By Robert J. Burrowes
Have you heard the expression ‘climate change’? That lovely expression that suggests a holiday in a place with a more pleasant climate.
Unfortunately, only the rarest individual has the capacity to see through the elite-promulgated delusion that generated this benign expression and its twin notions that 1.5 degrees celsius (above the preindustrial level) is an acceptable upper limit for an increase in global temperature and that the timeframe for extinction-threatening outcomes of this ‘climate change’ is the ‘end of the century’.
If you believe that this 1.5 degree increase is achievable or even viable for sustaining life on Earth and that the ‘end of the century’ is our timeframe then you are the victim of your own fear, which is suppressing your capacity to seek out, analyze and comprehend the evidence that is readily available and to then behave powerfully in response to it. For an explanation, see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.
Therefore, your fear, rather than the climate catastrophe and other critical assaults on Earth’s biosphere, is the real problem.
The most casual perusal of the evidence in relation to what is happening to Earth’s biosphere – as distinct from the propaganda that is endlessly promulgated in the global elite’s corporate media – clearly indicates that the cataclysmic assault on our biosphere in a wide range of synergistic ways is now driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history and that, as a direct result of our relentless and rampaging destruction of habitat, it will take down humanity with it. Well within 10 years. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.
Now if your fear hasn’t already been triggered so that you ceased reading this article, let me offer the barest outline of the nature and extent of the assault on Earth’s biosphere and why the climate catastrophe is only one part of it which nonetheless needs to be seriously, rather than tokenistically, addressed, as is usually suggested whether by most climate lobby groups or, of course, elite-controlled governments and the IPCC.
But before ranging beyond the climate to highlight other threats to the biosphere, did you know that governments and corporations around the world are currently planning or have under construction 1,380 new coal plants? That’s right. 1,380 new coal plants. In 59 countries. See ‘NGOs Release List of World’s Top Coal Plant Developers’ and ‘2018 Coal Plant Developers List’.
For just a taste of the detail on this rapid coal expansion, try the report ‘Tsunami Warning: Can China’s Central Authorities Stop a Massive Surge in New Coal Plants Caused by Provincial Overpermitting?’ and ‘The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?’
So if we are deluding ourselves about coal, what about oil? Can we expect a dramatic reduction in oil use to compensate for the substantial increase in coal use? Well, according to the just-released report of the International Energy Agency (IEA), while there is some projected improvement in fuel economy for cars and a projected increase in the number of electric vehicles, cars only account for about one-quarter of the world’s oil consumption and there is no projected reduction in the oil used to fuel freight trucks, ships and airplanes; for heating; and to make plastics and other petrochemicals. ‘As a result, the agency expects global oil demand to keep rising through 2040.’
To summarize: the IEA report notes that global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.6% in 2017 and are on track to climb again in 2018 and, on the current trajectory, emissions will keep rising until 2040. See ‘World Energy Outlook 2018’ and ‘Clean Energy Is Surging, but Not Fast Enough to Solve Global Warming’.
So, given that we are led to believe that there is supposed to be some sort of international consensus to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 (which is far too high in any case) above the preindustrial level, why is this happening? Well, in relation to coal: ‘Powerful companies, backed by powerful governments, often in the form of subsidies, are in a rush to grow their markets before it is too late. Banks still profit from it. Big national electricity grids were designed for it.’ See ‘The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?’
And just to illustrate what those of us who are genuinely concerned are up against, if you want to read the latest breathtakingly delusional account of the state of the world’s climate which prodigiously underestimates the nature of the climate catastrophe and utterly fails to consider the synergistic impact of other critical environmental destruction, you can do so in the US government’s just-released report ‘Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States’ which is summarized here: ‘Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States; Report-in-Brief’.
This report is presented in one of the global elite’s primary propaganda outlets as follows: ‘A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on [23 November 2018] presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end.’ See ‘U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy’.
At this point I must confess that despite my substantial knowledge of human psychology and widespread human insanity (and the fear that drives it), certainly afflicting the global elite, sometimes even I am impressed with the level of delusion that elites can propagate and have so many believe. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.
Still, as Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment under Adolf Hitler once noted:
‘If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.’
What Goebbels didn’t know is that someone must be terrified – as we terrorize our children – so that they can be so victimized by propaganda as adults.
Anyway, apart from our destruction of Earth’s climate by burning coal and oil, not to mention gas, elites use geoengineering to wage war on Earth’s climate, environment and ultimately us. For the latest update on the geoengineering assault on Earth’s biosphere, listen to Dane Wigington’s latest superb ‘Geoengineering Watch Global Alert News, #172’ and read, watch and listen to the vast documentary record available on the Geoengineering Watch website which remind us how climate engineering is annihilating plants, toxifying soils and water, and destroying the ozone layer among many other outcomes. For a video explaining the role of geoengineering in the latest wildfires in California, see ‘Climate Engineering Total Desperation, Engineering Catastrophic Wildfires To Temporarily Cool Earth’.
All of the above is happening despite the existing temperature increase (about one degree) triggering the now-endless succession of deadly wildfires, droughts, cold snaps, floods, heat waves and catastrophic hurricanes (often in parts of the world where the corporate media can ignore them), as well as the out-of-control methane releases into the atmosphere that are occurring. See ‘7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to “explode” in Arctic’ and ‘Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns’.
Moreover, these methane releases coupled with other ongoing climate impacts such as sea ice melt and permafrost thawing in the Arctic – summarized in ‘Will humans be extinct by 2026?’ – which has led to the ‘Arctic’s strongest sea ice break[ing] up for first time on record’ and the dramatic weakening of the Gulf Stream – see ‘Anomalously weak Labrador Sea convection and Atlantic overturning during the past 150 years’, ‘Observed fingerprint of a weakening Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation’ and ‘Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years, studies show’ – threaten imminent human extinction.
So do you think we are even trying? Or are we tinkering around the edges of this accelerating catastrophe and deluding ourselves that we are doing enough?
But this is far from the end of it. There are other critical threats to Earth’s biosphere that horribly complicate the nature and extent of this catastrophe. What are these threats?
Well, to leave aside a series of threats only marginally less drastic, here are some of the key ones, all of which seriously degrade (or destroy outright) vital components of the interrelated ecosystems (‘the web of life’) that make life on Earth possible.
We are currently destroying the world’s rainforests, mainly by logging them for timber and burning them down to make way for cattle ranches or palm oil plantations. In an extensive academic study, more than 150 joint authors of a report advised that ‘most of the world’s >40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened’. See ‘Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species’.
Why are more than 40,000 tropical tree species threatened with extinction? Because ‘Upwards of 80,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed across the world each day, taking with them over 130 species of plants, animals and insects.’ See ‘Half of Amazon Tree Species Face Extinction’ and ‘Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests’. If you missed that, it was 80,000 acres of rainforest destroyed each day.
We are destroying the Earth’s oceans by dumping into them everything ranging from excess carbon dioxide and vast amounts of synthetic poisons to plastic and the radioactive contamination from Fukushima. The oceans absorb carbon dioxide as one manifestation of the climate catastrophe and, among other outcomes, this accelerates ocean acidification, adversely impacting coral reefs and the species that depend on these reefs.
In addition, a vast runoff of agricultural poisons, fossil fuels and other wastes is discharged into the ocean, adversely impacting life at all ocean depths – see ‘Staggering level of toxic chemicals found in creatures at the bottom of the sea, scientists say’ – and generating ocean ‘dead zones’: regions that have too little oxygen to support marine organisms. See ‘Our Planet Is Exploding With Marine “Dead Zones”’.
Since the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in 2011, and despite the ongoing official coverup, vast quantities of radioactive materials are being ongoingly discharged into the Pacific Ocean, irradiating everything in its path. See ‘Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation’.
Finally, you may not be aware that there are up to 70 ‘still functional’ nuclear weapons as well as nine nuclear reactors lying on the ocean floor as a result of accidents involving nuclear warships and submarines. See ‘Naval Nuclear Accidents: The Secret Story’ and ‘A Nuclear Needle in a Haystack: The Cold War’s Missing Atom Bombs’.
But not all of our destruction is as visible as our vanishing rainforests and contaminated oceans. Have you considered the Earth’s soil recently? Apart from depleting it, for example, by washing it away (sometimes in dramatic mudslides but usually unobtrusively) because we have logged the rainforest that held it in place, we also dump vast quantities of both inorganic and organic pollutants into it as well. Some of the main toxic substances in waste are inorganic constituents such as heavy metals, including cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc. Mining and smelting activities and the spreading of metal-laden sewage sludge are the two main culprits responsible for the pollution of soils with heavy metals. See ‘Soil-net’.
Far more common, however, is our destruction of the soil with organic based pollutants associated with industrial chemicals. Thousands of synthetic chemicals reach the soil by direct or indirect means, often in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other poisons that destroy the soil, by reducing the nutrients and killing the microbes, in which we grow our food (which many people actually eat, at great cost to their health). See, for example, ‘Glyphosate effects on soil rhizosphere-associated bacterial communities’.
Using genetically modified organisms, and the chemical poisons on which they rely, exacerbate this problem terribly. But two other outcomes of the use of such poisons are that the depleted soil can no longer sequester carbon and the poisons also kill many of the beneficial insects, such as bees, that play a part in plant pollination and growth.
And, of course, military contamination and destruction of soil is prodigious ranging from the radioactive contamination of vast areas to the extensive and multifaceted chemical contamination that occurs at military bases.
Partly related to military violence but also a product of using nuclear power, humans generate vast amounts of waste from exploitation of the nuclear fuel cycle. This ranges from the pollution generated by mining uranium to the radioactive waste generated by producing nuclear power or firing a nuclear weapon. But it also includes the nuclear waste generated by accidents such as that at Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Again, for just a taste of the monumental nature of this problem, see ‘Emergency Declared at Nuclear Waste Site in Washington State’, ‘Disposing of Nuclear Waste is a Challenge for Humanity’ and ‘Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’.
Like destroying the rainforests and oceans, destroying the soil is an ongoing investment in future extinctions. And so is our overconsumption and contamination of the Earth’s finite fresh water supply.
Whether wetland, river, creek, lake or acquifer, Earth’s fresh water is under siege. Given corporate negligence, this includes all of the chemical poisons and heavy metals used in corporate farming and mining operations, as well as, in many cases around the world where rubbish removal is poorly organized, the sewage and all other forms of ‘domestic’ waste discharged from households. Contamination of the world’s creeks, rivers, lakes and wetlands is now so advanced that many are no longer able to fully support marine life. For one summary of the problem, see ‘Pollution in Our Waterways is Harming People and Animals – How Can You Stop This!’
Beyond this, however, Earth’s groundwater supplies (located in many underground acquifers such as the Ogallala Aquifer in the United States) are also being progressively contaminated by gasoline, oil and chemicals from leaking storage tanks; bacteria, viruses and household chemicals from faulty septic systems; hazardous wastes from abandoned and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (of which there are over 20,000 in the USA alone); leaks from landfill items such as car battery acid, paint and household cleaners; and the pesticides, herbicides and other poisons used on farms and home gardens. See ‘Groundwater contamination’.
Moreover, while notably absent from the list above, these contaminants also include radioactive waste from nuclear tests – see ‘Groundwater drunk by BILLIONS of people may be contaminated by radioactive material spread across the world by nuclear testing in the 1950s’ – and the chemical contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in search of shale gas, for which about 750 chemicals and components, some extremely toxic and carcinogenic like lead and benzene, have been used. See ‘Fracking chemicals’.
By the way, if you didn’t know it, our purchase and use of all of those hitech products – cars, computers, mobile phones, televisions… – coupled with our consumption of intensively-farmed animal products, all of which are produced using huge quantities of fresh, clean water, is rapidly depleting and degrading the remaining fresh water on Earth, as well as savagely exploiting the people from whose countries we take the strategic minerals and water necessary for such production. See, for example, ‘500 Years is Long Enough! Human Depravity in the Congo’.
In addition to the above (and many other biosphere-destroying activities not mentioned), relying on our ignorance and fearful complicity, elites have a budget of hundreds of billions of dollars annually – see the US budget for war in ‘Costs of Post-9/11 U.S. Wars to 2019: $5.9 Trillion’ – to kill huge numbers of our fellow human beings but also to destroy vast areas of Earth’s biosphere through war and other military violence. See, for example, the Toxic Remnants of War Project and the film ‘Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives’.
Unfortunately, too few activists have the awareness and courage to acknowledge the role that war plays in destroying the climate and environment, and include anti-war efforts in their campaigns. Campaigns that will fail dismally, and spectacularly, if the threatened nuclear war should eventuate. See ‘The War to End War 100 Years On: An Evaluation and Reorientation of our Resistance to War’.
In summary, our multifaceted, monumental and unrelenting assault on Earth’s biosphere is generating an extinction rate of 200 species (plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles) each day with another 26,000 species already identified as ‘under threat’ – see ‘Red list research finds 26,000 global species under extinction threat’ – with some prominent scholars explaining how even these figures mask a vital component of the rapidly accelerating catastrophe of species extinctions: the demise of local populations of a species. See ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines’.
For further evidence from the vast literature on this subject touching only on impacts in relation to insects and its subsequent impact on birds, see ‘Death and Extinction of the Bees’, ‘Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown’ and ‘“Decimated”: Germany’s birds disappear as insect abundance plummets 76%’.
So severe is this assault on the biosphere that recent research warns that the ‘alarming loss of insects will likely take down humanity before global warming hits maximum velocity…. The worldwide loss of insects is simply staggering with some reports of 75% up to 90%, happening much faster than the paleoclimate record rate of the past five major extinction events’. Without insects ‘burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops…’ and providing food for many bird species, the biosphere simply collapses. See ‘Insect Decimation Upstages Global Warming’.
So what can we do?
If you are genuinely powerful, you can stop lobbying governments to tinker with their policies, for example, in the direction of renewable energy (which, alone, cannot solve the multiplicity of ecological crises).
Governments are not the problem. And they simply do as elites direct them in any case. (If you believe that voters decide governments and their policies, and that lobbying them is effective, then your fear is deluding you again.)
The real problem is you and me. We have swallowed one of the ‘big lies’ that Joseph Goebbels talked about: we have believed and acted on the capitalist imperative to endlessly overconsume so that economic growth can rise perpetually in our finite world: a planet that has ecological limits.
But, as I noted above, the big lie only works because our fear makes us believe delusion. Why? Because we were terrorized as a child into accepting material goods as a substitute for our capacity to be our unique and powerful Self. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.
The monstrous assault on Earth’s biosphere, that goes far beyond the climate catastrophe, is the outcome of each of us consuming more than we need and then fearfully deluding ourselves that it is necessary (or that the harm it caused was too little to matter or justified by some other consideration). Well, you can delude yourself as much as you like but it is still just that: a fearful delusion.
And the point is simply that you can choose differently and powerfully, if you have the courage. For a start, you can forego all air travel. You can travel without owning your own car. You can eat well without consuming meat or fish (and eating biodynamically/organically grown vegetarian/vegan food instead). In essence: If the demand for planet-destroying products is reduced, corporations will not produce them (and destroy the Earth in doing so). This is how the law of supply and demand works under capitalism.
Beyond these simple but vital measures, you can consider many other powerful options, particularly including (accelerated) participation in the fifteen-year strategy outlined in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ which provides a simple plan for people to systematically reduce their consumption, by at least 80%, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding their individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas, so that all environmental concerns are effectively addressed.
The Flame Tree Project was inspired by Mohandas K. Gandhi who identified the environmental crisis decades before it became an issue in the West, and who lived his own life in extraordinary simplicity and self-reliance, symbolized by his daily spinning of khadi. ‘Earth provides enough for every person’s need but not for every person’s greed.’ He also invited us to powerfully follow our conscience, reminding us that ‘Hesitating to act because others do not yet see the way only hinders progress.’
But, critically important though he believed personal action to be, Gandhi was also an extraordinary political strategist and he knew that we needed to do more than transform our own personal lives. We need to provide opportunities that compel others to consider doing the same.
So if your passion is campaigning for change, consider doing it strategically as outlined in Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. For example, see the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel and the list of strategic goals necessary to halt the climate catastrophe and end war. Choose one or a few goals appropriate to your circumstances and conduct a strategically-oriented nonviolent campaign, as explained on the same website, to achieve those goals.
Sound strategy is vital given the insanity driving elite behaviour (such as planning/building 1,380 new coal plants). As mentioned above, see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.
If you want your children to be able to respond powerfully in the face of the biosphere’s progressive collapse, consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.
The bottom line is this. You can systematically and rapidly reduce your personal consumption and, one way or another, mobilize others or nonviolently compel them to do the same. Or you can let your fear delude you that the ongoing destruction of Earth’s biosphere is somehow unrelated to your personal choices about consumption and the choices of those around you.
Extinction beckons. The choice is yours.
Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence His email address is email@example.com and his website is here. http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com
Robert J. Burrowes
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Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth
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Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy
Anita: Songs of Nonviolence
Global Nonviolence Network