Table of Contents
- Climate Emergency is Not a Hoax
- We Have Been Deceived
- Hear the Screams of Our Children
- Climate Emergency is a Symptom
- Our Only Chance
- No Greater Opportunity in Human History
“I can hire one-half of the people to kill the other half.”Jay Gould (1836-1892) – US Railroad Magnate, Robber Baron
I am a quiet introvert and this website was created for gentle inspiration, but it has become clear to me that urgent action is now needed to even have a future. I am sharing what has been, for me, a slow process of working through denial and acknowledging my false beliefs. Our only hope is that more people can quickly gain a better understanding of our situation, the course of action which is our only chance, and act on it.
I do not accept any labels, neither on you nor on me. Labels are used to mislead us. I have something in common with each of you and generally respect and agree with your values. I will share some of my life in hopes that you will also feel that you have something in common with me and you will read more. I hope to stimulate you to see the existential threat for our children and together we do all that we can to defend them. I do not want you to blindly accept what I or anyone else says.
My mother’s side of the family were extreme anti-communists. Her father nearly killed her mother in a dream of strangling a communist but fortunately got twisted around in the bed and was strangling her ankle. He was active in the John Birtch Society, one of the groups planning to assassinate Kennedy for being too soft and their secret list of communist sympathizers included President and former general Eisenhower (see Deception on the Right – I’m a Son of a Birch).
In 2011 the Arab Spring caught my attention. While following on both main stream media and through twitter directly to people, my illusion of trust in our media was shattered, including National Public Radio, the left fringe with “All Things Considered” (read more). I was compelled to dig deeper (see Personal Transformations).
One morning, my neighbor in Chicago was hauling bricks to the curb. When I asked what he was doing, he explained they were to throw at the black students who were going to be bused to the public school that day. Except for kindergarten, we were in the private Catholic school and did not see this. After recently learning my family involvement in the John Birch Society, he was likely staging them to be loaded in our car, possibly planned by my grandfather. Now I have traveled to Ferguson and Milwaukee to stand with the black community when youth are killed by police. I am married to an indigenous women and spend most of my time in a rural indigenous tribal community in the South American Andes threatened by international construction of a highway down into the Amazon. We are at a 50 km gap between existing roads and waterways that is a multi-national construction project to connect the Amazon to a port on the Pacific. This would be a puncture wound to the “lungs of the planet.”
I have lived in the city and on farms. My parents were thrifty, honest and hard working. I put myself through college, working full time night shift at a truck stop from when I received my learning permit to drive a car at age 15. I have studied and worked as an engineer and, like my father, do all manual labor from shoveling shit to auto, tractor, appliance, electronics and home repairs. Like my mother’s family, I am most at home in nature. On the farms here in the Andes the only machines are weed trimmers and chainsaws. We milk the cattle with our hands and till and cultivate the land with hand tools. We raise the cuy (like a guinea pig) and rabbits in the kitchen. We kill them, cook them and eat them in the same room where they are raised. For a large family event, the cow or pig is walked to site of butchering, next to the kitchen building. My wife and I are in transition from meat, both for respect of the animals and the climate emergency. I wash my own cloths by hand.
I have never cheated on an exam or taxes nor had a traffic ticket. I want reasonable rules and order in society but I will defend us. I have been arrested six times in the Wisconsin State Capital to defend people’s rights to gather and use singing as political action. This was legal with long precedence but they started arresting the noontime singers when the governor made plans to run in the 2016 Presidential election. I was arrested at the Vietnam Memorial near Wall Street in NYC on May Day 2012, as a member of Veterans for Peace who, together with clergy, stood between the police and people peacefully assembling, again fully within the law and ultimately upheld by the court. I joined others to scale a building two blocks from the White House to do banner drops to expose the secret trade negotiations inside. These so-called free trade agreements go far beyond trade. The investor protection clauses gives corporations the right to take money from governments to cover their estimate of lost revenue due to any regulation. This was a corporate coup.
I write this for everyone, not just the 99%, the 1%, the US, the left or the right. We have all been deceived. Nearly all are contributing toward near term, run-away climate change, that unless we act now, will kill billions, possibly all of us. Many are slowly becoming aware of more fires, storms, floods, droughts and extreme temperatures but everyone around us continues like normal so we do not feel any sense of urgency. We have been fooled in the past by predictions of apocalypse. But human nature general follows the lead of others and like our past belief in flat earth, we can all be wrong. Today we are like the frogs in a pot of water, that when slowly heated by the investigators, will remain there until they are cooked. Even if there is no emergency, what is the cost of stopping and learning more? Alternatively, what is the cost of continuing with no sense of urgency to learn and respond? Many tell us that most or all of us will die. I agree. For some, the climate emergency is too frightening to contemplate. If right now, this is too much, you can still greatly help by daily asking others to please help our children.
It is vital that we stop labeling people and fighting among ourselves. Attacking individuals divides us. We the people need to come together to demand nothing less than real democracy, the only way to defend our children. Our current governments have created unsustainable inequality, weapons of mass destruction and are rapidly making our planet uninhabitable for humans. Most or all of us, we the people, do not even exist in our government plans for a future.
The climate emergency is our most urgent threat but if you are not convinced, lets look just at energy. When I was studying engineering in the early 70’s it was obvious that there is a limited supply of fossil fuels and very significant investment and time would be necessary to develop and deploy alternatives. I estimated that our budget of fossil fuels would last my lifetime and hoped this would be enough time to make the transition. If we could put a man on the moon, we could surely achieve this transition without which we have no future.
For a couple of years our government subsidized this energy research but about 1980 that ended. Nuclear had been the hope of the future but in the 70’s the public became aware of the very real dangers with nuclear energy, research in nuclear fell drastically and new plants were not approved. Since then, our government has been heavily subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and doing nothing to prepare for when we run out, at least not to sustain the population. What is their plan?
We now know that our corporations and government have known since the 60’s, as we were putting a man on the moon, that not only is fossil fuel limited, but burning it puts CO2 in the atmosphere that is like a blanket. The earth heats up and we loose livable regions and food supply for billions if not all of us. I did not know this, but we had even less to burn because we would have an unlivable planet if we burned all of it.
So again I ask, with even less fossil fuel that can be used and serious risks with nuclear energy, why did our government end research and deployment of alternatives, a transition absolutely necessary for our future? I do not know their plans but their actions fall far short of what is needed for survival of most of the world’s population.
This week, the US government approved one of it’s largest military budgets, expanding into space. We are upgrading nuclear weapons and are likely continuing with other weapons of mass destruction. We have abandoned nuclear arms agreements. We are providing military equipment and training to our police. We are building walls and locking people in concentration camps. Every detail of our lives is recorded and stored indefinitely.
Our governments are using our taxes to create total surveillance and lethal force with far insufficient action to provide livable land, heat, transportation, food, water or breathable air for most or all of the population, we the people.
What are the plans of our government? For people like myself, who were traumatized by the holocaust, it is past time to open our eyes and defend ourselves.
Climate Emergency is Not a Hoax
In November 2011, at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, Richard Rothschild asks “To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?” He tells the crowd that he ran for county commissioner in Maryland’s Carroll County because he had come to the conclusion that policies to combat global warming were actually “an attack on middle-class American capitalism (read more) (from “ON FIRE – The (Burning) Case for a GREEN NEW DEAL” by Naomi Klein).”
Roughly the same time, a group of climate scientists investigated the funding of the so-called experts who were publicly disputing the scientific evidence that burning of fossil fuels is causing climate warming. Their investigation found that the so-called experts were paid through organizations like the Heartland Institute, not surprisingly funded by corporations profiting from fossil fuels.
Recently, some internal documents have been leaked, showing that the fossil fuel corporations did internal investigations of the impact of burning fossil fuels and have known the catastrophic consequences for over 50 years:
A 1966 article in “Mining Congress Journal” from a mining research company stated that combustion of fossil fuels was increasing carbon dioxide in the air, causing global temperature increases. It further stated, “Such changes in temperature will cause melting of the polar icecaps, which, in turn, would result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New York and London (Coal Industry Knew Burning Fossil Fuels Causes Climate Change as Early as 1966).”
A 1982 Exxon internal report predicted carbon dioxide levels would be double the preindustrial level by 2060, with a 2 °C (3.6 °F) rise over current temperatures. Exxon’s scientists warned of “potentially catastrophic events that must be considered.” They predicted devastating sea-level rise, and warned that the American Midwest and other parts of the world could become desert-like. Looking on the bright side, the company expressed its confidence that “this problem is not as significant to mankind as a nuclear holocaust or world famine. (Shell and Exxon’s Secret 1980s Climate Change Warnings)”
A 1988 Shell internal report predicted a faster rise, doubling carbon dioxide levels by 2030. The Shell report further predicted a one meter rise of sea level but also warned that warming could trigger the disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, resulting in a “five to six meters” rise of sea level, inundating entire low-lying countries. The report warned of the “disappearance of specific ecosystems or habitat destruction,” predicted an increase in “runoff, destructive floods, and inundation of low-lying farmland,” and said that “new sources of freshwater would be required” to compensate for changes in precipitation. Global changes in air temperature would also “drastically change the way people live and work.” The Shell report concluded, “the changes may be the greatest in recorded history.”
In response to efforts from the general public, international organizations were created to respond the the climate emergency, including the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (website, wikipedia) in 1988 and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (website, wikipedia) in 1992, with annual Conferences of the Parties (COP) (wikipedia) starting in 1995.
In 2015, out of great concern for our future, Pope Francis published the “Encyclical Letter Laudato Si of the Holy Father Francis – On Care of Our Common Home. (download, wikipedia)” I have many issues with the Catholic Church but this letter should be required reading for everyone. I strongly encourage you to read it and discuss it with others.
If you had to name a single industry that has been central to the American economy, domestic politics, and national security over the last four decades, it would be hard to come up with one that surpasses energy in importance. The electronics revolution has spawned a new age of advancing productivity and stunning invention, helping to make the United States a technological powerhouse, and the health-care industrial complex has grown like topsy, for better and for worse, to meet the demands of an aging population. However, nothing is quite at the center of things the way Big Energy is. Transportation, plastics, agriculture, electric power, the environment, drilling and mining, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, Russia and Venezuela and Mexico — almost everything you see, almost everything you touch, almost everything that touches you rubs up against the oil and gas industry in some way.
It was hardly surprising, then, that the energy sector emerged as an important part of our work after we started to apply military wargaming principles to strategic simulations for major corporations. That work, which began in the late 1980s, has increased in recent years as climate change, dependence on foreign oil, and a nascent emphasis on alternative energy sources have captured greater public attention. The three wargames described below intersect with some of the pressing issues of our time and reveal why it sometimes seems so difficult to move forward and deal with them.
Politicians continue to debate the science of climate change, but the scientists themselves—with a relatively small minority taking exception—have coalesced around a set of causal findings: Human beings, by continuing to burn more and more fossil fuels, have caused greater and greater quantities of CO2 and other so-called greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere. That has led to a gradual warming of the earth’s surface; if this trend is not arrested and reversed within the next several decades, the earth could be in existential peril.
Finding ways to deal with global warming is certainly at the center of energy policy discussions in the United States, Europe, Japan, and, increasingly, China and India, two vast and populous countries with rapidly developing economies that face huge environmental challenges.
The critical takeaways:
• Everybody wants to go green, but all of us had better get ready to pay for doing so. Major changes in the profile of power generation aimed at a sharp reduction in carbon emissions probably will have profound price effects. There is no free lunch; in fact, this lunch could prove very expensive indeed. It’s no accident that California, probably the greenest state, has some of the highest utility rates in the country.
• If there is no rush to clean-coal technology, the government may have to subsidize its development. Otherwise, it may take too long for traditional utilities to jettison aging and polluting plants. Renewables also may require subsidies.
• The nation’s electric utilities cannot solve this problem on their own, even with a cap-and-trade program that works. Government will have to be involved, essentially driving the industry toward the solution it wants.WARGAMING FOR LEADERS – STRATEGIC DECISION MAKING FROM THE BATTLEFIELD TO THE BOARDROOM (2009) by Mark Herman of Booz Allen Hamilton
Booz Allen Hamilton is one of the corporations that do wargaming, a guided role play to evaluate proposed tactics and strategy for clients in the military, government, large corporations and nonprofit organization around the globe. In 1987 they took their military wargaming expertise to their first corporate client, Florida Power & Light Company of FPL Group. The client needed new power generation and was concerned about regulations and public backlash. Options included nuclear and even a coal fired plant offshore to use cheap coal from South America but avoid US regulations.
A year or two later, Booz Allen Hamilton was proposing wargaming to their second corporate client, Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria IL, my employer, concerning strategy with their engines for the heavy-truck industry. The abrupt shift in our engine strategy was very obvious, in fact my Cat Electronics department was moved into a vacated engine factory, but I had no awareness of the Booz Allen Hamilton wargaming behind it.
In 2009, Mark Herman, Mark Frost and Robert Kurz of Booz Allen Hamilton published a book, “WARGAMING FOR LEADERS – STRATEGIC DECISION MAKING FROM THE BATTLEFIELD TO THE BOARDROOM.” It gives a view of the private planning of our corporations and government. Some excerpts from this wargaming book are shown here to clearly establish that our corporations and government have not only been aware of the threat of burning fossil fuels, but this man-made climate emergency has been a central issue in their plans and actions.
We Have Been Deceived
Returning to the investigation of funding behind the climate change deniers, in a ranking of corporations by the number of connections to these climate change denying organizations, three corporations topped the list: General Electric, Caterpillar and Peabody Energy, each connected to six of the climate change denying organizations.
I am an engineer who specialized in sustainable energy to develop our transition from fossil fuels. Starting in 1977 I worked at GE for three years on residential solar, heat pumps, and annual energy storage; and subsequently at Caterpillar for 32 years on engine and machine efficiency. In total contradiction to my career goal of developing sustainable energy for our future, I had spent my entire engineering career working for two of these three companies most involved in denying climate science, knowingly taking us toward extinction.
Until recently, I had been proud to be one of the 2000 scientists and engineers at GE Corporate Research & Development, with the slogan “We Bring Good Things to Life“, my office directly below the 2nd ‘E’ in the iconic General Electric neon sign on Thomas Edison’s building 37 in Schenectady NY. Shortly before I left GE in 1980, they reduced their sustainable energy research and diversified into mining.
This investigation also ranked the same companies by ties to legitimate environmental organizations. Caterpillar topped both lists, secretly deceiving the public on climate science while creating an environmentally friendly public image. I remember an internal top management initiative of “Image is Everything.”
This corporate funding of deception has been extremely effective. A 2007 Harris poll found that 71 percent of Americans believed that the continued burning of fossil fuels would cause the climate to change. By 2009 it dropped to 51% and by 2011, 44%, less than half of the public.
Deception of the public is the general strategy, not the exception. Like the prior referenced book about wargaming, the book “The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom” (1941) by James Burnham provides a fascinating and horrifying inner look at power. James Burnham (1905 – 1987) was the son of a railroad baron from Chicago. He was a professor at NYU with an Ivy League education. His political work started at the extreme left, in 1933 organizing the American Workers Party, in 1934 supporting merging with the Communist League of America to form the US Workers Party then allied with the Trotskyist wing of that party and favored fusion with the Socialist Party of America. He became a friend of Leon Trotsky. During World War II he moved to the extreme right, leading the Political and Psychological Warfare division within the Office of Policy Coordination in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a forerunner of the CIA, in 1955 helping William F. Buckley Jr. found National Review magazine, writing the resignation speech of Nixon, and in 1983 receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagon.
It appears that Burnham, like Machiavelli, aspired to be the hidden architect of power behind the public Prince or President. In “The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom” (1941) James Burnham wrote that democracy is not possible; society will always be ruled by a few in power, the leader must be both a lion and a fox, willing to use unrestrained force while primarily employing deception, force being more costly and scale limited than deception; that deception requires a good myth to fool the public; and recently the myth has changed from religion to democracy.
Since Burnham encourages the use of deception, it is difficult to know what he actually believed versus said to achieve his goals. In my opinion, democracy is not impossible but has not been realized to any great extent, in great part due to its use, as Burnham encourages, to hide the power of a privileged few.
Note that the few people who deeply understand power, like James Burnham who changed from communist to anti-communist, can and do easily change political ideology. He remained fixed in his pragmatic quest for power, the hidden advisor to the public leader, who, like the myth, could also be changed. He just changed his public alignment with myth and structure of government as as he realized that Germany might loose WWII. He may have also realized that the myth of democracy had greater potential for accumulation of wealth than a system of central planning run by managers. People of power can enjoy this privilege within capitalism or communism and hidden behind the noble ideals of religion or democracy. In the US they can serve power in either the Republican or Democratic party and reap the benefits. The people who deeply understand power, know that they need multiple facades of power to keep the people divided and in fear. These labels are used to deceive us, to put targets on us.
Hear the Screams of Our Children
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.”
“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”Greta Thunberg (age 16) speaking to World leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019 in NYC (full transcript, video)
Our children are under attack, for 30 years we did not listen, today as they are dying and defending themselves, our world leaders ridicule them.
The following are some links to videos and transcripts from some of our youth speaking to our world leaders. I urge you to watch or read all of them but particularly the recent of Greta Thunberg, age 16, (first four) and Severn Cullis-Suzuki, age 12, when she spoke in 1992 (last one).
A Few Messages from Youth to World Leaders
- Greta Thunberg at United Nations COP25 (Madrid Spain, 2019 December 11)
- Greta Thunberg speaking at the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019 (New York, New York, USA, 2019 September 23)
- Greta Thunberg: “Change is Coming, Whether You Like It or Not” (2019 September 9)
- We Are Striking to Disrupt the System”: An Hour with 16-Year-Old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg (2019 September 11)
- “If Not Now, Then When?”: As Climate Talks Open in Poland, Philippines Devastated by Another Storm (United Nations COP19, Warsaw, Poland, 2013 November 11)
- “Your Governments Have Failed You”: Syrian-American Student Munira Sibai Calls For Climate Justice (United Nations COP18, Doha, Qatar, 2012 December 7)
- “Get It Done”: After Stirring Durban Speech, Student Anjali Appadurai Initially Banned by U.N. in Doha (United Nations COP18, Doha, Qatar, 2012 December 5)
- “Are You Here to Save Face — or Save Us?”: Brittany Trilford, 17, Addresses World Leaders at Rio+20 (United Nations Earth Summit 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
- “I’m Scared for My Future”: Student Disrupts Speech by U.S. Climate Envoy Todd Stern in Durban (United Nations COP17, Durban, South Africa, 2011 December 8)
- Voices from Small Island States: Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, a Tuvaluan Delegate and a Youth Activist from the Solomon Islands (United Nations COP15, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2009 December 17)
- At Rio+20, Severn Cullis-Suzuki Revisits Historic ’92 Speech, Fights for Next Generation’s Survival (United Nations Earth Summit 1992 & 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
I suggest that you imagine our children’s future. Imagine their screams. Let this really sink in until you are courageously helping them, beyond your capabilities, to save as many as you can. Revisit these images to keep going when you feel you can not.
In 1964, a few of my classmates at St. Robert Belarmine, in a mixed Irish-Polish neighborhood of Chicago, started talking about the upcoming Beatle concert. I did not even ask my parents. I had four younger brothers, they were putting us through a private Catholic school, had just bought their first house 5 years earlier and they were saving so dad could start his own pharmacy. No big deal. I greatly respected the work ethic and thrift of my parents. But the day after the concert was a shock. All of the girls in my class and even some of the nuns were in an altered state of excitement over the Beatles and rock music. I reassured myself that the Beatles had left Chicago and this would pass. But soon I learned that one of the boys in my class, David Cash, who had also gone to the concert, was lead singer and guitar player in a rock band. They had been practicing in a garage for a year.
It was while I was next door with another classmate, Mitchell Blanchet, assessing our musical talent, or lack thereof, to compete with this world changing event in our lives, his mother came in his bedroom and said to us “Let me tell you what it was like when I was your age.” I was eight years old. We already knew that she had been in Poland during WWII. I suspect, in her way, she was trying comfort us. Don’t sweat this one, people deal with much worse. From the tone of her voice I was sure that I did not want her to share but we sat in silent horror as she continued. “One day while walking a country road with my mother, I saw a dead soldier at the top of a telegraph pole, or half of him.” “My parents learned that people who were responding to a work add in the paper were being butchered and sold as meat.”
I had the worst nightmare of my life after that. A few years later on TV I saw film documenting the US army entering a German concentration camp with a few hundred Jewish people, stripped of cloths, killed, pilled in a huge hole and not yet buried. My first view of a woman’s body was this image of extreme brutality.
If we have not cut our CO2 emissions in half within 8 years and to net zero within about 20 years, we may cross the tipping point where the temperature continues to rise to the point where the earth can only support 1 Billion people. That is the death of nearly 7 of 8 people, all in many regions. That is 6.6 Billion people suffering and dying. Even if these estimates are off by a decade or a few billion people, this is bad, really bad. This is 1000 times the holocaust.
Our children will suffer and die from thirst, hunger, heat, drowning, disease and unimaginable violence from nations, private paramilitaries, gangs, neighbors and family members. The combination of food shortages and plundering for oil and other resources has already displaced millions of people. Thousands have already died crossing seas and deserts but continue to take this risk because conditions are already worse in the areas they fled. Let this sink in. The risks of crossing a desert or ocean in the hands of opportunistic smugglers is a better chance to save your children than remaining in your country. This is the horror today in many places of the world.
This is just the start. Don’t think the US or any other place will be spared. As Roger Hallam writes, “In short, we are fucked – the only question is by how much and how soon? Do we accept this fate? I suggest we do not.”
Hear the screams of our children and help them.
Climate Emergency is a Symptom
We now have abundant evidence of suffering and death from changes to our climate. We have abundant evidence that our governments have known the catastrophic impact of continuing to use fossil fuels. We have abundant evidence that our governments are not only continuing but accelerating and blocking all attempts to avoid this catastrophe. It is time to seriously examine our sacred economic/political/cultural system that is taking us to our deaths.
Returning to the question from Richard Rothchild at the Heartland Institute’s International Conference on Climate Change, it was a rhetorical question supporting the Heartland Institute’s intention to portray actions to combat climate crisis as attacks on American capitalism. They want to turn the general public against the climate activists by portraying them as a threat to the American way of life.
The Heartland Institute is knowingly lying to us about the climate emergency but when they say that climate activists are a threat to capitalism and the free market system, they are correct. Very few of the climate activists yet realize this implication and if they do, few would dare to utter it because they would be fiercely attacked verbally and physically. The few enjoying the benefits of being on top understand that unquestionable loyalty to the free market is the foundation of their status in the world. This message is drummed into our culture more than the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses (or the equivalent ethics of your beliefs). The people on top claim that the free market is democracy and freedom. But this is deception. It is freedom for a few to steal the democracy and freedom of nearly all of the global population. Western democracy was designed and evolved as democracy for kings. It was a step toward democracy.
Our economic system and government work very well for the few at the top. Within the US, the 3 wealthiest people have more combined wealth than the poorest 50% and globally the 26 wealthiest people in the world have more than the combined wealth of the poorest 50% or 3.8 billion people! Our economic system is working extremely well as intended, in transferring wealth from the poorest to the richest.
Action to avoid climate catastrophe is up against another obstacle, fossil fuel energy is of strategic importance to the US dominance over other countries. It powers our industries and military. The strategy is to control all of it, not just what we need, but denying access to other countries, including so-called allies. On this issue, our current President is more honest than his predecessors, directly telling us that we want the oil of Venezuela and we have secured the oil of Syria.
In summary, the future of our children is in conflict with:
- Vast revenue from fossil fuels
- Sustaining US global dominance
- The economic/political/cultural foundation of privilege
Both people voting for Republican politicians and for Democratic politicians are absolutely correct in their view that the other party does not serve them. This extraordinary transfer of wealth to a few people has been a joint effort of our politicians throughout the history of the US. Are you still willing to give your power to a political party that is taking us to extinction?
The previously referenced book on wargaming does not expose this choice between averting climate catastrophe or preserving our economic/political/cultural system, but we can be certain that the people in power continued the analysis of the implications of the climate emergency. They likely came to accept that there was little possibility of making sufficient changes to avoid climate catastrophe without changing our economic/political/cultural system, which is the foundation of their privilege.
The people who run our corporations and governments clearly chose the death of most or all of us rather than give up their position of privilege.
To be fair, the problem is systemic and the leaders actually have little or no power to dismantle the system. If they tried, they would be rapidly replaced by someone in the long queue climbing the ladder. Similarly they can not coordinate the change without being taken out. Our current President is being impeached, not because of crimes against the people, but because he started selectively exposing the crimes of an opponent, crimes which are the normal practices but not to be exposed to the public. The Democrats make no mention of any of the more serious offenses because they are nearly all complicit. But the President breached an inviolable limit when he risked their system of privilege to win an election.
The impeachment and Russiagate are more like pro-wrestling. With few exceptions the Democratic and Republican combatants are united in serving the people at the top. These are real competitions for who gets to sell us to the corporations, but they are, more fundamentally, matches to divert us and give an image that they are defending their respective constituents. It is important to defend the US Constitution and enforce limits of power, but it is not being done honestly and this only further divides us when our very lives depend on uniting.
The people in power understand that as more and more people directly experience the impacts of climate change, their deception will ultimately be exposed. They are buying private property in remote areas, and diverting all funds to themselves and security. They are aggressively taking out all independent sources of informing the public, building walls, putting people in detention camps, expanding full coverage spying on all aspects of our lives, giving military equipment and training to police, encouraging citizens and government police and military to attack minorities and making targets of all who oppose them by labeling them communists and/or terrorists.
This year, as groups like the Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion started to make some impact in their fight for our future, the people in power accelerated the flow of money from the general population, now at rates that they know are not sustainable. I am not aware of a single country that does not now have people in the streets fighting for their lives as their governments transfers more from them. Many governments are using force against their people and declaring emergencies giving them more impunity to the use of force against their people.
As the polar ice melts, our governments are seizing the opportunity to extract oil from the polar regions. We need to recover the polar ice, not take advantage of ice-free polar regions to extract more oil. The snow covered regions of the earth reflect more sunlight. The planet is hotter without them.
In the Amazon, the “lungs of the planet”, the US has recently recaptured (through manipulation of elections, soft coups and hard coups) governments that had been making gains in both human rights and protecting the Amazon: Paraguay in 2012, Brazil in 2016, Ecuador in 2017, and Bolivia in 2019. Venezuela has so far survived the intense coup efforts of 2019 as in did in 2002. Peru and Colombia remain closely tied to US corporations and military, Colombia for more than a century. The 1948 assassination of Colombian Presidential candidate Gaitán prevented the most recent chance of protecting the population and environment from foreign corporations. With this recapture of governments by foreign corporations, the slash and burn of the Amazon is rapidly increasing. Scientists are warning that we are reaching the point were the Amazon will continue to die off independent of our actions. The US military has been able to return to these regions of the Amazon with new bases and joint military operations to help these governments suppress all opposition, mostly indigenous peoples.
Our governments are stepping up their scare tactics so the general public supports their use of force. The justified anger of people sacrificed by their governments is easily diverted from those creating their suffering to others who are weaker. Minorities are an even easier target as they flee regions impacted by climate changes and/or violence. This, combined with control of the media, gave Boris Johnson a significant majority in the UK Parliament in the 2019 December 12 election. The UK now joins the US, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, India, Poland and others with leaders openly defiant of democracy and rapidly dismantling it. It may soon be hard to argue that they are more democratic than Russia or China. The US, UK and other Western democracies are well down the path taken by Germany and Italy leading to WWII.
As taught by James Burnham and Machiavelli, when the cunning deception of the fox fails, the brute force of the lion must be employed to cling to power. The climate emergency is exposing the deception. We are rapidly facing brute force.
The climate emergency is just a symptom of an economic/political/cultural system that has been creating suffering and destruction since its inception. Yes many were living better lives, but at the expense of other victims who were out of sight or were easily blamed. The powerful myth that people had democracy likely permitted these Western democracies to exceed the levels of inequality that had been tolerated in monarchies or centrally planned systems. Every system has a limit of inequality at which the pitch forks come out and the people rebel.
A monarch or centrally planned government can reduce the pressure to cling to power. The free market system is, by definition, competition. In a competition, if one or a few back off to reduce the pressure on society, they will be overtaken by other competitors. While some feared humans would create robots that kill the human race, we created a killer culture.
Our Only Chance
It is time to grow up and see the world as it is. There are some things which are undeniably real, there are some things we cannot change and one of those is the laws of physics. Ice melts when the temperature rises. Crops die in a drought. Trees burn in forest fires. Because these things are real, we can also be certain about what the future holds. We are now heading into a period of extreme ecological collapse. Whether or not this leads to the extinction of the human species largely depends upon whether revolutionary changes happen within our societies in the next decade. This is not a matter of ideology, but of simple maths and physics.
The United Nations has estimated that we need to reduce carbon emissions by half within a decade to have a 50% chance of avoiding global catastrophe. Of course, this is likely to be an underestimation as recent science shows permafrost melting 90 years earlier than forecast and Himalayan glaciers melting twice as fast as expected. Feedbacks and locked in heating will take us over 2 °C (3.6 °F) even before we factor in additional temperature rises from human caused emissions over the next ten years.
In short, we are fucked – the only question is by how much and how soon? Do we accept this fate? I suggest we do not. Many self- respecting people who can overcome the human failing to disbelieve what they don’t like, now accept what is obvious looking at the natural science. But they have yet to work through the political and social implications.
This booklet sets out what is now obvious from a social scientific point of view: societies will not change with the necessary speed without rebellions and a revolutionary transformation of our societies and politics. This is not a matter of one’s political party preferences. It is a matter of basic structural sociology. Institutions, like animal species, have limits to how fast they can change. To get rapid change they have to be replaced with new social systems of policy, practice and culture. It is a terrible and painful realisation, but it is time to accept our reality. Just because we don’t like something does not mean it is not true.
All of this is common sense.from Introduction to “Common Sense for the 21st Century – Only Nonviolent Rebellion Can Now Stop Climate Breakdown and Social Collapse” by Roger Hallam
Even of those who have accepted the climate emergency, many have too much fear to think or talk about the necessary changes. Democracy requires being informed. Democracy requires freedom of speech. If people in the United States, with greatly more freedom of speech and assembly than most of the world, fear open discussion of our government, they have given up democracy and are supporting fascism.
Today, in the United States, for a short time, we have a relatively safe opportunity to make changes to avoid the worst of climate collapse. There is safety in numbers. The military, police and all of the surveillance would not and could not stop a massive, non-violet movement of the people to save their children that is backed by a majority of society. (read more)
But, if you hesitate, refuse to be open to see a broader perspective, to take time, to take risks, and join the struggle, the few in the struggle today will be easily removed, gone. The shreds of democracy will also soon be gone. The risks will be much greater and the potential benefits greatly reduced as the environmental damage proceeds. Until we are extinct, it is not too late to help, but your slight possibilities to help our children are rapidly diminishing.
The first step is to start talking about the climate emergency and how to respond. We are on the verge of mass death and possible extinction and I have yet to overhear anyone in public, my friends or my family talking about it. If I raise the issue, they do not engage at all in talking about it. In this context any brief moments of attention quickly fade and we resume our normal lives, until normal and we no longer exist.
Even if you have serious doubts, start talking to people. We need to get the conversation started. Whatever your perspective, you can start talking to people. Arrange meetings, starting one-on-one, to small groups, to public gatherings in libraries, schools, churches, parks and on to sports arenas. The impact is huge and we need to think big. Boycott sporting events and change your church unless they allow use of the space for educational events. There will be no future sporting events or church if we do not exist.
Every day of delay is more loss of life so unfortunately we do not have much time to make drastic changes in our awareness and our society, fighting denial, fear and hopelessness the whole way.
I and you will not like our options. We face catastrophe if we do not eliminate burning of fossil fuels within the next 20 to 30 years. Our governments have wasted over 30 years and even today show no signs of getting started, quite the contrary. It is time to face the hard facts. Our government is not going to save us.
Roger Hallam, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, last month published a book, “Common Sense for the 21st Century – Only Nonviolent Rebellion Can Now Stop Climate Breakdown and Social Collapse”. He lays out our best chance of saving lives and our existence. To the left, I have provided an excerpt from the introduction. It is not likely yet, and may never be, in your library. You can buy a paper or electronic copy or download an electronic copy of a draft. Here are links to it and to a couple of book reviews:
- Roger Hallam’s website
- “Common Sense for the 21st Century – Only Nonviolent Rebellion Can Now Stop Climate Breakdown and Social Collapse” 2019 by Roger Hallam (online draft)
- “How to Save the Planet and Ourselves” by Chris Hedges
- “If You’re Not Busy Plotting Nonviolent Revolution for Peace and Climate, You’re Busy Dying” by David Swanson
Unless you start to understand the problem and why people are blocking business as usual, you will guarantee failure of the few people who are risking everything to save us. At minimum learn enough to not block our only chance.
No Greater Opportunity in Human History
I was surprised by the perspective of one young person to this existential threat of the climate crisis, that their generation has the opportunity of defending the human race against a threat that no other generation has faced.
This youth shared an important perspective. Although commonly said, it is not always true that when you hit bottom, things can only get better. In this case the bottom is extinction and there is no getting better from that point, at least not for us. But in this existential crisis, our actions can have significant benefits, perhaps survival of our species and possibly even a more just and joyful society.
Our survival is up against a culture of domination that has evolved over a few thousand years. The scientific progress has not only given us incredible technology, it has been used to greatly increase the effectiveness in deceiving us.
But, those of us struggling for a future have multiple advantages. First, we greatly out-number the few who have stolen and hoarded the wealth. Second, we are with truth and openness where the injustice of the economic/political/cultural system is hidden behind deception. Deceptions are ultimately exposed. In this case, nature can not be deceived and is quickly exposing these lies. And third, we can have the strength of solidarity of common cause, bound with empathy and love. The few who dominate us are connected through weak, temporary alliances of opportunity. They can not, should not, and do not trust each other. History shows that when an empire starts to crack, what seemed indestructible, crumbles with astonishing speed. Those at the top of power turn on each other.
I recently read the following inspirational dialogue across generations where a worried young organizer confronts a movement elder who believes that now — in the midst of deep crisis — is our best chance to make big progressive change. Editor’s note: The following exchange is between 33-year- old organizer Yotam Marom and 82-year-old George Lakey, whose activism, organizing and training spans over 50 years. Read Can Now Really Be The Best Time To Be Alive? By George Lakey and Yotam Marom, Waging Nonviolence.