Politics and Justice without borders

Global Community Newsletter

Volume 9 Issue 7 July 2011
Theme this month:

Soul of all Life teaching

Global Peace Earth is a project of the Global Community.

Table of Contents

As we have all done on May 26, along with the Celebration of Life day, the Global Community celebrated Global Peace Day .

Today, as part of our Global Peace Earth project, we are introducing Soul of all Life teaching on Peace. This is a series of short animated stories concerned only with:

A) explaining different aspects of the Peace process as developed by Global Community

B) describing and teaching Peace as a value based on principles to live by; principles shown in Global Law are all needed and sufficient to attain Peace worldwide.

The following animation is the introduction to the process of Peace as taught by Soul of all Life (Soullife). Tweeta is a symbol of global learning from Soullife.

Click to see the animation

The following two links make use of QuickTime player which can be downloaded from site at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/
The links must be opened by QuickTime player. QuickTime allows you to control the progression of the animation over time. It is necessary to copy the movie URL into QuickTime URL.

Animation movie of Soul teaching on Peace in QuickTime player http://globalcommunitywebnet.com/PeaceNow/

Animation movie of Soul teaching on Peace in .swf Animation movie of Soul teaching on Peace  in swf

Animation movie of Soul teaching on Peace in .html Animation movie of  Soul teaching on Peace  in HTML

Animation movie of Soul teaching on Peace in .wmv on the Internet Animation movie of  Soul teaching on Peace  in wmv

See the following artboards promoting Soul teaching on Peace and feel free to use them. The artboards have dimensions 2880x1800.


Artboard of Soul teaching on Peace:
Soullife(Soul of all Life), who are you?  Soul teaching on Peace  artboard

Artboard of Soul teaching on Peace:
I am a part of God's Spirit. God's Spirit is me. I am God. I am everywhere in the Universe.  Soul teaching on Peace  artboard

Artboard of Soul teaching on Peace:
Why are you here?  Soul teaching on Peace  artboard

Artboard of Soul teaching on Peace:
I am here to help all life on Earth. Intelligent life must be educated to the process of Peace for better life protection and evolution.  Soul teaching on Peace  artboard

Artboard of Soul teaching on Peace:
What is Peace?  Soul teaching on Peace  artboard

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

Artboard of Soul teaching on Peace:
Will you be teaching us?  Soul teaching on Peace  artboard

Artboard of Soul teaching on Peace:
Yes Tweeta!
Global Community website is now my homebase for teaching. Short animated stories will follow soon.
 Soul teaching on Peace  artboard

All our Global Peace animation projects are listed here.

Germain Dufour
Spiritual Leader of the Global Community
July 1st, 2011

 Global Law
( see enlargement  Global Law)
Global Law
Artwork by Germain Dufour
June, 2010

Short version of Global Law in PDF format
The following Part is a zip folder. The folder has a PDF file and other info files concerning colors and text of the images. Adobe Reader 9 is best for reading the PDF files.
Part V (6 pages, 7.5 MB) Short version in PDF format Part V
This Part was taken from the Short Version of Global Constitution at:


Daily reminder

This is the way     Message from the Spiritual Leader of the Global Community
Message from the Editor    GIM  Message from the Editor
Politics and Justice without borders: what we stand for Politics and Justice without borders: what we stand for
Message from the President of Global Parliament, the Federation of Global Governments    Message from the President of Earth Government
History of the Global Community organization, Earth Government and the Federation of Global Governments History of the Global Community Organization and Interim Earth Government Since its beginning in 1985, many accomplishments can be claimed by the Global Community: History of the Global Community organization and Earth Government
Global Community days of celebration or remembering during the year Global Community Days of Celebration
A reminder of her passing away. Virginie was a great global citizen, and we all owe her something that's forever. GIM  Message from the Editor
Life Day Celebration on May 26. Participate. Life Day Celebration May 26. Participate.
Participate now in Global Dialogue 2011, no fees  Participate now in Global Dialogue 2011
Global Dialogue 2011 Introduction Global Dialogue 2011 Introduction
Global Dialogue 2011 Program  Global Dialogue 2011 Program
Global Dialogue 2011 OVERVIEW of the process   Global Dialogue 2011 OVERVIEW of the process
Global Dialogue 2011 Call for Papers Global Dialogue 2011 Call for Papers
We seek more symbiotical relationships with people and organizations We seek more symbiotical relationships
Note concerning personal info sent to us by email Note concerning personal info sent to us by email
We have now streamlined the participation process in the Global Dialogue We have now streamlined the participation process in the Global Dialogue

Global Peace Earth introduction

Animation of Global Peace Village

This animation is concerned about explaining some aspects about the theme of this year Global Dialogue.

This animation is the message from the Soul of all Life

GIM Proclamations

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

Agence France-Presse, Nnimmo Bassey, Maude Barlow, Farooque Chowdhury, Juan Gonzalez, Amy Goodman,James E. Hansen, Ghali Hassan, Chris Hedges, Michael T. Klare, David Krieger, Steven B. Kurtz, Stephen Lendman (2), Laurence Lewis, Wangari Maathai, Dr Gideon Polya, Steve Salmony

Agence France-Presse, Report: If We Don't Stop Destroying Our Oceans, We'll See "Mass Extinction" of Marine Life Report: If We Don't Stop Destroying Our Oceans, We'll See Mass Extinction of Marine Life
Nnimmo Bassey, Vision: The Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth Is Our Roadmap to a Liveable Future Vision: The Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth Is Our Roadmap to a Liveable Future
Maude Barlow, Vision: Nature Needs Rights -- Why Our Human-Centric Model Will Doom Us and the Rest of the Planet Vision: Nature Needs Rights -- Why Our Human-Centric Model Will Doom Us and the Rest of the Planet
Farooque Chowdhury, Profit, Pollution And Poor Profit, Pollution And Poor
Juan Gonzalez, Killer Tornadoes: How Devastating Extreme Weather Is Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change Killer Tornadoes: How Devastating Extreme Weather Is Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change
Amy Goodman, Killer Tornadoes: How Devastating Extreme Weather Is Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change Killer Tornadoes: How Devastating Extreme Weather Is Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change
James E. Hansen, Tar Sands Pipeline: Silence Is Deadly Tar Sands Pipeline: Silence Is Deadly
Ghali Hassan, NATO Of Terror NATO Of Terror
Chris Hedges, The Sky Really Is Falling and Our Only Salvation Is the Rapid Dismantling of the Fossil Fuel Industry The Sky Really Is Falling and Our Only Salvation Is the Rapid Dismantling of the Fossil Fuel Industry
Michael T. Klare, 3 Massive World Events That Will Change Your Life 3 Massive World Events That Will Change Your Life
David Krieger, How Many Nuclear Weapons Still Threaten Humanity? How Many Nuclear Weapons Still Threaten Humanity?
Steven B. Kurtz, Feedback And Dis-Equilibrium In Human Overpopulation Feedback And Dis-Equilibrium In Human Overpopulation
Stephen Lendman, IMF Financial Terrorism IMF Financial Terrorism
Stephen Lendman, Lies, Damn Lies, And Liberating Wars Lies, Damn Lies, And Liberating Wars
Laurence Lewis, Why Climate Change is the Most Important Issue Humanity Has Ever Faced Why Climate Change is the Most Important Issue Humanity Has Ever Faced
Wangari Maathai, Spiritual Environmentalism: Healing Ourselves By Replenishing The Earth Spiritual Environmentalism: Healing Ourselves By Replenishing The Earth
Dr Gideon Polya, Country By Country Analysis Of Years Left Until Science-demanded Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions Country By Country Analysis Of Years Left Until Science-demanded Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Steve Salmony, Speaking Out About The Last Of The Last Taboos: Human Population Dynamics And Overpopulation Speaking Out About The Last Of The Last Taboos: Human Population Dynamics And Overpopulation

Top of the page

Articles and papers of authors
 Data sent  Theme or issue  Read
 June 3, 2011   Spiritual Environmentalism: Healing Ourselves By Replenishing The Earth
by Wangari Maathai ,
YES! Magazine, Countercurrent

During my more than three decades as an environmentalist and campaigner for democratic rights, people have often asked me whether spirituality, different religious traditions, and the Bible in particular had inspired me, and influenced my activism and the work of the Green Belt Movement (GBM). Did I conceive conservation of the environment and empowerment of ordinary people as a kind of religious vocation? Were there spiritual lessons to be learned and applied to their own environmental efforts, or in their lives as a whole?

When I began this work in 1977, I wasn't motivated by my faith or by religion in general. Instead, I was thinking literally and practically about solving problems on the ground. I wanted to help rural populations, especially women, with the basic needs they described to me during seminars and workshops. They said that they needed clean drinking water, adequate and nutritious food, income, and energy for cooking and heating. So, when I was asked these questions during the early days, I'd answer that I didn't think digging holes and mobilizing communities to protect or restore the trees, forests, watersheds, soil, or habitats for wildlife that surrounded them was spiritual work.

However, I never differentiated between activities that might be called "spiritual" and those that might be termed "secular." After a few years I came to recognize that our efforts weren't only about planting trees, but were also about sowing seeds of a different sort—the ones necessary to give communities the self-confidence and self-knowledge to rediscover their authentic voice and speak out on behalf of their rights (human, environmental, civic, and political). Our task also became to expand what we call "democratic space," in which ordinary citizens could make decisions on their own behalf to benefit themselves, their community, their country, and the environment that sustains them.

In this context, I began to appreciate that there was something that inspired and sustained the GBM and those participating in its activities over the years. Many people from different communities and regions reached out to us because they wanted us to share the approach with others. I came to realize that the work of the GBM was driven by certain intangible values. These values were: love for the environment; a gratitude and respect for Earth's resources; a capacity to empower and better oneself; and a spirit of service and volunteerism. Together, these values encapsulate the intangible, subtle, nonmaterialistic aspects of the GBM as an organization. They enabled us to continue working, even through the difficult times.

Of course, I'm aware that such values are not unique to the Green Belt Movement. They are universal; they can't be touched or seen. We cannot place a monetary value on them: in effect, they are priceless. These values are not contained within certain religious traditions. Neither does one have to profess a faith in a divine being to live by them. However, they do seem to be part of the our human nature and I'm convinced that we are better people because we hold them, and that humankind is better off with them than without them. Where these values are ignored, they are replaced by vices such as selfishness, corruption, greed, and exploitation.

Through my experiences and observations, I have come to believe that the physical destruction of the earth extends to us, too. If we live in an environment that's wounded—where the water is polluted, the air is filled with soot and fumes, the food is contaminated with heavy metals and plastic residues, or the soil is practically dust—it hurts us, chipping away at our health and creating injuries at a physical, psychological, and spiritual level. In degrading the environment, therefore, we degrade ourselves.

The reverse is also true. In the process of helping the earth to heal, we help ourselves. If we see the earth bleeding from the loss of topsoil, biodiversity, or drought and desertification, and if we help reclaim or save what is lost—for instance, through regeneration of degraded forests—the planet will help us in our self-healing and indeed survival. When we can eat healthier, nonadulterated food; when we breathe clean air and drink clean water; when the soil can produce an abundance of vegetables or grains, our own sicknesses and unhealthy lifestyles become healed. The same values we employ in the service of the earth's replenishment work on us, too. We can love ourselves as we love the earth; feel grateful for who we are, even as we are grateful for the earth's bounty; better ourselves, even as we use that self-empowerment to improve the earth; offer service to ourselves, even as we practice volunteerism for the earth.

Human beings have a consciousness by which we can appreciate love, beauty, creativity, and innovation or mourn the lack thereof. To the extent that we can go beyond ourselves and ordinary biological instincts, we can experience what it means to be human and therefore different from other animals. We can appreciate the delicacy of dew or a flower in bloom, water as it runs over the pebbles or the majesty of an elephant, the fragility of the butterfly or a field of wheat or leaves blowing in the wind. Such aesthetic responses are valid in their own right, and as reactions to the natural world they can inspire in us a sense of wonder and beauty that in turn encourages a sense of the divine.

That consciousness acknowledges that while a certain tree, forest, or mountain itself may not be holy, the life-sustaining services it provides—the oxygen we breathe, the water we drink—are what make existence possible, and so deserve our respect and veneration. From this point of view, the environment becomes sacred, because to destroy what is essential to life is to destroy life itself.

Wangari Maathai is a Kenyan activist and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner. She is the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which has trained women throughout Africa to combat deforestation, in part through the planting of more than 40 million trees. She is the author of The Challenge for Africa, Unbowed: A Memoir, The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience, and Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World, from which this piece is excerpted.


Bearing Witness: Facing our Grief for Environmental Destruction
Photographer Chris Jordan's latest project left him feeling grief and hopelessness. Now he wants more people to discover how productive those emotions can be.

How We Saved the Climate (and Ourselves)
Bill McKibben imagines himself in the year 2100 and asks what it took to save the world.

The Spiritual Uprising Taking Place in the US
Sarah van Gelder: How a spiritual uprising in the US has started conversations on poverty and the environment.

  Read Spiritual Environmentalism: Healing Ourselves By Replenishing The Earth
 June 4, 2011   Profit, Pollution And Poor
by Farooque Chowdhury, Countercurrent

Profit is the biggest polluter. The economy that goes to any length for profit, the politics that stands for profit-thirsty economy, the conspicuous consumption-lifestyle that finds life in profit and considers nothing but self, and that is profit at any cost, pollute most. Ecology, environment, pollution, sustaining life on the earth, and all other issues between heaven and earth turns non-issues to profit-hunting.

Profit generates poverty. Profit pushes the multitude to a poverty-laden life, where the poor find nothing but the only way to scour and forage the dirt, the dust, the mud, the municipal garbage dumping grounds, the last portion of tree felled by the powerful, and all these are simply for survival in a world conquered by monster-profit. In their thirst for life, the poor save every drop of water, every piece of paper thrown away by the paper-rich, every piece of cans and plastic bottles, thrown away foods by the food-rich. They consume these, they use these, they recycle these, they earn by selling these to recyclers. Thus they contribute to the survival journey of this resource-poor planet. Thus they stand opposed to profit, to the rich, to the squandering life style of an irresponsible minority in society. Thus an antagonistic relation is established between profit and poor, between rich and ecology.

Excesses of the filthy rich are unsustainable. They live with $1,350 wedge-heel sandals, $18,400 leather tote bags, $80,000 BMW 750, $130,000 Maserati Quattroporte, $8,600 custom-tailored suit, day shirts in 350 colors, 35 fabrics, 10 different collars and 2 cuff styles, 127 million euro yacht, $35,000 intricately detailed canine palace with “recessed and interior lighting, air conditioning, dry-walled interiors and custom furnishing”, “Mughal-inspired kebabs topped with shaved pearls and plates trimmed with 24-karat gold leaf”, $1,200 a plate meal. (Newsweek, May 26/June 2, 2008) This is a miniscule, fractional-fraction of squandering by the energy-rich. The majestic mansions, the private jets and islands, the luscious parties, the blazing ornaments, the protected neighborhoods, the delicately designed detail arrangement for vacations of the rich exist as an obstacle to the changes the world needs immediately. Their vulgar lifestyle, ab ovo usque ad mala, from the beginning to the end, lives in a system. The shrewd system, economic and political, needed to feed and fuel this idiotic lifestyle is inefficient, energy-hungry, nature-gulping. The system devours environment and ecology. In this economy, it is profit, not necessities of life that determines allocation of resources. This market-driven allocation, as Professor Robin Hahnel explained, is inefficient. (“Against the Market Economy”) No doubt, it is an inefficient compulsion. This allocation, determined by compulsion for profit, all most all the time, contradicts with environment. Should not blame for the environmental crisis be laid on this inefficient, but profit-sensitive economy and the state and the society that this hungry economy creates?

All commodities produced in this world system are not essential for life, are not consumed by the masses of common persons. Rather, a lot of commodities burden life, and take toll from nature while getting produced, but they make profit. Dominating interests enjoy a lot of those commodities. Those lots are also in smaller proportion. But those are needed by the capital to make profit. Section of powerful media manipulates mass psychology so that masses turn consumers of commodities produced for profit, but not essential for life.

Economic-political-social-information structure is so designed that often consumers and, in broader terms, broad society remains unaware of harmful effects of many commodities or material used or processes followed for manufacturing these commodities. The structure keeps them unaware of and incapable to calculate the total cost they pay for the commodity they consume and for the pollution the commodities create in manufacturing and use processes. Most of the time, the consumers remain unorganized that makes them incapable to resist polluting technology. (ibid.) As an arithmetic of profit, technologies that carry risk of reducing profit but helpful for environment are not introduced by capital in control of technology and innovation.

A section of environmental discourse ignores this intricate relation between economy, nature, society, environment, profit for few, welfare of all, politics, distribution system, consumption style, etc. The “Mickey Mouse” model, ozpolitic tells, treats economy as an entity non-dependent on society and environment while the “bullseye” model treats economy as dependent on society and environment. The model followed by mainstream is the “Mickey Mouse” model.

It is not that the pecuniary dominating classes are ignorant of the science, economics and politics of ecology. It is oligarchy’s, and now in countries, plutocracy’s class interest – light speed-super-ultra-profit – that keeps them indifferent to environmental problems, to environment-destitute, to ecology-poor, to climate-refugees, to unequal access to ecology, to injustices of inequality, to indecencies of life, to indignities of poverty. The system standing on immense wealth power excludes the poor. The poor are excluded from fora for voicing concern with the defaced ecology they live in, excluded from getting aware of ecological devastations that degrade their life to the level even miserable than the living condition of pet dogs and cats of the rich. Most of the time, the poor are kept unaware of this despicable reality of I-enjoy-you-to-doom. (Keeping the poor unaware is another complex story, told elsewhere.)

Dominating capital and the state machine it controls benefit from processes harmful for environment. (A. Dobson, Green Political Theory: An Introduction) There are cases in this world when state protects environment plunderers as the party of plunderers has assigned state the task. State faithfully carries on this assignment, at times, with a mask of a blind-deaf-dumb-inefficient-worthless-broken down-hapless machine, at times, turning captive to detail, imposing legal edifice its masters have erected, at times, suffering from scarcity of resources required to enforce steps essential for environment, at times, presiding over distribution of chunks of land to its masters and masters’ underlings, at times, “benevolently” concerned with imaginary-trickling down growth only. Although, there are times, states in this amazing world act swiftly, unerringly, efficiently, delicately, smartly, secretly, head-hands-legs not tied or smoothened by legalities and legitimacies. Those are moments for maintaining status quo. Those are issues and times for its survival of its masters, not for survival of environment of/for common community. At times, state turns ignorant; it does not know the way to use taxation-tool to fight pollution. But, at times, it knows smart ways to use tax-tool to benefit polluters, at least not to harm those actors.

For earning bread, the working people have to take dangerous jobs, jobs harmful for their health and head and for environment. Environmental problems severely affect the working class. Many reports, studies, books and essays including Rod Crompton and Alec Erwin’s “Reds And Greens: Labour And The Environment” in Jacklyn Cock and Eddie Koch’s Going Green, D E Morrison and R.E. Dunlap’s “Environmentalism And Elitism: A Conceptual And Empirical Analysis”, (Environmental Management, vol. 10, no. 5), K D van Liere and R E Dunlap’s “The Social Bases of Environmental Concern: A Review Of Hypotheses, Explanations And Empirical Evidence” (Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 2), State of India’s Environment, Citizens’ Reports, People’s Reports on Bangladesh Environment provide evidence of the suffering.

Resolving the crisis requires replacement of the system and relation of production that cannot sustain without expanding always and without devouring the nature, and the political arrangement that the relation and system build up. It has to be replaced by a society that organizes production and distribution democratically in the interests of all. The social system that now governs human society blindly stands against the indispensable changes as Hervé Kempf, environmental editor, Le Monde, tells in his book How the Rich are Destroying the Earth.

Reality that appears puts forth the following urgent, immediate task: seriously review the political and economic power, processes, institutions and relations that maintain and control inequality in distribution pinning down multitude to an ecologically intolerable life – ramshackle, dingy, windowless, dark hovel adjacent to or amidst heaps of garbage, where stagnant water subdued by mosquitoes dominates with its odor, where water and energy are extremely scarce, where unhealthy little kitchen and toilet are disproportionately shared by too many, where it turns difficult to identify whether drains are in courtyard or courtyard is drains, where sons of Adam consume bare minimum but work for hours and hours, where park, play ground and affordable amusement are unknown facilities, where fresh air is a forgotten dream, where similar innumerable descriptions make perception unmanageable. The review will lead to increased space – ecological, economic, political, information – for the poor.

Mainstream environment dissertate don’t go for this review, don’t raise the issue of remodeling distribution and consumption. It keeps itself busy and vocal with the very important task of saving trees and rivers while it forgets the issue of the living condition of the poor, an essential part of environment. It denies looking at the reasons behind reaching the critical ecological threshold. It is a denial of connivance.

Today’s ecological equity demands: increased consumption of the poorest, for the sake of their survival, and reversal of consumption of the insensitive top 20% of the world population consuming 80% of the planet’s wealth. Common persons have direct interest in environment. For having a dignified human existence, a vibrant ecology is common persons’ requirement. For their survival, they have to stand for it. Communities of common persons have to take initiative identifying sources of environmental crisis, fighting the crisis out, regenerate environment.

Dhaka-based freelancer Farooque Chowdhury is co-editor of People’s Report on Bangladesh Environment, 2001and 2002-2003.

  Read Profit, Pollution And Poor
 June 4, 2011   Tar Sands Pipeline: Silence Is Deadly
by James E. Hansen,
Climatestorytellers.org, Countercurrent

I’m Speaking Out Against The Canada–U.S. Tar Sands Pipeline

The U.S. Department of State seems likely to approve a huge pipeline, known as Keystone XL to carry tar sands oil (about 830,000 barrels per day) to Texas refineries unless sufficient objections are raised. The scientific community needs to get involved in this fray now. If this project gains approval, it will become exceedingly difficult to control the tar sands monster. The environmental impacts of tar sands development include: irreversible effects on biodiversity and the natural environment, reduced water quality, destruction of fragile pristine Boreal Forest and associated wetlands, aquatic and watershed mismanagement, habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, disruption to life cycles of endemic wildlife particularly bird and Caribou migration, fish deformities and negative impacts on the human health in downstream communities. Although there are multiple objections to tar sands development and the pipeline, including destruction of the environment in Canada, and the likelihood of spills along the pipeline’s pathway, such objections, by themselves, are very unlikely to stop the project.

An overwhelming objection is that exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts. The tar sands are estimated (e.g., see IPCC Fourth Assessment Report) to contain at least 400 GtC (equivalent to about 200 ppm CO2). Easily available reserves of conventional oil and gas are enough to take atmospheric CO2 well above 400 ppm, which is unsafe for life on earth. However, if emissions from coal are phased out over the next few decades and if unconventional fossil fuels including tar sands are left in the ground, it is conceivable to stabilize earth’s climate.

Phase out of emissions from coal is itself an enormous challenge. However, if the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over. There is no practical way to capture the CO2 emitted while burning oil, which is used principally in vehicles.

Governments are acting as if they are oblivious to the fact that there is a limit on how much fossil fuel carbon we can put into the air. Fossil fuel carbon injected into the atmosphere will stay in surface reservoirs for millennia. We can extract a fraction of the excess CO2 via improved agricultural and forestry practices, but we cannot get back to a safe CO2 level if all coal is used without carbon capture or if unconventional fossil fuels, like tar sands are exploited.

A document describing the pipeline project is available here. Comments, due by 6 June, can be submitted here, or by e–mail to keystonexl@cardno.com or mail to Keystone XL EIS Project, P.O. Box 96503–98500, Washington, DC 20090–6503 or fax to 202–269–0098.

I am submitting a comment that the analysis is flawed and insufficient, failing to account for important information regarding human–made climate change that is now available. I note that prior government targets for limiting human–made global warming are now known to be inadequate. Specifically, the target to limit global warming to 2oC, rather than being a safe “guardrail,” is actually a recipe for global climate disasters. I will include drafts of the following papers that I recently co–authored:

Paleoclimate Implications for Human–Made Climate Change that can be found here,
Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Implications that can be found here, and
The Case for Young People and Nature: A Path to a Healthy, Natural, Prosperous Future that can be found here.

I will also comment that the tar sands pipeline project does not serve the national interest, because it will result in large adverse impacts, on the public and wildlife, by contributing substantially to climate change. These impacts must be evaluated before the project is considered further.

It is my impression and understanding that a large number of objections could have an effect and help achieve a more careful evaluation, possibly averting a huge mistake.

James E. Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. Hansen is best known for his research in the field of climatology. In 1988, Hansen’s testimony before the US Senate was featured on the front page of the New York Times and helped raise broad awareness of global warming. Hansen’s work has inspired scientists and activists around the world to fight for climate change solutions. In recent years, Hansen has become an activist for action to mitigate the effects of climate change, which on several occasions has led to his arrest. In 2009 his book, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity was published.

  Read Tar Sands Pipeline: Silence Is Deadly
 June 6, 2011   Feedback And Dis-Equilibrium In Human Overpopulation
by Steven B. Kurtz, Countercurrent

Overwhelming evidence has engendered a consensus among global scientists that the human population level and trend are unsustainable. Although we are part of nature, we may have some choice in the ongoing process of which our numbers are but one variable. Individual, social, and institutional factors are examined, and policy options are considered. Evidence is given debunking the claim that the rich attempt to coerce poor nations to reduce fertility. Carrying capacity and optimum population concepts are discussed, particularly as to equilibrium potential. Prospects for pro-active success are entertained.


"A suitable total for the number of citizens cannot be fixed without considering the land..." Plato, Laws, V

During the New Millennium, many unexpected events and conditions will undoubtedly surprise our progeny and us. Perhaps the decline of fossil energy sources will be rendered benign due to scientific discoveries. Perhaps "factor ten" improvements in technological efficiency will aid in the rehabilitation of the environment. Perhaps our species will self-select for survival tolerances in polluted or otherwise altered conditions. These possibilities are little more than speculations.

We can have a bit more confidence that our numbers will not continue the growth pattern of the last century, during which they quadrupled. This paper will briefly explore why it is that a consensus of the world's experts believe the rate of growth will continue to slow, whether or not a reduction or crash is likely, and if it is plausible that stabilization might occur at some level other than extinction.

Some people claim that humans are somehow exempt from the sorts of systemic constraints, which limit the populations of other life forms. We indeed have managed to extend our range into vastly diverse habitats due to our adaptive fitness. Language, abstract thought, and reflective consciousness are traits, which aided this expansion. However, in a largely closed system, physical expansion cannot be infinite.

We will explore possible scenarios, which might lead to stabilization or equilibrium.

Projections vary somewhat, but the next half-century is conservatively expected to result in a 50% increase to approximately nine billion of us. We will explore the extent to which it is conceivable that human planning could affect the actual outcome.

The first section will provide brief evidence that overpopulation is a problem. The fascination with "virtual realities" and the myth of the "de-materialization" of economies are examples of impediments to the grasping of this issue. The vast majority of humans who are unwired know they cannot live on bits and bytes even if some of us believe otherwise; their needs include food, water, and energy.

The second section will outline some variables affecting human reproductive behavior as positive and negative feedback. These include our genetic make-up (hard wiring), environmental conditions, socio-economic values, institutional pressures, and what is called "free will".

Next will be the question of what could constitute equilibrium. Carrying capacity connotes a maximum number of a species, which can endure in a habitat. Tolerances in a complex ecosystem are variable to inputs and internal changes, and are most sensitive when near maximum thresholds. Freedom has been described as the key human value, and it is reflected in maximal options for future decisions and actions. (Buchanan, 1997) Equilibrium seems inconsistent with carrying capacity, since the proximity of potential constraints would reduce future options and maximize the destabilizing risks of changing conditions. If attainable, equilibrium at some variable optimum level should maximize freedom and well-being, and minimize destabilizing occurrences.

Finally, I will venture into the realm of speculation to consider the prospects for success in the self-determination of equilibrium. Peace and the minimization of future suffering seem to be related to the ultimate outcome.


"Intensification of production to feed an increased population leads to a till greater increase in population." (Peter Farb, 1978)

Albert Bartlett, Emeritus Professor of Physics at The University of Colorado, has demonstrated that with a 1% annual growth rate, human population would in 17,000 years equal all the atoms in the universe.(Bartlett, 1996) As a reference, the last ice age was about 17,000 years ago. We currently are growing at a rate around 50% faster than that. Bartlett was responding to the claim of the possibility of 1% annual growth of the human population for seven billion (then corrected to seven million!) years by Management professor Julian Simon. If space were the only requirement for a healthy, enduring habitat, the issue would be relatively easy to address. In short, sustainable (non-stop) growth of physical systems is an oxymoron.

Following are some opinions from diverse sources. In a letter to me dated October 3, 1996, U.S. Vice-President Al Gore stated: "I consider the dramatic growth in the world's population to be the greatest challenge currently facing the environment...The effects of this rapid increase are felt around the globe. Starvation, deforestation, and lack of clean water are just some of the problems..."

Stuart L. Udall, former US Secretary of the Interior, wrote in a recent essay:

"...current consumption of the two cornerstone resources of modern life - water and oil - foreshadow shortages that will cripple the economies of many nations if present [population] trends continue."(Udall, 2000)

There is a solid scientific consensus evidenced by a 1992 joint statement by The British Royal Society and the (US) National Academy of Sciences urging world leaders to address human overpopulation, as well as by the "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity" written in 1993 and signed by over 1600 senior scientists from 70 countries which includes the following:

"The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth's limits."

"Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth."

"No more than ...a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished."

" We must stabilize population."

" We must ensure sexual equality, and guarantee women control over their own reproductive decisions."

Many people besides world leaders and scientists understand the seriousness of our predicament. John H. Adams, Executive Director of The Natural Resources Defense Council, an organization not active in population affairs, began an essay entitled "What Matters Most" in The Amicus Journal:

"There is no single thing more significant for the future of the world than the fact of human population growth."(Adams, 1997)

Author of Pulitzer Prize winning Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond wrote in The Third Chimpanzee:

"A nuclear holocaust is certain to prove disastrous, but it isn't happening now. An environmental holocaust is equally certain to prove disastrous, but it differs in that it is already well underway."(Diamond, 1992)

Diamond may unfortunately underestimate the risk of a quick, violent demise.

The University of Toronto's Peace and Conflict Studies Program has done extensive research on factors influencing violent conflict. One area of the program is the Project on Environment, Population, and Security. Scarcities, depletion, and degradation of resources such as potable water are part of the feedback loops of human activity-habitat systems which impact violent conflict.(Homer-Dixon, et al. 1993)

"Don't worry, be happy" is sadly no longer applicable to our predicament. There are some, though, who dismiss these concerns as fiction. They point to past analyses (Ehrlich1968) which contained some incorrect judgments as to the timing of approaching limits. Evidence is strong, though, that the trends are proceeding as he envisioned if we believe the scientific consensus. The nay -sayers include those like the late Julian Simon and Reason Magazine's Ronald Bailey who conveniently ignores issues like declining stocks of fish which are to be shared by a quarter of a million net additional people daily.(Bailey, 2000)

The UN has been at the forefront in seeking solutions for overpopulation. The poorest nations are struggling to address the issue, but aid promised by wealthy nations has been slow in coming. India recently announced a national population policy and China is still struggling with the issue. Denial that overpopulation exists and is a serious problem led biologist Garrett Hardin to write a new book last year called The Ostrich Factor. Suffice it to say that I view the evidence as overwhelming.


"The more we examine the relationships between population, resources, and the environment the stronger the connections appear." (Dr. Nafis Sadik in an address to The UN Conference on Environment and Development, Geneva, 1991)


The widely accepted theory called the demographic transition holds that upon reaching a secure and materially comfortable lifestyle, birthrates tend to decline. The case histories of North America and Western Europe are used as evidence for the theory's validity. In some cases, correlations have occurred, and causal links may seem obvious. However, many physical and social scientists are more rigorous when seeking causal evidence. Virginia Abernethy a professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University Medical School, argues convincingly that the perception of the commencement of better economic times (material well-being) leads to higher fertility rates. She gives several good examples:

"In times of privation in France, prior to the revolution, a sense of limits promoted reproductive caution, and small families were the norm...Prosperity induced high fertility rates in Ireland after the introduction of the potato, and in Turkey, when families received land." (Abernethy, 1994)

Even when a "demographic transition" is claimed to have occurred, there could be several generations between supposed cause and effect, making the number of variables too numerous and complex to yield analytic certainty. Several generations of high fertility, like those in the US during the first half of the twentieth century, could result in a rapid population increase, after which a slowdown in births occurs. Abernethy claims that the rise of the US as an economic power, with concomitant optimism for well-being by it's citizens, was key to the high birthrates. She sees uncertainty about real wages and job security, combined with the high costs of education and health care as factors in the slowdown in US fertility in the latter part of the century.

Humans do not easily embrace this sort of evidence, but we must continue to examine the possible causes of our actions if we are to pursue effective solutions. Many animals exhibit reduced fertility and/or lower survival rates of young offspring well in advance of serious food shortages. This is an adaptation for survival. Humans exhibit similar patterns when stressed by overcrowding and environmental scarcities. D.H. Stott discussed this at length, and I continue by quoting:

"...the predicted catastrophe of a world population increasing by geometrical progression to the point of starvation is unlikely to occur. It will be forestalled, if not by conscious human design, by physiological mechanisms, which have evolved to obviate such a calamity. This is not to minimize the fact that these mechanisms themselves are highly unpleasant. Nature prescribes happiness when it has survival value. To man nevertheless is given an answer. We need not wait for the physiological killers and maimers to come upon us...It should not, however, be beyond the capacity of man to develop cultural methods of regulating population-numbers which do not involve distress and unhappiness." (Stott, 1962)

Bill Rees, well known for developing the ecological footprint concept, noted ten years ago the relevance of work by Prigogine and Stengers, Crutchfield et al., and Palmer regarding thresholds of unpredictability. The systemic feedback that will affect human numbers with or without our intent may be unexpected in timing and intensity. Worth noting here is the principle of the weak link as expressed by Rees:

"It should be understood that while human society depends on many ecological resources and functions for survival, carrying capacity is ultimately determined by the single vital resource or function in least supply." (Rees, 1990)

There are well-entrenched historically based values, which provide disincentives to reducing fertility. Only children were thought to be deprived by the lack of siblings. This "folk wisdom" is still widely believed despite the lack of conclusive supporting evidence. Large families are accepted by many societies as a joy or a blessing. When farm labor was important for economic viability, this might have reflected rational criteria. In modern industrialized nations, agriculture depends more on energy, chemicals, and technology than on farm hands, and a very small percentage of families is engaged in farming. In many countries the family farm has been subdivided among offspring for generations, resulting in small, unviable plots. Feedback of this nature can be mythical, but nonetheless is still effective.

In societies with high mortality rates for infants and youth, and lack of institutional old age security, poor families need to produce children as their only realistic means of attempting to secure their future. Here the biological constraint of the prospect of inadequate food is challenged by the human need for future security. This seems a most basic example of the human predicament, called by The Club of Rome, the "global problématique."


What types of actions might prove useful in a humane attempt to influence fertility? The acceptance that we have some sphere of free will seems necessary to continue this exploration; just how much is not easy to say.

"Sociobiology's premise is that individuals of all species including humans are genetically predisposed to act in ways that maximize their 'inclusive fitness'...Axiomatically, every living individual had ancestors that succeeded...so most of us carry genes impelling us..." (Abernethy, 1993)

It is not my intention to attempt to classify or divide human behavior into determined movements or free actions - or any percentage combination of the two. Tendencies or predispositions can be accepted as indicators of probabilities or expectations. We plan and make choices about our role in sexual reproduction to greater or lesser degrees. Ansley Cole has delineated three categories for successful intentional implementation of reduced fertility. First is the actualization and realization that both parties indeed have a choice in the matter. Second is that they perceive benefit(s) from the resulting smaller family. Third is the availability and knowledge of various means of implementing their choice.(Coale, 1989)

Dr. John R. Weeks is the Director of the International Population Center at San Diego State University. He develops Coale's concepts into policies with direct and indirect impacts on reproductive behavior. From a systems perspective, these constitute feedback. Direct policies include full legal rights for women, payments for having fewer children, higher (rather than lower) taxes per child, legalization of contraceptive technologies, abortion and sterilization, and availability of family planning services in local outlets. Examples of indirect policies are improved secular education, increased economic opportunities for women, lower infant and child mortality rates, community birth quotas, and public campaigns promoting knowledge and use of birth control.(Weeks, 1990)

Further discussion of possible planned intervention will be undertaken in the final section of this paper: Prospects.



Most governments, even when well-meaning, have discovered deficit financing and become addicted to revenue growth. The addition of interest results in larger total future payments than the amount of the original loan. This inevitably results in a race to keep up, as new borrowings are added on a regular basis. With the onset of declining fertility and demographically aging populations in many developed nations, immigration increases are sought to keep the economy growing and to expand payments into the pension system. There have been attempts in Germany and France, among others, to stimulate higher fertility by native born women. This may reflect fear of cultural dilution by societies, and is evidenced by recent political victories by advocates of restricted immigration. If there were a national wealth surplus rather than a debt, growth would not only be unnecessary, it might be undesirable. Old age security would be covered, and remaining wealth could be shared by fewer people.


Globalization has been accompanied by the dominance of multi-national corporations. It is the mandate of corporations to deliver maximum profits to shareholders, and managers seek to maximize their own income and security by achieving that goal. It is not rational for corporations (or any business) to seek shrinking markets for goods or services. So the system has a built in growth imperative. At the same time, labor shortages would give bargaining power to workers, and would likely increase costs to business. For decades businesses have been relocating facilities to areas where labor is abundant and therefore cheaper. A lack of necessary skills may be a short term constraint, but a declining population is generally not appealing to businesses.

Now let's have a look at how a Chinese expert perceives this. Zhang Zhirong is Deputy Director of China Population Welfare Foundation in Beijing. He wrote a report to the Third Conference of the International Consortium for the Study of Environmental Security from which I quote:

"China is caught in a vicious cycle of swelling population and diminishing resources...Economic growth is the goal of China's industrial policy. However rapid population growth allays the economic growth that occurs." (Zhirong, 1994)

It appears that it is possible for business leaders to catch on that there is a point of diminishing return to population linked economic growth. I expect this feedback to spread globally, like a viral meme, as systemic instability increases.


There are many religious (and ethnic) beliefs which can influence human reproductive behavior. Some examples include Muslim sects, Orthodox Jewish, and Catholic doctrine. The most extreme example that I'm aware of is the Morman belief that twelve offspring by a man places him closest to God. Groups at war have overtly used competitive breeding as an alternate method of conquest, and rape has been used as part of ethnic cleansing. Other than obscure suicide sects, I know of no religions, which advocate a reduction in the number of their adherents. Some might recognize that overpopulation is a problem. This could present a dilemma to them as they seek to spread their version of the truth and the good. The Dalai Lama gave a speech in New Zealand a few years ago where it was reported that he said the world's population problem would benefit from more priests, nuns, gays, and lesbians. I interpret this as a touch of humor applied to a serious problem by a wise leader.


"All optima must lie between the minimum viable population size, MVP, and the biophysical carrying capacity of the planet." (Gretchen C. Daily, A. Ehrlich and P. Ehrlich)

The above range is wide enough to drive all the vehicles in the world through. How might we narrow it? The authors state in the same paper:

"...social preferences are critical because achieving any target size requires establishing social policies to influence fertility rates. Human population sizes have never, and will never, automatically equilibrate at some level. There is no feedback mechanism that will lead to perfectly maintained, identical crude birth and death rates." (Daily, et al. 1994)

Although I agree with the need for planning, it seems like a conceptual error to place it somehow outside the feedback system. Again ignoring the free will issue, it is not reasonable in my opinion to somehow excise our planning from the ecosystem of which we are a part. Recall Stott's point about natural governors of fertility. Our planning could be part of our adaptive fitness.

The paper goes on to state criteria for choosing optimum population size. First is a desired minimum quality of life balanced by the impacts to the ecosystem for sustaining it. Second is an acceptance that material wealth will always be unequally divided among humans, and the resulting need for a cushion (or excess) of continuously available per capita resources. They include a consideration of waste reprocessing without toxification of the system.

Next is the value of cultural diversity. They believe geographic dispersion requires a certain minimum amount of population. I think this is a prehistoric era consideration, and not meaningful now. Rather it seems that an excess of people combined with globalization, results in cultural extinctions. I find this categorically different than the prior criteria, believing that adaptation in evolution will result in ongoing cultural changes in any event.

A "critical mass" distributional criteria similarly perplexes me, although I understand the cultural value of urbanization. These two criteria seem more like value judgments based on the cultural biases of the authors, who live in the developed world.

Next is the need to protect biodiversity. Obviously each human displaces (or alters habitat potentially useful for) other life forms, with the partial exception of human parasites. Biodiversity, they explain, is anthropocentrically valuable as part of our habitat and is necessary for our health. It also provides aesthetic pleasure. They then add the ethical responsibility of humans to minimize species loss. Cultural bias seems involved in the latter two elements, but it is arguable that they reflect universal human values.

The authors then add the key value of human freedom that was mentioned in the introduction:

"In general, we would choose a population size that maximizes very broad environmental and social options for individuals." (Daily, et al., 1994)

For a different perspective, let's turn again to Zhang Zhirong on China's population: "According to The China Academy of Sciences, and based on estimated land resources, the optimum population in China is 950 million now, and 1.16 billion by 2000." (Zhirong, 1994). Zhirong then states that China's carrying capacity, also based on "land resources" is no more than 1.6 billion. He believes that serious environmental and social problems exist and will worsen as China's population first exceeds the optimum level, and then the carrying capacity level. Maybe China expected to add some land resources between 1994 and 2000. What other variables could cause it's optimum population to go up by 7% in six years? No answer is given in the report.

Nicolaas Bloembergen, Nobel winner in Physics and Harvard professor, said in a presentation to colleagues: "Would a total world population of about one billion as existed two hundred years ago represent a reasonable compromise between quantity and quality of human life? The answer...clearly involves value judgments." (Bloembergen, 1996)

J. Kenneth Smail, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Kenyon College in Ohio, has an argument for "...a sustainable optimum of approximately 2 billion by the beginning of the 23rd century." He presents much evidence that mere stabilization during the 21st century will result in a "future demographic catastrophe." (Smail, 1995)

I see no clear way, given the current cultural, economic, and geophysical variables of societies on earth, to expect a consensus for approximating an optimum human population. Stabilization, or equilibrium, if it is to be realized anytime soon, would seem to be based on fragmented actions, or unintentional outcomes. What is obvious from my investigations is that most concerned with the issue believe that the desired direction for human population is downward.


"Nobody knows if a steady state population could be reached by the year 2050. Perhaps a period of negative population growth could be envisioned...hopefully not be caused by ...war, famine, and pestilence." (Bloembergen)

We have discussed a variety of influences on human reproduction. Included were inherent predispositions and individual responses to environmental and social conditions. We also explored possible policy options, which many believe have the potential to influence our demographic future. Besides the institutional obstacles mentioned, there are some common misconceptions by many well-meaning people. I will mention only one, which, if sufficiently countered, might abet a more humane resolution.

The environment and social justice are issues, which have growing support among those able to think about more than their immediate material needs. Advocates seem certain that their own issue is the most important one, but many fail to question its sufficiency. A typical response to the introduction of the overpopulation factor is that the rich should reduce their consumption and waste production instead of chiding the poor people of the planet. This demonstrates a lack of knowledge that the poor have been clamoring for our aid in population matters, and that they have banded together to help themselves. Provision of such aid is not a substitute for encouraging conservation and cleaner economies at home. There is no either/or involved. Both are desirable.

In 1989, as verified by The UN Population Fund, the following countries signed a statement urging early stabilization of human population. Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Botswana, Cape Verde, China, Columbia, Cyprus, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Fiji, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Jordon, Kenya, Rep. of Korea, Liberia, Malta, Mauritius, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia, Vanuatu, and Zimbabwe. Note the absence of most wealthy nations. It is ridiculous to claim that the rich are trying to coerce the poor nations to reduce population. In fact, they are not responding to the affirmed needs of the poor.

The following countries are part of either the South Commission or Partners in Population and Development: Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mexico, Colombia, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, China, India, Pakistan, Uganda, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Guyana, Ivory Ciast, Jamaica, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia (former), and Western Samoa. The "Partners" share expertise with each other in reproductive health, appropriate technologies, and population policy. The Challenge to the South: Report of the South Commission, included this unequivocal statement:

" In the long run the problem of overpopulation of the countries of the South can be fully resolved only through their development. But action to contain the rise of population cannot be postponed." (Nyerere, 1990)

Easier said than done. Nature will provide, as they say, but what percentages of any "cure" will be higher mortality versus lower fertility? What percentages of lower fertility could be due to willful constraint versus physiological changes? We may have some choice in the answers to these questions, but acts of omission (purposeful inaction) decrease that possibility. Smail says he is "cautiously optimistic" that humans will take global action based on "an individual and collective concern for posterity."

Bloembergen summarizes six measures proposed by Joel Cohen, which have been widely supported. "Educate and empower women; educate men; promote the distribution of contraceptives; save the children, improve the economics in developing countries; all of the above." Abernethy strongly supports the empowerment and education of women. The economic element may need refinement to address the "opportunity model" (Abernethy and Smail) in which population expands in synch with perceived future well-being. This is the most difficult element of feedback to address in my opinion, since the poor naturally and expectedly strive for better material conditions. Perhaps sustainable development combined with other comprehensive measures is the right approach. Traditional development with minimal population policy action is a recipe for continued suffering by humans and the rest of the planet, only greater in scope and severity.

Udall's essay calls for the establishment of "a direct-to-the-people non-profit organization financed by a consortium of billionaires." It would be primarily locally staffed, and deliver women to women reproductive health services to the poorest nations of the world. The Ted Turner, Bill Gates, George Soros, Rockefeller, Packard, and many other foundations have recognized the importance of this issue. It may well be that those enmeshed in fierce economic competition are blinkered by their focus to succeed, while those who are very rich have the opportunity to step back and look farther into the future. A trillion dollars in assets passed to progeny can't by itself guarantee them a peaceful planet, clean air and water, delicious healthy food, and the joys of a diverse natural environment.

A primary need is for human action to accelerate systemic feedback to augment womens' empowerment, health, and education. The technical means already exist to control fertility. A second, and not previously mentioned challenge is the need for system science methodology to grow worldwide and to ultimately replace irrational, power based approaches to social organization. Overpopulation is but one of the global issues we must address; and the principle of the weak link applies to the whole system.


Abernethy, Virginia D., 1993, Population Politics, The Choices That Shape Our

Future, New York, Plenum

Abernethy, Virginia D., 1994, The Democratic Transition Revisited, Report of

the Third Conference of the International Consortium for the Study of

Environmental Security

Adams, John H., 1997, What Matters Most, The Amicus Journal, 19(1)

Bailey, Ronald, 2000, Earth Day Then and Now, Reason, May 2000

Bartlett, Albert A., 1996, The Exponential Function, The Physics Teacher, 34

Bloembergen, Nicolaas, 1996, Focus, 7(1)

Buchanan, Bruce, 1997, Human Freedom and Cybernetic Principles, Proceedings of

the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome, Spring 1997

Coale, Ansley, 1989, The Demographic Transition, Proceedings of the

International Population Conference, Liege, Vol 1

Daily, G., Ehrlich, A., and Ehrlich, P., 1994, Optimum Human Population Size,

Population and Environment, 15(6)

Diamond, Jared, 1993, The Third Chimpanzee, Harperperennial Library

Ehrlich, Paul, 1976, The Population Bomb, Amereon Ltd.

Farb, Peter, 1978, Humankind, Houghton Mifflin Company

Homer-Dixon, T., Boutwell, J., and Rathjens, G. 1993, Environmental Change and

Violent Conflict, Scientific American, 268(2)

Nyerere, Julius, 1990, The Challenge to the South, Oxford University Press

Rees, William E., 1990, Sustainable Development and the Biosphere, Teilhard

Studies 23(Spring)

Smail, J.K., 1995, Confronting the 21st Century's Hidden Crisis, NPG Forum,


Stott, D.H., 1962, Five Cultural and Natural Checks on Population Growth,

Culture and the Evolution of Man, Oxford University Press

Udall, Stewart L., 2000, Population Control: A New Paradigm, The Seattle

Times, February 11

Weeks, J.R., 1990, How to Influence Fertility: The Experience So Far, NPG


Zhirong, Zhang, 1994, Identifying Population Security Links and Optimum

Population Considerations, Report of the Third Conference of the International

Consortium for the Study of Environmental Security

Steven B. Kurtz, a philosophy graduate of New York University, is a member of the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome. He was an Assistant Director of Merrill Lynch International Bank during a twenty-five year career in financial derivatives. After nine years organic gardening in New Hampshire, he now does research and volunteer work in ecological economics and sustainable futures with several organizations.

  Read Feedback And Dis-Equilibrium In Human Overpopulation
 June 9, 2011   IMF Financial Terrorism
by Stephen Lendman, Countercurrent

In July 1944, the IMF and Bank for Reconstruction and Development (now the World Bank) were established to integrate developing nations into the Global North-dominated world economy in ways other than initially mandated.

Under a new post-war monetary system, the IMF was created to stabilize exchange rates linked to the dollar and bridge temporary payment imbalances. The World Bank was to provide credit to war-torn developing countries. Both bodies, in fact, proved hugely exploitive, using debt entrapment to transfer public wealth to Western bankers and other corporate predators.

On a grander scale today, the scheme destructively obligates indebted nations to take new loans to service old ones, assuring rising indebtedness and structural adjustment harshness, including:

-- privatization of state enterprises, many sold for a fraction of their real worth;

-- mass layoffs;

-- deregulation;

-- deep social spending cuts;

-- wage freezes or cuts;

-- unrestricted free market access for western corporations;

-- corporate-friendly tax cuts;

-- tax increases for working households;

-- crushing trade unionism; and

-- harsh repression against opposition to a system incompatible with social democracy, civil and human rights.

As a result, bankers and other corporate predators strip mine countries of their material wealth and resources, shift them from public to private hands, crush democratic values, hollow out nations into backwaters, destroy middle class societies, and turn workers into serfs if they manage to have any means of employment.

In other words, perpetual debt bondage substitutes for freedom. A race to the bottom follows. An elite few benefit at the expense of the many, entrapped nations henceforth forced to pay homage to their money masters, effectively handing over their sovereignty.

As a result, neoliberalism is neo-Malthusianism writ large, destroying humanity to save it. Its holy trinity, in fact, mandates no public sphere, unrestrained corporate empowerment, and eliminating social spending to devote all state resources for bottom line profits, national security and internal control.

Except for the privileged few, it's the worst, not the best, of all possible worlds, financializing economies into debt bondage, transforming them into hollow shell dystopian backwaters.

For example, in the 1980s, 187 IMF loans caused poverty, hunger, malnutrition, disease and death for many developing countries, including all sub-Saharan ones entrapped by structural adjustment harshness. Their growth, in fact, declined on average by 2.2% per year, and per capita income dropped below pre-independence levels.

Debt service required health expenditures cut 50% and education by 25%. Moreover, as indebtedness rises, so does forced austerity, what, in fact, becomes a death spiral requiring new loans to service old ones, a never-ending cycle to oblivion for many nations in hock to IMF mandates.

In Latin America, the 1980s was a lost decade. Loans to Chile required 40% wage cuts. During Mexico's 1982 debt crisis, wages as well as spending for health, education, and basic infrastructure dropped by half. As a result, infant mortality tripled and vital human needs were unmet to assure bankers got paid.

By decade's end, developing nations overall, in fact, were worse off, not better, deeper than ever in debt the way IMF officials planned. Devaluations followed. Debts burgeoned. Growth fell. Earlier from 1976 to 1982, Latin American borrowing doubled, 70% of new loans needed to service old ones.

Yet Article I of the IMF's Articles of Agreement audaciously says it lends:

"to give confidence to members by making the general resources of the Fund temporarily available to them under adequate safeguards, thus providing them with opportunity to correct maladjustments in their balance of payments without resorting to measures destructive of national or international prosperity."

The IMF's web site states it provides loans to reduce poverty and increase economic development, adding that "(i)n difficult economic times, (it) helps countries to protect the most vulnerable in a crisis."

It fact, it does precisely the opposite, entrapping them in debt, poverty and depravation, operating as a global loan shark, demanding not a pound of flesh but all of it no matter the pain and suffering caused.

Once shock therapy entrapped Chile under Pinochet, unemployment rose from 9.1 to 18.7% between 1974 and 1975. At the same time, output fell 12.9% as cheap imports flooded the country. As a result, local businesses closed, hunger grew, and so did mass disenchantment with economic harshness followed by repressive crackdowns against challenges to regime control.

A decade later, growth resumed, but only after conditions worsened, including 45% of Chileans impoverished while the nation's richest 10% saw their incomes rise by 83%.

It works the same way everywhere under IMF mandates, including mass impoverishment, public wealth transferred to private hands, out-of-control corruption and cronyism, and nations transformed into hollow shells to benefit super-rich elitists already with too much.

In 1980s Bolivia under Victor Paz Estenssoro, austerity included wage freezes, ending food subsidies, lifting price controls, hiking oil prices 300%, imposing deep social spending cuts, permitting unrestricted imports, downsizing state enterprises before privatizing them, and letting unemployment rise sharply.

The decade through the early 1990s saw Latin American debt rise from $110 billion in 1980 to $473 in 1992, accompanied by interest payments growing from $6.4 billion to $18.3 billion. As a result, worker livelihoods, health and welfare suffered. Globally, in fact, many millions lucky enough to have work endure sub-poverty wages to let foreign predators cash in, profiting enormously on their misery.

The scenario replicated from sub-Saharan Africa to Latin America to Russia and Asian Tiger countries in 1997/98, looting them one at a time or in combination, turning Asia's miracle, in fact, into disaster.

The International Labor Organization estimated 24 million lost jobs as a result of selling state enterprises at fire sale prices, replacing local brands with Western ones, and letting foreign predators benefit from what The New York Times called "the world's biggest going-out-of-business sale."

At the same time, Asian workers became human wreckage, the fallout IMF policy statements never explain, perpetuating the myth they offer help as a lender of last resort when, in fact, their mandate is plunder for profit, no matter the damage caused.

Mandated Austerity in Greece

In his June 7 article titled, "Will Greece let EU Central Bankers Destroy Democracy," Michael Hudson discusses proposed bailout terms, calling them "an opportunity for privatization grabs," what local voters didn't bargain for with 2000 Euroland membership.

They didn't understand its unintended consequences, including agreeing to foreign-controlled central bank authority running Greece like a colony, substituting its will over national sovereignty.

According to Professor William Black (former senior bank regulator and Savings and Loan prosecutor), Eurozone membership has strings, including foregoing rights to:

-- to devalue currencies to make exports more competitive;

-- sovereignty over members' own money or (for "periphery nations") influence over European Central Bank (ECB) policies; and

-- expansive fiscal policies to stimulate growth.

In fact, mandated bondage "is a double oxymoron - preventing effective counter-cyclical fiscal policies harm(ing) growth and stability throughout the Eurozone," weak members hurting stronger ones.

Moreover, like all debt-entrapped countries, Greece's bailout price is structural adjustment harshness, making a bad situation worse. It requires new infusions during hard times, causing rising indebtedness - the familiar IMF-imposed death spiral no responsible leader should accept.

Last year, however, in return for a $150 billion loan, Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou imposed earlier cuts, including:

-- large public worker layoffs;

-- public sector 10% wage cuts, including a 30% reduction in salary entitlements;

-- cutting civil service bonuses 20%;

-- freezing pensions;

-- raising the average retirement age two years;

-- higher fuel, alcohol, tobacco, and luxury goods taxes with much more to come given Greece's worsening debt problem.

Euroland officials now demand them in return for more bailout help, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker expecting Greek political consensus to agree, saying:

"In the case of countries with difficulties, it would be wise for the principal political forces of those countries to agree on the path to follow. That's what happened in Ireland, and that's what we would like to happen between the political parties in Greece," no matter the economic wreckage or human cost.

Undeterred, on June 8, Papandreou announced new tax increases and over $9 billion in spending cuts. Earlier he divulged plans to raise nearly $75 billion by privatizing state enterprises, including water companies, Piraeus and Thessalonika port facilities, the Athens racecourse, Greece's Postbank, a casino, the OPAP lottery company, and state rail system.

However, Brussels demands more, including deeper cuts and selling off Greece's crown jewels at fire sale prices, effectively ceding its entire sovereignty to foreign buyers able to strip mine its wealth, no matter the human cost.

Greek public assets are worth an estimated $440 billion. Brussels wants at least the best of them sold as well as no restructuring to assure full debt repayment in return for another $125 billion loan.

However, given Greece's rising burden, no amount is enough as greater austerity impedes economic growth and recovery, compounding its current crisis.

The Argentina Solution

On May 31, Irish Times.com headlined, "Ireland 'may try to restructure debt,' " saying:

According to Ernst and Young, "Ireland may try to restructure its debt to lower interest payments or extend the maturity on its borrowings as the economy contracts again this year."

Like Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and troubled Eastern European countries, Ireland's burden shows no signs of abating, perhaps heading it either for restructuring or default as the most sensible step to take.

In December 2001, Argentina halted all debt payments to domestic and foreign creditors. Months earlier, an IMF loan didn't help. Nearly $100 billion in debt was restructured, completed in 2005 on a take it or leave it basis, imposing stiff haircuts to bondholders agreeing to terms of around 65%, deciding something was better than nothing. Most holdouts out finally capitulated in 2010 on similar terms.

Sustained economic growth followed from 2003 through 2007, helped by debt restructuring and a devalued currency. Eurozone countries can relieve their burdens with a similar option, reclaiming their sovereignty by reinstating their pre-euro currencies, what they never should have sacrificed in the first place.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


  Read IMF Financial Terrorism
 June 11, 2011   Country By Country Analysis Of Years Left Until Science-demanded Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions
by Dr Gideon Polya , Countercurrent

An analysis of every country in the World reveals that for a high probability of avoiding  a catastrophic 2 degree C temperature rise (EU policy), at current rates of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution the World on average must achieve zero emissions in less than 20 years, Australia must cease GHG pollution within 5 years, and Bangladesh's low per capita pollution means that  at current rates it has 139 years to use up its ?fair share? allocation of atmospheric pollution. .

The authoritative Australian Climate Commission, advised by an expert Scientific Advisory  panel composed of 9 leading Australian climate scientists, recently released a report entitled ?The Critical Decade. Climate science, risks and responses?. The report stated (p53) that ?The budget approach [to tackling climate change] directly links the  projected rise in temperature to the aggregated global emissions in Gt [Gigatonnes or billions of tonnes] CO2 [carbon dioxide] or Gt C [carbon] for a specified  period, usually 2000 to 2050 or 2100. For example, humanity can emit not more than 1 trillion [1,000 billion] tonnes of CO2 between 2000 and 2050 to have a probability of about 75% of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees C [Centigrade] [noting that this is EU policy].? [1].

Decent people accept that ?all men are created equal? and on that basis one can calculate how much of this terminal 1 trillion  tonnes CO2 ?budget? can be allotted to each person on Earth, and how much to each country. Further, on the same basis of ?the equality of all men?, we can estimate how many years each country has left to get to zero emissions i.e. to use up its ?fair share? of carbon pollution at it current  rate of pollution.

The average world population over the next 40 years will be about 8 billion, so we can estimate the share of the pollution budget for each human being at 1,000 billion tonnes CO2/ 8 billion persons = 125 tonnes CO2 per person.

We can then consider the maximum amount of ?fair shares? carbon pollution that can be produced by each country in order to have a 75% chance of avoiding a 2 degree C temperature rise.  Thus Australia has a population of 22 million people and accordingly Australia 's share of the terminal GHG pollution budget is 125 tonnes CO2 per person x 22 million persons = 2,750 million tonnes (Mt) CO2. [2].

In  2009 Australia 's GHG pollution was 600 Mt CO2-e (CO2 equivalent i.e.  taking into account other greenhouse gases such as methane, CH4, and nitrous oxide, N2O) ) and at that rate Australia will use up its share in 2,750 Mt /(600 Mt per year) = 4.6 years. However in 2009 Australia 's Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution was  600 (Domestic) +  784 (coal exports) + 31 (LNG exports) = 1,415 Mt CO2-e, this leaving  only 2,750/1,415 = 1.9 years for Australia to get to zero GHG pollution.

Of course there is no way that Australia will meet its ?all men are created equal? global obligations and cease polluting after achieving its ?fair share? of the terminal 1 trillion tonne CO2 global GHG pollution ?budget?  in 2 years' time because it is fundamentally committed to coal and gas use and exports. Thus about 92% of Australia 's electricity derives from fossil fuel combustion, Australia is the world's biggest coal exporter and a major liquid natural gas (LNG) exporter. The only major change adumbrated by the Gillard Labor Government is a coal to gas transition for electric power generation, this ignoring the reality that this will mean a doubling of greenhouse gas generation from the electricity sector because methane (CH4) is 85% of natural gas, leaks at about 3.3% and is 105 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas on a 20 year timeframe and taking aerosol impacts into account.

When  we consider Australia 's Exported GHG pollution the situation becomes much worse. Thus the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) has projected that Australia's black coal export will increase at an average rate of 2.4% per year over the next 20 years and that liquid natural gas (LNG) exports will increase at 9% per year over the same period. Further, it is estimated that Australian exports of dried brown coal will reach 20 Mt by 2020, this corresponding to about 59 Mt CO2-e after combustion.  

Accordingly,  by 2020 and based on Liberal-National Party Coalition Opposition and Labor Government (aka Lib-Lab)  promises of ?5% off Domestic GHG pollution by 2020? and ABARE projections, Australian Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution will be 509 Mt CO2-e (Domestic) +  1,018 Mt CO2-e (coal exports) + 80 Mt CO2-e (LNG exports) + 59 Mt CO2-e (brown coal exports)  = 1,666 Mt CO2-e i.e. 118% of that in 2009.

Thus Australian policy flies in the face of science and ?all men are created equal? which demand that Australia should cease pollution at current rates by late 2012. Instead Australia officially projects to increase its annual pollution by 2020 by about 18%. How does Australia 's refusal to decrease GHG pollution compare with the conduct of other countries? Set out below is the time at current pollution rates for every country in the World to use up its ?fair share of the 1 trillion tonne CO2 terminal GHG pollution  budget.

Years to the  required ?fair shares? total cessation of GHG pollution at current rates of pollution = 125 tonnes CO2-e per person/ (tonnes  CO2-e per person per year) . The annual per capita GHG pollution for each country in 2000 (tonnes CO2-e per person per year) was used (the data for Uruguay was the 2005 per capita data without the land use contribution included). It should be noted that  per capita consumption, fossil fuel use, livestock production  and deforestation variously contribute to annual per capita GHG pollution.   [3].

Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 10 years.

Belize (1.3 years), Qatar (2.3), Guyana (2.4), Malaysia (3.4), United Arab Emirates (3.4), Kuwait (4.1),  Papua New Guinea (4.3), Brunei (4.8), Australia (4.8),  Antigua & Barbuda (4.9), Zambia (5.1), Canada (5.1), Bahrain (5.2), United States (5.5), Trinidad & Tobago (6.4), Luxembourg (5.9), Panama (6.3), New Zealand (6.5),  Estonia (6.9),  Botswana (7.0), Ireland (7.4),  Saudi Arabia (7.6),  Venezuela (7.9),  Indonesia (8.4),  Equatorial Guinea (8.6), Belgium (8.7), Turkmenistan (8.8), Singapore (8.9),  Czech Republic (9.0), Liberia (9.0), Netherlands (9.3), Russia (9.3),  Nicaragua (9.3), Finland (9.5),  Oman (9.7), Palau (9.8), Brazil (9.8),  Uruguay (9.8), Denmark (10.0).

Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 20 years.

Germany (10.2 years),  Mongolia (10.6),  Israel (10.6),  Nauru (10.7), Norway (11.0),  South Korea (11.3),  Kazakhstan (11.4), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (11.4),  Libya (11.6), Greece (11.6),  Japan (11.7),  Myanmar (11.7),  Taiwan (11.8),  Cyprus (12.1), Slovenia (12.3),  Cambodia (12.3),  Austria (12.5),  Iceland (12.5),  Peru (12.6), Paraguay (12.6), Ukraine (12.6), Poland (13.0),  South Africa (13.2),  Argentina (13.4),  Slovakia (13.4),  Spain (13.6), Italy (13.6), Central African Republic (13.9), France (14.4), Suriname (14.5), Belarus (14.5),  Gabon (14.9), Ecuador (15.2),  Bolivia (15.4),  Cameroon (16.4), Iran (16.4),  Côte d'Ivoire (16.7), Sweden (16.7),  Seychelles (16.9), Guatemala (16.9), Bulgaria (16.9),  Serbia & Montenegro (16.9), Hungary (16.9), Congo, Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire) (16.9),  Uzbekistan (17.1), ) Portugal (17.4), Switzerland (17.6),  Azerbaijan (18.4),  Angola (18.7), Bahamas (18.9), Benin (19.2), Zimbabwe (19.2), Laos (19.5),  Mexico (19.5),  Nepal (19.8),  Colombia (19.8),  Namibia (19.8), Chile (19.8).  

Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 30 years.

Malta (20.5 years), Congo, Republic (20.8),  Madagascar (20.8), Croatia (21.2), Jamaica (21.2), Macedonia (21.6), Barbados (21.6), Latvia (21.9),  Mauritania (22.3),  Turkey (22.3),  Romania (22.7),  Lithuania (23.1),  Costa Rica (23.1), Lebanon (23.6),  North Korea (24.0),  Thailand (24.5),  Jordan (25.5), Honduras (26.6),  Sudan (27.2), Bosnia & Herzegovina (27.8), Algeria (29.8),  Iraq (29.8),  Sierra Leone (29.8).

Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 40 years.

Syria (31.3 years), China (32.1),  Tunisia (33.8), Dominican Republic (35.7), St Kitts & Nevis (37.9), Nigeria (37.9),  Fiji (37.9), Guinea (39.1), Mauritius (39.1).

Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 50 years.

Cuba (40.3 years), Togo (40.3), Vanuatu (41.7), Philippines (41.7), Malawi (41.7), Mali (43.1), Chad (43.1), Sri Lanka (44.6), Uganda (46.3),  Dominica (46.3), St Lucia (46.3), Egypt (48.1),  Niue (48.1), Ghana (48.1), Moldova (50.0), Grenada (50.0).

Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 50-210 years.

El Salvador (52.1 years), Guinea-Bissau (52.1), Tanzania (52.1), Djibouti (52.1), Pakistan (54.3),  Samoa (54.3), Tonga (54.3), Morocco (56.8), Senegal (56.8),  Albania (56.8),  Georgia (56.8), Armenia (59.5), St Vincent & Grenadines (62.5), Kenya (62.5), Maldives (65.8), Kyrgyzstan (65.8),  Burkina Faso (65.8), India (69.4),  Cook Islands (69.4), Bhutan (73.5), Yemen (78.1), Tajikistan (78.1), Mozambique (78.1), Rwanda (78.1), Burundi (78.1), Lesotho (83.3), Swaziland (83.3), Eritrea (89.3), Haiti (89.3), Solomon Islands (113.6), Vietnam (113.6),  Cape Verde (113.6), Niger (113.6), Ethiopia (113.6),  São Tomé and Príncipe (125.0), Afghanistan (138.9), The Gambia (138.9), Bangladesh (138.9),  Comoros (178.6), Kiribati (208.3).

I must reiterate that there is no way that Australia will meet its global ?fair shares? obligations because it is fundamentally committed to oil use and to coal and gas use and exports. Thus about 92% of Australia 's electricity derives from fossil fuel combustion, Australia is the world's biggest coal exporter and a major liquid natural gas (LNG) exporter.

In addition and most importantly, Australia is politically correct racist (PC racist) ? while it endlessly preaches the equality of man, in practice it simply does not accept that ?all men are created equal?. Australia  commenced the genocide of the Indigenous inhabitants at inception in 1788, the  Indigenous population falling from about 1 million in 1788 to about 0.1 million a century later through violence, dispossession and introduced disease.  The Aboriginal Genocide continued into the 20th century with extreme deprivation of Aborigines and a policy of forced removal of about 100,000 Aboriginal children from their mothers that only ceased in the 1970s shortly after the 1967 referendum that finally enabled Aboriginal people to be counted in the national census and to be subject to Commonwealth laws, rather than just state laws. 9,000 Indigenous Australians die avoidably every year out of an Aboriginal population of 0.5 million in an ongoing Aboriginal Genocide.

While the White Australia Policy was removed in 1974, Australia  offensively discriminates against non-Europeans coming to Australia .  While the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act abolished racism at the Federal level, the Australian Government excluded Northern Territory Indigenous Australians,  Afghan refugees fleeing the Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide and Tamils refugees fleeing from the Tamil Holocaust and Tamil Genocide from the protection of this Act. Australia has been involved in all post-1950 US Asian Wars (war-related deaths 26 million, war-related refugees 20 million) and the US War on Terror that is in horrible reality a cowardly and racist war on Arab,  Muslim, African, Asian, and non-European women and children (war-related deaths 12 million, Muslim refugees about 20 million). Australia has been involved in 24 genocides since 1788 of which 10 are ongoing, notably the Iraqi Genocide (4.6 million war-related deaths, 1990-2011), the Afghan Genocide (5.0 million war-related deaths, 2001-2011), the ongoing Aboriginal Genocide and worsening Climate Genocide.   [4].

Indeed the current racist Labor Government of Apartheid Australia recently  banned cattle sales to Indonesia after revelations that cattle were being whipped and beaten before slaughter. Yet this same racist Labor Government locks up thousands of refugee men , women and children (a humanitarian catastrophe it has helped generate)  in remote, abusive concentration camps without charge or trial and is now  is proposing to ?traffic?  asylum seekers arriving by boat to Malaysia (a country in which 30,000 refugees have been tortured by abusive imprisonment, beating and scarifying caning). Australia fulminates against ?people smugglers? who try to find safe haven for several thousand mainly Muslim refugees who seek out their services but is itself proposing to engage  in ?people trafficking?, ?people swapping? and ?people trading? against the wishes of the victims, this being akin to Australia's past involvements in Kanaka  slave trading in the  Pacific, Indian indentured labor (5 year slaves ) in Fiji and effective slave labor of Indigenous Australians that only ended several decades ago. Likewise, the annual death rate is 2.4% for Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory as compared  to 0.4% (what it should be) and 2.5% for Australian sheep in Australian paddocks. [5].

Of course Apartheid Australia is not the only climate criminal country. Thus 38 other countries  are like Australia in having to cease GHG pollution within 10 years and 8 countries are worse than Australia (variously because of massive deforestation or economic dependence on fossil fuels). Thus years left at current pollution rates until ?fair shares? zero emissions is 27.8 (Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa), 21.9 (Middle East and North Africa), 19.8 (Central America and Caribbean) and 18.4 (the World) as compared to 11.8 (Europe), 11.3 (South America), 5.4 (North America) and 5.2 ( Oceania ).  However continental Australia has massive agricultural, forestry, mineral and renewable energy resources ? it has choices. Indeed it is estimated that 260,000 GWh per year of the 325,000 GWh per year of electrical energy Australia will need by 2020 could be supplied by wind power on a 24/7 baseload basis through various energy storage options and for as little as $144 billion. [6].

Both Dr James Lovelock FRS (Gaia hypothesis) and Professor Kevin Anderson ( Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, UK) have recently estimated that only about 0.5 billion people will survive this century due to unaddressed, man-made global warming. Noting that the world population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, these estimates translate to a Climate Genocide involving deaths of 10 billion people this century, this including 6 billion under-5 year old infants, 3 billion Muslims in a terminal Muslim Holocaust, 2 billion Indians, 1.3 billion non-Arab Africans, 0.5 billion Bengalis, 0.3 billion Pakistanis and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis. Already 18 million people die avoidably every year in Developing countries (minus China ) due to deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease and man-made global warming is already clearly worsening this global avoidable mortality holocaust. However 10 billion avoidable deaths due to global warming this century will yield an average global annual avoidable death rate of 100 million per year. [7].

Where does your country come in this ?years left until zero emssions? analysis? We are badly running out of time. The World must take action against the more notorious climate criminal, climate racist, and climate terrorist countries such as climate criminal Apartheid Australia through Sanctions, Boycotts, Sporting Boycotts (as were successfully applied to Apartheid South Africa through exclusion from the Olympic Games and other events), Green Tariffs, International Court of Justice litigations and International Criminal Court prosecutions. Indeed I have made a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court about Australia 's involvement in the worsening Climate Genocide and other ongoing genocidal atrocities. [8].

[1]. Australian Climate Commission, ?The Critical Decade. Climate science, risks and responses?, 2011: http://climatecommission.gov.au/topics/the-critical-decade/ .

[2]. List of countries by population?, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population .

[3]. ?List of countries by greenhouse gas pollution per capita?, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions_per_capita .

[4]. Gideon Polya, ?Australian Anzac & Armenian Genocide, Australia 's secret genocide history?, MWC News, 25 April 2011: http://aljazeera-news.net/focus/analysis/10256-australian-anzac-a-armenian-genocide.html .

[5]. Gideon Polya. ?The Awful Truth?, National Indigenous Times, 14 June 2007: http://www.nit.com.au/news/story.aspx?id=11552 .

[6]. Gideon Polya, ? Activists & pro-gas Oz Government's Carbon Tax-ETS-Ignore Agriculture (CTETSIA) climate inaction plan ?, Bellaciao, 4 March 2011: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article20616 .

[7]. ?Climate Genocide?: https://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/ .

[8]. Gideon Polya, ? 9 January 2010 Formal Complaint by Dr Gideon Polya to the International Criminal Court (ICC) re US Alliance Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan, Muslim, Aboriginal, Biofuel and Climate Genocides ?: https://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/9-january-2010 .

Dr Gideon Polya currently teaches science students at a major Australian university. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has recently published ?Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950? (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions ?Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality? in ?Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics? (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007): http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and ?Ongoing Palestinian Genocide? in ?The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has just published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book ?Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History? (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the ?forgotten? World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open2.net/thingsweforgot/ bengalfamine_programme.html ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .

  Read Country By Country Analysis Of Years Left Until Science-demanded Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions
 June 11, 2011   How Many Nuclear Weapons Still Threaten Humanity?
by David Krieger ,
CommonDreams.org, Countercurrent

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is one of the most authoritative institutes in the world on issues of war and peace. The recently-released 2011 SIPRI Yearbook provides estimates of the number of nuclear weapons in the world. It finds that only four countries have deployed nuclear warheads, by which it means warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces. Two of these countries are the US and Russia, which have 2,150 and 2,427 deployed nuclear weapons, respectively. Under the terms of the New Start agreement, ratified in 2010, each country is required to reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 by the year 2017. The other two countries with deployed nuclear weapons, according to SIPRI, are the UK with 160 deployed weapons and France with 290 deployed weapons.

The total number of deployed nuclear weapons in the world stands at 5,027 in 2011. Of these, SIPRI estimates that some 2,000 are kept on high operational alert, ready to be fired within moments of an order to do so.

In addition to its deployed nuclear weapons, the US has 6,350 additional weapons for a total of 8,500. Russia has 8,570 additional weapons for a total of 11,000. The UK has an additional 65 weapons for a total of 225. France has an additional 10, for a total of 300. Four other countries have only non-deployed nuclear weapons, according to SIPRI: China with 240; India with 80-100; Pakistan with 90-110; and Israel with 80.

SIPRI does not list North Korea among the countries having a stockpile of nuclear weapons, although relatively small nuclear devices have been tested by North Korea in 2006 and 2009. SIPRI acknowledges that there is a widespread belief that North Korea has separated enough plutonium for a small number of nuclear weapons, but indicates there is controversy over the amount of plutonium they have separated and the yield of their nuclear tests. They also point out that “doubts persist about whether North Korea has the design and engineering skills needed to manufacture a fully functional operational nuclear weapon.” It seems highly likely to me, however, that North Korea possesses a small number of nuclear weapons and is the ninth nuclear weapon state.

Between 2010 and 2011, the US reduced its nuclear stockpile from 9,600 to 8,500. During the same period, Russia reduced its stockpile from 12,000 to 11,000. While the US and Russia were reducing their arsenals, the UK, France, China and Israel were holding steady at lower levels. India and Pakistan, on the other hand, were increasing the sizes of their arsenals: India from 60-80 to 80-110, and Pakistan from 70-90 to 90-110. Overall, the total number of nuclear weapons in the world decreased from 22,600 to 20,530.

The trends are these: modest reductions by the US and Russia, indicating a continuing commitment to maintaining their nuclear arsenals at a relatively high level of overkill; no reductions by the UK, France, China and Israel, indicating a continuing commitment to retaining their arsenals at current levels, at least until more substantial progress in reductions is made by the US and Russia; and increases in the arsenals of India and Pakistan, indicating a continuing nuclear arms race in South Asia.

The modest reductions made by the US and Russia and the further reductions agreed to by the two countries in the New START agreement are offset by their commitments to modernizing their nuclear arsenals and improving their systems of delivery. A SIPRI media statement pointed out that “both countries currently are deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced programs to do so, and appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals into the indefinite future.”

Regarding India and Pakistan, the SIPRI statement pointed out that they “continue to develop new ballistic and cruise missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons” and that both countries “are also expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for military purposes.” Other experts have done simulations of a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan with 50 to 100 Hiroshima-size nuclear weapons and have estimated that it could lead to a blocking of sunlight and lowering of temperatures, causing widespread drought and crop failure, resulting in some one billion deaths in the region.

While there are some ten percent fewer nuclear weapons in the world from 2010 to 2011, it is not time to breathe a sigh of relief at what has been accomplished. The overall trend is toward fewer nuclear weapons, but weapons and delivery systems that are more highly modernized – what the US refers to for itself as a “safe, secure and effective nuclear stockpile.” In reality, the only type of stockpile that will meet the criteria of being “safe, secure and effective” will be a global stockpile of zero nuclear weapons. Any number other than zero will continue to present unacceptable risks to humanity. What is needed now is a new treaty, a Nuclear Weapons Convention, for the “safe, secure and effective” elimination of all nuclear weapons. The US and Russia, the countries with the largest nuclear arsenals, should be providing the leadership to achieve this goal.

David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org), an organization that has worked since 1982 to educate and advocate for a world free of nuclear weapons.

  Read How Many Nuclear Weapons Still Threaten Humanity?
 June 15, 2011   Speaking Out About The Last Of The Last Taboos: Human Population Dynamics And Overpopulation
by Steve Salmony, Countercurrent

An apparently unforeseen, unfortunately unwelcome and still unchallenged scientific finding regarding the relationship between food supply and human population numbers has been avoided and continues to be denied by the very experts upon whom the human community relies for guidance and direction. For a decade 'the brightest and best' have refused comment on what appears to be the best available science concerning the relationship between food availability and the size of the human population on Earth. Too many experts have ignored certain scientific evidence and failed to report their findings in professional journals, as would be expected. This failure of many experts has to be acknowledged and put behind us so that momentum can gather to move the human family in a new direction; so that we can begin making necessary changes toward sustainability.

Until now what appears so obvious, almost rhetorical to many people, regarding the human population has been rarely acknowledged and seldom reported by experts who have unassumed responsibilities to science and unfulfilled duties to perform for humanity's sake. Perspectives of many too many professional researchers regarding human population dynamics and overpopulation have not been shared widely and openly. Public discourse of science regarding so vital a topic as human overpopulation has been voided, as it were, into a black hole of silence. Experts in possession of scientific understanding have remained mute about what people see and, in so choosing, have refused to validate what is already alive in the world: vital knowledge of the human population.

Scientists with expertise in many other fields of inquiry utterly depend on other top notch colleagues to present the best available scientific evidence in each field of study. That is to say, first class scientists who are not expert in matters related to population dynamics and human overpopulation, for example, are dependent upon similarly situated experts in fields of study related to population dynamics and overpopulation for reports of the best scientific evidence. Regrettably, professionals with appropriate expertise in population dynamics and human overpopulation have not been carefully examining and objectively reporting findings regarding certain scientific research from Hopfenberg and Pimentel on the human population. This most problematic situation has to be recognized, addressed and overcome.

How are human beings to consciously, deliberately and ably respond to the global challenges posed to humanity by human overpopulation of the Earth if experts in population dynamics and overpopulation choose to pose as if they are willfully blind, hysterically deaf and electively mute in the face of simple, plain and uncontested scientific evidence? Responding to science with silence, as has been occurring for the past ten years, is woefully inadequate and could result in humankind inadvertently precipitating the ruination of the world as a fit place for children everywhere to inhabit.

On our watch, the human family appears to be unknowingly precipitating a planetary emergency with potentially profound implications for the future of life as we know it on Earth. If a human-driven global emergency is in fact looming before us, it is incumbent upon those leaders inside and outside the community of scientists in my generation of elders to take the measure of the admittedly huge, complicated and interlocking global ecological challenges that are so distinctly human-forced, so forbiddingly emergent and so rapidly convergent in our time. The extent to which the global predicament already visible on the horizon is derived directly from unbridled overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of the human species, there can be no doubt that human beings can make such changes in our behavioral repertoire as can humanely alter the dangerous 'trajectory' of our activities. That is to say, global threats to human well being and environmental health that are currently induced by humankind can certainly be acknowledged, ameliorated, eventually addressed and ultimately overcome by the family of humanity. But not without a transformed consciousness steeped in intellectual honesty, moral courage and a capacity for bold action that is to be found in a new kind of leadership and followership. Not without a new vision of an alternate path to the future. Not without making such behavior changes as are needed to move the human community away from growing a soon to become patently unsustainable "economic colossus", based on the rampant increase of unbridled human overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities, toward adopting sustainable individual lifestyles and right-sizing "too big to fail" corporate enterprises.

Steve Salmony is a self-proclaimed global citizen, a psychologist and father of three grown children. Married 39 years ago. In 2001 Steve founded the AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population to raise consciousness of the colossal threat that the unbridled, near exponential growth of absolute global human population numbers poses for all great and small living things on Earth in our time. His quixotic campaign focuses upon the best available science of human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth, in order to save the planet as a place fit for habitation by children everywhere. He can be reached at SESALMONY@aol.com

  Read Speaking Out About The Last Of The Last Taboos: Human Population Dynamics And Overpopulation
 June 20, 2011   Lies, Damn Lies, And Liberating Wars
by Stephen Lendman , Countercurrent

America's imperial wars are for wealth, power, and unchallenged dominance, never for humanitarian concerns or liberation, notions Washington contemptuously spurns.

Yet rhetorical posturing claims otherwise. In April 1986, Ronald Reagan arrogantly said US air and naval forces "launched a series of strikes against (Gaddafi's) headquarters, terrorist facilities, and military assets, (carefully) targeted to minimize casualties among the Libyan people with whom we have no quarrel. From initial reports, our forces have succeeded in their mission."

Wrong! The BBC reported "at least 100 people died after USA planes bombed targets in" Libya. In fact, over 100 were killed, mostly civilians, including Gaddafi's infant daughter when his personal compound was bombed, trying to kill him.

In addition, dozens were wounded, including two of Gaddafi's young sons. The French, Swiss, Romanian and Iranian embassies were damaged. So were Japanese and Austrian diplomatic residences. Dozens of residential buildings were also damaged or destroyed. Libya's Central Hospital reported up to 100 people needing treatment for serious injuries, including infants. 

Planned months in advance, the mission was one of many Reagan war crimes. Moreover, it succeeded only in arousing mass anger according to an April 17, 1986 Los Angeles Times report, saying:

Washington's attack "sparked worldwide protests....that erupted into violence as demonstrators burned American flags and effigies of President Reagan in Pakistan and attacked US facilities in several capitals."

Today, Obama is attacking Libya, committing far greater war crimes than Reagan, yet arrogantly claimed last March that he:

"ordered our armed forces to help protect the Libyan people from the brutality of (Gaddafi with an operation of) limited scope and specific purpose," adding "it's in our national interest to act. And it's our responsibility." 

In fact:

-- it's lawless aggression; 

-- the supreme crime against peace; 

-- targeting another nonbelligerent country; 

-- the same criminality committed against Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and other nations attacked to advance America's imperium globally.

Its longstanding goal is conquering, colonizing, dominating, terrorizing, and exploiting nations politically, economically and militarily - America's real "national interest.

Obama is just the latest hired hand, furthering Washington's rogue agenda - pressuring, intimidating and/or terror bombing countries to comply, slaughtering civilians to protect them, destroying their countries for their own good, while lying about America's good intentions that, in fact, seek only to make the world safe for capital, not people.

As a result, many outraged Americans and others globally denounce him, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in a stinging June 15 indictment, saying:

"Why....is NATO....using (UN) Resolution 1973 as a pretext to assassinate (Gaddafi) and create regime change....NATO and America are trying to recolonize Africa through AFRICOM....Look at the arrogance of Hillary Clinton (in) Addis Ababa, the capital of the African Union. That's some gall, to go right to us and tell us like children what she wants us to do." Calling NATO a "coalition of demons," he accused member countries of lawlessly promoting regime change in Libya.

Earlier,Farrakhan said America lacked moral authority to attack Libya, denouncing Obama's hypocrisy, asking: 

"Who in the hell do you think you are" deciding who may or may not lead Libya or any other country. Growing numbers worldwide agree, including Hugo Chavez last March, accusing Washington of "imperial madness," saying:

"We don't support invasions or massacres, or anything like that no matter who does it. A campaign of lies is being spun together regarding Libya. The US government is behind the campaign to remove Gaddafi. They are the masters of war....They want to seize Libya's oil. The lives of Libya's people don't matter to them at all....It is deplorable (that) the United Nations" supports the "warmongering....Yankee empire, (inflicting) more suffering for the people, more death."

In fact, four months of terror bombing caused mass casualties and destruction, including at least nine civilians and two infants, murdered on June 19 when a three-story Suq Al Juma residential structure was destroyed.

On June 1, Reuters reported that "NATO's bombing campaign has killed 718 Libyan civilians, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said on Tuesday." Another 4,067 were wounded, 433 seriously. The figures were current through May 26. 

With intensified terror bombing continuing day and night, the total may now approach or top 1,000 killed and thousands more injured, the same civilians Obama promised to protect.

NATO, of course, denied the accusation, insisting care is taken only to strike military targets, when, in fact, it's bombed schools, a university, a hospital, other medical facilities, a medical factory, civilian ports, airports, basic infrastructure, and residential areas, knowing non-military targets were struck.

On June 15, the London Telegraph headlined, "Libyagate: Rabid NATO Bombed Benghazi Civilians, 90 Killed," saying:

"Now that NATO has bombed Benghazi, there is no possible way that the organization can be allowed to continue its pretense of protecting civilians from the Libyan forces. The organizers of the bombing have displayed symptoms of rabies."

In fact, another 100 were wounded, 20 seriously. According to one resident:

"(Was) this an execution or a terrorist act? The killings by NATO are so many that no definition is possible. NATO is performing the most degrading and perverse role I never thought it could do, no respect for anything or anyone. History will never forget this mass murder nor (its) perpetrators...."

"One has to ask how has it come to this, where the terrorists occupy the seats of government in the western world?"

Terror weapons are also freely used, including killer drones, low-flying attack helicopters, depleted uranium, so-called "mincer" anti-personnel missiles containing 80 5-inch-long flechette steel darts (able to penetrate to the bone and cause horrific injuries), and perhaps others yet to be identified. 

In all its wars, America tests new weapons in real time against real targets, including innocent civilians to learn how many mass casualties or destruction can be caused per strike.

On June 17, Reuters said thousands rallied in Tripoli for Gaddafi waving green national flags. Video, in fact, showed massive Green Square crowds, expressing solidarity and support, while denouncing NATO's terror bombing. 

Earlier in June, journalist/activist Lizzie Cocker reporting on the ground from Tripoli said:

"One million people marched in support of Brother Leader Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli in response to Al Jazeera reports that there would be anti-Gaddafi protests after Friday prayers. Their aims were:

1. To show the world that the Libyans are against the invasion.

2. To show that the Libyan people support their legitimate government, legitimate power of the tribes and their leader Moammar Gaddafi.

3. To show support for the Libyans living in Benghazi," being terrorized by mercenary cutthroats, murdering anti-NATO residents and gang-raping women for sport, what Western media won't report.

Speaking for many, one angry Libyan said:

"Who are these countries to dictate who our leader should or should not be. We will pick our own leader. We ask for a vote. Let us vote and then you will see who should be our leader," adding Libyans won't tolerate NATO dictating to them, imposing their puppet leader, and plundering the country of its resources and material wealth.

America's Next Imperial Target?

Planned months or years in advance like all US imperial wars, Washington, Israel, and several regional allies armed mercenaries to destabilize Syria since January, mainly since mid-March when uprisings escalated. In fact, in mid-June, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said:

"We started to expand contacts with the Syrians, those who are calling for change, both inside and outside the country."

On May 19, America's global Voice of America propaganda arm headlined, "Obama Tells Syria's Assad to Lead Transition or Leave," saying:

"In his Middle East policy speech," he told him either to initiate change or get "out of the way. The comment came a day after the US administration imposed sanctions on the Syrian leader and key aides," one of its many imperial policies, dictating how other leaders should govern, demanding they obey or leave, and arrogantly asserting Washington's right to impose its will globally, backing it up with an iron fist.

At the same time, America and other NATO allies are provocatively conducting Black Sea naval exercises off Ukraine's coast near Russia's Sebastopol Black Sea Fleet headquarters. As a result, Russia's Foreign Ministry expressed concern about the USS Monterrey's presence, an Aegis class attack ship equipped with sophisticated SM-3 interceptor (offensive) missiles, as well as powerful computers and tracking radar for first-strike capability.

An official Moscow statement said:

"While leaving aside the unsettled issue of a possible European missile shield architecture, Russia would like to know, in compliance with the Russia-NATO Lisbon summit decisions, what 'aggravation' the US command meant by moving the basic strike unit of the regional missile defense grouping being formed by NATO in the region, from the Mediterranean to the East?

"We have to state that our concerns continue to be ignored and under the guise of talks on European missile shield cooperation, efforts are under way to build the missile shield configuration whose consequences are dangerous and about which we have numerously informed our US and NATO partners."

This provocation accompanies Western intervention in Syria, perhaps heading for more war against a Russian ally, home for its Tartus Mediterranean port naval supply and maintenance facility, being modernized to accommodate heavy warships after 2012.

As a result, Russia (and China) won't support anti-Syrian Security Council resolutions, perhaps facilitating war the way Resolution 1973 initiated Libyan terror bombing. The Syrian base is Russia's only Mediterranean location, important to protect for its Black Sea Fleet.

At the same time, Washington, Israel, and their regional allies plan regime change to delink Syria from Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran by replacing Assad's regime with a pro-Western one. The familiar strategy involves armed insurgents killing civilians and security forces. Assad's military and police responded the way Gaddafi did in Libya, Washington accusing him of initiating conflict America and its allies began.

Syrian expert Joshua Landis said the Bush administration sought an Assad replacement, "hop(ing) to end Syrian influence in Lebanon, gain (its) support for its occupation of Iraq, and extend its agenda for 'Reform of the Greater Middle East.' "

Specifically, they wanted an Alawi ruling minority general  to oust Assad "while maintaining stability." Today, Syrian opposition leaders and perhaps Washington and other Western powers believe dividing Alawis is key to regime change. 

Syrian intellectual Bassma Kodmani, in fact, said:

"Alawite leaders have sought to establish contacts with Sunni imams to seek guarantees for the community in return for abandoning the Assad regime. This, rather than defections in the army, could herald" its unraveling.

Author/poet Mohja Kahf also believes that "four of the seven major Alawite clans (Nuwaliya, Kalbiya, Haddadiya, and Khayyatiya) issued statements dissociating themselves from the Assads."

Landis, however, disagrees, saying on June 1:

"This cannot be true....I don't know where (Kahf) would have gotten this intelligence. Alawite tribes hardly have any integrity anymore and don't have 'leaders' who can speak for 'the clan' in order to dissociate them from the Assads." 

In fact, there's no Nuwaliya tribe or clan. "She undoubtedly means the Numaylatiya" one. It has no known leader. For generations, "tribal affiliation has become quite weak among many Alawis...." It's also unclear "whether an Alawi 'clan' could be an operative social unit in today's political climate."

What is clear are Washington's imperial ambitions to gain an unchallenged chokehold on the Mediterranean Basin and beyond from North Africa through the Middle East into Central Asia, as close as possible to Russia and China's borders, then perhaps target them for regime change.

Post-9/11, America's longstanding 1990s plan was launched, first against Afghanistan, then Iraq and Pakistan, now Libya and Yemen besides covert campaigns in Somalia, Sudan, and elsewhere, heading for confrontations with Syria, more against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, as well as Iran to remove all independent threats to Washington's dominance. Israel's also as the sole regional hegemon.

Though many Syrians want change, large masses support Assad as evidenced by a March 29 rally Reuters said included "tens of thousands." Others also show internally divided feelings about an authoritarian regime, one, in fact, avoiding sharp social inequality and poverty, unlike Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Jordan, and other regional states.

Not Libya, however, because Gaddafi shared its oil wealth with his people, providing generous social services and jobs for everyone able to work, the reason millions support him against Western intervention.

Assad also provides mostly free health care, education, and housing assistance, as well as socially just labor laws based on solidarity, not exploitation. In addition, unlike Lebanon and Jordan, Palestinian refugees have full citizenship rights, including access to the same social services. 

As a result, despite legitimate grievances among many, today's turmoil is externally generated to oust him for allying with other anti-imperial regional governments. Washington wants them replaced by internal subversion, financial, or military conflict, facilitated by international media manipulation, misreporting events through malicious disinformation, including The New York Times, withholding and distorting facts to misinform readers.

On June 17, its latest editorial foray headlined, "Syria's Nightmare," contemptuously saying:

"With thousands of Syrians being slaughtered, jailed or forced to flee their country, (Obama) and other leaders need to....punish and isolate (Assad) and his cronies."

In fact, who empowers Washington anywhere, and by what authority do Times editors demand it, as well as backing Washington's extremist domestic and foreign agenda.

Nonetheless, says The Times, "(Obama) should make clear that the Syrian strongman has lost all legitimacy (and with) his cronies (must) pay a high price for their abuses....The only way to end Syria's nightmare is for (Assad) to go."

In fact, Washington caused North African/Middle East/Central Asian "nightmares," reigning terror throughout the region. In contrast, Assad attacked no one. Neither did Gaddafi. 

Only America and its complicit allies wage wars, ones The Times and America's major media wholeheartedly support, no matter how much death, destruction and human misery they cause.

Expect no editorial mea culpas, now or ever. Instead they endorse perpetual conflicts globally to satisfy Washington's insatiable imperial appetite. 

Moreover, America's entire major media establishment is culpable. They not only betray loyal readers and viewers, they're complicit in America's worst crimes of war and against humanity by misreporting or silence on what everyone most needs to know.

How else can America literally get away with murder against one nation after another endlessly, maliciously mischaracterizing leaders threatening no one.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/ .

  Read Lies, Damn Lies, And Liberating Wars
 June 20, 2011   NATO Of Terror
by Ghali Hassan , Countercurrent

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1945 by the U.S. not only as a tool to advance U.S. imperialist interests but also to dominate West Europe economically and militarily. NATO purpose was to defend its members and to counter any threat from the former Soviet Union and its allies. As an anachronism, NATO's new agenda is endless wars against defenceless civilian population.

In their meeting of 13 May 2011 in the White House, President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary-General (accurately, NATO spokesperson) Anders Fogh Rasmussen pledged to continue NATO's wars on Muslim nations, including the illegal aggressions against Afghanistan and Libya. Rasmussen, an Islamophobe former Danish prime minister, wrote recently: ?NATO's operational commitments have changed beyond recognition in the past 20 years. From Afghanistan to Kosovo, from the coast of Somalia to Libya, we have never been busier? conducting endless wars of aggression against defenceless civilian population. Rasmussen should have added: ?Our experience in Afghanistan and Libya will be employed for future aggressions?.

One by one, European countries have been brought into NATO expeditionary force of 28 members. Once joined the organisation, new NATO members have to upgrade and ?modernise? their military and armoured forces to U.S. standards. They have to buy mostly U.S.-made arms benefiting the U.S. military-industrial complex. In addition, NATO is often used as a cover for U.S. aggression. For example, the aggressions against Afghanistan and Libya ? both legitimised by the United Nation (UN) ?, are depicted as NATO operations. In reality, they are U.S.-led aggressions. The contributions from NATO members, compared with the U.S., are miniscule and use for propaganda purpose giving the aggression an international colour and legitimacy. On 10 June 2011, U.S. Defence Secretary, Robert Gates was clear about the contributions of NATO members: ?The mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a [defenceless] poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated [Libya], yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the U.S., once more, to make up the difference?. One important point is that Europeans (the people) are not interested in spending on militarism to serve U.S. imperialism.

NATO Aggression against Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, there are more than 150,000 foreign troops supported by the biggest and most advanced military forces on the planet. They are engaged in nearly ten-year war serving under the so-called NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a cover designed to give U.S. war an international image.

The war on Afghanistan is illegal. There has never been a legitimate pretext to justify the aggression. According to Professor Michael Mandel of Toronto's Osgoode Hall Law School, the war on Afghanistan ?violate[s] international law and the express words of the United Nations Charter?. He added: Article 51 only ?gives a state the right to repel an attack that is ongoing or imminent as a temporary measure until the UN Security Council can take steps necessary for international peace and security?. In addition, Marjorie Chen, a professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law rejected that the war against Afghanistan was a legitimate self defence. (For more, see Notes: 1 & 2).

In May 2011, a poll conducted by the International Council on Security and Development (ICSD) found that 70-87 percent (depends where in Afghanistan) of Afghans are against the presence of foreign troops and U.S.-NATO murderous Occupation of their country.

As U.S.-NATO leaders are growing increasingly desperate, attacks on civilians ( mostly women and children ) have become more frequent and indiscriminate. Despite UN and Western organisations (?NGOs?) efforts to whitewash U.S.NATO crimes against civilians, media reports revealed that tens of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians have been killed by U.S.-NATO airstrikes and ground operations in various parts of Afghanistan.

On 12 May 2011, NATO troops killed a 12-year-old girl and a policeman, her relative, also in Nangarhar province. According to the girl's father: ?They (foreign troops) hurled a hand grenade at my daughter after she ran out of the room in a panic. She was killed on the spot'. ( Pajhwok Afghan News , May 12, 2011).

On 15 May 2011, U.S.-led NATO troops killed a 12-year-old girl and injured four other girls ages 8 to 15 in Afghanistan's Kunar province. The day before NATO forces killed a 15-year-old boy, the son of an Afghan soldier, in a night raid in Nangarhar province, resulting in a demonstration by local Afghans that was fired upon by government forces with four protesters killed, including a 14-year-old boy.

ON 28 May 2011, U.S.-led NATO war planes and unmanned drones struck two civilian homes in the Afghan southern province of Helmand , instantly killing fourteen people, including five girls, seven boys and two women. According to the Australian Counterinsurgency advisor David Kilcullen, 98% of drone strikes are against unarmed civilians. They are also illegal acts of aggression.

On 29 May 2011, Afghan authorities said NATO forces had killed 52 civilians in airstrikes in southern Province of Helmand. ?During the air strikes, two civilian houses were targeted which killed 14 civilians and six others were wounded,? reported the AFP . The dead included five girls, seven boys and two women.

When Afghan ?president? Hamid Karzai asked NATO to stop attacking civilians in their homes, he was rebuffed by NATO. NATO leaders rejected the demand, claiming that ?attacking Afghan homes is ?necessary' and would continue going forward?. They also claimed that the Afghan ?government? has no right under UN-mandated murderous Occupation to forbid attacks on civilians. The deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians are designed to terrorise the civilian population and to force submission and surrender. For example, deadly missiles attacks on wedding celebrations are not mistakes; they are deliberate acts of terrorism aimed at terrorising the population.

Furthermore, in neighbouring Pakistan, U.S. drone missile attacks have killed eight people in North Waziristan on 12 May 2011, after which ?locals said the dead were innocent people' ( The Nation , 13 May 2011). Two days before, ?U.S. drone aircraft fired two missiles at a vehicle, killing at least five people and injuring seven others? in South Waziristan. According to a Pakistani opposition party member; ?The NATO attack was not accidental but a calculated and planned move to target Pakistan so as to hide its failure in Afghanistan. The violation of Pakistani territory indicated that the US was planning to push the war inside Pakistan? ( News International , 28 April 2011).

NATO Aggression against Libya

In Libya, U.S.-NATO illegal aggression continues in flagrant violation of international law and civilised norms. It is clear that, U.S.-NATO members have exceeded and violated UN Resolution 1973, which was initially meant to provide a cover for the aggression against the Libyan people. ?The Western [aggression] against Libya wasn't undertaken to protect human rights or foster democracy. It was launched with the aim of breaking Libya up politically so as to prevent the unification of three revolutionary Arab states ? Egypt, Libya and Tunisia ? which together might pose a threat to Israeli regional dominance?, Mohamed al-Sakhawi of Egypt's Arabic Unity Party told IPS News (18 June 2011).

Since the aggression began on 19 March 2011, U.S.-NATO forces have conducted some 11,500 air missions, including over 4500 combat sorties. In addition, hundreds of cruise missiles were launched against virtually a defenceless small African nation. These acts of terror, we are told, are legitimised by the UN Security Council, or as Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi accurately called it, the ?Terror Council?. The attacks killed thousands of Libyan civilians and wounded many more. In addition, the attacks caused a mass exodus of foreign migrants (workers) thousands of whom lost their lives at sea and many thousands more abused and terrorised by the pro-Western ?rebels?.

Encouraged by Colonel al-Qadhafi call for a cease fire, the majority of the world's nations, including African nations (the African Union) have called for an immediate end to U.S.-NATO's aggression and allow Libyans to find a political solution. Of course, U.S.-NATO leaders are not interested in the business of peace and consider the Libyan people their enemy. NATO leaders openly declared that: NATO's terror attacks will continue against the Libyan people until the Libyan leader Colonel al-Qadhafi leaves Libya. Meanwhile, Colonel al-Qadhafi continues to enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the Libyan people, and courageously refused to be intimidated by the terrorists.

In deliberate attacks on civilian population centres on Sunday night of 19 June 2011, U.S.-NATO war planes attacked a residential area in the Arada neighbourhood of Tripoli killing several civilians, including two babies and their mother. ( Reuters/AFP , 19 June 2011).

On 10 June 2011, NATO war planes, conducted raids against Libya killed an Algerian mother, Benkacem Nicira, 41 and her two sons, Sadiki Abdelmalek, 22, and Bilal, 19 in the oil city of Ben Jawad, near Ras Lanuf. On 15 June 2011, NATO airstrike attacked a bus loaded with passengers in Kikla city, about 120 km southwest of the capital Tripoli, killing 12 civilians and wounding two others, according to Xinhua news.

Further, between 19 March 2011 and 26 May 2011, NATO air attacks had killed 718 civilians and wounded 4,067, mostly in and around the Capital Tripoli. Meanwhile, NATO members have began using helicopter gunships, U.S. Hellfire missile-wielding Predators and unmanned aerial vehicles operations in their attacks on major Libyan population centres, such as the Capital Tripoli.

On 30 April 2011, in an illegal act of ?targeted assassination', NATO-U.S. war planes attacked al-Qadhafi's family home, killing al-Qadhafi son, Saif al-Arab, his three grandchildren and several friends and relatives. The attack was in flagrant violation of international law. On 20 April 2011, U.S.-NATO air attacks on al-Qadhafi in Tripoli killed 7 civilians and wounded 18 others. Glorified by the BBC, the criminal attacks were justified as attacks on al-Qadhafi ?Command and Control Centre?. It is a lie even by the Nazis' standard. But, you wonder if the BBC will call a military attack on 10 Downing Street, an attack on David Cameron Command and Control Centre.

On 13 May 2011, NATO aircraft bombed the Libyan city of Brega, killing 16 civilians, including 11 clerics who were there on a peace mission, and wounding 45 others. Statements were made by two Imams who had driven through the night from the Brega site to Tripoli for the press conference to condemn the NATO bombing of their brethren.

A day after the massacre, Libyan government spokesperson, Moussa Ibrahim presented strong evidence that a massacre of Libyan religious leaders by NATO was carried out in the oil port of Brega. The press conference was attended by Libyan religious leaders, mainly Muslim but included both Orthodox and Catholic representatives.

According to Moussa Ibrahim, on Friday, 13 May 2011, over 150 of Libya's most senior Imams gathered in Brega to hold a peace conference on how to end the fighting in Libya. Brega was chosen for the site because it is the closest government held town to the rebel-held stronghold of Benghazi and the Imams planned to send a delegation to Benghazi with a peace proposal following the conference.

Bombing a peace conference of Libyan religious leaders shows just how much NATO is threatened by any chance of a cease fire. Any break in the NATO air offensive will only benefit the government and hurt the rebellion, with reports from western journalists in Benghazi telling of increasing infighting between local rebels and those recently returned from exile who have been trying to take over. If Benghazi loses its water supply the clock starts ticking towards the day when Benghazi's ?rebels? must surrender or evacuate the city.

According to former U.S. Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney who is in Tripoli, NATO forces have attacked ?hospitals, universities, schools, residential houses, and other non-military sites, causing numerous civilian casualties. The aim is to terrorise the civilian population and force the people to capitulate. Hence, U.S.-led NATO air attacks are deliberately and mercilessly targeting the civilian population and Libya's civilian infrastructure.

Furthermore, NATO has adopted U.S.-Zionist policy of collective punishment, including international sanction against the Libyan people. Collective punishment is a form of retaliatory action targeting the civilian population, including women and children in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The policy was used by the Nazis during the German occupation of Poland and by the U.S.-Britain during the 13-year long genocidal sanctions against the Iraqi people that killed more than a million Iraqi civilians, including 600,000 infants under the age of 5. It is considered one of Israel's brutal policies of terrorising the Palestinian people.

In justifying the aggression against Libya, Obama claims the U.S. has the right to attack any defenceless nation wherever it deems U.S. imperialist ?interests and values? to be at stake. Unashamed of his own despicable hypocrisy, Obama asserted that the attacks on Libya are to promote ?democracy? and ?human rights? as an established Western propaganda to manipulate public opinions and to portray the West as a ?compassionate? and ?ethical? society. But, from Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan to Yugoslavia and to Libya, America's ?human rights? record is outright criminal.

Regrettably, despite the horrendous atrocities committed by U.S.-NATO forces against defenceless civilians, people in the West, the American people in particular, remain mute and ignorant. They are consumed by endless fantasies, manipulated and diverted like a ?bewildered herd?. They have been indoctrinated ?not to get involved in politics? and to mind their own business.

Promoting Dictatorship

Finally, whether it is the ongoing U.S.-NATO aggression against Afghanistan or the U.S.-NATO aggression against Libya, U.S.-NATO aggressions have nothing to do with ?democracy?, ?protecting civilians?, or ?human rights? whatever the pretexts. The primary aim is the total control over the planet resources through military violence, terrorising the civilian population and imposing Western-pliant rightwing-dictatorships to serve U.S.-Zionist interests.

In reality, the U.S. and its Western allies fear democracy and development more than anything else. In fact, most Western leaders, including Barack Obama openly supporting the dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf despotic regimes as the kinds of ?democratic? regimes they like to ?deal? with. The U.S. and its Western allies love the Saudi Arabia model of ?democracy?. Ostensibly, this is because in addition to serving U.S.-Zionist interests, the Saudi model provides the West with an example of an ?Islamic? regime, which is often used to demonise Muslims and Islam and more importantly, ?mobilise the ?Islamophobic' aspects of [Western] public opinion?, the Egyptian ?Marxist?, Samir Amin observes. Saudi Arabia is the most oppressive, backward and weak despotic regime is the U.S.-West most ?trusted? allay.

As the U.S. and its Western allies become more addicted to war and terror, there will be far more innocent people killed by U.S.-NATO forces in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. People should not fall into media manipulation and distortion. Only resistance by people worldwide will stop NATO terror and force Western leaders to choose the path of peace.


*Ghali Hassan is an independent political analyst living in Australia.


[1]. Michael Mandel, ?This War is Illegal,? CounterPunch , 09 October 2001.

[2]. Marjorie Cohn, ?Bombing of Afghanistan is Illegal and Must be Stopped,? Jurist , 06 November 2001.

  Read NATO Of Terror
 June 21, 2011   Report: If We Don't Stop Destroying Our Oceans, We'll See "Mass Extinction" of Marine Life
by Agence France-Presse , AlterNet

Pollution and global warming are pushing the world's oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unseen for tens of millions of years, a consortium of scientists warned Monday. Dying coral reefs, biodiversity ravaged by invasive species, expanding open-water "dead zones," toxic algae blooms, the massive depletion of big fish stocks -- all are accelerating, they said in a report compiled during an April meeting in Oxford of 27 of the world's top ocean experts. Sponsored by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), the review of recent science found that ocean health has declined further and faster than dire forecasts only a few years ago. These symptoms, moreover, could be the harbinger of wider disruptions in the interlocking web of biological and chemical interactions that scientists now call the Earth system. All five mass extinctions of life on the planet, reaching back more than 500 million years, were preceded by many of the same conditions now afflicted the ocean environment, they said. "The results are shocking," said Alex Rogers, an Oxford professor who heads IPSO and co-authored the report. "We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime." Three main drivers are sickening the global marine environment, and all are a direct consequence of human activity: global warming, acidification and a dwindling oxygen level, a condition known as hypoxia. Up to now, these and other impacts have been studied mainly in isolation. Only recently have scientists began to understand how these forces interact. "We have underestimated the overall risks, and that the whole of marine degradation is greater than the sum of its parts," Rogers said. "That degradation is now happening at a faster rate than predicted." Indeed, the pace of change is tracking or has surpassed the worst-case scenarios laid out by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its landmark 2007 report, according to the new assessment. The chain reaction leading to increased acidification of the oceans begins with a massive influx of carbon into Earth's climate system. Oceans act as a massive sponge, soaking up more than a quarter of the CO2 humans pump into the atmosphere. But when the sponge becomes too saturated, it can disrupt the delicately balanced ecosystems on which marine life -- and ultimately all life on Earth -- depends. "The rate at which carbon is being absorbed is already far greater now than during the last globally significant extinction of marine species 55 million years ago," when some 50 percent of deep-sea life was wiped out, the report said. That event, called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, may be an ancient dress rehearsal for future climate change that could be even more abrupt and more damaging, some scientists fear. Pollution has also taken a heavy toll, rendering the oceans less resilient to climate change. Runoff from nitrogen-rich fertilizer, killer microbes, and hormone-disrupting chemicals, for example, have all contributed to the mass die-off of corals, crucial not just for marine ecosystems but a lifeline for hundreds of millions of people too. The harvesting up to 90 percent of some species of big fish and sharks, meanwhile, has hugely disrupted food chains throughout the ocean, leading to explosive and imbalanced growth of algae, jellyfish and other "opportunistic" flora and fauna. "We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation," said Daniel Laffoley, head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas, and co-author of the report. "And we are also probably the last generation that has enough time to deal with the problems," he told AFP by phone.

  Read Report: If We Don't Stop Destroying Our Oceans, We'll See
 June 6, 2011   Why Climate Change is the Most Important Issue Humanity Has Ever Faced
by Laurence Lewis , AlterNet, source Daily Kos

 Here in the City of Roses, the annual Rose Festival celebration will have to proceedwithout the roses. For the second consecutive year, there has been record rainfall on the Portland parade. The weather finally turned, but locals are wondering whether there will be more than a few random days of Spring before the advent of Summer. It's just another example of what Texas Tech climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe describes as "global weirding":

An upsurge in heavy rainstorms in the United States has coincided with prolonged drought, sometimes in the same location, she said, noting that west Texas has seen a record-length dry period over the last five years, even as there have been two 100-year rain events.

Hayhoe, other scientists, civic planners and a manager at the giant Swiss Re reinsurance firm all cited human-caused climate change as an factor pushing this shift toward more extreme weather.

While none would blame climate change for any specific weather event, Hayhoe said a background of climate change had an impact on every rainstorm, heat wave or cold snap.

Beyond Portland, April saw the most tornadoes ever recorded for a single month, more than doubling the previous record. In different parts of the United States, May saw record heat or record cold, record rainfall and flooding and record droughts. Global warming does not mean that everything everywhere will grow hotter. The science denialists mistakenly and often dishonestly misuse those record colds or record rains as proof that the planet is not warming, but they don't understand or don't want you to understand that climate is complicated. It's not about everything getting hotter. It's about the extremes. The weirding. The new normal. But the surface of the planet is getting hotter. Globally, April was the seventh hottest month on record. It already is being estimated that 2012 will becomehottest year on record, breaking the previous high which was set all the way back in 2010.

Among scientists, there is no debate about anthropogenic climate change. A few rogue loons with some level of scientific credentials can be found to make just about any claim denying any scientific facts, but the climate denialists only get attention because they arewell-funded by the industries most responsible for anthropogenic climate change, and because they too often are enabled and coddled by incompetent and at times corrupt and complicit major media. The corporatist tools and intellectual stooges that comprise elected and nominated Republicans have done exactly what one would expect, attempting to undermine any and all efforts even to study, much less to address, climate change. Every Republican Senate nominee from the 2010 election cycle bought into some level of climate denialism. We know that. We expect that. But Democrats are supposed to know better. Democrats are supposed to do better. And the vast majority of Democrats in Washington, DC are aware of the science, accept the science, and claim to care about the science. But that's not enough. Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions last year set a new record, leading the International Energy Agency to open pessimism about the prospects of limiting global temperature to two degrees centigrade, which would itself be catastrophic. But what are the Democrats doing about it? To its great credit, and against the usual opposition from Republicans and a few right wing Democrats, the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency has moved forward to regulate greenhouse gasses. But as the New York Times editorialized as the climate bill died last year in the Senate, even after the disastrous BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico:

Mr. Obama never fully committed to the fight. He raised hopes here and around the world last year when he pledged in Copenhagen to reduce United States greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent. Until a couple of months ago, he talked a good game, praising the House bill that aimed at the 17 percent target and promising to make every effort to get the Senate to follow.

Then, despite the opportunity offered by the oil spill to press for a bold energy policy, the president essentially disappeared. What has passed for advocacy by the White House in recent days has consisted largely of one op-ed article by the energy adviser, Carol Browner, and daily assurances from the press secretary, Robert Gibbs, that the White House was “working behind the scenes.”

Can the country hope for better in the months ahead? It must. The danger of global warming is not going away just because Washington’s politicians don’t want to deal with it.

That's not even close to being good enough. Nothing less than Manhattan Project urgency is good enough. This is a crisis and this president is uniquely gifted at presenting and promoting a message, but his occasional speeches aren't anything close to being good enough. People can be awakened to the urgency of addressing a crisis, and no one in the world is more capable of awakening the American public than is President Obama. He needs to treat this crisis as if it were a crisis. He needs to galvanize the Party he leads to treat this crisis as if it were a crisis. He needs to make clear that dithering and compromising are not acceptable. He needs to call out the Republicans as a threat to our collective future. He needs to make climate change the most important issue in politics because it is the most important issue humanity has ever faced. He can use science. He can use facts. He can appeal to the emotions of everyone who hopes to be alive in half a century, or who cares about anyone who hopes to be alive in half a century.

How bad can it get? Is it hyperbole to call climate change the most important issue humanity has ever faced? Do other issues even compare when climate change itself encompasses almost all of them? How important are the issues of war and mass violence and human rights? The geopolitical consequences of climate change are almost unimaginable. There will be droughts and losses of vegetation, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has warned of potentially catastrophic impacts on food production. Imagine 200 million people displaced, worldwide. Where will they go? How will they survive? How will the less endangered people and governments cope with such an unprecedented torrent of refugees? Think of the reactionary xenophobia already resulting from immigration in the United States. Consider that the wonder of Europe's open internal travel is about to end, as nations there prepare to close their borders, as their own reactionary response to the increasing numbers of refugees fleeing the violence in revolutionary North Africa and the Middle East.

Does health care matter? How will nations cope as climate change expands the territories of everything from dangerous diseases to deadly insects? One need only consider the effects of record tornados and increasingly severe hurricanes to begin to realize the human costs of climate disasters. And then there are the impacts on forests and ocean acidification, the latter threatening the base of the marine food chain, and all whose livlihoods or lives depend upon it. Back on land, the disruptions to agriculture could undermine the food supplies for billions.

If all this isn't enough, and for those that care only about money, the economy often is an excuse for doing little or nothing about climate change. The presumption is that what's good for the environment is bad for the economy. It's another of the fundamental lies used by the narrow special interests whose riches do indeed depend on harming not helping. But however politically dominant the fossil fuels industries may be, their business strength does not translate into wider economic strength or even stability. Climate change is an economic crisis. One cannot honestly discuss the future economy without giving climate change primacy. The Stern review on the economics of climate change could not have been more clear, and the economic bottom line says it all:

Lord Stern of Brentford made headlines in 2006 with a report that said countries needed to spend 1% of their GDP to stop greenhouse gases rising to dangerous levels. Failure to do this would lead to damage costing much more, the report warned - at least 5% and perhaps more than 20% of global GDP.

But speaking yesterday in London, Stern said evidence that climate change was happening faster than had been previously thought meant that emissions needed to be reduced even more sharply.

This meant the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would have to be kept below 500 parts per million, said Stern. In 2006, he set a figure of 450-550ppm. "I now think the appropriate thing would be in the middle of that range," he said. "To get below 500ppm ... would cost around 2% of GDP."

Two percent now or five to twenty percent later. And from a political standpoint it also isn't hard to sell the truth that responsibly addressing climate change not only would prevent that GDP disaster, it would stimulate the economy in new ways and begin to define what should be a new modern economic model for the future. If only someone somewhere in a position of serious authority would only make the effort to sell it.

On so many important issues, the impacts of climate change overwhelm other factors. Climate change is about war and peace and human rights and poverty and hunger and immigration and health care and natural disasters and in more ways than can be counted, climate change is about the economy. No other issue has ever had so many ramifications in so many areas. The Republicans have their collective heads buried in something other than mere sand, but for the Democrats being better than the Republicans is not nearly enough. Acknowledging the existence of climate change is not nearly enough. If anything, it highlights an even more disturbing level of irresponsibility and negligence, because unlike the Republicans, most Democrats at least know to some degree what is happening. They have no excuses for not doing absolutely everything in their collective power to awaken the ignorant and to galvanize popular support for the radical changes that are necessary, lest even more radical and much more dangerous changes become inevitable. This moment in history demands leadership, and leadership does not mean a wink and a nod and business as usual. Imagine if President Obama had the vision of Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard:

Friends, the second US President John Adams once famously said that “facts are stubborn things.” No opinion poll can change the fact that climate change is real. It is caused by human activity. And we must cut carbon pollution. In a nation rich in fossil fuels, I wish it were not so. But it is. Greenhouse gas levels are one-third higher than before the Industrial Revolution,and higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years.

As a result, global temperatures have risen 0.7 degrees celsius over the past century and continue to rise. The last decade was the world’s hottest on record, warmer than the 1990s which were in turn warmer than the 1980s. In fact, globally 2010 was the equal warmest year on record, tied with 2005 and 1998. 2010 is the thirty-fourth consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th Century average. In Australia, average temperatures have risen almost one degree since 1910,and each decade since the 1940s has been warmer than the one before. That warming is real. Its consequences are real. And it will change our lives in real and practical ways. More extreme bushfire conditions and droughts. Falling crop yields. Loss of species. Increased cyclone intensity. More days of extreme heat. Coastal flooding as sea levels rise. Bleaching of our coral reefs. And a substantial decline in alpine snow cover. Indeed, Professor Garnaut’s latest report indicates that the need to act is greater than ever. And the scientific consensus is stronger than ever....

I learnt to have faith in the creative and optimistic spirit of this nation and its people. To believe that we are a smart, competent, resilient nation. A nation that has done great things in the past, and which can do even greater thingsin the future. A nation that understands when the soft options are gone, only hard choices remain. That is why we choose action over inaction. We will cut carbon pollution. We will not leave our nation stranded by history. We will not live at the expense of future generations. We will get this call right and get this job done: For our nation. For our people. For our future.

But as Joe Romm commented:

Obama, sadly, now refuses to explain to the American public the high cost of inaction, the myriad benefits of swift action, and the shameful, pitiful strategy adopted by the pro-pollution, anti-science deniers in the GOP political leadership — although he did give pieces of what needs to be said in various speeches back in 2009 (see links at end).

Gillard’s speech is an excellent combination of substance and rhetoric.  The whole thing is worth reading since we’re unlikely to hear such a blunt and courageous speech in this country by any major U.S. political leader for a long time.

But it's even worse than that, because as Bill McKibben just pointed out, President Obama has actually pursued a policy of expanding coal mining and oil drilling. Which continues to bestaggering, given that the man is smart enough and aware enough to know what is actually happening. We need his leadership. The world needs his leadership. No one else can do what he can do, but not only is he making only partial efforts to help, he is also making partial efforts that exacerbate the problems.

We as Democrats, as activists, and as political junkies cannot stand silently by. On the most important issue humanity has ever faced, and with disruptions to our very way of life looming and perhaps now unpreventable, our president and our leaders are not leading. We have to make them. We have to change the nature of how we live, but we also must demand better from those we send to Washington. Every important issue is trumped by climate change. Every important issue is impacted and many will be defined by climate change. We must find those Democrats who have the courage to lead on this unprecedented issue. We must make climate change the issue by which we define Democratic leadership.


  Read Why Climate Change is the Most Important Issue Humanity Has Ever Faced
 June 5, 2011   3 Massive World Events That Will Change Your Life
Michael T. Klare , AlterNet

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Here’s the good news about energy: thanks to rising oil prices and deteriorating economic conditions worldwide, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that global oil demand will not grow this year as much as once assumed, which may provide some temporary price relief at the gas pump.  In its May Oil Market Report, the IEA reduced its 2011 estimate for global oil consumption by 190,000 barrels per day, pegging it at 89.2 million barrels daily.  As a result, retail prices may not reach the stratospheric levels predicted earlier this year, though they will undoubtedly remain higher than at any time since the peak months of 2008, just before the global economic meltdown.  Keep in mind that this is the good news.

As for the bad news: the world faces an array of intractable energy problems that, if anything, have only worsened in recent weeks.  These problems are multiplying on either side of energy’s key geological divide: below ground, once-abundant reserves of easy-to-get “conventional” oil, natural gas, and coal are drying up; above ground, human miscalculation and geopolitics are limiting the production and availability of specific energy supplies.  With troubles mounting in both arenas, our energy prospects are only growing dimmer.

Here’s one simple fact without which our deepening energy crisis makes no sense: the world economy is structured in such a way that standing still in energy production is not an option.  In order to satisfy the staggering needs of older industrial powers like the United States along with the voracious thirst of rising powers like China, global energy must grow substantially every year.  According to the projections of the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), world energy output, based on 2007 levels, must rise 29% to 640 quadrillion British thermal units by 2025 to meet anticipated demand.  Even if usage grows somewhat more slowly than projected, any failure to satisfy the world’s requirements produces a perception of scarcity, which also means rising fuel prices.  These are precisely the conditions we see today and should expect for the indefinite future.

It is against this backdrop that three crucial developments of 2011 are changing the way we are likely to live on this planet for the foreseeable future.

Tough-Oil Rebels

The first and still most momentous of the year’s energy shocks was the series of events precipitated by the Tunisian and Egyptian rebellions and the ensuing “Arab Spring” in the greater Middle East.  Neither Tunisia nor Egypt was, in fact, a major oil producer, but the political shockwaves these insurrections unleashed has spread to other countries in the region that are, including Libya, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.  At this point, the Saudi and Omani leaderships appear to be keeping a tight lid on protests, but Libyan production, normally averaging approximately 1.7 million barrels per day, has fallen to near zero.

When it comes to the future availability of oil, it is impossible to overstate the importance of this spring’s events in the Middle East, which continue to thoroughly rattle the energy markets. According to all projections of global petroleum output, Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf states are slated to supply an ever-increasing share of the world’s total oil supply as production in key regions elsewhere declines.  Achieving this production increase is essential, but it will not happen unless the rulers of those countries invest colossal sums in the development of new petroleum reserves -- especially the heavy, “tough oil” variety that requires far more costly infrastructure than existing “easy oil” deposits. 

In a front-page story entitled “Facing Up to the End of ‘Easy Oil,’” the Wall Street Journal noted that any hope of meeting future world oil requirements rests on a Saudi willingness to sink hundreds of billions of dollars into their remaining heavy-oil deposits.  But right now, faced with a ballooning population and the prospects of an Egyptian-style youth revolt, the Saudi leadership seems intent on using its staggering wealth on employment-generating public-works programs and vast arrays of weaponry, not new tough-oil facilities; the same is largely true of the other monarchical oil states of the Persian Gulf.

Whether such efforts will prove effective is unknown.  If a youthful Saudi population faced with promises of jobs and money, as well as the fierce repression of dissidence, has seemed less confrontational than their Tunisian, Egyptian, and Syrian counterparts, that doesn’t mean that the status quo will remain forever.  “Saudi Arabia is a time bomb,” commented Jaafar Al Taie, managing director of Manaar Energy Consulting (which advises foreign oil firms operating in the region). “I don’t think that what the King is doing now is sufficient to prevent an uprising,” he added, even though the Saudi royals had just announced a $36-billion plan to raise the minimum wage, increase unemployment benefits, and build affordable housing.

At present, the world can accommodate a prolonged loss of Libyan oil.  Saudi Arabia and a few other producers possess sufficient excess capacity to make up the difference.  Should Saudi Arabia ever explode, however, all bets are off.  “If something happens in Saudi Arabia, [oil] will go to $200 to $300 [per barrel],” saidSheikh Zaki Yamani, the kingdom’s former oil minister, on April 5th.  “I don’t expect this for the time being, but who would have expected Tunisia?”

Nuclear Power on the Downward Slope

In terms of the energy markets, the second major development of 2011 occurred on March 11th when an unexpectedly powerful earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.  As a start, nature’s two-fisted attack damaged or destroyed a significant proportion of northern Japan’s energy infrastructure, including refineries, port facilities, pipelines, power plants, and transmission lines.  In addition, of course, it devastated four nuclear plants at Fukushima, resulting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, in the permanent loss of 6,800 megawatts of electric generating capacity.

This, in turn, has forced Japan to increase its imports of oil, coal, and natural gas, adding to the pressure on global supplies.  With Fukushima and other nuclear plants off line, industry analysts calculate that Japanese oil imports could rise by as much as 238,000 barrels per day, and imports of natural gas by 1.2 billion cubic feet per day (mostly in the form of liquefied natural gas, or LNG).

This is one major short-term effect of the tsunami.  What about the longer-term effects?  The Japanese government now claims it is scrapping plans to build as many as 14 new nuclear reactors over the next two decades.  On May 10th, Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced that the government would have to “start from scratch” in devising a new energy policy for the country.  Though he speaks of replacing the cancelled reactors with renewable energy systems like wind and solar, the sad reality is that a significant part of any future energy expansion will inevitably come from more imported oil, coal, and LNG.

The disaster at Fukushima -- and ensuing revelations of design flaws and maintenance failures at the plant -- has had a domino effect, causing energy officials in other countries to cancel plans to build new nuclear plants or extend the life of existing ones.  The first to do so was Germany: on March 14th, Chancellor Angela Merkelclosed two older plants and suspended plans to extend the life of 15 others.  On May 30th, her government made the suspension permanent.  In the wake of mass antinuclear rallies and an election setback, she promised to shut all existing nuclear plants by 2022, which, experts believe, will result in an increase in fossil-fuel use.

China also acted swiftly, announcing on March 16th that it would stop awarding permits for the construction of new reactors pending a review of safety procedures, though it did not rule out such investments altogether.  Other countries, including India and the United States, similarly undertook reviews of reactor safety procedures, putting ambitious nuclear plans at risk.  Then, on May 25th, the Swiss government announced that it would abandon plans to build three new nuclear power plants, phase out nuclear power, and close the last of its plants by 2034, joining the list of countries that appear to have abandoned nuclear power for good.

How Drought Strangles Energy

The third major energy development of 2011, less obviously energy-connected than the other two, has been a series of persistent, often record, droughts gripping many areas of the planet.  Typically, the most immediate and dramatic effect of prolonged drought is a reduction in grain production, leading to ever-higher food prices and ever more social turmoil.

Intense drought over the past year in Australia, ChinaRussia, and parts of theMiddle East, South America, the United States, and most recently northern Europehas contributed to the current record-breaking price of food -- and this, in turn, has been a key factor in the political unrest now sweeping North Africa, East Africa, and the Middle East.  But drought has an energy effect as well.  It can reduce the flow of major river systems, leading to a decline in the output of hydroelectric power plants, as is now happening in several drought-stricken regions.

By far the greatest threat to electricity generation exists in China, which is suffering from one of its worst droughts ever.  Rainfall levels from January to April in the drainage basin of the Yangtze, China's longest and most economically important river, have been 40% lower than the average of the past 50 years, according toChina Daily.  This has resulted in a significant decline in hydropower and severe electricity shortages throughout much of central China.

The Chinese are burning more coal to generate electricity, but domestic mines no longer satisfy the country’s needs and so China has become a major coal importer.  Rising demand combined with inadequate supply has led to a spike in coal prices, and with no comparable spurt in electricity rates (set by the government), many Chinese utilities are rationing power rather than buy more expensive coal and operate at a loss.  In response, industries are upping their reliance on diesel-powered backup generators, which in turn increases China’s demand for imported oil, putting yet more pressure on global fuel prices.

Wrecking the Planet

So now we enter June with continuing unrest in the Middle East, a grim outlook for nuclear power, and a severe electricity shortage in China (and possibly elsewhere).  What else do we see on the global energy horizon?

Despite the IEA’s forecast of diminished future oil consumption, global energy demand continues to outpace increases in supply.  From all indications, this imbalance will persist.

Take oil.  A growing number of energy analysts now agree that the era of “easy oil” has ended and that the world must increasingly rely on hard-to-get “tough oil.”  It is widely assumed, moreover, that the planet harbors a lot of this stuff -- deep underground, far offshore, in problematic geological formations like Canada’s tar sands, and in the melting Arctic.  However, extracting and processing tough oil will prove ever more costly and involve great human, and even greater environmental, risk.  Think: BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster of April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.

Such is the world’s thirst for oil that a growing amount of this stuff will nonetheless be extracted, even if not, in all likelihood, at a pace and on a scale necessary to replace the disappearance of yesterday’s and today’s easy oil.  Along with continued instability in the Middle East, this tough-oil landscape seems to underlie expectations that the price of oil will only rise in the coming years.  In a poll of global energy company executives conducted this April by the KPMG Global Energy Institute, 64% of those surveyed predicted that crude oil prices will cross the $120 per barrel barrier before the end of 2011.  Approximately one-third of them predicted that the price would go even higher, with 17% believing it would reach $131-$140 per barrel; 9%, $141-$150 per barrel; and 6%, above the $150 mark.

The price of coal, too, has soared in recent months, thanks to mounting worldwide demand as supplies of energy from nuclear power and hydroelectricity have contracted.  Many countries have launched significant efforts to spur the development of renewable energy, but these are not advancing fast enough or on a large enough scale to replace older technologies quickly.  The only bright spot, experts say, is the growing extraction of natural gas from shale rock in the United States through the use of hydraulic fracturing (“hydro-fracking”).

Proponents of shale gas claim it can provide a large share of America’s energy needs in the years ahead, while actually reducing harm to the environment when compared to coal and oil (as gas emits less carbon dioxide per unit of energy released); however, an expanding chorus of opponents are warning of the threat to municipal water supplies posed by the use of toxic chemicals in the fracking process.  These warnings have proven convincing enough to lead lawmakers in a growing number of states to begin placing restrictions on the practice, throwing into doubt the future contribution of shale gas to the nation’s energy supply.  Also, on May 12th, the French National Assembly (the powerful lower house of parliament)voted 287 to 146 to ban hydro-fracking in France, becoming the first nation to do so.

The environmental problems of shale gas are hardly unique.  The fact is that all of the strategies now being considered to extend the life-spans of oil, coal, and natural gas involve severe economic and environmental risks and costs -- as, of course, does the very use of fossil fuels of any sort at a moment when the first IEA numbers for 2010 indicate that it was an unexpectedly record-breaking year for humanity when it came to dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

With the easily accessible mammoth oil fields of Texas, Venezuela, and the Middle East either used up or soon to be significantly depleted, the future of oil rests on third-rate stuff like tar sands, shale oil, and extra-heavy crude that require a lot of energy to extract, processes that emit added greenhouse gases, and as with those tar sands, tend to play havoc with the environment.

Shale gas is typical.  Though plentiful, it can only be pried loose from underground shale formations through the use of explosives and highly pressurized water mixed with toxic chemicals.  In addition, to obtain the necessary quantities of shale oil, many tens of thousands of wells will have to be sunk across the American landscape, any of one of which could prove to be an environmental disaster.

Likewise, the future of coal will rest on increasingly invasive and hazardous techniques, such as the explosive removal of mountaintops and the dispersal of excess rock and toxic wastes in the valleys below.  Any increase in the use of coal will also enhance climate change, since coal emits more carbon dioxide than do oil and natural gas.

Here’s the bottom line: Any expectations that ever-increasing supplies of energy will meet demand in the coming years are destined to be disappointed.  Instead, recurring shortages, rising prices, and mounting discontent are likely to be the thematic drumbeat of the globe’s energy future. 

If we don’t abandon a belief that unrestricted growth is our inalienable birthright and embrace the genuine promise of renewable energy (with the necessary effort and investment that would make such a commitment meaningful), the future is likely to prove grim indeed.  Then, the history of energy, as taught in some late twenty-first-century university, will be labeled: How to Wreck the Planet 101.

Copyright 2011 Michael T. Klare

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., and the author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Petroleum Dependency.

  Read 3 Massive World Events That Will Change Your Life
 June 6, 2011   Vision: The Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth Is Our Roadmap to a Liveable Future
Nnimmo Bassey , AlterNet

The following is excerpted from the recently released book, The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, produced by the Council of Canadians, Global Exchange and Fundacion Pachamama. This book reveals the path of a movement driving transformation of our human relationship with nature away from domination and towards balance. This book gathers the wisdom of indigenous cultures, scientists, activists small farmers, spiritual leaders and US communities who seek a different path for protecting nature by establishing Nature's Rights in law and culture. In addition to this excerpt, the book includes essays from Vandana Shiva, Desmond Tutu, Thomas Goldtooth, Eduardo Galeano, and many others. Copies of the book may be obtained through Global Exchange.

The prime anchor of the proposed Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth is that every element in Nature is interdependent and one cannot ignore the rights of the other without consequences. A grasping of this truth brings clarity to the fact that the Earth herself is finite and limited. It also helps us to grasp that if the resources of the Earth were used sustainably there would be enough to sustain every creature and living being in a continuously renewing manner.

Mahatma Ghandi rightly said that there is enough on Earth to meet everyone's need, but not enough to meet everyone's greed. This saying gets to the root of the matter. The interconnectedness in Nature demands that we deal respectfully with the bounties of Nature as well as with every other person. This is the pathway to sustainability.

The inordinate desire of man to dominate, accumulate and destroy has led to the emergence of many catastrophic events on Earth including climate change, hunger, disease, and a multiplicity of conflicts. The spirit of competition negates every element of solidarity and builds an insatiable taste for natural resources. To sustain this track of plunder, policy makers and their think tanks adopt delusory platforms that insist that humans can always find a fix for everything and therefore do not need to see the limits that exist on the highway of unrestricted exploitation.

The United Nations, in a bid to provide a socio-political environment in which minimum rights can be respected, has proclaimed a number of rights including the important Universal Declaration of Human Rights and more recently the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and now water has been declared a human right. The declaration of water as a human right is a milestone in the life of the august body. However, when the vote on the human right of water was taken, it is instructive to note that 41 countries abstained from raising their flags. These abstentions signalled the unpreparedness of some people to recognize the sanctity of life since water is such a basic element both in our make-up as humans, and a necessary element for the survival of all living beings. An Arab saying states, "The greatest crime to commit in a desert is to find water and to hide it." Anyone who uses water as a tool for subjugation, exploitation and strangulation of others commits a heinous crime against humanity.

After acceding to water as a human right, it is time for the world to take the next necessary step to proclaim the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. This, in a manner of speaking, is the mother of all rights.

The urgency for this Declaration cannot be overstressed. Man's exploitation of Mother Earth has left indelible scars that may never be healed. The actions of man through deforestation and the over-exploitation of water resources, for example, have caused the drying up of water bodies. Man-made climate change further compounds the situation. Massive accidents resulting from extractive industry activities, as well as other acts, show the limit to how man can exert control over the monsters that we create. Genetic engineering of crops, including the patenting of seeds and production of infertile seeds to secure control of the food chain on the altar of profit, hasten biodiversity and erosion. Highly depleted sources of fossil fuels have today led to the creation of false solutions including agro-fuels that are encouraging land grabs across Africa and other regions, raising the spectre of further conflicts in the midst of other crises.

Respecting the Rights of Mother Earth would make clear to all that over-exploitation of the Earth's resources and the destruction of our environment are nothing short of criminal, and that those who engage in these acts should have their day in the dock of an environmental crimes tribunal. The Declaration recognizes that: "To guarantee human rights it is necessary to recognize and defend the rights of Mother Earth and all beings in her in line with existing cultures, practices and laws. Declaration also empowers human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings;" and seeks the establishment of "precautionary and restrictive measures to prevent human activities from causing species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems or the disruption of ecological cycles." This is the holistic declaration needed to halt our reckless slide.

Mother Earth has been kind to us. We have been nothing short of prodigal in our relationship to her and to one another. The path we have beaten for ourselves is one that leads to annihilation. But it is not too late to pause, correct our ways and take the right route. We have come to a major crossroad and the sign is clear. A choice must be made. If we choose to work for the sustenance of life as we know it, we must all demand the urgent Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

The Climate Challenge

Without any doubt, climate change is a signal challenge to humankind and all of Mother Earth. Indeed, climate change demands a change of all humans and our societies. Based on peculiar reasoning, rather than fighting climate change, many policy measures being put forward and promoted are aimed at making profit out of the crisis. Rather than retracing from the path that stokes the atmosphere with more carbon, we appear determined to continue in the same mold that created the problem in the first place.

It is known that climate change has been triggered by the mass of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and that these have been released mainly through the burning of fossil fuels and other anthropomorphic activities. Rather than moving into renewable energy modes of production, wars are being fought to secure supplies of crude oil and gas. Rather than reducing consumption levels, people are fighting to maintain their current and increased levels of utilization of polluting fuels. In fact, it appears that the carbon utilization level of a nation is the key measure of how advanced a nation is. The right to pollute continues to negate the right to life. There is a critical need and demand for climate justice, that the atmosphere must be decolonized, and the historical ecological (and climate debt) must be paid.

The climate challenge places heavy burdens on vulnerable communities that contribute little or nothing to the crisis and that are often not even aware of the causes of the catastrophes they are condemned to confront. Some people refer to freak weather events as "acts of God," whereas they are basically caused by man's actions that upset the balance in Nature and unleash reactions that we cannot resist and can hardly contain. The proposed Declaration rightly states in Article 2(2) that, "each being has the right to a place and to play its role in Mother Earth for her harmonious functioning." The Rights of Mother Earth are not limited to things that we conveniently label as "living things." Every element in Mother Earth is living, has a right and deserves to be respected.

The systemic roots of climate change cannot be denied. The model of civilization that is hinged on uncontrolled development will only compound the crisis. Wasteful consumption means higher energy needs; it ignores efficiency and elevates people's capacity to buy what they want, and not what they need.

Negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change continue to gloss over the role of industrial agriculture in climate change. When agriculture is mentioned, the slant is usually that agriculture contributes so much to climate change. We hardly hear the truth that the culprit is industrial agriculture with its dependence on chemical fertilizers and predominantly monoculture modes. Meanwhile small-scale farmers continue to utilize local knowledge developed over centuries of practice on agro-ecological models that respect the environment, socio-economic and cultural systems.

While the official negotiations on climate change continue to drag, the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth issued "The People's Agreement" at the end of the conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2010. The agreement clearly took into consideration the Rights of Mother Earth as the true context for tackling climate change. The people spoke loudly and it is time for governments to listen.

The climate challenge requires binding targets for emission reductions and these cannot be met through the so-called carbon offsetting methods, or through the voluntary emission reduction targets such as what is suggested in the Copenhagen Accord. Those measures merely promote business as usual and set the stage for unacceptable temperature increases. As the Bolivian government consistently states, "the need to establish an adequate limit to global warming and that with an increase in global warming of two degrees Celsius, there is a 50 per cent chance that the damage caused to our Mother Earth would be totally irreversible."

The dominant proposals being officially put forward to combat climate change are all based on market forces. Rather than redirect civilisation from its carbon path and leave fossil fuels in the soil or in the holes where Mother Earth has put them, the world promotes the drilling of oil in pristine and delicate environments and continues to intensify destructive mining activities. By these means waterways are polluted onshore and offshore. Aquatic lives are poisoned with toxic chemicals including crude oil dispersants, smothered under drilling mud, and killed by seismic explosions. The extraction of fossil fuels increases deforestation and destruction of terrestrial habitat. The major factor behind the persistence of this mode of civilisation is profit at the expense of life.

When a slight attempt is made to move from fossil fuel propulsion, it has been into moving within the same industrial logic of refineries, pipelines, gas stations and combustion engines through agro-fuels. We hear talk of ethanol made from crops being held up as a clean and renewable energy source. Little attention is paid to the fact that the entire set up is the same as that driven by fossil fuels. Little attention is paid to the fact that agro-fuels compete with food crops for arable land and remove farm labour from producing food for hungry populations. Even when it is said that the crops cultivated are not staples and are grown on marginal lands, this turns out to be another way of marginalising the poor so as to meet the needs and greed of others. As mentioned earlier, agro-fuel production has triggered land grabs in places such as Africa that reveal the immoral bent of man in seeking to maintain consumption patterns that are unjust, unsustainable and grossly infringe on the Rights of Mother Earth.

Technology is hoisted as the silver bullet that would solve all the evils pushed forward by the carbon economy. This is the logic that speaks of carbon sequestration and even holds forth such an oxymoron as "clean coal." It is also this logic that breeds ideas such as the seeding of the atmosphere to reflect and thereby cool the Earth and seeding of the oceans to create carbon sinks.

Where technology does not provide the answer, other false solutions are brought up through mechanisms that allow the polluter to continue to pollute while performing penance by investing in so-called carbon sinks elsewhere in the world. In this guise, one such concept is Reduce Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation (REDD). Through this, speculators and carbon traders pounce on community forests and exclude peoples from their territories and access to their means of livelihood. Little attention is paid to the huge gaps in the REDD proposal. First, it merely seeks to reduce deforestation in the short term, whereas the world urgently needs to stop deforestation. It has no inherent mechanism to ensure that any deforestation being reduced is not merely deferred only to happen in the future. Neither does it have a way of tackling deforestation in any particular territory in a holistic way. This means that deforestation may be reduced in one region while it is being accelerated in another.

The Declaration of the Right of Mother Earth demands a paradigm shift and a conscious effort on the part of man to own up to our errors and settle on amending our patterns of production and consumption. The respect of Nature and socio-cultural contexts would have far-reaching implications and would result in the building of healthy societies where harmony is maintained and the rights of all beings are respected.

At the heart of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth is the much needed assertion, promotion and protection of the sovereignty of peoples and other beings on Earth to grow in mutually beneficial relationships and support systems. For humans it would promote food sovereignty, energy sovereignty and sovereignty over territories and resources. It would truncate destructive exploitation, build resilience and strengthen the defence of all rights. This Declaration will provide the essential tool for the growth of global solidarity to take humankind into a civilisation based on sustainable principles.

In sum, the seeds of the real strategies to tackle climate change are embedded in the proposed Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. It is time for humankind to humbly accept that we have arrived at the precipice of reckless living, exploitation and destruction of Mother Earth and that even if water is found on other planets only the very rich may make it there. And we must accept that even those who make it there may need more than one lifetime to make the distance. We have only one Earth, the blue planet floating in space. The future security of nations will be based on the global solidarity, and not competition and domination. As one environmental and social activist said, "Without local, regional and global solidarity and vice versa the substantial transformations in the bosom of humanity will never be made."

The machine of war will not provide security. And the vast resources being poured into the building of machines of war would be better invested in works to repair the open wounds on Mother Earth. It is time to tackle the structural causes of climate change on the principles of equity and justice. The Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth provides the manifesto and a roadmap to a liveable future if we must be rescued from the brink of runaway climate crisis. It is time to stand up to support this cause.


Nnimmo Bassey is the Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria and Chair of Friends of the Earth International. He is one of Africa's leading advocates and campaigners for the environment and human rights. He was awarded with the Right Livelihood Award in 2010.

  Read Vision: The Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth Is Our Roadmap to a Liveable Future
 May 31 , 2011   The Sky Really Is Falling and Our Only Salvation Is the Rapid Dismantling of the Fossil Fuel Industry
Chris Hedges , AlterNet


This article first appeared on Truthdig.

The rapid and terrifying acceleration of global warming, which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a swifter pace than even the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago, has been confronted by the power elite with two kinds of self-delusion. There are those, many of whom hold elected office, who dismiss the science and empirical evidence as false. There are others who accept the science surrounding global warming but insist that the human species can adapt. Our only salvation—the rapid dismantling of the fossil fuel industry—is ignored by both groups. And we will be led, unless we build popular resistance movements and carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience, toward collective self-annihilation by dimwitted pied pipers and fools.

Those who concede that the planet is warming but insist we can learn to live with it are perhaps more dangerous than the buffoons who decide to shut their eyes. It is horrifying enough that the House of Representatives voted 240-184 this spring to defeat a resolution that said that “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” But it is not much of an alternative to trust those who insist we can cope with the effects while continuing to burn fossil fuels.

Horticulturalists are busy planting swamp oaks and sweet gum trees all over Chicago to prepare for weather that will soon resemble that of Baton Rouge. That would be fine if there was a limit to global warming in sight. But without plans to rapidly dismantle the fossil fuel industry, something no one in our corporate state is contemplating, the heat waves of Baton Rouge will be a starting point for a descent that will ultimately make cities like Chicago unlivable. The false promise of human adaptability to global warming is peddled by the polluters’ major front group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which informed the Environmental Protection Agency that “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.” This bizarre theory of adaptability has been embraced by the Obama administration as it prepares to exploit the natural resources in the Arctic. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced recently that melting of sea ice “will result in more shipping, fishing and tourism, and the possibility to develop newly accessible oil and gas reserves.” Now that’s something to look forward to.

“It is good that at least those guys are taking it seriously, far more seriously than the federal government is taking it,” said the author and environmental activist Bill McKibben of the efforts in cities such as Chicago to begin to adapt to warmer temperatures. “At least they understand that they have some kind of problem coming at them. But they are working off the science of five or six years ago, which is still kind of the official science that the International Climate Change negotiations are working off of. They haven’t begun to internalize the idea that the science has shifted sharply. We are no longer talking about a long, slow, gradual, linear warming, but something that is coming much more quickly and violently. Seven or eight years ago it made sense to talk about putting permeable concrete on the streets. Now what we are coming to realize is that the most important adaptation we can do is to stop putting carbon in the atmosphere. If we don’t, we are going to produce temperature rises so high that there is no adapting to them.”

The Earth has already begun to react to our hubris. Freak weather unleashed deadly tornados in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. It has triggered wildfires that have engulfed large tracts in California, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. It has brought severe droughts to the Southwest, parts of China and the Amazon. It has caused massive flooding along the Mississippi as well as in Australia, New Zealand, China and Pakistan. It is killing off the fish stocks in the oceans and obliterating the polar ice caps. Steadily rising sea levels will eventually submerge coastal cities, islands and some countries. These disturbing weather patterns presage a world where it will be harder and harder to sustain human life. Massive human migrations, which have already begun, will create chaos and violence. India is building a 4,000-kilometer fence along its border with Bangladesh to, in part, hold back the refugees who will flee if Bangladesh is submerged. There are mounting food shortages and sharp price increases in basic staples such as wheat as weather patterns disrupt crop production. The failed grain harvests in Russia, China and Australia, along with the death of the winter wheat crop in Texas, have, as McKibben points out, been exacerbated by the inability of Midwestern farmers to plant corn in water-logged fields. These portents of an angry Gaia are nothing compared to what will follow if we do not swiftly act.


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“We are going to have to adapt a good deal,” said McKibben, with whom I spoke by phone from his home in Vermont. “It is going to be a century that calls for being resilient and durable. Most of that adaptation is going to take the form of economies getting smaller and lower to the ground, local food, local energy, things like that. But that alone won’t do it, because the scale of change we are now talking about is so great that no one can adapt to it. Temperatures have gone up one degree so far and that has been enough to melt the Arctic. If we let it go up three or four degrees, the rule of thumb the agronomists go by is every degree Celsius of temperature rise represents about a 10 percent reduction in grain yields. If we let it go up three or four degrees we are really not talking about a planet that can support a civilization anything like the one we’ve got.

“I have sympathy for those who are trying hard to figure out how to adapt, but they are behind the curve of the science by a good deal,” he said. “I have less sympathy for the companies that are brainwashing everyone along the line ‘We’re taking small steps here and there to improve.’ The problem, at this point, is not going to be dealt with by small steps. It is going to be dealt with by getting off fossil fuel in the next 10 or 20 years or not at all.

“The most appropriate thing going on in Chicago right now is that Greenpeace occupied [on Thursday] the coal-fired power plant in Chicago,” he said. “That’s been helpful. It reminded people what the real answers are. We’re going to see more civil disobedience. I hope we are. I am planning hard for some stuff this summer.

“The task that we are about is essentially political and symbolic,” McKibben admitted. “There is no actual way to shut down the fossil fuel system with our bodies. It is simply too big. It’s far too integrated in everything we do. The actions have to be symbolic, and the most important part of that symbolism is to make it clear to the onlookers that those of us doing this kind of thing are not radical in any way. We are conservatives. The real radicals in this scenario are people who are willing to fundamentally alter the composition of the atmosphere. I can’t think of a more radical thing that any human has ever thought of doing. If it wasn’t happening it would be like the plot from a Bond movie.

“The only way around this is to defeat the system, and the name of that system is the fossil fuel industry, which is the most profitable industry in the world by a large margin,” McKibben said. “Fighting it is extraordinarily difficult. Maybe you can’t do it. The only way to do it is to build a movement big enough to make a difference. And that is what we are trying desperately to do with 350.org. It is something we should have done 20 years ago, instead of figuring that we were going to fight climate change by convincing political elites that they should do something about this problem. It is a tactic that has not worked.


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“One of our big targets this year is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the biggest front group for fossil fuel there is,” he said. “We are figuring out how to take them on. I don’t think they are worried about us yet. And maybe they are right not to be, because they’ve got so much money they’re invulnerable.

“There are huge decisive battles coming,” he said. “This year the Obama administration has to decide whether it will grant a permit or not for this giant pipeline to run from the tar sands of Alberta down to the refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. That is like a 1,500-mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet. We have to figure out how to keep that from happening. The Obama administration, very sadly, a couple of months ago opened 750 million tons of western coal under federal land for mining. That was a disgrace. But they still have to figure out how to get it to port so they can ship it to China, which is where the market for it is. We are trying hard to keep that from happening. I’m on my way to Bellingham, Wash., next week because there is a plan for a deep-water port in Bellingham that would allow these giant freighters to show up and collect that coal.

“In moral terms, it’s all our personal responsibility and we should be doing those things,” McKibben said when I asked him about changing our own lifestyles to conserve energy. “But don’t confuse that with having much of an impact on the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere. You can’t make the math work one house or one campus at a time. We should do those things. I’ve got a little plaque for having built the most energy-efficient house in Vermont the year we built it. I’ve got solar panels everywhere. But I don’t confuse myself into thinking that that’s actually doing very much. This argument is a political argument. I spend much of my life on airplanes spewing carbon behind me as we try to build a global movement. Either we are going to break the power of the fossil fuel industry and put a price on carbon or the planet is going to heat past the point where we can deal with it.

“It goes far beyond party affiliation or ideology,” he said. “Fossil fuel undergirds every ideology we have. Breaking with it is going to be a traumatic and difficult task. The natural world is going to continue to provide us, unfortunately, with many reminders about why we have to do that. Sooner or later, we will wise up. The question is all about that sooner or later.

“I’d like people to go to climatedirectaction.org and sign up,” McKibben said. “We are going to be issuing calls for people to be involved in civil disobedience. I’d like people to join in this campaign against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It’s very easy to sign up. If you don’t own a little business yourself, you probably shop at 10 or 20 of them a week. It’s very easy to sign those guys up to say the U.S. Chamber doesn’t speak for me. We can’t take away their [the Chamber’s] money, but we can take away some of their respectability. I would like people to demonstrate their solidarity with people all around the world in this fight. The next big chance to do that will be Sept. 24, a huge global day of action that we’re calling ‘Moving Planet.’ It will be largely bicycle based, because the bicycle is one of the few tools that both rich and poor use and because it is part of the solution we need. On that day we will be delivering demands via bicycle to every capital and statehouse around the world.

“I wish there was some easy ‘end around,’ some backdoor through which we could go to get done what needs to be done,” he said. “But that’s not going to happen. That became clear at Copenhagen and last summer when the U.S. Senate refused to take a vote on the most mild, tepid climate legislation there could have been. We are going to have to build a movement that pushes the fossil fuel industry aside. I don’t know whether that’s possible. If you were to bet, you might well bet we will lose. We have been losing for two decades. But you are not allowed to make that bet. The only moral action, when the worst thing that ever happened in the world is happening, is to try and figure out how to change those odds.

“At least they knew they were going to win,” McKibben said of the civil rights movement. “They didn’t know when, but they knew they were going to win, that the tide of history was on their side. But the arch of the physical universe appears to be short and appears to bend towards heat. We’ve got to win quickly if we’re going to win. We’ve already passed the point where we’re going to stop global warming. It has already warmed a degree and there is another degree in the pipeline from carbon already emitted. The heat gets held in the ocean for a while, but it’s already there. We’ve already guaranteed ourselves a miserable century. The question is whether it’s going to be an impossible one.”

Chris Hedges is a weekly Truthdig columnist and a fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.”

  Read The Sky Really Is Falling and Our Only Salvation Is the Rapid Dismantling of the Fossil Fuel Industry
 May 26 , 2011   Killer Tornadoes: How Devastating Extreme Weather Is Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez , AlterNet

2011 has already become the deadliest year for tornado outbreaks in the United States since 1953, with more than 500 people killed. Extreme weather has made headlines across the world, as well, with megafloods occurring in Colombia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Australia, even as the Amazon just faced its second hundred-year drought in the past five years. News audiences are seeing the warning "severe weather" increasingly flash across TV screens, but little connection has been made to the role humans have played in driving climate change. We speak with environmentalist Bill McKibben, founder of the grassroots climate campaign, 350.org. "We’re making the earth a more dynamic and violent place," McKibben says. "That’s, in essence, what global warming is about."

JUAN GONZALEZ: Extreme weather across the United States has been dominating the news for weeks, from tornadoes to floods to drought. This is just a sampling of some recent news reports.

PETER MANSBRIDGE, CBC: Now more than 1,500 people are still unaccounted for following Sunday evening’s tornado in Joplin, Missouri. The storm killed at least 122. Both huge numbers, given how many people live there.

CBS REPORTER: The massive tornado tore through Joplin, Missouri, Sunday, flattening entire neighborhoods and claiming an untold number of lives. Eleven bodies were pulled from just one location alone. The storm was so powerful, it reportedly ripped the bark from trees as wind speeds approached 150 miles per hour.

REPORTER: The latest information I have from Oklahoma City is that there are now two confirmed dead in the state of Oklahoma tonight, 122 confirmed dead in Joplin, Missouri, from the storm that hit there Saturday, 1,500 missing, according to a fire captain in Joplin. And the tornadoes are said to be still breaking out tonight. ....

JUAN GONZALEZ: This is how environmentalist Bill McKibben begins his piece in the Washington Post this week. "Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn’t mean a thing.

"It is [far] better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas—fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been—the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected."

AMY GOODMAN: Those are the words of Bill McKibben, as he begins his Washington Post piece this week. Bill McKibben is founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org and author of many books, including Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. Bill is joining us from Long Island, New York, though he is a Vermonter.

Bill, your state is making history today, about to pass single-payer healthcare, and you’ve been doing that quite a while on the issue of the environment, as you travel the world to bring attention to two words that we don’t see screaming across our TV screens. We see "severe weather." We see "extreme weather." We see the horrible scenes of destruction. But we don’t see the words "climate change." Talk about these connections.

BILL McKIBBEN: Sure. Look, what’s happening is we’re making the earth a more dynamic and violent place. That’s, in essence, what global warming is about. We’re trapping more of the sun’s energy in this narrow envelope of atmosphere, and that’s now expressing itself in many way. We don’t know for sure that any particular tornado comes from climate change. There have always been tornadoes. We do know that we’re seeing epic levels of thunderstorm activity, of flooding, of drought, of all the things that climatologists have been warning us about.

And of course they’re not confined just to our continent. You know, even in the last week, the Chinese have pointed out that they’re suffering through the worst drought in the center of the country that they have on record. In Colombia, the president went on TV last week to say, "We’ve gotten so much rain in the last year, it’s washed away so much of our infrastructure that it’s as if we haven’t been doing any development work for the last 10 or 20 or 25 years."

The scale of this stuff is immense. And as long as we just think about it as just a series of one-off, isolated disasters, we probably are not asking ourselves the most important questions. What can we do to stop this destabilization before it gets much worse?

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Bill, you’ve also—you also mention in your article what’s happened in the past year in Pakistan and Australia and other parts of the world. Could you talk about that, as well?

BILL McKIBBEN: Flooding is probably, Juan, the biggest example of what we’re doing. Warm air holds more water vapor than cold. On average, the earth’s atmosphere is about four percent wetter than it was 30 years ago, which is an astonishingly large change in a basic physical parameter. What it does is load the dice for downpour and deluge and flooding, and one country after another has been crapping out in the last year, throwing snake eyes.

I mean, you saw the pictures from Queensland in Australia, because Queensland in Australia has a lot of white people and TV cameras. You didn’t see similar pictures from Sri Lanka, from Vietnam, from the Philippines, from Brazil northeast of Rio, where they’ve had similar kinds of megafloods, now Colombia. There were some pictures from Pakistan, because it was such an epic event. There were, last year, last summer, about a quarter of that country under water. The Red Cross said in February that there were still four million homeless people from those floods in Pakistan. Of all the big things that have happened in Pakistan in the last year, the biggest one, by far, was that epic, biblical flood that came pouring down the Indus.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill, in your piece, you go on to talk about, well, the connections you shouldn’t make. And you say, "Because if you asked yourself what it meant that the Amazon has just come through its second hundred-year drought in the past five years, or that the pine forests across the western part of this continent have been obliterated by a beetle in the past decade—well, you might have to ask other questions. Such as: Should President Obama really just have opened a huge swath of Wyoming to new coal mining?" And you go on with a series of questions. First, talk about the Amazon. This is always what is linked, raised, on those who are questioning climate change. You’re talking about a drought in the Amazon, and you’re talking about these massive floods. "Obviously there is no connection," they say. But talk about government policy under President Obama.

BILL McKIBBEN: Sure. First of all, just two connections. The atmosphere gets moister. That means that in some areas there’s more evaporation, and hence more drought. And in other areas, that stuff is coming down.

Now, to President Obama, look, the guy has done a better job on climate change than George Bush. That’s not an enormous claim to make, but, you know, happily, he’s doing something. He’s also doing a lot of things that are very, very damaging. He has opened this vast swath of the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming to coal mining. The early estimate is there’s enough coal there to be at the equivalent of having 3,000 coal-fired power plants running for a year. His administration is currently considering allowing a permit for a huge pipeline across the center of the country that will run from Canada from the tar sands in Alberta down to refineries in Texas. That’s the equivalent of lighting a fuse on the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.

So, we need the President and the rest of his administration to focus a lot harder on climate change. It’s nice that they’ve talked about green jobs, and so on and so forth, but we need them to understand that global warming right now is the most difficult problem that we face, and we can’t do anything that will make it worse. The Congress, at the moment, is clearly preventing us from doing much that will make it better, but we’ve got to do everything we can to engage that battle. That’s what we’re doing at 350.org now, and with some increasing success, I’m happy to say. The movement itself, at least, is building. It’s not big enough yet to defeat the fossil fuel industry, but we’re getting larger.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Bill, you mentioned Congress, and yet this spring the House of Representatives voted by a 50-vote majority against a resolution that says climate change poses a significant risk to human health. Where are our political leaders?

BILL McKIBBEN: They were more—I mean, they voted by that 50 votes to basically say that climate change wasn’t real. I mean, we’re entering one of those moments. You know, it’s like Lysenko in the old Soviet Union or something, when there are too many people willing to believe that their ideology can trump physics and chemistry. That is a painful delusion to be laboring under. It’s one that we won’t labor under for very long, but these are crucial years, and we really, really have to engage this battle. By that, I mean since we’re never going to outspend the fossil fuel industry—and that’s what owns Congress—we’re going to have to figure out some other currency to work in. It’s not going to be money. It’s going to be bodies and creativity and spirit.

So, at 350.org, we’re in the midst of planning for this next huge global day of action. It’ll be September 24th, and it’ll be mostly on the backs of bicycles all over the world. We’re calling it "Moving Planet." We’re in the middle of this big fight against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the number one front group for the fossil fuel industry. And we’re getting thousands upon thousands of small businesses across America to simply say, "The U.S. Chamber doesn’t speak for me," because they’re being—they’re the reason that Congress is being as willful and blind as they are. We’ve got to engage these big forces, and we’ve got to do it very dynamically, because the time, as this chain of freak weather events makes clear, is running out.

And it’s making it clear, by the way, not just to scientists and not just to activists. The head of one of the country’s biggest insurance companies was quoted just a week or so ago as saying, "Look, it’s very clear to us that the level of thunderstorm activity across the country is off the charts. We’re going to have to be raising our premiums, and there’s going to be lots of places where we’re not going to be able to underwrite anymore, simply because the earth is changing so fast."

AMY GOODMAN: And very quickly, 350.org, the significance of the name of your group?

BILL McKIBBEN: Three-fifty is the—good question, Amy. Three-fifty is the most important number in the world. The NASA scientists told us three years ago that any value for carbon in the atmosphere greater than 350 parts per million was not compatible with the planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted. That is strong language. It’s stronger still when you know that everywhere, outside your studios, up on top of Mount Everest, in the Antarctic, right now we’re at about 390 parts per million CO2 and gaining fast. That’s why this is not some future problem. It is the most pressing present crisis that we have.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill McKibben, I want to thank you for being with us, founder of 350.org. His new piece, "A Link between Climate Change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never!" appears in the Washington Post, and we will link to it.

Also, just this small point, though it’s a big point for us, is that Democracy Now! broadcasts from the greenest internet/TV/radio studios in the country. We have gotten LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It’s the highest level of green building that can be done in this country.

  Read Killer Tornadoes: How Devastating Extreme Weather Is Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change
 May 12 , 2011   Vision: Nature Needs Rights -- Why Our Human-Centric Model Will Doom Us and the Rest of the Planet
Maude Barlow, AlterNet

Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from the recently released book, The Rights of Nature: The case for a Universal Declaration on the rights of Mother Earth, produced by the Council of Canadians, Global Exchange and Fundacion Pachamama. This book reveals the path of a movement driving transformation of our human relationship with nature away from domination and towards balance. This book gathers the wisdom of indigenous cultures, scientists, activists small farmers, spiritual leaders and US communities who seek a different path for protecting nature by establishing Nature's Rights in law and culture. In addition to this excerpt, the book includes essays from Vandana Shiva, Desmond Tutu, Thomas Goldtooth, Eduardo Galeano, and many others. Copies of the book may be obtained through Global Exchange.

The world needs the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and all humans need to internalize its key principles if the planet, and we, are to survive.

While it is true that many people still live on the land in harmony with the natural cycles of Nature, it is also true that with every passing year, more and more people around the world are moving into the "modern" consumer economy, seeking out a living based on capital exchange and no longer living in sustainable communities and traditional societies. In 2008, the number of city dwellers equalled the number of rural dwellers for the first time in history. By 2030, says the United Nations (UN), more than half the population of the large urban centres in the Global South will be slum dwellers with no access to sanitation. There is a huge scramble by the private companies of the Global North to convert the lands they leave behind into free trade zones to serve a global economy based on the doctrine of economic globalization, unregulated markets, more and cheaper consumer goods and unlimited growth.

Unlimited growth assumes unlimited resources and this is the genesis of the crisis. From fish in the sea, and old growth forests and wetlands, to oil, clean air and water, we are plundering our planet's natural resources. Quite simply, to feed the increasing demands of our consumer-based capitalist system, humans have seen nature as a great resource for our personal convenience and profit, not as a living ecosystem from which all life springs. So we have built our economic and development policies based on a human-centric model and assumed either that nature would never fail to provide or that, where it does fail, technology will save the day.

Even when we recognize the effect of our behavior on the natural world, we pass inadequate laws based on curbing the worst practices, but leave intact the system of economic globalization at the heart of the problem, which gives transnational corporations almost unfettered and unregulated access to the genetic, mineral, timber and water resources of even the most remote parts of the Earth. Thomas Linzey, a U.S. lawyer working to develop the new legal framework to protect Nature, explains that the dominant form of environmental protection in industrialized countries is based on the regulatory system, legalizing the discharge of large amounts of toxic substances into the environment, and is not working. Under a new regime recognizing the Rights of Mother Earth, compensation would not be measured in terms of an injury to people, but according to damage to the ecosystem.

In the absence of such fundamental protections for Nature, political leaders and their big business advisors continue, for instance, to promote international trade and investment agreements that not only limit the ability of domestic governments to protect the natural world for fear such protection may be seen as a "trade barrier," but also award the trade in "green" technology that will be needed to clean up the ecosystems we refuse to protect. If the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth were firmly entrenched in international jurisprudence, nation-state constitutions, and the hearts and minds of decision-makers, trade agreements would be very different than they are today and would be built around the need for more local sustainable systems of food and industrial production, and the protection of natural ecosystems.

  Read Vision: Nature Needs Rights -- Why Our Human-Centric Model Will Doom Us and the Rest of the Planet
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