Home » Environment

Category Archives: Environment

Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Big Oil is using the coronavirus pandemic to push through the Keystone XL pipeline

Big Oil is using the coronavirus pandemic to push through the Keystone XL pipeline

The oil industry saw its opening and moved with breathtaking speed to take advantage of this moment

TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline facility.
 TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline facility. Photograph: Jeff McIntosh/AP

I’m going to tell you the single worst story I’ve heard in these past few horrid months, a story that combines naked greed, political influence peddling, a willingness to endanger innocent human beings, utter blindness to one of the greatest calamities in human history and a complete disregard for the next crisis aiming for our planet. I’m going to try to stay calm enough to tell it properly, but I confess it’s hard.

The background: a decade ago, beginning with indigenous activists in Canada and farmers and ranchers in the American west and midwest, opposition began to something called the Keystone XL pipeline, designed to carry filthy tar sands oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. It quickly became a flashpoint for the fast-growing climate movement, especially after Nasa scientist James Hansen explained that draining those tar sands deposits would be “game over” for the climate system. And so thousands went to jail and millions rallied and eventually Barack Obama bent to that pressure and blocked the pipeline. Donald Trump, days after taking office, reversed that decision, but the pipeline has never been built, both because its builder, TC Energy, has had trouble arranging the financing and permits, and because 30,000 people have trained to do nonviolent civil disobedience to block construction. It’s been widely assumed that, should a Democrat win the White House in November, the project would finally be gone for good.

And then came the coronavirus epidemic – and the oil industry saw its opening. It moved with breathtaking speed to take advantage of the moment.

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

This pandemic IS ecological breakdown: different tempo, same song

This pandemic IS ecological breakdown: different tempo, same song

Comparisons between the toll of COVID-19 and climate change are not helpful because they view each as two separate “things”

In late 2019, a novel coronavirus (SARS CoV-2) emerged from a wet market in Wuhan in the province of Hubei in China. At the time of writing, it has resulted in cases approaching 1 million and the deaths of over 42,000 people worldwide. Only a couple months ago, the world was taken aback by unprecedented bushfires in Australia, massive youth movements striking for stronger action to tackle climate change, and a groundswell of protests across the world demanding greater democracy, an end to state oppression, and against debilitating economic austerity in places ranging from Hong Kong, to India, to Chile, respectively.

In the midst of these events, COVID-19 felt like it came out of nowhere. The situation (and potentially the virus itself) is rapidly evolving, has taken world governments by surprise, and left the stock market reeling. Its emergence, however, makes self-evident the fault lines in global production systems and the ultra-connectivity of our globalized world. Like climate change, it affects everyone (ultimately), but unlike climate change, it occurs at a much faster rate and more severely impacts the most economically vulnerable, who cannot afford or have the possibility to engage in social distancing. Governments are walking on a tightrope, a balancing act between ensuring public safety and well-being and maintaining profit margins and growth targets. It’s the very same dilemma as climate change- just occurring at a faster rate, arising everywhere, and obliterating the possibility to ignore it and think about it later. In fact, one may argue that the pandemic is part of climate change and therefore, our response to it should not be limited to containing the spread of the virus. “Normal” was already a crisis and so returning to it cannot be an option. 

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

Why Central Planning by Medical Experts Will Lead to Disaster

Why Central Planning by Medical Experts Will Lead to Disaster


A great deal of the coverage of the COVID-19 crisis has been apocalyptic. That is partly because “if it bleeds, it leads.” But it is also because some of the medical experts with media megaphones have put forward potentially catastrophic scenarios and drastic plans to deal with them, reinforced by assertions that the rest of us should “listen to the experts,” because only they know enough to determine policy. Unfortunately, those experts don’t know enough to determine appropriate policies.

Doctors, infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists, etc. know more things about diseases, their courses, what increases or decreases their rate of spread, and so on than most. But the most crucial of that information has been browbeaten into the rest of us by now. Limited and imperfect testing also means that the available statistics may be very misleading (e.g., is an uptick in reported cases real or the result of an increasing rate of, or more accuracy in, testing, which is crucial to determining the likely future course COVID-19?). Further, to the extent that the virus’s characteristics are unique, no one knows exactly what will happen. All of that makes “shut up and listen” advice less compelling.

More important, however, may be that in making recommendations to address COVID-19, those with detailed knowledge of the disease (the experts we have been told to obey) do not have sufficient knowledge of the consequences of their “solutions” for the economy and society to know what the costs will be. That means that they don’t know enough to accurately compare the benefits to the costs. In particular, because of their relative unawareness of the many margins at which effects will be felt, the medical experts we are being told to follow will likely underestimate those costs. When combined with their natural desire to solve the medical problem, however severe it might get, this can lead to overly draconian proposals.

This issue has been brought to the fore by the increasing number of people who have begun questioning the likelihood of the apocalyptic scenarios driving the “OMG! We need to do everything that might help” tweetstorms, on the one hand, and those who are emphasizing that “shutting down the economy” is far more costly than planners recognized, on the other.

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

Blain’s Morning Porridge – April 9 2020 – C-19 is the McGuffin

Blain’s Morning Porridge – April 9 2020 – C-19 is the McGuffin

“And all I ask is a tall ship, and the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and white sail’s breaking….”

Another day in lockdown begins. A moment of distraction, if I may…

4 days of Easter! Yay! I’m not going to open a newspaper, I’ll try to ignore the news, and dish emails about coronavirus. I’m going to focus on three of us here in the house, anticipate She-Who-Is-Mrs-Blain’s marvellous cooking, while she continues her efforts to teach No1 Son, Jack to cook. While his sister starves up in London, he is getting good. Last night’s mushroom pasta was superb. 

The downside is I can’t go sailing – which is beginning to become an issue… I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax……  Instead I am compiling a viewing plan of great Sailing Films. It my way of coping..

It started last night with Maiden, a wonderful tale how a young lady, Tracey Edwards, got peeved at Girls being denied the opportunity to race around the World. She formed her own crew of girls, restored an old yacht, and did very well, confounding critics who didn’t think a crew of girls would even get out the Solent. Practical Feminism! It’s well worth the watch – and I most strongly recommend it to all my City Female Friends for inspiration, and to everyone else, even if you don’t care a fig for boats. 

Tonight, I am scheduling Wind, possibly the worst and best sailing film of all time.. Bring out the Whomper!


When they come to make the film of this crisis, it will quickly become apparent the Virus is just the McGuffin, the plot device behind the most massive economic calamity of all time. 

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

The World Has Changed More Than We Know

The World Has Changed More Than We Know

Put another way: eras end.

While the mainstream media understandably focuses on the here and now of the pandemic, some commentators are looking at the long-term consequences. Here is a small sampling:

Coronavirus, synchronous failure and the global phase-shiftCoronavirus Will Require Us to Completely Reshape the EconomyFlorence Hit by the Coronavirus: The Curse of Hyperspecialization

We’re not going back to normal: Social distancing is here to stay for much more than a few weeks. It will upend our way of life, in some ways forever (MIT Technology Review)While each of these essays offers a different perspective, let’s focus on the last two: Ugo Bardi’s essay on Hyperspecialization and the technological responses described in the MIT Technology Review essay.

As readers of the blog know, I’ve been differentiating between first-order and second-order effects: First order effects: every action has a consequence. Second order effects: every consequence has its own consequences.

We can think of these as direct (first order) and indirect (second order) effects.

The MIT Technology Review article focuses on direct effects, i.e. how to deploy technology to identify people with the virus, track their recent movements and who they might have exposed to the disease, tech-driven regulations that would limit the movements of infected (such as we see in China now), etc.

Bardi’s first-hand account from Northern Italy touches on an indirect effect: the profoundly negative impact of a hyperspecialized economy that is suddenly disrupted. In this case, the specialization is tourism, but there are other examples, many driven by hyper-globalization.

Specialization has long been central to capitalism’s relentless drive to increase efficiencies and thus profits, and globalization has pushed specialization to extremes globally dominant corporations can arbitrage currencies, wages, political corruption and lax environmental standards in ways that localized competitors cannot.

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

South Korean Scientists Warn: COVID-19 Can Spontaneously “Reactivate” In Cured Patients

South Korean Scientists Warn: COVID-19 Can Spontaneously “Reactivate” In Cured Patients

Yesterday, we reported on some new research that has just been published in the the Lancet, a journal of non-peer-reviewed research that is nonetheless viewed as an extremely credible resource. The report, published by scientists at a university in Shanghai, claimed that some COVID-19 patients showed few, or, even more alarming, no COVID-19 antibodies in their blood after recovering from the illness.

And now, another report highlighting the extremely concerning susceptibility that humans have to this virus has been released. Researchers in Seoul have found several cases wherein patients who’ve recovered from COVID-19 have seen the disease “reactivate”, possibly because the virus was still lying dormant inside them, and had been reawakened, somehow.

The Straits Times reported that about 51 patients who had been “cured” in South Korea have tested positive again, the Korean Centers for Disease Control said during a media briefing. Rather than being infected again, the virus may have been reactivated in these people, given they tested positive again shortly after being released from quarantine, and likely didn’t have time to reacquire the virus and see it go active, said Mr Jeong Eun-kyeong, the KCDC’s director-general.

“While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this,” Mr Jeong said.

“There have been many cases when a patient during treatment will test negative one day and positive another.” A patient is deemed fully recovered when two tests conducted with a 24-hour interval show negative results.

Despite having one of the earliest outbreaks, South Korea has only recorded 200 deaths and reported falling new daily numbers since cases peaked at 1,189 on Feb. 29. The KCDC reported just 39 new cases on Thursday for a total of 10,423. One of the world’s most expansive testing programs and a tech-driven approach to tracing infections has helped the country contain its epidemic without lockdowns or shuttering businesses.

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

France Developing Surveillance App Called “StopCovid” To Mitigate Virus Spread

France Developing Surveillance App Called “StopCovid” To Mitigate Virus Spread

The world is sleepwalking into a surveillance state. The march towards an Orwellian society is closer than ever, as governments have used COVID-19 as a perfect cover to implement totalitarian measures to track citizens that amount to human rights violations to “flatten the pandemic curve.”

The latest example is coming from France’s health minister Olivier Véran and digital minister Cédric O, who announced in an interview with Le Monde that the French government is developing a smartphone app that will track citizens, by warning them if they come into contact with a COVID-19 carrier.

“In the fight against Covid-19, technology can help,” O told the French newspaper. “Nothing will be decided without broad debate.”

France’s digital minister said the app project is called “StopCovid” – and will be voluntarily downloaded on smartphones — will utilize the phone’s Bluetooth capabilities to notify users if they come into proximity to a carrier. The app only works if virus carriers and others have the software operating on the phone.

“The application would simply inform you that you have been in contact in the previous days with someone who tested positive,” O said, adding that developers have been working on the app for several days.

French law currently prohibits smartphone tracking, unlike China and South Korea, that monitor their citizens to make sure COVID-19 carriers are quarantining at home.

Several lawmakers in France have told President Emmanuel Macron’s parliament that they would be opposed to geo-tracking civilians.

O told the French paper that the app uses Bluetooth and not geolocation and reaffirmed that the government would not track people.

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

Building Community Resilience: Before, During, and After COVID-19

Building Community Resilience: Before, During, and After COVID-19

Growing Seeds

Dear friends and fellow Transitioners,

So much has changed in so short a time: tens of thousands of people are now testing positive for the coronavirus daily in the US, most of the world is self-isolating at home, large sectors of our economy have ground to a halt, and politicians are currently debating how best to spend trillions of dollars to combat the global pandemic. We are definitely riding the exponential growth curve, and there’s no end yet in sight.

Both strangely and predictably enough, this crisis has presented a massive opportunity for those of us who have been or are currently engaged in building local community resilience. Our job is now, as it has been in the past, to offer relevant and practical solutions that meet real needs. In fact, many groups all over this country have already been taking inspiring and meaningful actions to counter the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19: scaling up efforts to teach people how to grow their own foodbanding together to provide local investment for struggling local businessesorganizing mutual aid networks, and advocating for a “green stimulus.” These efforts should be celebrated, supported, and replicated throughout the US. Many more should be developed to help meet skyrocketing needs.

The difference is now that we have the wind at our backs. Through these projects and others, we can reach out further to unprecedented numbers of people who are just now waking up to a more acute sense of their own vulnerability, interconnectedness, and responsibility for the well-being of others. We can share our visions with them and encourage them to develop their own, invite them to step into a leadership role or join a local community that’s already working on something they’re passionate about.

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

What Comes Next?

What Comes Next?

Predicting life after coronavirus

If covid-19 is indeed hastening the permanent disruption of the status quo, what will life in a post-coronavirus world look like?

In a prognosticating session building on last week’s Economic Shockwaves roundtable, John Rubino, Charles Hugh Smith and I — also joined by Chris Martenson this time — discuss the myriad ways in the future may be permanently altered by the disruptions happening right now.

How will the economy, fiat currencies, jobs & the nature of work, as well as our general lifestyle, be forced to evolve? What new solutions will be required and what shape with they take?

All this and more is addressed in this video (1-hour runtime):

These roundtables are always a good time as John, Charles, Chris and I not only enjoy each other’s company, but we find helpful value in tapping each other’s thinking. The process always creates even more questions that we want to ask one another.

After shooting this video, the group agreed that fertile future territory includes the housing market, retirement/pensions, which big cartels are most vulnerable to today’s disruption (e.g., education, health care, pharma, finance) and what benefits would emerge from breaking their industry strangleholds.

So, if you’d like to see this brain trust convene again to push deeper into this material, let us know in the Comments section below, along with any other specific topics you’d like for us to kick around.

Oh, and if you’d like to inspire your own discussions on resilience with those in your community, pick up your own RESILIENCE shirt here and join Chris and me in wearing it proudly 🙂

We Won’t Be Getting “Back to Normal.” Not Soon. Not Ever.

We Won’t Be Getting “Back to Normal.” Not Soon. Not Ever.

When will we get back to normal?

If you yearn for the days before COVID-19 swept across the planet, I regret to inform you that those days are gone.

This isn’t a warm and fuzzy blog post telling you that everything is going to be all right. If you’re looking for reassurance that “we’ve got this,” I’m afraid I can’t provide it. This article wasn’t written to console or coddle you, so if that’s what you’re seeking, you’re going to want to stop reading right now.

If, however, you want a reality check on what I believe we’re really facing, I’m not going to hold back. You’ve been warned.

We’re not even halfway through.

You may have seen some optimistic reports recently that the “worst” is behind us. It would certainly be lovely if that’s the case, but in my opinion, this ordeal is just getting started. I wrote an article previously about how long we could expect our current state of lockdown to last using the timelines of China and Italy as points of comparison, and based on that, we are 17 days in as of the writing of this article on April 8.

The lockdown of Wuhan is expected to last 77 days. If our own timeline continues to echo that of China, then we’re not even halfway there. We have at least 2 months left and this doesn’t include any new clusters when the lockdowns are totally lifted or any second waves. We’ve barely begun living in our current state of purgatory and this will continue (and most likely worsen) for quite some time.

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

Coronavirus Cases Pass 1.4 Million As Scientists Discover Reinfection Risk For Patients Much Higher Than Expected: Live Updates

Coronavirus Cases Pass 1.4 Million As Scientists Discover Reinfection Risk For Patients Much Higher Than Expected: Live Updates


  • Confirmed cases across Africa pass 10k
  • China reopens Wuhan
  • Global case total passes 1.4 million
  • Scientists find evidence some recovered don’t have antibodies
  • WHO again insists lockdowns must stay in effect
  • Iraq extends border closure with Iran
  • Indonesia outbreak continues to accelerate
  • Ethiopia joins growing list of African states by declaring state of emergency

*    *    *

Update (0948ET): As Indonesia becomes the latest East Asian country to report an acceleration in new cases, disturbing new videos purporting to show patients collapsing in public have been shared by the Epoch Times. After resisting a shutdown for weeks, the country’s president, Joko Widodo, has ordered schools shut and other businesses shut in the country’s capital, densely populated Jakarta.

ndonesia reported another 218 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing its total to 2,956 cases. The country has also reported 240 deaths, while 222 patients have recovered.

The problem with that 218 number is that Indonesian health authorities in Jakarta are only able to run 240 tests a day at max capacity. That means there’s a chance that everybody, or nearly everybody, tested in Indonesia has tested positive. This is not good, as it signals that the outbreak is almost definitely much larger than the government realizes.

An increase in burials around Jakarta raised alarms in Indonesia, which is the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world, with ~265 million people, as health authorities suddenly realized that the virus had probably been spreading undetected for weeks. This comes after the government has already admitted to lying about positive case numbers, after insisting for weeks that it had zero detected cases.

And here’s that video:

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

Chernobyl Radiation Levels Suddenly Surge 17x

Chernobyl Radiation Levels Suddenly Surge 17x

Radiation across the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone spiked 17x as firefighters over the weekend battled a 250-acre forest fire, reported NBC News

More than 100 firefighters, several Antonov AN-32P Firekiller air tankers, and a Mil Mi-8 helicopter were dispatched near the village of Vladimirovka to fight the fire. Ukrainian emergency services said firefighters battled the blaze over the weekend and wrapped up operations by Monday.

VIDEO: A forest fire is underway in the restricted zone around Chernobyl, scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident, but Ukrainian government agencies have denied an official’s claim that the fire caused a spike in radiation levels

Embedded video

“There is bad news – radiation is above normal in the center of the fire,” ecological inspection chief Yegor Firsov wrote in a Facebook post alongside a video of a Geiger counter. “As you see on the video, the appliance indicators are 2,3 at ok 0,14. But such a situation is only in the fire.”

Firsov said the spike in radioactivity was observed in the proximity of the fire. He wrote in a Sunday post that nuclear experts recorded no increase of radiation levels in the capital, Kyiv, about 60 miles from the exclusive zone.

Vladimirovka is part of a 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone, which was deserted in 1986 after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion, which exposed millions of people to radioactive materials across Europe. The region is the most radioactively contaminated area in the world.  

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

World Is “Sleepwalking Into Surveillance State” As COVID-19 Crackdowns Escalate

World Is “Sleepwalking Into Surveillance State” As COVID-19 Crackdowns Escalate

All across the world, starting with China, the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed for the proliferation of the surveillance state. 

More than 100 rights groups are warning that governments and corporations are partnering as a collaborative force to employ big data and increase widespread surveillance that threatens freedoms and privacy, reported Reuters

At the moment, the surveillance tools are being used to mitigate the spread of the virus, tracing infections back to patient zero, monitoring social distancing, and enforcing lockdowns. However, the virus is likely a cover for pervasive snooping.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Privacy International said without appropriate safeguards, surveillance tools could remain in place even after the virus has been eradicated, which would erode people’s freedoms on a long enough timeline.

“An increase in state digital surveillance powers, such as obtaining access to mobile phone location data, threatens privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association,” the groups said.

Edward Snowden, last week warned that the temporary mass surveillance, built to combat the virus, will not be so temporary, and the new measures are the new normal. He said the virus is the perfect cover to usher in the Orwellian mass surveillance state and will long outlast the virus.

Aaron Kesel of ActivistPost recently pointed out that the virus “is proving to be the Trojan horse that justifies increased digital surveillance via our smartphones.” 

“China isn’t the only country looking towards smartphones to monitor their citizens; Israel and Poland have also implemented their own spying to monitor those suspected or confirmed to be infected with the COVID-19 virus. Israel has gone the more extreme route, and has now given itself authority to surveil any citizen without a court warrant.

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

The Lockdown Wouldn’t Be So Devastating If Our Economy Wasn’t So Rigged, Brittle and Exploitive

The Lockdown Wouldn’t Be So Devastating If Our Economy Wasn’t So Rigged, Brittle and Exploitive

An economy of rackets designed to enrich the few at the expense of the many is brittle because self-serving rackets snuff out competition, accountability and transparency.

What’s remarkable about the lockdown isn’t the hue and cry about the economic damage–it’s the absence of any critical curiosity as to how our economy became so fragile that only the wealthiest contingent can survive a few weeks on savings or rainy-day funds.

A healthy, resilient economy would be able to survive a few weeks of lockdown without a multi-trillion dollar bailout of every racket in the land. A society that wasn’t threadbare financially and socially would be able to function and accept individual sacrifices for the common good.

Rather than being organized to serve the common good, our economy and social order is little more than overlapping rackets: rigged “markets” operated by quasi-monopolies to enrich the few at the expense of the many; brittle bureaucracies bound by thousands of pages of mindless “compliance” and exploitive neofeudal structures in which debt-serfs are paid just enough to service their debt but not enough to afford skyrocketing costs for housing, healthcare, higher education, childcare, junk fees and taxes.

While everyone is busy screaming about the damage done by the lockdown, nobody’s asking why costs are so high that few can survive a few weeks on their own means. Nobody dares look at the soaring costs imposed by cartels and monopolies (including government and government-funded rackets such as healthcare and higher education) because it might shine a light on the money-trough they’re feeding from. (Crush every racket but mine…)

If costs weren’t so crushing, more households and enterprises might have savings. Empires don’t collapse because everyone ran out of money; they collapse when the costs exceed earnings.

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

Rabobank: “There Is Really Only One Headline Today – That PM Boris Johnson Is In Intensive Care”

Rabobank: “There Is Really Only One Headline Today – That PM Boris Johnson Is In Intensive Care”


There is really only one headline today – that UK PM Boris Johnson is in intensive care. Indeed, as several medical experts have attested, given the critical shortage of ICU beds he is likely to be on a ventilator very soon.

Of course, he isn’t the first world leader to get the disease, and we have already seen Prince Charles and UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock fully recovery, for example. Nonetheless, the sudden deterioration in his condition comes as a major shock: last week he was clapping on the door step to praise the NHS and was still leading cabinet meetings online; yesterday afternoon we were told he was only staying at home because of an annoyingly persistent temperature; then it was a cough too – but that he was still actively Prime Minister; then he was going to hospital (by car) for some tests; and then he was in an ICU and, apparently, struggling to breathe.

For the UK, this obviously hits confidence and raises questions over leadership given Boris is going to be out of it for some time, even in the best case. (And naturally everyone wishes him a full and speedy recovery.) Yet there are also key global implications here.

Equity markets rallied again yesterday, partly on a short squeeze, but partly on hopes that we are indeed flattening our virus curves and we can all go back to normal soon. Crucially, however, this bullishness presupposes that we have a strategy for once the curve has been flattened – do we, post-Boris?

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase