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Evolutionity and Global Civilizational State: the Application of the Scale of Global Rights to Global Issues.

Business, trade and global resources.
( see enlargement Business, trade and global resources. )

To attain Peace in the world, we must take into account many aspects of Life in society.
( see enlargement To attain Peace in the world, we must take into account many aspects of Life in society. )

Theme for this month, October 2020.

Evolutionity and Global Civilizational State: the Application of the Scale of Global Rights to Global Issues.

People worldwide are worries about unsolved problems related to the global warming of the planet, globalization, political instability and a regress to irrationality. Global Civilizational State  has proposed an alternative perspective encouraged by human evolution and expanding global governance, including Global Solidarity.

Over the past several decades humanity has bettered itself through the acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by most nations. But now is the time to reach to our next step of human evolution, that is the approval of a scale of social values, the Scale of Global Rights, and thus to prepare for Evolutionity, a new epoch to follow Postmodernity as envisioned in the book Tractatus Politico-Philosophicus of Professor W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz. Evolutionity and Global Civilizational State offer short and long term solutions to the people of all nations to assure the survival of life on Earth. Both solutions require the acceptance of the Scale of Global Rights as our guide for survival. Primordial human rights on the Scale are separate categories from those of community rights, the right of the greatest number of people, economic rights, social rights, cultural rights and religious rights. Ecological and primordial human rights are the only rights that have existed unchanged throughout the evolutionary origin of our species. Any major change would have threatened our very existence. All other human rights are rights created by human beings and can be changed depending of new circumstances; they are not stagnant but are rather flexible and adaptive, and they can evolve. Ecological and primordial human rights of this generation and of future generations are therefore much more important than any other human rights existing now and in the future.

The First Congress on Polish Philosophy, Opole 2020.

Kongres Filozofii Polskiej

The organizer of the Congress is the Department of Philosophy at the University of Opole. The Congress has taken place at the University and in Orla Palace near Komin Wielkopolski (about 100km north of Opole).

Orla Palace, Poland
Orla Palace

Orla is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Komin Wielkopolski, within Krotoszyn County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, in west-central Poland.

The opening of the Congress, its conclusion and plenary lectures have taken place in the Auditorium of the University, and the sessions for paper presentation were in other Collegium Civitas rooms.

Certificates were issued to confirm participation in the Congress.

Prof. W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz Chair, English Session
Program Committee
The First Congress on Polish Philosophy

Here are the links to the work I have done to participate to the First Congress on Polish Philosophy, Opole, September 25, 2020.

My presentation (text):


My presentation (video):

The following videos were done using the same work from “My presentation (text)” shown above here. The only difference are the resolution of each video i.e. the first one has a low resolution of 24 MBs and was uploaded to my website. 

The second video uses the same text but has a much higher resolution of about 79 MBs. 


Table of Contents

  • Global Issue 1, sections 1,2,3, and 6 affected: Replacing both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Charters from all nations by the Scale of Global Rights will give more importance, substance, value, gravity, and urgency to human life, all life on Earth, and to the protection of the global life-support systems for this generation and future generations.Global Issue 1, sections 1,2,3, and 6 affected

  • Global Issue 2, sections 1,2,3, and 5 affected: Human activities are responsible for the greenhouse effect, global warming, and climate change, mostly through our use of fossil fuels, and could be catastrophic, and a tragic end to our present human evolution, without effective mitigation.Global Issue 2, sections 1,2,3, and 5 affected

  • Global Issue 3, sections 1,2,3, and 5 affected: Our ways of doing business and trade are causing the destruction of livelihood worldwide and that of the next generations, endangering all lifeforms on the planet, putting in great danger all global ecosystems, in short threatening the survival of all life on our planet. We need a complete turn around of our ways of doing things in business and trade.Global Issue 3, sections 1,2,3, and 5 affected

  • Global Issue 4, sections 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 affected: The need of Evolutionity and Global Civilizational State leadership to educate Peoples for humanity survival, and to emphasize moral virtues and a healthy intellectual development.Global Issue 4, sections 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 affected

  • Global Issue 5: sections 1,2,3,4, and 5 affected: Super rich Peoples and corporations became corrupted, greedy, no longer in line with humanity's survival on the planet.Global Issue 5: sections 1,2,3,4, and 5 affected

  • Global Issue 6: sections 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 affected: Global issues such as poverty, crime, racism, religious and ethnic conflict, terrorism, global warming, climate change, energy scarcity, are further magnified by the widening spread and quickening pace of globalization.Global Issue 6: sections 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 affected

  • Global Issue 7: sections 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 affected: There are several major global issues: conflicts and wars, no tolerance and compassion for one another, world overpopulation, human activities destroying and polluting, as population increases the respect and value of a human life is in decline, insufficient protection and prevention for global health, scarcity of resources and drinking water, poverty, Fauna and Flora species disappearing at a fast rate, global warming and global climate change, global pollution, deforestation, permanent lost of the Earth's genetic heritage, and the destruction of the global life-support systems and the eco-systems of the planet. Our goal for peace in the world can only be reached by resolving these important global problems. These problems have brought up a planetary state of emergency. Global Civilizational State found evidence that resolving all those global issues is the essential prerequisite for the effectiveness and exercise of all rights recognized for human beings. We need to build global communities for all life on the planet.Global Issue 7: sections 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 affected

  • Global Issue 8: sections 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 affected: The global coronavirus pandemic is the product of a staggering multitude of factors, including the air travel links connecting every corner of the planet so intimately and the failure of government officials to move swiftly enough to sever those links. But underlying all of that is the virus itself. Are we, in fact, facilitating the emergence and spread of deadly pathogens like the Ebola virus, SARS, and the coronavirus through deforestation, haphazard urbanization, and the ongoing warming of the planet? It may be too early to answer such a question unequivocally, but the evidence is growing that this is the case.Global Issue 8: sections 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 affected

  • Global Issue 9: sections 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 affected: Issues threatening the health and future of children and of the next generations. Climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, predatory commercial practices, and the rampant spread of Covid-19 threaten the health and future of children in every country. What is even more worrisome and fearful is that children stand on the precipice of a climate crisis. Wealthy countries are threatening the future of all the children in the world through carbon pollution.Global Issue 9: sections 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 affected

  • Conclusion Conclusion

  • References References

Reporting News
( see enlargement Reporting News)

Reporting News.
( see enlargement Reporting News)

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

David Anderson, Lionel Anet, John Scales Avery, Subhankar Banerjee, Countercurrents Collective (5), Devdan Chaudhuri, Dr James M Dorsey, Richard Heinberg, Rob Hopkins, Robert Hunziker (3), Adithian K, Peter Koenig, Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Alton C Thompson (2), Talha Mujibi, Nick Turse.

David Anderson, Extinction Possibility. Extinction Possibility.
Lionel Anet, Our duty is to ensure that our young ones survive. Our duty is to ensure that our young ones survive.
John Scales Avery, The Ecological Impact Of Militarism. The Ecological Impact Of Militarism.
Subhankar Banerjee, Species in Peril: Loss, Love and Protection. Species in Peril: Loss, Love and Protection.
Countercurrents Collective, Antarctica: Cracks in the ice. Antarctica: Cracks in the ice.
Countercurrents Collective, Climate crisis: An emerging new Arctic. Climate crisis: An emerging new Arctic.
Countercurrents Collective, Arctic sea ice shrinks to its second-lowest annual minimum extent ever. Arctic sea ice shrinks to its second-lowest annual minimum extent ever.
Countercurrents Collective, Covid-19 pandemic has proved that free market policies have failed, says Pope
Countercurrents Collective, More than 1 million – Covid-19 death toll worldwide. More than 1 million – Covid-19 death toll worldwide.
Devdan Chaudhuri, New Silk Road and the Asian Century: India, China and the Empire. New Silk Road and the Asian Century: India, China and the Empire.
Dr James M Dorsey, China’s Belt and Road pinpoints fundamental issues of our times.
Richard Heinberg, What If Preventing Collapse Isn’t Profitable?
Rob Hopkins, Why the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill could lead to a revolution of the imagination. Why the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill could lead to a revolution of the imagination.
Robert Hunziker, Greenland Succumbs Greenland Succumbs
Robert Hunziker, The Dying Planet Report 2020. The Dying Planet Report 2020.
Robert Hunziker, Boundless Dying Trees. Boundless Dying Trees.
Adithian K, The Future We Choose”: A Call for Action. The Future We Choose”: A Call for Action.
Peter Koenig, Towards a New Gold Standard? Or a Currency War with China? Towards a New Gold Standard? Or a Currency War with China?
Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Morality and Immorality in Contemporary Politics. Morality and Immorality in Contemporary Politics.
Alton C Thompson, Another Reason to Change Our Species Name! Another Reason to Change Our Species Name!
Alton C Thompson, Global Warming “Solutions” Global Warming Solutions
Talha Mujibi, Hegemony or Survival. Hegemony or Survival.
Nick Turse, John Hersey, Hiroshima, and the End of World. John Hersey, Hiroshima, and the End of World.

Articles and papers from authors


Day data received Theme or issue Read article or paper
  August 19, 2020
Greenland Succumbs
Robert Hunziker, in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

Since the turn of the new century, every aspect of climate change has gone ballistic, up, up, and away, not looking back, leaving the 20th century fairly harmless, but only on a relative basis, especially as compared to the rip-snorting 21st century. It’s a whole new ballgame, starting with this new century.

Society is witnessing a great acceleration of climate change way above and beyond modeling by climate scientists, and it can be frightening.

This century is shaping up to be designated an inflection point of radical change with solid evidence of trouble down the line found most recently in a rapid meltdown phase of the Greenland Ice Sheet, a target way too big to miss. It’s melting fast and faster beyond the scope of climate models, which, for reasons not fully explained, cannot keep up with the cascading ice mass.

Starting with this decade, Greenland’s meltdown took flight. This is indisputable as its acceleration has a familiar ring found amongst all major ecosystems, planet-wide. In short, climate change acceleration is universal. It’s a horrifyingly dangerous threat to the integrity of life-sourcing ecosystems, like the Great Barrier Reef, three massive unprecedented bleaching events in only five years; all the result of rising ocean temperatures driven by global heat, up to 90% mortality in some locations. (Source: Australian Academy of Sciences).

Greenland represents 23 feet of sea level encased in ice up to two miles thick and will likely require hundreds or thousands of years to completely melt-down, but for current purposes that doesn’t count! What counts are the upcoming years on the way to 23 feet. And, that’s a dicey proposition when consideration is given to how far off scientists’ models have been. It’ best to brace for the worst.

In time, sea levels will surpass 1-2-3-4-5 feet, and more, but within an unknown time frame. Keep in mind even one-foot of an increase spells worldwide coastal disasters. A Noah’s Ark scenario is not needed to upend coastal cities throughout the planet.

The rule of thumb for sea level rise is: One inch of sea level increase submerges 50-100 inches of beach coastline. So, in plain English, if one-inch equals 4-to-8 feet of submerged beach, in turn, one-foot will submerge 48-to-96 feet of coastline beach. (Source: NASA-Jet propulsion Laboratory). That’s a lot, especially for Miami Beach, where the city has already had to raise streets (Google: “Miami Beach is Raising Streets by 2 Feet to Combat Rising Seas” to see a photo).

Nobody knows how high how soon seas will rise, but seas will rise well beyond the average increase of the past century, count on it. In fact, mark it down in a calendar so as not to forget, maybe 2025 or 2030 or at the latest 2050, but that’s only guess work and not part of the most recent study of Greenland’s meltdown, as follows:

“A new study finds that accelerating retreat and thinning of Greenland’s glaciers that began 20 years ago is speeding the ice sheet toward total meltdown.” (Source: Going, Going… Gone: Greenland’s Melting Ice Sheet Passed a Point of No Return in the Early 2000s, Inside Climate News, August 15, 2020).

Sure enough, the study identifies this century, the year 2000, as the start of “accelerating retreat,” which encompasses a major inflection point for climate change disaster scenarios popping up everywhere, for example, Siberia, Antarctica, the Amazon rainforest, and the Arctic. They’re experiencing bizarre climate events that threaten to alter entire ecosystems.

And, of interest, the Greenland ice sheet withstood over 200 years of the industrial age as snowfall every fall/winter rebalanced the ice loss of the prior spring/summer, until the year 2000. Then, things changed. Now, the aforementioned study claims that the former rhythmic balance in nature of ice loss subsequently followed by ice buildup since eons ago is lost forever. It’s gone!

Alas, the situation only gets worse, according to Ian Howat, who co-authored the study, even if warming stopped today, the ice melt will continue: “Glacier retreat has knocked the dynamics of the whole ice sheet into constant state of loss,” Ibid.

A “constant state of loss” means: There is no effective solution to the big meltdown. Still, according to the scientists, by curbing greenhouse gas emissions, like the CO2 emitted from automobile tailpipes and other fossil fuel consumption devices, the meltdown process could be delayed, thus giving people much more time to build seawalls as the 21st century ushers in a new genre, “The Seawall School of Architecture.”

After all, there is no chance that emissions will be curbed. In today’s real world, it is simply not on the docket. Greenhouse gases have been accelerating ever since China decided to mix a cocktail of High-end Capitalism and the Communist Party of China; thereafter, building a brand spanking new coal-burning power plant every week like clockwork to meet capitalistic demands for cheaper products for America and the world, starting in the late 1970s.

For perspective purposes on how soon the weekly build-out of Chinese coal plants impacts climate change, keep in mind the 10/yr-to-20/yr lag effect between emissions spewed into the atmosphere and climate change impact, e.g., record high temperatures in the Arctic and Greenland and Antarctica coinciding with conspicuous acceleration of climate change over the first two decades of this century on the heels of China’s build-out of a new coal plant every week, starting 20 years prior to the new century. The dots connect.

According to The Economist, May 21, 2020: “A Glut of New Coal-Fired Power Stations Endangers China’s Green Ambitions.” China is relaxing curbs on building coal-burning power plants. Does this mean the IPCC should call-out China for its failure to abide by the Paris 2015 climate accord?

Not only China but also Japan plans to build 20 new coal-powered plants and India is planning numerous new coal-powered plants. And, that’s only half of today’s fossil-fuel renaissance, looking ahead thru this decade, oil barons, like Saudi Arabia and the U.S., intend to increase oil and gas production by up to 130% by 2030, meaning substantially higher CO2 emissions leading to hotter temperatures leading to higher sea levels leading to increased flooding of coastal cities.

Where’s the IPCC when it’s really needed or is it hopelessly feckless?

In truth, the underlying Greenland message is not subtle; it’s simply build seawalls, thus protecting hundreds of millions of people, businesses, and urban environments from massive flooding, and soil contamination and aquifer spoilage via salt water. Coastal cities across the world need to start constructing enormous seawalls, in some cases extending for miles beyond the city’s limits, possibly as far as an entire coastline, as rising waters find voids in structures.

Remarkably, the planet keeps on truckin’.

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 Greenland Succumbs
  August 21, 2020
Why the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill could lead to a revolution of the imagination.
Rob Hopkins, in Climate Change countercurrents.org.

One of the few rays of hopeful sunshine in the UK’s currently bleak political landscape is the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill. In fact, I feel like it is such a vitally important development that I want to use this article to urge you to get behind it, while also offering a rather different perspective on why I feel it matters so much.

The Bill was created by a coming together of activists, scientists and policy experts, and it sets out the key elements that government needs to address if they were to actually act, from the core of their being, as though this were a climate and ecological emergency, at a speed and ambition commensurate with the scale of the challenge (you can read the Bill itself here). It is rather brilliant. I also believe that, if enacted, it would do so much more than just what is set out in the Bill itself.

This article will be based on a few assumptions which I have come to through the researching and writing of ‘From What Is to What If’. The first is that imagination, that “ability to see things as if they could be otherwise” as John Dewey put it, and having the capacity to be imaginative, is fundamentally important to our collective embracing of the changes that this emergency demands of us. We need creativity and the boldness to reimagine and rebuild everything.

Secondly, we are living in a kind of ‘perfect storm’ of factors that are causing our collective imagination to wane: unaddressed trauma, anxiety, the impacts of austerity, systemic racism, the lack of space in many peoples’ lives, colonisation, the power and addictive nature of our online lives, an education system that has largely purged imagination from many young peoples’ lives, and much more. Together they form a kind of ‘disimagination machine’ that is proving ruinous and which we urgently need to reverse.

I also came to realise that one of the beautiful things about imagination is that it thrives on limits. It needs limits in order to flourish. Which is why we use haikus, or rap, or limericks. Which is why when we study improv, we are given scenarios in which the imagination can take over (“You are a nervous bus conductor on your first day in the job, and You are a really famous person who has lost her bus ticket. Go”). And nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of the climate and ecological emergency.

An imaginative person looks at the ‘limits’ imposed by these intersecting crises, and the many others that accompany them, and their imagination kicks in, reimagining food systems, economic models, investment approaches, models of democracy, architecture, planning, work, streets, transport, beer recipes. The unimaginative person, the person who refuses to recognise such limits, clings to what they know and dismisses those who are doing the reimagining as being ‘unrealistic’ or somehow ‘naive’.

We saw this embodied recently in Donald Trump’s claims that making buildings more energy efficient was a nonsense because it would mean that we would have to live in buildings with no windows (seriously), that water efficient showerheads were unimaginable because he likes to wash his hair in the shower (or something) and that energy-efficient dishwashers need turning on “12 or 13 times” just to get the plates clean.

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill is so powerful because its magic lies away from its pages. Its magic lies in its invitation for a whole society to begin, finally, to step up to being boldly imaginative within a new narrative. There will be those libertarian TV presenters, politicians think tanks and radio hosts who will still try to cling to the pointless argument that somehow taking such bold steps will stifle ‘progress’ or that ‘we can’t afford it’ or some such silliness, but my point is that this Bill, if enacted, would lead to a revolution of the imagination across the country, one that could go on to inspire something similar across the world.

For the UK to set out to ambitiously pursue decarbonisation with really bold targets, to move on from the fantasy that one day someone will invent an amazing machine that sucks CO2 out of the air, to include emissions from aviation and the importation of consumer goods, to hugely boost soils and forests in their roles as carbon sinks, all open up so much possibility and room for the imagination.

There’s the thrilling possibility of homes that are beautiful and healthy, which cost nothing to heat, which are affordable and which use more local materials. Or a new food and farming systems which links cities to the land around them and transforms their economies as a result. Or how about the liberating of space in cities, freeing them from the tyranny of the car and filling them instead with bicycles, people walking, with trees, play, food growing, wildlife and art? This Bill would give a clear signal to the education system, to business, to investors, that this is now the ‘new normal’, and that brilliant ideas and innovation will be met halfway with support and delight.

The Bill’s demand for a Citizens Assembly could be central to this. I remain convinced that, if done well, Citizens’ Assemblies can be a key part of the solution. I have seen then done well, and I have seen them done not so well. They need sufficient time for participants to really go on a journey of understanding, they need to not be just about information, but also need to make space for digestion, for contemplation, for grief and for imagination.

But when done well, they can be deeply transformative, unlocking a collective wisdom and mature thinking on behalf of future generations that our current democratic system could only dream of. The power here though is in the possibility it offers for this embrace of new democratic models to not stop there, but to run through society, with greater local democracy, with Peoples’ Assemblies, Civic Imagination Offices, the raft of deliberative democracy approaches spreading wide and fast.

A future in which this Bill has been implemented would be the time of our lives. Anything would feel possible. We would feel like there was, finally, a shared collective purpose. It would be transformative. Our cities would fill with trees, delicious air, performers, gardens and wildlife. Our countryside would once again buzz with biodiversity and wildness. While the impacts of climate change that we are already locked into wouldn’t somehow magically disappear, we would know we were now heading for a future that was the result of our having done everything we could possibly have done, rather than the result of our inaction, apathy and political paralysis.

It would feel like all of the brilliant inventiveness of the Industrial Revolution compressed into 20 years, just this time without its toxic legacy, social inequality and extractive colonialism parts. Finance would change. Structures and businesses that clung to the past would crumble to dust and be replaced by new, more responsible, wise and purpose-driven businesses. We’d insulate all the houses. We’d plant oh so many trees. We’d turn office blocks into hubs for this new economy. We’d rebuild the soils.

While this Bill promises a future that would be deeply transformative, one that thrives deliciously on the ‘limits’ now imposed on us by decades of inaction and by the laws of physics, it will, like all great social leaps from suffrage to LGBT rights, only happen because people power makes it happen. And so, I end with a heartfelt plea. Please dedicate yourself to making this Bill a reality. Get your Transition group, or any other organisation you are part of, to sign up in support of it. Be part of the Rebellion that starts on September 1st outside Parliament, to demand it be adopted and passed. And speak to your MP to demand that they support it.

While it is true, of course, that the facts and the science around climate change should absolutely be enough to see this Bill passed without debate, I believe that one of the things we all too often neglect is the cultivation of longing. How do we talk, as I have tried to do here, of what this Bill could enable and unleash in such a way that we can create, in everyone we talk to, a profound longing for that world? That’s how I see this Bill, as being the key to unlocking so much. Let us share that longing with everyone we meet.

Rob Hopkins is a cofounder of Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network, and the author of The Transition HandbookThe Transition Companion, The Power of Just Doing Stuff, 21 Stories of Transition and most recently, From What Is to What If: unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want. He presents the podcast series ‘From What If to What Next‘ which invites listeners to send in their “what if” questions and then explores how to make them a reality.  In 2012, he was voted one of the Independent’s top 100 environmentalists and was on Nesta and the Observer’s list of Britain’s 50 New Radicals. Hopkins has also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought and A Good Read, in the French film phenomenon Demain and its sequel Apres Demain, and has spoken at TEDGlobal and three TEDx events. An Ashoka Fellow, Hopkins also holds a doctorate degree from the University of Plymouth and has received two honorary doctorates from the University of the West of England and the University of Namur. He is a keen gardener, a founder of New Lion Brewery in Totnes, and a director of Totnes Community Development Society, the group behind Atmos Totnes, an ambitious, community-led development project. He blogs at transtionnetwork.org and robhopkins.net and tweets at @robintransition.

  Read Why the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill could lead to a revolution of the imagination.
  August 25, 2020
Morality and Immorality in Contemporary Politics.
Bhabani Shankar Nayak , in Life/Philosophy, countercurrents.org.

In the world of ideology free zone of politics, the question ‘of morality and immorality in popular and mainstream political traditions’ is becoming irrelevant. The incompetent governments, helpless states, visionless leadership, directionless politics, weak judiciaries and compliant media organisations are the net output of amoral and illiberal politics.  The moral critique of political system does not yield any electoral dividends for radical politics within democratic system. The irrespective of ideological formations, the political system is designed in such a way that exploits people and stands with the capitalists, and upholds the interests of the propertied class through corrupt means. It looks as if there is a clear bifurcation between politics and morality in praxis. The moralistic cults based on hard work, honesty, sobriety, sexual propriety, thrift, nonviolence, truth, and other Gandhian, Ambedkarite, Marxist, Mandelian, and Martin Luther King’s shared and collective values in politics are becoming obsolete and considered to be liabilities in politics.

The deepening of moral crisis in politics is an extension of utilitarian values incorporated in the society during early industrial revolution and patronised during managerialist led market revolution during 20th and 21st century. The moral dumbfounding cultural effect in politics is further accelerated by the growth of fictitious online social, economic and cultural life in the age of information technology. It ensures mass melancholy of the obsolete and immoral self-serving politics of brutal capitalism, which hides behind democracy and individual freedom. It does not guide people and society towards peace, progress and prosperity due to its immoral political landscape. The immoral politics is based on illiberal ideas and practice, which divides the society and people on moral questions. In 2012, psychologist Jonathan Haidt has published his book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Religion and Politics”. He has outlined moral foundations of politics based on ideals of care, fairness loyalty, authority, sanctity, and liberty. According to Jonathan Haidt, these moral qualities are intuitive and integral to human beings. But in reality, there are collective material foundations, which helps to develop these moral qualities in human beings. These qualities are products of everyday experiences of working classes in their work place and their interactions with fellow workers that ensures these moral qualities in working population.

What are the political alternatives before the working-class masses? How to ensure morality in politics?  The answers to these questions are complex but not difficult to answer.

It is time to bring back mass politics rooted in class, dedicated to class and led by working classes. The concept of class politics is no longer confined within organised industrial zones. The trade unions used to organise these workers in their work places. The trade unions and working-class people have played a major role in wage bargain movements in the workplace to anti colonial and anti-capitalist struggles. The working classes have played a major role in democratisation of society and in enlarging individual liberty and citizenship rights. The working-class morality in politics has shaped morality both in radical and mainstream politics. The work and the workplaces used to be the source of working-class consciousness, which shaped political movements, ideologies and leadership based on working class morality.

In the age of information technology driven economic system, there is disintegration of work and workplace. The working-class people and their work places are scattered all over the places from the bedrooms of garment workers to the bathrooms of information technology workers. The work has entered into every step of worker’s life and individualised work and working culture. The workers as citizens are alienated both from their work place and fellow workers, which helped to develop depoliticised consciousness and growth of anti-politics machine. The capitalism and its political systems treat individuals as orderly objects and not as citizens and human beings with rights and liberties. Such an economic, social, political and cultural transformation in work and workplace led to growth of professionalisation of technocratic politics shaped by the ruling and non-ruling classes to uphold their own interests. It promotes culture and politics of competitive immorality based on selfish-self-interests. The authoritarian megalomaniacs are controlling the state and government in defence of their capitalist masters.

Moreover, the separation of market from producers and consumers has helped for the growth of market led democracy, which diminished citizenship rights and trying to convert citizens into self-interested and self-satisfying customers only. The customer driven politics based on self-interests has dismantled the collective foundation of politics, state and governments. Citizens are disinterested clients of a democratic state and government, where the capitalist classes rule and promote immoral politics. The moral crisis in politics is framed as crisis of state, government, secularism, multiculturalism, socialism and democracy. Such analysis hides the failures and vulnerabilities of capitalism and its immoral political projects. It promotes capitalism as only alternative and there is no other alternative to authoritarian capitalist doctrine. The moral crisis in politics has huge detrimental impacts on working class needs and desires. The moral crisis in capitalist politics is an opportunity for working classes to revitalise their political project by mobilising different sections of working classes both in their organised and unorganised forms. The collective political movements of working classes based on working class morality can revive the revolutionary politics to save democracy and individual freedom.

The universal nature of working-class experiences produces shared universal political morality and promotes politics of solidarity, cooperation and fraternity. The working-class internationalism can defeat the immoral politics of neo-imperial wars and neo colonial economic system to establish world peace based on shared prosperity. The revival of working-class politics and working-class morality can defeat the immoral alliance of reactionary religious forces, conservative and right-wing politics and illiberal market economy. The emphasis on working class morality needs to evolve with secular and scientific ethos while directing addressing everyday life issues of people, animals and environment. The working-class morality can inspire people to organise themselves as a collective struggle for political, social, cultural and economic transformation in the society. The politics based on working-class morality can only achieve the politics of transformation based on egalitarian and secular values.

Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Coventry University, UK

  Read Morality and Immorality in Contemporary Politics.
  September 11, 2020
Species in Peril: Loss, Love and Protection.
Subhankar Banerjee , in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

Human calamities abound. The unrelenting coronavirus pandemic has already claimed more than 900,000 lives worldwide. The images of exploding wildfires from the American Southwest—California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—look apocalyptic. Racial injustice and inequity in the United States marches on. And, the economic suffering?—painful.

In this moment of so much death and suffering—do we even have the capacity to extend our care, our love for nonhuman kin—bears, bees, bugs, butterflies, and all the other nonhuman animals and plants with whom we share this Earth? Perhaps, for most, not, or not that much. And yet, there are committed people all over the world who have long fought for, and will continue to fight for, the natural world, which is really a fight for our survival too.

But let us peek into the nonhuman world for a moment, which is also our world.

The Living Planet Report 2020 is out now. Two years ago, in an article, “Biological Annihilation: A Planet in Loss Mode,” I had summarized the findings in the Living Planet Report 2018 with the following words:

As a comprehensive survey of the health of our planet and the impact of human activity on other species, its key message was grim indeed: between 1970 and 2014, it found, monitored populations of vertebrates had declined in abundance by an average of 60% globally, with particularly pronounced losses in the tropics and in freshwater systems. South and Central America suffered a dramatic loss of 89% of such vertebrates, while freshwater populations of vertebrates declined by a lesser but still staggering 83% worldwide.

The Living Planet Report 2020 updates those numbers with two additional years of data. Between 1970 and 2016, monitored populations of vertebrates—or amphibians, birds, fishes, mammals, and reptiles—have declined in abundance by an average of 68% globally, up from 60%; in South and Central America, the loss is still most pronounced: at 94%, up from 89%; and for freshwater species globally: 84% decline, up from 83%.

In other words, our nonhuman relatives are vanishing at an extraordinary scale and pace. But that tragedy is not yet registering in our collective imagination.

Have you witnessed, or organized a collective mourning to honor our dead nonhuman relatives? Have you seen any flowers, real or plastic, placed by the roadside, or at a city square to honor the dead bears, bugs and bees?

While the Living Planet Report serves up, every two years, a health assessment of our living Earth—the present compared to the recent past—another report, the landmark May 2019 UN biodiversity assessment offered a glimpse of where we are headed: one million animal and plant species face extinction, many within decades, due to human activity.

Are we even awake to the fact that we are doing our damnedest to ensure that our nonhuman relatives don’t have a snowball chance in hell to survive on this planet?

That is only half of the story, however.

Many committed people around the world—Indigenous land, water and species protectors; biologists and ecologists; the species conservationists; policy makers; artists; writers; educators; and community organizers—are all working hard to chart more-just and livable multispecies futures.

The crisis of biological annihilation, which includes human-caused species extinctions, mass die-offs and massacres, is as much a scientific issue as it is cultural and political.

War on Biological Nurseries and Conservation Laws

How has the United States’ White House responded to the intensifying biodiversity crisis since President Trump took office in January 2017?

The answer: By waging an all-out war on nonhuman lives.

Shortly after assuming office, President Trump announced his intention to make America “energy dominant” and, then Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke suggested that that dominance would come from drilling for oil and gas in Alaska, including in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge is a biological nursery of global significance, and a place the Indigenous Gwich’in people call Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit (“the sacred place where life begins”). The Trump administration also proceeded to expand oil and gas development around Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, a place considered sacred by the Indigenous peoples of the Southwest. In response, I convened a national conference, the last oil: a multispecies justice symposium in February 2018.

Things are heating up on the Arctic Refuge issue. Last month, the Trump administration “finalized its plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development, a move that overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States,” the New York Times reported on August 17. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is hopeful that “there could be a lease sale by the end of the year.”

But licking your chops doesn’t always lead to eating.

On Wednesday, September 9, Gwich’in Tribal governments continued their decades-long fight to protect the Coastal Plain from fossil fuel development by filing suit against the Interior Department.

Additionally, fifteen state governments, led by the State of Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson, stood alongside the Tribes and filed a separate lawsuit in the federal district court in Alaska.

Two years ago, when I was in Washington, DC, for a two-day Arctic Refuge campaign strategy workshop—the morning started with New Mexico’s Senator Tom Udall addressing us. Sen. Udall has long been our champion in Congress to protect the Arctic Refuge, and a true friend to the Gwich’in Nation. After all, it was his uncle, Arizona Congressman Morris “Mo” Udall who was one of the principal architects of the most expansive environmental protection laws in U.S. history—the 1980 Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act (ANILCA), which doubled the size of the original Arctic National Wildlife Range, renamed it a Refuge, and granted subsistence rights to the Indigenous peoples, including inside designated wilderness.

Back to Trump’s war on conservation.

On July 15, 2020, President Trump “unilaterally weakened one of the nation’s bedrock conservation laws, the National Environmental Policy Act, limiting public review of federal infrastructure projects to speed up the permitting of freeways, power plants and pipelines,“ the New York Times reported.

Earlier this year, when the Trump administration was moving to gut the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, Sen. Udall called “move to gut NEPA is one of the worst decisions made by the worst environmental administration in history. … At a time when we are staring down the serious threat of climate change to our way of life—especially in states like New Mexico—and are in peril of another mass species extinction, NEPA is one of the few tools we have to limit further damage to our environment.”

After all, NEPA was established during the tenure of the Senator’s father, Stewart Udall, a passionate conservationist who served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior during the 1960s.

And, how did the Trump administration respond last year to the landmark May 2019 UN biodiversity assessment which warned that one million animals and plant species face extinction due to human activity?

Three months later, on August 12, 2019, the Trump administration announced its intention to gut the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the hallowed legal framework to protect imperiled species.

The community members in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands had offered a different kind of response last Fall to the UN biodiversity assessment. Artists and academics across the Rio Grande watershed, from southern Colorado to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, responded creatively by organizing more than a dozen exhibitions and programs that expressed both sorrow and hope, our connection to the living earth and need for action.

“This may be the first time that communities across a large region spanning two nations have engaged the biological crisis in such an expansive and distributed manner with a shared concern and generosity,” I wrote in the exhibition catalog essay.

During the same time, responding to a call from scientists, in October 2019, Sen. Udall co-sponsored the Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature, which calls on the federal government to establish a national goal of conserving at least 30 percent of the land and the oceans within the territory of the United States by 2030. The following month, in November, Sen. Udall sponsored the Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act which would support wildlife management efforts by tribal governments.

And, on February 7, 2020, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland with support from her colleagues, introduced a companion Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature in the House.

Building on the foundations of these community-engaged and culturally inclusive creative and federal policy initiatives, Sen. Udall and I will be co-hosting UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series—Fall 2020, which will launch on Monday, September 14, and will conclude on Thursday, December 3. The webinar series will foster conversations on the escalating biodiversity crisis and inspire public participation to mitigate the tragedy. This online symposium is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required. I hope to see you at the inaugural webinar on Monday.

These times can seem bleak, but we take inspiration in the endurance of people like the Gwich’in and members of the Udall family, who resolutely maintain the struggle to better protect the natural world. Our nonhuman relatives need us and, we need them.

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 is currently completing two books: coeditor (with T.J. Demos and Emily Eliza Scott) of Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture and Climate Change (Routledge, Spring 2021), and coauthor (with Ananda Banerjee) of Biological Annihilation (Seven Stories Press, Spring 2022). Subhankar serves as the founding Director of the Species in Peril project at UNM.

  Read Species in Peril: Loss, Love and Protection
  September 16, 2020
Antarctica: Cracks in the ice.
Countercurrents Collective, in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

Satellite images show that two important glaciers in the Antarctic are sustaining rapid damage at their most vulnerable points, leading to the breaking up of vital ice shelves with major consequences for global sea level rise.

In recent years, the Pine Island Glacier and the Thwaites Glacier on West Antarctica has been undergoing rapid changes, with potentially major consequences for rising sea levels.

The scientists have found that while the tearing of Pine Island Glacier’s shear margins has been documented since 1999, their satellite imagery shows that damage sped up dramatically in 2016.

Similarly, the damage to Thwaites Glacier began moving further upstream in 2016 and fractures rapidly started opening up near the glacier’s grounding line, which is where the ice meets the rock bed.

However, the processes that underlie these changes and their precise impact on the weakening of these ice sheets have not yet been fully charted.

A team of scientists including some from TU Delft has now investigated one of these processes in detail: the emergence and development of damage/cracks in part of the glaciers and how this process of cracking reinforces itself. They are publishing about this in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Stef Lhermitte, Sainan Sun, Christopher Shuman, Bert Wouters, Frank Pattyn, Jan Wuite, Etienne Berthier, Thomas Nagler. Damage accelerates ice shelf instability and mass loss in Amundsen Sea Embayment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sept. 14, 2020; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1912890117)

The scientists have combined satellite imagery from various sources to gain a more accurate picture of the rapid development of damage in the shear zones on the ice shelves of Pine Island and Thwaites.

This damage consists of crevasses and fractures in the glaciers, the first signs that the shear zones are in the process of weakening. Modeling has revealed that the emergence of this kind of damage initiates a feedback process that accelerates the formation of fractures and weakening.

Human-induced warming of our oceans and atmosphere because of the increasing release of heat-trapping greenhouse gases is weakening the planet’s ice shelves.

This ocean warming has increased the melting and calving (the breaking off of ice chunks) of Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, studies show, while declining of snowfall means the glaciers can’t replenish themselves.

The damage researchers found pointed to a weakening of the glaciers’ shear margins – areas at the edges of the floating ice shelf where the fast moving ice meets the slower moving ice or rock underneath.

According to the scientists, this process is one of the key factors that determine the stability – or instability – of the ice sheets, and thus the possible contribution of this part of Antarctica to rising sea levels.

They are calling for this information to be taken into account in climate modeling, in order to improve predictions of the contribution these glaciers are making to rising sea levels.

The study comes on the heels of research published last week that found deep channels under the Thwaites Glacier may be allowing warm ocean water to melt the underside of its ice.

The cavities hidden beneath the ice shelf are likely to be the route through which warm ocean water passes underneath the ice shelf up to the grounding line, they said.

Over the past three decades, the rate of ice loss from Thwaites and its neighboring glaciers has increased more than five-fold. If Thwaites were to collapse, it could lead to an increase in sea levels of 64 centimeters.

On September 14, scientists announced that a 44-square-mile chunk of ice, about twice the size of Manhattan, has broken off the Arctic’s largest remaining ice shelf in northeast Greenland in the past two years, raising fears of its rapid disintegration.

The territory’s ice sheet is the second biggest in the world behind Antarctica’s, and its annual melt contributes more than a millimeter rise to sea levels every year.

  Read Antarctica: Cracks in the ice
  September 16, 2020
Climate crisis: An emerging new Arctic.
Countercurrents Collective, in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

A new Arctic is emerging. The regions landscape is changing rapidly. Temperatures are skyrocketing, sea ice is dwindling and many experts believe the far north is quickly transforming into something unrecognizable.

This week, new research confirms that a new Arctic climate system is emerging.

A new Arctic will be warmer, rainier and substantially less frozen. Animals that used to be common may disappear, while new species may move in to take their place. Opportunities for hunting and fishing by sea ice could dwindle. Shipping in the Arctic Ocean may significantly increase as the ice disappears.

Planning for disasters may be an increasingly difficult task.

Community planners often design infrastructure, made to last a certain number of years or withstand a certain level of stress, by looking at past weather observations. But as the Arctic climate transforms, the past is no longer a good predictor of what to expect in the future.

Some aspects of the Arctic climate have already changed beyond anything the region has experienced in the past century. Sea ice extent has shrunk by 31% since the satellite record began in 1979. Patterns in ice coverage today have dropped beyond the bounds of anything that would have been possible just a few decades ago.

By the end of the century, if global temperatures continue to rise unchecked, other key elements of the Arctic climate including air temperatures and precipitation patterns could also be profoundly different from the former 20th-century “normal.”

Study co-authors Laura Landrum and Marika Holland, researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, U.S., published their findings on September 14 in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The study, they say, is among the first to examine the timing of the emerging new Arctic — the point at which climate conditions fall outside even the furthest boundaries of what was previously “normal” — across both sea and land.

“The changes are so rapid and so large that the Arctic [has] warmed so significantly that its year-to-year variability is moving outside the bounds of past fluctuations, signaling a transition to a new climate,” Landrum told E&E News.

Landrum and Holland have used large ensembles of climate models to investigate how the Arctic climate has changed over the last century and what kinds of changes may be in store over the next 100 years.

They focused on a severe hypothetical climate scenario — a trajectory many scientists think of as the worst-case scenario if human societies do nothing to curb their greenhouse gas emissions.

The scientists specifically examined changes in Arctic sea ice extent, air temperatures and precipitation patterns.

The scientists have found: Sea ice has already declined beyond the bounds of anything that would have been seen even a few decades ago. In other words, at least one signal of the new Arctic — driven by climate change — has already emerged.

And sea ice declines will only get worse as time goes on. Under the extreme climate scenario, summer sea ice extent will fall below 1 million square kilometers — a threshold so low most scientists consider the Arctic Ocean “ice free” at that point — by the 2070s at the latest, and potentially decades earlier.

Air temperatures are likely to cross the threshold by the middle of this century, with fall temperatures changing the fastest.

Changes in precipitation — namely, a transition from snow to rain — will represent a new Arctic shortly afterward.

That makes sense, considering the way different aspects of the Arctic climate system are linked.

Sea ice can have a profound effect on Arctic temperatures. Ice has a bright, reflective surface that helps beam sunlight away from the Earth. Thick sea ice also helps insulate the ocean, trapping heat below the surface in the winter and preventing it from escaping into the cold Arctic air.

As sea ice thins and disappears, the ocean is able to absorb more heat in the summer.

And in the winter, that heat is able to escape through the thinner ice and warm up the atmosphere.

“You would expect ice to play a role in warming the temperature because of these feedbacks,” Landrum said.

The rising temperatures, in turn, help speed up the transition from snow to rain.

The findings confirm that a new Arctic is already emerging — and that if global temperatures keep rising at their current pace, the transformation to an unrecognizable climate system could be complete before the end of this century.

It is a clear sign that climate change isn’t a problem for the future — it’s already dramatically reshaping the planet today. It is also a huge concern for the Arctic ecosystem and the human communities that rely on it.

“We’re entering a period where the previous observations we have do not and cannot describe the time that we’re entering,” Landrum said.

While the study provides a grim snapshot of a possible future, it is not necessarily inevitable. Other studies have indicated that a more moderate climate scenario — one in which world nations substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades — could stall or prevent some of these changes.

But the research does demonstrate that immediate action is needed.

“For those living in the Arctic — whether it’s human, animal, plant — climate change is not something in the future,” Landrum said. “It’s something that’s happening now.”

The study report – “Extremes become routine in an emerging new Arctic” – by Laura Landrum and Marika M. Holland (Nature Climate Change, 2020) said:

The Arctic is rapidly warming and experiencing tremendous changes in sea ice, ocean and terrestrial regions. Lack of long-term scientific observations makes it difficult to assess whether Arctic changes statistically represent a “new Arctic” climate.

The scientists have used five Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 class Earth system model large ensembles to show how the Arctic is transitioning from a dominantly frozen state and to quantify the nature and timing of an emerging new Arctic climate in sea ice, air temperatures and precipitation phase (rain versus snow).

The results suggest that Arctic climate has already emerged in sea ice. Air temperatures will emerge under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 scenario in the early- to mid-twenty-first century, followed by precipitation-phase changes. Despite differences in mean state and forced response, these models show striking similarities in their anthropogenically forced emergence from internal variability in Arctic sea ice, surface temperatures and precipitation-phase changes.

  Read Climate crisis: An emerging new Arctic
  September 23, 2020
Another Reason to Change Our Species Name!
Alton C Thompson, in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

In my “Changing Our Species Name” I question Homo sapiens as an appropriate name for our species, and suggest an alternative that I believe to be more appropriate.  The reason that I give in that paper is not the only reason, however, for changing our species name; in this paper I suggest another reason.

Let me preface my remarks here, though, with the following facts:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported [date not given] that (a) there have been 134 homicides locally in 2020 “so far,” (b) gave data on those homicides, and (c) included a map that shows where the homicides have occurred.  (These facts are of interest to me because I live in a Milwaukee suburb.)

The fact that homicides occur in our society has not, of course, gone unnoticed; it has resulted in the creation of police forces, lawyers, judges, and jails/prisons.  That is, it has resulted in substantial job creation!  The question that I address here, however, is this:

Has the way we have responded to the occurrence of homicides (and other anti-social behaviors) been the most rational way to do so?

Our minds have “told” us that we have responded in the best possible manner; but all that indicates is that we have feeble minds!  Actually, it would be more accurate to say that our response indicates:

  1. A lack of imagination.
  2. A lack of knowledge regarding the history of our species.

Of those two factors, I regard the second one as having special importance.  Below, I explain why.

My starting point here is with the fact that “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” was our “decision” to abandon hunting and gathering,[1] as the sources of our sustenance, for agriculture.  That change in the basis of our sustenance “was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered.  With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.”   And:  “Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity:  deep class divisions.”  A fact that implies that the exploitation of some, by others, began after agriculture displaced hunting and gathering.  After, that is, civilization[2] began.

What was it about the adoption of agriculture that led the occurrence of problems that had not plagued hunter-gatherer bands?  Here’s the explanation that I would offer:

  1. Whereas hunter-gatherers had been mobileagriculture imposed a sedentary way of life on those who adopted it.
  2. Having a sedentary way of life is conducive to growth in population size of the group.
  3. That growth tends to weaken the bonds that connected one member of the group with the other members.
  4. Whereas hunter-gatherer bands had developed practices that enabled them to retain their egalitarian ways, those practices lost their power as the group grew larger in size.
  5. That fact provided an opportunity for those with dominance tendencies to begin to exercise those tendencies.
  6. Therefore, exploitation began to occur, and the eventual outcomes were the emergence of social class systems—and civilization.  And the need for police, lawyers, judges, and jails/prisons!

If my “theory” is correct, the implication is that the concept of “human scale” has merit.  And insofar as that concept has applicability to human settlements, the implication is that if modern societies would make an effort to “de-size,” the need for police, etc., would decrease.

An example of what might be done is for the national government to create a program of initiating ecovillages.[3]  Here is one definition of “ecovillage”:

An ecovillage is an intentional, traditional or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social, culture, ecology and economy) to regenerate social and natural environments.

Doing so would not, I should add, be a “new thing” for our society; for during the New Deal period of our history the national government created “resettlement” communities, “subsistence homestead” communities, and three “greenbelt” towns.[4]

If the national government were to initiate such a program, and if many of the society’s discontented individuals were to be attracted to the small communities created, this could have an important impact on anti-social behaviors.  Reducing them substantially, and thereby reducing the need for police, etc.

Is that likely to occur, however?

If some individuals in the law enforcement field perceive the implications of such a program, they are likely to fight its occurrence.  After all, they have a vested interest in the continued occurrence of anti-social behaviors; their jobs are dependent anti-social behaviors remaining a problem!  Granted that from a societal standpoint it would be best to decrease the rate of criminality, and develop more productive occupations for those who now work in the law enforcement “industry.”  But our leaders—in both government and the corporate realm—are too lacking in imagination, intelligence, and wisdom to recognize this, and then act on it.

Thus, that portion of our species, at least, living in the United States (but not only here, I suspect!), the species name Homo sapiens (meaning “wise”) warrant the species name Homo stultus!  Stultus means “foolish, stupid”!

Being stupid in the modern world is not advisable!  Given the very real possibility alluded to by the title of this article:  “Human Extinction by 2026?”!

A point that I should add before closing is this:  We live, today, in a dangerous world dominated by a few state powers.   Because of that fact, “wise” de-sizing has its limits.  However, given that de-sizing is unlikely to go “too far,” that’s not a problem that should concern us.  What should concern us is the fact is the fact that Earth is getting hotterand:

An international team of scientists has published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showing that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions.

The fact that “The Planet Is Dangerously Close to the Tipping Point for a ‘Hothouse Earth‘” is what should most concern us.  And the fact that it isn’t being given the priority that it deserves is worrisome, indeed!

[1]  Regarding this “abandonment,” this article—“Why Humans Took Up Farming:  They Like to Own Stuff”—offers an interesting perspective!

[2]  For an analysis of “civilization” see Christopher Ryan’s Civilized to Death:  The Price of Progress (2019).

[3]  Many such villages now exist in this world, as this map demonstrates.

[4]  This article discusses the “green belt” concept.  Related to this is the “garden city” movement.

Alton C. Thompson is an independent writer

  Read Another Reason to Change Our Species Name!
  September 23, 2020
Arctic sea ice shrinks to its second-lowest annual minimum extent ever.
Countercurrents Collective, in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

Arctic sea ice reached a minimum extent of 3.74 million square kilometers on September 15, likely the annual low, and the second lowest minimum on record. The orange line represents average extent of sea ice from 1981 to 2010 on that day. (NSIDC)

Arctic sea ice extent fell to the second-lowest annual minimum on record last week, a status that followed a summer of extreme heat in Siberia and accelerated melt even after summer’s end, the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced on Monday.

A report by Yereth Rosen said (Arctic Today, September 21, 2020):

Arctic sea ice extent bottomed out at 3.74 million square kilometers (1.44 million square miles) on September 15. It was only the second time in the satellite record that the minimum was below 4 million square kilometers; the record-low sea ice minimum was measured in 2012, when mid-September ice extent fell to 3.39 million square kilometers (1.13 million square miles).

Breaking that 4 million-square-kilometer threshold is likely to get attention, said Mark Serreze, director of the Colorado-based NSIDC.

“It’s only a number, but it’s only the second time it’s happened,” he said.

This year’s minimum was 2.51 million square kilometers (969,000 square miles) lower than the average annual minimums calculated from 1981 to 2010, the Colorado-based NSIDC said.

Extent is defined as the area of the ocean where there is at least 15 percent ice cover.

The 2020 ice retreat was part of a well-defined pattern. The 14 lowest minimums for sea ice extent have occurred in the last 14 years, according to NSIDC information.

“That is rather telling,” Serreze said. “The story is, we are in this new age.”

The “strong downward trend” in Arctic sea ice, despite some year-to-year variation, will ultimately result in an Arctic with no more summer ice, he said. That is expected to happen sometime in the next 10 to 20 years, he said.

Among the year-to-year variations is the changing location of extreme annual melt. Siberia turned out to be the hotspot this year, Serreze said; in other years different parts of the Arctic have the most extreme melt.

The Siberian heatwave, with temperatures hitting the first-recorded 100-degree Fahrenheit mark and massive Arctic wildfires burning, was part of a feedback cycle. Itself a product of Arctic climate change, according to scientists, it also contributed to Arctic climate change.

To some extent, this year’s extreme melt off Siberia was set up by winter conditions there, which made the ice there thin, Serreze said. “Once the melt started going, it had those self-perpetuating tendencies,” he said.

Those winter conditions were set up in part by a persistent positive Arctic Oscillation pattern that pushed ice from the Siberian coast, Serreze said.

The Arctic Oscillation is in a positive phase when there is lower-than-average air pressure over the Arctic. Recent research by an international team of scientists links a positive Arctic Oscillation to late-winter heat in Siberia — and increased risk of Siberian wildfires.

The Siberian Arctic was not the only place where ice melt was extreme.

In the Chukchi Sea, where early summer ice extent was not unusually low by recent years’ standards, melt was dramatic in late summer. That resulted in the earliest ice-free state in the Chukchi in the satellite record.

Retreat in the Chukchi was pushed along by a late-July storm that chewed up whatever freeze remained at the time, said Rick Thoman of the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy. “I don’t think we would have been that precipitous decline without the end-of-July storm,” he said.

Having so much open water there will again make it more difficult for the winter freeze to set in, Thoman said, though sea-surface temperatures are not as warm as they had been in the past. “It’s going to be a late freeze up in the Chukchi,” he said. “If the weather was to cooperate, it might not be super-late.”

That large amount of open water is also expected to continue a pattern of increasingly warm autumns off Alaska, he said.

The declaration of a minimum is preliminary, the NSIDC said. A shift in wind patterns or some sort of late melt could reduce the total ice extent again, the center said.

A green Arctic

Earth’s northern landscapes are greening.

Using satellite images to track global tundra ecosystems over decades, a new study found the Arctic region has become greener, as warmer air and soil temperatures lead to increased plant growth.

“The Arctic tundra is one of the coldest biomes on Earth, and it’s also one of the most rapidly warming,” said Logan Berner, a global change ecologist with Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, who led the recent research. “This Arctic greening we see is really a bellwether of global climatic change – it’s a biome-scale response to rising air temperatures.”

The study (Logan T. Berner, Richard Massey, Patrick Jantz, Bruce C. Forbes, Marc Macias-Fauria, Isla Myers-Smith, Timo Kumpula, Gilles Gauthier, Laia Andreu-Hayles, Benjamin V. Gaglioti, Patrick Burns, Pentti Zetterberg, Rosanne D’Arrigo, Scott J. Goetz, Summer warming explains widespread but not uniform greening in the Arctic tundra biome, Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18479-5), published this week in Nature Communications, is the first to measure vegetation changes spanning the entire Arctic tundra, from Alaska and Canada to Siberia, using satellite data from Landsat, a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Other studies have used the satellite data to look at smaller regions, since Landsat data can be used to determine how much actively growing vegetation is on the ground. Greening can represent plants growing more, becoming denser, and/or shrubs encroaching on typical tundra grasses and moss.

When the tundra vegetation changes, it impacts not only the wildlife that depend on certain plants, but also the people who live in the region and depend on local ecosystems for food. While active plants will absorb more carbon from the atmosphere, the warming temperatures could also be thawing permafrost, thereby releasing greenhouse gasses. The research is part of NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), which aims to better understand how ecosystems are responding in these warming environments and the broader social implications.

Berner and his colleagues used the Landsat data and additional calculations to estimate the peak greenness for a given year for each of 50,000 randomly selected sites across the tundra. Between 1985 and 2016, about 38% of the tundra sites across Alaska, Canada, and western Eurasia showed greening. Only 3% showed the opposite browning effect, which would mean fewer actively growing plants. To include eastern Eurasian sites, they compared data starting in 2000, when Landsat satellites began regularly collecting images of that region. With this global view, 22% of sites greened between 2000 and 2016, while 4% browned.

“Whether it’s since 1985 or 2000, we see this greening of the Arctic evident in the Landsat record,” Berner said. “And we see this biome-scale greening at the same time and over the same period as we see really rapid increases in summer air temperatures.”

The scientists compared these greening patterns with other factors, and found that it’s also associated with higher soil temperatures and higher soil moisture. They confirmed these findings with plant growth measurements from field sites around the Arctic.

“Landsat is key for these kinds of measurements because it gathers data on a much finer scale than what was previously used,” said Scott Goetz, a professor at Northern Arizona University who also worked on the study and leads the ABoVE Science Team. This allows the researchers to investigate what is driving the changes to the tundra. “There’s a lot of microscale variability in the Arctic, so it’s important to work at finer resolution while also having a long data record,” Goetz said. “That’s why Landsat is so valuable.”

The study report said:

Arctic warming can influence tundra ecosystem function with consequences for climate feedbacks, wildlife and human communities. Yet ecological change across the Arctic tundra biome remains poorly quantified due to field measurement limitations and reliance on coarse-resolution satellite data. Here, we assess decadal changes in Arctic tundra greenness using time series from the 30 m resolution Landsat satellites. From 1985 to 2016 tundra greenness increased (greening) at ~37.3% of sampling sites and decreased (browning) at ~4.7% of sampling sites. Greening occurred most often at warm sampling sites with increased summer air temperature, soil temperature, and soil moisture, while browning occurred most often at cold sampling sites that cooled and dried. Tundra greenness was positively correlated with graminoid, shrub, and ecosystem productivity measured at field sites. Our results support the hypothesis that summer warming stimulated plant productivity across much, but not all, of the Arctic tundra biome during recent decades.

The scientists specifically asked:

  1. To what extent did tundra greenness change during recent decades in the Arctic?
  2. How closely did inter-annual variation in tundra greenness track summer temperatures?
  3. Were tundra greenness trends linked with climate, permafrost, topography, and/or fire?
  4. How closely did satellite observations of tundra greenness relate to temporal and spatial variation in plant productivity measured at field sites?

The report said:

Our analysis showed strong increases in average tundra greenness and summer air temperatures during the past three decades in the Arctic and constituent Arctic zones.

The scientists found widespread greening in recent decades that was linked with increasing summer air temperatures, annual soil temperatures, and summer soil moisture; however, tundra greenness had no significant trend in many areas and even declined in others.

The study and prior regional Landsat assessments show pronounced greening in northern Quebec.

Their analysis also indicated recent browning along the rugged southwestern coast of Greenland that is consistent with local declines in shrub growth.

The study report said:

Overall, satellites images show extensive greening and modest browning in the Arctic tundra biome during recent decades; however, regional discrepancies in greening and browning highlight the need for rigorous comparisons among satellites and between satellite and field measurements.

The report said:

We found no trend in tundra greenness at most locations, despite pervasive increases in summer air temperatures. It is possible that indirect drivers of vegetation change, such as permafrost thaw and nutrient release, are accumulating in response to warming of summer air temperatures, or that plants are limited by other environmental constrains. Low soil temperatures, nutrients, and moisture can limit plant response to rising air temperatures, as can strong genetic adaptation to prevailing environmental conditions. In other cases, warming might have stimulated plant growth, but led to no change in tundra greenness due to grazing, browsing, and trampling by herbivores. Field and modeling studies show that herbivory can significantly suppress tundra response to warming, although effects of vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores on Arctic greening and browning remain unclear. Last, tundra greenness could, in some areas, be confounded by patchy vegetation being interspersed with bare ground, surface water, or snow.

It said:

“Our results indicate Arctic plants did not universally benefit from warming in recent decades, highlighting diverse plant community responses to warming likely mediated by a combination of biotic and abiotic factors.”

“Our analysis showed that tundra browning occurred at a small percentage (~5%) of sampling sites during recent decades, and although uncommon, it was widely distributed in the Arctic.”

“Our analysis suggests that warming tended to promote rather than suppress plant productivity and biomass in the Arctic during recent decades, but increasing frequency of permafrost degradation, extreme weather events, pest outbreaks, and industrial development could contribute to future browning.”

“Tundra fires are another contributor to greening and browning in the Arctic; however, our results indicate that their contribution is currently quite small at a pan-Arctic extent due to their infrequent occurrence.”

“We found that 1.1% of sampling sites burned over the 16 years period, which suggests a current fire rotation of ~1450 years for the Arctic tundra biome. Regional fire rotation within the biome is strongly governed by summer climate and is considerably shorter (~425 years) in the warmest and driest tundra regions (e.g., Noatak and Seward, Alaska).”

“Our analysis further showed that fires recently occurred at ~1.0% of sampling sites that greened and ~2.4% of sampling sites that browned. Tundra fires can emit large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and lead to temporary browning by burning off green plants, while subsequent increases in soil temperature and permafrost active layer depth can stimulate a long-term increase in plant growth and shrub dominance in some but not all cases. Continued warming will likely increase annual area burned in the tundra biome; thus, fires could become a more important driver of tundra greening and browning in the Arctic over the twenty-first century.”

“Our analysis contributes to a growing body of evidence showing recent widespread changes in the Arctic environment that can impact climate feedbacks. Rising temperatures are likely stimulating carbon uptake and storage by plants in areas that are greening (negative climate feedback), but also leading to soil carbon loss by thawing permafrost and enhancing microbial decomposition (positive climate feedback). Moreover, greening can reduce surface albedo as plants grow taller and leafier (positive climate feedback) while also affecting soil carbon release from permafrost thaw by altering canopy shading and snow-trapping (mixed climate feedbacks). The net climate feedback of these processes is currently uncertain; thus, our findings underscore the importance of future assessments with Earth system models that couple simulations of permafrost, vegetation, and atmospheric dynamics at moderately high spatial resolution.”

“Widespread tundra greening can also affect habitat suitability for wildlife and semi-domesticated reindeer, with consequences for northern subsistence and pastoral communities. As an example, moose and beavers recently colonized, or recolonized, increasingly shrubby riparian habitats in tundra ecosystems of northern Alaska and thus appear to be benefiting from recent tundra greening. Conversely, caribou populations in the North American Arctic could be adversely affected if warming stimulates vascular plant growth at the expense of lichens, an important winter forage. In the western Eurasian Arctic, indigenous herders (e.g., Sami, Nenets) manage about two million semi-domesticated reindeer on tundra rangelands. Shrub growth, height, and biomass significantly increased on these rangelands in recent decades, while lichen cover and biomass declined mostly due to trampling during the snow-free period.”

“Our analysis showed tundra greening in regions with potential moose, beaver, caribou, and reindeer habitat and demonstrated that variability in tundra greenness was often associated with annual shrub growth in these regions. Many northern communities rely on subsistence hunting or herding and thus changes in wildlife or herd populations can influence food security and dietary exposure to environmental contaminants. By documenting the extent of recent greening, analyses such as ours can help identify where wildlife and northern communities might be most impacted by ongoing changes in vegetation.”

“In summary, we assessed pan-Arctic changes in tundra greenness, and found evidence to support the hypothesis that recent summer warming contributed to increasing plant productivity and biomass across substantial portions of the Arctic tundra biome during the past three decades.”

“We also document summer warming in many areas that did not become greener. The lack of greening in these areas points towards lags in vegetation response and/or to the importance of other factors in mediating ecosystem response to warming. Sustained warming may not drive persistent greening in the Arctic over the twenty-first century for several reasons, particularly hydrological changes associated with permafrost thaw, drought, and fire. Overall, our high spatial resolution pan-Arctic assessment highlights tundra greening as a bellwether of global climatic change that has wide-ranging consequences for life in northern high-latitude ecosystems and beyond.”

  Read Arctic sea ice shrinks to its second-lowest annual minimum extent ever
  September 23, 2020
The Dying Planet Report 2020.
Robert Hunziker, in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

The World Wildlife Foundation, in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, recently issued an eye-popping description of the forces of humanity versus life in nature, the Living Planet Report 2020, but the report should really be entitled the Dying Planet Report 2020 because that’s what’s happening in the real world. Not much remains alive.

The report, released September 10th, describes how the over-exploitation of ecological resources by humanity from 1970 to 2016 has contributed to a 68% plunge in wild vertebrate populations, inclusive of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish.

The report offers a fix-it: “Bending the Curve Initiative,” described in more detail to follow. The causes of collapse are found in human recklessness and/or neglect of ecosystems. It’s partially fixable (maybe) but don’t hold your breath.

What if stocks plunged 68%? What then? Why, of course, that is an all-hands-on-deck panic scenario with the Federal Reserve Bank repeatedly pressing “a white hot printing press button,” hopefully, avoiding destructive deflationary forces looming in the background. But, an astounding jaw-dropping 68% loss of vertebrates doesn’t seem to budge the panic needle nearly enough to count.

Of special note, according to the Report, tropical sub-regions were clobbered, hit hard with 94% loss of vertebrate life, which is essentially total extinction. For comparison purposes, the worst extinction event in history, the Permian-Triassic, aka: the Great Dying, of 252 million years ago took down 96% of marine life and has been classified as “global annihilation.

According to the Report, on a worldwide basis, two-thirds (2/3rds) of wild vertebrate life has vanished in only 46 years or within one-half a human lifetime. That is mind-boggling, and it is indicative of misguided mindlessness, prompting a query of what the next 46 years will bring. What remains is an operative question?

According to the report: “Until 1970, humanity’s Ecological Footprint was smaller than the Earth’s rate of regeneration. To feed and fuel our 21st century, we are overusing the Earth’s biocapacity by at least 56%.” (Report, page 6) Meaning, we’ve gone from equilibrium to a huge deficit of 50% in less than 50 years. Putting it mildly, that’s terrifying!

As stated in the Report, we’re effectively using and abusing and trampling the equivalence of one and one-half planets. How long does that last? The experience of the past 46 years provides an answer, which is: Not much longer.

The denuding, destructing of natural biodiversity is almost beyond description, certainly beyond human comprehension, which may be a big part of the problem of recognition. Still, by and large, people read the World Wildlife Foundation report and continue on with business as usual. This lackadaisical behavior by the public has been ongoing for decades and not likely to end anytime soon. Therefore, an eureka moment of radical change in farming practices and ecosystem husbandry is almost too much to wish for after years, and years, of preaching by environmentalists about the ills associated with the anthropogenic growth machine.

In all, with ever-faster approaching finality, and worldwide failure to act to save the planet, the answer may be that people must learn to adapt to a deteriorating world.

More to the point, the Report is “an extermination report.” Consider the opening sentence: “At a time when the world is reeling from the deepest global disruption and health crisis of a lifetime, this year’s Living Planet Report provides unequivocal and alarming evidence that nature is unraveling and that our planet is flashing red warning signs of vital natural systems failure.” (Report, page 4)

Accordingly, unequivocally “nature is unraveling.” And, the planet is “flashing red warning signs of vital natural systems failure.

Why repeat that disheartening info? Simply put, it demands repeating over and over again. Yes, “nature is unraveling.” And, by all indications, time is short as “flashing red warning signs” are crying for help. But, will it happen? Or, does biz as usual rattle onwards towards total extinction of life way ahead of anybody’s best guess, which, based upon how rapidly the forces of the anthropocene are gobbling up the countryside, could be within current lifetimes. But, honestly, who knows when?

Still, with great hope but not enough fanfare, the Report proposes a new research initiative called “Bending the Curve Initiative” to reverse biodiversity loss via (1) unprecedented conservation measures and (2) a total remake of food production techniques.

One of the upshots of the breakdown in nature is the issue of “adequate food for humanity.” Accordingly: “Where and how we produce food is one of the biggest human-caused threats to nature and to our ecosystems, making the transformation of our global food system more important than ever,” Ibid

Which implies the end of rainforests obliteration, the end of industrial farming, full stop, eliminating mono-crop farming, and “stopping dead in its tracks” the use of toxic, deadly insecticides, which kill crucial life-originating ecosystems by bucketloads, as for example, 75% loss of flying insects over 27 years in nature reserves in portions of Europe (Source: Krefeld Entomological Society, est. 1905).

What kills 75% of flying insects?

Additionally, the Report recognizes the necessity of “transformation of the prevailing economic system.” Meaning, a transformation away from the radical infinite growth hormones that are attached to the world’s lowest offshore wages and lowest offshore regulations as an outgrowth of neoliberalism, which is rapidly destroying the world. It’s a terminal illness that’s fully recognized around the world as “progress.” But, its unrelenting disregard for the health of ecosystems and for workers’ rights makes it a serial killer.

The wonderful world of nature is not part of the neoliberal capitalistic formula for success. In fact, nature with its life-sourcing ecosystems is treated like an adversary or like one more prop to use and abuse on the way to infinite progress. Really?

The Report alerts to the dangers of a “business as usual world,” an epithet that is also found throughout climate change literature. These warnings of impending loss of ecosystems, and by extension survival of Homo sapiens, depict a biosphere on a hot seat never before seen throughout human history. In fact, there is no time in recorded history that compares to the dangers immediately ahead. The most common watchword used by scientists is “unprecedented.” The change happens so rapidly, so powerfully. It’s unprecedented.

Meanwhile, people are shielded from the complexities, and heartaches, of collapsing ecosystems in today’s world by the artificiality of living a life of steel, glass, wood, cement, as the surrounding world collapses in a virtual sea of untested chemicals.

In the end, humans are the last vertebrates on the planet to directly feel and experience the impact of climate change and ecosystems collapsing. All of the other vertebrates are first in line. Maybe that’s for the best.

Still, how many more 68% plunges in wild vertebrate populations can civilized society handle and remain sane and well fed?

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 The Dying Planet Report 2020
  September 24, 2020
Our duty is to ensure that our young ones survive.
Lionel Anet, in Counter Solutions, countercurrents.org.

What does civilization stand for and what it has produced over its four to five thousand years of its existence. In Western Europe from the earliest civilised times those societies were supported by the labour of slaves until the Christian era. Yet we highly value the work of intellect whose lives were supported and nurtured by slaves before the end of the Roman Era. Islamic people’s economy had much to do with slavery of one form or other; women could function as slave to some men. Indian civilisation still has classes such as the untouchables but within that we had Mahatma Gandhi. From the earliest civilised time, slaves of one form or other were the bounty from successful armed conflicts to rob other social groups.

When a band number far exceeds its individual’s ability to know everyone’s character it will become dominated by the few who have little or no feelings for their fellows. Therefore, those few are able to involve that large band to gain whatever their craving might be. People are used to fulfil the needs of the few who have little to no feelings for their fellows so are able to use anyone for whatever it may be, such as to work on those massive pyramids, just to secure their master’s afterlife time. Such stupidity has been scattered throughout civilization and we have been nurtured to be impressed with it. There’s a host of even far worse destructive endeavours such as conflicts that lead to major slaughter of thousands escalating to many millions as our technology improves even the possibility of ending all life.

Civilised people have only destroyed nature according to their level of technology, which can be managed but under strain however, more likely be negative to satisfy a few who need to maximise their power over society by using nature.

During the Vietnam War, Australian, renowned for their fighting ferocity, had to be conscripted to join in the butchery. A few went to jail when they refused to participate in that slaughter. Due to civilisation the majority of a population are forced in one way or other to fight and die for the tiny few, to satisfy their need to dominate all. Also during WWI French soldiers refused to go over the top. They would only man the trenches, but after the military police had shot one out of each platoon, French soldiers did the honourable thing and fought. And so it has been throughout history. Most people need a little persuasion to fight.

Civilisation has been a total disaster. Or at least it will be if that system is maintained just a little longer. The sooner we get back to a fully social way of life the better our chance of surviving will be and the happier people can be.

Lionel Anet is a member of Sydney U3A University of the Third Age, of 20 years standing and now a life member.

  Read Our duty is to ensure that our young ones survive
  September 24, 2020
What If Preventing Collapse Isn’t Profitable?
Richard Heinberg, in Counter Solutions, countercurrents.org.

The real downside of the green-profit narrative has been that it created the assumption in many people’s minds that the solution to climate change and other environmental dilemmas is technical, and that policy makers and industrialists will implement it for us, so that the way we live doesn’t need to change in any fundamental way. That’s never been true.

The notion that modern industrial civilization is fundamentally unsustainable and is therefore likely to collapse at some point is not a new one. Even before the Limits to Growth report of 1972, many ecologists were concerned that our continual expansion of population and consumption, based on the ever-increasing rate at which we burn finite supplies of fossil fuels, would eventually lead to crises of resource depletion and pollution (including climate change) as well as catastrophic loss of wild nature. Dystopian outcomes would inevitably follow.

This apprehension led environmentalists to strategize ways to avert collapse. The obvious solution was, in large measure, to persuade policy makers to curtail growth in population and consumption, while mandating a phase-out of fossil fuels. But convincing political and business leaders to do these things proved difficult-to-impossible.

The folks in charge used the following arguments to justify their refusal to act.

Population Growth: The choice of whether or not to reproduce is a basic human right, said the authorities. Seeking to interfere with that right also violates religious freedoms. Besides, population growth helps economic growth (see “Economic Growth,” below).

Economic Growth: Policy makers insisted that we need a bigger economy, not a smaller one, to pay for environmental cleanup, more of which seems to be required all the time. Also, we need growth in order to pay back public and private debt, which has ballooned in recent years due to the expectation of future profits and tax revenues. Further, we must raise the living standards of people in poor countries, and poor people in rich countries, and the only way to do that is to expand trade and other economic activity.

Fossil Fuels: Yes, of course burning oil, coal, and natural gas is problematic in the long run, political and business leaders admitted. But until a cheaper energy source comes along, fossil fuels are necessary for economic growth (see “Economic Growth,” above).

Together, these arguments were impenetrable—not because there weren’t any better counterarguments, but because they reflected the short-term imperatives of the economic system itself. It’s a system, after all, that has to keep moving and growing to survive. So, for environmentalists, it was back to the drawing board.

After strategizing feverishly, they came up with what seemed like a winning formula. What if there could be “clean” energy sources cheaper than fossil fuels, and what if economic growth could be achieved without more resource extraction and waste dumping? In short, what if industry could profit by saving the planet? If this really turned out to be the case, two of the basic ecological contradictions of modern society (increasing rates of resource depletion and pollution) would disappear painlessly. Meanwhile, we could simply ignore the population issue and hope that it somehow takes care of itself as economic growth makes people more affluent and therefore likely to have fewer kids. Everybody wins!

And so, starting in the 1980s, big environmental organizations relied to an ever-greater extent on partnering with corporations and on hopes for technological solutions to the growth dilemma. Climate change would be defeated through the development of renewable energy. The looming problem of resource depletion would vanish as a result of more efficiency and recycling. Pollution would disappear with the proliferation of harmless, biodegradable, recyclable materials. Building solar panels, manufacturing “green” products, and recycling old stuff would be profitable and would create jobs. Economic growth would be decoupled from environmental harms of all kinds. Our collective human economic metabolism would continue to increase in scale, but in ways that didn’t threaten wildlife or future generations of humans. Problems solved!

To be fair, environmentalists have also lobbied for carbon taxes, various regulations, and government investment to jumpstart the shift to alternative technologies, and some environmentalists never got on board with the pro-growth propaganda. But usually the promise was front and center: with just an initial nudge, planet-saving would soon become a self-funding growth activity for industry.

And here we are today. The opportunities for green growth have snowballed to the point where they are now seemingly endless. New machines have been invented to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere; these machines are expensive, and enormous numbers of them will be needed to make much of a difference with regard to climate change, so the profit potential is mind-numbing! Engineers have found ways of combining captured CO2 with hydrogen released from water by the application of electricity; the results are synthetic fuels that could replace oil and natural gas in transportation and industry. Those “synfuels” promise to be expensive to produce, so get ready for a torrent of new commerce as fuel users gear up to pay for them! The same goes for electric cars, as hundreds of new models move from drawing boards to showrooms! Meanwhile, solar panels and wind turbines are getting cheaper, so there’s little to prevent renewable energy from crushing the fossil fuel industry once and for all! Make way for green profits and jobs galore!

And yet, during the last few decades, as all these supposedly profitable green solutions have sprouted, our actual environmental problems have gotten worse. The Earth has warmed by more than one degree Celsius above its temperature fifty years ago. Forests are burning as never before. Storms are becoming mega-storms. And the number of climate refugees is climbing fast. Two-thirds of all wild animals have disappeared in this last half-century. The oceans appear to be dying from acidification, overfishing, and giant gyres of plastic pollution. Meanwhile, human population has doubled, from 4 billion in 1974 to nearly 8 billion today.

What’s the hitch? Have environmentalists simply not tried hard enough to sell their no-pain marketing plan? Has insufficient government investment and regulation prevented the big green profit machine from revving up to speed? Or is there something fundamentally wrong with the eco-opportunity message?

It’s easy to make the case that government has dragged its feet on regulations and incentives. But if green alternatives are really so profitable, why the reluctance to wholeheartedly support them? Yes, fossil fuel companies have deliberately thrown tacks in the roadway, questioning climate science while hoovering up government subsidies, and they have spent vast amounts both to lobby and contribute to the campaigns of elected leaders. But surely that’s not the only impediment.

Consider renewable energy. Costs for solar panels and wind turbines have continually fallen, so these alternative energy sources should be Exhibit A for the green-growth argument. Unfortunately, however, the difficulties of a complete transition from fossil fuels to renewables cannot be boiled down to a question of cost per unit of electricity produced by solar versus coal. Renewables and fossil fuels are very different sources of energy, requiring different systems to manage and use them. Therefore, the transition will require a great deal of investment in infrastructure beyond panels and turbines themselves.

The intermittency of sunshine and wind imposes the need for energy storage technologies, for much greater redundancy of energy sources, for more robust transmission grids, and for infrastructure to turn electricity into fuels for technologies that will be hard to electrify (such as long-distance airplanes, big farm machinery, and high-heat industrial processes like cement making). All of these will be costly.

Take just the last of these—synfuels, of which considerable quantities may be needed, depending on how much aviation, shipping, intensive farming, and high-heat industry we want to maintain. We can make synfuels from free sunlight and wind, and CO2 captured from the air. It would seem to be a no-brainer. But it turns out that the process is inefficient and expensive compared to doing the same work with oil or natural gas. While sunlight and wind are free, the machines we use to capture energy from them are not; they are built from nonrenewable materials, just like oil derricks and gas pipelines. Fossil fuels are, in a sense, free too. Sure, they need extraction, refining, transport, and burning, but nature has already done the work of concentrating and transforming millions of years’ worth of ancient sunlight into substances that are relatively easy to store, transport, and use. Until these fuels start to get really scarce (which may happen sooner than a lot of people assume), fossil fuels will therefore continue to be cheaper, in many applications, than renewables.

Further, we already have the infrastructure required for finding, extracting, transporting, and using fossil fuels, whereas the production of synfuels would require a great deal of new infrastructure—so much that it would amount to a replacement for much of our existing fossil fuel industry, which took many decades to build.

So, even if solar panels and wind turbines continue getting cheaper, there will still be systemic technological and economic hurdles—in addition to any political foot-dragging—hindering a full transition.

Ugh. That was supposed to be the cheap and easy part of the green-growth solution. Unfortunately, there are even more difficulties to be faced in attempting to maintain a growing economy and an expanding population while dramatically reducing environmental harms.

Some of those problems are summed up in the word externality. In economics lingo, an externality is the impact of an economic transaction that is not priced into that transaction. No one sets out to produce externalities, in the sense that no one pollutes just for the sake of polluting. Pollution is a byproduct of doing business, and industry typically assumes that society as a whole will either learn to live with the mess or pay to clean it up. Only rarely does industry foot the bill (that’s what might be called internalizing the externality). Most of the time, industry profits, while nature bleeds and society pays.

Perhaps you’ve read reports that estimate the future costs of climate change. The numbers are staggering. Surely the prospect of such unprecedented financial losses over the coming decades will motivate today’s industrialists to invest in green alternatives! Not necessarily. Publicly held corporations are required by law to make decisions that result in the highest value to their shareholders, not society as a whole. Next quarter’s profits are therefore all-important. If climate change imposes unbearable costs on society at some point down the line, that’s society’s burden.

Another set of problems issues from our laws regarding private property. If a corporation buys land that happens to contain a major coal deposit, the corporation owns that coal and can mine and sell it. (In some cases, corporations can even buy rights to resources below land owned by others.) But no business made the coal, or the soil above it. Industrialists simply claim ownership by paying a fraction of real value, and then profit from the extraction of whatever valuable minerals may exist. Resource depletion is always our grandchildren’s problem, never ours. And our grandchildren have no seat at the table.

In other words, whether the problem is related to pollution or depletion, the incentives and advantages are all on the side of industry and growth, never nature and conservation, unless government steps in with a regulation or two.

Yes, there are occasional profits to be made from green energy and products. For example, companies sometimes earn profits by making and selling solar panels, electric bikes, biodegradable laundry detergent, and hemp T-shirts (note: I’m setting aside, for now, the full life-cycle ecological footprints of these products when I characterize them as “green”). But until the fundamental incentives and legal structures that support our current industrial growth economy are overhauled, the lion’s share of profits will continue to accrue to industries that extract and pollute. The reason these industries extract and pollute is that most economic activity is directed toward consumption, and most consumption inevitably depletes resources and pollutes. That’s why there’s been no overall shift in society’s direction.

So, what would actually be required to stop the bleeding?

First, we would have to abolish externalities. That would mean requiring industrialists to pay all the real costs of their activities—from mine to landfill. No more free pollution, including the free dumping of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Then we would have to change laws related to the ownership of land. As American economist Henry George proposed back in the 1870s, and as Native Americans have always believed, land should be the common property of all people, and other species should have the right to habitat and survival. Workers should own the products of their labor, but no one should unilaterally own our common inheritance of nature’s bounty.

If we did these two things, most profits would disappear. Yes, people could still exchange products and services, but windfalls from resource extraction and from industrial processes that entail waste dumping would vanish. Therefore, policy makers would have to reorganize political and economic systems so that profit was no longer as important; instead, the well-being of people and planet would be paramount.

Without industrial-scale profits, an enormous amount of debt would come due that could not be repaid with interest. In effect, that would mean the disappearance of mountains of money. Again, policy makers would have to retool the political-economic system so that money and debt play less of a role in people’s daily lives.

There is a third and final realm in which action would be necessary. We would need to take the population question seriously. If population is growing, a shrinking economy becomes an ever-greater burden on each individual. But if population levels are declining, then economic degrowth imposes a smaller per-capita toll, and quality of life could improve as human numbers decline to a sustainable level.

The eventual result of taking these collective actions would likely be a happier society, but a smaller and slower one. Many people already yearn for a slower and happier way of life, and, ironically, under current industrial conditions they are forced to pay extra for simple, healthy food, clean air, and opportunities to feel creative and genuinely useful. The simplicity movement, the permaculture movement, the self-sufficiency movement, the maker movement, the tiny house movement, the sharing economy, and the back-to-the-land movement have all sought to cultivate and channel the understandable human urge to regain personal autonomy, re-weave social relationships, and reconnect with nature. There is advantage to be had in ending our assault on the planet; just not profit in the financial sense.

You see, the real downside of the green-profit narrative has been that it created the assumption in many people’s minds that the solution to climate change and other environmental dilemmas is technical, and that policy makers and industrialists will implement it for us, so that the way we live doesn’t need to change in any fundamental way. That’s never been true. The sooner we get that through our heads, the more time we will have to get used to living happily within limits—without nature imposing those limits in ways that aren’t so pleasant.

Richard Heinberg is a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute and the author of thirteen books, including his most recent:Our Renewable FuturePrevious books include: Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil FuelsSnake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our FutureThe Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial SocietiesPeak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines; and The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality.

Originally published in CommonDreams

  Read What If Preventing Collapse Isn’t Profitable?
  September 24, 2020
The Ecological Impact Of Militarism.
John Scales Avery , in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

Against the Institution of War

As we start the 21st century and the new millennium, our scientific and technological civilization seems to be entering a period of crisis. Today, for the first time in history, science has given to humans the possibility of a life of comfort, free from hunger and cold, and free from the constant threat of infectious disease. At the same time, science has given us the power to destroy civilization through thermonuclear war, as well as the power to make our planet uninhabitable through pollution and overpopulation. The question of which of these alternatives we choose is a matter of life or death to ourselves and our children.

The crisis of civilization, which we face today, has been produced by the rapidity with which science and technology have developed. Our institutions and ideas adjust too slowly to the change. The great challenge which history has given to our generation is the task of building new international political structures, which will be in harmony with modern technology. At the same time, we must develop a new global ethic, which will replace our narrow loyalties by loyalty to humanity as a whole.

In the long run, because of the enormously destructive weapons, which have been produced through the misuse of science, the survival of civilization can only be insured if we are able to abolish the institution of war.

Because the world spends 1.8 trillion dollars each year on armaments, it follows that very many people make their living from war. This is the reason why it is correct to speak of war as a social institution, and also the reason why war persists, although everyone realizes that it is the cause of much of the suffering that inflicts humanity. We know that war is madness, but it persists. We know that it threatens the future survival of our species, but it persists, entrenched in the attitudes of historians, newspaper editors and television producers, entrenched in the methods by which politicians finance their campaigns, and entrenched in the financial power of arms manufacturers, entrenched also in the ponderous and costly hardware of war, the fleets of warships, bombers, tanks, nuclear missiles and so on.

Science cannot claim to be guiltless: In Eisenhower’s farewell address, he warned of the increasing power of the industrial-military complex, a threat to democratic society. If he were making the same speech today, he might speak of the industrial-military-scientific complex. Since Hiroshima, we have known that new knowledge is not always good. There is a grave danger that nuclear weapons will soon proliferate to such an extent that they will be available to terrorists and even to the Mafia. Chemical and biological weapons also constitute a grave threat.

Besides a humane, democratic and just framework of international law and governance, we urgently need a new global ethic, – an ethic where loyalty to family, community and nation will be supplemented by a strong sense of the brotherhood of all humans, regardless of race, religion or nationality. Schiller expressed this feeling in his “Ode to Joy”, the text of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Hearing Beethoven’s music and Schiller’s words, most of us experience an emotion of resonance and unity with its message: All humans are brothers and sisters – not just some – all! It is almost a national anthem of humanity. The feelings which the music and words provoke are similar to patriotism, but broader. It is this sense of a universal human family, which we need to cultivate in education, in the mass media, and in religion.

No Warming, No War: How Militarism Fuels the Climate Crisis

Here is a quotation from an article by Lorah Steichen and Lindsay Koshgarian


“In this report, we’ll lay out how militarism and the climate crisis are deeply intertwined and mutually reinforcing. The military itself, we explain, is a huge polluter – and is often deployed to sustain the very extractive industries that destabilize our climate. This climate chaos, in turn, leads to massive displacement, militarized borders, and the prospect of further conflict.

“True climate solutions, we argue, must have antimilitarism at their core.

“In the face of both COVID-19 and the climate crisis, we urgently need to shift from a culture of war to a culture of care. Funneling trillions into the military to wage endless wars and project military dominance has prevented us from investing in true security and cooperation. If we don’t transform our society and the way we confront crises, we will face even more unjust and inhumane realities in a climate-changed future.”

Rebuilding after the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown light on the shortcomings of our militaristic concept of security. Our military establishments could not protect us from the virus. Indeed, even without the pandemic, our “defense departments” do not really defend us. This is most obvious when we think of a nuclear war, in which hundreds of millions of innocent civilians might be killed. At present, civilians are hostages in the power struggles of politicians. When we rebuild the world after the pandemic, it must not merely be “back to normal”. The old normal was part of the problem. We must build a new world in which the climate emergency is addressed, and rapid action is taken to prevent it. The Green New Deal, in which jobs are created producing urgently-needed renewable energy infrastructure, offers the best model for the new world that we want. Those who say

that there is not enough money to finance the Green New Deal, forget the unimaginable amounts of money  wasted. or worse than wasted, on militarism. We must divert this vast river of money from

its present evil use, to the constructive task of saving our planet from the existential threat of catastrophic climate change.

A new freely downloadable book

I would like to announce the publication of a new book, which discusses the ecological damage produced by militarism. The book may be downloaded free of charge and circulated 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 The Ecological Impact Of Militarism
  September 25, 2020
John Hersey, Hiroshima, and the End of World.
Nick Turse, in World, countercurrents.org.

Whether you’re reading this with your morning coffee, just after lunch, or on the late shift in the wee small hours of the morning, it’s 100 seconds to midnight. That’s just over a minute and a half. And that should be completely unnerving. It’s the closest to that witching hour we’ve ever been.

Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has adjusted its Doomsday Clock to provide humanity with an expert estimate of just how close all of us are to an apocalyptic “midnight” — that is, nuclear annihilation. A century ago, there was, of course, no need for such a measure. Back then, the largest explosion ever caused by humans had likely occurred in Halifax, Canada, in 1917, when a munitions ship collided with another vessel, in that city’s harbor. That tragic blast killed nearly 2,000, wounded another 9,000, and left 6,000 homeless, but it didn’t imperil the planet. The largest explosions after that occurred on July 16, 1945, in a test of a new type of weapon, an atomic bomb, in New Mexico and then on August 6, 1945, when the United States unleashed such a bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Since then, our species has been precariously perched at the edge of auto-extermination.

No one knows precisely how many people were killed by the world’s first nuclear attack. Around 70,000, nearly all of them civilians, were vaporized, crushed, burned, or irradiated to death almost immediately. Another 50,000 probably died soon after. As many as 280,000 were dead, many of radiation sickness, by the end of the year. (An atomic strike on the city of Nagasaki, three days later, is thought to have killed as many as 70,000.) In the wake of the first nuclear attack, little was clear. “What happened at Hiroshima is not yet known,” the New York Times reported that August 7th and the U.S. government sought to keep it that way, portraying nuclear weapons as nothing more than super-charged conventional munitions, while downplaying the horrifying effects of radiation. Despite the heroic efforts of several reporters just after the blast, it wasn’t until a year later that Americans — and then the rest of the world — began to truly grasp the effects of such new weaponry and what it would mean for humanity from that moment onward.

We know about what happened at Hiroshima largely thanks to one man, John Hersey. He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and former correspondent for TIME and LIFE magazines. He had covered World War II in Europe and the Pacific, where he was commended by the secretary of the Navy for helping evacuate wounded American troops on the Japanese-held island of Guadalcanal. And we now know just how Hersey got the story of Hiroshima — a 30,000-word reportorial masterpiece that appeared in the August 1946 issue of the New Yorker magazine, describing the experiences of six survivors of that atomic blast — thanks to a meticulously researched and elegantly written new book by Lesley Blume, Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-Up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World.

Only the Essentials

When I pack up my bags for a war zone, I carry what I consider to be the essentials for someone reporting on an armed conflict. A water bottle with a built-in filter. Trauma packs with a blood-clotting agent. A first-aid kit. A multitool. A satellite phone. Sometimes I forgo one or more of these items, but there’s always been a single, solitary staple, a necessity whose appearance has changed over the years, but whose presence in my rucksack has not.

Once, this item was intact, almost pristine. But after the better part of a decade covering conflicts in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of CongoLibya, and Burkina Faso, it’s a complete wreck. Still, I carry it. In part, it’s become (and I’m only slightly embarrassed to say it) something of a talisman for me. But mostly, it’s because what’s between the figurative covers of that now-coverless, thoroughly mutilated copy of John Hersey’s Hiroshima — the New Yorker article in paperback form — is as terrifyingly brilliant as the day I bought it at the Strand bookstore in New York City for 48 cents.

I know Hiroshima well. I’ve read it cover-to-cover dozens of times. Or sometimes on a plane or a helicopter or a river barge, in a hotel room or sitting by the side of a road, I’ll flip it open and take in a random 10 or 20 pages. I always marveled at how skillfully Hersey constructed the narrative with overlapping personal accounts that make the horrific handiwork of that weapon with the power of the gods accessible on a human level; how he explained something new to this world, atomic terror, in terms that readers could immediately grasp; how he translated destruction on a previously unimaginable scale into a cautionary tale as old as the genre itself, but with an urgency that hasn’t faded or been matched. I simply never knew how he did it until Lesley Blume pulled back the curtain.

Fallout, which was published last month — the 75th anniversary of America’s attack on Hiroshima — offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of just how Hersey and William Shawn, then the managing editor of the New Yorker, were able to truly break the story of an attack that had been covered on the front pages of the world’s leading newspapers a year earlier and, in the process, produced one of the all-time great pieces of journalism. It’s an important reminder that the biggest stories may be hiding in plain sight; that breaking news coverage is essential but may not convey the full magnitude of an event; and that a writer may be far better served by laying out a detailed, chronological account in spartan prose, even when the story is so horrific it seems to demand a polemic.

Hersey begins Hiroshima in an understated fashion, noting exactly what each of the six survivors he chronicles was doing at the moment their lives changed forever. “Not everyone could comprehend how the atomic bomb worked or visualize an all-out, end-of-days nuclear world war,” Blume observes. “But practically anyone could comprehend a story about a handful of regular people — mothers, fathers, grade school children, doctors, clerks — going about their daily routines when catastrophe struck.”

As she points out, Hersey’s authorial voice is never raised and so the atomic horrors — victims whose eyeballs had melted and run down their cheeks, others whose skin hung from their bodies or slipped off their hands like gloves — speak for themselves. It’s a feat made all the more astonishing when one considers, as Blume reveals, that its author, who had witnessed combat and widespread devastation from conventional bombing during World War II, was so terrified and tormented by what he saw in Hiroshima months after the attack that he feared he would be unable to complete his assignment.

Incredibly, Hersey got the story of Hiroshima with official sanction, reporting under the scrutiny of the office of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur, the head of the American occupation of defeated Japan. His prior reportage on the U.S. military, including a book focused on MacArthur that he later called “too adulatory,” helped secure his access. More amazing still, the New Yorker — fearing possible repercussions under the recently passed Atomic Energy Act — submitted a final draft of the article for review to Lieutenant General Lesley Groves, who had overseen the Manhattan Project that created the atomic bomb, served as its chief booster, and went so far as to claim that radiation poisoning “is a very pleasant way to die.”

Whatever concessions the New Yorker may have made to him have been lost in the sands of time, but Groves did sign off on the article, overlooking, as Blume notes, “Hersey’s most unsettling revelations: the fact that the United States had unleashed destruction and suffering upon a largely civilian population on a scale unprecedented in human history and then tried to cover up the human cost of its new weapon.”

The impact on the U.S. government would be swift. The article was a sensation and immediately lauded as the best reporting to come out of World War II. It quickly became one of the most reprinted news pieces of all time and led to widespread reappraisals by newspapers and readers alike of just what America had done to Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It also managed to shine a remarkably bright light on the perils of nuclear weapons, writ large. “Hersey’s story,” as Blume astutely notes, “was the first truly effective, internationally heeded warning about the existential threat that nuclear arms posed to civilization.”

Wanted: A Hersey for Our Time

It’s been 74 years since Hiroshima hit the newsstands. A Cold War and nuclear arms race followed as those weapons spread across the planet. And this January, as a devastating pandemic was beginning to follow suit, all of us found ourselves just 100 seconds away from total annihilation due to the plethora of nuclear weapons on this earth, failures of U.S.-Russian cooperation on arms control and disarmament, the Trump administration’s trashing of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and America’s efforts to develop and deploy yet more advanced nukes, as well as two other factors that have sped up that apocalyptic Doomsday Clock: climate change and cyber-based disinformation.

The latter, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, is corrupting our “information ecosphere,” undermining democracy as well as trust among nations, and so creating hair-trigger conditions in international relations. The former is transforming the planet’s actual ecosystem and placing humanity in another kind of ultimate peril. “Dangerous rivalry and hostility among the superpowers increases the likelihood of nuclear blunder,” former California Governor Jerry Brown, the executive chair of the Bulletinsaid earlier this year. “Climate change just compounds the crisis. If there’s ever a time to wake up, it’s now.”

Over the last three-plus years, however, President Donald Trump has seemingly threatened at least three nations with nuclear annihilation, including a U.S. ally. In addition to menacing North Korea with the possibility of unleashing “fire and fury” and his talk of ushering in “the end” of Iran, he even claimed to have “plans” to exterminate most of the population of Afghanistan. The “method of war” he suggested employing could kill an estimated 20 million or more Afghans, almost all of them civilians. John Hersey, who died in 1993 at the age of 78, wouldn’t have had a moment’s doubt about what he meant.

Trump’s nuclear threats may never come to fruition, but his administration, while putting significant effort into deep-sixing nuclear pacts, has also more than done its part to accelerate climate change, thinning rules designed to keep the planet as habitable as possible for humans. A recent New York Times analysis, for example, tallied almost 70 environmental rules and regulations — governing planet-warming carbon dioxide and methane emissions, clean air, water, and toxic chemicals — that have been rescinded, reversed, or revoked, with more than 30 additional rollbacks still in progress.

President Trump has not, however, been a total outlier when it comes to promoting environmental degradation. American presidents have been presiding over the destruction of the natural environment since the founding of the republic. Signed into law in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln, the Homestead Act, for instance, transformed countless American lives, providing free land for the masses. But it also transferred 270 million acres of wilderness, or 10% of the United States, into private hands for “improvements.”

More recently, Ronald Reagan launched attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency through deregulation and budget cuts, while George W. Bush’s administration worked to undermine science-based policies, specifically through the denial of anthropogenic climate change. The difference, of course, was that Lincoln couldn’t have conceptualized the effects of global warming (even if the first study of the “greenhouse effect” was published during his lifetime), whereas the science was already clear enough in the Reagan and Bush years, and brutally self-apparent in the age of Trump, as each of them pursued policies that would push us precious seconds closer to Armageddon.

The tale of how John Hersey got his story is a great triumph of Lesley Blume’s Fallout, but what came after may be an even more compelling facet of the book. Hersey gave the United States an image problem — and far worse. “The transition from global savior to genocidal superpower was an unwelcome reversal,” she observes. Worse yet for the U.S. government, the article left many Americans reevaluating their country and themselves. It’s beyond rare for a journalist to prompt true soul-searching or provide a moral mirror for a nation. In an interview in his later years, Hersey, who generally avoided publicity, suggested that the testimony of survivors of the atomic blasts — like those he spotlighted — had helped to prevent nuclear war.

“We know what an atomic apocalypse would look like because John Hersey showed us,” writes Blume. Unfortunately, while there have been many noteworthy, powerful works on climate change, we’re still waiting for the one that packs the punch of “Hiroshima.” And so, humanity awaits that once-in-a-century article, as nuclear weapons, climate change, and cyber-based disinformation keep us just 100 clicks short of doomsday.

Hersey provided a template. Blume has lifted the veil on how he did it. Now someone needs to step up and write the world-changing piece of reportage that will shock our consciences and provide a little more breathing room between this vanishing moment and our ever-looming midnight.

Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch and a fellow at the Type Media Center. He is the author most recently of Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan and of the bestselling Kill Anything That Moves.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Originally published in TomDispatch

  Read John Hersey, Hiroshima, and the End of World
  September 26, 2020
Hegemony or Survival.
Talha Mujibi, in Book Review, countercurrents.org.

Noam Chomsky. 2004. Hegemony or Survival. Australia. Penguin Books. 301 pages, ISBN: 978-0I4I-03734-9. A$9.95rrp

Either you are with us or against us”

Noam Chomsky has written one of the boldest pieces in the form of Hegemony or Survival.  It aims to dissect the grand strategy of Imperialism of United States since the beginning of 20th Century. The very word hegemony implies dominance of one country over the other making the book a national bestseller for its unapologetic tone and sharp critique of the America’s foreign Policy.

Chomsky has covered major political turmoil unfolding in America’s history post World War II.  He investigates with his sheer logical assertions about the world being Unipolar in the pursuit of hegemonic dominance of a single country that eventually destabilizes the world with such uneven power concentration. He aims to reveal the hidden fault lines in democratic policies of United States particularly in relation to Middle East, whether it was Iran, Iraq, Turkey or Israel.

Chomsky meticulously documented United States’ Unilateralism, a neocolonial world with major focus on Bush’s era and the rise of global terrorism post 9/11 that ultimately threatens the existence or survival of human species. He raises serious issues from Weapon of Mass Destruction to Nuclear warfare, militarization to political pressure on one country by the other. Chomsky mentions the diplomatic ties of modern world that is self-centered and to a very extent motivated by personal gains.

Hegemony or Survival convincingly analyzes the hidden agenda behind the display of power and its disastrous consequences. Orwellian in character, it portrays a ‘big brother’ image of US that pursues a continuous surveillance of the world all over. The book also raises questions over the functioning of International bodies like UN that are shown almost irrelevant, particularly in relation to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The demand for regional stability at the cost of its devastation is central to the book. Chomsky repeatedly focuses on the International Organizations in relation to a few dominant countries.

The book is divided in nine chapters traces the major events that have completely shaken the world as well as America’s responsibility that the established foreign powers are “in the hands of the good but a few”, evolved from Wilsonian Idealism. Chomsky has extensively researched that reflects in his powerful phrases in the book, referred from different newspaper articles, journals, interviews and TV shows. He revisits history to know the present and future. The sole aim of the book is to introspect into the democratic ideals of America that seem threatened in pursuit of global hegemony. The case of Iraq, after 9/11, was resonated as the next most threatening power to the United States that must be stopped at all cost. The Bush-Blair coalition reiterated their plans to stabilize the world and fight against the terrorism by protecting it from Saddam Hussian- the dictator, who “is assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons in order to dominate, intimidate or attack.” Chomsky mentions strong political reactions all over the world in response to US’ rejection of UN charter, violating international laws, the resolutions and that it holds power to do as it wills. However, the invasion of Iraq in order to defend itself and the world from Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program legitimized the operation carried out, even though no such weapon development program was carried out in Iraq. The book further focuses on the allies of United States like Israel that was politically backed as well as militarily supported in the Middle East to serve as an all-weather partner. Chomsky also exposes the atrocities done by Muslim countries in the region, like Turkey on its Kurdish population and even the tyranny of Iraqi regime. The series of events and its outcomes are very well analyzed that compels us to think about the security of our civilization.

Hegemony or Survival ends with a note on the democratic culture that must be safeguarded at all cost. It talks about larger problems looming all over the world in pursuit of power, dominance and authority that eventually threatens the very existence of human kind. The world is equipped with dangerous weapons that can easily put an end to the very existence of society. The book is leftist but one cannot ignore the facts presented by Noam Chomsky that has been documented by the world, not his personal ideological assertions. In short, he appeals that a collective resolution to protect the ideals of a free world must be undertaken by every country and particularly by the flag bearers of Democracy.

Talha Mujibi is a Post Graduate Student, Jamia Millia Islamia.

  Read Hegemony or Survival
  September 26, 2020
Global Warming “Solutions”
Alton C Thompson, in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

Here are two comments regarding what we must do regarding the threat to our species’ continued existence being posed currently by global warming; here’s the first one:

The primary reason for this headlong fling toward disaster is that our economic system is based on perpetual growth—on the need to consume the earth at an ever-increasing rate. Our world is dominated by transnational corporations, which now account for sixty-nine of the world’s largest hundred economies.

                        .             .             .             .             .             .

It’s not Deep Adaptation that we need right now—it’s Deep Transformation.  The current dire predicament we’re in screams something loudly and clearly to anyone who’s listening:  If we’re to retain any semblance of a healthy planet by the latter part of this century, we have to change the foundations of our civilization.  We need to move from one that is wealth-based to one that is life-based—a new type of society built on life-affirming principles, often described as an Ecological Civilization.  We need a global system that devolves power back to the people; that reins in the excesses of global corporations and government corruption; that replaces the insanity of infinite economic growth with a just transition toward a stable, equitable, steady-state economy optimizing human and natural flourishing

And the second one:

So focused on serving the needs of the wealthy elites, most governments, political leaders and policy-makers are stuck in the certainty that “there is no alternative” and their plans lie at the core of that belief.  The proposals support “business as usual” with a coat of greenwash and a nip and tuck here and there.  They fail to recognize that economic growth is in direct conflict with decarbonization, slowing down global warming or redistributing wealth, and that we must eliminate or vastly reduce certain activities altogether.

                  .             .             .             .             .             .

Despite the heroic efforts of everyday people working at localized levels, there are three hard truths we must face.  The first is that our governments and political leaders are a major barrier.  They may be pathetic but they hold the levers of power, albeit on behalf of the elites.  The second hard truth is that efforts at localized levels are insufficient. Solving the climate crisis will necessitate the end of capitalism and that necessitates action on a global scale through global coordination, planning and regulation.  Both of these truths, therefore, make it critical for our governments and leaders to catch up and start working for and with us.

                  .             .             .             .             .             .

Of course, none of this is to suggest that the job of transitioning to a post-capitalist, post-carbon world should happen overnight, or by taking a slash-and-burn approach that rebuilds everything we know from ground zero.  That might be tempting, but it would be traumatic and even short-sighted.  Actually, it leads us to the third hard truth:  Completely replacing capitalism with the more participatory socialist model alluded to in this article will take more time than we actually have to address global warming.  That leaves us with no choice but to work with the materials available to us, however inadequate, and to see the transition for what a transition is, a “process or period of changing from one state or condition to another.”

I am able to extract the following “solutions” from the above five passages:

  1. We need “Deep Transformation”:  We need to “change the foundations of our civilization.” That would involve:

a) Moving “from one that is wealth-based to one that is life-based.”

b) Devolves “power back to the people.”

c) Reins in “the excesses of global corporations and government corruption.”

d) Replaces “the insanity of infinite economic growth with a just transition toward a stable, equitable, steady-state economy optimizing human and natural flourishing.”

2. “Solving the climate crisis will necessitate the end of capitalism;” this will not, however, “happen overnight.”

The question here, of course, is:  Do these proposals pass the “smell test.”[1]  Do they have adequacy?[2]  My criteria for making that judgment are:


  1. Are the proposals directed—clearly and unambiguously—at the problem at hand (the occurrence of global warming, in this case)?
  2. Are they specific regarding what is to be done?
  3. Are they specific regarding the “actor(s)” that is to engage in the necessary actions?
  4. Is what is being proposed implementable?   “Implementable” here does not mean that the proposals will, in fact, be implemented; it means, rather, that it’s plausible that the proposals could be implemented.

I have just watched and listened to the Memorial Ceremony, at the U. S. Capitol, for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the “notorious RBG!),[3] and can now continue:

What I do next, then, is examine each of the two proposals identified above, each from the standpoint of their conformance with the four criteria stated above.

Proposal One


What’s is proposed is a “Deep Transformation,” that involves at least four “specific” changes, but none of them is stated with much clarity.

Specificity Regarding What

Kinds of change (e. g., giving “power back to the people”) are identified, but the specific nature of change is left unclear.

Specificity Regarding Actor(s)

Seemingly, our national government, led by the President, would be the “actor” that would specify the change(s) to be made, and then implement it; however, this is left unsaid.


Given that ambiguities surrounding this “proposal,” it’s impossible to offer any definitive comments on implementability!

Proposal Two


The proposal here is to abandon capitalism.  One definition of “capitalism” is this one:

Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.[1][2][3][4]   Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulationcompetitive markets, a price system, private property and the recognition of property rightsvoluntary exchange and wage labor.[5][6]   In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in capital and financial markets whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.[7]

The problem with that definition, though, is that it describes an “ideal” economy, not a real-world one.  I assume that the author(s) of Proposal Two was making reference to the actual economy here in the United States, and was giving it the label “capitalist.”  As a matter of fact, however, ours is a “mixed” economy.  The author(s) does not seem to recognize that fact, however!

Specificity Regarding What

Given the fact that our economy is a “mixed”one, the relevant question here is:  What specific features of our economy do you wish to see changed?  A question not given an answer by the author(s)!

Specificity Regarding Actor(s)

One assumes that the actor(s) the author(s) has in mind is our national government.  That’s not specified by the author(s), however.


Because we are given no information as to the specific change(s) being proposed by the author(s), it’s impossible to comment on the matter of implementability!


My purpose in writing this short paper was not so much to identify deficiencies in two “proposals” offered for solving our global warming problem, as to present a 4-point framework for either developing a proposal, or critiquing an existing one.  That the two “proposals” critiqued here “fall short” so far as my framework is concerned is incidental to presenting the framework itself.

My hope is that when the reader encounters some given proposal for “fighting” global warming—or himself/herself does so—s/he will use “adequate” criteria, such as the four identified, and used, in this short paper.

Alton C. Thompson is an independent writer

[1]  In the idiomatic sense:  “An informal method for determining whether something is authenticcredible, or ethical, by using one’ common sense or sense of propriety.”

[2]  A word that played an important role in the late E. F. Schumacher’s [1911 – 1977] A Guide for the Perplexed (1977); see this.

[3]  Would that our President had her level of integrity!!

  Read Global Warming “Solutions”
  September 29, 2020
More than 1 million – Covid-19 death toll worldwide.
Countercurrents Collective, in World, countercurrents.org.

The coronavirus has claimed more than 1 million lives around the world, the latest dark ‘milestone’ for the worldwide pandemic first detected some 10 months ago, which continues to spread across several hotspots.

Infecting more than 33 million since first emerging in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, the global Covid-19 death toll surpassed the 1 million mark on Monday night, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.

To date, the health crisis has spread to at least 188 nations since late last year, disrupting daily life for hundreds of millions of people and spurring draconian lockdown policies that have brought swathes of the world economy to a halt.

The U.S. continues to report the world’s highest case and fatality numbers, with some 7.1 million infections and over 205,000 deaths. India takes the number-two spot for cases, with more than 6 million, while Brazil has reported in excess of 142,000 deaths, putting it just behind the States for mortalities.

Europe is seeing what some have called a “second wave” of the virus, with the UK and France both reporting their highest-ever daily case tallies last week. Both countries had begun to lift sweeping economic shutdowns imposed during the peak of the first surge last spring, but are now considering new containment measures in light of the new spike in cases.

The news was met with a mournful statement from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which deemed the pandemic “one of the largest humanitarian catastrophes in recent times.

Though the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Covid-19’s overall death toll may cross 2 million by the time vaccines are widely available for much of the global population, efforts to develop immunizations continue in several countries, including the U.S., the UK, Australia and China. Russia became the first nation to debut an inoculation against the deadly pathogen in August, dubbed ‘Sputnik V.’

According to the Russian Health Ministry, the new jab has been given to more than 5,000 volunteers with no reports of serious side effects. The final phase of trials for Sputnik V will see some 40,000 Muscovites vaccinated.

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“A million individual tragedies” – says IFRC

From Geneva, Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a statement on September 28, 2020:

“Today, we stand in grim solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of families that have lost loved ones. A million deaths represent 1 million individual tragedies and countless heartbreaks. They represent many, many thousands of orphans, of widows, of holes in families and community fabrics that will never be filled. They also represent countless health care workers and frontline responders, including many Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff, who have lost their lives.

“We know that this is just one more sad milestone in the tragedy that is COVID-19. This is without a doubt one of the largest humanitarian catastrophes in recent times. So today, we pause in grief. Yet we continue with our work.

“As we have all learned since the start of this pandemic, there is no quick fix. The best advice remains the same as it has been for months: we can lessen and even contain this virus when we adhere to basic public health measures. These include social distancing, the proper use of facemasks, good hand hygiene, and robust contact tracing. Where these and other measures are followed, we have seen, and will continue to see, progress.

“Equally important is ensuring that at-risk communities are engaged and listened to. Their beliefs, worries and fears need to be understood and acted upon. Trust between communities and authorities will be crucial to ending this pandemic. And of course, as we focus around the clock on responding to the outbreak in every corner of the world, we need to be planning for the support that millions of people will need to rebuild their lives even once this illness is finally defeated.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IFRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have reached tens of millions of people in nearly every country around the world with a range of services, including health care, water and sanitation, mental health support and community engagement activities.

UK, France record highest-ever daily rises 

The UK and France have both reported their highest-ever daily total of coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic, confirming that the ‘second wave’ of the deadly virus is well and truly in full swing.

The UK recorded some 6,634 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily figure yet. The country’s total Covid-19 tally has surpassed 400,000 cases, with nearly 42 thousand deaths.

The vast majority of the new cases – 5,632 – come from England, the official figures show. Scotland has reported 465 new patients, Wales 348 and Northern Ireland only 189. Some 40 people succumbed to the disease during the past 24 hours, bringing the nation’s total death toll above the 41,900 mark.

The new number is higher than the previous record, which was registered during the first peak of the virus spread in spring. It also constituted an increase of around 500 compared to yesterday’s total of 6,178.

The ‘record’ comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that up to 10,000 people are contracting the dreaded disease across the country every day.

“That’s too high but it is still much lower than in the peak,” he told Sky News on Thursday, adding that such numbers are still lower than the spring when it was estimated that around 100,000 people were catching it per day (though only a fraction of those were being found through testing).

According to Britain’s official coronavirus tally, there have been some 412,000 confirmed cases of the virus across the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

France reported its own daily coronavirus record. The number of new cases there jumped by 16,096 on Thursday, hundreds more than the previous maximum.

The apparent second surge in the coronavirus spread in Europe comes after the WHO reported a record weekly number of fresh cases worldwide. During the week ending September 20, as many as 1,998,897 new cases were registered around the globe.

Russia now testing Sputnik V vaccine on elderly and other high-risk groups as part of 3rd phase trial

Russia has started clinical trials of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine on volunteers from high-risk groups, including the elderly. The formula is currently in its final phase of tests, before planned mass distribution.

Developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute of Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, Sputnik V is the first registered Covid-19 vaccine in the world. It has already been through the first two phases of clinical trials and is due to be eventually tested on 40,000 Muscovites. Previous trial stages in the summer only accepted volunteers between the ages of 18 to 60, but the third phase will see a much broader cross-section of society.

“We do not expect any negative reaction from the elderly,” Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which has bankrolled the formula’s development, said. “My mother and father are 74 years old. They have also been vaccinated as part of the volunteer program and feel great.

As part of the final trial phase, the 40,000 volunteers will be closely monitored by doctors, and through a unique app will be able to contact doctors to report any side effects.

On August 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the country had registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine, due to be available to the public from January 2021. Before then, teachers and medical workers will be offered the formula.

The vaccine has been criticized by some Western countries for its supposed unsafe rapid development and improper testing. However, at the start of September, respected British medical journal the Lancet published a study prepared by the developers of the Sputnik V vaccine, showing it to be 100 percent effective, producing antibodies in all 76 participants of early-stage trials.

Death toll from Covid-19 could ‘very likely’ reach 2 MILLION before vaccine widely available, warns WHO

The coronavirus death toll could double to reach the two million mark before a vaccine comes into wide use, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) head of emergencies Mike Ryan has warned.

The current death toll could easily grow twofold without a “concerted” effort to make an effective vaccine widely available as soon as possible, Ryan said in a Friday news conference.

“Unle4ss we do it the number you speak about [2 million deaths] is not only imaginable, but sadly very likely,” he said.

The official also spoke about the ongoing increase in spread rates registered worldwide in the past few weeks after anti-coronavirus lockdowns were eased in many countries. Ryan cautioned against blaming the latest spike on young people, who have allegedly become the primary spreaders.

“I really hope we do not get into finger wagging: it is all because of the youth,” he said. “The last thing a young person needs is an old person pontificating and wagging the finger.”

The situation in Europe, where several countries, including France and the UK, reported the highest-ever daily rises in Covid-19 cases, remains very “worrying,” WHO officials have said, urging the authorities to do their best to try and halt the spread before the season of regular flu comes around.

“We are at the end of September and we have not even started our flu season yet, so what we are worried about is the possibility that these trends are going in the wrong direction,” said WHO’s technical lead on coronavirus, Maria Van Kerkhove.

  Read More than 1 million – Covid-19 death toll worldwide
  October 6, 2020
Towards a New Gold Standard? Or a Currency War with China?
Peter Koenig , in World, countercurrents.org.

Rumors have it that the remaining months of 2020 may bring drastic and explosive changes in the world’s financial system. But such “doomsday” rumors have been floating around every beginning of fall during the last few years. Why? – The US dollar is getting weaker and weaker. It is not quite on a free fall, but still remains a major trading currency and a key world reserve currency. And for many economists that’s difficult to understand.

However, it is unlikely that that the collapse of the dollar will come from one day to the next. That would not be good for the world economy, as still too many countries depend on the dollar.

Facts are, i) China’s foreign exchange reserves have just increased to US$ 3.112 trillion equivalent, of which about US$ 1.3 trillion denominated in US-dollars – and in general forex-reserves continue to grow; ii) within short, possibly by the end of 2021, the Chinese yuan, or renminbi  (RMB) could become the world’s third largest reserve currency, after the US-dollar and the euro, surpassing the Japanese yen and the British pound, reported by CNBC; iii) according to Morgan Stanley , at least 10 regulators (i.e. Central Banks and similar forex regulating institutions) added the yuan to their reserves in 2019, bringing the total to 70 – and rising; and iv) according to the FED, the US economy could lose in excess to one third of its GDP up to the end of 2020 or mid-2021, while China’s economy is expected to grow by 1.3% (IMF) in 2020, and by China’s own estimate up to 3.5%.

Given the dismal covid-related world economy collapsing, and with China being the only major economy expected to grow this year, the number of yuan reserve holders may increase drastically by the end of 2020 and especially through 2021, suggesting that central banks around the world realize that for their financial stability, they must increase their yuan holdings significantly in the foreseeable future. This means shedding other reserve currencies, like the Japanese Yen, the British Pound, but especially the US-dollar. For example, Russia has dumped the dollar, reducing her dollar debt-holdings by 96%.

The Russian Trade Minister, Denis Manturov, called on his BRICS colleagues to increase their trading in local currencies instead of US dollarsTrade in national currencies is a key aspect of cooperation of the five-nation alliance that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa and it is an effective way to dedollarize their economies.

China and Russia and many of the Shanghai Cooperation (SCO) countries are trading for many years already in their local currencies, or in yuan, especially cross-border trading, but they are also promoting currency swap arrangements with other countries, eager to escape the iron fist of sanctions of the United States.

In an interview with MarketWatchsenior fellow Stephen Roach at Yale University and former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, says coronavirus may cause a dramatic decline of the US dollar in the near future – “In a Covid era, everything unfolds at warp speed.” Roach also predicted an up to 35% drop of the dollar against major international currencies. He adds, given today’s economic outlook, this might happen rather quickly.

Indeed, while western economies are struggling keeping afloat, China is preparing to launch a new international currency, the digital, gold-backed, possibly crypto-RMB as an international payment and reserve currency, completely outside the dollar-dominated SWIFT system. The new digital RMB money is currently tested in several Chinese cities with positive results.

The People’s Bank of China – China’s Central Bank – recently revealed plans to have its sovereign digital currency ready in time for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The international rollout could actually happen much earlier, possibly in 2021, or earlier if warranted by international monetary events. In any case, the new trading currency may very likely find an astounding attraction by many countries that are eager to dedollarize and get out from under the boot of threats of sanctions by Washington.

It is clear that any money or legal tender that will grow into a major international trading and reserve currency needs to be backed by a strong economy. Backing of a strong economy is fully commensurate with the yuan. China’s economy today in real – and solid – output and long-term stability can easily be assessed as the world’s strongest. Comparing for example the Chinese GDP with the US GDP is like day and night: The Chinese GDP consists of more than two thirds of tangible and solid production and construction of infrastructure, housing, transport, energy and so on; while the US GDP is almost the reverse, more than half is consumption and service industries. Most hard production is outsourced. This undoubtedly distinguishes the yuan or RMB from fiat currencies, as are the dollar and the euro – which are backed by nothing. Simply put, China’s economy and her currency attract a lot of international trust and confidence.

Unfortunately, these differences are not (yet) reflected by the undistinguished linear accounting of GDP, but they are recognized by international economic observers and analysts, including nations’ treasurers around the world.

These are good reasons for the new digital RMB or yuan to grow fast as a primary trade and reserve asset for many countries. It will most likely far outrank Bitcoin, which is often heralded as possibly the “new gold”, or reserve currency.

Not only would the number of countries holding the Chinese currency in their reserve coffers increase rapidly, but the total amount of yuan reserve holdings might skyrocket faster than analysts expect, signaling clearly the end of the US-dollar hegemony. This might undoubtedly shift the global balance of economic power.

“Looking back years later, the two defining historic events of 2020 would be the coronavirus pandemic, and the other would be [China’s] digital currency,” Xu Yuan, a senior researcher with Beijing’s University’s Digital Finance Research Centre, told recently the South China Morning Post. ——–

These developments are not ignored by Washington. The US will not so easily give up its dollar hegemony which means largely control over the world’s economy and financial flows. Although the times of total dollar-control of the world economy are irreversibly gone, Washington intends to slow down the power shift as long as possible. Though a hot war is not excluded, more likely is a currency war.

In line with the Great Reset announced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and, in parallel, the IMF prediction of the Great Transformation (see this https://www.globalresearch.ca/imf-wef-great-lockdown-great-transformation/5721090 and this https://www.globalresearch.ca/great-reset-revisited/5723573), a kind of currency revolution might be initiated, possibly introducing a major instrument for launching the Great Reset, alias Transformation.

As a hypothesis, Washington could, via the IMF, return to some kind of a gold standard. It could take the form of a digital SDR-type currency-basket intended to replace the dollar and the emerging digital yuan / RMB as trading and reserve currency. The current composition of the SDR contains the five major international forex currencies, US dollar (41.73%), euro (30.93%), yuan (10.92%), yen (8.33%), and British pound (8.09%).

Although the yuan is vastly undervalued, especially as compared with the US-dollar and the euro, the yuan is finally present in the basket since 2017 and has thereby become an official international exchange and reserve asset. The respective weights in the SDR basket have last been set in 2016 and are valid for 5 years, meaning they are up for renegotiation and readjustment in 2021.

Continuing with the hypothesis of the new gold standard, it might well be that in the hypothetical new SDR-like currency, gold would take a prominent role, one that overshadows the weakness of the US dollar. However, as was the case with the 1944 gold-standard, Washington-Treasury-FED would insist on the value of gold in the basket being linked to the dollar – which would de facto disproportionately increase the respective weight of the dollar in the basket.

If such a hypothetical deal would be accepted by the majority of countries – the US has still the sole veto right in the two Bretton Woods Institutions, IMF and World Bank – the hypothetical gold-based “SDR” would be a serious contender to the emerging internationalized digital yuan / RMB.

To forego such a situation, a possible currency war, China, as a holder of large direct and indirect gold reserves, may consider establishing a “gold commodity” market priced in yuan / RMB – and invite other large gold producers, like Russia, Venezuela, South Africa and others not in the US orbit, to join in an alternative currency, i.e. a yuan-denominated gold market, or a weighted average gold value of, say, the three major participants of the alternative gold commodity market.

This alternative currency denominated gold would be strengthened by the power of the respective economies which would back it.

In the end – as is already demonstrated today – international trust in the respective economies and their currencies – gold backed or not – will determine the outcome of a possible currency confrontation. China, already engaged in cross-border trading in local currencies and expanding yuan-trading arrangements internationally, for example, with currency swap measures in place with Russia, Iran and Venezuela, would be well placed to break the US-currency hegemony.

Finally, the goal is not to have one hegemon to replace another domineering power, but to establish a balanced world with several regional hubs or financial centers which would promote a monetary equilibrium that would gradually accompany progress of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the bridge that spans the world (see also https://www.globalresearch.ca/china-belt-road-initiative-bridge-spans-world/5695727 ), with increasingly equal access to vital resources for building peacefully a World Community with a Shared Future for Mankind.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

  Read Towards a New Gold Standard? Or a Currency War with China?
  October 6, 2020
Covid-19 pandemic has proved that free market policies have failed, says Pope
Countercurrents Collective, in World, countercurrents.org.

Pope Francis has presented his blueprint for a post-COVID-19 world, covering a vast number of issues from fraternity and income inequality to immigration and social injustice.

The Pope said the Covid-19 pandemic proved that free-market policies have failed to produce the societal benefits promised by their proponents.

Pope Francis began writing the document early this year, with the aim of focusing on interreligious dialogue following the landmark joint statement he signed in February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque and one of the highest authorities of Sunni Islam.

But, as Francis writes, the pandemic “unexpectedly erupted” and his focus widened, and the document became a treatise on the lessons that must be learned from the global health crisis.

Once the pandemic passes, the pope writes, “our worst response would be to plunge even more deeply into feverish consumerism and new forms of egotistic self-preservation.”


“The marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem, however much we are asked to believe this dogma of neoliberal faith,” the pope wrote in his third encyclical, called “Fratelli Tutti”, to all Catholic bishops.

Pope Francis sounded downright woke in parts of a newly released encyclical, railing against free market, private property, racism and social injustice, but he couldn’t get through the title without offending some observers.


So-called “trickle-down” economics fails to create the promised “spillover” that resolves inequality, giving rise to “new forms of violence threatening the fabric of society,” Francis said. It is imperative to adopt economic policies that favor “productive diversity and business creativity,” thereby creating lasting jobs, he added.

World systems

“The fragility of world systems in the face of the pandemic has demonstrated that not everything can be resolved by market freedom,” Francis said. Countries must recover a “sound political life” not dominated by financial speculators, he said, and “we must put human dignity back at the center and on that pillar build the alternative social structures we need.”

Inability to work together

“Aside from the differing ways that various countries responded to the crisis, their inability to work together became quite evident,” Francis wrote. “Anyone who thinks that the only lesson to be learned was the need to improve what we were already doing, or to refine existing systems and regulations, is denying reality.”

He cited the grave loss of millions of jobs as a result of the virus as evidence of the need for politicians to listen to popular movements, unions and marginalized groups and to craft more just social and economic policies.


The pope’s vision for a post-Covid world is also leftist in terms of property rights as he noted that the Christian tradition has never recognized private-property rights as “absolute or inviolable,” and there is a “social purpose of all forms of private property.”

Francis said ownership of private property “can only be considered a secondary natural right,” secondary to the “universal destination of the earth’s goods” and the “right of all to their use.”


He also railed against populism, nationalism, war, social-media divisiveness, the death penalty, and social injustice, and reiterated his views on the benefits of immigration.

The pope called racism “a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding and lurks in waiting.”

Francis also called for “open societies that integrate everyone,” a line that would just as easily fit in a brochure for a George Soros-backed activist group.

“Every brother or sister in need, when abandoned or ignored by the society in which I live, becomes an existential foreigner, even though born in the same country,” he said.

“They may be citizens with full rights, yet they are treated like foreigners in their own country,” said the pope.


The pope also questioned why it took so long for the Catholic Church to unequivocally to condemn slavery.

Social media

At another point in the document, he denounces the divisiveness caused by social media, lamenting that “social aggression has found unparalleled room for expansion through computers and mobile devices.”

He continues: “This has now given free rein to ideologies. Things that until a few years ago could not be said by anyone without risking the loss of universal respect can now be said with impunity, and in the crudest of terms, even by some political figures.”


At another point in the encyclical, Francis turns to the Catholic Church’s own doctrine on war, rejecting it as a means of legitimate defense.

“It is very difficult nowadays to invoke the rational criteria elaborated in earlier centuries to speak of the possibility of a ‘just war’. Never again war!”

“Fratelli Tutti” is Pope Francis’ third encyclical, and he signed it at the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi.

Although the encyclical was woke-friendly in many respects, its title, “Fratelli Tutti” translates to “Brothers All” in English – connoting male dominance to some.

The Vatican said the title was taken from the words of St. Francis of Assisi, the pope’s namesake, and could not be changed. And in any case, an encyclical is inherently addressed to the whole world, and the Italian word “Fratelli” means brothers but can be used to mean brothers and sisters.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest based in Washington, DC, said the title would cause the Vatican “self-inflicted wounds” and lamented that the church did not “get ahead of the curve for once.”

Catholic women’s rights activist Tina Beattie of the UK tweeted: “Language develops. Surely, you are not saying the language of the past binds us forever. Changing attitudes to women require linguistic changes.”

Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, a Jesuit school chief in South Africa, called “Fratelli Tutti” an “encyclical of love that misses the boat on women.”

Vatican encyclicals are the most authoritative form of papal teaching and they traditionally take their titles from the first two words of the document. In this case, “Fratelli Tutti” is a quote from the “Admonitions,” the guidelines penned by St. Francis in the 13th century.

  Read Covid-19 pandemic has proved that free market policies have failed, says Pope
  September 29, 2020
China’s Belt and Road pinpoints fundamental issues of our times.
Dr James M Dorsey, in Book Review, countercurrents.org.

Based on remarks at the RSIS book launch of Alan Chong and Quang Minh Pham (eds), Critical Reflections on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Palgrave MacMillan, 2020

Political scientists Alan Chong and Quang Min Pham bring with their edited volume originality as well as dimensions and perspectives to the discussion about the Belt and Road that are highly relevant but often either unrecognized or underemphasized.

The book is about much more than the material aspects of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In fact, various chapter authors use the Belt and Road to look at perhaps the most fundamental issue of our times: how does one build a global world order and societies that are inclusive, cohesive and capable of managing interests of all stakeholders as well as political, cultural, ethnic and religious differences in ways that all are recognized without prejudice and/or discrimination?

In doing so, the book introduces a moral category into policy and policy analysis. That is an important and commendable effort even if it may be a hard sell in an increasingly polarized world in which prejudice and bias and policies that flow from it have gained new legitimacy and become mainstream in various parts of the world.

It allows for the introduction of considerations that are fundamental to managing multiple current crises that have been accentuated by the pandemic and its economic fallout.

One of those is put forward in the chapter of the late international affairs scholar Lily Ling in which she writes about the need for a global agenda to take the requirements of ordinary people into account to ensure a more inclusive world. The question is how does one achieve that.

It is a question that permeates multiple aspects of our individual and collective lives.

If the last decade was one of defiance and dissent, of a breakdown in confidence in political leadership and systems and of greater authoritarianism and autocracy to retain power, this new decade, given the pandemic and economic crisis, is likely to be a continuation of the last one on steroids.

One only has to look at continued Arab popular revolts, Black Lives Matter, the anti-lockdown protests, and the popularity of conspiracy theories like QAnon. All of this is compounded by decreasing trust in US leadership and the efficacy of Western concepts of governance, democratic backsliding, and the handling of the pandemic in America and Europe.

Mr. Chong conceptualizes in his chapter perceived tolerance along ancient silk roads as stemming from what he terms ‘mercantile harmony’ among peoples and elites rather than states. It was rooted, in Mr. Chong’s mind, in empathy, a sense of spirituality and a mercantile approach towards the exchange of ideas and goods.

It was also informed by the solidarity of travellers shaped by the fact that they encountered similar obstacles and threats on their journeys. And it stems from the connectivity needs of empires that built cities and roads to retain their control that Mr. Chong projects as civilization builders.

There may be an element of idealization of the degree of tolerance along the ancient Silk Road and the assertion that the new silk road is everything that the old silk road was not. But the notion of the role of non-state, civil society actors is key to the overall quest for inclusiveness.

So is the fact that historic travellers like Fa-Hsien, Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta grappled with the very same issues that today’s world is attempting to tackle: the parameters of human interaction, virtue, diversity, governance, materialism, and the role of religion.

The emphasis on a moral category and the comparison of the ancient and the new Silk Road frames a key theme in the book: the issue of the China-centric, top down nature of the Belt and Road. Vietnamese China scholar Trinh Van Dinh positions the Belt and Road as the latest iteration of China’s history of the pioneering of connectivity as the reflection of a regime that is at the peak of its power.

Mr. Van Dinh sees the Belt and Road as the vehicle that will potentially revitalize Chinese economic development. It is a proposition on which the jury is still out in a world that could split into two distinct camps.

It is a world in which China brings much to the table but that is also populated by black and grey swans, some of which are of China’s own making. These include the favouring of Chinese companies and labour in Belt and Road projects, although to be fair Western development aid often operated on the same principle. But it also includes China’s brutal response to perceived threats posed by ethnic and religious minorities.

That may be one arena where the failure to fully consider the global breakdown in confidence in leadership and systems comes to haunt China. That is potentially no more the case than in the greater Middle East that stretches from the Atlantic coast of Africa into the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

Its not an aspect that figures explicitly in political scientist Manouchehr Dorraj’s contribution to the book on China’s relationship with Iran as well as Saudi Arabia but lingers in the background of his perceptive analysis of anticipated changes in the region’s lay of the land.

Mr. Dooraj focusses on three aspects that are important as one watches developments unfold: The impact of shifts in the energy mix away from oil coupled with the emergence of significant reserves beyond the Middle East, Iran’s geopolitical advantages compared to Saudi Arabia when it comes to the architecture of the Belt and Road, and the fact that China is recognizing that refraining from political engagement is no longer viable.

However, China’s emphasis on state-to-state relationships could prove to be a risky strategy assuming that the Middle East will retain its prominence in protests that seek to ensure better governance and more inclusive social and economic policies.

That takes on added significance given that potential energy shifts could reduce Chinese dependence on Middle Eastern energy as well as repeated assertions by Chinese intellectuals that call into question the relative importance of China’s economic engagement in the region as well as its ranking in Chinese strategic thinking.

The implications of the book’s partial emphasis on what Mr. Chong terms philosophical and cultural dialogue reach far beyond the book’s confines. They go to issues that many of us are grappling with but have no good answers.

In his conclusion, Mr. Chong suggests that in order to manage different value systems and interests one has to water down the Westphalian dogma of treating national interests as zero-sum conceptions.

One just has to look at the pandemic the world is trying to come to grips with, the need for a global health care governance that can confront future pandemics, and the world’s environmental crisis to realize the relevance of former Singaporean diplomat and public intellectual Kishore Mahbubani’s description of the nation state system as a boat with 193 cabins and cabin administrators but no captain at the helm.

Mr. Chong looks for answers in the experience of ancient Silk Road travellers. That may be a standard that a Belt and Road managed by an autocratic Chinese leadership that is anything but inclusive would at best struggle to meet.

A podcast version of this story is available on 

Dr. James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist and a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. He is also a senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and co-director of the University of Wuerzburg’s Institute of Fan Culture in Germany.

  Read China’s Belt and Road pinpoints fundamental issues of our times
  September 29, 2020
New Silk Road and the Asian Century: India, China and the Empire.
Devdan Chaudhuri, in World, countercurrents.org.

For the much of human history on planet earth – till the 18th century – India and China were the two largest economies in the world, who periodically interchanged the top position amongst themselves.

This was mainly possible because of the ‘blessing from the heights’: first, the Tibetan Plateau – the largest water tank in the world from which 10 major Asian river systems originate; secondly, the Himalayas – from which the Ganges and the Yamuna emerge; and thirdly, the annual rainfall that feeds the two river systems (Himalayan and Peninsular) and nourishes the fertile lowlands, which enable agriculture, and produces enough food to sustain an ever growing population.

Many don’t know – or remember – that the Great Indian Monsoon is also brought about by the Tibetan Plateau.

Every summer, the ‘Roof of the World’ – located within 7 Asian nations – creates a heated low pressure above its stark and wondrous landscape. This belt of low pressure draws in moisture from the oceans and initiates the monsoon: the critical lifeblood of the Indian sub-continent.

When the natural geographical factors combined with the river-system-like Old Silk Road – starting from Xian under the Han dynasty around 130 BCE – with larger key channels fed by smaller intricate tributaries, Asia emerged into the world more prominently, and began to thrive.

The terms ‘Silk Road’ or ‘Silk Route’ were coined much later in 1877 by German traveler, geographer, scientist and historian Fredinand von Richthofen; but the road was always related to silk. The ancient Greek word for China is ‘Serica’ – derived from the Chinese word for silk, si – which literally means ‘the land from where silk comes from’. Byzantine Emperor Justinian (in the 6th century) sent Christian monks as spies to China to steal silkworm eggs. He started silk production in the Mediterranean with the stolen eggs, but still couldn’t compete with the greater quality of the Chinese silk.

But let us also recall that 300 years before the origin of the Old Silk Road, there was the Royal Road – an ancient highway connecting Susa (in modern Iran) to Sardis (near the Mediterranean Sea in modern Turkey) – that was established by Persian King Darius I during the Achaemenid Empire. This road was further linked – through other smaller routes – to connect Mesopotamia with the Indian subcontinent and North Africa via Egypt.

Alexander of Macedonia travelled East through this Royal Road of the Persians, whose parts later got incorporated within the Old Silk Road.

During these long centuries of Asian dominance – till the early nineteenth century – the ancient civilizations of India and China – with a combined share of the world GDP that exceeded over 50% – peacefully coexisted.

They mutually benefitted from the Old Silk Road that enabled the seamless flow of agricultural produce, manufactured goods, livestock, ideas, art, inventions, language, science, religion and culture; and this played a pivotal role in the seeding and growth of human civilization in our world.

From Chinese paper to gunpowder; from Indian Panchatantra to the all-powerful numerical number 0 (whose story I have also told in my debut novel) travelled through the Old Silk Road, that linked Europe with Asia, and integrated the ‘supercontinent of Eurasia’; and even influenced the Horn of Africa.

For over two thousand years of Asian history – since the origin of this legendary road – the rulers of India and China never sent any testosterone-fueled soldiers into each other’ territories; they only sent merchants, traders, travelers, emissaries, scholars, students, mystics and philosophers.

The disintegration of the Old Silk Road – that began in the middle of the 15th century and ended in the early 18th century – happened due to various factors: fragmentation of the largest empire in world history – the Mongol Empire – that broke up the unity of the road, boycott of trade from China by the Ottoman Empire that finally ended the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and consequentially, spurred the need to develop maritime routes because Europe still wanted Asian products, devastation caused by the Bubonic Plague that disrupted the local dynamics of key locations, rapid rise of regional states which were economically disunited and ultimately, the collapse of the Safavid Empire in West Asia.

This era of the Old Silk Road’s gradual disuse and decline also coincided with the rise of the imperialistic Europeans on ships that began to dominate the ocean, colonize the Global South and build empires, on a trail of blood.

In this ‘Age of Discovery’ (an Eurocentric term)  when European ships travelled around the world from early 15th century to the early 17th century, Western Imperialism, or the Empire – buoyed by the European Renaissance and then later, by the European Enlightenment – began its era, that kept on developing over the subsequent centuries.

Portuguese emerged first, followed by the Spanish; both established global empires. During the late 16th and the 17th centuries, the English, the French and the Dutch entered the fray in ‘empire making’ while they competed fiercely with each other. In the 19th century, when the pace of colonization increased, the Belgians, the Italians and the Germans also entered the field and scrambled for Africa.

But before the commencement of the ‘Age of Discovery’, the birth of ‘white supremacist and racist ideologies’ and the historical era of the sea-faring ‘Empire from the West’, the Chinese during the Ming dynasty – under Yongle emperor Zhu Di – had sent out expeditionary naval voyages to Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, West Asia and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. This enormous fleet of ships with four decks – almost twice as long as any European ships of that era – was commanded by the legendary Zheng He: a towering eunuch born in a Mongol Hui Muslim family who went on to become a mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral.

Zheng He arrived with his massive naval power in Calicut’s historic harbor in 1405; nearly a century before the arrival of Vasco Da Gama in Goa in 1498.

The Chinese possessed superior ships, disciplined manpower and advanced technology; but they didn’t think of colonization, domination of the maritime routes and the control of the strategic nodes, in the manner that the Europeans did. The Ming naval expeditions were focused upon diplomacy, show of strength and commerce based upon equitable exchange, rather than on Western-style ‘empire building mission’ via construction of forts, military conquests, religious conversions, horrific massacres and total plunder.

Yongle emperor Zhu Di – who had initiated the naval expeditions – died in 1424. Less than a decade later, Zheng He died in the sea, north of Java, while returning from his seventh, and final, expedition. The inward-looking successors of the Ming dynasty abruptly ended the seafaring voyages and retreated back into their Confucian-Buddhist-Taoist civilization. This made it easier for the Europeans – on much smaller ships – to sail into the oceans of Asia and control her waves; her trade; and subsequently, her destiny.

The fate of the Old Silk Road also sank. From the 16th century onwards, since the development of the maritime network from Europe to Asia, the fast-flowing ships made more sense than the slow-moving land caravans. The disuse of the functioning parts of the Old Silk Road accelerated, while the Empire – riding upon the waves of the oceans – finally arrived upon the shores of Asia.

In 1608, the British and the East India Company (founded in 1600) landed at the port of Surat under the leadership of merchant and diplomat Thomas Roe. The Company established their first two factories in 1611 (at Masulipatam on Andhra Coast) and in 1612 (at Surat), and began to gradually gain their foothold in India.

The first attempt by the British East India Company to colonize India via direct military conquest was made during 1686-1690: when the first Anglo-Mughal war – also known as Child’s war – took place.

Emperor Aurangzeb – of the Mughal dynasty of Mongol descent that was simultaneously Central Asian, Islamic and Indian – ordered the confiscation of all properties and possessions of the Company and inflicted a humiliating defeat to the British. The envoys of the Company had to prostrate before him, render an apology, accept a fine and beg for forgiveness. The grave mistake – that Aurangzeb made by trusting the promise of the Company to mend their ways, instead of uprooting them totally from India when he had the golden chance – would eventually cost India terribly: and that’s a massive understatement.

Nearly seven decades later, the Battle of Plassey (1757) was won – via a deceitful coup – by the Company forces led by the infamous predator Robert Clive; and this inaugurated the British rule in the sub-continent, that lasted for nearly 200 years.

India fell to colonization by the Empire in the middle of the 18th century, and China in the middle of the 19th. And the era of Asia was over.

The Current 21st Century Era

Let’s fast forward to year 2020 and see what has happened to the Empire and Asia.

The baton of the Empire – that was first held by the Portuguese in the 15th century with the capture of Ceuta in 1415 – has now passed over to the United States of America: an imperial settler colony that was established through a dark history of genocide and slavery.

President Jimmy Carter – the US President who finished his term without war, military attack or occupation – pointed out in 2019 that the United States has been at peace for only 16 of its 242 years as a nation and described the US as ‘the most warlike nation in the history of the world.’

Post World War II, the US-centralized Empire grew out of the old British Empire, but in the recent decades – especially after the assassination of US President John F Kennedy – the Anglo-American power has mutated – at a much faster pace – towards Anglo-Zionist power.

Nobel Laureate of Literature Bob Dylan released a new single in March 2020 on the JFK assassination titled ‘Murder Most Foul’.

The song contains these lyrics: ‘They killed him once and they killed him twice / Killed him like a human sacrifice / The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son, The age of the Antichrist has just only begun”.

Nowadays, Tel Aviv is as important as Washington DC along with the banking and financial headquarters (The Wall Street, The Federal Reserve, The Bank of International Settlements at Basel and the City of London) which collectively is the current Empire.

In the meantime, Asia – where 3 out of every 5 people on the planet live and dream – has wrested herself out of the direct control of the old Empire (mainly the British, the French, the Dutch and the Portuguese).

Currently, Asia has 48 UN-affiliated nations with a dazzling variety of complex governance systems: monarchies with market or mixed economy (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Brunei), constitutional monarchies with multi-party democratic elections and market or mixed economy (Thailand, Japan), constitutional monarchies with single party socialist rule with market or mixed economy (Cambodia), theocratic republics or states with multi-party parliamentary or presidential elections and market or mixed economy (Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan), single party socialist republics with market or mixed economies  (China, Vietnam, Laos), constitutional republics or federations with multi-party parliamentary or presidential democracies with market or mixed economy (India, Russia, Indonesia) and an old-school Communist regime with total state control like North Korea.

More significantly, the forces of history and time have turned towards the East; and the chatter around the neologism ‘Asian Century’ is only growing exponentially all across the world.

India and China held over 50% share of the world GDP for nearly two millennia, but were reduced to an abysmal share of under-10% in the 1940s after the devastatingly-extractive colonial exploitation by the Empire.

(India in light blue and China in deep blue from 1 AD to 2000; and the sharp collapse of their Global GDP share after colonization by the Empire. Source: ZeroHedge and Maddison Database, Deutsche Bank)

India and China have now recovered their combined share to about 28% on the much realistic Purchasing Power Parity or PPP terms.

However, China is doing much better than India by already carving out 20% of the world GDP; and developing since the 1980s – by eradicating poverty, creating world-class infrastructure and improving the lives of its citizens – at a pace that is unprecedented in human history.

Within this re-ascension of Asia, quite incredibly, the Old Silk Road has also returned, in a new much improved avatar.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013, and planned to be completed by 2049 – will seek to recreate a New Silk Road (both through land and water) that would re-integrate Eurasia, and extend to the Horn of Africa, just like the old times of our collective world history.

New Silk Road is the key link to the new Asian Century, as the Old Silk Road was the key link to the old Asian Era.

In the year 2030, six out of the top 10 largest economies (in PPP terms) are projected to be Asian, if one includes Turkey.

China has already overtaken USA in 2013 as the world’s largest economy on PPP terms; it is slated to eclipse the USA in the nominal terms, between 2025 and 2030.

21 of the world’s 30 largest cities are already in Asia, along with 50% of the world’s middle class.

Without any formalized ‘Asian Union’, intra-Asia or intra-regional trade between the Asian countries has already touched 60% of the overall trade: a number that is equivalent to the European Union.

In 2019, Financial Times published a much referred article – ‘The Asian Century is set to begin’ – by placing 2020 as the starting point of the New Asian Era when, after 200 years, Asian economies will be larger than the rest of the world combined, for the first time since the early 19th century.

The Empire and Asia

Invisible patterns of time and history keep influencing visible occurrences; they throw up prominent players and critical developments which tend to serve as agents of those evolving patterns.

We need to grasp those invisible patterns by interpreting the visible signs, random omens and the spectrum of events to understand where we are headed.

The crux of the matter is that the process for the Asian Century – where Asia will regain her historical position that she rightfully deserves – has already begun. The world is transiting to a new balance of power. And this will also mark the decline – and potentially, the end – of the 600 year old sea-faring Empire from the West.

This becomes clear when one analyses current affairs while looking back in history to understand the eras and the significant key developments associated with them. And to analyze the present one always needs to know the past; because it enables one to see from a bird’s eye perspective that seeks to rise above the din of the present times – centered on the US-China and India-China narratives – and suddenly grasp a new binary: Empire and Asia.

Peace is more beneficial for the people while wars are more beneficial for the ruling elites. But in this present period of transition and turmoil, peace and stability between the Asian nations will also favor the cause of the Asian Century, while wars, antagonisms, demagogueries, economic disintegrations, cultural disconnections and trade blockages will favor the Empire.

What is most apparent to anyone who follows geopolitics from all possible perspectives is that the winner between any Sino-Indo wars will be the USA; and the loser will be Asia.

But the morbid circumstances of our world are so insane, that even within the devastating times of the controversial pandemic, dystopian lockdowns and unprecedented socio-economic collapse, war drums have started to be sounded; and the protagonists are India, China and the Empire.

The recent border conflict between India and China is also related to a part of the New Silk Road that China seeks to protect at all costs: a vital route from Tibet to Xinjiang that passes through the Chinese controlled Aksai Chin: a region that the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah – on 6 Aug 2019 in the Indian parliament – theatrically promised to recover ‘even by giving up my life’, after the abrogation of Article 370 and the division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate union territories.

India under the right wing Modi regime, with its consistent propensity to take ‘bold’ decisions with catastrophic consequences, and its submissive leaning towards the axis of the Empire – that has a well expressed policy to contain China, implode BRI and thereby, crash the Asian Century – might go along mindlessly with the Trump-Pompeo scheme of things, going by India’s recent acceleration of the Sinophobic posturing towards China.

India has absurdly joined the Empire initiated The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or the Quad – a strategic grouping with three other countries (US, Japan and Australia) with whom we don’t share any border – that aims to contain and put pressure on China with whom we share a border that is 4056 km long!

What is better: to seek a détente for the sake of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with one’s neighbor and a sister civilization of Asia, or to function as a subservient tool of the Empire of Chaos and play war-war games with China?

India – perhaps fearing unilateral US sanctions and bullying by the Trump administration – is also imploding her own mini Silk Road to connect South Asia to Central Asia via the Iranian port Chabahar and a proposed 628-km rail line to Zahedan, near the Afghan border.

India continues her strange witless refusal to be part of the era-shifting New Silk Road (BRI) that has garnered approval and engagement from over 138 countries and 30 international organizations; while historically, India had only gained and benefitted from the Old Silk Road.

It’s even stranger that one needs to actually say this: under any circumstances, India shouldn’t allow herself to be held hostage by the Empire, fall into its old ‘divide and rule’ entrapment, and its hysterical strategy to demonize the New Silk Road (BRI) as ‘Chinese expansionism’ and ‘Chinese debt trap’ when the Empire has over 1000 military bases all over the globe and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been indebting poor nations with conditional borrowings – which favor the Empire’s interests – for decades.

India – especially her chattering class – shouldn’t become the clueless victim of the western corporate MSM propaganda machine that is fed continuously by western intelligence assets and public relations firms (as exposed once again recently by leaked documents which revealed massive Syria propaganda operation waged by Western government contractors and media, as reported by thegrayzone.com and other independent sites).

India has to be smart enough to understand that the Empire has unleashed a hostile hybrid war – from trade to information – against the sovereign Eurasian challengers, Russia and China, who are threatening its unilateral hegemony – the ‘rules based order’, rigged to benefit the Empire – that is no longer acceptable to much of the world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping in his recent 2020 address to the United Nations asserted that no country has the right to dominate global affairs, control the destiny of others, or keep advantages in development all to itself.

“Even less”, he emphasized, “should one be allowed to do whatever it likes and be the hegemon, bully or boss of the world.”

The battle lines have been clearly drawn. Everything major that is happening right now, and will happen in the coming years, will be intrinsically linked to the geopolitical, technological, military, economic, information and cultural tussle between the Empire and the sovereign challengers from Asia who are driving the Eurasian integration project and the Asian Century.

The Empire pushed Cold War 2.0 with rabid Russophobia and Sinophobia, might soon turn to Asiaphobia, as Asia continues to grow, strengthen and rise.

In this climate, India must develop her own sovereign worldview and autonomous plan of action, instead of seeing and acting through the eyes and mind of the Empire.

It will be unreasonable, counter-productive and harmful for India to follow the outdated ‘Washington Consensus’, especially in regard to economy and foreign policy, which require an urgent course-correction.

The amnesic and myopic ruling elites of India should recall the colonial history of two centuries of servitude when 45 trillion dollars – a conservative estimate by economist Utsa Patnaik in a book published by Columbia University Press – was extracted out of the Indian subcontinent, and shipped away to Britain.

India also have forgotten and cannot see anymore, that only rebels and challengers can have true equal alliances, while Empires can only have colonies and vassals.

In the 21st century, the values of the young are already shifting. Hero is no longer the one who wins the wars, but the one who prevents them.

Nations have to go beyond mere self-centered ‘national interests’ and have to act in accordance to shared ‘global responsibilities’ which forbid creating chaos, oppression and destruction in any part of the world for the sake of humanity on a pale blue dot.

Pacifism is the need of the hour, when the world is already tormented by the status quo and the threat of unelected corporate tyranny that is out to enslave and control the world via the Neoliberal World Order (NWO) and the Davos-gang-initiated The Great Reset within the new paradigm of Foucauldian bio-politics, SARS-Cov-2 virus, social distancing, digital life-style, ‘war on invisible enemy’, technocratic police state, social media censorship, invasive surveillance, vaccines, transhumanism and more.

In this climate of shock, uncertainty, trauma, confusion and heightened divisions, it will be wiser for India to genuinely talk, fairly negotiate and peacefully settle issues with China for her own long-term interests while focusing upon how to pull herself out from the current socio-economic abyss that has been created by hate, cruelty, deception and polarization spurred by the Hindutva ideology, toxic neoliberal policies imported from the Empire, subversion of the democratic institutions, disastrous cashless experiment of demonetisation, over-excessive digital technocracy, immiseration of the unorganized sector, poorly conceived Covid-19 response and the draconian ‘lives and livelihood’ killing lockdowns.

Under such adverse circumstances, India certainly doesn’t need fake-nationalism driven war-mongering, unnecessary pressurization of her military services in high-altitude deserts to protect ill-defined frontiers and funneling of tax-payers’ money to overseas military-industrial-surveillance complex.

She needs to reverse the moral, intellectual and financial bankruptcy that she is facing, and improve the lives of its citizens, by whole-heartedly investing in the creation of human capital, jobs, infrastructure, healthcare and education.

Wisdom, non-violence and foresight used to be the preferred characteristics of the Indian civilization, which the current Modi regime no longer values.

India has to regain her civilisational ethos and her anti-colonial spirit. She must align herself for the cause of the rising Asian Century; rather than be used, manipulated and arrested by the declining Empire.

The New Silk Road is the key link to the new Asian Century, as the Old Silk Road was the key link to the old Asian Era. India must join the BRI on a mutually-beneficial terms, rather than to oppose or to implode it, at the behest of the Empire, whose elites are still obsessed with the Halford Mackinder’s ‘heartland theory’ and want to prevent the rise of any competing power in the Eurasian heartland, where currently the new Asian Century is taking shape, along with the momentous Russia-China strategic alliance, much to chagrin of the Empire.

But the people of the world should welcome the inevitable arrival of the new Asian Century, than to be afraid of it.

Asian Century doesn’t mean China style-single-party-socialist rule all over Asia; every nation should choose and struggle for the kind of government and the freedoms that the people want, without any outside interference.

Nor does Asian Century means that Asia will start to colonize and plunder other non-Asian nations, and start teaching them Mandarin, Russian and a variety of Indian languages.

Asian Century primarily means that from an uni-polar hegemonic world order dominated by the Empire, a multi-polar world order – more diverse and representative – will emerge; and Asia will regain her lost economic, cultural, technological and political prominence, that will naturally bring about a new balance to the world, democratize the key international institutions, create an optional global financial system, apply people-centric socio-economic solutions rather than the inequality-enhancing pro-one-per-cent policies, promote ideological narratives of peace, humanism, cooperation, justice and equality, and finally witness the end of the 600 year old ‘racism and supremacism’ driven imperialism, based upon military force, covert operations, organized propaganda and exploitative economics, that will – once and for all – liberate and uplift the entire Global South.

This is a great dream to dream about, and to work towards actualizing it, not only for the sake of Asia, but for the sake of the world.

Devdan Chaudhuri is the author of the novel ‘Anatomy of Life’. He is also a poet whose works have featured in ‘Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians’ published by the Sahitya Akademi; a short story writer; an essayist on politics and culture and one of the contributing editors of The Punch Magazine. He lives in Kolkata; and is fairly active on Facebook and Twitter.

  Read New Silk Road and the Asian Century:  India, China and the Empire
  September 30, 2020
The Future We Choose”: A Call for Action.
Adithian K, in Book Review, countercurrents.org.

The Future We Choose: Surviving the climate crisis.

Authors: Christiania Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac

Published: February 2020


Never before have I come across a book that literally screams out to the reader to be the change that you wish to see. And that also with practical imperatives. This is an essential read for all those who wish to see a sustainable liveable world that can be achieved by the year 2050. And its importance only increases in the Indian context where we’re discussing about the dangerous consequences of implementing the EIA, that would start shattering our hopes of being a part of the global environmental collective.

The profile of the two authors who wrote this book is a study in contradictions itself. With Christiana Figueres who is the daughter of the president of Costa Rica, who was a revolutionary leader in Costa Rican history, being the only world leader to have abolished the national army in favour of other educational and welfare policies. Thus, she comes from a largely political family. Opposite is the case with Tom Rivett, who comes from the family of the founding chairman of the East Indian company, which was the only company at that time to have a private army. But apart from all this glaring contradictions, what brings them together is a shared concern for the future of our world and a resolution to create a sustainable lifestyle among the global citizens that would create an ideal place to live for the generations to come. And we cannot dismiss their vision as merely utopian, they have been constantly working towards their goals, already having garnered the support of 195 nations in signing the Paris Agreement which will guide their economies towards climate conservation for the next forty years.

Climate change has started to figure in our debates ever since 1960, when Charles Keeling indicated a rise in CO2 levels and suggested that global warming is a worldwide threat for humanity. But the mindset of literate people has taken two erroneous paths ever since. On the one hand, we have world leaders like Donald Trump who dismiss the fears as nothing but a hoax by rumourmongers. On the other hand, are people who are largely overcome by fear and pessimism that everything has already been decided and that the impending catastrophe cannot be reversed by any means. At this critical juncture comes the relevance of such a book, which enlightens those who aren’t concerned about climate change that it is a fact as much real as gravity. But at the same time, it propels the pessimists to realize that it isn’t yet time to lose all hope because we stand at a threshold in history to be written where we are the last people on the planet who would be able to make a significant change, and that if we neglect the importance of this moment, we would never be able to correct our mistakes. With this statement, the book nails down timestamps in our conscience for cutting down the carbon emissions, 2030 and 2050.

The book starts off on a pessimistic note by presenting a bleak future that will be produced if we don’t cut down the global carbon emissions by the target it has set for 2030. If we aren’t able to halve the global carbon emissions by this time limit, we might as well be accelerating the anthropocene age and digging our own graves for that matter. The scenario that it has laid out in that case will scare the hell out of you, and the world that it projects by 2050 in that case is nothing short of a catastrophe. It will be a world were none is spared except for the rich, where temperatures would rise to an average of 45 degrees Celsius and Africa and South Eastern Asia would’ve begun to be engulfed in filthy air that makes life unbearable. Disasters would be a commonality that forces each citizen to sleep with a mobile phone always by their side that would alert them in case a cyclone or a flood was to ravage their homes unexpectedly. The average temperature in cities like Paris would have risen to 44 degrees Celsius which no longer becomes a surprise to anyone. Apart from this foreseeable facts, the world would be plagued by food shortage, diseases and forced migration. And certainly, this is not the world we would want to create.

But don’t lose hope yet. That is only the first scenario. The second one is what we should aim for. Where we will be able to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and in that way, we would have saved our planet of this catastrophe. In this scenario, the southern Arctic ice will not have been exhausted, our cities will have become a balanced mix of green landscapes spaced with buildings, and our work patterns will have become more decentralised, giving us ample time for leisure and slow-cations that allow us to embark on trips that are months long. And no need to say that by then, fuel-combustion vehicles would’ve been museum pieces and we would be reaping the benefits of shared transportation and electric vehicles. Trees are spread around even the most densely populated cities. Fossil fuels have become history; renewable energy is fuelling each individual household with the surplus energy being redirected to a centralized power grid. This scenario is all the result of our collective endeavour to successfully halve carbon emissions by 2030, again by 2040 and finally achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Due to all this climate conscious efforts, we would have also prevented global warming so that the average rise in temperature by the year 2100 would be limited to a mere 1.5 degrees Celsius (as against the 44 degrees Celsius mark predicted in the previous scenario). Food security was a major question that had to be addressed. So people had willingly started shifting to a community-based approach for effective community farming. Individuality and the urge to do duties privately no longer attracts people, as everyone have slowly started realizing that collective efforts are much better for thriving together as a community. Veganism would take over as the new norm as people start to realize how much resource-depleting it is to consume animal protein and dairy products. All the positive aspects of this prosperous scenario have been made possible by a collaboration of healthy government policies coupled with the backing of funding from private corporations that had taken the oath for climate conversation before things got out of hand. This is definitely the scenario that any sensible person would aspire to achieve.

This book doesn’t end with providing these two scenarios, but goes on to explain in minute details how we would’ve to change our mindset in order to produce the change that we wish to see. In fact, we can say that the rest of the book is a manifesto for individual and collective action. It does this not with abstract metaphysical ideas, but with concrete practical strategies that we should implement in our daily lives with a ten-point action plan. It tells us time and again that we aren’t powerless and in fact, even our most insignificant actions are suffused with deeper meanings on our world view and that a collective change in mindset is our sole hope for saving our planet. From now on, everyone should ideally adhere to this book’s call for stubborn optimism. All that has been outlined in this book is not mere utopia, but in fact very much achievable targets, as has been witnessed in Costa-Rica already, which has achieved zero-emission of carbon and fully clean energy and California, which is on the way to achieving this milestone. If all these targets have been achieved, we have no reason to believe why a better future is not possible.

Implementing changes in the political realm can appear to be a tedious task as we can see that most goals that are strived for are in order to achieve a very far-sighted vision. It can seem to be a path that is filled with several hurdles and drawbacks that could possibly hamper the project all together. As the book states the example of what had happened in the Copenhagen summit where the Venezuelan representative, Claudio Salerno, had to bang her hand on her country’s metal nameplate till her hands were bleeding for drawing attention to her voice. If this be the case throughout, then the future of humanity is doomed. But there were still many representatives who had the tenacity to hold on to their vision for a clean future, that had led to the success of the Paris Agreement after five years. The unanimous and courageous decision to proceed with the Paris Agreement even during the event of a warning that a bomb had been found in a nearby metro station is ample proof of the devotion many people including Christiana had put forward to achieving a seemingly herculean task.

The book has also rightly indicated how the fashion industry is pushing global citizens more deeply into an endless consumption cycle that constantly demands more and more. People are forced to link certain dress codes to completing their personality and this ever-incomplete personality drives them to buy more clothes. It is also noteworthy that the textile industry accounts for a major part of global CO2 emissions, so what we can do as conscious individuals in this consumerist world is to buy sustainable material mostly. It is no longer surprising to understand that the Amazon company was able to accumulate a lump sum amount of 10 billion dollars in the Super bowl advertising sales revenue alone. We need to implement recycling policies in our lifestyle instead of replacement. But many companies worldwide are forcing citizens to replace their old goods after a certain time period because most goods come with a planned obsolescence date.

Another serious issue to be dealt with according to the ten-point action plan laid forward by this book is our approach towards fossil fuel companies. Unless and until we are able to cut down our dependence on fossil fuels and instead promote the use of renewable sources of energy, we would be in serious pressure of achieving the target of cutting down the carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. But here also, the problem of the government hugely subsidising fossil fuel companies is a grave problem that poses hazardous risks to world climate, although indirectly. As we have seen in India itself, the recent passing of the draft EIA bill would curtail any efforts for India to rise to the global standards for cutting down carbon emissions. It would make it way much easier for coal companies and mines to get the clearance certificate without any significant pressure from the side of the local population living in a particular region, effectively taking away the voices of millions of concerned citizens of the country. But it is a relief to hear news that people all over the country have responded vociferously against these defective government policies, as we have read that approximately 17 lakh people have signed the petition opposing the EIA. It gives us a faint hope that the political system of our country is still responsive to the concerns of its citizens. Apart from constantly opposing such policies, what can be done by us individually to stop carbon emissions is to limit air travel to a bare minimum, as aeroplanes are emitting huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. We should try to rely more on other forms of transport such as trains for long distance travel, or even to cut off unnecessary trips completely and attend meetings via videoconferencing for the most part.

Another important indicator for measuring the climate vows that a country has successfully implemented is by assessing the forest cover in the country and how it has increased or decreased over the years. The book has presented an astonishing and saddening figure that over 12 million hectares of forest land had been erased completely in 2018 alone. This rate would amount to total destruction of forests in a matter of a few decades. What we can do here is to enlighten others about the destructive rates that we need to stop immediately step by step and along with that, we should try to participate in individual or group tree plantation drives. If each person could plant around 10 trees, that would go a long way in showing our commitment towards climate conservation goals.

A practice that is almost obsolete and which serves no purpose practically, especially in the case of developing countries, is that of measuring the growth rate of the economy using the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) Index. The book has presented a fitting example of a coffee cup buying rate to illustrate what actions would increase or decrease the GDP of a country. Hence, we can summarise that it is basically an index that is based on solely extracting and discarding resources. Conservation practises has no effect on the GDP rate of a country. The plan to use a human well-being index that was passed by JacindaAdern in New Zealand in place of GDP is an appreciable initiative in this regard. An example of the effective use of GDP combined with other well-being indicators is the case with Christiana’s country, Costa Rica, where the policies implemented by her father had increased the forest cover from a low of 20% to more than 50%. Costa Rica also ranked among the countries with the highest literacy rate in Latin America and was voted as number one on the Happy Planet Index in 2009, 2012 and 2018. All these achievementshave in a great part to do with the abolishing of the army completely in the country and diverting the capital to other government portfolios.

The book goes on to lay plans for how we can effectively face the future before us with the best combination of technological expertise and natural resources that we have with us. The optimal use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) would help in taking effective decisions on how to limit our use of energy. In conclusion, the book lays forward two more actions, that is to ensure gender equality, as women are largely sensitive and responsive to pressure situations on a higher level than men mostly, so as to work together for the better future. And finally, we have to keep faith in the political system and keep updated with the political developments of our country and be responsive within the limits of liberty that has been assured to us by the state for raising our voice for climate protection.

After having read all the action plans that have been presented in the book, a major question needs to be addressed of how far such policies could be implemented in a developing country like our own. Noting that the book calls for cutting down our consumption of meat products and work towards a vegan lifestyle as this would significantly reduce the carbon footprints on the planet, it is questionable of whether this is practical in India where a significant number of farmers depend on livestock rearing for their livelihood. But here also, we have to realize that change is inevitable. Perhaps, farmers would have to switch from livestock rearing to other modes of agriculture, such as investing in biofuel, which would also amount to renewable sources of energy which ensures sustainable growth.

The call for collective farming techniques and local-based food production needs to fuel our initiatives towards sustainability. For this, we would have to oppose hazardous policies like the 2020 farm bills which would be a blow to all country-wide farmers, solely favouring corporate agenda.

Further, the prospects of the book that we would have high speed rail networks and fully automated electric vehicles which are not under private ownership call into question whether countries like our own have the necessary pathways to assure smooth running of such transportation. But these are all questions that need to be discussed in the near future and resolution must be arrived at for timely progress to be achieved. In conclusion, I urge all who have not yet read this wonderful book that calls for action to get your hands on it soon.

Adithyan K is a PhD student at English and Foreign Language University, Hyderabad. He is doing his research work on French Literature. He is from Thrissur, Kerala.

  Read The Future We Choose”: A Call for Action
  September 30, 2020
Boundless Dying Trees.
Robert Hunziker, in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

Global warming is ravaging forests throughout the world.

“New studies show drought and heat waves will cause massive die-offs, killing most trees alive today.” (Source: We Need to Hear These Poor Trees Scream: Unchecked Global Warming Means Big Trouble for Forests, Inside Climate News, April 25, 2020)

According to Bill Anderegg, a forest researcher at the University of Utah: “Global warming has pushed many of the world’s forests to a knife edge… in the West, you can’t drive on a mountain highway without seeing how global warming affects forests,” Ibid.

Similar to corals and reefs, trees are slow growing and long-lived but cannot easily move to escape newly emerging rapid heat. Regrettably, both systems have inflexible damage thresholds. Corals experienced a tipping point from 2014-16 of record-breaking ocean heat as reefs around the world bleached and died in unprecedented numbers.

The Great Barrier Reef suffered its worst coral bleaching on record in February of 2020 from the most extreme ocean temperatures since records began in 1900. That’s global warming at work, overtime. Not only that but consider the egregious fact that the world’s largest living organism has been hit by three devastating bleachings in only five years. This year, for the first time in recorded history, severe bleaching, which kills coral outright, hit all three major regions of the famous reef. Scientists were awestruck.

Similar to no predictions of coral-bleaching disasters (what a big surprise!) nobody is predicting a similar disaster for forests, but it’s already underway right under everybody’s nose. It’s here now!

Giant Sequoias, the Grand Daddy of the world’s trees are “dying from the top down.” This has never been documented before. According to Christy Brigham, chief of resource management for parks: “We’ve never observed this before.” (Source: Craig Welch, The Grand Old Trees of the World are Dying, Leaving Forests Younger and Shorter, National Geographic, May 28, 2020)

The loss of Giant Sequoias is but one example of a worrisome worldwide trend that’s nerve-racking. “Trees in forests are dying at increasingly high rates – especially the bigger, older trees,” Ibid.

According to Nate McDowell, an earth scientist at the US Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the lead author of a major worldwide study: “We’re seeing it almost everywhere we look.” (Nate G. McDowell, et al, Pervasive Shifts in Forest Dynamics in a Changing World, Science, Vol. 268, Issue 6494, 29 May 2020)

The numbers are staggering. From 1900 to 2015 the world lost more than a third of its old-growth forests. Ever since, the numbers are accelerating enough for calls of extra-alarm.

The causes are mostly anthropogenic, meaning logging and land-clearing, plus the biggest impact or fossil fuel emissions that bring forth rising global temperatures significantly magnifying the rate of dying, as droughts extend longer and harsher, resulting in extremely brittle tinder, leading to massive wildfires. The upshot is a world on fire like never before. Dead trees burn easily.

According to Henrik Hartmann of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemisty, in central Europe: “You don’t have to look for dead trees… They’re everywhere,” Ibid.

For example, in northern Europe one week of extreme heat resulted in hundreds of thousands of beech trees dropping leaves. The trees could not handle the heat.

In the US Southwest emerging mega drought conditions have already weakened and killed hundreds of millions of trees, including Rocky Mountain lodgepole and piñon pines, as well as aspens.

As it happens, the massive numbers of tree deaths are newly unique to the entire world. African cedars and acacias are dying. The majestic Amazon rainforest is struggling under severe drought conditions exaggerated and super-charged by tens of thousands of human-generated fires undercutting the entire ecosystem. Junipers are rapidly declining in the Middle East. In Spain and Greece oak trees are shriveling because of intense global warming. In Siberia massive wildfires have erupted within a virtual tinderbox of excessive heat conditions. Ancient African Baobab trees, some thriving for 2,000 years, have all begun decline or outright dying as their ecosystems suffer from global warming.

The integrity of trees is compromised by excessive heat, which not only kills them outright, but also makes them more vulnerable to tree-burrowing insects, especially as normalized winter temperatures crank up way too high too soon during the season.

Meanwhile, climate denial charlatans theorize that rising levels of CO2 feeds enhanced growth for trees and flora as a positive. They’re dead wrong. It’s one more dishonest position taken by rightwing politicians.

Rising levels of CO2 blanket the atmosphere, thus trapping more heat, as the planet gets ever-hotter, causing the atmosphere to suck excessive levels of moisture thereby causing trees to shed leaves and/or close pores to hold in as much moisture as possible, thus curtailing CO2 uptake. It’s a vicious cycle that reverses the carbon uptake cycle that is key to maintaining all life on the planet.

Even more odious, along the way, trees die outright. There is no silver lining to increasing levels of fossil fuel CO2 emissions. It’s bad, it’s dangerous, and it’s a killer. “Stop fossil fuel CO2 emissions or die” should be the motto of responsible political campaigns. But, that’s a pipedream without enough funding to support it.

Forest ecologist Diana Six (University of Montana) has always been skeptical of claims of projected beneficial effects of excessive levels of CO2 triggering photosynthesis in plants: “I was always amazed by the early predictions for enhanced growth of forests, especially in the West. Many of the models only included warmer temperatures or higher CO2 effects. The projections were made mainly by economists who assumed that only temperatures and CO2 affect tree growth… No one seemed to consider water. With warmer temperatures and a longer growing season comes greater demand for water and we are getting less, not more, in most cases. That should have been a big red flag,” Ibid.

In the final analysis, “Forests are our last, best natural defense against global warming. Without the world’s trees at peak physical condition, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.” (Source: Eric Holthaus, Up in Smoke, Grist, March 8, 2018)

The message behind the boundless death march is simple: Stop fossil fuel emissions!

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 Boundless Dying Trees
  October 5, 2020
Extinction Possibility.
David Anderson, in Climate Change, countercurrents.org.

Our Homo sapiens reality is that global warming, if it continues at the current rate, could trigger a sixth planetary extinction. Unlike past extinctions, this one will not be brought on by a random meteorite/asteroid strike or a convulsive planetary volcanic eruption. It will be self-inflicted; the result of Biosphere degradation because of our use of fossil fuels. CO2 in the planet’s Biosphere is increasing exponentially and as a result, permafrost in the Arctic is warming. Excessive amounts of Arctic methane release have begun and will continue. Methane is much more potent as a heat-trapping greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The combination could lead to temperatures similar to those of the Permian-Triassic.

All past CO2 Treaties Have Failed

Here is the multinational political reality: From the meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 to the Paris Accord in 2015 to the last 2019 meeting all carbon reduction has been a failure. CO2 emissions continue to climb. Public response to the failure has been mixed and largely ineffective.

Survival Homo sapiens

Only by the establishment of a new multinational Institution formed for the purpose of orchestrating a world-wide increase in the price of carbon from its first moment of entry into the system through to its becoming a part of all derivative goods and services can this human tragedy be avoided. Board Members must be of the stature and critical thinking skills of today’s Nobel Prize winners and UN Secretary Generals, skills that can put in place measures over a 10/15 year period that will eliminate our carbon dependency. And they must be given powers under its authority well beyond those of existing global institutions today; powers of international law and enforcement.

Carbon Transition

The COP meetings were a definitional starter for this call. They showed a unity of common purpose among many world leaders. But they also showed the lack of enforcement and the immediate need for a new multinational institution able to enforce firm and binding commitments.

There needs to be strong world leadership. Within the next 12 months a multinational body as here described needs to come together to outline a plan for the orchestration of a graduated increase in the price of carbon world-wide.

Market Based Approach

Reduction in CO2 can be accomplished by a market based approach. National and international markets can serve as disciplinarian. They would force alternative forms of energy to be brought into the system up and down the production/consumption line. It can be achieved by Nations pricing in gradual increases in carbon beginning at its source. This would force higher prices of all derivative goods and services to be passed on internally and externally. Non-carbon derivative forms of energy would then be given an incentive to become increasingly competitive. They eventually would replace carbon. Many end products that are solely reliant on the burning of large amounts of carbon would be eliminated from the system by way of price appreciation.

There are far reaching social implications. Present consumers of carbon energy dependent goods and services will have to switch over to non carbon goods and services. Carbon producers will be forced out of the market. Carbon reliant socio/economic activities too will be forced out of the market. Price will force change.

This approach is congruent within the currently established framework of existing capital market systems both within nations and internationally.

Transition Timing

This raises many questions. How much time do we have? How much fossil fuel energy will be needed for the conversion? Will that amount of fossil fuel energy requirement in itself put us over the CO2/CH4 Arctic feedback loop edge? Will industries such as air, automobiles, trucking, ocean shipping and metals now so reliant on fossil fuels be able to make the transition; and if so, what can be the alternative they employ? How will highly carbon consumptive basic industries such as concrete and steel make the transition? How will the citizens country by country, region by region, respond to such a state of economic disruption and reorganization?

And then there is the biggest obstacle, a major hurdle we have had addressing the climate issue. It lies at the heart of the failure to deal with climate change. It is called “free-riding” by countries that take advantage of the lack of multilateral discipline.

Negative Externality Tax

For producers of oil, gas and coal a tax (Negative Externality Tax – let’s call it NET) will be levied at the points of national extraction based on extraction cost. That national tax will bring the price up to an internationally agreed carbon equivalent tax figure. It will be increased year by year over a fifteen year period. It will therefore become integral to the pricing of all domestic goods and services in the producing country and the export pricing of those goods and services.

That carbon tax figure would be increased year by year based on a graduated 15 year price increase. Here is an example for equivalent grade diesel: Given today’s $10 $20 $30 cost the point of entry into the system, the NET would bring the cost up to say $70 per barrel at its source of extraction and then internationally when exported. Then an increasing NET would raise the cost incrementally over a 15 year period to $ 250 per barrel – or whatever end price brings about global carbon emissions down to an ecologically acceptable level.

In the case above; revenue from the domestic tax will first be the difference between the internal extraction/production cost and $70, then year by year the increasing formulaic amount. That revenue will be retained by the producing nation where it can be used for needed internal investment and social adjustments arising from higher prices for carbon consumptive consumer and industrial products. It can also be used to encourage non carbon activities and to develop non carbon sources of energy.


This will be the first of other calls for change away from our singular tribal nationalism and toward a world-wide human universalism leading to a framework for a universal societal cooperative order. That framework must consist of mutually coordinated decision networks. The grand strategy we now have of decentralism and incrementalism will not suffice.

Countries That Refuse to Comply

For those carbon producing countries that refuse to comply, each and every export to a compliant country will be evaluated by the compliant as to the carbon producing country non internally taxed NET content. Such imports will then be import duty taxed – let’s call it IDT. Such IDT funds will be turned over to the World Body described below.

Countries that import from non-compliant countries and refuse to comply with this repricing formula and then re-export to compliant countries will also have their exports to compliant countries taxed based on missing NET content.

Can this be accomplished? Some of the finest mathematical minds on our planet now spend their time devising algorithms for computerized trading of securities in order to exploit the weaknesses of other algorithms. The time has come for the economics profession to give these minds a new challenge, one that will benefit human civilization – and save it from the possibility of extinction.

As stated above all Import duty revenues (let’s call them IDR’s) collected by compliant countries will be turned over to a body such as the World Bank to be used to assist compliant countries with their difficulty in making necessary economic/social adjustments. These adjustments will fall into two categories; one from the decline nationally in fossil fuel export revenues and the other from climate change ocean rise.

Countries That Will Suffer

Immediate examples of the second category are a number of Island nations being inundated by rising waters and Arctic settlements being affected by global warming. Most will be without internal resources to resettle population. Many other nations with low land areas being inundated by rising oceans will also need assistance.

Populations in many areas of the planet will be severely affected as revenues from fossil fuels are eliminated. Russia, Australia and the Middle Eastern countries are examples. Many Middle Eastern countries are now totally reliant on oil revenues to pay for food imports. Such revenues will decline to the point where they will be insufficient for feeding the population. This also will have an impact on Middle Eastern oil and gas non-producers and minimal producers, those countries that have relied on grants from their wealthy neighbor producers. Egypt, reliant on neighbor contributions for food imports is a prime example. The future for Egypt will be bleak. Although extrapolating from present trends to make predictions is always problematic, current projections are a population there that will have increased from 90 million to 138 million by 2050. The Nigerian situation will be even more bleak. Its petroleum industry is the largest in Africa. Its population of 186 million is expected to grow to 390 million by 2050.

Time will be needed to allow many of these countries to restructure and rebalance their economies – as well as population levels – relative to available resources. Some in need of substantial assistance will be countries like India with pockets of poverty, minimal originating carbon revenue and low lying ocean populations. Many such countries will need massive injections of capital in order to restructure their industries and feed their populations. As a general rule, all nations that are unable to fund societal adjustments will need assistance.

A pricing/costing methodology needs to be implemented that will allow the world within this critical 10/15 year period to turn to carbon free sources of energy. Nation states at all levels of technological development must be given time to adjust. As they do, high carbon input products and services will leave the market and be replaced by products with low or no carbon energy input. Societally, this will force nations at all ends of the planet to adopt a different social political economic energy structural logic from that which exists today.

And Our Problem Goes Well Beyond Carbon

It must be understood: This is just the first step toward human planetary resource control – and human survival. Pricing in of other negative externalities harmful to humanity and all other life on the planet can come next. All nations need to acknowledge that our planetary problems can only be solved multi-nationally. The future of human civilization hangs in the balance.


“The central problem which the world faces in its attempts to avoid catastrophic climate change is a contrast of time scales. In order to save human civilization and the biosphere from the most catastrophic effects of climate change we need to act immediately, Fossil fuels must be left in the ground. Forests must be saved from destruction by beef or palm oil production.”

Our World Is Burning in Climate Change — by John Scales Avery — October 3, 2020


“I think the odds are no better than 50/50 that our civilization will survive to the end of the present century. Our actions today may make the difference between a near eternity filled with ever more complex and subtle forms of life and one filled with nothing but base matter.”

Sir Martin Rees, Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics and Master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. Honorary title of Astronomer Royal, Gold Medal of the Royal, 2008

“Due to the power/interest structures of global capitalism and the juggernaut-like momentum of the global economy, it is most unlikely that any of the radical changes to society and the economy proposed by environmentalists-especially changes in philosophies and worldviews, will be adopted in time. Consequently human civilization-primarily Western techno-industrial urban society, will selfdestruct, producing massive environmental damage, social chaos and mega death.”

Craig Dilworth, Uppsala University, Sweden, Too Smart For Our Own Good. The Ecological Predicament of Humankind. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

“Without quick action to curb CO2 emissions, global warming is likely to increase by 4 degrees Centigrade (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above today’s normal during the 21st century and that is dangerously close to the temperature of 6 degrees Centigrade above normal that initiated the Permian-Triassic extinction event 252 million years ago when 96%* of all marine species and 70% of all terrestrial vertebrates were wiped out. *(current estimate 81%)”

World Bank report 2012

“The urgency of ‘looming extinction’ cannot be overlooked. It should be a constant focus of programs of education, organization, and activism, and in the background of engagement in all other struggles.”

Noam Chomsky

Internationalism or Extinction By Noam Chomsky, Paul Shannon, Charles Derber, Suren Moodliar, originally published by Open Democracy   February 27, 2020

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 is about a necessary geo political, social, religious, economic paradigm shift for human survival. Go to:


  Read Extinction Possibility

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