Home » Posts tagged 'counterpunch'

Tag Archives: counterpunch

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

The Resilience Doctrine: an Introduction to Disaster Resilience

The Resilience Doctrine: an Introduction to Disaster Resilience

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Part 1 of a 4-part Primer on Disaster Collectivism  in the Climate and Pandemic Crises

Climate change and pandemics are sad and frightening topics, but they can also be viewed as an unprecedented opportunity for 21st-century societies. These crises can become an excuse to quickly make necessary changes for a healthier future for people and the planet that otherwise may take many years to implement. Times of disaster, whether or not they are triggered by climate or health catastrophes, are opportunities to focus on the need for social and environmental change, and our response to disasters may contain the kernels of a better world.

One cartoon depicting a climate change summit sums up the irony. The conference agenda displays the desperately needed measures to lessen greenhouse gas emissions: “Preserve rainforests, Sustainability, Green jobs, Livable cities, Renewables, Clean water, air, Healthy children.” A perturbed white man turns to a Black woman and asks, “What if it’s a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?”

The cartoon could just as easily depict a COVID-19 summit, which advocates instituting universal health care and unemployment relief, suspending evictions and deportations, building the public sector, and promoting mutual aid among neighbors.

Joel Pett, Planning.org.au.

Public attitudes to climate change are often shaped by direct experience of climate instability and disaster. Climate change is accelerating disasters such as wildfires, floods, heat waves, droughts, storms, and landslides, depending on where one lives. But a wide range of other natural and human-made disasters also shape human society and consciousness, including pandemics, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, wars, mass violence, and radioactive and toxic leaks.

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

Agricultural Elephant in the Room

Agricultural Elephant in the Room

Abandoned dairy barn, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

I find it strange Americans and, especially, scientists and politicians talk to little, if at all, about agriculture. And yet agriculture gives us food and, surreptitiously, threatens the future.

Vast number of Americans live in large cities like New York, Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Miami, Atlanta, San Francisco and Lost Angeles. These cities have great museums and, possibly, universities, but are agricultural deserts.

City merchants, grocers and government institutions buy most of the food they need for their large population from farmers or agribusiness, which grow food as far away from cities as they can.

The reason for the separation of the city from the country was the original sin of America: the savaging of the Native Americans and the outright theft of their land.

There was a second grabbing of land, what the British called enclosure. This time, during the twentieth century, large farmers and agribusiness put out of business small family farmers. This substantial amount of stolen land made agribusiness and large farmers kings in the countryside.

These agrarian monarchs remade rural America into toxic cornucopia gardens and feudal mills of animal feeding and slaughter, disease factories of pandemics.

Urban food deserts

This political economy employs millions of the most exploited Americans in our midst. This explains, to some degree, the illiteracy and apathy of urban people for what sustains life: food and drinking water.

Urban people don’t know how to grow food. As long as they have the money to go to the “super market,” they will continue to be divorced from life, to the point that, in fact, some have already reached, believing that bread and milk come from the refrigerator.

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

The Shame of Global Hunger

The Shame of Global Hunger

We live in a world of plenty, resource rich, financially wealthy, but despite this abundance an estimated 700 million people go hungry every day. Millions more are food insecure, meaning they may have food today, but have no idea if they will have any tomorrow or next week. Additional millions can only afford nutritionally barren, poor quality food laced with salt and sugar, increasing the risk of illness and obesity.

According to a detailed report published by the Global Hunger Index (GHI) in September 2020 if rich countries doubled “their aid commitments” to $330 billion, and supported poor countries to improve “agricultural R&D, technology, innovation, education, social protection and trade facilitation,” the world could be free of hunger by 2030. In fact with effective food distribution under the stewardship of the UN World Food Programme hunger could be eradicated long before then; there is an abundance of produce and foodstuff in the world.

Hunger and malnutrition statistics are disturbing and shameful; the GHI lists 11 countries with ‘alarming levels of hunger’, eight of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa; two are war zones: Yemen and Syria. A further 31 nations (26 are in Africa) are listed as having ‘serious levels of hunger’. Since 2015, after years of decline, the number of undernourished people has been increasing yearly: from 2018 to 2019 it grew by 10 million, and Covid has intensified this trend. Hunger is a violent act, a shameful scar on our collective consciousness that now affects 9% of the world population – 60% of whom are women and children. The World Health Organization (WHO) state that around 45% of deaths among children under 5 years of age are linked to under-nutrition.”

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

 

In Brief: The Silent Threat of Canada to World Peace

In Brief: The Silent Threat of Canada to World Peace

Responsibility for war crimes attaches most to national governments along with the arms makers and military services they finance. The same is true of crimes against humanity.

Citizens become responsible with their governments if they are blind to what their governments are doing in their name in war crimes and crimes against humanity under codified international law.

“We didn’t know” is a form of denial and justification.

Complicity by silence Is the major causal factor at a population level of war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.

Canada is a paradigm case.

Led by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs Canada has been complicit in and increases its role as an aider and abettor of US-led crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by international law in Libya, in Palestine, in Venezuela, in Haiti, in Yemen, in Ukraine, in Afghanistan, and arguably Iraq after invasion.

But our representatives at all levels seem silent on all of them unintentionally no doubt but not once known.

Inviting Nuclear Disaster

Inviting Nuclear Disaster

Photograph Source: Brad.K – CC BY 2.0

Nuclear power plants when they began being constructed were not seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems. But in recent decades, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended the operating licenses of nuclear power plants from 40 years to 60 years and then 80 years, and is now considering 100 years.

“It is crazy,” declares Robert Alvarez, a former senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy and a U.S. Senate senior investigator and now senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and is an author of the book Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation.

“No reactor in history has lasted that long,” commented Alvarez. The oldest nuclear power plant in the U.S. was Oyster Creek, five miles south of Toms River, New Jersey, which opened in 1969 and was shut down 49 years later in 2018.

The move is “an act of desperation in response to the collapse of the nuclear program in this country and the rest of the world,” he declares.

The nuclear industry and nuclear power advocates in government are “desperately trying to hold on,” says Alvarez. With hardly any new nuclear power plants being constructed in the U.S. and the total number down to 94, they seek to have the operating licenses of existing nuclear power plants extended, he says, to keep the nuclear industry alive.

It’s a sign of “the end of the messy romance with nuclear power.”

The NRC will be holding a webinar on January 21 to consider the extending of nuclear plant operating licenses to 100 years. As its announcement is headed: “PUBLIC MEETING ON DEVELOPMENT OF GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS TO SUPPORT LICENSE RENEWAL FOR 100 YEARS OF PLANT OPERATION.”

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

Doomsday ex Machina: Daniel Ellsberg and the Nuclear Gang

Doomsday ex Machina: Daniel Ellsberg and the Nuclear Gang

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

You hide in your mansion
While the young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world

– Bob Dylan, “Masters of War” (1963)

October 15, 1969.

That’s the day the world might have ended, had Madman Richard Nixon had his druthers.

In his recent book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Daniel Ellsberg paints a doom and boom picture of the future, unless we immediately engage in negotiations with other nuclear armed nations to strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and begin the dismantling of the Doomsday Machine that is programmed to destroy as much life as possible on the planet once global nuclear war begins — a perilously close possibility under the current postures and protocols of nuclear-armed governments. (Even as late as last week, NATO rejected a UN call for the elimination of these omnicidal weapons.)

In the above example, Richard Nixon was inspired by Dwight D. Eisenhower’s strong arming tactics in securing an armistice in Korea. Citing Nixon Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, Ellsberg writes,

Nixon “saw a parallel in the action President Eisenhower had taken to end another war. When Eisenhower arrived in the White House, the Korean War was stalemated. Eisenhower ended the impasse in a hurry. He secretly got word to the Chinese that he would drop nuclear bombs on North Korea unless a truce was signed immediately. In a few weeks, the Chinese called for a truce and the Korean War ended.”

Like Ike, Nixon knew that there was no point in bluffing; your future credibility was on the line. Diminished credibility, if you’re a super power, could be a dangerous thing.

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

Is Society Collapsing?

Is Society Collapsing?

Abandoned passenger train car, Astoria, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Twenty-five years ago, when the high-tech Second Industrial Revolution had just begun, I made a bet with an editor from Wired magazine that global society led by the United States would collapse in the year 2020 from a confluence of causes created by modern technology out of control.

It would be, I said, a mix of ecological disasters including earth overheating and polar ice melting, political disintegration including failed states worldwide and uprisings in major cities, and economic chaos including insurmountable debt and a stock-market crash and depression. He said, “We won’t even be close,” and slapped down a $1,000 check on my desk. Though a tidy sum in those days, I matched it and we settled on a mutual editor friend as the arbiter, to make the call when the time came.

That time, the end of the year 2020, has now indeed come. Who wins?

As to ecological disaster, the evidence is ample even though the response to it has been negligible. The ten hottest years on earth have been between 2005 and 2020, with 2019 the hottest ever recorded and 2020 very close. That means ice melting at a record rate, with significant loss at glaciers around the world, in Greenland, and at the poles, with ice going three times as fast in the last three years in the Antarctic as just ten years ago and the Arctic in what a scientist at the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University has called a “death spiral.” The U.N. climate panel, which puts the blame for global warming on “greenhouse gasses,” says these must cease by 2030, a goal that not a single major country is capable of meeting.

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

No Holiday for Honduran Anti-Mining Activists Fighting for Freedom

No Holiday for Honduran Anti-Mining Activists Fighting for Freedom

Protest outside Tocoa courthouse, Municipal Committee in Defense of the Public Commons of Tocoa.

For the families of eight water protectors in Honduras, there will be no holiday season this year. They will continue to fight for the freedom of their loved ones who have each been jailed for up to two years for participating in a struggle to keep iron ore mining out of the headwaters of the rivers they depend on.

“It is the start of a new stage of struggle, a stage of unity and we are not going to stay at home,” said Juana Zúniga, the wife of one of the eight imprisoned water protectors, during a December 21 press conference, “The joy of spending Christmas with family has been taken away from us, but we will nonetheless continue fighting. We will continue struggling for the freedom of our compañeros.

These members of the Municipal Committee in Defense of the Public Commons of Tocoa in northern Honduras were illegally jailed for defending the Carlos Escaleras National Park and the Guapinol and San Pedro rivers against the threat of a mining project owned by Honduran company Inversiones Los Pinares. In October 2019, recognizing the importance of their struggle, the Institute for Policy Studies awarded the Committee with the international Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights award.

Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, José Abelino Cedillo, Orbin Naún Hernández, Kelvin Alejandro Romero, Arnol Javier Aleman, Ewer Alexander Cedillo, and Daniel Márquez have spent 15 months in preventive detention since September 2019. Another Committee member, Jeremías Martínez Díaz, has been in the same situation for two years, since December 2018.

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

Universal Soldiers of Resistance to Fascist Thinking: Chomsky on Extinction

Universal Soldiers of Resistance to Fascist Thinking: Chomsky on Extinction

“Earth abides.”

– Toilet stall graffiti, West Bank

I reckon, after all is said and said about the man, he’ll end up being considered the closest we modern political movement types have had to a real life Socrates. In more recent photos, Noam Chomsky, with his glasses off, even resembles the ancient dialectician. Check it out. And what a world class Gadfly he is. A neigh sayer, a hoarse whisperer, if there ever was one. Along with Ralph Nader, I’m gonna miss him when he’s gone. And if the recent photos of him looking grizzled and unkempt are any indication, he ain’t gone yet, as Dylan would say, but he’s getting’ there.

Gaud help me. All those years of education in Boston — telling the Young Republicans on campus to go fuck themselves, as a work-study cub reporter, at the student newspaper; watching the tie-dyed t-shirt clad women dance at the Nelson Mandela release festival held at the Hatch Shell on the Charles; writing napkin poetry at the Wursthaus (Black Forest steaks marinated in German folklore, at least 48 hours) in Harvard Square; even letting a love interest drag me over to the MIT student pub (empty, summer) where a beer and boredom soon settled in and I caved to male gazing at my would-be girlfriend across the table, who was dating an anarchist with a skateboard. Hmph. And Chomsky giving lectures everywhere in Cambridge at the time, and me never attending one. Not one. On the other hand, I wasn’t one of those types that trotskies him out to prop up slurring proclamations about every five fucking minutes either, like the skateboarder.

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

A New Technology That Will Dangerously Expand Government Spying on Citizens

A New Technology That Will Dangerously Expand Government Spying on Citizens

If you’re worried about the capability of government to conduct surveillance of citizens engaged in political assembly and protest, or even just personal activity, then you should be aware the technological capability of government surveillance is about to expand exponentially.

The US Air Force’s Research Lab (yes, it has its own lab) has recently signed a contract to test new software of a company called SignalFrame, a Washington DC wireless tech company. The company’s new software is able to access smartphones, and from your phone jump off to access any other wireless or bluetooth device in the near vicinity. To quote from the article today in the Wall St. Journal, the smartphone is used “as a window onto usage of hundreds of millions of computers,s routers, fitness trackers, modern automobiles and other networked devices, known collectively as the ‘Internet of Things’.”

Your smartphone in effect becomes a government listening device that detects and accesses all nearby wireless or bluetooth devices, or anything that has a MAC address for that matter. How ‘near’ is nearby is not revealed by the company, or the Air Force, both of which refused to comment on the Wall St. Journal story. But with the expansion of 5G wireless, it should be assumed it’s more than just a couple steps from your smartphone.

One can imagine some scary scenarios with this capability in the hands of government snoops:

Not only would the government know your geographical location via the GPS signal to your cellphone. They’d know what you are doing. And with whom.

A political gathering would allow them to see all the owners of other cellphones in the vicinity of a protest or demonstration. How many are gathering at a particular street or location…

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

Paying Politicians to Criminalize Protests

Paying Politicians to Criminalize Protests

A few years ago, massive protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock changed the popular narrative about what climate activism looked like. The protests made clear that ramming dangerous pipelines through vulnerable communities wasn’t going to be easy anymore.

But since then, rather than scaling back their attacks on these communities, the fossil fuel industry decided to attack them even more fiercely.

Indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock were subject to a violent law enforcement response. They were blasted with water cannons in the freezing cold and faced down by heavily armed police in military vehicles.

Now the industry wants to criminalize anti-fossil fuel protests altogether, pushing new laws that turn routine acts of civil disobedience into serious felonies. They’ve found willing partners in the American Legislative Action Council (ALEC). Industry and ALEC efforts have passed such laws in 13 states.

My colleague Gabrielle Colchete and I studied these anti-protest laws in our recent report, “Muzzling Dissent: How Corporate Influence Over Politics Has Fueled Anti-Protest Laws.”

We focused on three states: Louisiana and West Virginia, where these laws have been passed, and Minnesota, where bills have been introduced numerous times (one even passed the legislature, but was vetoed by the governor).

In all three states, controversial fossil fuel infrastructure has faced significant resistance from affected communities. And in every case, the fossil fuel industry has been a major source of campaign money for the legislators who introduced these bills.

For example, in Louisiana, the lead sponsor of the anti-protest bill received $6,600 from oil and gas interests, the third highest of 40 industry sectors he received campaign contributions from. And in West Virginia, the lead sponsor of the anti-protest bill received substantial contributions from Dominion Energy, owner of the failed Atlantic Coast Pipeline project that passed through the state.

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

Expert IPCC Reviewer Speaks Out

Expert IPCC Reviewer Speaks Out

Photograph Source: Alexander Savin – CC BY 2.0

Expert IPCC Reviewer Speaks Out

Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion/XR recently interviewed Peter Carter, M.D., who has the distinguished title – Expert IPCC Reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The interview was conducted to get to the bottom of what science says about the state of affairs, specifically the health of the planet.

The following is a video link to that brilliant interview, inclusive of a treasure trove of contemporary science events (time: 41:21 Nov. 11, 2020):

Additionally, a synopsis of the interview follows herein, but it does not do justice to the emphasis as expressed by the participants:

Dr. Carter is currently reviewing the 6th Assessment (AR6) of the IPCC. Additionally, he reviewed the IPCC Special 1.5°C Report of 2018 that exposed a new reality about the global climate emergency. As a result, the depth and breadth of a true emergency is gaining recognition throughout the world. The fact that 1.5°C above baseline is now the prescribed upper limit to global warming accomplished more than just turning heads.

Dr. Carter: “We are in a climate emergency, in an unprecedented Earth emergency… it’s an emergency of our climate, an emergency of our oceans… this is not one of many challenges, this is the challenge for all of humanity.”

The upcoming 26th COP (Conference of the Parties) to be held November 2021 in Glasgow is on the docket for scientists and bureaucrats, as well as big moneyed interests, to knock heads in a formal setting to discuss the state of the planet. If all goes according to plan, like past COPs, powerful economic interests will sabotage what would otherwise be a rather dim forecast of a planet in various stages of collapse, some terminal.

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

In Promoting New Nuclear Power, Biden-Harris Back Fiction Over Science

In Promoting New Nuclear Power, Biden-Harris Back Fiction Over Science

Nuclear fuel assemblies being inspected before entering a pressurized water reactor in the United States – Public Domain

Although possibly a sad comment on his predecessors, incoming U.S. president, Joe Biden, is offering the most progressive climate policy so far of any who have previously held his position.

As Paul Gipe points out in his recent blog, the Biden-Harris climate plan uses the word “revolution” right in the headline — a bit of a departure from the usual cautious rhetoric of the centrist-controlled Democratic Party.

But ‘revolution’ is proceeded by two words which let us know we are still lingering in conservative ‘safe’ territory. They call it a “clean energy revolution”, which Gipe rightly refers to as “focus-group shopped terminology.” He goes on:

”Clean energy is a term forged by Madison Avenue advertising mavens in the crucible of focus groups. It ‘polls well,’ as they say. It means one thing to one interest group, something else to another. So it’s perfect for politics in America.

“To environmentalists, it means wind and solar energy, often only those two forms of renewable energy, and sometimes only solar. It also means good times to the coal and nuclear industry. (Ever hear of ‘clean coal’?)

“So clean energy is one of those misleading words that party leaders and, importantly, fundraisers can use to elicit money from donors of all stripes. Why say renewable energy, when you want to raise money from the coal and nuclear industries?”

The Biden-Harris energy plan hits all the right notes in its opening paragraphs, focusing on a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and emphasizing infrastructure, international collaboration and the protection of poor communities of color, who suffer the most harm from unfettered polluters.

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

The Dying Planet Report 2020

The Dying Planet Report 2020

Photograph Source: Christopher Michel – CC BY 2.0

The World Wildlife Foundation, in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, recently issued an eye-popping description of the forces of humanity versus life in nature, the Living Planet Report 2020, but the report should really be entitled the Dying Planet Report 2020 because that’s what’s happening in the real world. Not much remains alive.

The report, released September 10th, describes how the over-exploitation of ecological resources by humanity from 1970 to 2016 has contributed to a 68% plunge in wild vertebrate populations, inclusive of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish.

The report offers a fix-it: “Bending the Curve Initiative,” described in more detail to follow. The causes of collapse are found in human recklessness and/or neglect of ecosystems. It’s partially fixable (maybe) but don’t hold your breath.

What if stocks plunged 68%? What then? Why, of course, that is an all-hands-on-deck panic scenario with the Federal Reserve Bank repeatedly pressing “a white hot printing press button,” hopefully, avoiding destructive deflationary forces looming in the background. But, an astounding jaw-dropping 68% loss of vertebrates doesn’t seem to budge the panic needle nearly enough to count.

Of special note, according to the Report, tropical sub-regions were clobbered, hit hard with 94% loss of vertebrate life, which is essentially total extinction. For comparison purposes, the worst extinction event in history, the Permian-Triassic, aka: the Great Dying, of 252 million years ago took down 96% of marine life and has been classified as “global annihilation.”

According to the Report, on a worldwide basis, two-thirds (2/3rds) of wild vertebrate life has vanished in only 46 years or within one-half a human lifetime. That is mind-boggling, and it is indicative of misguided mindlessness, prompting a query of what the next 46 years will bring. What remains is an operative question?

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

Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions are Fate

Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions are Fate

Mill, Halsey, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

I developed a model of Global Warming based on the anthropogenic perturbation of the Carbon Cycle. The essence of this model is a rate equation for the evolution of the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere.

The interesting results from this model are projected trends for the CO2 concentration and the average global temperature during the next century. The character of those trends — whether rapid rises, shallow plateaus, or diminishment into the future — depend crucially on the magnitude of our civilization’s emissions of CO2, and whether those anthropogenic emissions increase or decrease with time. In the real world at present, they are increasing.

I have now been able to include the effect of linearly increasing or decreasing anthropogenic emissions into my Carbon Balance Model, which has been significantly improved.

This model also includes the effect of the increase in the rate at which atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by photosynthesis and the surface waters of the oceans, because those absorption rates are increasingly stimulated by the higher levels of CO2 in the air. This process of absorption-enhancement cannot continue indefinitely as the atmospheric CO2 concentration increases, but at what point of elevated CO2 concentration it saturates and then absorption largely shuts down, is unknown.

The third process included in the model is that of the slow absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the chemical reactions of weathering on the surfaces of rocks and soils. CO2 not “quickly” scavenged from the air by photosynthesis or the surface waters of the oceans will stay airborne for 12,000 to 14,000 years. The ~2,500ppm spike of atmospheric CO2 that occurred 55.5 million years ago took 200,000 years to clear away.

…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