Volatility

January 2, 2016

Gaia Now

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What is modern fossil-fueled civilization doing to the Earth’s comprehensive ecology, which is often named for the goddess Gaia?*
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[*Humans have always modified their environments with predictable and incalculable reverberation effects. Indeed, the grammar which makes us tend to separate “the organism” from “the environment” is scientifically and philosophically wrong. There’s no such delineation. Organisms interact with and change and are changed by their environments, which are only pieces of “the” environment as a whole.
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But the modification which industrial civilization has been able to undertake, afforded by the one-off burn-off of the fossil fuel heritage of billions of years of extremely refined sunlight, is at such a higher order of magnitude than the historical norm as to be qualitatively different from this norm. The “Anthropocene” gambit is just a conceptual scam meant to absolve industrialization and capitalism of any absolutely unsustainable level of destructiveness, and to justify continuing with business as usual, as was just decided upon in Paris.
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To leap from a thousand foot cliff is very different from undergoing a two foot drop.]
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What are we doing to her, our only womb and home for the rest of our life?
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1. Jacking up the temperature on her.** The environmental chaos of climate change is already rending the Earth and will only get much worse. This is the thrashing of a body trapped in an oven while the temperature rises and rises and rises. The physical and psychological agony is profound, and the potential chaos can only become more kinetic in every way as the system is ever more energized by the embodied violence our fuel-burning and soil-ravaging industry keeps pumping into it.
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All the networked organisms of the ecology system are always reacting to changes in temperature. These reactions generally sum up to relative stability over evolutionary time, and this is part of the process of evolution. But where the change radically overleaps the dampening effect of evolutionary time including its many safeguards and diminishing feedback loops, especially where it’s coupled with many other drivers of chaos and destruction, the network becomes overstressed as many component organisms find it difficult to impossible to adapt. Civilized humans, and those subject to imperial civilization, are the most vulnerable of these organisms.
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Those who deny this, who deny the time element of evolution’s simmering process, are the most irrational and destructive kind of evolution denier, far worse and more ignorant than religious creationist types.
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[**In the same way, climate change has always occurred naturally***, and would have proceeded naturally in recent centuries as well. But the emissions waste from industrial burning of fossil fuels and destruction of carbon sinks (natural*** processes generate little or no waste) comprises an absolutely different order of magnitude and a qualitative difference in the speed and extremity of modern artificial*** climate change.]
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[***Whether or not a process generates waste, defined here as a by-product the ecological system cannot readily assimilate, is a criterion for distinguishing ecological vs. anti-ecological processes. The more usual attempt to distinguish “natural” vs. “artificial” is an unfruitful diversion. While as a rule there can be no such thing as a natural process which is anti-ecological, artifices can be ecological or anti-ecological. As examples of the later, human-artificed industrial processes often produce massive, toxic waste. Agroecology is the best example of an ecological artifice.]
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2. Dehydrating her. Industrial, especially for industrial agriculture, and personal luxury consumption are rapidly depleting the fossil water aquifers which originally filled over geologic time, in the same way we’re depleting the fossil fuel principal. Since the water cycle can recycle only a finite amount of water, much less than we use, the rest is effectively lost to us after at most a few usages, as it empties into the oceans.
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Those who deny this, or who deny fossil fuel depletion, are simply denying the very existence of geologic time, with the exact same mindset as those who believe the Earth is 5000 years old. They’re the Oil Creationists, the Water Creationists. Again, their version of creationism is the most ignorant, irrational, and destructive. We do indeed need an evolution education movement, and its main target must be the false teachings of those who deny evolution because of corporate and techno-cultist faith.
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3. Poisoning her. The entire corporate industrial system has a poison mandate at its core. Its core goal is to supply poisons and generate, by force where necessary, markets for these. This has many metaphorical applications, but today I’m speaking in the most physical sense. Poison-based agriculture is the core activity of corporate globalization, and in the end the entire structure will stand or fall based on the system’s capacity for sustaining this poison imperative. The proximate goal is to destroy everything on the surface of the Earth, figuratively and physically, except what’s functional toward corporate domination. Then there’s the longer-term religious goal of scientism, which I’ll discuss later on.
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We’re already seeing the physical ravages, as the ever-compounding poison load destroys human, animal, and environmental health. Everywhere these poisons are deployed we see the surge of cancer, birth defects, every kind of reproductive and developmental disease, neurodisease, allergies and other autoimmune disease, respiratory and digestive ailments, hormonal and neurotransmitter chaos, genetic damage, and myriad acute symptoms. All of these are iterated at every scale, from the bacterial – antibiotic-resistant pathogens are boosted, beneficial gut and soil bacteria suppressed; to the complex organic, where the networked diversity of life has more and more of its bonds frayed and broken completely as the poison load accumulates in the generality of organic tissues and, as an expanded mutation load, in the genes, as well as wreaking havoc with the endocrine, neurotransmission, and immune systems of organisms; to the global, as vast amounts of arable soil and groundwater are toxified, their microbial ecosystems decimated, the oceans are blemished with dead zones expanding from the great estuaries, as just the most visible leading edge of the oceanic toxification, and all the ecosystems which ramify from these are crippled by the poisoning of the foundation.
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There’s another kind of Creationist (usually the same person, of course) who believes there’s the water he poisons, and a “different”, separate, Specially Created Water which is reserved for himself, his kind, their families. Same for the air they poison and the Specially Created Air, the Specially Created Food, the Specially Created Soil, and in general the Specially Created Earth, which is different and separate from the Gaia these Poisoners ravage and are attempting to murder.
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4. Decimating her biodiversity and habitats. At any ecological level, from the microscopic to the global, from the most pristine wilderness to agriculture (and all of these are interlinked; such demarcations are only broad, convenient conceptual groupings), the more diverse and multi-linked the networks, the more resilient, robust, complex, adaptable, and therefore healthy the organic network is. As we started out saying, the network itself is a collective organism. By contrast, the more denuded and simplified the interconnections become, the more they become vulnerable, inflexible, calcified, maladaptive, inherently unhealthy and exposed to predation and disease.
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Capitalist industrialization, globalization, corporate rule, scientism and technocracy, most of all where these crystallize as the Poisoner and monoculture campaigns of corporate industrial agriculture, systematically and willfully destroy this biodiversity and the entire basis of organic resiliency and health. This will to destruction and monoculture has always been characteristic of tyranny, but only in the modern era have the aspiring tyrants been able to deploy such destructive forces with the hope of wiping out everything which is not under the most physical direct control and manipulation of the tyrants and their engineer lackeys.
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This, most of all, is the joint assassination attempt upon humanity and the Earth being conducted by the corporate and techno-cultist Poisoners. Humanity must act in the same self-defense vs. this murder attempt as any intrepid individual or group would against any other.
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They are cancer.
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What do you do when you’re suffering heat exhaustion? First thing, you stop throwing fuel on the bonfire. What do you do when you’re dying of thirst in the desert? You stop pouring your water onto the sand. What do you do when you’ve drank poison and have become violently ill? You stop drinking the poison. When you’ve damaged or destroyed so many of the things you depend upon for your very life? You stop destroying, and start fixing what you broke. And you seek the antidote for the poison. And you drink salubrious refreshing water. And you douse the flames and welcome a cool breeze.
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These are the things humanity must do in order to save the Earth for our time. This salvation is necessary for the entire weave of life, but most of all for its most frayed, vulnerable thread – our own species. In the long run Gaia will recover from us and continue as she was, whether we save ourselves or not. But unless we take the necessary cooperative action now, we shall not be part of this recovery. As I’ve written of many times before, the first step toward ultimate destruction will be the full dominion of the corporations. This will be political tyranny and economic enslavement. But this will be followed shortly by physical death.
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Let us change from this future. We start by changing our minds. From there, as Shakespeare had one of his characters say, “All things are ready if our minds be so.” All the ideas, the entire reason, science, and morality, starting with agroecology and food sovereignty, are fully demonstrated and ready for the entire human and ecological deployment. All that’s been lacking is sufficient will and organization.
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April 2, 2009

Tar Sands

Filed under: Globalization, Peak Oil, Tower of Babel — Tags: , , , , , — Russ @ 2:26 am

 

A year ago, just as the provincial government of Alberta embarked upon a $25 million advertising campaign to “rebrand” the Alberta tar sands project as eco-friendly, reality dealt their propaganda a major setback when it was reported that a flock of 500 ducks had innocently went to their deaths when they landed upon one of the dead seas euphemistically called “tailings ponds”. There was nothing unusual about waterfowl deaths: workers have attested to a steady attrition of ducks, geese, and wading birds. Only the size of the incident turned it into a PR disaster. Now a year later we learn that this flock was in fact much larger than originally reported, as large as 1600 birds.
 
As horrific as the environmental ravages of the tar sands, the social and economic assaults have been just as bad. The tar sands are a prime example of the drive to compensate for the effects of Peak Oil, that the best and easiest resource has been depleted, by using corporatism, class war, and externalization of costs to render the worst/hardest not as bad or as difficult for a power elite.
 
The Canadian government, in a bizarre display of 3rd worldism, has dedicated the country to becoming an American oil colony. Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a characteristic statement announced Canada as an “emerging energy superpower” with “growing oil deliverability”. What this has really meant is to dump  any concept of the public good, and true capitalism as well, in favor of extractionist rent-seeking.
 
The corporatist master plan for this was laid out in the 1990s “Declaration of Opportunity”, which in classic fashion promised prosperity and self-sufficiency but has delivered only instability, fear, and servitude. The Declaration called for massive subsidies, including extreme deregulation and privatizations, to artificially construct this industry. A gold rush would then heat up the whole economy.
 
What this has meant in practice is the classic colonial petrostate pattern. Canada’s economy and environment are being mined for the export of raw materials, while the gold rush has driven up prices in general. The result has been to further the hollowing out of Canada’s legitimate manufacturing economy, which has faced a sort of stagflation, all for the benefit of tar sands feudalism, a small corporate and political elite merely accumulating wealth they have redistributed to themselves.
 
This has extended to the liquidation of democracy. Under Canada’s current political system (a “two-party” pseudo-democracy much like that of America), where both parties are hard-core tar sands boosters, there is no political space for dissent from the tar sands regime, no way to vote against it.  Secrecy and censorship, the exclusion of public input, as well as the open flouting of the will of the voters (a 2007 Pembina poll found that 71% of Albertans want a moratorium on new projects) have been rampant.
 
NAFTA tightens the stranglehold. Under existing globalist regulations Canada is required to export a set amount of oil to America. (The result has been that Canada must now import oil from the Middle East among other places for its domestic use. This state of affairs is a refutation of the lie that globalization increases capitalist “efficiency” or rationality. Just like with any other capitalist-government nexus, all globalization does is help existing elites concentrate wealth and rig all systems in the interests of themselves.) This is now being extended in the proposed Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), whose goal is complete North American energy integration, consolidation of power, placing the energy industry largely outside the law and into the realm of unaccountable bureaucracy, with Canada and Mexico treated as American mines. This is the essence of corporatist autocracy-seeking. It’s an end run around democracy, environmental and labor regulations, in Canada’s case even energy and national security planning, against any kind of public interest. The SPP seeks security and prosperity only for this corporatist cabal, which fully comprises the titular “partnership”.
 
Peak Oilers should recognize how socioeconomically and ideologically the tar sands and aggrofuels represent attempts to consolidate what’s often called the Fortress world or some similar term. The SPP would be a major step toward this.
 
We can say Canada basically exports not just bitumen and syncrude, but water, natural gas, uranium, boreal forest and muskeg, ecosystems, wildlife, clean air to breathe and water to drink, fertile farmland, intact communities, the social and economic security and prosperity of an entire country, all to enrich a handful of glorified gold-panners and fill American SUV tanks.
 
The basic tar sands math: 1. Take all the things just listed, 2. destroy them, 3. all to produce syncrude (and uranium for nuke expansion* necessitated by the diversion of natural gas from power generation to tar sands processing), 4. in order that Americans can fill their gas tanks, 5. which perpetuates America’s oil addiction and energy insecurity and renders Canada’s insecurity even worse (when Canada could easily achieve energy autarchy if it had a rational, responsible plan), 6. all of this, from the inaugural forest and peatland destruction to burning gasoline at the end stage, pumping ever more carbon into the atmosphere.
 
This kind of aggression vs. the earth and society will only get more intense for as long as an elite insists on organizing civilization around these frivolous, destructive cars.
 
[* One of the truly bizarre aspects of the tar sands Tower of Babel is how, as the processing depletes natural gas and spews carbon, nuclear expansion is supposed to magically solve these problems, even as it exacerbates all the others and creates new one. As Canadian journalist and tar sands commentator Andrew Nikiforuk wrote, “Canada may well become the first nation to use nuclear energy not to retire fossil fuels but to accelerate their exploitation.”]