Tag Archive: ecological collapse


I recently sat down with Sybelle Foxcroft of Cee4Life to talk about my forthcoming book, The Politics of Total Liberation: Revolution for the 21st Century. Here is that video interview:

 

 

Wow, I knew if I lived long enough I would agree with Prince Charles on something, and it seems we agree that there is an implacable war against animals, a world war on a global scale, starkly evident in the high-tech poaching industry that is wiping out species such as rhinos and elephants before our eyes (see, for instance, my posts here and here). It seems we also agree that the human assault on other animals ought to be viewed as and treated as a war in which we defend animals from attack by any means necessary on this dying planet (see, for instance, my posts here and here). 

Nice to be in agreement with you on these points, Prince Charles. Now how about putting the UK’s armed forces in the service of wildlife under attack?

****************************************************

The Guardian, May 21, 2013

Princes Charles and Prince William

Prince Charles and Prince William examine confiscated items made from endangered animals at the conference.

Prince Charles has warned that criminal gangs are turning to animal poaching, an unprecedented slaughter of species that can only be stopped by waging war on the perpetrators, in the latest of a series of increasingly outspoken speeches about the environment.

Addressing a conference of conservationists at St James’s Palace in London, the Prince of Wales announced a meeting of heads of state to take place this autumn in London under government auspices to combat what he described as an emerging, militarised crisis.

“We face one of the most serious threats to wildlife ever, and we must treat it as a battle – because it is precisely that,” said Charles. “Organised bands of criminals are stealing and slaughtering elephants, rhinoceros and tigers, as well as large numbers of other species, in a way that has never been seen before. They are taking these animals, sometimes in unimaginably high numbers, using the weapons of war – assault rifles, silencers, night-vision equipment and helicopters.”

It is the second outspoken speech that Charles has made this month, at a time when he is taking on an increasing number of monarchical duties, after he told a group of forest scientists also at St James’s Palace that corporate lobbyists and climate change sceptics were turning the Earth into a “dying patient”. The Prince of Wales warned that iconic species – which could include rhinoceros, tigers, orangutans and others – could be extinct in the wild within a decade if efforts to protect them were not stepped up. “By urgent, I mean urgent,” he told the dignitaries, who included governmental and United Nations officials as well as NGOs and grassroots activists.

His son, the Duke of Cambridge, added to the plea: “My fear is that one of two things will stop the illegal trade: either we take action to stem the trade, or we will run out of the animals. There is no other outcome possible.”

Charles also stressed the need to deal with the demand for exotic species. In the past, much of the market for tiger parts, rhino horns and ivory was said to be driven by beliefs in traditional Chinese medicine, in which the rare animal parts were believed to have curative or aphrodisiac properties. But the prince dismissed such ideas, saying the trade was in fact about status symbols rather than belief systems. “The bulk of the intended use is no longer for products that can be classified as traditional medicines. Instead, many more people in rapidly growing economies are seeking exotic products that reflect their economic prosperity and status.”

The conference called for celebrities to publicise their outrage and opposition to the trade, and for young people in countries such as China to be educated to reject the demands of their parents for such status-fuelled goods.

I have blogged often against fatuous “Vegan Victory” celebrations and parades to remind everyone that while meat consumption is temporarily down in the US, it is growing at staggering rates on a global level (see, for instance here and here). Particularly, I have tried to warn people that the world’s most populous and rapidly modernizing nations — such as China, India, and Indonesia — continue to expand their economies, develop Western-capitalist social-economic models, enlarge their populations, and dramatically increase their production and consumption of meat.

China continues to lead the way in posing grave ecological threats to the world and slaughter ever-more animals for consumption. I have emphasized the ambiguity of China, which is that as animal advocacy grows, so too does meat consumption.

In a major new and foreboding development, on May 29, meat producer Shuanghui International bought Virginia-based Smithfield Foods for nearly $5 billion dollars, in what many consider to be the largest Chinese acquisition of a US corporation in history.

smithfield_wide-900fba44abfad633c231a99c4fb0ddf78c1e4725-s6-c30

Smithfield Foods, founded in 1936, was a major meat producing corporation particularly of pork. The transaction was beneficial to both parties, for while pork consumption has declined in the US, it is steadily rising in China. The US slaughters 100 million hogs for food consumption annually, whereas China butchers 470 million hogs per year. Thus, in a classic case of demand stimulating supply, Smithfield Foods is now part of Shuanghui International. China — with a population of 1.6 billion compared to 300 million people living in the US — is the world’s leading producer and consumer of pork.

07-08FAS7

As if US meat production methods were ever safe, or there is a thing as safe pork or healthy meat, some members of Congress are voicing hypocritical health concerns voiced. “I have deep doubts, said  Representative Rose DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, “about whether this merger best serves American consumers and urge federal regulators to put their concerns first.” But this is China, after all, and such “safety” concerns are not without merit: “Demand for U.S. meat in China has risen tenfold over the past decade, fueled in part by a series of embarrassing food safety scandals, from rat meat passed off as pork to thousands of pig carcasses floating on a river.Demand for U.S. meat in China has risen tenfold over the past decade, fueled in part by a series of embarrassing food safety scandals, from rat meat passed off as pork to thousands of pig carcasses floating on a river.”

china-produces-nearly-six-times-as-much-pork-per-person-as-the-rest-of-the-world

China produces nearly six times as much pork per person as the rest of the world

Apart from underscoring the oxymoron of “safe” or “healthy” meat of any kind, the more important issues are not sickened consumers foolish enough to consume animal “products,” but rather the ethical issue of a growing global animal holocaust and the catastrophic environmental impact of factory farming and the global rise of agribusiness and appetites for flesh, especially in the large, rapidly modernizing nations such as China.

14-facts-about-the-staggeringly-huge-chinese-pork-industry

Chinese Pork Industry

Despite foreign ownership, USA Today notes:

“Shuanghui has 13 facilities that produce more than 2.7 million tons of meat per year. Under the agreement, there will be no closures at Smithfield’s facilities and locations, including its Smithfield, Va., headquarters in the historic southeastern Virginia town of about 8,100 where it was founded in 1936, the companies said.

Smithfield’s existing management team will remain in place, and Shuanghui also will honor the collective bargaining agreements with Smithfield workers. The company has about 46,000 employees.

“This transaction preserves the same old Smithfield, only with more opportunities and new markets and new frontiers,” Smithfield CEO Larry Pope said in a conference call. “This is not a strategy to import Chinese pork into the United States … this is exporting America to the world.”

Sadly, this statement is true, and when US carnivorous culture influences global markets and massively populated nations such as China, it is the perfect storm for ecological collapse.

********************

Also see: “14 Facts About The Staggeringly Huge Chinese Pork Industry”

If you can ignore the anthropomophic and speciesist idiocy that it is morally objectionable to kill “cute” animals (when all plant and animal species save humans are integral to evolution and planetary survival), this article speaks volumes about why humans (capitalists above all) are an evolutionary mistake and how the only measure of value in capitalism is exchange value, not the intrinsic value of life.

“Too many” elephants in Kruger National Park, South Africa?  Endangered wolves a threat to cattle and hamburger culture? Polar bears in the way of oil drilling and the energy crack fossil fuel industries supply to the denizens of the Anthropocene Era?

Simple solution: kill first, ask questions later, if at all. Kill anything in the way of “progress” (profits). The irony, of course, is that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused the survival crisis of polar bears in the first place, and now the need for more oil – access facilitated by melting ice sheets — demands the death sentence for those with barely an iceberg left to crowd onto to avoid drowning, and yet  nonetheless still “stand in the way of civilization.”

As if needed, this is still more evidence that corporations own states, governments, and the entire legal system, and that the “services” and departments such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service protect their corporate masters not the habitats or species suggested by their Orwellian titles.

This is a stunning example of blaming the victim, and yet another decisive sign that the values and priorities of  Homo rapiens are insanely inverted, and that this species by and large does not deserve to exist and indeed with this mindset is definitely doomed. May we go out with a bang, not a whimper.

**********************************

Court: Polar Bear Habitat that Interferes with Oil Drilling Has To Go

By Philip Bump, Gristmll, January 15, 2013

Image (1) polar_bear_swimming_550.jpg for post 50035

Blocking Oil Drilling a Capital Crime, Genocide the Penalty!

Through a bit of evolutionary serendipity, polar bears are cute. They are big and fuzzy and have thick, dopey heads. This is helpful to the polar bears, because it’s given the animals a powerful tool in their fight for existence. “Do you want polar bears to go away?”

To which oil companies say, “Only if they’re in the way.” Last week, a federal court in Alaska overturned a Fish and Wildlife Service habitat designation for polar bears after the fossil fuel industry sued, complaining that the habitat interfered with oil exploration. From the Wall Street Journal:

A U.S. court in Alaska has overturned a federal rule aimed at protecting polar bear habitat in the Arctic, handing a victory to the oil and natural-gas industry.

The rule, established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is “valid in many respects,” but the agency didn’t follow all the legally required steps before adopting the regulation, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline wrote in the decision, which was dated Thursday and published Friday. …

The government designated barrier islands, offshore sea-ice and “denning” areas, where female polar bears are known to make dens where they give birth to their young during winter months, as critical habitat. At the time of the designation, in November 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service said the areas were “essential for the conservation of the bear.”

It’s fossil fuel industries that have put the polar bear in its current plight. Rampant greenhouse gas emission and the warming that has ensued has caused Arctic ice levels to plummet. With less ice, it becomes harder and harder for bears to conserve energy and to find food. As we noted in 2007:

As sea ice thins, and becomes more fractured and labile, it is likely to move more in response to winds and currents so that polar bears will need to walk or swim more and thus use greater amounts of energy to maintain contact with the remaining preferred habitats.

The government tried to create a protected habitat, a place where bears could hunt and rest as best they could without additional interference. But unfortunately for the bears, the Fish and Wildlife Service put the reserve on land that was already inhabited: by oil. So the Alaska Oil and Gas Association and the American Petroleum Institute sued, with the oil-obsessed state’s help.

The AOGA issued a pleased-as-punch statement [PDF] in response to the court ruling, including this quote from executive director Kara Moriarty.

AOGA members care as much about protecting Alaska’s environment and wildlife as anyone else, but we also recognize the need to responsibly develop our natural resources in order to keep the state’s number one economic driver healthy.

Emphasis added, to highlight the part of the quote that is bullshit.

Even worse was the statement from Alaska’s governor. Again from the Journal:

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell said Friday that he “applauded” the court’s decision.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s attempt to classify massive sections of resource-rich North Slope lands as critical habitat is the latest in a long string of examples of the federal government encroaching on states’ rights,” Mr. Parnell said.

You can hear Parnell salivating as he says resource-rich. After all, he — along with every resident of Alaska — has a dog in the fight over drilling. Last year, every Alaskan received $878 thanks to the state’s Permanent Fund, which distributes profits from oil drilling to residents. More drilling equals more money for the state, meaning happier voters in Parnell’s eyes. More polar bears don’t do him much good at all.

Making the moral of the story this: Polar bears may be cute, but the faces on dollar bills are a lot cuter.

polar bear fuck humans

The facts of catastrophic climate change have become so alarming that growing numbers of scientists feel they can no longer hide behind inscrutable jargon, masks of neutrality, professional decorum, and robotic objectivity. When paragons of affectless detachment and Spock-speak begin dropping F-bombs at prestigious conferences, undertake civil disobedience, and call for mass resistance movements to overtake the forces of planetary destruction, there is a sea-change in the scientific world, appropriately so, something that far transcends “value-laden” research to become thunderous calls for action, anger, and uprising.

It seems the top experts know something pacifists and delusional vegans (who can only talk of the temporary reduction of meat consumption IN THE US while ignoring soaring global rates and remaining mute about the severity of climate change) don’t — the earth is fucked, time is running out, ivy league vegan outreach adds insult to injury, and it’s too late for education. The courage and integrity of the new generation of activist-scientists to speak truth to power and lay their careers on the line also puts 99.999% of academics to shame, narcissists and cowards who would rather lose species and ecosystems over a career advance any day.

The choice is mass rebellion or catastrophic collapse. Despite the false impression given by the final sentence of this article, while vocal, confrontational, and politicized climate scientists could emerge as key forces of change, the true catalysts will be mass resistance movements erupting globally. But of that, we have no guarantee and as of yet, little hope to avert impending disaster on an unimaginable scale.

**************************************************

Why Earth and Atmospheric Scientists Are Swearing Up a Storm and Getting Arrested.

By , Slate, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

NASA scientist and climatologist James Hansen takes part in a mock funeral parade.

NASA scientist and climatologist James Hansen takes part in a mock funeral parade during Climate Change Campaign Action Day in 2009 in Coventry, England

Many of us have wondered at some point in almost precisely these terms: “Is Earth Fucked?” But it’s not the sort of frank query you expect an expert in geomorphology to pose to his colleagues as the title of a formal presentation at one of the world’s largest scientific gatherings.

Nestled among offerings such as “Bedrock Hillslopes to Deltas: New Insights Into Landscape Mechanics” and “Chemical Indicators of Pathways in the Water Cycle,” the question leapt off the pages of the schedule for the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting.  Brad Werner, a geophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, is one of the more than 20,000 Earth and atmospheric scientists who descended on downtown San Francisco this week to share their research on everything from Antarctic ice-sheet behavior to hurricane path modeling to earthquake forecasting. But he’s the only one whose presentation required the use of censorious asterisks. When the chairman of Werner’s panel announced the talk’s title on Wednesday, a titter ran through the audience at the naughtiness of it all.

Why shout out the blunt question on everyone’s mind? Werner explained at the outset of the presentation that it was inspired by friends who are depressed about the future of the planet. “Not so much depressed about all the good science that’s being done all over the world—a lot of it being presented here—about what the future holds,” he clarified, “but by the seeming inability to respond appropriately to it.”

That’s probably an apt description of legions of scientists who have labored for years only to see their findings met with shrugs—or worse. Researchers from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, for instance, published a paper in Nature Climate Change this week showing that carbon emissions have reached record levels, with a 2.6 percent projected rise in 2012. In another AGU presentation, Pieter Tans of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration posed the question: “Will realistic fossil fuel burning scenarios prevent catastrophic climate change?” He did not seem optimistic. “We might end up burning 900 billion tons of carbon” from oil, gas, and coal, he announced. “We can have a managed path to lower emissions—or do it by misery.” A guy next to me in the audience gave a kind of hopeless snort. The head of NOAA and polar experts held a news conference at the conference entitled, “What’s going on in the Arctic?” This year broke all sorts of records: the lowest recorded sea-ice extent, the lowest recorded snow cover extent and duration, and the most extensive recorded melting event on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, among other milestones. “I’ve studied Greenland for 20 years now; I’ve devoted my career to it,” Jason Box of Ohio State University intoned somberly, “and 2012 was an astonishing year. This was the warmest summer in a period of record that’s continuous in 170 years.”

Werner’s title nodded at a question running like an anxious murmur just beneath the surface of this and other presentations at the AGU conference: What is the responsibility of scientists, many of them funded by taxpayer dollars through institutions like the National Science Foundation, to tell us just exactly how fucked we are? Should scientists be neutral arbiters who provide information but leave the fraught decision-making and cost-benefit analysis to economists and political actors? Or should they engage directly in the political process or even become advocates for policies implied by their scientific findings?

Scientists have been loath to answer such questions in unequivocal terms. Overstepping the perceived boundaries of prudence, objectivity, and statistical error bars can derail a promising career. But, in step with many of the planet’s critical systems, that may be quickly changing. Lately more and more scientists seem shaken enough by what their measurements and computer models are telling them (and not just about climate change but also about the global nitrogen cycle, extinction rates, fisheries depletion, etc.) to speak out and endorse specific actions. The most prominent example is NASA climatologist James Hansen, who was so freaked out by his own data that he began agitating several years ago for legislation to rein in carbon emissions. His combination of rigorous research and vigorous advocacy is becoming, if not quite mainstream, somewhat less exotic. A commentary in Nature last month implored scientists to risk tenure and get arrested, if necessary, to promote the political solutions their research tells them are required. Climate researchers Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows recently made an impassioned call on their colleagues to do a better job of communicating the urgency of their findings and to no longer cede the making of policy prescriptions entirely to economists and politicians.

Lonnie Thompson, one of the world’s foremost experts on glaciers and ancient climates, framed the dilemma in a speech he gave to a group of behavioral scientists in 2010:

Climatologists, like other scientists, tend to be a stolid group. We are not given to theatrical rantings about falling skies. Most of us are far more comfortable in our laboratories or gathering data in the field than we are giving interviews to journalists or speaking before Congressional committees. Why then are climatologists speaking out about the dangers of global warming? The answer is that virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.

That’s the sound of serious-minded scientists fretting out loud to the rest of us that the earth is indeed fucked, unless we get our shit together. More and more are willing to risk professional opprobrium to drive that message home.

Box is a prime example. A veteran Arctic researcher, Box was arrested alongside more than 1,000 others in 2011 outside the White House while protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil from Canadian tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico for export, thus facilitating the liberation of a vast quantity of climate-warming and ice-sheet-disintegrating carbon. “Taking that stand was arguably the most important thing I’ve done,” he told me, and that includes a highly regarded body of work on Greenland ice-sheet dynamics. “I’ve taken a number of perceived political risks. The groupthink was, ‘You’re wasting your time, you’re risking your career,’ ” he said. Such actions might one day keep him from membership in the National Academies of Science, he mused aloud, but he didn’t seem too concerned. As he sees it, he can pursue rigorous science and be an engaged, concerned citizen at the same time. “I have a 14-month-old daughter,” he explained simply.

The bulk of Werner’s talk, as it turned out, was not profane or prophetic but was a fairly technical discussion of a “preliminary agent-based numerical model” of “coupled human-environmental systems.” He described a computer model he is building of the complex two-way interaction between people and the environment, including how we respond to signals such as environmental degradation, using the same techniques he employs to simulate the dynamics of natural systems such as permafrost, glaciers, and coastal landscapes. These tools, he argued, can lead to better decision-making. Echoing Anderson and Bows, he claimed it as a legitimate part of a physical scientist’s domain. “It’s really a geophysics problem,” he said. “It’s not something that we can just leave to the social scientists or the humanities.”

Active resistance by concerned groups of citizens, analogous to the anti-slavery and civil rights movements of the past, is one of the features of the planetary system that plays an important role in his model. If you think that we should take a much longer view when making decisions about the health of the “coupled human-environmental system”—that is to say, if you’re interested in averting the scenario in which the Earth is fucked—then, Werner’s model implied, resistance is the best and probably only hope. Every other element—environmental regulation, even science—is too embedded in the dominant economic system.

I asked Werner what he sees as scientists’ role in contributing to this kind of resistance, the kind of direct action taken by researchers like Hansen and Box. Werner views his own advocacy as separate from his scientific work. “To some extent, [science is] a job, and a job I really like, and I have the good fortune and privilege to have,” he told me. “In my other life, I am an activist, but there’s a line. Both sides inform the other. And I think that that is healthy. But when I’m doing geophysics, I’m a geophysicist. When I’m doing activism, I’m an activist.”

Werner agreed that more and more scientists are now engaging in advocacy than in the past. “Even if you say, ‘OK, I’m not going to advocate anything. I am simply going to make sure that I am going to produce results which are useful and available to a broad range of people,’ that’s a decision that researchers have to make.” This is not just an academic question. Anderson and Bows’ work, for instance, suggests that economic growth in the short term is simply incompatible with the (nonbinding) commitments made by most U.N. member states to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). This, of course, is not a message that is making any headway with the leaders of those countries. “The elephant in the room sits undisturbed while collective acquiescence and cognitive dissonance trample all who dare to ask difficult questions,” Anderson and Bows write. Getting relevant information into the hands of those more likely to ask those questions is, Werner said, part of his responsibility as a scientist.

Box agrees and is launching a new initiative called the Dark Snow Project, which aims to conduct the first crowdsourced scientific expedition to the Arctic, measuring how soot from North American wildfires might be accelerating Greenland’s ice melt. He and his colleagues plan to make their results publically accessible via video and other online tools, and he sees the project eventually growing into an organization that does rapid-response field science in the public interest.

As for the big question—is Earth fucked?—Werner announced in his talk that he has done some preliminary runs of his model. At this point I could sense the audience lean forward collectively on their seats. First he simulated the global economy proceeding into the future without the drag of environmental management decisions. “What happens is not too surprising,” he told us evenly. “Basically the economy fast chews up the environmental resources, depletes those reservoirs, resulting in a significant amount of environmental damage.”

Then he factored in some environmental management, presumably of our standard, EPA cost-benefit-analysis-driven variety, and found that “it delays the environmental damage but it doesn’t prevent it.”

That’s not too surprising either. But it also implies we’re eventually, definitely fucked. Still, there’s a choose-your-own-adventure element to the story that has yet to play out. Resistance, Werner argued, is the wild card that can force dominant systems such as our current resource-chewing juggernaut onto a more sustainable path. Werner hasn’t completed that part of his model, so we’ll have to wait to find out what happens. But during the Q-and-A session, he conceded that “even though individual resistance movements might not be fast enough reacting to some of these problems, if a global environmental movement develops that is strong enough, that has the potential to have a bigger impact in a timely manner.”

In other words, according to at least one expert, maybe the Earth is not quite fucked yet after all. But the ultimate outcome may depend on how much, and how many, scientists choose to wade into the fray.

By Dianey Toomey, Yale Environment 360

“National security expert Michael Klare believes the struggle for the world’s resources will be one of the defining political and environmental realities of the 21st century. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he discusses the threat this scramble poses to the natural world and what can be done to sustainably meet the resource challenge. His most recent book, The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, describes how the world economy has entered a period of what he calls “tough” extraction for energy, minerals, and other commodities, meaning that the easy-to-get resources have been exploited and a rapidly growing population is now turning to resources in the planet’s most remote regions — the Arctic, the deep ocean, and war zones like Afghanistan. Klare discussed China’s surging appetite for resources, the growing potential for political and military conflict as commodities become more scarce, and the disturbing trend of the planet’s agricultural land being bought by companies and governments seeking to ensure that their people will have enough food in the future.”

Michael Klare

Yale Environment 360: You make the point that when it comes to the age-old competition for raw materials, we’re in an unprecedented age. How so?

Michael Klare: I do believe that’s the case. Humans have been struggling to gain control of vital resources since the beginning of time, but I think we’re in a new era because we’re running out of places to go. Humans have constantly moved to new areas, to new continents, when they’ve run out of things in their home territory. But there aren’t any more new continents to go to. We’re going now to the last places left on earth that haven’t been exploited: the Arctic, the deep oceans, the inner jungles in Africa, Afghanistan. There are very few places left that haven’t been fully tapped, so this is humanity’s last chance to exploit the earth, and after this there’s nowhere else to go.

e360: Natural resource extraction has never been a pretty business when it comes to the environment, but you write that now that the era of easy oil, easy gas, easy minerals and other resources is basically over, and what’s left is in deep water, remote or inhospitable climates, or in geological formations that require extraordinary means to get at. So paint me a picture of what extracting these tough resources looks like.

Klare: We’re really going to be using very aggressive means of extraction, so the environmental consequences are going to be proportionally greater. For example, to get oil and natural gas out of shale rock, you can’t just drill and expect it to come out. It doesn’t work that way. You have to smash the rock, you have to produce fractures in the rock, and we use a very aggressive technology to do that — hydraulic fracturing — and the water is brought under tremendous pressure and it’s laced with toxic chemicals, and when the water is extracted from these wells it can’t be put back into the environment without risk of poisoning water supplies. So there’s a tremendous problem of storage, of toxic water supplies, and we really haven’t solved that problem.

And that’s just one example. Drilling in the Arctic presents a tremendous problem because the Arctic, by its very nature, is at the edge of survival and all the species there are living at the edge of survival, so any oil spill could push them over the edge into extinction. So [oil companies] must have on hand all kinds of extra capacity to deal with the possibility of spills, and that’s much more difficult to engineer than in the Gulf of Mexico, where there are tens of thousands of boats that you could hire on short notice to bring out skimmers and booms to contain a spill. There’s nothing like that in the Arctic. Moreover, if this were to happen in winter, there would be no way to move equipment up there to build a relief drill. Remember, it was a relief drill that closed the Deepwater Horizon spill, but you can’t do that in the middle of winter when the Arctic [Ocean] is covered with ice.  Continue reading

The End Is Near: It’s Not Mayan Prophecy, It’s US Imperialism

By Colin TodhunterGlobal Research, December 20, 2012

mayacalendar

According to some who believe in signs and prophecies, based on the ancient Mayan calendar, the world may have ended by the time you read this, in which case you won’t be reading it! Maybe those people know a thing or two because, given the current state of play, would it come as a great surprise if the world were to actually come to an end?

But, regardless of any prophecy, I can guarantee right now that the world will shortly be coming to an end – for many people. US-backed conflict in Syria will fuel even more death and destruction in that unfortunate country. The US is banking on it. Where would its plans be to dominate the world if it could not rely on killing and brutality brought about by stoking ethnic and sectarian conflict? Such tactics have already caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. The strategy persists and the killing goes on.

What is happening in Syria at this moment is symptomatic of a criminality that too often goes unquestioned, that is too often regarded as normal and thus acceptable thanks mainly to the mainstream media. People have been softened up to accept barbarity as normal and thus as acceptable by a global corporate media that takes as fact whitewashed official statements and press releases justifying militarism and consequent mass murder by the US government, the British government or any other number of governments.

The result is that this criminality pervades all aspects of life in 2012.

Thanks to a toothless mainstream media, it is regarded as normal and thus acceptable that the international system of trade and finance has allowed capital to be shifted around the globe at ease, resulting in big profits and environmental degradation, easy money and cheap labour, private gain and public havoc. All of this is done according to the warped rationale of the market, supported by dogma masquerading as economic theory.

It is regarded as normal and thus acceptable that the food and pharmaceuticals industries work to sicken and treat us and that ‘big oil’ works hand in glove with agribusiness to impose a system of water intensive, chemical-industrial agriculture at the expense of biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

US militarism is implemented on behalf of bankers and any other number of corporate interests and is carried out under the lie of ‘humanitarianism’ or the ‘war on terror’. The profiteering nuclear energy and resource extraction industries are destroying democracy and placing people and environments in jeopardy in India.

The mainstream media serves to make barbarity acceptable.

Governments are working overtime to attack and deceive their populations on behalf of rich corporations, which have succeeded in bending the machineries of state and media to their will. The end-result is diminishing democracy, the increasing influence of international finance, the destruction of local economies, science pressed into the service of a worldwide arms industry, endless conflict over finite resources and unnecessary suffering.

There is an alternative and it entails debunking the myth that the endless pursuit of high GDP growth on the back of increased power for the market, speculators and huge corporate concerns is how we define normality. The current system is not only ecologically destructive and fuels and relies on perpetual conflict, but wrongly privileges urban over rural and promotes the excessive consumption of energy to engage in unnecessary work to produce unnecessary goods that have a built-in planned obsolescence. This socially divisive, wasteful and unsustainable system is tied to an image of the world laid down by powerful transnational corporations and which is translated into policies by the IMF, WTO, World Bank and national governments.

This is the current state of play. It’s become matter of fact. It’s become acceptable.

It’s also quite normal that 130 countries have recognised opposition forces in Syria as the legitimate ‘government’ there, even though the US, NATO, oil rich Gulf states and Israel have done their damnedest to interfere in the workings of a sovereign state in order to create civil war and bolster the position of the said opposition. It’s quite normal that many of those 130 countries only support such tactics because not to do so would incur the bullying of the US in terms of economic, military and political aid or support being cut or other pressures and sanctions being applied. And the mainstream media regards this as constituting the will of the ‘international community’, of ‘independent’ sovereign states acting according to conscience.

Where would we be without such a media? There are many examples from across the world of how we could address the problems we currently face and of how we could challenge what is spoon-fed to us as ‘normality’.

Unfortunately, those who comprise the US-led military-financial-industrial complex and who control and own the corporate media have no interest in solutions. From Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and General Electric to BP, Shell and others, they seek to maintain the current system at all costs.

And that entails seeking to impose their warped version of normality through media propaganda and the barrel of a gun, the attack of a drone and all illegal means necessary. Those who refuse to cave in to US-led hegemony could well face a similar fate as Syria.  You don’t need to refer to the Mayan calendar to know for some the end could be near. The message from the US is that it will be – if you fail to fall into line.

Also see:

The Mayan 2012 Prophecy: The Orwellian “End of the World” Doomsday is “Made in America”

The Mayan 2012 Prophecy: The Orwellian “End of the World” Doomsday is “Made in America”

End of the World: Hear the 2012 Prophecy … Direct from the Mouths of the Mayan Priests

The Mayans, the ecological crisis and the end of the world: a little sanity please

The Maya collapsed – could we?

A beautifully stated, provocative, impeccably argued declaration of love and war that counters the pacifist lie that liberationists are “pro-violence” rather than sober realists and vital life forces …….

—————————————————————–

Dr. Glen Barry, Eco-Earth.Info, January 31, 2012

Imagining the human family coming together to take well considered, decisive, and minimally or non-violent action to sustain global ecology

Human Family’s Ecocidal Death Wish

The ecological foundation of being is unraveling before our very eyes. Without ecosystems there is no life. Fiercely loving Earth is the answer. Let’s sustain global ecology together like our shared survival and abundance depends upon it. And while we set out using classic civil disobedience tactics, let’s not dismiss out of hand any obstruction, uncivil disobedience, sabotage and targeted insurgency tactics – that are non-terrorist – and that may be necessary to achieve global ecological sustainability. The human family’s shared survival depends upon passionately defending Earth using all means necessary.

malcom-x-by-any-means-necessary

Earth’s ecosystems are collapsing under the burden of human growth, destroying our one shared biosphere that makes life possible. Industrial growth – frantically destroying ecosystems to feed insatiable, ever-growing appetites – is an aberration, a mistake, a disease. If left untreated, this will be the end of the human family, all life, and Earth’s very being. Infinite economic growth at the expense of ecosystems is impossible, and seeking endless and inequitable growth in consumption and population can only lead to collapse and massive die-off.

zz22

Humanity’s last best chance to justly and equitably sustain a livable planet is to protect and restore ecosystems, end fossil fuels, and a people’s power Earth revolution to utterly destroy the ecocidal industrial growth machine. We are all bloody fools to tolerate and not immediately overthrow a violently ecocidal system that is killing us all. If we all understood the implications of global ecosystem collapse, we would go now, together, and slay the global growth machine. It is too late to escape profound ecological decline, yet complete disastrous social and ecological collapse – and possible end to most or all life – may yet be avoided.

Sustaining ecology must become society’s central organizing principle or humans and all species face horrendous death. Globally it is time for radical change to simply survive converging ecology, food, war, water, inequity, population, climate, jobs, ocean, and extinction crises. It is deeply troubling most “environmentalists” deny the severity of ecosystem collapse, rejecting out of hand revolutionary measures sufficient to sustain ecology.

Earth is dying a death of a billion lashes as ecosystems are liquidated for consumption as if nature has no worth. 80% of old forests are gone, 50% of top soil, 90% of big ocean fish, bee populations are collapsing, we are undergoing abrupt climate change, and two billion are hungry and thirsty – to say nothing of acidic and dead oceans, nitrogen pollution, fracking and tar sands, extinction, desertification, water scarcity, pervasive toxics, and how all these ecological crises interact and reinforce each other.

Yes, you read this right – EARTH IS DYING – not that humans are going extinct, but Earth will recover. A whole body of global change and ecology science and intuition indicates Earth is well past its carrying capacity and planetary boundaries, that enough ecosystems have been lost, diminished, and changed forever, that the biogeochemical process that make life possible are failing. We face an unprecedented planetary ecological emergency.

Earth’s ecology crises go unaddressed because of lack of justice, equity and rights –and 1% elite rule with big NGO environmental group greenwash. Earth is dying NOW. The thin layer of life known as the biosphere is collapsing NOW. Life giving ecosystems are being destroyed NOW. Being is ending NOW. It could be different if we acted together to stop the forces of ecocide. The human family embraces a sustaining ecology ethic, or all die brutal, needless deaths, gasping for air, hungry and cold, at each other’s throats.

Most of us have lost contact with Earth that made and sustains us, so we kill our creator, life and ourselves without knowing or caring. It is everybody’s responsibility to stop this self-fulfilling death wish. Those who have yet to have this ecological revelation and are killing Earth must be compelled to stop, using all means necessary. There is no escaping the ECOLOGICAL FACT that global ecosystems and our one shared biosphere are literally falling apart as we continue to incautiously pull pieces from them.

Don’t Ever Say Never to Earth Revolution

True peace is not the absence of conflict as enslaved and hurdling towards mass ecocidal death. Peace is rights, equity, justice, jobs, sustainability – for which we sometimes must judiciously fight. It is ridiculous to suggest that these pernicious trends in ecological destruction – caused by industrial economic growth, which is nearly universally accepted and enriches the powerful 1% elite – will end without a full-scale people’s power revolution – with all available tactics readied for if, and when, needed – by a small but enlightened and dedicated minority.

NO one seeks or desires violent revolution, yet Earth is dying, and we need to enter into revolution with all intentions of using civil and disobedient means, but if necessary we may need to cross the Rubicon and embrace uncivil and more confrontational means. Never before has such fundamental social change – challenging the deeply entrenched industrial growth paradigm, and the more is always better growth mentality, eating Earth’s ecosytems – been attempted.

A time may well come soon when it is necessary to use all means necessary against real eco-terrorists – those who are destroying with impunity our shared global ecosystems and our one biosphere, which make life possible and are necessary simply to survive.

All enlightened planetary life wants and deserves an Earth Revolution that is done wisely, escalates carefully, and is ultimately successful in bringing humanity and Earth’s ecosystems back into equilibrium. We of course want the right resistance, exerted by the right people, at the right time, calling for the right things. And as defenders of Earth and all life’s being – we find all violence repugnant, and do not seek any violence ever. But the stakes are high and we are not leaving any possibilities off the table, except for random terrorist targeting of innocents, which would not be tolerated.

Some people are simply taken aback – after several decades of being indoctrinated that civil disobedience is the only legitimate resistance to oppression and imminent death – and are unable to even hear and consider these academic thoughts. Yet, I do not recall ever reading words from Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi saying never, ever, ever will there be another instance where physical confrontation may be necessary or tolerable.

Both Gandhi and King provided a great service in making clear non-violent protest is always the preferable option, and that a great deal can be accomplished over time wielding this powerful tool. But they did not foreclose upon ever using traditional revolutionary activities in times of great danger, when it is thought there is not time, exclusively peaceful tactics have not worked, and when life’s very being is imminently threatened.

zzz

A faith-based movement – as was the basis for both King and Gandhi’s struggles – to bring people power to bear upon global ecology sustainability will not work as the primary motivator of the profound social change necessary to sustain ecology. Organized religion is simply too divisive, and bereft of knowable truth, to address what are fact-based, scientific ecological crises.

Organized religion is part and parcel of the history of ecological decline. It is vital to prospects for achieving just and equitable global ecological sustainability that all mythical gods be kept out of government, are made to tread lightly upon Earth, are kept off non-believers’ bodies, and remain within the realm of personal faith. Sustaining ecology must depend upon other more truthful and observable sensibilities such as global land, ecology, family, justice, equity, knowledge, and community ethics.

In fact, these two singular men – whose faith based movements brought about important social change – nonetheless have very little to say to inform the necessary dramatic changes needed now to achieve global ecological sustainability. The issues are different, the stakes higher, and the urgency greater. A single charismatic figure appealing to one religious tradition or another is not going to rise to bring Earth to ecological sustainability – our dependence upon destroying ecosystems to meet our desires is too deeply entrenched.

Earth Revolution has to come from the people globally. What is needed is a revolutionary Earth sentiment that arises organically from the people. Earth Revolution aiming to equitably and justly sustain global ecology would be well advised to first go through an escalating serious of protest tactics until a well-developed, and sufficient set of demands are met or rebuffed. If the latter, change of the magnitude necessary in a very short time may well come only from an empowered minority practicing leaderless resistance tactics based upon an underground cell structure.

People globally would participate in such an Earth insurgency to the degree and using tactics that are consistent with their conscience. It is common sense when you lose the ability to sustain yourself – through despotism, ecocide or injustice – that you have the right, indeed a duty, to defend ourselves. If enough people – perhaps 3% of the human family – all at once rushed and destroyed the sources of ecocidal power – Earth, humanity, and all life could be saved with very little if any violence.

Things would be difficult for the formerly rich (broadly defined as those living detached from nature in a comfortable but Earth destroying technological cocoon, including much of the global bourgeoisie) for some time – as they readjust to living within ecological limits. But they would adjust, and all could survive leading simpler, more grounded and meaningful lives, rather than face a final and brutally violent apocalyptic end under the status quo.

To refuse to even consider more robust revolutionary tactics – which for many have brought freedom, and ended monarchy, slavery and other ills – to protect all life’s shared survival from global ecocide in the short time we have, is copping out on Earth and virtually assuring an end to being.

Non-Cooperation, Obstruction, Sabotage, Insurgency

The timing for Earth Revolution is so right: Earth is dying, people are suffering, species are going, freedom is failing, uber-inequity reigns, economic injustice is the norm, yet people are awakening. There has never been such high hope regarding the prospects of achieving global human and economic rights, equity and justice, and of the need to sustain ecology. And given the terrible state of global ecology, equity, justice, freedom, and rights – governments have in fact abdicated.

Only profound, revolutionary, gut-wrenching social, economic, political and personal change will save Earth, humanity and all life from ecology collapse and an end to being. Failure to accept revolutionary change tactics means we are accepting ecosystems and society will collapse, and you just want to enjoy living excessively awhile longer. Surely it is not rational to fail to pursue revolution because it may become violent, when violence orders of magnitude greater exists now daily under the status quo growth machine, and will only intensify as apocalyptic end of the world approaches.

We should pursue Earth Revolution using aggressive civil disobedience and non-violently as long as we can and they are effective. But the successes achieved have thus far been tiny compared to what is required to abet ecocidal trends. If accommodation and compromise continue to be rebuffed, and Earth is dying, and thus our very survival depends upon ecosystems which are being killed by ecocidal evil, we have an obligation to look at other well-known uncivil disobedience, non-cooperation, sabotage, and insurgency tactics – as well as emerging transnational protest opportunities presented by the Internet – to bring about social change for a living Earth.

Given the political and economic systems’ inherent and profound violence to people and nature – as well as urgent global justice, equity and ecological imperatives – strategies and tactics are going to have to continue to be evaluated and evolve. Violent or non-violent is not the main consideration, and rarely are they exclusive. Other aspects of radical social change tactics – such as effective or non-effective, civil or uncivil, timely or too late, accommodating or not – are just as important.

Leaderless resistance tactics used by current global revolutionary movements could morph into underground cells waging revolution for global freedom, rights and ecosystems. The necessary Earth Revolution to sustain global ecology could escalate to non-cooperation with the ecocidal system, agro-ecological gardening while obstructing industrial agriculture, protecting and restoring ecosystems, and love-making and sharing.

And maybe – and only if absolutely necessary – Earth Revolution could embrace wisely conceived and targeted sabotage and insurgency to utterly destroy the global growth machine that is devouring ecosystems and destroying being.

Earthfirstmonkeywrench

There are many soft targets in the under-belly of the industrial growth machine that is liquidating ecosystems for throw-away consumption. Poorly defended fossil fuel, old forest logging, communication, pipeline and other industrial infrastructure abound. We know the primary perpetrators of ecocide profiting from Earth destroying activities, and they could be made to pay a heavy price, dissuading others from doing so.

Throughout history there are instances where revolutionary violence has been a liberating force, and other times where it has been oppressive. The coming Earth Revolution need not be overly violent. Like most revolutions, there will almost certainly be some. Again, NOBODY SEEKS VIOLENCE, and revolutions which don’t emphasize violence, while acknowledging the rights of others to act within their conscience, and which do not try to use violence to control its members, can often be remarkably free of physical coercion. Other times, where vital social change cannot be delayed – yet is highly contested by privileged elite – this may not be possible.

Ongoing institutionalized violence by the elitist economic growth machine, military legions, resurgent fascism and corporate ecocide far exceed what has occurred historically during liberating people power revolutions (and much of this is often incidental and caused by fringe forces). The level of violence during any possible Earth Revolution would largely be determined by the responses of the oppressors to legitimate and enlightened opposition to end ecosystem destruction, injustice and inequity.

Nature and I Fight Back

As I have spent a lifetime studying global trends of ecological decline, it has become clear that current remedial actions are going to be orders-of-magnitude inadequate. The over-population, ecosystem loss, toxics, injustice and inequity are just too pernicious. And I have also long had a fascination with the topic of non-violence, and when violence may be justified and necessary. These life-long observations have led me to become a reluctant member of the revolutionary left.

I am well aware of what humans are capable of in terms of violence, and the damage it does. I grew up in a family rife with childhood sexual abuse – in which I was violently sexually abused by a “favorite” uncle. My own topsy-turfy relationship with my lovely wife – who I love so much we have been married twice – was nonetheless marred by emotional and physical abuse on both our parts. Paradoxically, I excelled as a private in the army, yet left seeking conscientious objector status.

After leaving the army, I was quite proud of my commitment to peace, as I am now. And some former acquaintances are undoubtedly put off by the cognitive dissonance of a peace activist embracing revolution. But now, unlike then, I can envision something for which I would be willing to fight – other than god or country, which I have long rejected as the basis for killing – and that is continued existence for all life. We are one human family utterly dependent upon Earth’s ecology for shared being. And if we don’t fight the forces of ecocide win and everything dies.

Knowing this, I have followed big dreams with my life, with no guarantees, and very few fundamental regrets. Giving your life to Earth is deeply satisfying. Nonetheless, sometimes I feel so traumatized by what I know is being done to Earth, and what will be the consequences, that I can hardly carry on. I am comforted by the expectation that at some point – those that realize Earth is dying – will have to take matters into their own hands, and will succeed. Indeed, people are coming together now for ecology, workers and rights. Such a people power Earth uprising is the only way we survive together.

clearcut%20small

Recorded in Barcelona, Spain, September 2012

This talk was given at Sapienza University of Rome, September 5, 2012. 

Photos of the talk

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 653 other followers

%d bloggers like this: