Our problem is not lack of laws and regulations though these do appear to be inadequate to protect us. It is not lack of intelligent, caring people to govern us, though our leaders have to a large extent let us down. It is not even lack of a healthy environment, nor is it widening inequality and poverty. These are all symptoms that distract us from the real cause of our trouble.
As dissident physicist David Bohm explained (Thought as a System, 1994): “… the source of our problems is basically in thought. Many people would think that such a statement is crazy, because thought is the one thing we have with which to solve our problems. Yet it looks as if the thing we use to solve our problems is the source of our problems. It’s like going to the doctor and having him make you ill.”
We’re stuck in a culture (i.e., a way of thinking), now roughly three centuries old, that has finally proven itself inadequate. All the way up through the years of my childhood in the Fifties and Sixties, this culture (i.e., western bourgeois) was not only acceptable, it was unassailable. Its core tenet has been the inevitability of progress and the “fact,” as Margaret Thatcher put it during her reign as British prime minister, that “There is no alternative (TINA).”
If she’s right, we’re f**ked. Because while globalized capitalism has brought unparalleled comfort and power for the few -- conquering the chronic limitations of space and time as never before -- the contradictions of TINA thinking have become too odious to ignore.
We humans are literally destroying our own habitat. While a few feast, billions suffer malnourishment, illness and death from preventable disease and lack of basic necessities of life. (Have you ever attended one of those Hunger Banquets first conceived by the international anti-hunger organization OxFam? The top 15% are served a sumptuous meal. The middle 35% eat rice and beans. The leftover 50% help themselves to small portions of rice and water.)
This is the world we live in and these trends -- global environmental collapse and mass poverty -- are steadily worsening.
Contrary to a popular view, this state of affairs is neither “natural” nor unavoidable. The logic -- resulting from a misreading of Darwin but powerful nonetheless -- that we humans are creatures who “naturally compete” for scarce resources has finally revealed itself to be illogic, since its consequence is the demise of our entire species!
This is why many of the sharpest critics of the current order -- such as Chris Hedges, Vandana Shiva, Rebecca Solnit, and lately Michael Moore- - are urging us not toward reform but toward revolution. Not violent revolution of course (though the recent mass protests in the streets of London and Paris are certainly a positive step and would be welcome here in the U.S.). They are talking about a wholesale shift of paradigm, a new way of thinking (and thus, acting, of understanding ourselves and our place in the cosmos.
Again, this is not untilled ground. My favorite “outside of the box” thinker is Stanford professor emeritus Sylvia Wynter. Wynter reminds us that all cultures share certain key components -- a “foundational myth” or cultural narrative, a definition of what it means to be “a good man or woman of one’s kind,” and a significant ill that threatens the order (whether the “wobbling sun” that plagued the Aztec mind or the specter of poverty that threatens (homo economicus should he/she fail to meet the mark).
In his wonderful book The Trouble with Tom (2005), author Paul Collins describes Thomas Paine’s prediction of the decline of bourgeois culture long before it had reached its present impasse.
“Paine…decried the British government’s use of unbacked paper currency to finance foreign adventurism through ever-spiraling debts; these, in turn, required more wars to shore up domestic support and foreign resources. The national debt, Paine contended, would eventually become a national bankruptcy -- and the strength of its financial markets could prove the country’s greatest weakness.”
Paine knew that representative democracy rested on thin shoulders. Collins writes: “Paine was deeply unimpressed by the financial acumen of members of Parliament -- ‘they only understand fox-hunting,’ he snapped.” There were no “golf junkets” in those days but you get the idea!
Two centuries later, the proverbial excrement has hit the fan. The once-unchallengeable logic of a virtuous, self-correcting Market -- the functional equivalent of the Roman Church’s pre-Copernican dogma that the sun circumambulates the earth -- no longer holds the allegiance of the masses. Too many foreclosures and pink slips, too many brutal and unnecessary wars, and even too many Big Macs have taken the bloom off the rose. Whether as minions of the misguided Tea Party movement or simply as members of the disenchanted majority, more and more Americans are being forced to concede that the interests of the über rich and themselves may be terminally out of sync.
The Citizens United decision took a wrecking ball to any possibility that democracy can temper the forces of concentrated capital. We live in the age of unbridled corporate control of politics, in which both traditional liberals and traditional conservatives have been sidelined. Aside from a few pop dissenters like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and the furrowed brow pundits of MSNBC, the political discourse of today is being driven largely by the John Boehners, Dick Armeys, Sarah Palins and Glenn Becks. As Einstein remarked observing the first atomic fission: everything has changed “except our mode of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”
Assuming we don’t succumb to nuclear Armageddon or a climate meltdown, a new and different world must arise. In fact, it is already arising in communities small and large both here and around the world. A new narrative -- one that redefines what it means to be “a good man or woman of our kind” -- is emerging, a narrative that celebrates community over competitiveness, stewardship over exploitation. It will advance a holistic approach to living in harmony with the physical world so that we may have an opportunity to experience an intellectual and spiritual world. It offers the possibility of a better existence for all living things, and even non-living things, on our planet.
Bring it on!
By Lindsay Curren on 1 December 2010 in Transition Voice -
Image above: "Gas" by Edward Hopper, 1941, Whitney Museum. Click to enlarge.
I first really heard about peak oil as peak oil when I worked as a washingtonpost.com discussion moderator. I covered business and political discussions, and energy came up from time to time, especially after Bush took office.
Peak oil made sense to me right away. But it was when I read James Howard Kunstler‘s The Long Emergency that I had the equivalent of a conversion moment. Though I had already read Heinberg’s Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines, and got the straight ahead gist of things, there was something about Kunstler’s clear elucidation mixed with his uniquely vigorous prose that brought the story off the page and into my rapidly beating heart.
It was beating that way because he terrified me.
It was comforting then to get to the end of the book and discover an odd turn he took.
Telling the story of “My Long Emergency,” Kunstler proceeded to essentially wax philosophical about the whole crazy American matrix he was born into, its fantastic creations and flagrant excesses, and how he recognizes that he’s been a most fortunate individual to have lived in relative comfort and opportunity.
He confesses in that closing section that while he takes the energy situation seriously, he’s not become a ready survivalist and is overall rather content. Essentially he betrays his optimism as the capper to 300 pages spent dissecting a society, culture and economy in gross negligence and decline.
That small counterpoint to his exhaustive coverage and analysis of the oil situation and its implications for humanity provided both a window into the man and a direction for me to follow as I took my own steps forward into peak oil related activities.
And because he made me feel like I didn’t have to buy a shoulder-launched missile and stockpile freeze-dried peaches, I wanted to know what other wisdom he had to offer.
I watched The End of Suburbia, read Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century, devoured his Monday morning blog and cleared my Thursday nights to tune into kunstlercast.com, his weekly musing on the built environment. I checked his touring schedule to see if he’d be down in our neck of the woods, hoping to bring him to speak to our Transition group. Essentially I perused almost every inch of his website to learn more about him.
And what I learned was surprising. Shocking even.
Renaissance ManIn the End of Suburbia you get a pretty good feel for Kunstler’s take on things, and his tone. At first glance he’s impatient, urgent, acerbic, and makes clear if not in words then in his vibe that he’s not one to suffer fools gladly.
On his blog, which is nothing like reading his informed yet measured and accessible non-fiction works, there are no holds barred. Instead, every Monday he thrashes to pieces the pretenses and vanities of a society gone mad in most entertaining prose. It’s damn funny. If you didn’t know he was half joking in his phrasing you might think this guy is really agitated and extreme. But he writes that column like watching Jon Luc Godard’s Alphaville; dark comedy over an exposé of truth.
In short, I’m a fan, which I confess makes me kind of biased. But it doesn’t make me entirely uncritical of some of his work. I’ve asked him some challenging questions to clarify his meaning and even to rebuff his assumptions. Regardless, seeing his overall strengths amidst an initially bracing style has lent a certain sympathy to wanting to understand his nature. It makes me want to see the whole Kunstler if you will, and not just the cutting and impatient thrasher who’s judging the whole world, deeming it unfit for his aesthetic pleasure.
Image above: "Lilac Tree off Franklin Square". Painting by James Howard Kunstler. From (http://www.kunstler.com/paintings%205.html)
I’d actually go so far as to call Jim Kunstler a modern day Renaissance man. He writes non-fiction, fiction and plays (I had the pleasure to produce his amazing play Big Slide with our local Transition group); offers a Simmelian analysis of the signs of our times in his musings on architecture and urban development; has tried his hand at small architecture projects; and he paints. Beautifully. If he seems like nothing but an edgy, curmudgeonly killjoy its because you haven’t yet seen his “Lilac Tree Off Franklin Square.” And that’s the gotcha from his website.
The jig is up, Kunstler. Clearly you have a heart of gold. Even his lamentations on a degraded world accompanied by his plaudits for its many beauties reveal not so much his need to express uncensored disgust as it does his need to protect and defend beauty, truth, and goodness against daily assaults of indignity.
Sometimes you have to dig around to get the full story.
And now, the numbersIn addition to the many other things he does (including releasing another novel this year), Kunstler has increasingly taken up the role of economic observer, bringing his particular brand of intellectual justice to the hoard of Wall Street white-collar criminals and the entire government and business apparatus that supports them—whether by collusion, apathy, or negligence. And its on that subject that he agreed to take some questions from Transition Voice.
If only I had been able to see him on one of his many appearances this year I would have really picked his brain. But I caught up with him in between his recent trips to Australia (yes, Kunstler has the world’s biggest carbon footprint and his personal garden can’t possibly offset it), via email to ask him what he thinks of the economic horror show plaguing our times. Does he agree with Jeff Rubin that high oil prices will bring on inflation? Or with Nicole Foss, that a crippling deflation and a dried up money supply is just around the corner?
“I agree with Nicole Foss. The oil predicament doesn’t help, but the frauds and swindles of ‘innovative’ finance – and the fantastic layers of criminal misbehavior within it – have been enough to demolish the banking system.”
But he also blames, “…the absence of the rule-of-law, the failure of regulators to regulate, enforcers to enforce, and now prosecutors to prosecute. As Nicole and her co-blogger at The Automatic Earth, ‘Ilargi,’ have often reminded us, this financial fiasco has morphed into a political crisis calling into question the very legitimacy of current governance.”
The playersA journalist himself before chucking corporate wage-slavery long ago to take up independent writing and small-town living, Kunstler picked his subjects based on what moved him. “When I was a full-time newspaper reporter I was what they used to call a ‘feature writer.’ I wrote non-hard-news stuff, and I generally followed my own nose on stories. I took an interest for a while in investigating religious cults, which were plentiful in the 70s. They sucked in a lot of lost young people when the hippie era ran out of steam and I was fascinated by the power dynamics in these groups and how people surrendered their autonomy to charismatic self-appointed gurus — who were often sinister opportunists out for a buck.”
For Kunstler, marginal characters also held a special fascination. He wrote about, “… hired killers, con men, loan sharks, transvestites, traveling tent-show evangelists, various colorful crazy people,” preferring it to the dull stuff. “I hated beat reporting. I couldn’t sit through city council meetings and the usual routine venues for news-gathering. Luckily, there were other reporters who seemed to thrive on that, so I could go my own way.”
The playwright in Kunstler loves a good character, and memorable criminal hucksters and outcasts from society continue to show up throughout his work. His observations take in the business cabal unloading suburbia’s excesses onto a cartoon happy people, and he creates charming but ruthless con men like Billy Bones, the balladeer bandit in his latest novel, The Witch of Hebron. (In Witch, he also renders the young Jasper with startlingly sensitive insight, a tremendously hued portrayal of a child.)
But what inspires him to turn his mind to our failing economy? “I read The New York Times online. Even though it’s a piece of crap these days with vapid, pusillanimous writers-of-opinion like Krugman, Friedman, and Brooks, it’s still (unfortunately) the so-called newspaper of record.” But he also reads The Automatic Earth, Naked Capitalism, Zero Hedge, and Charles Hugh Smith.
And he has plenty of ideas of his own on Wall Street and finance.
“The role of finance up until a decade or so ago was to deploy capital, surplus wealth gained from productive activities, for new productive activities,” he explains. But then we off-shored and outsourced manufacturing. After that, Kunstler says Wall Street needed, “…to find ways to make money in the absence of productive activity.”
Image above: "Homage to Edward Hopper" (Fast Food at Exit 15 0f I-87) painting by James Kunstler. From (http://www.kunstler.com/paintings.html).
The devil’s workshopKunstler says Wall Street, “…turned to rackets based on getting something for nothing,” explaining that this, “…coincided with the computer revolution, which enabled financial folk to make their operations incomprehensibly complex and abstruse, destroying ‘transparency’ and the ability of markets to perform their chief function of ‘price discovery.’”
This had serious consequences, Kunstler explained. “Eventually, nobody knew the value of things being sold as investments, such as mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations made out of mortgage-backed securities. Meanwhile, the mortgage mills like Countrywide, Ditech, and others connived with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the so-called GSEs), and the big banks to blow up the housing bubble by giving mortgage loans away to anyone with a pulse and then unload them onto the chumps at the end of the chain – pension funds, insurance companies, et cetera. That’s what pumped up house prices.”
After it blew up, Kunstler observes that, “…nobody could establish the value of all those securities backed by mortgages and the derivatives of these things, which were hopelessly recondite, including credit default swaps. Around 2008, all this mischief was joined by new rules issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) allowing the banks and other institutions to evade reporting the real value of the securities they had created – quite a bit of which resided in their own vaults (another loss of ‘transparency’).”
“All this malfeasance and hugger-mugger is the biggest and most hopeless financial mess in the history of the human race.”
Kunstler views the Federal Reserve as part of the problem, not the solution. The Fed has, “…only made things worse with its incessant interventions aimed at concealing the massive losses, propping up insolvent banks, and preventing all the swindles and rackets from unwinding,” he says.
He bemoans the impact the whole mess creates, calling it “rampant financial criminality” and arguing that, “it will bankrupt everything in its path, provoke a world-wide political crisis, and perhaps thrust us into something like a dark age.”
Strong words, but is he so far off?
PitchforksWhen Wall Street was bailed out, many Americans expressed outrage, but that outrage changed nothing. In fact banking scandals where the perpetrators are rewarded have become so commonplace that Americans seem able to do little more than grouse about them, helpless to effect change and too tired to express any truly unified movement for financial reform. We’re not seeing something like the French Revolution, after all.
But are there circumstances that might change this?
“Just because the public has not reacted so far doesn’t mean they’ll sit still indefinitely,” Kunstler says. “It wouldn’t necessarily take a crisis, either, to set them off. That’s the magic of tipping points and phase change. Sometimes nobody even notices the incendiary event. I’m kind of surprised the Hamptons have not been burned down so far, but I believe we’ll see very vivid expressions of public wrath sooner or later.”
It may be another bailout that would precipitate a populist blowback. Bank bailouts were a real touchstone issue for many voters, especially those who favored Tea Party candidates. Yet if the bailout money had been given to individuals, a share for every adult American say, the Right would have deemed it socialism. I wondered why, when business is bailed out, we don’t hear an equivalent analysis of the managed economy as enabling, care taking, nannyish?
In Kunstler’s view, it’s “because we are a politically puerile nation composed of people who understand little, routinely vote against their own real interests, and believe in things that are inconsistent with reality.”
Ouch. So what will break through to people to get them to deal with reality and address their own needs?
Kunstler doesn’t think for the present moment that it’s going to be oil. That’s been displaced, he says, by financial markets that “are coming apart at the seams…due to sequential national bankruptcies in Europe. This contagious political crisis underway looks like it will soon destroy the Euro, and it has shoved the oil predicament to the sidelines.”
The problems he lists haven’t been dealt with because, as Kunstler says, there’s been, “A failure of leadership plain and simple. Nobody has been held accountable for demolishing the banking system.”
Kunstler voted for Barack Obama but has since become deeply disillusioned. “I feel that his failure to uphold the federal statutes against systematic racketeering ought to be an impeachable offense. Of course those in the legislative branch who might bring such a proceeding are themselves bought and paid for by the very racketeers in question. I agree with those who say this is now a political crisis of the basic legitimacy of governance.”
“We’re not entitled to a happy ending,” he says.
PloughsharesBut that’s the big picture. Kunstler has some hope for localities, as he illustrated in both of his recent novels. And of Transition efforts he thinks the people are, “earnest and fairly realistic by and large. Most of them seem to understand the losses we face. They want to continue some semblance of civilized living in the face of all that. I wouldn’t discount them.
But he’s less patient with pie-in-the-sky visions that have no basis in resource reality. “I have a bigger beef with the bigtime professional enviro-greenies like Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute, who promote techno-fantasies about running all the cars by other means – as if car dependency itself were not a problem.”
Car-dependency is a huge problem for Kunstler. When he’s not bemoaning the attitude behind “happy motoring” he’s railing against cars and roads as a dying paradigm. “Anyone who is interested in how I see things working out can read my ‘post-oil’ novels: World Made By Hand and The Witch of Hebron. I think we’ll lose a lot and gain a lot at the same time.”
But Kunstler doesn’t think that much advance talk on Peak Oil will move the needle in public perception. He thinks the general public wont pay attention until they’re “marooned in their driveways.”
He puts it bluntly. “We are unable to construct a coherent consensus about what is happening to us and what we ought to do about it. Life is tragic. Sometimes societies make terrible mistakes. Just because you collectively lose your sense of consequences doesn’t mean that you don’t have to live with consequences.”
Fortunately for him he can paint, tell a story, build things.
And he’s basically cheery.
"Buy some silver and put JP Morgan-Chase out of its misery." - Max KeiserSeems JP is naked shorting silver and has large exposure. Buying metal is supposed to cause JP to cover its shorts and lose a couple hundred million dollars. OUCH! That has to hurt!
Not so fast, Jesse! Suicide might be painless but what are the alternatives? Forget the silver, buy a longer-dated Brent crude futures contract. Better yet, buy a hundred of them. Put crude futures into contango where they belong. Follow Mr. Bernanke and his drive to inflate crude prices up to $148 a barrel. Watch what happens next! Better 'put in' some canned beans, 100lbs of rice, some gallons of bottled water, onions, some silver coins, some extra socks and toilet paper. A good, working firearm might not be a bad idea, either. It might take awhile for the 'authorities' to put the food distribution system back to some sort of working order. Doing so will be that much harder after cell phones and the Internet go out. Let's run the video tape back to summer of 2008. Much of the world's airline industry was at the edge of collapse during that period. So was the trucking industry in Europe due to extreme prices that made transport unprofitable. The US trucking industry was on the knife edge, so was the international shipping industry. There were food shortages and riots. The US auto industry did indeed collapse, so did banks and most of shadow banking. In 2008, were were a lot richer, not so now! If deflation is suicide for a debtor what is inflation to an importer of 60% of its fuel supply? Crash the dollar with 'devaluation' and the US becomes a non-industrial country in a heartbeat! The dollar is the only asset the US has to trade outside of 'Matrix' and 'Spiderman' movies. And $148 oil will destroy the waste-based USA-style economy completely. Forget about $200 or $300 oil. We will never get there, world demand will collapse first. Our economy is running on intravenous infusions of Fed-administered adrenaline. Our almighty business and finance institutions are ruins cobbled together with duct tape and coat-hanger wire. Finance's business plan is forbearance on its toxic assets and swindles perpetrated on its own customers. Social upheaval is another few percentage points of unemployment out of reach. As such, 2008 was just a trial run! Getting Brent futures above $100 dollars ought to do the trick. The suicidal hedge funds and 'long only' speculators will do the rest, piling into crude just because the market is going up. The same thing is happening right now in gold. The economy is tolerant of insanely high gold prices. Not so with crude oil. Speculators would use the recent IEA World Energy Outlook and its 'Peak Oil' imprimatur to justify price increases. The rise itself, the inevitable crash and the post-crash repegging of dollars to crude would drive a stake through the heart of finance both in the US and elsewhere. This is Bernanke's nightmare. It is also his unavoidable reality. You only have to kick in the door with $145 crude and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down. Bernanke's reality: $146 isn't necessary, today's high prices are already doing the job, unraveling the "non- negotiable American Way of life" from the bottom up. It is beyond the grasp of the establishment and its thousands of economists to see what is taking place right under its collective nose! The reason fuel prices are high is because all the easy crude has been wasted. There is nothing left but crude that is ever-more costly to produce and refine. Deflation may be suicide but so is fuel price inflation. Deflation is a hunger strike. Inflation and run-away crude prices are a gun in the mouth. Bernanke is not stupid. His game isn't inflation, anyway, it is putting money in his friend's pockets by trading their worthless 'assets' for cash. If the big shots want cash there must be something to it. Talking down the dollar is PR for the 'little peeple'. US and Brent crude are now at yearly highs and with the latter + $91 a barrel. The price of crude right now is so high it's scary. How can high prices be supported by a world economy that is on the ropes? In the US and in parts of the developed world there are two more-or-less separate economies occupying the same geographic space: a finance economy that exists to make money with money. This economy is in the grip of hyper-inflation, fueled by super-easy zero-interest-rate monetary policy, fiscal excess, foreign exchange manipulation and blown-out moral hazard. The parallel economy is the physical or 'real' economy which is made up of the business of providing goods and services out of raw materials. This economy is in severe deflation. The two-way economy picture is what most analysts' miss. Within the finance economy, almost all the markets are bull markets. They have to be, it is the only way the Bernanke Money Laundry can operate; worthless assets paid for with margin are swapped for cash. Bear markets are undesirable because they suck all the liquidity out of markets forcing prices down. This defeats the purpose of the money laundry which aims to swap assets at some sort of par. Bernanke's deal is to retrieve what assets can be swapped for cash as long as the market participants are disciplined and don't panic. While Bernanke's nonsense is taking place, high 'asset' prices for energy are rendering downstream business activities unprofitable for the 'real' economy. This loss of profitability is one reason for the ascent of finance in the first place. It is also a reason for finance's increasing instability. The right foot of asset price inflation presses on the gas pedal of the finance economy while the left foot simultaneously pushes down on the brake pedal of the real economy. It is the inflation in finance that captures the attention of analysts who fail to note the deflation that is obvious in property, wages and other important sectors of the real economy. High asset prices don't push up wages but instead allocate customers out of markets and into tent cities. With the customers go business profits. Ruin of the real economy leaves money speculation as the only pathway to yield. Success of the US economy as a whole going forward depends increasingly upon it winning a finance lottery: one that has America's once-marvelous physical economy lurching toward energy insolvency. Because the Establishment does not recognize the two economies as separate entities it disregards the effects of asset price hyper-inflation until it is too late. Losses in the real economy effect finance as they must show up somewhere, either in unemployment or in reduced top-line revenue for companies. Finance incentives are perverse: business bottom-line profits are made by interest rate or stock speculations. Companies hire money and fire work forces. These tactics create the illusion of productivity increases while real output remains flat or declines. Companies can -- and do -- book profits but without expanding customer bases the companies eventually shrivel and die. The alternative is for 'real' companies to take on the characteristics of finance companies. Devoid of top-line business growth and profits, companies become hedge funds then zombies dependent upon cheap credit -- adrenaline -- directly or indirectly from central banks. Profits are earned by shuffling funds between accounts, evading taxes and hiding others' top- line profits overseas. Parts of the real economy have adapted to the steady increase in crude prices since 2004. Most if not all businesses dependent upon $20 oil have already failed. The weight these failures and their laid-off employees has been lifted. Businesses requiring $30 oil are also long gone as are those dependent upon $40 and $50 oil. In the current real economy, businesses pick their spots. The penalty for higher fuel prices still falls on employees, who tend to be replaced by automation, or whose jobs follow profits overseas or who are not replaced at all. High priced machines using higher priced fuels are still a bargain compared to humans which waste even more fuel than so far do the production machines that replace them. Many of the machines' costs are shifted elsewhere by subsidies and tax benefits. The outcome in real terms is still decline as the absent workers and absent wages represent sales and profits that have vanished forever. Decline is the new normal. The only remaining growth industry in the US is food stamps and poverty. This chart is from the estimable Bill McBride @ Calculated Risk indicates the decline in US automobile sales from the plateau that ended in 2008. Even as the media insists on auto sales 'recovery!' the market for US cars has shrunk by a third. The same is true in most US real estate markets; certainly true in labor markets, also in wages, as has been the case for job openings for recent college graduates Wages for college-educated are declining as well. Declining wages are a large component of deflation. Without high wages there is shrinking final demand to support higher prices. Value-sucking finance is becoming an expensive luxury that the real economy cannot afford to support much longer. Unfortunately, finance has obtained a privileged position within the establishment, it can create (an illusion of) wealth and political largess that the physical economy cannot provide. Having compromised governments worldwide, it has become almost impossible for currently-constituted governments to properly remediate finance's excesses and failures. In this sense, suicide at some level is baked into Marie Antoinette's cake. ."For a nation that is a net debtor, deflation is tantamount to suicide. But other nations, most recently Germany in the past century, committed a form of national suicide in service to hubris, and an elite few, and a mistaken understanding of what constitutes a civil society and what it means to be human." - Jesse @ Cafe Americain
By Albert Bates on 4 December 2010 in The Great Change -
Image above: Hotels at the tip of the Cancun peninsula melting into the Gulf of Mexico. From (http://blog.earth-touch.com/nature-news/sunny-with-a-chance-of-runaway-climate-change/).
"Our governments are incompetent at best, corrupt and greedy at worst, and people now get that. What Karl Rove couldn’t accomplish, Hillary Clinton is driving home."
Last year in Copenhagen we were among a very few UN outsiders daily blogging from inside the climate summit and we went to great lengths to be relatively punctual and reliable in our reporting. This year, in contrast, there are scads of bloggers — an entire “bloggers loft” at the Cancun Messe site devoted to video bloggers (vloggers). Just to read the feeds from all the tweeters here you would need multiple heads. So we are off the hook this year. Whew!
Why spend time wading through security and trying to parse all the acronyms when you can be in a turquoise sea looking up at seagulls? Yesterday we attended the Pew Center - Government of Mexico Forum on Communicating Climate Change and got to knock elbows at the chow line with climate celebrities. Simon Anholt gave the equivalent of a TED talk to close the morning session and IPCC nobelist Rajendra Pachauri gave the luncheon keynote. Ozone hole discoverer Mario Molino, No-Impact-Man Colin Beavan, and Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa were among the afternoon line-up. While Anholt really got people’s juices flowing, Espinosa’s rousing stand-up slayed.
As Simon Anholt said, climate change, put as simply as possible, is the impact of having 7 billion people living at the highest level of resource consumption the world has ever seen. In many ways, that is a mark of the success of the United Nations, and of the international aid and development work of many agencies and individuals over the past 50 years. And not surprisingly, many of the stakeholders one finds roaming the halls at a UN event have the expectation that “sustainable development” mandate can and should continue. Most, if not all, would even go so far as to say it must continue.
And so we drift, by Millennial Development Goals and Clean Development Mechanisms, towards unparalleled catastrophe. Another point made by Anholt is that governments care a lot about their reputations. Sweden has a great reputation and finds it easy to get credit, enter markets, attract tourists and so forth. Mexico, by contrast, has a serious image problem about safety.
Its drug cartels, some trained and equipped in the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia, are now more powerful than its government, and certainly more wealthy and with better long-term prospects. Such insecurity makes it much harder for Mexico to attract investors, credit and tourists, although it is the drug money that likely built the luxury resorts we are shuttling between.
These resorts have more than one kind of laundry to do. Anholt, who is a free-lancer parachuted in by Ogilvy Public Relations of Beverly Hills when the need arises (his business card bears only his name), said that countries know that they need a good image to have success, and so they waste millions of tax dollars on gawd-awful propaganda, not noticing that in the information age it has gotten harder to buy a good reputation. Sweden’s message is that you may have to actually do something good, like give to the poor, or save the environment. Many companies are starting to get this. Countries will eventually have to.
Mr. Calderon’s Mayan Riviera windmill is a poignant case of trying to appear greener than you actually are, but at least it actually works. The first time we saw it we thought it was being turned by motors, entirely for show. So that’s the formula. If a country wants to do business it must be admired. In order to be admired it must do good.
This is a conundrum for many governments, not the least the USA, whose reputation took a huge hit from the Bush-Cheney torture-and-mayhem brand. It briefly revived with the Shepard Ferry “Hope” poster but that has now tarnished with the Obama torture-mayhem-and-cover-up re-brand, the Obama Security State (OSS) that imprisons whistleblowers, and the recent right wing election coup.
A Pew survey found that of 22 US Senate challengers in the last election, 20 did not trust climate scientists. Given this display of Tweetle-dee and Tweetle-dumber on the world stage, USA’s credit and confidence reservoirs are drying up, globally, and the Cancun talks are a very clear indication of that. A US citizen attending these meetings feels much like a Japanese citizen attending a screening of The Cove. An icebreaker at parties is to find a shared interest in Michael Moore.
The problem is not confined to a few bad countries, however. We live in an era of borderless problems. As Simon Anholt told the forum, one thing our problems share is that they are all symptoms of a lack of any sane global governance.
We haven’t attained the next stage of our evolution: species self-awareness. We are still fragmented and competing nation-states and soul-less corporations. The UN is in 0.9 beta. But, and we keep saying this whenever we get stuck in a long queue for a shuttle bus, as bug-prone as it is, its the only game in town. After Copenhagen public opinion towards the UN, and government in general, entered a new crisis of confidence. The Wikileaks phenomenon is just another symptom of that. Wilkileaks’ popularity (not to mention its revelations) demonstrates that our governments are incompetent at best, corrupt and greedy at worst, and people now get that. That new branding is being seared into our common psyche.
What Karl Rove couldn’t accomplish, Hillary Clinton is driving home. As we begin the chaotic Anthopocene Epoch, the public is beginning to understand that no one is in charge and we are all aboard a burning ocean liner. Are there evacuation plans? A fire brigade? Any plan at all? Do we have a string quartet to play “Nearer My God to Thee?” Rajendra Pachauri told the audience that the only superpower today is public opinion.
We can take that a step farther and say people’s perceptions are based on patterns of development that begin while they are still in the womb, are strongly embedded by cultural experiences, and continue along driven by that inertia even in the face of strong evidence that the accepted norms of their parents no longer obtain. We are creatures of habit. The big picture – that there are 7 billion of us consuming resources at unsustainable rates, and that both the number of us and our rate of consumption are increasing, not diminishing — is an intractable dilemma simply because opinion about it is fixed and non-negotiable.
Jennifer Scott, Global Head of Strategy and Planning, Ogilvy & Mather, outlined a survey of more than 500 participants at COP-16. The study found that 56% believe that there has already been irreversible damage to the planet, and another 27% believe that such damage is coming within 10 years. Nearly 90 percent believe that the time to act is right now, but only 33% think the talks are headed towards resolution (29% developed world respondents, 38% developing). A full 83% believe response will only come once countries experience the consequences in the full 3D surround sound of real time.
Appearances to peers matters — 64% believe the unwillingness to risk economic or political damage at home is the greatest barrier to reaching an agreement. Only 20% think public apathy is due to skepticism in the science, although 58% say the public has only very limited understanding of the issues. Scientists are trusted by 66%, journalists by only 24% (and probably those respondents were the journalists).
Still, 76% rank mainstream media as the best vehicle for conveying the message, and human interest stories as the most effective way (65%). That last point was driven home by “No Impact Man” Colin Beaven, who put up two images, side-by-side, one of him climbing stairs with a child on his shoulders and the other of a "my-eyes-glaze-over" chart. “Which of these images is more likely to draw your attention?” he asked. Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Project on Climate Change at Yale University, said that 66% of people surveyed in 150 countries trust scientists and experts, but less than half trust global organizations like the UN (42%), or public figures and activists (41%).
“Just between China and India we are talking about 2 billion people who know nothing about climate change,” he said, and added that this is very unfortunate because these are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. The sad thing, and Pachauri and many others alluded to this, is that our species’ suicidal, geocidal meander toward “sustainable development” is not even going where people think it is going. The objective is happiness, and every study shows that happiness is increased by factors having nothing to do with shopping in WalMart or the Gap; turning dolphins and salmon into catfood, or bling. Consumption doesn’t work.
The Onion ran a fake story yesterday with the headline “Report: Unemployment High Because People Keep Blowing Their Job Interviews.” The irony is that may be true. People want jobs that maintain their status quo. They want governments that will give them whatever they consider their patrimony or natural right to consume. Those are impossible career goals, but public opinion, the world’s only superpower, has yet to come to grips with it.
Demands for the impossible are clashing with what is possible, as in the case of a family whose breadwinners are out of work, the house has been foreclosed, social welfare provides for neither the children’s food nor the grandparents’ medical needs and they so they just decide to pack up and go to Disney World. And the irony is that it is all so unnecessary because the low-energy, low-carbon, low-impact path is so much more fun, healthier, and more fulfilling than the dead-end wage slavery it could be replacing before it is all too late.
After all, many good studies in various countries already show profitable means to achieve 40% aggregate reductions from 1990 levels for 2020. Some UN observers, like Zero Carbon Britain, Climate Action Network and European Climate Foundation, have shown how we can transition to a zero carbon economy for developed countries by 2050. Dubious technologies like clean coal and nuclear can be pursued by countries inviting their own financial ruin, but most would likely prefer to adopt clean renewables targets like China’s.
Speaking in Spanish, Patricia Espinoza said that while it is the usual thing to talk about climate solutions that involve energy production or transportation, and numeric limits, that few people yet see the whole picture. When we talk about climate change we are really talking about changing everything. She listed some of the things that people need to think about, like the size of their house and car, where their food comes from, how many children they have, and what it would be like if not just the business they were in was closed, but that entire industrial sector was phased out.
Big problems require big thinking, she told the conference, and we are still thinking much too small.
Ea O Ka Aina: COP16 Summary First Day 12/1/10
Ea O Ka Aina: COP16 Begins as Cancun disappears 12/1/10 .
- http://wikileaks.ch/ (A-Record to 188.8.131.52)
- http://wikileaks.nl/ (A to 184.108.40.206)
- http://wikileaks.lu/ (A to 220.127.116.11)
- http://wi.kileaks.com/ (A to 18.104.22.168)
- http://wikileaks.irc6.org/ (A to 22.214.171.124)
- http://wikileaks.eu.org/ (RR to 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168)
- http://wikileaks.uaqv.com/ (A-Record to 22.214.171.124)
- http://wikileaks.fuerdiefreiheit.de (RR 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206,220.127.116.11)
- http://wikileaks.jmp.net/ (RR to 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199)
- http://wikileaks.dd19.de/ (A-Record to 188.8.131.52)
- http://wikileaks.fs-cdn.net/ (A-Record 184.108.40.206),
- http://wikileaks.piratenpartei.de (RR to 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168)
- http://wikileaks.alios.org (RR to 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52)
- http://wikileaks.askedo.de (A-Record to 184.108.40.206,220.127.116.11)
- http://wikileaks.dotnul.org/ (A-Record to 18.104.22.168,22.214.171.124)
- http://wikileaks.chilp.it (A-Record to 126.96.36.199,188.8.131.52)
- http://wikileaks.no-ip.co.uk/ (A-Record to 184.108.40.206)
- http://wikileaks.rfc1149.net/ (A-Record to 220.127.116.11,18.104.22.168)
- http://wikileaks.pokapok.net/ (A-Record to 22.214.171.124)
- http://wikileaks.catsinheat.net/ (A-Record to 126.96.36.199)
- http://wikileaks.zboub.net (A-Record to 188.8.131.52)
- http://wikileaks.1777.fr/ (A-Record to 184.108.40.206,220.127.116.11)
- http://wikileaks.gudul.net/ (A-Record to 18.104.22.168)
- http://wikileaks.gudul.eu/ (A-Record to 22.214.171.124)
- http://wikileaks.gudul.fr/ (A-Record to 126.96.36.199)
- http://wikileaks.πΠ.eu (A-Record to 188.8.131.52)
- http://wikileaks.dansmagrotte.net (A-Record to 184.108.40.206,220.127.116.11)
- http://wikileaks.arzur.net (A-Record to 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52)
- http://wikileaks.fs-cdn.net/ (A-Record to 184.108.40.206)
- http://justleaks.org (A-Record to 220.127.116.11)
- http://wikileaks.2600.com/ (A-Record to 18.104.22.168)
- http://www.way2wikileaks.org (A-Record 22.214.171.124)
- http://wikileaks.dasdeck.de/ (A-Record 126.96.36.199)
- http://wikileaks.nocntrl.org/ (A-Record 188.8.131.52)
- http://wikileaks.free.de.eu.org/ (A-Record 184.108.40.206)
- http://wikileaks.juridische.info (A-Record [220.127.116.11])
- http://wikileaks.hermanuscoenradistraat.nl (A-Record [18.104.22.168])
- http://wikileaks.hermanuscoenradistraat16.nl (A-Record [22.214.171.124)
- http://wikileaks.pi2pi.eu (A-Record [126.96.36.199])
- http://wikileaks.pi2pi.info (A-Record [188.8.131.52])
- http://wikileaks.pi2pi.mobi (A-Record [184.108.40.206])
- http://wikileaks.pi2pi.biz (A-Record [220.127.116.11])
- http://wikileaks.pi2pi.net (A-Record [18.104.22.168])
- http://wikileaks.pi2pi.org (A-Record [22.214.171.124])
- http://wikileaks.schwengle.net (A-Record [126.96.36.199])
- http://wl.jofree.de/ (A-Record 188.8.131.52)
- http://wl.horrendum.de (A-Record [184.108.40.206])
- http://wikileaks.cyberrat.org (A-Record [220.127.116.11])
- http://wikileaks.lalistadesinde.net (A-Record 18.104.22.168)
- http://wikileaks.sebastianbartsch.eu/ (A-Record 22.214.171.124)
- http://www.wikileaks.firm.in/ (A-Record to 126.96.36.199)
- http://wikileaks.gernox.de/ (A-Record [188.8.131.52])
- http://wikileaks.besic.se/ (A-Record, 184.108.40.206)
- http://wikileaks.lazorhost.com/ (A-Record [220.127.116.11])
- http://wikileaks.bothosting.info/ (A-Record [18.104.22.168])
- http://wikileaks.4chon.net/ (A-Record [22.214.171.124])
- http://wikileaks.donatepl0x.com/ (A-Record [126.96.36.199])
- http://wikileaks.lazorfiles.com/ (A-Record [188.8.131.52])
- http://wikileaks.lazerfiles.com/ (A-Record [184.108.40.206])
- http://wikileaks.generate.name/ (A-Record [220.127.116.11])
- http://wl1.jsdev.org/ (Offline)
- http://wl2.jsdev.org/ (Offline)
- http://wl3.jsdev.org/ (Offline)
- http://wl4.jsdev.org/ (Offline)
- http://wl4.jsdev.org/ (Offline)
- Note: Please check if entry already exists! Thanks!
- http://wiki.leaks.josi.ani.to (Offline)
- http://www.wikileaks.arsinventing.com (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://ljsf.org/ (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://wikileaks.de/ (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://wikileaks.eu/ (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://wikileaks.pl/ (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://wikileeks.org.uk/ (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://sunshinepress.org/ (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://wikileaks.anoptique.org/ (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://wikileaks.foonode.net (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://wikileaks.showeb.net/ (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://wikileaks.starkstromaggregat.com (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://wikileaks.cretin.us (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://wikileaks.leningratt.at (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://tinyurl.com/wklks (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://tinyurl.com/wikleak (HTTP 301 redirect)
- http://tinyurl.com/wl-cablegate (HTTP 301 redirect [/ cablegate.html])
- http://h1.ripway.com/wikiwiki/index.html (HTML Meta Redirect)
- http://bit.ly/i627wp (HTTPD 301 redirect)
- http://wikileaksmirror.fuerdiefreiheit.de (100MB, Traffic: bring it on:)
- http://cablegate.failar.nu/ (now sync.)
- 100 Mbps, according to 2TB Traffic per month -> 10MBit
- Cluster: Yes
- will be protected in the event of massive DDoS to my employer infrastructure.
- Bandwidth: 100Mbit
- Transport: Flat Unlimited/100Mbit
- http://wikileaks.opperschaap.net (Mirror [18.104.22.168])
- Bandwidth: 100Mbit
- Traffic 2-4 TB a month
- Allowed in a cluster
- http://wikileaks.insertco.in/ (Mirror)
- Traffic: 2TB / 100Mbit
- Cluster: Yes
- http://mirror.sebastianbartsch.eu/ (no limits)
- http://befree.jsdev.org/mirror/wikileaks.nl/ [Unlimited]
- http://freeus.jsdev.org/ [Unlimited]
- http://22.214.171.124.nyud.net/ (reverse proxy, depending on the original)
- http://126.96.36.199.nyud.net/ (reverse proxy, depending on the original)
- http://188.8.131.52.nyud.net/ (reverse proxy, depending on the original)
- http://wikileaks.org.nyud.net:8080/ (reverse proxy, depending on the original)
- http://pr.communia.org (reverse proxy to 184.108.40.206)
- Broken @ 201012040204 GMT +1
- http://tos-proxy.appspot.com/www.wikileaks.org (503 - Over quota)
- http://happyspancer.appspot.com/www.wikileaks.org/ (503 - Over quota)
- https://proxybay2.appspot.com/wikileaks.org (503 - Over quota)
- http://keiths-proxy-server.appspot.com/wikileaks.org (503 - Over quota)
- http://cablegate.bplaced.net/ (404 - Not found)
- http://savewikileaks.dyndns.org/ (not broken) [broken]
- http://wikileaks.dk (Mirror)
- resolves https: / / wikileaks.dk / wp /
- http://www.powned.tv/wikileaks (Mirror)
- usr direct link @ http://www.powned.tv/wikileaks/220.127.116.11/
- http://wikileaks.kilu.de/wikileaks.tar.gz (14.5 MB, Rev. 3.12., 19:06)
- http://ul.to/6v4f0d (14.5 MB, Rev. 3.12., 19:06)
- http://tqrw2fwwm4wl6xs2.onion/cablegate.html (842 cables)
- http://6qackjstecukcesy.onion (683 cables)
- http://h5xpz4xzhz6yhfa3.onion/ (842 cables)
- SSK @ zDu8HawsepqF0ZvcHtP-5s9AdcNbU-aRHO4SSYs0Cpk, RVHNiANBwJ2It3qyknfgXPHNJvw9-RCRkIPpN83buaM,AQACAAE/wl_03-12-2010.7z
- http://demo.ovh.net/en/78bb769e2d6c8f296b99b1bd395cc7cb/ (as above, but English instead of French)
- http://18.104.22.168/file/wikileaks_archive.7z (~ 1700 Archive with torrents of old Wikileaks)
- http://www.mein-parteibuch.com/IWL/wikileaks_iraq_war_logs.gz ("open target" save only)
- http://warlogs.owni.fr/ (404 / hosted in Sweden)
- Create Mirror: To keep the WL servers alive, please download an existing dump.
- wget -mk [DNS Mirror]
- Wikileaks "Insurance"-File http://torrents.thepiratebay.org/5728614/Wikileaks__insurance__file.5728614.TPB.torrent
- http://etherpad.mozilla.org:9000/wikileaks (Main-Website)
- http://ietherpad.com/wikileaks (Old Website!)
- http://wikimirror.opperschaap.net (mozilla.org page - updated hourly)
- http://wikimirror.opperschaap.net/index2.html (this page - updated hourly)