Tag Archives: environmental destruction

Gaia and the Joys of Collective Psychosis

In Ukraine we see good Ukraine citizens believing that  ‘slant-eyed’  Russians ( perhaps Mongols from  the 12th century?)  have invaded their peaceful country, and along with a tiny number of Ukrainian traitors, have managed to  fend off the advances of the peace-loving Kiev government army  and  neo-nazi Right Sektor militias to return Eastern Ukraine to the fold. We need no  evidence-  we simply know that this is the case.

In Syria, every  good Sunni  knows that  it was Assad’s government that created ISIS;  where else could it have come from? -in order   that  evil  Shi-ite Persians and Lebanese  Hezbollah  could invade their country.  Clearly Sunni Saudi Arabia and their Wahabbist   crazies had nothing to do  with it!

In America every  good Democrat  knows that  it was only because of Russian intervention and ‘hacking’  that  Donald Trump  won  the election. How else could he have won?

And in the U.K. and in Poland the Russians are coming,  if they  are not already here! Russia’s aging  long range bombers and their sole smoking  aircraft  carrier are ready  at any moment to bring apocalyptic doom to  those good democratic shores..

I  am once again  reminded of my great great  grandfather’s time here in sleepy New Zealand, when  in  the 1890s, a  Russian Empire rust-bucket of a warship  managed to creep  this far south in  the Pacific to  to cause chaos and concern amongst us gentle white folks.  Vast  sums were raised to buy ( from British  armament factories) long range   guns to  install  on every  headland to  forestall  the imminent threat of a Russian  invasion. The Russo-Japanese brief  naval  and land army  altercation of 1904 was to  quickly prove how much  of a threat those Russian  warships  and armed forces actually were..

So-  those are  a few tangible examples of collective pyschosis –  how we as humans can so  easily be swayed into  believing an alternative reality-  because everyone else is believing it too.

However –  much much bigger than  those relatively small  events,  is humankind’s current conviction (since at  least the ‘industrial  revolution’) that  destroying all  of the  living things on this planet is ‘progress’ .  And, decade after decade, each  one of the remaining indigenous cultures have been sucked into  this ‘word-view’  that  we  humans must   produce things  to  make us humans happy and  ‘progress somewhere’ . Every one of the material things that  we produce  comes at  the expense of another living thing…

The evidence is very much out there-  and has been increasingly obvious over the past fifty years,  that  we as humans are  incrementally, and  at an ever faster pace ,  destroying the capacity of this planet to provide a sustainable habitat to not only ourselves, but  to  all of earth’s living things. But  we are still  ‘locked in’  to  ‘progress’  –  destroying  life for another bauble that will inevitably  self-destruct in  a few  months or years…

Perhaps, just perhaps, if we had had a slow motion time-lapse video which had showed   the world’s life steadily being steadily and rapidly drained away over the past 2000  years –  year upon year  –  then just maybe we might have done something about it.  Instead, we talk  about it;  we pretend that our machines of ‘progress’  can  redress the problems,  when the reality is that only other life, other species, can  reverse the  apocalypse-  if we have time.

And  that  – as we  all  know-  is not going to happen. Because human ‘progress’ its believed,   is going to  save us with more technology, more  ‘progress’  (and  more destruction of living things)…

A mammoth global  campaign to  plant and grow trees everywhere –  to revert  all  our feedstock lands to  forest, to plant trees on  every  available inch  of land  that is not absolutely necessary  to provide  humans with  a meagre  vegetable diet;  might permit this planet to  survive as a living entity….but the odds look  very very slim….Trees not only once almost  entirely covered the landmass of our little planet,  they provided a home for a huge biodiversity of other plants  insects and animals that  kept our planet viable  flexible  and   adaptable to  climactic and other  planetary  changes. That capacity to  adapt through  species diversification  is now being squeezed from  this planet.

Lovelock had it right the first time.  Our planet is  indeed a  single living entity –  Gaia -composed of  millions of different living  interlocking entities-  much  the same way as the human organism functions.

We are killing her…


Links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Japanese_War

https://ourworldindata.org/forest-cover/#very-long-term-perspective-on-deforestation-in-specific-regions

The Genocide that is Yemen

Based on the latest United Nations estimates;   ‘as of 1 November 2016 , health facilities reported more than 7000 people killed and more than 43,000 injured since mid-March 2015, including more than 3,200 children killed or injured. (UNOCHA) (out of an estimated totally Yemeni population of 27,913,984).

Medical materials are in chronically short supply, and only 45 per cent of health facilities are functioning. As of October 2016, at least 274 health facilities had been damaged or destroyed in the conflict, 13 health workers had been killed and 31 injured. 

Saudi intervention in what was till 2015 a relatively low-level civil war between rival Yemen factions, began in March 2015, to support one of the pro-Saudi  factions, and it would appear, to successfully strengthen the hold of Al Qaeda in the south of Yemen.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) states that as of March 2017:

The humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate almost one and a half years after the escalation of conflict in March 2015.The escalation amplified an already existing protracted crisis, which was characterised by widespread poverty, conflict, poor governance and weak rule of law, including widely reported human rights violations.

Yemen was already the poorest county in the Middle East when the crisis escalated.  Men, women, and children were already facing a humanitarian crisis, stemmed from years of poverty, poor governance, and instability, including widespread violations of human rights. The situation has only worsened in the past year and the speed and scale of the deterioration is alarming. The economy is near collapse, public and private services have all but disappeared, and Yemenis have lost most of their livelihoods and have depleted most of their saving.  Yemen has turned into a protection crisis where the average citizen is facing tremendous hardships and the most vulnerable populations are struggling simply to survive.

More than 19 months since conflict escalated have left an estimated 18.8 million people in need some kind of assistance or protection in order to meet their basic needs, including 10.3 million who are in acute need. This represents an increase of almost 20 per cent since late 2014 and is driven by increases across key sectors. The 18.8 million people in need estimation is lower than the 21.2 million cited for 2016. These changes do not reflect an improvement in the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen, but rather a further tightening around priorities based on a rigorous analysis of evidence. 

Even Human Rights Watch, a notoriously Western biased “human rights’ organization committed to western ‘human rights interventions’ (read ‘invasions of countries of people who are not white’), has stated that ‘With help from former President Saleh, Houthis, the Zaidi Shia group, took control of the capital and much of the north in late 2014. President Hadi and his cabinet fled to Saudi Arabia in early 2015 and in March, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched air strikes against the Houthis. Dozens of the airstrikes appeared to violate the laws of war. Houthi forces laid landmines and used other indiscriminate weapons in unlawful attacks . The UN reported in January 2016 that the conflict had claimed 2,795 civilian lives in 2015.

Not only is Saudi Arabia deploying the largest arsenal in the Middle East  courtesy of the United States and the U.K.) against the impoverished country of Yemen, but it has financed armed and trained their Wahabbhi ‘rebels’ like Al Qaeda and Al Nusra in Syria along with Qatar, to a massive degree over the past few years. The vicious sectarian ideologies of the Saudi ‘kingdom’s’ Wahabbists; long supported and bolstered by the U.K. , are the rationale for killing anyone who does not espouse those extremist Sunni views. The 40-45% of Yemenese who follow the  Zaidi order of Shia Islam- many of whom are supporters of the Houthis, are therefore regarded as apostates for extermination by the Wahabbists. Small wonder that Saudi pilots are clearly under order to attack Shi-ite civilian centres. It should however be noted   that  given  the U.K.’s longstanding  and extensive role in human rights abuses and war crimes in Yemen  (particularly in 1964 supporting the Saudis)  as detailed in  Christopher Davidson’s book “The Shadow Wars: the Secret  Struggle for the Middle East” , as well  as the huge investment by the UK war machine and the incompetence of the Saudi military, it is highly likely that, as in 1964, “retired’  RAF pilots are engaged in the aerial  bombardment of civilians in Yemen and other atrocities.

As supposedly democratic and humanitarian Western governments usually do in times like these, the U.K. government has contracted lawyers to concoct grotesque legal arguments that their massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and their support of U.S. drone killings in Yemen, do not constitute an equally massive violation of the rule of international law. The U.K. Government, its foreign policy advisors and its hand-in-glove armaments manufacturers are once again undoubtedly guilty of horrifying war crimes.

Middle East Eye notes that The UK government licensed arms exports worth £3.3bn ($4.2bn) to Saudi Arabia during the first 12 months of the Saudi-led conflict in Yemen, a campaign group has revealed. The Campaign Against Arms Trade’s analysis of government figures, released this week, shows the total is at least £500m more than previously thought.

From April 2015, the UK approved exports including so-called smart bombs, components for combat aircraft, armoured vehicles and communications equipment.

The government in Riyadh is the UK arms industry’s biggest customer and the figures show that the Middle East is the UK’s largest overall export market for weapons, including Eurofighter Typhoon jets that have dropped devastating 2,000-lb bombs in urban areas in Yemen.

Note only has the UK been supplying the corrupt regime in Riyadh with massive amounts of military hardware over many many years , but it also has (as do the Americans) personnel on the ground assisting the Saudis in their genocide.

The U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia however, dwarfs the U.K.’s historical complicity with the brutal Saudi regime. Since 2009, the Obama administration’s has signed Saudi Arabia up to $57 billion worth of arms sales.

Manifestly internationally illegal U.S. drone murders in Yemen have been targeting Al Qaeda there for the past 15 years. Supposedly these drone strikes target Al Qaeda leaders in Yemen, yet mysteriously Al Qaeda has steadily grown in power and influence; particularly and predictably since the Saudis launched their war against the Houthis, supported by the U.S. and the U.K. Now the Trump administration is once again increasing the Yemen drone strikes.

In  addition, the Saudis,  despite their denials,  are enforcing a  naval  and air blockade of Houthi  held areas of Yemen,  further  exacerbating an already  dire humanitarian  situation on the ground. The Saudis  and United States and the mainstream media claim,  without any evidence,  that  the Iranians  are militarily supporting the Houthis.  Should this have been  the case,  we would have seen  satellite imagery  of Iranian  planes and  ships  trying to  break  the blockade, if not Iranian  seized vessels and arms.

The reality is that  the Houthis have more than enough  weaponry  through  the Yemen army that have  largely backed  the Houthis,  and through  seized armaments from the Saudis. While a different branch of Shi-ism,  the Iranian  government is clearly sympathetic to  the  Houthis and is likely to  have at  least supplied  the Houthis with the technical  now-how for their devastating missile attacks on  Saudi  troop deployments.

The sad reality is that Western democracies have cloaked their barbarities in pursuit of profit and power under labels of ‘ bringing the true religion’, ‘civilisation’, ‘democracy’ and ‘humanitarian intervention’, since long before the rise of capitalism. Western governments cannot kill their own populations in large numbers as they would no longer be in power at the next election!: instead they are licensed to kill the ‘other’, the ‘dark races’, the ‘uncivilized’, the ‘un-Christian’ in ‘foreign’ countries. Yemen is the epitome of ‘foreign’ to the West.   For not only are they of significant interest to the West’s pawns in Riyadh, the Saudis; they are also tribal, dark skinned, and at the bottom of the heap in terms of poverty and far away from the gaze of Western publics.  An ‘ideal’  testing ground for Western  weapons.

The Gulf potentates are therefore none better for the West to sell vast amounts of weapons to, and watch their incompetent new owners destroy them in vast numbers in the vicious war with the Houthis and their allies in Yemen. It makes little difference to their Western minders that the Saudis are committing genocide in Yemen; aided with targeting facilities and refueling of aircraft by the United States and U.K trainers..

The current application of the rule of law in international politics and conflict is a complete farce. It is grounded purely in ‘right is might’;  which for this current and previous century at least, has been the prerogative of Western powers against ‘The South’.  That dynamic is now of course changing rapidly with the rise of China and the resurgence of Russian military power.

Should we see the control of the International War Crimes Tribunal pass from Western judges who have been consistently ‘pressured’ by Western governments to take certain political stances, to Russian or even Chinese adjudicators; we may finally see some justice in bringing the long line of Western politicians and military leaders responsible for more than a century of horrendous war crimes around the world, to justice.

Finally, while the removal of suffering of Yemen’s humans should be the priority of our fellow humans; there is no-one and nothing that protects the devastation to the other species that were already struggling to survive before this brutal war erupted.

While we have likely already passed the point of no return in having a relatively liveable climate on this planet; we still, as the sole cause of this destruction in this world, have an obligation to try and save what remains of the other species on this precious Earth. Our constant futile human wars are doing a great deal to speed up that process of planetary destruction.


Links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yemeni_Civil_War_(2015%E2%80%93present)

http://www.unocha.org/yemen/crisis-overview

http://news.antiwar.com/2017/03/10/saudi-airstrike-kills-26-mostly-civilians-in-yemen-market/

https://www.hrw.org/middle-east/n-africa/yemen

https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/countries/saudi-arabia

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2017-03-03/66440

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/372979-british-collusion-sectarian-violence/

http://energydesk.greenpeace.org/2016/01/15/data-how-guns-and-oil-dominate-uk-saudi-arabia-relationship/

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-approves-33bn-arms-sales-yemen-126867279

http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/uk-bases-used-targeting-secret-us-drone-war-documents-indicate/

https://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/reading-elisabeth-webers-kill-boxes/

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/peace-and-prosperity/2017/march/09/bomb-the-shstart-out-of-them-trump-drones-yemen-more-in-one-week-than-obama-in-a-year/

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/blowback-americas-disastrous-policy-yemen-will-be-profound-18698

Christopher Davidson:  “The Shadow Wars: the Secret  Struggle for the Middle East” 

http://christopherdavidson.net/BaseHub/2017/01/22/shadow-wars-video-trailer/

Reclaiming the Earth- The Mapuche Dilemma

As the Earth  rapidly approaches the point where  the  trajectory  towards  intense global  warming and  near total species  loss becomes inevitable, we now, more than ever, need the wisdom  of the indigenous peoples’  connection with  nature and acknowledgement of the reality that  the earth is   a living entity;  to  save our planet. It may  already  be too  late- but we need to  try!

Nothing;  despite all  the research  and  incremental  indelible evidence  of  ever-increasing species extinction , has changed our current trajectory  of devastating the planet for a few cheap  baubles. We appear to be locked into  an  insane path of self-destruction which  takes the rest of the planet  with us. Have we reached the ‘tipping-point’? – we will  not know until it is too  late.

That is not to  say  the indigenous peoples like the Mapuche of southern  Chile or Maori  in New Zealand or the other still surviving remnants of indigenous cultures , have  all the answers, or are even  innocent of harming the planet themselves. But they  do have a philosophy  and  wisdom  from  the past which  acknowledges the reality that,  as just  one more species on this planet ,  humans are inextricably linked to  what  we   strangely call “nature’  -ie our fellow living things.  And  that we are also solidly linked to  all the non-sentient elements of this world.

 

Mapuche Shaman’s Drum; Courtesy of the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian http://nmai.si.edu/exhibitions/infinityofnations/patagonia/177322.html

If we are to  survive as a species;  if the planet  is to  survive,  we must  restore this fundamental  core understanding to all humans – without  which we will  most certainly perish- if not within  decades,  then  certainly within  this  new  two centuries.

Our first and immediate step  is to restore power and authority to those cultures who  do in  fact  respect  the earth  and all  its living inhabitants  above  “progress’  and the production of  commodities. The next is to  produce a world wide covenant that  values other species  as equal  to our own and our obligation as a species to  truly become protective guardians of this living planet, given our  unique capacity to  manipulate our environment.

We must let the voice of all  those cultures who  call  us back  to  our roots -to be heard,  respected and  urgently responded to.

The shaman’s drum calls  us back  to  our re-connection with our  world.

 

 

 

 


Links

https://www.rt.com/in-motion/374127-mapuche-demand-release-prisoners/

https://www.google.com/url?hl=en-GB&q=http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Indigenous-Groups-Demand-Freedom-of-Mapuche-Leader-in-Chile-20161212-0024.html&source=gmail&ust=1484889158716000&usg=AFQjCNFxrOXHP7sSOc1tFMtFjA-Ne4bFnQ

http://www.mapuche-nation.org/english/html/news/n-66.htm

Our People Are Unstoppable’: Chile’s Jailed Indigenous Mapuche

 

The Self-destruction of Western Societies?

The recent  ‘terrorist’ bombings in European  cities  may need to be  looked at from  a wider  perspective. Is this increasing wave of violence on urban  communities a signal of a deeper malaise?

The ‘terrorists’  who  have perpetrated these attacks  over the past few years ( ie not just  “ISIS’  inspired  killings);  have inevitably be enacted by  dispossessed angry young men   who  predominantly  have no  clear ideology of much  longstanding.  While they  have often attributed the rationale for their attacks to  some formal ideology  like ISIS, I suspect  that   any ideological  excuse would have sufficed for them. The recent killings by  those who  stated their motivations  were in  the name of Allah  and ISIS, were almost all by young men  who  had lacked any consistent  commitment to  Muslim  practice; ie not regularly attending a mosque, and indulged in drinking, drugs , gambling etc.

This indicates that  the rationale for the killing did not come from  idealogical  sources, but rather from their own anger and hurt about their own life experiences.  Undoubtedly however, the  last few years  of ISIS, Al Qaeda and other similar extremist  groups espousing the glories of  the killing of innocents,  have provided a focus  and a ‘rationale’   for that  anger and blood-lust.

This process might be likened to  the Christian  crusades   to  the “Holy Lands” in mediaeval  times, when  Europeans  from  all  walks of life joined  armies  to  supposedly ‘free”  the Holy Lands from  Saracen tyranny, but in  fact used that  license  to indulge in  vast  amounts of rape, pillage and  terror  of  local  populations,   both on their journeys to  Palestine through  Europe and the Middle East , but also  within  Palestine  itself.

What is different this time around however, is that  this is an internal  self-immolation of societies and almost a global  one: predominantly by  young men  who  were born  within European  societies, but at  the same time alienated from them.

What  we see then, is a political  response to these multiple deaths  which labels them as “terrorists’  attacks rather than  an  epidemic of murder/-suicides by  young angry  and hurting men.

Instead of addressing the root causes of that anger;  alienation from  society,  loneliness, poverty,  drugs and perceived inequalities and injustices;  Western  governments have increasingly focussed on more and more draconian responses to  these murders;  an action which   further legitimizes the  imaginary  ideological  fervour of more and more  young men.

As in  the United States, the  political  response is to further  militarise police forces and restrict  human rights and freedoms, and thereby  increase the likelihood of inappropriate and unjust responses by  the ‘authorities’  to  legitimate  community  conflict  situations. It is plain  that such  actions lead only to  community disintegration.

One might therefore  argue that  the actions by  both parties are symptomatic of a global  community in decline; in  a state of self-immolation, as it  unconsciously acknowledges the  multiple absurd paradoxes of our  global consumer society whilst  we inexorably head towards   an unliveable over-heated  and species depleted  planet.

 

 

The Cumulative Footprints of Humans

I often hear people, who   appear to be  otherwise rational  human beings,  adamantly stating that anthropogenic global  warming doesn’t exist-if there is warming they  argue -it has to be some other source than man;  why?

Perhaps  partly because  they  cannot  comprehend that  their own small  actions in a big world could  have such  a huge  impact  on  the planet. Which   is in  fact   of course, correct.

It is our capacity  as a  social  species  to  collaborate and cooperate which  is destroying this planet. If James Watt  had invented the steam engine, but  no-one had helped him build the tracks, let alone design and build another-and then another  locomotive;  then  the planet  would  have much more of its natural   green cover on it and  far less carbon  dioxide in  the atmosphere!

It is our capacity to  firstly  manipulate our environment to  suit our immediate needs at  the expense of other species, which  has created what  is looking increasingly likely as  a dead-end street  for ourselves and  the multiple species that  live  with us on this little blue ball.

Secondly it is  our incapacity to  anticipate the cumulative impacts of our actions  on the planet ( one locomotive has no  impact;  100,000  locomotives do; tar-sealing one car-park has little impact on the planet, but 500, 000  mall  car-parks do.) .

Thirdly,  it  is the inherited  presumption that  homo sapiens have a God-given right to  hold domain over the world. A handy  but incredibly foolish assumption for any species to adhere to!- particularly when that  species doesn’t understand  what  it is doing as it manipulates its environment, other  than making  and distributing little shiny baubles  that its members  are attracted to.

And fourthly, it is our short-sightedness;  we do  not see how over time, humans have radically altered for the worse, the liveable bio-sphere on this planet. What  was once, for instance in New Zealand,  several islands almost entirely  covered with tall  trees  and dense vegetation, has been in less than  two hundred years, transformed into millions of acres of  grassland feeding  various animal species  imported from  Europe, for the purpose of slaughtering them and sending the dead bodies overseas or  to extract their milk.

Many many thousands of species have been  destroyed or pushed to  the brink  of extinction in this  process of ‘human progress’, and those ancient forest  trees  are forever gone, except in  a few national parks where humans can get  a small  glimpse of what  the world was like before humans devastated it. No  longer is the dawn chorus of birds deafening,  as it once was when Europeans first  arrived on  those New Zealand  shores 200  years ago: we may be  lucky in  our  urban environments to hear one European blackbird  or a sparrow call as the sun  rises.

Deforestation across the world has been pervasive- both for agricultural  farming and for industrial  exploitation.

In the image below you an see the inexorable deforestation (loss of green) of  Europe -only attenuated briefly by  the Black  Death. That  process of deforestation has been occurring all  over the word at various rates and stages, but is now nearing the point where only a few natural  national parks will  remain across the world. And while they  certainly act  as carbon  sinks, those forested areas were (once) far more than that; they  were areas of intense species  diversity that  vitally kept our planet  alive.

 

'The prehistoric and pre-industrial deforestation of Europe" -Jm Kaplan, KM Krumhardt, and N Zimmerman ( 2009)
‘The prehistoric and pre-industrial deforestation of Europe” -Jm Kaplan, KM Krumhardt, and N Zimmerman (2009)

We have as  a species, perhaps irremediably, lost our way- and sadly all  the other species on  this planet may be lost too as a result.


Postscript

And as Pete Dolack  writes at  Systemic Disorder, environmental  collapse is a major challenge to  the capitalistic system!  How dare our world disintegrate before our eyes when we have the greatest system of profiteering the world has ever seen!

 

The Beginning of the End of ‘Progress’ ?

The Baltic Dry  Index,  which  measures the price of shipping  dry  goods globally, has dropped to  its lowest  known point in  the past few days at 402. Other indicators too are pointing to  a rapid downturn in export shipping volumes.

ClipboarBDI12-1-16

On its own,  the BDI low  index may  reflect  nothing more than  an oversupply of shipping ,  but taken  with other data  measures, indications are that international   trade is slowing at a rapid rate globally.

If this is the case, then  we are likely to see a further deterioration in commodity prices, particularly oil prices, as demand slumps, an increase in  unemployment in  the industrial  sectors globally and an increasing shrinkage in  consumer spending.

And naturally, that  decrease i   trade globally is simply because people are buying less! Here’s a neat  little Bloomberg graph  which  shows  the trend for retail  sales in the United States.. People simply seem to be buying less ‘stuff’

Because the human world’s current survival  culture is predicated on  continuous growth  in  production of things, such  a reversal  will have significant implications for poverty, hopelessness and hunger in  the short to medium term.  It will  require no  less than  a massive restructuring of what  it means to be human  on this planet, for us all  to  get  to  a state of sustainable equilibrium, and to  finally recognise our equality with  the other species we co-habit the world with.

On the bright side, the  elimination of ‘growth’ or even a reversal  in growth, will  be a significant bonus to the world’s environment.  marsThe diminishing need to  use more coal  and gas, to  mine more  minerals, to  build more cities, dwellings  and transport networks and  consume more generally, will  mean less of what  is left of our natural  environment will  become despoiled.

As the ‘Geography of Transport Systems ‘ notes succinctly, there are many factors which influence the BDI price; lowering  oil prices for ships ( bunker oil), too  many ships in the market and lastly and likely most significantly, lowering demand for  bulk  goods. OIl process are approximately 40% of the price and there certainly has been  a glut in   bulk tankers, but we also  know bulk  commodity prices  ( iron ore, copper etc etc) have dropped precipitously due to   much  reduced demand from  primarily China. But a drop of this magnitude foretells something much  bigger in  the wind…


 

Postscript

And here’s the BDI at 29th January …

BalticDry29-1-16

And even  Bloomberg might be coming to  a similar consensus as of 29th  January…

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-01-28/shipping-news-says-world-economy-is-toast

 

 

Links

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/07/can-economic-growth-last/

http://www.global-briefing.org/2012/07/the-steady-state-economy-life-after-growth/

http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue57/Trainer57.pdf

http://robertdfeinman.com/society/no_growth.html

http://www.americanshipper.com/Main/News/Drewry_Container_shipping_companies_to_lose_5b_in_62624.aspx?source=MostPopul

http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/more-bad-news-for-ocean-trade-116011300352_1.htmlar

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-11/nothing-moving-baltic-dry-crashes-insiders-warn-commerce-has-come-halt

http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/baltic-sea-index-hits-all-time-low-as-shipping-crisis-deepens/

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article53707.html

This World is not a Commodity: The Planet versus the Trans Pacific Partnership

The latest Wikileaks  release  outlines the secret  deals being conducted by   Western  state  on behalf of international  companies under the Trans Pacific Partnership deal, to  ensure those companies can  engage in whatever malpractice and destruction of the environment they  choose to . If those companies object  to  anything a local  state is doing to  restrict  their trade or profits, that  state entity can be sued in  a  highly partial  court of law without  any  jurisprudence standing (ie i totally biased without safety measures against conflict  of interest  of the legal  agents involved.

If the consequences of the TPP were not so  incredibly damaging for the environment and the future of this planet-this piece of  negotiation would be seen  as pure farce and another mighty demonstration of the woeful  lack of intelligence of the political  parties and individuals involved.

Common Dreams describes the bill  as a “Fast track to Hell”; which  in many respects,  the deal is.

A Hell  of climate hothouse change and  unfettered environmental  and species destruction; let alone  a hell  for human “consumers” of unregulated and unsafe products and significantly reduced capacity to  respond to  public health issues like  rates of tobacco  consumption . But more particularly it is a madhouse.

A truly insane drive to  destroy the planet  with  unregulated commodification before any of us get  the smallest  opportunity to  save  our species and the other remaining species on  this planet  that  are “useful” to us, from  the wholesale destruction of this planet  through  the insanity of  “market forces” .

That   supposedly sane  negotiators from  all  those Pacific countries could seriously  consider this Partnership  deal  as some thing  worthwhile to  even consider for a moment is deeply disturbing, and  is  a spectacularly horrifying litmus test  of how  irrevocably  the human species has departed from  any sense of connection with the planet  it depends upon  to  survive.

The  signing of  the TPP  will surely show that  the human species really  doesn’t deserve this planet.

Postscript

Common Dreams identifies a further draft  international  treaty,  the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which will  further  strengthen  the power of the international  corporates.

All  of this would make perfect  sense if the only  thing that mattered on this planet was making money  (for the rich)….

And if any of us need a reminder, a Stanford University study,  released June 19th 2015 notes  what  should be blindingly obvious to  any one who  looks around beyond their smartphone; that  we have entered a massive  species loss period which  is likely to  result in  the extinction of our own species . Sawing off the limb we are sitting on,  is the  comment made by Paul Ehrlich , the lead  researcher for the study…


Links

Analysis of the TPP Investment Charter

https://wikileaks.org/tpp-investment/TPP-Investment-Chapter-Analysis/page-4.html

 Fast track  to  Hell-Common Dreams

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/04/16/fast-track-hell-trade-bill-officially-introduced-congress

We’re treating soil like dirt. It’s a fatal mistake, as our lives depend on it– 

The Rise and Fall of BITs
http://www.otago.ac.nz/politics/otago061036.pdf

It’s Our Future
http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/what-is-the-tppa/

A Gunpowder Plot Against Democracy-George Monbiot
http://www.monbiot.com/2014/11/04/a-gunpowder-plot-against-democracy/

Stop TTIP!
https://stop-ttip.org/

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/03/wikileaks-strikes-again-leaked-tisa-docs-expose-corporate-plan-reshaping-global

Stanford researcher declares that the sixth mass extinction is here
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/june/mass-extinction-ehrlich-061915.html

The Whimper…

T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, The Hollow Men, ends with the following lines…

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

A recent study,  led by   applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and using   new statistical modelling methods, predicts that this  current civilization will likely collapse in  another twenty to  fifty years. The study   draws analogies with past human  civilizations;  the Assyrian, Roman, Mayan, Minoan,  the various  Chinese empires…. We can assume that  like us;  the populations of those civilizations had every reason to believe their civilization was unique and would last  forever. While civilisational  collapse is quite rare, characterised by  entire ways of life, systems of thought, cultural values and worldviews disappearing,  political  collapse occurs frequently ( eg empires and kingdoms disintegrating).  What  appears likely to  happen in our modern context,  given  the confluence of a number of catastrophic events, is civilisational  collapse.

While this particular study  has been  sharply critiqued by  journalists and  scientists  alike for its simplicity and generalisations ; the  broad conclusion that,  as Paul Simon aptly put it ,”everything put together falls apart” , is  a healthy  reminder of human hubris.

The single most important  story   unfolding in  not-so-slow-motion  on this planet  is the  ongoing  destruction of the natural  world  in  the name of “progress”  and “growth” (ie  consuming ever more “stuff”) by  humans;  ,  which  will  in the near  future,  significantly negatively impact  on this species. Despite our insistence to the contrary, humans are entirely reliant on other species for our survival.  It is a  given that is blindly ignored by  politicians, businesspeople and businesses  and all  those with  a current stake in  the way  our “civilization’  currently works ( ie all of us).

As key  resources become more expensive to  extract,  the world economy (which is apparently now the full extent of this ‘civilization’) begins to contract  and distort .  And as the gap  between rich and poor widens,  the “have-nots” increasingly demand in  more and more violent ways,  their right to  a slice of the pie. As the oceans and  atmospheric temperatures rise,  so  do the pressures on  our artificial nation-states. As we progressively and rapidly eliminate species after species to produce more things,  to make “progress”;  our chances of long term survival  as a species are being rapidly reduced.   Our civilization demands that  we assume that  we have an infinite volume  of resources to  consume for  the infinite future in  a closed planetary  system –  a small  contradiction in  terms!   We are indeed heading for the perfect  storm.

Study  after academic  study shows that the more we  gain from  a civilization’s  prosperity,  the more we are blind to its failings and contradictions and its  inevitable fall. This  tunnel vision says , that ‘if I am  doing well out of this catastrophe then it cant be a catastrophe at all!’

Homo  sapiens  pride themselves on their remarkable intelligence; their capacity to manipulate their environment for their own ends. They appear unable to grasp  that  that  self-definition process of  appropriating everything  good, intelligent and wonderful  to  human attributes,  is simply  the result of their blinded vision.  If by  definition, species that manipulate their environment  are determined to be superior to all other species;  then lo-and-behold!- homo sapiens are superior beings! Because homo sapiens are above all other traits,  social  beings,  all of us have an intensely strong need to  “fit in”,  to belong to the group. Agreeing with other people on ‘our’ group’s   thought processes and paradigms is an essential part of this togetherness. However, agreement does not  it make it truth.

Thus, it does not matter that the capacity to manipulate the environment for the benefit of our species and at  the expense of all other species on  this planet might not be quite such an intelligent thing to do, given that  the environmental devastation and species  destruction is largely for homo sapiens’ short term  pleasures, power  and baubles.

Were we to  say  that  a species that can  sustain itself  easily and efficiently without damaging its environment in  the process, were  more ‘worthy’ beings than other species ;  then homo sapiens would not be registering on  the short-list!

Over the millenia, homo sapiens have  been able to convince themselves  that  people of other cultures, or colour,  or background are inferior to one’s own culture because of this self-defining process.  Using the same intellectual process,  the more different another species is from ourselves, the  less worthy , less  intelligent, more expendable and worthy of our  exploitation and destruction that species becomes.   The more differentiated from our species the “other” is,  the easier it is to  dismiss its inherent traits and qualities and its right to life. However on our ever smaller blue planet,  we no  longer have the luxury to differentiate between  “them’  and ‘us”.

How much easier then is it  to dismiss the equality of other species with ourselves when their characteristics, strengths and skills are so different from homo sapiens, and when it  is so  much to our benefit to be able to kill  and exploit other species without moral qualms.

As Henry  Gee also points out succinctly in his Guardian  article , each  species’ particular traits or “strengths” are  based purely on, firstly, what  biological  mechanisms of sense are available to  them ,and secondly, how they use those senses to  that  species’ best  advantage. Homo sapiens  may not value our sense of smell  because its not a particularly efficient sensing mechanism in  homo sapiens, but you can bet  a dog does!

The capacity for self-delusion in our  species is immense. Witness the largely American  driven  anti- climate -change camp. Of course we cannot be  destroying our planet with C02 through  industrialization, because capitalism and owning the means of production   is the reason  for our being!  – after all, aren’t we, the US consumer, the greatest people on  earth because our nation is   the epitome of capitalism?

As another example of  collective self-deception, Seth Klarman, the manager of the $27billion hedge fund, the Baupost Group, recently  remarked on the similarities of the world’s banking system to the ‘Truman Show’, the late nineties Hollywood film, where the lead character  “lives a seemingly charmed world, snuggled comfortably into an American suburbia of white picket fences and crisply cut lawns. But gradually Truman starts to notice something is not quite right. He is actually trapped inside a film set controlled by hidden directors, and discovers to his horror that he is the unknowing star of the world’s most popular reality TV show.”  In one of the more blatant  nuances of reality shifting homo  sapiens have acquiesced to,  our  financial  system  is in  essence simply one of “smoke and mirrors” -the manipulation of facts and figures designed  to  obscure reason and reality;  a fragile house of cards.

The dreaded "black swan"!
                                  The dreaded “black swan”!

One key point of difference with previous human civilizations  around the world  is that  our current  civilization is a global one; each  of the parts are inextricably connected.  Apart from  a few small tribes in   isolated areas, every one of us has bought in to  this unique  method of environmental  destruction. Thus  when this civilization collapses -(and it is a “when” and not an “if” ), that collapse will be both  more  rapid and more global; there will not be another model of homo sapien civilization around for the  survivors to pin their hopes on. The other significant difference with other previous human civilizations is this current one’s geographical  reach.  Vast  areas of the planet have now  been laid waste in  the name of human progress.

So, while the modelling conducted by  Safa Motesharrei  may be flawed, it does provide an opportunity for  serious debate about the direction this global  civilisation of ours is taking us..

 


 

Links

Did Nasa fund ‘civilisation collapse’ study, or not?

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Plotting the Downfall  of Society-Peter Turchin Book Review

A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation

Crisis of Civilisation 

So, after the IPCC report, which bit of the world are you prepared to lose? | GeorgeMonbiot