Archive for December, 2012


An informative and disturbing documentary on the war on South African rhinos and economic markets, mythologies, crime syndicates, government corruption, high-tech massacre technologies, and vicious mercenaries driving the immanent extinction of this magnificent species. The urgency of the crisis is vividly dramatized, as are the violent urges deep in the human condition, and the armed struggle taking place right now in Africa and elsewhere in the struggle to save animals from extinction and as a vital part of the politics of nature.

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Al Jazeera Correspondent

“It’s a creature from a bygone age, older than mankind itself. Greed and corruption, myth and superstition, had brought the rhino to the brink of extinction.

For millenia its best protection, the rhino’s horn is now its worst enemy. If the killing doesn’t stop than the last rhino in the wild could disappear in just a few years.

These days rhino poachers come by a helicopter armed with powerful tranquilizers and a chainsaw. The cruelty of the attack is just breathtaking. A philosopher once said that we can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. If so what kind of men are doing this?

In 2010 more than 300 rhinos were killed for their horns. With acts of such heartless cruelty taking place every day now, that annual total will almost double in 2012. It amounts to the wholesale slaughter of one of this continent’s most praised natural assets, by means both crude and sophisticated.”

I never thought the day would come I could find a pretext to support to use of lethal US drone planes, but that day has arrived. Amidst the sixth extinction crisis in the history of the planet, this one entirely human-caused, as rhinos and elephants are being butchered into extinction for their lucrative horns worth more than gold on the international market, and as high-tech organized crime syndicates are leading the slaughter, only pacifist traitors to animals, deluded utopian fools, and rhino-killers themselves would take issue with Mr. Vivier’s point that “radical solutions are needed.”

Even armed struggle pitting anti-poachers against poachers has not done enough to stop the implacable slaughter of rhinos, a species expected to be extinct within two years. The war to save the rhinos therefore needs to escalate to another level. From armed struggle to rocket launchers to drone planes, these are means of extensional self-defense, tactics that rhinos themselves would use if they could. But dangerous creatures they are, they are no match for helicopters, mercenaries with machine guns and hatchets, and Asian markets driven by impotent men seeking penis power through the phantasmagoria of ivory aphrodisiac.

Animals under attack in a fierce war of extinction have to rely on human beings with enough sense to grasp the realities of commodified slaughter, merciless killers, and the utter irrelevance and treachery of pacifism in these apocalyptic conditions. But alas, the subjective and objective conditions of struggle are nowhere near advanced enough to take appropriate action and save rhinos, elephants, and countless thousands of other species from immanent extinction.

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Mail Guardian, December 26, 2012

A rhino farmer is planning to use surveillance drones designed for the US military to combat poachers who are driving the animals towards extinction.

Poaching-rhinos

Clive Vivier, co-founder of the Zululand rhino reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, said he was granted permission by the US state department to buy the state-of-the-art Arcturus T-20 drone.

He is now seeking clearance from local civil aviation authorities to put 30 of the drones in South African skies.

Radical solutions are needed, he argued, at the end of a year that saw a record of more than 650 rhinos slaughtered for their horns to meet demand from the Far East.

Vivier said the true figure might be closer to 1 000, a significant dent in a population of about 20 000.

“We’re now eating into our capital of rhino,” he said. “From here they are heading rapidly towards extinction. Despite all our efforts, we’re just historians recording the demise of a species. We don’t have the numbers on the ground to see people and stop them [from] killing the animals.”

Around 400 rhinos were killed this year in the world-famous Kruger National Park, which spans nearly two million hectares – impossible for a limited number of rangers to guard effectively. Vivier estimates it as the equivalent of a town with one policeman for every 100 000 houses, “all with the doors and windows and open and rhino horn inside”.

He continued: “We need to change the rules of the game. We need technology. The only thing that can see these people before they do the dirty deed is surveillance drones.”

The answer, he believes, is the unmanned Arcturus T-20, which, with a 17ft wingspan, can fly for 16 hours without refuelling at a height of 4572 meters. Its lack of noise and infrared camera would be invaluable for spotting poachers at night. “It can tell whether a man is carrying a shovel or firearm and whether he has his finger on the trigger or not,” said Vivier (65). “We can see the poacher but he can’t see us. We’re good at arresting them when we know where they are. Otherwise it’s a needle in a haystack.”

Vivier has spent two years in talks with civil aviation officials and is hopeful that he will soon get the green light for a six-month trial. He proposes 10 of the drones for Kruger park, and a further 20 for other vulnerable reserves in South Africa.

He estimates that each drone would cost roughly $300 000 (R2.5-million) to keep in the air for two years, making a total of around $9-million (R77-million).

“The drones are economical to fly and will get us information at a very low cost. We need this technology to put us in a position to catch the guys. We need to do it before they kill rhino. The drone is, in my opinion, the only solution. It is highly sophisticated and can see things no other technology can.”

After the worst rhino poaching year on record in South Africa, air technology is seen as a crucial preventative step. Earlier this month, a reconnaissance plane with surveillance equipment including thermal imaging began patrolling over Kruger park.

But Vivier said such alternatives lack the Calfornia-built Arcturus T-20’s capability. “The smaller ones are like using a bucket to put out a fire at the Empire State building. We need fire engines. We’re now an inferno. If we don’t wake up and do something, the world will lose the rhino.”

He appealed to the US, United Kingdom and other countries to help raise the necessary funds. “The company making the drones has to be paid and we don’t have the money. We need the best technology because the criminals are sharp. We’ve had approval from the US state department and we’re trying to work with them. It’s a world problem and the rest of the world needs to help us.”

Vivier is among a group of rhino farmers who believe that legalising the trade in horn would thwart the black market and reduce poaching. Several conservation groups disagree and call for measures that will reduce demand in countries such as Vietnam, where horn is seen as a delicacy with health benefits.

Ike Phaahla, a spokesperson for South African National Parks, welcomed moves to put eyes in the sky. “In the past three months that is a strategy we have decided to use,” he said. “We are able to use the intelligence to intercept the poachers, although you can’t have a silver bullet for this kind of thing.”

Performed by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Lyrics by Billy Strayhorn

I used to visit all the very gay places,
those come-what-may places.
Where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life,
to get the feel of life —
from jazz and cocktails.

The girls I knew had sad and sullen gray faces,
with distant gay traces,
that used to be there you could see where
they’d been washed away
by too many through the day.
Twelve O’Clocktails.

Then you came along with your siren’s song
to tempt me to madness;
I thought for a while that your poignant smile
was tinged with the sadness
of a great love for me …
Ah yes, I was wrong …
again, I was wrong.

Life is lonely, again
and only last year,
everything seemed so sure.
Now life is awful, again,
the thoughtful of heart
could only be a bore.

A week in Paris will ease the bite of it,
all I care is to smile in spite of it.
I’ll forget you, I will
while yet, you are still
burning inside my brain …

Romance is mush,
stifling those who strive.
I’ll live a lush life
in some small dive …
And there I’ll be,
while I rot with the rest
of those whose lives are lonely too …

This only touches on the surface of a growing problem (see this past post, for instance).  I encourage readers to submit more documentation of these sick fucks who masquerade as “artists” in order to document yet another aspect of the Animal Holocaust Industry comprised of opportunists who make careers (vivisectors, “artists,” academics, and others) off animal exploitation (which unfortunately includes nearly all animal studies, “critical” or otherwise). The more of this demented “art” I see, the more I fear this is not a “trend,” but the institutionalization of a new genre that lays out the welcome mat for any pretentious sociopath seeking entry into the “art” world with all the fame and money it can bring.

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Randy Malumud, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 23, 2012

Vengeful Tiger, Glowing Rabbit

A photograph from the “Perishables” series, in which models wear parts of raw, dead chickens.

Americans do weird things with animals.

Perhaps our imperious stance toward other species and the rest of the living world grows out of the same sensibility embodied in the 19th-century ideology of Manifest Destiny, invoked to justify unbounded American expansionism.

Today, with our having achieved geopolitical dominance, the ethos persists in our drive to conquer nature. More habitats must be bulldozed, more wetlands repurposed, more wilderness plundered in the name of American progress.

We have a dysfunctional and sometimes paranoid compulsion to disarm the threat we see emanating from nature as other. Consciously or subconsciously, our cultural exploitation of animals often facilitates this agenda of disempowering the nonhuman realm. We seem to embrace Freud’s expression that a civilized society is one in which “wild and dangerous animals have been exterminated.”

When we encounter other animals, we often selfishly abuse and manipulate them. When a person and an animal meet, the animal generally ends up somehow the worse for it. We simply do not understand them, and we are poorer for that.

Our cultural interactions and visual representations are ecologically significant. The way we relate to animals in culture affects how we relate to them in nature. The imaginative exploitation of animals foreshadows more-literal and destructive incursions into their world.

People’s weird constructions of other animals are ways of figuratively exterminating them: defusing their wildness and “danger,” transforming their powers into harmless, clownish impotence. Eduardo Kac, for instance, created what he calls a GFP Bunny (transgenically modifying a rabbit with green fluorescent protein produced by jellyfish) that glows in the dark. Such ecological irreverence typifies the conceit that we can do what we want with animals, because … we can do what we want with animals.

The GFP Bunny is a rabbit implanted with green fluorescent protein (from jellyfish) so that it glows.

What might the world look like if we could transcend the demeaning, received ideas about other animals and try seeing them in ethically and ecologically reasonable ways? “What is at stake ultimately,” Erica Fudge writes in Animal (Reaktion, 2002), “is our own ability to think beyond ourselves.” Continue reading

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

As a startling United Nations report recently said, by 2050, or much, much sooner, the world will be”unrecognizable,” because OF melting ice caps, drought, desertification, food shortages, scarcity wars, and rapid human population growth. The consequences will be systematic and affect humans, animals, and the environment in profound ways, the melting of the Arctic ice is just one of many profound, simultaneously unfolding anthropogenic-induced changes that will wreak utter havoc on this planet.

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Fen Montaigne, August 30, 2012, Yale Environment 360

Scientists say this year’s record declines in Arctic sea ice extent and volume are powerful evidence that the giant cap of ice at the top of the planet is on a trajectory to largely disappear in summer within a decade or two, with profound global consequences.

As the northern summer draws to a close, two milestones have been reached in the Arctic Ocean — record-low sea ice extent, and an even more dramatic new low in Arctic sea ice volume. This extreme melting offers dramatic evidence, many scientists say, that the region’s sea ice has passed a tipping point and that sometime in the next decade or two the North Pole will be largely ice-free in summer.

NASA and U.S. ice experts announced earlier this week that the extent of Arctic sea ice has dropped to 4.1 million square kilometers (1.58 million square miles) — breaking the previous record set in 2007 — and will likely continue to fall even farther until mid-September. As the summer melt season ends, the Arctic Ocean will be covered with 45 percent less ice than the average from 1979 to 2000.


Arctic Sea Ice Extent August 2012

On August 26, Arctic sea ice reached a new record-low summer extent.

Even more striking is the precipitous decline in the volume of ice in the Arctic Ocean. An analysis conducted by the University of Washington’s Pan Arctic Ice Ocean Model Assimilation System (PIOMAS) estimates that sea ice volumes fell in late August to roughly 3,500 cubic kilometers — a 72-percent drop from the 1979-2010 mean.

Peter Wadhams, who heads the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge and who has been measuring Arctic Ocean ice thickness from British Navy submarines, says that earlier calculations about Arctic sea ice loss have grossly underestimated how rapidly the ice is disappearing. He believes that the Arctic is likely to become ice-free before 2020 and possibly as early as 2015 or 2016 — decades ahead of projections made just a few years ago.

Mark Drinkwater, mission scientist for the European Space Agency’s CryoSat satellite and the agency’s senior advisor on polar regions, said he and his colleagues have been taken aback by the swiftness of Arctic sea ice retreat in the last 5 years. “If this rate of melting [in 2012] is sustained in 2013, we are staring down the barrel and looking at a summer Arctic which is potentially free of sea ice within this decade,” Drinkwater said in an e-mail interview.

A small number of climate scientists say that natural variability may be playing a significant role in the rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice, intensifying human-caused climate change, and they caution against predicting the imminent demise of the region’s summer sea ice. But an overwhelming majority of Arctic ice experts say that recent data offer powerful evidence that summer sea ice has passed a point of no return.

The dramatic ice loss is being driven by a several key factors, scientists say. Chief among them is that decades of warming have so extensively melted and thinned Arctic sea ice that rapidly expanding areas of dark, open water are absorbing ever-greater amounts of the sun’s radiation, further warming the region in a vicious cycle.

Second, swiftly warming air and ocean temperatures in the Arctic have, for now at least, altered atmospheric activity, with two consequences: Warmer air is being pulled into the Arctic, and increased storms and cyclones in summer are not only driving ice out of the Arctic basin, but also breaking up the ice pack and further exposing more dark water.

And finally there is the inescapable reality that steadily rising levels of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere by human activity are continuing to warm the Arctic and the rest of the globe, further hastening the loss of Arctic Ocean ice. Several experts say that the only thing that could slow this disappearance — and then only for a few years — would be a major volcanic eruption that reduces the amount of the sun’s energy striking the earth.

“It’s sobering to see the Arctic change so rapidly,” said Ted Scambos, senior research scientist at the National Snow & Ice Data Center in Colorado. “Simply staring at the satellite data that we’re seeing every day is awesome, but in a sad sort of way. It doesn’t look like the Arctic anymore. The summer ice used to look like a cap that nearly filled the Arctic basin. It now looks like a raft with room on every side. You can imagine what it’s going to look like when the North Pole is open water, when there is only a tiny amount of ice left in August and September. The planet will look a lot different.”

The loss of the great white dome of ice at the top of the world in summer will have profound effects, scientists say. These include a reduction of the amount of solar radiation reflected back into space by the ice, significant changes to the jet stream and Northern Hemispheric weather patterns, and even-more rapid warming in the far north, speeding the melting of Greenland’s massive ice sheets and increasing global sea levels.

In addition to these impacts, said Drinkwater, “Increased storminess will generate ocean wave systems which, un-damped by the presence of sea ice, will pound the circumpolar north coastlines. Current rates of coastal permafrost degradation will be accelerated, leading to significant coastal erosion and reconfiguration of the high-latitude shoreline. Meanwhile, we have also recently heard about the potential for release of sub-sea methane deposits and thereby an acceleration of the current greenhouse effect.”

The record low sea ice extent in 2007 of 4.2 million square kilometers was due to some unusual circumstances, including a sunny summer in the Arctic and higher temperatures. Summer sea ice extent rebounded somewhat in the next several years, rising to 5.3 million square kilometers in 2009, giving some hope to mainstream scientists that Arctic sea ice was not in a “death spiral.”

But Scambos and other experts say that recent data on plummeting ice extent and volume show that the Arctic has entered a “new normal” in which ice decline seems irreversible. Because of thinning ice and swiftly expanding areas of open water, the Arctic Ocean will no longer be kept frigid in summer by the reflectivity of snow and ice — the so-called ice-albedo effect, in which ice and snow reflect a high percentage of the sun’s energy back into space.

Arctic Sea Ice NASA

Melting Arctic sea ice.

Thick sea ice that formed over many years is increasingly rare in the Arctic. In the 1960s, submarines routinely encountered 12-foot-thick ice around the North Pole and 20-foot-thick ice in some other areas; now those regions often contain ice that is only three to four feet thick. Many parts of the Arctic Ocean are now covered with thin, year-old ice that melts quickly in spring and summer.

This spring, noted Scambos, extensive late winter snow cover on land melted unusually rapidly, reaching record low levels by June. Sea ice across much of the Arctic began to melt 10 to 14 days earlier than in the preceding few decades. Relatively clear skies from late May through June further hastened the melting of sea ice, but even as cloudier weather prevailed in July and August, the record sea ice retreat continued.

“The sensitivity of the Arctic to a warm summer is much higher now than it was in the 1990s or early 2000s,” said Scambos. “What we’re seeing last year and this year is that 2007 wasn’t a fluke. As we’ve gone forward a few years, we’re seeing that many different patterns of weather lead to significant sea ice loss in the Arctic.”

Scambos does not foresee summer sea ice in the Arctic largely disappearing this decade, estimating that such an event could occur around 2030, “plus or minus a decade.” He said the “endgame” of Arctic summer sea ice will probably mean that around 1 million square kilometers — about 15 percent of what existed in the mid-20th century — will remain in the Canadian High Arctic and some other regions, leaving the North Pole generally ice-free in August and September.

Drinkwater said that changing weather patterns, related to more heat and moisture being released into the Arctic atmosphere, have played a significant role in accelerating sea ice loss. Sea ice retreat in the past decade has been accompanied by a trend toward lower atmospheric pressure and more storms and cyclonic activity, which in turn breaks up the pack ice and exposes more open water. A powerful Arctic storm earlier this month did just that, Drinkwater noted.

He said that Arctic sea ice could conceivably rebound for some period of time if atmospheric circulation changes and a pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation — currently in a positive phase — moves into a negative phase and ushers in a period of prolonged high atmospheric pressure and fewer storms. This, said Drinkwater, would enable sea ice to remain trapped in the Arctic basin and thicken.

“However,” added Drinkwater, “this seems like blind hope in a system whose feedbacks all appear geared to getting rid of sea ice.”

Judith Curry, a climatologist and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said that while global warming is “almost certainly” affecting Arctic sea ice, she cautioned that there is a great deal of annual and decadal variability in sea ice cover. She said that the next 5 to 10 years could see a shift in Arctic sea ice behavior, though exactly in which direction is difficult to predict.

“I don’t see [the] summer of 2012 portending some sort of near-term `spiral of death’ in the sea ice behavior,” Curry said in an e-mail interview. “I don’t think this apparent record sea ice minimum is of particular significance in our understanding of climate variability and change of Arctic sea ice.”

 

A vivid example of how the politics of nature – relating to the struggles to preserve animals, biodiversity, and ecosystems — has become at least as important as any social movement struggle. Of course, the article shows that the two political struggles are hardly inseparable, and that if we want to preserve biodiversity and ecological integrity, then we must also preserve the existence and rights of indigenous peoples. Because sure as hell, global corporations, bankers, dictators, imperialists, militarists, and mercenaries exist only to rob and destroy, not protect and disturb. Yet another example of how we need to speak of total liberation, or don’t speak of liberation at all.

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William Allen, Yale Environment 360, October 8, 2012

In Guatemala’s vast Maya Biosphere Reserve, conservation groups are battling to preserve a unique rainforest now under threat from Mexican drug cartels, Salvadoran drug gangs, and Chinese-backed groups illegally logging prime tropical hardwoods.The 200-foot summit of Temple IV in the ancient Maya city of Tikal provides a spectacular view of Central America’s largest expanse of intact rainforest. In the late afternoon, spider monkeys dangle from nearby branches, stretching to pick small fruits. The guttural barks of howler monkeys echo through the canopy — a lush green broken only by the occasional flash of lemon yellow from a swooping toucan.This lowland forest is the heart of the Maya Biosphere Reserve of northern Guatemala, a 2.1 million-hectare (5.2 million-acre) sanctuary that covers 19 percent of the country and contains roughly 60 percent of its protected area. The UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve sustains a wide array of biodiversity, most notably the last remaining population of a key subspecies of scarlet macaw.

In Guatemala’s vast Maya Biosphere Reserve, conservation groups are battling to preserve a unique rainforest now under threat from Mexican drug cartels, Salvadoran drug gangs, and Chinese-backed groups illegally logging prime tropical hardwoods.The 200-foot summit of Temple IV in the ancient Maya city of Tikal provides a spectacular view of Central America’s largest expanse of intact rainforest. In the late afternoon, spider monkeys dangle from nearby branches, stretching to pick small fruits. The guttural barks of howler monkeys echo through the canopy — a lush green broken only by the occasional flash of lemon yellow from a swooping toucan.This lowland forest is the heart of the Maya Biosphere Reserve of northern Guatemala, a 2.1 million-hectare (5.2 million-acre) sanctuary that covers 19 percent of the country and contains roughly 60 percent of its protected area. The UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve sustains a wide array of biodiversity, most notably the last remaining population of a key subspecies of scarlet macaw.

Conservation groups are helping restore scarlet macaw populations in the Maya Biosphere Reserve.

But this magnificent creature and others that inhabit the reserve — jaguars, pumas, Guatemalan black howler monkeys, Baird’s tapirs — are being pressured not just by the standard threats common to tropical regions, such as illegal logging, fires, and commercial hunting. Even more virulent forces are gnawing away at the Maya Biosphere Reserve, including Mexican drug cartels that cut into the forest to build airstrips to transport drugs, Salvadoran gangs that carve out huge cattle ranches to launder drug money, and Chinese organized crime groups moving their illegal logging network toward the reserve to supply Asian markets with prime tropical hardwoods.

As a result, this natural and cultural treasure — the heart of the Selva Maya, a forest spanning the borders of Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize — has in recent years effectively been cut in two. The western side, which includes two of the reserve’s five national parks and is bordered on the west and the north by Mexico, is under siege, according to Guatemalan park officials. The eastern part of the reserve, where Tikal rises above the jungle canopy and which borders Belize, is lush and intact.

“The story of the Maya Biosphere Reserve has increasingly become a tale of two reserves — one of conservation successes and one of failures,” says Roan McNab, director of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Guatemala program. McNab is a pivotal figure in a coalition of Guatemalan and foreign conservation groups battling to preserve the eastern half of the reserve and claw back some of the denuded lands of the western sector.

Much is at stake, as the reserve and the surrounding Selva Maya are the largest block of intact forest north of the Amazon Basin. The reserve supports 513 of Guatemala’s bird species (71 percent of the national total), 122 mammal species (64 percent), 95 reptile species (39 percent), and more than 80 species of neotropical migrant birds from North America. It enshrouds Tikal, a national park and World Heritage Site, and hundreds of other vestiges of Mayan civilization.

The international coalition struggling to preserve the heart of the reserve has enjoyed some important successes. Scarlet macaws are making a comeback thanks to intensive restoration efforts. The presence of the civilian government and military has grown. Prosecution of environmental crimes is up, albeit slightly. And community-based forest concessions have brought some rural Guatemalans sustainable income and empowered them in managing parts of the reserve.

“There’s a greater social awareness now of the importance of preserving environmental stability,” says Rolman Hernandez, director of the Petén region of Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CONAP), the Guatemalan park service. The reserve covers more than half of the Petén, the largest and northernmost of Guatemala’s 22 departments, or provinces.

Tikal

The World Heritage site at Tikal is among hundreds of historic Mayan sites in the Maya Biosphere Reserve.

The region that became the Maya Biosphere Reserve was once a vast mix of lowland rainforest, wetlands, lagoons, lakes, rivers, and mangrove forests. As many as 2 million people lived here at the peak of Mayan civilization, around 800 A.D., archeologists estimate. Then came the Mayan decline and Spanish conquest.

Until the 1960s, the region consisted of a few isolated forest villages. Then roads, built mainly to access oil and timber, opened the the area to illegal colonization and slash-and-burn agriculture. The reserve was created in 1990 to help control deforestation, but CONAP, financially strapped and often overruled by government officials friendly to the ranchers, has been hampered in its attempts to control the wave of destruction, McNab and others say. Today the human population is 118,000, with most living in poverty.

Criminal activity in the area began to intensify a decade ago, further accelerating the destruction of the western half of the reserve. An important factor is that northern Guatemala is ideally situated to refuel drug aircraft flying from South America and transfer narcotics to trucks for the easy drive to Mexico. The cartels operated in a “climate of impunity” since the army and police lacked the power to take them on, McNab says. The ranchers built dozens of airstrips, including one dubbed the “international airport,” which had three runways and more than a dozen abandoned aircraft. The result was a loss of 40,000 hectares of forest.

Guatemalans have developed a new term for what’s happening in the region: narcoganaderia, a combination of the Spanish words for drugs and cattle ranching. The cartels launder drug money by investing in cattle production and reaping profits from cattle sales in Mexican markets.

CONAP officials say evidence of the work of Chinese-backed criminal groups lies in the yard behind the agency’s Petén headquarters, in San Benito. The yard is crowded with timber and confiscated vehicles. Victor Penados, CONAP’s coordinator of control and vigilance for the reserve, points to a pile of rosewood confiscated from suppliers to Chinese criminal groups. The wood comes from one of several recent timber-smuggling busts by the government reported in national news media. This pile, confiscated from a truck delivering the wood to the Caribbean seaport of Puerto San Tomas de Castillo for shipment to China, has a market value of $125,000, Penados estimates.

Operatives with Chinese criminal cartels have been conducting illegal logging just south of the reserve, according to CONAP. McNab fears it won’t be long before the Chinese-backed groups start cutting inside the reserve itself and then turn to intensive jaguar poaching for body parts to serve a Chinese market that is already driving Asian big cats toward extinction.

This conservation drama is playing out under extreme conditions. CONAP and WCS staffers have been threatened many times. Some have been taken hostage, while others have had to “disappear” for several weeks after raids to reclaim illegally acquired ranchland. McNab himself was held at gunpoint by two looters of a Mayan ruin deep in the jungle. I was accompanied into the forest with as many as five armed security guards as we traveled near cartel ranches. Always in the back of my mind were the nation’s poverty, corruption, history of dictatorship, lawlessness, and 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996.

The influence of illegal logging and ranching in the reserve is evident in a series of three CONAP land-use maps showing a wave of fires and land clearing that gobbled up large green swaths of forest from 2000 to 2011, especially in the western section. McNab warns that if law enforcement does not improve, the reserve faces a “chain of falling dominoes threatening to sweep eastward all the way to Guatemala’s border with Belize.”

Maya Biosphere Map

The 2.1 million-hectare Maya Biosphere Reserve covers 19 percent of Guatemala.

Nowhere is the tale of two reserves more visible than at the Guacamayas Biological Station in Laguna del Tigre National Park. To the south, across the Rio San Pedro and beyond, stretches a vast plain of ranchland, the raw result of deforestation. To the north, the rainforest canopy rolls untattered all the way to the border with Mexico. In 2008, scientists discovered a 1,100-hectare clear-cut smack in the middle of that expanse. It turned out to be a large cattle ranch linked to a Salvadoran gang involved in drug trafficking.

Such forest destruction has in recent decades reduced by 75 percent the habitat of the region’s scarlet macaws, a subspecies of the scarlet macaws found farther south in Latin America and the last remaining macaws in the wild in Guatemala. By 2000, scarlet macaws had nearly been extirpated in the reserve. A 2003 WCS study estimated that the population, mostly centered in the forest to the east of Laguna del Tigre park, had dropped to 200 birds. That year, the researchers monitored 15 nests, but only one chick successfully fledged.

But a program of predator control, environmental education in local schools, and hand-rearing by veterinarians brought the number of successful macaw fledglings to 29 in 2011 and 49 for this year’s nesting season. Says McNab, “We feel pretty good about adding that number of birds to the population. That’s big in terms of saving the species.”

To halt continuing deforestation, CONAP and its allies have established what they call “the Shield” — a lattice of trails running along the eastern border of Laguna del Tigre park, anchored by three major bases for patrols by CONAP, the army, national police, and others. Patrols and arrests have risen steadily over the past four years.

If the success or failure of the Shield will determine whether the western front of the reserve holds, what happens in villages like Uaxactún will decide whether the eastern part will avoid destruction from within.

Uaxactún, population 280, is one of 14 villages awarded government concessions more than a decade ago as part of an experiment in community-based forest management. The concessions, covering nearly one-fourth of the reserve, require residents to protect the forest ecosystems and manage its wood and other resources sustainably.

The villagers must refrain from poaching, intensive logging, slash-and-burn farming, and other unsustainable practices, as well as patrol for and report any such illegal activity. In return, CONAP, WCS, and other groups provide technical and financial support for forest-product ventures. Dozens of residents now work in sustainable harvesting of timber, date palm fronds, chicle for chewing gum, and other non-timber products from the forest. Others work in the village sawmill and woodworking shop.

Village leaders say the concession is working well. But not all the concessions have been so successful, according to a study published in March in the journal Forest Ecology and Management. Among reasons for the problems were limited funding, the low CONAP budget, pressure from illegal ranching, and land speculation.

The effort in the village of Cruce a la Colorada was one of the failures. In 2010, disputes between ranchers and concession managers became so heated that concession members received death threats. A community leader was assassinated. In the ensuing climate of fear, the project collapsed.

But the conservation groups remain hopeful.

“You can grapple with these governance issues and you can have success,” McNab says. “It takes an integrated strategy working with a huge suite of partners, but it can be done.”

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

By Colin TodhunterGlobal Research, December 20, 2012

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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?

This is a long, sometimes technical, but most worthwhile read. It lays out clearly the connection between a grow-or-die capitalist economy and the rapidly-worsening ecological crisis. It demonstrates that capitalism is inherently unsustainable and ecocidal, and that any talk of reform or “green capitalism,” or veganism as the panacea for our problems is absurd.

The most immediate crisis we face today is that of a metastasizing global capitalism economy, and unless this entire system can be dismantled and radically reconstituted, I see no chance of survival for the millions of species inhabiting this planet including the only true malignant predator and inexorable force of destruction, Homo rapiens.

The problem, of course, is not only the violent and dysfunctional animal that humans are, but the catastrophic results that follow when human primates organize growth-oriented, hierarchical systems of domination, and these eventually evolve into a capitalist economy addicted to growth, and the resource extraction this system demands, especially now with over 7 billion people consuming well over 100 billion land and sea animals a year.

There is hope, and somewhere in the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea there is my wallet which I lost seven years ago and perhaps that might turn up too.

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By John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, Z-Net, December 10, 2012

Capitalism today is caught in a seemingly endless crisis, with economic stagnation and upheaval circling the globe.1 But while the world has been fixated on the economic problem, global environmental conditions have been rapidly worsening, confronting humanity with its ultimate crisis: one of long-term survival. The common source of both of these crises resides in the process of capital accumulation. Likewise the common solution is to be sought in a “revolutionary reconstitution of society at large,” going beyond the regime of capital.2

It is still possible for humanity to avert what economist Robert Heilbroner once called “ecological Armageddon.”3 The means for the creation of a just and sustainable world currently exist, and are to be found lying hidden in the growing gap between what could be achieved with the resources already available to us, and what the prevailing social order allows us to accomplish. It is this latent potential for a quite different human metabolism with nature that offers the master-key to a workable ecological exit strategy.

The Approaching Ecological Precipice

Science today tells us that we have a generation at most in which to carry out a radical transformation in our economic relations, and our relations with the earth, if we want to avoid a major tipping point or “point of no return,” after which vast changes in the earth’s climate will likely be beyond our ability to prevent and will be irreversible.4 At that point it will be impossible to stop the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland from continuing to melt, and thus the sea level from rising by as much as “tens of meters.”5 Nor will we be able to prevent the Arctic sea ice from vanishing completely in the summer months, or carbon dioxide and methane from being massively released by the decay of organic matter currently trapped beneath the permafrost—both of which would represent positive feedbacks dangerously accelerating climate change. Extreme weather events will become more and more frequent and destructive.

An article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated that the record-breaking heat wave that hit the Moscow area in 2010 with disastrous effect was made five times more likely, in the decade ending in that year as compared with earlier decades, due to the warming trend, implying “an approximate 80% probability” that it “would not have occurred without climate warming.” Other instances of extreme weather such as the deadly European heat wave in 2003 and the serious drought in Oklahoma and Texas in 2011, have been shown to be connected to earth warming. Hurricane Sandy, which devastated much of New York and New Jersey at the end of October 2012, was impacted and amplified to a considerable extent by climate change.6

The point of irreversible climate change is usually thought of as a 2°C (3.6°F) increase in global average temperature, which has been described as equivalent at the planetary level to the “cutting down of the last palm tree” on Easter Island. An increase of 2°C in global average temperature coincides roughly with cumulative carbon emissions of around one trillion metric tons. Based on past emissions trends it is predicted by climate scientists at Oxford University that we will hit the one trillion metric ton mark in 2043, or thirty-one years from now. We could avoid emitting the trillionth metric ton if we were to reduce our carbon emissions beginning immediately by an annual rate of 2.4 percent a year.7

To be sure, climate science is not exact enough to pinpoint precisely how much warming will push us past a planetary tipping point.8 But all the recent indications are that if we want to avoid planetary disaster we need to stay considerably below 2°C. As a result, almost all governments have signed on to staying below 2°C as a goal at the urging of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. More and more, 2°C has come to symbolize the reality of a planetary point of no return. In this sense, all the discussions of what the climate will be like if the world warms to 3°C, or all the way to 6°C, are relatively meaningless.9 Before such temperatures are attained, we will have already reached the limits of our ability to control the climate-change process, and we will then be left with the task of adapting to apocalyptic ecological conditions. Already Arctic sea ice experienced a record melt in the summer of 2012 with some scientists predicting an ice-free Arctic in the summer as early as 2016–2020. In the words of James Hansen, the world’s leading climatologist, we are facing a “planetary emergency”—since if we approach 2°C “we will have started a process that is out of humanity’s control.”10 Continue reading

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 …….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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