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Catastrophic Hurricanes Are the ‘New Normal,’ and They Will Cost Trillions

Catastrophic Hurricanes Are the ‘New Normal,’ and They Will Cost Trillions

Taxpayers and already struggling communities are largely bearing the brunt of the costs for climate change-fueled disasters created by big oil and big business.
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“We got a little bit lucky,” said President Donald Trump about the storm which killed at least six people in Louisiana, ripped apart buildings, left more than half a million homes without power, and triggered a chemical fire from an industrial plant over Lake Charles.

Of course, Trump was glad he didn’t have to postpone his speech at the Republican National Convention.

But while Hurricane Laura did not, thankfully, produce the catastrophic storm surge some predicted—weakening into a tropical storm—it represents an unmistakably escalating trend of extreme weather events due to increasing global temperatures.

Hurricane Laura had followed hot on the heels of Hurricane Marco. The Atlantic hurricane season has already broken records with 13 named storms, which meteorologists consider well above-normal activity.

Recently published scientific studies suggest that the devastation wrought by Laura, and the potential catastrophe only narrowly avoided, are likely to become a ‘new normal’ if we continue to pump carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Billion dollar disasters

Earlier in August, the US-based Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) published a major report on exactly this issue, titled Climate Change-Fueled Weather Disasters: Costs to State and Local Economies.

The report brought together data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters database with other studies, to build a stark picture of what we now know about extreme weather risks.

The report points out that since 1980, the number of extreme weather events per year in the United States has increased fourfold, with annual direct cost of these disasters increasing fivefold.

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

Beyond Trump: Rebooting the System from inside the Death Machine

Beyond Trump: Rebooting the System from inside the Death Machine

Free your mind, find your power, change the world

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Women’s March in Manhattan (source: New York Times)

We previously exposed the fact that President Donald Trump is fighting a war to protect the establishment from itself, and the rest of us. Now here’s what we do about it.


We’re all feeling it. A sense that, in the Age of Trump, something fundamental has shifted. You feel like you’re going insane. Like everyday brings with it a new battle, a fresh sense of feeling deluged with new, alarming information, the constant experience of being overwhelmed.

In such circumstances it’s not unusual to feel a combination of outrage, resignation, despondency and despair, mingled with internal efforts to re-ignite a sense of pragmatic hope.

But as we begin to develop a systemic, structural and holistic diagnosis of the current moment, doing so opens up greater insight into the possibilities for renewal and revitalization.

To do this, we will deploy a journalistic methodology co-designed in partnership by INSURGE and EXILE. Our approach is an adaptation of the principles of Euclidian geometry, using an analytical framework based on establishing axioms, which we use to explore further postulates, derive meaningful conclusions, and imagine possible scenarios — in a way that allows us to bypass dogmatic polarity, and contribute to a generative dialogue that can advance actionable knowledge.

In How the Trump regime was manufactured by a war inside the Deep State, we set out a systems analysis of how we got to where we are now, giving us insight into how a global systemic crisis threshold has ushered in a conflict at the heart of power.

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

Green economic growth is an article of ‘faith’ devoid of scientific evidence

Green economic growth is an article of ‘faith’ devoid of scientific evidence

Crack team that advised UN Global Sustainable Development Report settle a longstanding debate with hard empirical data

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For years, financial institutions and governments have been focused on the idea of ‘decoupling’ GDP growth from resource use. This has been driven by the recognition that to stay within the ‘safe limit’ of 2 degrees Celsius, we have to dramatically reduce our material consumption.

The goal is to keep our economies growing to sustain prosperity while reducing our actual resource use and material footprint. The bottom line is that without reducing our overall use of planetary resources, we are bound to cross the line into a dangerous climate. But is doing so consistent with the continued increase in economic growth?

The conventional belief has been most recently articulated in a recent book, More From Less, by Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist the MIT Sloan School of Management. Financial and other data, McAfee argued, shows we can actually easily reduce our material footprint while continuing to grow our economies in a win-win scenario.

But new scientific analysis by a group of systems scientists and economists proves that this contention is completely groundless. Far from being based on hard evidence, this sort of claim is instead derived from egregious selective readings of statistical data.

Decades of research on material flows confirm that there are “no realistic scenarios” for such decoupling going forward.

Combing through 179 of the best studies of this issue from 1990 to 2019 further reveals “no evidence” that any meaningful decoupling has ever taken place.

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

Capitalism is destroying ‘safe operating space’ for humanity, warn scientists

Capitalism is destroying ‘safe operating space’ for humanity, warn scientists

Source: Steemit

The COVID19 pandemic has exposed a strange anomaly in the global economy. If it doesn’t keep growing endlessly, it just breaks. Grow, or die.

But there’s a deeper problem. New scientific research confirms that capitalism’s structural obsession with endless growth is destroying the very conditions for human survival on planet Earth.

landmark study in the journal Nature Communications, “Scientists’ warning on affluence” — by scientists in Australia, Switzerland and the UK — concludes that the most fundamental driver of environmental destruction is the overconsumption of the super-rich.

This factor lies over and above other factors like fossil fuel consumption, industrial agriculture and deforestation: because it is overconsumption by the super-rich which is the chief driver of these other factors breaching key planetary boundaries.

The paper notes that the richest 10 percent of people are responsible for up to 43 percent of destructive global environmental impacts.

In contrast, the poorest 10 percent in the world are responsible just around 5 percent of these environmental impacts:

“These findings mean that environmental impact is to a large extent caused and driven by the world’s rich citizens.”

The new paper is authored by Thomas Wiedmann of UNSW Sydney’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Manfred Lenzen of the University of Sydney’s School of Physics, Lorenz T. Keysser of ETH Zürich’s Department of Environmental Systems Science, and Julia K. Steinberger of Leeds University’s School of Earth and Environment.

It confirms that global structural inequalities in the distribution of wealth are intimately related to an escalating environmental crisis threatening the very existence of human societies.

Synthesising knowledge from across the scientific community, the paper identifies capitalism as the main cause behind “alarming trends of environmental degradation” which now pose “existential threats to natural systems, economies and societies.” The paper concludes:

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

Europe must prepare for life after oil

Europe must prepare for life after oil

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to leave the fossil fuel era behind. Europe needs to begin preparing for what comes next.

Oil prices have crashed. The most visible cause has been the measures taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, which have triggered record lows in global oil demand. 

Yet the crisis also exposes structural vulnerabilities in our fossil fuel-dependent economic system, which requires us to rapidly transition to an alternative energy system if we are to avert economic collapse.

The most important scientific concept to assess and understand these vulnerabilities is ‘Energy Return on Investment’ (EROI) – the foundation of the emerging discipline of biophysical economics. EROI is designed to measure how much energy is needed to extract energy from a particular resource. What’s left is known as surplus ‘net energy’, used to support goods and services in the economy outside the energy system. The higher the ratio, the more surplus energy is left for the economy. That surplus is running increasingly thin. 

In the early 20th century, the EROI of fossil fuels was sometimes as high as 100:1: a single unit of energy would be enough to extract a hundred times that amount. But since then, the EROI of fossil fuels has gone down dramatically[1], as we are extracting fossil fuels from places that are increasingly difficult to reach. Between 1960 and 1980, the world average value EROI for fossil fuels declined[2] by more than half, from about 35:1 to 15:1. It’s still declining[3]:  latest estimates put the value at between 6:1 and 3:1.

The decline of fossil fuels’ EROI has acted as a background ‘brake’ on the rate of economic growth for the world’s advanced industrial economies, which has been slowing down[4] since the 1970s.

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

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Europe must prepare for life after oil

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Europe must prepare for life after oil

For the first time in history, in the wake of the corona crisis, US oil prices have gone negative thanks to record lows in global oil demand. This pandemic has revealed deep-seated structural vulnerabilities in our fossil fuel-dependent economy. The most important scientific concept needed to understand these vulnerabilities is ‘Energy Return on Investment’ (EROI).

EROI measures how much energy is used to extract energy from a particular resource. What’s left is known as surplus ‘net energy’ which supports goods and services outside the energy system. The higher the ratio, the more surplus energy is left for the economy. That surplus is running increasingly thin.

In the early 20th century, the EROI of fossil fuels was sometimes as high as 100:1, meaning that a single unit of energy would be enough to extract a hundred times that amount. But since then, the EROI of fossil fuels has dramatically reduced. Between 1960 and 1980, the world average value EROI for fossil fuels dropped by more than half, from about 35:1 to 15:1. It is still declining – latest estimates put the value at between 6:1 and 3:1.

This has exerted a ‘brake’ on the rate of economic growth for the world’s advanced industrial economies, which has decreased since the 1970s. Europe is a locus-point for these trends. By the turn of the century, all conventional oil producers across the continent – except perhaps Italy – were past their peak production.

The pandemic was a pin that burst this oil bubble

Globally, conventional crude oil has entered a long plateau for the past decade and a half. To meet demand, the industry shifted to more expensive unconventional forms, with US shale supplying over 70% of global oil supply growth.

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

Nafeez Ahmed on Synchronous Failure and Post-Pandemic Systems Change

Nafeez Ahmed on Synchronous Failure and Post-Pandemic Systems Change

As the pandemic grows, governments and communities are not only struggling to minimize loss of life and protect our fragile healthcare and economic systems, they are wrestling with questions about how we can recover when this storm eventually passes.

But how many people are thinking about the larger context of this crisis? How many recognize that this pandemic—or some other shock to our interconnected and brittle global systems—could trigger a massive “phase change,” and utterly remake the world as we know it?

I spoke with investigative journalist and systems thinker Nafeez Ahmed about these critical questions.

Nafeez and I discuss frameworks for understanding how the pandemic relates to the larger, systemic environmental, energy, economic, and political challenges we face—including Thomas Homer-Dixon’s concept of “Synchronous Failure,” Joseph Tainter’s “Collapse of Complex Societies,” C.S. Holling’s “Adaptive Life Cycle,” and Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine.” But far from being an abstract, academic exploration, Nafeez and I explore the real-world implications of these forces at play, and provide a call-to-action when we re-enter a world that has been transformed by COVID-19.

Please give it a watch or if you’d rather give it a listen on your favorite podcasting app, we’ve also released the interview on Crazy Town. Oh, and share with your friends and loved ones if you find it worth a listen.

Coronavirus, synchronous failure and the global phase-shift

Coronavirus, synchronous failure and the global phase-shift

A systems analysis uncovering the light at the end of the tunnel

Five years ago, the Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future, an independent panel of distinguished scientists, issued a landmark report warning that over the next century, the world would inevitably experience at least one pandemic. The report identified a 20 percent chance that the world would go through as many as four or more pandemics in this time-frame.

Shortly after, I advised Ubisoft on the authenticity of its pandemic-based video-game The Division. The game is set in a post-collapse New York, where a fictional virus, Variola Chimera, spreads rapidly across the city. At the time I was a visiting research fellow at the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University’s Faculty of Science and Technology, developing a new scientific framework to understand the dynamics of social collapse. Ubisoft asked me to assess, as an independent expert on social crisis, how realistic their scenario was.

Given the extraordinary assumptions of The Division scenario — the fictional virus was a weaponized version of smallpox created by terrorists with a faster seven-day incubation time and a 90 percent mortality rate — the ultra-rapid collapse process it envisaged across multiple critical systems was plausible. But only given those fictional assumptions.

So it’s important to remember that the coronavirus is nowhere near as deadly as this fictional virus, and will have nothing like that impact.

Across the corners of the internet, you may find speculation about how the coronavirus will lead to an apocalyptic breakdown of civilization. On the opposite end, you will hear assurances that everything’s pretty much going to be fine except for, perhaps, an economic downturn and disruption to our normal routines. While it’s important to be aware of the range of possibilities, it’s also important to recognize that we are still very far from major civilizational collapse, but not immune to more specific crises.

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

Escaping extinction through paradigm shift

Escaping extinction through paradigm shift

‘Rebellion’ is not enough. We need to build new systems from the ground up, right now

Drone footage of displaced family tents in one settlement in Badghis, Afghanistan, due to ongoing drought and climate change. There are thousands of makeshift homes spread between mountain hills on the outskirt of Qala-i-naw city. (Source: NRC/Enayatullah Azad)

For the last month, as a journalist and academic, I’ve experienced a strange sensation of paralysis.

I don’t usually experience this. Usually I find myself driven by the pressures of wanting to cover with due justice a full spectrum of intersecting crises and potential solutions.

But this month watching the spectacle of political madness unfolding across Washington, London and Brussels, while chaos and suffering continues to kick off across Venezuela, Yemen, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Nigeria and beyond, I experienced something I haven’t felt in a long-time. A sense of total burn-out. Of futility. Of tiredness.

Watching the news has become like entering a psychological boxing ring where you get the shit punched out of you repeatedly until you drop to the floor, broken, bloodied, and inert: helpless.

I can’t imagine this is a particularly unique sensation. But I wanted to share it with you because this is common ground. Common ground across the deepening divides tearing our societies apart. No matter which side of the divide we stand on, that sensation of paralysis and helplessness is playing out in tangible form in the political processes we see out there.

The sensation of paralysis is therefore not just a psychological artifact. It’s the internal experience of the systemic dysfunction playing out in the world. It’s a reflection of the state of collapse that our prevailing democratic institutions are experiencing as they prove completely incapable of responding to and solving for the intricate complexity of inherently interconnected converging global crises.

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

Western Industrial Farming Is Eating Our Forests and Accelerating Climate Change

Image: Shutterstock

Western Industrial Farming Is Eating Our Forests and Accelerating Climate Change

The dynamics of deforestation are increasingly inseparable from the growing demand for food from consumers in the most developed countries.

Humans are eating the world’s forests. Not directly, of course—but a spate of new studies shows we might as well be.

This is, of course, extremely bad news for the climate—which is bad news for all life on earth.

Deforestation is the world’s second largest source of human-induced carbon emissions, which are the main driver of climate change. Currently we are on course to breach the climate danger threshold within 12 years according to the UN. ADVERTISEMENT

But a new scientific study by a team of European scientists reveals that the biggest cause of deforestation is industrial farming—and the major culprits include some of the most well-known names in Western agribusiness, such as Cargill and Bunge. 

Eating the planet

The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change at the end of March, is the first of its kind to demonstrate the extent to which deforestation in the tropics is directly driven by industrial food production. 

Focusing on the period between 2010 and 2014, it shows that beef and oilseed products account for over half of emissions from tropical deforestation, with Europe and China among the major importers. And overall, global trade in such products accounts for up to 39 percent of emissions. 

The paper, whose lead authors are Florence Pendrill and Martin Persson at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, demonstrates that deforestation is driven chiefly by land uses for crops, pastures, and forest plantations to produce specific commodities which are widely consumed around the world by industrial nations.

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

Are we sleepwalking into an AI police state?

Are we sleepwalking into an AI police state?

Predictive analytics enabling law enforcement to identify “high-risk” areas has highlighted ethical and legal quandaries

Science fiction has long speculated on the danger of a dystopian future and machines powered by artificial intelligence (AI). But with the advent of big data, we no longer need to speculate: the future has arrived. By the end of March, West Midlands Police is due to finish a prototype for the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS), an AI system designed to predict the risk of where crime will be committed and by whom. NDAS could eventually be rolled out by every police force in the UK.

Ultimately, we need to be able to choose as a society how we use these technologies and what kind of society we really want to be

Fourteen police forces around the UK have used or planned to use such tools. But a report published in February by human rights group Liberty warns that far from being objective, police crime-mapping software reinforces pre-existing biases about who commits crime.

Current mapping tools use past crime data to identify so-called high-risk areas, leading to more intensive patrolling. Yet these areas are often already subject to disproportionate over-policing. By relying on data from police practices, according to Liberty’s advocacy director Corey Stoughton, these tools might simply “entrench discrimination against black and minority-ethnic people”.

Police mapping tools turning citizens into suspects

Ben Hayes, a data protection and ethics adviser to the European Union, United Nations and other international organisations, warns that the increased use of such mapping tools is increasingly turning ordinary citizens into suspects.

“People can be categorised as vulnerable, at risk, threatening, deserving or undeserving,” says Dr Hayes, noting that this tends to target those already marginalised. “Services such as border control, policing and social welfare are all subject to inherent bias. Machine-learning doesn’t eliminate those biases, it amplifies and reinforces them.”

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

Whistleblowers say NSA still spies on American phones in hidden program

Whistleblowers say NSA still spies on American phones in hidden program

Meanwhile, the bulk of the NSA’s surveillance and “offensive” information warfare capabilities remain completely unknown

On Monday 4th, the New York Times reported that the National Security Agency has “quietly” shut down a controversial phone records surveillance program revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.

The claim was made by a senior Republican congressional aide who told the newspaper that the Trump administration had stopped using the program, which analyses the domestic call and text logs of American citizens, due to technical problems.

On Twitter Snowden hailed the news as a “victory”, while Intercept journalist Glen Greenwald, who broke the Snowden story to international acclaim, took the story at face value. Neither of them raised the obvious question — is the “shut down” of this program merely a smokescreen to continue spying on American phones under new or different secretive programs?

I used to take a victory lap every time one of these stories came out. It felt good to see history vindicate my decision to expose the government’s wrongdoing. Nowadays I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to speak up. If only I hadn’t been so afraid.https://www.politics/nsa-phone-records-program-shut-down.html 

Since then, further doubt was cast on the NYT report when NSA chief General Paul Nakasone refused to confirm or deny the story. But he did tell a major security conference on Wednesday that the agency was still “in a deliberative process” about whether to use a revamped version of the vast database of American phone records.

All of this, however, is an elaborate ruse. According to two former top NSA officials interviewed by INSURGE, there is no credible reason to believe that NSA phone surveillance has truly been shut down.

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

How United Nations scientists are preparing for the end of capitalism

How United Nations scientists are preparing for the end of capitalism

Source: arabisouri, The Inevitable End of Capitalism, steemkr.com

Preface. The article below was written by Nafeez Ahmed, who wrote one of my favorite books  “Failing States, Collapsing Systems: BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence“.

Ahmed writes: “Most observers have no idea of the current biophysical realities – that the driving force of the transition to post-capitalism is the end of the age that made endless growth capitalism possible in the first place: the age of abundant, cheap energy. We have moved into a new, unpredictable and unprecedented space in which the conventional economic toolbox has no answers.  Capitalist markets will not be capable of facilitating the required changes – governments will need to step up, and institutions will need to actively shape markets to fit the goals of human survival.

I seriously doubt that governments have any plans now, because I just finished the book Raven Rock.  If the U.S. government abandoned plans to build bomb shelters for the 160 million in cities to survive in for two weeks (and then the radiation would supposedly be low enough to emerge), they certainly aren’t preparing for the Permanent Emergency of the energy crisis.  But governments may be forced to step up the the plate at some level of social disorder, and the best possible action they could take is rationing, which really ought to be thought out ahead of time. Oh well..

The solutions proposed in this article may slow down the Great Simplification a little — such as the promotion of walking and biking, self-sufficient food production and fewer imports, more public transport, and electrification of transport (though natural gas and coal are also finite). 

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

The “disintegration” of global capitalism could unleash world war 3, warns top EU economist

The “disintegration” of global capitalism could unleash world war 3, warns top EU economist

Seeing the systemic roots of this risk can help us avert catastrophe and build resilience

(Source: miriadna.com)

A senior European Commission economist has warned that a Third World War is an extremely “high probability” in coming years due to the disintegration of global capitalism.

In a working paper published last month, Professor Gerhard Hanappi argued that since the 2008 financial crash, the global economy has moved away from “integrated” capitalism into a “disintegrating” shift marked by the same sorts of trends which preceded previous world wars.

Professor Hanappi is Jean Monnet Chair for Political Economy of European Integration — an European Commission appointment — at the Institute for Mathematical Models in Economics at the Vienna University of Technology. He also sits on the management committee of the Systemic Risks expert group in the EU-funded European Cooperation in Science and Technology research network.

In his new paper, Hanappi concludes that global conditions bear unnerving parallels with trends before the outbreak of the first and second world wars.

Key red flags that the world is on a slippery slope to a global war, he finds, include:

  • the inexorable growth of military spending;
  • democracies transitioning into increasingly authoritarian police states;
  • heightening geopolitical tensions between great powers;
  • the resurgence of populism across the left and right;
  • the breakdown and weakening of established global institutions that govern transnational capitalism;
  • and the relentless widening of global inequalities.

These trends, some of which were visible before the previous world wars, are reappearing in new forms. Hanappi argues that the defining feature of the current period is a transition from an older form of “integrating capitalism” to a new form of “disintegrating capitalism”, whose features most clearly emerged after the 2008 financial crisis.

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

2018: the tipping point

2018: the tipping point

My year in review — looking back, looking ahead

Published by INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a crowdfunded investigative journalism project for people and planet. Please support us to keep digging where others fear to tread.

Over the last few years, the sense that world events are accelerating in a way that is increasingly difficult to keep up with has become tangible.

At talks I often ask my audiences the same question. ‘Have you experienced a sense of acceleration in world events in recent years? That things are speeding up, become more unpredictable?’

Overwhelmingly the answer is yes.

The sense of acceleration is not an illusion. On the one hand, it’s an artifact of the transformation of the global information architecture, where information on world events is now transmitted instantaneously around the world.

On the other, it’s a direct consequence of the fact that world events are increasingly interconnected in complex ways that we are not used to grappling with. But like it or not, understand it or not, that complexity isn’t going away.

The underlying driver of the sense of acceleration is that we stand at the beginning of the end. The world as we know it has started to come to an end, and with it a new world is being born. Exactly what that world will look like is unclear.

What we know is that the old world, and all its old, outmoded paradigms, are gradually grinding to a halt.

Neoliberal finance capitalism as we know it faces the resurgence of crisis, the inevitability of slow growth, declining productivity, and the probability of another global collapse even worse than that which occurred ten year ago.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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