Be a Peacemaker

SUBHEAD: On Martin Luther King Day see Ret. Army Col. Ann Wright speak on peace in the Pacific.

By Sandy Herndon on 31 December 2015 for Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice -

Image above: From ().

Presentation by peace activist, Hawaii's Ret. Army Col. Ann Wright.
Featuring music od social justice by by Blue Dux.

January 16, 2016 from 4:00 to 6:30 PM         

Lihue Library Conference Room

To raise awareness of the relevance of Kauai’s position as the Pivot of the Pacific Rim

Sandy Herndon
Phone: 808-320-3878

Free event, light refreshments

Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice

A world re-known speaker and peacemaker Ret. Army Colonel Ann Wright returns to Kauai to inspire and inform with her accounts of her recent trips to the Middle East and the Pacific Rim.

Her chronicles of the impact of war and military imperialism on the cultures and citizens of the world will broaden your understanding of what is going on in other parts of the Pacific Rim and how it relates to us.

Live music and a display of Hawaii’s Labor History as inspired by Martin Luther King is also featured.



Whatever it Takes

SUBHEAD: We want the rest of the world to know how the Japan-U.S. security treaty is affecting us.

By Nadia Prupis on 26 December 2015 for Common Dreams -

Image above: Protesters in Tokyo rally against the proposed construction of the Henoko base in 2014. From original article.

Okinawa officials on Friday filed a lawsuit against the central Japanese government in a new bid to block the slated construction of a U.S. military base in the prefecture's Henoko region.

"We will do whatever it takes to stop the new Henoko base," Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said during a press conference Friday. "Okinawa's argument is legitimate, and I believe that it will be certainly understood."

Residents and officials charge that the Japanese government's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism illegally intervened in Onaga's order earlier this year that halted preliminary work on the base. The prefecture said that the ministry acted unlawfully when it suspended Onaga's permit cancellation for work needed to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to its slated spot in Henoko.

The legal challenge is the latest effort to block the continued militarization of the southern Japanese island, which has long served as home base for more than half of the 50,000 American military service members in Japan, as well as over two-thirds of U.S. bases in the country. In late October, hundreds of Okinawa residents, largely elders, linked arms and physically blocked vehicles transporting building materials to the base.

"Don't the people of Okinawa have sovereignty?" one protester, 70-year-old Katsuhiro Yoshida, told Japanese paper The Asahi Shimbun at the time. "This reminds me of the scenes of rioting against the U.S. military before Okinawa was returned to Japan (in 1972). Now we are facing off against our own government. It is so contemptible."

Residents have long expressed anger and frustration over the crime and pollution they say comes along with the presence of foreign troops.

"Democracy and local self-determination in Japan are in severe condition," Onaga, who was elected on an anti-base platform, said Friday. "We want the rest of the world to know how the Japan-U.S. security treaty is affecting us."

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa an American Protectorate 10/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawans wish US military gone 8/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa mayor caves to US military 4/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan struggles with Okinawa base  4/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fear and Hope in Oura Bay1/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa resists US Military 2/11/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US Okinawa base setback1/20/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa breathes easier 4/27/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10


Too Little, Too Late

SUBHEAD: At COP21 the world’s nations tried to limit the rate at which the greenhouse gases will increase in the future.

By John Michael Greer on 23 December 2015 for the Archdruid Report -

Image above: Miami Beach is raising city streets to meet the future and leaving ground level businesses in what amount to ditches. From (

Last week, after a great deal of debate, the passengers aboard the Titanic voted to impose modest limits sometime soon on the rate at which water is pouring into the doomed ship’s hull. Despite the torrents of self-congratulatory rhetoric currently flooding into the media from the White House and an assortment of groups on the domesticated end of the environmental movement, that’s the sum of what happened at the COP-21 conference in Paris.

It’s a spectacle worth observing, and not only for those of us who are connoisseurs of irony; the factors that drove COP-21 to the latest round of nonsolutions are among the most potent forces shoving industrial civilization on its one-way trip to history’s compost bin.

The core issues up for debate at the Paris meeting were the same that have been rehashed endlessly at previous climate conferences.

The consequences of continuing to treat the atmosphere as a gaseous sewer for humanity’s pollutants are becoming increasingly hard to ignore, but nearly everything that defines a modern industrial economy as “modern” and “industrial” produces greenhouse gases, and the continued growth of the world’s modern industrial economies remains the keystone of economic policy around the world.

The goal pursued by negotiators at this and previous climate conferences, then, is to find some way to do something about anthropogenic global warming that won’t place any kind of restrictions on economic growth.

What that means in practice is that the world’s nations have more or less committed themselves to limit the rate at which the dumping of greenhouse gases will increase over the next fifteen years. I’d encourage those of my readers who think anything important was accomplished at the Paris conference to read that sentence again, and think about what it implies.

The agreement that came out of COP-21 doesn’t commit anybody to stop dumping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, now or at any point in the future. It doesn’t even commit anybody to set a fixed annual output that will not be exceeded. It simply commits the world’s nations to slow down the rate at which they’re increasing their dumping of greenhouse gases.

If this doesn’t sound to you like a recipe for saving the world, let’s just say you’re not alone.

It wasn’t exactly encouraging that the immediate aftermath of the COP-21 agreement was a feeding frenzy among those industries most likely to profit from modest cuts in greenhouse gas consumption—yes, those would be the renewable-energy and nuclear industries, with some efforts to get scraps from the table by proponents of “clean coal,” geoengineering, fusion-power research, and a few other subsidy dumpsters of the same sort.

Naomi Oreskes, a writer for whom I used to have a certain degree of respect, published a crassly manipulative screed insisting that anybody who questioned the claim that renewable-energy technologies could keep industrial society powered forever was engaged in, ahem, “a new form of climate denialism.”

She was more than matched, to be fair, by a chorus of meretricious shills for the nuclear industry, who were just as quick to insist that renewables couldn’t be scaled up fast enough and nuclear power was the only alternative.

The shills in question are quite correct, as it happens, that renewable energy can’t be scaled up fast enough to replace fossil fuels; they could have said with equal truth that renewable energy can’t be scaled up far enough to accomplish that daunting task.

The little detail they’re evading is that nuclear power can’t be scaled up far enough or fast enough, either.

What’s more, however great they look on paper or PowerPoint, neither nuclear power nor grid-scale renewable power are economically viable in the real world. The evidence for this is as simple as it is conclusive: no nation anywhere on the planet has managed either one without vast and continuing government subsidies.

Lacking those, neither one makes enough economic sense to be worth building, because neither one can provide the kind of cheap abundant electrical power that makes a modern industrial society possible.

Say this in the kind of company that takes global climate change seriously, of course, and if you aren’t simply shouted down by those present—and of course this is the most common response—you can expect to hear someone say, “Well, something has to do it.” Right there you can see the lethal blindness that pervades nearly all contemporary debates about the future, because it’s simply not true that something has to do it. 

No divine providence nor any law of nature guarantees that human beings must have access to as much cheap abundant electricity as they happen to want.

Stated thus baldly, that may seem like common sense, but that sort of sense is far from common these days, even—or especially—among those people who think they’re grappling with the hard realities of the future. Here’s a useful example.

One of this blog’s readers—tip of the archdruidical hat to Antroposcen—made an elegant short film that was shown at a climate-themed film festival in Paris while the COP-21 meeting was slouching toward its pointless end.

The film is titled A Message from the Past, and as the title suggests, it portrays an incident from a future on the far side of global climate change. I encourage my readers to click through and watch it now; it’s only a few minutes long, and its point will be perfectly clear to any regular reader of this blog. 

The audience at the film festival, though, found it incomprehensible. The nearest they came to making sense of it was to guess that, despite the title, it was about a message from our time that had somehow found its way to the distant past.

The thought that the future on the far side of global climate change might have some resemblance to the preindustrial past—that people in that future, in the wake of the immense collective catastrophes our actions are busy creating for them, might wear handmade clothing of primitive cut and find surviving scraps of our technologies baffling relics of a bygone time—seems to have been wholly beyond the grasp of their imaginations.

Two factors make this blindness to an entire spectrum of probable futures astonishing. The first is that not that long ago, plenty of people in the climate change activism scene were talking openly about the possibility that uncontrolled climate change could stomp industrial society with the inevitability of a boot descending on an eggshell.

I’m thinking here, among other examples, of the much-repeated claim by James Lovelock a few years back that the likely outcome of global climate change, if nothing was done, was heat so severe that the only human survivors a few centuries from now would be “a few hundred breeding pairs” huddled around the shores of the Arctic Ocean.

It used to be all the rage in climate change literature to go on at length about the ghastly future that would be ours if global temperatures warmed far enough to trigger serious methane releases from northern permafrost, tip one or more of the planet’s remaining ice sheets into rapid collapse, and send sea water rising to drown low-lying regions. Lurid scenarios of civilizational collapse and mass dieoff appeared in book after lavishly marketed book.

Of late, though, that entire theme seems to have dropped out of the collective imagination of the activist community, to be replaced by strident claims that everything will be just fine if we ignore the hard lessons of the last thirty years of attempted renewable-energy buildouts and fling every available dollar, euro, yuan, etc. into subsidies for an even more grandiose wave of uneconomical renewable-energy powerplants.

The second factor is even more remarkable, and it’s the existence of that first factor that makes it so.

Those methane releases, rising seas, and collapsing ice sheets? They’re no longer confined to the pages of remaindered global warming books. They’re happening in the real world, right now.

Methane releases? Check out the massive craters blown out of Siberian permafrost in the last few years by huge methane burps, or the way the Arctic Ocean fizzes every summer like a freshly poured soda as underwater methane deposits get destabilized by rising temperatures.

Methane isn’t the world-wrecking ultrapollutant that a certain class of apocalyptic fantasy likes to imagine, mostly because it doesn’t last long in the atmosphere—the average lifespan of a methane molecule once it seeps out of the permafrost is about ten years—but while it’s there, it traps heat much more effectively than carbon dioxide.

The Arctic is already warming far more drastically than any other region of the planet, and the nice thick blanket of methane with which it’s wrapped itself is an important part of the reason why.

Those methane releases make a great example of the sudden stop that overtook discussions of the harsh future ahead of us, once that future started to arrive. Before they began to occur, methane releases played a huge role in climate change literature—Mark Lynas’ colorful and heavily marketed book Six Degrees is only one of many examples. Once the methane releases actually got under way, as I noted in a post here some years ago, most activists abruptly stopped talking about it, and references to methane on the doomward end of the blogosphere started fielding dismissive comments by climate-change mavens insisting that methane doesn’t matter and carbon dioxide is the thing to watch.

Rising seas? You can watch that in action in low-lying coastal regions anywhere in the world, but for a convenient close-up, pay a visit to Miami Beach, Florida. You’ll want to do that quickly, though, while it’s still there. Sea levels off Florida have been rising about an inch a year, and southern Florida, Miami Beach included, is built on porous limestone. 

These days, as a result, whenever an unusually high tide combines with a strong onshore wind, salt water comes bubbling up from the storm sewers and seeping right out of the ground, and the streets of Miami Beach end up hubcap-deep in it. Further inland, seawater is infiltrating the aquifer from which southern Florida gets drinking water, and killing plants in low-lying areas near the coast.

The situation in southern Florida gets some press, but I suspect this is because Florida is a red state and the state government’s frantic denial that global warming is happening makes an easy target for humor.

The same phenomenon is happening at varying paces elsewhere in the world, as a combination of thermal expansion of warming seawater, runoff from melting glaciers, and a grab-bag of local and regional oceanographic phenomena boosts sea level well above its historic place.

Nothing significant is being done about it—to be fair, it’s unlikely that anything significant can be done about it at this point, short of a total moratorium on greenhouse gas generation, and the COP-21 talks made it painfully clear that that’s not going to happen.

Instead, southern Florida faces a fate that’s going to be all too familiar to many millions of people elsewhere in the world over the years ahead. As fresh water runs short and farm and orchard crops die from salt poisoning, mass migration will be the order of the day.

Over the short term, southern Florida will gradually turn into salt marsh; look further into the future, and you can see Florida’s ultimate destiny, as a region of shoals, reefs, and islets extending well out into the Gulf of Mexico, with the corroded ruins of skyscrapers rising from the sea here and there as a reminder of the fading past.

Does this sound like science fiction? It’s the inescapable consequence of changes that are already under way.

Even if COP-21 had produced an agreement that mattered—say, a binding commitment on the part of all the world’s nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions immediately and lower them to zero by 2030—southern Florida would still be doomed. 

The processes that are driving sea levels up can’t turn on a dime; just as it took more than a century of unrestricted atmospheric pollution to begin the flooding of southern Florida, it would take a long time and a great deal of hard work to reverse that, even if the political will was available. As it is, the agreement signed in Paris simply means that the flooding will continue unchecked.

A far more dramatic series of events, meanwhile, is getting under way far north of Florida. Yes, that’s the breakup of the Greenland ice sheet.

During the last few summers, as unprecedented warmth gripped the Arctic, rivers of meltwater have begun flowing across Greenland’s glacial surface, plunging into a growing network of chasms and tunnels that riddle the ice sheet like the holes in Swiss cheese. This is new; discussions of Greenland’s ice sheet from as little as five years ago didn’t mention the meltwater rivers at all, much less the hollowing out of the ice.

Equally new is the fact that the vast majority of that meltwater isn’t flowing into the ocean—scientists have checked that, using every tool at their disposal up to and including legions of yellow rubber ducks tossed into meltwater streams.

What all this means is that in the decades immediately ahead of us, in all likelihood, we’ll get to see a spectacle no human being has seen since the end of the last ice age: the catastrophic breakup of a major ice sheet.

If you got taught in school, as so many American schoolchildren were, that the great glacial sheets of the ice age melted at an imperceptible pace, think again; glaciologists disproved that decades ago.

What happens, instead, is a series of sudden collapses that kick the pace of melting into overdrive at unpredictable intervals. What paleoclimatologists call global meltwater pulses—sudden surges of ice and water from collapsing ice sheets—send sea levels soaring by several meters, drowning large tracts of land in an impressively short time.

Ice sheet collapses happen in a variety of ways, and Greenland is very well positioned to enact one of the better documented processes. The vast weight of all that ice pressing down on the crust through the millennia has turned the land beneath the ice into a shallow bowl surrounded by mountains—and that shallow bowl is where all the meltwater is going.

Eventually the water will rise high enough to find an outlet to the sea, and when it does, it will begin to flow out—and it will take much of the ice with it.

As that happens, seismographs across the North Atlantic basin will go crazy as Greenland’s ice sheet, tormented beyond endurance by the conflict between gravity and buoyancy, begins to break apart. A first great meltwater surged will vomit anything up to thousands of cubic miles of ice into the ocean.

 Huge icebergs will drift east and then south on the currents, and release more water as they melt. After that, summer after summer, the process will repeat itself, until some fraction of Greenland’s total ice sheet has been dumped into the ocean.

How large a fraction? That’s impossible to know in advance, but all other things being equal, the more greenhouse gases get dumped into the atmosphere, the faster and more complete Greenland’s breakup will be.

Oh, and did I mention that the West Antarctic ice sheet is beginning to break up as well?

The thing to keep in mind here is that the coming global meltwater pulse will have consequences all over the world.

Once it happens—and again, the processes that will lead to that event are already well under way, and nothing the world’s industrial nations are willing to do can stop it—it will simply be a matter of time before the statistically inevitable combination of high tides and stormwinds sends sea water flooding into New York City’s subway system and the vast network of underground tunnels that houses much of the city’s infrastructure.

Every other coastal city in the world will wait for its own number to come up. No doubt we’ll hear plenty of talk about building vast new flood defenses to keep back the rising waters, but let us please be real; any such project would require years of lead time and almost unimaginable amounts of money, and no nation anywhere in the world is showing the least interest in doing the thing now, when it might still be an option.

There’s a profound irony, in other words, in all the rhetoric from Paris about balancing concerns about the climate with the supposed need for perpetual economic growth. Imagine for a moment just how the coming global meltwater pulse will impact the world economy.

Countless trillions of dollars in coastal infrastructure around the world will become “sunk costs” in more than a metaphorical sense; millions of people in low-lying areas such as southern Florida will have to relocate as their homes become uninhabitable, and trillions of dollars of real estate will have its value drop to zero.

A galaxy of costs for which nobody is planning will have to be met out of government and business revenue streams that have been hammered by the direct and indirect effects of worldwide coastal flooding.

What’s more, it won’t be a single event, over and done with in a few weeks or months or years.  Every year for decades or centuries to come, more ice and meltwater will go sluicing into the oceans, more coastal cities and regions will face that one seawater surge too many, more costs will have to be met out of what’s left of a global economy that’s running out of functioning deepwater ports among many other things.

The result, as I’ve noted in previous posts here, will be the disintegration of everything that counts as business as usual, and the opening phases of the bleak new reality that Frank Landis has sketched out in his harrowing new book Hot Earth Dreams—the best currently available book on what the world will look like in the wake of severe climate change, and thus inevitably ignored by everyone in the current environmental mainstream.(You can read the first five chapters of Landis' book here.)

By the time COP-21’s attendees convened in Paris, it was probably already too late to keep global climate change from spinning completely out of control. The embarrassingly feeble agreement that came out of that event, though, has guaranteed that nothing significant will be done.

The hard political and economic realities that made any actual cut in greenhouse gas emissions all but unthinkable are just layers of icing on the cake, part of the predicament of our time—a predicament that defines the words “too little, too late” as our basic approach to the future looming up ahead of us.


Questions and Answers

SUBHEAD: We’re going to be dragged kicking and screaming into a very different future, not riding rockets to the new mall on Mars.

By James Kunstler on 28 December 2015 for

Image above: Mat Damon as explorer abandoned on Mars leaning against the tire of his surface vehicle. From (

The really big item in last night’s 60-Minutes newsbreak was that the latest Star Wars movie passed the billion dollar profit gate a week after release. That says just about everything you need to know about our floundering society, including the state of the legacy news media.

The cherry on top last week was Elon Musk’s SpaceX company’s feat landing the first spent stage of its Falcon 9 rocket to be (theoretically) recycled and thus hugely lowering the cost of firing things into space.

The media spooged all over itself on that one, since behind this feat stands Mr. Musk’s heroic quest to land humans on Mars. This culture has lost a lot in the past 40 years, but among the least recognized is the loss of its critical faculties. We’ve become a nation of six-year-olds.

News flash: we’re not going Mars. Notwithstanding the accolades for Ridley Scott’s neatly-rationalized fantasy, The Martian (based on Andy Weir’s novel), any human journey to the red planet would be a one-way trip.

Anyway, all that begs the question: why are we so eager to journey to a dead planet with none of the elements necessary for human life when we can’t seem to manage human life on a planet superbly equipped to support us?

Answer: because we are lost in raptures of techno-narcissism. What do I mean by that? We’re convinced that all the unanticipated consequences of our brief techno-industrial orgy can be solved by… more and better technology!

Notice that this narrative is being served up to a society now held hostage to the images on little screens, by skilled people who, more and more, act as though these screens have become the new dwelling place of reality. How psychotic is that?

All of this grandstanding about the glories of space goes on at the expense of paying attention to our troubles on this planet, including the existential question as to how badly we are fucking it up with burning the fossil fuels that power our techno-industrial activities.

Personally, I don’t believe that any international accord will work to mitigate that quandary.

But what will work, and what I fully expect, is a financial breakdown that will lead to a forced re-set of human endeavor at a lower scale of technological activity.

The additional question really is how much hardship will that transition entail and the answer is that there is plenty within our power to make that journey less harsh. But it would require dedication to clear goals and the hard work of altering all our current arrangements — and giving up these childish fantasy distractions about space and technology

Dreaming about rockets to Mars is easy compared to, say, transitioning our futureless Agri-Biz racket to other methods of agriculture that don’t destroy soils, water tables, ecosystems, and bodies.

It’s easier than rearranging our lives on the landscape so we’re not hostage to motoring everywhere for everything. It’s easier than educating people to both think and develop real hands-on skills not dependent on complex machines and electric-powered devices.

But we’re not interested and that is why we’re going to be dragged kicking and screaming into a very different future, not riding rockets to the new mall on Mars.

I’m not religious, but maybe there is something like Providence at work foisting all these space fantasies on us at the very end of the year, allowing us to get all this stupid shit out of the way so we can prepare for the banking and political tribulations to come in 2016.

Speaking of which, next week I will publish my forecast for the twelve-month roller-coaster ahead.

Happy New Year, one and all.


Christmas Present

SUBHEAD: It’s not just Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve; everything around us is backed into a corner.

By James Kunstler on 21 December 2015 for -

Image above: A mashupof Janet Yellen on a "Star: The Force Awakens" poster wars.

Theory du jour: the new Star Wars movie is sucking in whatever meager disposable lucre remains among the economically-flayed mid-to-lower orders of America. In fact, I propose a new index showing an inverse relationship between Star Wars box office receipts and soundness of the financial commonweal.

In other words, Star Wars is all that remains of the US economy outside of the obscure workings of Wall Street — and that heretofore magical realm is not looking too rosy either in this season of the Great Rate Hike after puking up 623 points of the DJIA last Thursday and Friday.

Here I confess: for thirty years I have hated those stupid space movies, as much for their badly-written scripts (all mumbo-jumbo exposition of nonsensical story-lines between explosions) as for the degenerate techno-narcissism they promote in a society literally dying from the diminishing returns and unintended consequences of technology.

It adds up to an ominous Yuletide. Turns out that the vehicle the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee was driving in its game of “chicken” with oncoming reality was a hearse. The occupants are ghosts, but don’t know it. A lot of commentators around the web think that the Fed “pulled the trigger” on interest rates to save its credibility.

Uh, wrong.

They had already lost their credibility.

What remains is for these ghosts to helplessly watch over the awesome workout, which has obviously been underway for quite a while in the crash of commodity prices (and whole national economies — e.g. Brazil, Canada, Australia), the janky regions of the bond markets, the related death of the shale oil industry, and the imploding hedge fund scene.

As it were, all credit these days looks shopworn and threadbare, as if the capital markets had by stealth turned into a swap meet of previously-owned optimism. Who believes in anything these days besides the allure of fraud?

Capital is supposedly plentiful these days — look how much has rushed into the dollar from the nervous former go-go nations with their wobbling ziggurats of bad loans and surfeit of production capacity — but what actually constitutes that capital? Answer: the dwindling faith anyone will pay you back next Tuesday for a hamburger today.

We now enter the “discovery” phase of financial collapse, where things labeled “capital” and “credit” turn out to be mere holograms. Fed Chair Janet Yellen herself had a sort of hologramatic look last Wednesday when she stepped onto her Delphic platform to reveal the long-heralded interest rate news.

Perhaps Mrs. Yellen is a figment conjured by George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic shop (now owned by Disney). What could be more fitting in a smoke-and-mirrors culture? Anyway, the rude discovery that capital is not what it has appeared to be is now underway, with the power to derail political systems and societies.

Is there anyone who thinks the Presidential election campaign is not completely deranged? Well, it is the analog for America’s deranged financial polity. The graceless Mr. Trump necessarily reflects the just grievances of the great public wad, but has anyone noticed that he is incapable of stringing together two coherent thoughts?

I suppose one thought at a time — or maybe a percentage of one thought — is enough to satisfy the sputtering masses, faced as they are by the arrant theft of both their patrimony and their future. But it adds up to something like flying blind through a shitstorm with your pilot in the throes of cerebral infarction. I don’t want to be on that plane.

Then there’s the giant flying reptile known simply as Hillary. She will blow up the sad and noisome remains of the Democratic party and then she will preside over the blow-up of the USA as an advanced techno-industrial society.

That final outcome may be inevitable one way or another, but the journey there need not be so harsh. America needs a vision of something other than itself as a permanent demolition derby, which, by the way, will not be “solved” by pushing everyone into a Tesla instead of a Ford F-150.

It’s not just the Federal Reserve; everything around us is backed into a corner. Come January, when the dazzle of Star Wars fades away, you will hear instead through the long dark nights a howl of raging animals. Merry Christmas to all.


The USA has lost its mind

SUBHEAD: Techno optimism reigns among the wealthy and prepper paranoia rages among the disenfranchised.

By Juan Wilson on 17 December 2015 for Island Breath -

Image above: Illustration of a painting in video game Bioshock Infinite. From (

Trump's Fascist Egomania
It's not just Donald Trump playing to the lowest and basest instincts of the fearful minded urging fascist responses to false enemies. He's got more than just the Tea Party nut jobs listening to him now. Check out this from Zero Hedge:
Following his annual press conference in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a qualified endorsement of Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday, saying he hoped Trump’s election could improve Moscow’s relations with the United States...
“He’s a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt. It’s not our job to judge his qualities, that’s a job for American voters, but he’s the absolute leader in the presidential race,” Putin said after his annual press conference in Moscow, according to the Interfax news wire.

“He says he wants to move on to a new, more substantial relationship, a deeper relationship with Russia, how can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome that,” Putin added.
On the xenophobic front; Trump has promised an impenetrable wall along the US-Mexican border, a closing of US borders to Moslims who are not American citizens, a cleansing of millions of "illegal aliens" from the country.

At a rally yesterday in Las Vegas, the Donald was heckled by a Black Lives Matter protester. The response by a Trump supporter was to yell out "Light the motherfucker on fire!"  while wild-eyed Trump supporters spewed abuse and calls to violence. "Kick his ass!" yelled one. "Shoot him!" shouted another. Other attendees yelled, "Sieg heil!" and, "He's a Muslim!"

Echos of Germany in the early 1930's. But its not only Trump.

Obama's Imperial Triumphalism
Obama has been a greater disappointment than I could have imagined. In retrospect George H. W. Bush (Dubya's father) seems a model of military constraint as our forty-first President when he prosecuted the first Iraq War to free Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's clutches.

Keep in mind, we gave Saddam some false signals on the availability of Kuwait -but none the less, in correcting the blunder, Bush41 refused to invade Baghdad to topple Saddam after "freeing" Kuwait.

Bush the Elder had been head of the CIA and understood enough about the world chess board not to fall for a strategic "Kinder Mate" ("Kinder" is German for "Children" - like "kindergarten" or "child's garden". A "Kinder Mate" is a chess opening that leads to a checkmate that only a fool or child will fall for.).

Obama, on the other hand has played the international fool. He has put his snoot into every nation in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and overturned every thing he could find looking for more places to seem imperial. He has overturned governments, bombed civilians, started insurrections, etc.

Besides Ukraine, Poland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and the South China Sea how many other places is America looking to kick off World War IV? Say! How's that Nobel Peace Prize workin' for ya?

Obama's commitment to destroy ISIS, after promoting it, is a kind of standard operating procedure for America these days. That particular pattern was set in 1980's when Bush41 was Reagan's veep and supported arming the Mujahedeen (and Osama Bin Laden) to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan.

It's all about the oil and our pals the Saudis along with their arch rivals the Israelis. What a trio we are. Crazy bastards in total denial!

American Exceptionalism
Our sense of privilege is obscene.  What once might have been conceived as an exception  formation of government almost 250 years ago has run its course. It was an attempt. however, for those in power to deal with each other equitably.  It just to happens that they were white, property owning males from Europe.

To make a nation we had to obliterate the indigenous Americans, bring in African slaves and keep the women in their place. It kind of worked - and we have adjusted to a degree to accommodate those we had to crush along the way.

We are no longer a nation of gentlemen farmers sustaining ourselves on our own land. Were we ever?

We have become vane lazy, bloated, selfish sedated consumers that require most of the Earth's resources to "support our way of life". That means all the commodities needed for a throw away culture and the oil and coal and gas and nuclear plants to power it.

If Americans lived in a fossil fuel free environment, powered by the sun, wind and moving water it would be not unlike the energy economy of the 18th century in rural America.

For work and transportation you'd be lucky to have two sons two horses and an ox. That's a grand total of less than five horse-power of motive capability. This Christmas imagine trying to getting from Buffalo to Cleveland to visit family in a just few hours on I-90 with five horse-power available.

It won't happen.

Or imagine flying Hawaiian Air from Kauai to Oahu for some last minute shopping a Bloomingdale's at the Ala Muana Shopping Center. many people will. Hawiian Air's Boeing 717 with Rolls-Royce BR700 turbo-jet engine is rated about 10,000 horsepower, or about 100hp per passenger. Could you get to Oahu with 5hp. Maybe in a outrigger canoe, if you could navigate the Kauai Channel in winter.

It won't happen.

Americans won't we voluntarily brought to a sustainable model. To mask this underlying truth we have become insensate to the effects of our consumption. Self denial fills the airwaves. Techno optimism reigns among the wealthy, on one hand, and prepper paranoia rages among the disenfranchised.

Saving Mother Nature
If, as a species, we want to continue living on Earth then we will have to do it with a partner - Mother Nature. Our divorce from her has led us to depressants and stimulants:
A) eating take-out Jack in the Box at 3:00am watching Reruns of Big Bang Theory on cable TV in the Lazyboy after washing three Ambien down with a margarita for that insomnia that's been plaguing you.

B) Driving to Vegas to gamble with that cashed in home equity loan after a Big Breakfast at McDonalds where you chased down three Requip with some hot coffee for that restless leg syndrome you've experienced.  
Who needs illegal drugs.

Mother Nature won't for us patiently much longer. We need to awake from the reactionary stupor that we are in and get to work on the roof and in the backyard. PV panels and raised beds for the masses.

Image above: Still frame TV ad for Ambien brand of Zolpedem sleep aid. Side effects include Common side effects of Ambien CR include drowsiness, sleeplessness, hallucinations, anxiety, depression and condfusion. The pharmaceutical company won't allow YouTube to provide embedding code. From (

Video above: TV ad for Requip brand of Ropinirole. A prescription medicine for Restless Leg Syndrome.Note - side effects include impulse control disorders included pathological gambling and hypersexuality, increased libido, amnesia, impaired concentration, confusion, amnesia, anxiety, abnormal dreaming, nervousness, hallucinations, delirium, delusions, paranoia. From (


Oppose US DOI takeover

SUBHEAD: Why you should oppose the US Interior Department and the State of Hawaii disenfranchising Hawaiians.

By Staff on 2 December 2015 for Aina Lahui -

Image above: Poster for "Our Aina, Our Kuleana" project. From (

In 1993, the U.S., through Public Law 103-150 acknowledged that the Hawaiian people never gave up their rights to their national lands (aka “ceded lands”) to the U.S. government.

Now, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) proposed rule would unethically terminate Native Hawaiian rights to millions of acres of HAWAIIAN ‘Δ€INA.

The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) is proposing to re-establish a formal government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community that will not affect the title, jurisdiction, or status of Federal lands and property in Hawaii.

In effect, the U.S. would continue to control nearly 900,000 acres of land in the main Hawaiian Islands and over 88 million acres of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

The absence of any reference to Hawaiian lands controlled by the State of Hawaii in the proposed rule is of grave concern. With this much at stake, we must submit testimony in opposition to the DOI’s proposed rule before December 30.

DHHL Beneficiary Form Testimony

We have added a form testimony specifically for Hawaiian Homestead beneficiaries (Lessees and individuals on wait list) on account of specific references in the rule to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) and homestead communities.

The Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) has not yet taken a position on the DOI rule even though it has the potential to disband the HHCA altogether.

Although the DHHL has a fiduciary obligation to its beneficiaries, the department has not held any informational meetings on the proposed DOI rule in their beneficiary communities.

Is it because the DHHL protects the interests of Governor Ige and the State of Hawaii over the interests of their native Hawaiian beneficiaries?

Call your DHHL commissioner at (808) 620-9590 and tell them to oppose the DOI proposed rule.


For Native Hawaiians>>  LONG FORM Letter  |  SHORT FORM Letter
For DHHL Beneficiaries>> FORM Letter
For Non-Hawaiians >> LONG FORM Letter SHORT FORM Letter

Deadline: DECEMBER 30, 2015

See graphic examples of land already stolen from Hawaiian control (like Kauai's Pacific Missile Range Facility operated by the US Navy for American weapon manufacturers).


DowPont Genetically Modified Offices

SOURCE: Ken Taylor (
SUBHEAD: A new ag-chem corporation will emerge with $19 billion in GMO seed and pesticide sales.

By Staff on 11 December 2015 for Pacific Business News -
Image above: Mashup of the logos of Dow and DuPont by Juan Wilson. From (

DuPont and Dow Chemical Co., which both own seed operations in Hawaii, have agreed to an all-stock merger valued at $130 billion that will create a new company called DowDuPont, the two companies said Friday.

Reuters reports the two largest U.S. chemical producers will combine before splitting into three publicly traded companies that will focus on agriculture, materials and specialty products. The deal will require regulatory approvals.

Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) and Delaware-based DuPont (NYSE: DD) are calling the deal a “merger of equals.”

The two companies were among the seed producers that sued Kauai County over a county ordinance requiring agribusiness companies to disclose their use of pesticides and the presence of genetically-modified crops.

DuPont to cut 5,000 jobs

SUBHEAD: It's a sign of weakness, not strength, that these two monsters are being joined at the hip.

By Joseph DiStefano on 11 December 2015 or Philly - 

Dow Chemical Co., based in Midland, Mich., and DuPont Co., Wilmington, said Friday they will combine in a "tax-free merger" into one company, DowDuPont, then split the combination into three. They want to slice at least $3 billion in yearly expenses, shut offices and plants and lay off thousands, in hopes of driving up share prices and enriching investors. DuPont merger statement here.

DuPont also said Friday that, even before the merger, it will erase around 5,400 of its 54,000 global employees. CEO Edward Breen plans to cut $700 million from spending next year, and pay $650 million for layoff severance to thousands of workers who will lose their jobs, plus $130 million for plant shutdowns. The companies employ around 100,000 worldwide, almost 1/10th of whom work in the Philadelphia area (list at bottom). DuPont spending cuts statement here. Also, Dow will absorb Dow Corning; statement here.

In remarks to investors, the bosses said they'd relied on advice from corporate raiders Daniel Loeb of the Tri Point hedge fund group, which owns 2% of Dow, and Nelson Peltz of the Trian hedge fund group, which owns 3% of DuPont, in designing the split-up, which they hope to conclude by late 2017.

The planned cuts include $300 million of the combined $3.6 billion a year the companies spend on research and development. Duplicate electronics factories are among the facilities likely to be closed, Breen said.

The move joins two 100+-year-old firms that grew rich building and acquiring chemical patents, developing processes and products they sold to armies, farms, factories, households and governments worldwide, employing hundreds of thousands of professionals and skilled workers, often creating toxic byproducts.

Dow boss Andrew N. Liveris, who told investors in a conference call today he's been trying "for more than a decade" to merge with DuPont, will be the combined firms' Executive Chairman. DuPont's new CEO Edward D. Breen, who will keep that title at the combined companies, cracked that he'd "coveted this deal for about two months," or since he got the top job at DuPont. But Breen also said he and other DuPont directors also "looked at every other variation that there could be around the world" in search of profitable buyers, sellers and partners.

Breen will oversee the two smaller of the three planned successor companies before hiring their CEOs; the largest group of companies will report to Liveris and keep the Dow name. The as-yet unnamed chief financial officer for the combined companies will report to Breen. Breen said Dow and DuPont "fit together like hand and glove."

 The three successor firms:
  • Pesticides and GMO crops - DuPont and Dow crop pesticides and genetically-modified seeds, with sales totalling $19 billion, will unite into an "Agriculture" company under Breen's oversight.
  • Plastics and Construction Materials - DuPont's Performance Materials group will be folded into Dow's plastics, construction and consumer businesses, creating a $51 billion "Material Science" company under Liveris' watch.
  • Electronics and  Bioscience - DuPont's nutrition and health, enzymes and biosciences, safety and protection, and electronics and coummunications groups will be joined to Dow's electronic materials business in a "Special Products" group under Breen.
While the Ag merger "makes some sense," bond analyst Carol Levenson wrote in a report to clients of Gimme Credit LLC, "the Material Science company is mostly just Dow's commodities businesses and the Specialty company is mostly just DuPont's specialty businesses."

The Specialty Products company "kind of seems like 'All Other,'" UBS analyst John Roberts noted in the investor conference call. Liveris said it was Breen's idea to put that group together, and insisted they weren't "leftovers."

Breen said the group combines a string of "high R&D" businesses.

Breen promised to cut "duplication" but also to protect "the people inventing and making the product" as well as customer-facing salespeople. Other jobs are "fair game" for "attack," he added.

Analyst Jonas Oxgaard told clients of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. that he's "disappointed that DuPont's best-performing Performance Materials segment" will be merged into Dow's lower-performing plastics group in the "Material Science" company. He urged the partners to "rethink" the way the companies will be divided.

The mergers and cuts are expected to translate to more job losses at DuPont's shrunken headquarters in suburban Wilmington. Sources at DuPont in Delaware tell me the Special Products business is the one most likely to remain based in Wilmington if it becomes a separate company.

Analysts also noted the combined companies will have to divide up multibillion-dollar pension, pollution, debt and tax liabilities. DuPont CFO Nicholas Fanandakis said he expects rising interest rates, and higher yields on bond investments, will help pay future pensions.

Liveris and Breen said they weren't too worried about U.S. Department of Justice antitrust regulators calling the merger uncompetitive; they expect to sell off any businesses that get in the way of approval.

But U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement that the Dow-DuPont deal "demands serious scrutiny." He called on federal regulators for "vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws," and added that he'll  "be listening to Iowa farmers and consumers about any concerns they may have with this proposal."

Liveris said he plans to use Dow's 2009 purchase of Philadephia-based Rohm and Haas as a model.

While Dow shut some longtime Rohm and Haas plants and plans to pull the last of the headquarters staff out of  Rohm and Haas' former landmark Philadlephia headquarters next year, Liveris said Dow made sure to preserve the guts of the specialty chemical maker, its "application development and the sales engine and the innovation engine."

By contrast, raw materials and service contracts are "a target-rich environment" for cost-cutting, Liveris added.

Everyone wants to cut "duplicative corporate services" -- but if the authors of this merger are serious about following consolidation with creation, vanished costs will "reappear times three," according to bond analyst Levenson.

"Mergers and spinoffs do not come cheaply," she added. "Is this a brilliant idea or just a way to generate investment banking fees?" She noted that Tyco bondholders had sued Breen over what they considered his unfair division of corporate debt when he dismembered that former conglomerate in 2007.

Hedge-fund investors Loeb and Peltz had expressed impatience with the chemical giants' large management structures and the slow or hard-to-measure pace of scientific research and product development, and called for asset sales and cost cuts that will make it easier for them to extract cash.

While officials at the companies' pesticide competitors, including Sygenta, Monsanto and FMC, have described potential merger talks as near-universal through their industry as global demand has fallen over the past two years, Liveris told investors that DuPont and Dow directors have been in direct talks since at least last winter, when Breen's predecessor, Ellen Kullman, was in charge.

The companies insist theirs will be an unusual "merger of equals" rather than an acquisition. "This transaction is a game-changer for our industry and reflects the culmination of a vision we have had for more than a decade to bring together these two powerful innovation and material science leaders," said Liveris in a statement.

For now, DowDuPont plans to maintain both offices as "dual headquarters." The new board will include 8 directors from each company. They have not yet been named.

DuPont has bought and sold hundreds of companies since the 1920s. Other former DuPont divisions or affiliates that are now separate companies based in the Philadelphia area include Axalta, Endo and Incyte. Earlier this year, DuPont spun off money-losing chemical units into a new company, Chemours.

DuPont facilities in the Philadelphia area employ around 7,000:
Research and Development (pesticides and seeds) – Stine-Haskell Lab, Newark, Del.
Research and Development  (many products) -- Experimental Station, Wilmington
Plastics and Polymers – Pencader and Tralee Park plants, Newark, Del.
Automotive, specialty chemicals, pesticides -- Chambers Works, Deepwater, NJ
Headquarters and offices – Chestnut Run, Wilmington
Contaminated, shuttered manufacturing site -- Repauno, N.J.
Hotel du Pont, DuPont Country Club, Brantwyn Estate -- Wilmington
Dow Chemical facilities in the Philadelphia area employ around 2,500:
Northeast Technology Center – Collegeville
Paint/Engineering – Bristol
Paint Quality Institute – Spring House
Northeast Technology Center -- Collegeville
Insulation - Pennsauken
Electronics, computer chip materials – Newark, Del.
Philadelphia Office – scheduled to close in 2016
Former facilities (a sampling):
DuPont Philadelphia Works -- shut in 2009, now part of University of Pennsylvania
DuPont Edge Moor (Del.) works -- spun off with Chemours, scheduled to close (DuPont still maintains a waste facility nearby)
Dow (ex Rohm and Haas) division headquarters -- Independence Mall, Philadelphia (scheduled to close in 2016)
DuPont and Dow both have shuttered former chemical operations in Northeast Philadelphia

DuPont's weakness made the deal
SUBHEAD: The merger of DowPont's agriculture businesses allows them to combine resources to compete with industry leaders Syngenta and Monsanto.

Downstream from Friday's announced merger between DuPont and Dow Chemical, this much seems clear: DuPont’s Delaware operations will see a reduction in high paying jobs and the loss of many functions associated with a headquarters operation.

Many in the First State were caught off guard by the announcement and are slowly coming to terms with the possibility of a Delaware without DuPont for the first time since Thomas Jefferson was president. 

But for those who have watched the worldwide agriculture market, the merger was anything but a surprise.

The companies will form DowDuPont, the world's second largest chemical business behind BASF. For now, it will maintain a headquarters in each company's hometown; just outside Wilmington for DuPont and Midland, Michigan, north of Detroit, for Dow.

DuPont, separately, reported it will eliminate 5,000 positions, or 10 percent of its global workforce. Some of those layoffs will be in Delaware, where it has about 7,000 workers. The move is part of the company's plan to slash $1.6 billion from its budget by 2017.

As corporate profits waned in the wake of a global agricultural market downturn, a mega-merger like the one between DuPont and Dow became inevitable.

The industry is producing its lowest returns in nearly a decade. Crop and soybean prices have dropped, while land and seed prices have increased, cutting into farmers' profits. Since 2012, individual farm profits averaged $33,000 per year, according to the Center for Farm Financial Management.

That is more than 50 percent less than the $67,000 in average annual profits they enjoyed during agriculture's boom years between 2007 and 2012.

U.S. companies with agriculture stakes have paid the price. DuPont's agriculture unit generated an operating loss of $210 million in the third quarter, $154 million worse than the loss in the third quarter of 2014.

"Corn and soybeans in the U.S., two of the most important row crops there are, have seen their value cut in half or greater in the last two years," said Allan Gray, director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University. "Farmers have certainly seen their revenue cut in half."
This is not a United States-only phenomenon, however.

DuPont's heavy exposure in Brazil, which recently had its credit rating reduced to "junk" status by Standard and Poor's, is cited as the primary issue afflicting the Wilmington-based company's balance sheets.

Brazil's economy is plagued by an inflation rate that is approaching double digits. Demand for its two biggest exports, coffee beans and sugar, have fallen and the drop in commodity prices has undermined the nation's oil industry. Complicating matters is the sluggish economy of Brazil's largest trading partner, China.

The Brazilian recession has made it difficult for its farmers to afford the seed and crop protection products offered by U.S. agricultural companies like DuPont. With profits shrinking and credit difficult to obtain, Brazilian farmers are growing fewer crops and needing fewer supplies.

About 6.7 percent of DuPont's 2014 revenue came from Brazil, according to regulatory filings. When the company lowered its earnings outlook for 2015 in October, it placed the blame squarely on Brazil.
"The revised outlook primarily affects continued strengthening of the dollar versus currencies in emerging markets, particularly the Brazilian real, and a further weakening of agricultural markets, primarily in Brazil," the company said while reducing its outlook to $2.75 per share from its original estimate of $3.10 per share.

Despite the problems with Brazil, DuPont continues to invest in the country. DuPont's Pioneer unit, which produces hybrid seeds, maintains a heavy presence there. In October, DuPont announced plans to build a $22 million seed treatment laboratory in Brazil.

Matt Arnold, an analyst with Edward Jones in St. Louis, said Brazil had been a strong market for DuPont and could again be a growth region for the newly consolidated company.
"I think those Brazilian challenges will be prove to be short-lived," he said.

Why merge?

Exposure to Brazil has also impacted DuPont’s rivals. Syngenta AG, which is also very active in Brazil, saw its revenue drop 12 percent in the third quarter to $2.6 billion, due mainly to reduced commodity prices in that country.

Dow Chemicals' Latin America exposure was one of the reasons its AgroSciences business lost $2 million in sales between the 2014 and 2015 third quarters. The units' operating earnings before taxes was a loss of $39 million because of Latin America. Monsanto Co. is less active in those markets, but still has been impacted by the industry downturn. The St. Louis-based company will eliminate 2,600 jobs to save $300 million annually by 2019.

A weak agricultural market across the U.S. and abroad has left industry players with little choice but to pursue consolidation. Smaller returns have left companies with little to invest in research and development, making a combination of efforts attractive.

Mark Gulley, an industry analyst and principal at Gulley & Associates, a chemicals consulting firm in New York, said the merger of Dow and DuPont's agriculture business allows them to combine resources to compete with industry leaders Syngenta and Monsanto.

Gulley said that DuPont has "never really scored" in its efforts to develop new genetically modified seed traits – herbicide-resistant seeds, for example – and would benefit by adding Dow AgroSciences technology.

The $130 billion merger of Dow and DuPont may have surprised some, but industry watchers had been expecting a major consolidation announcement for some time. Monsanto in August withdrew its $46 billion bid to acquire Syngenta, the world's largest pesticide maker after the Swiss company refused to negotiate. Syngenta said the offer didn't fully reflect its prospects and created antitrust risks.

The China National Chemical Corp., or ChemChina, a state-owned Chinese company is said to be pursuing Syngenta. ChemChina is not a major agricultural player yet, but the company has been investing in pesticides.

Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said earlier this year he was still searching for deals, calling industry consolidation “inevitable.”

"I think some kind of merger among the big six was inevitable," said GianCarlo Moschini, an economics professor and chair of the Science and Technology Policy unit at Iowa State University. "I am little surprised it is these two because, for a while, it seemed like it was going to involve Monsanto and Syngenta. I wouldn't be surprised if there was more to come."

One of the reasons Dow and DuPont came together is because their agricultural units are compatible. DowDuPont would control roughly 40 percent of the American corn-seed and soybean market and 17 percent of global pesticide sales.

Currently, Monsanto is the largest player in the seed market with nearly $5 billion in sales, accounting for 23 percent of the market.

The increased market share of DowDuPont will likely pass antitrust scrutiny because it doesn't give the newly merged company an overwhelming edge in any one sector.

"What each one is good at is somewhat different," Moschini said. "They both have chemicals but I don't think there's much overlap for them to compete head-to-head."

Arnold said the reduced possibility of regulatory hurdles is one of the reasons why a Dow and DuPont merger worked rather than either company pursuing another rival.

"I don't think Monsanto and DuPont or DuPont and Syngenta would have pared well," he said.

"They would have created an antitrust behemoth in the seed market."

Kullman vs. Breen

Formed as a gunpowder manufacturer in 1802, as DuPont grew so did Delaware.
Three DuPont cousins assumed control of the company nearly a hundred years later and based it in Wilmington instead of New York or Philadelphia. The cousins revolutionized downtown Wilmington through the construction of the DuPont Building, which opened in 1907. More than a corporate headquarters, the DuPont Building expanded to include an upscale hotel, and a Broadway-style theater.
The DuPont name is everywhere in the state. It adorns hospitals, schools, country clubs, and highways. Towns were transformed as Wilmington became the "The Manufacturing Capital of the World" and Seaford was known as "The Nylon Capital of the World." During World War I, the company built suburban developments throughout New Castle County.

At its peak in the mid-1980s, DuPont employed roughly 26,000 in the state.

Now, Delaware must adjust to the once thinkable – the likely end of DuPont in Delaware.

Had the Dow deal not materialized, DuPont would have likely survived the downturn following the path laid out by Ellen Kullman, the company's former CEO. Kullman, who was forced out by the board in October, was replaced by Ed Breen a man with a reputation for mergers and acquisitions forged during his time at the helm of Tyco International Ltd.

Kullman had implemented cost-cutting measures to ride out the cyclical agricultural market, but had not pushed for any significant changes. It was this plan that helped Kullman defeat activist investor Nelson Peltz's efforts to gain four seats on DuPont's board.

In contrast, Breen discussed an agricultural acquisition or divestiture in his first earnings call with Wall Street analysts, mere weeks after being appointed CEO. Some thought DuPont would likely pursue a joint venture, rather than a massive merger.

If DuPont remained a stand-alone company, it would likely be a little leaner by selling of some business units. However, the company would have remained largely intact until the market rebounded.

"This isn't a deal that had to happen," Arnold said. "They were already on a path to ride out the down cycle."

Strategic mergers during an economic downtown typically position the combined company as a stronger entity poised to take advantage of improved market conditions. By merging during this period, Dow and DuPont no longer have to settle for just surviving the downturn, but can boast they emerged as a stronger entity.

It also creates opportunity to lower the companies' cost structures so the new business is better prepared when the market returns.

"I think this merger is going to reduce costs and allow DuPont and Dow to combine their best and brightest, which ultimately will result in better products at a faster pace," Gray said

Scenarios after COP21

SUBHEAD: Forget the dreary COP21 results and think big. Here are some possible scenarios. 

By Ugo Bardi on 14 December 2015 for Cassandra's Legacy -

Image above: Cartoon by Tom Toles of scientists 50 years in the future working on a time machine to allow us to go back  and fix climate change. From (

The COP21 conference in Paris has brought again climate to the attention of the public and, from now on, there starts the real challenge: what can we really expect for the future of the earth's climate? As always, predictions are difficult, especially when there are many variables involved. Nevertheless, climate change is the result of physical factors that we can understand and we know that the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - if it continues - is going to lead us to a very unpleasant future.

If we look at the long-term future, the whole question rotates on whether we manage to stay below an increase in temperature that is believed to be "safe" (it might be 2 degrees C, but we don't know for sure), or we pass the limit and we find ourselves above the "climate tipping point" after which the system starts moving by itself toward more and more warming with all the associated disasters.

So, I thought I might engage in a little exercise of qualitative "scenario building" with a special focus on climate. Here are some scenarios; listed in no particular order. Some you could see as horrible, some as unlikely, others as overoptimistic. But they are just that: scenarios. The COP21 was a step in the right direction. Avoiding the worst outcomes will not be easy, but it is up to us.

1. Business as usual
In this scenario, things remain mostly as they are today; just gradually worsening. There are no major wars, no abrupt economic collapses, no sudden climate disasters. But temperatures keep increasing while the world's economic system is battered by one crisis after the other. So, the economy gradually loses the resources necessary to keep alive the structures that study and understand global problems: universities and research centers. As a consequence, global problems slip away from the collective consciousness. People get killed by heat waves, starved by droughts, and swept away by monster hurricanes, and still no one is able to connect all that to climate change, while the burning of fossil fuels, although reduced because of depletion, continues. In the long run, that would lead to the end of civilization by a whisper, rather than by a bang.

2. The climate panic 
This is the symmetric and opposite scenario to the above. As the climate crisis gets worse, we may arrive at a "perception tipping point;" maybe generated by some spectacular event (e.g. a monster ice calving from Antarctica or Greenland) or, simply, by the accumulation of evidence. A wave of climate panic would lead to a scramble to "do something" and things might worsen rather than improve them if, for instance, some extreme forms of geoengineering were attempted. However, it might also lead to positive results. For instance, a push for reforestation and for renewable energy would effectively mitigate climate change. It is not obvious that our civilization needs a burst of panic to be saved, but that might give us an extra chance.

3. The Seneca collapse
Before being hit by some climate disaster, the world's economy could experience a "Seneca collapse" as the result of resource depletion.  such a situation, people would have no time to worry about anything but their immediate survival and that would lead to climate change being completely forgotten. On the other hand, the economic collapse would cause a reduction in emissions probably well beyond even the wildest dreams of environmentalists. It is not obvious, however, that this would be sufficient to avoid to go above the 2 C limit.

4. The warring states
The present situation has been likened to the beginning of the first world war and there are serious risks that the ongoing conflicts will escalate into a major worldwide confrontation. In such case, all the worries about climate change would be immediately forgotten. A major war would likely boost the efforts to extract as much fossil fuels as possible, including, probably, the oil shales that pure market forces seem to be unable to extract (it may be that the current drive for war arises in part from this kind of considerations). That would lead to emissions spiking up, at least for the duration of the war. On the other hand, it is likely that any major war would rapidly peter out because of the lack of energy and resources to carry it on. So, the carbon spike won't last long. Still, it could do a lot of damage, making things even more difficult.

5. The nuclear holocaust
A variant of the war scenario, it assumes that one or more contenders would decide to play the nuclear card. That could take the shape of tactical or strategic nuclear bombing or also that of attacking the adversary's nuclear plants utilizing conventional weapons. In all cases, we would see a rapid drop of the carbon emissions as large industrialized areas would be destroyed or just rendered uninhabitable. A massive nuclear exchange would also generate so much dust in the upper atmosphere that the result could be described as a "nuclear winter" causing an extreme cooling that might do even more damage than warming. However, that would do nothing to change the long-run effect of the greenhouse gases already emitted in the atmosphere. The dust would eventually settle down and the warming restart with a vengeance.

6. Depopulation
Most current projections assume that the human population will keep smoothly increasing throughout the 21st century, plateauing at around 9-10 billion individuals, or perhaps more than that. However, the historical record shows that human populations rarely follow this kind of trajectory, more often tending to collapse after having peaked. A good case in point is that of Ireland, between 1845 and 1850, when population crashed to about half of the size it had at the peak. The world's population might collapse in the same way as the result of wars, epidemics, pollution, of someone playing games with biological weapons and it might not be impossible to lose several billion people in a few decades, or even faster. The result would be a strong reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions, albeit obtained at a price that nobody would want to pay. However, people would continue burning fossil fuels and the cumulative amount of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would continue increasing. So, it is not obvious that even this extreme scenario could lead to avoiding the climate tipping point.

7. The renewable revolution
Renewable energy is the wild card of the situation. It is already efficient enough that it can outcompete fossil fuels and it could grow fast enough to replace them before it is too late. Assume that people understand both the advantages of renewable energy and the desperate need we have to stop burning fossil fuels, then we could arrive at a "bottom-up" revolution in which we don't need government-enforced emission trading or a carbon tax. A situation in which even climate science deniers wouldn't be so silly to pay more for dirty fossil energy when they can have cheaper and clean energy. In the end, the battle for climate would be won when a consortium of renewable companies buys Exxon and closes it down. Problem solved and it is the beginning of a new era.

We could combine some of these scenarios together, or think of different ones. The only rule is that they shouldn't be too improbable. For instance, we shouldn't include scenarios dealing with an alien invasion of the planet or with the COP97 being held in Siorapaluk, in Northern Greenland, in 2074 finally arriving at a binding treaty on the phasing out of fossil fuels. Apart from this, the future always surprises us. Just don't forget that the future cannot be predicted, but that you can be prepared for it.