contributes 2.5% to global CO2 emissions, avoiding unnecessary plastic bags usage, taking public transport, and segregating waste for easy management and recycling. As responsible citizens, we must do our bit and take modest steps which can positively impact hundreds of million people globally. Planet earth is our home, and if we don’t preserve it, we may not be able to see our future generations let alone answer them why we ignored climate change.

Akshay Verma is a 2nd year MBA student at IIM Ahmedabad. He has written the above article based on his interaction with Soumya Dutta, who is a scientist turned green activist. Mr. Dutta is an Indian energy expert and has been researching on climate justice, pollution and energy since the last couple of decades. One of the renowned writers in the green space, Mr. Dutta has been an active proponent of the climate change movements. Currently, he is the convenor of the Climate & Energy Group – Beyond Copenhagen collective (Now Mausam), and one of the founder members – India Climate Justice platform.

  December 24, 2020
How consumption is the core of the climate change problem, and the decline in climate activism.
by Amandeep Singh, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

Looking back at the climate change movements for the past couple of decades, it is easier to notice the role of governments and corporations of the Industrial era, in triggering the massive climate change effect. When it comes to main causes of climate change and global warming, more than often, fossil fuels, chemical affluent and pollutants are the usual suspects. We usually imagine a billowing chimney, as the greatest catalyst to loss of habitat for animals, but we often fail to look at the problem on a per capita basis. Even when we think about the individual responsibility towards climate change, we mostly look at out carbon footprint, ignoring the fact that consumption, and not our carbon footprint, has a greater impact on natural resources.

We explore this pattern and hidden stigma around consumption and the direction of the global, as well as national climate change movements, with an interview with Mr. Saumya Datta, an avid activist known around the world for his activism to protect the environment and climate. We also explore various climate change movements of the past, how they have shaped the general sentiment and the government attitude towards the problem. The article entails our understanding of the enlightening thoughts of Mr. Datta and our interpretation about the need of immediate action against environmental degradation.

How consumption is at the forefront of climate change

Consumption in terms of natural resources is a method of sustenance for every living being on the planet. However,  humans have evolved to the stage that enables them to harness resources, far beyond their need to survive. We consume energy, food, water for our convenience. Scaling this small per capita excess consumption, to the entire population brings out the problem of the overwhelming constraint. This is major problem that Mr. Datta talks about as he explains why the modern habits and culture of consumerism has led to degradation. Families owning 3 cars instead of 1, just to create convenience of leisure travel is one of the examples of this. Even if we want to measure the carbon footprint, the indirect energy constraint caused by excess consumption far outweighs the direct pollution caused from using fossil fuels and chemical aberrations. Developed economies, which claim to be cleaner and eco-friendlier, consume more natural resources per capita than those in developing economies. This creates a worldwide resources stress in which the demand has to be met with a supply from another region, which is depleting its resources rapidly. This has happened with a lot of developing economies like India, Bangladesh, Thailand etc. where ecosystems have been lost due to skyrocketing demand of goods, and the need of sustaining the local populace

The problem with renewable energy

The one common solution presented to us is the use of renewable energy resources. While this may seem as a direct reduction in carbon footprint, we need to look at the broader picture to assess its impact. Take for an example, an electric car. The car will run on electricity which is clean and will produce absolutely no harmful pollutants. But, if we look at the resources which are used to build and operate an electric car, things start getting complicated. Every car would be produced in a factory which will use resources to function and land to be used. Every recharge station will require some other resources and land. Altogether, the car would run on electricity which itself needs some form of natural resource. Thus, the overall infrastructure needed would have tremendous ecological impact. The same can be said for a Hydroelectric dam project, which ultimately leads to ecological imbalance in the reservoir and downstream region. Massive Solar panel farms also face similar problem of land use and maintenance, which ultimately leads to using further natural resources. Much of the cleaner energy technologies are inefficient and thus, to satisfy demand, more and more of them would have to function simultaneously, posing an even greater stress at the already dwindling resources. This is the problem with renewable energy

Energy justice issues

The Paris agreement against climate change in 2015 was the biggest stage of policies and governments, pledging to preserve nature’s best interest. But, if we look at it from a general viewpoint, it had very little effect on the public sentiment around climate change. Compared to the movements of late 90s and early 2000s, the Paris agreement was a major political standpoint, but not a bigger movement. Mr. Datta, who has been involved with the United Nations, as part of their sustainable development mission, has been involved in major national and international activism for the cause, but clearly sees the general sentiment around it, on a decline. He founded the India Climate Justice platform in 2009, which has 65 groups in the country, focusing on governance and policies around climate change. While the general laws regarding fuel usage and polluting are getting stricter, there have been very few major moves from the side of governments all over the world, to immediately focus on climate change. This comes as an effect of major geopolitical changes, economic crisis and now the pandemic of COVID-19. While these issues are urgent and pressing, the sheer scale of climate change goes unnoticed, leaving a fog on the sustainable future ahead of us.

The Coronavirus Pandemic proved how curbing unnecessary consumption can bring back fishes in the canals of Venice, or how it can create clear air over Delhi.. While the governments have been laying down laws for the better, they are nowhere enough to fulfill the need of preserving our environment. One can say it really comes down to the individual, but the responsibility is shared and so should be the sentiment around it. Needless to say, the new doomsday clock has been ticking for a while now, and it is perhaps not too late to act upon it. Both governments and individuals alike.

Amandeep Singh is a second-year PGP student from IIM Ahmedabad

  Read How consumption is the core of the climate change problem, and the decline in climate activism.
  December 24, 2020
World could lose coral reefs by end of century, warns UN environment report.
by Countercurrents Collective, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change,

Every one of the world’s coral reefs could bleach by the end of the century, unless there are drastic reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned.

Coral reefs are incredibly important and sustain a wide variety of marine life. They also protect coastlines from erosions from waves and storms, sink carbon and nitrogen and help recycle nutrients.

Their loss would have devastating consequences not only for marine life, but also for over a billion people globally who benefit directly or indirectly from them.

Coral bleaching 

When water temperatures rise, corals expel the vibrant microscopic algae living in their tissues. This phenomenon is called coral bleaching. Though bleached corals are still alive and can recover their algae, if conditions improve. However, the loss puts them under increased stressed, and if the bleaching persists, the corals die.

The last global bleaching event started in 2014 and extended well into 2017. It spread across the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans, and was the longest, most pervasive and destructive coral bleaching incident ever recorded.

In its report Projections of Future Coral Bleaching Conditions, UNEP outlines the links between coral bleaching and climate change. It postulates two possible scenarios: a “worst-case scenario” of the world economy heavily driven by fossil fuels; and a “middle-of-the-road” wherein countries exceed their current pledges to limit carbon emissions by 50 per cent.

Under the fossil-fuel-heavy scenario, the report estimates that every one of the world’s reefs will bleach by the end of the century, with annual severe bleaching occurring on average by 2034, nine years ahead of predictions published three years ago.

This would mark the point of no return for reefs, compromising their ability to supply a range of ecosystem services, including food, coastal protection, medicines and recreation opportunities, the report warns.

Should countries achieve the “middle-of-the-road” scenario, severe bleaching could be delayed by eleven years, to 2045, adds UNEP.

According to UNEP, while it is not known exactly how corals acclimate to changing temperatures, the report examines the possibility of these adaptations assuming between 0.25 degree Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius of warming.

It found that every quarter degree of adaption leads to a possible seven-year delay in projected annual bleaching: that means corals could receive a 30-year reprieve from severe bleaching if they can adapt to 1 degree Celsius of warming.

However, if humanity keeps up with its current greenhouse-gas emissions, corals will not survive even with 2 degrees Celsius of adaptation.

‘More dire than before’ 

Report’s lead author Ruben van Hooidonk, a coral researcher with America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said, “The sad part is that the projections are even more dire than before.”

“It means we really need to try to reduce our carbon emissions to save these reefs. This report shows that we need to do it even more urgently and take more action because it’s even worse than what we thought.”

“What this shows is even with the adaptation, we need to reduce our emissions to buy time for those locations (where) we can do restoration efforts and keep corals alive,” said Mr. van Hooidonk.

“In the face of inaction, coral reefs will soon disappear,” Leticia Carvalho, head of UNEP’s Marine and Freshwater Branch said on Monday.

“Humanity must act with evidence-based urgency, ambition and innovation to change the trajectory for this ecosystem, which is the canary in the coalmine for climate’s impact on oceans, before it’s too late.”

  Read World could lose coral reefs by end of century, warns UN environment report
  December 25, 2020
Climate crisis: Lakes to shrink.
by Countercurrents Collective, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

Although sea levels are rising due to the climate crisis and threatening near-coastal infrastructures, higher temperatures in other areas are having exactly the opposite effect. The water levels are falling and causing massive problems.

The consequences are equally serious. But the declining water levels are receiving less attention according to Matthias Prange, Thomas Wilke of the Justus Liebig University in Gießen, and Frank P. Wesselingh of the University of Utrecht and the Naturalis Biodiversity Center Leiden (the Netherlands). (Matthias Prange, Thomas Wilke and Frank P. Wesselingh, The other side of sea level change, Communications Earth & Environment, 2020; 1 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s43247-020-00075-6)

“The Caspian Sea can be viewed as representative of many other lakes in the world. Many people are not even aware that an inland lake is dramatically shrinking due to climate change, as our models indicate,” says Matthias Prange.

The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also failed to mention lakes, and disregarded the social, political and economic consequences of global warming on the affected regions.

“This has to change. We need more studies and a better understanding of the consequences of global warming in this region.”

The goal must be to raise awareness of the consequences of climate change for inland seas and lakes so that appropriate strategies can be developed, including approaches for other large lakes and regions facing similar challenges.

Because of its size, the largest lake in the world, and because of its relatively high salinity of about one per cent, which is about one-third of the salt concentration in the oceans, the Caspian has been named a ‘Sea’. Its largest inflow is the Volga River and it has no natural connection to the ocean. The water level is determined by the proportional influences of inflow, precipitation and evaporation. Global warming is causing increased evaporation, which results in a declining water level.

The Caspian Sea is an important regional water reservoir and, despite its salt content, it is a biological and commercial center. It is bounded by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia. Depending on the degree of global warming in the future, the water level could fall by 9 to 18 meters during this century.

“This would affect not only the biodiversity, various species, and habitats that would disappear. The economies of all the bordering countries would be impacted, including harbors, fisheries and fish farming.”

For this reason, the authors argue that in the future the Caspian Sea should be used as an example in scientific research to assess the vulnerability of certain regions to falling water levels. Because no nation can solve the resulting conflicts alone, they propose a global task force to develop and coordinate strategies.

The article suggests that “international climate funds” could offer a possibility for financing projects and adaptation measures if changes in the lake level are attributed to climate change.

Caspian Sea evaporating

In 2017, a study (J. L. Chen, T. Pekker, C. R. Wilson, B. D. Tapley, A. G. Kostianoy, J.-F. Cretaux and E. S. Safarov, Long-term Caspian Sea level change, Geophysical Research Letters, 2017; 44 (13): 6993 DOI: 10.1002/2017GL073958) found:

Water levels in the Caspian Sea dropped nearly 7 centimeters (3 inches) per year from 1996 to 2015, or nearly 1.5 meters (5 feet) total.

The current Caspian Sea level is only about 1 meter (3 feet) above the historic low level it reached in the late 1970s.

Increased evaporation over the Caspian Sea has been linked to increased surface air temperatures.

According to the data from the study, the average yearly surface temperature over the Caspian Sea rose by about 1 degree Celsius between the two timeframes studied, 1979-1995 and 1996-2015. These rising temperatures are likely a result of climate change, according to the study’s authors.

Evaporation brought about by warming temperatures appears to be the primary cause of the current drop in sea level and the decline will likely continue as the planet warms, according to the study’s authors.

“From our point of view as geoscientists, it’s an interesting place because it’s possible to construct a sort of budget for the total amount of water that’s there,” said Clark Wilson, a geophysicist with the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, and co-author of the new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. “The real control that causes it to go up and down over long periods of time is really most likely the evaporation, which is almost completely dominated by temperature.”

The Caspian Sea, located between Europe and Asia, is roughly the size of Montana at 371,000 square kilometers (143,244 square miles). It has experienced substantial changes in its water level over the past several hundred years, but previous studies were unable to nail down the exact causes of the sea level changes.

The Caspian Sea contains an abundance of natural resources and diverse wildlife. The sea also contains oil and natural gas reserves, and is an important resource for fisheries in the surrounding countries.

The new study began after Wilson and Jianli Chen, the study’s lead author from the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas at Austin, along with other researchers, used the Caspian Sea to calibrate data from the twin satellites of the GRACE mission launched in 2002. By comparing measurements of the Caspian Sea from GRACE data and Earth-based measurements, the researchers helped improve the satellite data’s accuracy. In doing so, they noticed the Caspian Sea’s water levels were undergoing significant changes.

“Once we got through with [the calibration], Jianli Chen said, ‘Well, you know, this is very curious. Why is this changing so much?'” Wilson said. “That got us going on the current question, which is trying to understand what the reason is for these multimeter variations in the sea level. It’s an interesting place, and it’s been studied for a long time, but it wasn’t really clear.”

The scientists looked at the three primary influences on Caspian Sea water levels: water from rivers that drain into the sea, precipitation and evaporation.

They compiled information about water level changes observed by satellites, records of precipitation and drainage into the sea from rivers, and estimations of precipitation and evaporation from climate models.

The scientists then assembled a record of how much each of these factors contributed to observed changes in the Caspian Sea level from 1979 to 2015.

They found Caspian Sea levels increased by about 12 centimeters (5 inches) per year from 1979-1995. But in 1996, sea levels began to drop, and declined by an average of nearly 7 centimeters (3 inches) per year through 2015. From 1996-2015, the Caspian Sea level dropped nearly 1.4 meters (4.5 feet), according to sea level records used in the study.

Evaporation contributed to about half of that decline, while the combined effects of precipitation and river discharge changes contributed to the other half. According to the study, the observed evaporation rates are associated with increased surface air temperature and other climate factors such as surface humidity and wind.

The study provides the first convincing evidence that increased evaporation over the Caspian Sea is a more important driving force of Caspian sea level change than river discharge or precipitation, said Anny Cazenave, a CNES space geodesist at the Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS) at Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées in Toulouse, France, who was not involved in the study.

“An interesting finding from the study is that over the last two decades, climate-model predicted water loss … apparently cannot be balanced by water gain from discharge, and increased evaporation is a major factor leading to this imbalance,” Cazenave said. “If the temperature in the Caspian Sea region continues to increase, the evaporation rate is also expected to increase. Unless river discharge increases accordingly or precipitation in the Caspian drainage basin increases accordingly, the imbalance is likely to continue.”

The Caspian reached a historic low of 29 meters (95 feet) below mean sea level in the late 1970s before water levels increased in 1978. If current evaporation rates continue, the results suggest the sea could approach the historic low again, according to the study’s authors.

Evaporation will have the biggest impact on the northern portion of the Caspian Sea because much of the water in that area is less than 5 meters (16 feet) deep, Wilson said. If the current trend of a 7-centimeter decrease per year continues at a steady rate, it would take around 75 years for the northern part of the sea to disappear, according to the study.

The Caspian Sea supports many unique and ancient species remaining from when the sea was a part of the Tethys Ocean during the Mesozoic era, approximately 300 million years ago. Although most of these species live in the southern and middle regions of the Caspian, some use the shallow northern area as spawning grounds, including 90 percent of the world’s sturgeons. Dropping sea levels would also impact the Kara-Bogaz-Gol Bay on the eastern side of the sea, which is less than 5 meters (16 feet) deep and contains one of the world’s largest natural deposit of sea salts, according to the study’s authors.

Wilson said the next step in this research is to project future changes in Caspian Sea level using climate models. Although this study identified the trends in sea level and their causes, the scientists did not project specific estimates of how these levels might change in the future.

“If you’re going to take this to the next step, it would be to take a suite of climate models or look at some sort of ensemble predictions of future temperatures to get some idea of what those scenarios might be for the Caspian Sea,” Wilson said. “You can imagine if you had a continued decline in sea level that led to several meters of loss, you’ve considerably diminished the size of the sea.”

Lake Urmia’s decline

In 2016, another study found:

A combination of climate change and water usage are responsible for the staggering drying of Iran’s Lake Urmia, what was once the second largest salt lake in the world.

The dramatic decline of Lake Urmia, once the second-largest hypersaline lake in the world, has both direct human and climatic causes, according to the study (Somayeh Shadkam, Fulco Ludwig, Pieter van Oel, Çağla Kirmit and Pavel Kabat, Impacts of climate change and water resources development on the declining inflow into Iran’s Urmia Lake, Journal of Great Lakes Research, 2016; 42 (5): 942 DOI: 10.1016/j.jglr.2016.07.033) published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research. The study was the first to compare the relative impact of climate and water management on the water flowing into the lake.

“Saving Lake Urmia will require both national action to improve water management, and international cooperation to address the issue of climate change,” said International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Wageningen University researcher Somayeh Shadkam, who led the study.

Lake Urmia but has declined over 80% in recent decades. Previous work by Shadkam and colleagues had shown that climate change threatens the lake’s existence, using future scenarios of climate change to project water inflow into the lake. The new study aims to better understand the causes of the lake’s decline, teasing out the relative contribution of different factors such as human water usage as well as climate-related variables, using 50 years of data from 1960 to 2010.

The annual flow of water into Lake Urmia dropped by 48% over the study period. Using a model of water flow into the lake, the researchers found that 60% of this decline was caused by climate changes, such as change in precipitation and temperature, and that the remaining 40% of the decline could be attributed to water resources development, such as diverting water for irrigation that would otherwise flow into the lake.

Most previous studies have indicated the dominate role of water usage in changes in the lake surface area. But the new study clearly indicates that climate change and variability has contributed to the lake desiccation. That means that reducing water use without taking change in the climate into account might be insufficient in saving the lake.

“Water resources and climate change are inextricably interlinked,” says IIASA Director General and CEO Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat, a coauthor on the study. “This is just one area where an integrated systems viewpoint is vital for providing sound advice to policymakers trying to solve such pressing issues.”

  Read  Climate crisis: Lakes to shrink
  December 26, 2020
How long for civilization?
by Dr Andrew Glikson, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein.

As the world is trying to hopefully recover from the tragic effects of COVID-19, it is reminded there is no vaccine for the existential threat for its life support systems posed by global warming, nor for the looming threats of future wars and nuclear wars fueled by warmongers and $trillion preparations by military-industrial complexes.

Between 1740 and 1897 some 230 wars and revolutions in Europe suggested war remained deeply ingrained in the human psyche and civilization. The question is whether the currently approaching catastrophes can be averted.

No one wishes to believe in the projections made in the recent book ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’, except that these projections, made by David Wallace-Wells, are disturbingly consistent with the current shift in state of the climate toward +4 degrees and even +6 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as indicated by the current trends (Figure 1) and conveyed by leading climate scientists and the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).

Figure 1.Global mean temperature estimates for land areas (NASA).

Facing the unthinkable consequences of global warming is pushing climate scientists into a quandary. In private conversations, many scientists express far greater concern at the trend of global warming than they do in public. However, faced with social and psychological barriers, as well as threats of losing positions and jobs, in business, public service and academia, a majority keeps silent, displaying lesser courage than school children.

According to James Hansen (2012), NASA’s former chief climate scientist: “You can’t burn all of these fossil fuels without creating a different planet”. According to Joachim Schellnhuber (2015), Germany’s chief climate scientist: ‘We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet’and ‘If we don’t solve the climate crisis, we can forget about the rest’.

Referring to a phenomenon he termed “scientific reticence”, James Hansen (2007) states: “I suggest that a “scientific reticence” (namely a reluctance to convey worrying news) is inhibiting the communication of a threat of a potentially large sea level rise”.

According to Bajaj (2019)“when it comes to climate change, the need for excessive caution and absolute certainty of the results is manifesting as silence from the mainstream science on the worst yet probable consequences and the worst-case scenarios that are looking increasingly likely”. A paradox emerges where scientists who experience scientific reticence are still accused of being alarmists.

This is because an evaluation of the probability of a risk needs to be related to the magnitude of the risk. For example, the inspection of the engines of a Jumbo Jet carrying 300 passengers need to be even more rigorous than that of a commuter van, or evaluation of the risk posed by a potential failure of a nuclear reactor even more critical than that of a conventional power plant, as is the absolute safety of a particle accelerator.

By analogy with the dictum Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it projections of future climate trajectories need to take account of studies of the past behaviour of the atmosphere-ocean system. The pace of current global warming exceeds those of the last 2.6 million years by an order of magnitude, with calamitous consequences for biological systems.

As indicated by the basic laws of physics, the principles of climate science and empirical observations in nature, under an increase of greenhouse gas concentrations by about 50 percent , global warming is inevitable. While modeled future climate change trajectories may vary, depending whether observations are based on recent measurements, paleoclimate data or models, the consequences of such an increase are inevitably catastrophic. Whereas IPCC models portray linear warming trends to 2300, other models take account of the flow of ice melt water from Greenland and Antarctica into the oceans and thereby irregular warming (Glikson, 2019).

Given the warnings issued by leading climate scientists and the IPCC, while nations keep investing their dwindling $trillions in its military-industrial complexes in preparations for future war/s, our world is losing its last chance to save its planetary life support systems.

Dr Andrew Glikson Earth and Climate scientist

  Read How long for civilization?
  December 29, 2020
Multipolarity and the Prospect for Socialism.
by Yanis Iqbal, Countercurrents.org, in Life/Philosophy.

With the onset of the American empire’s decline, China is fast emerging as a global actor capable of steering the world towards a multipolar arrangement. The country has repeatedly affirmed its conviction in the creation of a polycentric system of sovereign states which work together, while each respects the national politico-economic order of the other – encapsulated in the motto “Peace, development and win-win cooperation”. In 2013, Xi Jinping conceptualized this international perspective as a process of “building a community for a shared future for humankind.”

The IMF has predicted that 60% of the growth in the global economy next year will take place in China, an economic fact which will greatly accelerate the weakening of the US and thus, bring an end to the “unipolar moment” the world has been experiencing. Unfortunately, a major section of the Left has failed to comprehend the anti-imperialist potential of this conjuncture, mistaking it for another inter-imperialist conflict. Such a viewpoint is based on an incorrect analysis of China’s internal economic structures and its negotiated entry into global capitalism’s mechanisms, both of which call for a historically rooted, dialectical examination. When that kind of assessment is made, the concrete effects of American imperialism’s atrophy are brought to light.

Principal Contradiction

In his book Beyond US Hegemony: Assessing the Prospects for a Multipolar World, Samir Amin says, “The main immediate task is to frustrate Washington in its military project: this is the absolute prerequisite for creating the leeway we need, and without it any social or democratic progress and any advance towards a multipolar world will remain vulnerable in the extreme.” The urgency of thwarting USA’s ruthless unilateralism derives from a Maoist understanding of the contradictory tendencies of reality.

In a 1937 essay, Mao Zedong wrote: “if in any process there are a number of contradictions, one of them must be the principal contradiction playing the leading and decisive role, while the rest occupy a secondary and subordinate position. Therefore, in studying any complex process in which there are two or more contradictions, we must devote every effort to finding its principal contradiction. Once this principal contradiction is grasped, all problems can be readily solved.”

In each concrete situation, a different particular contradiction is the predominant one, in the precise sense that, in order to win the fight for the resolution of an over-arching contradiction, one should treat a particular contradiction as a principal one. While struggling against this principal contradiction, one should not ignore the presence of other contradictions. Since a principal contradiction is invariably a means through which a larger, strategic objective can be achieved, elements of the latter are always present in the former.

Contextualizing Amin’s statement in Mao’s theoretical framework, we see that fighting against the American empire does not signify unconditional support for oligarchic states opposing it for the benefit of their own capitalists. Rather, it translates into a qualitatively different political outlook, which sees the latency of socialism within multipolarization i.e. the process of narrowing the options of western imperialist capitalism and making economies more national and therefore more susceptible to democratic pressures. It is due to this type of understanding that Amin is able to insist that “Multipolarity is…synonymous with the real autonomy margin of states. This margin will be used in a given manner as defined by the social content of the state in question.”

Popular National Construction

When the world becomes multipolar, possibilities abound for embarking on the path of Popular National Construction (PNC) – a term coined by Amin to denote the primary stage of socialism in Third World countries. In this stage, a process of erasing the heritage of capitalism’s unequal development is unleashed, through the use of socialist, capitalist and statist tendencies.

Amin defines it as following: “the long transition [to socialism] calls for the indispensable establishment of a popular national society associated to that of an auto-centered national economy. Such a creation is contradictory in every aspect: it associates capitalist criteria, institutions and operational modes to social aspirations and reforms which are in conflict with the logic of global capitalism; it also associates an external exposure (controlled as much as possible) to the protection of the demands of progressive social transformation which conflict with dominant capitalist interests.”

PNC is primarily distinguished from the dominance of comprador bourgeoisie – a fraction of capitalists whose interests are entirely subordinated to those of foreign capital, and which functions as a direct intermediary for the implantation and reproduction of foreign capital. Instead of unilaterally adjusting to the needs of the global system, PNC implements policies which assert sovereignty in all aspects of economic life. Whereas compradorized power works like a handmaiden of foreign companies, PNC puts into action national development projects where foreign investors have to accept the restrictions imposed by the state and the consequent adjustment of their profits to reasonable rates.

Despite being situated in a multipolar environment, a country carrying out PNC has to constantly devise new methods to counter-act any tendential movement towards the consolidation of imperialism. While imperialism has certainly been weakened, the global structures of accumulation are still shackled to neoliberal forces which dislike any progress towards socialism. In an environment like this, socialist countries have to pursue regionalism – the adjustment of needs and interests away from the metropole and towards one’s neighbors. In the face of the globalization of capital, the unification of Third World nations is a necessary first step prior to deepening the process of far-reaching change.

Late Neo-Colonialism

Under a barbaric neoliberal order and US unipolarity, national sovereignty has continued to decline. After the demise of Bandung and the Soviet system, monopoly-finance capitalism has used increasingly inhumane methods to stave off a seemingly permanent crisis. While financialization of capital accumulation has manifested itself in the hyper-exploitation of peripheries, mechanisms of monopoly have led to the conscious planning of imperialist wars for the purposes of capitalism. All this has led to the emergency of late neo-colonialism – the apparently total suffocation of Third World nations through brutal neoliberal policies and compradorization of economic power. The rise of China promises to alter this landscape as the vice-like grip of the American empire over the Global South declines and opportunities open for the pursuit of socialist-oriented de-linked regionalism.

Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India

  Read Multipolarity and the Prospect for Socialism
  December 29, 2020
Religion Meets Climate Change.
by Robert Hunziker , Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

Global warming is the biggest challenge of all time. It impacts every living species. However, the inherent dangers are very difficult to comprehend, as such, people brush it off as one more issue in life that will somehow be handled, fixed, no worries, human ingenuity will prevail.

But, what if it’s not that simple?

Stuart Scott, executive producer of Facing Future.TV, which is part of United Planet Faith & Science Initiative (UPFSI.org) founded by Stuart, knows better than almost anybody that it’s not that simple.  He is one of the few, the exceptional, to cast aside a comfortable lifestyle to take on the biggest issue of the 21st century.

Along the way, Scott has racked up impressive achievements, one after another after another, bringing the climate issue directly to the heart and soul of the world’s leading religious leaders, as well as directly influencing scientific and political luminaries across the globe.

Of special note, in 2018 he introduced Greta Thunberg (aged 15) to COP24 (Conference of the Parties) in Poland. An overnight sensation, she enlightened the world to the dangers of climate change, especially the youth via her movement called #Fridays For Future. His early imprimatur of her courageous efforts in Sweden to influence parliament to tackle global warming literally brought her onto the world stage.


Stuart and Greta at a Fridays For Future rally in Stockholm Sweden

Scott does not adhere to the norms of mainstream life and culture, though he’s well known and respected within the scientific community as an extraordinarily powerful force behind the scenes, single-handedly moving mountains by initiating and powering ahead his personal crusade to inspire religious leaders of all faiths to pay heed to the forces of nature trapped in the iron clutches of rapacious ‘infinite growth economics’ within the Anthropogenic era, a remarkable geological age of humongous human footprints now consuming one-and-one-half Earths, likely not sustainable for much longer.

Stuart’s motivation runs deep, ever since his original commitment to Al Gore’s Oscar-winning “Inconvenient Truth.” He attended Gore’s training courses in 2007. Subsequently, he delivered over 100 presentations in public forums during his first year. In a February 2009 letter the former VP wrote: “I commend you for your work, which has contributed to the great increase of awareness and understanding of the climate crisis.” To this day, Stuart remains connected to Al Gore’s team. However, his posturing on climate change has deviated considerably to a much greater sense of urgency than Gore is willing to accept.

All of which served as a backgrounder, inspiring him to attend the climate summit COP14 in Poland in 2008. That exposure launched his trademark Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change of 2009 (InterfaithDeclaration.org) established to inspire and motivate religious leaders, in concert with scientists, to open doors for a thorough examination of the planet’s dangerously changing climate system, whilst pushing policymakers to find solutions, quickly, without hesitation. After all, ecosystems, especially where nobody lives to see it happening, were already showing early signs of collapse.

His work was enthusiastically embraced by religious leaders Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who, after hearing about Scott’s grandiose plans for betterment of the world, remarked, “I am going to need a clone of myself,” with so many commitments.

Soon after start of Scott’s campaign to blend faith with science in the fight against global warming, accolades arrived. Following his attendance at an intercessional meeting in Bangkok in April 2011, as a lead to COP17 in Durban, an international press release said of Stuart: “Man of All Faiths Fights for Climate,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) d/d April 8, 2011, highlighting his herculean efforts to change the course of humanity: “Scott, a 62-year-old American, who regards himself a man of all faiths, believes the forces of religion can make a positive impact on the tortuous diplomatic efforts to resolve the global warming crisis.”

Scott carried onwards and upwards to COP17 Durban, December 2011 where UN Climate Chief, Chistiana Figueres spoke of the remarkable selflessness of all those who worked to bring the Interfaith Declaration uniting people of all faiths to fight against the forces of global warming.

The UN World Council of Religious Leaders, the World Council of Churches, the Central Council of the Baha’i Faith, as well as secular organizations Greenpeace, McKibben’s 350.org and The Center for Biological Diversity endorsed Scott’s Interfaith Declaration.

The Holy See and Stuart Scott

Spiritualism and clairvoyance have always been at Scott’s side. Prior to delivering a very special message to Pope Benedict, he prayed at the foot of the cross in the Basilica of St. Clare that St. Francis famously said had spoken to him saying, “repair my church, which is falling in ruins.” Scott is neither Catholic nor Christian, but he nonetheless experienced murmurings of a series of serene ethereal voices, whispering encouragement, words that resonated within Stuart’s mind.  He silently asked for guidance on how he might succeed in personally delivering the handwritten message from Yvo deBoer, then Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, inviting Pope Benedict to attend COP15 in Copenhagen. His prayer was answered by what Scott describes as ‘a clear but silent whisper’ of the words, “Do it the way I did it.”

He received a letter of introduction from a highly placed cleric as an invitation to a “Public Audience” with the Pope. Scott was able to pass along a cloth bag containing 300 personal messages by individuals from around the world, inviting the Pope to COP15 in Copenhagen, December 2009.

Thereafter, “pulpit power” became Scott’s motto. With determination and hope, he pressed the world’s religious leaders to intercede in the most pressing issue of all time, a dangerously accelerating climate system that society at large found difficult to fully understand.

Pope Benedict did not attend COP15 but did issue strong statements on the day preceding the conference. In December 2009, in celebration of the Roman Catholic Church’s “World Day of Peace,” the Pope, voicing Scott, said: “Mankind needs to rethink its way of life.” Called the “Green Pope,” he suggested “more sober lifestyles” with reduced energy consumption in favor of energy efficiency like solar and proper management of forests. Those closest to Stuart, and UN staffers, felt that he helped bring about the Pope’s words.

Stuart Scott, similar to heads of state, has influenced, and/or personally met dignitaries across the world, including Greta Thunberg, Al Gore, Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Peter Wadhams, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, Dr. E. O. Wilson, Ela Gandhi (granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi), Jane Goodall, Christiana Figueres, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, author and journalist Dahr Jamail, Noam Chomsky, Bill McKibben, President Barach Obama, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rabbis Jonathan Sachs and David Rosen, H. H. Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Phra Bramhapundit (Thai Buddhism’s chief spiritual leader), Rev. Baron Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury), Patriarch Bartholomew (spiritual head of the Eastern Orthodox Church), Cardinal Peter Turkson, Pope Benedict XIV, and Pope Francis.

He attended 10 of the last 13 Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocols (COPs), or world climate conferences, becoming a regular feature at the venues.  He conducted interviews and panel discussions for broadcasting purposes branded as ScientistsWarning.TV and ClimateMatters.TV under the banner of ScientistsWarning.org, which he founded in order to spread the word of an emerging climate emergency beyond anything humanity had ever encountered.

Early climate change warning signs clearly stood out when Stuart began his quest in 2008. Accordingly, to move the needle to fix the problem, especially amongst stubborn naïve nation/states, required divine intervention, in addition to science. Stuart Scott fit that bill as a scientifically trained accomplished public speaker.

In 2016 Stuart met Pope Francis in person, which was a year after the release of the Pope’s major encyclical – Laudato Si (released June 18, 2015) a strongly worded diatribe on Climate and Justice. “Caring for Creation” is one of the seven tenants of Catholic orthodoxy.

Pope Francis, a trained chemist, in concert with his team of scientists, distinctly stated: “Climate change is the greatest threat to life our Earth has ever seen… and it is caused by humans.” He described relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment, for which he blamed apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness.

“Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years” (Source: Encyclical Letter Laudato Si of the Holy Father Francis)

On December 7, 2020 Scott received an email letter from Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, named by Pope Francis as the first prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development and widely regarded as “papabile,” meaning a candidate for election to the papacy. The cardinal’s letter to Scott stated: “I have read your mail and the urgent request to have the Pope participate in an interfaith event at Glasgow.”

On a personal note, the cardinal’s letter also referenced Scott’s battle with cancer: “…that it may help and contribute to healing.” Prayers for his recovery are ongoing at the Holy See.

The 2021 United Nation Climate Change Conference aka: COP26 is scheduled for November 1-12, 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. At the meeting, Glasgow will likely be populated with 25,000–30,000 attendees from around the world.

Will Pope Francis attend COP26 at Stuart Scott’s urgent request?

Already, Cardinal Turkson has advised Scott that Pope Francis will likely send a pre-recorded message; hopefully, he can also attend.

Scott’s tireless efforts over twelve years of strategic work with the Holy See are coming to fruition more so than ever before via a request by Cardinal Turkson’s Dicastery for Mr. Scott to source an intern in Ecological Economics for the Holy See.

Ever faithful and deeply spiritual, Stuart Scott carries a small Saint Francis cross and regularly communicates via meditation and prayer with Archangels Michael and Raphael.

His widely endorsed Directive brings science and religious faith together, which propitiously led to an unexpected introduction to the dean of climate science, James Hansen, the world’s leading climate scientist and former director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Science, meeting together by happenstance at a restaurant close to the Columbia University campus.

Dr. Hansen avoided attendance to climate negotiations and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for 20 years, until he met Stuart Scott, who convinced him that his criticism of the affairs would have more cache if in fact he attended the meetings, critiquing from one of the UNFCCC’s press conferences.

That chance meeting blossomed into their joining together for attendance at COP21 in Paris in 2015 at the landmark Paris climate accord agreed to by the nations of the world. At the end, Dr. Hansen dismissed the negotiations as “ineffective.” The conclusion was far too political, “a sham” in Hansen’s words. Nevertheless, Scott convinced him to attend future climate meetings in order to continue legitimately stating his position in opposition to politically motivated sham agreements.

Will Hansen appear at COP26? He has committed to attend if Stuart attends, which is uncertain because of Stuart’s cancer. At COP25 he had to be helped onto the stage in a wheelchair. The week prior he experienced chemotherapy treatment.

For the better part of two decades, Stuart Scott has interfaced with Buddhist monks, Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals, and Popes, Hindu Swamis, Sikh Granthi, Christian ministers and scientists to support efforts to save the world from humanity’s carelessness and ignorance, which, far and away, is the most potent adversary of the factual evidence as discovered by science.

Stuart has made the ultimate sacrifice. In that regard, he believes that the extreme levels of continuous stress associated with his work likely brought on his cancer. He has achieved major accomplishments all the while without outside financial support beyond his own dwindling lifetime savings.

Stuart Scott’s mission is an important one. It is serious work. It is tough work. It is thankless. Yet, he does it… the most challenging thankless work in the world.

Thanks, Stuart!

Postscript: FacingFuture.TV recently announced the launch of a special event, which Stuart helped organize, on January 9th, 2021 in which the Dalai Lama and Greta Thunberg will join together with leading scientists to discuss five short films entitled Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops narrated by Richard Gere.

Details at http://FacingFuture.Earth/

Robert Hunziker is a writer based in Los Angeles

  Read  Religion Meets Climate Change
  January 1, 2021
Education for a Better World Needs New Thinking, Not a Polishing of Old Systems.
by Bharat Dogra , Countercurrents.org, in Life/Philosophy.

The disruption of education in Covid times has caused serious concern, and there are well-justified calls for  urgent corrective action. Along with this, however, there is compelling reason to give much more thought to where exactly business-as-usual education systems are taking us and to what extent, if at all, these are capable of contributing to the creation of a better,  justice-based and compassionate world.

For the sake of clarity, and at the risk of some oversimplification, let us consider two very different situations and systems.

In the first situation there is a completely primitive society, with absolutely no literacy and formal education. However a  tradition of valued oral communication , at inter-generational and same generation level exists, which emphasizes a value system based on the simple principle that no one should intentionally harm any other human being , or any other form of life. As a result all people learn to more or less follow this principle.

In the second situation in a rich city in a developed country the most expensive and advanced educational systems exist, supported by the latest and most sophisticated technology and the presence of the most scholarly teachers. However the values of the kind mentioned above are neglected and emphasis is mainly on more scholarship, the more specialized the better. Scholarship based on information , knowledge, innovation and invention is rewarded, while nothing is found wrong in using this knowledge only or mainly for advancement of career and completely selfish pursuits, even if these involve exploitation and plunder of others.

Now if one has to choose between these two, very emphatically and without any hesitation my choice will be for the first situation and its  education system as being much better for creating a just and compassionate world, a world where there is less distress and more happiness.

The reason for giving this example is that today there are very serious questions regarding whether with all the stated improvements and technological aids in education, it is contributing to a better, more just and compassionate society. Many scholars pass with high attainments from the most prestigious educational institutions, only to compete for and then join the higher ranks of the most exploitative systems. In societies boasting fast, big advances in education, there is often an increase of discriminative attitudes and prejudices, even of hatred and violence towards those with other identities. In highly educated societies, decisions regarding the most cruel attacks on other, much weaker societies, are taken, resulting in the most painful death of several hundred thousand persons, with majority support, with the leadership role among attackers being performed by some of the most prized products of the most famous educational institutions, with no credible evidence of the attacked society posing any threat to the attacker society.

So such educational achievements have no meaning from the point of view of the creation of a just society or a better society. On the other hand if most students leaving a school have a clear and firm belief in the equality of all human beings, in not intentionally  causing any harm to any human being or any form of life and in working with cooperation with each other rather than trying to dominate others, then their contribution to the creation of a better world is assured and the school which prepared them for this rightly deserves our thanks and congratulations. Instead  what we see all too often is encouragement of unfair, fierce and tension-generating competition to get ahead of each other, to get focused on narrow career and self-enrichment goals without caring about the higher aim of  creating a better, just and more compassionate society.

Clearly aims and orientation of education must change drastically if education is to contribute significantly to  the creation of a better, justice and compassion-based society.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His latest books include Man over Machine and Planet in Peril.

  Read  Education for a Better World Needs New Thinking, Not a Polishing of Old Systems
  January 3, 2021
Eight Essentials of Human Progress, Always Crucial But Often Neglected.
by Bharat Dogra , Countercurrents.org, in Life/Philosophy.

While there are so many factors which are important for true progress of humanity, some of these can be identified as the most crucial and essential.

Firstly, there should be a widespread sincere belief in and commitment to equality and justice. There should be absolutely no room for  any discrimination, any deprivation or any denial based  on race, religion, color, ethnicity, caste, gender, region or other such considerations. There is no justification either for prejudices and stereotyping based on such identities. Top priority should be given to meeting the essential needs of all people while at the same time respecting the dignity of all people. This should not be based on patronage but on a strong sense of justice for all and  commitment to a justice based world, where important decisions are taken on the basis of justice and not privilege or power. To correct historical inequality or special difficulties faced by some people or groups, affirmative action or equalizing provisions for them are very much a part of this wider commitment to equality and justice.

There should be a protective attitude towards nature ,environment  and habitats. Human beings in the process of meeting their various activities interact with and make some demands on nature, but this should always be with understanding , respect and a commitment not to destroy or disrupt nature. An attitude of respect should always be there, backed by a duty to understand so as to avoid disruption and destruction. There should be a willingness to spare a lot of effort and expense to correct past mistakes and damages.

There should b a protective attitude towards all forms of life, as well as a sense of compassion. Where any conflict develops between human beings and other forms of life, human beings have a right to protect themselves of course but they should seek the least violent ways of doing this, being defensive rather than offensive.

Fourthly, there should be very broad-based commitment to peace and non-violence. This includes peace within oneself, in the sense of a deep commitment to peace and non-violence, and extends from peace and non-violence in household and neighboring areas to inter-faith peace and harmony to peace at national and international levels, in essence peace at all levels.

There should similarly be a firm commitment to democracy and democratic functioning, ranging from household to neighboring areas and workplace all the way to national and international affairs.

Next, there should be a strong commitment to a sense of ethics and to caring much for ethical conduct. People should engage constantly with what is proper conduct from points of justice, equality, peace,  protection of environment etc. instead of simply following self-interest. For example there can be a simple ethical value that a person will not intentionally harm any other human being or any other form of life, a simple statement but with very widespread implications in life.

Seventh, the base of all relationships should never be dominance but instead as far as possible it should be understanding, care, concern, protection and cooperation. This applies to human relationships, of course, but in addition this also applies to relationships with nature and with other forms of life.

Last but certainly not the least, when threats emerge to basic survival and to basic life-nurturing conditions, there should be the ability to prioritize the protection of basic life-nurturing conditions above everything else and to mobilize all abilities and efforts for this. In the course of human history, such a survival crisis emerged from time to time in local contexts but now, in  present times, this has emerged in a global context for the first time, calling for mobilization of efforts of all humanity on the basis of top prioritization of this issue.

These are eight essentials of human progress as identified very briefly and in simple terms. Despite their obvious importance, these have been frequently neglected in most phases of human history, and this neglect continues to this day. The discourse based on GNP and technological achievements cannot provide a proper measure or indicator of human progress. It is possible for a society to amass great wealth or achieve technological wonders without really progressing in the true sense.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include Planet in Peril and Protecting Earth For Children. Web site bharatdogra.in

  Read  Eight Essentials of Human Progress, Always Crucial But Often Neglected
  January 6, 2021
Our Suicidal War Against Nature.
by John Scales Avery, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change.

Ceasefire in our suicidal war against nature

Here are some quotations from a December 2, 2020 article by Justin Rowlatt entitled “Humans waging suicidal war on nature – UN chief Antonio Guterres”:

“Humanity is waging what he describes as a suicidal war on the natural world.

“Nature always strikes back, and is doing so with gathering force and fury, he told a BBC special event on the environment.

“Mr Guterres wants to put tackling climate change at the heart of the UN’s global mission.

“In a speech entitled State of the Planet, he announced that its central objective next year will be to build a global coalition around the need to reduce emissions to net zero.

“Net zero refers to cutting greenhouse gas emissions as far as possible and balancing any further releases by removing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

“Mr Guterres said that every country, city, financial institution and company should adopt plans for a transition to net zero emissions by 2050. In his view, they will also need to take decisive action now to put themselves on the path towards achieving this vision.

“The  objective, said the UN secretary general, will be to cut global emissions by 45% by 2030 compared with 2010 levels.

“Here’s what Mr Guterres demanded the nations of the world do: 1)  Put a price on carbon. 2) Phase out fossil fuel finance and end fossil fuel subsidies. 3) Shift the tax burden from income to carbon, and from tax payers to polluters. 4) Integrate the goal of carbon neutrality (a similar concept to net zero) into all economic and fiscal policies and decisions. 5) Help those around the world who are already facing the dire impacts of climate change.

“It is an ambitious agenda, as Mr Guterres acknowledged, but he said that radical action is needed now.

“The science is clear, Mr Guterres told the BBC, unless the world cuts fossil fuel production by 6% every year between now and 2030, things will get worse. Much worse.

“Climate policies have yet to rise to the challenge, the UN chief said, adding that `without concerted action, we may be headed for a catastrophic three to five-degree temperature rise this century.

“The impact is already being felt around the world. Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are the new normal. Biodiversity is collapsing. Deserts are spreading. Oceans are choking with plastic waste.

“Mr Guterres said the nations of the world must bring ambitious commitments to cut emissions to the international climate conference the UK and Italy are hosting in Glasgow in November next year. As well as pressing for action on the climate crisis, he urged nations to tackle the extinction crisis that is destroying biodiversity and to step up efforts to reduce pollution. We face, he said, a moment of truth.

“But he does discern some glimmers of hope. `He acknowledged that the European Union, the US, China, Japan, South Korea and more than 110 other countries have committed to become carbon neutral by the middle of this century. He said he wants to see this momentum turned into a movement. Technology will help us to reach these targets, Mr Guterres said he believes. The coal business is going up in smoke’ because it costs more to run most of today’s coal plants than it does to build new renewable plants from scratch, he told the BBC.

“We must forge a safer, more sustainable and equitable path, the UN chief concluded. He said it is time for this war against the planet to end, adding: We must declare a permanent ceasefire and reconcile with nature.”

The danger of a catastrophic global famine

As glaciers melt in the Himalayas, depriving India and China of summer water supplies; as sea levels rise, drowning the fertile rice fields of Vietnam and Bangladesh; as drought threatens the productivity of grain-producing regions of North America; and as the end of the fossil fuel era impacts modern high-yield agriculture, there is a threat of wide-spread famine involving billions rather than millions of people.

People threatened with famine will become refugees, desperately seeking entry into countries where food shortages are less acute. Wars, such as those currently waged in the Middle East, will add to the problem.

What can we do to avoid this crisis, or at least to reduce its severity? We must urgently address the problem of climate change; and we must shift money from military expenditure to the support of birth control programs and agricultural research. We must also replace the institution of war by a system of effective global governance and enforcible international laws.

Optimum population in the distant future

What is the optimum population of the world? It is certainly not the maximum number that can be squeezed onto the globe by eradicating every species of plant and animal that cannot be eaten. The optimum global population is one that can be supported in comfort, equality and dignity – and with respect for the environment.

In 1848 (when there were just over one billion people in the world), John Stuart Mill described the optimal global population in the following words:

“The density of population necessary to enable mankind to obtain, in the greatest degree, all the advantages of cooperation and social intercourse, has, in the most populous countries, been attained. A population may be too crowded, although all be amply supplied with food and raiment.

“… Nor is there much satisfaction in contemplating the world with nothing left to the spontaneous activity of nature; with every rood of land brought into cultivation, which is capable of

growing food for human beings; every flowery waste or natural pasture plowed up, all quadrupeds or birds which are not domesticated for man’s use exterminated as his rivals for food, every hedgerow or superfluous tree rooted out, and scarcely a place left where a wild shrub or flower could grow without being eradicated as a weed in the name of improved agriculture. If the earth must lose that great portion of its pleasantness which it owes to things that the unlimited increase of wealth and population would extirpate from it, for the mere purpose of enabling it to support a larger, but not better or happier population, I sincerely hope, for the sake of posterity, that they will be content to be stationary, long before necessity compels them to it.”

A new freely downloadable book

I would like to announce the publication of a new book, which discusses the exponentially increasing stress that humans are placeing on their natural environment. The book may be downloaded free of charge from the following link:


Other books and articles about  global problems are on these links





I hope that you will circulate the links in this article to friends and contacts who might be interested.

John Scales Avery is a theoretical chemist at the University of Copenhagen. He is noted for his books and research publications in quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and history of science. His 2003 book Information Theory and Evolution set forth the view that the phenomenon of life, including its origin, evolution, as well as human cultural evolution, has its background situated in the fields of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. Since 1990 he has been the Chairman of the Danish National Group of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Between 2004 and 2015 he also served as Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy. He founded the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, and was for many years its Managing Editor. He also served as Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (19881997). http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/ordbog/aord/a220.htm. He can be reached at avery.john.s@gmail.com. To know more about his works visit this link. http://eacpe.org/about-john-scales-avery/

  Read Our Suicidal War Against Nature
  January 10, 2021
Now is the Time to Press for Long-Needed Rural Changes Based on Justice and Protection of Environment.
by , Countercurrents.org, in India,

The ongoing farmers’ movement has led to the coming together of many farmers’ organizations and this unity has been sustained despite several efforts to divide them. As many farmer representatives have stated repeatedly, the mobilization of farmers on Delhi borders would have seen even greater participation from various parts of the country but for the fact that travel conditions in Covid times are much more difficult than in normal times. Local protests in various states have been reported regularly.

Secondly, a no less important aspect is that of late even organizations of landless ( or near landless) rural workers have started extending support to the farmers’ movement and even participating in it. In addition organizations which have a base among farmers as well as farm workers and seek to represent both have been active participants and mobilisers earlier. Hence a rare opportunity exists of farmers getting more sympathetic and helpful towards farm workers, while farm workers also have a chance to get a better idea of the constraints and problems faced by farmers.

In addition this movement is also getting some support from small and medium traders involved with farm produce in at least some parts of the country. Women farmers are also joining in good numbers and with growing determination. People of various faiths and religions are showing growing unity and fraternity at the protest sites, a very welcome sight.

People from so many sections– rural and urban, devout and atheists, rich and poor, elite and rustic– are coming forward to offer their support and contributions in heartwarming ways. As a result despite so many problems and difficulties, even tragedies, the overall mood of the protest action is very upbeat, at times even festive. Above all, let us not forget that in the last week of November this protest really started as a joint action of workers and farmers, with a huge national one-day strike by workers accompanying the march towards Delhi by farmers.

Another very welcome feature is  that people are increasingly in a mood to call the bluff of government propaganda, despite this being parroted repeatedly by major sections of media. This is evident from the robust criticism offered by villagers of the real designs and manipulations of the government and crony-capitalists, overcoming the massive build-up of the government propaganda in favor of the three controversial farm laws and related policies and actions of the government.

These are exceptionally favorable conditions for taking ahead the much-needed agenda of rural change based on justice, equality and ecologically protective, sustainable farming technology. The need for this change has been felt for a very long time but such has been the dominance of views pushed by government and agribusiness interests that the agenda based on justice and environment protection has been steadily marginalized. To give just one example, land distribution among the rural landless has been almost completely neglected in recent times.

There are very compelling reasons for big improvements and changes in rural areas. As things stand today, farmers are being pushed into the category of landless farm workers at the rate of 100 every hour. This estimate is based on the census figures of 8.6 million farmers having been pushed into the ranks of landless rural workers during one decade 2001-2011 ( the latest census figures available to date). This data moreover is supported by a lot of other evidence on increasing costs, debts and related tensions of small and medium farmers in India, apart from the increasing problems faced by weather extremes and uncertainty in times of climate change. In many group discussion in various parts of the country, I have heard countless tales of the increasing indebtedness and distress of small and medium farmers. On the other hand, the extreme poverty of landless sections is often even worse, many of them no longer able to survive except on the basis of difficult and uncertain long journeys as migrant workers.

At the same  time the ecological crisis relating to farming systems has worsened rapidly in most parts of the country. As has been the experience of many countries, when use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides is increased rapidly for some years, there is rapid decline of organic content of soil and alongside natural fertility of land is affected very adversely. Desperate farmers resort to even more costly changes and inputs, but without the anticipated results so that costs and debts increase rapidly. Water pollution also increases, along with depletion of water sources for more water-intensive farming. Farmer-friendly organisms, insects, and birds, including most important pollinators, are gravely harmed by poisons and perish in billions.

With increasing costs and debts, and inexperienced in changing the wider environmental and technological constraints on their own , farmers tend to become more dependent on government protected procurement but the government has only limited provision for such fair price or minimum support price based procurement.

Hence conditions are ripe for changes which can bring short-term relief as well as longer-term more satisfactory and sustainable livelihoods to farmers, while at the same time providing more healthy and nourishing food to people. Starting with repealing the three controversial farm laws which will only aggravate the existing distortions of food and farming system, the main planks of this change should be—

  • Higher allocations for farmers and farming in government budgets, together with using these funds for directly benefiting small and medium farmers , particularly for eco-protective farming,
  • Moving towards social agro-ecology with its focus on small farmers and eco-friendly, low cost and self-reliant farming; moving from commercial inputs towards better utilization of local resources; away from monocultures towards carefully selected

mixed farming systems, moving away from endangering basic soil and water resources towards according very high priority to all aspects of soil and water protection and conservation,

  • Bringing back land reforms on rural agenda, starting with making available at least small plots of land to landless rural households,
  • Diversifying rural livlihoods in various ways, with special emphasis on food processing and value added to products of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry etc.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His latest books include Planet in Peril and Man Over Machine.

  Read Now is the Time to Press for Long-Needed Rural Changes Based on Justice and Protection of Environment
  January 11, 2021
War of the (Financial) Worlds Or Let the Markets Go Wild While the People Go Down.
by Nomi Prins, Countercurrents.org, in World.

Sometimes things only make sense when seen through a magnifying lens. As it happens, I’m thinking about reality, the very American and global reality clearly repeating itself as 2021 begins.

We all know, of course, that we’re living through a once-in-a-century-style pandemic; that millions of people have lost their jobs, a portion of which will never return; that the poorest among us, who can withstand such acute economic hardship the least, have been slammed the hardest; and that the global economy has been kneecapped, thanks to a battery of lockdowns, shutdowns, restrictions of various sorts, and health-related concerns. More sobering than all of this: more than 360,000 Americans (and counting) have already lost their lives as a result of Covid-19 with, according to public health experts, far more to come.

And yet, as if in some galaxy far, far away, there also turns out to be another, so much more upbeat side to this equation. As Covid-19 grew ever worse while 2020 ended, the stock market reached heights that hadn’t been seen before. Ever.

Meanwhile, again in the thoroughly cheery news column, banks in 2021 will be able to resume their march toward billions of dollars in share buybacks, courtesy of the Federal Reserve opting to support such a bank-and-stock-market stimulus. The Fed’s green light for this activity on December 18th will allow mega-banks to return to those share buybacks (which constitute 70% of the capital payout that they provide shareholders). In June 2020, the Fed had banned the practice ostensibly to help them better navigate risks caused by the pandemic.

Those very financial institutions can now pour money into purchasing their own stocks again rather than, say, into loans to struggling small businesses endangered by pandemic-instigated economic disaster. As soon as Wall Street got the good news from the Fed as 2020 ended, JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank, wasted no time in announcing its intent to buy a staggering $30 billion of its own shares in the new year. And as if by magic, those shares leapt 5% that very day. Other mega-banks followed suit, as did their share prices.

Now, for reasons you’ll soon understand, take a little trip back in history with me to the eve of Halloween, 1938, when Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre dramatized his adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 1898 sci-fi-meets-dystopia-meets-imperialism novel, The War of the Worlds, on the radio. As Martians “invaded” New Jersey (it had been London in the novel) with mayhem in mind, panic evidently ensued among some radio listeners who thought they were hearing perfectly real reports about an alien invasion of Planet Earth. Later accounts suggest that the media blew that reaction out of proportion (“fake news,” 1938-style?), yet people who tuned in late and missed the set-up about the fictitious nature of the program did indeed panic.

And it’s not hard to understand why they might have done so at that moment.  There had already been surprises galore. The world, after all, had barely recovered from the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression that followed. It was also still reeling from the fiery Hindenburg disaster of 1937 in which a German airship blew up in New Jersey, as well as from the escalation of tensions and hostilities in both Asia and Europe that would lead to World War II.  Perhaps people already equated or conflated the Martian invasion on the radio with fantasies about a potential German invasion of this country. In some papers, after all, reports on the reaction to Welles’s performance were set right next to news of war clouds brewing in Europe and Asia. With or without Welles, people were on edge.

Whatever the case, fear has been both a great motivator and an anxiety provoker when it comes to the media, whether in 1938 or today. At the moment, the focus is on economic and health-related fears in all-too-ample supply. It is also on the disconnect that exists between the real economic world that most of us live in and turbo-boosted stock markets. These distorted markets are the result of wealth inequality that once would have been unimaginable in this country. In a way, economically speaking, you might say that today we’re suffering the equivalent of an invasion from Mars.

From the Financial Crisis to the Pandemic

It’s not hard these days to imagine the chaos people would feel if their lives or livelihoods were threatened by an external, uncontrollable force like those Martians. After all, we’re in a pandemic age in which the gaps between the rich, the poor, and the middle class are being reinforced in endlessly stunning ways, a world in which some people have the means to remain remarkably safe, secure, and alive, while others have no means at all.

Covid-19 is not, of course, from Mars or sent by aliens, but in terms of its impact, it’s as if it were. And the pandemic is, in the end, only exacerbating, sometimes in radical ways, problems that already were bad enough, particularly economic inequality.

Remember that, long before Covid-19 hit, the financial crisis of 2008 was met by a multi-trillion-dollar Wall Street bailout. At the same time, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to zero, while purchasing U.S. Treasury and mortgage bonds from the very banks that had sparked the disaster.  Its own assets then rose from $870 billion to $4.5 trillion between August 2007 and August 2015. On the other hand, the U.S. economy never quite reached a growth level of, on average, more than 2% annually in the years after that near collapse, even as the stock market regained all its losses and so much more. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, aided by an ultra-loose monetary policy, steadily rose from a financial-crisis low of 6,926 on March 5, 2009 to 27,090 by March 4, 2020, which was when Covid-19 briefly trashed its rally.

However, within a month of the market dip that followed widespread shutdowns, its climb was refortified by similar but larger maneuvers, as Federal Reserve policy was once again deployed to save the rich under the auspices of saving the economy. Rally 2.0 took the Dow to a new record of 30,606.48 as 2020 closed.

On the other side of reality, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that, according to recent Federal Reserve reports, the U.S. wealth gap continued to widen dramatically as economic inequality increased yet again in 2020 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. That’s because the health and economic devastation it inflicted affected low-wage service workers, low-income earners, and people of color so much more than the upper-middle class and elite upper class.

Meanwhile, as 2020 ended, the richest 10% of Americans owned more than 88% of the outstanding shares of companies and mutual funds in the U.S. The top 1% also controlled more than 88 times the wealth of the bottom 50% of Americans. Simply put, the less you had, the less you could afford to lose any of it. Indeed, the combined net worth of the top 1% of Americans was $34.2 trillion (about one-third of all U.S. household wealth), while the total for the bottom half was $2.1 trillion (or 1.9% of that wealth).

And yet, American billionaires scored monumentally during the pandemic, due particularly to their lofty position in the stock market. The planet’s 2,200 or so billionaires got wealthier by $1.9 trillion in 2020 alone and were worth about $11.4 trillion in mid-December 2020 (up from $9.5 trillion a year earlier). Twenty-first-century tycoons like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos raked it in specifically because of all the money pouring into shares of their stock. Even bipartisan congressional stimulus measures meant for necessary relief turned into a chance to elevate fortunes at the highest echelons of society.

If you want to grasp inequality in the pandemic moment, consider this: while the market soared, more than 25.5 million Americans were the recipients of federal unemployment benefits. The S&P 500 stock market index added a total of $14 trillion in market value in 2020. In essentially another universe, the number of people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and didn’t regain them was about 10 million. And that figure doesn’t even count people who can’t go to work because they have to take care of others, their workplace is restricted, or they’re home-schooling their kids.

The Martians and the Inequality Gap

In The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells evokes a species — humanity — rendered helpless in the face of a force greater than itself and beyond its control. His depiction of the grim relationship between the Martians and the humans they were suppressing (meant to remind readers of the relationship between British imperialists and those they suppressed in distant lands) cast an eerie light on the power and wealth gap in Great Britain and around the world at the turn of the twentieth century.

The book was written in the Gilded Age, when rapid economic growth, particularly in the United States, bred a new class of “robber barons.” Like the twenty-first-century version of such beings, they, too, made money from their money, while the economic status of workers slipped ever lower. It was an early version of a zero-sum game in which the spoils of the system were increasingly beyond the reach of so many. Those at the top ferociously accumulated wealth, while the majority of the rest of the population barely got by or drowned.

A crisis of inequality had been sparked by the Industrial Revolution itself, which started in England and then crossed the Atlantic.  By the late nineteenth century, America’s “robber barons” were insanely wealthy. As economist Thomas Piketty wrote, there was a steeper increase in wealth inequality during the Gilded Age than ever before in American history. In 1810, the top 1% of Americans held 25% of the country’s total wealth; between 1870 and 1910 that share leapt to 45%.

Today, the top 1% of Americans possess more wealth than the whole of the middle class, a phenomenon first true in 2010 and still the reality of our moment. By 2018, about 75% of the $113 trillion in aggregate U.S. household assets were financial ones; that is, tied up in stocks, ETF’s, 401Ks, IRAs, mutual funds, and similar investments. The majority of nonfinancial assets in that mix was in real estate.

Even before the pandemic, only the richest 20% of American households had recovered fully (or, in the case of the truly wealthy, more than fully) from the financial crisis. That’s mostly because since that crisis, fewer households had participated in the stock market or owned real estate and so had no chance to capitalize on increases in the values of either.

Much of the appreciation in stock market and real-estate values has been directly or indirectly related to the Fed’s actions. By the end of December 2020, its balance sheet had increased by $3.164 trillion, reaching a total of $7.35 trillion, 63% more than its book at the height of the decade following the 2008 disaster.

Its ultra-loose policies made it cheaper to borrow money, but not as attractive to invest it in low-interest-rate, less risky securities like Treasury bonds. As a result, the Fed incentivized those with extra money to grow it through quicker, often riskier investments in the stock market or real estate. By 2020, there were bidding wars for suburban houses by urbanites seeking refuge from coronavirus-stricken cities with all-cash offers, something beyond the reach of most traditional buyers.

Though Congress passed two much-needed Covid-related stimulus packages that extended unemployment benefits, while offering two one-off payments and a Paycheck Protection Program support for smaller businesses, the impact of those acts paled in comparison to the tax breaks and power of investment the stock market provided the well-off and corporate kingpins.

While markets leapt to record highs, poverty in the United States also rose last year from 9.3% in June to 11.7% in November 2020. That added nearly eight million Americans to the ranks of the poor, even as America’s 659 billionaires held double the wealth of the 165 million poorest Americans.

The Martians Are Here

The gap between incoming and outgoing federal funds rose, too. The U.S. deficit increased by $3.3 trillion during 2020. The size of the public debt issued by the Treasury Department reached $27.5 trillion.  Total federal revenue was $3.45 trillion, while the corporate tax part of that was just $221 billion, or a paltry 6.4%. What that means is that in an ever more unequal America, 93.6% of the money flowing into the government’s till comes from individuals, not corporations.

And though many larger and mid-size corporations filed for bankruptcy protection due to coronavirus related shutdowns, the brunt of absolute closures hit smaller local businesses — from restaurants to hair salons to health-and-wellness shops — much harder, only exacerbating economic disparity at the community level.

In other words, the real problem when it comes to inequality isn’t the total amount of taxes received versus money spent in a time of crisis, but the composition of federal revenue that’s wildly out of whack (something the pandemic has only made worse). Take the defense sector, for example. The U.S. government doled out $738 billion to the Pentagon for fiscal year 2020. The contracts to defense-related private companies in the last year for which data was available, fiscal year 2018, totaled roughly 62% of a full defense budget of $579 billion, or $358 billion. Now imagine this: that amount alone dwarfed the total of all corporate taxes flowing into the U.S. Treasury in 2019.

Inequality is about the disparity between people and countries with respect to income, wealth, or power. The more that corporations keep relative to their bottom line when compared with ordinary citizens, the more the stock market rises relative to the real economy. The more that individuals, rather than corporations, shoulder the burden of tax revenues, the greater the inherent inequality in society. The more that financial assets appreciate on money seeking to multiply itself in the quickest way possible (think of it as like a virus), the greater the distortion created.

The Fed can focus on its inflation-versus-full-employment dual-mandate all it wants, while pushing policies that distort the value of the real economy compared to financial assets. But the reality is that the more those Fed-inflated assets grow relative to real ones, the greater the inequality gap. That’s plain math and it’s the ugly essence of the United States of America as 2021 begins.

The market doesn’t care about politics. It’s a creature that acts in accordance with the goals of its largest participants. The real economy, on the other hand, requires far more effort — planning, prioritizing, and executing programs and projects that can produce tangible profits. We’re a long way from a world that puts investment in the real economy ahead of those soaring financial markets. That gap, in fact, might as well be like the distance between Earth and Mars. In the midst of a pandemic, as billionaires only grow richer and the markets soar, can there be any question that we’re experiencing a Martian invasion?

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel Frostlands (the second in the Splinterlands series), Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Nomi Prins, a former Wall Street executive, is a TomDispatch regular. Her latest book is Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World (Bold Type Books). She is currently working on her new book, Permanent Distortion (Public Affairs). She is also the author of All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power and five other books. Special thanks to Craig Wilson for his superb research on this piece.

Originally published in TomDispatch

in World — by Nomi Prins — January 11, 2021

  Read  War of the (Financial) Worlds Or Let the Markets Go Wild While the People Go Down
  January 11, 2021
Amazon Rainforest Will Collapse by 2064, New Study. Predicts
by Tiffany Duong, Countercurrents.org, in Environmental Protection World.


The future of the world’s largest rainforest looks bleak. A new report for Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development concluded that the Amazon rainforest will collapse and largely become a dry, shrubby plain by 2064. Development, deforestation and the climate crisis are to blame, study author and University of Florida geologist Robert Toovey Walker found, UPI reported.

Walker reviewed recent research, offering that heavy development in Amazonian nations depleted the forest and threatens to push it over the edge towards destruction.

By nature of being a rainforest, the canopy creates its own precipitation. The local environment and inhabitants rely on the freshwater created therein for survival. The ecosystem can recover from smaller, periodic droughts but longer and more severe events are already diminishing the forest’s long-term resilience, Interesting Engineering reported.

Longer dry seasons, which the rainforest is already experiencing and which are exacerbated by deforestation and the climate crisis, prevent rainforest canopies from recovering from fires. Flammable grasses and shrubs “permanently invade” and take over the landscape; the tropical rainforest dries out and transforms into a tropical savanna, the study found.

“A forest cannot survive if its canopy needs more than 4 years to recover from a yearly [drought] event,” Walker wrote in the report. “Southern Amazonia can expect to reach a tipping point sometime before 2064 at the current rate of dry-season lengthening.”

Earlier this year, a different study found that the Amazon ecosystem could collapse in less than 50 years with deforestation being the primary culprit. According to UPI, Walker’s latest review shaved five years off from that estimate and gave the most specific date of ecosystem demise ever provided, citing the same reason.

Fire, deforestation and logging are leading causes of tree loss. Industrial-scale cattle ranching and soybean production, in particular, drive the latter. Additionally, illegal gold mining is laying the forest bare and polluting rivers.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized for opening the forest to exploitation and inciting forest destruction. Under Bolsonaro, Amazon deforestation skyrocketed to a 12-year high, and activists warned that he used the pandemic as a smokescreen to undermine protections for the rainforest. Walker criticized Bolsonaro’s administration for “appear[ing] intent on scrapping all remaining restraints on the unfettered exploitation of Amazonia’s natural resources.”

Walker also estimated that the Amazon has shrunk by about 20% since intense development began and that the dry season has already lengthened in the south by an additional 6.5 days per decade, UPI reported.

The study’s models predict that once deforestation reaches 30-50% in southern Amazonia, rainfall in the west will decrease by up to 40%, cementing the deterioration in that environment from lush, tropical forest to arid, open savanna, Science Alert reported.

“The best way to think of the forest ecosystem is that it’s a pump,” Walker told UPI. “The forest recycles moisture, which supports regional rainfall. If you continue to destroy the forest, the rainfall amount drops… and eventually, you wreck the pump.”

As the forest transforms into a grassland, all the benefits of the massive ecosystem will also disappear and a “multidimensional catastrophe” will ensue, Walker wrote in the study.

Primarily, water security will evaporate for over 35 million people living in the region, Science Alert continued. The entire continent’s dependency upon Amazonia for freshwater “means that the magnitude of the catastrophe will be worse than heretofore imagined,” Walker noted in the study.

Additionally, many plants and animals in the biodiverse ecosystem will be driven to extinction. Among those could lie new medical discoveries and foods, UPI noted. Timber and other precious resources will also disappear.

Finally and perhaps most alarmingly, according to Science Alert, the forest could lose its ability to store the world’s excess carbon which helps to regulate the climate and planetary temperature. In fact, some predict the world’s largest forest will flip from a sink to a source around 2035, the report said.

Walker concluded that it was “doubtful” that the Amazon forest could remain resilient into the future given the layers of threats facing it.

Tiffany Duong is an avid writer, storyteller, scuba diver, and ocean advocate. She graduated from UCLA and the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, with a focus on climate and environmental law and policy. She fell in love with the oceans after a dive trip to the Galapagos and, since then, has worked to save them in every capacity she can.

Originally published in EcoWatch

  Read Amazon Rainforest Will Collapse by 2064, New Study Predicts
  January 13, 2021
An Exhausted Planet Limps Into 2021
by Robert Hunziker, Countercurrents.org, in in Climate Change,

Early this new year, the Alliance of World Scientists (13,700 strong) delivered a biting report, not mincing words: “Scientists now find that catastrophic climate change could render a significant portion of the Earth uninhabitable consequent to continued high emissions, self-reinforcing climate feedback loops and looming tipping points.” (Source: William J. Ripple, et al, The Climate Emergency: 2020 in Review, Scientific American, January 6, 2021)

The mission: “We scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat.”
(Source: https://scientistswarning.

Even though it is very difficult to accept a cartoonish statement that “We Are Destroying Earth,” get accustomed to it because it’s happening but not right before our eyes or under our collective noses. To better understand the carnage, study the science and discover collapsing ecosystems within a chaotically threatened climate system, especially where nobody lives. That’s where it starts and most prominently stands out in full living color for all to see in the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, Australia, Siberia, the world’s rainforests, and within the vast expanse of the oceans. Almost nobody lives in those ecosystems. What’s next?

Nascent efforts to stem the impact of a bruised climate system are underway. Increasingly, all across the land, a serious climate emergency is being recognized for what it is. In fact, over the past two years, 10% of the world’s population has declared a climate emergency:

(1) 1,859 jurisdictions in 33 countries have issued climate emergency declarations on behalf of 820 million people. Nearly one billion people “Get it”

(2) 60 million citizens of the UK, or 90% of the UK population, now live in areas where local authorities have declared a climate emergency (Hello XR).

(3) Australia, UK’s stepchild – Over one-third of the population has declared a climate emergency.

(4) The Argentina Senate, representing 45 million people, declared a climate emergency on July 17, 2019.

(5) Canadian assemblies representing nearly 100% of the population declared a climate emergency in 2019-20.

(6) In Italy, nearly 40% of the population via assemblies declared a climate emergency in 2019-2020.

(7) Spain 100%.

(8) The United States 10%, meantime, under Trump’s ironclad directive, the remaining 90% vigorously rejects any consideration whatsoever of climate change.

In sharp contrast to the posturing of the United States pre-January 20th, the Alliance of World Scientists is not pulling any punches about the challenge ahead: “The climate emergency has arrived and is accelerating more rapidly than most scientists anticipated, and many of them are deeply concerned. The adverse effects of climate change are much more severe than expected, and now threaten both the biosphere and humanity.” (Scientific American)

Those are heavy words: “…threatening both the biosphere & humanity….” Meaning- “Scientists now find that catastrophic climate change could render a significant portion of the Earth uninhabitable,” Ibid.

“Global warming has already made parts of the world hotter than the human body can withstand decades earlier than climate models expected. Measurements at Jacobabad in Pakistan and Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates have both repeatedly spent at least 1 or 2 hours over a deadly threshold.” (Source: Climate Change Has Already Made Parts of the World Too Hot for Humans, NewScientist May 8, 2020)

As it happens, excessive heat combined with excessive humidity leads to death within 6 hours. Early signs of this are already appearing decades ahead of expectations. After all, the human body has limits. If the temperature/humidity index is extreme enough, even a healthy person seated in the shade with plentiful water to drink will suffer severely or likely die. It’s the Wet-Bulb Temperature WBT. Generally speaking, a threshold is reached when air temperature climbs above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) combined with humidity above 90 percent.

According to scientists, in order to stem the onset of Web-Bulb Temperature peril, CO2 emissions must be sharply reduced, quickly, especially in consideration of the disquieting fact that all five of the hottest years on record have occurred since 2015.

A recent study found extreme humid/heat combinations occurring well beyond prolonged human physiological tolerance for 1-to-2 hours duration concentrated in South Asia, the coastal Middle East, and coastal south of North America. (Source: Colin Raymond, et al, The Emergence of Heat and Humidity Too Severe for Human Tolerance, Science Advances, Vol. 6, no. 19, May 8, 2020)

Meantime, the main culprit, or CO2, the key driver of global heat recently reached an all-time record high for the Holocene Epoch, which represents 11,700 years of stable climate behavior, the Great Goldilocks Sleep Walk Thru Time Era. That is until excessive levels of CO2 started cranking up global warming, post-1750.

The Alliance of World Scientists’ article declares 2020 as one of the hottest years on record, and it prompted massive extraordinary wildfire activity all across the planet, Siberia, the Western U.S., the Amazon, and Australia. These unprecedented disruptions are indicative of a malfunctioning climate system. Clearly, the planet is sick.

According to the Alliance: “Every effort must be made to reduce emissions and increase removals of atmospheric carbon,” Ibid.

Along the way, several countries have committed to zero net carbon emissions by 2050-60; however, there is mounting evidence that those goals are inadequate, rather, new evidence suggests net zero carbon must be achieved by 2030, not 20-30 years later. That’s far too late.

In order to achieve something beyond a mere semblance of climate system balance (if that is even possible) it will be necessary to adhere to the goals of The Bonn Challenge Global Restoration Initiative of 2011 restoring 350 million hectares of forests and lands by 2030. Seventy-four countries have endorsed this nature-based solution.

The Alliance of World Scientists offers solutions to the dilemma:

  • Get off fossil fuels, a top priority.
  • Stop industrial emissions like methane, black carbon (soot) and similar emissions in order to dramatically reduce the rate of warming.
  • Restore natural ecosystems, especially farming, and of special note: “The logging of the Amazon, tropical forests in SE Asia, and other rainforests, including the proposed cutting in the Tongas National Forest of Alaska is especially devastating for the climate,” ibid.
  • Reduce beef and meat products to help reduce methane emissions. Plants are edible and healthier.
  • Transition to a carbon-free economy that reflects our dependence upon the health of the biosphere affectionately referred to as Mother Earth. Adopt eco economics as a healthy replacement for the neoliberal brand of forever-growth capitalism, cruising along on a golden paved road to never-never land of fantasy and ecstasy.
  • Today’s human population growth rate of 200,000 per day newborns needs to stabilize and decline via support for and education of young women throughout the world.

Accordingly, the Alliance proclaims: “In December 2020, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pleaded for every nation to declare a ‘climate emergency.’ Thus, we call for the U.S. government to proclaim a climate emergency with either Joe Biden declaring a national climate emergency through an executive order or Congress passing major climate mitigation funding and a declaration of a climate emergency (H.Con.Res.52S.Con.Res.22) that has been buried in a Congressional committee throughout 2020. One year ago, we were troubled about poor progress on mitigating climate change. We are now alarmed by the failure of sufficient progress during 2020.” (Source: Scientific American)

Robert Hunziker is a writer based in Los Angeles

  Read An Exhausted Planet Limps Into 2021
  January 20, 2021
Antifa(scism) is the Antidote to Full-Throated American Fascism
by Dr Glen Barry, Countercurrents.org, in World,

Under no circumstances will white supremacy, authoritarian fascism, and rollbacks of global human rights be tolerated

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” – Sinclair Lewis*

“…another generation of American antifascists has been called to duty.” – Dr. Glen Barry

* quote disputed yet salient

The American Capitol defiled by traitorous deplorable confederate filth

America invented fascism. America’s centuries long system of white supremacy inspired Hitler’s Holocaust. Genocide and racial hostility are as American as baseball and apple pie, perhaps more so.

The new world of settler colonialism was born upon the twin sins of genocide and racism. Settlers wielding shotguns and bullwhips terrorized and subdued non-white nations; raping and enslaving dark-skinned people. Under the banners of christianity, capitalism, and democracy, white people have murdered and enslaved black people.

A white supremacist state was enshrined with highfalutin words of liberty, justice, and equality. As dispossessed Native Americans wallowed in squalor and enslaved Africans counted as 3/5 a person. Millions of living human beings were murdered and enslaved because they weren’t white christians.

Such savagery has rarely been seen, and its vestiges live on, as the white supremacists’ system of control has never wholly been dismantled. American rape and murder of non-white persons continues apace. And rising American fascism in the heartland promises a return to genocide and enslavement of all non-white non-christians.

There have been many types of fascism. Yet all share far-right, authoritarian, nationalistic, irrationality that critically depends upon scapegoating and dehumanizing others. Here I define fascism as including systematic racism whether it be against Jews, Africans, indigenous peoples or others.

Hitler came to power democratically with the aid of conservative allies who thought they could control him. He built a fascist system that raged against all that was non-Aryan. And murdered millions of mostly Jews but also the disabled, intellectuals, Gypsies, and those of other political persuasions. Nazism is a type of fascism, but there are others.

Fascism leads inevitably to mass murder

In a display of confounding duality, out of the American melting pot has also come two of the world’s most substantial antifascist responses. In 1865 the confederate slave-owning traitors were resoundingly defeated. And again in 1945 the filthy, genocidal nazi fascists were brought to justice.

American soldiers storming Atlanta and later Normandy were amongst the first successful antifascists. These mostly white Americans understood something about humanity despite their indoctrination and society.

We are all one human family. And while our different hues reflect the diversity of a multitude of rich ethnicities, it is our individual character that determines our worth, not the color of our skin. Claims of superiority and repression based upon skin color and religious belief are evil. And after all the arguments are through, sometimes to end the threat of murderous evil, you must punch a nazi or a confederate in the face.

Over the intervening years, steadily the US and the world have embraced the notion of global human rights. It has been slow, and the results are incomplete. But progress has been steady.

All people are created equal and have a right to freedom and liberty. In some of the greatest strides of human betterment, universal suffrage and freedom from servitude have become accepted as universal truth. Whole regions of the Earth still labor under dictatorial cults of personality, but the expectation has been set eventually all will have their inherent rights of hu(man) recognized and protected.

American fascists sought to capture and murder America’s political leadership

Flash-forward another ~80 years and fascism and racism are again on the rise, particularly in America. In an age of increasing environmental scarcity and ecological collapse, poorly educated, down-on-their luck white people fell prey to a playboy New York huckster, here referred to appropriately as Creepy Donald.

Sweet nativist whispers were made by the creep that America would be made great again by rolling back history to a time of fascist white supremacy.

After four years of despotic rule by Creepy Donald’s cult, the nascent fascist disease – just in the nick of time – was defeated at the ballot box. The defeated great leader began sowing the big lie that the election had been stolen, seeking to illegally seize and hold power. This American authoritarian resurgence culminated recently with the creep’s fascist acolytes waging insurrection upon the capitol of the American Republic.

Creepy Donald’s legacy is treasonably and seditiously sending a mob to murder political adversaries and seize power

In a speech worthy of fascist greats of old, the American great creep repeatedly lied, whipped a crowd into a frenzy, and directed them to the Capitol. I have no doubt that the deplorable fascist foot-soldiers that assaulted the capitol intended to take hostage and murder Congressional leadership to seize power. And that the Capitol was purposefully left unprotected.

In shameful acts of demagoguery, Creepy Donald sent the mob to kill Vice-President Pence, House Speaker Pelosi, and others. As the mob descended chanting “Hang Mike Pence”, the great leader was gleefully watching on TV and calling Senators to further delay ceremonial counting of electoral votes.

Nothing shows what a pile of shit Creepy Donald and his deplorables are more than the beating of a downed capitol police officer with an American flag.

American Fascist beats downed police officer with an American flag

Whoever could have imagined electing a failed philandering, bankrupt reality-TV show host could have such consequences? Many saw it coming and resisted early.

The United States of America narrowly averted mass assassination of our country’s political leadership. The only thing that stood between white supremacist insurgents and seizure of power were a handful of valiant capitol police and legislative aids with the foresight to carry the electoral ballots to safety. A coup was narrowly averted.

Thus, another generation of American antifascists has been called to duty.

A white nationalist American government has brought sedition and treason, disease and ignorance, to America. At this moment American nazis and militias continue planning to overthrow the democratic government of the United States of America. Even as Creepy Donald’s negligence and lust for power have enflamed a pandemic that continues to ravage America.

America came perilously close to losing its Democracy

America came perilously close to losing its Democracy

We must remain vigilant and ensure that full-throated American fascism does not come to power. Not now, not ever, using all just means necessary. We must tirelessly atone for America’s original sins, and continually work for self-improvement, and the achievement of universal human rights in America and globally.

Not every conservative is a fascist, but all fascists are conservative. Throughout history fascists have come to power through alliances with conservatives who thought they could control the racist, genocidal impulses of their fascist partners. They have been wrong. Thus fascist-enabling conservative sympathizers share responsibility for authoritarian atrocities.

Each of us must choose now, there is no middle ground. Either you are fascist, or you are antifascist – often abbreviated as Antifa. To not choose makes you a fascist sympathizer.

Antifa is merely a shared believe that all humanity has equal dignity and rights, and a commitment to resist within your means white supremacists, advocates of genocide, white christian nationalism, fascist dogma, and other authoritarian outcomes.

You beat white supremacist fascism by removing their platform, denying their control of the streets, removing individual fascists’ veil of anonymity, and when necessary, by punching nazis. And by holding their conservative sympathizers and enablers accountable.

The Antifa philosophy has united all types of people to defeat fascism for decades. On many occasions post-WWII fascist resurgence has been beaten back, avoiding further authoritarian dictatorships and genocidal mass murder. Once again we have a deep-rooted responsibility to stand up to the resurgence of fascism of various types in America, Russia, Brazil, China, and Europe.

Avoiding mass murder and white supremacy may require punching nazis and their equivalents

The prude boys, zero percenters, belch keepers and other deplorable white supremacist nationalist militias must be disbanded, and their members imprisoned. Under no circumstances must we allow their seditious behavior to continue un-resisted or become normalized. Or there will be dictatorial rule by a fascist lunatic, concentration camps in the American heartland, and the mass murder of all that is non-white and non-christian.

While America has much going for it, American exceptionalism has always been a pernicious myth. There is much to celebrate in America’s history. Yet the myth has been used primarily to justify our obvious shortcomings.

It is the human family’s ongoing realization of universal human rights that is truly exceptional. People of all colors and creeds, sharing equally basic rights including universal suffrage and equitable opportunity, living with liberty in multi-cultural societies, free of systematic oppression, where prejudice and persecution based upon race and religion is not tolerated. While bearing the duty to expand and maintain these global human rights for all. It is this marvelous recent historical accomplishment, not yet realized perfectly, yet a work in progress, that is exceptional and must not be allowed to be rolled back by nazis or confederates.

Truth exists. We are one human family. Love is the answer. There are no gods. Earth is alive. All there is, is humanity, nature, and kindred species.

While the current moment seems hopeless, there are things that can be done. Extra-judicial murders of black people by the police, anti-Semitism, and the disappearance of native women, must be eradicated. Occupied lands must be returned to indigenous peoples. Fascists and their sympathizers must be brought to justice for their sedition and treason.

Systematic racism must be dismantled once and for all through a commitment to communication, policy, and reparations that bring about equity and justice, and only then make sustainability and peace possible.

Reject the fascist white nationalist nonsense: to be Antifa is to accept that all humans are created equally and universally possess inalienable human rights. And a commitment to resist murderous fascists bent upon white supremacy and genocide. Antifascism is in tune with the America we and the world are becoming, rather than what we were.

Home-grown American fascists must be deplatformed, and denied control of the streets and government. The 29% of Americans that approve of domestic terrorism in service to christian and white supremacy must be soundly driven from power and deprogrammed to avoid forever the horrors of American full-throated fascism.

A well-lived life is one that serves justice, truth, sustainability, and peace. And fights against racism and fascism.

Bless Gaia and may she and our shared commitment to Antifa ideals save us from these nazis in the American heartland.

Dr. Glen Barry is the President and Founder of Ecological Internet (EI). He is recognized internationally by the environmental movement as a leading global visionary, ecological policy critic and public intellectual committed to communicating the severity of global ecological crises – and related justice, rights and equity issues – while actively organizing with others sufficient solutions. This article originally appeared in  http://ecointernet.org/

Originally published in EcoInternet

  Read  Antifa(scism) is the Antidote to Full-Throated American Fascism
  January 20, 2021
Biden on Biodiversity: The Silence and the Promise.
by Subhankar Banerjee , Countercurrents.org, in Environmental Protection.

On January 6, 2021, as many of us in the United States were glued to TV watching the horrors of the insurrection against the U.S Capitol, the AFP News in France posted, on its Facebook page, an infographic built with data provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which “confirmed the extinction in 2020 of 36 plant and animal species, not seen for decades.”

Let us first acknowledge and then move from A to B: from apocalypse to build back better.

Visit “Build Back Better,” the official website of the Biden-Harris administrative team and vision. Click the “Nominees and Appointees” tab. “Climate” is a category of its own and appears on top (alphabetical). The names of nominees of the top leadership positions at Interior, Energy, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and the CEQ (Council on Environmental Quality) appear on the “Climate” page. There are other top positions with “Climate” on the title that appear elsewhere as well: “Special Presidential Envoy for Climate” in the “National Security” page, and “National Climate Advisor” in the “White House Senior Staff” page.

By naming and elevating “Climate” in this manner as a top priority of his administrative agenda, President Biden has done something that is significant, long overdue and urgently needed. Above and beyond the obvious posts with a clear mandate on climate, it is also expected that climate change will play a significant role in most if not all of the federal agencies and, there will be co-operation among and across those agencies.

Only time will tell how effective the Biden-Harris administration will be in mitigating the climate crisis. For now, let us celebrate the exemplary and expansive model that President Biden has built with intention and rigor—a whole-government approach that eschews silos in favor of co-operation among federal agencies and other institutions to mitigate the climate crisis.

But how did we arrive here?

I’d suggest that two things have led us to this point: public awakening and grassroots mobilization.

At the turn of this century, Indigenous peoples of the Arctic, who were “already witnessing disturbing and severe climate and ecological changes,” made a prescient assessment. They suggested that very little has been done to address the climate crisis because “majority of the Earth’s citizens have not seen any significant climate changes thus far” (see The Earth is Faster Now: Indigenous Observations of Arctic Environmental Change, edited by Igor Krupnik and Dyanna Jolly, Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, 2002, pg. 355).

Mere two decades later, today, we can safely say that “majority of the Earth’s citizens” have experienced at least some impact of climate change, which has led to wide public awakening about the crisis, including and most notably among the youth. Such witnessing and experiencing in turn also contributed to building grassroots movements that are intersectional—people from diverse race, class, gender, and abilities have participated; intergenerational—youth and elders have been collaborating; and inter-movements—environmental justice, economic justice, racial justice, Indigenous rights, each contributed their concerns in the larger movement for climate justice; and transnational.

In short, without public awakening and grassroots mobilization there would not be the expansive government-wide Biden Climate Mitigation Team & Model that we now see and celebrate, and in which we find radical hope for social transformation.

The Silence

Even as I rejoice seeing “Climate” as a top-priority item on “Build Back Better,” I’m saddened that “Biodiversity” does not appear in the drop-down menu.

This silence is disheartening, because the biodiversity crisis is just as significant, just as expansive, just as severe, and just as consequential as the climate crisis. According to the United Nations, 1 million animal and plant species face extinction due to human activity. And also consider, the tragic and no-end-in-sight coronavirus pandemic. The root causes of the pandemic are firmly situated in the human-caused biodiversity crisis. Studies have shown that 75% of all emerging infectious diseases come to humans from animals. Recent examples are Ebola, SARS, Zika, bird flu (there is a bird flu outbreak in India as I write this), and of course COVID-19.

“As we seek to build back better after COVID-19, we need to fully understand the transmission” of these emerging infectious diseases, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) wrote in her Foreword to the UNEP report “Preventing the Next Pandemic,” which was published last year. Ingersen’s use of “build back better” is resonant for the Biden-Harris administrative agenda. But while President Biden has instituted an expansive multi-agencies approach to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis, there is no such expansive effort to address the biodiversity crisis, which if instituted, would certainly help prevent future pandemics (which may come more frequently and be more deadly) and also help many species to bounce back from the brink of extinction and thrive.

I would not fault President Biden for the omission of not including “Biodiversity” as a top priority of his administrative agendas, at least not entirely. For a crisis to receive attention at the Presidential level, it needs to have wide public awakening and major push from grassroots movements, both of which have happened for the climate crisis but not for the biodiversity crisis, not yet despite hundreds of committed scientists and conservationists who have been working on it.

Notwithstanding the silence, we need to do all we can now to bring attention to the biodiversity crisis with the hope that President Biden may consider adding “Biodiversity” also as a top priority in the coming year, just as he has done for the “Climate”. The United Nations did so almost thirty years ago. It’s long overdue that the United States does the same.

In 1992, at the historic Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the United Nations had established two separate bodies: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—to address the climate crisis; and the UN Convention on Biodiversity Diversity (CBD)—to address the biodiversity crisis.

I do not have any bias for favoring to bring attention to one crisis over the other. Both are equally important. At the turn of the century, during my first visit to the Circumpolar North, I witnessed and made a photograph of one polar bear eating another. That gruesome scene served, for me, as a visual evidence of both climate and biodiversity crises two decades ago and has informed and shaped my work ever since. I recently co-edited (with TJ Demos and Emily Eliza Scott) a book, Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture and Climate Change, which will be published next month; and at the same time, this past Fall, I co-hosted (with then-U.S. Senator Tom Udall, now retired), the UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series, and now I’m co-writing (with Ananda Banerjee) a book on the biodiversity crisis provisionally titled, Species in Peril, which will be published next year by Seven Stories Press. All to say that I have been working on both crises, equally, for the past two decades.

The 30×30 Proposal to Save Nature: Proceed with Care, Caution and Compassion

Even though President Biden has not made Biodiversity a top priority of his administrative agenda, in the same manner that he has done for the Climate, he has however, expressed his unequivocal support for one significant biodiversity initiative.

“President-elect Joe Biden has said that one of his first steps upon taking office will be to pass an executive order to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030,” Inside Climate News reported last month. I offer below a brief history of how President Biden came to know and then offered his support for the conservation plan.

A team of 16 scientists wrote a paper “A Global Deal for Nature: Guiding principles, milestones, and targets,” which was published in the journal Science Advances in April 2019. A “science driven plan to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth,” the paper calls for conserving 30% of land and oceans by 2030. In the United States, this call from the scientists has been embraced enthusiastically, including by the members of the U.S. Congress.

In October 2019, then Senator Tom Udall (now retired) from my home state of New Mexico introduced the Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature in the U.S. Senate. Three months later, Congresswoman Deb Haaland, also from New Mexico, introduced a companion 30×30 resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives. Last September, I moderated the inaugural panel “Building a National Biodiversity Action Plan: Science, Policy, and the Grassroots” of the UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series in which then-Senator Udall, Rep. Haaland, and marine conservationist Dr. Enric Sala, one of the authors of the “A Global Deal for Nature” paper, participated as speakers and all spoke about the significance of the 30×30 conservation plan.

President Biden has nominated Rep. Haaland to be the Secretary of Interior, author of the House 30×30 resolution and a key member of his climate team. If confirmed by the Senate, Secretary Haaland, a passionate champion of Indigenous rights, environmental justice and conservation would become the first Native American Cabinet member in U.S. history, and would undoubtedly help advance and institute the 30×30 conservation plan.

There is also strong international support for the 30×30 conservation plan.

At the One Planet Summit earlier this month in Paris, a coalition of more than fifty nations under the banner The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People committed “to protect almost a third of the planet by 2030 to halt the destruction of the natural world and slow extinctions of wildlife,” Guardian reported. The 30×30 conservation plan is thought to be the key biodiversity goal of the “Paris agreement for nature” which will be negotiated at the COP-15 UN biodiversity summit in Kunming, China later this year.

But Indigenous peoples are already sounding an alarm about the 30×30 conservation proposal. They are weary, because in the past, large land conservation initiatives often led to evictions of Indigenous peoples from their traditional homelands, and to the destruction of their food security and cultural practices.

“By just setting a target without adequate standards and commitment to accountability mechanisms, the CBD could unleash another wave of colonial land grabbing that disenfranchises millions of people,” said Andy White, coordinator of the Rights and Resources Initiative. The Rights and Resources Initiative, which defends indigenous peoples’ rights, has calculated that “over 1.6 billion people could be affected—directly or indirectly—by the so-called ‘30-30’ initiative” (source: AFP). The AFP article also points out that a 2016 UN report concluded that “some of the world’s leading conservation groups had violated the rights of some indigenous people by backing conservation projects that ousted them from ancestral homes.”

I have personal knowledge of one such land conservation initiative. In 2007, the United Nations instituted a program called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), which later evolved into REDD+. The plan was reasonably straightforward: rich nations and corporations in the Global North while continuing business-as-usual pollution would pay (to buy carbon offset credits) poor and developing nations in the Global South to protect forests, which in turn would halt deforestation and contribute to climate mitigation, as tropical forests are significant carbon sinks. Two years later, I was in Copenhagen during the COP-15 UN climate summit. There, I learned about Indigenous peoples’ resistance to the UN REDD and the REDD+ program, and later wrote about it.

“From an indigenous and human rights perspective, REDD could criminalize the very peoples who protect and rely on forests for their livelihood, with no guarantees for enforceable safeguards. REDD is promoting what could be the biggest land grab of all time,” Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network said at the time. He further added that “REDD will always be potentially genocidal.”

Thirteen years after its launch, the REDD and REDD+ initiative has largely “failed to achieve the central goal of curbing deforestation,” Mongabay reported last year in a two-part article, “The U.N.’s grand plan to save forests hasn’t worked, but some still believe it can.”

As many nations around the world are starting to formally adopt the 30×30 conservation initiative to mitigate the biodiversity crisis—I urge everyone to please proceed with care, caution and compassion; include Indigenous and local communities at all levels of decision making; and institute all necessary safeguards against evictions of Indigenous, poor and marginalized peoples from their traditional homelands.

As far as the U.S. is concerned, at the moment, about 12% of lands and 26% of oceans are protected, according to a report from Defenders of Wildlife. I keep thinking that it has taken nearly 150 years (since the founding of the first national park, the Yellowstone, in 1872, which was achieved with great violence committed against the Indigenous peoples) to protect 12% of lands—would it be possible to achieve an additional 18% land protection in just one decade? Are we setting too high an expectation that we may fail to achieve, like UN REDD?

Over the past two decades, I have been fighting to protect significant biological nurseries and cultural places in Arctic Alaska, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. So, don’t get me wrong. I do strongly support land conservation that also honors habitation and cultural practices of local communities, but I’m a bit concerned with the manner and speed with which the 30×30 conservation proposal is moving forward, not so much for the U.S. but internationally that may have significant consequences for the Global South. Let us not overlook justice and ensure all safeguards to protect the places but also the people who live in those places. Let us ensure a 30×30 conservation proposal that would honor those aims.

The Promise

The biodiversity crisis is as much a cultural crisis as it is scientific, because almost all aspects of modern life and our institutions are contributing to the escalation of the crisis. The biodiversity crisis is not a consequence of modern living, but rather, the foundation of modern life and its institutions in part has been built with biological massacres, since the dawn of the early modern age starting in the 16th century. Part of that story you will find in late American historian John Richard’s eye-opening book The World Hunt: An Environmental History of the Commodification of Animals, and Indian historian Mahesh Rangarajan’s India’s Wildlife History.

So, mitigation of the biodiversity crisis then must also include culture, in addition to science-based initiatives. I offer a concrete example below.

A Global Deal for Nature” paper published in Science Advances that provided the foundation for the 30×30 conservation proposal includes a color-coded map of the whole Earth: dark green represents areas that already have at least 30% protection; lighter green represents at least 30% protected and remaining land that can be candidate for protection; orange represents 20-30% protected and remaining; and solid red represents less than 20% protected and remaining. Except parts of the East and the Gulf coasts, Midwest and the Mississippi River Basin, which is solid red, much of the rest of the United States looks light or dark green, meaning there is much potential to advance the 30×30 conservation plan in the U.S. But if you look at India—almost all of it is solid red, meaning there is very little hope for biodiversity conservation in India, according to the 30×30 conservation plan as proposed by the scientists.

Is protecting biodiversity in India a hopeless endeavor? Quite the contrary. India provides home to 7-8% of all recorded species on only 2.4% of world’s land area. India and the U.S. are both among the 17 mega-biodiverse countries and, India appears to have lesser number of species in peril than the U.S., according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species version 2020-2. How is this possible? The answer lies, not in science-based conservation but more broadly in cultural and religious practices, ethics and values. On Thursday, January 28, I will give a public lecture “Visualizing Global Biodiversity: Toward an Understanding of Sacred Places and Relations” at Yale University to elaborate on this point. The online webinar is free and open to the public but registration is required. I hope to see you at the talk.

I end with this question for President Biden: should you put all your biodiversity eggs only in one basket, the 30×30, or should you start, perhaps after your first 100 days in office, thinking about instituting a government-wide team that would work on mitigating the biodiversity crisis, just like the inspiring model you have established for Climate? Like your Climate team, which includes global and domestic leadership posts, and leadership posts all across various agencies—I urge you to build a similar one for Biodiversity. The epic tragedy needs your leadership and demands no less.

Subhankar Banerjee works closely with Indigenous Gwich’in and Iñupiat community members and environmental organizations to protect significant biological nurseries in Arctic Alaska. Author of “Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land (Mountaineers Books, 2003), and editor of “Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Seven Stories Press, 2013), Subhankar was most recently co-editor (with T.J. Demos and Emily Eliza Scott) of “Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture and Climate Change” (Routledge, February 2021), and co-host (with U.S. Senator Tom Udall) of the UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series (Fall 2020). Subhankar serves as the founding Director of the Species in Peril project at the University of New Mexico.

  Read  Biden on Biodiversity: The Silence and the Promise
  January 23, 2021
Common Myths About Human Progress
by Bharat Dogra, Countercurrents.org, in Life/Philosophy.

There are several widely held myths about human progress which have persisted widely for a long time and the wide persistence of these myths has itself become an obstacle in the path of progress.

Perhaps the most common myth is of the inevitability of progress over a long period of time. It is taken for granted that if we compare any region today with what existed a few hundred years back then progress has definitely taken place. Science has created so many wonders during this period. Human life is so full of these. So the common refrain is that it is absurd to raise questions about progress.

However the real issue relates to the proper selection of indicators of progress and what indicators are really considered important by us. Is protection of nature and environment important for us? Is the protection of basic natural resources for meeting the needs of future generations considered important? Human beings for all their domination of earth constitute only one among millions of species on earth. Is the well-being of other species given importance? Do we give importance to protecting their habitats, or even appreciate and understand this importance? Clean air is important for the health of human beings as well as most other species. Do we give adequate importance to clean air? Protection of forests is critical for all, as also conservation of water and keeping water sources clean, but do we give adequate importance to this as a key indicator of progress?

In fact in most regions of world, from the point of view of most of these indicators, the situation is one of degradation and not of progress over the period of the last few centuries or last few decades.

On the other hand, if we look only from the point of view of reducing human distress then we get a more complex and diverse picture in different regions for different periods. There is by no means uniformity of progress but rather there are periods of ups and downs.

For example, let us compare the years of the Trump presidency of the USA with what is likely to have prevailed several hundred years back in what is now the USA. The Trump years saw a deeply divided society with increasing racism and deprivation of the marginalized groups. In addition the relationships with much of the other parts of the world became more exploitative with increasing threats and violence in several parts receiving USA support. Several hundred years back , in what is now the USA, it is likely that much of the land was inhabited by communities of native people  living  at more peace among themselves and with nature, and without disrupting or disturbing the outside world at all.

So in terms of reducing human distress, has this part of world progressed during these hundreds of years? It is highly unlikely, despite all the skyscrapers that exist and all the apparent wealth and prosperity.

Or take the example of a country on the other extreme, one of the present day poorest  countries in Africa where largely self-reliant , pastoral and farming, nomadic and settled communities were living in relative peace, having evolved pastoral and farming mixed systems in conformity with natural systems and sustainability. But all this was devastated by a few hundred years of colonial intervention. Surely there was no progress over these few hundred years, only increasing human distress. Then there was likely some period of real betterment when colonial rule ended. But again  neo-colonial interventions , the resulting divisions among people  and even civil wars made problems for many people almost as bad as during colonial days. So we have a longer period of relative well-being before colonial rule, followed by terrible colonial disruption, with a short period of relief following freedom and then again another period of disruption. There is no steady progress but ups and downs, but on the whole a longer phase of degradation than progress.

An important part of progress relates to people living in harmony with each other and being responsive to new ideas of leading better and peaceful life. We see much evidence of this in India and neighboring parts about 2600 years back, around the time  the Budha and other great saints were spreading their message to very responsive people. Then Emperor Ashoka takes this spirit further. Much later come bhakti and sufi movements to spread the message of peace, harmony and devotion and very large numbers of people of all faiths respond very well to them. If we compare these days of harmony with the hatred and slaughter of partition days then we see regression and not progress in this important aspect of life.

Finally there is the question raised by the disruption of basic life-nurturing conditions by human-made factors in very recent times. If we take this into account, then the case for progress is further weakened and we have instead a situation of drift towards disaster, in the middle of all the outer symbols of prosperity.

He overall lesson is that despite all the science and technology, all the new gadgets, the increasing glitter and glamour, in terms of most important  indicators we do not see any certainty of definite improvements and the concept of progress inevitably and definitely taking place over longer periods of time is ridden with problems. The importance of this realization is that we have to look for much more  just and sustainable ,much more peaceful and protective paths to increase the possibilities  of real progress.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author who has been involved in several social movements.

  Read Common Myths About Human Progress
  January 26, 2021
Earth’s ice melting at record rate, finds study.
by Countercurrents Collective , Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change,

The world’s ice is melting so fast that sea level rise predictions cannot keep up. The ice melting is faster today than in the mid-1990s, new research suggests, as climate crisis nudges global temperatures ever higher.

In the 1990s, the Earth’s ice was melting at a rate of about 760 billion tons per year. That has surged 60 percent to an average of 1.2 trillion tons per year in the 2010s, a study published Monday in the journal The Cryosphere estimates.

Another study published earlier this month in Science Advances makes clear, the problem is feeding into itself.

Climate change is largely responsible for the huge ice melt surge, the Cryosphere study reports.

About three percent of all the energy trapped within the Earth’s systems because of climate change has gone toward that ice melt, the study estimates.

“That’s like more than 10,000 ‘Back to the Future’ lightning strikes per second of energy melting ice around-the-clock since 1994,” William Colgan, an ice-sheet expert at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, told The Washington Post. “That is just a bonkers amount of energy.”

The Earth’s ice is melting around 57% faster than it was three decades ago according to research published in The Cryosphere’.

Altogether, an estimated 28 trillion metric tons of ice have melted away from the world’s sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers since the mid-1990s. Annually, the melt rate is now about 57 percent faster than it was three decades ago, scientists report in a study published Monday in The Cryosphere.

Climate change not only melts ice sheets on land, but also warms ocean waters to melt glaciers from the bottom up as well. Past sea level rise projections have failed to account for this glacial undercutting by “at least a factor of 2” the Science Advances study found. “Together, the two studies present a worrying picture,” the Post writes.

The first study found “the ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate
warming scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” study author Thomas Slater said in a statement.

But the second reveals that the panel’s sea level projections,
which were already criticized as too conservative, may have underestimated the role of glacial undercutting in accelerating ice melt even more.

“It was a surprise to see such a large increase in just 30 years,” said co-author Thomas Slater, a glaciologist at Leeds University in Britain.

While the situation is clear to those depending on mountain glaciers for drinking water, or relying on winter sea ice to protect coastal homes from storms, the world’s ice melt has begun to grab attention far from frozen regions, Slater noted.

Aside from being captivated by the beauty of polar regions, “people do recognize that, although the ice is far away, the effects of the melting will be felt by them,” he said.

The melting of land ice – on Antarctica, Greenland and mountain glaciers – added enough water to the ocean during the three-decade time period to raise the average global sea level by 3.5 centimeters. Ice loss from mountain glaciers accounted for 22 percent of the annual ice loss totals, which is noteworthy considering it accounts for only about 1 percent of all land ice atop land, Slater said.

Across the Arctic, sea ice is also shrinking to new summertime lows. Last year saw the second-lowest sea ice extent in more than 40 years of satellite monitoring. As sea ice vanishes, it exposes dark water, which absorbs solar radiation, rather than reflecting it back out of the atmosphere. This phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, boosts regional temperatures even further.

The global atmospheric temperature has risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times. But in the Arctic, the warming rate has been more than twice the global average in the last 30 years.

Using 1994–2017 satellite data, site measurements and some computer simulations, the team of British scientists calculated that the world was losing an average of 0.8 trillion metric tons of ice per year in the 1990s, but about 1.2 trillion metric tons annually in recent years.

Calculating even an estimated ice loss total from the world’s glaciers, ice sheets and polar seas is “a really interesting approach, and one that’s actually quite needed,” said geologist Gabriel Wolken with the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. Wolken was a co-author on the 2020 Arctic Report Card released in December, but was not involved with the new study.

In Alaska, people are “keenly aware” of glacial ice loss, Wolken said. “You can see the changes with the human eye.”

Research scientist Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado noted the study had not included snow cover over land, “which also has a strong albedo feedback”, referring to a measure of how reflective a surface is.

The research also did not consider river or lake ice or permafrost, except to say, “These elements of the cryosphere have also experienced considerable change over recent decades.”

  Read Earth’s ice melting at record rate, finds study
  January 27, 2021
The Pandemic: Global cases top 100 million
by Countercurrents Collective, Countercurrents.org, in World,

Global COVID-19 cases topped 100 million Tuesday as virus mutations continue to create new concerns, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Although the U.S. makes up just over 4 per cent of the world’s population, the country remains the leader in recorded cases of the COVID-19, also identified as coronavirus, with more than 25 million infections. India ranks second with more than 10.6 million cases, and Brazil third with almost nine million, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll in the UK from the coronavirus pandemic passed 100,000 people on Tuesday as the government battled to speed up vaccination delivery and keep variants of the virus at bay.

The grim milestone comes at a time when the world surpassed two million deaths from Covid-19 on January 15. In the U.S., more than 423,000 Americans have died from the novel virus. The milestone comes less than three months after the world hit 50 million cases, and just over a year after the first case was diagnosed in the U.S.

The 100 million mark comes as countries around the world are struggling to adapt to emerging mutations of the virus and vaccine rollout has begun in some parts of the world.

The U.K variant, which spreads more easily and quickly than others, has been detected around the world, including in the U.S. and Canada. There is currently no solid evidence that it causes more severe illness or risk of death, according to the CDC, and current vaccines in the U.S. appear to be effective against the strain. But questions remain around the South African variant, which was first seen in early October, and has not yet been detected in the U.S.

Experts warn the actual death toll from the novel virus was likely higher due to people dying without a firm diagnosis. Additionally, the actual case count was likely higher because of how many people contracted the virus without receiving a positive test is unknown. At least one in 76 people around the world have contracted Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Mass vaccination campaigns were taking place around the world as one way to respond to the novel virus. Pharmaceutical companies are working to develop different vaccines that can be distributed efficiently and equitably to residents, all while racing against virus mutations.

Around 56 countries have begun vaccinating people for the coronavirus, administering at least 64 million doses. Israel leads the world on per capita vaccinations, inoculating 29% of its population with at least one dose. It is followed by the U.S., Denmark and the UK. But in other countries, residents have yet to have access to any vaccines, forcing them to rely solely on measures like social distancing and masking.

Every 7.7 seconds

A Reuters report said:

Almost 1.3% of the world’s population has now been infected with COVID-19. One person has been infected every 7.7 seconds, on average, since the start of the year. Around 668,250 cases have been reported each day over the same period, and the global fatality rate stands at 2.15%.

The worst affected countries – the U.S., India, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom – make up more than half all reported COVID-19 cases but represent 28% of the global population, according to a Reuters analysis.


The U.S. leads the world in the daily average number of new deaths reported, accounting for one in every five deaths reported worldwide each day. With just under 425,000 fatalities, the U.S. has reported almost twice as many deaths as Brazil, which has the second-highest death toll in the world.


As the worst affected region in the world, Europe is currently reporting a million new infections about every four days and has reported nearly 30 million since the pandemic began. Britain on Tuesday reached 100,000 deaths.

The Eastern European region, including countries like Russia, Poland and Ukraine, contribute to nearly 10% of all global COVID-19 cases.

Despite securing deals for vaccine supplies early on, many European countries are facing delays in shipments from both Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca Plc.

Asia and Africa

In India, the nation with the second-highest number of cases, infections are decreasing, with almost 13,700 new infections reported on average each day – around 15% of its peak.

As richer nations race ahead with mass vaccination campaigns, Africa is still scrambling to secure supplies as it grapples with concerns about more-infectious variants of the virus first identified in South Africa and Britain.

According to the Reuters tally, African countries have nearly 3.5 million cases and over 85,000 deaths.

The South African variant, also known as 501Y.V2, is 50% more infectious and has been detected in at least 20 countries.

U.S. President Joe Biden will impose a ban on most non-U.S. citizens entering the country who have recently been in South Africa starting Saturday in a bid to contain the spread of a new variant of COVID-19.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand have fared better than most other developed economies during the pandemic through swift border closures, lockdowns, strict hotel quarantine for travelers and widespread testing and social distancing.

Vaccine shortage in the U.S.

An AP report said:

An increasing number of COVID-19 vaccination sites around the U.S. are canceling appointments because of vaccine shortages in a rollout so rife with confusion that even the new CDC director admitted over the weekend that she does not know exactly how many shots are in the pipeline. States are waiting to find out their latest weekly allocation of vaccines. For days now, governors and top health officials have been complaining about inadequate supplies and the need for earlier and more reliable estimates of how much is on the way so that they can plan accordingly.

California’s health department released to the public previously secret projections for future hospital intensive care unit capacity in the state, the key metric for lifting a stay-at-home order. Last week, state health officials told The Associated Press they were keeping all the data secret because it is complicated and might mislead the public. Coronavirus experts and open government advocates criticized the move, saying the public has the right to know what is behind decisions affecting their lives.

New Brazilian variant

U.S. officials say a new Brazilian variant of the coronavirus has made its first known appearance in the U.S. in a person who recently traveled from Brazil to Minnesota. State health officials said Monday that the Brazil P.1 variant was found in a specimen from a Minnesota resident who had recently been to Brazil. The patient lives in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and became ill during the first week of January. Viruses are constantly mutating, and new variants often emerge. Health officials are also worried about variants that were first reported in the U.K. and South Africa.

A moral dilemma

Ethicists say the U.S. has not faced such a stark moral calculus in generations. Everyone from the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions to communities of color and front-line workers are clamoring for the vaccine. And each group has a compelling argument for why it should get priority.

UK passes 100,000 COVID deaths

A Reuters report said:

The UK has the world’s fifth highest toll from COVID-19 and reported a further 1,631 deaths and 20,089 cases on Tuesday.

The 100,162 deaths are more than Britain’s civilian toll in World War Two and twice the number killed in the 1940-41 Blitz bombing campaign.

England, by far the most populous of the UK’s four nations, re-entered a national lockdown on January 5, which includes the closure of pubs, restaurants, non-essential shops and schools to most pupils. Further travel restrictions have been introduced.

Merkel: Pandemic shows German weaknesses

An AP report said:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted significant shortcomings in her country as she told the World Economic Forum on Tuesday that it has underlined the need for international cooperation on issues such as vaccines.

Germany has recently passed the threshold of 50,000 deaths, Europe’s fifth-highest toll. A lengthy second lockdown has slowly brought down the number of new cases in recent weeks.

Indonesia’s confirmed coronavirus cases exceed 1 million

Media reports said:

Indonesia’s confirmed coronavirus infections since the pandemic began crossed 1 million on Tuesday and hospitals in some hard-hit areas were near capacity.

Indonesia’s Health Ministry announced that new daily infections rose by 13,094 on Tuesday to bring the country’s total to 1,012,350, the most in Southeast Asia. The total number of deaths reached 28,468.

The milestone comes just weeks after Indonesian launched a massive campaign to inoculate two-thirds of the country’s 270 million people, with President Joko Widodo receiving the first shot of a Chinese-made vaccine. Health care workers, military, police, teachers and other at-risk populations are being prioritized for the vaccine in the world’s fourth most populous country.

The virus has killed more than 11,000 people in Indonesia since December 1, representing 40% of the total number of casualties since the outbreak started in early March.

Mexico passes 150,000 deaths from the coronavirus

A Reuters report said:

Mexico’s official death toll from the coronavirus passed 150,000 on Monday following a surge in infections in recent weeks that has stretched the health system in the capital to the limit and led to the president contracting COVID-19.

The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Mexico has struggled to contain the pandemic and has the fourth-highest death toll worldwide. In the capital, Mexico City, families are struggling to buy or rent vital tanks of oxygen for relatives suffering from COVID-19.

On Sunday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, 67, who has a history of heart problems and high blood pressure, said he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was being treated for mild symptoms.

China reports decline in new COVID-19 cases

Another Reuters report said:

China reported a fall in new COVID-19 infections as the number of cases in two of the provinces particularly hard hit by the latest coronavirus wave fell to single digits, official data showed on Tuesday.

A total of 82 confirmed cases were reported in the mainland on January 25, the National Health Commission said in a statement, down from 124 cases a day earlier.

The Heilongjiang province reported 53 of the new cases. But Jilin and Hebei – two other northeastern Chinese provinces, which have seen cases surge in recent weeks – reported seven and five new cases, respectively.

Authorities in China have rolled out an aggressive package of countermeasures including home quarantines, travel curbs and mass testing this month in a bid to contain what has been the worst COVID-19 wave in the country since March 2020.

Most of the new cases during the current wave have been found in Jilin, Heilongjiang and Hebei, which surrounds Beijing. All three provinces have rolled out some of the most stringent measures to date in China as a result. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not count in its tally of confirmed cases, rose to 57 from 45 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 89,197. The death toll rose by one to 4,636, marking the first increase since January 13.

Xi calls for unity in fighting virus

Countries must cooperate more closely in fighting the challenges of the pandemic and climate change and in supporting a sustainable global economic recovery, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday in an address to the World Economic Forum.

“Humanity has only Earth and one future,” Xi said in remarks from Beijing to a virtual gathering that is taking place in lieu of the annual in-person meetings in Davos, Switzerland, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fighting the pandemic is the most urgent task facing the international community,” Xi said, in urging that countries cooperate to conquer the disease, which first was reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan just over a year ago.

“In particular, we should strengthen cooperation in vaccine research and development, production and distribution, so that vaccines can truly become a public good that are accessible and affordable to people in all countries,” he said.

Much of what the Chinese leader said was a reiteration of Beijing’s usual stance on issues such as closing the gap between wealthy and developing nations, and warning that countries should not meddle in other countries’ affairs.

While Xi did not mention recent U.S. policies directly, he did call for sticking to rules, embracing diversity and avoiding confrontations over trade and technology.

“A divided world cannot tackle the common challenges facing humanity, and confrontation will lead humanity to a dead end,” Xi said.

Xi said countries need to better coordinate their economic policies, avoid protectionism and other barriers to trade and cooperation to support a global economic recovery and ensure the stability of world financial systems.

“Despite trillions of dollars countries around the world rolled out in economic remedies, the momentum of the global economic recovery remains very unstable, and there is great uncertainty about the outlook,” Xi said.

Vaccine blame game at centre of Europe

A media report said:

In August, the European Commission (EC) announced that it had secured 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab, with an option for a further 100 million. With enough doses for 200 million people, the supply could have vaccinated roughly half of all EU citizens.

It brought the EC’s highly ambitious target of vaccinating 70 percent of all EU citizens by the summer, and even a revival of the tourism trade, into the realms of possibility.

The European Medicines Agency is expected to grant market authorization at the end of the week, meaning doses could be shipped out to the member states. But on Friday, AstraZeneca wrote to the EU executive saying it had supply chain problems and would not be able to fulfill its contractual obligations.

The news was a bitter blow to the commission, which has led negotiations in the EU joint vaccine procurement process, but especially for the bloc’s member states. National governments are now faced with the unenviable task of explaining to their voters why the promised vaccines are not coming.

Many EU countries bet on the AstraZeneca jab, foregoing its more expensive and difficult to store rivals. That made it an attractive proposition for poorer member states, and easier to get to more remote areas than those requiring complicated storage technology. They were waiting for the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite growing pressure from their voters.

Dissatisfaction with coronavirus restrictions is growing in Europe, with the Dutch rioting against a coronavirus curfew at the weekend.

Everyone in Europe is also aware that the vaccination rollout is lagging behind Britain’s. That is painful, after Brexit, but there was consolation in the thought that the race would soon be being run on more equal terms.

With some reports suggesting the AstraZeneca supplies could be 50 million lower than expected, that hope has been firmly dashed.

The fact that AstraZeneca had reported no such supply chain difficulties in supplying Britain also raised hackles. The 27 EU member states were furious, and looking for someone to blame.

The European Commission, which has loudly championed its role as the EU’s vaccine negotiator, was determined it would not be the scapegoat. So Brussels served up a sacrificial lamb to the member states in the form of AstraZeneca bosses.

After the CEO was told off by Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, the company endured a meeting with the EU health commissioner and the officials from the EU 27.

The discussions were robust but, as the health commissioner said afterwards, “unsatisfactory,” and the pharmaceutical giant was summoned for another meeting with the national experts on Monday night. It was a triple humiliation for the company, which was publicly chastened and told to find all the necessary “flexibilities” to fulfill its contract.

The EU said it had invested in the future supplies of the vaccine and wanted a return on that investment.

The commission has used the coronavirus crisis to assertively stake out an EU-wide co-ordination role in the response to the pandemic. In truth, Brussels does not have the centralized powers necessary in health or the control of borders to contain the pandemic. It can recommend member states take a certain course of action, but the decision remains national.

That has not stopped some national governments from “Brussels-bashing” to avoid blame for their own failures in the slow vaccination rollout. Nor has it stopped the constant flood of commission social media messages, lionizing its role at the heart of a European response to the crisis.

The chat in Brussels is that there are two explanations for AstraZeneca’s failure to deliver. Either there are genuine production difficulties, which is feasible given that this is a complex vaccine, or something more sinister.

Although much of the UK stock is now made in Britain, the UK did rely on AstraZeneca’s EU plants for supplies last year. There are those in Brussels who think that AstraZeneca vaccines, paid for in advance and originally meant to build up the EU vaccine stock, have ended up in non-EU Britain.

Diplomatic sources admit they have no idea if this is true but, until AstraZeneca comes forward with a satisfactory explanation, the story continues to have legs in the Belgian capital.

The commission is calculating a system to keep tabs on EU-produced vaccines, and the possibility of blocking exports may just be enough to draw their attention away from the executive’s errors. It is a show of strength aimed at reassuring member states and citizens that this will never happen again, and an attempt to reassert some very publicly lost control.

EU proposes more travel restrictions to stop virus variants

An AP report said:

The European Union’s executive body proposed Monday that the bloc’s 27 nations impose more travel restrictions to counter the worrying spread of new coronavirus variants but make sure to keep goods and workers moving across EU borders.

The EC urged EU nations to reinforce testing and quarantine measures for travelers as virus mutations that are more transmissible threaten to overwhelm European hospitals with new cases.

More than 400,000 EU citizens have already died from the virus since the pandemic first hit Europe last year.

Among the new measures, which need to be approved by EU nations before taking effect, is the addition of a new “dark red” color to the EU’s weekly map of infections.

Since the discovery of the new virus variants, several EU countries have already reinforced their lockdown measures. Belgium has introduced a ban on all nonessential travels for its residents until March, while France could soon start a third lockdown if a stringent 12-hour daily curfew already in place cannot slow down the spread of new infections.

Insisting that all non-essential travel is “strongly discouraged,” the commission repeated the need to keep the single market functioning so workers and goods can continue to cross borders smoothly,

The commission also proposed that travelers from outside the EU should face mandatory coronavirus testing before they depart, tests once they arrive, mandatory quarantines for up to 14 days and hand over data for contact tracing.

EU demands that vaccine makers honor their commitments

Media reports said:

The EU on Tuesday warned pharmaceutical companies that have developed coronavirus vaccines with EU aid that it must get its shots on schedule, a day after the bloc threatened to impose export controls on vaccines produced within its borders.

The EU made it very clear that it is bent on getting all doses as quickly as their contracts provide for at a time when infections are surging, many hospitals are overwhelmed, and many of the 27 members states are struggling to get their vaccine rollout going at top speed.

The hardening of its position came days after it accused AstraZeneca of failing to guarantee the delivery of coronavirus vaccines without a valid explanation. It also had expressed displeasure over vaccine delivery delays from Pfizer-BioNTech. The Pfizer vaccine is already being rolled out in the EU, and the AstraZeneca one is expected to be approved this week.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the World Economic Forum’s virtual event in Switzerland: The EU, which invested 2.7 billion euros in vaccine research and production for the drug companies, “means business”, reflecting the heavy pressure EU nations are under to roll out vaccines.

The EU has committed to buying 300 million AstraZeneca doses with option on 100 million extra shots. Late last week, the company said it was planning to reduce a first contingent of 80 million to 31 million. Pfizer has said it was delaying deliveries to Europe and Canada while it upgrades its plant in Belgium to increase production capacity.

And after two meetings and phone calls the level of distrust that has only grown between the EU and the Anglo-Swedish giant. “We see that doses are being delivered elsewhere and we know that we have signed an agreement,” said Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer. More talks with AstraZeneca are set for Wednesday.

That is why the EU is preparing a system of strict export controls on all coronavirus vaccines produced in the bloc — raising the specter that doses could have trouble leaving the EU until its own orders are fulfilled. The commission insists it is basically to monitor whether companies respect their commitments to the EU.

The biggest EU member state was firmly behind von der Leyen’s view — and batted away any suggestion the EU was looking for special treatment.

The EU, which has 450 million citizens and the economic and political clout of the world’s biggest trading bloc, is lagging badly behind countries like Israel and Britain in rolling out coronavirus vaccine shots for its health care workers and most vulnerable people.

The slow rollout, however, is hardly only the result of vaccine production issues. France’s rollout was delayed by logistical and administrative problems, including lengthy bureaucratic consent rules designed to allay fears of what authorities believed to be an unusually large number of French vaccine skeptics.

The Netherlands had to scramble to get ready for the hard-to-handle Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with its requirement for deep freezing. While about 10% of the U.K. population has gotten at least one dose, that figure hovers around 2% overall or lower in a great many EU nations.

A French government official, who demanded anonymity in line with government policy, said the nation is now expecting less than a third of planned deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine this quarter — 4.6 million doses, instead of 15.8 million.

The official shrugged off the Pfizer delays, but said the AstraZeneca delays “are much more important” and have “higher stakes” because of the sharply reduced volume over the whole quarter.

The European Medicines Agency is scheduled to review the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine Friday and its approval is hotly anticipated. The AstraZeneca vaccine is already being used in Britain and has been approved for emergency use by half a dozen countries, including India, Pakistan, Argentina and Mexico.

The EU has signed six vaccine contracts for more than 2 billion doses, but only the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been approved for use so far.

Another media report said:

The EU has threatened to limit exports of coronavirus vaccines to other countries. It comes after British-based drugs firm AstraZeneca said EU countries would receive millions fewer jabs than they ordered. The row comes amid growing EU concerns about falling behind in the race to vaccinate its population.

EU officials issued the warning after AstraZeneca, which manufactures COVID-19 jabs in the UK, last week informed Brussels that it would be delivering “considerably” fewer jabs in the coming weeks than the bloc has ordered due to production problems.

In response, the EU’s health commissioner Stella Kyriakides indicated that Brussels would consider placing export limits on coronavirus vaccines, which are manufactured within the EU.

That includes the Pfizer vaccine, which is manufactured in Belgium and which has been crucial in the UK’s vaccination efforts.

In response the UK’s vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said that while supplies of the vaccine are “tight,” he was confident the UK would receive enough doses to meet its target of vaccinating 15 million people by mid-February.

Germany’s health minister supported EU proposals to introduce restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday as tensions grew with AstraZeneca and Pfizer over sudden supply cuts just a month after the bloc started vaccinating citizens.

Don’t stop vaccines crossing the borders, Boris Johnson tells EU

The Telegraph said:

Boris Johnson has urged the EU not to put “restrictions on the vaccines or their ingredients across borders,” as he warned: “the virus knows no borders”.

Yesterday Brussels threatened to block EU vaccine exports to non-EU countries, after AstraZeneca revealed that it would not be able to fulfill its contractual obligations as originally hoped.

Johnson said he has “total confidence” in the UK’s supply of vaccines.

Speaking from Downing Street, the UK PM added: “Obviously we expect and hope that our EU friends will honor all contracts…and we continue to work with friends and partners in the EU, and indeed around the world.

‘We will not accept this’: EU attacks Boris Johnson after losing full diplomatic status in UK

The controversy has increased with another row related to BREXIT.

The EU has attacked Boris Johnson’s government after it lost its full diplomatic status in the UK.

Josep Borrell, the EC’s foreign affairs chief, said that of the EU’s 143 delegations worldwide, the UK is the only government to have demoted its status.

“We will not accept this,” he said at a press conference on Monday.

The spat came after Joao Vale de Almeida, the EU’s first ambassador in London since the Brexit, was not given the same status as ambassadors sent by national governments.

Addressing the row at a European Commission foreign affairs council, Borrell said: “It’s not a friendly signal… the first one the UK has sent to us immediately after leaving the EU [when the transition period ended on 31 December].

“If things have to continue like this, there are no good prospects.

“We do not ask for something new or any special treatment. The status of the EU is recognized by countries and international organizations around the world, and we expect the UK to treat EU delegations accordingly and without delay.”

The UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “The EU, its delegation and staff will receive the privileges and immunities necessary to enable them to carry out their work in the UK effectively.”

However, Brussels said the EU’s 143 delegations and staff in other parts of the world had been accorded a status equivalent to countries’ embassies under the Vienna Convention, which governs the rules of international diplomacy.

The Vienna Convention grants diplomats immunity from detention, criminal jurisdiction and taxation.

But the PA quoted Whitehall sources as saying international organizations were offered “very similar privileges and immunities” to diplomatic missions sent by foreign governments.

The UK is continuing to negotiate with the EU over the long-term arrangements for the delegation.

  Read  The Pandemic: Global cases top 100 million
  January 28, 2021
Mercenaries of Capitalism
by Syed Ehtisham, Countercurrents.org, in World,

“Economic Hitmen (EHM) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the Globe of trillions of dollars…funnel money from W.B, US.AID, …into coffers of huge corporations and into the pockets of a few wealthy families…tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, pay off, extortion, sex and murder…” (1).

EHMs arrange loans larger than the country’s ability to pay; it defaults and has to surrender vote in the U.N.O, allow USA military bases, and hand over natural resources (2).

US executives hire people at near slave wages to work in inhuman conditions in Asian sweatshops….Oil companies pump toxins into rain forest rivers…killing people, animals and plants…pharmaceutical industry denies life-saving drugs to HIV infected Africans, while twelve million in the USA worry about the next meal (3).

Tribal and other indigenous people resist destruction of homes by oil companies-unsuccessfully.

A few illustrative examples should convince even the most skeptic:

-Ecuador is about the size of Nevada. An oil pipelines leaked more than a million barrels of oil into the rain forest ; twice what Exxon-Valdez did (4). Indigenous people have brought $ 1 billion worth of suits against Chevron-Texaco since 1970’s with not a penny to show for it (5). A New York court decided against the judgment of the court in Ecuador to fine the company 18.1 billion (5a).

During the oil boom official poverty level rose from 50% to 70%, and under employment from 15% to 70%, public debt from $ 240 million to $ 16 billion, while the Share of the poor in resources fell from 20% to 6% (6)

Third World debt stands at $ 2.5 trillion (4 trillion and counting in 2010) with servicing (interest) of $ 375 billion; more than all the Third World expenditure on health and education and twenty times of what Under Developed countries receive as aid!  (7)

Dams built to generate electricity play havoc with ecology, displace peasants, and make the elite richer. For the Agoyan Hydro-electric plant in Ecuador, the country had to sell rain forest to pay foreign debt. Of $ 100.00 of oil money $ 75.00 goes to oil companies and $ 2.50 for health and education (8).

Jaime Roldos, a university professor, ran for president in 1978 on the platform of egalitarianism and prudent use of resources and won and focused on Texaco, the main oil player.

In 1981, Roldos presented Hydrocarbon law to his Congress for changing the relationship with oil companies (9). Oil Companies unleashed a barrage of vilification of Roldos, offering threats and bribes.

Roldos expelled Summer Institute of Linguistic (SIL) an evangelical group, funded by Rockefeller charities, offered food, clothes, health care and proselytization and persuaded tribesmen to move from land where oil was reported. In a major address he warned other foreign interests to help the people of his country or face expulsion (10)

He died in a midair explosion on 5/24/1981. His successor Oswaldo Hurtado invited SIL back and reinstated Oil Companies. (Zia of Pakistan exploded in the air in 1988, when he obstructed US/USSR deal on Afghanistan and for good measure took US ambassador, military attaché and a dozen generals with him).



At the advent of the 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt demanded that in lieu of loans Colombia had taken to build the Panama Canal, it surrender the isthmus to a North American consortium. It refused.

In 1903 Roosevelt sent the US Warship Nashville, overthrew the government and installed a puppet. The first Canal Treaty was signed by the US secretary of State Hay and by a French engineer Phillipe Bunau-Varilla, but by no Panamanian (11).

Omar Torrijos, the president of Panama objected to the School of Americas and the US southern command tropical warfare training center, both in the Canal Zone where the sons of dictators and military officers were invited to learn interrogation and covert operation techniques.

Torrijos and Carter renegotiated Panama Canal treaty in 1977; ratified by a single Congress vote; control passed to Panama..

Torrijos had expelled SIL too and refused to renegotiate the Canal treaty. He died in a plane explosion on 7/31/1981. Noreiga took over and invited the School of Americas removed under the Canal treaty (12). Bechtel of Shultz and Wienberger were also invited.

Noriega initially tried to push through the Japanese deal to build a new canal without locks. US continued to get in the way (13).

Noriega acting as CIA’s Panama liaison, had links with drug dealers, had helped CIA infiltrate drug cartels, and expected CIA to protect him.

Noriega refused extension of the School of Americas for an indefinite period.  The U.S. attacked on 12/20/1989 (14). Noriega was brought to the U.S. jailed for 40 years.

The new canal treaty became a moot point.



During WW II, the Dutch surrendered to the Japanese without much of a fight. Following Japanese surrender Soekarno declared independence and achieved it on 12/27/1949 after four years of fighting.

Intra-tribal conflict followed. Soekarno suspended the parliament in 1960 and was named president for life in 1963. He developed alliances with communist governments for military and economic aid. He was one of the pillars of non-aligned movement and presided over the Bandung conference

. Ethnic Chinese Local, many of them communists, dominated industry and commerce.

The U.S decided to seduce Indonesia.  A coup in 1965, reminiscent of the 1953 coup in Iran overthrew him. Half to one million people were massacred by the army whose chief Suharto formally took over in 1968. (15).

Conditions deteriorated. Girls offered sex for a few coins. Card board hovels sheltered entire families. Canals had turned into cesspools and roads were overlaid with choking fumes.

Indonesia was offered an electrification plant meant to serve oil companies, ports for pipe lines, and construction planned for the next twenty five years while babies were dying for lack of food and potable water.



United Fruit was founded in 1800’s in Guatemala. In early 1950’s, reform candidate Jacobo Arbenz was elected as the president.

At the time 3% Guatemalans owned 70% of the land. Arbenz promised to redress the injustice. United Fruit launched a furious PR campaign. In 1954 CIA supervised a coup during which American pilots bombed Guatemala City and Col Castillo Armas, right wing dictator took over and reversed land reforms (16). United Fruit was owned by Zapata oil, George Bush 1’s (US ambassador to the UN at the time) company.


-OPEC and oil companies:

OPEC was founded in the 1960’s.Oil companies had been holding down oil prices.1973 oil embargo changed the equation.

Nixon threatened to invade Saudi Arabia and only the promise to deposit petro-dollars in N.Y stopped him. The deal included purchase of USG securities.

Corporations and USG bonded better than ever (17).

-Serving the Saudi interest:

10/2003 issue of Vanity Fair reported that relations between Bush family, Saudis and ben Laden family went back to 1974. Saudis supported a Bush investment Harken, a failing Oil Co (18). Bush 1 and Baker appeared before a Saudi audience to raise funds for the Carlyle group.

Days after 9/11 Saudis, including ben Laden family members were flown out of the US on private jets when the air space was still closed to civilian flights (19).


-The Bush Family, Enron, Oil:

Enron came out of nowhere and started putting together huge deals.

The V.P’s son George W. Bush, whose first Energy Co, Arbustob (Spanish for Bush), was rescued from failure by merger in 1984 with Spectrum 7, which in turn was bailed out by Harken in 1986. Bush Jr was retained as a board member at $ 200,000.00 per year (20).

Harken availed of the opportunity to spread internationally. Vanity Fair, “Once Bush was on the board, new investments drilling rights came in” (21).

In 1989 Amoco was negotiating with Bahrain for drilling rights (22).. Bush 1 got elected as President; Harken replaced Amoco (23).


-Saddam falls into a trap:

Reagan-Bush wanted to see Iraq as another Saudi Arabia. But Saddam was not buying into the scenario.

In 8/1990 Saddam, beset by loans incurred during war with Iran, which loans fellow Arabs had not forgiven, invaded Kuwait, after getting clearance by April Glaspie, US ambassador (24). Bush 1 attacked it.

Iraq was attacked again in 2003 for oil, not terrorism, as rising oil prices might make U.S Empire self-destruct (25).

On 4/18/2003 N.Y Times reported that U.S gave Bechtel major contract in rebuilding Iraq. Halliburton of Dick Cheney got another contract (26).


– Venezuela:

Hugo Chavez elected in 1998 introduced Hydrocarbon law, which doubled the royalties charged from oil companies (27) and replaced the executives in the State owned Oil Co by his own people (28).

It was the fourth largest oil exporter and number three supplier to the US. Its oil income was $ 50 billion; 80% of export revenue.

US attention was diverted to Afghanistan/Iraq, though it did try a Mossadegh like coup on Chavez (29). 9/11 saved him. Chavez came back after 72 hours (30).



  1. Perkins, John, “Confessions of an Economic Hitman,” (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, 2004.
  2. Ibid.
  3. http://.www.frac.org
  4. Tolann, Sandy, “Ecuador: Lost Promises,” National Public Radio, Morning Edition, July 9, 2003, http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2003/jul/latinoil
  5. Ellen, Abby, “Suit Says Chevron Texas Dumped Poisons in Ecuador,” New York Times, May 8, 2003.

5a. www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_12/

  1. Yergin, Daniel and Stanislaw, Joseph, “The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy,” (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001).
  2. Henry, James S., “The Blood Bankers: Tales from the Global Underground,” (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003); www.theguardian.com/global-developing/poverty-matter/2012/
  3. ibid 4
  4. Kane, Joe, “Savages,” (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1995).10. Martz, John D., “Politics and Petroleum in Ecuador,” (New Brunswick and Oxford: Transaction Books, 1987), p 272.
  5. Greene, Graham, “Getting to Know the General,” (New York: Pocket Books, 1984).
  6. Manuel Noreiga with Peter Eisner, “Memoirs of Manual Noriega, America’s Prisoner,” (New York: Random House,1997).
  7. Ibid.


  1. Friend, Theodore, “Indonesian Destinies,” (Cambridge, MA and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2003).
  2. Zinn Howard, “A People’s History of the United States,” (New York: Harper and Row, 1980).

19 .Lizette Alvarez, Documents Show US Considered Using Force During Oil Embargo, New York times, Jan 1, 2004.

  1. Carter, Graydon, “Editor’s Letter: Fly the Friendly Skies,” Vanity Fair, October, 2003.
  2. Colby, Gerard and Dennett, Charlotte, “Thy Will be Done, the Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil,” (New York: Harper Collins, 1995), p. 381.
  3. www.vanityfair.com/politics/…/10/saving-the-saudis-200310
  4. Ibid.
  5. Conason, Joe,“The George W. Bush Success Story,” Harper’s Magazine,” February 2000.
  6. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Glaspie
  7. antiwar.com/blog/2013/03/19the-lie-that-got-us-i-
  8. Oppel, Richard A. with Henriques, Diane B., “A Nation at War: The Contractor Company Has Ties in Washington, and to Iraq,” New York Times, April 18, 2003.
  9. Venezuala on the Brink,” Editorial, New York Times, December 12, 2002.
  10. www.chavezthe film.com
  11. Weiner, Tim, “A Coup by Any Other Name,” New York Times, April 14, 2002


I was born in Dewa Sharif, UP, India in 1939.

I went to school from the fourth to eighth class in Gonda, UP and the 9th grade in Jhansi, UP, India.

We moved to Quetta, Pakistan and went to school for the 10th grade and intermediate college in the same town.

I was in Karachi University 1954-57, then Dow Medical College 1957-62. I Was in the National Students Federation from 1954 to 1962, trained in surgery in the Civil Hospital Karachi 1962-65, proceeded to England 1965 and trained in General surgery and orthopedic surgery till 73, when I left for Canada 1973-74, USA 1974-83, back to Karachi 1983 and built a hospital and went back to the USA in 1991, been in the USA since.

I retired from surgery in 2005.

I have worked in various HR and Socialist groups in the USA.

I have Published two books ,:”A Medical Doctor Examines Life on Three Continents,” and ,”God, Government and Globalization”, and am working on the third one, “An Analysis of the Sources and Derivation of Religions”.

  Read Mercenaries of Capitalism
  January 29, 2021
Covid-19 Makes the Rich Richer, the Poor Poorer: That is Capitalism
by R Chowdhury, Countercurrents.org, in World.

“When the laws undertake to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of the society have a right to complain of the injustice to their government.” — President Andrew Jackson

P B Shelly invoked an injunction from the Bible to explain the effect of capitalism in widening the gap between haves and have-nots. “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” said the British poet, borrowing an aphorism from the Gospel of Mathews, which says: To him that hath, more shall be given; and from him that hath not, the little that he hath shall be taken away. The Covid-19 proved it.

Virus of Inequality

The worst impact of the Corona is that it has widened the gap between the already existing huge class-inequality: rich got richer, poor became poorer. The Pandemic has already claimed over 2 million lives after having attacked 100 million so far. No known past catastrophes, Great Wars and Crusades included, caused such human loss.

In the US alone, 40 million lower echelon people lost their jobs in the past year as a result of the Corona. On the other hand, the rich increased their fortune by more than $600 billion. Jeff Bezos of Amazon saw his worth increased by nearly $50 billion, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer earned $16 billion, Elon Musk and Sheldon Adelson of the Casino world together made $23 billion, while the Zoom owner netted $2.5 billion, just to name a few.

Globally, the Oxfam calculates the gain of the wealthy at nearly $4 trillion in 10 months of the Pandemic plague between March and December 2020.  But it will take decades for the poor to bail themselves, if they at all do, out of the plight they suffered from the scourge of the Corona.

According to an Oxfam survey, 87% of the nearly 300 economists from 79 countries believe that the pandemic will create an increase in income inequality. They also think that racial inequality will rise as a result of the pandemic. 67% of them think their governments do not have an adequate plan that can tackle inequalities. 

“COVID makes the rich even richer–and takes away from workers,” writes Chris Tomlinson in the Houston Chronicle on December 29, 2020.

Situation in South Asia is rather pathetic. “Millions had risen out of Poverty. Coronavirus Is pulling them back,” writes journalist Maria Abi-Habib, based in New Delhi, referring to the sufferings of the poor in the region. 

The Oxfam calls it “The virus of inequality.” The US would have seen 22,000 lesser victims among the poor, largely Blacks and Latinos, if they could afford or had improved treatment facilities as did the Whites. Could a black come out of his Corona bed within two days as did Donald Trump? Or the Johnson? Or the Trudeau? Or the (Tom) Hanks?

The Covid-19 brought the most affected categories to their knees. If jobs were equally divided between genders, there would be 112 million fewer women to risk losing it, asserts Oxfam. It also says that the Pandemic will go down in history because the “inequality will continue to increase in almost all countries of the world.”

The scenario will continue when governments disproportionately give more to help the rich and large corporations. Again, the irony is when the stock market rebounds, the rich has the money to invest and profit, while the lower classed do not.  Additionally, the rich-friendly tax system keeps the billionaires at the top.  

To fix this economic anomaly, Oxfam urges the governments to invest more in public services and the richest individuals and corporations to pay fair share of their tax”

US President Andrew Jackson (1829-1832) wrote while giving Veto on an economic bill, “When the laws undertake to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of the society have a right to complain of the injustice to their government.”

R Chowdhury is a former soldier and a decorated freedom fighter in the war of liberation of Bangladesh. Enjoys retired life in reading, writing and gardening. Writes on contemporary issues of Bangladesh; published a few books so far.

  Read Covid-19 Makes the Rich Richer, the Poor Poorer: That is Capitalism
  January 29, 2021
What Philosophers say about Coronavirus Prevention?
by Thomas Klikauer and Nadine Campbell, Countercurrents.org, in Life/Philosophy.

The 2020-2021 coronavirus is by no means the first pandemic that has impacted people’s lives. Throughout history, philosophers have contributed to our understanding of what pandemics mean and how to fight them. Self-evidently, philosophers are dedicated to philosophy. Like the term pandemic originating in Greek’s pandēmos – “pan” or “all” linked to “demos”, the people – philosophy to is a Greek word. Philosophy – φιλοσοφία or philosophia – simply means the love of wisdom. Unlike all other fields of scholarly endeavour, philosophy has no other purpose than wisdom. It exists only for itself.

Philosophy does not work for pharmaceutical corporations – Big Pharma. It has no economic or political interests or value. It does not lobby politicians. It is not interested in making money. It has no privatised or private hospitals to finance, no drugs, medication and vaccination to sell, no countries to ram to the top – America First – and no clients to serve. Philosophy serves nobody and nothing except wisdom.

Some versions of philosophy like that of German philosopher Horkheimer seek to overcome suffering. Max Horkheimer was by no means the first philosopher who thought about suffering during a pandemic. To the great annoyance of free marketers and demagogues of neoliberalism, the fight against the coronavirus pandemic demands an active state. It requires solidarity and a society that works together rather than free-market competition.

For many, the unchallenged philosopher-king remains Socrates. Socrates once said it is better to suffer the wrong of others than to do wrong ourselves. In other words, it is better to suffer a little bit by, for example, staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic and not spreading the virus (even when perceived as wrong) than doing wrong by going shopping or worse attend rallies organised by people wearing tin-foil hats.

Perhaps Plato was the first who thought about fighting a pandemic. Others like Machiavelli and Hegel followed. Philosophical thought on fighting pandemics by people, the state and the government stretches to present-day philosophers like Philippa Foot and contemporary US philosopher Martha Nussbaum. These philosophers have found answers that remain significant. Starting with Plato’s experts, we shall encounter Niccolò’s insults, Hegel’s good state, Mill’s freedom, Philippa’s trolley, and finally, Nussbaum’s fear.

Plato’s Experts

Socrates and Plato lived about 2,400 years ago. Plato favoured good governance and what we today call the rule of law. Plato would argue that fair laws and sensible regulations can fight the coronavirus. Both are objective. They apply to all, and they are not susceptible to arbitrariness – except when you are Boris Johnson’s advisor, etc.

On the downside, anti-coronavirus laws have the disadvantage of being rigid. Broad brush regulation is not tailored to individual cases. Set against the rampant individualism depicted by anti-government protesters worldwide, Plato would argue for an assembly embodying collective reason. Such an assembly brings together people representing the educated rather than Donald Trump’s I love the poorly educated. Plato favours expertise – not the mob.

Beyond that, Plato would advocate having a reign of experts to make sense of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike Donald Trump and Boris Johnson and other right-wing populists, Plato tells us to trust virologists. But this also has limits. An Expertocracy, for example, would not be able to fix the coronavirus pandemic. Governmental measures need democratic legitimacy – something Joe Biden, Angela Merkel and many others offer. This combines democracy with a high degree of rationality. Plato argues that science would be above everyday thinking. Plato fancies the best advisors. Plato was no democrat. Plato did not trust the demos – the people and their power.

Yet, Plato would also reject an ideologisation of science which we are experiencing in climate science. Unlike Plato, one might argue that science is “not” ethically neutral. Science needs ethics so that its findings are less likely to be misused. In this respect, only ethical science provides standards of correct action.

Plato would argue that anti-coronavirus measures need to be explained in order to convince citizens of the correctness of such measures. Explanations remain vital for coronavirus measures. Regulations and laws are made intelligible in dialogue. For Plato, great importance needs to be attached to convincing tin-foil hat wearing doubters and anti-vaxxers. Plato would also agree that there are people who are entirely unable to grasp rational arguments. Like many in the field of right-wing populism. Donald Trump remains a good example.

Yet, resisting coronavirus measures, social distancing rules, and mask-wearing has been followed by violence. Against that, Plato suggests education enabling citizens to recognise a community as their own. As such, they should understand that damage to a common cause means self-damage. Plato demands prevention set against the storming of government buildings. Plato also says, if such things do happen, the state must react with clear penalties.

Niccolò’s Insults

Philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli also favoured the enforcement of power. He also argued against extremists. Machiavelli advises that rulers and the rebels against rulers, want to take power for themselves – Trump and his Washington mob are examples of that.

The ultimate goal for Machiavelli is a state characterised by stability and prosperity. Only then the freedom of citizens and the common good of all is secured. Unsurprisingly, he argues against mob rule and Trumpian instabilities. Machiavelli’s goals of positive statesmanship – great stability, great prosperity, great prestige among neighbouring states – all have suffered under Trump.

Furthermore, the spread of conspiracy myths, of twisted and invented facts are dangerous working against Machiavelli’s ideas. Untrue and evil rumours in politics can lead to turmoil, he warns. For Machiavelli, slander is despicable. He takes a hard line against those who spread it, suggesting, slanderers must be severely punished.

Machiavelli repeatedly warns against an unleashed mass – Donald Trump’s Washington mob. Overthrowing the government is a horror to him. Machiavelli would reject Trump telling rioters; we love you, you’re very special. For Machiavelli, the best characteristic of a politician is the ability to win conflicts without escalation. Instead of violence, Machiavelli says, I consider it one of the greatest proofs of human wisdom to refrain from any threat or insult. Threats and insults have been the hallmarks of Donald Trump.

Hegel’s Good State

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is the last great representative of the philosophy of German idealism. Hegel too places a strong emphasis on good governance. This means taking the coronavirus seriously. It means not announcing that the coronavirus will go away – a whopping forty times as Donald Trump has done.

Instead of what Donald Trump has done, Hegel would support contact restrictions, compulsory mask-wearing and other regulations. Yet, Hegel would say these regulations must show a certain proportionality when they are restricting individual freedoms. Anti-coronavirus measures must contribute to the common good. When it comes to the question, can the state restrict individual freedom? Hegel says, yes as long as it serves the common good.

Yet, freedom occupies a central place in Hegel’s philosophy. Hegel’s thesis is that freedom is only possible in a state where the common good is paramount. Only in this context can people pursue their individual needs and realise their individual freedom. By common good, he means that the state should, for example, prevent thousands of unnecessary coronavirus deaths.

For Hegel, a functioning state is a prerequisite for freedom, demanding good institutions, a good chancellor, prime minister, or president. The task of them is to stand up and make anti-coronavirus rules transparent. Perhaps Hegel’s home country, Germany, and many others like New Zealand come closer to Hegel’s idea than the Trump administration.

Hegel considers a functioning state to be a necessity. In modern society, individual interests can be contrary to the common good. The tension between individual interests and the common good can be bridged by rational insights. The common good is not something abstract. It is our culture and our values. It can be identified. It constitutes our life.

Mill’s Freedom

Just like Hegel, British philosopher John Stuart Mill may also be called a philosopher of freedom. Mill examined the relationship between coercion, control, and individual freedom by scrutinising the question – when society can intervene in individual freedom. Mill would have sympathy for those who are convinced that anti-coronavirus measures can violate human rights.

Mill would listen to protestors and would say that it would be important that people take responsibility for themselves. According to Mill, rules should be questioned. Mill would be opposed to banning anti-government demonstrations. The philosopher would explain to protesters that there is indeed a purpose that entitles them to intervene in other people’s freedom.

Mill also says that the only intention for which power can be lawfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. The coronavirus pandemic may well be such a case. The current justification of coronavirus measures corresponds exactly to Mill’s demand. Masks, social distancing rules, restrictions on visits to other people’s homes and with high-risk groups are all preventing individuals from harming fellow human beings.

Set against that, Mill argues that the goal of protecting man from himself never justifies coercion. This is true even if everyone else regards their behaviour as foolish and wrong. Finally, for Mill, good governance means the government only interferes as far as necessary. Governments should not increase its power under inappropriate pretexts.

Philippa’s Trolley

The British moral philosopher Philippa Foot was concerned with whether behaviour could be morally justified and how it could be morally justified. The trigger for her thinking was the realisation that the Nazis felt morally justified in doing what they did. Foot introduced the famous trolley problem asking,

what should a driver of a tram (trolley) whose brake fails do – either run into a group of five workers and kill them or steer the trolley onto another track on which one worker will die?

In principle, the trolley problem can be easily transferred to the coronavirus pandemic. The tram can be replaced by the coronavirus. Without countermeasures, there would be an exponential increase in the number of infections and the death of thousands more, probably hundreds of thousands of people. Philippa Foot was also convinced that people had specific characteristics such as courage, moderation and wisdom. These are natural advantages on which human life depends.

Much of this is more complicated when it comes to economic consequences. Coronavirus expenditures by states can lead to dramatic cuts in other areas, plunging some people into despair. In addition, states face expenditures that put the breaks on other expenditures such as education but perhaps also climate protection and health care. A failure to act on these can ultimately lead to more deaths.

Unlike the trolley problem, in the reality of the pandemic, the numbers of the victims cannot be clearly identified. Governments must deal with a variety of uncertainties until an effective vaccine is available.

Yet, politics can switch between tracks which lead to more or – hopefully – less suffering. On that, many governments can expect a relatively large acceptance for coronavirus measures. Only a minority generally finds it okay to keep their hands off the switch and do nothing. The majority of people will perceive government measures as part of good governance.

Nussbaum’s Fear

The philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum argues that proper ethics must include a certain level of emotions. Nussbaum also says that  fear includes the idea that we are threatened with a great and decisive evil and that we cannot avert it with certainty. Fear is reasonable. In the coronavirus pandemic, this is undoubtedly the case. For Nussbaum, fear is a primal emotion.

From an evolutionary standpoint, it is one of the more primitive reactions that move us to extreme and sometimes unwise decisions. That is why we need a government that prevents unwise decisions and panicking. A good strategy would be to ease people’s feelings of helplessness by teaching them how to take control. Wearing mouth and nose protection is an excellent example of this.

Donald Trump lost the presidential election partly because he did not convey enough fear of the coronavirus. Trump did not take steps against the pandemic or recommend such steps. Instead of embracing a well-founded and rational fear of the coronavirus, he redirected people’s fear to inappropriate topics such as immigrants, China, etc.

In the end, we learn from philosophers like Plato that we should trust experts. But these experts need to work with democratically legitimised politicians in explaining what a pandemic means. Niccolò Machiavelli says, for that to work we need the state – not the mob as depicted in Washington in January 2021. Machiavelli also wants the government to act against wild rumours and conspiracy theories saying, slanderers must be severely punished.

The German philosopher Hegel agrees by emphasising that the state should uphold the common good but has a right – if need be – to restrict individual freedom. Countries like Taiwan, Germany and New Zealand come closer to Hegel’s idea than the Trump administration. British philosopher Mill provides the strongest support for protesters against governmental anti-virus measures. Yet, Mill as well argues that government force may be legitimate to prevent harm done to others. The coronavirus pandemic might be just such a case.

Finally, Philippa Foot’s trolley problem does not offer a clear guideline for governments. Even more problematic is Foot’s statement that states might put the breaks on expenditures such as education, climate protection, and health care because of anti-coronavirus measures. A failure to act on these can ultimately lead to more deaths. Ultimately, Martha C. Nussbaum puts the finger on fear arguing that fear is a valued emotion. It can be used to fight the coronavirus rather than using it for one’s own political end as Donald Trump has done for months.

Thomas Klikauer is the author of Hegel’s Moral Corporation and Seven Management MoralitiesNadine Campbell is the founder of Abydos Academy.

  Read What Philosophers say about Coronavirus Prevention?
  January 31, 2021
Population Problem Today
by T Vijayendra, Countercurrents.org, in Life/Philosophy.


Today no one is talking of controlling population any more. Fertility rates are falling all over the world and many governments are encouraging births; giving monetary support and withdrawing free contraceptives and free vasectomy operations. The new problem is that of ageing. No one is prepared to talk of decreasing the longevity. Increasing longevity has long been a marker of good health care. It may have been before World War II, but today it is irrational prolonging of death which is increasing longevity, at the cost of quality of life and benefitting only the medico industrial complex. We suggest replacing expensive and irrational geriatric care with rational palliative care where old people live in comfort with reduced suffering and die peacefully at home with their family.

Let me begin with a long quote (slightly edited) from a recent article in The Guardian, which is an excellent summary of the situation today:

For many years it seemed that overpopulation was the looming crisis of our age. Back in 1968, the Stanford biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich infamously predicted that millions would soon starve to death in their bestselling, doom-saying book The Population Bomb; since then, neo-Malthusian rumblings of imminent disaster have been a continual refrain in certain sections of the environmental movement.   At the time the Ehrlichs were publishing their dark prophecies, the world was at its peak of population growth, which at that point was increasing at a rate of 2.1% a year. Since then, the global population has ballooned from 3.5 billion to 7.67 billion.

But growth has slowed – and considerably. As women’s empowerment advances and access to contraception improves, birthrates around the world are stuttering and stalling, and in many countries now there are fewer than 2.1 children per woman – the minimum level required to maintain a stable population.

Falling fertility rates have been a problem in the world’s wealthiest nations – notably in Japan and Germany – for some time. In South Korea last year, birthrates fell to 0.84 per woman, a record low despite extensive government efforts to promote childbearing. From next year, cash bonuses of 2m won (£1,320) will be paid to every couple expecting a child, on top of existing child benefit payments. The fertility rate is also falling dramatically in England and Wales – from 1.9 children per woman in 2012 to just 1.65 in 2019. The problem is even more severe in Scotland, where the rate has fallen from 1.67 in 2012 to 1.37 in 2019.

Increasingly this is also the case in middle-income countries too, including Thailand and Brazil. In Iran, a birthrate of 1.7 children per woman has alarmed the government; it recently announced that state clinics would no longer hand out contraceptives or offer vasectomies.

Thanks to this worldwide pattern of falling fertility levels, the UN now believes that we will see an end to population growth within decades – before the slide begins in earnest. An influential study published in the Lancet last year predicted that the global population would come to a peak much earlier than expected – reaching 9.73 billion in 2064 – before dropping to 8.79 billion by 2100. Falling birthrates, noted the authors, were likely to have significant “economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical consequences” around the world.

Their model predicted that 23 countries would see their populations more than halve before the end of this century, including Spain, Italy and Ukraine. China, where a controversial one-child per couple policy – brought in to slow spiraling population growth – only ended in 2016, is now also expected to experience massive population declines in the coming years, by an estimated 48% by 2100.

It’s growing ever clearer that we are looking at a future very different from the one we had been expecting – and a crisis of a different kind, as ageing populations place shrinking economies under ever greater strain.


What exactly is the Ageing Problem?

People above sixty years are considered old or senior citizens. It is the percentage of old people in the total population that is important and not the total number, and especially in relation to those in the 0-15 age group in the population. If we consider only total numbers then China and India will have the largest number of old people because of their high population. On the other hand as a proportion of the total population it is the Scandinavian countries, France and Japan that have very high percentage old people in their population. As the population of the old approaches that of the 0-15 group, the working population shrinks in proportion and the burden of taking care of the old and the young becomes very heavy. In such cases, societies experience a shortfall in its working population.

The population of the elderly rises because of a fall in fertility and not because of decrease in mortality and increase in life expectancy at birth. (Ansley J. Coale, ‘The Effects of Changes in Mortality and Fertility on Age Composition’, 1955). Reduction of mortality will definitely increase the total number of old people in the population. However, it is the fall in fertility that increases the proportion of old people in the population. A reduction in the number of new additions to the population increases the ratio of old people in the population, which as we said above is the real problem of old age for the society.

This is the ageing problem.

Old Age is a Human Phenomenon

Old age is a human phenomenon with all the complexity that entails one. In nature, that is, in plant and animal kingdom, there is no such comparable phenomenon. And contrary to popular understanding, among humans also it is relatively recent – starting roughly since mid 19th century when it became possible to control reproduction. The knowledge of controlling reproduction became popular in modern societies due to technology, which made the availability of these devices cheap and easy. Although the Catholic Church frowns upon it, it rapidly spread in the developed capitalist countries.

Prolonging Death

However, today old age is not healthy people naturally growing old. You may still see some such people, particularly those who used a bicycle all their life. Today by and large old people are from relatively affluent families. Majority of them are not in good health but are kept alive because of modern health care system. These old people and their families suffer a lot in terms of agonies, harassment of frequent hospitalisation and drain of money. The doctors have forgotten the wisdom of their seniors, like, ‘Any medical intervention is advised only if it improves the quality of life’. Today, saving life at any cost is the mantra. It would be alright if the patients were young but in the case of senior citizens the mantra should be reducing suffering.

Old Age Care

Historically, old people were cared for within the family. With the increase in their number and increase in wage employment, more and more old people are getting care through old age homes. The funding for this comes from the welfare state, charities and the pension of the old people themselves. However, these ‘homes’, of which there are not enough to take care of all the old people, suffer from many defects. To begin with, they are often inadequately furnished or maintained and lack adequate funds. Also, because old people are vulnerable, they are often exploited by the owners of these homes (or the individuals who run them) and the medical industrial complex.

Today, the burden of the care of the elderly on the government is so big that it often exceeds the pay check of the working people. In Kerala, for instance, the pension of government employees is more than the current wages of the employees. As a result, today’s governments desperately want to get out of it.

The fact is, care of old people is rapidly becoming an unsolvable problem, and only more so in the coming resource crunch due to peaking of non renewable resource and economic crisis.

Palliative Care

In such a situation Palliative Care offers a viable solution. Although it has evolved mainly for terminal illnesses like cancer, it has been used for normal care for old people also.

The state of Kerala has managed to develop an integrated health service delivery model with community participation in palliative care. Institute of Palliative Medicine, Thiruvananthapuram, has been playing a major role in shaping up this model. The evolving palliative care system in Kerala tries to address the problems of the incurably ill, bedridden and dying patients irrespective of the diagnosis, age or social class. The program in Kerala is also expanding to areas like community psychiatry and social rehabilitation of the chronically ill. Palliative care has been declared by Government of Kerala as part of primary health care. Combined efforts by Civil Society Organisations, Local Self Government and Government of Kerala have resulted in the best coverage anywhere in Low and Middle Countries for palliative care. The ‘Quality of Death’ study by Economist Intelligence Unit (2010) states that “Amid the lamentably poor access to palliative care across India, the state of Kerala stands out as a beacon of hope. While India ranks at the bottom of the Index in overall score, and performs badly on many indicators, Kerala, if measured on the same points, would buck the trend. With only 3% of India’s population, the tiny state provides two-thirds of India’s palliative care services.

Palliative care is a relatively basic and relatively cheap healthcare provision. It requires simple facilities and by most healthcare standards basic nursing and medical care. With the present economic crisis and resource crunch, expensive and irrational geriatric health care should come down and be replaced by palliative care wherever possible. It will enable old people live in comfort with reduced suffering and die peacefully at home with their family. And in the end it will reduce the carbon foot print of the old people and reduce the population to manageable levels.

T. Vijayendra (1943 – ) was born in Mysore, grew up in Indore and went to IIT Kharagpur to get a B. Tech. in Electronics (1966). After a year’s stint at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, he got drawn into the whirlwind times of the late 60s.

Since then, he has always been some kind of political-social activist. His brief for himself is the education of Left wing cadres and so he almost exclusively publishes in the Left wing journal Frontier, published from Kolkata. For the last ten years, he has been active in the field of ‘Peak Oil’ and is a founder member of Peak Oil India and Ecologise. Since 2015 he has been involved in Ecologise! Camps and in 2016 he initiated Ecologise Hyderabad. He divides his time between an organic farm at the foothills of Western Ghats, watching birds, writing fiction and Hyderabad. Vijayendra has been a ‘dedicated’ cyclist all his life, meaning, he neither took a driving license nor did he ever drive a fossil fuel-based vehicle.

He has published a book dealing with resource depletion, three books of essays, two collections of short stories, a novella, an autobiography, a piece of children’s science fiction about the history of the bicycle and several booklets. His booklet, Kabira Khada Bazar Mein: Call for Local Action in the Wake of Global Emergency (2019,
) has been translated into Kannada, Bengali and Marathi and is the basic text for the emerging Transition Networks in these language regions. His latest book is ‘Vijutopias: Dreams for Local Futures (2020).

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