Ocean Warming on Steroids

SUBHEAD: Humans adding a half dozen Hiroshima A-bombs of heat per second to oceans.

By Eong Higgins on 14 January 2020 for Common Dreams -

Image above: Illustration for article "Three Times The World Almost Entered A Nuclear War". From (https://www.thefactsite.com/nuclear-war/).

A new study published Monday shows that the Earth's oceans reached the highest temperatures and warmed the fastest since records began, highlighting the urgent need for global action to address the climate crisis before it's too late.

The study (pdf), "Record-Setting Ocean Warmth Continued in 2019," which was published in Advances in Atmospheric Studies, found the oceans have warmed by around 0.075 degrees C above the average of 1981-2010.

That level of warming, the paper found, is equal to:
 228,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (228 Sextillion) Joules of heat. 

Study lead author Lijing Cheng, associate professor with the International Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences analogized the level of heating to something more manageable for the human mind.

"The amount of heat we have put in the world's oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions," said Cheng. 

"This measured ocean warming is irrefutable and is further proof of global warming. There are no reasonable alternatives aside from the human emissions of heat trapping gases to explain this heating."

The warming is speeding up, the scientists found.

"We are now at five to six Hiroshima bombs of heat each second," study co-author John Abraham, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas, told CNN.

Abraham said in a statement Monday announcing the study's publication that the public needs to be aware "how fast things are changing."

"The key to answering this question is in the oceans—that's where the vast majority of heat ends up," said Abraham. "If you want to understand global warming, you have to measure ocean warming."

The ocean warms slowly, said Cheng, but due to its vast size has dire consequences.

"The price we pay is the reduction of ocean-dissolved oxygen, the harmed marine lives, strengthening storms and reduced fisheries and ocean-related economies," Cheng said. "However, the more we reduce greenhouse gasses, the less the ocean will warm."

Anticipating Collapse

SUBHEAD: Collapse can’t happen soon enough, as far as I’m concerned.

By Damaris Zehner on 16 January 2020 for Integrity of Life -

Image above: "How the West Was Won" painting by Mark Bryant. For more detail and many other paintings by Mark visit (https://www.artofmarkbryan.com/recent-work/#!jig[1]/NG/427).

Collapse can’t happen soon enough, as far as I’m concerned.

By collapse, I mean the breakdown of the complexities of our current society. 

Those would be government bureaucracies, educational and credentialing systems, laws and regulations of all sorts, tax codes, the interconnected layers of our identities on the internet, the ballooning administrative sector, insurance, the stock market, multinational corporations, the military-industrial complex – all the way down to the proliferation of single-purpose kitchen gadgets cluttering our cupboards.

It's not that I long for the feral world, red in tooth and claw, portrayed in collapse fiction, although I know there are those who fantasize about mastering a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I acknowledge that the collapse of complex societies (the name of a great study by Joseph Tainter) is both the result of problems and the cause of problems in human relations and survival.

Collapse seems always to be tied to environmental degradation, although there are many other related causes, and is often accompanied by war, hunger, displaced people, and a fall in population. I would have to be a monster to want my family and neighbors to suffer all those things, and I'm not.

But there are two points I want to make about collapse: that it is inevitable; and that it is necessary before genuine reform can take place.

First the inevitability.

History and archaeology show that every complex society that has ever arisen has fallen. Ancient China, Babylon, Assyria, Hittites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Mongols, Mayans, Incas, Mali, Zimbabwe, the Spanish Empire, the British Empire – these all followed a similar pattern of expansion, administration, and dissolution.

Some have fallen spectacularly and vanished from history, while others have rearranged themselves and emerged in another form, but none has survived for long at its peak of power.

There are lots of theories about timelines and patterns that you can read if you’re interested, but the central point is that complex human societies, like everything else in this universe, do not expand infinitely.

Eventually they all collapse, partially or completely, and something different rises in their place. This process will certainly be compounded and sped up in our generation by the looming climate catastrophe.

Discussion of the issue of collapse often takes a moral tone, asking what we've done that God, gods, or nature is punishing us for – and that is an appropriate and helpful process, one we should spend a lot of time thinking about, because we are moral creatures.

But the moral element sometimes distracts us from the natural inevitability of collapse, the pattern that we see when a sapling sprouts in a forest, grows, ages, falls, and leaves a gap for other saplings to fill.

Too often the moral approach assumes that we can avoid that natural pattern if we just shape up. To a degree and for a time that’s true, but ultimately it is hubris to expect that we and our institutions can live forever.

So the current Western society that we take for granted will collapse. I don’t know when or how or to what degree, but I know it will. It would be wonderful if we could assert our collective will to downsize voluntarily, to “collapse now and avoid the rush,” as John Michael Greer puts it.

It would be great if we could restrict our appetites, break away from our expectations, and be willing to imagine an unknowable future, rather than fighting to preserve the status quo. I have a tiny hope that some people might being willing to collapse well, which is what keeps me writing about human-shaped institutions.

On the whole, however, I expect that the collapse will be messy, not carefully managed by people of goodwill. I expect there will be conflict and competition, selfishness defending itself against need, and a dearth of imagination about how things could be different but still good. ]

Western society has made enemies of people and nature in its expansion, and those enemies will pour in when they get the chance if we don’t make peace with them first.

But the future doesn’t need to be a Book of Eli scenario of blasted landscapes, gangs, and cannibalism. My second point is that collapse is also an opportunity for new life, new systems, a new attempt at balance. In the gaps left by the fall of complicated, ossified institutions, more human-shaped ones can grow. It will be messy, but it could be good.

Think about this as an example.

I’ve been writing a lot about educational reform. I have a picture of the kind of school I’d love to start, and have even worked on making it a reality at various times in the past.

But starting a small, sane, countercultural school right now involves a lot of complexity: at minimum, credentials from states and/or independent agencies, which would dictate the training and qualifications of teachers; building codes; insurance of all sorts; and financing to rent or buy space. 

It involves competing with other schools for families who assume that interschool competitions in sports, music, debate, and other areas are necessary. It involves dealing with colleges who have become ever more demanding about transcripts and activities, and with parents who are afraid that alternative education would interfere with their children’s ability to get scholarships. 

And even if all of those issues could be successfully addressed, it means that only wealthy families could send their children to the kind of school that I think all children should go to.

If the public school system and its related institutions collapsed, however, the school I’d like to start would be a valuable alternative for the people who wouldn’t even consider it now. I could start it in my house, if I had to, and barter goods and services with parents who couldn't afford cash, all outside of the current bureaucracy. 

The same is true of all other fields: I know there are doctors who would love to open a practice independent of the nationwide networks, and, not dragged down by the crazy costs of education and insurance, treat patients for a reasonable price. 

There are farmers who would be more successful if they were no longer crushed by regulations designed for industrial-level food producers and no longer competing against the subsidized foodlike substances sold throughout our fast food nation. The same is true of producers of all sorts: clothes designers, carpenters, builders, writers, artists, and others.

(Let me insert a quick explanation here: I am not against regulations guaranteeing safety and quality. I have no problem with reasonable government at the appropriate level for the issues being considered. I’m just saying that the expansion of complexity ultimately stifles freedom and creativity, and that collapse creates an opening for freedom and creativity.)

The next question that needs to be asked, then, is what should we do in anticipating collapse, and how should we participate in the process? Is violent revolution inevitable, as Marx said? Should we proactively start a violent revolution to hurry things along, as Soviet Marxists thought? Should we use heinous methods to destabilize the status quo like the accelerationists

Should we try to work through our current institutions of law and government to create reform, as activists want? Or should we retreat to woods and communes to start a parallel society apart from our metastasized system, as used to happen millennia ago when there was more unoccupied land to retreat to?

I’m not confident that any of these methods would yield the results that I’d like to see. Nor am I sure that revolutions and reforms can direct the mighty forces of expansion and collapse that rule the universe. I see us more like people on a raft hurtling toward a surf-torn shore, arguing about whether we should be paddling forward, paddling backward, or jumping overboard.

Can we really change anything, or are the forces driving us forward too powerful to divert? I don’t know. You can go ahead and try the method that makes sense to you, so long as you act within moral bounds and don’t assume that the ends justify the means; I just don’t think it will make that much difference to the ultimate collapse of society. 

However, the choices we make will mean everything in the world to the kind of people we become and the future society we form: either motivated by greed, competition, and entitlement, or founded on kindness, humility, and balance.


The Commons and Climate Change

SUBHEAD: Our best recourse is to fortify our commons as a failsafe against the future.
By David Bollier on 8 January 2020 for Bollier.org -

Image above: "Summer" by Peter Breugel II depicting a village working the fields. From (https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plik:Pieter_Brueghel_(II)_-_The_four_seasons,_summer_(Bukarest).jpg).

There is much to be said about the relationship of commons to climate change, but let me offer this short glimpse into the clash of worldviews that must be negotiated. Whatever the outcome in ongoing arguments with capitalist climate-deniers, our best recourse will be to build and fortify our many commons as a failsafe against the earthly reckoning that is coming.

A recent editorial in The Daily Telegraph (UK) resentfully noted the toll that climate collapse is wrecking on human civilization:
“As if climate change does not engender enough worries about flooding, storms and bush fires, there is another consequence we often fail to appreciate -- the impact on financial services and pensions in particular.” 
The editorial went on to conclude: “In the end, in spite of what Greta Thunberg believes, it is the capitalist system, the economic growth it generates and investment in green technologies that will make it possible to move to a carbon-free future without triggering a global recession.”

Just another day in the Anthopocene Era: a self-absorbed denial of the encompassing realities of the living Earth.

Michael Dunwell, a painter who works with Transition movement in Bristol, England, took issue with this myopic, anthropocentric attitude – the idea that, as if flooding, storms, etc., were not enough, the financial system is being affected!

To which Dunwell indignantly replied: “As if! As if climate change was some purely arbitrary and isolated event that for some unknown reason menaces the basic necessity for our existence on the planet of our financial services!”

He continued:
“I am continually taken back to the story of the enclosure of the commons, which perfectly illustrates the problem of the market and the environment. 
There is no denying that you can make more money by putting a fence round a piece of land and grazing sheep, when the market for wool is thriving, than you can by letting a group of men who have helped you conquer that territory pursue a subsistence living on it, with their families. 
“This ‘fact of life’ justified the conversion of half the land in England, over three or four centuries, from common land to private property, and instilled in the minds of everyone the ‘necessity’ of an economy based on productivity for the market. The massive increase in productivity and wealth produced by the industrial revolution simply emphasised what had already been effected by enclosure, i.e., the marketisation of land and labour. 
The resulting woes of social injustice and environmental ruin now confront a global economic culture in an entirely new way; it is no longer just a matter of inequality and differing values, but of survival. If we cannot reclaim land and labour from the market it will devour us. 
“But the neoliberals now in power complain that not enough people realise that climate change has an impact on their core institutions! In Opposition we complain that the neoliberals are in denial of the impact of an unregulated economy on all the natural and social systems in the world. It looks inevitable that the breakdown of these systems themselves will be more likely to settle the argument than any rational debate, in the course of the next decade. So what do we do in the meantime? 
“We get together in groups that have already shown signs of resilience through their awareness of the danger of the growth economy. We plan for food and energy security on local bases regardless of existing policies – or lack of them. 
We sustain ourselves with the love and comradeship we have experienced in the Transition and XR movements. We do not wait for politics to change; we just concentrate on reconnecting with our human instinct of collaboration. 
We are about to say goodbye to a lot of luxuries we can manage without, and re-discover the principles of the biosphere.”


BlackRock reveals its Eco-Strategy

SUBHEAD: Investment company plans to fight Climate Change with its new strategy.

By Eoin Higgins on 14 January 2020 for Common Dreams  -

Image above: From ().

In a letter to investors Tuesday, Larry Fink, CEO of money management firm BlackRock, announced the company would prioritize the climate crisis in deciding on investments and strategies going forward—a major victory for the environmental movement.

The new direction for BlackRock, the largest investment firm in the world which manages assets of around $6.96 trillion, is the result of a hard-fought effort by a group of dedicated activists, tweeted 350 Action co-founder Bill McKibben.

"This is a massive victory for a small band of fighters," said McKibben.

"It gives us enormous confidence as we take on the giant banks," he added. "When we start to fight we start to win."
As Common Dreams reported last week, a new campaign called "Stop the Money Pipeline" is aimed at stopping financial support for the fossil fuel industry and has BlackRock as one of its primary targets.

Fink says in his letter to investors that he believes "we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance."

"The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance," Fink wrote.

According to the New York Times:
The firm, he wrote, would also introduce new funds that shun fossil fuel-oriented stocks, move more aggressively to vote against management teams that are not making progress on sustainability, and press companies to disclose plans "for operating under a scenario where the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees is fully realized."
Diana Best, senior strategist for the Sunrise Project, said in a statement that Fink's letter was a welcome first step.

"BlackRock beginning its shift of capital out of fossil fuels, including today's divestment of coal in its actively managed funds, is a fantastic start and instantly raises the bar for competitors such as Vanguard and State Street Global Advisors," said Best. "We will be looking for additional leadership from the company in, as Larry Fink put it, 'fundamentally reshaping finance to deal with climate change,' including additional shifts of capital out of fossil fuels."

Sunrise Project is a key player in the BlackRock's Big Problem campaign.

Climate advocates celebrated the letter as a victory for years of activism and protest, but warned that the firm would have to be held accountable for its behavior going forward.

"BlackRock's coal divestment decision is yet another significant blow to the already dying market, yet major banks like Barclays continue to prop up coal-heavy companies," said ShareAction campaign manager Jeanne Martin. "If BlackRock is serious about its commitment to phase out thermal coal, it should use its voting rights to get major coal financiers to do the same."

In a statement, the Sierra Club's campaign representative Ben Cushing said BlackRock's decision was a watershed moment while warning the letter needs to be backed up by immediate and concrete action to divest from dirty investments.

"As the biggest financial institution in the world, BlackRock's announcement today is a major step in the right direction and a testament to the power of public pressure calling for climate action," said Cushing. "But BlackRock will continue to be the world's largest investor in coal, oil, and gas."

"It is time to turn off the money pipeline to dirty fossil fuels for good," Cushing added..

American Wars of Error

SUBHEAD: The end of our empire is near and it won't be pretty.

By Tom Englehart on 9 January 2020 for TruthDig -

Image above: A tattered American flag flies in shreds. From original article.

Yes, our infrastructure stinks, our schools are failing, this country’s a nightmare of inequality, and there’s a self-promoting madman in the White House, so isn’t it time to take pride in the rare institutional victories America has had in this century?

Arguably, none has been more striking than the triumphal success of the American war system.

Oh, you’re going to bring that up immediately? Okay, you’re right. It’s true enough that the U.S. military can’t win a war anymore. In this century, it’s never come out on top anywhere, not once, not definitively.

And yes, just to get a step ahead of you, everywhere it’s set foot across the Greater Middle East and Africa, it seems to have killed startling numbers of people and uprooted so many more, sending lots of them into exile and so unsettling other parts of the world as well. In the process, it’s also had remarkable success spreading failed states and terror groups far and wide.

Al-Qaeda, whose 19 suicidal hijackers so devastatingly struck this country on September 11, 2001, was just a modest outfit then (even if its leader dreamt of drawing the U.S. into conflicts across the Islamic world that would promote his group big time). Nineteen years later, its branches have spread from Yemen to West Africa, while the original al-Qaeda still exists.

And don’t forget its horrific progeny, the Islamic State, or ISIS (originally al-Qaeda in Iraq). Though the U.S. military has declared it defeated in its “caliphate” (it isn’t, not truly), its branches have multiplied from the Philippines deep into Africa.

And the Afghan War, that original American invasion of this century, remains hell on Earth more than 18 years later. In December, the Washington Post broke a story about interviews on that conflict conducted by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction with 400 key insiders, military and civilian, revealing that it was a war of (well-grasped) error.

As that paper’s reporter, Craig Whitlock, put it: “Senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”

Many of those generals and other officials who had claimed, year after year, that there was “progress” in Afghanistan, that the U.S. had turned yet another “corner,” admitted to the Inspector General’s interviewers that they had been lying to the rest of us. In truth, so long after the invasion of 2001, this wasn’t exactly news (not if you had been paying attention anyway).

And it couldn’t have been more historically familiar. After all, U.S. military commanders and other key officials had, in a similar fashion, regularly hailed “progress” in the Vietnam War years, too.

As U.S. war commander General William Westmoreland put it in an address to the National Press Club in 1967, “We have reached an important point where the end begins to come into view,” a sentiment later boiled down by American officialdom to seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In fact, half a century later, these, too, have proved to be tunnel years for the U.S. military in its global war on terror, which might more accurately be called a global war of error.

Take Iraq, the country that, in the spring of 2003, President George W. Bush and crew so triumphantly invaded, claiming a connection between its autocratic ruler, Saddam Hussein, and al-Qaeda, while citing the dangers of the weapons of mass destruction he supposedly possessed.

Both claims were, of course, fantasies propagated by officials dreaming of using that invasion to establish a Pax Americana in the oil-rich Middle East forever and a day. (“Mission accomplished!”)

So many years later, Americans are still dying there; American air and drone strikes are still ongoing; and American troops are still being sent in, as Iraqis continue to die in significant numbers in a country turned into a stew of displacement, poverty, protest, and chaos.

Meanwhile, ISIS (formed in an American prison camp in Iraq) threatens to resurge amid the never-ending mess that invasion created — and war with Iran seems to be the order of the day.

And just to continue down a list that’s little short of endless, don’t forget Somalia. The U.S. military has been fighting there, on and off, with strikingly negative consequences since the infamous Blackhawk Down disaster of 1993.

Last year, American air strikes rose again to record levels there, while — no surprise — the terror outfit Washington has been fighting in that country since 2006, al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda offshoot, seems only to be gaining strength.

Hey, even the Russians got a (grim) win in Syria; the U.S., nowhere. Not in Libya, a failed state filled with warring militias and bad guys of every sort in the wake of a U.S.-led overthrow of the local autocrat.

Not in Niger, where four American soldiers died at the hands of an ISIS terror group that still thrives; not in Yemen, yet another failed state where a Washington-backed Saudi war follows perfectly in the U.S. military’s footsteps in the region. So, yes, you’re right to challenge me with all of that.

How to Run a War of Error

Nonetheless, I stand by my initial statement. In these years, the American war system has proven to be a remarkable institutional success story. Think of it this way: in the military of the twenty-first century, failure is the new success. In order to grasp this, you have to stop looking at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and the rest of those embattled lands and start looking instead at Washington, D.C. While you’re at it, you need to stop thinking that the gauge of success in war is victory. That’s so mid-twentieth century of you! In fact, almost the opposite may be true when it comes to the American way of war today.

After more than 18 years of what, once upon a time, would have been considered failure, tell me this:

Is the Pentagon receiving more money or less? In fact, it’s now being fed record amounts of tax dollars (as is the whole national security state).

Admittedly, Congress can’t find money for the building or rebuilding of American infrastructure — China now has up to 30,000 kilometers of high-speed rail and the U.S. not one — and is riven by party animosities on issue after issue, but funding the Pentagon? No problem. When it comes to that, there’s hardly a question, hardly a dispute at all. Agreement is nearly unanimous.

Failure, in other words, is the new success and that applies as well to the “industrial” part of the military-industrial complex. That reality was caught in a Washington Post headline the day after a CIA drone assassinated General Qassem Suleimani: “Defense stocks spike after airstrike against Iranian commander.” Indeed, the good times clearly lay ahead. In the age of Trump, when the last secretary of defense was a former Boeing executive and the present one a former lobbyist for arms-maker Raytheon, it’s been weapons galore all the way to the bank.

Who cares if those weapons really work as advertised or if the wars in which they’re used are winnable, as long as they’re bought at staggering prices (and other countries buy them as well)?

If you don’t believe me, just check out Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet fighter, the most expensive weapons system ever (that doesn’t really work). Hey, in 2019, that company got a $2.43 billion contract just for spare parts for the plane!

And this version of a success story applies not just to funding and weaponry but to the military’s leadership as well. Keep in mind that, after almost two decades without a victory in sight, if you check any poll, you’ll find that the U.S. military remains the most admired institution around (or the one Americans have most “confidence” in). And under the circumstances, tell me that isn’t an accomplishment of the first order.

For just about every key figure in the U.S. military, you can now safely say that failure continues to be the order of the day.

Consider it the twenty-first-century version of a military insurance policy: keep on keeping on without ever thinking outside the box and you’ll be pushed up the chain of command to ever more impressive positions (and, sooner or later, through Washington’s infamous “revolving door” onto the corporate boards of weapons makers and other defense firms). You’ll be hailed as a great and thoughtful commander, a genuine historian of war, and a strategist beyond compare. You’ll be admired by one and all.

Americans of another age would have found this strange indeed, but not today. Take, for instance, former Secretary of Defense and Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis who led troops into Afghanistan in 2001 and again in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In 2004, as commander of the 1st Marine Division, he was asked about a report that his troops had taken out a wedding party in western Iraq, including the wedding singer and his musicians, killing 43 people, 14 of them children. He responded: “How many people go to the middle of the desert… to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization?”

And then, of course, he only rose further, ending up as the head of U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, which oversees America’s wars in the Greater Middle East (and you know how that went), until he retired in 2013 and joined the corporate board of General Dynamics, the nation’s fifth largest defense contractor.

Then, in 2016, a certain Donald J. Trump took a liking to the very idea of a general nicknamed “mad dog” and appointed him to run the Department of Defense (which should probably be renamed the Department of Offense).

There, with full honors, the former four-star general oversaw the very same wars until, in December 2018, deeply admired by Washington journalists among others, he resigned in protest over a presidential decision to withdraw American troops from Syria (and rejoined the board of General Dynamics).

In terms of the system he was in, that may have been his only genuine “error,” his only true “defeat.”

Fortunately for the Pentagon, another commander who had risen through the same dead-end wars, four-star Army General Mark Milley, having been appointed head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, knew just what to whisper in the president’s ear — the magic word “oil,” or rather some version of protect (i.e. take) Syrian oil fields — to get him to send American troops back into that country to continue the local version of our never-ending wars.

By now, Milley’s rise to glory will seem familiar to you. In announcing his appointment as Army chief of staff in 2015, for instance, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter called him “a warrior and a statesman.” He added, “He not only has plenty of operational and joint experience in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and on the Joint Staff, but he also has the intellect and vision to lead change throughout the Army.” Exactly!

Milley had, in fact, fought in both the Afghan and Iraq wars, serving three tours of duty in Afghanistan alone. In other words, the more you don’t win — the more you are, in a sense, in error — the more likely you are to advance.

Or as retired General Gordon Sullivan, president of the Association of the United States Army and a former chief of staff himself, put it then, Milley’s command experience in war and peace gave him “firsthand knowledge of what the Army can do and of the impact of resource constraints on its capabilities.”

In other words, he was a man ready to command who knew just how to handle this country’s losing wars and keep them (so to speak) on track. Once upon a time, such a crew of commanders would have been considered a military of losers, but no longer. They are now the eternal winners in America’s war of error.

In September 2013, Milley, then an Army three-star general, typically offered this ludicrously rosy assessment of Afghanistan’s American-trained and American-supplied security forces: “This army and this police force have been very, very effective in combat against the insurgents every single day.”

As Tony Karon wrote recently, “Either Milley was dissembling or he was deluded and therefore grotesquely incompetent.” One thing we know, though: when it comes to public military assessments of the Afghan War (and the global war on terror more generally), he was typical. For such commanders, it was invariably “progress” all the way.

Just in case you don’t quite see the pattern yet, after the Washington Post‘s Afghanistan Papers came out last December, offering clear evidence that, whatever they said in public, America’s commanders saw little in the way of “progress” in the Afghan War, Milley promptly stepped up to the plate. He labeled that report’s conclusions “mischaracterizations.”

He insisted instead that the endlessly optimistic public comments of generals like him had been “honest assessments… never intended to deceive either the Congress or the American people.”

Oh, and here’s a final footnote (as reported in the New York Times last year) on how Milley (and top commanders like him) operated — and not just in Afghanistan either:
“As Army chief of staff, General Milley has come under criticism from some in the Special Operations community for his involvement in the investigation into the 2017 ambush in Niger that left four American soldiers dead. He persuaded Patrick M. Shanahan, who was acting defense secretary, to curtail a broader review, and also protected the career of an officer who some blamed for the ambush. General Milley’s backers said he prevented the officer from leading another combat unit.”
Whatever you do, in other words, don’t give up the ghost (of error). Think of this as the formula for “success” in that most admired of institutions, the U.S. military. 

After all, Milley and Mattis are just typical of the commanders who rose (and are still rising) to ever more prestigious positions on the basis of losing (or at least not winning) an endless series of conflicts. Those failed wars were their tickets to success. Go figure.

Where Defeat Culture Leads

In other words, the men who fought the twenty-first-century equivalents of Vietnam — though against right-wing Islamists, not left-wing nationalists and communists — the men who never for a second figured out how to win “hearts and minds” any better than General William Westmorland had half a century earlier, are now triumphantly running the show in Washington. 

Add in the corporate types who endlessly arm them for battle and lobby for more of the same while raking in the dough and you have a system that no one involved would want to change. It’s a formula for success that works like a dream (even if someday that dream is sure to end up looking like a nightmare).

Once upon a time, in the early 1990s, I wrote a book called The End of Victory Culture. In it, I traced how a deeply embedded American culture of triumph evaporated in the Vietnam War years, “its graveyard for all to see,” as “the answers of 1945 dissolved so quickly into the questions of 1965.” 

Speaking of the impact of that war on American culture, I added: “There was no narrative form that could long have contained the story of a slow-motion defeat inflicted by a nonwhite people in a frontier war in which the statistics of American victory seemed everywhere evident.”

Little did I know then how deeply a version of what might be called “defeat culture” would embed itself in American life. After all, Donald Trump couldn’t have been elected to “make America great again” without it. From the evidence of these years, nowhere was that culture more deeply absorbed (however unconsciously) than in the military itself, which has, in our time, managed to turn it into a version of the ultimate success story.

Afghanistan has, of course, long been known as “the graveyard of empires.” The Soviet Union fought Islamic militants (backed by the Saudis and the United States) for nine years there before, in 1989, the Red Army limped home in defeat to watch a drained empire implode two years later. 

 That left the U.S. as the “sole superpower” on Planet Earth and its military as the uncontested greatest one of all.

And it took that military just a decade to head for that same graveyard. In this century, Americans have lost trillions of dollars in the never-ending wars Washington has conducted across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, wars that represent an eternal reign (rain?) of error. I’ve long suspected that the Soviet Union wasn’t the only superpower with problems in 1991. 

Though it was anything but obvious at the time, I’ve since written
“It will undoubtedly be clear enough… that the U.S., seemingly at the height of any power’s power in 1991 when the Soviet Union disappeared, began heading for the exits soon thereafter, still enwreathed in self-congratulation and triumphalism.”
The question is: When will the far more powerful of the two superpowers of the Cold War era finally leave that graveyard of empires (now spread across a significant swath of the planet)? 

Still commanded by the losers of those very wars, will it, like the Red Army, limp home one day to watch its country implode? Will it leave a world of war, of the dead, of countless refugees and rubblized cities, and finally return to see its own society disintegrate in some fashion?

Who knows? But keep your eyes peeled in 2020 and beyond. Someday, the U.S. military’s war of error will come to an end and one thing seems certain: it won’t be pretty.

Green service economy won't work

SUBHEAD: A techno-optimistic hipster, vegan, green start-up lifestyle is not sustainable.

By Vijay Kolinjivadi - Daniel Horen Greenford 12 January 2020 for Uneven Earth -

Image above: A latte bar in the area of the proposed MIL section From original article.

Dematerialized service economies, industrial veganism and hipsterized eco-aesthetics will only On the borderlands of Montreal’s well-to-do Outremont district and the ultra-hipsterized Mile End district lies an expanse of land near the Canadian-Pacific Railroad line.

This space separates these two districts from Parc-Extension (Parc-Ex for short). One of Canada’s poorest and most densely populated neighbourhoods, Parc-Ex is a port of call for many newly arrived immigrants. This is a place where affordable housing is increasingly hard to come by, and where eviction rates are on the rise.

Walking along Avenue du Parc and its adjacent streets, one begins by passing vegan chain restaurants, hip vintage clothing joints, and coffee shops jostling for space among long-time Greek and Hasidic Jewish community establishments, before eventually arriving at Parc-Ex, with its small immigrant-owned grocery stores, halal boucheries, and community centres of a very different kind of neighbourhood.

It is here, on the periphery of these stark socio-economic separations, that the University of Montréal plans to construct its science campus MIL, with an emphatic commitment to ‘sustainable development’.

Sustainability for the new MIL campus means constructing LEED certified buildings to reduce environmental impact, establishing rainwater collection infrastructure, energy-efficient lighting and heat recycling, prioritizing electric vehicles and bikes, the planting of trees—all part of broader efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.

This ethos of eco-efficiency is also shared by the new campus’ neighbours—tech firms, a Microsoft headquarters, and AI research laboratories loosely affiliated with the university. Fusing technological innovation with eco-efficiency, the MIL campus epitomizes the spirit of eco-modernism.

Underlying the emerald green image of this new campus development is the assumption that capital and economic growth will naturally follow suit.

This means ‘revitalizing’ neighbourhoods with student housing, condominiums, hip bars with micro-brews and vegan nibbles, soy and almond milk latte bars designed for socioeconomically advantaged students and professors to enjoy.

Green is gold within this logic, creating countless opportunities for advocates of Parc-Ex’s revitalization to pursue profit without the guilt.

But this modern ‘green’ vision of economic growth, hipness, and eco-conscious diets is far from regenerative. On the contrary, its success depends on creative destruction. This is what capitalism does best, and such destruction is anything but green. 

In what follows, we aim to highlight the dangers of a political-economic system that continues to profit under the veil of a greener, more efficient capitalism, all while reinforcing inequality and still harming the environment.

In this way, projects like the revitalization of Parc-Ex are a continuation of Canada’s deeply colonial tradition of dispossessing First Nations of their ways of life and networks of community in favour of whatever the market dictates, however ‘green’ the market may be..

The MIL campus at Parc-Ex is just one piece of the global story behind capitalism’s ‘greening.’ To understand how they connect, we need to retrace our steps back to 1992. Against the backdrop of Soviet Union’s recent fall, the UN Earth Summit that year opened up a new global frontier for unrestrained capital.

Under the auspices of the term ‘sustainable development’ introduced at the summit, capitalism was able to tap into a panoply of ‘social’ and ‘green’ values and use them for its own ends.

In the years that followed, governments, businesses and techno-optimists teamed up with would-be environmentalists to envision a greener world that nevertheless kept efficiency at the core of its growth-oriented mandate.

Environmentalism became neutralized as a technical-managerial concern for an elite cadre of policy experts, economists, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, for whom new markets and techno-fixes would repeatedly affirm the exceptionalism of modern humanity.

Soon enough, environmentalism was all but depoliticized for the purposes of expanding profit under a green economy.

This depoliticization of environmentalism is what drives today’s unquestioning acceptance of the idea of dematerializing ‘green’ economic growth through more efficient lifestyles, technologies, and service-based economies.

While efficiency improvements in and of themselves are certainly to be applauded, they cannot be viewed in isolation from the economic and political structures of capital expansion from which they emerge.

For those unfamiliar with the technical details of the debate, green growth is predicated on ‘decoupling’, that is, our ability to disengage or detach economic growth from environmental impact, through things like dematerializing production or employing people in ‘cleaner’ industries (which we’ll soon explore in greater detail).

Many who have scrutinized green growth closely have concluded that the potential for decoupling by making improvements in technology—how we produce, and recycle and dispose of waste from our economy—is highly limited.

While relative improvements have been made and more are attainable still, there are hard physical limits to the extent to which our economy can be dematerialized.

Far from being the panacea that would allow unabated ‘sustainable growth’ as many green capitalists so desperately cling to, decoupling is one more siren song advanced industrial economies need to resist if they’re to avoid collapse.

Under capitalism and its relentless pursuit of growth, environmental considerations are inevitably reduced to the question of maintaining efficiency, while still expanding productive and consumptive throughput.

In turn, people concerned with minimizing their ecological footprint are led to believe that they only have one course of action: improving their own efficiency in their everyday lives by, for example, eating less meat, driving electric vehicles and biking to work.

While all these choices are constructive, focusing our efforts for systemic change through atomized personal consumption choices undermines the transition. Indeed, what green capitalism doesn’t want you to realize is that collective action is more than a collection of individualized actions.

Depoliticized environmentalism is rife in the fabulously hipsterized startup enclaves emerging in cities around the world, especially in the Global North.

Far from achieving ‘green’ efficiency, the jobs that fuel these high-tech start-ups, together with other professions of the creative class (artists, musicians, academics, graphic designers, among others), all rely on a high degree of resource demands whose impacts span the world over.

Those who argue that growth can be accompanied by a dematerializing economy typically hold the assumption that these knowledge and creative classes of the service economy have somehow lower environmental impacts than those engaged in agriculture or manufacturing (so called ‘dirty’ jobs).

But is the service economy really any cleaner and greener? The creative class and the knowledge economy are sustained by the material basis of agriculture, housing, construction, manufacturing, and other sectors.

Image above: A project sign at the site of the proposed MIL facility with the graffiti "Social Housing" spray painted over the names of the partners involved with building the MIL.

The technology that enables the knowledge economy is also far from immaterial. At the current rate of growth, internet-connected devices could consume one-fifth of global electricity demand in just 6 years from now.

While the on-site impact of an office is comparatively low to a factory or field, the cars, gadgets and food being produced in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors are mostly consumed by those employed in services.

A forthcoming study by Horen Greenford, student of Prof. Damon Matthews at Concordia University in Montreal, and colleague Tim Crownshaw at McGill, uses economic input–output modeling to reveal the impacts associated with the consumption of those employed in services.

By treating household consumption by employees as an extension of the industries that employ people, in much the same way we might analyse the environmental consequences of car production by factoring in the steel used to build them, the far-reaching impact of the service economy becomes clear.

When we observe the economy through this holistic lens, the service sector’s impact doubles in greenhouse gas emissions, triples in land use, and quadruples in water consumption, emerging as the primary driver of these three major environmental impacts.

When measured in environmental impact per unit production (impact per dollar or euro), the service sector is no ‘cleaner’ than agriculture, manufacturing, or any other sector.

Instead, all sectors approach similar levels of environmental impact per unit production when we take the household consumption of those employed in these sectors into consideration.

This isn’t to say people shouldn’t be employed in services, but that we must acknowledge the role of income and affluence as the main human driver of environmental degradation. To put it simply: Employing people means paying wages.

The higher the wages, the higher the consumption. Since people consume roughly the same per unit income, high wage jobs with low on-site impact still contribute to resource depletion and pollution just as much as those ‘dirtier’ industries. It’s just a matter of whether you see the impact or whether you distance yourself from it.

This forthcoming study hopes to dispel the illusion that there are cleaner, greener jobs found in things like high tech services. And it’s not the only one attempting to do so.

An earlier study has also shown that there is no historical evidence that service-based economies are capable of decoupling from material throughput or environmental impact.

The key takeaway here? If we continue to grow the service sector without reducing how much we collectively produce and consume, increasing the number of these high wage jobs can only lead to increased demand for material goods and services, in turn increasing their attendant environmental impacts.

Instead of decoupling, growth-oriented efficiency improvements are more likely to present us with textbook examples of the rebound effect.

First described by economist Stanley Jevons in the 19th Century, rebound effects occur when improvements in efficiency lower prices, leading to an increase in demand that outpaces these gains in efficiency.

In growth-oriented societies, the resources and energy we save through efficiency improvements are inevitably ploughed back into further growth. In other words, as airplanes, cars, and electronic devices become eco-efficient, demand for them increases, ultimately leading to greater consumption of energy and resources—a capitalist’s dream!

The more we save, the more we can re-insert into new circuits of production.

The more efficient we are, the cheaper consumption gets, and so the more we consume. The environment will always be at the losing end of this logic.

In spite of evidence that the dematerialized service economy is little more than an alluring myth, why do so many remain enthusiastic about eco-modernist visions of innovative green cities?

Well, not only do our service economies fundamentally depend on the existence of manufacturing and intensive agriculture economies, but typically those that exist on the other side of the planet.

The further away that almond milk production is from a central London coffee shop, the less guilty we feel—out of sight, out of mind. This is not only the case with the resource use of service economies, but also the waste they produce.

Exports of e-waste currently represent the fastest growing solid waste stream. As Giorgos Kallis argues: ‘Energy use in the US is not increasing, not because a peak is being reached due to technological efficiency and dematerialization, but because the US economy imports its garments from China and has its servers in Norway.’

Thus, while the service economy may appear to be materially light compared to manufacturing and agriculture, its reliance on these other sectors for its own existence (made easier to ignore by being pushed further away from where final consumption takes place) invalidates the claims that we can decouple our economy from environmental impacts via a shift to services.

We also see that any actual efficiency improvements in the service economy are quickly swallowed up by shifting costs of increasing demand to other countries where labour and resources are cheaper to exploit.

We need to get out of the habit of looking at only a small part of the whole system, often by remaining captivated by notions of national borders, for which we clearly know that neither resources, energy nor capital flows abide by.

Once again, Kallis reminds us that we should not confuse declines in environmental impact per unit of production in a growing economy with absolute and per capita resource and energy demand increases over time.

As Kris De Decker of Low-Tech Magazine informs us, global resource and energy use keeps increasing annually, growing at an average rate of 3% a year—more than double the rate of population growth.

It is therefore crucial to recognize that being so far removed from actual production and consumption patterns around the world does not exonerate our service economies, meaning that their claims to embody ‘green’ principles are only very partially accurate if at all.

Once we start paying attention to these tactics, we begin to see them in other places. Much like the dematerialized ‘green’ service economy, the purported eco-efficiency of veganism also deserves our scrutiny.


Is Human Extinction Imminent?

SUBHEAD: Report on State of Planet Earth indicates it is not only imminent but likely inevitable.

By Robert Burrows on 9 January 2020 for Counter Currents -

Image above: Government photo shows a helicopter fighting a bushfire twice the size of Belgium near Bairnsdale in Victoria, Australia, on 31 December 2019. From (https://www.dailysabah.com/environment/2020/01/05/twice-the-size-of-belgium-fueled-by-climate-change-australia-burning-like-never-before).

There is a significant body of evidence that human extinction is now imminent; that is, it will occur within the next few years and possibly this year: 2020. There is also a significant body of evidence that human extinction is now inevitable; that is, it cannot be prevented no matter what we do.

There are at least four distinct paths to imminent (that is, within five years) human extinction: nuclear war (possibly started regionally), biodiversity collapse (already well advanced and teetering on the brink), the deployment of 5G (commenced recently) and the climate catastrophe. Needless to say, each of these four paths might unfold in a variety of ways.

In addition, it should be noted, there are other possible paths to extinction in the near term, particularly when considered in conjunction with the four threats just mentioned. These include the cascading impacts triggered by destruction of the Amazon rainforest (which is now imminent) particularly given its critical role in the global hydrological cycle, the rapidly spreading radioactive contamination of Earth, and geoengineering for military purposes (which has been going on for decades and continues).

Far worse, however, is the path to extinction that looms before us when we consider the impact of all seven of these paths in combination with the vast range of other threats noted below.

These interrelated threats have generated a shocking series of ‘points of no return’ (‘tipping points’) that we have already crossed, the mutually reinforcing set of negative feedback loops that we have already triggered (and which we will continue to trigger) which cannot be reversed in the short-term, as well as the ongoing synergistic impact of the various ‘extinction drivers’ (such as ongoing extinctions because dependent species have lost their resource species) we have set in motion and which cannot be halted irrespective of any remedial action we might take.

Hence, taking into account all of the above factors, the prospects of averting human extinction are now remote, at best.

Why has this happened?

Because long-standing dysfunctional human behavior, which we have not even begun to recognize as the fundamental driver of this extinction crisis, let alone address, has now trapped us between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, we are trapped by our grotesquely dysfunctional parenting and education models that mass produce individuals who are terrified, self-hating and powerless (leaving them submissively obedient while unable to seek out and consider the evidence for themselves and take powerful action in response) and who, as a result of being terrorized during childhood, are now addicted to chronic over-consumption to suppress their awareness of their deep (and unconscious) emotional pain. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’and ‘Do We Want School or Education?’ with more detailed evidence in ‘Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

On the other hand, also as an outcome of our dysfunctional parenting and education models (as well as the political and economic systems these generate), we keep reproducing and remain trapped by the global elite, and its compliant international organizations (such as the United Nations), national governments and corporations, including its corporate media.

This global elite is utterly insane (and, hence, devoid of such qualities as conscience, empathy, compassion and love) and intent on exploiting our desire to suppress awareness of our emotional pain by over-consuming in order to feed their insatiable desire for profit, power and privilege no matter the cost to humanity and Earth’s biosphere. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.

Hence, this article does two things.

First, in the hope of generating greater consideration of these two issues – imminence and inevitability of human extinction – I have presented in straightforward language and point form, a reasonable summary of the nature and extent of our predicament (which clearly indicates that we are on track for human extinction between now – January 2020 – and 2025), as well as citing the relevant scientific and/or other evidence that explains each problem in more detail.

And second, the article outlines a powerful series of actions and strategies that individuals as well as community groups, neighborhoods and action groups can take as part of a global effort to fight to avert human extinction even if, as mentioned above, it is now inevitable. See, for example, ‘Extinction Foretold, Extinction Ignored’ in which the ‘McPherson Paradox’, which explains one key reason why we are doomed to extinction, is explained.

The obvious question, which you might well ask me, is this: ‘If the overwhelming evidence that human extinction is now imminent and inevitable is incontrovertible, why are you suggesting that we “fight to avert human extinction”?’

And my answer is simply this: Because, as I have done for several decades, I am committed to trying to do this one key thing that feels worth doing.

Moreover, I am also hopeful that a miracle or two might just occur if we humans commit ourselves fully to the effort. I am only too well aware that anything less than a full effort, as outlined below, will certainly fail. And we will virtually certainly fail anyway. But I would rather try, than give up. And you?

So, in noting the points below, each of which identifies one key way (or a set of related key ways) in which the Earth and its inhabitants were subjected to greater violence in 2019, it is painful to reflect that, as forecast this time last year and based on a clear understanding of the primary driver of human behavior – fear – that is generating this multifaceted crisis, 2019 was another year of vital opportunities lost when so much is at stake.

Because, in essence, whether psychologically, socially, politically, militarily, economically, financially, ecologically or in other ways, in 2019 humanity took more giant strides backwards while passing up endless opportunities to make a positive difference in our world.

Moreover, to highlight the dramatic nature of our failure, by the end of 2019, a substantial number of countries and regions of the world – notably including the Amazon basin, Australia, several countries in Central Africa, many European countries, Indonesia, Siberia and North America – had each experienced (and/or were still experiencing) a huge series of wildfires (or fires that were deliberately lit), many of them ‘out of wildfire season’ and breaking records for their ‘unprecedented’ destructive impact, demonstrating that the Earth is literally burning up. For just an overview, see NASA’s ‘Fire Information for Resource Management System’.

But this very visible symptom of our crisis masks a vast quantity of evidence, in many domains, that is virtually unknown but far more damaging.

One acknowledgment of this crisis in Earth’s biosphere was the fact that the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists remains poised at just two minutes to midnight, the closest it has ever been to ‘doomsday’ (and equal to 1953 when the Soviet Union first exploded a thermonuclear weapon matching the US capacity and raising the spectre of nuclear war). See ‘It is now two minutes to midnight’.

This status reflects the perilous state of our world, particularly given the renewed threat of nuclear war and the ongoing climate catastrophe. It didn’t even mention the massive and unrelenting assault on the biosphere (apart from the climate) and the rapidly accelerating biodiversity crisis nor, of course, the ongoing monumental atrocities against fellow human beings.

So let me identify, very briefly, some of the more crucial backward steps humanity took during 2019 and, far too easily, unfortunately, forecast what will happen in 2020.
Some Key Lowlights of 2019

The global elite, using key elite fora such as the Group of 30, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group and the World Economic Forum, and despite much rhetoric to the contrary, continued to plan, generate and exacerbate the many ongoing wars, deepening exploitation within the global economy, climate and environmental destruction, and the killing and exploitation of fellow human beings in a multitude of contexts, in pursuit of greater elite profit, power and privilege. See, for example, ‘Who Is Really in Control of US Foreign Policy?’, Giants: The Global Power Elite and ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.

International organizations (such as the United Nations, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund) and national governments and corporations used military forces, legal systems, police forces and prison systems – see ‘The Rule of Law: Unjust and Violent’ – around the world to serve the global elite by defending its interests against the bulk of the human population, including those individuals and organizations courageous enough to challenge elite profit, power and privilege who are being killed in record numbers. (See more in point 35 below.)

$US1.8 trillion was officially spent worldwide on military weapons to kill fellow human beings and other lifeforms, and to destroy the biosphere. This is the highest official (because the figures are taken from ‘open sources’) annual military expenditure ever recorded and the second consecutive year in which an increase occurred. Apart from military spending, weapons transfers worldwide remained high and both the USA and Russia were ‘on a path of strategic nuclear renewal’. See ‘SIPRI Yearbook 2019: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security; Summary’.

However, as noted last year, so out-of-control is this spending that the United States government has now spent $US21trillion on its military in the past 20 years for which it cannot even account! That’s right, $US1trillion each year above the official US national budget for killing is ‘lost’. See Army General Fund Adjustments Not Adequately Documented or Supported, ‘Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us?’ and ‘The Pentagon Can’t Account for $21 Trillion (That’s Not a Typo)’.

There has been no progress reported in accounting for this ‘lost’ expenditure during the past year.

Under the direction of the global elite (as explained above), the United States government and its NATO allies continued their perpetual war across the planet wreaking devastation on many countries and regions, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. See, for example, Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield and ‘Understanding NATO, Ending War’.

As a result, whether in the US-sponsored and supplied Saudi Arabian war against Yemen which the UNHCR characterizes as the worst humanitarian disaster in the world – see ‘The Cost of Feeding Yemen as War Rages On’ – the result of the US use of depleted uranium on top of its other extraordinary military destruction of Iraq over the past 29 years...

See ‘Depleted Uranium and Radioactive Contamination in Iraq: An Overview’ – or the complete dismemberment of Libya as a result of NATO’s bombing of that country and the subsequent assassination of its leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011

See ‘Endless War and Chaos in Libya’ – the United States and its NATO allies have continued their efforts to destroy entire countries (also including Afghanistan, among others), at staggering cost to their populations and environments, not because these countries posed a threat to security anywhere but in order to maintain geopolitical control and to facilitate the theft of their resources (mainly oil) at great profit to the global elite.

See, for example, ‘Hillary Emails Reveal NATO Killed Gaddafi to Stop Libyan Creation of Gold-Backed Currency’.

Moreover, of course, the perpetually-profitable perpetual war, by definition, has no end. But it still isn’t quite acceptable to say, too publicly and loudly, that ‘The global elite has again used the United States military and its NATO allies to destroy Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria/… (or, as is now the case, to attack Iran) to make a profit’ so what can be passed off as an excuse must be manufactured and promulgated by the compliant corporate media.

And, with a gullibly terrified human population disinclined to question authority, this isn’t a problem. The same unconvincing formula invariably works each time. For a fuller and insightful explanation of this point, see Edward Curtin’s article ‘The war hoax redux’.

Of course, Iran has long been in the crosshairs of the global elite because of its prodigious (and thus hugely profitable) oil reserves as well as the clear inclination of its leaders (both before and after the US-installed Shah) to make decisions in the interests of Iranians, including foreign policy decisions such as those related to defense and the role of nuclear weapons.

Thus, the global elite ensured that the US Congress, via removal by the Senate of a provision ‘explicitly not authorizing the Pentagon to wage war against Iran or assassinate its officials’ – see ‘America Escalates its “Democratic” Oil War in the Near East’ –  in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, effectively encouraged President Trump’s recent assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s head of the foreign arm – the Quds Force – of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s elite military force and the key figure in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, in clear contempt of international law.

See ‘Trump’s assassination of Soleimani: Five things to know’, ‘With Suleimani Assassination, Trump Is Doing the Bidding of Washington’s Most Vile Cabal’, ‘Why US assassinated General Qassem Soleimani’ and ‘US killing of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani “an act of war”’.

This assassination, of course, raises a heightened possibility of war – essentially, from the elite perspective, to achieve ‘regime change’ and capture control of Iran’s oil – in one or more guises possibly involving, as explained by Professor Michel Chossudovsky, the use of ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons, acts of political destabilization, confiscation of financial assets, extensive economic sanctions, electromagnetic and climatic warfare, environmental modification techniques, cyberwarfare as well as chemical and biological warfare.

See ‘A Major Conventional War Against Iran Is an Impossibility. Crisis within the US Command Structure’ and ‘America, An Empire on its Last Leg: To be Kicked Out from the Middle East?’

Hence, much will depend on the Iranian response to the insanity of those attacking it, which will unfold as this article is being published. For further thoughtful analyses of this crisis, see ‘War With Iran’, ‘Iran vs. US – The Murder of General Qassem Suleimani’ and ‘On the Brink of War?’

Not content with the devastating impact of the military violence it is inflicting already, during 2019 the global elite continued to plan how to cause more destruction in future. Key initiatives included ongoing work to employ advances in autonomous systems and artificial intelligence technologies that will undermine nuclear deterrence and increase the likelihood of nuclear escalation

See ‘A Stable Nuclear Future? The Impact of Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence’ – and the decision in the United States to create a Space Force, a sixth branch of the US military forces, just two manifestations of this.

See ‘The Very Bad Space Force Deal’ and ‘US Making Outer Space the Next Battle Zone – Karl Grossman’.

In its turn, the Russian government has developed and just deployed a hypersonic weapon that travels at Mach 27 and which makes the US missile defense installations in Europe ‘obsolete’. See ‘Avangard changes everything: What Russia’s hypersonic warhead deployment means for the global arms race’.

But other initiatives receiving renewed attention – ‘hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons onboard orbiting battle platforms with onboard nuclear reactors or “super” plutonium systems providing the power for the weapons’ – also enhance the threat that ‘Modern society would go dark’ in the words of Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell. Why? Because ‘any war in space would be the one and only.

By destroying satellites in space massive amounts of space debris would be created that would cause a cascading effect and even the billion-dollar International Space Station would likely be broken into tiny bits.

So much space junk would be created… that we’d never be able to get a rocket off the planet again because of the minefield of debris orbiting the Earth at 15,000 mph’. See ‘Trump Signs Measure Enabling Establishment of a U.S. Space Force’.

Of course, technological ‘advances’ in weaponry reflect retrograde steps in policy with the US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) – which includes 20 B-2 stealth bombers, 76 B-52 bombers and 450 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles together capable of delivering thousands of nuclear warheads – along with the U.S. Navy’s submarine-launched Trident ballistic missiles, are now ‘capable of extinguishing essentially all life on Earth within a matter of hours.’

 See ‘The Air Force’s Global Strike Command Is Preparing For A Delivery Of New Nuclear Weapons’.

Following the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty in 2002 and after withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the ‘Iran nuclear deal’) and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (which limited the deployment of intermediate range nuclear weapons) in 2018, the US government further and unilaterally signaled its intention to dismantle the little that remained of attempts during the Cold War and since that time to contain the threat of nuclear war by further acting in violation of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967

ee ‘Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies’ and ‘US Weaponizing Space in Bid to Launch Arms Race’

As explained in the point above, and demonstrating its disinterest in extending New START: the sole remaining restraint on U.S.-Russian nuclear arsenals that caps deployed offensive strategic nuclear weapons to no more than 1,550 each.

See ‘Russia says it’s already too late to replace new START treaty’ and ‘Global Zero Urges Trump to Accept Putin’s Offer on Nuclear Treaty’.

If you are in any doubt regarding the devastating consequences of nuclear war, you will find Professor Steven Starr’s thoughts – see ‘Nuclear Darkness, Global Climate Change and Nuclear Famine: The Deadly Consequences of Nuclear War’ – illuminating. In addition, the description by Lynn Eden in ‘City on Fire’ (based on her book Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation) is compelling.

Another substantial proportion of global private financial wealth – conservatively estimated by the Tax Justice Network in 2010 to already total between $US21 and $US32 trillion – has been invested virtually tax-free through the world’s still-expanding black hole of more than 80 ‘offshore’ tax havens (such as the City of London Corporation, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Nauru, St. Kitts, Antigua, Tortola, Switzerland, the Channel Islands, Monaco, Cyprus, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein).

This is just financial wealth. Additionally, a large share of the real estate, yachts, racehorses, gold bricks and many other assets that count as non-financial wealth are also owned via offshore structures that make it impossible to identify their owners. See Tax Justice Network.

Tax havens are locations around the world where wealthy individuals, criminals and terrorists, as well as governments and government agencies (such as the CIA), banks, corporations, hedge funds, international organizations (such as the Vatican) and crime syndicates (such as the Mafia), can stash their money so that they can avoid laws, regulation and oversight and, very often, evade tax. See ‘Elite Banking at Your Expense: How Secretive Tax Havens are Used to Steal Your Money’.

Controlled by the global elite, Wall Street and other major banks manage this monstrous diversion of wealth under Government protection. ‘Their business is fraud and grand theft.’ Tax haven locations offer more than tax avoidance. ‘Almost anything goes on.’

That includes ‘bribery, illegal gambling, money laundering, human and sex trafficking, arms dealing, toxic waste dumping, conflict diamonds and endangered species trafficking, bootlegged software, and endless other lawless practices.’ See ‘Trillions Stashed in Offshore Tax Havens’.

 The world’s major corporations continued to inflict enormous ongoing violence (in a myriad of ways) in their pursuit of endless profit at the expense of living beings (human and otherwise) and Earth’s biosphere by producing and marketing a wide range of life-destroying products ranging from nuclear weapons and nuclear power to fossil fuels, junk food, pharmaceutical drugs (including health-destroying and sometimes life-destroying vaccinations: see, for example, ‘Vaxxed-Unvaxxed – The Science’), synthetic poisons and genetically mutilated organisms (GMOs).

These corporations include the following: weapons manufacturers, major banks and their ‘industry groups’ like the International Monetary Conference, asset management firms, investment companies, financial services companies, fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas) corporations, technology corporations, media corporations, major marketing and public relations corporations, agrochemical (pesticides, seeds, fertilizers) giants, pharmaceutical corporations (with their handmaidens in the medical and psychiatric industries.

See ‘Defeating the Violence in Our Food and Medicine’ and ‘Defeating the Violence of Psychiatry’), biotechnology (genetic mutilation) corporations, mining corporations, nuclear power corporations, food multinationals and water corporations. You can see a list of the major corporations in this article: ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.

More than two billion people continued to live under occupation, dictatorship or threat of genocidal assault often with the global elite sponsoring an oppressive national government or simply a local elite that exercises power irrespective of the government in office. See, for example, ‘500 Years is Long Enough! Human Depravity in the Congo’.

36,500,000 human beings (mainly in Africa, Asia and Central/South America) were starved to death in 2019.

Are we serious about ending these totally unnecessary deaths? Not even remotely, as thoughtfully explained by Professor George Kent in his article ‘Are We Serious About Ending Hunger?’

As Professor Kent notes: currently, around the world, ‘around 800 million people suffer from hunger’ and that ‘global efforts to end hunger have not been serious’: There has been ‘no substantial commitment of resources, no management group to control the process, no realistic timeline, and no means for mid-course corrections on the way to the goal.

There [have been] no contracts with agencies that would work toward achievement of the goal…. hoping for the end of hunger won’t work. Hope is not a strategy.’ Moreover, ‘The UN system offers little more than vague aspirations.’

18,250,000 children were killed by adults in wars, by starving them to death, by denying them clean drinking water, and in a large variety of other ways.

8,000,000 children were trafficked into sexual slavery; executed in sacrificial killings after being kidnapped; bred to be sold as a ‘cash crop’ for sexual violation, to produce child pornography (‘kiddie porn’) and ‘snuff’ movies (in which children are killed during the filming); ritually tortured and murdered as well as raped by dogs trained for the purpose.

See ‘Humanity’s “Dirty Little Secret”: Starving, Enslaving, Raping, Torturing and Killing our Children’.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals were kidnapped or tricked into slavery, which now denies 46,000,000 human beings (more than at any time in human history) the right to live the life of their choice, condemning many individuals – especially women and children – to lives of sexual slavery, forced labor or as child soldiers.

Needless to say, the global elite continues to expand this highly profitable business while its compliant governments do no more than mouth an occasional objection to the practice while doing nothing effective to actually end it, as was patently evident following disclosures about high-profile public figures during the year.

See ‘The Global Slavery Index’. For one recent account of the life of a modern slave, see ‘My Family’s Slave’. And for an account of the involvement of public figures in sex slavery, see ‘Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein: what you need to know’ and the other articles listed at the end of this one.

 Well over 100,000 people (particularly Falun Gong practitioners) in China, where an extensive state-controlled program is conducted, were subjected to forced organ removal for the trade in human organs. See Bloody Harvest and The Slaughter.

15,768,000 people were displaced by war, persecution or famine. There are now 70,800,000 people, more that half of whom are children and approximately 10,000,000 of whom are stateless, who have been forcibly displaced worldwide and remain precariously unsettled, usually in adverse circumstances. One person in the world is forcibly displaced every two seconds. See ‘Figures at a Glance’.

Millions of people were made homeless in their own country as a result of war, persecution, ‘natural’ disasters (many of which, including hurricanes/cyclones and wildfires, were actually generated by dysfunctional human behavior rather than nature), internal conflict, poverty or as a result of elite-driven national economic policies.

The last time a global survey was attempted – by the United Nations back in 2005 – an estimated 100 million people were homeless worldwide. In addition, as many as 1.6 billion people lack adequate housing (living in slums, for example). See ‘Global Homelessness Statistics’.

Highlighting the unheralded biodiversity crisis on Earth, as a result of habitat destruction and degradation as well as a multitude of other threats, 73,000 species of life (plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects, reptiles and microbes) on Earth were driven to extinction with the worldwide loss of many of these species – and certainly including insects, birds, animals and fish – now at catastrophic levels.

Tragically, many additional species are now trapped in a feedback loop which will inevitably precipitate their extinction as well because of the way in which ‘co-extinctions’, ‘localized extinctions’ and ‘extinction cascades’ work once initiated and as has already occurred in almost all ecosystem contexts.

See the (so far) five-part series ‘Our Vanishing World’. Have you seen a flock of birds of any size recently? A butterfly?

Separately from global species extinctions, Earth continued to experience ‘a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event.’

Moreover, local population extinctions ‘are orders of magnitude more frequent than species extinctions. Population extinctions, however, are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earth’s sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume.’ See ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines’ and ‘Our Vanishing World: Wildlife’.

Wildlife trafficking, worth up to $20 billion in 2019, is pushing many endangered species to the brink of extinction. Illegal wildlife products include jewelry, traditional medicine, clothing, furniture, and souvenirs, as well as some exotic pets, most of which are sold to unaware/unconcerned consumers in the West although China is heavily implicated too. See, for example, Stop Wildlife Trafficking.

16,000,000 acres of pristine rainforest were cut or burnt down for purposes such as the following: acquiring timbers used in construction, clearing land to establish cattle farms so that many people can eat cheap hamburgers, clearing land to establish palm oil plantations so that many people can eat processed (including junk) foods based on this oil, clearing land to establish palm oil and soybean plantations so that some people can delude themselves that they are using a ‘green biofuel’ in their car (when, in fact, these fuels generate a far greater carbon footprint than fossil fuels), mining (much of it illegal) for a variety of minerals (such as gold, silver, copper, coltan, cassiterite and diamonds), and logging to produce woodchips so that some people can buy cheap paper, including cheap toilet paper.

One outcome of this destruction is that 40,000 tropical tree species are now threatened with extinction. See ‘Our Vanishing World: Rainforests’, ‘Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests’, ‘Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species’ and ‘Half of Amazon Tree Species Face Extinction’.

Another outcome is that ‘the precious Amazon is teetering on the edge of functional destruction and, with it, so are we’. How long do we have? ‘The tipping point is here, it is now.’ Professor Thomas E. Lovejoy and his fellow researcher Carlos Nobre elaborate this point:
 ‘Bluntly put, the Amazon not only cannot withstand further deforestation but also now requires rebuilding as the underpinning base of the hydrological cycle if the Amazon is to continue to serve as a flywheel of continental climate for the planet and an essential part of the global carbon cycle.’ See ‘Amazon Tipping Point: Last Chance for Action’.
Vast quantities of soil were washed away as we destroyed the rainforests, and enormous quantities of both inorganic constituents (such as heavy metals like cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc) and organic pollutants (particularly synthetic chemicals in the form of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides) were dumped into the soil as well, thus reducing its nutrients and killing the microbes and earthworms within it.

We also contaminated enormous quantities of soil with radioactive waste. See Soil-net, ‘Glyphosate effects on soil rhizosphere-associated bacterial communities’ and ‘Disposing of Nuclear Waste is a Challenge for Humanity’.

To briefly elaborate the evidence in relation to earthworms: Given ‘recent reports of critical declines of microbes, plants, insects and other invertebrates, birds and other vertebrates, the situation pertaining to neglected earthworms’ was evaluated in an extensive investigation recently undertaken by Robert J. Blakemore. His research demonstrated an 83.3 percent decline in earthworms in agrichemical farms – that is, those that use pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers – compared with farms utilizing organic methods.


Because ‘it is impossible to replace or artificially engineer the myriad beneficial processes and services freely provided by earthworms’ which includes extensive burrows in pastures enriched with soil organic matter that allow ingress of air & water and provide living space for other soil organisms.

Moreover, given that ecological services overall have been given a median value of US$135 trillion per year, which is almost double the global economic GDP of around $75 trillion – see ‘Changes in the global value of ecosystem services’ and ‘Valuing nature and the hidden costs of biodiversity loss’ – Blakemore reaches an obvious conclusion: ‘Persistence with failing chemical agriculture makes neither ecological nor economic sense.’

See ‘Critical Decline of Earthworms from Organic Origins under Intensive, Humic SOM-Depleting Agriculture’.

Given that this multifaceted destruction of the soil fundamentally threatens the global grain supply, when the ability to grow, store and distribute grains at scale is a defining element of civilization, as Professor Guy McPherson eloquently explains it:
‘A significant decline in grain harvest will surely drive this version of civilization to the abyss and beyond.’ See ‘Seven Distinct Paths to Loss of Habitat for Humans’.
Despite an extensive and ongoing coverup by the Japanese government and nuclear corporations, as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), vast amounts of radioactive waste were dumped into the biosphere from the TEPCO nuclear power plant at Fukushima in Japan including by discharge into the Pacific Ocean killing an incalculable number of fish and other marine organisms and indefinitely contaminating expanding areas of that ocean.

See ‘Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation’, ‘2019 Annual Report – Fukushima 8th Anniversary’, ‘Eight years after triple nuclear meltdown, Fukushima No. 1’s water woes show no signs of ebbing’ and ‘Fukushima’s Three Nuclear Meltdowns Are “Under Control” – That’s a Lie’.

But the challenges to be overcome in safely handling and, ultimately, safely storing the radiation hazards (such as the three melted nuclear reactors and the spent fuel rods) and the radioactive waste from the Fukushima disaster are monumental, as touched on in this article outlining the 40-year plan that the Japanese government hopes will delude us into believing will deal with the many components of this perpetual radioactive nightmare.

See ‘Japan revises Fukushima cleanup plan, delays key steps’.

In addition, one critical legacy of the US military’s 67 secretive and lethal nuclear weapons tests on the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958 is the ‘eternally’ radioactive garbage left behind and now leaking into the Pacific Ocean.

See ‘The Pentagon’s Disastrous Radioactive Waste Dump in the Drowning Marshall Islands is Leaking into the Pacific Ocean’.

Is other nuclear waste safely stored? Of course not! See, for example, ‘NRC admits San Onofre Holtec nuclear waste canisters are all damaged’, ‘USA’s Hanford nuclear site could suffer the same fate as Russia’s Mayak – or worse’ and, for a more comprehensive report, ‘The World Nuclear Waste Report 2019: Focus Europe’.

Of course, the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe in 1986 continues to inflict extensive damage on the biosphere which you can learn more about from the research by Professor Kate Brown, author of Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future‘Chernobyl Radiation Cover-Ups & Deadly Truth’, ‘UN and Western countries covered up the facts on the huge health toll of Chernobyl radiation’ and ‘Unreported Deaths, Child Cancer & Radioactive Meat: The Untold Story of Chernobyl’ – as well as the investigatory work of Alison Katz of Independent WHO: ‘Chernobyl Health Cover-Up, Lies by UN/WHO Exposed’.

Human use of fossil fuels to power aircraft, shipping and vehicles as well as for industrial production and to generate electricity (among other purposes) released 10 billion metric tons (10 gigatons) of carbon dioxide into Earth’s biosphere, a 0.6% increase over 2018, with China’s monstrous CO2 emissions for 2019 totaling 2.6% greater than the previous year. See ‘Global Carbon Budget 2019’.

As one measure of their contempt for the utterly inadequate goals of the Paris climate agreement, and with government approval,‘over 400 of the 746 companies on the Global Coal Exit List are still planning to expand their coal operations’.

If built, these projects in 60 countries would add over 579 GW to the global coal plant fleet, an increase of almost 29%. See ‘Companies Driving the World’s Coal Expansion Revealed: NGOs Release New Global Coal Exit List for Finance Industry’ and ‘Proposed Coal Plants by Country’.

72 billion land animals (mainly chickens, ducks, pigs, rabbits, geese, turkeys, sheep, goats and beef cattle) were killed for food. In addition, between 37 and 120 billion fish were killed on commercial farms with another 2.7 trillion fish caught and killed in the wild.

See ‘How Many Animals Are Killed for Food Every Day?’

Apart from that, more than 100 million animals were killed for laboratory purposes in the United States alone and there were other animal deaths in shelters, zoos and in blood sports.

See ‘How Many Animals Are Killed Each Year?’

In addition, according to Humane Society International, about 100 million animals (particularly mink, foxes, raccoon dogs and rabbits) were bred and slaughtered in fur farms geared to supplying the fashion industry. In addition to farming, millions of wild animals were trapped and killed for fur, as were hundreds of thousands of seals. See ‘How Many Animals are Killed Each Year?’

Farming of animals for human consumption released 7.1 gigatons of CO2-equivalent into Earth’s atmosphere; this represented 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. About 44% of livestock emissions were in the form of methane (which was 44% of anthropogenic CH4 emissions), 29% as Nitrous Oxide (which was 53% of anthropogenic N2O emissions) and 27% as Carbon Dioxide (which was 5% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions).

See ‘GHG Emissions by Livestock’.

Human use of fossil fuels and farming of animals released more than 3.2 million metric tons of (CO2 equivalent) nitrous oxide (N2O) into Earth’s atmosphere. See ‘Nitrous oxide emissions’.

Despite largely successful efforts by the elite-controlled IPCC to delude people into believing that the global mean temperature has increased by only 1.0 degree celsius, in fact, since the pre-industrial era (prior to 1750) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have already caused the global temperature to rise by about 1.73 degrees celsius.

See ‘How much warmer is it now?’
Among a lengthy list of adverse outcomes, this has caused the melting of Arctic permafrost and undersea methane ice clathrates resulting in an incalculable quantity of methane being uncontrollably released into the atmosphere, including during 2019, with the quantity being released getting ever closer to ‘exploding’.

See ‘Anomalies of methane in the atmosphere over the East Siberian shelf: Is there any sign of methane leakage from shallow shelf hydrates?’, ‘7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to “explode” in Arctic’, ‘Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns’ and ‘Understanding the Permafrost-Hydrate System and Associated Methane Releases in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf’.

In fact, the methane threat is already so extreme that the forecast El Niño event for 2020 could be the catalyst to trigger huge methane releases from the Arctic Ocean precipitating human extinction this year.

See ‘Very early warning signal for El Niño in 2020 with a 4 in 5 likelihood’ and ‘Extinction in 2020?’

Glaciers and mountain ice fields – whether located in Greenland or other regions of the far north, the Himalaya, at the Equator, in southern latitudes or Antarctica – are all melting at unprecedented and accelerating rates, losing billions of tonnes of ice in 2019. For a discussion of the details and the implications of this, see ‘Our Vanishing World: Glaciers’.

The ongoing destruction of Earth’s oceans continued unabated and accelerated in key areas.
An incalculable amount of agricultural poisons, fossil fuels and other wastes was discharged into the ocean, adversely impacting life at all ocean depths – see ‘Staggering level of toxic chemicals found in creatures at the bottom of the sea, scientists say’ – and generating ocean ‘dead zones’: regions that have too little oxygen to support marine organisms. See ‘Our Planet Is Exploding With Marine “Dead Zones”’.

In addition, however, another problem that has been getting insufficient attention is the result of the expanding impacts of the rapidly increasing levels of ocean acidification, ocean warming, ocean carbon flows and ocean plastics.

Taken in isolation each of these changes clearly has negative consequences for the ocean.

All these shifts taken together, however, result in a rapid and serious decline in ocean health and this, in turn, adversely impacts all species dependent on the ocean including fish, mammals and seabirds. Moreover, on top of these problems is the issue of oxygen availability given that oxygen in the air or water is of paramount importance to most living organisms.

As the recently released report ‘Ocean deoxygenation: Everyone’s problem. Causes, impacts, consequences and solutions’ describes in some detail, oxygen levels are currently declining across the ocean, not just in ‘dead zones’.

And to elaborate the plastics problem briefly: at least 8 million metric tons of plastic, of which 236,000 tons were microplastics, was discharged into the ocean. So severe is the problem that there are now five massive patches of plastic in the oceans around the world covering large swaths of the ocean; the plastic patch between California and Hawaii is the size of the state of Texas. See ‘Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean’ and ‘Plastics in the Ocean’.

Earth’s fresh water and ground water was further depleted and contaminated.

The depletion is a primary outcome of the ongoing deforestation of the planet and is manifesting in several ways including as localized droughts, which are becoming increasingly common as a number of cities and regions around the world can attest.

According to the World Resources Institute, half of the surface water in some countries – mainly in Central Asia and the Middle East – was depleted between 1984 and 2015, with agriculture using an average of 70% of the water. 36 countries are ‘extremely water-stressed’ and water is now a major factor in conflict in at least 45 countries. See ‘7 Graphics Explain the State of the World’s Water’.

Separately from depletion, fresh water was contaminated by bacteria, viruses and household chemicals from faulty septic systems; hazardous wastes from abandoned and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (of which there are over 20,000 in the USA alone); leaks from landfill items such as car battery acid, paint and household cleaners; the pesticides, herbicides and other poisons used on farms and home gardens; radioactive waste from nuclear tests (some of it stored in glaciers that are now melting); and the chemical contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in search of shale gas, for which about 750 chemicals and components, some extremely toxic and carcinogenic like lead and benzene, have been used.

See ‘Groundwater contamination’, ‘Groundwater drunk by BILLIONS of people may be contaminated by radioactive material spread across the world by nuclear testing in the 1950s’ and ‘Fracking chemicals’.

The longstanding covert military use of geoengineering – spraying tens of millions of tons of highly toxic metals (including aluminium, barium and strontium) and toxic coal fly ash nanoparticulates (containing arsenic, chromium, thallium, chlorine, bromine, fluorine, iodine, mercury and radioactive elements) into the atmosphere from jet aircraft to weaponize the atmosphere and weather – in order to enhance elite control of human populations, continued unchecked.

Geoengineering is systematically destroying Earth’s ozone layer – which blocks the deadly portion of solar radiation, UV-C and most UV-B, from reaching Earth’s surface – as well as adversely altering Earth’s weather patterns and polluting its air, water and soil at incredible cost to the health and well-being of living organisms and the biosphere.

See ‘Geoengineering Watch’, including ‘Engineered Climate Cataclysm: Hurricane Harvey’.

For a discussion of the military implications of geoengineering, see ‘The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction: “Owning the Weather” for Military Use’.

And for discussions of the research, and implications of it, by Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt and Dr. Stephenie Seneff (Senior Research Scientist at MIT), which considers damage to the biosphere and human health caused by the geoengineering release of a synthesized compound of nanonized aluminium and the poison glyphosate that creates a ‘supertoxin’ that is generating ‘a crisis of neurological diseases.

ee ‘World-Renowned Doctor Addresses Climate Engineering Dangers’, Dr Stephenie Seneff, ‘Autism Explained: Synergistic Poisoning from Aluminum and Glyphosate’ and ‘Extinction is Stalking Humanity: The Threats to Human Survival Accumulate’.

The incredibly destructive 5G technology, which a vast number of scientists (currently totaling more than 188,000 individuals and organizations from 203 nations and territories: see ‘International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space’) are warning will have catastrophic consequences for life on Earth, is now being rapidly introduced without informed public consultation and despite ongoing protests around the world.

The following articles and videos will give you a solid understanding of key issues from the viewpoint of human and planetary well-being.

See ‘5G Satellites: A Threat to all Life’, ‘5G Danger: 13 Reasons 5G Wireless Technology Will Be a Catastrophe for Humanity’, ‘5G Technology is Coming – Linked to Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Death’, ‘20,000 Satellites for 5G to be Launched Sending Focused Beams of Intense Microwave Radiation Over Entire Earth’, ‘Will 5G Cell Phone Technology Lead To Dramatic Population Reduction As Large Numbers Of Men Become Sterile?’, ‘The 5G Revolution: Millions of “Human Guinea Pigs” in Big Telecom’s Global Experiment’ and ‘5G Apocalypse – The Extinction Event’.

As one outcome of our dysfunctional parenting model and political systems, fascism continued to rise around the world. See ‘The Psychology of Fascism’.

Despite the belief that we have ‘the right to privacy’, privacy (in any sense of the word) was ongoingly eroded in 2019 and is now effectively non-existent, particularly thanks to Alphabet (owner of Google).

Taken together, ‘Uber, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Tinder, Apple, Lyft, Foursquare, Airbnb, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Angry Birds… have turned our computers and phones into bugs that are plugged in to a vast corporate-owned surveillance network.

Where we go, what we do, what we talk about, who we talk to, and who we see – everything is recorded and, at some point, leveraged for value.’

Moreover, given Google’s integrated relationship with the US government, the US military, the CIA, and major US weapons manufacturers, there isn’t really anything you can do that isn’t known by those who want to know it.

In essence, Google is ‘a powerful global corporation with its own political agenda and a mission to maximise profits for shareholders’ and it partly achieves this by expanding the surveillance programs of the national security state at the direction of the global elite.

But Google isn’t alone and it isn’t just happening in the USA. See ‘Everybody’s Watching You: The Intercept’s 2019 Technology Coverage’, ‘Google’s Earth: How the Tech Giant Is Helping the State Spy on Us’, the articles by John W. Whitehead on ‘Surveillance’ and the documentary ‘The Modern Surveillance State’.

The right to free speech, accurate information and conscience-based nonviolent activism was ongoingly eroded in 2019 as efforts, by governments and corporations particularly, to control speech, information and political action accelerated.

Whether this took the form of censorship, restrictions on access or violent acts directed against those whose views or actions were seen as dangerous or wrong, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch and other organizations documented an endless series of setbacks for free speech and political activity in a wide variety of countries around the world with individuals and journalists imprisoned for telling the truth, nonviolent activists assaulted and killed, critics silenced by defamation laws or ‘disappearance’, and the closure of newspapers, television stations and the internet to prevent rapid promulgation of information, among other infringements.

See, for example, ‘Free Speech’, ‘The supply chain of violence’, ‘Environmental activist murders double in 15 years’ and ‘Enemies of the State? How governments and businesses silence land and environmental defenders’.

Believing that we know better than evolution, and following the birth in 2018 of the first gene-edited babies in China – see ‘Why we are not ready for genetically designed babies’ and ‘China’s Golem Babies: There is Another Agenda’ – in 2019, further human gene-editing was done as well as gene-editing experiments intended to explore possibilities for more complex gene-editing of humans.

According to the authors of one report:
‘To extend the frontier of genome editing and enable the radical redesign of mammalian genomes’ (emphasis added). This experiment allowed ‘for the simultaneous editing of >10,000 loci in human cells’. 
See ‘Enabling large-scale genome editing by reducing DNA nicking’.

Needless to say, at least some responsible scientists are well aware of the possibly horrific consequences of this technology in the hands of those without ethics and are calling for a moratorium of at least five years on heritable human gene editing to allow time ‘to engage in proactive, rather than reactive, discussions about the future of such technology’. Of course, despite the calls for caution, ‘some researchers are forging ahead’. See ‘NIH Director on Human Gene Editing: “We Must Never Allow Our Technology to Eclipse Our Humanity”’.

Incalculable amounts of waste of every conceivable kind – including antibiotic waste, military waste, nuclear waste, nanowaste and genetically engineered organisms, including ‘gene drives’ (or ‘mutagenic chain reactions’) – were released into Earth’s biosphere, with an endless series of adverse consequences for life.

See ‘Junk Planet: Is Earth the Largest Garbage Dump in the Universe?’

Not content to dump our junk on Earth, an incalculable amount of junk was also dumped in Space which already contains 100 trillion items of orbiting junk. See ‘Junk Planet: Is Earth the Largest Garbage Dump in the Universe?’ and ‘Space Junk: Tracking & Removing Orbital Debris’.

Ongoing ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and  ‘utterly invisible’ violence against children – see Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’– ensured that more people will grow up accepting (and quite powerless to challenge) our dysfunctional and violent world, as described above.

The global elite’s corporate media, schooling and film/television industries continued to distract vast numbers of people from reality with an endless barrage of propaganda respectively labeled, depending on the context, ‘news’, ‘education’ and ‘entertainment’ ensuring that most people remain oblivious to our predicament, devoid of the capacities to investigate, comprehend and analyze this predicament as well as their own role in it, and to respond to this predicament powerfully. See, for example, ‘Media’s Deafening Silence on Latest from WikiLeaks about the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Fake Douma Report Blaming Syria’, ‘Do We Want School or Education?’ and ‘The Most Important Free Press Stories of 2019’.

Finally, as a direct outcome of these last two points but most tragically of all, virtually all of the individuals who self-identify as ‘activists’ continued to waste their time begging the global elite (or their agents) to fix one or other of our crises – starkly illustrated by those thousands of climate ‘activists’ who traveled to Madrid, mostly using fossil fuels, and then complained when the outcome was, predictably, pitiful: see the powerless civil society ‘Statement on COP25’ – despite the overwhelming evidence that the global elite will not take action to ‘fix’ any of these crises. See ‘Why Activists Fail’.

And, for more detail in two key contexts, see ‘The Global Climate Movement is Failing: Why?’ and ‘The War to End War 100 Years On: An Evaluation and Reorientation of our Resistance to War’.

Moreover, even if it was inclined, the elite is now powerless to avert extinction given that, if we are to have any chance given the advanced nature of the crisis and the incredibly short timeframe, we must plan intelligently to mobilize a substantial proportion of the human population in a strategically-focused effort. Nothing else can work.

Highlights of 2019
But so that the picture is clear and ‘balanced’: were there any gains made against the onslaught outlined above, particularly given we were driven inexorably closer to extinction?

Considering the elite and its agents: Zero gains were made of which I am aware.

 I have found no record of official efforts during the year to plan for the development and implementation of a comprehensive, just and sustainable peace although there was plenty of rhetoric in some quarters, often by those without any actual power to make a difference.

Separately from this, there have been some minor activist gains: for example, some western banks and insurance companies are no longer financially supporting the expansion of the western weapons industry and the western coal industry, some superannuation (pension) funds have divested from weapons and fossil fuels, some rainforest groups have managed to save portions of Earth’s rainforest heritage, and activist groups continue to work on a variety of issues sometimes making modest gains.

In essence however, as you probably realize, many of the issues above are not even being tackled and, even when they are, activist efforts have been hampered by inadequate analysis of the forces driving conflicts and problems, limited vision (particularly unambitious aims such as those in relation to ending war and the climate catastrophe), and unsophisticated strategy (necessary to have profound impact against a deeply entrenched, highly organized and well-resourced opponent), with the endless lobbying of elite institutions, such as governments and corporations, despite this effort simply allowing the absorption and dissipation of our dissent, as is intended.

As Mark Twain once noted: ‘If voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.’ Another problem was the failure to make the difficult decisions to model and promote necessary solutions that are ‘unpopular’.

Fundamentally, these ‘difficult decisions’ include the vital need to campaign for the human population, particularly in industrialized countries, to substantially reduce their consumption – by 80% – involving both energy and resources of every kind, while increasing our individual and community self-reliance, as the central feature of any strategy to curtail destruction of the environment and climate, to undermine capitalism and to eliminate the primary driver of war: violent resource acquisition from Middle Eastern and developing nations for the production of consumer goods for consumers in industrialized countries.

So here we stand at the brink of human extinction (with 200 species of life on Earth being driven to extinction daily) and most humans utterly oblivious to (or in denial of: see ‘The Psychology of Denial’) the desperate nature and timeframe of our plight.

And the fundamental reason why this is the case is simple to identify: unconscious fear is making people, including activists, incapable of behaving sensibly in the crisis. Instead, people are doing what they were terrorized into doing as a child: obeying their parents, teachers, religious figures and, ultimately, the elite. Why? Because when the choice is between obedience on the one hand and punishment on the other, obedience almost invariably wins.

And so now we obediently ask the elite, perhaps by lobbying one of their governments, to ‘fix’ things for us – to save the climate, to end war… – and meekly accept it when they ignore us or refuse. After all, that is what most parents and teachers do – ignore us or refuse us – and we have fearfully learned to ‘accept it’. Which is why the idea of behaving powerfully ourselves never really occurs to most people.

‘But I am not afraid’ you (or someone else) might say. Aren’t you? Your unconscious mind has had years to learn the tricks it needed when you were a child to survive the onslaught of the violent parenting and schooling you suffered

See Why Violence?’, Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’ and ‘Do We Want School or Education?’ – among the many other possibilities of violence, including those of a structural nature, that you will have also suffered.

But your mind only learned these ‘tricks’ – such as the trick of suppressing awareness of your fear and hiding it behind the permitted and encouraged overconsumption: see ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’ – at great cost to your functionality and it now diverts the attention from reality of most people so effectively that they cannot even pay attention to the obvious and imminent threats to human survival.

In any case, there is a simple test of whether or not you are afraid.

Responding Powerfully
If you feel able to act powerfully in response to this complex and multifaceted crisis, in a way that will have strategic impact, you are invited to join (but now using a substantially accelerated timeframe) those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’, which outlines a simple plan for you to systematically reduce your consumption, by at least 80%, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding your individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas, so that all threats to the biosphere are effectively addressed.

If you are also interested in conducting or participating in a campaign to systematically address one of the issues identified above, you are welcome to consider acting strategically in the way that Mohandas K. Gandhi did.

Whether you are engaged in a peace, climate, environment or social justice campaign, the 12-point strategic framework and principles are the same. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. And, for example, you can see a basic list of the strategic goals necessary to end war and halt the climate catastrophe in ‘Strategic Aims’.

If you want to know how to nonviolently defend against a foreign invading power or a political/military coup, to liberate your country from a dictatorship or a foreign occupation, or to defeat a genocidal assault, you will learn how to do so in ‘Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy’.

If you are interested in nurturing children to live by their conscience and to gain the courage necessary to resist elite violence fearlessly, while living sustainably despite the entreaties of capitalism to over-consume, then you are welcome to make ‘My Promise to Children’.

To reiterate: capitalism, war and destruction of the biosphere are, fundamentally, outcomes of our dysfunctional parenting and education of children which distorts their intellectual and emotional capacities, destroys their conscience and courage, and actively teaches them to over-consume as compensation for having vital emotional needs denied. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.

This explains why Gandhi’s example, set more than 100 years ago, to minimize his own possessions and consumption as symbolized by his wearing of khadi, together with his observation ‘Earth provides enough for every person’s need, but not for every person’s greed.’ have never had the widespread impact that was needed to achieve some level of sustainability about the human presence on Earth. The dysfunctional emotional attachment to possessions and consumption is overwhelming for most people.

If your own intellectual and/or emotional functionality is the issue and you have the self-awareness to perceive that, and wish to access the conscience and courage that would enable you to act powerfully, try ‘Putting Feelings First’.

And if you want to be part of the worldwide movement committed to ending all of the violence identified above, consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

In summary: if we do not rapidly, systematically and substantially reduce our consumption in several key areas and radically alter our parenting model, while resisting elite violence strategically on several fronts, Homo sapiens will enter Earth’s fossil record in 2020 or soon after. Given the fear, self-hatred and powerlessness that paralyses most humans, your choices in these regards are even more vital than you realize.

Or, if the options above seem too complicated, consider committing to:

The Earth Pledge
Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:
  1. I will listen deeply to children (see explanation above)
  2. I will not travel by plane
  3. I will not travel by car
  4. I will not eat meat and fish
  5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  7. I will not buy rainforest timber
  8. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  9. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  10. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
  11. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  12. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  13. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

Very soon now, the overwhelming evidence is that Homo sapiens will join other species that only exist as part of the fossil record. For other summaries of our predicament, see ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’,‘Doomsday by 2021?’and ‘Extinction in 2020?’

Our chance of escaping this fate is now remote.

Which is why I am compelled to forecast the following: As is overwhelmingly demonstrated by any consideration of the historical evidence in relation to human behavior, fear will prevent the vast bulk of human beings considering the evidence offered above as well as that cited.

Moreover, even among those who do consider it, few will have the capacity to act sensibly and powerfully in response, particularly given the comprehensive range of strategies in so many different contexts that are now necessary.

Hence, absent the intellectual and emotional capacities necessary to respond strategically to this complex and multifaceted crisis, human extinction will occur imminently.

Obviously, I hope I am wrong (and I will be doing everything I can to make it so).

Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.