Table of Contents
Politics and Justice without borders
Global Movement to Help
to serve the people of all nations, all life on Earth
and certainly a sense of Global Justice for all life
in our overpopulated world is as important as the air we breath.
Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for this month
Jeff Biggers, Peter Bosshard, Noam Chomsky, Dara Colwell, Bill Ellis, Tom Engelhardt, Andrew Glikson,
Conn Hallinan, Chalmers Johnson,
Mira Kamdar, Joe Kishore, Michael T. Klare, Stephen Lendman, Matt Leonard, Dr. Charles Mercieca, Robert Parry,
Gideon Polya, Jeremy Scahill,
Frank Joseph Smecker, David Sparenberg, Peter N. Spotts, Sam Urquhart (2), John Vidal
Jeff Biggers, It's Time to Come Clean: New Yorkers Are Plugged in to Our Country's Dirtiest Source of Power
Peter Bosshard, Why Obama Should Take Notes from Cuba on a Green Energy Revolution
Noam Chomsky, Chomsky: What Obama Didn't Say in His Cairo Address Speaks Volumes About His Mideast Policy
Dara Colwell, Help Save the Earth, Time to Subsitute Hemp for Oil
Bill Ellis, Morality, Mortality and Immortality
Tom Engelhardt, Tomgram: A Basis for Enduring Relationships in Iraq and Iraq as a Pentagon Construction Site
Andrew Glikson, The Road To Two Degrees Celsius
Conn Hallinan, Who Are the Shadow Warriors? Countries Are Getting Hit by Major Military Attacks, and No One Is Taking Credit
Chalmers Johnson, Chalmers Johnson On The Cost Of Empire
Mira Kamdar, Climate Change's Challenge To India
Joe Kishore, More Than 1 Billion People Hungry Worldwide In 2009
Michael T. Klare, Peak Oil Is for Real: The Era of Cheap Oil Is Officially Over
Stephen Lendman, Manipulation: How Markets Really Work
Matt Leonard, Why My Vasectomy Will Help Save the Earth's Resources
Dr. Charles Mercieca, Feasibility of Peace in the Middle East
Robert Parry, 119 Million Americans Want a Public Health Option -- Why Aren't Politicians Listening?
Gideon Polya, How To Save The Planet
Jeremy Scahill, Shame: The 'Anti-War' Democrats Who Sold Out
Frank Joseph Smecker, Depraved Injustice And The Privatization Of The Global Freshwater Commons
David Sparenberg, Tree Of Life
Peter N. Spotts, World's Next Big Climate Pact Begins to Take Shape
Sam Urquhart, The Global Significance Of The Amazon Protest
Sam Urquhart, The Food Crisis Continues - In The Form Of A Global Scramble For Lucrative Farmlands
John Vidal, Global Warming Causes 300,000 Deaths a Year, Says Kofi Annan Thinktank
Research papers and articles on global issues for this month
| Date sent
|| Theme or issue
| June 22, 2009
More Than 1 Billion People Hungry Worldwide In 2009
by Joe Kishore ,
Humanity will achieve the dubious distinction this year of having more than 1 billion members of its species living in hunger for the first time in history.
The number of undernourished is estimated to soar by about 100 million over last year, to 1.02 billion, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The 11 percent surge in the world’s hungry is primarily a product of the global economic crisis, combined with persistently high food prices. World economic output is expected to decline by more than 3 percent this year—the first global contraction since the Second World War. The economic crisis, the FAO notes, “has reduced incomes and employment opportunities of the poor and significantly lowered their access to food.”
The world’s hungry are concentrated in Asia and the Pacific (642 million), Sub-Saharan Africa (265 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (53 million), and the Near East and North Africa (42 million). Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest concentration of hungry, while the Middle East and North Africa saw the most rapid growth in the number of hungry people (13.5 percent).
The agency’s definition of hunger is based on the number of calories consumed. Depending on the relative age and gender ratios of a given country, the cutoff varies between 1,600 and 2,000 calories a day.
It is likely the FAO figures significantly underestimate the number of people suffering from hunger. A study published earlier this year found that 12 million children are at risk of inadequate food in the United States (see, “US: 12 million children face hunger and food insecurity”). FAO figures estimate the total number of hungry people in the entire “developed world” (including the US and Europe) at 15 million.
According to the FAO, the growth of hunger is not the result of a decline in food production. Cereal production, for example, will only slightly decrease this year from 2008. Instead, “the poor are less able to purchase food, especially where prices on domestic markets are still stubbornly high.... At the end of 2008, domestic staple foods still cost on average 24 percent more in real terms than two years earlier; a finding that was true across a range of important foodstuffs.”
In other words, the sharp growth in hunger is due not to a lack of capacity, although global food production could be significantly increased given a rational and scientific allocation of agricultural resources. Instead, the rise in social misery results from the fact that millions more people are now unable to afford the most basic necessities.
The FAO highlights three aspects of the present crisis that make it particularly severe. First, it follows the rapid growth in food prices in the years 2006-2008. This bubble was driven in part by speculative activities of investors pouring money into commodities as the financial crisis developed. This preceding surge in prices eroded any buffer created by households to cope with economic shocks (see figure).
Second, the crisis is global. The FAO notes, “When economic crises are confined to individual countries, or several countries in a particular region, governments can make recourse to instruments such as currency devaluation, borrowing or increased use of official assistance to face the effects of the crisis.”
Third, poorer countries are “more financially and commercially integrated into the world economy” and are therefore “far more exposed to changes in international markets.” They are highly susceptible to rapid changes in global demand or supply and credit restrictions.
Another related factor not mentioned by the FAO has been the way in which the US government has monopolized credit markets to fund its multi-trillion-dollar bank bailouts, exploiting the privileged position of the American dollar to do so. Poorer countries do not have this privilege and are facing higher borrowing costs as a consequence.
The FAO takes note of the growth in interest rates for debt to “developing countries” along with the complete absence of available credit for some nations. The economic crisis has led to other rapid shifts in capital markets, including the drying up of foreign direct investment.
Many poorer countries are seeing a sharp decline in remittances from migrants, by 5 to 8 percent. The FAO notes: “What is more, remittances have usually been resistant to shocks and often even increased during economic crises in recipient countries. The countercyclical effect of these transfers is unlikely to happen this time due to the global dimension of the current recession.”
The FAO also expects foreign aid to drop by 25 percent to the poorest 71 countries. Total official development assistance (ODA) aid from all countries has been about $100 billion a year—as compared to bank bailouts running in the trillions and a US military budget of more than $500 billion.
Countries that rely on exports have been particularly hard hit by the economic crisis, and world trade is anticipated to fall between 5 and 9 percent this year.
| June 17, 2009
The Food Crisis Continues - In The Form Of A Global Scramble For Lucrative Farmlands
by Sam Urquhart , Countercurrents.org
Governments - concerned about future food security - have been furiously signing deals with other governments across the world. Saudi Arabia has tied up 25,000 ha in Sudan to grow corn, soy and wheat, with Jordan and Syria inking similar deals. China has reportedly signed numerous deals, as in Laos , where a state rubber company has acquired 160,000 ha, and Mozambique , where 10,000 "settlers" are reportedly set to assist in the conversion of thousands of hectares to export crop production. Even tiny Mauritius has agreed a deal with Mozambique to farm 5,000 ha of land in a country where over 50 percent of the people live on less than a dollar a day.
In Africa , the American firm Jarch Capital claims to have rights on 800,000 ha of Sudanese land, while numerous biofuel companies have secured huge deals (and some have been knocked back). Meanwhile, in Asia, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, agri-giant Monsanto has bought the rights to 10,000 acres of farmland "for experimenting with GMOs" and "is looking for an additional 50-100,000 acres" in the near future.
And that's just a pinprick in the wider picture. GRAIN has documented over 180 such deals involving both governments and private investors. It's a pandemic of land acquisitions, with no known cure.
On the one hand, the shock of rising prices and the specter of food insecurity raised by the food crisis has shattered confidence in the world market, sending nations scrambling to secure land and water with which to grow essential crops. The Gulf states have been particularly active, having seen their food import bills rise from around $8 billion to nearly $20 billion in the past five years alone - concerns over water use have prompted Saudi Arabia to plan for an end to all wheat production by 2016.
Rising awareness of climate change has motivated governments and private investors, for different reasons. Water scarce nations have begun to "lock up" water resources in the form of land rights in anticipation both of future water stress and rising prices, China being a prime example. Across the world, governments have begun to link up with other governments to sign massive land deals.
On the other hand, stimulated by the prospect of looming price spikes (and windfall profits) in the future, private investors have begun to move into agriculture on an unprecedented scale. Land is being rapidly securitized. As veteran commodities trader Jim Rogers says , "I'm convinced that farmland is going to be one of the best investments of our time"
As GRAIN reported in 2008, " The two big global crises that have erupted over the last 15 months – the world food crisis and the broader financial crisis that the food crisis has been part of – are together spawning a new and disturbing trend towards buying up land for outsourced food production."
Rogers and long-time collaborator George Soros have been moving into global land investment - eyeing massive profits to be gained from future price spikes. As has Lord Jacob Rothschild, via a company called Agfirma Brazil . As he puts it, "we have an extraordinary situation. If you take governments' printing money as fast as they are, borrowing as fast as they are, and bailing out white-elephant corporations, we're surely going to have an inflationary situation fairly soon" a situation in which CNN's Brian O'Keefe comments, "owning a hard asset like land is a good hedge."
According to the FAO, such deals (or, more accurately, "land grabs") have seen almost 2.5 million hectares of farmlands allocated to foreign investors in just five sub-Saharan African countries since 2004, although the FAO's figures understate the true total by excluding investments under 1000 ha in extent. Huge areas of land are being sold to the highest bidder, with over 180 deals across the world having been documented by GRAIN, and the likelihood that there have been more, as such deals are generally concluded behind closed doors.
We simply don't know the true extent of the scramble for land, but the consequences will undoubtedly be vast. The scale of the wave of land grabs is truly global. From the black earth of Southern Russia and the Ukraine, to Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines in south-east Asia, to Pakistan, to Sudan, Zambia, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Madagascar in Africa and even into the Amazon, there is a sustained effort to open up communal landholdings to global investors, be they government or private.
The focus needs to be on how these investments can be made “win-win” rather than “neo-colonialism”. Von Braun and Meinzen-Dick remind us that "unequal power relations in the land acquisition deals can put the livelihoods of the poor at risk" while, as "Land is an inherently political issue across the globe, with land reform and land rights issues often leading to violent conflict...the addition of another actor competing for this scarce and contested resource can add to socio-political instability in developing countries."
For GRAIN's Devlin Kuyek, the threats presently far outweigh the opportunities for countries hosting such land deals. As he says, given the disastrous development of mortgage based derivatives, there is "a ll the reason in the world to be concerned about how financial houses are going to be or are speculating in land" while, "if financial instruments are being developed for land, then that's a troubling prospect."
As Kuyek notes, "these deals are being promoted as win-win" but in reality "It's not just that they want to produce food. It's that they want to produce it in a away that makes profit. These are big natural resource projects, and need to be looked at through the same lens as dams and mines."
The world's leaders don't appear keen to remodel agriculture from above. As Kuyek says, no-one is really dealing with the fundamental problems within the global agricultural system. While nothing is done about a system which manufactures hunger, and "Nothing is being done to address speculation, or the amount of profits taken by the corporations in control of the food system" these land grabs are little more than "a band-aid over growing problem of food insecurity" - albeit band-aids which have the potential to make the wound much more dangerous.
This is worrying, as the wave of "land grabs" carries with it huge social and environmental pitfalls. For one thing, the continuing encroachment of governments and private investors into indigenous lands is breaking apart communal landholding systems. In turn, this is compromising the ecosystems that such peoples maintain and subsist from.
Then there are the implications for small-scale agriculture in general. There is a perceived need to move towards "sustainable agriculture" which is less dependent upon fossil fuel inputs, more efficient, more socially equitable and has a low ecological impact.
But, these land grabs are compromising the prospects for small farmers, and seem to be boosting industrial-style plantations. As GRAIN's Kuyek told me, "The fact is that you're taking away lands from farmers who are the only way that you're going to move towards sustainable agriculture that meets the needs of local people."
But what can people do about land grabs? MELCA Mahiber provides one model - having lobbied the Ethiopian government and laboriously compiled its own research on large-scale agriculture projects within the nation's borders. But its success is far from certain. Cambodia shows the fragility of a legalistic solution. What is needed is collective action.
As the IFPRI researchers von Braun and Meinzen-Dick conclude "by acting collectively the poor can stimulate a shift in power relations." Kuyek is more strident. " People need to be aware of what governments are doing" he told me. "They need to insist on the right to know what leaders are signing away on their behalf, and to push for a process to uncover what is being done, and to allow the people to decide."
"These are their lands, and they need to take control of their lands. It's as simple as that."
| June 15, 2009
A strong, stable Congress government may be good for business, but can it contend with the real, looming threat of environmental catastrophe?
Business and financial communities reacted with outright euphoria to the recent landslide victory of India's National Congress Party. Mumbai's stock exchange soared. Foreign investment poured in. Pundits at what used to be known as investment banks trumpeted the results as nothing less than India finally throwing off the shackles that have held it back from greatness: the limitations of a weak coalition government beholden to Communists. India, we are told, is free at last to embark on a project of wealth creation that the rest of the world will be hard-pressed to imitate.
India is expected to recover smartly from the current global recession, hitting an annual economic growth rate of 6.9 percent by next year. Meanwhile, bearish economists are warning that structural weaknesses will delay the recovery of the US economy until well into 2011. The icing on this cake: General Motors is soothing investors rattled by its recent bankruptcy in the United States with the assurance that its India operations will not be affected. Charles Wilson, a former GM CEO, once quipped that "what's good for General Motors is good for the country." That quaint, 20th century line now begs only one question: which country? The world's financial press buzzes that India could be the "new China"; capital (at least some of it) is stampeding from Shenzhen to Bangalore; and the US dollar is in free fall.
India has one of the world's longest coastlines. Rising sea levels are already swallowing up the Sunderbans at the mouth of West Bengal's mighty Hooghly River. Next door in Bangladesh, 15 percent of whose land mass will be under water if sea levels rise as predicted, things are even worse. Little wonder India is building a fence along its border with Bangladesh in anticipation of a wave of climate-change refugees. At 4,000 kilometers in length, the Indo-Bangladeshi Barrier will rival the Great Wall of China. One can only imagine what rising sea levels will do to the millions crammed onto reclaimed land in Mumbai or in India's new auto manufacturing hub of Chennai, around which one trusts the government of India has no plans to build fences.
Climate change is also already causing the glaciers of the Himalayas to melt at an alarming rate, the rivers they feed are receding. Some scientists are predicting that the sacred Ganga, whose waters have nourished the great grain-producing Gangetic plains as well as the souls of untold millions of Hindu faithful through millennia, is in danger of simply drying up. Three billion people - half the world's current population - depend on the Himalayas for water. The impact of that water dwindling away is terrifying.
If temperatures rise in India by even a couple of degrees Celsius, which they are already well on track to do, the very viability of food plants will be threatened. Yields will plummet in plants simply not evolved to thrive in higher temperatures. More immediately, climate change causes predictable weather patterns to become unpredictable. This is not good news for a country where the vast majority of agricultural production depends on the regular arrival, duration, and bounty of the monsoon rains. No wonder William Cline, in his meticulously researched book Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country (Center for Global Development 2007) projects that agricultural production in India will decline by as much as 38 percent over current levels by 2080 as a direct result of climate change alone. By that year, India will have added 450 million more people to its population.
Climate change is a weapon of mass destruction. Mitigating global warming by whatever means necessary should be the new Indian government's priority number one.
The government should make a major push to develop low-cost alternative energy technologies that don't require finite, toxic fuel sources (which means both fossil and fissile energy sources).
It should help India's small-scale farmers return to the cultivation of traditional hardy (and higher in protein) food plants such as millet and buckwheat, and install low-cost, highly effective micro-irrigation systems to get the biggest plant-growing benefit for every drop of precious water.
It should require all new construction across the country to be green construction, naturally cooler with little or no air conditioning, and with roofs that collect and channel rain when during monsoons.
It should recognize that the infrastructure India so desperately needs is green infrastructure that encourages public transportation and the use of bicycles, a realization at long last sweeping cities in richer nations.
India cannot afford to do as the west did: get dirty to get rich, then start to think about cleaning up the mess. It also cannot expect wealthier countries to push the hardest to deal with climate change, the global menace that will devastate India far more than it will them.
To grapple with climate change, a different approach is required. The new Congress government needs to bring to this task the real spirit of "young India", the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi who warned decades ago that the "earth has enough to satisfy man's need but not every man's greed."
| June 12, 2009
Depraved Injustice And The Privatization Of The Global Freshwater Commons
by Frank Joseph Smecker,
Of all our natural resources water has become the most precious. By far the greater part of the earth’s surface is covered by its enveloping seas, yet in the midst of this plenty we are in want. By a strange paradox, most of the earth’s abundant water is not usable for agriculture, industry, or human consumption because of its heavy load of sea salts, and so most of the world’s population is either experiencing or is threatened with critical shortages.
Around the world, scarcity of potable water is becoming a portentous matter. Admonishing phrases like “water is the next oil,” and “wells are running dry” have percolated their way into the collective lexicon of global issues. Rivers and streams are vanishing, and the desiccation and depletion of entire watersheds and aquifers is increasing the world over. Desperately seeking a reason for the withering away of drinkable water and the silencing of gushing streams, it becomes obvious that there is not one sole factor contributing to this dire situation, but many. Global warming and climate change, industrial modes of production, dam construction, and water privatization all conduce to the problem of water scarcity.
The supply of freshwater on this planet is only 2.5 percent of the world’s total water. Considering the amount that is frozen up in ice and snow, roughly one percent is left for human use. Water consumption has grown twice as fast as the world’s population.
We are often told that we’ve exceeded our carrying capacity here on Earth (or are arriving at that calamitous denouement of the story of civilization in no time soon), and water – a finite resource – is being exacerbated at an alarming rate in tandem to population growth. It is very true that we’ve reached our carrying capacity, this planet cannot healthily sustain so many people living in current arrangements; it cannot support our lifestyle. But anyone who has closely studied the conflation of civilization, agriculture, and Capitalism understand well that human population booms are endemic to the aforementioned social formula. And in all honesty, to blame the problem of water scarcity upon an increasing global population is sneaky as hell. Ninety percent of human water use is for industrial purposes – 70 percent being used exclusively for large-scale agriculture and factory farming. If the dominant economic mode were to shift gears, to one that wasn’t defined globally, and predicated upon the funneling of resources to the producer rather than the community, the availability of water would be much different. If community-scale projects and strict environmental protection policies were
implemented to define our economic behavior, then I’m pretty sure billions of people would not be facing such dire water related plights. However, in a world where market
theory has greatly influenced the dominant praxis of economic intercourse, the privatization of the planet’s water has been pitched as the panacea that will solve our troubles.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.2 billion people worldwide go without access to clean drinking water, and approximately 2.5 billion people don’t have access to “adequate sanitation services.” Over five million – mostly children in Africa and Asia – die annually from preventable, water-related diseases. The following countries (population provided) consume only contaminated water: Sudan (12.3 million); Venezuela (5 million); Zimbabwe (2.7 million); Tunisia (2.1 million), and Cuba (1.2. million).
Proponents of water privatization argue that privatization of water in developing nations, where millions are subjected to abject poverty, would be a boon, delivering clean water for drinking and sanitation to many who go without. Conversely, many posit that these nations are not equipped to negotiate contracts and the poor bear the brunt of fee increases. The ensuing information will corroborate the latter allegations.
By the end of 2000, more than 93 countries worldwide had partially privatized water or wastewater services. The larger the company, the more control. According to research done by Elizabeth Brubaker at the Energy Probe Research Foundation, at the largest scale, private water companies construct, own, and run water systems around the globe, raking in revenues of more than $30 billion – excluding revenue from the sales of bottled water. Most of this money does not make it back into the communities, but is rather transferred to the transnationals.
The largest players in water privatization are two French transnationals: Veolia Environment (owned by media conglomerate Vivendi) and Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux whose water and wastewater businesses are run by its subsidiary Ondeo (I’m sure you can find the CEOs’ names and home addresses if you reconnoiter hard enough on the Internet …to send them letters, silly). These two companies have interests in water projects in over 120 countries and provide to roughly 100 million people. Suez alone is active in more than 100 countries, and has become the second largest overseer of municipal systems in the U.S. – right behind American Water Works.
In 1993, Suez and Buenos Aires consummated a privatization deal (lauded by the World Bank); over the years the results were: drastic increases in consumer water prices; more than 95 percent of the city’s sewage dumped into the Rio del Plata river, to name but a couple. In 1998, Atlanta, Georgia signed a 20-year, $428 million contract with United Water, a Suez subsidiary. The results? Rate increases of sewer bills – 12 percent annually. According to a report procured by Public Citizen, the company also charged “an extra $37.6 million for additional service authorizations, capital repair, and maintenance costs.” The denizens of Atlanta paid about $16 million of these costs, and then an additional $1 million to hire investigators to verify United Water’s reports. Which turned out to be fishy. How’s that for venality – as if selling people water isn’t enough of a depraved iniquity.
As for abroad, the U.K. has used a large private system since the late 80s. A 1994 study purported to show rates of dysentery ascending in a majority of the urban areas. And according to the Public Citizen report, in 1998, “the major water companies in the U.K. were ranked as the second, third, and fourth-worst polluters.” And, “…ten water companies were prosecuted a total of 260 times between 1989 and 1997.”
Other noted effects of water privatization include: Improper protection of water quality; ecological destruction of downstream habitat; failure to protect public ownership of water and water rights; wasted water and neglect of conservation; and the transfer of assets of local communities to transnationals.
Despite corporate claims (which are fallacious beyond a doubt), the privatizing of water heavily increases the price of water. According to foodandwaterwatch.org, “International corporations can easily expect to make a 20 percent to 30 percent margin of profit from investment in water service… In 2006, Veolia made a consolidated net income of €759 million (nearly $1.12 billion), according to its 2006 annual report. In addition, 35 percent of Veolia’s total revenue came from water, with 10 percent from North America,” and “In the same year Suez earned a gross operating income of €7,083 million (nearly $10.38 billion), and RWE had a net income of €3,847 million (almost $5.66 billion). Some €689 million ($1.02 billion) of RWE’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) came from its water division, known as U.S. water provider American Water.” All of this money is funneled out of the community and into the pockets of the shareholders. There is virtually no case in which the privatizing of water has benefited everyone in a specific community. Kendra Okonski, editor of The Water Revolution, observed, “In most poor countries today, governments perpetuate water scarcity – which harms both people and the environment. They fail to provide water to the poor, but provide massive subsidies for water use by vested interests, such as big landowners.”
I recently had a chat with local environmentalist, Annette Smith from Vermonter’s for a Clean Environment (VCE), over the issues of water privatization, and the reprehensible bottled-water industry. She explained to me that “large extractions of water, the size at which commercial bottled-water companies operate, can taper stream channels, alter temperatures fish rely upon for their life cycles, and can expend aquifers and other nearby water sources.
“Furthermore, the impact goes far beyond the actual water extraction.” Smith explained that, “the plastic bottles have their environmental impacts as well. For one, the plastic bottles contain phthalates, which are chemical compounds that are added to plastics to increase their flexibility. Phthalates have been known to be culpable for organ damage, adverse hormonal activity, and birth defects.”
Plastic is a polymer, which is a very complex molecule. When plastic is disposed of in a landfill, it takes thousands upon thousands of years for that polymer to break down. In the U.S. approximately 60-70 million plastic water bottles are discarded every day.
The industrial process of manufacturing plastic bottles is very intensive as well. It uses the equivalent of four pints of water to manufacture one plastic bottle. A quote taken from the Chicago Tribune pretty much sums up a brief but comprehensive analysis of the water-bottle industry’s uses: “The 1.5 million barrels of crude oil used each year to manufacture plastic water bottles in the U.S. could fuel 100,000 cars for a year [or just stay in the ground and mitigate our military involvement in the Middle East]. Thousands of tons of greenhouse gases are emitted transporting bottled water around the world. Just 23 percent of all plastic bottles are recycled, meaning 52 billion end up in landfills or littered.”
Did you know that there is a trash vortex in the Pacific Ocean larger than the continental United States, and that there is now more plastic by weight than plankton?
Phytoplankton populations are in inexorable decline.
Whale populations are in inexorable decline.
This is what I do know: People manufacture plastic while sea otters choke to death on polyethylene rings from beer six-packs. People buy plastic while nylon nets strangle the lives out of great gulls. People discard plastic into the landbases and oceans while plastics get lodged in sea turtles – killing them. Fulmars wash ashore, lifeless, their stomachs distended with plastic. Whales, too, have been found dead along shorelines, autopsies revealing stomachs bloated with plastics.
As we’re all aware global warming is a consequence of green house gas emissions, especially CO2 emissions, and the water-bottling industry clearly isn’t helping the situation. I was curious to hear what Smith had to say about the impact global warming will have on watersheds. Her response was sharp: “Drought is the equalizer, because you can have water extractions that do not seem to be having an impact, but in drought the impacts can turn a neighborhood from barely having enough water to having no water at all.” I was beginning to see some irony here, as the song goes: “You don’t miss your water ‘til your well runs dry.”
Of all the social and natural crises we humans [and nonhumans] face, the water crisis is the one that lies at the heart of our survival and that of our [sic] planet Earth. No region will be spared from the impact of this crisis which touches every facet of life, from the health of children to the ability of nations to secure food for citizens. Water supplies are falling while the demand is dramatically growing at an unsustainable rate.
However, the issues surrounding water access around the world still remains dire and demanding. Mexico City has sunk more than thirty feet into the ground due to their extracting from the underlying aquifer. Routine shutting off of taps has become compulsory as they are over 50 percent below their water table. The same conditions exist in Beijing and Shanghai, China, as well as in many regions of India, Africa and the Global South.
Between 1970 and 2000, virtually all vegetation of Madagascar’s highland plateau had been lost to deforestation for irrigation and agriculture. The endeavor transformed the country’s biomass into a wasteland. The detrimental effects are widespread erosion that produce heavily silted rivers that “run red;” the loss of ecosystems, and species driven to the brink of extinction; as well as the loss of fresh water, and coral reef reformations.
In California farmers are on strike because of drought conditions and lack of adequate water supply for agricultural purposes.
We’re told this is an issue that is commensurate with a growing global population. But the truth is, it is the result of social arrangements. Ninety percent of the use of water is for industrial agriculture and the commodification of nature, viz. for the industrial production of consumables and energies. Population growth is not responsible for the desiccation of fresh water as much as capitalism is, as much as industrial civilization is (it is self-evident that cities do not have a clean source of fresh water – fluoridation does not count, to find out why, go buy some rat poison at your local grocer and read the ingredient – there’s only one: sodium fluoride. Or better yet, see how long it takes for one of your friends to take a swim in the Hudson in the NY Bay area; I’ll give you a hint at how long it’ll take – unless s/he’s fucking bonkers, you’ll get well beyond quadruple-dog-dare).
If we want to preserve our freshwaters, it is imperative that our modes of production change radically, that the dams the world over come down – immediately, and by any means necessary; and that water is not viewed objectively as a catalyst for generating financial wealth, meaning no more commercial bottled water.
Every river, stream, and brook in the continental U.S. is tainted with carcinogenic material. There are approximately 41 million Americans drinking water that has traces of pharmaceuticals in it – in India the waters contain 150 times the highest levels of pharmaceutical contamination than in the U.S. The reasons for this abuse to our watersheds and freshwaters runs deep folks, but if we want to preclude further devastation we must act now, we must engender what the residents in East Montpelier had last year, this time on a global scale.
In April 2000, after a week of civil disobedience and impassioned protest in the streets, the president of Bolivia was demanded to terminate the 40-year water privatization contract granted to Aguas del Tunari. As I mentioned earlier, the terms were so despotic that within months the entire region rose up and drove them out. As portrayed above, if we align voices with actions, then community agency can direct what’s in our best interest, and that is to preserve the natural world – especially its freshwaters.
| June 11, 2009
The Global Significance Of The Amazon Protest
by Sam Urquhart
Sam Urquhart is a journalist and activist from the UK.
His work focuses on the global struggle for social and environmental justice, at a time of environmental and social crisis. He blogs at the Hidden Paw, which you
can find here http://szamko.wordpress.com/,
Peru's Amazon region has been locked down, after the death of perhaps 40 indigenous protesters and 20 police during an attempt to break up a blockade last Friday. Some reports put the death toll as high as 84, in the worst violence that the Amazon region has seen since the height of the Shining Path insurgency in the 1980s.
On 6 June, a peaceful blockade was allegedly fired upon by helicopters from the nation's army. Most of the dead were indigenous protesters, part of a contingent at the blockade in Bagua province which numbered thousands - all of them seeking to resist the expansion of energy exploration and logging into Peru's Amazon region. And many of them appear to have been not just peaceful, but asleep.
As the NGO Amazon Watch reported, [http://www.amazonwatch.org/
newsroom/view_news.php?id=1829] "At approximately 5 am...the Peruvian military police staged a violent raid" during which "several thousand Awajun and Wambis indigenous peoples were forcibly dispersed by tear gas and real bullets." In a brutal attack, helicopters dropped tear gas bombs from on high while police moved in on the protesters - shooting some in the process. The NGO also reports that "as the unarmed demonstrators were killed and injured some wrestled the Police and took away their guns and fought back in self-defense resulting in deaths of several Police officers."
Indigenous leader Walter Kategari expressed similar sentiments, telling the Mexican newspaper El Universal [http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/internacional/61995.html] that "They began to shoot against our people. And the government knows that the natives are pacific, but when there is an action against us they will always find a reaction. And they made us react." Kategari echoes the words of Alberto Pizango, one of the major organizers of the indigenous movement in Peru, who has said that police shot down indigenous "brothers" like nothing more than animals.
The pace of indigenous mobilization and resistance in Peru has quickened over the past three years since Alan Garcia took power for the second time as president of Peru. Garcia embarked upon a twin-track economic strategy which has alienated large sections of Peruvian society, but none more so than the country's 14 million indigenous people.
On the one hand, Garcia has pushed through a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, passing numerous "decrees" in order to remodel the economy to suit the terms of the deal. On the other, he has aggressively pursued the opening up of the Amazon to energy exploration and development, a strategy which poses an immediate threat to indigenous ways of life and native ecologies.
As one study published in 2008 reported, Garcia has allotted over 70 percent of the Peruvian Amazon to oil firms such as Argentina's Pluspetrol, France's and France's Perenco. Such deals have also been secured without consultation with indigenous communities that they will affect. In fact, Alan Garcia has overridden concerns about indigenous rights, saying that "We have to understand when there are resources like oil, gas and timber, they don't belong only to the people who had the fortune to be born there."
The decrees which Garcia passed in order to ready Peru for integration with the U.S. economy stand to make the expropriation of indigenous lands much easier.
Decree 1064, for instance, sought to outflank local communities, allowing companies with concessions to arrange changes to zoning permits in the Amazon with Peru's central government, potentially bypassing any form of local consultation. Amazon Watch notes that this puts Peru in contravention of ILO regulation 169, which requires governments "to consult with indigenous people prior to signing contracts and establishing any development projects that will affect them" - something which "has never happened, but there has always been a requirement for companies to at least negotiate a financial settlement with a community prior to moving in." [http://www.bicusa.org/admin/Document.101184.aspx]
Article 7 of Decree 1064 also sought to "[reclassify] communal land rights as subordinate to individual and private ownership" while "sub-clauses of article 7 give favor in any conflict to individuals and companies, and to settlers who have invaded indigenous territory." This was supposed to work in conjunction with decree 1089, which expanded the role of Peru's urban land titling service, COFPRI, whose policy "has been to promote individual land titles, offering credit to individuals who rescind their communal land for individual titles." Decrees 1015 and 1073, in addition, would make it easier to break up indigenous landholdings by requiring a simple majority amongst communities, rather than two thirds as was previously the case.
Perhaps most controversially of all, Decree 1090 sought to drastically reduce the amount of the Amazon covered by Peru's Forestry Heritage protection system, "freeing" some 45 million hectares for the purposes of economic development (comprising some 60 percent of Peru's jungles).
This single mindedness has brought resistance. Indigenous peoples have long struggled against energy firms. The Achuar, for example, have taken the American giant Occidental Petroleum to court in Los Angeles over the pollution of their land. Yet this resistance has never been unified.
The integration of Peru's economy into the wider free trade area will have profound implications for the Amazon. In fact, as Farid Matuk, former Director of the Peruvian National Institute of Statistics and Informatics, told me, while "The whole idea of the FTA is to expand the agricultural frontier of the US economy" it will have the effect of driving food production from the coast into Peru's Amazon region. While "Coastal areas will switch to growing food for export but food production" he told me, "less land available for food for domestic consumption may lead to demand for land in the jungles [and] you will need to cut more forests down to produce more food for domestic consumption."
As Petrik adds, "As the new FTA ensures investor protections for multi-national corporations, more of these corporations and their industrial model, which marginalizes labor rights and the environment as mere externalities, are likely to negate any obstacles to expanding trade at any cost."
So the FTA carries with it an implicit pincer movement focused on Amazonian lands. On the one hand, there is an increasing pressure on Peruvian land to grow food for domestic consumpion. On the other there is the opening up of the region to corporate investment and the hollowing out of regulatory safeguards.
President Garcia made a rare television address, calling the indigenous communities selfish for locking away resources beneath their lands which should by rights be enjoyed by all Peruvians. "We have to understand" he said, that "when there are resources like oil, gas and timber, they don't belong only to the people who had the fortune to be born there because that would mean more than half of Peru's territory belongs to a few thousand people."
Garcia coupled this appeal to nationalism with an escalation of force, sending Peru's military into the Amazon region for 30 days to quell protests at strategic locations while Pizango and AIDESEP continued to call for dialogue.
Despite his unwillingness to engage in honest talks with AIDESEP or to debate the matter in Congress, Garcia has since then became more desperate to end the indigenous blockades, which are taking a direct toll on energy production and transportation. Although protesters have failed to hold the pipeline leading from the Camisea natural gas project in Peru's south after almost two weeks of occupation, other pipelines still remain blocked. Yet even before that occupation, as the Financial Times reports, "The demonstrations...[had]prompted warnings of fuel rationing within a fortnight" while in Block 1A, run by Argentine firm Pluspetrol, operations have been suspended.
In choosing to militarize the conflict with indigenous protesters, Garcia is not just attacking the physical bodies of indigenous Peruvians. His government has set out to challenge, and potentially dismantle, a constellation of diverse - yet related - cultures, all of which see "development" and the "environment" in ways strikingly alien to corporate strategists and neoliberal politicians.
As Ricardo Carrere, international coordinator of the World Rainforest Movement puts it, "if you want to do something about climate change, then you must stop oil extraction and the reality shows that the only people in the world who are actually doing something to protect the world versus climate change are the indigenous peoples saying "no more oil."
In Carrere's opinion, indigenous peoples are standing up against forces that are antithetical to environmental sustainability and social justice. They are opposing an "economic logic which means we need to destroy" and offering a different model of development, one which "needs to be decentralised, bringing people from the cities back to the land where they can have a better way of life" and demands "a very profound change is needed in every single country."
If, as Carrere points out, "we are becoming poorer with every barrel of oil we export" then we are becoming richer with every indigenous person who stands up for their lands and their rights against energy firms. They are not simply local instances of resistance, but are actions with global importance.
They are also the continuation of centuries of anti-colonial resistance. As Survival International's Stephen Corry says, "protests signal that the colonial era has finally drawn to a close. No longer are Amazon Indians prepared to put up with the illegal and brutal treatment which has been routine. That’s finished." [http://www.laht.com/article.asp?
The protests in Peru therefore have a global significance - both in terms of resistance against neo-colonial investment laws and in terms of environmental sustainability. The massacre at Bagua speaks to all of us. As Yanomami Indian spokesman Davi Kopenawa Yanomami eloquently expresses: [http://www.survival-international.org/news/4644]
"We must listen to the cry of the earth which is asking for help. The earth has no price. It can’t be bought, or sold or exchanged. It is very important that white people, black people and indigenous peoples fight together to save the life of the forest and the earth. If we don’t fight together what will our future be? Your children need land and nature alive and standing. We Indians want respect for our rights. You can learn with us and with our shamans. That is important not only for the Yanomami but for the future of the whole world."
| May 28, 2009
The obsessions of fundamentalism and outdated political reactions notwithstanding, gender is not an issue, sexual preference is not an issue. Even race, on this small Earth, cannot continue to be an issue. War is an issue, more so in this era of stockpiled weapons of mass destruction with capacity to transform Earth into death’s inferno and ultimately obliterate the entirety of planetary populations. Genocide is an issue; omnicide is the endgame of the dance macabre of all crimes of hatred and the will to domination. Global warming is an issue in this age of accelerated species extinction, deforestation, impending environmental cataclysm and prolific crimes against creation. Famine is an issue in a time of drought, population displacements and proliferating epidemic diseases. Slavery has again become an issue and is an outgrowth of irreverence and the culture of exploitation. Dazzled by the artifices of glitz and glitter, we have become blind to the darkness of destruction that is all around us and arises from our invested extravagance, hubris and frivolity. At the same time, there is often much hypocrisy in the non-issues and far too much neglect of the real ones. A society may oppose same sex relationships and ignore the ubiquity of addiction to pornography. A society may oppose abortion but rush to war, commit itself to mass murder, or as a matter of normalcy blithely overlook the sweeping starvation of millions in a distant neighborhood of the global village.
If our consciousness is not energized by a renaissance of reconfigured moral conviction, then morality and higher consciousness continue to be disempowered by the lack of access and its own dispassionate equivocation. In like mode, we will, consequently, continue to be victimized by the shadow paradigms of arrogance, indifference and sanitized exploitation. Rather than the struggle for sanity, the convolutions and betrayals of pathologies will define us to a bitter end.
World over we have come to a place that is not only a crossroads of choice in direction, but find ourselves on the narrow ridge of momentous decision as well. Will we continue in the pernicious folly of extravagance, or will we collectively open our eyes to the mutuality of global conditions, see where (ecologically) and how (historically) we are together, and make good on a reality inspired non violent revolution for the preservation of life in all of its earthly manifestations, and the enhancement of human life through a compassionate commitment of each to all and all to each? Will we envision and embody the bold Gandhian imperative of being the change we desire and need, and not only for the sake of self but creatively and for the sustaining benefit of otherness? We have an international and even primeval heritage of creation based spirituality and wisdom, while an abundance of intelligence dedicated to change is afoot. What is pressing upon us and yet to be determined is whether or not a paradigm changing sufficiency of our species possesses the courage for enlightened sacrifice and the humility to live in peace with diversity and difference and, by a new standard of planetary balance, symbiotically abide amid the remaining biotic community of sustaining goodness with and for this living Earth.
While the words here present a view in sweeping terms, there have been guiding maxims in ordinary language among us for some decades now which are not overwhelming or a burden exceeding the resources of individual responsibility. Chiefly, consider now but these two: Live simply that others may simply live and Think globally but act locally. Individually and within the intimacies of family and intentional community will we—not in abstraction, but each and every, in both the concrete and evolving dream of our otherness--take to heart the knowledge that compassion engenders respect and wonderment and honoring life is the radical counter to neglecting and destroying life? Moreover, put awareness into practice knowing that compassion is of two interpenetrating dynamics, as vital to one another as are yin and yang. There is the compassion of compassionate denouncement, which sets a limit to wrong doing through protest and nonviolent noncooperation, and the compassion of compassionate affirmation, which welcomes dialogue with otherness through mutual recognitions, conjoins dialectics, and engages in the reciprocity, albeit often asymmetry, of healing. Both modes are compassion and fruit from the same tree, which is none other than the tree of life. As such, the authenticity of compassion as an orientation and process is a non-partisan holism which loses that authenticity when and wherever polarized and politicized by dogma.
| May 29, 2009
Wall Street's mantra is that markets move randomly and reflect the collective wisdom of investors. The truth is quite opposite. The government's visible hand and insiders control markets and manipulate them up or down for profit - all of them, including stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies.
It's financial fraud or what former high-level Wall Street insider and former Assistant HUD Secretary Catherine Austin Fitts calls "pump and dump," defined as "artificially inflating the price of a stock or other security through promotion, in order to sell at the inflated price," then profit more on the downside by short-selling. "This practice is illegal under securities law, yet it is particularly common," and in today's volatile markets likely ongoing daily.
Why? Because the profits are enormous, in good and bad times, and when carried to extremes like now, Fitts calls it "pump(ing) and dump(ing) of the entire American economy," duping the public, fleecing trillions from them, and it's more than just "a process designed to wipe out the middle class. This is genocide (by other means) - a much more subtle and lethal version than ever before perpetrated by the scoundrels of our history texts."
Fitts explains that much more than market manipulation goes on. She describes a "financial coup d'etat, including fraudulent housing (and other bubbles), pump and dump schemes, naked short selling, precious metals price suppression, and active intervention in the markets by the government and central bank" along with insiders. It's a government-business partnership for enormous profits through "legislation, contracts, regulation (or lack of it), financing, (and) subsidies." More still overall by rigging the game for the powerful, while at the same time harming the public so cleverly that few understand what's happening.
| May 29, 2009
The World is acutely threatened by man-made global warming and many scientists now doubt that we can avoid further damaging temperature increases to over 2C above that in 1900. However resolute global action via an Accountability, Badge and Credo (ABC) protocol may yet save Man and the Biosphere.
In short, the Accountability, Badge and Credo (ABC) protocol involves (A) Accountability of greenhouse gas (GHG)-polluting climate criminals imposing GHG pollution on all peoples and species (e.g. by naming via an electronic Doomsday Book or virtual Doomsday Monument of bad and good guys; by using a Green Credentialling or Green Certification system to identify products, people, companies and countries we can support and those we must boycott; and by international and intra-national sanctions, boycotts, green tariffs, reparations demands, civil actions and criminal prosecutions); (B) a Badge that activists can wear with a simple core pictorial or word message (e.g. “Climate Emergency” or “Climate Emergency Network”) or a core numerical message (e.g. “300” or “350” to indicate the urgent need to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration to about 300 parts per million (ppm) or to less than 350 ppm, respectively); and (C) a Credo or core statement of beliefs (e.g. “We believe in a safe and sustainable existence for all peoples and all species on our warming-threatened Planet and that this requires a rapid reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to about 300 parts per million”).
I would offer the following succinct credo for those wanting to save the Planet:
“We believe in a safe and sustainable existence for all peoples and all species on our warming-threatened Planet and that this requires a rapid reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to about 300 parts per million”.
The Climate Emergency Network is a little more expansive:
“We have no right to bargain away the lives of others. Our goal is a safe climate future for all people, all species, and all generations. The Global Community must concurrently halt man made greenhouse gas emissions, remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and actively cool the Earth”. 
Of course, implicit in this Credo is the “How” of achieving a rapid reduction of atmospheric CO2 concentration to a safe level of 300 parts per million. The Melbourne-based Yarra Valley Climate Action Group has produced a pamphlet “Climate Emergency Facts and Required Actions” that summarizes required actions as detailed below. .
1. Change of societal philosophy to one of scientific risk management and biological sustainability with complete cessation of species extinctions and zero tolerance for lying.
2. Urgent reduction of atmospheric CO2 to a safe level of about 300 ppm as recommended by leading climate and biological scientists.
3. Rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as coal burning-based power) and to energy efficiency, public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar to soils coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production and population growth.
| May 29, 2009
Global Warming Causes 300,000 Deaths a Year, Says Kofi Annan Thinktank
by John Vidal,
Countercurrents.org, The Guardian
Global Warming is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming.
A family wades through flood waters to catch a relief boat, north-east of Patna, India. Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP
It projects that increasingly severe heatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030, making it the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.
Economic losses due to climate change today amount to more than $125bn a year - more than the all present world aid. The report comes from former UN secretary general Kofi Annan's thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. By 2030, the report says, climate change could cost $600bn a year.
Civil unrest may also increase because of weather-related events, the report says: "Four billion people are vulnerable now and 500m are now at extreme risk. Weather-related disasters ... bring hunger, disease, poverty and lost livelihoods. They pose a threat to social and political stability".
If emissions are not brought under control, within 25 years, the report states:
• 310m more people will suffer adverse health consequences related to temperature increases
• 20m more people will fall into poverty
• 75m extra people will be displaced by climate change.
Climate change is expected to have the most severe impact on water supplies . "Shortages in future are likely to threaten food production, reduce sanitation, hinder economic development and damage ecosystems. It causes more violent swings between floods and droughts. Hundreds of millions of people are expected to become water stressed by climate change by the 2030. ".
The study says it is impossible to be certain who will be displaced by 2030, but that tens of millions of people "will be driven from their homelands by weather disasters or gradual environmental degradation. The problem is most severe in Africa, Bangladesh, Egypt, coastal zones and forest areas. ."
The study compares for the first time the number of people affected by climate change in rich and poor countries. Nearly 98% of the people seriously affected, 99% of all deaths from weather-related disasters and 90% of the total economic losses are now borne by developing countries. The populations most at risk it says, are in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, south Asia and the small island states of the Pacific.
But of the 12 countries considered least at risk, including Britain, all but one are industrially developed. Together they have made nearly $72bn available to adapt themselves to climate change but have pledged only $400m to help poor countries. "This is less than one state in Germany is spending on improving its flood defences," says the report.
The study comes as diplomats from 192 countries prepare to meet in Bonn next week for UN climate change talks aimed at reaching a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in December in Copenhagen. "The world is at a crossroads. We can no longer afford to ignore the human impact of climate change. This is a call to the negotiators to come to the most ambitious agreement ever negotiated or to continue to accept mass starvartion, mass sickness and mass migration on an ever growing scale," said Kofi Annan, who launched the report today in London.
Annan blamed politians for the current impasse in the negotiations and widespread ignorance in many countries. "Weak leadership, as evident today, is alarming. If leaders cannot assume responsibility they will fail humanity. Agreement is in the interests of every human being."
Barabra Stocking, head of Oxfam said: "Adaptation efforts need to be scaled up dramatically.The world's poorest are the hardest hit, but they have done the least to cause it.
Nobel peace prizewinner Wangari Maathai, said: "Climate change is life or death. It is the new global battlefield. It is being presented as if it is the problem of the developed world. But it's the developed world that has precipitated global warming."
Calculations for the report are based on data provided by the World Bank, the World Health organisation, the UN, the Potsdam Insitute For Climate Impact Research, and others, including leading insurance companies and Oxfam. However, the authors accept that the estimates are uncertain and could be higher or lower. The paper was reviewed by 10 of the world's leading experts incluing Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, Jeffrey Sachs, of Columbia University and Margareta Wahlström, assistant UN secretary general for disaster risk reduction.
| December 02, 2007
Tomgram: A Basis for Enduring Relationships in Iraq and Iraq as a Pentagon Construction Site
by Tom Engelhardt ,
The title of the agreement, signed by President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in a "video conference" last week, and carefully labeled as a "non-binding" set of principles for further negotiations, was a mouthful: a "Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America."
When questioned by reporters at the time about whether such "permanent bases" were in the works, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the U.S. was "unlikely to seek any permanent or ‘long-term' bases in Iraq".
Back in 2003, Pentagon officials, already seeking to avoid that potentially explosive "permanent" tag, plucked "enduring" out of the military lexicon and began referring to such bases, charmingly enough, as "enduring camps." And the word remains with us -- connected to bases and occupations anywhere. For instance, of a planned expansion of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, a Col. Jonathan Ives told an AP reporter recently, "We've grown in our commitment to Afghanistan by putting another brigade (of troops) here, and with that we know that we're going to have an enduring presence. So this is going to become a long-term base for us, whether that means five years, 10 years -- we don't know."
Still, whatever they were called, the bases went up on an impressive scale, massively fortified, sometimes 15-20 square miles in area, housing up to tens of thousands of troops and private contractors, with multiple bus routes, traffic lights, fast-food restaurants, PXs, and other amenities of home, and reeking of the kind of investment that practically shouts out for, minimally, a relationship of a distinctly "enduring" nature.
These were part of what should be considered the facts on the ground in Iraq, though, between April 2003 and the present, they were rarely reported on or debated in the mainstream in the U.S. But if you place those mega-bases (not to speak of the more than 100 smaller ones built at one point or another) in the context of early Bush administration plans for the Iraqi military, things quickly begin to make more sense.
Again, it's necessary to put these facts on the ground in a larger -- in this case, pre-invasion -- geopolitical context. From the first Gulf War on, Saudi Arabia, the largest producer of energy on the planet, was being groomed as the American military bastion in the heart of the Middle East. But the Saudis grew uncomfortable -- think here, the claims of Osama bin Laden and Co. that U.S. troops were defiling the Kingdom and its holy places -- with the Pentagon's elaborate enduring camps on its territory. Something had to give -- and it wasn't going to be the American military presence in the Middle East. The answer undoubtedly seemed clear enough to top Bush administration officials. As an anonymous American diplomat told the Sunday Herald of Scotland back in October 2002, "A rehabilitated Iraq is the only sound long-term strategic alternative to Saudi Arabia. It's not just a case of swopping horses in mid-stream, the impending U.S. regime change in Baghdad is a strategic necessity."
And the ramping up of the already gigantic "mega-bases" in Iraq proceeds apace. Recent reports indicate that the Pentagon will call on Congress to pony up another billion dollars soon enough for further upgrades and "improvements."
We also know that frantic construction has been under way on three new bases of varying sizes. The most obvious of these -- though it's seldom thought of this way -- is the gigantic new U.S. Embassy, possibly the largest in the world, being built on an almost Vatican-sized plot of land inside Baghdad's Green Zone. It is meant to be a citadel, a hardened universe of its own, in, but not of, the Iraqi capital. In recent months, it has also turned into a construction nightmare, soaking up another $144 million in American taxpayer monies, bringing its price tag to three-quarters of a billion dollars and still climbing. It is to house 1,000 or so "diplomats," with perhaps a few thousand extra security guards and hired hands of every sort.
When, in the future, you read in the papers about administration plans to withdraw American forces to bases "outside of Iraqi urban areas," note that there will continue to be a major base in the heart of the Iraqi capital for who knows how long to come. As the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler put it, the 21-building compound "is viewed by some officials as a key element of building a sustainable, long-term diplomatic presence in Baghdad." Presence, yes, but diplomatic?
| May 26, 2009
The American public, if not the residents of the territories in question, is almost totally innocent of the huge costs involved, the crimes committed by our soldiers against women and children in the occupied territories, the environmental pollution, and the deep and abiding suspicions generated among people forced to live close to thousands of heavily armed, culturally myopic and dangerously indoctrinated American soldiers.
Officially, over 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees are massed in 909 military facilities in 46 countries and territories.
There has been no public discussion by the Obama administration over starting to liquidate our overseas bases or beginning to scale back our imperialist presence in the rest of the world.
The political machinations that every American embassy and military base on earth engages in to undermine and change local laws that stand in the way of U.S. military plans. For years the United States has interfered in the domestic affairs of nations to bring about “regime change,” rig elections, free American servicemen who have been charged with extremely serious felonies against local civilians, indoctrinate the local officer corps in American militarist values (as at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, Ga.), and preserve and protect the so-called Status of Forces Agreements that the United States imposes on all nations with U.S. bases. These SOFAs give our troops extraterritorial privileges such as freedom from local laws and from passport and travel regulations, and they absolve the U.S. from a country’s anti-pollution requirements, noise restrictions and environmental laws.
The “abuses and usurpations” of American standing armies “include more than rape, murder, sexual harassment, robbery, other common crimes, seizure of people’s lands, destruction of property, and the cultural imperialism that have accompanied foreign armies since time immemorial. They now include terrorizing jet blasts of frequent low-altitude and night-landing exercises, helicopters and warplanes crashing into homes and schools and the poisoning of environments and communities with military toxins; and they transform ‘host’ communities into targets for genocidal nuclear as well as ‘conventional’ attacks.” When it comes to opportunism, Gerson notes that the Navy’s Indian Ocean tsunami relief operations of 2005 helped open the way for U.S. forces to return to Thailand and for greater cooperation with the Indonesian military.
There are today an estimated 350 to 480 free-fall B-61-type tactical nuclear weapons in the territories of the NATO allies, compared with a maximum of 7,300 land, air, and sea-based nuclear weapons based in Europe in 1971. The bombs are housed at eight air bases in six NATO countries, all of which enjoy Bechtel-installed Weapons Storage and Security Systems, type WS-3. These devices are vaults installed in the floors within a “protective aircraft shelter” and allow for the arming of bombs and aircraft inside hangars, offering high degrees of secrecy and (supposedly) security. Heller and Lammerant note that the weapons based in Europe are “secret, deadly, illegal, costly, militarily useless, politically motivated, and deeply, deeply unpopular.
Heller and Lammerant conclude their essay with details on the early-warning radars, anti-missile bases, military hubs to support operations in Africa, and facilities extant or being constructed at Thule in Greenland, Vardo in Denmark, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Vicenza in northern Italy. On March 17, 2009, the Czech government rejected a proposal by the Pentagon to install a U.S. military radar base in the Czech Republic because the lower house of the Czech parliament seemed certain to vote against it.
The essays are tours de force on the construction of probably permanent American military bases in occupied Iraq and of the massive fortress—- as large as the Vatican—in the Green Zone of Baghdad that is the “American Embassy.”
The military is a violence-producing institution to which sexual and gender violence are intrinsic.
The essence of military forces is their pervasive, deep-rooted contempt for women, which can be seen in military training that completely denies femininity and praises hegemonic masculinity.
The OWAAMV [Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence] movement illustrates from a gender perspective that ‘the protected,’ who are structurally deprived of political power, are in fact not protected by the militarized security policies; rather their livelihoods are made insecure by these very policies. The movement has also illuminated the fact that ‘gated’ bases do not confine military violence to within the bases. Those hundred-of-miles-long fences around the bases are there only to assure the readiness of the military and military operations by excluding and even oppressing the people living outside the gated bases.
| May 26, 2009
According to the IPCC AR4-2007 report a total anthropogenic greenhouse factor, equivalent to +2.3 degrees C, is masked by a compensating aerosol albedo effect (mainly sulphur from industrial emissions) equivalent to -0.9C (without land clearing albedo gain and ice melt albedo loss) (Table 1). Once the short-lived aerosols dissipate, adding the reflectance loss of melting polar ice (where maximum warming of up to 4 degrees C occurs; Figure 2), mean global temperatures track toward +2 degrees C, considered by the European Union to be the maximum permissible level.
Variations in temperature and sea ice cover around Antarctica are effected by the shrinking polar wind vortex and tropospheric and stratospheric ozone layer conditions, resulting in geographic and temporal variability in sea and land ice cover.
Ongoing global warming may lead to the release of methane from permafrost, collapse of the North Atlantic Thermohaline current, high-energy weather events and yet little-specified shifts in atmospheric states (tipping points).
Despite intensified warnings from the Copenhagen climate conference, as a self-fulfilling prophecy Rudd’s “great moral issue of our time” is being relegated to secondary priority, if that.
More recently the pro-carbon lobby is using a new tactic: “jobs”, a novel angle for big business traditionally concerned with profits as much as with social welfare, at times regarding unemployment as a convenient lever to lower wages and conditions.
The warning of “jobs” means that, rather than accept the global concern for the survival of future generations and biodiversity, which demands urgent (as well as job-creating) transformation from polluting utilities to alternative energy industries, workers will be just fired – a threat held over the head of governments with one eye on the next elections.
Basically they still don’t get it.
Given that warnings by scientists have proven mostly correct, as contrasted with watered-down reports percolating upward through bureaucracies, there is little evidence the Rudd government is listening to the recent dire warnings by climate scientists.
| June 1, 2009
Feasibility of Peace in the Middle East
by Dr. Charles Mercieca
President, International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
Download full WORD document by author
Over the past few decades, the Middle East has increasingly emerged to become a malignant tumor of our earthly community. Like any other disease, this fatal
malady can still be cured in one way or another, even through an unexpected miracle. During the past centuries, quite a few books were written on the nature of miracles
that even skeptics, who had serious doubts, after giving a second thought, began to believe in such mysterious phenomena.
Getting to the Source of the Problem
Going back to Aristotle some 2,500 years ago, the concept of the Causa Prima – the First Cause was attributed to that source without which nothing could possibly have
existed. As time rolled on, this Causa Prima was referred to by various other names, such as Yahweh in Judaism, God in Christianity and Allah in Islam. When people are
taken to hospital for an unspecified illness, the first thing doctors do is to analyze the symptoms in an effort to get to the source of the involved problem.
This way they could provide remedies that would lead to the cure of an illness under consideration. Our ability to get successfully to the source of any problem we
encounter is the first gigantic step toward the eventual elimination of such a problem, be it physical, social, or psychological. The reason why the Middle East turmoil has
been going on for decades may be due to the fact that the real source of the problem might not have been discovered. It may also be due to the fact that wrong methods
were used to end this long tragic conflict.
To comprehend well the feasibility of peace in the Middle East, we need in the first place to realize and understand the philosophy that all involved parties have
been using to get what they want. Unfortunately, it has been based on a system of fear, stubbornness, and blindness in having the parties involved trying to get what they
want without regarding the feelings and rights of others. Hence, the entire region developed into an atmosphere of terror where everyone has been a loser and no one a
winner. We must keep in mind that good intentions are not enough since, as they say, “The way to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Discussing the Middle East is not an easy job because it seems to be too much complicated. However, this should not render us incapable of tackling this serious
problem. As long as we keep in mind the universal welfare of all people involved in this tragic conflict without exception, we should have no problem to come to a
positive and constructive solution that would make everyone feel happy and safe. To this end, several steps need to be taken fast and smooth if possible. In this process we
need to have our eyes wide-opened after we try to dehypnotize ourselves from false beliefs we might have been fed in life.
Military Trained to Wage Wars
There is one thing for sure that all parties involved in the Middle East quagmire must keep in mind. Throughout history the military was always used to wage wars and
not to bring about peace. From a careful study of history of the last several centuries we learn that the military hardly ever used dialogues and diplomacy to solve human
conflicts. They used struggles and wars that destroyed the infrastructure of cities where they left tens of thousands of people homeless ending up deprived from their
crucial necessities of life. Besides, tens of thousands of others were killed or maimed badly.
Whereas through healthy dialogues and strong diplomacy everything is discussed on mutually beneficial bases, through the military tens of thousands, amounting at
times to millions, are silenced through the extermination of their lives. And we know the rest of the story. When people are massacred and buried in individual or mass
graves, they become silenced forever. In fact, at the entrance of every cemetery where we find people buried as a result of struggles and wars we could write in big letters:
Military Peace at Work!
In view of this, one of our big lessons we should learn toward the feasibility of peace in the Middle East is to find ways to replace fear with trust, weapons with the
vital necessities of life, and the military with humanitarian agencies. Those that think they can control people through weapons and a strong military have proved to be
deadly wrong because such elements do not have the ability to conquer the “will” of the people, as General Westmoreland, commander of the US military forces in
Vietnam said in his commencement address at the University of Kansas in 1966.
Among other things, this US General said: “We have certainly the most sophisticated weapons and the best well trained military, but we cannot conquer these
people who come to confront us with rifles that in the USA we use to shoot pigeons. It is not the job of the military to solve such conflicts. We need to have a group of well
trained diplomats to do this job successfully.”
Within the context of his speech given in an educational institution, General Westmoreland showed clearly that the best way to deal with the human mind was
through a good education. He even added that weapons and wars harden the human mind to the point of making it defiant and fearless by all means. Coming to the
disastrous region of the Middle East, it would make no sense at all for us to take sides and to start blaming each other in an effort to justify our brutal acts.
Creation of Sound Criteria
The best way to solve the Middle East conflict is to establish criteria that are based not on what the Israelis or the Palestinians accept as being right or wrong, but that
are based on the dictates of both the Divine Positive Law and the Natural Law. These two sets of laws are God-made laws that are higher than both the ecclesiastical law
and the civic law. The Divine Positive Law is referred to in the Bible as the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses, one of which says: You should not kill. This
means that each time the Israelis kill Palestinians and vice versa, they are defying this God-made law.
On the other hand, anything that is linked with the necessities of life is viewed as the Natural Law, which God put in the order of nature from the very first day of
creation. The Natural Law is also referred to as human rights. All people have a right to live in peace and security, to have adequate residential facilities, needed medical
equipment, and full freedom of movement along with having schools and places of worship. This means that each time the Israelis destroy the residential facilities of the
Palestinians and vice versa, they are defying the Natural Law. In essence, they are ultimately rebelling against God.
In the sphere of our global community we often hear many talking of the importance to have experience of something that is about to be done. This assumes that,
once you have the experience of an involved activity, everything should be performed well to the satisfaction of everyone involved. Well, from the last history of 1900
years, the Jewish people have been banished from their homeland by the Romans toward the latter half the first century A.D. In 1948, the United Nations divided Palestine
to give a substantial portion to the Jews.
This portion of Jewish land was then referred to as Israel. Since then, instead of having the Israelis and the Palestinians living together hand in hand in peace and
harmony, they both took God’s laws in their hands and began to fight each other that resulted in the killing and maiming of thousands of innocent people, who are all
God’s most dear and beloved children, in addition to having their residential areas destroyed senselessly.
Ironically, both of them believe in the same God whom they offend and insult as they please by disregarding both the Divine Positive Law and the Natural Law. Both of
them should realize that the Holy Scriptures they claim to believe in can never be interpreted in a way that would contradict God’s eternal laws. Like Pope Benedict said
this past year, war can never be justified in any circumstance. The pope is viewed as the vicar of Jesus Christ who is known as the Master Teacher of Nazareth, the promised
Messiah of the Old Testament.
Following God’s Instructions
This Master Teacher of Nazareth said the Pharisees: “The God you know is not the God I know. You preach a God of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The
God I know is a God of love and mercy, one that when you strike him on the cheek, not only He would not strike back but he would rather let you strike him on the other
cheek as well.” If actions speak louder than words, it is quite obvious that the Palestinians continue to practice the “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” philosophy that
Jesus so adamantly rejected and condemned.
And to turn an insult into an injury, the Israelis went even further with their developed philosophy of “one hundred eyes for one eye and one hundred teeth for one
tooth.” Both the Israelis and the Palestinians need to study the teachings and warnings of the Master Teacher of Nazareth, all of which were vindicated, year in and year
out, for the past 2,000 years. This great Teacher of all times warned us saying that we will be treated in due time the way we treat others. If we are kind with others we will
eventually experience kindness.
On the other hand, if we harm others we are bound to experience same harm. Hence, we need to outline seven steps the Israelis must take to help bring about
genuine peace in the Middle East. Likewise, we may also outline seven steps the Palestinians must take to make a good contribution to a permanent peace in this fragile
global area. Besides, we must also enlist seven steps that both the Israelis and the Palestinians should take together so that their children and grandchildren would be able
to live in permanent peace.
The seven steps the Israelis could take to bring about a permanent peace in the Middle East may be enlisted as follows:
1. Stop the further building of Jewish homelands on Palestinian land. This is so essential that President Obama stressed its importance in his speech in Cairo fairly
2. Bring to an end the unlimited confiscation of Palestinian territory through the further construction of roads to accommodate the Jewish settlers at the expense of the
3. Abolish the apartheid that the Israelis created among Palestinians, which has been condemned by US President Jimmy Carter and by Archbishop Tutu who described it
as worse than the one they had in South Africa.
4. Encourage Jewish settlers in Palestinian land to move to Israel and to donate their houses to poor Palestinians. Those that would prefer to remain in the settlements must
then be ready to become Palestinian citizens.
5. Re-build the cities that were destroyed in both the West Bank and Gaza. Let the poor Palestinians be somewhat rewarded for the enormous suffering they have gone
through over such a long period.
6. Provide all Palestinians with needed schools and hospitals that would replace those that the Israelis destroyed. Besides, provide such institutions with all needed
material to make them effective.
7. Keep in mind that, while in the Old Testament the Jews were viewed as God’s children who owned Israel, in the New Testament Jesus stated that God’s children were all
believers with Israel belonging to all people, Jews and Gentiles.
The seven steps the Palestinians could take to contribute toward a permanent peace in the Middle East may be enlisted as follows:
1. Avoid taking the initiative to attack Israel. Retaliation always brings negative results. If God behaved toward us same way as we behave toward each other, the human
race would have been exterminated long time ago.
2. Generate positive and constructive energy in such a way that the whole world will unite behind the Palestinian cause. Everyone in the world is convinced of the right
Palestinians have to live in a sovereign state of their own.
3. Use the force of good dialogues and strong diplomacy with all the major countries in the United Nations, especially those in Middle East, to hasten the formation
of two peaceful sovereign states.
4. Encourage your young men and women to study in some of the best colleges and universities in the world as to help create a future generation that would be
capable to work out wonders for the Palestinians.
5. Concentrate on building a strong civilian economy in cooperation with all the surrounding countries, including Israel. The Palestinians understand very well the
importance of securing and retaining peace.
6. Recognize Israel as a sovereign nation as set up by the United Nations in 1948. Since then most of its surrounding nations have proven to be quite hostile, which
forced the Israelis to panic and go to extremities as a result.
7. Pray God daily for a permanent peace in the Middle East. Let us keep in mind the words of Jesus in this regard: “With prayer you can move a mountain.” Prophet
Muhammad brought this statement also to his people.
The seven steps that the Israelis and Palestinians should take together to bring a permanent peace in the Middle East may be enlisted as follows:
1. Making a solemn promise to God that there will never be a war again in the Middle East, as far as the Israelis and the Palestinians are concerned. This may be achieved
through true repentance and genuine mutual forgiveness.
2. The Israelis should create a program of disarmament and arms control in the entire Middle East region. Also, Israel should ask the United Nations to implement a
program leading to the abolition of all nuclear weapons.
3. The Palestinians should promise to create a productive and fully demilitarized nation after the example of Costa Rica that would make Palestine become officially the
“Island of Peace” in this global area.
4. Both countries need to recognize fully each other and establish embassies in their respective territory. They should also work hand in hand to develop the civilian
economy with notable success.
5. The Israelis and the Palestinians should retain the boundaries that were established in 1948, while making Jerusalem, as Pope John Paul II stated, an international city
governed by Jews, Christians and Moslems.
6. Both governments should keep in mind that they do not own the involved territories nor do they own their respective peoples. Their job is to bring a permanent peace
in the region characterized by stability and security.
7. The Israelis and Palestinians could set an example to the world by changing the mission of the military, from a negative agency of destruction to a productive agency
that proves to be beneficial to all people without exception.
Of course, it would not be enough for the Israelis and the Palestinians to establish good and cordial relations. All the nations in the Middle East must demonstrate respect
toward the established sovereignty between these two nations. In fact, all of such nations should establish an embassy of their own in both Israel and Palestine. After all,
these two nations are not just any other two nations. They both occupy the land that has been sacred in the Bible, the land that is linked to great prophets, the land of the
If there should be one global area in the world that is characterized by stability, prosperity, mutual respect, and peace should be the Middle East. All those living in this
region should recognize the fact that they have one common enemy over which they happen to have full control. This enemy’s name is wars of any kind, which could be
controlled through the exercise of such virtues as patience, humility, courage, honesty, perseverance, faith, piety, tolerance and fortitude. The sum total of such virtues may
be described as wisdom.
In conclusion, we may state that the feasibility of peace in the Middle East amounts to a real possibility if all the parties involved in that area were to work on it with deep
faith in God, the exercise of good will, and the determination to eventually succeed by all legitimate means.
| June 4, 2009
Chomsky: What Obama Didn't Say in His Cairo Address Speaks Volumes About His Mideast Policy
by Noam Chomsky, World
The U.S. has played a decisive role in sustaining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obama gave no indication that its role should change.
A CNN headline, reporting Obama's plans for his June 4 address in Cairo, Egypt, reads "Obama looks to reach the soul of the Muslim world." Perhaps that captures his intent, but more significant is the content hidden in the rhetorical stance, or more accurately, omitted.
Keeping just to Israel-Palestine -- there was nothing substantive about anything else -- Obama called on Arabs and Israelis not to "point fingers" at each other or to "see this conflict only from one side or the other."
There is, however, a third side, that of the United States, which has played a decisive role in sustaining the current conflict. Obama gave no indication that its role should change or even be considered.
Those familiar with the history will rationally conclude, then, that Obama will continue in the path of unilateral U.S. rejectionism.
Obama once again praised the Arab Peace Initiative, saying only that Arabs should see it as "an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities." How should the Obama administration see it?
Obama and his advisers are surely aware that the initiative reiterates the longstanding international consensus calling for a two-state settlement on the international (pre-June 1967) border, perhaps with "minor and mutual modifications," to borrow U.S. government usage before it departed sharply from world opinion in the 1970s. That's when the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution backed by the Arab "confrontation states" (Egypt, Iran, Syria), and tacitly by the PLO, with the same essential content as the Arab Peace Initiative, except that the latter goes beyond by calling on Arab states to normalize relations with Israel in the context of this political deal.
Obama has called on the Arab states to proceed with normalization, studiously ignoring, however, the crucial political settlement that is its precondition. The initiative cannot be a "beginning" if the U.S. continues to refuse to accept its core principles, even to acknowledge them.
In the background is the Obama administration's goal, enunciated most clearly by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to forge an alliance of Israel and the "moderate" Arab states against Iran. The term "moderate" has nothing to do with the character of the state, but rather signals its willingness to conform to U.S. demands.
What is Israel to do in return for Arab steps to normalize relations? The strongest position so far enunciated by the Obama administration is that Israel should conform to Phase I of the 2003 Road Map, which states: "Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)." All sides claim to accept the Road Map, overlooking the fact that Israel instantly added 14 reservations that render it inoperable.
Overlooked in the debate over settlements is that even if Israel were to accept Phase I of the Road Map, that would leave in place the entire settlement project that has already been developed, with decisive U.S. support, to ensure that Israel will take over the valuable land within the illegal "separation wall" (including the primary water supplies of the region), as well as the Jordan Valley, thus imprisoning what is left, which is being broken up into cantons by settlement/infrastructure salients extending far to the east.
Unmentioned as well is that Israel is taking over Greater Jerusalem, the site of its major current development programs, displacing many Arabs, so that what remains to Palestinians will be separated from the center of their cultural, economic and sociopolitical life.
Also unmentioned is that all of this is in violation of international law, as conceded by the government of Israel after the 1967 conquest, and reaffirmed by Security Council resolutions and the International Court of Justice. Also unmentioned are Israel's successful operations since 1991 to separate the West Bank from Gaza, since turned into a prison where survival is barely possible, further undermining the hopes for a viable Palestinian state.
It is worth remembering that there has been one break in U.S.-Israeli rejectionism. President Clinton recognized that the terms he had offered at the failed 2000 Camp David meetings were not acceptable to any Palestinians, and in December, proposed his "parameters," vague but more forthcoming. He then announced that both sides had accepted the parameters, although both had reservations.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Taba, Egypt, to iron out the differences, and made considerable progress. A full resolution could have been reached in a few more days, they announced in their final joint press conference. But Israel called off the negotiations prematurely, and they have not been formally resumed. The single exception indicates that if an American president is willing to tolerate a meaningful diplomatic settlement, it can very likely be reached.
It is also worth remembering that the George W. Bush administration went a bit beyond words in objecting to illegal Israeli settlement projects, namely, by withholding U.S. economic support for them. In contrast, Obama administration officials stated that such measures are "not under discussion," and that any pressures on Israel to conform to the Road Map will be "largely symbolic," the New York Times reported (Helene Cooper, June 1).
There is more to say, but it does not relieve the grim picture that Obama has been painting, with a few extra touches in his widely heralded address to the Muslim World in Cairo on June 4.
| June 4, 2009
Morality, Mortality and Immortality
by Bill Ellis
The Gaian paradigm has implications to our belief systems that go beyond a view of the cosmos. They include implications to our ideas of morality, mortality, immortality, as well as
our system of human values. Some people have taken these implications into the sphere of religion. Some see the formation of a new Gaia religion. To others, an understanding of
Gaia supports the values that have governed humanity for eons past. Without taking positions on such speculations we should at least open the dialogue on the degree to which
these scientific notions might influence our pragmatic view of our lives.
For most of the 13.7 billion years that the Cosmos has been in existence, there was no one to ponder the question of to be or not to be. While quarks evolved into atoms, the atoms,
into molecules, and the molecules into cells, consciousness of being did not exist. Each new step of evolution brought new entities and new properties. Only in the evolutionary
phase when brain cells had evolved and created the human mind, did â€śbeingâ€ť -- the property of thought, memory, and consciousness -- emerge. Only in this brief miniscule
submoment of cosmic evolution has the sense of being existed. Only in this small window of time have humans been the source of conscious being and recognized, as Descartes
put it, "Cogito, ergo sum" (I think therefore I am).
So far, I have written about only two aspect of being -- the body and the mind. There is a third aspect. It is more the essence of who we are than the other two. It is more ethereal and
more everlasting. I'm not sure what I should call it. But, for lack of a better word, I'll call it "soul." By soul, I don't mean anything mysterious, mystical, magical, divine, or other worldly.
The soul is the essence, the unique core of our being of who we are. It's who we are more than either our minds or our bodies.
This soul, the true center of one's being, is not easy to circumscribe. It, like the mind and body, evolves. Its evolution ocurs over all time. Not that the past will be embodied in one's
physical and mental being, but from the beginning of time to the end of time what we become involves the whole cosmos. We have a birth date and a death date. But who we
become is already, in part, predetermined by the world around us. The essence of our being -- our soul -- is absorbed over time from the preexisting world of ideas and actions, of
nature and technologies, of awe and wonder, and of the beauty and mystery that exist in, and is, the cosmos. It is the universal cosmic soul. It is similar to the noosphere of Pierre
Teilard de Chardin, the collective unconscious of Carl Jung, the ideosphere of others. It is the totality of the physical, biological, technological, and cultural worlds and more. It is the
the knowledge, the beliefs, the feelings, as well as the written word and the passed on memories of everyone who has ever lived. It is inherited from our ancestors and from the
evolving physical, biological, mental. technological and social spheres.
This cosmic soul has been evolving since the Big Bang. Each step in cosmic evolution has created a new part of the cosmic soul. It includes Mount Fuji, the Johnston flood, the ice
ages, the Crusades, the invention of the computer, and all other happenings. Each individual at birth is enmeshed in the cosmic soul of the time.
A simple example of this idea of soul is that of a flock of birds. The soul of the flock evolves as a unit. It includes migration patterns, eating resources, nesting places, and other
characteristics. The flock follows certain patterns for centuries. Each individual bird live for but a short time. But the memory essence or soul of the flock is passed to new birds as
they hatch, join the flock, participate, and learn by doing. The soul of the flock evolves as it continually finds new opportunities and faces new challenges. Each bird gains its
individual soul and passes its know-how on to other new birds that join. The soul of the flock is passed from individual souls to individual souls, as the flock evolves to meet
contingencies of the time.
Humans likewise are born into the cosmic soul. They are embedded in the essence of all that exists. Who they are to become depends on what they absorb into themselves from all
that is. Each soul is immortal. It is part of the cosmic soul. Everything anyone, makes, writes, says,or does becomes part of the cosmic soul and is everlasting. Shakespeare,
Edison, Einstein, Jesus, Marx, Smith and others are still with us. So is Joe Blow, Anna Finklestein, and other common people. All have left their marks for eternity.
Each act or expressed idea is like dropping a stone in a mill pond. The stone may sink to the bottom never to be seen again. But its ripples spread out and may join other ripples to
produce an overwhelming wave of social transformation. The origins of any act of social change may be lost in the myriad of its sources. Once we recognized this, we are driven to
live a positive, creative life of values -- to be one of the sources of what will become. Whether anyone remembers the name of any one of us, everything we have, said, or written is
part of the evolving cosmic soul.
Each person's soul is formed by every experience and every thought they ever have. It is passed on in the same way. Each "unexpected act of kindness or senseless act of beauty"
makes a ripple like a grain of sand dropped in the cosmic mill pond. Every kind word one utters forms a pebble's ripple that will be passed on. More telling in the cosmic soul will be
some of the memos, papers and posts that are written. They are rocks that make a bit bigger splash, or at least have a guaranteed longer life. Most important are the interactions
among people close one another -- families, friends, and communities. In a person's children, friends an colleagues there is a continual riling of the waters (particularly of the good
stuff). It is passed into the cosmic soul in that it remains real in the future and assures the immortality of everyone who ever lives.
Recognizing the immortality of our souls suggests a new emphasis on morality. Every act, thought or word we utter should be in the context of its impact on the cosmic soul. They
change the cosmic soul as they happen and they will be remembered and they will affect cosmic evolution for ages into the future. They provides us with reason for living. As one
colleague stated it, the new moral imperative is: â€śMake all decision based on whatever promotes the health, competence and adaptive flexibility of oneself and of all the larger
system of which one is a partâ€ť (Gaia) Whether we accept this view of the human or the cosmic soul the Gaian paradigm suggests a view of It does suggest the below value
| June 18, 2009
Help Save the Earth, Time to Subsitute Hemp for Oil
by Dara Colwell, Water
Every man-made fiber we wear, sit on, cook with, drive in, are by-products of the petroleum industry -- all of which could be replaced by hemp.
A low-input, low-impact crop, industrial hemp can play a significant role in our desperate shuffle to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Hemp requires no pesticides; it has deep digging roots that detoxify the soil, making it an ideal rotation crop -- in fact, hemp is so good at bioremediation, or extracting heavy metals from contaminated soil, it's being grown near Chernobyl.
Hemp is also an excellent source of biomass, or renewable, carbon-neutral energy, and its cellulose level, roughly three times that of wood, can be used for paper to avoid cutting down trees, an important line of defense against global warming.
When it comes to hemp, environmental gains are inexorably intertwined with economic ones.
Blending hemp with plastics is not only cheaper for producers, but natural-fiber composites are roughly 30 percent lighter, which in turn leads to greater fuel efficiency for customers.
As biomass, hemp can be converted into fuels such as methane, methanol and gasoline, which can help curb the world's growing appetite for palm oil used to make biodiesel, and which is having a colossally negative environmental impact.
In densely populated Indonesia, companies are draining local peat swamps and clearing virgin tropical forests, home to the endangered orangutan, to make room for palm oil plantations. This alone has resulted in 2 billion tons of carbon-dioxide emissions being released into the atmosphere a year, according to the conservation nonprofit Wetlands International.
The same is happening in Brazil's biodiverse cerrado region south of the Amazon, where sugar cane and soy plantations are replacing native vegetation. Deforestation now accounts for 25 percent of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the Global Canopy Program, an alliance of rainforest scientists based in Oxford, England. Tropical forests are essentially the planet's lungs -- and without lungs, well, it's a no-brainer ...
If all the diesel engines today were converted to use hemp biodiesel, you could wipe out world hunger while providing a natural balance to global warming.
As hemp, which has a short harvesting period (roughly 120 days for seed), grows it sequesters, or captures, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Because biofuels emit less carbon dioxide when burned, more carbon is actually absorbed by the plants used to produce it. So, as more hemp grows, more carbon dioxide would be sucked out of the atmosphere.
As it stands, we can't grow hemp but we can import it, and we do, in the form of clothing, bath towels, rugs, food and car components from Canada, China and Europe, which have utilized the crop to bolster their economies.
And with hemp, there's growing opportunity. Among exciting developments is hempcrete, a generic term for hemp-based building material used to replace concrete. In France, which has grown industrial hemp without interruption, hemp plaster is common due to its high insulation properties.
Hemp can be made into almost any building material, including roofing, flooring, paint, insulation pipes and bricks. In addition, hempcrete tends to be stronger and absorb greater humidity while sequestering carbon dioxide.
| June 17, 2009
Shame: The 'Anti-War' Democrats Who Sold Out
by Jeremy Scahill, World
In a historic vote, only 30 of 256 Democrats stood against $100 billion for more war.
In a vote that should go down in recent histories as a day of shame for the Democrats, on Tuesday the House voted to approve another $106 billion dollars for the bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and increasingly Pakistan). To put a fine point on the interconnection of the iron fist of U.S. militarism and the hidden hand of free market neoliberal economics, the bill included a massive initiative to give the International Monetary Fund billions more in U.S. taxpayer funds.
What once Democrats could argue was "Bush's war," they now officially own. In fact, only five Republicans voted for the supplemental (though overwhelmingly not on the issue of the war funding). Ron Paul, who made clear he was voting against the war, was a notable exception.
This vote has revealed a sobering statistic for the anti-war movement in this country and brought to the surface a broader issue that should give die-hard partisan Democrats who purport to be anti-war reason for serious pause about the actual state of their party. Only 30 Democrats voted against the war funding when it mattered. And these 30 did so in the face of significant threats to their political future from the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That means that only 30 out of 256 Democrats are willing to stand up to the war and the current president presiding over it.
The White House and the Democratic Congressional Leadership played a very dirty game in their effort to ram through the funding. In the crosshairs of the big guns at the White House and on Capitol Hill were anti-war legislators (particularly freshmen), and the movement to hold those responsible for torture accountable.
In funding the wars post-Bush, the Obama White House has been able to rely on strong GOP support to marginalize the anti-war Democrats who pledged back in 2007 to vote against continued funding (as 51 Democrats did in May when the supplemental was first voted on). But the White House ran into trouble on this bill because of Republican opposition to some of the provisions added to the bill (primarily the IMF funding) and one removed (the Graham-Lieberman amendment that would have blocked the release of prisoner abuse photos). This created a situation where the White House and pro-war Democrats actually need a fair number of anti-war Democrats (whose votes seldom matter this much) to switch sides and vote with them. That is why this battle was so important for the anti-war movement.
What repelled the Republicans from a vote to fund the war was hardly a sudden conversion to pacifism (in fact, their position was hypocritical). It was largely when the White House and Congressional Democratic leadership added a provision to the bill that will extend up to $100 billion in credits to the International Monetary Fund. This sent many Republicans to the microphones to denounce the funding as a "global bailout" and will undoubtedly be used as a campaign issue in 2010 to attack the Democrats who voted for the spending bill. For its part, the Democratic leadership, in trying to win Democratic support, portrayed the IMF funding as a progressive policy.
The IMF has been a destabilizing force in many countries across the globe through its austerity measures and structural adjustment schemes. Remember, it was the policies of the IMF and its cohorts at the World Bank and World Trade Organizations that sparked global uprisings in the 1990s.
Thankfully, at least a handful of Democrats seemed to understand the atrocious role the IMF has played and tried (unsuccessfully) to impose rules on the funding that would have confronted the IMF’s austerity measures by requiring that “the funds allocated by Congress for global stimulus are used for stimulatory, and not contractionary, purposes.”
In urging their colleagues to oppose the war funding and the IMF funding, Kucinich and California's Bob Filner sent a Dear Colleague letter, which stated: "The IMF has a long history of placing economic conditions on countries receiving loans that have actually damaged, rather than stimulated, those economies, and its policies have not changed enough to warrant support." They charged that the IMF funding "would be used to bail out private European banks with U.S. taxpayer money." In addition to the military and IMF funding, the bill also provides $10.4 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and $7.7 billion for "Pandemic Flu Response."
Under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Democratic-controlled Congress has been a house of war. Unfortunately, it is not a house where the war is one of noble Democrats fighting for peace, freedom and democracy against the evil, belligerent Republicans as they advocate and implement policies of preemptive war, torture and the violation of civil liberties. Instead, it is a house void of substantive opposition to the ever-expanding war begun under Bush and escalating under Obama.
| June 8, 2009
119 Million Americans Want a Public Health Option -- Why Aren't Politicians Listening?
by Robert Parry, Health and Wellness, Consortium News
Rarely has an issue more dramatically highlighted the question of whether our government represents the people's interests or an industry's.
As the health insurance industry and its defenders in Congress lay out their case against permitting a public option in a reform bill, perhaps their most curious argument is that some 119 million Americans are ready to dump their private plans and jump to something more like Medicare – and that's why the choice can't be permitted.
In other words, the industry and its backers are acknowledging that more than one-third of the American people are so dissatisfied with their private health insurance that they trust the U.S. government to give them a fairer shake on health care. The industry says its allies in Congress must prevent that.
Rarely has an argument more dramatically highlighted the philosophical question of whether in a democracy, the government should represent the people's interests or an industry's.
The counter-argument, of course, might be that if the health insurance industry hadn't dissatisfied so many customers – indeed forcing many sick people into bankruptcy because of excessive fees, denial of coverage and gaps in permitted medical treatments – there wouldn't be so many Americans eager for a public option.
So, now to protect the health insurance industry, Congress must stop 119 million Americans from leaping into the arms of a government plan.
On the other hand, the health insurance industry appears about as popular with Americans as the tobacco industry, with both considered highly hazardous to your health. Except that Americans can choose not to smoke, while they run enormous risks for themselves and their families if they don't have some form of health insurance.
Health insurance companies do negotiate rates with hospitals and doctors that are far below what is charged to people who don't have insurance, sometimes as low as one-tenth what the uninsured patient might be charged.
These disparities, in effect, force many Americans to sign up for private insurance even if the insurance fees are excessive, padded with handsome profits for investors and unproductive bureaucratic costs (including investigations into whether people can be denied payments because of undisclosed "preexisting conditions").
If the health insurance industry had its way, Congress would produce a bill that simply required Americans (or their employers) to buy health insurance from private industry. That way, the government would compel citizens to become customers while denying them a choice of the public plan.
To avoid such an outcome, proponents of the public option – including those 119 million Americans who are ready to sign up – will have to overcome opposition from Republicans and some Democrats who are determined to protect the interests of the private health insurance industry.
| June 12, 2009
Who Are the Shadow Warriors? Countries Are Getting Hit by Major Military Attacks, and No One Is Taking Credit
by Conn Hallinan, World
In Syria, Sudan and elsewhere there have been violent attacks that no country has claimed responsibility for. A dark new trend in warfare.
Sudan: The two F-16s caught the trucks deep in the northern desert. Within minutes, the column of vehicles was a string of shattered wrecks burning fiercely in the January sun. Surveillance drones spotted a few vehicles that had survived the storm of bombs and cannon shells, and the fighter-bombers returned to finish the job.
Syria: Four Blackhawk helicopters skimmed across the Iraqi border, landing at a small farmhouse near the town of al-Sukkariyeh. Black-clad soldiers poured from the choppers, laying down a withering hail of automatic weapons fire. When the shooting stopped, eight Syrians lay dead on the ground. Four others, cuffed and blindfolded, were dragged to the helicopters, which vanished back into Iraq.
Pakistan: a group of villagers were sipping tea in a courtyard when the world exploded. The Hellfire missiles seemed to come out of nowhere, scattering pieces of their victims across the village and demolishing several houses. Between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, 60 such attacks took place. They killed 14 wanted al-Qaeda members along with 687 civilians.
In each of the above incidents, no country took responsibility or claimed credit. There were no sharp exchanges of diplomatic notes before the attacks, just sudden death and mayhem.
War without Declaration
The F-16s were Israeli, their target an alleged shipment of arms headed for the Gaza Strip. The Blackhawk soldiers were likely from Task Force 88, an ultra-secret U.S. Special Forces group. The Pakistanis were victims of a Predator drone directed from an airbase in southern Nevada.
Each attack was an act of war and drew angry responses from the country whose sovereignty was violated. But since no one admitted carrying them out, the diplomatic protests had no place to go.
The "privatization" of war, with its use of armed mercenaries, has come under heavy scrutiny, especially since a 2007 incident in Baghdad in which guards from Blackwater USA (now Xe) went on a shooting spree, killing 17 Iraqis and wounding scores of others. But the "covertization" of war has remained largely in the shadows. The attackers in the Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan were not private contractors, but U.S. and Israeli soldiers.
In the past, war was an extension of a nation's politics "too important," as World War I French Premier Georges Clemenceau commented, "to be left to the generals."
But increasingly, the control of war is slipping away from the civilians in whose name and interests it is supposedly waged. While the "privatization" of war has frustrated the process of congressional oversight, its "covertization" has hidden war behind a wall of silence or denial.
"Congress has been very passive in relation to its own authority with regard to warmaking," says Princeton international law scholar Richard Falk. "Congress hasn't been willing to insist that the government adhere to international law and the U.S. Constitution."
| June 10, 2009
Why My Vasectomy Will Help Save the Earth's Resources
by Matt Leonard, Sex and relationships
Matt works at Rainforest Action Network, working to reconcile “economy” with “ecology.” His spare time is spent with the Bay Rising affinity group, climbing rocks and listening to obscure punk bands.
Matt Leonard lives in San Francisco, where he works on climate justice and energy issues, rock climbs, rides his bike, and eats yummy vegan food. He currently works with Greenpeace and Rising Tide North America.
Matt Leonard lives in San Francisco, where he likes to ride his bike, climb rocks, play soccer, wrestle with dogs, eat yummy vegan food, and find ways to constructively challenge the social and ecological destruction that our profit-obsessed economy presents us with. He currently spends his time working with Greenpeace US and Rising Tide North America.
Originally from Seattle, he has also worked with Rainforest Action Network, Direct Action To Stop the War, and The Ruckus Society.
He can be reached at email@example.com
Any child I had would have been raised here and would consume (despite my best efforts) far more resources than I am comfortable accepting.
Last year, I became castrated impotent sterile. That is, I had a vasectomy. While it's actually a very common procedure (nearly 500,000 are performed every year in the US), it raises eyebrows -- and a lot of questions.
The first one is always simply: Why?
Although this was a very personal decision for me, it was also a choice I made out of larger societal, political, and environmental motivations. I consider the environmental ones paramount. In an economic system that demands infinite growth with finite resources, not doubling my own consumption is one small stone in a big river.
More importantly, I live in the US, and any child I had would have been raised here and would consume (despite my best efforts) far more resources than I am comfortable accepting. Living even a modest lifestyle in the US comes as a direct result of the oppression, domination, and deaths of many unseen people, not to mention the exploitation of natural resources at rates that threaten the ability of our planet to sustain life. These facts shouldn't be cause for guilt or shame; instead, they should spur us to organize to confront the systems and institutions that have created these problems. On a personal level, contributing another person to the system that I have spent my adult life fighting is just not something I'm willing to do.
The next question is usually: But what if you change your mind?
I view my decision as permanent. As I see it, I already made the decision years ago not to have children, based on sound, rational reasons. If I change my mind in the future, I believe that change would be fundamentally selfish, and I am comfortable committing myself to rational reasons now.
People typically follow up with: Aren't there other forms of birth control?
Yes, of course, and most of us here in the US are lucky to be able to choose the form that is best for our lifestyles, our preferences, and our relationships. A vasectomy fit my needs best.
I guess there's always abstinence, but that's no fun, right? I suppose the rhythm method is an option, but almost everyone knows how (in)effective that is. Condoms are fine and dandy in many situations, but they have their downsides as well, and can seem pointless if you are in a monogamous relationship.
All the other common birth control methods have one aspect in common: They place the onus on women. Not only does our society expect women to deal with the logistics of birth control, but these methods also have severe physiological drawbacks, from roller-coaster hormonal changes to intensifying menstruation cycles to weight and skin changes. Although these methods have come a long way in a few decades, they still burden women and their bodies. Is it any coincidence that in a male-dominated society, the medical establishment has thus far focused on birth control methods that leave the burden solely on women?
For men, vasectomies are simple. There are almost no side effects and no long-term impacts; it's a quick, low-cost, outpatient procedure. Having decided that I want to take an active role in birth control, a vasectomy is fair, easy, and it confronts my privilege on this issue.
What if you decide you want children in the future? people ask.
Many of my friends whom I deeply respect have chosen to have children or will do so in the future. Some people do feel that there is something special and important about having a blood-related child. I just don't share that feeling.
There are thousands of beautiful children all over the world who need parents, and if I ever decide that being a father is something I want in my life, I would be remiss to ignore the existing children needing support and love. For me, adoption is the best option. We need more parents in this world, not more kids.
Finally, But don't we need the smart, progressive people to reproduce?
I'm of the nurture-over-nature camp. I think the whole "passing on genes" obsession can sometimes border on eugenics. I'm fairly confident there is no gene that instructs your child to fight for justice, peace, and sustainability. That comes from living those values and instilling them in the communities we are a part of. That's what I want to prioritize in my life -- and I feel I can share those things more effectively without a child.
And besides -- I've got messed-up teeth, I'm legally blind, bald, and have a history of heart disease. Let Matt Damon pass on his genes instead.
| June 12, 2009
Peak Oil Is for Real: The Era of Cheap Oil Is Officially Over
by Michael T. Klare, Environment
The era of plentiful oil is drawing to a close, and a new era of economic peril, rising starvation and environmental disaster is born.
Every summer, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy issues its International Energy Outlook (IEO) -- a jam-packed compendium of data and analysis on the evolving world energy equation. For those with the background to interpret its key statistical findings, the release of the IEO can provide a unique opportunity to gauge important shifts in global energy trends.
As it happens, the recent release of the 2009 IEO has provided energy watchers with a feast of significant revelations. By far the most significant disclosure: the IEO predicts a sharp drop in projected future world oil output (compared to previous expectations) and a corresponding increase in reliance on what are called "unconventional fuels" -- oil sands, ultra-deep oil, shale oil, and biofuels.
Almost as notable, when it comes to news, the 2009 report highlights Asia's insatiable demand for energy and suggests that China is moving ever closer to the point at which it will overtake the United States as the world's number one energy consumer. Clearly, a new era of cutthroat energy competition is upon us.
Very simply, it indicates that the usually optimistic analysts at the Department of Energy now believe global fuel supplies will simply not be able to keep pace with rising world energy demands. For years now, assorted petroleum geologists and other energy types have been warning that world oil output is approaching a maximum sustainable daily level -- a peak -- and will subsequently go into decline, possibly producing global economic chaos. Whatever the timing of the arrival of peak oil's actual peak, there is growing agreement that we have, at last, made it into peak-oil territory, if not yet to the moment of irreversible decline.
But for an expansion on this scale to occur, whole new industries will have to be created to manufacture such fuels at a cost of several trillion dollars. This undertaking, in turn, is provoking a wide-ranging debate over the environmental consequences of producing such fuels.
For example, any significant increase in biofuels use -- assuming such fuels were produced by chemical means rather than, as now, by cooking -- could substantially reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, actually slowing the tempo of future climate change. On the other hand, any increase in the production of Canadian oil sands, Venezuelan extra-heavy oil, and Rocky Mountain shale oil will entail energy-intensive activities at staggering levels, sure to emit vast amounts of CO2, which might more than cancel out any gains from the biofuels.
Canada is becoming increasingly important as the world's leading producer of oil sands, or bitumen -- a thick, gooey, viscous material that must be dug out of the ground and treated in various energy-intensive ways before it can be converted into synthetic petroleum fuel (synfuel). According to the IEO report, oil sands production, now at 1.3 million barrels a day and barely profitable, could hit the 4.4 million barrel mark (or even, according to the most optimistic scenarios, 6.5 million barrels) by 2030.
Given the IEA's new projections, this would represent an extraordinary addition to global energy supplies just when key sources of conventional oil in places like Mexico and the North Sea are expected to suffer severe declines. The extraction of oil sands, however, could prove a pollution disaster of the first order. For one thing, remarkable infusions of old-style energy are needed to extract this new energy, huge forest tracts would have to be cleared, and vast quantities of water used for the steam necessary to dislodge the buried goo (just as the equivalent of "peak water" may be arriving).
What this means is that the accelerated production of oil sands is sure to be linked to environmental despoliation, pollution, and global warming. There is considerable doubt that Canadian officials and the general public will, in the end, be willing to pay the economic and environmental price involved. In other words, whatever the IEA may project now, no one can know whether synfuels will really be available in the necessary quantities 15 or 20 years down the road.
Venezuela has long been an important source of crude oil for the United States, generating much of the revenue used by President Hugo Chávez to sustain his social experiments at home and an ambitious anti-American political agenda abroad. In the coming years, however, its production of conventional petroleum is expected to fall, leaving the country increasingly reliant on the exploitation of large deposits of bitumen in the eastern Orinoco River basin. Just to develop these "extra-heavy oil" deposits will require significant financial and energy investments and, as with Canadian oil sands, the environmental impact could be devastating. Nevertheless, successful development of these deposits could prove an economic bonanza for Venezuela.
The big winner in these grim energy sweepstakes, however, is likely to be Brazil. Already a major producer of ethanol, it is expected to see a huge increase in unconventional oil output once its new ultra-deep fields in the "subsalt" Campos and Santos basins come on-line. These are massive offshore oil deposits buried beneath thick layers of salt some 100 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro and several miles beneath the ocean's surface.
When the substantial technical challenges to exploiting these undersea fields are overcome, Brazil's output could soar by as much as three million barrels per day. By 2030, Brazil should be a major player in the world energy equation, having succeeded Venezuela as South America's leading petroleum producer.
The global energy equation is changing rapidly, and with it is likely to come great power competition, economic peril, rising starvation, growing unrest, environmental disaster, and shrinking energy supplies, no matter what steps are taken. No doubt the 2010 edition of the report and those that follow will reveal far more, but the new trends in energy on the planet are already increasingly evident -- and unsettling.
| June 2, 2009
|| World's Next Big Climate Pact Begins to Take Shape
by Peter N. Spotts, Environment
This week, negotiators from 182 countries meet in Bonn, Germany to lay the groundwork for a post-Kyoto climate regime.
A two-year march toward a new treaty to combat global warming is pausing briefly in Bonn to give negotiators from 182 countries their first crack at tackling a rough draft of an agreement.
Despite differences over some difficult issues, there is cautious optimism that negotiators could make progress especially now that the US is playing what many see as a more constructive role than it did under the Bush administration.
Over the next two weeks, country representatives will debate and overhaul as much of a 53-page "negotiating text" as they can to get a draft pact ready for government ministers to consider in December at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) annual "conference of the parties" in Copenhagen.
The ultimate goal is to produce a new agreement that will cover developing as well as developed countries and will pick up where 1997 Kyoto Protocol leaves off. The protocol's first -- and so far, only – enforcement period ends in 2012. The protocol, which formally took force last year, calls on industrial countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a combined average of 5.5 percent below 1990 levels.
Then, it must be clear on what major developing countries -- China, India, Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa -- will do to limit the growth of their emissions. It must be clear about providing stable and predictable sources of money for adaptation measures in the developing world and for aid in buying the green technologies that will help those countries meet their emissions goals. And it must be clear on how the financial institutions that provide that money will be governed.
Developing countries argue that they have no representatives on the governing boards of any of the climate-related funding agencies currently set up to serve them.
So far, the goal has been to put emissions on a path that would limit the average rise in global temperatures to about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by century's end. Based on the 2007 reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that amount of warming implies stabilizing greenhouse-gas concentrations at 450 parts per million (ppm). But some atmospheric researchers have since argued that to avoid dangerous human effect on climate, emissions must be stabilized at or below 350 ppm. Currently, the concentration of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse-gas posing the biggest concern, stands at 387 ppm.
| May 28, 2009
It's Time to Come Clean: New Yorkers Are Plugged in to Our Country's Dirtiest Source of Power
by Jeff Biggers, Environment
More than 240,000 tons of coal stripmined through mountaintop removal operations are consumed by New Yorkers every year.
More than 240,000 tons of coal stripmined through mountaintop removal operations are consumed by New Yorkers every year. Thirteen power plants in 11 counties burn mountaintop removal coal. And every day in the lush green coalfields of the central Appalachian mountains, at least three million pounds of ammonium nitrate and fuel-oil explosives are detonated to blow off the tops of mountains and topple the rocks and waste into valleys and streams.
Mountaintop removal coal, which provides less than 7 percent of all coal production in the United States, could easily be replaced with underground coal or energy efficiency initiatives, or renewable energy sources.
The first step in this process in the 21st century is for New York to end its use of mountaintop removal coal, and allow Appalachia's true cultural legacies to rise again.
| May 26, 2009
Why Obama Should Take Notes from Cuba on a Green Energy Revolution
by Peter Bosshard, Environment
Cuba has successfully greened its energy sector over the last few years, and is now exporting its energy revolution.
In 2006, the government responded to the power crisis by launching its "Revolución Energética." "We are not waiting for fuel to fall from the sky," Fidel Castro said at the time, "because we have discovered, fortunately, something much more important: energy conservation, which is like finding a great oil deposit."
It mobilized consumers to replace more than 9 million incandescent light bulbs – almost 100% of the bulbs used in the country -- with compact fluorescents within six months. Under the utility’s program, more than 2 million energy-efficient refrigerators, 1 million fans, 182,000 air conditioners and 260,000 water pumps were sold.
The country’s 13,000 social workers contributed to the revolution by visiting homes, exchanging light bulbs, and educating consumers about energy conservation.
Where education is not sufficient, a revised tariff structure strongly discourages wasteful consumption. If consumers use less than 100 kWh of electricity per month, they pay the very low lifeline tariff of 0.4 US cents/kWh. The rate rises steeply with consumption, and reaches 5.4 US cents/kWh for consumers using more than 300 kWh per month.
To ramp up generation, the government built two wind farms and is currently installing 100 additional wind measuring stations. It also built a grid-connected solar electric plant and 180 micro-hydro power plants, and expanded the capacity of the country’s biogas facilities (mainly in the sugar sector).
Cuba has promoted renewable energy for off-grid electrification for many years. In the meantime, 8000 solar electric systems have been installed to electrify all schools, health clinics and social centers in the country, and many residential buildings. Cuba is adding 300 biogas plants which are based on animal waste this year, and plans to electrify the remaining 100,000 houses that have no access to electricity with renewable energy.
Finally, Cuba tackled the transmission losses by upgrading transmission cables, electrical posts and meters. By installing close to 2,000 diesel- and fuel-based micro-power plants, the country also eliminated the need for transmission to many communities altogether.
In the US, the clean energy act is phasing out most incandescent light bulbs within a period of more than six years. Cuba managed to take this step in just six months.
The Editor of the Global Information Media is now accepting articles, letters, reports, research papers, discussions and global dialogues, and messages for publication.
This Media is a way to communicate workable sound solutions to problems arising in the
world. Let us share our problems and workable sound solutions. Sharing information is a necessity to all life and humanity's
survival. Our world is changing fast before our eyes, and we must react quickly and hard to protect all life on Earth. No hesitation! Right now and no waiting! Life on the planet is our first priority. We must protect it at all costs. We, global
citizens, fight to protect life on Earth for this generation and the next ones. We are the defenders of the environment and the global life-support systems. We know who the beasts are, and how they destroy the living on our planet.
We have rallied together all over the world to protect our home, Earth. But this time we are not alone. We know it all! We know how everything works. And we will do whatever it takes to protect life on Earth.
"We the Peoples
", the Global Community, are the Earth revolutionaries, and we will protect life on Earth at all costs.
This is the main index for the Global Information Media (GIM)
concerning activities of the Global Community
GIM was organized with more than sixty sections. Each section allows everyone to participate in the Global Dialogue. You pick an issue, and you participate. All sections may contain any
of the following information: abstracts, research papers, notes, outlines, videos and other works of art, posters, articles, letters, press releases, reports, and newsletters.
They may also contain discussions, global dialogues, brain-storming exercises on issues, or just email messages from interested participants and groups.
We are delighted to receive new articles for future Newsletters from our readers.
It is imperative that, if you give us
permission to re-print, all or in part, you
include all copyright verification of permission
of quote. We do not have a copyright
research expert to do this work.
Just so you all know we don't pay anyone, and we don't pay expenses. We do volunteer work for humanity. We expect volunteers to be
responsible and accountable of all their actions. We do soft activism work. The Global Constitution shows us how to operate our organization. We follow Global Law as
shown in the Global Constitution. All those who do volunteer
work for us must become familliar with it and become 'global citizens'. We want our volunteers to be completely loyal to the Global Community and to the values and principles we
The world is in a state of perpetual turmoil. We are worlds within worlds orbiting in and through each other’s space.
Our interactions with one another can be planned and executed in a caring, considerate manner so that all may exist and not destroy the other.
A good place to start this day would be to see the people living in far away places as we see our neighbors. Neighbors are people we should see as people very much like ourselves. Love your neighbors as yourself.
Many scientists have shown that our genetic make-up as human beings are not that much different than that of many other life-forms. The reality is that we as people are not that
much different from one another. Our education and upbringings are different and created cultural and religious differences. Conflicts originate often because of these cultural and religious differences.
My teaching for the day is to make the effort to understand what make us different from one another and find a way to appreciate those differences.
We also have to make the effort of understanding other life-forms in Nature and appreciate the differences.
Because of brain capacity, we dont expect other life-forms of understanding us, but we do have a moral responsibility of understanding them and appreciate the differences.
God loves diversity in Nature and in Souls. God loves good Souls from all cultures and religions, and from all life. Yes there is a Soul in every living life-form and God
loves them too.
Spiritual Leader of the Global Community
You may use the following short description of myself and the history of the organization.
Short description and history of the Global Community, Earth Government and the Federation of Global Govewrnments
The Global Community organization, Earth Government and the
Federation of Global Governments were founded in 1985 in Calgary, Canada by
Germain Dufour, Prophete of God, Spiritual Leader and President, and further developed
through Global Parliament meetings.
Later on in 1990s he was joined by his wife, Virginie, in the developing of many global concepts.
Symbiotical relationships were defined to show the path for a better world.
The Federation was formed to replace the United Nations. Its basic
proposal is a de-centralized global government. A Global
Government offers essential services to the people where it operates and
the Federation main function is to serve all people and help in this process
with the formation of Global Ministries to protect all life on our planet.
Essential services to the people of each member nation are now the most
important global rights on the Scale of Global Rights and are protected by the
Global Protection Agency (GPA) of each member nation whose function is
to enforce Global Law as defined in the Global Constitution. The Scale
is the fundamental guide to Global Law which itself includes
legislation covering all essential aspects of human activities. That is how we will bring
about the event of Peace amongst us all and give security to all people, all life on Earth.
As a first step to getting help, all nations can and should approve those first three sections on the Scale of Global Rights.
The approval would supersede the political and physical borders of participating member nations.
The Global Protection Agency (GPA) would have the approval from all member nations to give immediate help, bypassing normal government protocols.
Somewhat like an emergency unit but at the global level. That is what those first three sections mean. They represent an efficient and immediate emergency response to help.
First, participating member nations need to give their approval to the Global Protection Agency
The GPA is a global organization much like the World Trade Organization (WTO) for trade between nations, the World Health Organization (WHO) for health,
or the European Union, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), South American Community of Nations (SACON) for trade and economics.
The GPA offers an efficient emergency response to help.
The GPA is a short term solution, an immediate and efficient response to help.
There are also long term solutions. As with the short term solution, the most significant long term solution is also related to
the Scale of Global Rights. The Scale was entrenched in the Global Constitution and is thus the fundamental guide to Global Law.
Now the Scale of Global Rights is a long term solution and is also a part of the Global Movement to Help of the Global Community.
The Scale was designed to help all life on Earth. What would be preferable is that nations unite amongst themselves to help.
Over time, we have seen the creation of the United Nations, the European
Union, the South American Community of Nations, and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Except for the UN, these organizations are mainly concerned with trade and economics.
The Global Community offers a more meaningful union in the form of nine or more Global Governments. For instance the South American Community of Nations can be
a Global Government by simply accepting the Global Constitution as a way of dealing between member nations. A Global Government is concerned not only with economics and trade,
but also with the environment, health, agriculture, energy, food, social, cultural and many other essential aspects.
The Federation of Global Governments
is the place of meeting between Global Governments.
The very first step of the Federation, and maybe the only one for several decades ahead of us, would be the approval of essential services amongst the participating member nations. The Global
Community has researched and developed such services and listed them here.
All of them are already in operation on a small scale.
that there is no greater task in the world today than for the Global Community
to proceed through the maturation of its leadership, emerging from a more
self-interested adolescence as a global leader into a nobler adulthood.
We have the potential to act as a torchbearer for a better tomorrow. Do
we heed the call? I hope this message has convinced many international organizations and the millions of people who have been with us over the past decades,
that the question of how to proceed with that maturation is of far deeper
significance than the reforming of the United Nations.
In fact the United Nations should not be reformed it should be replaced by the Federation.
I thus pray that
we move with wisdom, grace, clarity, and love in the days, years, and even
Spiritual Leader of the Global Community
Federation of Global Governments
Our policy concerning personal information is simple: we dont show it. That includes phone numbers, fax numbers, addresses and any personal notes.
Please do indicate what you consider a personal note as sometime it is hard to tell.
What we show is the work done by participants and authors, and their email addresses if any. We will show any work concerning issues, email discussions,
opinions, articles, letters, reports, works of art, research papers, discussions and global dialogues, and messages for publication.
And also please note that our computer harddrives will not be containing personal info either. This is because of the damage hackers can do.
On and around May 26, 2009, millions of people will join together in a global call to celebrate Life, the gift to the universe from God.
Celebration of Life Day
is May 26 every year, a day to say
thank you God for the gift of Life on Earth
On May 26, 2009, the Global Community asked all Peoples of the world to participate in this celebration of Life in your own community. The following project
was appropriate to everyone.
From the experience in your life and local community tell us:
* Why are you important to this "Global
* Why is it important to you?
* What do you like about it?
* What bothers you about it?
* Anything need to be done?
* What is really good there?
* What is very very important?
* What is not so important?
* What is not good?
* What is needed to keep the good things?
* What could make them even better?
* What could you do to keep the good things good?
* Could they help get rid of bad things?
* What unimportant things need to go?
* How could you help get rid of these things?
to sustain Earth, humanity and all life.
Please send us the following information:
1. What are the most important issues that would allow your community become more sustainable? Over the past several years, many communities have held Life Day
dialogues to determine the answer to this question. We look forward to hearing from all of you.
2. A brief story of success in your community from the last 10 years in regard to a sound sustainable development.
3. A picture related to the above or to a Life Day
4. A sample of your idea of the Earth Flag
We will gather this information from groups all over the world and
compile it into a comprehensive report. Your work will be shown during Global Dialogue 2009.
Please mail or email your ideas, pictures and descriptions, videos, Earth Flag samples to:
Spiritual Leader of the Global Community
Federation of Global Governments
Visit our website for more details concerning the Celebration of Life Day.
Celebration of Life Day
On May 26, as part of the Global Community Peace Movement, the Human Family,we will be rejoicing with
all Peoples of the world , and all life, for the annual Celebration of Life Day. Life is the most precious gift ever
given by God to the universe and this event needs to be celebrated.
At the early stage of the formation of the Earth, and a while later, all the conditions for the formation of life were present, and
created to better serve God. Life was made of matter and every particle of that matter had a Soul that merged with all the others. A
Soul is a part of the Spirit of God, His consciousness, and is a living, loving presence, a Being. A Soul can merge with other Souls
and become one Soul, and it can evolve as well. The first spark of life was the cause for the formation of a unique and independent
Soul to better serve God. Throughout the different evolutionary stages of life on Earth, Souls have guided the step-by-step
evolution of life and kept merging with one another to better serve God. They guided the evolutionary process in small, incremental
ways over a period of several billion years. Many groupings of Souls became more complex than others as they were much brighter
beings than other groupings, but all serve God in their own special way.
One unique and most wonderful grouping was the grouping that made the Human Soul. God loves the human Souls a lot because of
their wonderful qualities. Over the past thousands of years, through their Souls human beings became conscious of God in many
different ways. Religions of all kinds started to spread on Earth to adore God and pray. Different groupings of Souls affected human
beings in different ways and Peoples today have different religious beliefs. God is like a river feeding plentifully and bountifully
all lifeforms and plants. There are many pathways leading to the river. They are God's pathways. God loves diversity in Nature and
in Souls. God loves good Souls from all religions.
Different religions have different ways to love, adore and pray to God. And God's Heaven exists. Heaven on Earth is different from
God's Heaven. To be in Heaven with God will mean a Soul has left the matter of the universe forever to enter God's Heaven.
The Divine Will or Will of God is the most powerful force of the universe and is pure spiritual energy. The Will
of God is for life to reach God, God’s Pure Light, in the best possible ways. Life is the building block through which Souls
can have a meaningful relationship with God. By observing the Universe, the galaxies, we are observing and studying God. We are
seeing His magnificence, His greatness, and His complex making. There is more to the Universe we observe today, that is, there is
more to God, much more. God is self-existent, eternal and infinite in space and time. Follow God's Word. God's Plan was revealed
to humanity a short while ago.
The Divine Plan for humanity is:
a) for everyone to manage Earth responsibly, and
b) about to reach the stars and spread Life throughout the universe and thus help other Souls to evolve and serve God in the best
Humanity’s higher purpose is to serve God by propagating life throughout the universe. Humanity will evolve spiritually to
fulfill God's Plan. The human species has reached a point in its evolution where it knows its survival is being challenged. The human
species knows through the Souls and now that all human Souls have merged together and formed the Soul of Humanity, we
will find it easier to fight for our own survival. The Soul of Humanity does not make decisions for us and can only help us
understand and guide us on the way. In the past, human beings have had some kind of symbiotical relationship
something common in Nature between lifeforms in an ecosystem) with the Souls, and now with the Soul of Humanity. We work
together for both our survival and well-being. Cooperation and symbiosis between lifeforms (especially human beings) on Earth
and between lifeforms and their Souls and the Soul of Humanity have become a necessity of life. We help one another, joint
forces, and accomplish together what we cannot accomplish separately. Several billion years ago this symbiosis between matter
and Souls resulted in the making of complex biochemical systems. Symbiosis has worked throughout the evolution of life on Earth
and today, the Soul of Humanity has decided to be more active with humanity by purifying Souls. The Soul of Humanity shows us
the way to better serve God.
The Soul of Humanity is helping to bring about the event of Peace in the world. Knowing that Earth is a spiritual entity as
well as a physical entity in space and time in the universe we begin to have a better relationship with Earth and with all its
living inhabitants. This way Earth management will become a spiritual and a natural process whereby each person is responsible and
accountable for its management the best they can. Peace in the world and Earth management have for too long been in the hands of
and affected by government and business leaders, in the hands of a few people on the planet, as opposed to being in the hands of
all of us (7 billion people on Earth) working together to keep our planet healthy. We are the keepers of the Earth.
The Soul of Humanity will help us:
* resolve problems, concerns and issues peacefully;
* reinstate the respect for Earth;
* work with humanity to keep Earth healthy, productive and hospitable for all people and living things;
* bring forth a sustainable global society embracing universal values related to human and Earth rights, economic and social justice;
respect of nature, peace, responsibility to one another;
* protect the global life-support systems and manage Earth;
* evolve spiritually to fulfill God’s Plan; and
* enter God’s Heaven, His Spirit, His Pure Light, His universal mind and global consciousness.
We have the responsibility of managing Earth. Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of life within
Community. When there is a need to find a solution to a problem or a concern, a sound solution would be to choose a measure or
conduct an action, if possible, which causes reversible damage as oppose to a measure or an action causing an irreversible loss.
Life exists on millions of other planets in the universe and our species got to be who we are today through the evolutionary process.
Other lifeforms in the universe may have evolved to be at least as advanced as our species. Their Souls may even be more complicated
than ours. They may have merged a trillion times more than the human Souls. They may have evolved as well.
We the Peoples of the Global Community, the Human Family, are reaffirming faith in the fundamental human and Earth
rights, the Scale of Human and Earth Rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small. We
the Peoples implies every individual on Earth, every community and every nation. Earth management is now a priority and a
duty of every responsible person on Earth. The Global Community has taken action by calling the Divine Will into our lives and following its
guidance. Divine Will is now a part of the Soul of Humanity to be used for the higher purpose of good and life's evolution.
We will learn to serve humanity and radiate the Will of God to others.
As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning. This requires a change of mind and heart, and calling
Divine Will to come into our life to show us the way. It requires a new sense of global interdependence and universal responsibility.
We must develop and apply the vision of a sustainable way of life locally, nationally, regionally, globally, and within ourselves
throughout life. Our cultural diversity is a precious heritage and different cultures will find their own distinctive ways to
realize the vision. We must deepen and expand the global dialogue that generated the ongoing collaborative search for truth and
Life often involves tensions between important values. This can mean difficult choices. However, we must find ways to harmonize
diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals. Every individual,
family, organization, and community has a vital role to play. The arts, sciences, religions, educational institutions, media,
businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and governments are all called to offer creative leadership. The partnership of
civil society, and business is essential for an effective global governance based on global concepts and the Scale of Human
and Earth Rights.
In order to build a sustainable global community, each individual, each local community, and national governments of the world must
initiate their commitment to the Human Family.
Let our time be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the
quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life. Let our expanding consciousness blend with
that of the Soul of Humanity.
Humanity welcomes the
"Belief, Values, Principles and Aspirations of the Global Community"
(see the Global Constitution on our website) with Faith in the Divine Will and without fears such as the fear of
change. Humanity seeks meaningful experiences and embraces the future for the better. Divine Will has caused the event of the Global Community.
Our time is the age of global cooperation and symbiotical relationships. There are many different kinds
of symbiotical relationships. Symbiotical relationships exist between nations of the European Union. It is mainly an economic base
symbiotical relationship. Other types of symbiotical relationships maybe created all over the world between communities, nations,
and between people themselves. The Global Community, the Global Governments Federation, and the Global Government of North America are examples.
They may be geographical, economical, social, business-like, political, religious, and personal.
There has always been symbiotical relationships in Nature, and between Souls and the matter of the universe to help creating Earth
and life on Earth to better serve God.
The Global Community has begun to establish the existence of a meaningful global co-operation all over the planet. National governments and
large corporations have taken the wrong direction by asserting that free trade in the world is about competing economically without
any moral safeguards and accountability to peoples and the environment. The proper and only way is for free trade to become a global
cooperation between all nations. Surely, if we can cooperate in fighting against terrorism, then we should also be able to
cooperate in fighting against the effects of the type of free trade and the emergence of the planetary trading blocks as applied
by national governments members of the World Trade Organization(WTO). It has already been shown (see Newsletters on
our website) that these effects will be disastrous socially and environmentally and are a direct threat to the existence of life
on Earth. The Global Community is proposing a solution that the process of trading within the planetary trading blocks be changed
from a spirit of global competition to that of global economic cooperation. This is the new way of doing business, the new way
The Global Community has made clear that globalization and planetary trading blocks should be serving the Human Family and not the other way around,
the people around the world serving the very few rich individuals. The September 11 event was the result of bad trading of
arms and oil and the absence of moral responsibility and accountability in our way of doing business with the Middle East nations.
By applying proper moral safeguards and accepting responsibility and accountability of all products (arms and oil in this case),
from beginning to end where they become wastes, each corporation would make free trade and globalization serving the Human Family.
The September 11 event was also a turning point in human history and indicated the end of the last superpower in the world and the
birth of the Global Community. Over its long past history trade has never evolved to require from the trading partners to
become legally and morally responsible and accountable for their products from beginning to end. At the end the product becomes
a waste and it needs to be properly dispose of. Now trade must be given a new impetus to be in line with the global concepts of
the Global Community. When you do exploration work, and develop, manufacture, produce, mine, farm or create a product, you become legally
and morally responsible and accountable of your product from beginning to end (to the point where it actually becomes a waste;
you are also responsible for the proper disposable of the waste). This product may be anything and everything from oil & gas,
weapons, war products, construction products, transportation and communications products and equipment, to genetically
engineered food products. All consumer products! All medical products! All pharmaceutical products! In order words, a person
(a person may be an individual, a community, a government, a business, an NGO, or an institution) becomes responsible and
accountable for anything and everything in his or her life.
Certainly an important action has been for the Canadian Government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as it is. No more waiting! Time for
action is now! We are all responsible for the creation of global warming, and there are plenty of observable effects. Greenhouse
gases are accumulating dangerously in the Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, and temperatures are rising globally
due to these activities. Climate changes have to be manage without delays and the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is only the
beginning of a long fight for the protection of life on Earth. There is much more to be done to even come close to what we have to
do. The ratification was only the beginning to help save the next generations.
Global consumption is a very important aspect of globalization. Consumers should be concerned with the impact of their decisions on
the environment but also on the lives, human and Earth rights and well-being of other people. Since one of the key functions of
families as a social institution is to engage in production (selling their labour in return for wages) and consumption (using
those wages to buy goods and services), then the role of families has impacts on sustainable consumption and development.
Corporations are required to expand their responsibilities to include human and Earth rights, the environment, community and
family aspects, safe working conditions, fair wages and sustainable consumption aspects. Global Community has summarized the rights of every
person on Earth by developing the Scale of Human and Earth Rights. The scale will eventually be
replacing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Global Constitution established all rights.
Just as corporations have social responsibilities and so do consumers in societies. Consumers are socialized to improve the
quality of their lives. Quality of life is a multi-dimensional, complex and very subjective concept. For instance,
someone who has changed their consumption habits to better ensure that their choices will make a better quality of life for
themselves, the environment and future generations, may be seen by others as having a lower or inferior quality of life since they
have removed themselves from the materialistic mainstream characteristic of our consumer society. Someone may feel that an absence
of violence and abuse in their life leads to a higher quality of living even though they have fewer tangible resources, money, or
shelter; peace of mind and freedom from abuse has increased the quality of their daily life relative to what it was like before.
There are universal quality of life values which lead to "human betterment" or the improvement of the human condition. In addition
to the value of species survival (human and other living organisms), they include: adequate resources, justice and equality,
freedom, and peace or balance of power. A better quality of life for all people of the Global Community Earth Government is a goal for all of us and
one of our universal values.
Global Community found that an adequate level of health care is a universal value as well as a human right. We expect adequate health services to
be accessible, affordable, compassionate and socially acceptable. We believe that every individual of a society is co-responsible
for helping in implementing and managing health programmes along with the government and the public institutions.
Being unified under the Soul of Humanity, Divine Will, God the Spirit and the Human Family dissolve all barriers and expand our global
consciousness. We become more whole and complete within ourselves and as a group. Our common Spirit is able to resolve planetary
problems in a coherent way. One common 'global Vision'
allows us to see how all the parts of the whole relate to each other. We
have the right relationship with one another, with all lifeforms and Earth itself, and with the Soul of Humanity, the Divine Will
and God the Spirit.
On May 26, let us all celebrate life in our heart, mind and Spirit. Let us thank God for the gift of life.
On August 22 of every year the Global Community celebrates the Global Cultural Day, the Cultural Appreciation Day. The event's theme is "Culture, Values and Social Development."
Noting that culture and development are not mutually exclusive, event organizers are asked to promote a union between historical preservation and future local - global growth.
The Global Community is rich with tradition and art.
Culture is certainly tangible - churches, temples and monuments; and intangible - heritage with performing arts, fine arts or visual arts.
Every community is based on a society distinctly different from any other country and its people.
The Cultural Appreciation Day celebration.
The Cultural Appreciation Day celebration promotes the meaning of culture, the real nature of Humanity and what inhibits its development.
It is for all, regardless of education, age, race, political or religious beliefs. The idea of the Cultural Appreciation Day celebration is that Humanity
in truth is limitless, and that there is a unity underlying all the apparent diversity in our daily lives.
Activities during the celebration may include mask making, cooking, singing, music, dance/drama, and puppet making by and for the children.
The day provides vendors, live entertainment, children's activities, and food in celebration of the various cultural groups.
The Cultural Appreciation Day celebration occurs at the same time and is an important part of the Global Exhibition.
For the fourth year since the first time ever promoting of a Global Exhibition, there is a Global Exhibition at the time of Global Dialogue 2009, and at the same site in Nanaimo. It is also occurring
everywhere else in the world along with Global Dialogue 2009. People of all nations are asked to organize a Global Exhibition during the period August 17 - August 22 of each year.
We live in a world where all natural and human resources
are exploited without limits, so that a small minority can consume far more
than their rightful share of the world's real wealth. Now, while that is going on, we found
that the industrial era faces a burnout, because it is exhausting the human
and natural resource base on which our very lives depend.
A sound governance and management of our planet is needed for the long term survival of our species.
We need to grow strong caring communities in which we
get more of our human satisfaction from caring relationships and less from
material goods. We need to reclaim the
ideal of being a democratic middle-class people without extremes of wealth
And we need to realize what is a priority, what is the most
important, and what is the least important for our survival. We need to
make hard choices. We need a clear vision. We need a common vision. And
we must all change! There are many important aspects of our lives we can
no longer do, or should never do anymore. They are destructive. Humanity
and all life can no longer afford activities that destroy life and the
global environment, and certainly the military is a major one of them.
And there are other activities we must do, thousands of them, to assure
the survival of life on Earth. In view of the planetary state of emergency, we all must change, we must do things
differently to give life on Earth a better survival chance.
We need ways of organizing ourselves to help us live
in a world with less energy and fewer material goods. We need to recover a deep sense
of community that has disappeared from many of our lives. This means letting go
a sense of ourselves as consumption machine.
The Global Community has found that consumption of the
Earth resources and the amount of wastes we create can be managed very
differently, more efficiently, and be less destructive to the global environment.
Our ways of doing business and trade can be improved upon to decrease waste
and consumption of Earth resources.
Often what is called trade is really moving of resources
across borders between subsidiaries of the same corporation. Nothing to
do with free competition. Economic activity is centrally-managed and planned
by the corporate elite. Capital move freely across borders as restrictions
on the flow of money have been removed. Corporations can relocate their
operations to the countries with the lowest wages, the least active unions
and the lowest environmental standards. The reality is that more polluting
industries are encouraged to relocate to developing countries. A polluting
industry tends to increase the chances that people in the surrounding area
will have health problems. It costs less to dump a load of toxic waste
in the lowest wage country.
The Global Community has developed a strategy to improve
our ways of doing business and trade so as to protect all life on the planet.
Over its long past history trade has never evolved to require from the
trading partners to become legally and morally responsible and accountable
for their products from beginning to end. At the end the product becomes
a waste and it needs to be properly dispose of. Now trade must be given
a new impetus to be in line with the global concepts of the Global Community.
You manufacture, produce, mine, farm or create a product, you become legally
and morally responsible and accountable of your product from beginning
to end (to the point where it actually becomes a waste; you are also responsible
for the proper disposable of the waste). This product may be anything and
everything from oil & gas, weapons, war products, to genetically engineered
food products. All consumer products. All medicinal products! All pharmaceutical
The natural resources of the Earth belong to all the "global communities" along with the Global Community where they are found.
When people know they own the resources in their communities then people can start directing the wealth of their resources towards
the building of local-to-global economic democracies in order to meet the needs for food, shelter, universal healthcare, education, and employment for all in their community.
The Global Community concept of ownership states
that land and natural resources of our planet are a common heritage and
belong equally to everyone, to all life on Earth, as a birthright. Products
and services created by individuals are properly viewed as private property.
Products and services created by a group of individuals are properly viewed
as collective property.
Along with ownership comes the obligation of using the
resources, share them or lose them. Land and all other Earth natural resources
are not commodities. Use the land, share it or lose it. This principle
also applies to banks and similar institutions all over the world and to
Wall Street. You own property because the previous owners could not pay.
Use that property, share it or lose it.
It should also be our goal to create locally owned enterprises
that sustainably harvest and process local resources to produce jobs, goods
and services. We should favor local firms and
workers, who pay local taxes, live by local rules, respect and nurture
the local ecosystems, compete fairly in local markets, and contribute to
A community should benefit from the use of commonly held natural resources. That includes land, air, water, all minerals, and the electromagnetic spectrum.
The exploitation and use of natural resources should be taxed.
Moving taxes onto resources and land use and off of incomes should make people
less expensive to employ.
Taxes should be designed to conserve resources and energy, and increase employment.
Labour should not be taxed but pollution should.
Resource taxes should be assessed as early as possible.
Resources should be taxed before entering the manufacturing process in
order to green all aspects from extraction phase to the finished product.
Be sustainable locally first, and globally next only if needed. Let go
the WTO, NAFTA or any free trade agreement.
A workable type of Tobin tax should be in place as
it is a powerful instrument to promote global sustainability and force
shareholders to be responsible and accountable to the people of global communities.
A Tobin tax is a tax on
all trade of currency across borders to put a penalty on short-term speculation
in currencies. The tax rate should be 10 to 25 cents per hundred dollars.
The proposal is important due to its potential to prevent global financial
crises such as we are seeing now. Also, an estimated $500 billion per year
makes it possible to meet urgent global priorities, such as preventing
global warming, disease, and unemployment.
The tax should be managed by the
Global Community and the Federation of Global Governments. In the globalized
economy, there is a lack of adequate funding for global problems which threaten local
communities worldwide. Projects which could help to address these needs
and create jobs will cost more than $500 billion annually. Private donors
do not meet the need, and some nations cut their aid budgets. New multilateral
approaches to public finance, such as Tobin Taxes, may provide part of
We are facing the dire consequences of ecological collapse, Climate change, water scarcity, extinction of biodiversity and over population.
In the past 20 million years, the carbon dioxide content of the biosphere has been 300 ppm. Only in the past hundred years has the carbon dioxide reached 370 ppm. The question is whether this change may
react in such a way that it becomes a tipping point for extreme disaster.
In 1930, the population of the planet was2 billion. In 2000. It was 6 billion. In 2020. It will be 8 billion
There is massive, inequity in distribution of world income. A living wage in San Francisco, is $96 a day. Poverty in the US is
defined as, $12 a day. 60% of people in the world live on less than three dollars a day and they cannot afford any of the economic material luxury goods, which the current global economy thrives on.
40% of people by 2020 will not have enough water to live on and 95% of people in the world are predicted to be living in urban situations.
It is predicted that oil will peak by 2010. Oil is the source for growing food and fertilisers and plastics etc,. Because of this, the poorest people in the world will not be able to sell sufficient goods to survive.
We are in phase six of biodiversity, mass extinction. Within 20 years, 20% of biodiversity will be extinct and 50% by 100 years. This makes the biosphere, unsustainable. We are looking towards a whole
systems crisis within 20 years, unless we get our act together fast.
The structure of the political system is changing, due to the rapid change in the nature of information now available andthe fact that individuals have a greater say in what they want. Individuals, therefore, need to
be educated, and there needs to be greater emphasis on holistic education and holistic health. Economic rationalism per se does not work in a global milieu which does not have infinite resources.
Peace needs to be emphasised above all else, because the greatest threat to our extinction as a species is aggressive competition and war. There are still 40,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and we
completely forget about this., when we talk about climate change.
The big change occurring, which seems to be ignored., generally, is the coming together of science and religion. It is now proven scientifically, that Human consciousness has a profound effect on the
environment, as well as on society. The experiments done are more valid and more stringent than any medical double-blind trial, you will see for example in The New England Journal of Medicine.
For humanity , to survive a greater emphasis needs to be on decentralized representation, and a transnational representation of the voices of the Global community of people who in their billions are crying out for change
The creation of Ministries and Commissions for peace throughout the World would be a tremendous advance for global society, in rapid transformation and change
Only by expressing in every way the new paradigm based on interrelationship, interdependency and cooperation amongst all humanity regardless of race, creed, culture or belief system can we hope to
reverse the trend of global degradation and demise
The Global Community claims that everyone on Earth should
be able to live in peace. This Global Peace Mouvement is about the courage
to live a life in a harmonious peace order and showing by example, thus
preventing poverty, wars, terror and violence. We need to educate the coming
generations with good principles, being compassionate, social harmony and
global sustainability being some of them.
The responsibility of a peacemaker is to settle differences through compromise and negotiation before they erupt into violence. Conflicting
views do not have to bring about fighting. War is an irreversible solution to a problem. War is never an appropriate solution to resolve a conflict. In order to bring about the event of peace, the Global Community is offering other good organizations around
the world to work together to bring warring parties to peace.
Peace in the world and the survival and protection of all life on our planet go hand-in-hand. Asking for peace in the world means doing whatever is necessary
to protect life on our planet. Protecting life implies bringing about the event of peace in the world.
Let our time be a time remembered for a new respect for life, our determination to achieve sustainability, and our need for global justice and peace.
From now on, building global communities for peace require understanding of global problems this generation is facing. There are several major problems: conflicts and wars,
no tolerance and compassion for one another, world overpopulation, unemployment,
insufficient protection and prevention for global health, scarcity of resources and drinking water, poverty, Fauna and Flora species disappearing at a fast rate,
global warming and global climate change, global pollution, permanent lost of the Earth's genetic heritage, and the destruction of the global life-support systems and
the eco-systems of the planet. We need to build global communities that will manage themselves with the understanding of those problems.
All aspects are interrelated: global peace, global sustainability, global rights and the environment. The jobless is more concerned
with ending starvation, finding a proper shelter and employment, and helping their children to survive. Environmental issues become
meaningless to the jobless. In reality, all concerns are interrelated because the ecology of the planet has no boundaries. Obviously, as soon as our environment is destroyed or polluted
beyond repair, human suffering is next.
Our goal for peace in the world can only be reached by resolving those global problems. Those problems have brought up a planetary state of emergency.
In view of the planetary state of emergency, shown and declared by the Global Community, we all must change, we must do things differently to give life on Earth a better
survival chance and bring about the event of peace amongst us all.
Our first objective was to find statements from all religions, all faiths, that promote ethical and moral responsibility to life and a responsible Earth management.
This was assumed to work well within the context of the global civilization of the 3rd Millennium and after defining the Global Community criteria of symbiotical
relationships. In this context, we have defined that
any symbiotical relationship is for the good of all. It is based on a genuine group concern and unconditional support for the individual's well-being ~ a giant leap in human behaviour.
Symbiotical relationships are needed today for the long term future of humanity, for the protection of life on our planet,
and to bring about the event of peace amongst us all.
The fundamental criteria of any symbiotical relationship is that a relationship is created for the good of all groups participating in the
relationship and for the good of humanity, all life on Earth. The relationship allows a global equitable and peaceful development and a more stable and inclusive global
Religious rituals now support the conservation efforts and play a central role in governing the sustainable use of the natural environment.
The Global Movement to Help, an initiative of the Global Community and of the Federation of Global Governments, is now applying more emphasis on the urgent need from
the people of all nations to give everyone essential services.
The urgent need to give all Global Citizens essential services was made obvious in the past few years after the occurrence of natural disasters, and the
global destruction created by the military.
The very first step of the Federation, and maybe the only one for several decades ahead of us, is the approval of essential services amongst the participating member
nations. To that effect, new global ministries will be established to guide us onto the path of global sustainability.
Through these new global ministries, we want each Global Government to take a larger share of responsibility of the specific region where it operates, and be more accountable to the people of that region.
Be compassionate. Essential services to the people of each member nation are now the most important global rights on the Scale of Global Rights and are protected by the
Global Protection Agency (GPA) of each member nation. The GPA will train and lead a global force, bypassing traditional peacekeeping and military bodies such as the United Nations and NATO.
The GPA is a short term solution, an immediate and efficient response to help.
There are also long term solutions. The Scale of Global Rights is the fundamental guide to Global Law. Global Law includes legislation covering all essential aspects of human activities.
The GPA will enforce the law. And that is a long term solution to the planetary state of emergency.
And that is also how we can solve the global problems facing this generation, thus largely improving the quality of life of the next
generations, and that is how we will bring about the event of peace amongst us all.
An important aspect of global governance is the security
of a person and of a nation. Security must be achieved by other means than conflicts
and wars. We might as well shelved the war industry from humanity right
now and that means phasing out all nuclear, biological, chemical weapons
right now. War products and equipment and weapons of mass destruction from all nations must be decommissioned.
Governments that have weapons of masss destruction are obviously terrorist governments. The Global Community is asking them to disarm.
Global security can only be achieved if it can be shared by all peoples and through global co-operation, based on principles as explained
in the Global Constitution such as justice, human dignity, and equity for all and for the good of all.
War is not sustainable to all life on the planet. It never was. The military option, war, is against global sustainability and global peace in a big way.
The worst environmental degradation happens in wars.
The military is no replacement to the " will of the people ", democracy, the rule of law, social justice, and to Global Rights and
Global Justice. The Global Community has no need of a subversive military
force. NATO must be subject to the people, the Global Community, and to
the Federation of Global Governments.
Postal address: 186 Bowlsby Street, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada V9R 5K1
Electronic mail: firstname.lastname@example.org