“I fear their euphoria of merchandise will have no end and they will entangle themselves to the point of chaos. They do not seem concerned that they are making us all perish with the epidemic of fumes that escape from all these things…” ~ Davi Kopenawa, Yanomami leader and shaman
Another year has turned over on Earth, home to an exothermic, bipedal omnivore known as capitalist carbon man whose expanding numbers and army of fossil-fueled machinery spans the globe. There’s nothing subtle or restrained about his reign of terror. He pokes and prods the climate change beast while taking for granted the stability of the Holocene, a peculiar aberration in the paleoclimate record. Plotted on a graph, the history of Earth’s climate resembles the jagged teeth of a demonic monster, a volatile creature whose abrupt and catastrophic shifts have wiped landscapes clean of most life. The consequences of burning the equivalent of an olympic sized swimming pool of oil (300,000 liters) per second, year after year, into the atmosphere will ultimately prove lethal to the planet’s habitability. Recently, scientists were surprised to discover a “Delaware-sized methane cloud” hovering over the U.S. southwest, the remnant of “years of intentionally released and errantly leaked natural gas during fossil fuel drilling operations.” No less problematic to the Earth’s homeostasis are the many other destructive habits of capitalist carbon man such as moving ten times more dirt than all natural processes, fixing more nitrogen than all terrestrial bacteria, and producing more sulfate than all ocean phytoplankton.
The exponential melting of Earth’s cryospheric regions is a foreboding harbinger of devastating sea level rise, altering oceanic and jet stream circulation, changing hydrologic cycles, and wholesale disruption of the entire planet’s biospheric system. A brief retrospective of our unfolding environmental meltdown by a major news source concludes that “2014 will likely go down as the year that melting polar ice caps graduated from being a geographic abstraction to a symbol of the irreversible ways we’ve warped the planet.” News reports continue to grow more ominous with recent warnings that the oceans are on the verge of belching their decades of stored heat from human industrial activity. CIVILIZATION is in the process of going ‘poof’ as its leaders play monkey politics and the masses are drowned in a sea of consumerist images. As Dr. McPherson recently pointed out, gallows humor is the 6th stage of grief for coping with a civilization that is blind to its own demise.
“Going Green” is a Marketing Slogan and Inverted Totalitarianism is the Most Successful Form of Tyranny
“We already are on the edge of what is possible,” Mr. Löllgen said in an interview at his Düsseldorf office. “Is it worth it if we as a country succeed in reaching our targets in reducing carbon emissions, but sacrifice good jobs and our industrial base?”
Another misleading headline I get tired of reading states that humans may be headed for a 6th mass extinction. Let’s clarify this statement once and for all by admitting emphatically that we are well in the throes of a mass extinction which will likely include ourselves within this century. By all rational evidence, industrial civilization with its billions of inhabitants cannot survive without fossil fuels. The only way capitalist carbon man will ever be sustainable is as fertilizer beneath the crumbled concrete and asphalt ruins of industrial civilization. Don’t expect any mea culpa from a culture which has been programmed to believe converting all of nature into inanimate symbols of wealth is “progress” and “development”. Not even the dire warnings of esteemed scientists and religious leaders can break the spell cast by capitalism and its definition of progress. Our institutions have become intransigent, petrified monoliths to which all will be sacrificed.
“I think the notions of free will and self-determination have the appearance of reality during a civilization’s gestation and expansion phases, when there is more opportunity and social mobility. As things calcify, instruments becoming institutions that serve their own ends, the facade is harder to maintain. Human existence has always been contingent and constrained by circumstances. These ‘free’ notions are illusions, narrow windows of perception with a limited range of influence during times of transient prosperity.” ~ BP
The term inverted totalitarianism, coined a decade ago by philosopher Sheldon Wolin, describes America’s brand of despotism in which “every natural resource and every living being is commodified and exploited to collapse as the citizenry is lulled and manipulated into surrendering their liberties and their participation in government through excess consumerism and sensationalism.” Opposition to this dominant consumer culture is systematically co-opted and suppressed by the marginalization and alienation of alternative thought. Neoliberal capitalism governs not only states and economies, but extends right down to an individual’s behavior and way of living:
One of the goals of neoliberalism is to foster a population of individuals who will play an active role in their own self-governance by interacting with the market and consumption through calculated acts and investments… sets of rules and conditions are established between institutions, economic and social practices, and patterns of behavior. They generally function outside of conscious awareness and they habitually influence social behavior. Examples of dominant consumer culture discourse include the political linking of consumer sovereignty and choice with freedom, the linking of citizenship and national pride with consumption, the work and spend treadmill that many people choose to pursue, the commercialization of childhood and adolescence, and the celebration of consumer values through the mass media and advertising.
– Social Psychology and Theories of Consumer Culture: A Political Economy
Who better to label people as “unpatriotic” if they acknowledge the reality of climate change than the host of TV’s quintessential symbol of capitalism, The Wheel of Fortune? Beneath this digital web of commercials and TV infotainment is the iron fist of militarized local police and the panopticon surveillance state which can quickly stomp out those troublesome malcontents who break free of the American hologram. What better way is there for controlling entire populations than to condition them to enjoy their chains of slavery? America’s form of tyranny, a blend of covert and overt oppression, is the most successful in the history of mankind.
None of This Can Really Be Happening, Can It?
With all the disjointed and delusional thinking out there, I feel compelled to write a blog post periodically to get the facts straight and assure myself that what I see and hear every day is really happening. Yes, we really are terraforming the Earth into a barren wasteland while convincing ourselves that it’s worth it for the sake of a cubicle job and life in cookie-cutter suburbia. Yes, we really are ruled by the Washington-Wall Street-Pentagon complex. No, you will never get the raw truth from mainstream news outlets. Yes, I’m getting older and need to exercise more because a sedentary lifestyle is as bad as smoking. Yes, industrial civilization is still on track to collapse within my lifetime. As Robert Crumb’s mystic guru Mr. Natural exclaimed, “The whole universe is completely insane!”
At some point in your life you realize that you’re running out of time, that your health and energy level are slipping, and that your time here on Earth is extremely fragile and transient. You begin to question and re-evaluate what’s important to you. Most still go to their grave with the belief that life will go on for their descendants in a world of never-ending technological “advancements” and improvements in society. A few reading this blog understand the myth of human progress and that mankind is sleepwalking towards a very dark fate. How could there be any other outcome when we have never really heeded the precautionary principle of environmentalism and, in fact, flagrantly disregarded it? Occasionally a scientist will candidly speak the truth. Recently, Jason Box did just that when he tweeted “we’re f’d” if just a small fraction of floor carbon is released from the Arctic. Some of us realize what dire straits we are in and all we can really do is watch with a sort of morbid fascination as this dystopian future unfolds before our eyes. A “grim meathook future” is the inevitable result of a society that worships money, materialism, militarism, and technology.
For an articulate and heartfelt expression of the angst of the modern age, I highly recommend reading the blog post Everyone I know is brokenhearted. The author, Josh Ellis, doesn’t mention climate change at all, but he does hit on every other aspect of capitalist industrial civilization and its soul-crushing, alienating culture. Judging from the number of Facebook “likes”, now at 21K and counting, he has really struck a nerve with people. Perhaps it’s fitting and somewhat ironic that Josh has spent much time in the desert megacity of Las Vegas, the ultimate man-made mirage of capitalist decadence.
All the genuinely smart, talented, funny people I know seem to be miserable these days. You feel it on Twitter more than Facebook, because Facebook is where you go to do your performance art where you pretend to be a hip, urbane person with the most awesomest friends and the best relationships and the very best lunches ever. Facebook is surface; Twitter is subtext, and judging by what I’ve seen, the subtext is aching sadness.
I’m not immune to this. I don’t remember ever feeling this miserable and depressed in my life, this sense of futility that makes you wish you’d simply go numb and not care anymore. I think a lot about killing myself these days. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do it and this isn’t a cry for help. But I wake up and think: fuck, more of this? Really? How much more? And is it really worth it?
In my case, much of it stems from my divorce and the collapse of the next relationship I had. But that’s not really the cause. I think that those relationships were bulwarks, charms against the dark I’ve felt growing in this world for a long time now. When I was in love, the world outside didn’t matter so much. But without it, there is nothing keeping the wolf from the door…
A History of Cover-Ups and Ineptitude Leads to Catastrophe
One of the most costly, self-inflicted wounds engineered by techno-capitalist man is the never-ending Fukushima nuclear disaster. The groundwork for epic failure at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began in the 1960’s when TEPCO bulldozed 25 meters off of a 35-meter-high hill in order to facilitate the delivery and set up of the plant’s large equipment, which was delivered by boat, as well as to provide easier and cheaper access to seawater used as a coolant pumped through the reactors. TEPCO then dug even further downward another 14 feet to construct the basement where emergency diesel generators would be installed. Decades later a tsunami would easily flood this area, knocking out the emergency electrical back-up generator and making nuclear meltdown a certainty.
In the early 1970’s, several memos circulated within the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) expressing concern over design flaws of the Mark I nuclear reactors made by General Electric, the same type installed at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Recommendations were made to stop licensing reactors with these faulty designs and the top safety official at the AEC, Jospeh Hendrie, agreed with them but rejected their implementation on the grounds that it could do irreparable damage to the nuclear industry:
“..the acceptance of pressure suppression containment concepts by all elements in the nuclear field, including Regulatory and the ACRS, is firmly embedded in the conventional wisdom. Reversal of this beloved policy, particularly at this time, could well be the end of nuclear power. It would throw into question the continued operation of licensed plants, would make unlicensable the G.E. and Westinghouse ice condensor plants now in review, and would generally create more turmoil than I can stand thinking about.”
The last line of defense in preventing the ionizing alpha, beta and gamma radiation and radioisotopes inside melting fuel rods from spewing out into the environment is the containment vessel. The poor design of the now ruptured Mark 1 containment vessel in Fukushima is most certainly contributing to the ongoing disaster there. The U.S. apparently has 23 reactors just like the ones that melted down in Fukushima as well as the risky storage of spent fuel rods next to the reactor building itself.
When the Tōhokutsunami struck at Fukushima, reports describe chaos and incompetency as workers had to bring protective gear and manuals from distant buildings as well as borrow equipment from contractors. The failure of the Japanese government and TEPCO to imagine such a catastrophic event and guard against it is highlighted by the fact that this exact scenario was predicted in a Japanese magna comic book.
Years went by with only a few lone voices questioning the safety of the Fukushima nuclear plant such as former engineer Toshio Kimura who worked there:
I asked my boss back in the late ’90s what would happen if a tsunami hit the Fukushima reactors. I said, “Surely a meltdown will happen.” He said, “Kimura, you are right,” but it was made clear that the issue of a big tsunami was taboo. A few years later I quit the company because of its culture of cover-ups…
…When officials from the nuclear safety agency or the ministry came to the plant for inspections, they were entertained with drinks the night before. Then they would inspect the plant and give it a hundred per cent pass mark. Then on the way home the inspectors were given beer and snacks and taxi vouchers.
Tokyo has been able to essentially buy the support, or at least the silent acquiescence, of communities by showering them with generous subsidies, payouts and jobs. In 2009 alone, Tokyo gave $1.15 billion for public works projects to communities that have electric plants, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Experts say the majority of that money goes to communities near nuclear plants.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg, experts say, as the communities also receive a host of subsidies, property and income tax revenues, compensation to individuals and even “anonymous” donations to local treasuries that are widely believed to come from plant operators.
Unquestionably, the aid has enriched rural communities that were rapidly losing jobs and people to the cities. With no substantial reserves of oil or coal, Japan relies on nuclear power for the energy needed to drive its economic machine. But critics contend that the largess has also made communities dependent on central government spending — and thus unwilling to rock the boat by pushing for robust safety measures.
In a process that critics have likened to drug addiction, the flow of easy money and higher-paying jobs quickly replaces the communities’ original economic basis, usually farming or fishing.
The mainstream media has long been part of the press-club system, which funnels information from official Japan to the public. Critics say the system locks the country’s most influential journalists into a symbiotic relationship with their sources, and discourages them from investigation or independent lines of analysis…
…Japan’s power-supply industry, collectively, is Japan’s biggest advertiser, spending ¥88 billion (more than $1 billion) a year, according to the Nikkei Advertising Research Institute. Tepco’s ¥24.4 billion alone is roughly half what a global firm as large as Toyota spends in a year.
Members of the Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan since 1955 except for a year in the 1990s and for a three-year period ending in 2012, have been rewarded for their pro-nuclear stance with campaign donations from the ten giant electrical utilities that control around 96 percent of the nation’s power supply.
The largest of these, the Tokyo Electric Power Company or Tepco, formally ended its direct corporate donations in 1974. But it systematically encouraged “voluntary” donations by company executives and managers to a fund-raising entity created by the ruling party, according to a 2011 investigation by Asahi. At least 448 Tepco executives donated roughly $777,000 in total to the entity between 1995 and 2009, according to documents obtained by Asahi and shared with the Center.
Roughly 60 percent of Tepco’s executives participated, a rate similar to that at other utilities. Together, they funded $2.5 million of the party’s expenses, based on today’s exchange rates. A Tepco spokesman told Asahi that the donations were “based on the judgment of the individual and the company is not involved. We do not encourage such donations.”
Tepco’s influence has also been enhanced by its enthusiastic participation in revolving door-employment practices similar to those involving bureaucrats and companies in Washington, D.C.
A METI report in 2011, prepared at the insistence of nuclear opponents in Japan’s tiny Communist Party, said for example that between 1960 and 2011, Tepco hired 68 high-level government officials. From 1980 to late 2011, the report said, four former top-level bureaucrats from METI’s own Agency for Natural Resources and Energy became vice presidents at other electric utilities. The practice is known here by the amusing term, amakudari, for appointees who “descended from heaven.”
Tepco officials also regularly move into key regulatory positions, part of a migration known as ama-agari, or “ascent to heaven” that has involved dozens of top utility officials. More than 100 such utility executives between 2001 and 2011 were able to keep drawing an industry paycheck while also working part-time for the government, a practice that is legal here, according to a former member of the Japanese Diet Lower House Economy and Industry Committee, who spoke on background. An official working in the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s research division, in an interview, said on condition of anonymity that the ama-agari system is “like having cops and thieves working in the same police station.”
Perhaps the most significant instance of ama-agari was the Liberal Democratic Party’s appointment in 1998 of Tokio Kano, a longtime Tepco executive, as chairman of the parliamentary committee that oversees METI and as the parliamentary secretary of science and technology. Both are posts crucial to the nuclear energy industry, and Kano used them to advance legislation enabling plutonium-based fuel to be burned in some standard reactors — not just breeders. He also pushed through a law requiring that all spent nuclear fuel be sent to Rokkasho or similar Japanese plants.
Corporate Fascism in Japan
Embarrassed by the constant revelations of regulatory and governmental capture by industry, the Japanese government recently passed a state secrets law meant to intimidate and jail those who cast a prying eye into Japan’s corrupt corporatocracy. After the Japanese government restarted its idled nuclear plants last year, those antagonistic towards the nuclear industry were secretly put on a watch list. The ominous experiences of independent investigative reporter Mako Oshidori with Japan’s nuclear industrial complex are reminiscent of the movie Silkwood. She discovered that she was on the government’s watch list and has now noticed an individual closely tracking her every move:
…The list included people with power in the opposition parties, such as the former prime minister Naoto Kan and the politician Ishiro Ozawa, and I was told that my name, Mako Oshidori, was listed alongside these names. A researcher who was given the list and told not to approach anybody on it was friendly with me and told me the list included my name. Soon after that a mysterious man began to follow me. This man appeared to be a member of Public Security Intelligence Agency in the Cabinet Office, which investigates various things. One of my hobbies is taking a candid shot, and I will show you the successful candid shot of this man.
Just as you see here, there was a time period when someone would always be near me, trying to eavesdrop on my conversation with people. As I am a professional entertainer, whoever I am talking to would ask me if the person was my manager. I would say that the person must be one of my groupies, as I have never met the person. Sometimes I would go to Fukushima Prefecture to interview different mothers. We would have meals together and talk somewhere, and when the mothers are leaving the premise to go home, an agent from the Public Security Intelligence Agency would take a photo of each mother and make a note of the license plate number of each car. Afraid of having their photos taken or the license plate numbers recorded, some Fukushima mothers would refused to be interviewed, or they would even refuse to have their stories published. An ex-agent who is knowledgeable about the work of the Public Security Intelligence Agency said that when you are visibly followed, that was meant to intimidate you. If there was one person visible, then there would be ten more. I think that is analogous to cockroaches. So, when you do a little serious investigation about the nuclear accident, you are under various pressure and it makes it more difficult to interview people. There are actually other journalists from major newspapers and television stations, other than me, who have done a lot of investigation about the nuclear accident, but the information doesn’t readily come out. That’s because the pressure is placed on them not to release the information. What I am going to tell you now might surprise you, but the Japanese people are just as surprised when I tell them the same information as it’s something they have never heard of, read in the newspaper, or seen on TV…
Despite the great tragedies with nuclear weaponry and technology that Japan has experienced with Hiroshima and Nagasaki and now Fukushima, these instruments of mayhem and death are ironically becoming a key centerpiece in the Japanese economy with the current right-wing government banking on it as an export cash cow:
Exports of nuclear components and technology, as well as conventional arms, are potentially key elements of “Abenomics” and much is riding on the outcome. In 2013, Abe concluded Japan’s first nuclear reactor export agreement with Turkey for $22 billion and others are pending with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while the prime minister has also lobbied governments in Central Europe, Vietnam and Indonesia. This is a remarkable turnaround from 2011 when the prospects for post-Fukushima Japan relying on nuclear energy, let alone exporting it, looked unlikely.
The seeds for Japan’s nuclear hara-kiri were planted back in the early 1950’s when the American government hatched a propaganda campaign of developing an “atoms for peace” mission in Japan to foster pro-nuclear sentiment and help rebuild their economy using such technology.
The Center for Public Integrity reports that Japan is leading the charge for a new nuclear industry of plutonium-based nuclear fuel with grave implications for spreading this technology and material all over the world. By October of this year, Japan will have finished a $22-billion plutonium factory in Rokkasho which will be able to produce enough plutonium per year to make 2,600 bombs. It appears Japan is lurching towards militarism in an age of end-stage capitalism:
The US-Japan Security Treaty of 1960 stipulates that an attack on Japan will be regarded as an attack on the United States. Prime Minister Abe is seeking to transform Japan’s constitution to permit engagement of the Japanese armed forces in aggressive wars. But it is difficult to imagine a resurgent military posture by Japan without tacit encouragement from Washington.
The highest stage of monopoly capitalism is fascism. The 2008 global economic crisis of capitalism, still unresolved, is forcing ill-advised and counterproductive “austerity measures” on decaying capitalist societies throughout Europe and in Japan, where Prime Minister Abe is restructuring the economy into the very pro-market system which is producing riots throughout Western Europe, as living standards deteriorate drastically, and the income inequality gap becomes an abyss.
A Nuclear Bomb Explosion Versus A Nuclear Meltdown
Some ask why Hiroshima and Nagasaki were rebuilt and repopulated so soon after a nuclear bomb blast, yet Fukushima and Chernobyl remain unsafe to inhabit into the indefinite future. The answer lies in the vast difference of irradiating potential between a nuclear bomb and a nuclear reactor.
Nuclear bombs are designed to cause maximum concussive damage within the shortest amount of time by creating as much energy as possible from a runaway nuclear fission reaction. Nuclear reactors on the other hand are designed to create a low-level of energy from a very controlled and sustained nuclear fission reaction. The radioactive isotopes from the fission product mixture of a nuclear bomb are relatively short-lived (<50 years) whereas those from the meltdown of a nuclear reactor are long-lived and must be stored away safely for tens of thousands of years (essentially forever). Approximate half-lives of some of the isotopes in the spent nuclear fuel are:
The nuclear bombs used in World War II were detonated roughly 2,000 feet above ground and their radioisotopes were carried by the wind and dispersed over a very large area. The nuclear bomb called “Little Boy” used over Hiroshima contained only 140 pounds of fissionable material (Uranium-235) and “Fat Man” used over Nagasaki contained just 14 pounds of Plutonium-239. These are minute amounts of radioisotopes when compared to the 180 tons of nuclear fuel at Chernobyl and the staggering 1,600 tons at Fukushima. Explosions and meltdowns at nuclear reactors occur at ground level, creating more radioactive isotopes due to neutron activation with the soils while spreading their radiation across the planet, year after year after year. Today the background radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is said to be the same as the global average anywhere on Earth. Ground zero at Chernobyl and Fukushima won’t be habitable for 20,000 years or longer. Nuclear bombs kill hundreds of thousands of people instantly while a nuclear reactor meltdown kills people over years, decades, and generations.
“I must say our tank assembly was slipshod work.” ~ TEPCO worker
The “experts” estimate that it will take 40 years to clean up the Fukushima mess. That would put us at the year 2054, a date that many estimate humans may well be extinct or nearly extinct. By then, ocean acidification will have doubled and the global average temperature will have risen by at least 4 to 6.5°C. The world’s oceans will have swelled 2 feet higher. I’m glad to know that the “experts” are taking into account our radically changing planet:
Nuclear plants were originally given a license to operate for 40 years, and in the late 1990s, the NRC began accepting applications to extend those licenses for an additional 20 years. While it’s not clear how many current plants will still be operating in 2100, most facilities store their nuclear waste on-site, where it can continue to emit radiation for thousands of years. There is currently no long-term national storage site for spent nuclear fuel in the U.S., as Congress cut the funding to build such a facility at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain in 2011. While there are no near-term plans to remove nuclear waste from the coastal plants threatened by rising seas, “the expectation is that [waste] won’t remain on-site,” said NRC Senior Public Affairs Officer Roger Hannah.
Despite the increased risk of flooding due to rising sea levels, some plant operators have not factored this into their long-term plans. In 2010, when Florida Power and Light Company applied for a license to build two additional reactors at the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Homestead, Florida, the NRC asked the plant’s owners to explain “how potential sea-level rise due to potential future climate change is accounted for” in their plans, NRC documents show. The company declined to discuss climate change in its analysis, and used a projection that assumed a constant sea level rise of just 1 foot per century, which is 5.6 feet lower than NOAA’s worst-case projection for 2100.
The risks to the ocean, in particular, are unprecedented because there is good reason to believe that melted fuel residing in, or below, the reactor basements is in direct contact with an underground river running through the site (Nagata, 2013).
A German study modelling the effects of an uncontained core meltdown suggests the Pacific Ocean is imperiled. The “German Risk Study, Phase B” found that a core meltdown accident could result in complete failures of all structural containment, causing melted fuel to exit the reactor foundation within five days (cited in Bayer, Tromm, & Al-Omari 1989). Moreover, the study found that even in the event of an intact building foundation, passing groundwater would be in direct contact with fuel, causing leaching of fission products. Strontium leaches slower than cesium. A follow-up German study, “Dispersion of Radionuclides and Radiation Exposure after Leaching by Groundwater of a Solidified Core-Concrete Melt,” predicted that strontium contamination levels would rise exponentially years after a full melt-through located adjacent to a river (Bayer, Tromm, & Al-Omari, 1989).
The study predicted concentrations of Strontium-90 in river water would spike relatively suddenly, but maintain extraordinarily high levels of contamination for years. Strontium bio-accumulates in the human body, including the brain, and is a known genotoxin. The study’s experimental conditions are roughly similar to Daiichi’s site conditions and strontium levels have been spiking there since the summer of 2013. TEPCO just reported that strontium levels in reactor basement water ranged from 40 million to 500 million becquerels per liter (“TEPCO to Improve,” 2014).
Humans live on hope and without it they fall into depression, oftentimes taking their own lives. In ‘The Evolution and Psychology of Self-Deception‘, optimism bias is said to be a defense or coping mechanism for survival. Most turn to religion for the ultimate hope of an afterlife nirvana. Voluntarily and unflinchingly holding one’s eyes open to the searing light of reality is an unnatural act for humans. For many, simply dealing with everyday life and the stress of surviving the concrete jungle is enough to drive them to despair, madness, and suicide. Whether they realize it or not, any normal person taking in the full scope of the multiple crises we face is surely prone to depression to some degree or another. I am now finding that I have to periodically distance myself from blogging on these subjects because it’s affecting my personal relationships as well as my mental/physical health. Suicide is on the rise in the modern world:
Death on the Farm:
…Since that crisis, the suicide rate for male farmers has remained high: just under two times that of the general population. And this isn’t just a problem in the U.S.; it’s an international crisis. India has had more than 270,000 farmer suicides since 1995. In France, a farmer dies by suicide every two days. In China, farmers are killing themselves to protest the government’s seizing of their land for urbanization. In Ireland, the number of suicides jumped following an unusually wet winter in 2012 that resulted in trouble growing hay for animal feed. In the U.K., the farmer suicide rate went up by 10 times during the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, when the government required farmers to slaughter their animals. And in Australia, the rate is at an all-time high following two years of drought.
Suicide Rate Rises Sharply in U.S.:
From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 13.7. Although suicide rates are growing among both middle-aged men and women, far more men take their own lives.
Why Suicide Has Become an Epidemic–and What We Can Do to Help:
…We know, thanks to a growing body of research on suicide and the conditions that accompany it, that more and more of us are living through a time of seamless black: a period of mounting clinical depression, blossoming thoughts of oblivion and an abiding wish to get there by the nonscenic route. Every year since 1999, more Americans have killed themselves than the year before, making suicide the nation’s greatest untamed cause of death. In much of the world, it’s among the only major threats to get significantly worse in this century than in the last…
…This year, America is likely to reach a grim milestone: the 40,000th death by suicide, the highest annual total on record, and one reached years ahead of what would be expected by population growth alone. We blew past an even bigger milestone revealed in November, when a study lead by Ian Rockett, an epidemiologist at West Virginia University, showed that suicide had become the leading cause of “injury death” in America. As the CDC noted again this spring, suicide outpaces the rate of death on the road—and for that matter anywhere else people accidentally harm themselves. Somewhere Ralph Nader is smiling, but the takeaway is darkly profound: we’ve become our own greatest danger.
This development evades simple explanation. The shift in suicides began long before the recession, for example, and although the changes accelerated after 2007, when the unemployment rate began to rise, no more than a quarter of those new suicides have been tied to joblessness, according to researchers. Guns aren’t all to blame either, since the suicide rate has grown even as the portion of suicides by firearm has remained stable.
The fact is, self-harm has become a worldwide concern. This emerged in the new Global Burden of Disease report, published in The Lancet this past December. It’s the largest ever effort to document what ails, injures, and exterminates the species. But allow me to save you the reading. Humankind’s biggest health problem is humankind…
That last article I quoted above, from a mainstream periodical, has more truth written between the lines than its author even realizes. Humans are their own worst enemy and perhaps the rise of suicides across the globe is a reflection of our ecocidal culture, one that values money over life and reduces everything to a financial statistic. Capitalism is the most pervasive religion on the planet today. Most living at the end of modern history have adopted the ruling elite’s belief system which says that all problems can and will be solved via the “free market” and human ingenuity, but as one Indian philosopher of the 21st century wisely observed:
“Nature shrinks as capital grows. The growth of the market cannot solve the very crisis it creates.” ~ Vandana Shiva
People are a reflection of their environment, and so it is in the waning days of industrial civilization and predatory capitalism that many will no longer have the will to go on. From an interesting obituary written by a friend of Michael C. Ruppert:
…I look at Ruppert’s life, his hard struggle, his victories and his short-comings. I wish we were closer in his final couple of years. I loved him. I say the following with love. I say the following because I don’t want to know any more great truth-loving writers to die this way. If you have a drinking problem, hit a meeting. Reach out. It worked for me, to stop flailing about, running from city to country to city, always moving, thinking a big move is going to change things. Get centered. Pray and meditate. Be still.
Something snapped in Ruppert sometime later in that decade, after the book. He moved to Venezuela, in rushed effort to seek political asylum from the Chavez government. Ruppert probably wasn’t anti-imperialist enough for their tastes, at least not in a leftist way. Oh, and the CIA/DIA family background probably didn’t help.
I wept. I felt rage today. I was mad at you, Mike, going out this way. It was too similar to Gary Webb, to Jim Hatfield the Bush biographer. I don’t want this pattern. Tell me it’s not the fate for writers of deep truth, to die, alone, shooting their brains out, because they went deep and hard after the invisible forces, the slithering stag. The hunter became hunted by the dragon.
No. Mike will be remembered for his discipline, his writing, his development of a critical paradigm. Our society is stronger for the deep analysis. In the same way that Ruppert investigated Gary Webb’s death, it’s up to us now to do the scientific and careful analysis of the crime scene. To pick up where he left off, and wake up to a new view of the matrix…
In their search for the truth, perhaps some travel too far down the rabbit hole of civilizational and environmental collapse to ever escape its malignant shadow; it consumes them like a cancer. A copy of Ruppert’s suicide letter can be read here. His research and thinking lead him to the inner sanctum of dark revelation and the unsettling details of civilization’s trajectory. The vaporware dreams of a technological utopia will most certainly go up in smoke as social unrest and resource wars consume the nations of the world in an age of climate chaos. The evil genius of mankind will be revealed in evermore lethal and destructive ways to kill his fellow man. And waiting in the wings of industrial civilization’s collapse is the toxic and radioactive tsunami from an aging fleet of nuclear reactors dependent on a functioning electric grid. Humans are capable of great acts of compassion and selflessness as well as great acts of cruelty and violence. The system rewards sociopathic behavior at the expense of the health of the whole. Ignoring such stark realities won’t change our odds for survival.
RIP Michael C. Ruppert, Feb. 3, 1951- April 13, 2014
What’s with these eco-freaks!?! Don’t they see they’re destroying the economy. We need to defang the EPA and go balls out like China’s doing. So what if we create a little waste! There’s money to be made from gas masks, water filtration, hazmat suits and cancer treatment. If the Earth worshippers get really bothersome, we’ll just sic the security and surveillance state on them. Send over a couple unmanned aerial vehicles on their ass. Drones… a multibillion-dollar industry! Beautiful, isn’t it? If we have to lock them up, we’ll profit from that too. There’s no problem that can’t be turned into a business scheme.
The upper class that creates wealth, like myself, is just better at procuring what this world respects –money, power, prestige and all the other measurements of social status. They say “money makes the world go round”, but really it’s just a symbol for energy exchanged for work, as in human labor or the virtual slave labor of our fossil fuel-based civilization. Based on the law of the conservation of energy and political thermodynamics, all organisms seek to conserve energy and overcome the disorder and decay of entropy. Humans are following their biological inclination to search out the richest source of energy and procreate. In fossil fuels we found the mother lode of them all to do both, live like kings and fill the planet with our numbers. We have an innate instinct to burn the stuff and have sex. Just look at how the Dutch and Flemish became the first in pre-industrial times to exploit fossil fuels in the form of peat:
The opening of the peat bogs in the northern provinces from the 1580s onwards meant that the Dutch had a cheap energy source that was widely available, while most other countries in Europe were entirely dependent on wood – which had become ever more expensive as deforestation advanced. The Netherlands’ ample fuel reserves stimulated the development of various fuel-intensive and export-oriented industries…
…The high energy consumption of the Dutch was an anomaly in seventeenth century Europe. The same goes for their prosperity, and for the level of urbanization and industrialisation in the country…
Consequently, their economy became the most powerful in the world. Eventually the peat bogs were mined to exhaustion until new technology arose which allowed even deeper mining below the water. This more intensive process came at the environmental cost of losing agricultural land to the lakes which formed from this new mining technique.
…The authorities, horrified by the loss of agricultural land – and the associated tax income – tried to stop the peat diggers during the sixteenth century by placing export prohibitions and restrictions on peat mining below the water table, but they failed. Digging out peat was more lucrative than cultivating crops. In total, peat digging would turn more than 60,000 hectares (600 km2) of land into water in Holland and Utrecht – almost 10 percent of their total surface area…
This all sounds eerily familiar with America’s current binge on fracking, doesn’t it? These days the entire world is scavenging the hard-to-get energy resources since all the low hanging energy has been consumed.
Blood, Sweat, Oil and Psychopaths
There is some archeological evidence that Romans used coal in England during the second and third centuries (100-200 AD), but they relied primarily on slave labor along with lesser-used sources of fire, animal labor, and wind:
Historians estimate that in the first century of the empire, Rome consumed between one hundred thousand and half-a-million slaves every single year . The slaves used for hard agricultural labour and as rowers in Roman ships had a life-expectancy of perhaps only a few years – and those in the mines only a few months. Slaves were, quite simply, an energy resource to be exploited. Nevertheless, despite the high mortality rate, such was the quantity of slave imports that they comprised between 30 and 40 per cent of the population in the empire’s Italian provinces – an enormous proportion .
There were, however, cultures much more reliant on slaves than the Roman Empire such as the Spartan Empire with its slave class of helots who, according to Greek historian Herodotus, outnumbered the free by seven to one.
“Parts of iron slave chains that native Britons were forced to wear under Roman rule. This particular item was found at Sheepen, Colchester.”
You so-called wage slaves and working poor of industrial civilization have never had it so good, have you? The average person has dozens and sometimes hundreds of slaves working for them at any given time, courtesy of our gift of fossil fuels. Of course there’s always an oddball Luddite in the crowd, but the average person is not going to walk away from such a life of Riley. And do you really believe that the wealthy elite, whose self-image is infinitely more tied up in their bank account digits than the lowly commoner, is going to give up their amassed fortunes and vaunted position in society for the betterment of mankind? Hell, they think there’s too many of the “unwashed masses” as it is. Why would they want to save the disposable bottom feeders? The global elite clawed their way to the top by stomping on whoever got in their way and dominating the competition. Some degree of lying, cheating, tax-dodging, bribing of officials and “bending” of the law is always buried beneath the squeaky clean propaganda of their PR machines. Show me a truly “sustainable” corporation and I’ll show you a virgin prostitute. Of course they all want to be the benefactor of some humanitarian foundation once they’ve secured their riches, but not a single one of them is a Mother Teresa.
We’ve got the perfect economic system for psychopaths to rule the world in broad daylight under the cloak of democracy and normality:
One in a hundred regular people is a psychopath…That figure rises to 4% of CEO’s and business leaders…The reason why is because capitalism, at its most ruthless, rewards psychopathic behavior –the lack of empathy, the glibness, cunning and manipulative behavior… Capitalism at its most remorseless is a physical manifestation of psychopathy, a form of psychopathy that has come down to affect us all.
About this little problem of climate change that you all are wringing your hands over, I can tell you that the elite think this is really The Market’s way of clearing the dead wood from the economic forest floor. Yes, they really believe they have the inside track on how to beat this thing. Their immense wealth is going to protect them like a cocoon and then they’ll emerge like a butterfly into a new world free of all the huddled, diseased, and starving masses. Who knows, maybe they’ll even feed all those corpses into one of their newly invented biomass energy converters. In their technotopian thinking, they believe the next few decades is sufficient time to develop geoengineering technology that will allow for the rehabilitation of the Earth once the overpopulation problem is taken care of. They know climate change is going to make life nearly impossible for most everything no matter what we do, so they calculated that it serves their interests to simply let business-as-usual run its course and allow the catastrophe to unfold rather than change the rules of the game, in which case all their wealth and privilege would be lost. Yes, they would rather cling to their loot while developing strategies to survive the human culling. Climate change will bring novel viruses that could make short work of it all without any major wars or mass starvation, and no one will ever know what hit them. Its true origin will forever remain a mystery as the powers-that-be sit comfortably behind guarded walls, safely inoculated from the spreading pandemic.
Cold, Dark, and Soulless: Culling the Numbers
Don’t waste your energy hoping that heartless moneyed interests will find the wisdom and virtue to heal a fractured planet or mitigate the untold human suffering that is to come. The global elite has more in common with each other than their own countrymen. Superfluous workers need to be trimmed. Natural resources must be replenished. There will be no more nation states. We’ve been building up our police states for when the time comes. Who will survive the overshoot and collapse has already been decided and it won’t be the billions of dim-witted mouth-breathers. Robots will be ours workers and slaves. They will collect the dead and clean up the aftermath while the Earth is allowed to regenerate in due time. The few selected for their skill, talent, intelligence, and allegiance will preserve and maintain our computers, technology, and culture. We’ll reboot the earth and a new era will dawn for the chosen few. We’re counting on the masses to be malleable and do nothing, to die quietly. As a matter of fact, our planning and research on social and behavioral control gives us a near 100% certainty that this will be the case. We’ve raised them to be obedient consumers and docile sheep.
They will go to the slaughterhouse without a fight, clutching their religious icons and babbling their insane conspiracies.
“You can’t beat death but you can beat death in life, sometimes.
And the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be.”
~ Charles Bukowski
What had been designed to be our servants became our masters, then our owners and gods, and finally our destroyer….
Some days I wake up and despise the monotony and pettiness of this culture and its followers: its celebrity worship, its staged news reporting, its chameleon politicians, its conniving marketers of consumerism, its cookie-cutter neighborhoods, its push-button surveillance state, and its clueless masses all working together to create the illusion of normalcy. Everyone goes along with this mindless program like obedient slaves, afraid of the social stigma attached to questioning any radical deviation from what constitutes normal. God forbid anyone openly discusses the cliff we are fast approaching, its sheer drop-off and craggy rocks below coming more clearly into view. One last scramble for the last bit of habitable land at the poles will be the inevitable end game as atmospheric warming catches up to the glacial melt and sea level rise humans have set into motion. In light of all the scientific evidence accumulated over decades, mankind has known for some time that a radical reconfiguration of our socio-economic system was the only way to avoid collapse, as described beautifully back in 2008 by a longtime blogger who has been writing for nearly a decade:
There can be no “soft-landing” for a species adding another million of itself every 4 and a half days to consume and convert into more and more human flesh what little remains of the planet’s tattered web of life. Worshiping paper symbols of wealth as the only measurement of social and environmental worth, our species has monetized and misunderstood nature, ignoring its true incalculable value. Surely something is amiss when the financial interests of the insecticide industry trump the health of humans and the survival of pollinators. Examining the root cause of such corrosive effects in our economic system, i.e. capitalism, is nearly as taboo as mentioning the collapse of modern civilization. The culturally Pavlovianresponses to any such criticism directed at capitalism or the unsustainability of industrial civilization is to argue for the rehabilitation of capitalism into something less destructive and tout humanity’s unfailing ability to adapt to any situation. Reinforced by past successes such as the Green Revolution, robotic exploration of distant planets, and Moore’s Law of technological advancement, the marriage of capitalism and technology has created a mindset which takes for granted the belief that the marketplace will create a hi-tech fix to any and all problems. Little green aliens, paranormal experiences, and techno-utopian futures seem to be more socially acceptable subjects for discussion rather than the collapse of a way-of-life that requires several more Earths if everyone were to live like Americans. Perhaps that is why we get technotopian books like this one:
The myth of progress is central to corporate ideologies of materialism, modernism, and technocapitalism. The mythical quality of technological progress was expressed most succinctly in GE’s slogan from the 1950’s: “Progress is our most important product.”
There are reportedly hundreds of Transhumanist-affiliated groups(life extensionists, techno-optimists, Singularitarians, biohackers, roboticists, AI proponents, and futurists) in the world with the largest, the Singularity Network, claiming 10,000 members. Few in our society can imagine this planet exhausted of its resources, inhospitable to agriculture, and devoid of all its keystone species, but such a world is fast becoming reality as industrial civilization steamrolls the planet under the direction of technocapitalism. Millions of factories continue to spit out products by the ton to be shipped to every corner of the globe. The ravenous hordes struggling for a higher standard of living never think twice about the energy and eco-social damage tied to these consumer products that magically appear on store shelves.
“A transhuman future is a day-dream and we are rapidly running out of the luxury of being able to do nothing about the very real problems that face us now. A transhuman future is a nightmare of the electric sheep.”
~ Dr. Paul Willis
The boundaries of a finite planet have been temporarily extended by technology, giving mankind a false sense of power over his environment, but technological complexity is not immune to the law of diminishing returns; the problems are overwhelming the solutions:
“…Technology cannot bring back a concentrated resource deposit like soil, phosphates and fossil fuels that have been dispersed and converted so completely that no amount of energy can get them back. The links in the technological evolutionary chain have been successful so far, but all it takes is a single broken link that will drop us into the waste heap of failed evolution. The next link of the chain always exists in the imaginations of men, technological wonders to carry us forward, but malignant growth, the kind sponsored by corporate, banking and Wall St. entities, will guarantee the current technological link is our last one…”
For a culture that lives for today and ignores the consequences of tomorrow, the show must go on even as cracks and weaknesses in this false façade become more evident day by day. Omar N. Bradley may have been thinking about weapons of mass destruction when he made an observation about mankind’s tools of self-destruction, but he could not have been more prescient in the broader sense of technology’s reach into our lives when he said, “If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”
As in previous fallen civilizations, today’s elite are more out of touch with our precarious position than most realize, and they will try to cling to their wealth and social status despite how much blood flows in the streets as the masses bear the brunt of collapse first –poverty, disease, war, starvation, etc., but ultimately no one can run from the death of the Earth’s oceans, the spread of novel diseases, and the die-off of trees. Those now deciding how our technologic scalpels will be wielded are not institutions looking out for the greater good of humanity, but by the ultra wealthy for their own personal financial enrichment and narcissistic interests:
“For better or worse,” said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money…
…that personal setting of priorities is precisely what troubles some in the science establishment. Many of the patrons, they say, are ignoring basic research — the kind that investigates the riddles of nature and has produced centuries of breakthroughs, even whole industries — for a jumble of popular, feel-good fields like environmental studies and space exploration…
..the rise of science philanthropy may simply help “rich fields, universities and individuals to get richer.” The new patrons are responsible for one of the most striking trends on these campuses: the rise of privately financed institutes, the new temples of science philanthropy.
This privatization of science is just one more aspect of capitalism’s usurpation and corruption of the body politic.
The art in this blog post is from Polish artist Zdzislaw Beksiński whose intricately detailed paintings of apocalyptic landscapes, mutated and deformed humans, and surreal images were said to be inspired from his nightmares. He never gave titles to his paintings and signed them on the back. It is said he would often wake up in the middle of night to paint his dark visions. In 2005 he was found dead lying on the floor of his Warsaw flat in a pool of blood, stabbed 17 times.
Perhaps the greatest nightmare of modern man is the fact that he is at the mercy of an ever-expanding industrial civilization running on autopilot, as Zygmunt Bauman described, with no realistic way to stop its onslaught of toxic waste, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and numerous other ecocidal features. I can see this horror when I look at much of Beksiński’s work, but I also see nature reclaiming the battlefield after man has defeated himself.
To a great degree, humans are their own worst enemy, prisoners of their flawed cerebral wiring with its neuroses, blind spots, and cognitive biases, but the real enemy is the omnicidal juggernaut our numbers have created; its base urges can’t be contained.
This website got an interesting comment in the ‘About’ section from a well-educated fellow who works in the technology sector of the economy. His credentials are impressive. I did some checking to see if he really was who I thought he was and it definitely appears so. His IP address takes me directly to the Science Applications International Corporation(SAIC). SAIC is a major defense contractor with “friends in high places”, having received numerous no-bid contracts from the government. Its top personnel move freely within the government/corporate revolving door. A noteworthy fact in their history is that they were “instrumental” in fabricating the myth that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and they pushed war as the only option. SAIC was the contractor that waisted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on the failed Trailblazer project which was an attempt to create a system that would spy on cell phone, internet, and other electronic communications. Needless to say, they have an extensive and dark history:
Additional information on SAIC is here. Now that I’ve gotten that introduction out of the way, let’s look at the message from Tihamer Toth-Fejel:
I’m happy you got a chuckle out of this website. We here at CoIC try to deal with the angst of the collapse of industrial civilization by treating the situation with gallows humor. Yes the Roman Empire did take some time to collapse, but I’m very confident that we don’t have the luxury of “hundreds of years” to see modern civilization disappear into the dustbin of history. The reasons for such an accelerated crash have been documented here and elsewhere numerous times. You only have to read The Limits to Growth to know much of what was accurately predicted decades ago. Collapse doesn’t happen overnight, but occurs in pulses and waves. Nothing as large and extensive as modern civilization will simply disappear overnight and no one here pushes such a theory. Ecologic overshoot is not a hard concept to understand and mankind is subject to it just as any other organism, although we have proven very adept at ‘extending and pretending’ our overexpansion. Cognitive biases are “an inevitable feature of adaptive behavior in all organisms, including ourselves.” Perhaps mankind can exhibit a collective free will and turn this ship around, but I highly doubt it. Our political system is beholden to Wall Street money and everything in Washington is predicated on the short-term election cycle. The same goes for our economy which needs constant growth and quarterly profits at the expense of a habitable planet. Dealing with climate change interferes with profits, so the capitalists feel better when they bury their heads in the sand. Unfortunately, humans did not evolve to deal with seemingly invisible, long-term, existential threats such as climate change and ocean acidification, many of their effects being nonlinear and complex.
Concerning your second point, I am indeed using the internet to write about the collapse of industrial civilization. What is your point? I think you are implying that I am anti-technology, encouraging mankind to live in caves. If you read my core beliefs for this site, you’ll find your answer; nonetheless, we do recognize the rule that technology is a byproduct of available energy resources, and at the rate that humanity is exhausting the plant, animal, and mineral wealth of this planet, I’m not sure what pixy dust the techno-optimists think is going to maintain our current set of unsustainable living arrangements. Perhaps you can tell us. And if humans were able to bend the laws of physics and create some new energy source, we would still be in trouble due to overpopulation and our enormous consumption of natural resources. I think Brutus had it right when he called humans “locusts” stripping the land bare.
On your third point, yes planet Earth will eventually die… in about five billion years when our sun becomes a red giant, maybe. Does this inevitability give us the green light to exterminate everything within a mere century? This would be somewhat analogous to a three-year-old committing suicide because they have come to the realization that they only have roughly 80 more years to live. And what about future generations? Is that even a consideration in your thinking? Perhaps you could even expand your thinking to include this planet’s myriad other life-forms whose biological functions support a vast web of life that makes our very own existence possible. Humans are currently overseeing the 6th mass extinction which will likely take us all down as well, but I’m sure you are well aware of this crisis and are working diligently on some sort of techno-fix for it. Your last sentence implies that you are a person of the anti-environmental, right-wing persuasion who sees those concerned about the habitability of the planet as eco-terrorists. This is a predictable viewpoint from someone who is an apparent contractor for the DoD and servant of the corporatocracy, but I assure you that future biospheric events will change the minds of even the most greeny-hating, military-industrial-complex loving demagogues on the planet.
A DJ on the radio mentioned the flooding in England the other day and exclaimed, “The climate is going crazy!”. The shallowness of the conversation and its failure to dig any deeper as to the reasons why the climate is “going crazy” is mirrored in the mainstream media and our society. Real journalism is simply another casualty of our rotting consciousness. Like a leper, those who cannot see or feel are oblivious to their own self-inflicted wounds. The flywheel of industrial civilization continues to spin out of control, taking out chunks of ecological bricks making up a once diverse and vibrant living planet. In some parts of the world, epic drought is desiccating cropland and exposing the cracked surface of lake beds, while on the other side of the globe unceasing rain is causing deluges of biblical proportion. Still other regions are experiencing freak snow and ice storms. The damage is done, but humans will continue to scour the earth for resources to maintain a house whose foundation now rests on the shifting sands of a destabilized biosphere.
If you thought shale gas was a nightmare, you ain’t seen nothing yet. A subterranean world of previously ignored reserves is about to be opened up. These are the vast coal deposits that have proved unreachable by conventional mining, along with gas deposits around them. To the horror of anyone concerned about climate change, modern miners want to set fire to these deep coal seams and capture the gases this creates for industry and power generation.
– Fire in the hole: After fracking comes coal
Weather patterns once held in place by an ice-locked Arctic are unraveling at an unsettling pace, yet industrial man can’t seem to pull himself away from his carbon burning orgy long enough to see that the monkey wrench inside Earth’s intricate and homeostatic climate system is himself. Never in the history of Earth has a single species become a geologic force for mass planet-wide extinction. The worshippers of the “free market” proclaim solutions to climate change will be forthcoming in the form of technology, yet all environmental laws and regulations are simply window dressing around the resource consuming pit of capitalism. Technology cannot replenish depleted resources or restore the relative ecological equilibrium that existed prior to the industrial revolution. Natural law is nonnegotiable and those who transgress it, repeatedly ignoring clear and present warning signs, are doomed to suffer the unforgiving consequences. Modern man will leave behind a toxic and radioactive wasteland for eons.
The corporate state is impotent in the face of the environmental meltdown since its only real purpose appears to be an enabler and enforcer to the plunder of the commons and the concentration of wealth into the most ruthless and greedy hands. There is no escaping this system that is locked into a path of self-destruction except through death, as Kevin Moore describes on this blog:
“…in general terms the purpose of government is:
a) to facilitate the looting-and-polluting of local regions and the planet as a whole in order that a small minority can acquire material wealth and enjoy themselves.
b) to facilitate the transfer of wealth from those lower in the hierarchical system to those near the top.
c) to keep the general populace uninformed and compliant.
d) to provide sufficient ‘trickle down’ for the misinformed and deluded masses to think they are not being exploited.
e) [more recently] to promote the agendas of transnational corporations, which are focused on complete control of populations and resources and maximization of short-term profits.
The purpose of environmental laws is:
1. to facilitate the looting-and-polluting of local regions and the planet as a whole but to limit the impact of severe pollution in specific cases where that pollution would be detrimental to other planet-destroying money-making activities..
2. to provide the pretence that governments care about the welfare of the general populace.
3. to provide looters and polluters with official mandates for looting and polluting, i.e. an environmental impact process having been gone through and ‘no significant impacts identified’, the activity of the looter-and-polluter is given the stamp of approval.
Under such a system it become inevitable that all politicians are, or quickly become, bought-and-paid-for professional liars and that all senior environment officers become lackeys to the system and therefore enemies of the people.
The entire political-economic system of western nations is geared to making everything that matters worse, so everything that matters gets worse.”
These are the unvarnished and stark rules of the game for those who care to know the truth. Becoming fully aware is a hope-destroying and soul-wrenching realization, but the truth is never measured by its popularity and very few ever face and accept it. The welfare and safety of the public and future generations will continue to be sacrificed at the altar of stock markets and mass consumerism. As commenter James says:
“…Murdering extant humans NOW to gain wealth is accepted government policy and in some cases personal policy…”
Nowhere is this more true than in the one country that comprises 5% of the world’s population, but consumes 25% of its resources; others are furiously trying to catch up.
So as the industrial world whistles past the graveyard on its civilization-ending trajectory, we watch the signposts of doom whiz by us each day and wonder what is the point of getting up every morning to participate in this omnicidal culture. With virtually the entire planet having been plotted, demarcated, sold off for exploitation and surveillance by drone, I’m afraid no one is getting out of this trap alive so you might as well learn to respond to current news events with a certain black and morbid humor. We are the pathologists of capitalist industrial civilization, dissecting its potholed road to collapse just as a coroner would conduct the postmortem examination of a morbidly obese person who gorged themself on twinkies and high fructose soft drinks.
Many have used the phrase “the climate is moving to a new normal” or “moving to a new paradigm”. Such phrases give a false sense of security, as if the damage has stopped and the Earth’s systems can now recalibrate to a new settled state, but human forcing of the biosphere by way of GHG emissions continues unabated and in fact has now tripped multiple climate tipping points. There is no “new paradigm”, but an ongoing cascading collapse of all known stability and equilibrium.
When you go into your mindless 9-to-5 job and your micromanaging boss harasses you for petty little things, you’ll think about how meaningless it all is in an age where governments will crumble, billions will starve to death, and the earth will soon become just another lifeless rock floating through space.
“…Run for the hills, pick up your feet and let’s go. We did our jobs, pick up speed now lets move. The trees can’t grow without the sun in their eyes. And we can’t live if we’re too afraid to die….”
“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
From Luke’s Journal:
Date: January 2064
I’ve just returned from a salvaging expedition into the heart of what was known as Los Angeles, a vast megalopolis once teeming with millions of people and home to Hollywood movies and TV, hallucinogens for the masses. It is now known as celluloid cemetery. The air was still this evening and off in the distance I could hear the desperate screams of those who had been exiled from our underground colonies.
I’ve got all the public libraries mapped out on my tracking device so that I can hit them up for rare books not archived on our historical databases. Paper books never died because a lot of data has been lost over the years due to grid failure, floods, fires, and arson. A very well-preserved collection of writings by Benjamin Franklin, a true renaissance man of his time, caught my eye as I rummaged through piles of books strewn knee-deep across the floor. Inside the dusty tome I saw the brief essay ‘Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind‘and read it on the spot. Franklin says, “But not withstanding this (population) increase, so vast is the Territory of North America, that it will require many ages to settle it fully…” A mere 215 years after those words were published, America officially went into overshoot. Thomas Malthus is said to have credited Franklin for discovering the ‘rule of population growth’ which states that when agriculture increases in arithmetic progression(2, 3, 4, …), the population grows in geometric progression(2, 4, 6, …), eventually outpacing the means to feed everyone. Neither Malthus nor Franklin foresaw the discovery of fossil fuels, which fueled the population explosion, or its horrific side-effect of climate change which would act as a catalyst forthe spread of virulent diseases and pathogens such as the African Flu Pandemic of 2029, otherwise known as The First Great Culling. Two-thirds of the global population were wiped out. Subsequent pandemics of varying origins and lethality picked away at the remaining 2.5 billion, leaving a few hundred million survivors scattered across the globe. The construction of vast subterranean cities began several decades ago once the world knew that industrial civilization would never be able to survive runaway climate change above ground. Today no one is allowed to have more than two children. Population is strictly monitored by the technocracy which severely punishes those who break this law; no one wants to be banished to the outside where life is short and brutal.
Franklin must truly have been rolling in his grave at the end result of his expansionist dreams for America: a pockmarked landscape of fracking wells, oil spills, and toxic waste dumps; a corrupt government of corporate sock-puppets; a military that had become a malevolent industrial complex seeking war for profit and destroying fledgling democracies wherever they appeared; an agricultural system of factory farms and frankenfood; a self-proclaimed “free press” of corporate mouthpieces and shills; and a population of citizens that had been reduced to mindless consumers incapable of critical thought. And I think he would be utterly distraught to find that his name had been reduced to a popular idiom by the dumbed-down masses — “it’s all about the Benjamins.“ Knowing what a grotesque monstrosity this country would become, he surely would not have declared America’s cause to be ‘the cause of all mankind’ — wasteful consumerism, monopoly capitalism, and the tyranny of the corporate state. When he was studying dinosaur bones in northern Kentucky back in the mid 1700’s, I’m sure it never crossed his mind that the human species would soon suffer the same fate, becoming the next hapless victim to sink into a tar pit of its own making. Franklin would have said, “It’s inconceivable such a technologically advanced society as this would not look at the scientific evidence and take action at once to preserve life and liberty.” But after witnessing what an irredeemable abomination his Republic had become, he would most likely say, “My God, the only recourse remaining is to clear the entire system with near-term-extinction.”
Walking with the tortured spirit of Benjamin Franklin along the Beach of Doom where anoxic ocean waves wash plastic debris and dead jellyfish ashore, I explain to him that the seeds of our destruction were planted long ago with the expansionist mindset of the first European settlers. The Indians and buffalo were systematically wiped out, all the virgin forests were chopped down and converted to lumber, and the rest of America was laid wide open for exploitation by the construction of a transcontinental railroad. Technology and the power of fossil fuels only intensified the process; this country never looked back, expanding to foreign shores for control of evermore resources and spreading the same logic and belief system of capitalism throughout every inch of the Earth until there was no place further to go. The system started to cannibalize itself after hitting peak oil, turning inward to burn dirtier, more marginal energy resources and starving the masses whose share of the economic pie kept shrinking while a tiny few gorged themselves on ill-gotten wealth and delusions of grandeur. In its final days, this con game measured everything only with a monetary scale. If there was no profit to be earned, then real solutions to the grave threat of anthropogenic climate change, like “powering down”, were summarily discounted. America and the world had ideologically boxed itself into a death trap called capitalism. No one realized or refused to realize that all the perceived gains in infrastructure, technology, social institutions, and other complexities of industrial civilization would soon fade into oblivion at the hands of an uncaring climate radically and thoughtlessly altered by mankind’s activities. In the end, it was all phantom wealth stolen from nature and built off her back by burning trillions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. The system’s only available avenue was to rush headlong into the dark void of misery, death, and extinction while spinning quixotic tales of “sustainable growth”, “renewable energy”, and geoengineering fixes. Cooperation on a planetary scale to lower greenhouse gases could never be accomplished under a capitalist system, nor would the arms race amongst nations which requires a constant investment of highly dense energy to develop technologically superior weaponry. After knowing for decades that it was far too late to escape the carnage of climate chaos, those in positions of power felt compelled to ignore the facts and keep the gas pedal pressed to the floor, leading all of humanity over the cliff.
“He cannot complain of a hard sentence, who is made master of his own fate.”
~ Johann Friedrich von Schiller
The . . . metamessage of our time is that the commodity form is natural and inescapable. Our lives can only be well lived (or lived at all) through the purchase of particular commodities. Thus our major existential interest consists of maneuvering for eligibility to buy such commodities in the market. Further, we have been taught that it is right and just—ordained by history, human nature, and God—that the means of life in all its forms be available only as commodities. . . . Americans live in an overcommodified world, with needs that are generated in the interests of the market and that can be met only through the market.
~ Stephen Fjellman, Vinyl Leaves:Walt Disney World and America
From the Amazonian tribe driven off its land by fossil fuel companies to the wage-enslaved city dweller dependent on mass-produced food and other commodities, no place on Earth has escaped the planet-wide reach of capitalist industrial civilization’s profit-extracting mechanisms. The oligarch’s of industry and banking shape public thought through an all-pervasive mass media monopoly, control legislation and regulation by pulling political purse-strings and commanding an army of lobbyists, sew death and mayhem with the global arms trade, sacrifice the next generation in resource wars, decimate ecosystems for short-term gain, manipulate and devalue currencies, create economic bubbles, and sell this entire vile process back to the masses as “progress” and “development” with measurements of inflated stock prices and skewed GDP figures. The untold human and environmental costs are now bursting at the seams with societal disintegration, epidemic mental illness, wide-scale resource depletion, industrial pollution and contamination, and the on-going collapse of the Earth’s biosphere.
If you’re wondering why there can never seem to be any significant action taken on climate change, don’t look for honest answers from those whose livelihood is tied to capitalism. If the true costs of the global industrial economy were calculated in terms of environmental damage, the ill-health effects on workers and the public, as well as the fraying of the Earth’s web of life, industries would find the costs too great to bear. The honest truth is that this ecocidal economic system would have to be dismantled for there to be any hope of humanity preserving a living planet and averting extinction.
“…big-time corporate capitalism is an omnicidal momentum. I mean, it just has one thing in mind, and it will destroy or weaken or co-opt anything in its way that is civic, that is democratic….corporations have been very clever A) in distracting people, especially young generation, with entertainment, with professional sports, turning them into spectators. Now you’ve got, you know, 24/7 entertainment. There’s no end to it. And they’ve also been very good in making people internalize a sense of powerlessness.” ~ Ralph Nader
Perhaps the three biggest crises facing civilization are unrestrained financialization of commerce and society, climate change, and peak oil (or peak net energy). Let’s take a quick look at how America is handling each of these crises:
Employing paid shills for the financial industry is now simply standard operating procedure in the U.$.A.:
…Consumer advocates and independent analysts do their best to weigh in as well, but they are outgunned. Meanwhile, consulting firms dedicated to playing matchmaker between corporations and hired experts have flourished in the new regulatory environment. Director Charles Ferguson, whose film Inside Job highlighted the role of sponsored professors in supporting the deregulatory policies that led to the financial meltdown in 2008, says the business of economic consulting firms that work to “source” academics for expert testimony and regulatory filings “has been going on for quite a while, and it’s now quite a large industry.”…
Of course anthropogenic climate change, the existential threat of modern times, would seem to be a catastrophe deserving of mankind’s attention, would it not? Well, as you can see, the capitalist only views it as a public relations war:
An extensive study into the financial networks that support groups denying the science behind climate change and opposing political action has found a vast, secretive web of think tanks and industry associations, bankrolled by conservative billionaires.
“I call it the climate-change counter movement,” study author Robert Brulle, who published his results in the journal Climatic Change, told the Guardian. “It is not just a couple of rogue individuals doing this. This is a large-scale political effort.”
His work, which is focused on the United States, shows how a network of 91 think tanks and industry groups are primarily responsible for conservative opposition to climate policy. Almost 80 percent of these groups are registered as charitable organisations for tax purposes, and collectively received more than seven billion dollars between 2003 and 2010.
How about peak oil? Again, the energy industry has its PR machine in full swing touting America’s imminent energy independence along with many other myths, but commenter James of this blog cuts to the chase:
Now, which ponzi is most despicable, a religious or financial one? Both are based upon deceit and both serve primarily the enrichment of the scheme officialdom. One promises a payoff in eternal life while the other promises financial success. One examines your credit score while the other applies tick marks in you behavioral ledger of good and evil. Both systems of fleecing are based upon human fear and herd mentality. Society shuns the heretic of either ponzi and damnation awaits those that do not participate fully. Ponzis collapse when increasing numbers of fools, resources and energy can no longer be sucked into their cancerous growth schemes. The religious structures will be more enduring as they can always find plenty of poor dolts to give their last penny to gain a chance at the big after-life payoff. The financial schemers, faced now with meeting the absolutely unbelievable limits of growth will have to leave all those little nest eggs of promises, unhatched. The key is to convince the ponzi participants that the U.S. is the new Saudi Arabia, that fracking oil and natural gas is the future and we can get enough oil from shale to last a million years. “Just relax folks, you’re all gonna get your money back”. Not. What a miraculous world we live in.
As you can see, America is handling all three crises like a sleazy car salesman unloading a lot full of lemons.
And if anyone was spooked by the Snowden revelations of government spying, the implications of corporate espionage on social-change organizations that threaten to impede unfettered access to profits is truly terrifying.
…The fruits of such idolatry are clear: the injustice and unemployment and waste of human talents; the corruption of our political leadership and their collusion with immoral financial practices; the depredation and degradation of our natural environments and the exhaustion of our natural resources; the inevitable wars and other crises that arise from the systematic fostering of base human appetites and the refusal to compromise our ways of life, and pursue a more equitable sharing of the gifts bequeathed to us…
I would not blame anyone for wanting to seek comfort in a bottle or some other form of self-medication, but perhaps doing something more dramatic to escape this nightmarish reality of a thoroughly corrupted, money-worshipping society is in the cards. When your back is against the wall and you’ve lost faith in everything, then revolution is the antidote for the “pseudo-realities” that plague us.
“Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.” ~ Philip K. Dick
The specter of death, near-term extinction, haunts us as we silently endure the evil and decay all around us, going along just to get along in the belly of the American empire. One day pent-up anger and hunger will burst forth, pushing us into the streets. Blood and emotions will flow freely. Inept and crooked governments will fall. We’ll have nothing left to lose.