Saving Earth From Disaster: Scientists Have Come With A Crucial Plan

Disastrous climate change, the burning of Amazon forest, the land clearing, air pollution, food resources getting low, and others – all are driving to a very gloomy scenario for our planet. And the saddest part is that most if not all of these aspects exist due to human intervention and selfishness.

Scientific studies themselves are warning humanity that we need to take better care of our planet. No wonder Elon Musk and scientists are thinking seriously about the possibility of colonizing Mars.

We need to change our economic systems

A background document for the United Nations’ (UN) draft Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 claims that we need drastic changes to our economic systems.

“The economic models which inform political decision-making in rich countries almost completely disregard the energetic and material dimensions of the economy,” the researchers wrote.

“Economies have used up the capacity of planetary ecosystems to handle the waste generated by energy and material use.”

This background document for the chapter of the report called Transformation: The Economy has been written by some guys who know what they’re talking about. Among them are scientists from environmental fields, such as Jussi Eronen from the University of Helsinki, who is specialized in ecosystem problems. There are also economic, business, and philosophy researchers, like the economist Paavo Järvensivu from Finland’s independent BIOS research unit.

The document warns humanity that the current economic systems are causing critically widening gaps between the rich and the poor, which leads to unemployment and debts.

Support nature, not wealth

Journalist Naomi Klein is the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs the Climate, and she stated “we humans are capable of organising ourselves into all kinds of different social orders, including societies with much longer time horizons and far more respect for natural life-support systems.”

“Indeed,” she continues, “humans have lived that way for the vast majority of our history and many Indigenous cultures keep Earth-centred cosmologies alive to this day. Capitalism is a tiny blip in the collective story of our species.”

The goal seems to be learning from previous times when records of longevity have been proven to emerge. This doesn’t imply to abolish technological advancements, although some of them are making us dangerously comfortable.

The ball is on our side of the terrain: we can choose either to seek wealthness and not care about the environment or the future of our offspring, or we can make drastic changes to our lifestyle without thinking about wealth. After all, maybe it’s true what they say that money can’t buy happiness. SOURCE

Protests against climate change increase, but blame put on wrong miscreants

Global Climate Strike in London, March 2019. Image: Garry Knight/Flickr
Image: Garry Knight/Flickr

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old environmental activist, made headlines at the recent United Nations climate summit. In a fiery speech, she berated the world’s governments for their persistent failure to curb climate change.

“How dare you steal my dreams and my childhood with your empty words?” she demanded.

Thunberg is one of the more prominent young activists who have taken to the streets to protest this political dereliction. While this latest feeble UN climate summit was being held, thousands of schoolchildren were staging protests in front of legislatures around the world. They waved placards demanding that governments finally get serious about averting an environmental catastrophe.

As I watched the demonstrations on my TV screen, I applauded these young people, but couldn’t suppress a doleful sigh and shake of my head. They are among the billions who suffer from a huge blind spot in their perception of the planet’s mounting malaise.

They are directing their wrath against the wrong perpetrators of climate change. It’s not the world’s governments; it’s the world’s big multinational corporations, to whom governments have become meekly subservient.

The planet is being polluted by air-borne and water-borne industrial waste — the detritus of the prevalent capitalist economic system. Its core operating function is based on the irrational assumption that infinite economic growth can be maintained indefinitely on a planet with finite natural resources.

Perpetuating a colossal myth

It’s a colossal myth that is being perpetuated because, without it — without unchecked global warming, depletion of natural resources, deforestation, wildlife extinction, air and water pollution — capitalism could not long survive. It’s eventually doomed, anyway, of course, if it’s permitted to keep demolishing the planet and most of its inhabitants. That permissiveness, however, can only be withdrawn by the world’s governments, which still show no sign of becoming the world’s saviours.

Political leaders, far from restraining corrosive corporate greed, lavish its CEOs and major investors with massive tax cuts and billion-dollar subsidies. Our governments’ blatant pretence to be sincerely concerned about Earth’s declining viability shouldn’t fool any intelligent person. MORE

As Society Unravels, the Future Is Up for Grabs

As civilization faces an existential crisis, our leaders demonstrate their inability to respond. Theory of change shows that now is the time for radically new ideas to transform society before it’s too late.

Image result for resilience: As Society Unravels, the Future Is Up for Grabs

Of all the terrifying news bombarding us from the burning of the Amazon, perhaps the most disturbing was the offer of $22 million made by France’s President Emmanuel Macron and other G7 leaders to help Brazil put the fires out. Why is that? The answer can help to hone in on the true structural changes needed to avert civilizational collapse.

Scientists have publicly warned that, at the current rate of deforestation, the Amazon is getting dangerously close to a die-back scenario, after which it will be gone forever, turned into sparse savanna. Quite apart from the fact that this would be the greatest human-made ecological catastrophe in history, it would also further accelerate a climate cataclysm, as one of the world’s great carbon sinks would convert overnight to a major carbon emitter, with reinforcing feedback effects causing even more extreme global heating, ultimately threatening the continued existence of our current civilization.

Macron and the other leaders meeting in late August in Biarritz were well aware of these facts. And yet, in the face of this impending disaster, these supposed leaders of the free world, representing over half the economic wealth of all humanity, offered a paltry $22 million—less than Americans spend on popcorn in a single day. By way of context, global fossil fuel subsidies (much of it from G7 members) total roughly $5.2 trillion annually—over two hundred thousand times the amount offered to help Brazil fight the Amazon fires.

Brazil’s brutal president Bolsonaro is emerging as one of the worst perpetrators of ecocide in the modern world, but it’s difficult to criticize his immediate rejection of an amount that is, at best a pittance, at worst an insult. True to form, Donald Trump didn’t bother to turn up for the discussion on the Amazon fires, but it hardly made a difference. The ultimate message from the rest of the G7 nations was they were utterly unable, or unwilling, to lift a finger to help prevent the looming existential crisis facing our civilization.

Why Aren’t They Doing Anything?

This should not be news to anyone following the unfolding twin disasters of climate breakdown and ecological collapse. It’s easy enough to be horrified at Bolsonaro’s brazenness, encouraging lawless ranchers to burn down the Amazon rainforest to clear land for soybean plantations and cattle grazing, but the subtler, and far more powerful, forces driving us to the precipice come from the Global North. It’s the global appetite for beef consumption that lures Brazil’s farmers to devastate one of the world’s most precious treasure troves of biodiversity. It’s the global demand for fossil fuels that rewards oil companies for the wanton destruction of pristine forest.

There is no clearer evidence of the Global North’s hypocrisy in this regard than the sad story of Ecuador’s Yasuní initiative. In 2007, Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa proposed an indefinite ban on oil exploration in the pristine Yasuní National Park—representing 20% of the nation’s oil deposits—as long as the developed world would contribute half the cost that Ecuador faced by foregoing oil revenues. Initially, wealthier countries announced their support for this visionary plan, and a UN-administered fund was established. However, after six years of strenuous effort, Ecuador had received just 0.37% of the fund’s target. With sorrow, the government announced it would allow oil drilling to begin.

The Yasuni National Park is now open to oil exploration, following the Global North’s inaction. (Audubon/Neil Ever Osborne)

The simple lesson is that our global leaders currently have no intention to make even the feeblest steps toward changing the underlying drivers of our society’s self-destruction. They are merely marching in lockstep to the true forces propelling our global civilization: the transnational corporations that control virtually every aspect of economic activity. These, in turn, are driven by the requirement to relentlessly increase shareholder value at all cost, which they do by turning the living Earth into a resource for reckless exploitation, and conditioning people everywhere to become zombie consumers.

This global system of unregulated neoliberal capitalism was unleashed in full fury by the free market credo of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, and has since become the underlying substrate of our politics, culture, and economics. The system’s true cruelty, destructiveness, and suicidal negligence are now showing themselves in the unraveling of our world order, as manifested in the most extreme inequality in history, the polarized intolerance of political discourse, the rise in desperate climate refugees, and a natural world that is burning upmelting down, and has already lost most of its nonhuman inhabitants.

How Change Happens

Studies of past civilizations show that all the major criteria that predictably lead to civilizational collapse are currently confronting us: climate change, environmental degradation, rising inequality, and escalation in societal complexity. As societies begin to unravel, they have to keep running faster and faster to remain in the same place, until finally an unexpected shock arrives and the whole edifice disintegrates.

It’s a terrifying scenario, but understanding its dynamics enables us to have greater impact on what actually happens than we may realize.  MORE

This Is Not the Sixth Extinction. It’s the First Extermination Event.

What we are witnessing is not a passive geological event but extermination by capitalism.
What we are witnessing is not a passive geological event but extermination by capitalism. NASA’S SCIENTIFIC VISUALIZATION STUDIO

From the “insect apocalypse” to the “biological annihilation” of 60 percent of all wild animals in the past 50 years, life is careening across every planetary boundary that might stop it from experiencing a “Great Dying” once more.

But the atrocity unfolding in the Amazon, and across the Earth, has no geological analogue — to call it the “sixth extinction event” is to make what is an active, organized eradication sound like some kind of passive accident. This is no asteroid or volcanic eruption or slow accumulation of oxygen in the atmosphere due to cyanobacteria photosynthesis.

We are in the midst of the First Extermination Event, the process by which capital has pushed the Earth to the brink of the Necrocene, the age of the new necrotic death.

For some 500 years, capitalism’s logic of eco-genocidal accumulation has presided over both the physical eradication of human and non-human life and the cultural eradication of the languages, traditions and collective knowledge that constitute life’s diversity. It necrotizes the planetary biosphere, leaving behind only decay. It burns the practically unrecoverable library of life and eradicates its future masterpieces simultaneously. It inflicts not just physical destruction, but psychological grief and trauma as people witness their lands go under the sea, get immolated by fire, and drown in mud. The First Extermination Event has now produced such a nightmarish world that even temperature maps scream in agony.

The specter of the First Extermination might haunt us all but it does so with stark disparities, mapping the geography of capital’s historical inequities.

Small island states formulate plans to relocate their populations already existentially threatened by rising sea levels. Extreme weather events like Hurricanes Katrina and Maria disproportionately affect low-income and communities of color, producing far higher causality rates comparative to other disasters of their magnitude and whose effects are often doubly disastrous, as nearly half of these communities live in proximity to toxic “sacrifice zones.” Droughts and famines, such as in Syria and Yemen, exacerbate conflicts and force mass migrations of people — the vast majority women and children — while eco-fascists mobilize the affective politics of grievance to turn capitalism’s “climate emergency” to their own advantage, sloganeering about “trees before refugees” while calling for mass murder.

Yet, most popular discussion of the sixth extinction still indulges in sweeping catastrophist pronouncements about “humanity” writ large, often failing even to mention the word “capitalism,” much less account for its centrality to the historical production of mass extinction.

Environmental historian Jason W. Moore’s work has shown that capitalism is not merely an economic system, but a world-ecology searching to exploit “cheap natures,” a process that must perpetually reassemble life to penetrate more and more frontiers of potential profit. Capital must reproduce its means of production through its perpetual destruction.

The fundamental importance of the search for cheap nature and unpaid labor to historical capitalist development has been well explored by scholars. It was not the industrial revolution and its production of the “doubly free” wage laborer, but racialized enslavementmass witch-hunts, and destruction of Indigenous peoples and ecologies that produced the conditions for capital to thrive.

Through to the present, accumulation of capital has proceeded by the violent dispossession or outright murder of peoples, followed by the necrotic extraction of resources that destroys its local ecology for the sake of accumulation. The cumulative results of this process, replicated across the globe, have come to affect deep-time transformations to life at the planetary scale through its very erasure. MORE

 

Radical new economic system will emerge from collapse of capitalism

Political adviser and author Jeremy Rifkin believes that the creation of a super internet heralds new economic system that could solve society’s sustainability challenges


 Current economic system is headed for collapse says Jeremy Rifkin. Photograph: Linda Nylind

At the very moment of its ultimate triumph, capitalism will experience the most exquisite of deaths.

This is the belief of political adviser and author Jeremy Rifkin, who argues the current economic system has become so successful at lowering the costs of production that it has created the very conditions for the destruction of the traditional vertically integrated corporation.

Rifkin, who has advised the European Commission, the European Parliament and heads of state, including German chancellor Angela Merkel, says:

No one in their wildest imagination, including economists and business people, ever imagined the possibility of a technology revolution so extreme in its productivity that it could actually reduce marginal costs to near zero, making products nearly free, abundant and absolutely no longer subject to market forces.

With many manufacturing companies surviving only on razor thin margins, they will buckle under competition from small operators with virtually no fixed costs.

“We are seeing the final triumph of capitalism followed by its exit off the world stage and the entrance of the collaborative commons,” Rifkin predicts.

The creation of the collaborative commons

From the ashes of the current economic system, he believes, will emerge a radical new model powered by the extraordinary pace of innovation in energy, communication and transport.

“This is the first new economic system since the advent of capitalism and socialism in the early 19th century so it’s a remarkable historical event and it’s going to transform our way of life fundamentally over the coming years,” Rifkin says. “It already is; we just haven’t framed it.”

Some sectors, such as music and media, have already been disrupted as a result of the internet’s ability to let individuals and small groups compete with the major established players. Meanwhile, the mainstreaming of 3D printing and tech advances in logistics – such as the installation of billions of intelligent sensors across supply chains – means this phenomenon is now spreading from the virtual to the physical world, Rifkin says.

Climate change

The creation of a new economic system, Rifkin argues, will help alleviate key sustainability challenges, such as climate change and resource scarcity, and take pressure off the natural world. That’s because it will need only a minimum amount of energy, materials, labour and capital.

He says few people are aware of the scale of danger the human race is facing, particularly the growing levels of precipitation in the atmosphere, which is leading to extreme weather.

“Ecosystems can’t catch up with the shift in the planet’s water cycle and we’re in the sixth extinction pattern,” he warns. “We could lose 70% of our species by the end of this century and may be imperilling our ability to survive on this planet.”

Convergence of communication, energy and transport

Every economy in history has relied for its success on the three pillars of communication, energy, and transportation, but what Rifkin says makes this age unique is that we are seeing them converge to create a super internet.

While the radical changes in communication are already well known, he claims a revolution in transport is just around the corner. “You’ll have near zero marginal cost electricity with the probability of printed out cars within 10 or 15 years,” he says. “Add to this GPS guidance and driverless vehicles and you will see the marginal costs of transport on this automated logistics internet falling pretty sharply.”

Rifkin is particularly interested in the upheaval currently rippling through the energy sector and points to the millions of small and medium sized enterprises, homeowners and neighbourhoods already producing their own green electricity.

The momentum will only gather pace as the price of renewable technology plummets. MORE

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Who’s responsible for the ecocide in the Amazon

They are killing the Amazon – and it’s not just Bolsonaro, nor is it just Morales or Correa. There is more to it than meets the eye.

August 24, 2019, Porto Velho, Brazil: Aerial scenes show fires in various regions of the Jamari Forest Reserve, near Porto Velho, Rondonia. Photo: Dario Oliveira/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved.

There’s a cause for alarm as the world witnesses how the Amazon forests in Brazil, the Bolivian Chiquitanía and the Paraguayan swamps are being ravaged by uncontrolled fires. Approximately one million hectares of high biodiversity forests have been damaged so far by these fires, which are impressive, recurring, and quite obviously intentional.

We are facing a catastrophe greater than anything previously seen, the consequences of which are unpredictable. The only apparent certainty that experts are willing to share is that regenerating these forests to their prior condition would take some 200 years. Noam Chomsky has defined what is happening as a “crime against humanity.”

The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, appears today as the main culprit because, ever since his presidential campaign, he has been delivering hate speeches against indigenous peoples and their territories, calling them a “hindrance to development”. He has also attacked NGO-supported conservationist policies and current legislation limiting the expansion of agriculture and stockbreeding, as well as mining and oil drilling.

Bolsonaro, who has the support of big investors and entrepreneurs, is championing a systematic plan to exploit and plunder the Amazon and any other resource-rich territory, arguing that the “the Amazon belongs to Brazilians.”

Data confirming that the looting has already begun can be found in the latest National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reports which show that in the first seven months of this year, the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased by 278%; and that the Amazonian territories ravaged by fire during this period are estimated at some 18.600 square kilometres (a 62% increase from last year) – to which should be added the fires that are still burning to this day.

What we are facing here is nothing more and nothing less than a planned, systematic ecocide that ought to be judged by the whole mankind, and those responsible for it held to account. But over and above Brazil’s president, it is crucial to consider the role of and the pressure by the Brazilian business sectors behind the progress of the industries which are deforesting the Amazon – and to claim their liability.

This is a problem that transcends the “Left vs. Right” political ideologies

We should be acutely aware of the fact that the deforestation and the burning of the Amazon and other high biodiversity ecosystems which are critical for the eco-systemic balance and the reproduction of life on the planet is not something that has materialized with Bolsonaro, nor will it be solved simply by removing Bolsonaro.

This is a problem that transcends the “Left vs. Right” political ideologies, which are being presented to the voters as part of an illusory representative democracy which really only “represents” the factual powers of a world-system that is driving us to the extinction of life – including human life – on this planet.

…Clearly, the problem with the depredation of the Amazon and, in general, of the last high biodiversity forests on the planet, is that there is not necessarily a certain government or political tendency responsible for it. It responds, rather, to a systemic ideology, a so far unquestioned and unquestionable paradigm – a paradigm called capitalism. Today we are witnessing how, rather than being a system of life, capitalism is in fact a system of death highly efficient at creating inequalities and exploiting nature to its final consequences.

Neoliberalism, progressivism, globalization and developmentalism turn out to be ultimately the very same formula for accelerating natural resource extraction in the speediest possible way, accumulating capital and, hence, accumulating power. They call it “Development” when in fact its negative results in ecological and social terms only come to show that it is “Bad Development“. This is, in José María Tortosa’s words, the kind of system we have: a “bad developer” system. MORE