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Volume 9       Issue 2    February  2011
Politics and Justice without borders

Theme this month

Global Community for all Life

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     Global Peace Movement Website of the Global Peace Movement
  • Global Security, Globalization and Planetary Demise, by Dr Michael Ellis
  • India tour for the future, by Nina Goncharova
  • The Rise of the Global Civil Society, by Rene Wadlow

Table of Contents

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
The Global Community days of celebration or remembering during the year
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
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GIM daily proclamations main website

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

Jason G. Brent (4), Robin Broad, John Cavanagh, Paul Chefurka (2), , Dr Michael Ellis, Randolph Femmer, Dr. Tim Fox, MARTINE GILHARD FRANCE, Joshua Frank, Nina Goncharova, Peter Goodchild, Ghali Hassan, Lisa Hymas, Jay Kimball, Gilbert Mercier, George Monbiot, Tim Murray, Rebecca Solnit, Rene Wadlow (2), Michele Waslin

Jason G. Brent, Billions Of Humans Will Die Horribly Billions Of Humans Will Die Horribly
Jason G. Brent, Humanity's Dilemma: Reconciling Two Paradigms Humanity's Dilemma: Reconciling Two Paradigms
Jason Brent, The United Nations, Total Fertility Rate (TFR) And China The United Nations, Total Fertility Rate (TFR) And China
Jason G. Brent, Peak Oil, International Trade And Population Peak Oil, International Trade And Population
Robin Broad, Yes, There Is An Alternative Yes, There Is An Alternative
John Cavanagh, Yes, There Is An Alternative Yes, There Is An Alternative
Paul Chefurka, Population Redux Population Redux
Paul Chefurka, The Interactive Ecological Predicament The Interactive Ecological Predicament
Dr Michael Ellis, Global Security, Globalization and Planetary Demise Global Security, Globalization and Planetary Demise
Randolph Femmer, Carrying Capacity and Limiting Factors(PDF) Carrying Capacity and Limiting Factors(PDF)
Dr. Tim Fox, One Planet, Too Many People? One Planet, Too Many People?
Joshua Frank, 2010: A Precedent-Setting Year In the Fight Against Coal 2010: A Precedent-Setting Year In the Fight Against Coal
Nina Goncharova, India tour for the Future India tour for the Future
Peter Goodchild, Peak Oil And Population Decline Peak Oil And Population Decline
Ghali Hassan, The Rise and Rise of Super Fascism The Rise and Rise of Super Fascism
Lisa Hymas, 2011: The Year We’ll Hit 7 Billion 2011: The Year We’ll Hit 7 Billion
Jay Kimball, The Real Population Problem The Real Population Problem
Gilbert Mercier, The American Empire Is Collapsing, And Americans Will Be The Last to Know The American Empire Is Collapsing, And Americans Will Be The Last to Know
George Monbiot, Extreme Cold In The UK Really Could Be A Result Of Global Warming Extreme Cold In The UK Really Could Be A Result Of Global Warming
Tim Murray, What If We Stopped Fighting For Preservation And Fought Economic Growth Instead? What If We Stopped Fighting For Preservation And Fought Economic Growth Instead?
Rebecca Solnit, The Other World Is Here The Other World Is Here
Rene Wadlow, 2011 Higher Prices for Food: World Citizens Call for Coordinated World Food Policy 2011 Higher Prices for Food: World Citizens Call for Coordinated World Food Policy
Rene Wadlow, The Rise of the Global Civil Society The Rise of the Global Civil Society
Michele Waslin, Three Immigration Myths Meet the Facts Three Immigration Myths Meet the Facts

Research papers and articles on global issues for this month
 Date sent  Theme or issue  Read
 January 9, 2011   Billions Of Humans Will Die Horribly
by Jason G. Brent , Countercurrent

The purpose of this essay is to present facts and very conservative estimates which will convince the reader that billions of human beings will most likely suffer horrible deaths before the year 2050 and almost certainly will suffer those deaths before the year 2120, if they were not suffered before 2050, if human does not immediately commence rapid population decline.

Gross World Wide Product (GWWP) in inflation adjusted dollars increased 7.87 times from the year 1950 ($7.1 trillion) to the year 2004 ($55.9 trillion). During the same period population increased by a factor of 2.56 times (population 1950 2.4 billion, 2004 6.4 billion). Dividing 7.87 by 2.56 equals 3.07---and 3.07 represents the per capita increase in GWWP during the period 1950-2004. Since GWWP also represents the usage of resources, we can make the reasonable assumption the per capita usage of resources increased by 3.07 times or some number very close to that number. Since the economies of China, India have been growing explosively and are very likely to continue that growth and since the economies of many other nations of the world, including the USA, have been growing and will continue to grow, we can make the very reasonable assumption that by the year 2050 the per capita usage of resources will be at least 4.57 times as great as they were in 1950. For the 54 year period from 1950 to 2004 the per capita growth rate was 3.07 times the starting value of 1950: we are assuming that for the 46 year period from 2004 to 2050 the growth rate will only be 1.50 times the 1950 starting value, a very substantial reduction and a very, very conservative estimate. 3.07 plus 1.50 equals 4.57, the number I used for the entire period of 1950-2050. Therefore, 4.57 represents the per capita increase in the usage of resources in the year 2050 when compared with the year 1950.

Now let us consider population growth during the same period, 1950-2050. The best estimates/projections/predictions (medium) for the year 2050 are, assuming no intervening major catastrophes, the UN 9.15 billion, the US Census Bureau 9.28 billion, and the Population Reference Bureau 9.48 billion. These estimates take into consideration AIDS, the fact that some industrialized countries have low birth rates and every other factor necessary to make the best estimates. For the purpose of this essay I will use 9.2 billion. 9.2 billion is 3.68 times larger than the population of 2.5 billion in 1950.

We can now combine the increase in population with the increase in per capita usage of resources--3.68 times 4.57 equals 16.82. In very simple terms, 16.82 represents the increase in resources the earth will have to provide to humanity in the year 2050 when compared with the year 1950. While that number cannot be applied to every single resource, it can be applied to the overall usage of resources. A skeptic may argue that due to environmentalism, recycling, new technologies and efficiencies less resources will be needed in 2050 when compared to 1950 to produce a unit of economic output and the skeptic may be correct. To be very, very conservative let us assume a 100% increase in efficiency---instead of 20 mpg we assume 40 mpg, instead of using two tons of iron ore to produce something only one ton is used, instead of ten tons of water to grow one ton of grain only five tons of water is needed, garbage and human waste for each person on the planet is reduced from two tons to one ton, etc. Based on that very, very conservative assumption, the earth will still have to provide in 2050 8.41 times the resources it provided in 1950.

The simple questions become can the earth provide those resources to humanity in 2050 when the resources used between 1950 and 2050 are taken into consideration and if the earth can provide the resources for how long can they be provided? While no one can provide an absolute answers to those questions, it would be the height of folly for humanity to gamble its survival on the ability for the earth to provide in 2050 8.41 times the resources it provided in 1950 and it would be extremely foolish for humanity to gamble its survival that the earth could continue providing those resources for any length of time. Humanity has two choices---reduce population or reduce the per capita usage of resources, There are no other choices. If humanity does not reduce population and/or reduce per capita usage of resources, the earth will be unable to supply the resources civilization needs to function and the population will be reduced by nature--by war, starvation, disease, ethnic cleansing and other horrors.

Now let us look at a similar situation. According to the UN, the present Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for all of humanity is about 2.55-2.60. A TFR of about 2.05-2.1 represents replacement fertility. According to the UN, replacement fertility will not be reached until about the year 2050. While I disagree with the UN and believe that replacement fertility will not be reached by the year 2050, my disagreement is unimportant. Replacement fertility should not be confused with a stable non-growing population. If replacement fertility were achieved in the year 2050, population would continue to grow until the year 2120 and would stabilize at that time at 13.8 billion, 50% greater than the starting population of 9.2 billion. Again, assuming no major catastrophe between 2050 and 2120. Based on the assumption that replacement fertility would be achieved in 2050, the population of 13.8 billion in 2120 would be 2.03 times greater than the population in 2010 of 6.8 billion (13.8 divided by 6.8 equals 2.03). If we make the very, very conservative estimate, (after considering environmentalism, recycling, new technologies and efficiencies) that per capita usage of resources will double during the 110 years from 2010 to 2120, then the earth will have to supply 4.06 times the resources it presently supplies to humanity (2.03 times 2 equals 4.06). Before a skeptic attacks the estimate of per capita usage of resources, he/she must consider the explosive economic growth of China, India and the high economic growth of the other nations of the world. In the year 2120 the earth would have to provide the resources for the equivalent of 27.61 billion people (6.8 times 4.06 equals 27.61).

In my opinion it would be extremely arrogant for humanity to assume that the earth could provide those resources in the year 2120, after taking into consideration of all the resources used by humankind from 1950 until 2010 and all the resources which will be used between 2010 and 2120. Let me be more direct---as indicated above it is highly unlikely that the human population will reach 9.2 billion in 2050 and it will never reach 13.8 billion in 2120. The affluent and strong of humanity will never reduce their per capita usage of resources; the strong and affluent will take the resources from the poor and weak and either leave them to starve to death or kill them in the process of obtaining those resources. And in some/many cases the strong and affluent of one group will fight the strong and affluent of another group to determine who is ultimately the strongest. Death and destruction will be over the land.

The only possible solution is to immediately commence Rapid Population Decline (RPD) by limiting each couple to one child across the board. RPD may not prevent massive death due to the current level of population and due to the portion of the current population of humanity who are young and have not reached the age of reproduction. We can only hope and try.

Note to the reader. Above I took the very conservative position that due to environmentalism, recycling, new technologies and efficiencies 50% less resources will be used to produce a unit of economic output. However, in a separate essay (Efficiencies and Jobs) I show that increases in efficiencies do not result in an overall reduction in resources used by the economy. In fact, increases in efficiencies almost always result in the overall increase in the usage of resources. This fact is known as the "Jevons Paradox" or the "Jevons Effect" or the "Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate". Use any search engine to learn about the "Jevons Paradox" or the 'Khazzoom Postulate". If there were no reduction in the usage of resources due to efficiencies, (not taking into account any increase in the usage of resources referred to above), in 2050 the planet would have to provide more than 16 times the amount of resources it provided to humankind in 1950. If there were an increase in the usage of resources, the planet probably would have to provide more than 20 or 25 times the resources it provided to humanity in 1950. In my opinion it would be impossible for the planet to provide either 16 or 20 or 25 times the amount of resources it provided to humanity in 1950 for even a very short period of time.

  Read Billions Of Humans Will Die Horribly
 January 21, 2011   One Planet, Too Many People?
by Dr. Tim Fox ,
Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Countercurrent

A groundbreaking Population report (Wed 12 January) by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has revealed the world is hurtling towards population overload placing billions at risk of hunger, thirst and slum conditions.

Population: One planet, too many people? is the first report of its kind by the engineering profession. Unless the engineering solutions highlighted in the report are urgently implemented then the projected 2.5 billion more people on earth by the end of this Century (currently there is 6.9 billion) will crush the earth’s resources.

Urbanisation will soar. ‘Mega-cities’ of more than 10 million people will rise to 29 by 2025 and the urban population will increase from 3.3 billion (2007) to 6.4 billion (2050). Food will also become an increasingly precious commodity and developed areas such as the UK will be forced to stamp out its ‘throwaway’ lifestyle. Water consumption will increase by 30% by 2030 and there is projected to be a 50% hike in water extraction for industrial use in Asia. This, the report states, could create civil unrest and land battles for resources as climate change looms.

Unless the engineering solutions recommended throughout the report are brought in now, there could be devastating consequences not only for developing nations – but right on our own doorstep. “The challenge is how to apply engineering knowledge, expertise and skills around the world to build a new sustainable future.” (p16)

“To have the public knowledgeable about it (the report) is crucial. Political actors in every country should bring this to the attention of their government. Societal infrastructure cannot keep up, in fact it is crumbling,” said Dr John Bongaarts, Vice President of the Population Council in New York. He worked along with Dr Fox and a 70-strong delegation of engineers around the world to compile the research.

Energy, food, water, urbanisation and finance are the five areas which will be significantly affected by the effects of population growth. These are dubbed Engineering Development Goals (EDG) and should be the next step for the UN’s Millennium Goals (MDG), the report says.

Lead Author, Dr Tim Fox, Head of Energy, Environment and Climate Change at IMechE, said: "In less than four years, the MDGs will expire and to date there is nothing, except the recommendations in our report, to replace them."

“Population increase will be the defining challenge of 21st Century, a global issue that will affect us all no matter where we live. Britain is in a currently in a prime position where it has, at its fingertips, some of the most groundbreaking engineering solutions in the world – and the brightest and most educated engineers. We need to work right now with the Department For International Development to set up a knowledge ‘swap-shop’ of engineering skills with other countries. This is not altruism. This is self defence."

"Up to 1 billion people could be displaced by climate change over the next 40 years and we are likely to see an increase in unrest as resource shortages become clear. The term Nimbyism will become obsolete. No-one’s back yard will be immune from these effects."

From the Executive Summary:

Increasing Pressure

The human population of the world is undergoing unprecedented growth and demographic change. By the end of this century there will be an estimated 9.5 billion people, 75% of them located in urban settlements and striving for increased living standards. Meeting the needs and demands of these people will provide a significant challenge to governments and society at large, and the engineering profession in particular.

In rising to this challenge, the engineers of today, and the future, will need to be innovative in the application of sustainable solutions and increasingly engaged with the human factors that influence their decisions. They will need strong, visionary and stable support from governments around the world.

There are four main areas in which population growth and expanding affluence will significantly challenge society in the provision of basic human needs, and create increased pressure on current resources and the environment:

1. Food: An increase in the number of mouths to feed and changes in dietary habits, including the increased consumption of meat, will double demand for agricultural production by 2050. This will place added pressures on already stretched resources coping with the uncertain impacts of climate change on global food production.

2. Water: Extra pressure will come not only from increased requirements for food production, which uses 70% of water consumed globally, but also from a growth in demand for drinking water and industrial processing as we strive to satisfy consumer aspirations. Worldwide demand for water is projected to rise 30% by 2030, this in a world of shifting rainfall patterns due to global warming-induced climate changes that are difficult to predict.

3. Urbanisation: With cities in the developing world expanding at an unprecedented rate, adding another three billion urban inhabitants by 2050, solutions are needed to relieve the pressures of overcrowding, sanitation, waste handling and transportation if we are to provide comfortable, resilient and efficient places for all to live and work.

4. Energy: Increased food production, water processing and urbanisation, combined with economic growth and expanding affluence, will by mid-century more than double the demand on the sourcing and distribution of energy.

This at a time when the sector is already under increasing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (on average across the globe to 50% of 1990 levels), adapt to uncertain future impacts of a changing climate and ensure security of future supply.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers recognises the scale of these issues and that there is a need to begin implementing the early phases of routes to sustainable solutions. The long timescales involved in many of the engineering-based projects required to meet these challenges, often measured in decades of construction and implementation, mean that if action is not taken before a crisis point is reached there will be significant human hardship. Failure to act will place billions of people around the world at risk of hunger, thirst and conflict as capacity tries to catch up with demand.

...The Five Engineering Development Goals
As we progress towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals completion date of 2015, to achieve a successful outcome in meeting future population growth and demographic change, governments across the globe should strive to adopt the following five engineering-focused development goals:

1. Energy: Use existing sustainable energy technologies and reduce energy waste. Access to abundant sources of energy and affordable techniques for its use and distribution, coupled with reducing the environmental impact of fossil fuel consumption, are essential for meeting the challenges of population growth and changing demographics in the 21st century.

Rather than waiting for development of new techniques with long and costly paths to commercial maturity, we must urgently focus our prime effort on correcting market failures to drive the deployment of the clean technologies known today. Furthermore, we must prioritise research funding to accelerate demonstration of those close to exploitation.

Energy policy in both developed and developing nations must encourage consumption to move downwards and reduce demand, through a combination of engineering and behaviour change. The deployment of energy management technologies, such as intelligent appliances and smart meters, together with reductions in waste through better-insulated buildings and effective use of heat, are examples of engineering initiatives that should be pursued in this regard. Priority must be taken in newly developing countries to engineer many of these approaches from the start, therefore ensuring that the fastest-growing populations in the world leapfrog over the unsustainable failings of the wasteful energy solutions embedded in the infrastructure of mature, industrialised nations such as the UK.

2. Water: Replenish groundwater sources, improve storage of excess water and increase energy efficiencies of desalination. If there is one common factor that can be seen in the issues relating to water around the world, it is the unsustainable abstraction of groundwater at a higher rate than natural replenishment allows. This is a major issue due to the importance of groundwater as a source.

Governments must improve groundwater management and accelerate the adoption of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) techniques, where water is re-introduced into the aquifer either by the use of wells or by altering conditions to increase natural infiltration. The source of the re-introduced water can be treated wastewater, storm-water or rainfall. Currently most ASR projects are within the developed nations and efforts need to be made to both substantially extend its use and increase its uptake among suitable regions of developing nations.

Where and when water supply exceeds demand, such as in heavy rain activity, too little effort is placed on capturing and storing that excess supply for use as a source in drier times. Governments must provide separate sewerage and storm-water systems to allow the excess to be stored at the domestic and community level and used for domestic and commercial washing functions, lavatory flushing etc. In the developing world this approach should be taken from the outset, with provision for rainfall harvesting, aquifer replenishment and other forms of storage. In the developed world this means moving away from a culture that delivers water at a very high purity regardless of its intended use, and considers all wastewater to be highly contaminated.

In the past few decades we have significantly reduced the cost of desalination and increased its energy efficiency. However, it still remains one of the most expensive water supply options and is generally restricted to energy-rich nations. We must prioritise and accelerate research into reducing the cost of this technology, in terms of both energy and money, so that wider deployment can be realised at coastal and estuarine locations of rapidly growing populations in the South.

3. Food: Reduce food waste and resolve the politics of hunger. On average a staggering 25% of all fresh food is thrown away in the North after being purchased. In the South, post-harvest crop losses are as much as half of the entire production. If we are to feed the rapidly growing populations of the South, the huge potential for gains in this area must be made. For the nations of the North, substantial efficiency increases are possible from the consumer, largely through behavioural change that recognises the value of food. By contrast, in the South the challenge is that of implementing existing engineering solutions and techniques, many of which are relatively low-tech, to improve food handling, correct poor storage facilities and rectify inadequate management practice.

Malnutrition and undernutrition remain widespread in the poorest countries, despite significant levels of food waste and our technical capability to increase production further. Having the scientific and engineering capacity to produce enough food to feed the world’s growing population does not necessarily mean there will be no hunger. The politics and social issues of poverty, which results in lack of access for many, must be tackled if we are to successfully feed a larger number of people.

4. Urbanisation: Meet the challenge of slums and defending against sea-level rises. Of all the issues faced globally by urban-dwellers, both now and in the future, the most prevalent and pressing is that of informal housing areas in the developing world. Non-permanent structures account for 18% of all urban housing units, and one third of the world’s urban population live in appalling slum conditions with little or no access to clean water, sanitation or energy infrastructure. In dealing with this issue, society must recognise slums are a home and workplace to the people who live there.

It is not an engineering solution of decant-demolish-rebuild-return. Interventions need to recognise the established informal economy and neighbourhood values of the inhabitants, and be planned, decided and implemented in association with them.

Opportunities to build cities from scratch are few and far between, meaning that the expanding urban populations in the 21st century will be largely concentrated around existing sites. For historical reasons, many cities of the world are located in low-lying coastal areas and their people must be protected against the threat of extensive flooding from future sea-level rise related to global warming. Three quarters of the world’s large cities are on the coast and some of the biggest are based on deltaic plains in developing countries (such as Bangkok and Shanghai) where land subsidence will exacerbate the challenge. Given the long timescales that will be involved in agreeing and implementing strategies, such as engineered flood defence infrastructure or abandonment to the sea of areas currently occupied, assessment of the projected rises and potential solutions needs urgent attention in all coastal settlements around the world.

5. Finance: Empower communities and enable implementation. Within the newly developing economies of the South, where the greatest population growth will be experienced, the scale of infrastructure investment required to create energy, water and food sourcing and distribution networks similar to those in the developed world will likely be prohibitive. Local application of mature, understood clean engineering technologies will need to be incentivised. If significant levels of access to energy and water are to be realised and adoption of localised sustainable technologies encouraged, mechanisms such as innovative soft loans and micro-financing, ‘zero-cost’ transition packages and new models of personal and community ownership, such as trusts, must be put in place to reduce the capital investment.

Similarly, in the urban environment one of the most proven routes to success in the redevelopment of slum areas is the inclusion of the inhabitants in the decision-making and planning process. Instead of direct intervention by local or regional government, innovative programmes must channel infrastructure financing and housing loans direct to poor communities, who plan and carry out improvements, thus handing the communities a central role. Programmes in this style also have the benefit of altering the relationships between the community leaders and the administration of the cities, instilling confidence in the urban poor groups that they can influence solutions.
Editorial Notes

related news item: Harrabin's Notes: Population overload

  Read One Planet, Too Many People?
 January 21, 2011   Population Redux
by Paul Chefurka ,
Paulchefurka.ca, Countercurrent

Recently I've been thinking about world population again. Here are some of the things that have come up.

The first thought is that "we" (as in the aggregate species h. Sap) are not rational creatures. We are instead rationalizing creatures who make most of our decisions unconsciously, based on a stew of emotions and heuristics drawn from our previous experience. When a decision emerges fully formed into our conscious mind we then dress it up with post-facto justifications designed to preserve the precious illusion of our rationality. We do show some signs of rationality on an individual level, but these signs are generally submerged by herding behaviours as our numbers increase.

The point of this observation is that it seems vanishingly unlikely that we ever consciously plan our cultural environment. Our collective experience, expressed as culture and civilization, is probably better understood as a self-organizing, complex adaptive system. When seen in that light it seems clear that we do not deliberately plan many of its overarching qualities. Instead, they arise on their own out of the incredible complexity of 6.8 billion people each following their individual paths of least resistance to various local minima in the cultural fitness landscape.

As a result, the notion that we might ever design a rationally structured future based on reason, logic and the projection of observed trends is a chimera. I can see two reasons why people might object to any attempt to implement such a vision. The first is that such a clean, orderly vision has too many unpleasant authoritarian resonances for most people. The second is that asking anyone to do anything that deviates from their path of least resistance from one local minimum to the next is doomed to failure because of our herding instincts.

The next thought I'd like to throw in is that population really can't be separated from activity. A civilization that preserves all that we have come to define as such would have to be limited to a virtual handful of people if overshoot is to be avoided. So, as much as we would like to take a single-factor, population-only view of the situation, I think it's impossible to effectively separate the "PA" terms of IPAT.

Reducing consumption, when continued consumption is seen as possible (even when its reduction is understood to be necessary), violates that "path of least resistance" principle I wrote about above and will therefore be rejected out of hand by our unconscious decision-making processes. That reaction means that the idea is a political non-starter.

So in the face of this, what do I suggest we do? The mischievous anarchist in me wants to say "Do nothing, just watch. Life has its own imperative and will unfold by its own rules." But on a personal level that is too much abdication even for me. My real preference is to leverage the fact that we seem to be more rational in smaller numbers. Since every decision is at its heart an individual choice, the best approach seems to be to educate, awaken and empower individuals. If a sufficient number of awakened people start acting based on their individual perceptions of "right action" then the complex system will adapt itself in some different directions. In my opinion bottom-up approaches are more likely to "succeed" (whatever that word means in this context) than top-down approaches. It's a nice paradox - if we want to change the direction of our civilization, we need to start with the individual "civis".

Finally, for those who feel compelled to organize social movements to accomplish change, there is one avenue that will be profitable to explore. It has long been known that the more affluent and educated a society is, the lower its birthrate tends to be. This prompted me to do the following analysis, that compares national fertility rates to various other factors: GDP per capita, life expectancy, literacy rates, and the Human Development Index which is a mashup of the other three factors. Here are the scatter plots I obtained:





National TFR correlates relatively poorly with GDP/capita (C = 0.47), reasonably well with life expectancy (C = 0.77) and literacy rate (C = 0.78), but very well with HDI (C = 0.89). This implies that if we want to maximize the reduction of TFR we need to concentrate on improving all three dimensions of HDI: Life expectancy (health care), knowledge (literacy and school enrollment) and income.

This approach neatly circumvents the objections to population reduction arguments when applied to the developing world. In this case the effort is put towards development, and reductions in fertility follow as a natural consequence of empowered individual choices as I discussed above.

As a word of caution, it may be very difficult to raise incomes significantly in the developing world, given the increasing degree of wealth consolidation and looming resource limitations that may put the brakes on much economic growth. Fortunately, improving the other two factors does not require high levels of income. So improvements in health and education must be the focus of our efforts.

Can we generate the political will, or any level of global interest in doing this?

  Read Population Redux
 January 21, 2011   The Interactive Ecological Predicament
by Paul Chefurka ,
Paulchefurka.ca, Countercurrent

It is clear that we (as in humanity, other species and the planet itself) face a potpourri of problems. Most of the ecological issues in the world twine together with human activities like a mating ball of snakes. This note discusses a set of ecological and human problems, and tries to put them into perspective against each other.

At the very top of my list of problems, always, is carbon dioxide which I consider the main villain of the play. CO2, which is produced mainly by burning fossil fuels, contributes heavily to climate change and ocean acidification. The warming aspect of climate change contributes to water shortages and biodiversity loss, while the climatic variability it introduces contributes to food shortages. Ocean acidification also contributes to more biodiversity loss and food shortages.

Energy shortages are likely to contribute to a number of ecological problems, as we’ve already seen with the growth of coal generation around the world. Another risk that will crop up in many places as oil and gas supplies begin to decline is the increasing use of local biomass as fuel. That means burning trees, which leads to deforestation with the loss of carbon sinks (more global warming), loss of habitats (more biodiversity loss) and ground water. Energy shortages will also lead to more development of resources like tar sands and shale gas, resulting in more damage to water supplies and species habitats.

Non-energy resource shortages result in more intensive exploitation of ever more fragile and remote areas of the planet, increasing the pressure on other species.

Pollution of all kinds leads to biodiversity loss in addition to the toxicity risks it poses to humans.

Food shortages have their own ecological impact as people turn to local, non-traditional food sources (aka “eating the songbirds out of the trees”). This increases the pressure on biodiversity due to direct decimation of target species and the disruption of local ecological balances.

How much of this is due to human overpopulation, and how much of it is due to human overactivity? It’s tempting to say that it’s because there are just too damn many of us, but I think that’s a bit too simplistic.

The one set of effects that is unarguably the result of human numbers includes anything to do with eating. Each of us needs the same minimum number of calories per day to survive, and every human mouth that’s added to the planet brings with it a 2500 calorie a day appetite. The spiraling race between population and food supplies increases the pressure on water supplies and biodiversity, as well as contributing to river, ocean and ground water pollution.

Other effects that may appear to be the result of overpopulation – such as resource shortages, energy shortages and industrial pollution – are largely the result of human activity. In fact, the majority of the damage we are doing to the planet is the result of our activity and not our numbers. I say this for a number of reasons:

1. Human population growth is no longer exponential, it's linear. We are adding a constant 80 million people to the planet every year, but this growth is constant, not exponential. Population growth has been approximately constant ever since we left the sheltering umbrella of the Green Revolution in 1980. This simple fact lends great credence to Russ Hopfenberg's theory that food causes people.

2. Humanity is in ecological overshoot already. Our consumption of global biosystem resources is up to 50% greater than the natural workld can support, if WWF and the Global Footprint Network are to be believed. If our population magically stopped growing tonight, if we could cut our growth by 80 million people a year right now, we would still be in overshoot. We are simply consuming too much for the planet's safety.

3. The half of the world's births that occur in nations with the highest ecological footprints consume three times as much of the world's resources as the half that occurs in the nations with the lowest ecological footprints.

4. If the Ecological Footprint is a good measure of sustainability (and I think it is) the world could comfortably support its current population in perpetuity at the living standard of Vietnam. If we each had the same ecological footprint as the average Indian the earth could sustainably support over twice as many people as it does today.

5. The problem is that we don't have the ecological footprint of India. The world average is more on a par with Costa Rica or Turkey, with industrialized nations consuming 5 to 10 times the sustainable biocapacity. The 2 billion people that lead unsustainable lives in developed nations consume as much of the planet's biocapacity as the 5 billion who lead sustainable lives in countries where the average ecological footprint is below a sustainable 1.8 global hectares.

So while our population numbers are definitely a problem, our consumption represents a much bigger one. Yes, there are probably too many people, but it’s our consumption, not our numbers, that is wrecking the planet.

While I recognize that others are of a very different opinion, nuclear issues - whether they are proliferation, waste storage, radiation releases or even outright warfare - seem almost insignificant to me. The ecological threats I talked about above are global in scope, are happening as we speak and are accelerating in severity with every passing year. The significance of localized issues like nuclear waste storage, or the risks posed by proliferation seems almost picayune in comparison.

But this is just my take on it. As I’ve said before, we need to have everyone who is moved by the predicament working on whatever issues are most important to them, in whatever way they feel is appropriate. We never know what the pivotal problem may turn out to be, or where an essential answer might be found.

Rather than moaning with despair as the ship goes down though, why not choose to dance? Who knows what might happen if enough of us made that choice?

  Read The Interactive Ecological Predicament
 January 22, 2011   What If We Stopped Fighting For Preservation And Fought Economic Growth Instead?
by Tim Murray , Countercurrent


Each time environmentalists rally to defend an endangered habitat, and finally win the battle to designate it as a park “forever,” as Nature Conservancy puts it, the economic growth machine turns to surrounding lands and exploits them ever more intensively, causing more species loss than ever before, putting even more lands under threat. For each acre of land that comes under protection, two acres are developed, and 40% of all species lie outside of parks. Nature Conservancy Canada may indeed have “saved” – at least for now – two million acres, but many more millions have been ruined. And the ruin continues, until, once more, on a dozen other fronts, development comes knocking at the door of a forest, or a marsh or a valley that many hold sacred. Once again, environmentalists, fresh from an earlier conflict, drop everything to rally its defense, and once again, if they are lucky, yet another section of land is declared off-limits to logging, mining and exploration. They are like a fire brigade that never rests, running about, exhausted, trying to extinguish one brush fire after another, year after year, decade after decade, winning battles but losing the war.

Despite occasional setbacks, the growth machine continues more furiously, and finally, even lands which had been set aside “forever” come under pressure. As development gets closer, the protected land becomes more valuable, and more costly to protect. Then government, under the duress of energy and resource shortages and the dire need for royalties and revenue, caves in to allow industry a foothold, then a chunk, then another. Yosemite Park, Hamber Provincial Park, Steve Irwin Park… the list goes on. There is no durable sanctuary from economic growth. Any park that is made by legislation can be unmade by legislation. Governments change and so do circumstances. But growth continues and natural capital shrinks. And things are not even desperate yet.

Here’s a thought. Stop fighting the brush fire. Stop investing time and effort in fighting for park preservation, and instead direct that energy into stopping economic growth. If the same energy that has been put into battles to save the environment piecemeal had been put into lobbying for a steady state economy, development pressure everywhere would have ceased, and habitat would be safe everywhere. After all, what area is not “sacred?”

For most of us who care about nature, bypassing local fights would seem like driving by an accident scene without stopping to offer help. Environmentalism, after all, is typically born from passionate concern about a threatened treasure very close to our hearts. But as General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz concluded during the Pacific War, to achieve the long-term strategic objective, it is sometimes necessary to conserve strength by “island-hopping” over enemy strong points so that resources can be saved to fight the bigger, more decisive battles. Each of us has only so much time and energy to budget for the cause. The question is, are we deploying it to our best advantage? So far, environmental victories have been won at the cost of losing the strategic war. Environmental watchdogs bark, but the growth caravan moves on.

The practice of designating hallowed places as nature reserves must no longer be seen as “victories,” but rather as concessions. They are a permit issued to keep on growing as long as a small portion of the land base is left off the shopping list. The declaration by certain politicians to “protect” 12% of our land surface from exploitation is a permit to leave 88% unprotected. What they are really talking about, is licensed exploitation. It is like paying the mob not to rob your neighborhood, so that they can ravage others. The Saxons called it Danegeld, and all it bought was time. What is magical about this 12%? Does 12% somehow represent the area of land necessary to protect wilderness and wildlife? Or is it a political figure designed to achieve a compromise between conservationists and developers?

According to wildlife biologist Dr. Keith Hobson of Environment Canada, a veteran warrior of decades of battles to save habitat:

"There is no biological basis to 12%. It came out of the Brundtland Commission and is a dangerous concept… …most biologists I know consider the number to be totally arbitrary and political, with no relationship to actual biology or conservation. As for abandoning the nature preservation schtick in favor of reduced human and economic growth, I emphatically agree. After all, what have been the true ‘victories’ of the environmental movement? Largely postage-stamp pieces of real estate, which, once designated, open the floodgates of development around them. And like you, I have absolutely no faith in the longevity of these designations."

Sir Peter Scott once commented that the World Wildlife Fund would have saved more wildlife it they had dispensed free condoms rather invested in nature reserves. Biodiversity is primarily threatened by human expansion, which may be defined as the potent combination of a growing human population and its growing appetite for resources. Economic growth is the root cause of environmental degradation, and fighting its symptoms is the Labor of Sisyphus.

Tim Murray is an environmental writer and VP of Biodiversity First

  Read What If We Stopped Fighting For Preservation And Fought Economic Growth Instead?
 January 26, 2011   2011 Higher Prices for Food: World Citizens Call for Coordinated World Food Policy
by Rene Wadlow,

“Since the hungry billion in the world community believe that we can all eat if we set our common house in order, they believe also that it is unjust that some men die because it is too much trouble to arrange for them to live;”

Stringfellow Barr Citizens of the World (1952)

In its most recent January 2011 analysis of the world food situation, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted with alarm the extreme price fluctuation in global agricultural markets. This fluctuation in global agricultural markets is leading to higher food prices and is a threat to world food security. The impact falls heaviest on the poor who spend a high percentage — up to 70 percent — of their income on food. Often, the lack of dietary diversification aggravates the problem, as price increases in one staple cannot easily be compensated by switching to other foods. The United Nations estimates that one billion people worldwide do not get enough food and that this number is certain to increase as prices rise.

In a response to the FAO analysis, Rene Wadlow, Senior Vice President and Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens (AWC) addressed an urgent appeal to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon on behalf of the AWC. Wadlow recalled the earlier World Bank evaluation that “The development community, and the world as a whole, has constantly failed to address malnutrition over the past decades. (World Bank. Repositioning Nutrition as Central to Development: A Strategy For Large-Scale Action (2006) )

A central theme which citizens of the world have long stressed is that there needs to be a world food policy and that a world food policy is more than the sum of national food security programs. Food security has too often been treated as a collection of national security initiatives. While the adoption of a national strategy to ensure food and nutrition security for all is essential, a focus on the formulation of national plans is clearly inadequate. There is a need for a world plan of action with focused attention to the role that the United Nations and regional bodies such as the European Union and the African Union must play if hunger is to be sharply reduced.

It is also certain that attention must be given to local issues of food production, distribution and food security. Attention needs to be given to cultural factors, the division of labor between women and men in agriculture and rural development, in marketing local food products, to the role of small farmers, to the role of landless agricultural labor, and to land-holding patterns.

However, for the formulation of a dynamic world food policy, world economic trends and structures need to be analysed, and policy goals made clear. There needs to be a detailed analysis of the role of speculation in the rise of commodity prices. Banks and hedge funds, having lost money in the real estate mortgage packages, are now investing massively in commodities. For the moment, there is little governmental regulation of this speculation. There needs to be an analysis of these financial flows and their impact on the price of grains.

The politically-destabilizing aspects of higher food prices and food riots had pushed the issue of food costs to the top of the agenda of UN Agencies in 2008 as highlighted by the Seventh special session on the Right to Food of the Human Rights Council in May 2008. However, the financial crisis and general recession of 2009 and 2010 have eclipsed food issues, and many governments have again become complacent, believing that the food security mechanisms that they had put into place permanently banished the dangers of large-scale unrest due to higher food prices.

Today, the FAO analysis is a call for cooperation among the UN family of agencies, national governments, non-governmental organizations and the millions of food producers to respond to both short-term measures to help people now suffering from lack of food and adequate nutrition due to high food prices and with longer-range structural issues. The world requires a World Food Policy and a clear Plan of Action.

  Read 2011 Higher Prices for Food: World Citizens Call for Coordinated World Food Policy
 January 27, 2011   Three Immigration Myths Meet the Facts
Michele Waslin, AlterNet, Immigration Impact
There is little apparent relationship between recent immigration and unemployment rates at the regional, state, or county level.

In response to a recent Roll Call article calling out the nativist lobby, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith wrote a letter to the editor making a series of claims -- many of which he’s been making for the last 20 years -- which simply don’t stack up to the facts. These myths also conveniently obsure the lack of any denial of ties to the nativist lobby. While many of Smith’s easy-to-swallow myths may stir the extreme end of a conservative base, they serve as a yet another distraction from having an open and honest immigration debate.

Repeating the same myths over and over again doesn’t make them true. Here are a few recently cited immigration myths and the facts that refute them:

MYTH: The American people want enforcement-only “solutions.”

FACT: Voters still strongly support comprehensive immigration reform. According to a November 2010 nationwide poll, support for comprehensive immigration reform is broad-based and crosses party lines. When comprehensive immigration reform was described to voters, 81% of voters supported the measure. Republicans were the most intense supporters, with fully 72% strongly supporting comprehensive reform. Additionally, 76% (62% strongly) agree with the statement that “deporting all 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States is unrealistic.”

MYTH: We could make jobs available for citizens and legal immigrants if we simply enforced our current immigration laws.

FACT: Although it might seem that deporting all unauthorized immigrant workers from the labor force would automatically improve job prospects for unemployed Americans, the fact is that employment is not a “zero sum” game. Mass deportation would actually reduce U.S. GDP by 1.46% annually, amounting to a $2.6 trillion cumulative loss in GDP over 10 years, and cost an estimated $206 billion to $230 billion over 5 years. The notion that unemployed natives could simply be “swapped” for employed unauthorized immigrants is not valid economically. There is little apparent relationship between recent immigration and unemployment rates at the regional, state, or county level.

MYTH: The granting of automatic citizenship to the children of foreigners comes from a misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment. The framers never sought to guarantee citizenship to children of illegal immigrants. During the debate in 1866, the Senator who authored the 14th Amendment said it would “not of course include persons born in the United States who are foreigners.”

FACT: The framers intended to end discriminatory definitions of citizenship that create a permanent underclass. The quotation is taken out of context, and reaffirms birthright citizenship when read in full:

“Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country.”

In other words, the terms “foreigners” and “aliens” are used to describe those “who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States.” Constitutional citizenship as enshrined in the 14th Amendment and affirmed several times by the U.S. Supreme Court, was intended to ensure that all those born on U.S. soil are treated equally with rights of citizenship, and no state or national legislature may re-define citizenship to exclude certain groups of people.

These are just a few examples of how dangerous myths can be and why facts do and should matter in the larger immigration debate. The truth is that until we focus on policy reforms that improve our immigration system in an honest, fair and effective way instead of disseminating myths and misinformation that divide us, we are destined to keep spinning our wheels with no real improvements to our system.

Michele Waslin is Senior Policy Analyst with the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council and a writer for their Immigration Impact blog.
  Read Three Immigration Myths Meet the Facts
 January 12, 2011   Humanity's Dilemma: Reconciling Two Paradigms
by Jason G. Brent , Countercurrent

When George H. W. Bush was President of the USA he was the most powerful man on the face of the earth. At one international conference he made the statement that America’s way of life was non-negotiable. A small voice at the back of the room said “George who”. That was the small, but powerful, voice of nature’s paradigm. Everyone heard the voice, but no one on the face of the earth understood or acted upon the voice of nature’s paradigm. In the last few years Pope Benedict went to Africa and told the Africans to have sex without a condom and again the voice of nature’s paradigm said “Pope who”. All of humanity heard the voice of nature’s paradigm, but no one understood or acted on the voice that was loud and clear.

The problems facing humanity today are not those in the news or on anyone’s lips. No person on the face of the earth has written about the real problem facing humankind in its struggle for survival. There is only one problem facing humanity today in its struggle for future survival and it is not overpopulation, running out of oil and/or other fossil fuels, running out of water to drink or grow food, global warming, destruction of the soil of the earth which is used to grow food, pollution of the oceans, loss of fish as a source of food, the chance of war and the struggle for peace, or anything else.

The only problem facing humanity today is how to bring the human paradigm into agreement with the paradigm of nature with the least amount of death and destruction. And the agreement must last as long as the human species exists. At present the two competing paradigms are attempting to control the future of humanity and they cannot be reconciled. One paradigm must lose out to the other paradigm. Humanity’s supposed intelligence will not change the determination of the winner. As an aside which is not important in relation to this essay is the fact that humanity’s intelligence is vastly overstated---just look at the portion of the American population which denies evolution and believes in creationism.

At this point I will not discuss all the areas in which they disagree, but will limit my comments just to the two main areas of disagreement. Nature’s paradigm includes the fact that the earth is finite and, therefore, both population growth and economic activity must reach a limit in the very near future. Nature’s paradigm understands that the earth cannot and will not support continued population and/or economic growth. Humanity’s paradigm requires continual and never ending economic and population growth, in direct conflict with nature’s paradigm.

In the current economic crisis almost every country and probably all the industrialized countries have taken steps to stimulate their economies without making a determination as to what level of economic activity is best for the long term (say 5,000 years—in reality a very short period of time when you consider that the dinosaurs ruled the earth for about 160 million years) survival of humankind. While many people understand that population growth must cease if humanity is to survive, no action has been taken on a world-wide basis which will insure that population growth is reduced to zero within the next fifty years. Nature’s paradigm cannot and will not wait even twenty years before the horrible destruction of humanity commences.

Since life of any type began on this planet, nature’s paradigm divided life into two groups—those that survived to reproduce and those that died before reproduction. Once a species reached the maximum number individuals that could be supported by the niche which it occupied, the species was divided into the two groups referred to in the previous sentence. Over time those individuals which were best suited for the environment of the niche were the ones to reproduce. Those individuals who were less suited for the environment died before reproducing. This occurred billions and billions and billions of times without a single exception. The determination of who survived to reproduce and who died before reproduction was always made by violence and death.

Humanity’s paradigm believes that everyone should have the right to reproduce even though many individuals are genetically deficient and don’t have the necessary skills to function in the environment occupied by humanity. This belief is based on two erroneous concepts---1) morality and 2) the inability of humanity to determine the skills which are necessary for survival and reproduction. To be very blunt—nature’s paradigm does not give a damn about humanity’s morality and does not give a damn about humanity’s inability to determine the necessary skills to function and reproduce. If humanity does not immediately change its concept of morality and make a determination of the skills necessary to survive and reproduce, nature’s paradigm will do it for our species as nature has always done it—by violence and death. Except in this case nature’s paradigm has weapons of mass destruction which were created by humanity. Nature’s paradigm will not merely cause death and destruction by disease, starvation, predation and the other horrors it used in the past to determine who will survive to reproduce, nature’s paradigm will cause the determination to be made by ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, wars (with and without weapons of mass destruction) gang raping to death millions of women and other horrors beyond our imagination.

While in the past nature’s paradigm destroyed the vast numbers of species, (perhaps more than 99% of all the species that ever existed on the planet have been destroyed by nature’s paradigm and no longer exist) that destruction has usually occurred over an extended period of time. Nature’s paradigm now has weapons of mass destruction which can kill billions of our species almost instantaneously. The supposed intelligence of humanity will not prevent that destruction.

In order for humanity to conform it’s paradigm to nature’s paradigm every aspect of humanity society will have to be evaluated and most likely changed. Every aspect of morality, charity, government, religion, politics, philosophy, etc. will have to be evaluated and revised in almost an instant of time. That is the problem facing humanity.

  Read Humanity's Dilemma: Reconciling Two Paradigms
 January 3, 2011   Carrying Capacity and Limiting Factors(PDF)
by Randolph Femmer, Countercurrent
This document addresses carrying capacities and limiting factors. Imagine our planet as a global bus. If a bus has enough seats for fifty passengers, we would all agree that we could crowd a few extra persons on board in an emergency. But how many extras could the vehicle accommodate? What if 291 passengers climb aboard, or 937, or 7428?
  Read Carrying Capacity and Limiting Factors(PDF)
 January 3, 2011   The Real Population Problem
by Jay Kimball , Countercurrent


Google Trends tells me that starting in 2008 the monthly number of news stories on population doubled. Most of the stories like to talk about how global population will expand by 30%, peaking at about 9.1 billion people by around 2050. Though 2050 is a nice round number, and a convenient mid-century marker, one can be lulled in to feeling like it’s a problem that is 40 years off. Not so. The population problem is here and now. And it’s not just about the number of people on the planet, but how those people consume resources. Let’s take a look at the pertinent trends.
Energy and Population

The rate of population growth has a strong correlation with the effectiveness of the dominant fuel source at any given point in history. As the chart below shows, wood was the dominant fuel until coal came on the scene in the 1600s. The population growth rate increased modestly with the proliferation of coal. But the real exponential growth began with the discovery and exploitation of crude oil. Crude oil production is peaking and the world is in the early stages of a transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.

China, Brazil and India – Chasing the American Dream

As the population has grown, per capita income and consumption have grown. The most dramatic growth has been in the developing countries of China, Brazil and India. Let’s take a look at the trends in energy use and per capita income relative to some of the leading developed nations. Using GapMinder’s Trendalyzer with energy consumption data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2010 and income data from the IMF, we can see some powerful trends unfolding (N.B. data presented for 1965 through 2008, 1 year steps, circle area proportional to population size, energy use in tonnes of oil equivalent):

>>China, Brazil, and India all show steadily increasing per capita income, with China having the biggest change – outperforming India and Brazil more than 2 to 1.

>> Though US per capita energy consumption is substantially larger than China, Brazil or India, growth has been flat. This comes from conservation initiatives (efficient lighting, insulation, etc.). We must do better.

>> China, Brazil, and India’s energy consumption is growing quickly as they move toward American patterns of consumption. The trend is strong and steady, with no signs of slowing.

(click for larger image)

Less Is The New More

Though Americans represent only 5% of the world’s population, we are consuming about 24% of worlds energy. We are similarly voracious consumers of water, food, land, etc. Citizens in developing nations aspire to live the American lifestyle. Fareed Zakaria refers to this as the “rise of the rest” in his book A Post American World. But the world has only so much to give. Much of what we consume is not renewable. We are bumping up against the limits of earth’s ability to provide for us. As the population expands, for developing nations, their historically meager slice of the pie will expand. For developed nations, their slice of the pie must contract.

Our Ecological Footprint

Using ecological footprint data from Global Footprint Network we can see the current state of consumption for North America and the rest of the world (N.B. width of bar proportional to population in associated region).

N.B. Ecological Footprint accounts estimate how many Earths were needed to meet the resource requirements of humanity for each year since 1961, when complete UN statistics became available. Resource demand (Ecological Footprint) for the world as a whole is the product of population times per capita consumption, and reflects both the level of consumption and the efficiency with which resources are turned into consumption products. Resource supply (biocapacity) varies each year with ecosystem management, agricultural practices (such as fertilizer use and irrigation), ecosystem degradation, and weather. This global assessment shows how the size of the human enterprise compared to the biosphere, and to what extent humanity is in ecological overshoot. Overshoot is possible in the short-term because humanity can liquidate its ecological capital rather than living off annual yields.

Carrying Capacity

The last sentence of the note above is important. The developed nations are already consuming beyond the earths capacity to provide. Carrying Capacity has been exceeded and as it is exceeded, Carrying Capacity declines. While developed nations are making headway improving conservation, there has been little reduction of consumption – we have simply slowed the rate of per capita consumption. Meanwhile developing nations are moving up the consumption curve, aiming for an American-class lifestyle. Depletion of earth’s precious resources accelerates – oil, potable water, wild fish, species, clean air, etc. are all in decline. Earth’s Carrying Capacity is thought to be somewhere between 1 and 3 billion people. We have been operating the planet well beyond that for almost 50 years now.

Even if the population stopped growing today, we are consuming beyond the earth’s capacity to provide. With 6.8 billion people already on the planet, the growth of consumption is the population problem, right now.

Zacharia suggests “As each country rises up, they become more self confident and nationalistic, and less inclined to cooperate in global unity toward a common goal of tackling the pressing problems of this century.”

And quoting Hamlet: “There’s the rub.”

>>Population has grown beyond the Carrying Capacity of the earth.
>> Increasing demand for critical resources (energy, water, food, land, …) reduces Carrying Capacity further, and accelerates decline exponentially.
>> Climate is changing, pollution growing, species extinction accelerating.
>> And our ability to work cooperatively to meet these challenges is failing.

This is not sustainable.

How do we break the vicious spiral? How can our global economy – grown soft and pudgy during the 20th century’s age of abundance – adapt and function in the lean and mean dog days of the 21st century?

  Read The Real Population Problem
 January 3, 2011   2011: The Year We’ll Hit 7 Billion
by Lisa Hymas , Countercurrent

Sometime in the latter half of this year, the world population will hit a new milestone: 7 billion people. Already? Didn't we just hit 6 billion? Yep, a mere dozen years ago -- and that's probably the last time you heard much about population. It takes a big, round number with lots of zeroes to get MSM attention.

So in 2011, expect to hear the P word a lot more than you did in 2010, and a lot more than you will in 2012. National Geographic is kicking off the action with a cover story and photo essay.

It's projected to take us slightly longer to get to the next big, round number with lots of zeroes -- 14 years instead of 12. While the total number of people on the planet is still growing fast, the nature and speed of that growth has been changing dramatically. This Economist video gives you great visual overview of the trends. (Is it just me or does that graphic look like a packet of birth-control pills?)

Even as we're adding people, we're also dramatically changing the demographic composition of entire societies, and creating different kinds of problems along the way -- like the challenge of aging populations in many developed countries. Bryan Walsh of Time suggests that immigration could be one solution:

[H]ere's the planet we could have in 2050: an overpopulated, overstressed developing world and an aging, economically stagnant developed world, with inequality even larger than it is today. Is there any way to escape that fate? While development and education will be incredibly important (especially for women -- literacy is one of the best ways to reduce fertility), the answer may end up being immigration. Think about it -- in the future the developed world will lack young workers, and the developing world will have an excess of that resource. Immigration could be a way to balance demographics and economics -- alleviating population pressure in the poorer parts of the world while jump starting aging developed nations. The U.S. already does this -- immigration will provide most of American population growth. It would be a radical solution, given the political resistance to increased immigration in much of the rich world. (If you think it's a hot topic in the U.S., try Japan, which steadfastly resists assimilating foreigners, despite the dire threat posed by an aging population.) But it might be the only way to save our overpopulated planet.

So much juicy stuff to talk about this year.

But for now, I'll leave you with this loooong graphic that puts some population numbers in perspective:

Image: U-Pack

Lisa Hymas is Grist’s senior editor. Follow her on Twitter

  Read 2011: The Year We’ll Hit 7 Billion
 December 30, 2010   Peak Oil, International Trade And Population
by Jason G. Brent, Countercurrent

Oil is a finite resource! Eventually the oil remaining on the planet will be exhausted and no longer able to be used by humanity. Peak oil can be defined in two ways--- The first way is when total amount of oil withdrawn from the earth for use by humanity starts to decline; example--- in year one 100 barrels of oil are withdrawn, in year two 120 barrels of oil are withdrawn, in year three 80 barrels of oil are withdrawn, and in year four 60 barrels are drawn – in this example year two is the peak oil year since in years subsequent to year two the amount of oil withdrawn goes down: The second way is when oil withdrawn per capita starts to decrease; example in year one 100 barrels of oil are withdrawn and there are 100 people on the Earth (one barrel per person), in year two 150 barrels of oil are withdrawn and there are 120 people on the Earth (1.25 barrels per person), and in year three 200 barrels of oil are withdrawn but the population has increased to 500 people (0.4 barrels per person)--- in this example the peak oil year is year two as the amount of oil withdrawn per capita has reached its maximum in year two and has decreased in year three.

Humanity will no longer be able to use the oil remaining on the planet when one of two conditions exist--- the first condition, is when wells are drilled and oil is not obtained from the wells or only a minimum amount of oil is obtained; the second condition, when it takes more energy to find, obtain, process, and deliver oil than the oil produces when it is used--- example, it takes 200 units of energy to find the oil, drill for it, process it, and deliver it to where it is used but when it is used it only produces 100 units of energy. In this example it would not make sense to expend 200 units of energy to obtain the oil when the oil only produced 100 units of energy. In this example there may be substantial amounts of oil remaining on the planet, but that oil would not be usable by humanity.

According to the best statistics, peak oil per capita reached in the 1970s and since that time the amount of oil produced per capita has gone down and there is every indication that this trend will continue and continue more steeply. Similarly, the amount of energy obtained from the burning of oil in relation to the amount of energy used to obtain the oil has been going down for the last few years as it has become more difficult to find, obtain, process and deliver the oil. This fact can readily be seen from the increase in ocean drilling and the increase in the depths to which wells must be driven in order to obtain oil.

There are only two major ways that international trade is carried on--- by boat and plane. Goods cannot be shipped from North and South America to Africa, Asia, Europe, or Australian by any means other than by boat or plane. Similarly, all goods shipped to and from Australia have to be shipped by boat or plane. While North and South America are connected by land, for all practical purposes all goods between those two continents are likewise shipped by boat or plane. For all practical purposes all goods shipped to and from Africa are shipped by boat or plane. While I do not have exact figures, I would estimate that at least 95% of all international trade is handled by boat and plane.

International trade is absolutely essential for the survival of civilization. It is the only way that raw materials can be shipped from the nations that have them to the nations that need them and it is the only way for excess food produced by one nation to be shipped to another nation. Without boats it would be impossible for the excess food created by the farmers of the United States, Canada, and Argentina to be shipped to the nations that must import food. Without boats it would be impossible for the excess rice produced by Vietnam to be shipped to the Philippines which imports rice in order for its population not to starve to death. Without boats it would be impossible for the industries of the United States to continue to operate as the United States imports substantial amounts of raw materials and ores needed by its industries. In simple terms, without international trade all of our civilization would collapse within months and billions would starve to death within a very short period of time.

The question facing humanity is--- is there any energy source which humanity can use in the future which will permit international trade to continue once oil is no longer available to humanity? Regarding planes the only energy source which combines the necessary criteria of weight and energy which will permit planes to fly is oil. Coal will not do it, natural gas will not do it, electric batteries will not do it, solar power will not do it, wind power will not do it, atomic power will not do it, and everything else foreseeable far into the future will not do it. Those of you who read the media may have read a few months ago of a plane that was flown with a combination of oil from the ground and oil created from plant material. However, oil created from plant material will never be able alone or even in conjunction with oil from the ground to provide the necessary energy and be sufficient in amount to permit international trade to continue by plane. In simple terms, the only energy source which will permit planes to fly internationally is oil and once oil is exhausted that portion of international trade will no longer exist. Once oil is exhausted nothing humanity can do will permit planes to fly.

Now let us examine the types of energy which will or will not permit international trade by boat to continue once oil is exhausted. If humanity attempted to use oil made from plant material in an amount sufficient to permit international trade by boat to continue there would not be enough plant material left on the planet to provide food for humanity. Therefore, oil made from plant material cannot be considered an alternative to oil obtained from the ground. Sailing ships could not carry a sufficient amount of cargo and be fast enough to permit international trade by boat to continue on the level which is necessary for our civilization to continue. Therefore, sailing ships cannot be considered an alternative to oil powered cargo ships. Coal could be used for a short period of time as a substitute for oil. However, coal itself is finite and eventually will be exhausted. However, that is not the main reason why coal is not a viable alternative to oil. The main reason that coal is not a viable alternative to oil is that it is highly polluting and if all cargo ships were converted to coal the output of carbon dioxide would cause a very substantial rise in temperature. In addition, coal is a very dirty fuel. Lastly, coal could not be used in cruise ships and that would destroy the cruise industry. Therefore, as a practical matter coal cannot be considered an alternative to oil in the area of international trade by boat. Some cargo ships could be converted to atomic power. Here too there are many problems with converting cargo carriers to atomic power---a) it would be very expensive, if not impossibly expensive, to convert all the necessary cargo ships to atomic power; b) there is a limited amount of uranium fuel and it is highly unlikely that a sufficient amount of fuel could be produced to power the large amount of cargo ships necessary for international trade by boat to continue for many years into the future; c) there would be a major fuel disposal problem similar to the problem we presently see in land based electric power plants; d) in addition to the fuel disposal problem, there would be a major problem when the ships were no longer serviceable and had to be taken out of service; and e) it is highly unlikely that the smaller cargo ships and coastal freighters could be converted to atomic power. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that atomic power will be a viable alternative to oil. Major cargo ships powered by batteries or other forms of electric power should not be considered an alternative to oil powered cargo ships. Similarly, it is highly unlikely that solar power will provide an alternative to oil power. Likewise, it is highly unlikely that natural gas will be an alternative to oil. Based upon the foregoing analysis, it would be the height of folly for humanity to believe that anything other than oil can be used to power cargo ships in amount sufficient for international trade by boat to continue at a level which will permit civilization to survive and to prevent the horrific starvation deaths of billions of our species.

Based upon the foregoing analysis humanity must plan its future on the assumption that international trade will be dramatically reduced once oil is exhausted. A dramatic reduction in international trade must be followed by a dramatic reduction in the human population and the collapse of civilization. Humanity has a choice – reduce population before international trade collapses using the intelligence of humanity or suffer the horrors of the dramatic drop in population caused by the destruction of civilization and the starvation of billions of humans.

  Read Peak Oil, International Trade And Population
 December 25, 2010   The Rise and Rise of Super Fascism
by Ghali Hassan , Countercurrent

Mention fascism and most peoples' minds turn to Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain , Salazar's Portugal , Japanese Fascism, Papadopoulos' Greece and South Africa 's Apartheid regime. However, most people are blissfully unaware of a rising form of fascism, more virulent than all past fascist regimes combined. Its aim is to subjugate the entire planet and its resources to U.S. corporate interests.

It is true that German Fascism was evil; but it is also true that its evilness has been exploited, even exaggerated, by one powerful Zionist entity and its supporters to justify the persecution and dispossession of the Palestinian people. German Fascism has diversified and mutated into super fascism supported by regimes claiming to be ?liberal democracies?.

The word Fascism originated from the Latin ?Fasces', means a bundle of sticks tied together to represent the ruling élite. At the heart of fascist ideology are corporatism, militarism, nationalism, racism and total control of citizens. Fascism is ?a political system or regime with a tendency toward or actual exercise of Fascism? [Webster's Dictionary]. Unfortunately, many opportunists and apologists for Israel-U.S. crimes use the word fascism as a name-calling, carelessly throwing it around to demonise others in order to mislead the public.

In his 2003 essay Fascism Anyone ? , the British writer Laurence W. Britt identifies fourteen characteristics of fascism common to past fascist regimes. Are they common and shared by regimes today? The purpose of this essay is to seriously inform people of the growing danger of fascism today, using the fourteen characteristics as a matchup.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism . Fascism is deeply rooted in a profound form of nationalism based on an illusion of race superiority, ?white supremacy?. The Patriotic Act, ?Anti-terrorism? laws, flag-waving, promotion of militarism and mass recitation of the ?Pledge of Allegiance? to promote war are common characteristics of xenophobic nationalism in the U.S. , Israel , Europe and Australia . The American historian Howard Zinn writes: ?Is not nationalism ? that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder ? one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred? These ways of thinking, cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on, have been useful to those in power and deadly for those out of power?. Negative nationalism, including ?patriotism?, is the greatest danger to civilisation.

In Europe , nationalism ? which once plunged Europeans into protracted and barbaric wars ? is on the rise and it is threatening the survival of the European Union itself. It is a deadly virus spreading like fire throughout Europe , while the U.S. looks on happily. As nationalism spreads, the fate of minorities is at the mercy of racist and populist sentiments.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights . Human rights are nothing more than a pretext to enforce Western domination on the rest of the world. The U.S. , Israel and Britain see human rights as an obstacle to their expansionist ideology and no countries in the world are more in contempt of international human rights law than the U.S. , Israel and Britain . The U.S. and Israel , in particular, are serial violators of human rights law. When European and U.S. politicians visited the Gaza Concentration Camp in Israel-occupied Palestine , the only prisoner they expressed concern about is an Israeli POW who has been accorded all his human rights under the Geneva Conventions by his Palestinian captors. They totally ignored some 11,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of them women and children, who are subjected to gross human rights violations, including torture by the Israeli Gestapo. ?Through clever use of propaganda by marginalizing and demonizing those being targeted, the population was brought to accept human rights violations, including torture and sexual abuses. When the abuses were egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation?, writes Laurence. Human rights abuses, including torture, are part of America 's violent history. The U.S. aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan exposed America 's dark history of torture and flagrant abuses of human rights.

Prisoners of war and detainees (many without charges) were incarcerated, abused and tortured in global gulags and concentration camps around the world. From Guantánamo Bay Camp in Cuba to Afghanistan to Iraq and to countless ?black sites? prisons, innocent men, women and children have been subjected to injustice, human rights abuses and torture. In Iraq , there are hundreds of known and secret concentration camps and prisons, where innocent Iraqi civilians are being detained under deplorable conditions without being charged with any crime. Tens of thousands have been detained for years and an equal number have disappeared, possibly unlawfully executed. There are no charges, no due process and no justice. The situation in U.S.-NATO-occupied Afghanistan is even worse than in Iraq . Both nations were illegally invaded and have endured oppression, human rights abuses, injustice, torture, rape, and looting. One wonders why the Noble Prize Committee has no concern for Muslim prisoners' welfare.

It is well documented that the justice system in the U.S. is a travesty of justice. Guantánamo Bay Camp is considered ?outside U.S. legal jurisdiction? despite it is located on a U.S. Navy base in Cuba . This flawed argument is designed to deny justice to illegally detained men in flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions and international human rights law. The Camp has become as notorious as Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Bagram Base in Afghanistan . Prisoners, including male children, are denied their human rights, abused and tortured, and some have been executed. Many have been destroyed mentally, although they have committed no crimes. For example, Omar Khadr, an Afghan-Canadian (child soldier) prisoner of war in Guantánamo Bay Camp since he was 15 years old is a case of naked hypocrisy. Khadr was tortured and coerced (forced to sign a confession) into a plea-bargain and sentenced to 40 years in prison for allegedly killing a U.S. soldier on the battlefield while defending his country against an illegal foreign invasion, while U.S. and Western leader who committed heinous war crimes remain free and unindicted.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause . The most common characteristic of fascism is scapegoating of people from minorities. Even before 9/11, Muslims were identified as enemies, accused of ?taking-over' Europe . The event of 9/11 was an opportunity to justify attacking the scapegoats, Islam and Muslims. In Europe and many parts of the U.S. , Canada and Australia , Muslims are often unfairly depicted as terrorists, anti-women and violent in order to justify racism and injustices. False flag terrorist acts orchestrated by Western governments to justify gross injustice and stir up xenophobic fear against Muslims.

Most importantly, the rise of Islamophobia in the U.S. and Europe is fuelling the war on Islam and Muslim nations. In all these countries the population is fed (by the media) a daily diet of racism to improve their support for an aggressive war being waged by the U.S. and its allies against Islam and Muslims. In Australia , anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry have infected every Australian institution. Racial profiling of Muslims has become a cancerous disease speeding rabidly into Australian government agencies, universities and even schools.

In the U.S. , the war on Muslims is worsening and provides ammunition to America 's war on Islamic nations abroad. Islamophobia has become a fully-fledged Zionist industry that promotes fear of Muslims as part of the U.S. war. The enemies of Israel are the enemies of the ruling élite. ?Much of this bigotry and misinformation can be traced directly to what I am calling the infrastructure of hate, an industry which connects venomous anti-Islamic blogs, wealthy [Jewish] donors, powerful think tanks, and influential media commentators, journalists, and politicians?, writes Frankie Martin, the Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University's School of International Service in Washington DC ( Washington Post , 27 October 2010).

Europe has become a bastion of Islamophobia. Clones of Adolf Hitler are sprouting like wild mushrooms all over Europe . Their fascist policies have become part of Europe 's mainstream politics. Many of these small clones have said that they are proud to be compared to Adolf Hitler. Their support is growing alarmingly in countries with an ugly history of collaboration with Nazi Germany. In the so-called ?open? and ?tolerant? societies of Austria , Belgium , Britain , Croatia , Denmark , France , Holland , Hungry, Italy , Norway , Sweden and Switzerland fascist forces are on the rise with a Zionist and militarist agenda.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism . The military industrial complex is the most powerful corporate industry in the U.S. The U.S. military budget is phenomenal. It is estimated that the U.S. spent $623 billion ? not including $3 billion military aid to Israel ? on the military in 2008. U.S. military spending exceed the rest of the world's spending combined. U.S. military feeds on the largest budget and resources, even when more than fifty million Americans are in desperate need and the country is drowning in debt. Billions of U.S. tax payer dollars are spent on the military every day. As pointed out by Laurence; ?The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling élite?. The U.S. has access to the largest stockpiles of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in the world. The world's most militarised society is also ruled by a wealthy Zionist and neo-fascist ruling élite that could blow up the world at any time.

In addition to this giant monster, the world largest military organisation, NATO, is under the control of US generals and remains an instrument of the U.S. militarism. ?The alliance itself is an excrescence of the U.S. military-industrial complex. For sixty years, military procurements and Pentagon contracts have been an essential source of industrial research, profits, jobs, Congressional careers, even university funding. The interplay of these varied interests converges to determine an implicit U.S. strategy of world conquest?, writes Diana Johnstone, author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia , NATO and Western Delusions . This offensive military ?alliance? continues to expand in dangerous direction.

Under the rubric of ?Western shared values and common interests?, the U.S. has assembled the biggest imperialist military force in history. Threatened and coerced, regimes from around the world are joining in droves with ?slavish devotion? to U.S. wars. As mentioned earlier, fascism protects corporate interests and the ruling élite. It is not difficult to argue why so many regimes are joining U.S. aggressive wars. If they cannot join the U.S war because of domestic pressure, they open their nations' door' to U.S. military. The U.S. military has more than 1,000 fortified military bases (large and small) in countries around the world. They are not only used as launch pads for aggression against other nations, but also protecting hideous and corrupt dictators in most countries where they are based. Most of these bases are installed against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the local populations.

In an interview on 29 November 2010 , U.S. ADM. James Stavridis, NATO supreme allied commander and U.S. European Command chief, told Defense News : ?NATO is ?a wealthy alliance' with a $31 trillion collective GDP. It is a ?big and capable alliance' with 7 million troops and 3,400 ships?. It is a truly super fascist alliance. Its new concept of ?expeditionary operations? means attacking nations beyond NATO territories, knowing that there is no other nation or groups of nations that pose any serious threat to this super fascist force. The existence of this militarised and ?wealthy alliance? depends on unprovoked aggression and manufactured pretexts for war.

Naked Aggression

Militarism and aggression go hand in hand, like a parasite and its host. Nazi Germany, Fascist Japan and Apartheid South Africa were notorious examples. Today, the U.S. , Britain and Israel are leading the way. In fact, there are striking similarities between the past three regimes and the current three regimes. Naked aggression has been integrated into U.S.-Western corporate culture.

Since World War Two, the U.S. ? supported by the like of Britain , Israel Canada and Australia ? has massacred more civilians and destroyed more nations than all past fascist regimes combined. It is rightly argued that every U.S. government (including every U.S. president) since 1945, is guilty of war crimes and flagrant violation of international law . Any nation that refuses to submit to U.S.-Zionist ideology and U.S. dictate is threatened with violence. ?You're either with us or against us?, said George W. Bush. There is no neutrality, and nations' sovereignty has become obsolete.

Even a great nation like China is threatened. If China ?refuses? to submit to Western dictate, we must be prepared to use force (i.e., aggression), said Kevin Rudd, former prime minister (now foreign minister) of Australia, the U.S. ?staunch? vassal in Asia-Pacific. You might think Rudd, who claims to be an ?expert? on China , would think twice before making such an unwise statement. ?Every 10 years or so the U.S. needs to pick up some [defenceless] little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business?, writes Michael Ledeen, a U.S. Zionist propagandist. Every country that has been invaded by the U.S. military was left a shattered graveyard and a humanitarian misery. The aim is to instil fear in the world's population, dominate the world and force U.S. diktat onto another people.

It is vitally important to highlight a few recent examples of U.S. aggression and flagrant violation of international law. The U.S. war on Korea (1950-1953) caused the unnecessary death of some 3 million Koreans and destroyed every city and village in North Korea (or Democratic People's Republic of Korea ). Since 1953, the DPRK has been defending itself against U.S. aggression and ongoing false propaganda. The 1953 armistice was designed to justify U.S. military presence in the region and threaten neighbouring nations.

A decade after the aggression against North Korea, the U.S. began another decade-long criminal aggression against the people of Vietnam that caused the death of more than 3 million innocent civilians, contaminating the country with biological and chemical agents, including napalm. Despite its military superiority, unlimited resources and indiscriminate violence, U.S.-imperialism was defeated by a peasant society. In 1991, the U.S. began a criminal aggression against Iraq to ?eradicate? its defeat in Vietnam and remove the so-called ? Vietnam syndrome?.

It is estimated the U.S.-Britain enforced genocidal sanctions on Iraq of 1990 caused the death of more than 2 million innocent Iraqi civilians, including the death of more than 600,000 infants under the age of five. On 15 December, 2010 , the UN Security Council ? chaired by none other than U.S. Vice-President, the Zionist Joe Biden ? voted to ?end? the sanctions on Iraq after the puppet government accepted U.S. conditions, including long-lasting colonial occupation. According to John Mueller and Karl Mueller, the brutal and inhumane sanctions against the Iraqi people have caused far more deaths over time than the combined use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the two world wars (Foreign Affairs, May/June 1999). Asked whether this was worth the death of half a million children, Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. Ambassador to the UN replied: ?We think the price is worth it?. Albright is a Jew and claims to be a ?Nazi holocaust? survivor.


The genocidal sanctions were followed by the criminal 2003 U.S.-British invasion. The unprovoked aggression is the most barbaric aggression in the history of barbarism; a supreme international war crime. It was aggression against a defenceless people under a genocidal siege. Despite the suffering inflicted on the Iraqi people, the crimes were covered-up by the media. (For more on U.S. crimes in Iraq , see: Joy Gordon, Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions , Harvard, 2010).

In 2001, the U.S. began replicating the atrocities of Vietnam in Afghanistan . Since that year, U.S. and NATO forces have occupied and terrorised the nation of Afghanistan . Thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed by indiscriminate and relentless aerial bombing and strafing, including the illegal and criminal drone attacks on Afghanistan and Pakistan that caused the death of more than 2,000 Pakistani civilians. For the people of Afghanistan , living conditions and security have deteriorated beyond belief under a new form of Western colonialism. Like all U.S. aggressions, the war on Afghanistan is a crime against humanity. It is vitally important to note that ?all the war crimes the U. S. has committed against other peoples were not planned and carried out by sadistic thugs or xenophobic right-wingers but by ordinary folks who come from solid family backgrounds, are well mannered, display elevated cultural taste, and may even be informed by good intentions. And the planners of these horrendous crimes are mostly so-called whiz kids liberal, cultured, urbane, visionary government officials and many celebrated academics from the Ivy League Schools?, writes Carl Boggs, a Professor of Social Sciences at National University in Los Angeles.

According to a report entitled Project for the New American Century authored by a gang of U.S. Zionists and neo-fascists, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Kagan, which was published 2008, the fall of Communism was an opportunity for the U.S. to rule the world militarily and establish a new worldwide empire through aggression and permanent war, using international organisations such as, the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO, the UN and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to provide cover and legitimacy for U.S. crimes, mostly committed in broad daylight.

In October 2001, then U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney said that U.S. ?war on terror? was ?different? from other wars ?in the sense that it may never end. At least, not in our lifetime?. In other words, the U.S. is in a perpetual war of aggression against countries and people the U.S. ruling élite deemed to be counters to U.S. imperialism.

5. Rampant sexism . The ruling élite of fascist regimes tend to be male-dominated. Fascism mobilise masculine virile energy in time of war. One of the lies used to justify U.S. aggression against defenceless people is the ?liberation? of women. In fascist regimes, women are seen as less aggressive, gay-sympathisers and tend to be anti-abortion, although not all women are anti-abortion. In most U.S.-led Western societies, the political and economic establishments are still very male-dominated. Women are considered less intelligent and lack the ?ethics' of strong male leaders. Treated as second-class citizens, women play a secondary role. Violence, including sexual violence, against women is as high as U.S. skyscrapers. The current trend of using women as ?seductive? tools to win votes for a particular male-dominated party is a tragedy, not advancement in gender equality.

6. A controlled mass media. The media and the ?entertainment? industry important tasks are the coercion and indoctrination of the population from early childhood. Zionist propagandists called this the ?intelligent manipulation of the masses?. It is a formidable achievement with truly global results. Just take a look at the tens of thousands of Australians flocked to Sydney Harbour to see Oprah Winfrey.

Objectivity doesn't exist in corporate media, and ?free speech? is free if the ruling élite like it. Today's propaganda is more superior and more efficient than at any time in history of propaganda. It is a global propaganda rife with distortion, slander, cover-ups and outright lies. The main players are the U.S. government and wealthy U.S. Zionists with a complete monopoly on mainstream media. From TV channels such as, CNN, CBS, Fox News, BBC and print media like Murdoch Press and the New York Times, to Internet web sites like Google, Facebook and YouTube, all are owned by pro-Israel Zionist Jews. According to Canadian journalist, Eric Walberg, ?Google co-founder and billionaire Sergei Brin is a big supporter financially of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that funds Jewish immigrants to settle in Israel? on Palestinian land. In addition, the U.S. corporate élite and wealthy U.S. Zionists have a total control on the ?entertainment? industry, including Hollywood , which plays an important role in spreading pro-U.S. Zionist propaganda.

While the rhetoric of ?free media? is prevalent in most Western countries, a culture of censorship is widespread even by the most ?independent? and ?alternative? media outlets. Journalists and reporters have to abide by and adhere to a one-sided framework that promotes U.S.-Western fascist policies. Because if they deviates from this 'doctrinal framework' or from the line of serving power, they wouldn't get their rubbish published. Propagandists and apologists (i.e., accomplices in war crimes) are rewarded and elevated to iconic status in the media in order to be perceived by the public as even-handed ?intellectuals?. Anyone who deviates from this fascist framework risks persecution and character assassination.

There are ongoing criminal attacks by Western politicians and the corporate media on WikilLeaks for daring to release a large cache of U.S. ?diplomatic? cables. U.S. politicians and commentator in the corporate media have called WikilLeaks a terrorist organisation and are calling for its co-founder, Julian Assange, to be thrown in Guantánamo Bay Camp or killed by Special Forces. A former assistant to extremist Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has proposed assassination as the best way to remove Assange. The primary aim of this violent thinking is to warn and blackmail others. It is also possible that the U.S. and its allies are using WikilLeaks to justify silencing dissident media, particularly in the Internet.

While the WikilLeaks disclosure is a welcome relief, the mainstream and corporate media have selected a few cables to promote U.S. war on Iran and North Korea and to undermine the impact of the leaked information. As one of the New York Times mindless propagandists David Brooks writes: ?The Times has thus erected a series of filters between the 250,000 raw documents that WikilLeaks obtained and complete public exposure. The paper has released only a tiny percentage of the cables. Information that might endanger informants has been redacted. Specific cables have been put into context with broader reporting? ( NYT 29 November 2010 ). Where are the lies used to justify the U.S. aggression against Iraq ? Exposure of these lies will strengthen the case of war crimes against the perpetrators of the war and the deaths of more than a million innocent Iraqis. Does WikiLeaks have anything related to Israel 's serious war crimes and terrorist acts? In reality, a lot of the leaked cables are dubious in nature and benefit Israel 's fascist agenda more than undermining U.S. imperialism and threatening U.S. national security.

7. Obsession with national security . The so-called ?war on terrorism? is meaningless. First, it is a manufactured catchall phrase to label and demonise the enemy and protect the ruling élite; and second, it is a pretext to justify aggressive wars and control the population through draconian laws and repressive measures. The Washington Post ( 20 December 2010 ) reports that since 9/11 the U.S. ?is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators?. The U.S. claim that it needs the information to protect the population from acts of terrorism is ironic. The U.S. is the world's biggest exporter of terrorism and a source of instability everywhere. In the new age of ?security?, police and security guards litter the streets of Western cities and towns ready for every move. Peaceful protesters are attacked with rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray. If arrested, protestors risk criminal charges and imprisonment.

In the U.S. , presidential directives allow police and security agents (CIA and FBI) to abduct, kidnap, detain indefinitely and torture people suspected of planning ?terrorism?. In February 2010, President Obama signed a one-year extension of three provisions of the Patriot Act to allow the government ?to obtain roving wiretaps over multiple communication devices, seize suspects' records without their knowledge? ( Christian Science Monitor , 01 March, 2010 ). Americans have been told to spy on their neighbours, a despicable act which was used by the Nazis.

In the current case of WikilLeaks, a number of U.S. Congressmen and journalists have called for the prosecution of Julian Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act for breaching U.S. security. This is not something out of the blue, but has been used in the past to prosecute American citizens. It is reminiscent of Nazi Germany's prosecution of people ? labelled ?traitors? ? who criticised the Nazi Party or made jokes about the F u ehrer.

In the U.S. and in Europe , communities and entire cities have been subjected to 24-hour camera surveillance ? a form of repression. Large metropolitan cities like London , New York and Chicago have become forests of surveillance cameras and by far the most camera-surveilled cities in the world. One quarter of the world's surveillance cameras are in Britain . Citizens are watched around the clock and their movements are recorded and tracked (through a series of ID cards and credit cards) as they go about their daily business. In addition, many cities in the U.S. have begun using iris scanning technology, an invasive form of identification. Fear is forcing people to make more concessions.

According to civil rights groups and privacy advocates, the growing culture of surveillance poses great threat to civil liberties and personal freedom of citizens. The aim is to have total control of society by whatever means, and force people to submit to draconian laws. Furthermore, the obsession with national security is also a corporate business that benefits the manufacturers of surveillance cameras, iris scanners and their Congressional lobbyists. Security is simply a pretext for no personal security.

8. Religion and ruling élite tied together . George W. Bush justified his criminal wars as a ?message from God?. Hence, opposing Bush's war crimes was considered an attack on God, Bush's God. The U.S. is not exceptional, most regimes (even the most unreligious) use religion to rally support for a godless ruling élite.

The U.S is one of the most religious countries in the world, almost fanatical. Successive U.S. regimes attached themselves to the state predominant religion, Christianity. Furthermore, a large segment of the American population, including more than fifty million (and growing) Evangelical Christian-fascists are religious fanatics that form the political base of the Republicans Party.

No other nation uses religion to justify war crimes than the state of Israel in Palestine . The Zionist entity is forcing the rest of the world to recognise it as a ?Jewish state?, so it can commit more crimes.

9. Power of corporations protected . Fascism is characterised by a ?corporatist approach to economics?, as in the U.S. and major Western states today. Indeed, protection of corporate power is an essential part of fascism. It is not secret, what is good for IBM and Boeing is good for the country. According to a new report by the New York Times , even the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts is increasingly defending and siding with corporate interests. The ruling élite ?have chosen to serve the narrowest possible private minority interests of transnational financial and industrial corporations?, writes Susan George of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam . Hence, fascism is corporatism. The ruling élite writes the rules in ways to benefit the few (owners of corporations) at the expense of the majority. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised.

The ruling élite see the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production, but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic élite were often pampered by the political élite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of the ?have-not? citizens. The ruling-corporate élites are so powerful, even if a change in the White House doesn't lead to a change in policy. The Obama Administration proposal of a two-year pay freeze for all civilian federal workers while leaving Wall Street and corporate CEOs to continue making record profits and bonuses through tax cuts and bail-out is a case in point. In his recent fiscal deal with the Republicans, President Obama cut the net earnings of the lowest-paid workers and passed them to the wealthiest 1 per cent of Americans. In other words , Obama agreed to extend George W. Bush tax cut to the wealthiest Americans.

10. Power of labour suppressed or eliminated . Under fascist regimes, unions and organised labour are considered enemies of the state. In the U.S, the working-class or public workers have been decimated by successive U.S. regimes on behalf of big wealthy corporations.

In most Western countries striking union workers were attacked and organized labour was crashed by the ruling élite and its corporate allies. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former Australian Prime Minister, the bigoted John Howard, were vicious enemies of unions and the working-class. In Germany , France , Spain and Greece , anti-labour laws are on the rise.

One of the major reasons Western powerful corporations have relocated their export industries off-shore to China and elsewhere is to exploit the labour there and ineffective regulations in host countries. The high profit operations have destroyed organised labour at home in the U.S. , Europe , Japan and South Korea . Economic ?globalisation', a variant of U.S. imperialism, has perpetuated workers' exploitation.

Local workers (? Third World ? workers) are forced to work under criminal and inhumane conditions, and paid poverty-level wages. If they protest, they will be dealt with severely. The recent case in Chittagong , Bangladesh when police fired on striking garment workers killing four and injuring more than 150 is a case in point.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts . ?Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes?, writes Laurence. In fascist regimes, ignorance is encouraged while intellectualism and awareness were discouraged. Intellectuals and the arts are promoted and encouraged as far as they provide needed propaganda.

In the U.S. , the McCarthyism era was followed by different forms of repression. People who question or doubt the official story of 9/11 are demonised and depicted as anti-American ?conspirators?. The event was used as an opportunity for the U.S. government to crackdown on dissent, including students' protest and academic freedom.

Through tight control of intellectual and academic freedom, universities have turned into right-wing think tanks and racist laboratories of citizens' indoctrination. Universities have become powerful and privileged corporations that seemed far removed from the daily life of ordinary people. Academics are paid propagandists spreading falsehoods to manipulate the masses.

Terry Eagleton, who was forced to retire from his post as John Edward Taylor Professor of English Literature at Manchester University writes: ?By and large, academic institutions have shifted from being the accusers of corporate capitalism to being its accomplices. They are intellectual Tescos, churning out a commodity known as graduates rather than greengroceries?. As Laurence writes; ?Politically independent academics were harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed?.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment . The U.S. is leading the world in incarceration rates and the prison industry is one of the largest ?growth? industries. The U.S. has more prisoners than anywhere on the planet. Nearly 10% of the population or one in 100 adults in the U.S. is in jail or prison. On average, one in every 20 American men is behind bars or ?being monitored?. In 2008, about 5.1 million people were on probation or parole. Most of those incarcerated are African-Americans and Latinos caught in an unjust and corrupt justice system. According to the Washington Post ( 29 February 2008 ); ?One in nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars. For black women ages 35 to 39, the figure is one in 100, compared with one in 355 for white women in the same age group?.

Police power is sacrosanct and promoted to the point of encouraging abuse of people from minorities. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuses. Petty crime is exaggerated and used as an excuse for more police power. With the help of the media and Hollywood , crimes have also become an obsession of the majority. The ruling élite likes to talk tough every time they talk about crimes ? but not their own.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption . The U.S. and Israel are ranked very high amongst the most corrupt nations in the world. The economic and the ruling élite use their positions to enrich themselves and their cronies. ?Corruption worked both ways; the ruling élite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic élite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favouritism?, writes Laurence.

In general, cronyism and corruption are widespread in most Western countries, but it is cleverly covered-up and normalised in the media and in ruling élite circles. For example, in Australia , cronyism and corruption are parts of the Australian culture and deeply embedded in every government, public and private institution. Privileged employment and positions are all in the hands of white Australians and it is a well-fenced territory. There is no exception throughout Australia ; no one state is more corrupt and more prejudiced than the other.

The same rampant culture of cronyism and corruption is also exported world-wide, particularly, to countries occupied by Western forces. After the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq , U.S. authorities began an expensive campaign to promote cronyism and corruption among the ruling élite, the puppet governments. The aim is to demonise the nations and cover-up the crimes of the occupying forces. It is no coincidence that Afghanistan and Iraq are amongst the most corrupt nations in the world today.

14. Fraudulent elections . Former U.S. president George W. Bush was an illegitimate president for two terms having arrived at the White House through well-known rigged elections. In general, U.S. elections are nothing more than a marketing campaign to manipulate and deceive the public because the U.S. is ruled by a powerful unelected ruling class. It is a plutocracy masquerading as democracy. The so-called, two-party system is a fraud. It is a one-party with two branches system that serves corporate interest. It doesn't matter who occupy the White House.

The U.S. love affair with fraudulent elections in countries ruled by murderous dictators and corrupt despots is not secret. From Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Kosovo to Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan to Egypt and to Honduras and Haiti , the U.S. record of financing and staging fraudulent elections is staggering. Moreover, U.S. role in ?colour revolutions? ? in Uzbekistan , Georgia , Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan ? produced the kind of despots that the U.S. ruling élite love to support. In reality, the U.S. is a leading exporter of fraudulent elections and an arch enemy of democracy. Throughout the world, U.S. interference is designed to promote instability and exploit local conflicts to expand U.S. imperialism.

In most European countries that pretend to be ?liberal democracies?, elections lack transparency and accountability, which undermines democracy and gives rise to cynicism and mistrust. They are becoming increasingly authoritarian. It is true people have to vote, but their votes are meaningless. It is always, the same old wine in new bottle. All over Europe , elections are used to manipulate and con the population. ?The European Union is not a democratic entity?, writes Susan George. It is an authoritarian state. ?Anti-democratic values are taking hold. We have become stakeholders instead of citizens, consumers instead of sovereign people, we are offered consultation rather than real participation?, she added.

Writing in The New York Review of Books in 1995, the Italian writer and academic Umberto Eco, also identified fourteen ?features that are typical? of what Eco called ?Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism?. Umberto noted that not all of the fourteen features have to be present at the same time for a regime to be called fascist, and ?many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it?. Umberto writes: ?Take away imperialism from fascism and you still have Franco and Salazar. Take away colonialism and you still have the Balkan fascism of the Ustashes [ Croatia ]. Add to the Italian fascism a radical anti-capitalism (which never much fascinated Mussolini) and you have Ezra Pound [the American expatriate fascist]. Add a cult of Celtic mythology and the Grail mysticism (completely alien to official fascism) and you have one of the most respected fascist gurus, Julius Evola?. Like the above matchup of fourteen characteristics, Umberto argued that all fourteen features that he identified applied to the U.S. regime to some degree.

Finally, the U.S. and many U.S. allies ? Britain and Israel , to name two ? have already entered a moment with all the characteristics of fascist regimes. With a complete monopoly on military power, violence and the media, the U.S. is a super fascist state, proliferating and propping-up smaller fascist states. It has become clear that world order is no longer governed by international law and civilised norms, nor by treaties based on peaceful and multilateral agreements. It is based on the U.S. use of military threat and violence in pursuit of a fascist ideology to dominate the world on behalf of U.S. ruling-corporate élite.

It is not difficult to predict the future under U.S. fascist domination. Fascism is not the way to defend freedom, promote democracy and provide security, adherence to the rules of law and civilised norms is. It is the duty of conscious people to dissent against a U.S.-led super fascism on behalf of humanity.

Ghali Hassan is an independent political analyst living in Australia .

  Read The Rise and Rise of Super Fascism
 December 22, 2010   The Other World Is Here
by Rebecca Solnit, Countercurrent,

After the Macondo well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, it was easy enough (on your choice of screen) to see a flaming oil platform, the very sea itself set afire with huge plumes of black smoke rising, and the dark smear of what would become five million barrels of oil beginning to soak birds and beaches. Infinitely harder to see and less dramatic was the vast counterforce soon at work: the mobilizing of tens of thousands of volunteers, including passionate locals from fishermen in the Louisiana Oystermen’s Association to an outraged tattoo-artist-turned-organizer, from visiting scientists, activist groups, and Catholic Charities reaching out to Vietnamese fishing families to the journalist and oil-policy expert Antonia Juhasz, and Rosina Philippe of the Atakapa-Ishak tribe in Grand Bayou. And don’t forget the ceaseless toil of the Sierra Club’s local environmental justice organizer, the Gulf Coast Restoration Network, the New Orleans-born poet-turned-investigator Abe Louise Young, and so many more than I can list here.

I think of one ornithologist I met in Grand Bayou who had been dispatched to the Gulf by an organization, but had decided to stay on even if his funding ran out. This mild-mannered man with a giant pair of binoculars seemed to have some form of pneumonia, possibly induced by oil-fume inhalation, but that didn’t stop him. He was among the thousands whose purpose in the Gulf had nothing to do with profit, unless you’re talking about profiting the planet.

The force he represented mattered there, as it does everywhere -- a force that has become ever more visible to me as I live and journey among those who dedicate themselves to their ideals and act on their solidarities. Only now, though, am I really beginning to understand the full scope of its power.

Long ago, Adam Smith wrote about the “invisible hand” of the free market, a phrase which always brings to my mind horror movies and Gothic novels in which detached and phantasmagorical limbs go about their work crawling and clawing away. The idea was that the economy would somehow self-regulate and so didn’t need to be interfered with further -- or so still go the justifications for capitalism, even though it took an enormous armature of government interventions to create the current mix of wealth and poverty in our world. Your tax dollars pay for wars that make the world safe for giant oil corporations, and those corporations hand over huge sums of money to their favorite politicians (and they have so many favorites!) to regulate the political system to continue to protect, reward, and enrich themselves. But you know that story well.

As 2010 ends, what really interests me aren’t the corrosions and failures of this system, but the way another system, another invisible hand, is always at work in what you could think of as the great, ongoing, Manichean arm-wrestling match that keeps our planet spinning. The invisible claw of the market may fail to comprehend how powerful the other hand -- the one that gives rather than takes -- is, but neither does that open hand know itself or its own power. It should. We all should.

The Iceberg Economy

Who wouldn’t agree that our society is capitalistic, based on competition and selfishness? As it happens, however, huge areas of our lives are also based on gift economies, barter, mutual aid, and giving without hope of return (principles that have little or nothing to do with competition, selfishness, or scarcity economics). Think of the relations between friends, between family members, the activities of volunteers or those who have chosen their vocation on principle rather than for profit.

Think of the acts of those -- from daycare worker to nursing home aide or the editor of TomDispatch.com -- who do more, and do it more passionately, than they are paid to do; think of the armies of the unpaid who are at “work” counterbalancing and cleaning up after the invisible hand and making every effort to loosen its grip on our collective throat. Such acts represent the relations of the great majority of us some of the time and a minority of us all the time. They are, as the two feminist economists who published together as J. K. Gibson-Graham noted, the nine-tenths of the economic iceberg that is below the waterline.

Capitalism is only kept going by this army of anti-capitalists, who constantly exert their powers to clean up after it, and at least partially compensate for its destructiveness. Behind the system we all know, in other words, is a shadow system of kindness, the other invisible hand. Much of its work now lies in simply undoing the depredations of the official system. Its achievements are often hard to see or grasp. How can you add up the foreclosures and evictions that don’t happen, the forests that aren’t leveled, the species that don’t go extinct, the discriminations that don’t occur?

The official economic arrangements and the laws that enforce them ensure that hungry and homeless people will be plentiful amid plenty. The shadow system provides soup kitchens, food pantries, and giveaways, takes in the unemployed, evicted, and foreclosed upon, defends the indigent, tutors the poorly schooled, comforts the neglected, provides loans, gifts, donations, and a thousand other forms of practical solidarity, as well as emotional support. In the meantime, others seek to reform or transform the system from the inside and out, and in this way, inch by inch, inroads have been made on many fronts over the past half century.

The terrible things done, often in our name and thanks in part to the complicity of our silence or ignorance, matter. They are what wells up daily in the news and attracts our attention. In estimating the true make-up of the world, however, gauging the depth and breadth of this other force is no less important. What actually sustains life is far closer to home and more essential, even if deeper in the shadows, than market forces and much more interesting than selfishness.

Most of the real work on this planet is not done for profit: it’s done at home, for each other, for affection, out of idealism, and it starts with the heroic effort to sustain each helpless human being for all those years before fending for yourself becomes feasible. Years ago, when my friends started having babies I finally began to grasp just what kind of labor goes into sustaining one baby from birth just to toddlerhood.

If you do the math, with nearly seven billion of us on Earth right now, that means seven billion years of near-constant tending only to get children upright and walking, a labor of love that adds up to more than the age of this planet. That’s not a small force, even if it is only a force of maintenance. Still, the same fierce affection and determination pushes back everywhere at the forces of destruction.

Though I’m not sure I could bring myself to watch yet again that Christmas (and banking) classic It’s a Wonderful Life, its premise -- that the effects of what we do might best be gauged by considering what the world would be like without us -- is still useful. For the American environment, this last year was, at best, a mixed one. Nonetheless, polar bears got some protection and the building of at least one nuclear power plant was prevented; the work of groups like the Sierra Club continued to keep new coal-fired power plants at bay; and Californians defeated a sinister oil-company-sponsored initiative, to name just a few of the more positive developments. Erase all the groups at work on the environment, hardly noticed by the rest of us, and it would have been a massacre.

The Alternatives to “There Is No Alternative”

We not only have a largely capitalist economy but an ideological system that justifies this as inevitable. “There is no alternative,” as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used to like to say. Many still argue that this is simply the best human nature, nasty to the core, can possibly hope to manage.

Fortunately, it’s not true. Not only is there an alternative, but it’s here and always has been. Recently, I had dinner with Renato Redentor Constantino, a climate and social justice activist from the Philippines, and he mentioned that he never cared for the slogan, “Another world is possible.” That other world is not just possible, he pointed out, it’s always been here.

We tend to think revolution has to mean a big in-the-streets, winner-take-all battle that culminates with regime change, but in the past half century it has far more often involved a trillion tiny acts of resistance that sometimes cumulatively change a society so much that the laws have no choice but to follow after. Certainly, American society has changed profoundly over the past half century for those among us who are not male, or straight, or white, or Christian, becoming far less discriminatory and exclusionary.

Radicals often speak as though we live in a bleak landscape in which the good has yet to be born, the revolution yet to begin. As Constantino points out, both of them are here, right now, and they always have been. They are represented in countless acts of solidarity and resistance, and sometimes they even triumph. When they don’t -- and that’s often enough -- they still do a great deal to counterbalance the official organization of our country and economy. That organization ensures oil spills, while the revolutionaries, if you want to call them that, head for the birds and the beaches, and maybe, while they’re at it, change the official order a little, too.

Of course, nothing’s quite as simple as that. After all, there are saints in government and monsters in the progressive movement; there’s petroleum in my gas tank and money in my name in banks. To suggest that the world is so easily divided into one hand and the other, selfish and altruistic, is impossibly reductive, but talking in binaries has an advantage: it lets you focus on what is seldom acknowledged.

To say there is no alternative dismisses both the desire for and the possibility of alternative arrangements of power. For example, how do you square a Republican Party hell-bent on preserving tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans with a new poll by two university economists suggesting that nearly all of us want something quite different? The pollsters showed a cross-section of Americans pie charts depicting three degrees of wealth distribution in three societies, and asked them what their ideal distribution of wealth might be. The unidentified charts ranged from our colossal disparity to absolute equality, with Swedish moderation in-between.

Most chose Sweden as the closest to their ideal. According to the pollsters, the choice suggested that "Americans prefer some inequality to perfect equality, but not to the degree currently present in the United States.”

It might help to remember how close we had come to Sweden by the late 1970s, when income disparity was at its low ebb and the Reagan revolution was yet to launch. Of course, these days we in the U.S. aren’t offered Swedish wealth distribution, since the system set up to represent us actually spends much of its time representing self-interest and moneyed interests instead. The Republicans are now being offered even larger bribes than the Democrats to vote in the interests of the ultra-affluent, whether corporate or individual. Both parties, however, helped produce the Supreme Court that, in January, gave corporations and the wealthy unprecedented power in our political system, power that it will take all our energy to counteract and maybe, someday, force into retreat.

By the way, in searching for that Thatcher no-alternative quote, I found myself on a page at Wikipedia that included the following fundraising plea from a Russian woman scientist: “Almost every day I come home from work and spend several hours improving Wikipedia! Why would I donate so much of my free time? Because I believe that by giving my time and effort -- along with thousands of other people of different nationalities, religion, ages -- we will one day have shared and free knowledge for all people.”

Imperfect as it may be, ad-free, nonprofit Wikipedia’s sheer scope -- 3.5 million entries in English alone, to say nothing of smaller Norwegian, Vietnamese, Persian, and Waray-Waray versions with more than 100,000 articles each -- is an astonishing testimony to a human urge to work without recompense when the cause matters.

Butterfly Spotting

The novelist and avid lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov once asked someone coming down a trail in the Rockies whether he’d seen any butterflies. The answer was negative; there were no butterflies. Nabokov, of course, went up that same trail and saw butterflies galore.

You see what you’re looking for. Most of us are constantly urged to see the world as, at best, a competitive place and, at worst, a constant war of each against each, and you can see just that without even bothering to look too hard. But that’s not all you can see.

Writing my recent book about disasters, A Paradise Built in Hell, led me to look at the extraordinary way people behave when faced with catastrophes and crises. From news coverage to Hollywood movies, the media suggest that, in these moments of turbulence when institutions often cease to function, we revert to our original nature in a Hobbesian wilderness where people fend for themselves.

Here’s the surprise though: in such situations, most of us fend for each other most of the time -- and beautifully at that. Perhaps this, rather than (human) nature red in tooth and claw, is our original nature. At least, the evidence is clear that people not only behave well, but take deep pleasure in doing so, a pleasure so intense it suggests that an unspoken, unmet appetite for meaningful work and vibrant solidarities lives powerfully within us. Those appetites can be found reflected almost nowhere in the mainstream media, and we are normally told that the world in which such appetites might be satisfied is “utopian,” impossible to reach because of our savage competitiveness, and so should be left to the most hopeless of dreamers.

Even reports meant to be sympathetic to the possibility that another better world could exist in us right now accept our Social-Darwinian essence as a given. Consider a November New York Times piece on empathy and bullying in which David Bornstein wrote,

“We know that humans are hardwired to be aggressive and selfish. But a growing body of research is demonstrating that there is also a biological basis for human compassion. Brain scans reveal that when we contemplate violence done to others we activate the same regions in our brains that fire up when mothers gaze at their children, suggesting that caring for strangers may be instinctual. When we help others, areas of the brain associated with pleasure also light up. Research by Felix Warneken and Michael Tomasello indicates that toddlers as young as 18 months behave altruistically.”

Are we really hardwired to be aggressive and selfish, as Bornstein says at the outset? Are you? No evidence for such a statement need be given, even in an essay that provides plenty of evidence to the contrary, as it’s supposed to be a fact universally acknowledged, rather than an opinion.

The Compassion Boom

If I were to use the normal language of the marketplace right now, I’d say that compassion and altruism are hot. It might, however, be more useful to say that the question of the nature of human nature is being reconsidered at the moment by scientists, economists, and social theorists in all sorts of curious combinations and coalitions. Take, for example, the University of California’s Greater Good Science Center, which describes itself as studying “the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.” Founding director Dacher Keltner writes, “Recent studies of compassion argue persuasively for a different take on human nature, one that rejects the preeminence of self-interest.”

A few dozen miles away is Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, which likewise draws on researchers in disciplines ranging from neuroscience to Buddhist ethics. Bornstein’s essay mentions another organization, Roots of Empathy in Toronto, that reduces violence and increases empathy among children. Experiments, programs, and activities like this proliferate.

Independent scholars and writers are looking at the same underlying question, and stories in the news this year -- such as those on school bullying -- address questions of how our society gets organized, and for whose benefit. The suicides of several queer young people generated a groundswell of anti-bullying organizing and soul-searching, notably the largely online “It Gets Better” attempt to reach out to queer youth.

In a very different arena, neoliberalism -- the economic system that lets the invisible hand throttle what it might -- has finally come into question in the mainstream (whereas if you questioned it in 1999, you were a troglodyte and a flat-Earther). Hillary Clinton lied her way through the 2008 primary, claiming she never supported NAFTA, and her husband, who brought it to us, publicly apologized for the way his policies eliminated Haiti’s rice tariffs. “It was a mistake," Bill Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10th. "I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did."

Think of those doing the research on altruism and compassion as a radical scholarly movement, one that could undermine the philosophical and political assumptions behind our current economic system, which is also our political system. These individuals and organizations are putting together the proof that not only is another world possible, but it’s been here all along, as visible, should we care to look, as Nabokov’s butterflies.

Do not underestimate the power of this force. The world could be much better if more of us were more active on behalf of what we believe in and love; it would be much worse if countless activists weren’t already at work from Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma and the climate activists in Tuvalu to the homeless activists around the corner from me. When I studied disasters past, what amazed me was not just that people behaved so beautifully, but that, in doing so, they found such joy. It seems that something in their natures, starved in ordinary times, was fed by the opportunity, under the worst of conditions, to be generous, brave, idealistic, and connected; and when this appetite was fulfilled, the joy shone out, even amid the ruins.

Don’t think of this as simply a description of my hopes for 2011, but of what was going on right under our noses in 2010; it’s a force we would do well to name, recognize, celebrate, and enlarge upon now. It is who we are, if only we knew it.

Rebecca Solnit hangs out with climate-change activists, homeless advocates, booksellers, civil libertarians, anti-war veterans, moms, urbanists, Zen monks, and investigative journalists and she sure didn't write this piece for the money. She is the author of 13 books, including last year's A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, and this year's Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas.

Copyright 2010 Rebecca Solnit

  Read The Other World Is Here
 December 21, 2010   Extreme Cold In The UK Really Could Be A Result Of Global Warming
by George Monbiot, Countercurrent


Yes, the extreme cold in the UK right now really could be a result of global warming.

There were two silent calls, followed by a message left on my answerphone. She had a soft, gentle voice and a mid-Wales accent. “You are a liar Mr Monbiot. You and James Hansen and all your lying colleagues. I’m going to make you pay back the money my son gave to your causes. It’s minus 18 degrees and my pipes have frozen. You liar. Is this your global warming?”. She’s not going to like the answer, and nor are you. It may be yes.

There is now strong evidence to suggest that the unusually cold winters of the past two years in the UK are the result of heating elsewhere. With the help of the severe weather analyst John Mason and the Climate Science Rapid Response Team(1), I’ve been through as much of the scientific literature as I can lay hands on. (Please also see John Mason’s article, which explains the issue in more detail(2)). Here’s what seems to be happening.

The global temperature maps published by NASA present a striking picture(3). Last month’s shows a deep blue splodge over Iceland, Spitsbergen, Scandanavia and the UK, and another over the western US and eastern Pacific. Temperatures in these regions were between 0.5 and 4 degrees colder than the November average from 1951 and 1980. But on either side of these cool blue pools are raging fires of orange, red and maroon: the temperatures in western Greenland, northern Canada and Siberia were between two and ten degrees higher than usual(4). NASA’s Arctic oscillations map for December 3-10 shows that parts of Baffin Island and central Greenland were 15 degrees warmer than the average for 2002 to 2009(5). There was a similar pattern last winter(6). These anomalies appear to be connected.

The weather we get in UK winters, for example, is strongly linked to the contrasting pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. When there’s a big pressure difference, the winds come in from the south-west, bringing mild, damp weather from the Atlantic. When there’s a smaller gradient, air is often able to flow down from the Arctic. High pressure in the icy north last winter, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA), blocked the usual pattern and “allowed cold air from the Arctic to penetrate all the way into Europe, eastern China, and Washington DC”(7). Another US agency, NASA, reports that the same thing is happening this winter(8).

Sea ice in the Arctic has two main effects on the weather. Because it’s white, it bounces back heat from the sun, preventing it from entering the sea. It also creates a barrier between the water and the atmosphere, reducing the amount of heat that escapes from the sea into the air. In the autumns of 2009 and 2010, the coverage of Arctic sea ice was much lower than the long-term average: the second smallest, last month, of any recorded November(9). The open sea, being darker, absorbed more heat from the sun in the warmer, light months. As it remained clear for longer than usual, it also bled more heat into the Arctic atmosphere. This caused higher air pressures, reducing the gradient between the Iceland Low and the Azores High.

So why wasn’t this predicted by climate scientists? Actually it was, and we missed it. Obsessed by possible changes to ocean circulation (the Gulf Stream grinding to a halt), we overlooked the effects on atmospheric circulation. A link between summer sea ice in the Arctic and winter temperatures in the northern hemisphere was first proposed in 1914(10). Close mapping of the relationship dates back to 1990, and has been strengthened by detailed modelling since 2006(11,12,13,14,15,16).

Will this become the pattern? It’s not yet clear. Vladimir Petoukhov of the Potsdam Institute says that the effects of shrinking sea ice “could triple the probability of cold winter extremes in Europe and northern Asia.”(17) James Hansen of NASA counters that 7 of the past 10 European winters were warmer than average(18). There are plenty of other variables: we can’t predict the depth of British winters solely by the extent of sea ice.

I can already hear the howls of execration: now you’re claiming that this cooling is the result of warming! Well yes, it could be. A global warming trend doesn’t mean that every region becomes warmer, every month. That’s what averages are for: they put local events in context. The denial of manmade climate change has mutated first into a denial of science in general, now into a denial of basic arithmetic. If it’s snowing in Britain, a thousand websites and quite a few newspapers tell us, the planet can’t be warming.

According to NASA’s datasets, the world has just experienced the warmest January-November since the global record began, 131 years ago(19). 2010 looks likely to be either the hottest or the equal hottest year. This November was the warmest on record(20).

Sod all that, my correspondents insist: just look out of the window. No explanation of the numbers, no description of the North Atlantic Oscillation or the Arctic Dipole, no reminder of current temperatures in other parts of the world, can compete with the observation than there’s a foot of snow outside. We are simple, earthy creatures, governed by our senses. What we see and taste and feel overrides analysis. The cold has reason in a deathly grip.



1. http://www.climaterapidresponse.org/

2. http://www.geologywales.co.uk/storms/winter1011a.htm

3. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/

4. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/do_nmap.py?year_last=2010&month_last=11&sat=4&sst=

5. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=47880

6. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/do_nmap.py?year_last=2010&month_last=11&sat=

7. J. Overland, M. Wang, and J. Walsh, 14th October 2010. Arctic Report Card. http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/atmosphere.html

8. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=47880

9. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported on 6 December 2010. ***

10. HH Hildebrandsson, 1914. Cited by Dagmar Budikova, 2009. Role of Arctic sea ice in global atmospheric circulation: A review. Global and Planetary Change Vol 68, pp 149–163. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2009.04.001

11. There’s a review of the science until early 2009 at:
Dagmar Budikova, 2009. Role of Arctic sea ice in global atmospheric circulation: A review. Global and Planetary Change Vol 68, pp 149–163. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2009.04.001

12. More recent modelling work is summarised by James Overland and Muyin Wang, 2010. Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes are associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice. Tellus Vol 62A, pp1–9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0870.2009.00421.x

See also the following recent papers:

13. Jennifer A. Francis et al, 2009. Winter Northern Hemisphere weather patterns remember summer
Arctic sea-ice extent. Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 36, L07503, doi:10.1029/2009GL037274.

14. Meiji Honda, Jun Inoue and Shozo Yamane, 2009. Influence of low Arctic sea-ice minima on anomalously cold Eurasian winters. Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 36, L08707. doi:10.1029/2008GL037079.

15. Vladimir Petoukhov and Vladimir* Semenov, 2010. A link between reduced Barents-Kara sea ice and cold winter extremes over northern continents. Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol 115, D21111. doi:10.1029/2009JD013568.

16. Chunzai Wang, Hailong Liu, Sang-Ki Lee, 2010. The record-breaking cold temperatures during the winter of 2009/2010 in the Northern Hemisphere. Atmospheric Science Letters, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 161–168. doi: 10.1002/asl.278

17. http://www.pik-potsdam.de/news/press-releases/global-warming-could-cool-down-temperatures-in-winter

18. James Hansen, Reto Ruedy, Makiko Sato and Ken Lo, 13th December 2010. GISS Surface Temperature Analysis: 2010 - Global Temperature and Europe’s Frigid Air. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2010november/

19. James Hansen et al, as above.

20. James Hansen et al, as above.


Published in the Guardian 21st December 2010

  Read Extreme Cold In The UK Really Could Be A Result Of Global Warming
 December 21, 2010   Yes, There Is An Alternative
by Robin Broad & John Cavanagh , Countercurrent,
Yes! Magazine

More and more people, communities, and nations are taking steps to reduce their vulnerability to a volatile global economy

It makes us angry when we hear—time and again—mainstream pundits and policy makers claim that there is no alternative to the past 30 years’ path of gearing economies toward the global market. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Currently, as financial markets stagnate and food prices swing wildly and the environment is under siege, more and more people, communities, and nations are taking steps to reduce their vulnerability to a volatile global economy. Many are proceeding to build what we like to call more “rooted” alternatives.

In the Philippines, for instance, we find a refreshing openness to new directions from the halls of the new Congress to the rice fields of the southern island of Mindanao. Many people have come to understand that the dominant approach to the economy since the final years of the Marcos dictatorship, building on 400 years of colonialism, has failed: This more vulnerable approach geared the economy toward the plunder of fish, forests, and minerals that enriched the few and impoverished workers, farmers, and fishers. It created an agriculture sector that is dependent upon unreliable imports rather than geared to feeding the people.

Industrialization occurred in export enclaves, mainly of electronics, that profited corporations but remains dependent upon unreliable overseas markets. And, the model depends upon the export of Filipino workers to other countries to send home money to relatives, since the economy is not providing for their needs. The result is a plundered environment and an economy that is vulnerable to the shocks of a shaky world economy.

We will tell you more about what we find in the Philippines in subsequent blogs, but today we want to deal head-on with the “there is no alternative” myth.

So, what is the alternative?

How about an economy that encourages the stewardship of forests, fisheries and land for community needs? One that encourages agriculture that is good for the soil, feeds everyone an adequate diet, and reorients industry for people’s needs? How about a finance system that helps small enterprises, and an economy that creates enough good jobs and livelihoods so that youth see a future at home?

There is in fact an upsurge of efforts in this direction in the United States, in Europe, and in a number of poorer countries—including many parts of the Philippines. In the United States, the Institute for Policy Studies, YES! Magazine, and several other groups have come together to form a “New Economy Working Group.” They have proposed that in order to transform economies to meet the crises, economic life should be organized around three principles.

The first is “ecological balance"—ecosystems should be managed sustainably. This is best done when communities control the natural resources on which they depend. The second is “equitable distribution.” A growing body of evidence suggests that societies that share wealth more equitably enjoy greater health, less violence, and stronger communities. A final principal is “living democracy” (in the words of both Vandana Shiva and Frances Moore Lappé) which involves daily practices of civic engagement in decision making as well as broad participation in the ownership of community assets. People around the world are proposing alternatives and rebuilding parts of economic life based on these principles. Here are four key areas:

New indicators: What you measure is vital. The emphasis of most governments on measuring growth does not reveal much about the health of a society. So, a number of institutions, from the United Nations Development Program to a French government commission led by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, have developed new indicators that measure health, welfare, and different aspects of the three principals above. When governments around the world start paying more attention to such indicators and less to growth, there will be more incentives and even more popular demand for policies that enhance community and human welfare.

Close the financial casino: For two decades, there was competition in the financial centers of most countries to develop elaborate new-fangled financial instruments that enriched a new financial elite. This casino activity is what triggered the Wall Street collapse of 2008. Today, more and more economists, business people, and citizens are pressing for regulations that would ban such purely speculative financial activities. The U.S. government, for one, is now giving some incentives to boost local financial institutions offering credit to community enterprises and to individuals in need.

Sustainable agriculture: Around the world, millions of farmers are shifting from chemical-intensive agriculture to organic and sustainable agriculture. We find a frenzy of such activity on the ground in the Philippines, and in future blogs we’ll introduce you to farmers whose shift to organics has lowered costs, improved health, cleaned up the environment, and empowered individuals and families.

Global rules and institutions that support a new economy: Vibrant local communities depend upon governments to make rules at the national and global levels supporting such activity. Our governments should replace the World Trade Organization, which sets global trade and investment rules in ways that inhibit local and national governments from favoring local firms over global ones. In the Philippines’ case, the WTO has been central to the ripping open of agricultural markets, making the nation dependent on rice and food imports that led to the food price crisis of 2008. The alternative? Building global institutions and rules that support more rooted economies. For example, several governments and many citizen groups in the West are now pressing richer countries to place a small “speculation tax” on the sale of stock, currency and derivatives, and to steer the revenues toward jobs and climate finance in poorer countries like the Philippines.

So, in the spirit of the holiday season: Yes, Virginia, there are a multitude of rooted alternatives.

Robin Broad and John Cavanagh wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Robin is a Professor of International Development at American University in Washington, D.C. and has worked as an international economist in the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Congress. John is on leave from directing the Institute for Policy Studies, and is co-chair (with David Korten) of the New Economy Working Group. They are co-authors of three books on the global economy, and are currently traveling the country and the world to write a book entitled Local Dreams: Finding Rootedness in the Age of Vulnerability.


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Equality and the Good Life: Interview with Epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson
Research shows that the healthiest and happiest societies have in common is not that they have more, but that what they have is more equitably shared.

What Is Real Wealth?
We've been measuring happiness in all the wrong ways. How can we find true quality of life?

YES! Magazine encourages you to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

  Read Yes, There Is An Alternative
 December 19, 2010   The United Nations, Total Fertility Rate (TFR) And China
by Jason Brent, Countercurrent

The last revision of the official population estimates and projections made by the UN was made in the year 2008. At that time the UN made eight different projections based upon different assumptions. Those were the low, the medium, the high, the constant-fertility, the instant-replacement-fertility, the constant-mortality, the no change (constant-fertility and constant-mortality), and the zero-migration projections. However, the three most important projections were the low, the medium and the high and of those three the most important single projection was the medium one. The medium projection is the one most quoted in the media and by anyone referring to the UN's numbers.

The medium projection made by the UN was based upon the following assumption-- "Total fertility in all countries is ASSUMED (emphasis added) to converge eventually toward a level of 1.85 children per woman". According to Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, the word "assumed" is defined "as pretended, put on, fictitious" and "taken for granted". According to Webster's Universal Encyclopedic Dictionary the word "assumption" is defined "as assuming that something is true" and "a statement or fact taken for granted". In simple terms, the UN cannot support the proposition that the TFR for all of humanity will eventually be reduced to 1.85 children per woman. At present the TFR is about 2.55 children per woman. If the UN cannot support the very basic assumption upon which its medium population projection is made, then, for all practical purposes, the projection cannot be defended and is totally useless. In simple terms, the UN's medium population projection is nothing more than a number pulled out of thin air without anything to back it up. You may properly ask why did the UN base its medium projection on an assumption which cannot be supported on a factual basis and why did it choose a TFR of 1.85 when the replacement TFR is approximately 2.06-2.10. If the UN were to assume, as well it could, that the TFR would remain above replacement level, the UN and the entire world would be forced to face the situation of an ever-growing human population which could not be supported on the finite Earth. An ever-growing human population which could not be supported on the finite Earth would call into question every aspect of society.

There are three and only three ways in which population growth can be reduced to zero or made negative, if that is required for the survival of humanity ----1) by war, starvation, and other horrors beyond the imagination when the human population has exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth; 2) by the voluntary action of all of humanity for as long as humanity exists on the planet; and 3) by coercive population control. I challenge anyone reading this essay to set forth an additional method by which the growth of humanity can be reduced to zero or made negative. By definition, if humanity exceeds the carrying capacity of the Earth, no matter how carrying capacity is defined, one or more catastrophic events will occur which will reduce the human population to the then existing carrying capacity.

Since no one would want human population growth to be reduced to zero or made negative by alternative number 1 above, that alternative, in reality, is not an option. If the UN were to assume that the TFR would never decrease below the replacement level, that would mean that humanity will never reduce population growth to zero or make it negative by its VOLUNTARY action. As will be discussed below, a TFR equaling replacement does not mean that population growth will instantly cease. As will be discussed below, when the TFR reaches replacement level, there will be a time lag until population growth is reduced to zero. If the UN assumed that the TFR would not go below replacement level, then the only method by which population growth could be reduced to zero, or made negative, would be by coercive population control. Coercive population control would require a reevaluation of every aspect of society and in almost every case a change in every aspect of society.

If the UN were to predict the future changes in the TFR, based on all the evidence which it could develop, and that prediction indicated that the TFR would not decrease from the current level of 2.55 to the replacement level or lower, it would require all of the major religions of the world to change their positions regarding birth control and abortion. And to be very blunt, the UN was afraid to base its prediction regarding the future changes in the TFR on all the evidence it could develop because such evidence, more than likely, would show that the TFR would never be reduced by the voluntary action of humanity to replacement level or lower.

Regarding the low projection the UN based its projection on the following---" Under the low variant, fertility is projected to remain 0.5 children below the fertility in the medium variant over most of the projection period. By 2045 – 2050, fertility in the low variant is therefore half a child lower than that of the medium variant. That is, countries reaching a total fertility of 1.85 children per woman in the medium variant have a total fertility of 1.35 children per woman in the low variant at the end of the projection period ". Here too, the UN could not produce and did not produce any evidence that supported that assumption. In simple terms, the low variant or low projection is another number pulled out of thin air by the UN which the UN cannot defend. The low projection or low variant is a useless number based on two useless assumptions – the first assumption is that the TFR will converge at 1.85 children per woman and the second assumption is that the low projection or low variant will be one half a child less than that number. Therefore, anyone who uses the UN's projections for either the low or medium variants is using nonsense and worthless numbers.

The UN's medium projection for the year 2050 is that population will reach approximately 9.2 billion human beings. Also, the medium projection indicates that the TFR will be reduced to replacement level, from the current level of 2.55 children, in the same year. However, it will take approximately 70 years before population stabilizes after the replacement level of TFR is reached. That means that population will not be stabilized until approximately the year 2120. And in the year 2120 population will be stabilized at approximately 50% greater than the level of population in the year 2050, or about 13.8 billion people. The UN refuses to discuss the possibility that in order for humanity to survive on this planet even a short period of time a reduction in the human population will be required as opposed to merely reducing population growth to zero.

In making its projections the UN has refused and failed to consider the future per capita usage of resources by humanity. There isn't any question that the economies of China, India, and almost every of nation on the planet are growing and growing economies are associated with an increase in per capita usage of resources. While no one can predict the future per capita usage of resources, a simple question must be answered which the UN has refused to answer – will be growing population and the growing per capita usage of resources cause a population collapse before the year 2120? Or to put the question differently – will the planet be able to support the population of 13.8 billion people which will exist in the year 2120, based upon the UN's medium projection, at the per capita usage of resources which will then exist? And remember that the UN's medium projection is nothing more than a number pulled out of thin air with nothing to support it and is probably too low because the UN was afraid to face the probability that the only way to prevent the destruction of humanity was by coercive population control.

About 25 or 30 years ago the Chinese leadership realized that in order to prevent the collapse of society into anarchy that population growth would have to be reduced to zero or made negative. At that time China was a police state and the government controlled all of the media, the schools, and every other aspect of society such that it could propagandize population to limit the number of children a woman had, or a man produced. At that time and since that time no one or no group could use the media, schools or other means of communication to oppose the position of the Chinese leadership. And yet, China was forced to use coercive population control to reduce or attempt to reduce its population growth to zero. In evaluating the choice between voluntary population control and coercive population control humanity should look to the Chinese example. China could not reduce its population growth to zero, or attempt to reduce it to zero, without coercion and there isn't any reason to believe that all of humanity could reduce its population growth to zero by the voluntary action of all of humanity. To put it in simple terms, it would be the height of arrogance for the leadership of humanity to bet the survival of billions of human beings on the ability of voluntary population control to reduce population growth to zero when the Chinese government which controlled all the levers of power and controlled every aspect of society to propagandize its people was forced to use coercive control. The Chinese leadership is not made up of fools and if they could've avoided the problems of coercive population control and used voluntary control they would've done so. The present leadership of humanity must at least consider the 25 or 30 year history of China in evaluating the choice between voluntary and coercive population control.

  Read The United Nations, Total Fertility Rate (TFR) And China
 December 19, 2010   Peak Oil And Population Decline
by Peter Goodchild, Countercurrent
A solution that is sometimes proposed for the dilemma of fossil-fuel decline is a global campaign for the humane implementation of rapid population decline (RPD). With all due respect for the attempt to find a satisfying answer to the question of overpopulation, such a proposal would conflict with the available data on the rate of decline in fossil fuels. The annual rate of population decline, in a civilization in which fossil fuels are the principal source of energy, must roughly equal that annual rate of fossil-fuel decline, which is probably about 6 percent (Höök, Hirsch, & Aleklett, 2009, June).

Unfortunately there is no practical humane means of imposing a similar 6 percent annual rate of decline on the world’s population. If we let Nature, i.e. loss of petroleum, take its course, a decline of 6 percent would result in a drop in world population to half its present level, i.e. to 3.5 billion, by about the year 2020, a mere decade from now. The only means, however, would be a rather grim one: famine.

On the other hand, a deliberate global campaign of RPD, even with the immediate implementation of an utterly hypothetical fertility rate of zero (i.e. the implementation of a “zero-child policy”), would be far less dramatic. The rate of population decline would exactly equal the death rate. (This is true by definition: “growth rate” equals “birth rate” minus “death rate”, and we have already said “birth rate” is zero.) The present death rate is about 1 percent (CIA, 2010). At that rate, the global population in the year 2020 would still be about 6.3 billion. There would therefore be no means for such a program of RPD to work before the effects of fossil-fuel depletion took their own toll.

(Such figures for an RPD program, of course, disregard any other possible catastrophic future events such as famine [the above-mentioned means that is in fact likely to prevail], disease, war, general anarchy, and a thousand other side-effects of societal breakdown.)

Incidentally, we can also consider the more long-range effects of the previously-mentioned depletion in fossil fuels. If we assume that agriculture is ultimately unsustainable (Diamond, 1987, May; Ferguson, 2003, July/August; Lee, 1968), then we must regard a population of 1 million, as existed in 10,000 BCE, as ideal. To be generous, however, let us choose 10 million as a final stabilized population. With an annual decline in fossil fuels of 6 percent, a final drop to that relatively feasible population of 10 million will be in about the year 2110.

A global campaign for RPD may be regarded as one form of the soft-landing scenario. If we must reject such an RPD campaign and soft landings in general, the following three points might constitute a basic statement of global systemic collapse:

1. Modern industrial civilization is based on fossil fuels; we have been burning 30 billion barrels of oil a year. Fossil fuels provide our manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, mining, and electricity. The main problem is peak oil: the world’s supply of usable, recoverable petroleum is starting to diminish. The best estimate of the annual rate of decline might be 6 percent, which means production will drop to one half of the peak amount around 2020. There is a common belief that “alternative energy” can replace fossil fuels; the quest for alternative energy, however, has been going on for decades with no very practical results, mainly because of the barrier of insufficient “energy return on energy invested”.

2. Fossil fuels are not the only foundation of modern industrial civilization. Of roughly equal importance are metals and electricity. This triad is synergistic: if one of the three should fail, then so do the other two. Fossil fuels are in decline, but metals are also becoming less plentiful. Electricity will be in decline worldwide because it is produced mainly with fossil fuels.

3. Peak oil basically means peak food. Without mechanization, irrigation, and synthetic fertilizer, crop yields drop considerably, and famine is inevitable. Over the next few decades, the survivors will be those who have mastered the art of subsistence farming. Ultimately, however, it may be that the Paleolithic practice of foraging, with a greatly reduced population, is the only way of life that can be extended for millennia.

The first two of those three points, however, are really a case of going over ground that has been covered many times in the past. What I have stated above about the necessity for a smaller population has certainly also been said, in more or less the same manner, by many others.

The only point that is worth discussing is number 3, not 1 or 2. Perhaps it would also be worthwhile to discuss a hypothetical point 4, whatever that might consist of. On the other hand, there is really nothing to be gained by further discussion of whether the peak oil date is imminent, for example, or whether there are untapped sources of alternative energy. The important topics for further research are solely those related to the survival skills needed by the population that remains. It is only queries of that sort that are positive responses to the coming disaster. Putting further effort into questioning the basic existence of the disaster means wasting time that should be spent in dealing with matters beyond points 1 and 2.

The collective unconscious of the year 2010 seems to have been a mixture of apathy and despair, but such muteness is based on a misunderstanding. While the rich minority are buying land in Paraguay, the poor majority have descended into catatonia, yet it is the former who have a clearer vision of the future. One can only hope that there will be more of a proactive approach, and that more people will acquire the aforementioned survival skills. Perhaps my passion for books influences me unduly, but I even suspect that if reading and writing could be preserved, in the manner of the medieval scriptorium, then some sort of enlightened primitivism could prevail in the coming ages.


CIA. World factbook. (2010). US Government Printing Office. Retrieved from http://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook

Diamond, J. (1987, May). The worst mistake in the history of the human race. Discover. Retrieved from http://www.environment.ens.fr/perso/claessen/agriculture/mistake_jared_diamond.pdf

Ferguson, R. B. (2003, July/August). The birth of war. Natural History.

Höök, M., Hirsch, R., & Aleklett, K. (2009, June). Giant oil field decline rates and their influence on world oil production. Energy Policy, (37) 6, 2262-72. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2009.02.020

Lee, R. B. (1968). What hunters do for a living, or, How to make out on scarce resources. In R. B. Lee and I. DeVore, Eds., Man the Hunter. Chicago: Aldine Publishing.

Peter Goodchild is the author of Survival Skills of the North American Indians, published by Chicago Review Press. His email address is odonatus {at} live.com.

  Read Peak Oil And Population Decline
 December 15, 2010   The American Empire Is Collapsing, And Americans Will Be The Last to Know
Gilbert Mercier, AlterNet,
50 years from now historians may write about the fall of empire. But history is writing itself furiously right now, accelerated by the revolution of global freedom of information.

50 years from now historians will probably be writing about the fall of the American empire. But history is writing itself furiously in the present, accelerated by the revolution of global freedom of information. What would have taken years to gather is accessible to anyone with a few strokes on a computer keyboard. So never mind the historians of the future, and lets  see how  reality is shaping up today.

The crumbling period of the United States empire started on September 11th. Since then, a chain of events so dire occurred that it would seem the empire defeated itself by a series of catastrophic mistakes. After 9/11,  Americans wanted revenge, and the war in Afghanistan became a very easy sale for the Bush administration. But then the neo-cons seized the opportunity to push their agenda  of the New American Century project, and it was precisely the Achille’s heel of the empire.

Attacking Iraq: The Biggest Geopolitical Blunder In History

When the Bush administration attacked Iraq in 2003, a critical element escaped their understanding of the regional and demographic parameters: By toppling the Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein, they would give the upper hand to the oppressed Shia Iraqi majority allied with Iran.

In a word, the US troops who fought and died in the conflict did it ultimately for the regional benefit of the Iranian Islamic Republic. The blunders did not stop with geopolitics, but were compounded by a catastrophic financial burden.

The Cost Of Wars in Iraq And Afghanistan Is Bankrupting The US Economy

If the Pentagon was a corporation, it would be the largest in the world. The curiously called Department Of Defense has cost the  American taxpayers, since the ill advised attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, around $700 billion a year. Of course, if you add up health care for wounded veterans, and  layers of new “security” administration such as the Department of Homeland Security,   the numbers keep adding up to top $1 trillion a year. Overall more than 25 percent of the federal budget gets swallowed in the financial black hole that is the Pentagon.

If Americans could do the math, they would quickly understand that the bill for the two wars is now creeping up to $10 trillion. In order to achieve the chimeric goals of the neocons of an ever lasting global American empire money had to be borrowed. Currently, for every dollar spent by the federal government 40 cents is borrowed. America used to borrow mainly from Japan and Europe, but now does its main borrowing from China. In a striking reversal of fortune, the “poor man of Asia” has now become the country in the world with the most liquid assets.

Empires Always Have An Expiration Date

Americans have a delusional  sense of historic exceptionalism which they share with most previous empires. After all America’s ascension to a leading role on the world scene is very recent. The deal was sealed in Yalta in 1945 between Stalin and Roosevelt, with Churchill present but already taking the back seat. In a matter of 5 years, and about 60 million deaths, two new empires had emerged from the ruin of three: the United States and the Soviet Union. On the losing side of history was, of course, Japan, the empire of the sun, but also Britain and France.

The old imperial powers of Britain and France were slow to fully understand the nature of the new game. It took the loss of India for the United Kingdom, in 1948,  and the one of Indochina for France in 1951 to make them understand that they would have from now on an ever shrinking role on the world stage. However, it took 9 years for Britain and France to fully digest the consequences of Yalta. In 1956, France and Britain took their very last joint imperialist venture by attacking Egypt over the ownership of the Suez Canal. The decaying empires were told to back off by the United States and the USSR.

A Repressive Capitalist  Globalization Or The Revolution Of Global Freedom Of Information ?

The Cold War was a fairly predictable era. Beside a few flashpoints such as the Cuba missile crisis, the two superpowers fought to augment their respective turfs through proxy wars. But Afghanistan came along for the Soviets, and the long war made the USSR collapsed. Naturally the United States started acting as the only super-power left, and for this reason as the master of the universe.

The narrative of Ronald Reagan is peppered by such elements, and so is the one of all of his successors including Barack Obama. But all empires had the same  distorted visions of themselves, the Romans imposed the Pax Romana on their vassals for a long time , so did Charlemagne, and Napoleon for a much shorter time. In any sense, power is cyclical and never lasts.

Thanks to WikiLeaks and the courage of his founder Julian Assange and the one of  Pentagon’s whistleblower Bradley Manning, it has become rather obvious that while President Obama has changed the official tone of Washington from the Bush administration, the overall goals of US foreign policies have remained  the same: Ensure and expend  US power and authority on vassal states. This push to establish a new world order under exclusive US authority has been prevalent in all of the US administrations since Ronald Reagan and the end of the cold war.

President Obama, despite what could be his personal convictions is a prisoner of this imperial system. Obama is trapped by a complex nexus of inter-locking institutions such as the Pentagon, the CIA, the State Department etc, and by powerful interest groups profiting from endless wars. The very same institutions and interest groups have been at the core of every post-1945 imperial presidency. As early as 1946, president Harry Truman said: “From Darius’ Persia, Alexander’s Greece, Hadrian’s Rome, Victoria’s Britain; no nation or group of nations has had our responsibilities.”

However, most analysts and foreign policy experts currently assume that the present century will not be American. In this tectonic  power shift, under the push of China and India, the emerging new world order will be plural and decentralized. But the main question is: How Americans will adapt to this new paradigm where the United States loses its status of uncontested leadership?

  Read The American Empire Is Collapsing, And Americans Will Be The Last to Know
 December 28, 2010   2010: A Precedent-Setting Year In the Fight Against Coal
Joshua Frank, AlterNet,

It was another tough year for the coal industry. In the last 25 months not one coal-fired power plant broke ground for construction in the United States. In 2010 alone a total of 38 proposed plants were erased from the drawing board, the most ever recorded in a single year. Utilities also announced 12,000 MW in coal plant retirements -- or enough power to bring electricity to a whopping 12 million American households. And even Massey Energy's infamous henchman Don Blankenship is set to retire, effective next month.  

Indeed coal executives got what they deserved in their stockings this holiday season -- big lumps of black coal. "I predict historians will point at 2010 as the year that coal's influence peaked and began declining," says Bruce Nilles, deputy conservation director of the Sierra Club, whose organization released a year-end report on coal in the U.S.  

Nilles is correct; the coal boom out west looks to be over, as companies like Arch and Peabody scramble to figure out what to do with their vast reserves while U.S. markets begin to dwindle. The EPA has also not been as friendly to this portion of the energy sector as in years past, placing most coal permits for mountaintop removal on hold and even recommending a veto of the proposed Spruce Mine in West Virginia, which would be the largest of its kind in the country.  

With the help of Rainforest Action Network and other grassroots activists, financing for new mining projects from the likes of PNC and UBS will prove difficult from now on. In 2010 both banks joined the growing number of lending institutions that are turning their backs on mountaintop removal ventures. During the first half of this year renewable energy projects also accounted for 93 percent of all proposed projects.  

Back in 2001 the outlook for the coal trade looked much different. At the time, a total of 150 plants were proposed in the U.S. It was to kick off the coal rush of the millennium. But citizen opposition mounted in the form of legal battles, public education efforts, demonstrations and well-executed divestment campaigns all over country. From the streets of Washington to the rural outback of South Dakota people became outraged. Concern for public health and the awareness of coal's contribution to climate change increased dramatically. The result has been exceptional: a total of 149 of those 150 plant proposals have been halted outright.  

Who said environmentalism is dead? When it comes to coal anyway, the movement is alive and well with dozens of victories under its belt in the last two years alone.  

Nonetheless, it's just the beginning. According to Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Space Institute, ending emissions from coal is "is 80 percent of the solution to the global warming crisis." Hansen says this is because of three straightforward reasons: 1) according to most estimates coal is much more plentiful than oil and gas; 2) coal is far more carbon intensive than any other fossil fuel; and 3) coal use is concentrated in the United States in around 600 power plants (dozens of which are already slated for closure), whereas other fuels are spread among an array of sources.  

Climate scientists estimate that greenhouse gas levels have already passed the dangerous benchmark of 350 parts per million. However, in order to curb this dire trend, and bring down this number dramatically, Hansen and others say we must eliminate coal use in the United States by 2030.  

Is it doable? It certainly looks to be.
To put the numbers in perspective, in order to bring all U.S. coal offline over the course of the next 20 years, this means we must retire an average of 15,000 MW of coal power annually. So despite 2010's huge success with 12,000 MW chalked up for closure, the pace must be increased.  

No question the anti-coal movement has its work cut out for it. One huge problem is that coal plants in China are being built at a rapid pace -- almost two mid-sized plants every week. But perhaps fortunately, the country cannot continue to exponentially burn coal without running out of its national supply, at which point it will have to import all the coal they consume to keep their industry running. No doubt this means burning coal mined in the U.S., which along with Canada holds the world's largest percentage of coal reserves.  

That's exactly why companies operating in the coal-rich Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, like Peabody and Arch Coal, have been fixated on the booming Asian markets, promising their shareholders that future profits are sure to rain down, compliments of the Chinese.  

First, of course, these coal companies will have to ship their products across the Pacific Ocean, which will require coal-capable ports to be operable up and down the West Coast. Currently only one port in Vancouver, BC is set up to export coal. In order to meet the growing demand in China and elsewhere, ports from Long Beach, California all the way up to Canada will have to able to load ships with coal in the future.  

As such, the new frontier for anti-coal campaigners may well shift to Western coastal states, which have already begun to turn away from the polluting fossil fuel.  

First, Oregon is looking to nix coal burning by shutting down the state's sole Boardman plant by 2020, if not sooner. California already burns very little coal while the state's largest consumer of power, the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power, is set to end its purchasing of coal power generated by Arizona's Navajo Station within the next 10 years. And activists in Washington are working hard to shut down the state's sole coal facility in Centralia. Simply put, coal isn't popular on the Left Coast.

While these states have almost unanimously recognized the need to ditch coal, they are nonetheless being eyed for port redevelopments by the coal executives, the first of which is already underway just north of Portland, Oregon in the town of Longview, Washington.  

Coal opponents are already gearing up for battle. Earthjustice and others seeking to challenge the Longview port permit on the grounds the facility would exacerbate climate change and threaten human health, filed a lawsuit in early December. The suit was the first of its kind in the United States, no question a sign of what's to come in the years ahead.  

"Coal companies are targeting Washington as a gateway for coal export to China," said K.C. Golden, policy director of Climate Solutions, which joined Earthjustice in the Longview lawsuit. "This one facility would export about as much coal as the whole state of Washington now uses, and it's just the tip of the iceberg. It flies in the face of the state's commitment to climate solutions and leadership in the clean energy economy. The most jobs, the best jobs, are in building our clean energy economy, not in serving as a resource colony for Asian economies."  

The victories of the past two years in the fight against coal have set a strong precedent and the coal industry has been put on alert: the jig is up boys. No longer will coal companies be able to operate with impunity.   

"None of this would have been possible without [all of those] who have engaged to stop new coal plants and new coal mines, and push for retirement of the existing coal fleet," says Bruce Nilles of the Sierra Club. "This grassroots campaign is growing in leaps and bounds on college campuses, in urban and rural areas, and from coast to coast."  

So here's to a prosperous 2011. For the days of coal profiteering are numbered.

Joshua Frank is an environmental journalist and author of "Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush." He is co-editor, with Jeffrey St. Clair, of "Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland." Frank and St. Clair are also the authors of the forthcoming book, "Green Scare: The New War on Environmentalism." He can be reached through greenmuckraker.com.
  Read 2010: A Precedent-Setting Year In the Fight Against Coal
 January 3, 2011  
Global Security, Globalization and Planetary Demise
by Dr Michael Ellis
Minister for Sustainable Civilisation, Peace and Disarmament
  Minister for Sustainable Civilisation, Peace and Disarmament  Michael Ellis
Chief Editor, Co Publisher and Creative vision behind The New Paradigm Journal
Founder of:
The Centre For Change http://www.centreforchange.org and
The Medical renaissance Group http://www.medicalrenaissance.org

  Read Global Security, Globalization and  Planetary Demise
 December 19, 2010   UNE ARME POUR LA PAIX, LA CULTURE
by de notre ambassadrice MARTINE GILHARD FRANCE,
L’esprit clair et ouvert grâce à notre culture,
Affermit tous nos jours, rend la sérénité,
Et pour dire à chacun enfin la vérité :
Nous ne pouvons lutter contre notre nature.
L’être humain, homme ou femme, et sans caricature,
Vivra libre et joyeux, rêvant d’éternité
De nombreux ans sur terre oeuvrant sans vanité,
Bercé par la musique et la littérature.
Le secret du bonheur, c’est de boire et manger,
D’accomplir son travail sans être dérangé,
Sous le soleil que Dieu donne à toute personne.
Nous aurons désormais la faculté d’ouïr
Un air de fandango puis le vent qui frissonne
Et l’amour du prochain sachant nous réjouir.

O espírito claro e aberto graças à nossa cultura,
Reforça todos os nossos dias, torna seneridad,
E para dizer cada um por último a verdade:
Não podemos lutar contra o nosso natural.
O ser humano, homem ou mulher, e sem caricatura,
Viverá livre e feliz, sonhando de eternidade
Numerosos anos sobre terra que trabalha sem vaidade,
Embalado pela música e o literatura.
O segredo da felicidade, é beber e comer,
De realizar o seu trabalho sem incomodar,
Sob o sol que Deus dá à qualquer pessoa.
Teremos doravante a faculdade de entender
Um ar de fandango seguidamente o vento que frissonne
E o amor do próximo que sabe-nos congrétular.

The clear and open spirit thanks to our culture,
Strengthens all our days, returns serenity,
And to say to each one finally the truth:
We cannot fight against our nature.
Human being, man or woman, and without caricature,
Will live free and merry, dreaming of eternity
Many years on ground working without vanity,
Rocked by the music and the literature.
The secrecy of happiness, it is to drink and eat,
To achieve its work without being disturbed,
Under the sun that God gives to all nobody.
We will have from now on the faculty of to hear
An air of fandango then the wind which shivers
And love of next knowing to us delight.

El espíritu claro y abierto gracias a nuestra cultura,
Consolida todos nuestros días, vuelve la serenidad,
Y para decir a cada uno por fin la verdad:
No podemos luchar contra nuestro natural.
El ser humano, hombre o mujer, y sin caricatura,
Vivirá libre y alegre, soñando con eternidad
Numerosos años sobre tierra que trabaja sin vanidad,
Mecido por la música y el literatura.
El secreto de la felicidad, es beber y comer,
Realizar su trabajo sin molestase,
Bajo el sol que Dios da a todo persona.
Tendremos en adelante la facultad de oïr
Un aire de fandango luego el viento que tiembla
Y el amor del próximo que nos sabe nos alegrar.
 January 11, 2011   India tour for the Future
by Nina Goncharova,
India tour for the Future
10 December 2010- 2 January 2011
Luchnow - New Delhi - Chennai - Pondicherry - Auroville - New Delhi

From 10 December 2010 to 2 January 2011 Nina Goncharova visited India and took part in several events in different parts of India with the purpose: to create conditions for a smooth transition into a new world - from consumption to conscious co-creation in unity with Highest worlds, oneself, nature, humanity and the Universe.

Download full WORD document by author India tour for the Future
 January 14, 2011   The Rise of the Global Civil Society
by Rene Wadlow,
There is currently a great expansion of what can be called “The Global Civil Society”— a host of commercial companies, media outlets, and non-governmental organizations ((NGOs) whose activities cross State frontiers. Often the staff members of these organizations come from a variety of countries and backgrounds. This global civil society is increasingly powerful though its power has been little analysed.

One analysis of the environmental and social justice aspect of the global civil society has been made by the English environmental activist Paul Hawken Blessed unrest: how the largest movement in the world came into being, and why no one saw it. (New York: Viking, 2007). Many of these ecological organizations have very local aims, but there is an awareness of the inter-relatedness of issues and that peace, environmental protection, ecologically-sound development and financial balance have global dimensions.

Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) whose birth anniversary we mark on 15 January is the ideological pioneer of the Global Civil Society, even if he is little quoted. Proudhon’s 1960 work Du Principe Féderalif (On Federalism) is his most lasting and important work. In it he develops his major themes: justice, liberty, equality, and the need to develop autonomous communities tied to each other by contracts— thus forming a type of federation. Proudhon saw the need for links between many different types of units: towns, factories, workshops, cooperatives. With such links among productive units, there would be less need for political governments, especially not centralized governments. While Proudhon’s examples were drawn from the two countries he knew best – France and Belgium – his vision applies well to the global civil society. Proudhon can be best described as a “pluralist” holding that freedom of thought and expression, freedom of communication and movement will usually be better served in small, decentralized and voluntarily-federated communities rather than in the system of state nationalism growing in his day.

The global civil society is still feared by nationalistic governments who want to control NGOs and who use the external contacts of NGOs as a pretext to clamp down, especially on human rights activists who challenge authoritarian rule. Communication technology and increased mobility of individuals make such government control more difficult. The global civil society is made of flexible organizations in loose partnership agreements but with a common aim of mutual empowerment.

The global civil society is a ‘power shift’ of potentially historic dimensions with bonds of trust, shared values and mutual obligations which cross national frontiers. Proudhon was able to look realistically at the society of his time with its poverty and injustices, but he also saw signs of hope. His influence was carried on through such writer-activists as Michel Bakounine (1814-1876) and Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921) Thus today, we need to be able to analyse, communicate and work cooperatively to develop a global civil society based on the ethic of human worth and dignity.

Rene Wadlow, Representative to the UN, Geneva, Association of World Citizens


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