Addiction to Fossil Fuels, Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD), Climate Change, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Corporate State, David Suzuki, Depleted Uranium, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Eco-Apocalypse, Ecological Overshoot, Empire, Gross Inequality, Military Industrial Complex, Mountaintop Removal, NSA chief Keith Alexander, Nuclear Waste, Ocean Acidification, Plasticizing the Planet, Poverty, Privatization, Regulatory Capture, Strip, The Revolving Door Between Government and Corporations, War for Profit
“This, then, is the legacy we leave to future generations so that we can turn on our lights and computers or make nuclear weapons… Have we, the human species, the ability to mature psychologically in time to avert these catastrophes, or, is it in fact, too late?” ~ Dr. Helen Caldicott
Radical, wide-scale planning should have been executed decades ago in response to the Limits to Growth study. Instead, we carried on with business-as-usual as the natural world underwent cataclysmic, mass extinction level changes. Every day, the insanity of capitalist industrial civilization(CIC) is on full display as we entertain ourselves with the illusion of token political gestures towards “sustainability”. None of it changes our death march over the cliff of extinction. Nature died long ago with man’s discovery of fossil fuels which fed his terminal overshoot. Any isolated pockets of remaining wilderness are trampled underfoot, amounting to no more than a mere novelty destination commercialized by the tourist industry.
Enslaved to his own self-destructive technology, CIC continues to toxify and irradiate the planet, plasticize the oceans, and disrupt the chemical conditions that allow for life. A society that dehumanizes everything with the fetishization of technology and money will always see disaster as a money-making opportunity. Anthropogenic climate disruption is no exception. Competition amongst nations and corporations for economic/military supremacy, wealth, and power demands that the energy resources to be exploited first are those with the highest available ERoEI, i.e. fossil fuels. The charts bear out this cutthroat strategy and so do the actions of nation states who have made it a legal duty to maximize greenhouse gases. Giving up the competitive advantage of coal, oil, and gas ensures you will be eaten alive in the global economy. Thus nation states are locked into a capitalist race to the grave. The nasty greenhouse gas-emitting side effects of these fuels are simply another negative externality quietly pushed onto future generations. However, physical reality will eventually overtake a fake mass-media culture consumed by the idolatry of materialism and greed. The Earth doesn’t bail out a species that continuously spends more than it saves. Instead, the biospheric slate is wiped clean to make way for the next bout of evolutionary events.
Like radiation, GHG’s are seemingly invisible yet their effects are all too real. Because of the lag period involved in anthropogenic climate disruption, their devastating environmental costs will never be fully appreciated in time to avert disaster. Adding up the land, air, ice, and ocean warming data, a study from last year found that in recent decades the earth has been heating up at a rate of 250 trillion Joules per second. This is equivalent to:
- Detonating four Hiroshima atomic bombs per second
- Experiencing two Hurricane Sandys per second
- Enduring four 6.0 Richter scale earthquakes per second
- Being struck by 500,000 lightning bolts per second
- Exploding more than eight Big Ben towers, with every inch packed full of dynamite, per second
For the Fox-news-befuddled masses, such analogies are meaningless because the threat is not in their face. In their conspiracy-addled minds, climate change is a socialist plot to ruin the American economy and undermine capitalism itself. To the genuflecting masses of capitalism, the mythical free market is seen as an all-powerful, self-regulating mechanism of the Earth, the Sun, and the Universe. Man-made constructs are inanimate and artificial, yet we cling to them as if they were immutable laws of nature.
Keeping industrial civilization chugging along in the face of planetary ecological collapse is eerily similar to the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence called M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction), as commenter James explained:
Our competitive growth is MAD and considered on a geological time scale is only slightly slower than a sudden launch of nuclear missiles which may also eventually occur. We kid ourselves when we think that we’ll be fine as long as we never have a nuclear exchange, that sustainability is a possibility if we prevent nuclear war…
…This planet has the Big C, civilization, and it will torture its denizens as they struggle to maintain normalcy while the onslaught of malnutrition, decay and chaos drive them mad.
Do you think Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney are going to ameliorate the conditions of your decline? Ever wonder what it’s like to be a human sacrifice?
Capitalist carbon man’s unwavering faith in the powers of technology ensures that Big C’s omnicidal, energy-slurping $46 trillion-dollar infrastructure(U.S.A. only) and its array of mechanized contraptions cranks onward, squeezing out the last drop of resources from a spent Earth. Human cannon fodder will continue to be shoveled into Iraq and the Middle East to keep the fossil fuel furnaces burning. America’s corporate-industrial-military-political-financial complex will protect its financial coffers at the expense of the destitute masses and a habitable planet. When it comes to money, there is no loyalty to anyone or anything in the land of the FEE and home of the bamboozled. Just like countless Wall Street predators who have passed through the revolving corporate/government door, former NSA chief Keith Alexander is now getting in on the action to exploit his national security credentials.
A simple lesson not learned from the two recent epic industrial disasters:
Collusion between big business, government and industry is hardly restricted to Japan. In every country, the health and safety of working people in their workplaces and their communities are routinely subordinated to the dictates of profit. Moreover, the past three decades of market restructuring have led to the systematic erosion of the limited regulations that previously existed. In many instances, regulatory bodies have been cut back or replaced by corporate “self-regulation”.
Fukushima is just one of the major disasters that have exposed the criminal character of capitalism. One year earlier, an explosion at the BP-run Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and created the worst environmental catastrophe in US history. The Bush and Obama administrations fast-tracked the project, which proceeded without an environmental impact study, despite public concern and opposition. In the wake of the oil spill, the Obama administration acted as a virtual attorney for BP, assisting the energy giant to minimise the economic and political fallout. From the outset, the White House made clear that the disaster would not impede further offshore oil projects—including by BP.
The Japanese government, first under Prime Minister Naoto Kan, and now Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, has performed a similar service for TEPCO—providing a huge bailout for the company and limiting the payouts to small businesses and individuals whose lives have been devastated…
…The real lesson that should be drawn from the report’s revelations is the incompatibility between capitalism and even the most elementary needs of humanity for a healthy and secure environment….
Structuring a society to reward the most sociopathic and ruthless amongst us, create grotesque levels of inequality and political disenfranchisement, deify material wealth as the primary metric of success, privatize and profitize war, and use the planet as a garbage dump for toxic waste is a recipe for disaster.
Humans have thrown into the geological evolutionary processes of Earth several long-lived and very disruptive monkey wrenches. There are three which are noteworthy and will outlive us all in the deep time of planetary history:
- Anthopogenic climate disruption will essentially last forever, according to Professor David Archer of Chicago University and his associates. He says “the climatic impacts of releasing fossil fuel carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will last longer than Stonehenge, longer than time capsules, far longer than the age of human civilization so far. Ultimate recovery takes place on timescales of hundreds of thousands of years, a geologic longevity typically associated in public perceptions with nuclear waste.”
- Ocean Acidification, the so-called ‘evil twin’ of climate change, will mirror the longevity of anthropogenic CO2…
- Nuclear Waste from the production of nuclear power and nuclear bombs lasts essentially until the end of time. Coal-fired electric plants produce their own witch’s brew of radioactive waste as well. In the U.S. alone, roughly 2,000 metric tons of nuclear waste are produced every year with 70,000 tons now sitting at some 100 temporary sites across the country. A permanent disposal site has yet to be established to store the fatal stuff. The recent egregious, Homer Simpson-esque mishaps and incompetence at America’s only radioactive waste repository located in New Mexico don’t inspire any confidence that we can store this stuff safely even for a brief period, let alone for the thousands of years required. We’re too busy fracking around that fragile site to worry about any long-term consequences. Humans have sufficiently booby-trapped the planet that in the dying days of the Anthropocene, your chance of survival is the same as winning the Lotto.
A few of the deadly radioisotopes that can be found in nuclear waste are the following:
– uranium 238 (half-life 4.468 billion years)
– uranium 235 (half-life 700 million years)
– plutonium 244 (half-life 80 million years)
– iodine-129 (half-life 15.7 million years)
– neptunium-237 (half-life two million years)
– plutonium 242 (half-life 373,300 years)
– technetium-99 (half-life 220,000 years)
– plutonium-239 (half-life 24,000 years)
Depleted uranium is a byproduct of processing mined uranium for fuel in nuclear energy plants and as a component for nuclear bombs. Depleted uranium contains U-234, U-235, U-236, and U-238. Only two countries have acknowledged using depleted uranium in their weaponry, the US and UK, for its armor-piercing advantages. Only one country, Belgium, has banned its use. A couple of years ago, New Zealand put forth a bill to ban DU munitions, but it failed by one vote. The Dutch peace group PAX recently confirmed that the U.S. fired DU munitions into Iraqi civilian populations.
Once a DU shell impacts a target, it aerosolizes into a fine gas or mist which can then travel in the air for miles. These radioactive particles can get kicked up again and again by the wind or other disturbances after they have settled on the ground or in the sand. Once inhaled by humans, DNA is damaged and the ensuing cell mutations lead to cancer. For an example of the havoc depleted uranium has wreaked on the health of returning soldiers, watch this video. Investigative reporter Dr Nafeez Ahmed recently reported how the World Health Organization tried to cover up the horrific, lingering effects of depleted uranium contamination in Iraq. For those Middle East countries, the use of these radioactive DU munitions by Western forces constitutes an under-the-radar nuclear scourge with cancers, birth defects, and chronic ill-health affecting generations upon generations into the distant future.
I suppose one could add plastics to the list of unimaginably long-lasting pollutants to the list. Microscopic particles of the stuff can be found at any beach and even in mountaintop lakes. And of course the scars from massive strip mining operations will remain as an indelible reminder of industrial civilization’s insatiable appetite for energy. Scientists didn’t declare this the Anthropocene Epoch for nothing; we have certainly left our mark like no other species before or since, literally terraforming the Earth into a planet inhospitable to ourselves. Perhaps aliens will pay a visit after the dust has all settled. They’ll surely shake their heads in disgust at the poisonous wreckage left behind by our fossil-fueled madness before zooming off into the night skies in search of a planet that has intelligent life.