Calvinism, Capitalism, Chris Hedges, Conservatism, Consumerism, Evangelical Christianity, Evangelical Right, Evengelii Gaudium, Free Market Ideologues, Globalization, Gross Inequality, Idolatry of Money, Just Price, Karl Marx, New Testament, Newcomb’s Paradox, Political Corruption, Pope Francis, Predestination, Protestant and Calvinistic theology, Puritan Ethics, Rentier Class, Roman Catholic Pope, Rush Limbaugh, Strip Mall Religiosity, Tea Party, The Enlightenment, Thomas Aquinas, Usury
American Horror Story
You almost have to feel sorry for the conservatives, tea partiers, and the whole menagerie of free market evangelists these days. Even a casual perusal of AM talk radio, along with the buffoonery and gas baggery of the hard right news shows, one can see evidence of collapsing narratives at every turn.
Our disintegrating social conditions demand a plausible explanation from the right, and any such explanation, ideologically, must be sure to exonerate capitalism and the free market system.
This is becoming increasingly hard to do, as the shrill and contradictory defenses put forth become less satisfying every time the story is told. The story evolves, the audience reactions carefully polled, and the messaging refined to try and adapt to a low information audience growing more skeptical by the minute. There are many versions of the same story, depending on who tells it and more importantly who is paying for it, but for this discussion we are interested in the narrative brought forth by the evangelical right, and their socially conservative stable mates, or in general, the fire and brimstone crowd accounting for something near half of the American population.
The operating theory of this cohort centers for the most part on morality, or lack thereof, as principal cause for our society’s collapse.
Rush Limbaugh provides a pathetic but typical example of this type of addled logic:
The reason all of these stats on income inequality don’t work anymore is because the baseline for the statistical start is the fifties. Now, what was happening in the fifties? Well, in the fifties we had this thing called a nuclear family. There was a mother, a woman. There was a father, a man. They had babies by engaging in coitus. Leave It To Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet — hell, even the Beach Boys, for crying out loud! They were seemingly clean and pure as the wind driven snow.
Anyway, then after the coitus in the bedroom, then little Beaver was born and then Wally, and there were 2.8 of the kids and little picket fence and (if the dad got a vice presidency), there were two cars in the garage, and mom — the female. I’ve gotta make that distinction. The mother was a woman, the wife of a man. She stays home, raises the kid, fixes breakfast, sends ’em off to school, talks to the PTA. There was all that. There was one breadwinner, and there was an economic boom going on at the same time, following World War II.
Incomes in America rose dramatically. Then something happened. The left didn’t like that arrangement. That was just bad. They didn’t fit in. They didn’t like the idea of coitus in the bedroom. They didn’t like coitus with someone the opposite sex, necessarily. They didn’t even like coitus as a means of producing a kid. In fact, most times they didn’t even like the kid. They wanted to have the abortion. So what happened was that the nuclear family became under assault by “progressive” forces of modernization.
So today, you can’t compare family income today to what it was in the fifties when the boom time ’cause the family’s not the same. You’ve got single women, single-parent families, fewer nuclear families. Incomes have been divided. It doesn’t work.
The root of American ethics and morality stems in part from its heavily Protestant and Calvinistic theological underpinnings, which we might well reduce to the “Puritan” ethic. There are several key components of this behavior, tracing back to the late 17th century:
1. Personal sacrifice fulfilled by austere living conditions.
2. Self-sufficiency and disdain of charity for one’s self.
3. Obsessive work ethic fueled by the notion that idleness is evil.
Of course there are others, but we can use these generalizations to continue. In addition we should mention that Calvinism utilizes the principle of predestination, or predetermination, a fundamental departure from modern evangelical Christianity.
The rollup of these centuries old dogmatic beliefs is a programing bias towards moral explanations for when things go wrong, and strong lifestyle choices that dictate high moral standards when times are normal, in order to stave off any potential (future) fall from grace. The modern evangelical right has conflated this DNA to represent a distorted view of Christianity leaning heavily on Capitalism-which has fascist underpinnings in its ultimate embodiment.
In the Flat Fields
A gut pull drag on me
Into the chasm gaping we
Mirrors multy reflecting this
Between spunk stained sheet
And odorous whim
Calmer eye- flick- shudder- within
Assist me to walk away in sin
Where is the string that Theseus laid
Find me out this labyrinth place
I do get bored, I get bored
In the flat field
I get bored, I do get bored
In the flat field
What is often lost in our current infatuation with Enlightenment thinking is the degree to which the Pre-Enlightenment Church managed commerce, financing, and general market forces. In fact, the Church maintained an iron hand on issues such as usury, which was condemned and not distinguished from the “normal” practice of charging interest until the late 19th century.
In the age of Church hegemony, which lasted for centuries, it was considered immoral, and grossly so, to profit in any way through trade, charging interest, or commerce which resulted in a profit without actually performing any work. specifically, any rent seeking activity was forbidden.
Things that are considered commonplace today, such as raising prices for items needed in a disaster, (supply and demand) were thoroughly rejected by the Church and considered inconceivable during that time. Thomas Aquinas brought forth these concepts in the theory of Just Price in his Summa Theologica circa 1274 AD. Although this was clearly a Pre-Capitalist economy, much learning was put towards strict management of commerce dating back to the money changers being expelled from the temple in Biblical times- a theme oft repeated through the Dark Ages and well beyond.
For centuries, civilizations knew full well the dangers of markets and unconstrained commerce, and there is more than a passing connection between this realization and theology, present in virtually all religions throughout time.
This reality has been brought to the fore with the recent, and controversial, exhortation Evengelii Gaudium from the Roman Catholic Pope. Pundits have been zeroing in on the more provocative aspects after his release of the document last month. I’ve read all 244 pages of it and I’m here to tell you that he has pretty well burned down the Christian right’s moralistic narrative along with a good bit of the more mainstream conservative cohort.
For those who have dismissed previous Papal exhortations (as well as any other messaging, written or otherwise delivered) as irrelevant and hypocritical drivel, and I count myself on this list, the recent missive is a shocker. Let’s take a look as some selected passages:
We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmers, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.
The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality,no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.
Now this passage in particular stands out, and is a recurring theme throughout the document. Inequality is the root of all social ills. Not moral misbehavior. Rush Limbaugh is positively foaming at the mouth with this conclusion. You see, the story as told has to exonerate Capitalism, so the explanatory focus is redirected to not just suggest, but to demand that the moral lapses of the populace are the sole causality of a world gone bad.
After all, the world was given to us with abundance, work hard, maintain high moral standards, and its abundance will never run out. No limits to resources, no environmental disasters, no exploitation, nothing but paradise, unless of course you take a bite of that apple.
Let’s go on:
Sometimes we prove hard of heart and mind; we are forgetful, distracted and carried away by the limitless possibilities for consumption and distraction offered by contemporary society. This leads to a kind of alienation at every level, for “a society becomes alienated when its forms of social organization, production and consumption make it more difficult to offer the gift of self and to establish solidarity between people.
Karl is that you?
Genuine forms of popular religiosity are incarnate, since they are born of the incarnation of Christian faith in popular culture. For this reason they entail a personal relationship, not with vague spiritual energies or powers, but with God, with Christ, with Mary, with the saints. These devotions are fleshy, they have a face. They are capable of fostering relationships and not just enabling escapism. In other parts of our society, we see the growing attraction to various forms of a “spirituality of well-being” divorced from any community life, or to a “theology of prosperity” detached from responsibility for our brothers and sisters, or to depersonalized experiences which are nothing more than a form of self-centredness.
This would seem to be a dig at modern “strip mall religiosity” as it is now de rigueur to have non denominational churches in strip malls, repurposed industrial buildings, etc, all which have superficial distorted messaging, often pronouncing how wealth is your divine right.
Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.
Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.
So now we get to the money shot:
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the socialized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.
Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers.
So this goes on in a similar vein, and this position does not bode well for the conservative narrative. We see capitalism explicitly blamed for inequality, and in turn inequality for societies ills, a disturbing cause and effect that is disruptive to the American status quo. Coming from a supposedly impartial and world recognized voice of moralistic guidance, this is particularly damning.
We have to ask given the (millennial) history of precisely just this set of teachings, where the hell have these people been for the last 400 years? Mired in child molestation cases, and other aspects of immeasurable hypocrisy, that’s where. Typically dispensing irrelevant teachings to a disinterested world, met with a yawn and the clink of coins in the Sunday collections basket, the cafeteria Catholics and faithful parishioners buy their penance on the free market of theology, shopping for workable edicts and morals they can live with, and leaving aside things that might prove troublesome.
And the Church, let’s not (yet) get all misty eyed that the new Pope has found his voice, that the Holy See can finally see after 400 years of Post Enlightenment blindness, because if we learned anything in the Dark Ages we learned the Church was an authoritarian, totalitarian institution, honed to perfection after centuries of practice, misappropriating Christianic themes in furtherance of its own power and hegemony. Restricting knowledge, capturing books, and distorting, twisting and interpreting discovery with a certain malleability of facts, and containing science to maintain its omnipotence.
It is worth noting that at its core, the Church operates as a corporatist entity, with significant focus on profits itself, poisoned if you will, by the very same sickness it chastises. So we might well leave the discussion here, hopeful that the new Papal vision will at least upset some belief systems, and file this under the category of good ideas for the wrong reasons, and move on to other superficial topics. Except that we have 2000 years of history here, history that resonates with this same message, repeated in many ways over and over again. We have a seminal event in the Enlightenment, which purported to shut down the fiefdoms, mysticism and fanciful explanations, replacing it with science and reason to wrest the power and authority from cloistered theocrats.
And this has failed.
None of the Post Enlightenment theories of political economy have provided satisfactory, sustainable solutions despite 400 years of trying. By most measures, they are in fact worse. The current fashionable trend to double down on technology as means of providing solutions is not working, and critical thinkers can see these measures are leading to cascading failure modes, with each technological “breakthrough” creating new and unanticipated failures of their own, with insufficient study as to unanticipated outcomes.
I had occasion last month to attend a talk by Chris Hedges, the first time I have heard him in person. The venue was in Santa Monica in a historic building now owned by the Women’s Club, a depression era wood structure with a whitewashed paint job, faintly reminiscent of a church. The venue was packed to the rafters, with the upstairs balcony fairly bulging under the weight of way more people wanting to see Hedges than the organizers anticipated. Everyone finally got in to the standing room only crowd. Hedges has found his voice, he is articulate in person, but powerful, vocally projecting in a way I’ve not seen him do in taped interviews where he seems more reflective and almost mournful. His message is a powerful force and it is clear his upbringing under a Presbyterian minister (his father) and his education in seminary converge to forge his style and messaging. The emotion and power left me somewhat stunned, I wasn’t prepared for the electricity in the room and palpable agitation of the attendees who know full well the truth in his message.
It might seem that these events conspire to ordain a germ of an idea, a small, kindled spark that suggests, almost horrifically, that the assemblage of the capitalist mode of production is not a just theory of economics or political economy. It is not merely an exchange of commodities or a clever and oblique system of exploitation. It is not just a mechanism for conflicting class structure or means for the landed nobility to hold down the masses.
It is a religion, a theology so all consuming that it transcends borders, boundaries, catechism and Koran. It extends to every denomination, to every corner of the earth with a deification and worship of commerce and consumption so deeply ingrained that there is no inoculation once infected. Its participants trapped in a purgatory analogous to opium dens, transient pleasure of consumption and accumulation, but in the 19th century opium dens most knew to advise a friend to retrieve them after several hours (or days) as they would be unable- and unwilling- to leave on their own.
In this version, no one is coming to get you out, there is no getting out. No one is free from the addictive vapors of consumption.
a) First of all because, as we have seen, capitalism, by deﬁning itself as the natural and necessary form of the modern economy, does not admit any diﬀerent future, any way out, any alternative. Its force is, writes Weber, ‘irresistible’, and it presents itself as an inevitable fate.
b) The system reduces the vast majority of humanity to ‘damned of the earth’ who cannot hope for divine salvation, since their economic failure is the sign that they are excluded from God’s grace. Guilty for their own fate, they have no hope of redemption. The God of the capitalist religion, money, has no pity for those who have no money . . .
c) Capitalism is ‘the ruin of being’, it replaces being with having, human qualities with commodiﬁed quantities, human relations with monetary ones, moral or cultural values with the only value that counts, money.
d) Since humanity’s ‘guilt’ – its indebtedness towards Capital – is permanent and growing, no hope of expiation is permitted. The capitalist constantly needs to grow and expand his capital if he does not wish to be crushed by his competitors, and the poor must borrow more and more money to pay their debts.
e) According to the religion of Capital, the only salvation consists in the intensiﬁcation of the system, in capitalist expansion, in the accumulation of more and more commodities; but this ‘remedy’ results only in the aggravation of despair.
So in other words, the will of God is substituted by the will of the market. The Saints of Capitalism are not represented by iconography in dusty church alcoves, rendered in plaster bas relief, illuminated by flickering votive candles aligned in perfectly concentric rows, no, these saints are reproduced on our paper money, mass produced by photoengraved plates and scaled to feel, to touch, with every transaction to reacquaint and remind the heathen that this is the portal to eternal salvation.
Our cathedrals are not limestone structures of centuries production, flying buttresses soaring gracefully to the heavens, constructed of a scale to intimidate and instill perspective of scale between creator and subject, no these cathedrals are chrome and glass, with banal and endless rows of cubicles for the disciples to prosthelytize to the unwashed masses, “lift yourself, take our hand and elevate yourself to the glory of all the money is and can be”.
Consume or be consumed, the entire New Testament may be reinterpreted not as a warning of end times, not as a statement of worldly evangelism, but each parable and writing a searing indictment and prophetic warning of a planet destroying insidious religion about to rise. The Original Sin may well be reduced to being born into a world which requires you to sell your labor power for survival, the baptism a cleansing in preparation of a lifelong participation in commodity exchange- labor for goods.
There is no expiation in the religion of Capitalism, it is game theory analogous to Newcomb’s Paradox, a contrivance where an omniscient being gives you two choices, one of which is already made for you, and analyzes your strategy for utility maximization when you know that your choice is already predetermined- and you cannot change the outcome.
Here’s hoping for the ninth Crusade.
Reblogged this on Food sovereignty reflections and commented:
The new Pope’s scathing critique of unbridled consumerism and the immorality of the unconstrained market has come as a surprise. His identification of inequality as the root of all social evils reminds me of the compelling data compiled in the Spirit Level, how sharp inequality correlates very closely with high levels of crime, ill-health, low educational attainment, and so forth.
It is becoming evident to growing numbers that we need to be thinking, planning and acting beyond the limits of what has previously been conceived as ‘possible’ or ‘realistic’. We need to open our imaginations, talk and dream together about a society in which the highest value is not the pursuit of money but the flourishing of all people and the integity and well-being of ecosystems.
Dorothy Day was an interesting Catholic
Day also admired Ernesto “Che” Guevara and quoted his view of revolution: “‘Let me say, at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.’ Che Guevara wrote this.”
Searing! Great stuff – the best thing I’ve read since Stations of the Crass. Now if we can only get this essay printed in the Wallstreet Journal and New York Times, I think its full effect could truly be felt.
He tried, but the Beast had already taken over the Earth.
And what is lost through identification with the marginalizing term “anarchy” is arguably more than made up for through that marginalization. While all those who identify with anarchy do not always live up to the radical inquiry it suggests, at worst anarchist circles serve as fertile territory for explorations in extremism. Unbridled sociopaths, the inventively unhinged, and ideological robots of a thousands colors contribute to a deluge of first-hand data and such productive, passionate experimentation as found nowhere else. There are also, of course, saints and angels to be found in abundance too, human beings so sharply and intensely human you can get addicted to their realness. Through two centuries of struggle “anarchy”, like the word “love” has become a defect pummeled into a hole. Things happen there. Radiation comes blasting out.
Reblogged this on Gaia will prevail.
buz painter said:
Mike – You said, “Hedges has found his voice.” I can see that you have also found your voice. As I read the comments from regular posters here on a daily basis I see that others of us are also finding their voices. It is infecting those of us who lurk in the bushes of this phenomenon. We look for our voices as a means to not only try to make sense of the catastrophe which overtakes us but also as a means to make our lives active statements of defiance as we circle the drain of NTE.
“I’ve got nothing to say; but it’s OK. Good morning. Good Morning. Good Morning.”
– Beatles –
Correction. This essay is written by Darbikrash whom we are blessed to have as an occasional contributor here. His other writings/posts are here:
Stations of the Crass
Down by Law
“Two Midnights in a Jug”
A Nation of Hustlers and Swindlers
Thank you for your purchase
If it’s too loud- you’re too old.
The Promised Land
Wow, what a sermon for a Sunday morning, gave me goosebumps and a burning bosom. I’d go to a church, atheism not withstanding, if this was what I heard from the pulpit.
I’ve had several chances to hear Hedges in person and you captured my impressions of him exactly, his impact comes from more than just his words. That’s evidence of my religious background and how it shaped me as well, but I dragged an almost lifelong unrepentant stalinist friend (his other qualities make up for it) with me to one of Chris’ lectures and even he was shaken and moved. I have no idea how the Pope comes across to those who hear him, but I suspect it would be a mistake to underestimate his potential impact.
I’m currently reading McKenzie Wark’s books on the Situationists, as well as Graeber’s ‘The Democracy Project’, so anarchism is on my mind, great stuff.
You can read the first 6 pages of ‘The Spectacle of Disintegration’ on amazon, very much worth while so I won’t try to pick a few chunks to quote. The whole first chapter would be a fantastic essay for this blog. And doing that would be right in line with the situationist tactic of detournement, so worth thinking about, xray;)
Where are the offers to Darbikrash for his own column in a national syndicated media outlet? Oh, that’s right….
Talk about moving heaven and earth. I was horrified this morning to see this link left by pfgetty2013 on the previous post:
“I thought I knew all the dreadful effects of climate change, but this new discovery has truly surprised me: “Climate change is causing the North Pole’s location to drift, owing to subtle changes in Earth’s rotation that result from the melting of glaciers and ice sheets.” The entire Earth is tilting because of this change.
During this century, ocean warming will make the north pole’s spin axis to move towards Alaska and Hawaii about 1.5 centimers per year. The newly redistributed mass will also make our planet to spin faster.”
Impressed by AcronymTV:
Ken Barrows said:
Great essay. I do wonder, though, if the Pope would be willing to forego industrial civilization. Viva la permaculture! I speak, of course, as a hypocrite on that matter, being immersed in IC. If the government provides me subsistence, however, I’d be willing to learn.
In the comments section from today’s article above:
“The pope is not a Marxist, he is is a Distributivist.
The Catholic ‘Marxist movement’, largely from Latin America, is called Liberation theology, and is current among the Catholic Worker movement. It was suppressed in the 1980s, by the conservative cardinal Ratzinger (before he was the last pope).”
From the article posted just above, Tadramgo has some incisive comments:
vivalarevolution13: Too late! Now that the feedbacks have been tripped there’s no going back to integrity and well-being of ecosystems, as they are degraded and will continue along this trajectory until the ability to support human life will vanish. The oceans are dying and climate change is making industrial agriculture ever harder.
all: this pope better watch that he doesn’t get whacked (probably from within, like JFK) with that kind of talk.
Not that I refute how bad things are in the world, but the logical response would be to then simply give up. This same nihilistic response comes from those at the google group America2.O which is dominated by a scientific (biophysical/biological) explanation and says that our current state of affairs is predetermined by evolution, physics, and human psychology. Ironically though, Nate Hagens wants to write about alternative socio-economic systems that humans can turn to once the present system collapses. No one wants to really talk about the current system of capitalism created by humans and driving all the destruction.
My response isn’t logical – it’s emotional: do as much of and whatever I can to stave off the demise of everything around me as long as I can, and especially to enjoy what I have with fresh eyes for as long as I last. No givin’ up here.
Let’s compartmentalize the apocalypse and pretend we have a fighting chance.
This may be a mere quibble but it would be just as well to have the economic history straight. Capitalism was alive and well in Italy in the duecento. Aquinas was perfectly familiar with merchants and trade and the bourgeois class.
This would be an opportune time to review the theological problem with usury. Usury was not prohibited merely because it was observed to have nasty social consequences. There was a principle involved. Money is sterile. Money cannot have generative powers. Only life (or God) creates life. Money cannot create more money. If money is observed to multiply and to breed more money there must be a cause. The proximate cause would be that the usurer is in league with Satan. The usurer is not creating money, he is receiving it from Hell.
I don’t believe in Satan and generally reject the supernatural. It does seem to me that viewing money as evil, surrounded by demons and infernal machinations, is a good and useful way to see the world. For popular consumption it is a very appropriate way to view the world. The economists have not seen further than Aquinas.
Kevin Moore said:
I have read the excellent essay and read comments without really knowing what the ‘correct’ response is. I still don’t know. Mike’s Carlin quote: ‘It’s a big club and you ain’t in it’, is certainly appropriate.
My father hated the Catholic Church and all it stood for, and his opinions made a deep impression on me as a child and adolescent, and therefore as an adult. He condemned the anti-birth-control stance and accused the church of attempting to take over the world by shear weight of numbers; he condemned the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, which the church condoned and participated in.
As an adult I have discovered that the lies and hypocrisy of the church were far worse than anything my father had mentioned, and that the Catholic Church literally led the way in physical enslavement of Africans, led the way in conquest of land and theft of resources, and led the way in developing instruments of torture and repression. Last century ‘good’ Catholics aided, abetted and participated in numerous acts of mass murder and grand-scale theft, and many were more than very sympathetic towards fascism.
More recently came all the revelations of child abuse. The film ‘Oranges and Sunshine’ brought to public attention the abuse of ‘motherless’ English children, some of whom were shipped to slave labour camps operated by ‘good’ Catholics. More recently still there have been reports of endemic corruption in the Vatican’s financial sector.
So now the head of this despotic organisation, this global corporation of manipulators liars and criminals, says some aspects of the system it has promoted for centuries need attention. Yeah, right!
The cynic in me asks why now? This sudden revelation of basic truth known and covered-up for generations is now available for discussion, now that the church has been exposed as rotten to the core I smell a rat.
Goodness me. Next the church might start promoting the actual teachings of Jesus! And that simply would not do.
The air is thick with neuro-linguistic programming while the real news remains unreported, even by less-disreputable of the media. . . .
I think everything will continue to be ‘safe’ for global corporations (including the Catholic Church) for a while longer because the empty rhetoric of ‘called again upon nations to narrow the wealth gap’ still applies, and that means HE is not responsible and others are required to take action, not HIM.
Carlin summed it up long ago. Any system that imposes arbitrary rules about wearing hats or not wearing hats, covering hair or not covering hair is all bullshit. He said he was a good Catholic boy until he reached the age of reason, which for him was age six or seven.
Terrific post and terrific comment.
Without excusing any of the hypocrisy, lies, and corruption of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries, nay, millennia, I’m pleased to see that the current Pope is preaching something wholesome. It may be an ineffectual antidote by this date to the new religion of wealth (golden calf indeed), but it’s welcome nonetheless. His lesson on the intersection of morality, economics, and social justice, comes, perhaps surprisingly, from an institution itself heavily intertwined in each. Only a little knowledge of history is needed to understand that the Church itself was corrupted by economics and authoritarian power, leading to its fundamental abandonment of morality in its highest reaches, as distinguished from the parish level. However, from where else would one expect the moral voice of global leadership to arise? No one else is stepping up.
I’ve long since discarded any expectation that organized religion in its quasi-corporate form will ever again be a real force for good in the world. I find it curious that the Church still acts as a salve and refuge, including for scoundrels and criminals, which is part of its mission (unless I’m mistaken). So even with grave misgivings, I can’t bring myself to condemn this latest apostolic exhortation of the Holy Father.
If the Pope Francis can clean out some of the filth from the Vatican then that must be a small good thing, no ? and if he can get the good aspects of Catholic economics to push against neoliberalism, that also must be a good thing, no ?
However, there is also the extreme right wing fascist side of the Catholic Church, Opus Dei, etc, and the ones who supported Franco and Hitler, makes me wonder how long he will survive if he begins to be effective. But all those millions of Catholics in the world could make a difference, and you can’t blame the guy for trying, can you. But his record in S. America wasn’t very good from what little I know. But if he’s upset Rush Limbaugh, well, just that is a worthwhile achievement even if he does nothing else.
Water War Crimes
From Alice Friedemann:
The essay by Captain Paul Watson below is one of the best I’ve ever read on the overpopulation crisis. This is just part of it, to read it all (and many other great essays as well), get “Life on the Brink. Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation” 2013 edited by Philip Cafaro and Eileen Crist. What follows is from Chapter 11 “The Laws of Ecology and Human Population Growth”.
I think that the only meaningful action we could take to lessen the die-off and suffering ahead would be a global program to make birth control and abortion available everywhere, and in the United States, to drastically lower immigration levels. Since peak oil was reached in 2005 and the exponential oil decline rate of 9% is likely to start in 5 to 20 years, no other solution could possibly make as much of a difference in the short time we have left. If David Pimentel is right that the carrying capacity of the United States is 100 million without fossil fuels (at a lifestyle of meat and a glass of wine once a week), then all the other solutions, i.e. organic gardening, stronger local communities, a vegetarian diet, and so on, can’t possibly make up for the resources needed by the 220 million “extra” Americans, not to mention that at least 300 million have no clue how to survive going back to a wood-energy-based lifestyle plus live far beyond where most of the calories we eat can be delivered by truck or rail in the future. Ecologists tend to blame the prevailing economic belief that there’s “No Limits to Growth” for our predicament, but I wonder how much blame future historians will assign to the Sierra Club for making population and immigration non-issues and taboo to talk about.
Captain Paul Watson:
The earth is a planet, but because it contains complex ecosystems and living entities on a celestial body hurtling through space, it may also be described as a spaceship.
The living entities that crew this spaceship are millions of species working within diverse ecological niches to maintain the complex life-support system of the ship. The foundation is made up of the species that most human beings regard as the lowest life forms: bacteria, insects, plankton, plants, invertebrates, and fish.
We could call them the custodians or the working crew of Spaceship Earth. The spaceship in reality belongs to them, not us. They run it. We so-called higher forms of life are merely the passengers. The custodians do not need us, but we need the custodians.
We humans suffer under the delusion that we own this planet. We do not. We never have and never will. We have not been here long, and we will not be here much longer if we continue to operate in contempt of the rules of ecology and in total disrespect of the ship’s crew.
A life-support system requires some essential engineering…
Continue reading: http://energyskeptic.com/2013/passengers-killing-crew-of-spaceship-earth/
The entire Christian message (and the rise of the religious Right and Republicants) is factually false. Any honest research will uncover the truth. God did not exist nor create the world, the accepted historical accuracy on the mythological Jesus is in gross error, the entire New Testament is fabricated as is almost all of the Old Testament, the prophets of old (fortelling of course, the profits of now) did not exist either and on and on.
I spent nearly 20 years investigating (while in the ministry) – and walked away from the entire deception as a result of what was uncovered.
The ensuing civiilzation and of course, we ought not to forget the centuries of blood-soaked history, is a deeply flawed construct of truly biblical proportions… They are in fact, one and the same, we cannot hope to divide them apart now or ever.
It’s pointless to try to convey how far off the mark we really are. Superglued minds refuse to budge. Corporate success is deemed personal success. Religiousity is righteous, personal ethics and moral standards is not. The bible is their chosen weapon, and has been used with great success to modify civilization for profit. The money changers are still in the temple, and Rush is no different, despite his continued pretence.
Frankly, I give up on Americans altogether, finding them far too stupid to recognize their manipulation and increasing levels of ignorance. They prefer leaders over intellect, deception over reason, distraction over diligence. They will get their just rewards as is their due.
Let them have it, they’ll “succeed” anyway, driving the entire global environment into ruin. They’re in good company too, as we all know, having spread their poison throughout the world. Christians for profit, it’s in the Bible, doncha’ know? The world is their storefront, and it’s ALL on sale.
There is no hope to be found here and never really was. All we can do now is cry at their antics and self-deceit while we watch the escalating ruination being championed as “good for us all”. Do not look to the mystical Sky God to restore or rectify anything, He’s not there and never was. What humanity now faces is their own making of hell – superstitious ignorance and denial and the resulting civlization of escalating death.
I came to much the same conclusion about theism after 6-7 years of waffling in early adulthood. I don’t consider it an advantage or failing to do so in more or less time (e.g., compared to you), nor am inclined to evangelize against faith. However, considering how brutally and barbarically man has acted against himself and indeed all of nature, including actions taken in the name of , escape into fantasy is an all-too-common human frailty that makes some sense to me. I can’t go there — my mind isn’t bent that way — but I recognize others do.
OK – Hedges usually has some decent analysis, but I question that the man may not have some demagoguery in there somewhere.
I keep going back to his article “Cancer in Occupy” where he called members of the Black Bloc, basically non-human terrorists, which opened them up to assault not just from the state, but also opened the door to sell them out for namby pamby armchair lee-beruls.
Now, this has turned out to be problematic for me on a number of levels.
I have watched and learned from the Black Bloc since the mid 1990s and the raucous anti free trade protests in Europe, as well as the anti WTO Seattle shutdown. In Oakland, and also in my home area I saw the black bloc anarchists standing shoulder to shoulder with African Americans in defense of their home base communities while under aggressive, attack by murderous, racist police. I also saw anarchists organize and manage food not bombs in my home town.
To whit, it has been, in my experience, the anarchists as the first responders, and committed front line fighters in case after case of social activism, and in fact many were instrumental in actually organizing Occupy.
For Hedges to just deliver them a massive knee to the groin because, I assume, the good mid to upper class bourgeois who buy his books were getting their undies in a jumble and all uncomfortable over a bunch of militants, is not just sectarian and inconsiderate, but also plain daft in terms of organizing ability.
These black bloc people would be (as Chuck D might say) the most committed, most prepared troops to integrate into Occupy. And yet Hedges would have none of it and kicked them to the curb like trash.
Now that is one thing, but over time, Hedges refused to acknowledge that he may have made a crucial tactical mistake here by alienating a core constituency. As David Graeber noted, Hedges does not seem to have any humility or ability here to admit he may have made a misstep, and he continues to hold to the cancer line, quite fiercely, even after the whole Occupy thing seems to have crumbled – maybe or maybe not because of this sort of divisive rhetoric.
But it gets weirder. In recent talks, Hedges, who never shies away from sharing his reading lists, has gone on and on about how he is now, with gusto, reading “the great revolutionaries” Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Mikhael Bakunin, and Pierre Proudhoun. Probably because anarchists have not let him live any of this down.
Hedges apparently failed to notice however in any of his readings that Berkman actually shot capitalist Henry Clay Frick, that Goldman inspired Leon Czolgosz to murder the president of the United States, or that Proudhoun and Bakunin were instrumental in inspiring actions which led to establishment of the Paris Commune in 1871.
I am not out to slam Hedges, but I think, despite excellent analysis and communicative ability, he is still fallibly human and his shortcomings like this need to be acknowledged before we all gather under the flag of St. Christopher and set sail on the HMS Hedges, only to find ourselves sunk out in the deep waters.
Thank you for all the great work.
I was very bothered by exactly what you lay out in this post, and I’d hoped that since then Hedges had done some repenting, but you make it sound as if he hasn’t, at least not explicitly. Disappointing, but fallibility is what us non-Pope’s are stuck with. He’s still a hero of mine, I have so few of them these days and am quite reluctant to give any of them up, despite being aware that all of them are flawed. Sometimes that makes me love them even more, which was how I felt about Marx after immersing myself in the poignant ‘Love and Capital’.
JCW: Art historian TJ Clark right after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the assumed end of the marxist experiment: “If I cannot have the proletariat as my chosen people any longer, at least capitalism remains my Satan.”
I have yet to find a more compelling concept of Satan myself, so I really like this quote. I seem to recall experiments showing humans are often more propelled into action by negative motivations rather than positive, so fostering hatred and fear of a Satan among the believers that consists of capitalists and their minions might be quite an improvement from the Satan of gays, feminists, scientists, condoms and atheists. A kumbaya world without hatred and fear and demons (and gods)? Sure, I’d take that if it was on offer, but in the meantime, target those more deserving.
Pingback from Surviving Capitalism:
Crimes of the Popes
Aptitude Design said:
http://benjaminpglaser.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/john-calvin-on-usury-long-quotation/ 1554 Thus he opened the gate to what now is at hand.
From the comments :
Personally I believe that they have the wrong plan: one (a fascist one) that simply cannot work in today’s conditions, largely because, unlike classical fascism, it won’t offer anything (some welfare) to the masses, who are highly educated and connected/coordinated but just brutal repression and hopelessness. Overall they do not have any plan to get the capitalist system back on its feet, just “grab the money and run” and “extend and pretend”, what is pitiful and useless. And without a workable plan, how can they succeed in the mid-term? The medicine man who does not bring rain is burnt at the stake, you know.
Kevin Moore said:
From the comments on that site:
December 16, 2013 at 4:26 am
I have just returned from Italy where the situation is rapidly descending into chaos. Institutions are losing control in spite of the tightest media-wrap I’ve yet come across. After demonstrations and clashes in dozens of locations last week, there is a march on Rome planned for Wednesday. The media constantly attempts to distract public attention with exhaustive coverage of political games-play, making the occasional reporting from the street seem surreal. The constitutional court’s decision 10 days ago that the electoral law is illegal has factually delegitimized 8 years of government, and its “elected” officials. Let’s see. ‘
So maybe that is why the pope has now decided that capitalism needs modification. There’s nothing like rioting in the streets and collapse of institutions to put the wind up people in power. In most revolutions there have been several phases of repression of the masses by ‘security forces’, after which the ‘security forces’ fail to protect the elites or actually switch sides.
Like the rest of the 1%, the Pope is descending into panic mode.
He’s too effing late. The Pope should have said this 70 years ago – before child-molesting became part of the Vatican’s Acceptable Use policy.
Your cynicism may have been justly placed. Real concern for the masses only happens when they are wielding pitchforks and molotov cocktails.
Kevin Moore said:
Life in an hierarchical, superstitious society without common access to fossil fuels.
“From what I can tell, the concentration of great power does not coincide with the expression of great intelligence. What is far more evident is a great sense of entitlement, which is to say a self-validating sense that power rests where power belongs and that the inequality in its distribution is a reflection of some kind of natural order.
Since this self-serving perception of hierarchical order operates among humans and since humans as a species wield so much more power than any other, it’s perhaps not surprising that we exhibit the same kind of hubris collectively that we see individually in the most dominant among us.
Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly clear that our sense of superiority is rooted in ignorance.”
This guy is one of my favorite economic analysts…
CNN and Huffington Post Are “External Stakeholders” In Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Presstitute Media Shills for Nuclear Power
It is well-documented that the claim that nuclear power is a low-carbon source of energy is mere propaganda.
The archaic nuclear reactor design used at Fukushima and in most reactors in the United States and throughout the world was chosen solely because it helps to make nuclear bombs.
Our health has been sacrificed – and the dangers of radiation covered up – for 68 years … for the sake of nuclear weapons.
The mainstream media – and gatekeeper “alternative” media – are pro-war. They may occasionally criticize one tiny aspect of the war-fighting machinery, but never the overall war effort.
As such, it should not be entirely surprising that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission lists CNN and Huffington Post as “external stakeholders” in the NRC.
As EneNews reports:
Independent Evaluation of NRC’s Use and Security of Social Media, Office of the Inspector General, Jan. 2013:
Social Media Evaluation Interview List [Appendix VI, pg. 82]
◾Internal Stakeholders (NRC staff) […]
◾External Stakeholders (Press) Energy Editor, AOL, Huffington Post — Nuclear Writer, Huffington Post — Producer, CNN News
◾External Stakeholders (Digital Influencers) Blogger, Atomic Power Review — Blogger, Idaho Samizdat: Nuke Notes — Blogger, Yes Vermont Yankee
◾External Stakeholders (Nuclear Industry) […] Senior Manager for Social — Media, Nuclear Energy Institute […]
◾External Stakeholders (US Government and US Senate Staff) US-CERT Representative, United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team — Policy Director, US Senate ….
(there’s more, and it’s well worth the quick read, but ends with)
Remember, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a pro-industry group which is largely funded by the nuclear companies. (This is true of all nuclear agencies).
The nuclear industry in Japan – and elsewhere – spends more on pr than on safety measures. Indeed, nuclear power is a form of crony capitalism, where taxpayers fund a market which would not even exist in a free market.
The presstitute media once again shills for the powers-that-be.
Listen to this podcast interview with the heavy hitters Paul Beckwith, Tim Garrett and Cory Morningstar:
Progressive Commentary Hour from 12/9/13
‘Scorched Earth Urbanism’ and other Quasi-Satirical Street Vocabularies
This article originally appeared on RebelMetropolis.org.
When defining a new term, or redefining a marginalized term, it helps to define its converse. The word ‘sustainable’ has become such a meaningless marketing brand. If we’re going to take this one back from the PR firms we’ll need to draw a few lines. The opposite of ‘sustainable’ should be understood to be ‘terminal’. So often, though, the term ‘sustainable’ is being used where ‘terminal’ should rightly go. ‘Sustainable development’ on a finite planet seems comically dishonest. ‘Smart growth’, ‘green capitalism’ – it’s all a smokescreen. We’ll likely never have anything close to a sustainable metropolis. Like an ant hill, the larger our mega-cities loom, the further its resources must be imported. A few community gardens won’t radically alter much. Maybe Detroit can ramp up wide-scale urban farming, we’ll see.
Metroburbianism – Perhaps the most disturbing actual trend of all, stymied only slightly after the housing crash in 2008, the term ‘Metroburbia’ has been explored at length by Paul Knox in his book by the same name. Knox details how ever-expanding rings of freeway-suburbs and exurbs merge mega-city with mega-city, and are the unstoppable, ‘comfortably numb’ ambitions of a ‘developer’s utopia’. The fetishization of the individual, the commodification of experience and life-style, and the enclosure of all things private then marketed as ‘public space’ are all perverted components of suburban/exurban life in Metroburbia.
Kevin Moore said:
Ha! Another of those convergent thinking moments.
I am in the process of compiling a report to the regional ‘environment’ officer. For want of a better term I have coined the slightly cumbersome expression termination-inducing.
‘In addition to the termination-inducing factors which have been building up to catastrophic levels for many decades (or even centuries), the world is faced with a nuclear facility which melted down more than two years ago and which is continuously spewing an undetermined quantity of radio-nuclides into the North Pacific: officialdom declares it may take up to 40 years make the Fukushima site ‘safe’.’
It has been very clear to me (and a lot of other people) that ‘sustainable development’ induces termination of life on Earth.
Carlin: “It’s all bullshit.”
Kevin Moore said:
What many of us have known for a long time: vitamin supplements generally don’t improve health and are a waste of money
The cynic in me says this revelation will have no effect on the dumbed-down masses, who will believe what they want to believe and will continue to buy the crap until they can’t.
Production, distribution, disposal of waste: just another (albeit relatively small) component of the mega system geared to melting down the planet.
and another Carlin quote: “It’s bad for ya!”
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
Climate change and agriculture
‘Whole world’ at risk from simultaneous droughts, famines, epidemics: scientists
Research published by US National Academy of Sciences warns climate change impacts could be worse than thought
An international scientific research project known as the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), run by 30 teams from 12 countries, has attempted to understand the severity and scale of global impacts of climate change. The project compares model projections on water scarcity, crop yields, disease, floods among other issues to see how they could interact.
The series of papers published by the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that policymakers might be underestimating the social and economic consequences of climate change due to insufficient attention on how different climate risks are interconnected.
Europe, North America at risk
One paper whose lead author is Franziska Piontek of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research explores impacts related to “water,agriculture, ecosystems, and malaria at different levels of global warming.” The study concludes that:
“… uncertainty arising from the impact models is considerable, and larger than that from the climate models. In a low probability-high impact worst-case assessment, almost the whole inhabited world is at risk for multisectoral pressures.”
The uncertainties in the model are large enough that they may “mask” the risk of a “worst case” scenario of “multisectoral hotspots,” where impacts affecting “water, agriculture, ecosystems, and health” overlap in ways that could affect “all the world’s inhabited areas.”
In the worst-case analysis, “Almost the entire global population is exposed to multisectoral pressure” at global mean temperatures of around 4C higher, with “roughly 18% of the global population” projected to “experience severe pressure in all four sectors. The affected regions are in Europe, North America, and south-east Asia.”
How likely is this scenario? The study points out that:
“This worst case is rather extreme, but nonetheless it represents the upper end of the risk spectrum in light of the large uncertainties.”
(read the rest!)
Russia tightens its control over news media…
Great posts xraymike (I especially like the Dalai Lama’s observation above).
‘Superbugs’ found breeding in China’s sewage plants
December 18, 2013 – CHINA – Tests at two wastewater treatment plants in northern China revealed antibiotic-resistant bacteria were not only escaping purification but also breeding and spreading their dangerous cargo. Joint research by scientists from Rice, Nankai and Tianjin universities found “superbugs” carrying New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1), a multidrug-resistant gene first identified in India in 2010, in wastewater disinfected by chlorination. They found significant levels of NDM-1 in the effluent released to the environment and even higher levels in dewatered sludge applied to soils. The study, led by Rice University environmental engineer Pedro Alvarez, appeared this month in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters. “It’s scary,” Alvarez said. “There’s no antibiotic that can kill them. We only realized they exist just a little while ago when a Swedish man got infected in India, in New Delhi. Now, people are beginning to realize that more and more tourists trying to go to the upper waters of the Ganges River are getting these infections that cannot be treated. “We often think about sewage treatment plants as a way to protect us, to get rid of all of these disease-causing constituents in wastewater.
But it turns out these microbes are growing. They’re eating sewage, so they proliferate. In one wastewater treatment plant, we had four to five of these superbugs coming out for every one that came in.” Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been raising alarms for years, particularly in hospital environments where public health officials fear they can be transferred from patient to patient and are very difficult to treat. Bacteria harboring the encoding gene that makes them resistant have been found on every continent except for Antarctica, the researchers wrote. NDM-1 is able to make such common bacteria as E. coli, salmonella and K. pneumonias resistant to even the strongest available antibiotics. The only way to know one is infected is when symptoms associated with these bacteria fail to respond to antibiotics. In experiments described in the same paper, Alvarez and his team confirmed the microbes treated by wastewater plants that still carried the resistant gene could transfer it via plasmids to otherwise benign bacteria. A subsequent study by Alvarez and his colleagues published this month in Environmental Science and Technology defined a method to extract and analyze antibiotic-resistant genes in extracellular and intracellular DNA from water and sediment and applied it to sites in the Haihe River basin in China, which drains an area of intensive antibiotic use. The study showed plasmids persist for weeks in river sediment, where they can invade indigenous bacteria. “It turns out that they transfer these genetic determinants for antibiotic resistance to indigenous bacteria in the environment, so they are not only proliferating within the wastewater treatment plant, they’re also propagating and dispersing antibiotic resistance,” Alvarez said. –Terra Daily
Pesticides used to kill bees contain neonicotinoids, that researchers say may affect human health, especially brain development in children.
Cascading Collapse Events And The Super Exponential Non-Linearity Event.
The dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago about a 100,000 years after an asteroid hit earth with the power of a million atomic weapons. The oceans are acidifying 10 faster than the Permian mass extinction event that wiped 95% of all life 260 million years ago. We humans are on course to wipe out life on earth in less than 10,000 years. That’s ten times faster than an asteroid the size of Mount Everest. We are also on coarse to kill more than 95% of life on earth. Global warming is only one of five reasons this is so. Global warming will only exacerbate an already untenable situation, the end of life on earth. Some serious scientists believe it can start within 25 years. This is called a planetary eco-state shift from a series of cascading collapse extinction events. The planet’s eco-sphere breaks down. The most very terribly most important part is that when we reach this point, which is soon, there will be no turning back. The process becomes irreversible and unstoppable. This is why we stopped caring for the poor. There really is no hope for 90% of humanity within one or two generations, even if we tried. The number of humans versus all-life-on-earth is too high. Sustainable community resilience stands no chance in the long run, only hard science by the military will have a small chance of surviving the fastest and biggest mass extinction event in all of earth’s four billion year old history. Mass extinction is a Clear And Present Danger. In the mean time, there’s still a lot of money to be made managing and exploiting it.
The unmentioned factor in grid blackouts: climate change(global warming)…
(h/t Colorado Bob)
“…The Cristina Fernandez administration has attributed the situation to several factors: the soaring temperatures that have been recorded across Argentina since last week; a higher level of industrial activity; and an improvement in the quality of life of citizens, which has led to increased use of air conditioning and similar cooling appliances.
The Ministry, headed by Julio De Vido assured that “the system is operating normally and has an additional reserves of 2500 megawatts.” But the department recommended “continuing the efficient use of electrical power, which spans from the use of low-energy light bulbs to the efficient utilisation of domestic appliances.”
The government declared an ‘orange alert’ because of the high temperatures which have spread to the whole country and neighboring Uruguay and Chile, which are expected to again peak consumption with collateral blackouts….”
The anti-capitalist pope?
The new boss in the Vatican isn’t so different from the old ones, writes Lance Selfa.
WHAT ARE we to make of all this?
The first thing to note is that Francis’ critiques of capitalism in “The Joy of the Gospel” stand out for how unlike they are from the rest of it. The main purpose of the document was to lay out a strategy for promoting Catholism in today’s world. Even the right-wing Catholic publication First Things praised Francis’ ultra-orthodox statements on marriage and abortion in “The Joy of the Gospel.”
In fact, if you compare Francis’ statements about capitalism, labor, poverty and inequality to similar statements that popes have issued over the last 120 years, you would find little differences between them. Going back to Pope Leo XVI’s 1891 encyclical (i.e., papal letter) “Rerum Novarum,” the Vatican has maintained a consistent perspective that supported the right of workers to form unions, opposed both extremes of communism and unbridled capitalism, emphasized the role of the state and the rich in helping the poor, and defended private property as a right.
To the extent that you can call the Catholic Church’s social teaching “anti-capitalist,” it’s a “romantic anti-capitalism” that hearkens back to a pre-industrial ideal of an “organic” society, without cutthroat capitalists or class struggle. In this view, a moral society is one in which the rich recognize their obligations to the poor and workers, and workers and the poor, in return, refrain from violence, rioting or vandalism.
At best, this is a social democratic view of modern society. In its origins, it has more in common with a feudal or paternalistic view of society.
But it’s hardly a “Marxist” view. While it may recognize the existence of social classes, the Catholic orthodoxy doesn’t champion class struggle as the motor force for change in the world. Nor does it argue for a society in which workers democratically decide what to produce and how to allocate society’s resources.
In fact, Pope Francis’ “The Joy of the Gospel” advocates for:
And in case Rush Limbaugh can’t figure it out, the pope left little doubt about his ideological leanings in a December 14 interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, “The ideology of Marxism is wrong,” he said. “But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”
Francis went on to defend his criticism of “trickle-down economics,” but added, “I repeat: I did not talk as a specialist, but according to the social doctrine of the church. And this does not mean being a Marxist.”
In any event, it would be a strange Marxist who sat atop one of the world’s richest institutions–the Vatican.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
IF THE pope himself thinks his statements are unremarkable, then why are they being characterized as a “breath of fresh air” from many quarters? This is largely due to the perceived differences between Francis’ message and that of his immediate predecessors, especially the pompous and illiberal Pope Benedict.
The previous popes–plus the majority of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the U.S. especially–foregrounded the Church’s reactionary stances on abortion, contraception, equal marriage and the role of women, in their public statements.
When, in 2004, leading U.S. bishops denied Democratic presidential candidate and Catholic John Kerry the right to receive communion at Mass–on the basis of his support for a woman’s right to choose abortion–the Vatican backed them up. This week, Pope Francis announced he was demoting the former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, who led the charge against Kerry.
The bishops were at it again last year, joining with the fundamentalist religious right in opposing Barack Obama’s health are law because if its mandates to cover a number of reproductive health services.
In contrast to the severe stances of his predecessors, Pope Francis earlier this year caught the ear of the world media when he was quoted as saying “Who am I to judge?” when asked about his view of homosexuality. Later, the pope made news during the Easter season when he included female prisoners in the Holy Week “washing of the feet,” a ritual of humility and service, performed at a youth prison. One would never have seen the austere and imperious Benedict do such things.
Yet these small gestures are more likely evidence of marketing and public relations savvy than a real change in Church positions on gay rights or women’s rights. Francis doesn’t hold significantly different positions on any of the issues identified with the Church’s social conservatism than did Benedict or John Paul II.
In fact, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires before his elevation to the papacy, Cardinal Bergoglio led the campaign against equal marriage in Argentina. He was perceived as a scourge toward moderately liberal Presidents Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández Kirchner.
But in an era when the papacy has a Twitter feed and his media adviser was once a former Fox News official, the pope knows how to shape the news to his advantage. It’s even likely that the Vatican worked the media–not known for its ability to parse long statements of Church doctrine–to focus on the few passages on income inequality in “The Joy of the Gospel.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
THE QUESTION to answer is why. And here, it has to be said: if there’s any institution in need of an image makeover, it’s the Catholic Church.
Francis and the cardinals who chose him last March understood this. They lead a historically European institution whose membership now comes primarily from the global South. Forty percent of Catholics live in Central and South America, where the Church faces stiff competition for adherents from fundamentalist Protestant denominations.
Plus, an institution whose top officials were seen as obsessed with lecturing followers about their sex lives and private morality lost credibility with every new revelation of child sexual abuse and church cover-ups.
These two observations alone help explain why Francis is putting social conservative dogma on the back burner, while speaking more publicly about the needs of the poor. The pope admits as much in “The Joy of the Gospel”: “It is not the task of the Pope to offer a detailed and complete analysis of contemporary reality, but I do exhort all the communities to an ‘ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times.'”
If Karl Marx was correct in his famous statement about religion–that it’s “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions”–then Catholicism has to remain relevant to the needs and desires of its followers. Just as the popes of the late 19th century developed a social doctrine that responded to a world where the Church’s followers were attracted to the labor and socialist movements, Pope Francis today is attempting to respond to the obscene inequality of wealth that stunts the lives of billions around the world.
In the spirit of this holiday season, we can be thankful that the pope’s statements are causing Rush Limbaugh’s and Megyn “Jesus and Santa were white” Kelly’s heads to explode.
But we should take the pope’s proposed “ethical” solution to inequality with a grain of salt. After all, didn’t the pope’s favorite philosopher once say: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God?”
In response to Dahr Jamail’s recent article, Scribbler writes:
Through The Looking Glass of The Great Dying: New Study Finds Ocean Stratification Proceeded Rapidly Over Past 150 Years
…These studies combine with numerous observations of declining ocean health, increasing ocean anoxia, and an increasing number of observed mechanisms that may result in a more and more stratified ocean state as human warming intensifies to increase concern that the worst fears of Dr. Peter Ward and colleagues may be in the process of realization. (See: Dead Dolphins and Mass Starfish Die-off for more indicators of failing ocean health.)…
As Ecologist Guy McPhearson notes — Nature Bats Last. And we should not be comforted by this notion. Because Nature carries the biggest stick of all. A consequence hanging over our heads that grows larger and more dangerous with each passing year during which our insults to her continue.
Among the pessimists regarding the end consequences of human caused climate change and related pollution, ecologists are the worst of the bunch. This is likely due to the fact that ecologists are very intimately involved in the study of how communities of organisms succeed or fail in natural settings. Among all groups of scientists, they are perhaps the ones most intimately familiar with the way in which all living things are connected to both one another and to the natural world. Ecologists know all too well that small shifts can mean huge changes to biodiversity, the rate of death among living beings, and the distribution of species in a given environment. But the changes humans inflict are not small in the least. They roughly ripple through the natural world in ways that ecologists know all too well have never before been seen.
Dr. McPherson is such an ecologist and one with such great conscience and concern that he, years ago, abandoned most of the luxuries of modern civilization to live in a fashion that produced the least harm possible. Not that this action has resulted in a more optimism on his part. In fact, Guy is one of a growing group of people who believe that no action is likely to save humankind. That our insults to the natural world have already been too great.
Guy is probably right. I sincerely hope that his and my own worst fears do not emerge.
It was Guy’s ongoing tracking of various dangerous alteration to world climate systems and assertion that human extinction may well be nigh that has drawn the attention of prominent journalist Dahr Jamail. Jamail recently penned the article: “The Great Dying Redux: Shocking Parallels Between Ancient Mass Extinction and Climate Change.“
Reading proffessor emeritus Guy McPherson’s blog was enough to convince Mr. Jamail of the risk that current warming could result in an extinction event to rival that of the Great Dying so long ago. Mr. Jamail notes:
And so we come full circle. Rapid human warming leads to troubling ocean changes that hint at those feared to have resulted in mass extinctions during the Permian Triassic boundary event. And the very rapid human warming puts at risk the catastrophically rapid release of Arctic methane which would certainly consign Earth to the a rapid jump form a glacial to a hothouse state and potentially produce the kind of Canfield Oceans Dr. Ward fears. It is a deadly transition for which we have growing evidence with almost each passing day one that McPerson and others fear could truly make an end to us and to so many other living creatures on this world.
So many scientists, so much valid reason to be dreadfully concerned, and yet we continue on the path toward a great burning never before seen in Earth’s history…
The catastrophe is racing at us like a meteor as we go about our normal day. It just hasn’t impacted the planet yet.
Migrating geese by the thousand stopping by on their way south, resting and eating by a large pond where the snow has cleared – the radiation soaked ground has no immediate effect on them. But later, next spring, when their offspring are mutations that have no place in nature and are left to die, while the adults sicken with tumors and other disease and die younger than expected – we’ll wonder what happened to all the geese.
The fish are swimming in it, we’re breathing it and it’s going into the crops being grown. There’s more every day. Nobody is monitoring this because it’s hopeless – everything’s polluted now so either eat what we have or starve. Either way we’re like the geese, lined up for extinction.
Mystery disease in Texas kills four. China trying to contain H7N9 while in Madagascar it’s the bubonic plague. Screaming chaos gets closer everyday.
And now an article by the Rogue Columnist about my own hometown:
DECEMBER 18, 2013
One must give the Real Estate Industrial Complex credit for chutzpah. It will not go down with a whimper, but with a bang. And many fires.
Or rather, Arizona. The elites behind the growth machine will be long gone, safely behind their gates and walls in more hospitable climes.
I am reminded of this after reading a report that three subdivisions comprising 4,500 tract houses are “in the pipeline” in Flagstaff.
Situated in what was once the largest virgin ponderosa pine forest on the planet, now a slowly dying tinderbox thanks to climate change, Flagstaff was once a real town. It depended on the Santa Fe Railway, Kaibab Lumber Industries and other sawmills, and the college. The town was safely separated from the forest primeval.
Now the railroad merely passes through, the switching yard being removed. There’s a mall and Super Wal-Mart. Subdivisions have been rammed into the trees. Aside from NAU and a few other employers, Flag is one more real estate hustle to be played until it gives out. Or burns down.
Reporters from the Arizona Republic have done a creditable job lately in exposing the degree in which mass-produced housing has been placed in fire zones. Since 1990, more than 230,000 have been built in fire-prone areas.
The most ghastly consequence so far has been the death of 19 hotshot firefighters outside of once tiny, wide-spot-in-a-dangerous-road Yarnell, defending a subdivision in a zone that had been declared “indefensible.” From Google Earth, even a former Boy Scout can tell it is built in terrain guaranteed to carry wind and fire.
It is the worst loss of wildfire-fighters in American history. There’s your bragging rights, Arizona. Mann Gulch, South Canyon? You’re pikers.
And it won’t be the last.
What began as costly assaults on nature, punctuated by Valinda Jo Elliott stalking off into the wilderness with all the essentials — shorts, flipflops, cigarette lighter and towel — and setting the worst fire in state history…now it has become lethal business. It is the future….
…This is simply a racket. And a colossal mind-fuck for all those that buy into its propaganda. Arizona is still dependent on the last extraction industry. The biggest economic collapse in modern state history centered on this Ponzi scheme might have caused a pause to take stock and consider alternatives.
I can hardly bare traveling outside central Phoenix because I know how much has been lost. It grows harder and harder to easily reach what was once right there: A view of one of God’s greatest creations without any evidence of man, much less being profaned by trashy sprawl. Now it is a landscape of heartbreak…
And a brilliant comment by Soleri to the above article:
[Translated from Russian, but you get the idea – we’re FUBAR’d]…
“Academician Vladimir Kotlyakov, honorary president of the Russian Geographical Society, highlighted the rapid process of melting Arctic ice. He believes that it will bring ‘climate anomalies, non-uniform in space and time which will have mixed effects, including within the territory of Russia’.
He forecast: ‘The entire modern way of life on Earth is that any global climate change may be adverse for people. The fact is that the entire current economic way established and rapidly developed only in a narrow interval of time – almost the last century. Because of this, it has adapted to the same climatic environment.'”
Ah. Case in point:
Woman Who Lives “Off the Grid” Threatened With Eviction – From Her Paid-For Home – See more at: http://www.thedailysheeple.com/woman-who-lives-off-the-grid-threatened-with-eviction-from-her-paid-for-home_122013#sthash.NuDDX1g5.dpuf
Robin Speronis, a Florida woman who lives off the grid, is being threatened with losing her home due to her “alternative lifestyle”. Last month, Robin’s story was featured on Fox 4 news in Florida. She does not have a refrigerator, oven, running water, or electricity.
Most of what Robin owns was free, donated, or bought for next to nothing. She cooks on a propane camping stove, and her electronics run on solar-charged batteries. Robin gets her water from rain barrels. She uses a colloidal-silver generator to disinfect the rain water.
Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), after Robin was featured on the local news, authorities took notice: the day after the feature, Robin was slapped with a notice to vacate her property.
The notice cites international property maintenance code and states the property is unsafe to be lived in. Robin said code enforcement has never been inside her home and would have no idea if her property is safe. The city code compliance manager told Fox 4 that he tagged the home because it doesn’t have running water or electricity – but neither is mentioned as a requirement in the code cited by the city on the notice. Robin said she owns her home free and clear and her taxes are up to date.
Fox 4 reports that there has been an overwhelming show of support for Robin from people who have heard her story.
(notice that the media draws attention to her and then the LAW man comes to take her away.)
on emerging diseases:
China is trying to find the source of a new avian flu strain H10N8 that killed an old woman this month.
(quote from the short article)
The H10N8 avian flu virus has been detected in live bird markets in Guangdong Province in China as well as the Dongting Lake wetland, according to previous scientific reports.
Poon said the H7N9 virus, with over 100 confirmed cases in China and two in Hong Kong, is “far more serious.” That virus, first reported in China in March 2013, is believed to result from exposure to infected poultry.
The scope of the disease remains unknown, but has raised concern because most patients with H7N9 have been severely ill and 45 have died.
According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of H7N9.
[sooner or later, it’ll make the jump and then we’ll be in pandemic territory]
Madagascar village ‘hit by bubonic plague’
A village in Madagascar has been hit by a deadly outbreak of the bubonic plague, medical experts on the island have confirmed.
Tests were carried out after at least 20 people in the village, near the north-western town of Mandritsara, were reported to have died last week.
The International Committee of the Red Cross warned in October that Madagascar was at risk of a plague epidemic.
The disease is transmitted to humans via fleas, usually from rats.
[and now for the human part in its spread]
The Pasteur Institute said there were concerns that the disease could spread to towns and cities where living standards have declined since a coup in 2009 and the ensuing political crisis.
On 20 December a second round is being held of presidential elections aimed at ending the political deadlock.
Robert Scribbler’s post today (which happens to tie in nicely to the Jumping Jack Flash Hypothesis):
Through The Looking Glass of The Great Dying: New Study Finds Ocean Stratification Proceeded Rapidly Over Past 150 Years
As noted above, Ward’s work focused on causes and what he found at numerous dig sites around the world was evidence of a ‘Great Dying’ that began at the ocean floor, proceeded upward from the depths, and eventually came to transcend the ocean boundary and inflict a similar, if less pronounced, lethality upon terrestrial organisms. The mechanism Ward proposed for the worst extinction in Earth’s geological memory involved how oceans and, in particular, living creatures in the oceans, respond to rapid warming. Ward found that during periods of high heat called hothouse states, oceans first became anoxic and stratified and then, during the worst events, transitioned to a deadly primordial state called a Canfield Ocean.
A stratified ocean is one in which the layers become inverted and do not mix. Warm water is avected toward the ocean bottom and a cooler layer on top keeps that warm layer in place. The warmer water beneath is oxygen poor and this results in more anaerobic microbes living in the deep ocean. Overall, global ocean warming also contributes to an anoxic state. Many of these microbes produce toxins that are deadly to oxygen dependent organisms. As they multiplied, the combined low oxygen/high toxicity environment created a layer of death that slowly rose up through the world ocean system.
The primary lethal agent Ward proposed for this action was hydrogen sulfide gas. This deadly gas, which has an effect similar to that of cyanide gas, is produced in prodigious quantities by an anaerobic bacteria whose remnants lurk in the world’s deep oceans. In lower quantities they turn the water pink or purple, in greater quantities — black. Oxygen is toxic to these primordial bacteria. And so, in the mixed oceans of the Holocene all the way back to the PETM boundary layer, these little monsters were kept in check by a relatively high oxygen content. But start to shut down ocean mixing, start to make the oceans more stratified and less oxygen rich and you begin to let these dragons of our past out of their ancient cages. And once they get on the move, these creatures of Earth’s deep history can do extreme and severe harm.
[add Fukushima radiation, that’s now poisoned a THIRD of the planet’s water, and (use the DeNiro voice here) t’ings don’t look too good]
And the mainstream, Prius-driving, 350.org “environmentalists” enamored to industrial civilization are just as delusional as the climate change deniers:
Notice my comment is “awaiting moderation“.
Erm, I’ve been doing a bit of reading trying to educate myself on the background of the Pope, and stuff about the Catholic Church backing the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, and trying to fill in the many blanks in my knowledge of history, and trying to be fair and balanced and objective and relatively sane in how I evaluate information and then I find myself reading stuff that just does my brain in and I wonder if I’m on mushrooms… I mean, wtf ?
Probably around January 897, Stephen (VI) VII ordered that the corpse of his predecessor Formosus be removed from its tomb and brought to the papal court for judgement. With the corpse propped up on a throne, a deacon was appointed to answer for the deceased pontiff.
Formosus was accused of transmigrating sees in violation of canon law, of perjury, and of serving as a bishop while actually a layman. Eventually, the corpse was found guilty. Liutprand and other sources say that Stephen had the corpse stripped of its papal vestments, cut off the three fingers of his right hand used for blessings, and declared all of his acts and ordinations (including his ordination of Stephen (VI) VII as bishop of Anagni) invalid. The body was finally interred in a graveyard for foreigners, only to be dug up once again, tied to weights, and cast into the Tiber River.
According to Liutprand’s version of the story, Stephen (VI) VII said: “When you were bishop of Porto, why did you usurp the universal Roman See in such a spirit of ambition?”
The macabre spectacle turned public opinion in Rome against Stephen. Rumors circulated that Formosus’ body, after washing up on the banks of the Tiber, had begun to perform miracles. A public uprising led to Stephen being deposed and imprisoned. While in prison, in July or August 897, he was strangled.
The video Kevin Moore posted in the comments section of the last blog entry was very informative about life in the pre-modern, pre-industrial age:
In 1555, the Reverend John Hoover, Bishop of Gloucester, was burned at the stake for refusing to convert from the Church of England to Catholicism. It was said that he slowly burnt to death while remaining conscious, and prayed even as his face blackened from the flames. An eye-witness account provides clues as to how he died:
“…But even when his face was completely black with the flames and his tongue swelled, yet his lips went ’til they were sunk to the gums. And he knocked his breast with his hands. This holy martyr was nearly three-quarters of an hour consuming.”
Modern-day medical examiner: His lips appeared to be moving because the heat was causing the skin to retract, and the lips moved as they became more burned. When people burn, their joints contract, and I would envisage that him beating his breasts would be his elbows contracting and his hands striking his chest. The observation was correct, but it had been interpreted in a way that wasn’t quite appropriate.
‘Whole world’ at risk from simultaneous droughts, famines, epidemics: scientists
Research published by US National Academy of Sciences warns climate change impacts could be worse than thought
by the numbers:
83 Numbers From 2013 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe
During 2013, America continued to steadily march down a self-destructive path toward oblivion. As a society, our debt levels are completely and totally out of control. Our financial system has been transformed into the largest casino on the entire planet and our big banks are behaving even more recklessly than they did just before the last financial crisis. We continue to see thousands of businesses and millions of jobs get shipped out of the United States, and the middle class is being absolutely eviscerated. Due to the lack of decent jobs, poverty is absolutely exploding. Government dependence is at an all-time high and crime is rising. Evidence of social and moral decay is seemingly everywhere, and our government appears to be going insane. If we are going to have any hope of solving these problems, the American people need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and finally admit how bad things have actually become. If we all just blindly have faith that “everything is going to be okay”, the consequences of decades of incredibly foolish decisions are going to absolutely blindside us and we will be absolutely devastated by the great crisis that is rapidly approaching. The United States is in a massive amount of trouble, and it is time that we all started facing the truth. The following are 83 numbers from 2013 that are almost too crazy to believe…
“Think of Siberia and images of a cold, bleak, icy, snow-swept landscape come to mind. The reality is that this remote northern region of Russia is experiencing unseasonably warm weather that is changing the very nature of the landscape.
In some areas ice and snow are being replaced by heavy rain and green grass. Many lakes and rivers, which would normally be ice-bound at this time of year, are flowing freely.
During December the region would normally expect to be in the grips of winter. Although it remains cold here with the threat of snow, conditions are nowhere near as extreme as would normally occur.
In the northern city of Verkhoyansk average maximum temperatures are around minus 47C. Currently, they are some 14C warmer at minus 32C.
The southern city of Irkutsk is experiencing temperatures of minus 6C, ten degrees above average and this pattern is being repeated across much of the region.
What makes this change particularly interesting is that it seems to be part of a longer-term trend.
The warmer weather has been in evidence for several months. Back in July, Norilsk, the most northerly city in the world, recorded temperatures above 28C for eight consecutive days. Maximum temperatures here usually reach no higher than 16C. Such temperature anomalies were widespread across Siberia during the month.
Although temperatures have been increasing globally, since the mid-1970s temperatures here have risen by 0.34C per decade faster than the global average of 0.17C.
The trend towards warmer weather has been repeated elsewhere within the Arctic Circle and both Siberia and the US state of Alaska have experienced record wildfire seasons in the last few years.
Wildfires are thought to be contributing to the warming process, as soot on glaciers and ice sheets prevents the reflection of incoming solar radiation back out into space.
NASA researchers warn that the warming trend across Northern Russia is likely to cause the number of wildfires to double by the end of the century.”
The warming of the Arctic seems likely to lead to the total melting of the Arctic Sea Ice in late summer no later than the summer of 2018 and to massive release of Methane from the melting of Methane Hydrates beneath the ESAS by the same date leading to runaway Global Warming and the end of most life on earth. In 2018, and probably before, the Arctic will be much warmer and the rate of Methane emissions by 2016 will cause alarm worldwide. In 2016 it will probably no longer be possible to prevent a runaway greenhouse event. The problem is that until after a runaway event has started, drastic climate impacts will not occur, so most people will not be alarmed by the situation. Nonetheless, immediate action is essential to cool the arctic.
Sickened Navy crew members have lawsuit dismissed — TV: “Sailors say they have cancer”… of thyroid, gallbladder, testicles — Unremitting headaches, rectal bleeding, tumors, bodies deteriorating (VIDEO)
Kevin Moore said:
Nothing changes, other than the names of the perpetrators and the victims.
“We’re going to stand on the deck and have a front-row view of the latest kind of bomb. I can assure you it will all be perfectly safe. But it will be very bright for a few seconds, so we’re issuing you with these special kind of goggles.”
Kevin Moore said:
‘Moments ago CAT released its November dealer retail sales: for the second time in a row CAT posted negative retail sales across the world, with total retail sales down a whopping 12%, the lowest since February 2013, and then, going back all the way to 2010. But at least the Fed is tapering because it is convinced the global economy is finally recovering…’
in practice it is unclear whether earth moving is in decline or whether it is still increasing but is increasingly being done using machinery manufactured in Asia.
Nevertheless, the early months of 2014 are going to be very interesting, as the numerous bubbles around the world hit the limit of expansion and the ‘pump; is set to a lower rate.
Meanwhile, the spectre of rising interest rates, which would blow the whole global Ponzi scheme to pieces if not contained, has appeared.
Kevin Moore said:
Daily maximum temperature for Australia
Awaiting today’s update.
Letter from a guy in the NC mountains:
High country Press. HCPress.com
LETTERS / Our Economy Isn’t Possible Without The Natural World But We’re Destroying That
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Beliefs in myths allow the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” President Kennedy
Democracy and corporate capitalism aren’t synonymous. We’re sacrificing everything for something we’ve called “progress”. More Americans exist in poverty than ever. American wealth and income inequality is greater than in any other major country and is growing. We’ve caused this because “our government” let a minority control our futures, fattening their bank accounts by reducing yours. Instead of talking about cuts in Social Security, and Medicare, end the absurdity of corporations avoiding income taxes.
Our economy isn’t possible without the natural world but we’re destroying that. A few Profit from destruction of the environment, our life support system. The Gulf of Mexico ecosystem is a disaster after the BP spill and use of Corexit, a dispersant used to hide, not remove, the oil. Fukushima may make Japan uninhabitable and is radioactively poisoning America yet this is seldom mentioned by the prestitutes. The Japanese government just passed a law to jail journalists who report truthfully on the terrible situation.
The immense under-reported risks to land, air and water quality from fracking is uncontrolled capitalism. You’ve invested everything in your home; will you allow it to be destroyed for the profit of some energy company? Christians might choose to remember; when it happens to the least of you, it happens to whom?
Most people prefer not to hear the story, remembering it’s only happening to someone else, so they can proceed with happy subjects. It’s called avoidance, and it’s why the world we live in is the way it is. “Consumers” are responsible for the death of America because they’ve accepted the lies we’re being sold.
5% think. 10% think they think. The rest don’t care to. The more they talk about Al Qaeda, the less coverage of real problems, like pollution, climate change, diminishing resources, which the mega corporations downplay. Global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth/human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable. Chemicals in our food and environment, their profit base, create expensive health problems.
“Consumers” can’t buy homes, cars, education, medical care, and food with Third World wages. When jobs are sent abroad, for “free” trade, so is that job’s tax contribution. With millions of jobs exported taxes can’t support government spending. “New” jobs are low paid and don’t provide a tax base, or spending power.
Republicans/Democrats, depending on the same sources of “campaign contributions”, attack “entitlements”. Entitlements, Social Security and Medicare are funded by the payroll tax, approximately 15% of payroll. Paying that tax all your working life is why you’re entitled to Social Security and Medicare if you live long enough. Welfare, like food stamps, a small part of the federal budget, isn’t entitlements.
Evil grows because you fail to recognize the difference between reality and fantasy. The sleeping middle class is being dismantled. Equal justice and human rights are sporadic.
According to the prestitutes you’re threatened by Iran, Syria and whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden. The real threats aren’t featured. When you hear the prestitutes smear a “conspiracy theory,” have a closer look.
When you don’t know what to do, usually you do nothing. The criminals know what they want and act, which is why things are as they are. Citizens have lost control to the corporations which we once knew, required control. Corporations are today’s robber barons employing armies of propagandists and agitators. They’ve created a system that controls you, enforcing their world goals.
The Constitution authorizes “our Government” to create and issue debt-free money. The question they hope you don’t ask is why “our Government” borrows money at interest from a privately-owned central bank cursing you and your descendants with out of control interest? You might ask everyone you know that question.
Politicians won’t control spending. No matter who is in office, fiscal cancers continue to grow. We’re told capitalism is the preferable, efficient form of production that represents the majority once the state is out of your way. A minority of predatory capitalists gain the most from state protected absentee ownership. We’re supposed to respect these “feudal lords” while being paid less and being forced into poverty, because?
Capitalism isn’t voluntary. It’s others thriving at your expense. Being a capitalist doesn’t mean someone who prefers some theoretical system of production but corporations benefiting from workers misery, and from global military muscle. It means large prison populations. It means criminalizing homelessness to sanitize public space for comfortable shopping.
American Denial is everywhere. We haven’t evolved much from the Salem Witch Trials; laws now throw people in jail to rot, versus being burned alive. That’s some progress, but we’ve built a prison industry so that we can publicly trade in shares of misery. Aren’t we clever? What’s the difference between Witch Trials and the current security state?
Last year “our government” gave other countries 55 billion dollars ignoring American tent cities. “Consumers” confuse legality with morality; because it’s legal, it ain’t necessarily right. America’s iron curtain was paper, but it’s becoming cement and iron.
While America moves towards becoming a third world country that sporadically cares for its own, our tax dollars go to the murdering of children in countries that weren’t our enemy. Somehow we have to stop this or soon, it will be our children, in our streets.
Supporting a system we don’t fully understand, we guarantee our own exploitation and doom. They prosper, because you sleep; True believers bellow official illusions without investigation, choosing to attack those who demand a different course; don’t object as “they” will be offended.
Joe White was this close to making it.
A 50-year-old California man described by relatives as a “loving father and a doting grandfather,” White had been living on the streets of Hayward for years. He wanted to work and was able to find odd jobs here and there, but it was never much or consistent enough to afford a place to live. Hayward has no emergency shelter with beds for single men, so White slept outside.
But things were looking up. Last Saturday, White was second on a long list to get permanent supportive housing in Hayward. He had been waiting in line for months and it seemed as though he might finally catch a break.
White died on Sunday.
Temperatures in the Bay Area plummeted to near-freezing on December 10, an uncommon occurrence in a region generally known for its lack of inclement weather. White’s body was found in the old Hayward City Hall courtyard. He’d been beaten up and robbed by multiple men, who took the new winter coat White’s sister had given him on Friday. He was wearing just a hoodie and shorts. His cause of death is still being determined, but police speculated that his death was weather-related.
White is now the seventh homeless person in the Bay Area to die in the cold since November 28. The others were Daniel Brillhart, 52; Enrique Rubio, 56; Andrew Greenleaf, 48; Daniel Moore, 53; and two men in the East Bay and Peninsula whose names have not been released.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately 700 homeless people die from hypothermia every year. Those deaths tend to occur in the East Coast and Midwest, not California. But temperatures in the Bay have repeatedly dipped below freezing in the past few weeks, leaving thousands of homeless people in danger.
The Bay Area has one of the highest homeless populations in part because of the explosion of recent wealth that has led to increasing inequality and a lack of affordable housing for those without high-paying tech jobs. The San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area is the wealthiest in the country, even outpacing New York-Connecticut and Washington DC-Maryland-Northern Virginia. This influx of money has brought higher housing prices and more evictions in the past few years.
And for those viscerally impacted by rising inequality, life is especially difficult when the temperatures drop. Many communities in the Bay Area lack emergency shelters, in part because freezes aren’t very common. But what happens to many of the thousands of people living without shelter in the Bay Area, waiting for their name to be called for the few affordable housing units that exist? “What happens is they die on the street,” Betty DeForest, director emeritus of South Hayward Parish, wrote in an email to the City Council last week following White’s death.
In other words, we live in a society that leaves many people too poor to survive but are surprised to see them die.
Kevin Moore said:
We are not hearing much (virtually nothing) about the severe drought that has been affecting California for some time.
I suppose it is too scary for mainstream media to discuss. And presumably golf courses are still being watered, so it will only be disempowered farm labourers who will be affected in the short term.
California 2014 drought could send waves through US commodity markets
By Hank Schultz, 19-Dec-2013
A looming water crisis in California has led more than 50 California lawmakers to request the declaration of a state drought emergency. The dire water situation for the upcoming crop year could send ripples through US agricultural supply says the California Water Alliance, an advocacy organization…
Top Ten Ominous Signs about Last Month being the Hottest November on Record
the Heretick said:
i didn’t read most of the comments, i did read some of thee popes stuff, this is really nothing new harks back to the catholic worker days.
the idea of capitalism as religion is covered by Marx, in that he states that capital is nothing but dead labor, the value of workers lives.
this subject is covered by Jean Baudrillard down to the tiniest detail in Symbolic Exchange and Death, a tome which most critics claim rejects marxism. i read it differently.
the stages of capitalism closely mirror the stages of simulation.
the capitalist mindset where human beings are something to exploit is not just evident in our economic and physical sphere, it is ingrained into our psychology.
capitalism is indeed a death cult, with it’s own temples and sacrifices, the sacrifice being of course our lives, and that of the planet if you wish to anthropomorphize.
the reform of capitalism may help save the planet, or it may not, but it would be a start.
Climate change, rather than globalization, means the “end of history”.
…climate change means the end of a simple but sustainable way of life…
…Bill McKibben (1989) argues that climate change means the ”end of nature” because by changing the climate we have ”deprived nature of its independence”…
…climate change means the end of winter…
…For many regions, global climate change means the end of water…
…Climate change means the end of cheap flights…
…climate change means the end of capitalism…
…Climate change means the end of stability and the likely end of meaningful economic growth as we’ve known it….
…positive amplifying feedbacks in climate change means the end of civilization…
…Runaway climate change means the end of the world as we know it and probably human extinction…
…the politics of those resisting the fundamental changes needed to address the problem are an expression of a plutocracy who recognizes that a legitimate response to climate change means the end of their reign…
Did Jean Baudrillard ever include climate change in his philosophical musings?
the Heretick said:
well no, not exactly, but he did posit that every closed system would breed it’s own virus, whether intellectual or physical.
i would posit that it is globalism which is hastening the demise of homo sapiens thru climate change, for it is the tool of them who wish to prolong their nefarious reign.
the end result of the absolutist philosophy is to turn the entire planet into a disposable commodity.
Oh yeah, like this:
I agree capitalism is the root cause and climate change is a symptom of overconsumption.
the Heretick said:
indeed. i have commented on other forums that the UPC is an affront to the cosmos. the unintentional Hubris contained in the “universal product code” is quite breathtaking.
the earth is not enough is what it seems to say.
really enjoy your site, there is so much to read, the commenters are really great, it’s just a question of time and attention span.
happy solstice, and by extension, new year!
Great quote by Colorado Bob:
“In a warming world, the creatures that reproduce the fastest , have the upper hand. Viruses, bacteria, fungus, molds, and bugs. They are all making the leap to the new normal. All the slower creatures will have their asses kicked by these first adapters.”
…and a link to another story of how our food supply is in jeopardy from climate change:
Bugs, Fungal Infections Put World’s Banana Supply In Peril
However, Magda Gonzalez, director of the Costa Rican agriculture ministry’s State Phytosanitary Services (SFE), told local media outlets that up to 24,000 hectares of banana fields have been affected by an increase in the number of mealybugs and scale insects on the country’s Atlantic coast regions.
Gonzalez added that the increase in those insect populations could be explained by global climate change – specifically, due to increasing temperatures and changes in rain patterns. Those factors could reduce the reproduction cycle of the mealybugs and scale insects by one-third, she added. Both types of insects weaken plants and cause blemishes on the fruits, noted Adam Withnall of The Independent…
James Carroll, who is a former priest, has this very interesting article on Pope Francis, “Who Am I to Judge? A radical Pope’s first year”
As a lapsed Catholic, who once lived in Latin America, I am becoming more impressed with Pope Francis.
In September, he met with Dominican Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, who is regarded as the founder of liberation theology. Was this a reopening of the door to this theology?
Gutiérrez and Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the current head of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation, co-authored “On the Side of the Poor: Liberation Theology, Theology of the Church.”
Müller recently announced that the Vatican doctrinal office plans to proceed with the sainthood cause of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated in 1980 after condemning violence by the military dictatorship in El Salvador.
Paul Farmer, who known for his humanitarian health care work in some to the world’s poorest countries, also co-authored a book with Gutiérrez, “In the Company of the Poor.” Farmer credits liberation theology as the inspiration for his effort to do social justice medicine. He hopes the meeting between Pope Francis and Gustavo Gutiérrez means an easing in the church’s stance toward liberation theology.
“But the poor person does not exist as an inescapable fact of destiny. His or her existence is not politically neutral, and it is not ethically innocent. The poor are a by-product of the system in which we live and for which we are responsible. They are marginalized by our social and cultural world. They are the oppressed, exploited proletariat, robbed of the fruit of their labor and despoiled of their humanity. Hence the poverty of the poor is not a call to generous relief action, but a demand that we go and build a different social order.” – Gustavo Gutiérrez
Far right Catholics rant: “Marxism disguised on christianism! The only theology of liberation that the Church knows is liberation from sin. The Church’s mission is to save souls, not make heaven on earth. this was the temptation of the communists and the fascists. I am not surprised that in an age not known for faith and devotion that a Pope would be more worried about talking about the poor and the evils of various economic systems rather than about the sins of abortion, homosexuality and contraception. Somebody got to Francis.”
Someone did get to Pope Francis. It was Jesus.
“The bread which you withhold belongs to the hungry: the clothing you shut away, to the naked: and the money you bury in the earth is the redemption and freedom of the penniless.” – Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Kevin Moore said:
“Bring it on….I get out of this God-forsaken shit hole …
that I love more than anything else in the world.” (Not quite sure what that means)
Although our thought leaders and scholars have been giving us ample warning, we don’t seem to be paying attention. Maybe they should listen to the words of Jenny Price and try a new tack.
But that may be asking too much. Once someone starts down this civilization-is-collapsing road, like Guardian blogger Nafeez Ahmed, it’s hard to stop. If you want a tour guide to the apocalypse, Ahmed is your guy. He is the erudite version of this fringe chararacter.
I must admit that I find the collapse junkies entertaining. I’m sure they believe the world is headed for a crash and their sincerity and eloquence is enough to scare some of us senseless. Who knows how many people built a bunker in Montana after seeing this film.
Others who drink too much from the ecocide well may sink into a fatalistic state of despair:
A widely circulated piece from the New York Times recently advised:
The problem that we are advised to confront is the very thing that has greatly advanced humanity in the last 200 hundred years: Industrialization. Indeed, the modernizing forces that shape our lives today are treated with contempt by many of the planet’s self-designated guardians.
Take industrial agriculture, for example. Do you believe that large scale mechanized farming, with its fertilizers and pesticides, has been a net plus for society? Now I’m not saying industrial agriculture is perfect; it has a major environmental impact that can’t be ignored or swept aside. But on the whole, are we better off today because of our industrialized food system(which still has plenty of room for improvement)? Or should we nix the tractors and go back to the horse plow? While we’re at it, should we go back to using cow dung instead of synthetic fertilizers? Should we nix the herbicides and go back to pulling out all the weeds by hand?
These are not trivial questions. For there are people who sincerely believethat organic farming is sufficient to feed the world. It is not a fringe view, either. The U.N. was touting agroecology a few years back, citing it “as a way to boost food production and improve the situation of the poorest.”
Evidence-based science tells us otherwise.
No matter, in a recent piece, Nafeez Ahmed told us of a new study that “raises critical questions about the capacity of traditional industrial agricultural methods to sustain global food production for a growing world population.” He then referred to that UN endorsement of organic farming:
(This is the equivalent of those who insist that wind and solar and a heaping of hydropower could potentially meet the energy needs of the world by 2030. Nobody punctures that bubble more effectively than this guy.)
The problem with doomsday prophets like Ahmed isn’t so much their incessant warnings about imminent eco-collapse, but more the solutions they proffer, which, if carried out in the developing world, really would lead to societal catastrophe.
Kevin Moore said:
There’s great irony that a magazine that describes itself as ‘science for the curious’ should feature an article by an author who is so incurious he has not bothered to research the topic he has written about.
I think he is not the brightest candle on the Christmas Tree, Kevin. He can’t help that, can he.
I very much enjoyed this comment :
I struggle to find a single metric that supports the Collapsitarians. From the increases in agricultural production, longevity and health measures to the decreases in the number of the truly poor, the world keeps getting better.
Three writers have come out with books filled with statistics that show this to be true–Julian Simon, Bjorn Lomborg and Matt Ridley. Their reception by the Collapsitarians lacks only a stake and a match.
Things are getting better. They will continue to get better. They will continue to get better at an increasing rate. This will continue to be ignored.
What ‘things’ ? By what metric do we measure this ‘better’ ?
Any curious guy would find out that there is a lot more to the organic vs. conventional farming debate than what this guy seems to think. So many studies show more can be grown on a particular plot of ground using organic methods and intense and careful management. That takes a lot of labor, the only real reason organic costs more. But what does the world need more than anything right now? Employment for the unemployed. The last thing we need is for systems that decrease the need for labor.
I thought it was a very superficial piece with no supportive evidence to counter what we, the so-called ‘eco-doomers’, are seeing with our own eyes — catastrophic climate change, the 6th mass extinction, and environmental meltdown on every front.
By the way, thanks for posting that video entitled “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England.” I found it very informative on what life was like without fossil fuels, that period’s gross inequality which was seen as ordained by God, as well as the precariousness of life for most people – the belief in witchcraft was written into the laws. Of course at that time there were only 60 people per square mile. Now there are over 1,000.
Yes, thanks from me too re the Elizabethan videos, they were good.
This is interesting
Collapse of the Sahara’s megafauna
By Dr. Sarah Durant, Zoological Society of London, Wildlife Conservation Society, and National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative
There are few landscapes more evocative and beautiful than the sweeping sands and majestic mountains of the Sahara desert. This land used to be widely populated by large animals uniquely adapted to the harsh and unpredictable desert environment. Their ability to roam freely across a vast landscape following sparse rainfall and forage is key to their survival in an unforgiving habitat.
However, over recent times, there has been a catastrophic decline in wildlife in the Sahara. In a new article that documents the status of large animal species in the region, we show that, out of 14 species historically found in the Sahara, most have been eradicated from 90% or more of their historical range.
The first segment is on ‘Gangsta Capitalism’…
Who Owns Congress ?
This, from the Guardian tells me real action to keep us within 2 degrees just isn’t going to happen…
Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change
Conservative groups may have spent up to $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change, according to the first extensive study into the anatomy of the anti-climate effort.
The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires, often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change. Such financial support has hardened conservative opposition to climate policy, ultimately dooming any chances of action from Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, the study found.
Thanks for all the great links and comments everyone. Here’s one from this morning – an 11.5 min. video where Wadhams, at the 10 min. mark, says extreme weather has impacted agricultural production in the U.S. by about 50%. Globally, I bet it’s at least that with all the flooding, droughts, etc.
Climate Week – An Ice Free Arctic?
Dr. Peter Wadhams, Polar Oceans Physics Group at Cambridge University joins Thom Hartmann
This one’s short and to the point too:
“The youngest person I bought a sign from was probably 16. I forgot to ask her age but she could have been even younger. Her sign read, “Mom told us to wait right here. That was ten years ago.” – See more at:
Last one, til later.
Even the symbol of America is dying:
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The number of bald eagles that have died recently from similar symptoms in central-northern Utah is up to five — and Utah wildlife officials are fearful the total may be as high 13.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark Hadley said Thursday that a fifth eagle found in Weber County died this week in a rehab center in Ogden. A sixth eagle discovered in Davis County is there with the same head tremors the dead ones had, he said.
An additional seven eagles were found dead in the same two-week period — and wildlife officials fear they may have all died from the same cause, Hadley said. They won’t know for sure until tests are done, however, because nobody saw if these eagles had the tremors before dying.
Thousands of bald eagles migrate to Utah each winter, with many gathering at the Great Salt Lake where there’s plenty of carp to eat in freshwater bays. The recent rash of deaths has raised serious alarms in Utah.
“I don’t ever recall having this many eagles die in such a short period of time,” Hadley said. “It is very unusual.”
Utah State University is expected to have preliminary results early next week for the first four eagles that died at the rehab centers, Hadley said. That should provide some clues to help solve the mystery illness.
It could be encephalitis, which is caused by West Nile Virus, though officials said it seems too late in the year for that. They don’t think they were killed on purpose.
To find out what killed the other seven, wildlife officials sent the majestic birds to a lab in Madison, Wis. It could take up to a month to get the necropsy test results back due to a backlog there and because it takes longer over the holidays, Hadley said.
The dying birds have all been discovered since the beginning of December and were found in four different counties: Weber, Box Elder, Tooele and Utah.
I have asked Abby Martin several times over the last year(she’s in my google contacts) to interview Guy McPherson. She finally did. It starts at about minutes 6, but the entire episode is good:
Much as I appreciate the attempts by RT News to provide honest reporting, the shrillness and incessant att-it-tude turn me off. Criticisms Abby Martin aims at Jon Stewart in his interview are every bit as true of her own interview with Guy McPherson. Neither interviewer appeared to have more than passing familiarity with their subjects’ issues and just lets them speak without narrowing, refining, or challenging any statements. Contrary to her assertion, Steward doesn’t yuk or joke his way through his interview, but even if he did, that’s his won’t. He’s a comedian pretending to be a journalist who ironically gets a lot more of it right than the legitimate news pros. Whereas Martin laughs nervously and uncomfortably when McPherson raised the specter of NTE, which means to me she hasn’t really dealt with it yet. She’s busy drawing attention to herself as someone “breaking the set,” whatever that means. It’s disappointing, because something worthwhile could actually arise out of her segment if she did her homework and shaped things correctly.
I’ve requested an interview with Abby Martin on this subject. We’ll see if she responds.
Are you volunteering to be interviewed or to interview her? If you are the interviewee, good luck. Not too many people sound coherent putting ideas together extemporaneously. Guy does this all the time and came off pretty well, I though, not that it did any good.
“…William Ophuls confronts this ecological challenge, in Plato’s Revenge: Politics in the Age of Ecology, with a powerful mixture of ingenuity and wisdom. Ophuls finds current approaches that seek to minimize ecological degradation unsatisfactory and argues that they address symptoms rather than root causes. He writes:
Ophuls contends that we have largely failed to grapple seriously with this anti-ecological reality because we operate from a political paradigm or philosophy that has abandoned virtue and rejected community. He goes on to suggest that the modern political paradigm was bound for self-destruction even before signs of ecological scarcity began to emerge. What is needed is a new public philosophy. For Ophuls this takes the form of a “natural law theory of politics grounded in ecology, physics, and psychology.” (Ibid., x) Plato’s Revenge provides a basic outline of the form such a philosophy might take. Ophuls endeavours to envision a moral code that would provide sufficient maturity to allow for a rigorous examination of the principles we often take for granted. A moral code based on fundamental biological, physical, and psychological limitations, states Ophuls, reveals the need to cultivate virtue in community rather than focus on material accumulation…”
Read the entire review of William Ophuls’ Plato’s Revenge at Catholic Commons.
Infographic: Top 20 countries with most endangered species
“Pull Our String And We’ll Ignore Anything.“
Interview with Nafeez Ahmed:
My take on this second one is similarly mixed. Abby Martin asks a couple questions and lets her subject riff at length without interruption. What Nazeef Ahmed has to say is accurate, even good, if dense and difficult to track, but then she resorts at the tail end to the worst next question and answers it herself: “Whatever shall we do? We must see solutions!” as though she were a pie-eyed innocent and these issues were only just now coming to light. Um, a little homework, please.
I don’t know which interview came first, but Guy clearly says we’ve already played our trumps, we’ve shot our gun, and we’ve crossed irreversible tipping points, so our fate is sealed. What moral imperative remains for us is to leave the planet to other species as best we can. To that end, the thing most needing doing is to disempower the 90 or so corporations doing most of the damage (interesting tidbit there) from doing any more damage and reversing our complicity in abetting them for our own short-term comfort. Guy is pretty plain about this, but the questions still revolve around debating which interpretation on the issue is most accurate and, if one accepts the dismal conclusion, then fixing things for us. Wrong questions, wrong answers.
Abby has agreed, so here is your chance. Look for my next post this evening.
Kevin Moore said:
Nature Bats Last now is running on a new host and the technical difficulties seem to have been resolved.
I doubt the improved NBL site will make much difference to the rate of unclasping of those desperately clinging to the handrails of ‘the Titanic’. As always, the main problem is to get people to actually look at the evidence.
You’re so right, Kevin. At the link ulvfugl provided (at NBL) to the criticism of Guy over at Real Climate, most of those commenting negatively about Guy claim “he isn’t really a climate scientist, he’s an ecologist” (shades of Caddy Shack where Spaulding trashes the hoi-polloi at the pool as just caddies, not members), call him “depressing”, “pessimistic” and declare that he “over-interprets” and “misreads” the evidence he links to. Talk about not facing the music, they go after the messenger (his degree, his personality, his interpretation) rather than arguing the merits of connecting the dots as Guy does so well. I left a comment but it didn’t get posted. I guess you have to be one of the “in” crowd there to post, I don’t know.
Hi Tom, Kevin,
Yes, I paid attention to the comments at RC. I try to put myself in the position of a jury member listening to the case being made.
Absolutely pathetic is my response, re the arguments against McPherson. All this stuff has been sorted on NBL YEARS ago. Schmidt is in deep denial, just waves away ‘BAU = Extinction’ as nonsense with no explanation as to WHY it is nonsense, because, as ALL the scientists and climatologists must know and admit and accept, 4 deg C AT LEAST is in prospect, and although it’s arguable as to whether that leads to 100% extinction, it sure as hell leads to massive species loss and massive catastrophes.
Imo, they are just delusional, they can’t accept want they don’t want to accept, so they come up with really lame justifications, like questioning Guy’s credibility, the one idiot even thinks he is the same person as Survival Acres, which shows what a fool that one is, and they attack AMEG, and yet Wadhams has more qualifications and experience than ALL of them put together. I mean, Schmidt, Archer et al were the ones insisting that the summer Arctic ice would still be there in 80 years time, I seem to recall…
Seems to me that they all specialise and they have lost the normal common sense human ability to connect dots…
And then we have Richard Alley’s presentation for the AGU, which they will all cling to. Now I just watched that. It’s really interesting. It’s posing as ‘science’ and yet it’s exactly what they are attacking Guy’s Climate Summary as being.
Basically, it’s polemic, it’s a story, built around scientific papers selected from reputable research published in respected journals, just like Guy’s lectures.
Placed side by side the 2 would make a wonderful project fro a social scientist to critique, particularly the final question, when someone mentions Collapse and how we have ticked all the boxes and that civilisations are typically unaware that they are upon the brink of collapse, and Alley tries to give it the techno-utopian optimistic spin… I thought that was marvellous, because if it was a McPherson lecture, that same question would come up, and Guy would reply that we are all already cooked because of the irreversible positive feedbacks and the 40 year delay, etc…
So, who is right ? Seems to me Alley doesn’t get the biological model from population overshoot and carrying capacity which McPherson DOES, as an ecologist. Alley only sees geophysics, climate, etc.
Also, common sense. The politics. NOTHING has been done for 20 – 30 years. Now, somehow, magically, we expect effective global international action ??? To leave the oil and coal in the ground ? To rely on fantastic imaginary technology that has not been invented, even though we destroy all the ecosystems that sustain the living planet we had ?
Kevin Anderson reckons cuts of 10% every year or something are necessary…
I mean, it’s just not going to happen, is it.
Frankly, those ‘scientists’ or most of them disgust me. They seem to discard all moral feeling and responsibility as human beings, and substitute this feeble analytical mode that Alley mentions ‘lose some stuff that we like’. WHAT ! ?
They live in their own bubbles.
Btw I though Jon Kirwan, and DIOGENES comments were good, whoever he/she is.
ulvfugl: Wow – did you notice “gavin” (I imagine he’s either the owner or moderator of the site) tells him to take his (& Guy’s) opinion elsewhere? THAT’S why my comment disappeared – THEY CENSORED ME!
China confirms H5N2 bird flu outbreak in poultry in Hebei
[More and more of this avian flu spreading around and becoming more virulent – H1N1 variant in Texas killin’ people, H10N8 just starting up, H7N9 still around, and now this one.]
and, from another vector:
Wave of Radiation from Fukushima Will Be 10 Times Bigger than All of the Radiation from Nuclear Tests Combined
Putting Fukushima In Perspective
There was no background radioactive cesium before above-ground nuclear testing and nuclear accidents started.
Wikipedia provides some details on the distribution of cesium-137 due to human activities:
Small amounts of caesium-134 and caesium-137 were released into the environment during nearly all nuclear weapon tests and some nuclear accidents, most notably the Chernobyl disaster.
Caesium-137 is unique in that it is totally anthropogenic. Unlike most other radioisotopes, caesium-137 is not produced from its non-radioactive isotope, but from uranium. It did not occur in nature before nuclear weapons testing began. By observing the characteristic gamma rays emitted by this isotope, it is possible to determine whether the contents of a given sealed container were made before or after the advent of atomic bomb explosions. This procedure has been used by researchers to check the authenticity of certain rare wines, most notably the purported “Jefferson bottles”.
As the EPA notes:
Cesium-133 is the only naturally occurring isotope and is non-radioactive; all other isotopes, including cesium-137, are produced by human activity.
What people call “background” radiation is really the amount of radiation deposited into the environment within the last 100 years from nuclear tests and nuclear accidents (and naturally-occurring substances, such as radon).
2,053 nuclear tests occurred between 1945 and 1998:
Above-ground nuclear tests – which caused numerous cancers to the “downwinders” – were covered up by the American, French and other governments for decades. See this, this, this, this, this and this.
But the amount of radiation pumped out by Fukushima dwarfs the amount released by the nuclear tests.
As nuclear engineer and former nuclear executive Arnie Gundersen notes, the wave of radioactive cesium from Fukushima which is going to hit the West Coast of North America will be 10 times greater than from the nuclear tests (starting at 55:00).
This graphic from Woods Hole in Massachusetts – one of the world’s top ocean science institutions – shows how much more cesium was dumped into the sea off Japan from Fukushima as compared to nuclear testing and Chernobyl:
(And Fukushima radiation has arrived on the West Coast years earlier than predicted.)
The Canadian government has confirmed in October that Fukushima radiation will exceed “levels higher than maximum fallout” from the nuclear tests.
The party line from the Japanese, Canadian and American governments are that these are safe levels of radiation. Given that those countries have tried to ban investigative journalism and have tried to cover up the scope of the Fukushima disaster, people may want to investigate for ourselves.
For example, Gundersen notes that the U.S. government flew helicopters with special radiation testing equipment 90 days after the Fukushima meltdown happened. The government said it was just doing a routine “background radiation” check, but that it was really measuring the amount of “hot particles” in the Seattle area (starting at 27:00). Hot particles are inhaled and become very dangerous “internal emitters”. The government then covered up the results on the basis of “national security”.
As the Washington Department of Health noted at the time:
A helicopter flying over some urban areas of King and Pierce counties will gather radiological readings July 11-28, 2011. [Seattle is in King County.] The U.S. Department of Energy’s Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measurement System will collect baseline levels of radioactive materials.
Some of the data may be withheld for national security purposes.
Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security and National Nuclear Security Administration sent low-flying helicopters over the San Francisco Bay Area in 2012 to test for radiation. But they have not released the results.
Indeed, residents of Seattle breathed in 5 hot particles each day in April of 2011 … a full 50% of what Tokyo residents were breathing at the time:
(the video is from June 2011.)
After all, the reactors at Fukushima literally exploded … and ejected cladding from the reactors and fuel particles. And see this.
Gundersen says that geiger counters don’t measure hot particles. Unless the government or nuclear scientists measure and share their data, we are in the dark as to what’s really going on.
Gavin Schmidt is an arrogant cupid stunt, he’s a mathematician who builds computer models to simulate the climate, he doesn’t seem to understand anything about biology or ecology and he’s never been to the Arctic or Siberia, yet he insults Wadhams and the Russian scientists who have, and dismisses their work. Like Archer and the rest, they are all much more concerned about their own status, positions and careers than the fate of the Earth and its creatures.
David Cameron claims that the British economy is recovering, and of course his government is claiming vindication for its austerity policies.
This is in very many ways a miserable joke. It is entirely analogous to a primordial society making human sacrifices to appease the gods in order to have a good harvest, having a good harvest — which of course has nothing to do with the human sacrifices, and everything to do with the weather — and then claiming vindication for your human sacrifices.
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