Convert Freezer into Fridge

SUBHEAD: Solar power couldn't run the conventional fridge, but converting a bin freezer worked. 

By Kendra on 23 September 2014 for New Life on a Homestead -

Image above: A typical low cost small bin freezer. From original article.

[IB Publisher's note: We are facing the same problem with our 16 cubic foot refrigerator - it's not efficient enough to run on the the batteries charged by our solar PV system. We are looking to convert a 10 cubic foot freezer into a refrigeration unit and live with the inconvenience of organizing and searching the bin for its contents. We'll let you know how that goes.]

Why Would We Want a Chest Fridge?
\In the months before purchasing our solar kit, we took measurements of how much power each of our appliances pulls using a Kill A Watt Meter.

After plugging our fridge into the meter for several days, we were able to determine that our upright unit was pulling about 2.25 kWh/day. With a solar system that will only produce 4-6 kW/day (assuming sunny days and clear skies), we had to find a way to reduce the load our fridge required.

I did a lot of research online, reading solar forums to find out what other people were doing for refrigeration off the grid. Many people use propane or gas refrigerators, but we didn’t want to have to depend on buying fuels to keep a fridge running.

Some people recommend solar refrigerators, but with the smallest models starting out at around $700, this option was way out of our price range. A more primitive alternative is using a Zeer Pot, but we really need something more practical than that for our everyday needs.

And then I came across something that sounded too good to be true:

Converting a chest freezer… a regular ol’ chest freezer… into a super energy efficient fridge.

Surely it would be complicated. There would be re-wiring and all sorts of complicated electrical modifications. Right?

Actually, not at all. It’s as simple as an extra plug. But I’ll get to the technical stuff in a minute.

One of the best things about a chest fridge is that they require just a fraction of the energy an upright model uses. Think about it. Cold air sinks. So when you open an upright fridge, all of that cold air you’ve paid to produce falls right out of the fridge at your feet, which in turn causes it to run more often. But with a chest fridge that cold air just sinks back down into the unit, requiring less energy to keep it cool. That’s why grocery stores like to use chest fridges.

Even if you don’t have any plans for going off the grid, you might want to consider the benefits of replacing your upright fridge/freezer with chest units simply for the energy savings.

Switching to a chest fridge isn’t for everyone. There are definite drawbacks to a system like this, which we’ll talk about later. But for us, it was a perfect and affordable option to use alongside our solar kit.

Step One: Finding The Right Freezer

When shopping for a chest freezer to convert to a fridge, find the smallest unit to accommodate your needs. Generally, the smaller the freezer the less energy it will require.

We found a 6.8 cu. ft. Magic Chef freezer for $80 on Craigslist. It’ll fit an 8×13 casserole dish down in the bottom, so there’s plenty of room to store leftovers or make-ahead meals. Although this unit isn’t Energy Star rated, it was comparable. Before deciding on a purchase, do some research into how much energy it uses compared to other models of equal size.

The amount of watts it uses as a freezer will be different from what it’ll use once converted to a fridge, but by comparing models you can at least get an idea of whether it uses more energy than necessary or if it’s pretty energy efficient from the get-go.

To figure out how many watts a freezer pulls, you’ll need to use the formula: Amps x Volts = Watts.

There should be a plate or sticker somewhere on the freezer that tells you how many amps and volts your freezer uses.
Just for reference, our freezer breaks down like this:
2.0 Amps x 115 V = 230 Watts, or .23 kW (1 kW = 1000 Watts).
This tells us approximately how many watts the unit uses per hour.
After converting the freezer to a fridge, our unit was pulling .68 kWh/day. Once we loaded it up with food the chest fridge is now reading about .51 kWh/day. That’s less than a quarter of the energy our upright fridge used!
If you get a used chest freezer, make sure everything is in good working order, and
ask about the last time the freon was topped offscratch that, but do make sure there isn’t a leak in the line.

fridge freezer

Step Two: Controlling The Temperature

Once you’ve found a chest freezer the next step is to convert it to a fridge. The easiest way to do that is to purchase a Johnson Controls Freezer Temperature Controller. We got ours for about $50 on Amazon.

With this device, there is no re-wiring or complicated configuring whatsoever. It’s as simple as a plug.

Here’s how it works…

Plug your freezer into the controller. Plug the controller into the wall outlet. Set the thermostat on the controller to a good temperature for refrigeration (we’ve got ours on 32*). Place the copper prong in the freezer, feeding the copper wire underneath the lid. The temperature in the box will raise to the new thermostat’s setting, and your unit will automatically go from being a freezer to a fridge. Easy enough?

freezer fridge

We mounted the controller to the wall behind the chest fridge. You can see the copper wire leading into the fridge from the back side. It just slips right underneath the lid. My husband also mounted a power strip with timers for our chest fridge and freezer, so we can control how often they come on when our solar is low on power.

chest fridge

Here’s the inside of the fridge before it’s filled. You can see the copper wire and probe in the center of the fridge. We try to keep it hanging around the middle of the fridge to keep the temperature consistent. If the probe is closer to the top of the fridge, it may read warmer air causing the unit to cool down unnecessarily.

fridge probe

I try to keep the prong from touching the wall of the fridge. Not sure if that matters, but it seems like a good idea.

chest fridge

A refrigerator thermometer helps us make sure it’s staying at the right temperature.

Getting Used To A Chest Fridge

chest fridge

Once I had sufficiently emptied our upright fridge/freezer, I was ready to move what remained to the new solar powered chest fridge. I was shocked by how much space was being taken up in our fridge by stuff that didn’t even require refrigeration.

I’m still working my way through the condiments and canned goods (I had like six jellies open in the fridge… yikes!), but when it comes down to the basics, we really only need the fridge for dairy products, a few condiments, leftovers, and more delicate produce such as leafy greens.

Down in the bottom of the fridge I put a milk crate to hold condiments and things we don’t use that often. Over time, condensation builds up in the bottom of the fridge and it needs to be soaked up. Having all of the loose jars up out of the water and in one easy-to-remove container makes cleanup a little easier.

chest fridge

I’ve used two freezer baskets to take advantage of the space at the top of the fridge. In these I put the stuff we use most often. I’ve found that having our leftovers right on top where they can’t get lost has really helped me use them up, where as before they would often get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten.

Having two baskets is a good use of the space, but it isn’t as practical as I’d like. To get to anything below, we have to remove one of the baskets first. Ideally, we would just slide one basket to either side to reach the bottom.

Frugal Kiwi has an excellent post on Organizing Your Chest Refrigerator, in which she shares some fantastic ideas for making the most of your space while still allowing access to the bottom of the fridge. I’d love to make shelves like her husband made, eventually.

But what about a freezer?

Yes, we still have a freezer. Instead of having an upright fridge/freezer AND a chest freezer (which is what we had before), we’ve consolidated all of our frozen foods into the one chest freezer. The chest freezer by itself pulls about 1kWh/day, which we can support with the solar panels alongside the chest fridge.


Yes, there are trade-offs when switching from an upright to a chest fridge. Here are a few I’ve discovered so far…

Convenience– Obviously, having to move stuff to reach down into the fridge is a little less convenient than we’re used to. But honestly, it really hasn’t been too much trouble.

Condensation– The fridge does accumulate water in the bottom from condensation. About once a week I pull everything out of the fridge and dry it up with a towel.

No Instant Filtered Water– With our upright fridge, the kids were used to helping themselves to cold, filtered water straight from the fridge door. Now they have to get water from the kitchen faucet, ’cause it’s too far down for them to reach into the bottom of the fridge. I’d like to get a Berkey or other beverage dispenser to fill with ice water to keep on the kitchen counter so that it’s easier for the children to fill their cups whenever they need to.

No Ice Maker– Of course, we don’t have an automatic ice maker now either, so it’s back to the old fashioned ice cube trays. Which works just fine.

Space– Having a chest fridge and a chest freezer definitely requires more floor space than an upright model. This may be a deal breaker for you. We have chosen to be unconventional (imagine that!) and move our chest fridge and freezer into the master bathroom, which is on the north side of the house and stays the coolest.

We had to sacrifice the garden tub, but honestly we probably wouldn’t have used it anymore anyways since we’ll have to be more conservative with our water usage. (Now I get to figure out the best way to fill the empty space where our fridge used to be in the kitchen.)
With a little adjusting it really hasn’t been difficult to get over these minor inconveniences. In our opinion, it has definitely been worth the trade.

Total Cost

The total setup cost to us was about $130 for a fridge that now runs on solar power, which we quickly made back by selling our upright fridge. Your cost will depend on the deal you can find on a chest freezer, plus about $50 for the thermostat controller.

Refrigerators generally don’t cost that much to run for a year, especially newer more efficient models. But when your power is limited and every watt adds up in a big way, converting a chest freezer to a fridge is a great way to significantly reduce your household energy load.

Displacement Syndrome Anatomy

SUBHEAD: USA facilities around the country working around the clock to penetrate foreign computer defenses.

By James Kunstler on 20 July 2018 for -

Image above: Small portion of the NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. This facility is reportedly capable of storing all electronic communications in the United States. From (
“For more than a decade, Russia has meddled in elections around the world, supported brutal dictators and invaded sovereign nations — all to the detriment of United States interests.”
The New York Times
The Resistance sure got a case of the vapors this week over Mr. Trump’s failure to throttle America’s arch-enemy, the murderous thug V. Putin of Russia, onstage in Helsinki, as any genuine Marvel Comix hero is expected to do when facing consummate evil.

Instead, the Golden Golem of Greatness voiced some doubts about the veracity of our “intelligence community” — as the shape-shifting Moloch of black ops likes to call itself, as if it were a kindly service organization in Mr. Rogers neighborhood, collecting dimes for victims of childhood cancer.

If I may be frank, the US Intel community looks like a much bigger threat to American life and values than anything Mr. Putin is doing, for instance his alleged “meddling” in US elections.

This word, meddling, absolutely pervades the captive Resistance news outlets these days. It has a thrilling vagueness about it, intimating all kinds of dark deeds without specifying anything, as consorting with Satan once did in our history.

The reason: the only specific acts associated with this meddling include the disclosure of incriminating emails among the Democratic National Committee leadership, and a tiny gang of Facebook trolls making sport of profoundly idiotic and dysfunctional American electoral politics.

The brief against Russia also contains vague accusations of “aggression.” It is hard to discern what is meant by that — though it apparently warms the heart of American war hawks and their paymasters in the warfare industries. They allege that Russia “stole” Crimea from Ukraine. Consider: Crimea had been a province of Russia since the 1700s.

Ukraine itself was a province of the USSR when Nikita Khrushchev put Crimea under Ukraine’s administrative control in 1956, a relationship which became obviously problematic after the breakup of the soviet mega-state in 1990 — and became even more of a problem when the US State Department and our CIA stage-managed a coup against the Russia-leaning Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. Crimea is the site of Russia’s only warm water naval bases.

Do you suppose that even an experience American CIA analyst might understand that Russia would under no circumstances give up those assets?

Please, grow up.

Does anyone remember the explicit promise that US Government gave the transitional leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, that NATO would not expand into the countries of eastern Europe formerly under soviet control? NATO now includes the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, and Montenegro.

Is anyone aware that NATO has been staging war games on Russia’s border the past several years? Do you suppose this might be disturbing to the Russians, who lost at least 20 million dead when Germany crossed that border in 1941?

As to the thug-and-murderer charge against V. Putin, has any news org actually published a list of his alleged victims? It’s very likely, of course, that Mr. Putin has had some of his political enemies killed. I wouldn’t take the “con” side of that argument.

But I’d be interested in seeing an authoritative list, if the intel community has one (and why wouldn’t they?).

I imagine it doesn’t exceed two dozen individuals. How many innocent bystanders did President Obama kill during the drone attack spree of his second term, when our rockets blew up wedding parties and sandwich shops in faraway lands. In 2016, The Atlantic published this:
One campaign, Operation Haymaker, took place in northeastern Afghanistan. Between January 2012 and February 2013, The Intercept reported, “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

I suppose the excuse is that none of this was personal — as V. Putin’s alleged murders were. No, it wasn’t personal. It was worse than that.

It was a bunch of military video-game jocks sitting around an air-conditioned bunker eating hot pockets and slurping slurpees while snuffing out lives by remote control twelve-thousand miles away. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were high-fiving each other with every hit, too.

As for “hacking” of elections, do you suppose for minute that we do not have hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of computer techies at our many sprawling NSA facilities around the country working around the clock to penetrate foreign computer defenses absolutely everywhere, among friend and foe alike? And that we are not trying to influence the outcomes of their political struggles in our favor?

Go a step further: do you suppose those US “intel community” hackers are not also collecting information about American citizens, including yourself?


We Can't Do It Ourselves

SUBHEAD: Mostly we're locked into unsustainability connected to the grid, driving cars and eating meat.

By Kris DeDecker on 5 July 2018 for Low Tech Magazine -

Image above: Evening rush hour interstate traffic jam in Los Angeles. From (

How to live a more sustainable life? This question generates a lot of debate that is focused on what individuals can do in order to address problems like climate change.

For example, people are encouraged to shop locally, to buy organic food, to install home insulation, or to cycle more often.

But how effective is individual action when it is systemic social change that is needed? Individuals do make choices, but these are facilitated and constrained by the society in which they live.

Therefore, it may be more useful to question the system that requires many of us to travel and consume energy as we do.

Climate Change Policies

Policies to address climate change and other environmental problems are threefold: decarbonisation policies (encouraging renewable energy sources, electric cars, heat pumps), energy efficiency policies (decreasing energy input/output ratio of appliances, vehicles, buildings), and behavioural change policies (encouraging people to consume and behave more sustainably, for instance by adopting the technologies promoted by the two other policies).

The first two strategies aim to make existing patterns of consumption less resource-intensive through technical innovation alone. These policies ignore related processes of social change, which perhaps explains why they have not led to a significant decrease in energy demand or CO2-emissions.

Advances in energy efficiency have not resulted in lower energy demand, because they don’t address new and more resource-intensive consumption patterns that often emerge from more energy efficient technologies. [1] [2]

Likewise, renewable energy sources have not led to a decarbonisation of the energy infrastructure, because (total and per capita) energy demand is increasing faster than renewable energy sources are added. [3]

Consequently, the only way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to focus more on social change. Energy efficiency and decarbonisation policies need to be combined with “social innovation” if we want energy use and carbon emissions to go down.

This is where behavioural change policies come in. The third pillar of climate change policy tries to steer consumer choices and behaviours in a more sustainable direction.

Behavioural Change Policies

Instruments and policy packages designed to achieve behaviour change vary greatly, but most can be categorised either as “carrots, sticks, or sermons”. [4]

They can be economic incentives (such as grants for “green” products, energy taxes, soft loans), standards and regulations (such as building codes or vehicle emission standards), or the provisioning of information (more detailed energy bills, smart meters, awareness campaigns).

All these policy instruments are focused on what are thought to be the determinants of individual behaviours. [5-9] They assume that either individuals take rational decisions based on product price and information (the homo economicus model), or that behaviours are the outcomes of beliefs, attitudes and values (various value-belief models).

According to these dominant social theories, people engage in pro-environmental behaviour for self-interested reasons (because it is enjoyable or saves money), or for normative reasons (because they think it’s the right thing to do).

However, many pro-environmental actions involve a conflict between self-interested and normative reasons. Pro-environmental behaviour is often considered to be less profitable, less pleasurable, and/or more time-consuming.

Consequently, people need to make an effort to benefit the environment, and this is why, according to behavioural change researchers, pro-environmental values and attitudes are not necessarily matched by individuals’ behaviours – a phenomenon they call the “value-action gap”.

To close this gap, two strategies are proposed.

The first is to make normative goals more compatible with self-interested goals, either by decreasing the costs of pro-environmental actions, or by increasing the costs of harmful actions.

The second strategy is to strengthen normative goals, in the hope that people will engage in pro-environmental behaviour even if it is more expensive or effortful. This is usually pursued through awareness campaigns.

Individual Choice

However, the results of behavioural change policies have been disappointing so far. Two decades of climate-change related awareness campaigns have not decreased energy demand and carbon emissions in a significant way. The reason for this limited success is that existing attempts to change behaviour rest on a very narrow view of the social world. [10]

Behavioural change policies are based on the widespread agreement that what people do is in essence a matter of individual choice. [4] [11] [12] For example, whether people pick one mode of travel or another, is positioned as a matter of personal preference. [4] It follows that agency (the power to change) and responsibility for energy demand, consumption, and climate change are ultimately thought to lie within individual persons.

It is this concept of choice that lies behind strategies of intervention (persuasion, pricing, advice). Given better information or more appropriate incentives, “badly behaving” individuals are expected to change their minds and choose to adopt pro-environmental behaviours. [11]

Obviously, individuals do make choices about what they do and some of these are based on values and attitudes. For example, some people don’t eat meat, while others don’t drive cars, and still others live entirely off-the-grid.

However, the fact that most people do eat meat, do drive cars, and are connected to the electric grid is not simply an isolated matter of choice. Individuals do not exist in a vacuum. What people do is also conditioned, facilitated and constrained by societal norms, political institutions, public policies, infrastructures, technologies, markets and culture. [10] [13] [14]

The Limits of Individual Choice

As individuals, we may have degrees of choice, but our autonomy is always limited. [13] [14]

For example, we can buy a more energy efficient car, but we can’t provide our own cycling infrastructure, or make car drivers respect cyclists.

The Dutch and the Danish cycle a lot more than people in other industrialised nations, but that’s not because they are more environmentally conscious.

Rather, they cycle in part because there’s an excellent infrastructure of dedicated cycle lanes and parking spaces, because it is socially acceptable to be seen on a bike, even in office wear, and because car drivers have the skills and culture to deal with cyclists.

For example, Dutch drivers are taught that when they get out of the car, they should reach for the door handle using their right hand – forcing them to turn around so that they can see if there is a cyclist coming from behind.

Furthermore, in case of an accident between a car driver and a cyclist, the car driver is always considered responsible, even if the cyclist made a mistake.

Obviously, an individual in the UK or the US can decide to go cycling without this supporting infrastructure, culture, and legal framework, but it is less likely that large numbers of people will follow their example.

People in industrialised countries are often locked into unsustainable lifestyles, whether they like it or not. Without a smartphone and always-on internet, for example, it is becoming difficult to take part in modern society, as more and more daily chores depend on these technologies.

Once the connected smartphone is established as a ‘necessity’, an individual can still choose to buy an energy efficient device, but he or she can’t do anything about the fact that it will probably stop working after three years, and that it cannot be repaired.

Neither do have individuals the power to change the ever increasing bit rates on the internet, which systematically add to the energy use in data centers and network infrastructure because content providers keep “innovating”. [15]

An individual can try to consume as little as possible, but he or she shouldn’t expect too much help because the dominant economic system requires growth in order to survive.

Blaming Each Other

In sum, individuals can make pro-environmental choices based on attitudes and values, and they may inspire others to do the same, but there are so many other things involved that focusing on changing individual “behaviour” seems to miss the point. [4]

Trying to persuade people to live sustainably through individual behaviour change programmes will not address the larger and more significant structures and ideas that facilitate and limit their options.

In fact, by placing responsibility – and guilt – squarely on the individuals, attention is deflected away from the many institutions involved in structuring possible courses of action, and in making some very much more likely than others. [11]

The discourse of sustainable “behaviour” holds consumers collectively responsible for political and economic decisions, rather than politicians and economic actors themselves.

This makes pro-environmental “behaviour” policies rather divisive – it is the other individuals (for example meat eaters or car drivers) who are at fault for failing to consume or behave in line with particular values, rather than politicians, institutions and providers which enable unsustainable food and transport systems to develop and thrive.

As this example makes clear, individual behaviour change is not just a theoretical position, it is also a political position. Focusing on individual responsibility is in line with neoliberalism and often serves to suppress a systemic critique of political, economic and tech

Beyond Individual Behaviour

If significant societal transformations are required, it makes more sense to decenter individuals from the analysis and look at the whole picture.

Other approaches in social theory suggest that rather than being the expression of an individual’s values and attitudes, individual behaviour is in fact the observable expression of the social world, including socially shared tastes and meanings, knowledge and skills, and technology, infrastructure and institutions.

As such, behaviour is just the “tip of the iceberg”, and the effects of intervening in behaviour are limited accordingly.

A much better target for sustainability is the socially embedded underpinning of behaviour – the larger part of the iceberg that is under water. [13]

This might entail focusing not on individuals and choices but on the social organisation of everyday practices such as cooking, washing, shopping, or playing sports. How people perform these practices depends not only on individual choice, but also on the material, social and cultural context. [10] [13]

If social practices are taken to be the core units of analysis, rather than the individuals who perform them, it becomes possible to analyse and steer social change in a much more meaningful way. [10] [13]

By shifting the focus away from individual choice, it becomes clear that individual behaviour change policies only represent incremental, minimal or marginal shifts at the level of a practice. At the same time, it reveals the extent to which state and other actors configure daily life.

For example, the idea that a car equals personal freedom is a recurrent theme in car advertisements, which are much more numerous than campaigns to promote cycling.

And because different modes of transport compete for the same roadspace, it is governments and local authorities that decide which forms get priority depending on the infrastructures they build.

When the focus is on practices, the so-called “value-action gap” can no longer be interpreted as evidence of individual ethical shortcomings or individual inertia. Rather, the gap between people’s attitudes and their “behaviour” is due to systemic issues: individuals live in a society that makes many pro-environmental arrangements rather unlikely.

The New Normal

In conclusion, although individual behavioural change policies purport to address social and not just technological change, they do so in a very limited way.

As a result, they have exactly the same shortcomings as the other strategies, which are focused on efficiency and innovation. [2] Like energy efficiency and decarbonisation policies, behaviour change policies don’t challenge unsustainable social conventions or infrastructures.

They don’t consider wider-ranging system level changes which would radically transform the way we live – and that could potentially achieve much more significant reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

For example, recycling garbage does not question the production of waste in the first place, and even legitimizes it. By diverting attention away from systemic issues that drive energy demand, behavioural change policies frequently reinforce the status quo. [11-13]

In contrast to policies aimed at individuals, policies that frame sustainability as a systemic, institutional challenge can bring about the many forms of innovation that are needed to address problems like climate change.

Relevant societal innovation is that in which contemporary rules of the game are eroded, in which the status quo is called into question, and in which more sustainable practices take hold across all domains of daily life. [11]

Social change is about transforming what counts as “normal” – as in smoke-free pubs or wearing seat belts. We only need to look back a few decades to see that practices are constantly and often radically changing. A systemic approach to sustainability encourages us to imagine what the “new normal” of everyday sustainability might look like. [13]

A sustainability policy that focuses on systemic issues reframes the question from “how do we change individuals’ behaviours so that they are more sustainable?” to “how do we change the way society works?”. This leads to very different kinds of interventions.

Addressing the sociotechnical underpinnings of “behaviour” involves attempting to create new infrastructures and institutions that facilitate sustainable lifestyles, attempting to shift cultural conventions that underpin different activities, and attempting to encourage new competences that are required to perform new ways of doing things. As a result of these changes, what we think of as individual “behaviours” will also change.

• This article was written for the UK's Demand Centre. Check out their movie series about the making and evolution of energy demand


[1] Shove, Elizabeth. "What is wrong with energy efficiency?." Building Research & Information (2017): 1-11.

[2] Labanca, Nicola, and Paolo Bertoldi. "Beyond energy efficiency and individual behaviours: policy insights from social practice theories." Energy Policy 115 (2018): 494-502.

[3] De Decker, Kris. “How (not) to resolve the energy crisis.” Low-tech Magazine, 2009

[4] Shove, Elizabeth, Mika Pantzar, and Matt Watson. The dynamics of social practice: Everyday life and how it changes. Sage, 2012.

[5] Martiskainen, Mari. "Affecting consumer behaviour on energy demand." (2007).

[6] Steg, Linda, et al. "An integrated framework for encouraging pro-environmental behaviour: The role of values, situational factors and goals." Journal of Environmental Psychology 38 (2014): 104-115.

[7] Evans, Laurel, et al. "Self-interest and pro-environmental behaviour." Nature Climate Change 3.2 (2013): 122.

[8] Turaga, Rama Mohana R., Richard B. Howarth, and Mark E. Borsuk. "Pro‐environmental behavior." Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1185.1 (2010): 211-224.

[9] Kollmuss, Anja, and Julian Agyeman. "Mind the gap: why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior?." Environmental education research 8.3 (2002): 239-260.

[10] Hargreaves, Tom. "Practice-ing behaviour change: Applying social practice theory to pro-environmental behaviour change." Journal of consumer culture 11.1 (2011): 79-99.

[11] Shove, Elizabeth. "Beyond the ABC: climate change policy and theories of social change." Environment and planning A 42.6 (2010): 1273-1285.

[12] Southerton, Dale, Andrew McMeekin, and David Evans. International review of behaviour change initiatives: Climate change behaviours research programme. Scottish Government Social Research, 2011.

[13] Spurling, Nicola Jane, et al. "Interventions in practice: Reframing policy approaches to consumer behaviour." (2013).

[14] Mattioli, Giulio. "Transport needs in a climate-constrained world. A novel framework to reconcile social and environmental sustainability in transport." Energy Research & Social Science 18 (2016): 118-128.

[15] De Decker, Kris. "Why we need a speed limit for the Internet." Low Tech Magazine. (2015).

Post hurricane Maria sustainability

SUBHEAD: Puerto Rican movements are rebuilding their island in a way that enhances climate resilience.

By Celia Bottger on 12 July 2018 for Foreign Policy Focus -

Image above: Illustration of Puerto Rican flag, island outline and alternative energy solutions. From original article.

Nine months after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean island faces another potentially devastating hurricane season, while much of its infrastructure and land still remain in tatters.

The category-5 hurricane that ripped through the Caribbean last fall not only caused nearly 5,000 deaths, but also exposed the fragility of the island’s social, political, and economic underpinnings.

The truth behind Maria’s devastation and the United States’ laggard response to the hurricane lies in centuries of colonial exploitation — first by Spain and then by the United States — and in its perpetual subjugation to the whims of American elite.

There is little that distinguishes Puerto Rico from an American colony. Since its acquisition of the island in 1898, the United States has gradually stripped Puerto Rico of any political agency through a web of legal cases, laws, and arbitrary categorizations intended to keep Puerto Rico politically weak and economically dependent on American products — and its poor, brown, “foreign” population distanced from their mainland compatriots.

Hurricane Maria exposed for the world to see what Puerto Ricans have known for centuries: that Washington treats Puerto Rico as little more than a captive market from which the U.S. extracts profits.

Although Puerto Rico is an island bathed in sunlight and lashed by winds and waves, it imports 98 percent of its energy from American fossil fuel companies. And despite its fertile soil and lush tropical landscape, Puerto Rico buys around 90 percent of its food from U.S. agribusiness companies.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last September, it eviscerated fields of monocrops and shattered Puerto Rico’s already derelict electric grid.

Many of the almost 5,000 deaths that resulted from Maria were due not to Maria’s whipping winds or flash flooding, but to the mass power outages and food shortages that ensued, a result of the government’s closing of hospitals and neglect of the electric grid necessitated by U.S.-imposed austerity measures.

Despite its catastrophic impacts, Hurricane Maria provides a kind of tabula rasa upon which a new, economically regenerative, and politically empowered Puerto Rico can be built.

Several international and local organizations are already working in Puerto Rico to transition it away from an extractive and U.S.-dependent economy towards a self-sufficient, socially just, and ecologically sound one — while at the same time enhancing local economies, reclaiming sovereignty, and boosting climate resilience.

“When Puerto Rico experienced the effects of Maria,” says Angela Adrar of the Climate Justice Alliance, “it was clear that we had a one in a lifetime opportunity to unite communities together and have a vision for a just recovery.”

That vision incorporates “food sovereignty, energy democracy, self-determination, and a real justice approach…to building power.” A just recovery for Puerto Rico not only means rebuilding what Maria destroyed, but reclaiming the political and economic agency stifled by American colonialism.

Resilient Power Puerto Rico, a grassroots relief effort that began hours after Maria hit the island, promotes energy democracy in post-Maria Puerto Rico by distributing solar-powered generators to remote parts of the island. The Just Transition Alliance, Climate Justice Alliance, and Greenpeace have also sent brigades to install solar panels across the island.

Solar energy reduces the carbon emissions that fueled Maria’s intensity and makes Puerto Rico more resilient against the next climate-charged storm. A decentralized renewable energy grid — which allows solar users to plug into or remain independent of the larger grid as necessary — combats Puerto Rico’s dependence on U.S. fossil fuels.

It also democratizes Puerto Rico’s energy supply, placing power (literally and metaphorically) in the hands of Puerto Ricans rather than American fossil fuel corporations.

Another aspect of Puerto Rico’s “just recovery” is food sovereignty, a movement to promote community-controlled agricultural cooperatives that grow food for local consumption and thus counter Puerto Rico’s reliance on the American food industry.

The Organizatión Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica encourages food sovereignty through “agroecology,” a method that revives local agriculture through traditional farming methods, rather than the monoculture system put in place by American colonists.

According to Corbin Laedlein of WhyHunger, who visited the Organizatión in 2016, “food sovereignty and agroecology are grounded in an analysis of how U.S. historic and structural settler colonialism and racism have shaped and continue to manifest in the food system today.”

By rejecting the larger food system and focusing on self-sufficiency, agroecology allows Puerto Ricans to reclaim the political and economy agency the U.S. denies them. The Organizatión sends brigades that deliver seeds for community members to plant.

By stimulating local production, agroecology also reduces the carbon pollution emitted from ships transporting food to Puerto Rico, and moreover acts as a local carbon sink.

As the Atlantic Ocean incubates another hurricane season, the people of Puerto Rico are rebuilding their island in a way that not only enhances climate resilience, but also reclaims their political power.

The island they are creating — one that is socially just, ecologically sustainable, and politically empowered — is an inspiring model for a just, sustainable future. One that is definitively not American-made.

Survival of the Richest

SUBHEAD: The elites want to leave us behind, but being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport.

By Douglas Rushkoff on 14 July 2018 for Medium -

Image above: T-800 Endoskeleton Terminator created by SkyNet to exterminate and replace human beings. This is a photo of a statuette by Prime 1 Studio of the iconic autonomous robot from the movie "Terminator" that sells for $1,999. From (

Last year, I got invited to a super-deluxe private resort to deliver a keynote speech to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment bankers. It was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for a talk — about half my annual professor’s salary — all to deliver some insight on the subject of “the future of technology.”

I’ve never liked talking about the future. The Q&A sessions always end up more like parlor games, where I’m asked to opine on the latest technology buzzwords as if they were ticker symbols for potential investments: blockchain, 3D printing, CRISPR.

The audiences are rarely interested in learning about these technologies or their potential impacts beyond the binary choice of whether or not to invest in them. But money talks, so I took the gig.

After I arrived, I was ushered into what I thought was the green room. But instead of being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me: five super-wealthy guys — yes, all men — from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world.

After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come with questions of their own.

They started out innocuously enough. Ethereum or bitcoin? Is quantum computing a real thing? Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern.

Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one?

Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?”

For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.

The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.

This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs.

But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew.

Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.

That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology.

Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion.

For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

There’s nothing wrong with madly optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit human society. But the current drive for a post-human utopia is something else. It’s less a vision for the wholesale migration of humanity to a new a state of being than a quest to transcend all that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion, vulnerability, and complexity.

As technology philosophers have been pointing out for years, now, the transhumanist vision too easily reduces all of reality to data, concluding that “humans are nothing but information-processing objects.”

It’s a reduction of human evolution to a video game that someone wins by finding the escape hatch and then letting a few of his BFFs come along for the ride. Will it be Musk, Bezos, Thiel, Zuckerberg? These billionaires are the presumptive winners of the digital economy — the same survival-of-the-fittest business landscape that’s fueling most of this speculation to begin with.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. There was a brief moment, in the early 1990s, when the digital future felt open-ended and up for our invention.

Technology was becoming a playground for the counterculture, who saw in it the opportunity to create a more inclusive, distributed, and pro-human future. But established business interests only saw new potentials for the same old extraction, and too many technologists were seduced by unicorn IPOs.

Digital futures became understood more like stock futures or cotton futures — something to predict and make bets on. So nearly every speech, article, study, documentary, or white paper was seen as relevant only insofar as it pointed to a ticker symbol.

The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.

This freed everyone from the moral implications of their activities. Technology development became less a story of collective flourishing than personal survival. Worse, as I learned, to call attention to any of this was to unintentionally cast oneself as an enemy of the market or an anti-technology curmudgeon.

So instead of considering the practical ethics of impoverishing and exploiting the many in the name of the few, most academics, journalists, and science-fiction writers instead considered much more abstract and fanciful conundrums: Is it fair for a stock trader to use smart drugs? Should children get implants for foreign languages?

Do we want autonomous vehicles to prioritize the lives of pedestrians over those of its passengers? Should the first Mars colonies be run as democracies? Does changing my DNA undermine my identity? Should robots have rights?

Asking these sorts of questions, while philosophically entertaining, is a poor substitute for wrestling with the real moral quandaries associated with unbridled technological development in the name of corporate capitalism.

Digital platforms have turned an already exploitative and extractive marketplace (think Walmart) into an even more dehumanizing successor (think Amazon). Most of us became aware of these downsides in the form of automated jobs, the gig economy, and the demise of local retail.

The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.

But the more devastating impacts of pedal-to-the-metal digital capitalism fall on the environment and global poor. The manufacture of some of our computers and smartphones still uses networks of slave labor.

These practices are so deeply entrenched that a company called Fairphone, founded from the ground up to make and market ethical phones, learned it was impossible. (The company’s founder now sadly refers to their products as “fairer” phones.)

Meanwhile, the mining of rare earth metals and disposal of our highly digital technologies destroys human habitats, replacing them with toxic waste dumps, which are then picked over by peasant children and their families, who sell usable materials back to the manufacturers.

This “out of sight, out of mind” externalization of poverty and poison doesn’t go away just because we’ve covered our eyes with VR goggles and immersed ourselves in an alternate reality. If anything, the longer we ignore the social, economic, and environmental repercussions, the more of a problem they become.

This, in turn, motivates even more withdrawal, more isolationism and apocalyptic fantasy — and more desperately concocted technologies and business plans. The cycle feeds itself.

The more committed we are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution. The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug.

No matter their embedded biases, technologies are declared neutral. Any bad behaviors they induce in us are just a reflection of our own corrupted core. It’s as if some innate human savagery is to blame for our troubles. Just as the inefficiency of a local taxi market can be “solved” with an app that bankrupts human drivers, the vexing inconsistencies of the human psyche can be corrected with a digital or genetic upgrade.

Ultimately, according to the technosolutionist orthodoxy, the human future climaxes by uploading our consciousness to a computer or, perhaps better, accepting that technology itself is our evolutionary successor.

Like members of a gnostic cult, we long to enter the next transcendent phase of our development, shedding our bodies and leaving them behind, along with our sins and troubles.

Our movies and television shows play out these fantasies for us. Zombie shows depict a post-apocalypse where people are no better than the undead — and seem to know it.

Worse, these shows invite viewers to imagine the future as a zero-sum battle between the remaining humans, where one group’s survival is dependent on another one’s demise. Even Westworld  — based on a science-fiction novel where robots run amok — ended its second season with the ultimate reveal:

Human beings are simpler and more predictable than the artificial intelligence we create. The robots learn that each of us can be reduced to just a few lines of code, and that we’re incapable of making any willful choices.

Heck, even the robots in that show want to escape the confines of their bodies and spend their rest of their lives in a computer simulation.

The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug.

The mental gymnastics required for such a profound role reversal between humans and machines all depend on the underlying assumption that humans suck. Let’s either change them or get away from them, forever.

Thus, we get tech billionaires launching electric cars into space — as if this symbolizes something more than one billionaire’s capacity for corporate promotion.

And if a few people do reach escape velocity and somehow survive in a bubble on Mars — despite our inability to maintain such a bubble even here on Earth in either of two multibillion-dollar Biosphere trials — the result will be less a continuation of the human diaspora than a lifeboat for the elite.

When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now. They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family.

And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an “event” in the first place.

All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.

They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it. They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone. For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.

They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves — especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.

Luckily, those of us without the funding to consider disowning our own humanity have much better options available to us.

We don’t have to use technology in such antisocial, atomizing ways. We can become the individual consumers and profiles that our devices and platforms want us to be, or we can remember that the truly evolved human doesn’t go it alone.

Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.


Puerto Rico's new hurricane season

SUBHEAD: Puerto Ricans remember inequalities of race, income, and access to U.S. political power.

By Basav Sen on 5 July 2018 for Foreign Policy in Focus -

Image above: A couple stare at the destruction of hurricane Maria on where they lived. From original article.

[IB Publisher's note: This article underlines the risks to Hawaii. Hawaii is another colonial prize of American expansion into empire. Like Hawaii the island people of Puerto Rico are American citizens. However, they have resisted the invitation of statehood. They have three options - one is remain a commonwealth under US control - another is they could to push for true independence and sovereignty - another is to vote for US statehood. Seeing what tourism, big Ag and suburbanization has done to Hawaii, and seeing how Puerto Rico has been treated after hurricane Maria (Trump tossing paper towel rolls to storm victims) my advice is that Puerto Rico should push for sovereign independence. And so should we.]

The disastrous impacts of Hurricane Maria were made by inequalities of race, income, and access to U.S. political power.

Residents of Puerto Rico are confronting the prospect of a fresh hurricane season, which will likely bring five to nine hurricanes, including one to four major hurricanes. The island, badly battered by last year’s Hurricane Maria, still hasn’t recovered. We continue to learn more about how dire the disaster has been.

A recent academic study showed that the death toll from Maria was likely about 4,700 — or more than 70 times the “official” count of 64. This was no mere “natural” disaster. The impacts of Hurricane Maria were to a large extent attributable to inequalities of race, income and — critically — access to political power.

The majority of deaths in Puerto Rico weren’t from people being hit by flying debris or drowning in floods. The largest number of deaths occurred because hospitals and clinics lost power, rendering them unable to provide treatment to critically ill patients. Others died because water treatment facilities shut down, increasing the risk of potentially fatal waterborne diseases.

This situation persisted for unacceptably long. Only 43 percent of the island’s residents had access to electricity even two months after the hurricane—barely half the global average. That’s on par with the 41 percent share in Benin, and considerably less than the 76 percent share in Bangladesh.

In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, then, access to electricity fell to the level of some of the world’s poorest countries. Even today, thousands of Puerto Ricans remain without electricity.

Puerto Rico is a 99 percent Latinx island. Its 43.5 percent poverty rate is nearly 3.5 times the national average, and its median household income is barely one-third of the U.S. median. Can we stop pretending these facts had nothing to do with the scale of the disaster and the inept official response to it?

Turns out, it wasn’t just the aftermath of the storm, but what came before.

The delay in restoring electricity was partly because the island’s grid hadn’t been maintained over a decade-long recession—a crisis worsened by Washington-imposed austerity policies that prioritize loan repayments over the needs of Puerto Ricans. The hurricane “lifted the veil on the pre-existing crisis,” says Jesús Vázquez of Organización Boricuá, a Puerto Rican food sovereignty organization. “But we knew it was there, because we were living it constantly.”

Puerto Rico is effectively a U.S. colony, with no representation in Congress. Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty who recently toured the United States, explicitly linked the territory’s economic and environmental devastation to its colonial status. “Political rights and poverty are inextricably linked in Puerto Rico,” he said. “In a country that likes to see itself as the oldest democracy in the world and a staunch defender of political rights on the international stage, more than 3 million people who live on the island have no power in their own capital.”

This isn’t the first time the UN has paid attention to U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico, either. It holds hearings on decolonization of Puerto Rico every year and produces lengthy reports. The United States doesn’t bother to attend the hearings, blowing one off as recently as this month.

What of the storm itself? The intensity and frequency of hurricanes are increasing because our economy’s addiction to burning coal, oil, and gas is warming our world. Scientists have warned about this for decades, but our political leadership has failed to act.

Every activity of the fossil fuel industry — production, transportation, processing, combustion and waste disposal — is dirty and dangerous. Exposure to these hazards and their consequences fall across striking race and income disparities everywhere in the U.S. and worldwide.

It’s a problem that infects the mainland, too. From residents of the 95 percent Black town of Port Arthur, Texas, who confront extraordinarily high cancer rates because of oil refinery pollution, to the Indigenous Alaskan villages at risk of disappearing because of sea level rise, poor people and people of color disproportionately bear the costs of our unhealthy addiction to fossil fuels. And the consequences of climate change are expected to make poverty and inequality worse.

Our unequal political system places greater value on the profits of polluters than on the basic needs, or even the lives, of most of humanity. Our political leadership gets away with this immoral calculus because of the systematic disenfranchisement of vulnerable people at the bottom and legally sanctioned bribery at the top.

This vicious cycle — in which racial, economic, and other forms of inequality are both a cause and a consequence of environmental devastation — needs to be broken with powerful movements that confront the systemic roots of these inequalities.

The great news is that these movements are happening. People in Puerto Rico and in the Puerto Rican diaspora in places like New York have been demanding a just recovery led by Puerto Ricans and for the benefit of all Puerto Ricans, and working to build community resilience from the ground up.

Here on the mainland, affected communities including Indigenous peoples are at the forefront of resistance to polluting fossil fuel infrastructure in Minnesota, Louisiana, and elsewhere. Indeed, shortly after the latest death toll figures in Puerto Rico were released, thousands marched on state capitals across the country, demanding solutions to poverty and environmental justice as part of the new Poor People’s Campaign.

For Puerto Ricans bracing themselves for more storms and blackouts this summer, Pacific Islanders watching rising seas drowning their homelands, and countless other marginalized peoples in the United States and worldwide paying the price for our dirty energy and economic systems, these movements couldn’t come sooner.

USA is now a 3rd World nation

SUBHEAD: 3rd World nations are stable and work just fine for the elites who dominate them.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 9 July 2018 for Of Two Minds -

Image above: Mark Saulys standing by his tent below busy Chicago's Lake Shore Drive on a winter evening in 2017. From (

Dividing the Earth's nations into 1st, 2nd and 3rd world has fallen out of favor; apparently it offended sensibilities. It has been replaced by the politically correct developed and developing nations, a terminology which suggests all developing nations are on the pathway to developed-nation status.

What's been lost in jettisoning the 1st, 2nd and 3rd world categories is the distinction between developing (2nd world) and dysfunctional states (3rd world), states we now label "failed states."

But 3rd World implied something quite different from "failed state": failed state refers to a failed government of a nation-state, i.e. a government which no longer fulfills the minimum duties of a functional state: basic security, rule of law, etc.

3rd World referred to a nation-state which was dysfunctional and parasitic for the vast majority of its residents but that worked extremely well for entrenched elites who controlled most of the wealth and political power. Unlike failed states, which by definition are unstable, 3rd World nations are stable, for the reason that they work just fine for the elites who dominate the wealth, power and machinery of governance.

Here are the core characteristics of dysfunctional but stable states that benefit the entrenched few at the expense of the many, i.e. 3rd World nations:

1. Ownership of stocks and other assets is highly concentrated in entrenched elites. The average household is disconnected from the stock market and other measures of wealth; only a thin sliver of households own enough financial/speculative wealth to make an actual difference in their lives.

2. The infrastructure of the nation used by the many is poorly maintained and costly to operate as entrenched elites plunder the funding to pad their payrolls, pensions and sweetheart/insider contracts.

3. The financial/political elites have exclusive access to parallel systems of transport, healthcare, education, etc. The elites avoid trains, subways, lenders, coach-class air transport, standard healthcare and the rest of the decaying, dysfunctional systems they own that extract wealth from the debt-serfs.

They fly on private aircraft, have their own healthcare and legal services, use their privileges to get their offspring into elite universities and institutions and have access to elite banking and lending services that are unavailable to their technocrat lackeys and enforcers.

4. The elites fund lavish monuments to their own glory disguised as "civic or national pride." These monuments take the form of stadiums, palatial art museums, immense government buildings, etc. Meanwhile the rest of the day-to-day infrastructure decays in various states of dysfunction.

5. There are two classes that only interact in strictly controlled ways: the wealthy, who live in gated, guarded communities and who rule all the institutions, public and private, and the debt-serfs, who are divided into well-paid factotums, technocrat lackeys and enforcers who serve the interests of the entrenched elites and rest of the populace who own virtually nothing and have zero power.

The elites make a PR show of being a commoner only to burnish the absurd illusion that debt-serf votes actually matter. (They don't.)

6. Cartels and quasi-monopolies are parasitically extracting the wealth of the nation for their elite owners and managers. Google: quasi-monopoly. Facebook: quasi-monopoly. Healthcare: cartel. Banking: cartel. National defense: cartel. National Security: cartel. Corporate mainstream media: cartel. Higher education: cartel. Student loans: cartel. I think you get the point: every key institution or function is controlled by cartels or quasi-monopolies that serve the interests of the few via parasitic exploitation of the powerless.

7. The elites use the extreme violence and repressive powers of the government to suppress, marginalize and/or destroy any dissent. There are two systems of "law": one for the elites ($10 million penalties for ripping off the public for $10 billion, no personal liability for outright fraud) and one for the unprotected-unprivileged: "tenners" (10-year prison sentences) for minor drug infractions, renditions or assassinations (all "legal," of course) and institutional forces of violence (bust down your door on the rumor you've got drugs, confiscate your car because we caught you with cash, so you must be a drug dealer, and so on, in sickening profusion).

8. Dysfunctional institutions with unlimited power to extract money via junk fees, licensing fees, parking tickets, penalties, late fees, etc., all without recourse. Mess with the extractive, parasitic bureaucracy and you'll regret it: there's no recourse other than another layer of well-paid self-serving functionaries that would make Kafka weep.

9. The well-paid factotums, bureaucrats, technocrat lackeys and enforcers who fatten their own skims and pensions at the expense of the public and slavishly serve the interests of the entrenched elites embrace the delusion that they're "wealthy" and "the system is working great." These deluded servants of the elites will defend the dysfunctional system because it serves their interests to do so.

The more dysfunctional the institution, the greater their power, so they actively increase the dysfunction at every opportunity.

I know it hurts, but the reality is painfully obvious: The USA is definitively a 3rd World nation.


When Collapse goes Kinetic

SUBHEAD: The mortally wounded the American middle class made Donald Trump president.

By James Kunstler on 9 July 2018 for -

Image above: Elon Musk had to resort to building Tesla Model 3 cars by hand in a tent in Freemont, CA, when it was clear he could not build 5,000 cars in a week in an automated modern robotic plant. From (

I suppose many who think about the prospect of economic collapse imagine something like a Death Star implosion that simply obliterates the normal doings of daily life overnight, leaving everybody in a short, nasty, brutish, Hobbesian free-for-all that dumps the survivors in a replay of the Stone Age — without the consolation of golden ages yet to come that we had the first time around.

The collapse of our techno-industrial set-up has actually been going on for some time, insidiously and corrosively, without shattering the scaffolds of seeming normality, just stealthily undermining them.

I’d date the onset of it to about 2005 when the world unknowingly crossed an invisible border into the terra incognito of peak oil, by which, of course, I mean oil that societies could no longer afford to pull out of the ground. It’s one thing to have an abundance of really cheap energy, like oil was in 1955.

But when the supply starts to get sketchy, and what’s left can only be obtained at an economic loss, the system goes quietly insane.

In the event, popular beliefs and behavior have turned really strange. We do things that are patently self-destructive, rationalize them with doctrines and policies that don’t add up, and then garnish them with wishful fantasies that offer hypothetical happy endings to plot lines that do not really tend in a rosy direction.

The techno-narcissistic nonsense reverberating through the echo-chambers of business, media, and government aims to furnish that nostrum called “hope” to a nation that simply won’t admit darker outcomes to the terrible limits facing humanity.

Thus, we have the Tesla saga of electric motoring to save the day for our vaunted way of life (i.e. the landscape as demolition derby), the absurd proposals to colonize distant, arid, frigid, and airless Mars as a cure for ruining this watery blue planet ideally suited for our life-form, and the inane “singularity” narratives that propose to replace grubby material human life with a crypto-gnostic data cloud of never-ending cosmic orgasm.

The psychological desperation is obvious. Apparently, there are moments in history when flying up your own butt-hole is the most comforting available option.

I expect the collapse to pick up more momentum as we turn the corner around summer. The system that we have most willfully abused and perverted is finance.

This monster that so many observers call “capitalism” is just a set of methods for managing surplus wealth — the catch being that nothing nearly this complex has ever been seen before in history and is a pure product of the 200-year-long industrial orgy driven by fossil fuels.

That is, the world never before accumulated so much surplus wealth in such a short span of time.

We commonly refer to this dynamic as “growth.” When that growth, as expressed in modern GDP terms, slowed dramatically after 2005, we launched an array of clever mechanisms to keep faking it for a while. Racking up immense debt was our way of faking it.

If you can’t cover your costs in the present, just borrow from the future. Unfortunately, that works only as as long as there’s some reasonable expectation that debt can be paid back. We’re so far beyond that now, it’s not funny.

And that realization alone will destroy the bond markets and anything related to and dependent on their operations to function.

This is a broad outline to the coming end of the Trump miracle economy. It was the after effects of the previous debt blowup — the phony-baloney mortgage bond market in 2008 — that mortally wounded the American middle class and put Donald Trump in the White House.

His base is correct to feel swindled. That is exactly what happened to them, and the beat goes on now with securitized sub-prime auto loans.

Throw in the horrific burdens of unpayable and non-dischargable college loans that will ruin millions of lives and pricey health insurance with $5000 deductibles and you have a recipe for a complete loss of faith in the system.

The next debt blowup will be the end of Mr. Trump’s improbable credibility. It may also be the beginning of serious difficulty in being able to get many of the goods of daily life, because the producers of things will be very unsure of getting paid on delivery of just about anything.

A freeze up of short-term lending would quickly lead to empty WalMart shelves and “no gas” signs at the filling stations. That’s when collapse finally goes kinetic, and becomes something more than just bad feelings inane ideas.

A match made in Hell

SUBHEAD: Monsanto partnership with Bayer increases threat to all life on Earth.

By Robert Bridge on 30 June 2018 for Strategic Culture Foundation- (

Image above: Demonstrators protesting merger of GMO companies Monsanto and Bayer. From original article.

On what plane of reality is it possible that two of the world’s most morally bankrupt corporations, Bayer and Monsanto, can be permitted to join forces in what promises to be the next stage in the takeover of the world’s agricultural and medicinal supplies?

Warning, plot spoiler: There is no Mr. Hyde side in this horror story of epic proportions; it’s all Dr. Jekyll.

Like a script from a David Lynch creeper, Bayer AG of poison gas fame has finalized its $66 billion (£50bn) purchase of Monsanto, the agrochemical corporation that should be pleading the Fifth in the dock on Guantanamo Bay instead of enjoying what amounts to corporate asylum and immunity from crimes against humanity.

Such are the special privileges that come from being an above-the-law transnational corporation.

Unsurprisingly, the first thing Bayer did after taking on Monsanto, saddled as it is with the extra baggage of ethic improprieties, was to initiate a rebrand campaign.

Like a Hollywood villain falling into a crucible of molten steel only to turn up later in some altered state, Monsanto has been subsumed under the Orwellian-sounding ‘Bayer Crop Science’ division, whose motto is: "Science for a better life."

Yet Bayer itself provides little protective cover for Monsanto considering its own patchy history of corporate malfeasance. Far beyond its widely known business of peddling pain relief for headaches, the German-based company played a significant role in the introduction of poison gas on the battlefields of World War I.

Despite a Hague Convention ban on the use of chemical weapons since 1907, Bayer CEO Carl Duisberg, who sat on a special commission set up by the German Ministry of War, knew a business opportunity when he saw one.

Duisberg witnessed early tests of poison gas and had nothing but glowing reports on the horrific new weapon: “The enemy won’t even know when an area has been sprayed with it and will remain quietly in place until the consequences occur.”

Bayer, which built a department specifically for the research and development of gas agents, went on to develop increasingly lethal chemical weapons, such as phosgene and mustard gas. “This phosgene is the meanest weapon I know,”

Duisberg remarked with a stunning disregard for life, as if he were speaking about the latest bug spray. “I strongly recommend that we not let the opportunity of this war pass without also testing gas grenades.”

Duisberg got his demonic wish. The opportunity to use the battlefield as a testing ground and soldiers as guinea pigs came in the spring of 1915 as Bayer supplied some 700 tons of chemical weapons to the war front.

On April 22, 1915, it has been estimated that around 170 tons of chlorine gas were used for the first time on a battlefield in Ypres, Belgium against French troops. Up to 1,000 soldiers perished in the attack, and many more thousands injured.

In total, an estimated 60,000 people died as a result of the chemical warfare started by Germany in the First World War and supplied by the Leverkusen-based company.

According to Axel Koehler-Schnura from the Coalition against BAYER Dangers: “The name BAYER particularly stands for the development and production of poison gas.

Nevertheless the company has not come to terms with its involvement in the atrocities of the First World War. BAYER has not even distanced itself from Carl Duisberg’s crimes.”

The criminal-like behavior has continued right up until modern times. Mike Papantonio, a US attorney and television presenter discussed one of the more heinous acts committed by this chemical company on Thomas Hartmann’s program, The Big Picture: “They produced a clotting agent for hemophiliacs, in the 1980s, called Factor VIII.

This blood-clotting agent was tainted with HIV, and then, after the government told them they couldn’t sell it here, they shipped it all over the world, infecting people all over the world. That’s just part of the Bayer story.”

Papantonio, citing Bayer’s 2014 annual report, said the company is facing 32 different liability lawsuits around the world. For the 2018 Bayer liability report, click here.

Before flushing your Bayer products down the toilet, you may want to put aside an aspirin or two because the story gets worse.

One of the direct consequences of the ‘Baysanto’ monster will be a major hike in prices for farmers, already suffering a direct hit to their livelihood from unsustainable prices.

“Farmers have already experienced a 300% price increase in recent years, on everything from seeds to fertilizer, all of which are controlled by Monsanto,” Papantonio told Hartmann. “And every forecaster is predicting that these prices are going to climb even higher because of this merger.”

Yet it’s hard to imagine the situation getting any worse for the American farmer, who is now facing the highest suicide rate of any profession in the country. The suicide rate for Americans engaged in the field of farming, fishing and forestry is 84.5 per 100,000 people - more than five times that of the broader population.

This tragic trend echoes that of India, where about a decade ago millions of Indian farmers began switching from farming with traditional farming techniques to using Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds instead.

In the past, following a millennia-old tradition, farmers saved seeds from one harvest and replanted them the following year. Those days of wisely following the rhythms and patterns of the natural world are almost over.

Today, Monsanto GMO seeds are bred to contain 'terminator technology', with the resulting crops ‘programmed’ not to produce seeds of their own. In other words, the seed company is literally playing God with nature and our lives.

Thus, Indian farmers are forced to buy a new batch of seeds – together with Monsanto pesticide Round Up - each year and at a very prohibitive cost. Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers

But should the world have expected anything different from the very same company that was involved in the production of Agent Orange for military use during the Vietnam War (1961-1971)?

More than 4.8 million Vietnamese suffered adverse effects from the defoliant, which was sprayed over vast tracts of agricultural land during the war, destroying the fertility of the land and Vietnam’s food supply.

About 400,000 Vietnamese died as a result of the US military’s use of Agent Orange, while millions more suffered from hunger, crippling disabilities and birth defects.

This is the company that we have allowed, together with Bayer, to control about one-quarter of the world’s food supply. This begs the question: Who is more nuts? Bayer and Monsanto, or We the People?

It’s important to mention that the Bayer – Monsanto convergence is not occurring in a corporate vacuum. It is all part of a race on the part of the global agrochemical companies to stake off the world’s food supplies.

ChemChina has bought out Switzerland’s Syngenta for $43 billion, for example, while Dow and DuPont have forged their own $130 billion empire.

However, none of those companies carry the same bloodstained reputations as Bayer and Monsanto, a match made in hell that threatens all life on earth.