Archive for the climate change Category

American and Canadian Politics – A brief comparison and lay of the land

Posted in alternative, alternatives, American politics, analysis, Barack Obama, Canada, Canadian, Canadian politics, civil liberties, class, climate change, common ground, consciousness, conservative, Conservative Party, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, coup, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, deep integration, democracy, Democrat, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, ecological crisis, ecology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2013 by jtoddring

Canada and the US have the largest trading relationship in the world between any two countries, as well as the longest undefended border in the world, and share a great deal in common as friends and neighbours. The public opinion polls have shown repeatedly and for decades that, like most of the world, the values of the great majority of the people in both countries are centre-left, and frankly, democratic socialist – although most people, especially in the United States, are unaware of this fact; mainly because they get their “news and analysis” from the corporate and state-run media, and have been brainwashed and indoctrinated to believe, at least in the US, that socialism is the equivalent of Stalinism – which of course could not be further from the truth.

(Since the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, when Leninism was finally thoroughly discredited, most socialists around the world have been highly wary of state power, and highly opposed to authoritarianism or tyranny of any kind. And for the far larger number of people world-wide who hold socialist values – the values of compassion, cooperation, solidarity, freedom and equality – but would not call themselves socialist, the same is true: there is a healthy skepticism and wariness toward government and the state, and a strong aversion and opposition to any form of tyranny, authoritarianism or abuse of power of any kind. This is what I mean by socialism being fundamentally at odds with such tyranny as we saw in the former Soviet Union.

Yes, the Soviet rulers called themselves socialists, and they called their gulag empire socialist – and they did that because they wanted to enhance their credibility with the people. And the Western powers, being pro-corporate, liked to call the Soviet tyranny by the name of socialism, in order to discredit socialism by associating it with tyranny. Both the Kremlin and the Western corporatists were lying however. Soviet style totalitarianism has nothing to do with genuine socialism. It was simply another form of neo-feudal elite rule, and the tyranny of the few over the many. Socialism is about freedom and the emancipation and empowerment of the people, or it is about nothing at all, and does not deserve the name.

Prior to the collapse of the Soviet empire and the final discrediting of Leninism, there were two camps of socialism, from its inception, which came out of the Enlightenment. There were those who followed Marx and later Lenin, and who were definite statists with a strong authoritarian, if not totalitarian streak; and there were the libertarian socialists, following in the tradition of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rocker, Bookchin and Chomsky, who were and are adamantly opposed to the statists and to authoritarianism or tyranny of any kind. After the fall of the Soviet Bloc and the final, thorough discrediting of Leninism, outside of a few small pockets, such as North Korea, only the latter kind of socialists remain, by and large, and the vast majority of socialists now are passionately opposed any form of excess or abuse of state power.

But let’s stick to specifics, and skip over the labels and isms, which tend only to cause schisms, and lead to further misunderstanding.)

The great majority of the people in both Canada and the United States, as with the majority of the people in most nations today, are in favour of strong social programs to help the poor and the working class; a fair and equitable distribution of both wealth and also power; authentic, participatory democracy; rule by constitutional law, with respect for freedom, civil liberties and minority rights; strong environmental programs and regulations; peace, and an end to war and militarism; universal public health care; jobs for all, and other centre-left policies.

But despite what the people want, the corporate powers have taken over, and they rule the two countries to their pleasing, compromising with the people only when they feel they have no other choice, and only for as long and to the extent that they feel they must.

Still, there are, of course, major differences between Canada and the US, as well as commonalities, and these do not end with the very differing views and culture with regards to guns.

Here is a rough translation of Canadian political culture for Americans and others who may be unfamiliar with the political landscape of the second largest country on earth, the holder of the largest oil and mineral resources on earth, the pantry to the American empire, one of the richest nations on the planet, and a member of the G7 group of nations.

Generally speaking, a conservative Canadian = a very “progressive” Democrat. A liberal Canadian today – after the major slide of all of the major North American political parties to the right over the past thirty years – is to the left of that, but still centrist and pro-corporate, wittingly, or more often, unwittingly. A New Democratic Party supporter in Canada is minimally left of centre, on average – when viewed by world standards of course, and not the extreme right wing politics that now dominate both parties of the US – though NDPers are typically wishy-washy and passive, and by and large are content to moan from the sidelines, and let the two major parties of corporate rule, rule.

Far right Republicans seem to most Canadians to be straight out of Dr. Strangelove – there really aren’t many people in this country that would even call them sane. We kind of look at them as something akin to Frankenstein’s monster – surreal, almost a comic book fiction, but frightening and disturbing nonetheless.

Not that anyone in Canada with half a wit of political savvy is any fan of Obama now, if they ever were, with his incessant and ever-expanding wars, his murderous drone campaign, his shredding of civil liberties and the Constitution, his support for a global surveillance state and also fracking, the Keystone pipeline and generally ecological holocaust-inducing policies, or his on-going massive bail-outs and protection for the Wall Street elite and big banks who funded his election and put him in power, but that is an aside.

We must note also, at least in passing, though it is beyond the scope of this short article, that with the signing of the SPP, the “Security and Prosperity Partnership”, Canada and Mexico agreed to a “deep integration” with the United States in a new “Fortress North America”, as the elite who thought up and pushed through the agreement called it: a deep integration in the realms of economics, law and regulations, military, security and intelligence services – meaning, an essential union of the three nations, without calling it a union – the fate of Canada is now tied to the sinking ship of the United States, and worse, to the corporate powers which rule over it: at least until and unless the people decide to assert and to actively reclaim their sovereignty, and say no to the dissolution of national democracies and their submergence into larger power blocks under corporate rule. I have written on this extremely important subject elsewhere, so I will say no more about it here for the moment. I would urge all Americans, Canadians and Mexicans to look into the subject for themselves, however.

All that being said, and with the acknowledgment that US politics are far to the right of Canadian politics, to say nothing of Europe, it must be understood that neoliberalism, or the ideology of the super-rich who dominate and rule the country – which means, corporate globalization and corporate rule, or more simply, freedom for the ruling corporate elite to do as they please, and subjugation, soup lines and sweat shops for the rest – this corporatist ideology has, for the moment at least, conquered Canada, just as it has conquered the United States and most of the world.

The people of Canada, as in the US and most nations today, do not believe in the ideology of corporate globalization, neoliberalism, corporatism or corporate rule – which are essentially different ways of saying the same thing. This ideology has lost the battle in the propaganda wars, the battle for the hearts and minds of the people. The ideology of the ruling elite has been thoroughly defeated. But, and this is the big “but” – the corporate elite have seized power, and have put their ideology and their agenda into practice, the people be damned, and they are advancing it further every day. And they continue to rule, which means their failed and failing ideology continues to rule, despite the deep and growing crisis of legitimacy which they face; simply because the people have not yet embraced their power, but instead, passively acquiesce and do not challenge the illegitimate and unjust, frankly suicidal and ecocidal rule of the global corporate and banking elite. 

The corporate coup has taken over democracy here in Canada, and it is actively tearing it to shreds and devouring it, just as it has done and is actively doing in the US and most nations in the world today. The major difference between Canada and the US is that the drive towards full corporatization of the society is less brutal here than in the United States, primarily because Canada has a long tradition of tolerant, freedom-loving, constitutional social democracy, and the valuing of compassion and mutual aid; and the people would not stand for a gloves-off, rapid fire destruction of all social programs and safety nets, or a more rapid move towards stark neo-feudal corporate rule. But make no mistake: we are heading down the same road – and will continue to do so, until the Canadian people find their cajones, and stand up.

The same is true in America and Europe, and most nations world-wide.

Stand up people. It is time.

J. Todd Ring,
October 10, 2013

Reclaiming democracy for the common good – and for the survival and future of our children: the political economy of environmental sanity and democratic renewal

Posted in activism, AFA, AFC, alternative, alternatives, American Freedom Agenda, American Freedom Campaign, analysis, books, capitalism, Chomsky, class, climate change, common ground, consciousness, conservation, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, democratic deficit, disaster, ecological crisis, ecology, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, Eric Fromm, fascism, Feudalism, fossil fuel, geopolitics, global warming, globalism, globalization, imperialism, inspiration, money, must-read, national democracies, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, oil, peak oil, people's movements, philosophy, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, politics of oil, post-carbon, reading, renewable, resources, social theory, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the world's other superpower, tipping point, war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2011 by jtoddring

September 27, 2011, the Global Footprint Network declared as Earth Overshoot Day: the day that humans have used up all renewable resources available for the year. Not good. This obviously cannot continue. Limitless growth in material consumption and “production” clearly cannot be sustained on a finite planet. (We can have limitless growth in culture, the arts, science, the mind, spirituality and quality of life, but not in material production and consumption.) We are depleting our collective inheritance: which should rightfully be shared equitably, through democratic popular control of the commons to which we all share usafructory rights – despite our present unjust and unwise socio-economic, legal and cultural norms – as well as used wisely and compassionately, and not squandered. We are rapidly draining nature’s capital, to put it in crass economic terms, which are the only terms most politicians and pundits and corporate elites seem to understand. We are racing towards ecological bankruptcy at an ever-accelerating rate, and will see our children live as beggars in an ocean of toxic waste if we don’t change our course, and fast. Of course, most people – aside from the business and political elite – understand this by now. But awareness is not enough. It is high time for much more serious action.

“Climate change — human-made global warming — is happening.  It is already having noticeable impacts…. If we stay on with business as usual, the southern U.S. will become almost uninhabitable…. It is time for all of us to get Tea-Party-angry about what our political system has become and about the intergenerational injustice being perpetrated on young people.”
– NASA’s leading climatologist

Addressing the present and rapidly escalating environmental crisis which humanity undeniably faces will require more of us than a simple act of recycling or “buying green.” It will require, above all, a restoration and a renewal of democracy – a reclaiming of democracy from the ruling and highly pathological corporate elite. We must reclaim our democracy, or the earth will not be a habitable place for any human beings to live, in just a few short decades or less. If you want a future for humanity on this planet, reclaim your democracy now, or there will be none. This is the reality of our time. Let us do what needs to be done.

Why don’t we have a massive infusion of investment of public funds in clean, renewable energy? Because the big oil, gas and coal companies don’t want it: they are profiting from the status quo, they have a vested interest in the status quo, so the answer is an emphatic, “No.” If we shifted the subsidies that are presently given out to the oil, gas and coal giants, and put it into clean, renewable solar, wind, co-generation and geothermal energy instead, we would be making rapid progress, by leaps and bounds every year, not only in greening our energy and transportation systems and becoming a truly sustainable society, but also in terms of energy self-reliance, economic strength and job creation. But Exxon and company have our politicians by the, um, purse strings: and so they pull the strings, and we the people, as well as the earth, lose out.

Why are we the people being treated as guinea pigs while the earth is being treated as a laboratory, when hundreds of responsible scientists have warned that genetically engineered foods and crops pose serious and largely unforseeable dangers to human health and the environment, and that such practices are unethical, irresponsible, highly imprudent, highly reckless and highly dangerous? The majority of people are rightly wary about genetically modified food and crops, and are generally opposed to these: but the biotech giants have the clout in our political arenas; they pull the purse strings of our politicians, and so, what big money wants, big money gets –  democracy and the people be damned.

Why don’t we shift our tax system from taxing employment through payroll taxes, which works directly against job creation, and also shift the tax burden off of small and medium businesses, the poor and the middle class, and instead tax pollution, thus easing the burden on the majority of families and businesses while creating incentives to pollution reduction? We don’t have sane and effective, just and fair and environmentally sensible tax laws, because while this would benefit the great majority of the people, create jobs and economic vitality, help clean up the environment and steer us in the direction of true sustainability – while improving the quality of our air, soil, food and water and also strengthening small business – it is not what the corporate giants want: so again, it is a no go.

Why do we not have a smog tax for vehicles that get less than 30mpg, and a government rebate for vehicles that get better than 40mpg or have ultra-low or zero emmissions? Because this would require the auto industry and the car manufacturing giants to improve their standards, and worse, it would mean that the oil companies wouldn’t make their usual obscenely stratospheric profits. Big oil and big auto says no, so again, this is a no-go, and the politicians defer as usual to their masters.

Why do we have massive farm subsidies benefitting mainly the agribusiness,  petrochemical, biotech and junk food giants, and an escalating war on organic farming? As Richard Heinberg has said, petro-chemical industrial agriculture has been nothing short of an ecological catastrophy – it is utterly unsustainable. We need to shift to clean, healthy and sustainable organic agriculture en mass, and as rapidly as possible, just as we need to reduce our fossil fuel consumption and switch to clean, renewable energy. But do we see a shift in the multi-billion dollar subsidies anywhere on the horizon? No, we do not, and the reason we do not is that the current government policies benefit the petrochemical, biotech, agribusiness and processed food giants. Monsanto, MacDonalds, Nestle and Kraft are making a killing on the existing system, quite literally as well as figuratively, and if they say no, our political elites say, “Ok boss – whatever you say.” Poison the people and the planet, just don’t cut off my re-election financing.

Why was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gutted over the past decade? Because that is what big business wanted, and what big business wants, big business gets – at least unless and until we the people reclaim our democracy, and push back the vested interests of the corporate elite so that democracy can function, and not simply be a hollow shell run by and for the ruling business elite, with little more than a rubber stamp action on the part of the bought and paid for political elite.

It is not widely known, but it is a fact: when the tar sands are counted, and the exaggerated claims of the Saudi reserves are corrected for accuracy, Canada has the largest remaining oil reserves in the world. And while Canada is rapidly expanding its environmentally devastating oil extraction from the tar sands and plans for a new pipeline are being laid to suck the black gold from out under the people’s feet, and the oil companies are raking in many billions of dollars a year in profits, why is it that it is unspeakable and unthinkable to charge a fair and just price for the extraction by these companies in the form of royalty payments made to the Canadian people? When certain Scandinavian countries charge $8 a barrel in extraction fees, paid as royalties to the people of the land, and Canada charges less than a dollar a barrel – while massively subsidizing the already profitable oil giants – something is clearly awry. Why is it that a fair price for extraction of a public resource, a resource of the commons, a resource that belongs to the people, paid to the people in return for the very lucrative opportunity to carry off this national treasure to whomever will pay the highest price abroad, is an utterly inexpressible, unutterable thought, and nary a word is whispered of this most obvious and patently just and sensible notion by the political elite or the mass media? The answer is as clear as the profits are exorbitant: big oil dominates the capital and the political process, and none dare speak the truth that stares us daily in the face, let alone challenge the situation and right the wrong. Raising the extraction rates by seven dollars a barrel would still leave the oil companies with large, fat profits, although admitedly, the tar sands might be less lucrative, and possibly not feasible economically for some few years, until the price of oil rises further on the world stage, as it will. Such a modest and completely justified increase in extraction rates, as decided upon and enacted by a democratic government of the people, by the people, for the people, would flood the public coffers with funds, making ample money available for the development and creation of a clean and green, renewable energy and transportation system for the nation, as well as for social programs such as health care, education, day care and affordable housing. But while this should be an obvious and immediate step that is taken at once to bolster funding for a transition to a green and just society as well as the funding of much loved and overwhelmingly popular social programs, it is not even possible to mention the idea without immediately being excommunicated from the mainstream political discourse, raising the fevered ire of the corporate elite, and possibly risking a burning at the stake. Oil companies rule this fair and gentle land, and once again, the people and the earth be damned.

Why do we not have a massive and much-needed investment by governments in infrastructure, creating not just the groundwork and foundation for an ecological society, but truly enormous job creation and economic stimulus in the process, launching continent-wide energy-efficient light rail, mass transit networks and a clean, renewable solar-hydrogen infrastructure? California put in place the first leg of a hydrogen highway, at a cost of $100 million. For under $20 billion we could have a zero-emmission, clean, renewable solar-hydrogen fuel and transportation network that spans all of North America – this may sound like a lot of money, and it is, but it is just 10% of the annual cost of maintaining the imperial wars in the Middle East and North Africa. The money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone have now cost over $2.5 trillion. That is approximately 100 times the amount needed to build a zero-emmission, clean, renewable, energy self-reliant solar-hydrogen infrastructure for the entire continent of North America. The U.S. federal government has admitted that over $1.2 trillion goes missing every year into black ops – Congress is unable to trace it, but it is acknowledged. Get rid of the military-industrial complex and the CIA and there will be over $1.5 trillion a year for green infrastructure, environmental protection and remediation, and also funds to help the rapidly sinking great majority of the American people and create jobs through such green infrastructure projects. Why don’t we have an enormous and urgently needed green infrastructure program right now? Because vested interests oppose it – because the Wall St. kleptocrats and their political allies have pillaged the nation to the extent that the country is now on the brink of bankruptcy, and more importantly, because the corporate elite insist upon ongoing, astronomically expensive and murderous wars for oil and other natural resources, thus entailing an absolute paucity of funds for anything that matters in terms of ecological sanity or human well-being. Bringing the troops home and ending wars for oil and other natural resources would save more than enough to build a continent-wide clean and renewable, green transportation infrastructure, massively stimulating the economy and creating millions of jobs in the process – and it would still leave many hundreds of billions a year left over for funding schools, health care and other human needs. But we don’t have a green transportation infrastructure on the table, because this is not what the big oil, gas, coal, automotive and military-industrial giants want. Again, the people and the earth lose, because money rules over our politics, and not common sense, human decency, or environmental sensibility or even basic sanity.

Why do we still have millions of people dying and being killed in wars for oil and other minerals, bankrupting the country and draining off critically needed funds that could and should be used to create a green economy and infrastructure, employing millions of people in the process, and pulling the people out of a financial and economic tail-spin? Because the oil and military-industrial complex corporate giants want it this way, and the people and the earth can go to hell, as far as they are concerned – and because Wall St. dictates the policies of Washington, Ottawa, Paris and London. If we want a green economy, a full employment economy, a just economy, an end to poverty, an end to imperial wars, or a future for our children, we will have to wrest control over our democracy from the corporate elite that now dominate it and severely limit and constrain our policy choices.

Our financially dependent political elite are in the pockets of the oil, gas, coal, biotech, agribusiness, petrochemical and other corporate giants, so policies and programs that are good for the environment and for the people are just not on the table – regardless of whether they would be good for human well-being, regardless of whether they would stimulate the economy and create jobs, regardless if they are arguably necessary for human life to continue beyond the next couple of decades on this planet, and regardless of whether the majority of the people want them – which they do. The great majority of people now want stronger environmental policies, programs and legislation – as well as peace, social justice and meaningful democracy, human rights and civil liberties. The corporate giants do not, so the people get the shaft. This is not about being anti-business; it is about democratic control of our environmental policies and programs, our economy and the commons, for the benefit of all. Corporate influence is in the way. They are the barricade in the hall. They must be moved aside – and firmly if necessary.

You don’t have to be anti-business to be opposed to corporate rule, by the way: to be opposed to rule by corporate elites is simply to favour democracy; and frankly, to call it as it is: to oppose fascism. Corporatism, as Mussolini himself defined, is the merger of business with the state. Anyone who values freedom or democracy must therefore oppose corporatism: which is the unchecked power of business elites, and an empire of corporate dominance over all aspects of society, including the economy, politics, culture and the media. To be anti-corporatist is not to be anti-business: it is simply to understand that any form of unchecked power invariably leads to tyranny and the destruction of freedom; and therefore, to be opposed to such unchecked powers by any kind of elite.

You don’t have to be anti-business to oppose the take-over of democratic government by business elites – you simply have to be sane. You can be pro-business and anti-corporatist: and anyone who truly values democracy must, of logical and practical necessity, be anti-corporatist, regardless of their views on business. I am belabouring the point because the corporate-owned and dominated media repeatedly portray any kind of critique of unchecked corporate powers as leftist lunacy. Here is breaking news for anyone who still buys into this red-scare propaganda that lingers from the McCarthy era, like a can of rotting tuna stinking up the entire house and driving the people to nausea and revulsion: people on the right and the left and in the centre politically are, by an overwhelming majority, in favour of constitutional democracy, and opposed to any kind of dominance over the democratic political process by any kind of elite, including the now globally dominant business elite.

“America’s political classes would do well to listen to the grievances of those involved with Occupy Wall Street, for they undoubtedly represent a set of anxieties shared by a great deal of the population. The corporate take-over of the American political process has not gone unnoticed, neither has the disparity between continued Wall Street profits and the cuts to the welfare state. As unemployment continues at high numbers, resentment surely stirs among those whose lives are slowly being drained at the expense of the corporate state. Recently, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that there would be riots in the streets if Washington does not create more jobs, warning of an American Arab Spring.”
– Emily Manuel, In These Times

“There has been a corporate takeover of politics. You have something called ALEC—the American Legislative Exchange Council—where corporations literally will pay huge sums of money to get together with politicians, draft model legislation that is, then put across the US through state legislation, which is easier to pass than federal legislation.”
– Global Comment writer Anna Lekas Miller

Where once we had to wrest power from the church and the aristocracy who were overstepping their bounds, in order to secure democracy, human rights and freedom, we now must wrest power from an unwieldy and overbearing, frankly tyrannical and self-serving business elite – and everybody who is in the least way sane and rational, who is not neck-deep in denial and who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past fifty years, knows it.

Support for constitutional democracy and checks on corporate power, and the resultant or concomitant opposition to corporate rule, now cuts across the political spectrum. The people are no longer fooled by the red-scare tactics, nor by the broader corporate spin which seeks to mask the obvious: the emperor has no clothes, and everybody knows it – corporations have usurped democratic political powers, and are far over-stepping their proper bounds. Conservatives, liberals and progressives alike now understand this, and know this quite viscerally – and are rightly concerned and rapidly running out of patience in the face of an intolerable situation of corporate oligarchy that seeks limitless powers for itself, while undermining every human value and endangering our very survival on this earth.

We now have grassroots populist conservatives such as Ron Paul and Alex Jones, along with Texas Republicans and the Mainstreet Alliance of Small Business Owners saying the same thing as progressives and people on the left: corporations are out of control, pillaging the nation and the planet, threatening democracy and running rampant – and they need to be reigned in; the people must reclaim their democracy. It is clear now that what I had called for four years ago, which is a coalition of the grassroots, a new union of the people to restore democracy, is not only feasible – it is being born. And that is precisely what we need now.

The reality, which virtually everyone knows, is that the democratic governments of the world are now in hoc, in debt, in dependency and in servitude to a globally dominant international business elite; and virtually all of the major political parties are now the servile lackeys to the ruling corporate empire. Meanwhile, the people increasingly see through this whole pathetic charade, and are becoming quite fed up with it.

You don’t have to lean toward the left politically to be opposed to corporate rule: and at the level of the grassroots, people from the right and the left, conservatives, liberals and progressives, are now beyond wary of unchecked corporate powers – and wish to see democracy reclaimed by the people. What is needed now is a coalition of all those who favour democracy over corporate empire and corporate rule. This is beginning to emerge, and none too soon.

The suicidal kleptocracy of our presently reigning global order of neo-feudal corporatism must end – and now, before we extinguish ourselves from this small and beautiful, fragile, little blue planet. Democracy must be restored: and with power returned to the people, where it rightfully belongs, the commons can once again be protected and shared, wisely and judiciously, for the benefit of all.

If we wish for survival, for a future worth living, or for any future for our children and the children of the earth, then it is absolutely necessary that democracy be reclaimed by the people. This is the most urgent necessity of the time. If Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or Voltaire were alive today, they most assuredly would be urging it. We should heed their call, the call of their distant but ever-near voices of reason and common sense, and reclaim our power. Restore democracy now. Bring the power back to the people, and let us begin again.

Let it begin. The great turning is here. A new renaissance is being born. Let us work together to bring about a better future and a better world for all. The power is in our hands. We must simply own it, and acknowledge that it is ours.

We have run out of time for idle chit-chat, partisan zealotry and pleasant euphemisms, for polite evasiveness and meek avoidance of the realities that we face. Let us now renew and reclaim our democracy: and we shall in the process, and by this means only, renew and reclaim the commons, for the common good of all. It is this, or it is a dark age ahead – make no mistake. Make your choice wisely. Our future, and our children’s future, depend upon the choices we make now.

Be bold I say, and let us reclaim our future, and the future of humanity – if not for ourselves, then most certainly and assuredly, for the sake of the children of this earth. Their lives and their future cannot be written off, even if we are willing to write off our own. Act now.

“The other superpower” is beginning to stir: humanity is beginning to awake. And nothing, no reactionary force, can stop the rising tide of an awakened humanity. The future is in our hands. I urge all of us now to embrace that power, and to act together to reclaim our future and our world, by first reclaiming our democracy and our power.

Unite now, and let us restore democracy to its proper place – in the hands of the people. Our future and our children’s future hangs in the balance. Let us not hesitate now – we cannot afford to do so. Let us begin, or begin again with renewed energy and a deepened commitment: for we shall succeed, and humanity shall have a new day.

I would like to end this conversation, which I hope will be only the beginning of an ongoing conversation, and more importantly, the basis of strong, bold and dedicated collective action, with one of my favourite quotations, which seems ever-fitting – and especially so now:

“There is more day yet to dawn.
The sun is but a morning star.”
– Henry David Thoreau

And a second, which is equally powerful, equally apt, and equally appropriate to our time:

“It is within our power now to begin the world anew.”
– Thomas Paine

And one last quote: one that is oft-used, and yet profoundly underappreciated – and also extremely relevant to our time and to the task at hand:

“We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately….
United we stand, divided we fall.”
– Benjamin Franklin

As Arundhati Roy so eloquently and beautifully put it, another world is not only possible: she is already being born. Go now – reflect, read, ponder and discuss: then let us act together to bring in a new day and a new dawn for humanity and this earth. I urge you, act now. It is not too late, and what we do or fail to do now, will decide our future, and the future of humanity.

Above all, unite the people to reclaim their democracy. This is the most pivotal and most urgent of tasks at hand. Unite now, and let democracy reign!

The people will reclaim their power. It has already begun. The writing is on the wall. The corporate empire – the last of a series of empires that have risen and fallen through the past five thousand years of history, the clay feet that David spoke of – is teetering and about to fall. It is a wounded and dying, and still yet a dangerous beast, to be sure, but this latest of empires is now crumbling – even while it flails madly in its death throes to preserve its life and maintain its power, and flaunts its power with brazen disregard and sheer contempt for humanity, democracy and life on earth. Its legitimacy is destroyed, by its own acts of malfeasance and abuse of power; and it is only a matter of time before its final demise. The people should see and clearly recognize the opportunity, and reclaim their power and their democracy now.

Rise now and unite. It is time for the full flowering of democracy, and the healing of this fair earth and all our communities. Unite! And let us take back our democracy, for the benefit of all, and for the future of all life on earth, including our own children, and our children’s children. Act now. The time has come for a new dawn.

JTR,
September 28, 2011

 

See Daly and Cobb, For the Common Good, as a prime example of economics that are not insane.

See also:

The Corporation – Joel Bakan (Canadian constitutional lawyer)

Power To the People (In Suits) – Paul Bigioni on Z Net

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed – Jared Diamond

The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies – Richard Heinberg

Power Down – Richard Heinberg

Mutual Aid – Peter Kropotkin

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

The Poverty of Affluence – Paul Watchel

Small Is Beautiful- E. F. Schumacher

Year 501 – Noam Chomsky

Necessary Illusions – Noam Chomsky

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Power Elite – C. Wright Mills

Global Showdown – Maude Barlow

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude – Etienne De La Boittee

The Great Turning – David C. Korten

Links: videos, films, books and articles

Leading trend analyst Gerald Celente on economic crisis, plunder, corporate fascism and the emerging renaissance – YouTube

NASA’s Hansen: “If We Stay on With Business as Usual, the Southern U.S. Will Become Almost Uninhabitable.” | ThinkProgress

Power to the People (In Suits) How a whole new kind of business lobby is a threat to democracy by Paul Bigioni

Fears of a corporate police state – David Sirota – Salon.com

Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? | Rolling Stone Politics

Obama Goes All Out For Dirty Banker Deal

Main Street Alliance Open Letter To Obama On Jobs

It’s Time to Unstack the Money in Politics Deck

Three Things That Must Happen for Us to Rise Up and Defeat the Corporatocracy | Truthout

Occupy Wall Street: Creating Political Change? — In These Times

Big Ideas That Changed The World : DemocracyTony Benn

Talk – David Korten – The Great Turning – YouTube

Joanna Macy on The Great Turning – YouTube

The Corporation (complete, chapters 1 to 23) – YouTube

Life and Debt [HQ Full Movie] – YouTube

The Yes Men – Trailer – YouTube

The Secret Government: The Constitution In Crisis (1 of 9) – YouTube

The Shock Doctrine (2009) — Naomi Klein – YouTube – full length film

“The End of America” Full Length HQ Film – YouTube

Jared DiamondCollapse! part 1 – YouTube

Amazon.com: The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (9780743247443): Joel Bakan: Books

The Corporation Film: About the Book

Orwell Rolls in his Grave (Full 3HR Documentary) – YouTube
Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky and the Mass Media – 1/17 – YouTube
Confronting the Empire, by Noam Chomsky (Talk delivered at the III World Social Forum)
The Take – Trailer – YouTube
The Take (La Toma) English subtitles (1/9) – YouTube
The Project Gutenberg eBook – On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau

#Science Earth’s Annual Resources Used Up Today, Group Says bit.ly/n8flsq

Amazon.com: For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (9780807047057): Herman E. Daly, John B. Cobb Jr.: Books

Built to crash: the coming economic tsunami

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, books, capitalism, Chomsky, class, climate change, collapse, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crash, deep integration, disaster, drought, ecological crisis, ecology, economic collapse, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, Eric Fromm, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, geopolitics, global warming, globalism, globalization, must-read, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, police state, political economy, political philosophy, politics, politics of oil, post-carbon, reading, resources, Security and Prosperity Partnership, social theory, sociology, SPP, sustainability, trade on June 7, 2011 by jtoddring

`Would you rather have a perfectly efficient system that, if hit by a pebble, would shatter? Or, would you rather have an adaptable system that may not give you the exact output you want, but can handle anything?  According to Barry Lynn of the New America Foundation, our economy and our entire domestic food supply are being set up to be shattered.`

Lynn`s work is truly a must-read…. Monopoly capitalism is a system built to crash. Wonderful to hear a lucid mind cut through the crap, even if the news is troubling. Build local economic self-reliance now if you are wise – the monopolists won`t let up until we have a collapse: and the comibination of a self-created and escalating ecological crisis with this extremely fragile monopolistic global economic system, pretty much guarantees a collapse is coming.

China Controls Our Food Supply: Barry Lynn on Radio Free Dylan | Dylan Ratigan

JTR,

June 7, 2011

See also:

A Brief History of Progress, Collapse, The Party`s Over, Power Down, Life After Debt, The Yes Men, The Corporation, Shock Doctrine, A Game As Old As Empire, Year 501, Necessary Illusions, The Ecology of Freedom, Escape from Freedom, Power to the People (in suits), The End of America, The Great Turning, relocalization, permaculture, organics, slow food, food revolution, Real News, InfoWars, Centre for Research on Globalization, Prajnaseek on Youtube and Twitter

Organic Agriculture’s Resilience Shows Untapped Potential

Growing a Better Future: Food justice in a resource-constrained world :: Oxfam GB

The System’s bust :: Oxfam GB

Fears of a corporate police state – David Sirota – Salon.com

Is American law enforcement colluding with Cisco? – David Sirota – Salon.com

Power to the People (In Suits) How a whole new kind of business lobby is a threat to democracy by Paul Bigioni

The Growing World Food Crisis: Context, Analysis & Action

Posted in alternative, alternatives, analysis, biofuel, capitalism, carbon, class, climate change, CO2, collapse, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crash, disaster, drought, ecological crisis, ecology, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, ethanol, events, flood, fossil fuel, geopolitics, global warming, globalism, human rights, imperialism, peak oil, policy, political economy, politics, politics of oil, post-carbon, renewable, resources, Rockefeller, sustainability, video, war with tags , , , , on May 14, 2008 by jtoddring

World food riots have begun. There is social unrest, precipitated by the deepening world food crisis and rising food prices, in at least 30 nations, and spreading rapidly. Food shortages – primarily a crisis of distribution, and not supply – grow while prices rise, as global warming, biofuel production, environmental degradation, commodities speculation, oil depletion, rising energy costs, rising meat and dairy intake, over-consumption, hording and waste, as well as the increasing global economic madness of a predatory neoliberal corporate dominated world economy, drive the crisis to deepening levels. The crisis is world-wide, affecting North and South, East and West, though Africa, Asia and Latin America are taking the worst of the brunt, as usual. However, this is a truly global crisis, particularly as the middle class is being wiped out in the “advanced” industrial nations, and no stop-gap measures will suffice to remedy the growing problem. It is a problem of spreading poverty, primarily, with ecological and geological factors weighing in heavily as well. It is primarily a testimony to the utter failure of the global corporatist order of neoliberal politics and economics – or its success, depending on whether you are among the tiny business elite, or among the vast majority of the world’s polulation, which is sliding rapidly downward into not only serfdom, but also abject poverty. It is the latest chapter in the rape of the Earth.

Common sense, cooperation and basic human traits such as solidarity and sharing will be needed to resolve this growing disaster. That may be a tall order, but within reach.

However, as much as this is the case, soon we will hear the cries of the giant agro-chemical-biotech corporations (which are all now merged) – the same corporations that bear a large portion of the responsibility for undermining ecosystems, world food security and equitable food distribution, helping to cause the crisis they will claim to solve – claiming again that genetically modified foods will be the salvation of the world.

As most people now are aware, genetically modified (GM) foods pose far too great a risk to humanity and the earth, as their effects are unknown. The popular film I Am Legend speaks eloquently of the more dire possibilities arising from unleashing technology we do not understand. But we should be ready for the PR campaign, as it will unfold shortly.

Half a dozen giant corporations dominate the world food system. It is these same giants that have been deeply involved in the food crisis which has unfolded and worsened over many decades, and who will shortly present their highly deceitful plans to “save the world” from hunger, through biotechnology and genetic engineering – a move that will only increase the risks to humanity, while further increasing the already great control over world food production and distribution which is held by the world’s financial elite. Watch for this.

While the biotech and agrochemical giants are storing the world’s seeds in a Doomsday Vault in Norway, they are simulataneously preparing to push genetically modified food crops on Africa. Something truly nefarious is in the works. I shudder to think what the robber barons have in mind this time. Probably they plan to use a global food crisis, which they have consciously helped to create, to bring about the wide-spread implementation of bio-tech foods, which will give them even greater profits and even greater control over the world’s food system – which means greater power over the world’s population, and which will effectively consolidate their position as the Lords of the Earth. At least, this seems to be the general outline of what the world’s business elite have in mind. And for anyone who has any knowledge of the history of the past 150 years, this should come as no big surprise, considering the unspeakable record of the food and chemical giants – United Fruit, Unilever, IG Farben, Dow, Dupont, Cargill, Monstanto and Union Carbide to name a few – and with the generally appalling record of contempt for humanity shown by the world’s corporate elite more generally.

The leading figure in both the GM foods drive and the Doomsday Vault in Norway, appears to be none other than the most powerful businessman in the Americas, head of the Trilateral Commission as well as City Bank, America’s biggest bank, and half a dozen other corporate lobby groups and think tanks: the most slithery David Rockefeller. God help us all.

Thankfully, such megalomaniacal power plays have never faired well through history, and every one of them has been ultimately defeated, as we will do once again.

The clear aim of the world’s business elite is simply world dominance – as was the case for every power monger and would be emperor of the past. The strategy, apparently, of the global business elite, now that scaring the public into submission is not working as well as was hoped, seems to be to starve us into submission. There seem to be two interwoven strategies for global dominance on the part of the world’s financial barons. One is to frighten the people into submission, via the “war on terror” – and since the effectiveness of that stratggy is waning and falling short, there will likely be a devoted search for new ways to scare us into giving up our liberties, our rights and our power. The second strategy is even more dark, if that is possible, and that is to lay seige to the world: to squeeze the public so tightly economically, including the method of depriving the basics of life, such as food, so that surrender is obtained. I would dare speculate that this is the second part of the strategy. Intimidation, manipulation, deciet, and seige: in short, psychological warfare and control of resources – strange that the tactics of empires have changed so little over the ages. In any case, the necessary actions on our part are the same.

While the corporate players work their dark schemes, back here in the world of basic sanity and simple human decency, we can see pretty clearly what needs to be done, if we are willing to look.

A number of actions must be taken collectively if we are to seriously address and resolve the world’s growing food crisis, including a rapid shift to organic farming and green energy (and not biofuels which effectively burn food), the protection of forests, wetlands and farmland, reduction of meat and dairy consumption, a dramatic reduction in consumption and waste among the consuming classes, a re-orientation of the economy, including production, distribution and purchasing, toward re-localization and bioregionalism, and above all, the elimination of poverty, which in turn requires a radical restructuring of the global economy, away from its present drive for accumulation of massive wealth and power in the hands of a few, and towards an economic system which benefits all.

The most pointed part of the question concerns resource allocation, including access to land, food and water, as well as equitable and universal economic empowerment more broadly. While we must address the environmental causes of the food crisis, as well as biofuel usage, the current problem is not one of supply but of distribution. If we continue to destroy the environment, then we will soon have supply problems as well – and of vast proportions. Naturally, we must cease to destroy the basis of agricultural production, viable living oceans and life on earth generally. But the primary cause of hunger and the growing food crisis at present has nothing to do with supply, and everything to do with control.

It is a matter of the globalization of poverty, as Ottawa University economics professor Michel Chossudovsky has called it, under a global neoliberal economic order which effectively consolidates dominance over the world’s economy as well as the world’s food system in the hands of a few giant transnational corporations. Three companies control over 90% of world trade in bananas. Three companies dominate the world trade in coffee. One company controls 90% of world tea markets (Unilever). One company dominates in world grain distribution (Cargill). With such a stranglehold, the biggest corporations can squeeze both the farmers who produce the food, paying them as little as possible, and less every year, while queezing the consumers as well, driving prices up for the end buyer while robbing the farmer. Hence, world prices for bulk coffee have plummetted over the past 30 years, while the end consumer still pays dearly enough to ensure Nestle makes nice fat, growing profits. Coffee farmers can barely survive, but Nestle seems happy. Prices of bread and rice rise to levels world wide where more and more people can’t afford to eat properly, but Cargill has record profits, rising every year. It is a shell game, the natural result of monopoly capitalism. If we want food security or food availability for all, then the robber barons must go. Until this happens, the world’s food crisis will continue to deepen, and social and political instability, including the eruption of violence and wars, will continue to escalate.

The world currently produces enough food to feed all. The problem, presently, is not production but distribution. If we cut waste and over-consumption, learn to share equitably, as kindergarten was supposed to teach us, we will have a future of mutual abundance. Population must be addressed, but population is not the primary issue: 20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of the world’s resources; a trend that is only worsening. Further, experience has shown that the best way to halt population growth is to end poverty. When poor people know that their only security in later years of life comes from their children, and half their children will die before adulthood, they will continue to have large families. End poverty, and children become an expense, rather than an insurance policy, and population growth halts, as has heppened in every region, state and nation where poverty has been substantively reduced (Kerala State in India being the text book example). Therefore the choice we face is clear: war and greed, or peace and solidarity with sharing and dignity for all. A choice is at hand. Freedom, abundance and dignity for all is a possibility, if we choose to act on it.

We cannot understand nor realistically address the growing world food crisis if we do not understand its causes. Basic common sense and human decency are all that is required. But we will have to act quickly and decisively.

I hope this overview has been of some small help in dealing with this issue, which is but one more of the great and troubling issues plaguing the world and begging for action – one more issue which is intertwined with the rest. Empire, poverty, destruction, war and greed, or freedom, equality, peace and sustainability? The choices become more stark by the day. And these are all tied together.

J. Todd Ring,
May 14, 2008

Writings of J. Todd Ring

World Food Crisis: Video Archive Primer

Posted in climate change, collapse, conservation, disaster, drought, ecological crisis, economy, environment, flood, global warming, Katrina, Kyoto, nuclear, tipping point, West Antarctic Icesheet on December 3, 2006 by jtoddring

Global warming may cause more sudden disaster than most recognize:

If – or rather, according to scientists, when – the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapses, sea levels will rise at least 5 meters or more (over 15 feet). The West Antarctic Icesheet is approximately 2000 meters thick, holds an estimated 30 million cubic kilometers of water, and covers an area the size of Mexico. New evidence indicates that this may be a sudden transition, and not a gradual one. In other words, global warming may hit us far more dramatically and abruptly than most anticipate.

The Larsen Ice Sheet collapsed in 2002, and did so suddenly. New evidence from ice core samples taken by a New Zealand team of scientists shows that sudden transitions – from ice sheet to open ocean – have been the case in the past.

Consider how many highly populated regions and cities are less than 5 meters above sea level. A sudden rise of sea level of 5 meters or more would have global catastrophic effects. Try to envision an equivalent effect to hundreds of hurricance Katrinas hitting us simulataneuosly around the globe. This may be pretty hard to comprehend, but the research findings indicate an ecological impact from such an event to be on an order of magnitude that may cause global systems failure for human civilization. Reading more about our history, we see that this has happened to a number of civilizations in the past. The Maya, the people of Easter Island, Sumeria, Rome: for a variety of reasons, each of these saw the collapse of a civilization. Ronald Wright chronicles such trainwrecks of our collective human cultural history in A Brief History of Progress, with meticulous research, and a clear warning: it could happen to us. We would have to be pretty ignorant of our history, as well as deeply in denial as to the seriousness of our present ecological crisis, to think that such a thing couldn’t happen to us. In fact, if the West Antarctic Icesheet fell suddenly – as evidence indicates it will – we may have to rebuild from the ground up.

The good news? The Maya adapted. Rome fell, but humanity carried on. Sumeria is dust, but the ongoing experiement in what it is to be human, is still alive. We need to learn from our collective mistakes. We need to learn from history.

Unfortunately, one thing we learn from history is that civilizations frequently do fall. When this happens, it is no small event, and it is certainly a great understatement to say that it is a major adjustment. We might be wise to do all we can to address our ecological crisis, and also, to address in advance the potential fallout from the crisis. If we blithely carry on and do not address the ecological crisis with the level of response it demands, we should have some idea as to what to expect. And if we do not prepare for the fallout of our self-created ecological crisis, we will quite possibly be blind-sided: like hitting an iceberg at night.

It makes no sense to be passive about the ecological crisis we’ve created for ourselves. Clearly, the intelligent thing to do is to address it: to make a rapid and intensive effort to switch to ecologically sustainable ways of living and having an economy. But while we do what is most sensible and make a dedicated and intensive effort toward a transition to a ecologically sustainable societies, communities and ways of living; we should also prepare for some unknown amount of disaster – for we have already set that in motion.

At this point it must also be mentioned that the “we” I am speaking of primarily relates to my neighbours and fellow citizens in the “leading” industrialized nations. The wealthiest 20% of the world’s populace consumes roughly 80% the world’s wealth and produces over 60% of the world’s pollution. It is the consumer society, especially in its particular form of oil-dependency and petro-chemical disposable everything, which is rapidly destroying our childrens’ future.

For example:

– The average Briton produces 126 times more carbon dioxide than someone living in Nepal

– CO2 emissions from using an electric kettle for one year in the UK are equivalent to average person’s total annual CO2 emissions in Nepal

“Lives in Bangladesh will be devastated though no fault of the people concerned. We are not causing the climate change that is killing our people. The average Bangladeshi produces .3 tons of carbon dioxide per annum; the average citizen in the world’s biggest polluting nation, the United States, produces 20 tons of CO2 each year. So as well as calling on all the world’s rich nations to reduce emissions and tackle that challenge now, we also know that a certain amount of irreversible change is upon us.”
Sabihuddin Ahmed, High Commissioner for Bangladesh

But all ethical questions aside, if we were to ask the question of appropriate response simply in terms of intelligent self-interest (if there is such a thing), what would that mean? What would be an intelligent response to such evidence regarding the ecological crisis we have created? Quite simply, face it head on. Denial and inaction will only heighten the impact later, when it becomes truly unavoidable.

Take this recent statement by Richard Jones, the vice president for engineering of the Hartford Insurance Company. “Climate change is real,” said Jones. “To me, proving that earth’s climate is changing from human actions—namely global warming—is like statistically ‘proving’ the pavement exists after you have jumped out a 30-story building. After each floor, your analysis would say, ‘so far, so good,’ and then, at the pavement, all uncertainty is removed.”

As Einstein’s protege, physicist David Bohm has said, “In the long run it is far more dangerous to adhere to illusion than to face what the actual fact is.”

Presently however, as David Suzuki put it, “We are speeding toward a brick wall at 100 mph, and everyone is arguing about where they’re going to sit.”

JTR

Massive Ice Shelf ‘May Collapse without Warning’

The Climate Disaster is Upon Us – Now

Global Warming in Antarctica

For My People, Climate Change is a Matter of Life and Death

Nepal’s Farmers on the Front Line of Global Climate Change

Climate: A Stich in Time… Gwynne Dyer

How the insurance industry is putting its money on global warming

As the World Burns – MoJo report

Global Warming– Signed, Sealed, Delivered

David Suzuki Foundation: Climate Change Skeptics

Climate Change: Tipping Point

Tackle Climate Change or Face Deep Recession, World’s Leaders Warned

When It Comes to Global Warming, Market Rule Poses a Mortal Danger

It’s Hard to Explain, Tom, Why We Did So Little to Stop Global Warming

Climate Change: Time is Running Out

David Suzuki News October 30, 2006: Stern warning: warmer planet, colder economy

Arctic melt may dry out US west coast – 11 April 2004 – New Scientist

Panel Sees Growing Melting Arctic Threat

Warming hits ‘tipping point’ | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

ZNet |Ecology | Siberia Melting…

David Suzuki News November 09, 2006: New report shows Ontario gaining more from conservation than nuclear power

News: The Hour: Suzuki ‘s Kyoto

Posted in climate change, collapse, conservation, disaster, drought, ecological crisis, economy, environment, flood, global warming, Katrina, Kyoto, nuclear, tipping point, West Antarctic Icesheet on December 3, 2006 by jtoddring

Global warming may cause more sudden disaster than most recognize:

If – or rather, according to scientists, when – the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapses, sea levels will rise at least 5 meters or more (over 15 feet). The West Antarctic Icesheet is approximately 2000 meters thick, holds an estimated 30 million cubic kilometers of water, and covers an area the size of Mexico. New evidence indicates that this may be a sudden transition, and not a gradual one. In other words, global warming may hit us far more dramatically and abruptly than most anticipate.

The Larsen Ice Sheet collapsed in 2002, and did so suddenly. New evidence from ice core samples taken by a New Zealand team of scientists shows that sudden transitions – from ice sheet to open ocean – have been the case in the past.

Consider how many highly populated regions and cities are less than 5 meters above sea level. A sudden rise of sea level of 5 meters or more would have global catastrophic effects. Try to envision an equivalent effect to hundreds of hurricance Katrinas hitting us simulataneuosly around the globe. This may be pretty hard to comprehend, but the research findings indicate an ecological impact from such an event to be on an order of magnitude that may cause global systems failure for human civilization. Reading more about our history, we see that this has happened to a number of civilizations in the past. The Maya, the people of Easter Island, Sumeria, Rome: for a variety of reasons, each of these saw the collapse of a civilization. Ronald Wright chronicles such trainwrecks of our collective human cultural history in A Brief History of Progress, with meticulous research, and a clear warning: it could happen to us. We would have to be pretty ignorant of our history, as well as deeply in denial as to the seriousness of our present ecological crisis, to think that such a thing couldn’t happen to us. In fact, if the West Antarctic Icesheet fell suddenly – as evidence indicates it will – we may have to rebuild from the ground up.

The good news? The Maya adapted. Rome fell, but humanity carried on. Sumeria is dust, but the ongoing experiement in what it is to be human, is still alive. We need to learn from our collective mistakes. We need to learn from history.

Unfortunately, one thing we learn from history is that civilizations frequently do fall. When this happens, it is no small event, and it is certainly a great understatement to say that it is a major adjustment. We might be wise to do all we can to address our ecological crisis, and also, to address in advance the potential fallout from the crisis. If we blithely carry on and do not address the ecological crisis with the level of response it demands, we should have some idea as to what to expect. And if we do not prepare for the fallout of our self-created ecological crisis, we will quite possibly be blind-sided: like hitting an iceberg at night.

It makes no sense to be passive about the ecological crisis we’ve created for ourselves. Clearly, the intelligent thing to do is to address it: to make a rapid and intensive effort to switch to ecologically sustainable ways of living and having an economy. But while we do what is most sensible and make a dedicated and intensive effort toward a transition to a ecologically sustainable societies, communities and ways of living; we should also prepare for some unknown amount of disaster – for we have already set that in motion.

At this point it must also be mentioned that the “we” I am speaking of primarily relates to my neighbours and fellow citizens in the “leading” industrialized nations. The wealthiest 20% of the world’s populace consumes roughly 80% the world’s wealth and produces over 60% of the world’s pollution. It is the consumer society, especially in its particular form of oil-dependency and petro-chemical disposable everything, which is rapidly destroying our childrens’ future.

For example:

– The average Briton produces 126 times more carbon dioxide than someone living in Nepal

– CO2 emissions from using an electric kettle for one year in the UK are equivalent to average person’s total annual CO2 emissions in Nepal

“Lives in Bangladesh will be devastated though no fault of the people concerned. We are not causing the climate change that is killing our people. The average Bangladeshi produces .3 tons of carbon dioxide per annum; the average citizen in the world’s biggest polluting nation, the United States, produces 20 tons of CO2 each year. So as well as calling on all the world’s rich nations to reduce emissions and tackle that challenge now, we also know that a certain amount of irreversible change is upon us.”
Sabihuddin Ahmed, High Commissioner for Bangladesh

But all ethical questions aside, if we were to ask the question of appropriate response simply in terms of intelligent self-interest (if there is such a thing), what would that mean? What would be an intelligent response to such evidence regarding the ecological crisis we have created? Quite simply, face it head on. Denial and inaction will only heighten the impact later, when it becomes truly unavoidable.

Take this recent statement by Richard Jones, the vice president for engineering of the Hartford Insurance Company. “Climate change is real,” said Jones. “To me, proving that earth’s climate is changing from human actions—namely global warming—is like statistically ‘proving’ the pavement exists after you have jumped out a 30-story building. After each floor, your analysis would say, ‘so far, so good,’ and then, at the pavement, all uncertainty is removed.”

As Einstein’s protege, physicist David Bohm has said, “In the long run it is far more dangerous to adhere to illusion than to face what the actual fact is.”

Presently however, as David Suzuki put it, “We are speeding toward a brick wall at 100 mph, and everyone is arguing about where they’re going to sit.”

JTR

Massive Ice Shelf ‘May Collapse without Warning’

The Climate Disaster is Upon Us – Now

Global Warming in Antarctica

For My People, Climate Change is a Matter of Life and Death

Nepal’s Farmers on the Front Line of Global Climate Change

Climate: A Stich in Time… Gwynne Dyer

How the insurance industry is putting its money on global warming

As the World Burns – MoJo report

Global Warming– Signed, Sealed, Delivered

David Suzuki Foundation: Climate Change Skeptics

Climate Change: Tipping Point

Tackle Climate Change or Face Deep Recession, World’s Leaders Warned

When It Comes to Global Warming, Market Rule Poses a Mortal Danger

It’s Hard to Explain, Tom, Why We Did So Little to Stop Global Warming

Climate Change: Time is Running Out

David Suzuki News October 30, 2006: Stern warning: warmer planet, colder economy

Arctic melt may dry out US west coast – 11 April 2004 – New Scientist

Panel Sees Growing Melting Arctic Threat

Warming hits ‘tipping point’ | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

ZNet |Ecology | Siberia Melting…

David Suzuki News November 09, 2006: New report shows Ontario gaining more from conservation than nuclear power

News: The Hour: Suzuki ‘s Kyoto

Global warming may cause more sudden disaster than…

Posted in climate change, collapse, conservation, disaster, drought, ecological crisis, economy, environment, flood, global warming, Katrina, Kyoto, nuclear, tipping point, West Antarctic Icesheet on December 3, 2006 by jtoddring

Global warming may cause more sudden disaster than most recognize:

If – or rather, according to scientists, when – the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapses, sea levels will rise at least 5 meters or more (over 15 feet). The West Antarctic Icesheet is approximately 2000 meters thick, holds an estimated 30 million cubic kilometers of water, and covers an area the size of Mexico. New evidence indicates that this may be a sudden transition, and not a gradual one. In other words, global warming may hit us far more dramatically and abruptly than most anticipate.

The Larsen Ice Sheet collapsed in 2002, and did so suddenly. New evidence from ice core samples taken by a New Zealand team of scientists shows that sudden transitions – from ice sheet to open ocean – have been the case in the past.

Consider how many highly populated regions and cities are less than 5 meters above sea level. A sudden rise of sea level of 5 meters or more would have global catastrophic effects. Try to envision an equivalent effect to hundreds of hurricance Katrinas hitting us simulataneuosly around the globe. This may be pretty hard to comprehend, but the research findings indicate an ecological impact from such an event to be on an order of magnitude that may cause global systems failure for human civilization. Reading more about our history, we see that this has happened to a number of civilizations in the past. The Maya, the people of Easter Island, Sumeria, Rome: for a variety of reasons, each of these saw the collapse of a civilization. Ronald Wright chronicles such trainwrecks of our collective human cultural history in A Brief History of Progress, with meticulous research, and a clear warning: it could happen to us. We would have to be pretty ignorant of our history, as well as deeply in denial as to the seriousness of our present ecological crisis, to think that such a thing couldn’t happen to us. In fact, if the West Antarctic Icesheet fell suddenly – as evidence indicates it will – we may have to rebuild from the ground up.

The good news? The Maya adapted. Rome fell, but humanity carried on. Sumeria is dust, but the ongoing experiement in what it is to be human, is still alive. We need to learn from our collective mistakes. We need to learn from history.

Unfortunately, one thing we learn from history is that civilizations frequently do fall. When this happens, it is no small event, and it is certainly a great understatement to say that it is a major adjustment. We might be wise to do all we can to address our ecological crisis, and also, to address in advance the potential fallout from the crisis. If we blithely carry on and do not address the ecological crisis with the level of response it demands, we should have some idea as to what to expect. And if we do not prepare for the fallout of our self-created ecological crisis, we will quite possibly be blind-sided: like hitting an iceberg at night.

It makes no sense to be passive about the ecological crisis we’ve created for ourselves. Clearly, the intelligent thing to do is to address it: to make a rapid and intensive effort to switch to ecologically sustainable ways of living and having an economy. But while we do what is most sensible and make a dedicated and intensive effort toward a transition to a ecologically sustainable societies, communities and ways of living; we should also prepare for some unknown amount of disaster – for we have already set that in motion.

At this point it must also be mentioned that the “we” I am speaking of primarily relates to my neighbours and fellow citizens in the “leading” industrialized nations. The wealthiest 20% of the world’s populace consumes roughly 80% the world’s wealth and produces over 60% of the world’s pollution. It is the consumer society, especially in its particular form of oil-dependency and petro-chemical disposable everything, which is rapidly destroying our childrens’ future.

For example:

– The average Briton produces 126 times more carbon dioxide than someone living in Nepal

– CO2 emissions from using an electric kettle for one year in the UK are equivalent to average person’s total annual CO2 emissions in Nepal

“Lives in Bangladesh will be devastated though no fault of the people concerned. We are not causing the climate change that is killing our people. The average Bangladeshi produces .3 tons of carbon dioxide per annum; the average citizen in the world’s biggest polluting nation, the United States, produces 20 tons of CO2 each year. So as well as calling on all the world’s rich nations to reduce emissions and tackle that challenge now, we also know that a certain amount of irreversible change is upon us.”
Sabihuddin Ahmed, High Commissioner for Bangladesh

But all ethical questions aside, if we were to ask the question of appropriate response simply in terms of intelligent self-interest (if there is such a thing), what would that mean? What would be an intelligent response to such evidence regarding the ecological crisis we have created? Quite simply, face it head on. Denial and inaction will only heighten the impact later, when it becomes truly unavoidable.

Take this recent statement by Richard Jones, the vice president for engineering of the Hartford Insurance Company. “Climate change is real,” said Jones. “To me, proving that earth’s climate is changing from human actions—namely global warming—is like statistically ‘proving’ the pavement exists after you have jumped out a 30-story building. After each floor, your analysis would say, ‘so far, so good,’ and then, at the pavement, all uncertainty is removed.”

As Einstein’s protege, physicist David Bohm has said, “In the long run it is far more dangerous to adhere to illusion than to face what the actual fact is.”

Presently however, as David Suzuki put it, “We are speeding toward a brick wall at 100 mph, and everyone is arguing about where they’re going to sit.”

JTR

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