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Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity

Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity

Photo Source Ninara | CC BY 2.0

Let me tell you about why I woke up crying today. It has to do with just how close we are to full-blown climate disaster. I was thinking about children who are already experiencing the horrible consequences of global warming, and I was thinking about particular children I love and what’s in store for them. Most of all, I was thinking about the unthinkable: that we are on the verge of ensuring that most, if not all, life on Earth will be snuffed out.

Everyone should be tossing and turning in their beds unable to sleep, experiencing the raw emotions that led me to tears this morning.

This is not a joke, or a drill. This is it. Decision-point for humankind. The UN says we have to turn things around within 12 years to avoid catastrophe. Others give us even less time.

We need to act.  And we need to act quickly. But we need to act rationally as well. It won’t help to run out and just “do something, anything” to fight for our future. We need to look honestly at whether the things we’ve been doing so far are effective. They aren’t.

The Sierra Club sent me a message a few minutes ago, about how we need to redouble the sorts of efforts they’ve been leading, and in particular, the effort to elect Democrats.  They want to mail me a “Make America Green Again” bumper sticker, which I’m supposed to use to persuade others to vote Democrat.

I can’t do that. We can’t do that. Because Democrats take us backwards on climate. Make America green again? It wasn’t green before! Electing Democrats and pursuing the incremental agenda they and their fawning environmental groups put forth, is literally suicidal.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Colonial Logic of Geoengineering’s “Last Resort”

The Colonial Logic of Geoengineering’s “Last Resort”

As panic starts to set in about what little time we have to avert catastrophic climate change, elites have begun in earnest to drum up support for geoengineering fixes – including the fix of injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere.

The basic idea behind this relatively cheap, “cost effective” technique is that we could replicate the cooling effect of volcanic disruptions. Like the sulfur emitted by volcanos, the aerosols would reflect sunlight back into space, and thus briefly spare us from the disastrous effects of rising temperatures caused by our fossil fuel emissions. This “last resort,” advocates say, could ultimately “save the planet” and thus “save humanity” while we figure out how to effectively and cheaply remove carbon from the atmosphere.

One could take great comfort in this aspiration to “save humanity.” After all, it seems we will not, in the time required, rise to the occasion of shutting down petrocapitalists.

However, advocates’ unspoken presumption that all humans would (of course!) want to pursue this “last resort” indicates that a more cynical aspiration is at work, for it is precisely the kind of presumption one makes when one is steeped in the colonial logic that produced our climate crisis.

Indeed, we should pay attention to how freely the champions of sulfur injections (and other equally radical geoengineering fixes) speak the language of the Universal Subject, that creature of colonialism whose benevolent claims about what was best for “humanity” – often framed in the discourse of economic as well as scientific objectivity and rationality – masked His exercise of brute power over nonwestern people and over Earth herself.

He is speaking to us again now, promising to save “us all” while intending primarily to safeguard western civilization, because western civilization is what He really means when He speaks about “humanity.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fracking in the UK

Fracking in the UK

Burning fossil fuels is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions (GGE), and, greenhouse gas emissions (water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O)) are the principle cause of man-made climate change. Given this fact, governments throughout the world should be moving away from fossil fuels and investing in, and designing policies that encourage development of, renewable sources of energy. But the British Conservative government, despite public opinion to the contrary, has all but banned the construction of onshore wind turbines and is encouraging fracking in England. The Tories are the only UK political party to offer support for this regressive form of energy production, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens having all promised fracking bans should they gain political office at the next general election.

Hydraulic fracking is the process of releasing gas and oil from shale rock: huge quantities of water, proppant (usually sand) and chemicals are injected at high-pressure into hydrocarbon-bearing rocks, rocks that can be up to a mile down and were once thought to be impermeable. This process of fracturing (or cracking) forces the rocks to crack open, and gas held inside is released and allowed to flow to the surface.

Shale gas is a fossil fuel, and when combusted produces GGE, albeit at around 50% less than coal or oil, but GGE nevertheless. The leading fracking company in Britain is the energy firm Cuadrilla. An organization that according to its website, aims “to be a model company for exploring and developing shale gas in the UK,” they state that they are “acutely aware of the responsibilities this brings, particularly with regard to safety, environmental protection and working with local communities.” Really?

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The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry

The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry

Aedes aegypti mosquito potentially carrying the Zika virus. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Researchers discovered the Zika virus in the Zika forest of Uganda – in 1947. It is a virus not much different than the viruses causing dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile fever, and St. Luis encephalitis. The Zika virus eventually spread throughout most of the world. Mosquitoes carry and spread the Zika virus. But for decades the Zika disease afflicting humans was free of brain deform or the shrinking of the infant’s brain  known as microcephaly (a Greek term meaning tiny brain-head).

The 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

I heard the name Zika for the first time in 2016 during the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Reporting on the PBS Newshour offered warnings for those going to Brazil. Other large media went almost berserk. They were shouting that women near the Olympics site were giving birth to babies with tiny brains. They blamed Zika virus. They blamed the mosquitoes for the malformation of the brain of the babies. The Olympics should be delayed or moved to another country. Brazil was dangerous.

Imagine hundreds of athletes and hundreds of thousands of tourists returning to Europe and the  United States with this dreadful Zika disease, especially pregnant women likely giving birth to deformed babies.

Astonishing as these unverified news stories were, government agencies rushed to give them credence. I heard representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention repeating the questionable newspaper and TV stories about the Zika virus. In addition, CDC keeps saying that fighting Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes in Brazil and Florida with a neurotoxin named “naled” is harmless. After all, farmers and mosquito controllers have been spraying naled for more than fifty years in the United States.

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Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor

Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor

Photo Source Mike Mozart | CC BY 2.0

Facebook and other social media companies give governments free reign to censor political dissent on their websites – and that is not “fake news.” Facebook’s unholy alliance with government actors includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. These partnerships have led to arrests and killings both in the US and abroad.

Glenn Greenwald reported last year on Facebooks’ admission that it unashamedly deletes accounts at the behest of the US and Israeli governments. An example he gives is the deletion of the Facebook and Instagram (Facebook owns Instagram) accounts of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Facebook’s reasoning was not that he had been accused of human rights violations or due to the content of his page, but simply because he had been added to a United States sanctions list. This came after reports that a Facebook delegation had met with Israeli officials to improve “cooperation against incitement” –which led to the deletion of pro-Palestinian accounts and news agencies. Hundreds of cases in which Palestinians were arrested for their Facebook postssubsequently took place also.

US support of Israel has a lot to do with maintaining hegemony in the Middle East. One of the reasons Saudi Arabia is such an important partner to the United States government is because of its role of backing US and Israeli policies and influence in the Arab world. An example is Saudi Arabia’s support of US and Israeli efforts to undermine the governments of Iran and Syria.

US social media companies work with the Saudi Arabian government to censor dissent and to cover up wrongdoing. In August, when news broke out that Saudi Arabia was planning on beheading Esra al-Ghamgam for peacefully protesting (which they did) Facebook and Twitter deleted hundreds of anti-Saudi accounts.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Forests are the Best ‘Technology’ to Fight Climate Change

Why Forests are the Best ‘Technology’ to Fight Climate Change

The warning from the world’s top climate scientists that carbon dioxide (CO2) will need to be removed from the atmosphere to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is both a due and dire recognition of the great task in front of us. What must not be forgotten, however, is the hope that our forests provide.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said limiting global warming to 1.5C is not only achievable but also critical, given the previously underestimated accelerating risks for every degree of warming beyond that target.

It has also suggested that the amount of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) that will be needed can be limited by significant and rapid cuts in emissions, but also reduced energy and land demand to a few hundred gigatonnes without relying on Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).

This means forests and land use can and must play a key role in efforts to achieve 1.5 degrees, but governments and industry too often overlook why improved forest protection, as well as forest restoration, are crucial alternative solutions to risky CDR technologies such as BECCS.

While greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and the destruction of forests and peatlands contribute heavily to climate change, the growth and restoration of forests can contribute significantly to reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Recent research suggests that forest protection and restoration, together with other “natural climate solutions”, can provide over one-third of the climate mitigation needed between now and 2030.

The IPCC has estimated that between 100 and 1,000 gigatonnes of CO2 will need to be removed from the atmosphere to meet the Paris goals. It has been broadly agreed that the most important natural “carbon sinks” are the world’s forests. To limit climate change, we must urgently adopt an holistic approach to forest and peatland protection.

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The Dystopian Future of Facebook

The Dystopian Future of Facebook

Photo Source thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

This year Facebook filed two very interesting patents in the US. One was a patent for emotion recognition technology; which recognises human emotions through facial expressions and so can therefore assess what mood we are in at any given time-happy or anxious for example. This can be done either by a webcam or through a phone cam. The technology is relatively straight forward. Artificially intelligent driven algorithms analyses and then deciphers facial expressions, it then matches the duration and intensity of the expression with a corresponding emotion. Take contempt for example. Measured by a range of values from 0 to 100, an expression of contempt could be measured by a smirking smile, a furrowed brow and a wrinkled nose. An emotion can then be extrapolated from the data linking it to your dominant personality traits: openness, introverted, neurotic, say.

The accuracy of the match may not be perfect, its always good to be sceptical about what is being claimed, but as AI (Artificial Intelligence) learns exponentially and the technology gets much better; it is already much, much quicker than human intelligence.

Recently at Columbia University a competition was set up between human lawyers and their AI counterparts. Both read a series of non-disclosure agreements with loopholes in them. AI found 95% compared to 88% by humans. The human lawyers took 90 minutes to read them; AI took 22 seconds. More incredibly still, last year Google’s AlphaZero beat Stockfish 8 in chess. Stockfish 8 is an open-sourced chess engine with access to centuries of human chess experience. Yet AlphaZero taught itself using machine learning principles, free of human instruction, beating Stockfish 8 28 times and drawing 72 out of 100. It took AlphaZero four hours to independently teach itself chess. Four hours from blank slate to genius.

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The Troika of Tyranny: The Imperialist Project in Latin America and Its Epigones

The Troika of Tyranny: The Imperialist Project in Latin America and Its Epigones

Photo Source vaticanus | CC BY 2.0

Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are today threatened by US imperialism. The first salvo of the modern Age of Imperialism started back in 1898 when the US seized Cuba along with Puerto Rico and the Philippines in the Spanish-American War.

The Age of Imperialism, as Lenin observed, is characterized by the competition of the various imperial powers for dominance. That inter-imperialist rivalry led to World War I. Lenin called those putative socialists who supported their own national imperialist projects “social imperialists.” Social imperialism is a tendency that is socialist in name and imperialist in deed. Imperialism and its social imperialist minions are still with us today.

US Emerges as the World’s Hegemon

The United States emerged after World War II as the leading imperialist power. With the implosion of the Socialist Bloc around 1991, US hegemony became even more consolidated. Today the US is the undisputed world’s hegemon.

Hegemony means to rule but even more so to dominate. As the world’s hegemon, the US will not tolerate neutral parties, let alone hostile ones. As articulated in the Bush Doctrine, the US will try to asphyxiate any nascent counter-hegemonic project, no matter how insignificant.

In the Caribbean, for instance, the US snuffed out the leftist government of Grenada in 1983 in what was code named Operation Urgent Fury. Grenada has a population smaller than Vacaville, California.

The only powers that the world’s hegemon will tolerate are junior partners such as Colombia in Latin America. The junior partner must accept a neoliberal economic regime designed to serve the interests of capital. Structural adjustment of the economy is demanded such that the neoliberal “reforms” become irreversible; so that you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

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The Global Economy and Political Murder: Why Trudeau Won’t Stop Arms Sales to Saudis

The Global Economy and Political Murder: Why Trudeau Won’t Stop Arms Sales to Saudis

Photo Source 2017 Canada Summer Games | CC BY 2.0

Almost 5,000 miles from the city in which his corpse was secretly buried – in one piece or in bits – by his Saudi killers, Jamal Khashoggi’s murder now rattles the scruples and the purse-strings of yet another country. For Canada, land of the free and liberal conscience – especially under Justin Trudeau – is suddenly confronted by the fruits of the bright young prime minister’s Conservative predecessors and a simple question of conscience for cash: should Trudeau tear up a 2014 military deal with Saudi Arabia worth $12bn?

When Ottawa decided to sell its spanking new light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the Saudi kingdom, the Saudis already had a well-earned reputation for chopping off heads and supporting raving and well-armed Islamists. But Mohammed bin Salman had not yet ascended the crown princedom of this pious state. The Saudis had not yet invaded Yemen, chopped off the heads of its Shia leaders, imprisoned its own princes, kidnapped the Lebanese prime minister and dismembered Khashoggi.

So the Conservative Canadian government of Stephen Harper had no scruples about flogging off its LAVs – as these little armoured monsters are called – to Riyadh, specifically for the “transport and protection” of government officials.

Now you can hardly accuse Trudeau of being a supporter of the Saudi regime. Back in August, Mohammed bin Salman’s lads ordered the expulsion of the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh and closed down trade agreements with Canada after Trudeau’s foreign minister had complained about the arrest of women’s rights campaigners in the kingdom. The Canadians had made “false statements”, claimed the Saudis – whose own reputation for false statements would soon achieve proportions worthy of a Hollywood horror epic. Trudeau was in the Saudi doghouse as well as Washington’s because, only two months earlier, Trump had called him “dishonest and weak”.

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Sarah Chayes on Kleptocracy in America

Sarah Chayes on Kleptocracy in America

In 2015, Sarah Chayes came out with her book Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security.

She has since moved to West Virginia, where she’s writing a book about corruption in the United States. It’s a take off on Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.

Working title? Kleptocracy in America.

Kleptocracy  – as in – government by thieves.

“I was loading a lot into Thieves of State,” Chayes told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. “I was saying that violent religious extremism is actually related to governmental corruption, not religious ideology. That was a big thing to try and say. I didn’t want to load this book down with too much controversial analysis.”

“But I did have a chapter at the end that looked at Iceland, Ireland and the United States in the lead up to the 2008 financial disaster. Many of the factors I was identifying in developing countries were visible in the West. And if we weren’t careful to try and put some constraints on systemic corruption in the West, we were going to suffer the same kind of extremist uprising that could take who knows what form. And that we were susceptible to some kind of extremist uprising.”

“Now that book came out in 2015. I thought there was a little more time. I didn’t expect a version of an extreme reaction so quickly. But that’s what we got in this country in 2016. Much of the vote for Bernie Sanders and the vote for Donald Trump was one of these wrecking ball, smash the system, anti-corruption votes.”

“Paradoxically, what we came out with in my view is not just more of the same, but a doubling down on the type of corrupt practices that made a lot of people indignant.”

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A Modern Ethic for a Finite World

A Modern Ethic for a Finite World

Photo Source Kevin Dooley | CC BY 2.0

At some point, presumably before leaving the relative comfort of Africa and overrunning the more hostile climes and lesser higher primates of Eurasia, ancient man created powerful taboos some of which survive to the present day. The institution of marriage, for example, which may have evolved alongside totemism – whose prevalence (well into the later part of the modern European adventure) amongst indigenous societies of all continents hints at their antiquity. My traditional African marriage not so long ago included a ritual in which my uncle challenged his counterpart representing the bride to reveal her totem clan name; totem clan names were duly exchanged and the ceremony continued. The significance is lost nowadays on our “chakam” generation as Nigerian duo P-Square put it. I wonder what would have happened a century or so ago if we belonged to the same clan totem: would we have been forbidden from marrying, deemed exogamous?

Mankind is capable of creating powerful taboos that shy groups of us away from things we’d otherwise do (like make the planet unfit for decent human habitation as we know it). Witness the fact that the recent (relatively) religions of the books needed not bother too much with incest and cannibalism. Mankind had already grown out of those unwholesome ills seemingly without the need for prophetic intervention.

Homo sapiens has conquered the physical world and the living world so successfully that we no longer fit in many ecological cycles and would not survive for long if we were cut off from the many links of globalisation. Many of us fear imminent anthropogenic climate disaster or anthropostupid nuclear holocaust. What if mankind were not so successful?

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Rebellious Scientists Issue Urgent Appeal

Rebellious Scientists Issue Urgent Appeal

Photo Source NASA ICE | CC BY 2.0

On October 31st a select group of UK scientists launched a Declaration of Rebellion against the UK government at the Houses of Parliament: “For criminal inaction in the face of climate change catastrophe and ecological collapse.”

According to the scientists, now is the time to act as a planetary emergency is already upon us.

Nearly 100 British scientists, academics, and writers are willing to go to jail to make their point that anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is a surefire provocateur that’s already starting to decimate ecosystems.

“This is almost a cry of desperation,” says Andrew Simms of the New Weather Institute (Source: Alex Kirby, UK Scientists Risk Prison to Urge Action, Climate News Network, Oct. 31, 2018).

Additionally, effective October 31, ExtinctionRebellion launched an international movement that will use mass civil disobedience to force governments to immediately establish a WWII-type effort to fight climate change.

Yes, civil disobedience is the way forward, as the group promises: “Repeated acts of disruptive, non-violent civil disobedience” if the government does not respond seriously to demands, and they anticipate “there will be mass arrests.”

Similar in tone to early American rebels like ‘Give me Liberty or Give me Death” Patrick Henry of American Revolution circa late 18th century, these rebel scientists are willing to make personal sacrifices, to be arrested, to go to prison, as they firmly believe its proper to start a planetary emergency global effort in the UK where the industrial revolution commenced. Essentially, full circle back to the beginnings of the fossil fuel era.

According to ExtinctionRebellion the sixth mass extinction is already strutting its mettle in spunky fashion, for example, a recent Worldwide Fund for Nature report claims a wipeout of 60% of animal populations has already occurred over the past 50 years alone.

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Rescuing the Banks Instead of the Economy

Rescuing the Banks Instead of the Economy

Photo Source Mark Dixon | CC BY 2.0

You can’t bail out the banks, leave the debts in place, and rescue the economy. It’s a zero-sum game. Somebody has to lose. That’s what happened in 2009 when President Obama came in. He invited the bankers to the White House and he said, “I’m the only guy standing between you and the mob with pitchforks,” by which he meant the voters that he was bamboozling. He reassured the bankers. He said, “Look, my loyalty is to my campaign donors not to the voters. Don’t worry; my loyalty is with you.”

I’m Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter, Dr. Michael Hudson. Today’s show: Rescuing the Banks Instead of the Economy. Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trend, a Wall Street financial analyst and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His 1972 book Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire is a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank. His latest books are  Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage to Ensure the Global Economy and J is for Junk Economics.. Today we discuss how the bank bailouts, not the crash, are killing the economy. Also, the concept of debt deflation, the magic of compound interest, the growth of the financial extraction FIRE sector, quantitative easing, tariffs, economic sanctions and isolationism.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Dr. Michael Hudson, welcome.

MICHAEL HUDSON: It’s good to be back after a few years.

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Catabolism: Capitalism’s Frightening Future

Catabolism: Capitalism’s Frightening Future

Photo Source SPACES Gallery | CC BY 2.0

“Out of the frying pan, into the fire” is an apt description of our current place in history. No matter what you think of globalization, I believe we’ll soon discover that capitalism without it is much, much worse.

No one needs to convince establishment economists, politicians and pundits that the absence of globalization and growth spells trouble. They’ve pushed globalization as the Viagra of economic growth for years. But globalization has never been popular with everyone. Capitalism’s critics recognize that it generates tremendous wealth and power for a tiny fraction of the Earth’s seven billion people, makes room for some in the middle class, but keeps most of humanity destitute and desperate, while trashing the planet and jeopardizing human survival for generations to come.

Around the world, social movements believe “Another World Is Possible!” when neoliberal globalization is replaced by a more democratic, equitable, Earth-friendly society.  They assume that any future without globalization is bound to be an improvement. But now it appears that this assumption may be wrong. In fact, future generations may someday look back on capitalism’s growth phase as the dynamic days of industrial civilization, a naïve time before anyone realized that the worst was yet to come.

The Return of Scarce Oil and Peak Debt

Today, rising energy prices and ballooning debt are poised to strangle the global economy once again. These suffocating conditions brought the economy to its knees in 2008. Afterward, fracking helped increase the supply and lower the price of oil and gas temporarily. Meanwhile, debt-dependent cash infusions in the form of bailouts, low interest rates, corporate tax cuts and leveraged stock buy-backs were injected into the economy to prop up stock prices and profit margins. [1]

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India’s Farmers Plan Mass March to the Nation’s Parliament as Agrarian Crisis Reaches “Civilization Proportions”

India’s Farmers Plan Mass March to the Nation’s Parliament as Agrarian Crisis Reaches “Civilization Proportions”

With over 800 million people, rural India is arguably the most interesting and complex place on the planet. And yet it is also one of the most neglected in terms of both investment and media coverage. Veteran journalist and founder of the People’s Archive of Rural India P. Sainath argues that the majority of Indians do not count to the nation’s media, which renders up to 75 percent of the population ‘extinct’.

According to the Centre for Media Studies in Delhi, the five-year average of agriculture reporting in an Indian national daily newspaper equals 0.61 percent of news coverage, while village-level stories account for 0.17 percent. For much of the media, whether print or TV, celebrity, IT, movements on the stock exchange and the daily concerns of elite and urban middle class dwellers are what count.

Unlike the corporate media, the digital journalism platform the People’s Archive of Rural India has not only documented the complexity and beauty of rural India but also its hardships and the all too often heartbreaking personal stories that describe the impacts of government policies which have devastated lives, livelihoods and communities.

Rural India is plagued by farmer suicides, child malnourishment, growing unemployment, increased informalisation, indebtedness and an overall collapse of agriculture. Those involved in farming and related activities are being driven to migrate to cities to become cycle rickshaw drivers, domestic servants, daily wage labourers and suchlike.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers in India have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economic liberalisation. According to this report,  the number of cultivators in India declined from 166 million to 146 million between 2004 and 2011. Some 6,700 left farming each day. Between 2015 and 2022 the number of cultivators is likely to decrease to around 127 million.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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