‘Marching off to War’

Onward Christian soldiers, marching off to war, with the cross of Jesus, going on before..‘ So begins the bizarrely militant 19th century hymn of the Salvation Army. And so it would appear that all of us good ‘Christians’ of the Western world are being asked to defend ourselves against the ‘soul-less’ Chinese and the Russian hordes of the steppes- simultaneously. Why should that be?

In Europe, the ongoing hype that the Russians are about to invade the Ukraine and massing troops on the border, is mounting, while the Russians report their concerns that the Ukraine Army is poised to attack the semi- autonomous Russian-speaking Ukrainian regions of the Donbass and Lugansk.

The Minsk agreement that was brokered by the Normandy Four Powers (GermanyRussiaUkraine and France,) in 2015 which established Donbass as a Ukrainian semi-autonomous region, is in practice no longer supported by Ukraine, Germany and France. With the Ukrainian economy deteriorating ever more sharply, Ukrainian President Zelensky is desperate for some salvation. Provoking a ‘little war’ with Russia he supposedly anticipates, will be enough to keep him holding onto power and acquire that much needed support from NATO and the European Union.

https://youtu.be/K2kx4mlW3KU

What the truth on the ground really is- we may never know, but there is a high probability that the Russians would not want to invade Ukraine and acquire a completely dysfunctional and hostile entity, but would be prepared to militarily support their Ukrainian Russian-speaking cousins if the Ukrainian national army attacked the Donbass.

As has been noted elsewhere, a Russian attack across the Ukrainian border would be the gift to the United States that just keeps on giving- confirmation that Russia truly is that evil rapacious empire they have always been described as in mainstream Western media, and an opportunity to further isolate and sanction Russia and shut down Russian gas supplies to Europe.

The high risk of a wider war does not seem to be factored into Western media and politician’s view of the issues-naturally so for the Americans who can watch the destruction from a distance. However, given that the Russians have put their military on high alert and dispersed their Pacific submarine nuclear fleet from their bases in Siberia- that alone must be causing some concern in Washington.

And to the east, the Americans are continually hyping up the Chinese Communist threat. The ‘Chinese mainlanders are about to invade Taiwan’, they have trampled on human rights in Hong Kong and conducted genocide against Uighurs, let alone the sexual abuse of star tennis players!

China, having eradicated the threat to China/Hong Kong integration without loss of life , Western governments are now desperate to portray the Chinese government’s response to the terrorism by Uighur separatists as a ‘genocide’. Unfortunately for anti-communist religious cranks like Adrian Zenz, the latest ‘leaked reports’ indicate that far from there being ‘genocide’, some of the Chinese government’s concerns relate to Uighurs having a much more favourable policy to permit them to have more children that Han Chinese. The Uighur population has in fact increased at a far higher rate than the Han population over the past few years. The ‘genocide’ argument is a fiction. The need to non-violently suppress the Uighur terrorist violence in Xinjiang, is not.

Former U.S. ambassador Chas Freeman, has an excellent summary of the United States’ duplicitous responses towards Taiwan over the years: for the first 20 odd years after the end of the Chinese Communist/Kuomintang war, unequivocally supporting Taiwan as the real Chinese mainland government, despite being a brutal dictatorship run by the Kuomintang, then pivoting to Communist mainland China to try and split China away from its informal alliance with the Soviet Union, and now recently, once again supporting Taiwan as an independent democratic country that must be defended against the communists. The fact that the Chinese government has repeatedly called for a peaceful reunification of Taiwan with the mainland has been completely ignored by most Western media.

It is however undoubtedly true that China; its economic and military power having expanded hugely over the past 30 years, has become more assertive and wishes to reassert its historical territorial claims in the South China Sea and elsewhere, but there is no reason to believe that Mainland China intends to invade any country, let alone Taiwan, despite all the hype coming out of the United States and Australia.

And finally, the bizarre response to the posts from Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai about her apparent sexual abuse by a senior Chinese Communist Official. The English translation to her original post below indicates that her lover Zhang Gaoli (former Chinese government vice-president), is an unscrupulous and unpleasant man who exploits women, but that her love for him was the driving force of her distress, not a rape allegation. Given that Peng Shuai has been on Zoom video twice with the International Olympic Committee since her post, along with multiple pictures of her at social events , one wonders what it would really take for the Women’s Tennis Association to really really believe she was safe and ok. The impossibility of proving the absence of an allegation, has always been a key ploy of Western propaganda.

And now we have Washington saying they will diplomatically boycott the Chinese winter Olympics because of Uighur genocide etc. Given that the United States (along with the U.K.) is in fact guilty of the most horrendous genocide and human rights abuses of foreign populations over its 200 years of existence; including its more recent barbarities in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, with millions killed , tortured and displaced, along with its support for some of the most brutal regimes like Saudi Arabia and Israel, it is surprising that a permanent ban and sanctions on all United States’ global activities, and extradition of those multiple U.S. war criminals to the Hague , has not been launched before now.

United States government officials presumably believe they can ratchet up Western opinion sufficiently to ensure Western public do not buy Chinese goods and thereby undermine its economy. As Noam Chomsky has most recently stated: “The ‘threat’ of China is China’s existence; it exists as a major power that the United States cannot push around, cannot intimidate, and does not follow U.S. orders. That is intolerable. Any mafia don can explain that” .

In addition the United States seeks to demonise the Russians sufficiently so that they can be viewed as a constant threat to democracy. The recent demolition of Russia-gate is just one example where, while the truth of the matter is finally out and no Russians did in fact attempt to undermine any U.S. elections, the smear continues to do its work with the public.

But the world is changing; Western powers no longer have that supreme authority to dictate ‘the truth’ to other countries- much of the world sees the economic benefits of China’s Belt and Road initiative (despite the enormous environmental destruction it causes), and the Russians are a trusted intermediary in many parts of Middle East and beyond.

Nevertheless the colonial ‘white powers”; the U.K. the U.S., Canada, Australia and to a smaller extent New Zealand, will continue to cling to a past where (even if historical reality tells a different story) they are the epitome of truth, democracy, justice and human rights.

Holding on to a past that never was, is a dangerous fiction…

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Links

https://english.almayadeen.net/articles/analysis/cornering-russia:-the-on-off-russo-ukrainian-war

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2021/12/the-missing-star-athlete-peng-shuai-is-not-missing-at-all.html

https://www.brown.edu/news/2021-09-01/costsofwar#:~:text=A%20report%20from%20the%20Costs,killed%20more%20than%20900%2C000%20people.

https://www.rt.com/russia/542236-european-security-balance-power/

The Usual Suspects Are Trying to Foment a Crisis With Russia

Billion Dollar Deals to Destroy the Environment Just a Little Bit More

when our New Zealand government announces its fully supportive of measures to reduce climate change impact and reduce biodiversity loss (except not quite right now), and then announces a one billion dollar free trade deal with the United Kingdom, we sense there is a little mismatch!-or perhaps, dare we say it? -even a little smattering of psychosis?

The ‘environment’ is everything on this planet; its not some separate piece of work or concept that we can occasionally pull out and look at and say, ‘well we achieved this climate or biodiversity goal, now we can get back to the real work of human progress’..

So when our New Zealand government announces its fully supportive of measures to reduce climate change impact and reduce biodiversity loss (except not quite right now), and then announces a one billion dollar free trade deal with the United Kingdom, we sense there is a little mismatch!-or perhaps, dare we say it? -even a little smattering of psychosis?

That billion dollar deal will result in more dairy production in New Zealand (more polluted and depleted water sources, more natural environment destroyed for more dairy farmland, and more processing infrastructure like roads and factories), more vineyards using prodigious amounts of poisons to keep nature at bay from their precious grapes, and more sheep and cows being brutally killed in our slaughterhouses. And that’s just the start!

In return, we will be able to access cheap goods from the U.K. that we don’t really need, and that rely on exploiting third world countries for their resources; more polluting U. K. factories and encourage Britons to eat more unsustainable beef and mutton!

But that’s progress! Isn’t it?

When are we going to see governments across the world really accept that every bit of ‘progress’ they encourage in connivance with their business allies, is destroying the planet?

A steady state economy in every country around the world is literally not going to be the end of the world – (but more ‘progress’ will be). The desperate, futile and farcical arguments that we can somehow escape global climate change and loss of diversity with more technology, is simply fiction. Every new piece of ‘alternate’ industrial production, whether it be lithium batteries, hydrogen production or carbon capture is simply sleight of hand- robbing the environment to pay for more ‘progress’.

We need to start consuming less- a lot less: Eat more local food, grow our own where we can, repair broken items, buy second hand when we need something different, stop the fiction of a housing crisis in the Western world and ensure housing bought by speculators (because of low bank rates) is occupied affordably stopping the unnecessary building of houses over land and nature, get rid of the expectation that we need that overseas holiday, or that we need to kill other species for fun and relaxation…lower our expectations that we ‘need’ this or that, and more of it- we don’t.

As the climate rapidly evolves globally into some new unknowable and unpredictable chaotic pattern, we will see more drought, more floods, more storms, more climate extremes of every kind- becoming more and more intense as we rapidly, and seemingly inevitably, head towards a 3C warmer world.

In consequence, large scale human activity; industrial farming, mining and goods production is becoming more at risk- supply chain problems are escalating, production costs are rising, transport costs are ballooning, and insurance premiums will go through the roof to cover that increasing wild unpredictability. We will have to move towards smaller and more localised production; we will not have a choice.

We know that, as they have repeatedly done before, almost all, if not every statement and commitment made at the COP26 Glasgow Climate Change conference 31st October to 12th November 2021, by politicians there will be outright lies and obfuscations-pretending to respond to the climate emergency while continuing to support big business and the media who keep them in power..

Curiously, the equally important U.N Conference on biodiversity this October 2021 in China, received almost no media attention. Yet retaining as much as we can of the remaining species now left on this planet, is vital to humans and every other species’ survival- just as much, if not more so, than climate change. The difference of course is that species loss doesn’t, apparently for now at least, impact on human economies, so its not worthy of the same attention. However, almost every aspect of human ‘progress’ requires the depletion of natural environments for other species and species’ death. The level of destruction of sentient organisms in the world via human ‘progress’ is phenomenal, and has already potentially reached a tipping point of no return for the remaining species- including humans.

To mitigate some of the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, we urgently need large areas of the planet to re-wild, to enable more trees to grow that don’t get cut down for profit, but that provide a long long term home for the remaining diversity of microbes, fungi insects, birds, reptiles, mammals and other species that we unknowingly rely on for our own survival; to ensure our fresh water resources are not used for profit but are fairly shared between the species we live alongside; and to build nature into our cities so that they are no longer concrete and tar cancers on the land.

It can be done- it must be done!

SIGN THE EMERGENCY APPEAL FOR CLIMATE ACTION!

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Links

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/politics/uk-and-new-zealand-agree-to-1bn-free-trade-deal/LN6EYDF6NBPMY6X7EHJB7ZAVDU/#:~:text=New%20Zealand%20and%20the%20United%20Kingdom%20have%20agreed,the%20appropriate%20use%20of%20the%20haka%2C%20Ka%20Mate.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/23/new-trade-deals-are-unfair-on-farmers-and-wont-help-emissions

https://www.leonard.vinci.com/en/the-technology-mirage-building-a-future-based-on-eco-sufficiency/

https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/conferences/glasgow-climate-change-conference

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/what-is-cop15-biodiversity-summit-nature-cop26/

https://www.nature.com/collecti

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/11/01/over-700-groups-demand-real-climate-solutions-not-net-zero-promises?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/nov/02/beware-gaia-theory-climate-crisis-earth

The ‘Coming’ Climate Crisis

We are told that if we do not change our ways, reduce carbon emissions, ‘soon’ it will be too late.

If we haven’t guessed by now , that ‘soon’ is right now. We are already in a climate crisis- of massive fires out of control in the United States, in coastal Mediterranean areas, in Siberia to name just a few. Of “Once in a 100” or 200 year floods, of temperatures in parts of the world that are close to killing any living thing.. We are there – right now…and its not going to get better any time soon- no matter what we do.

This is not a ‘crisis’ that will go away if we just behave ourselves.

This is a crisis that will be with those who survive on this planet for at least the next thousand years- and many more years than that, if we cannot reduce our carbon consumption and start planting trillions of trees.

Even if we were to stop creating more carbon dioxide right now, the planet will continue to warm, the climate will become more unpredictable and unstable. And of course our great politicians are not talking about anything as radical as eliminating our carbon footprint any time soon!- no!- they want us to reduce the ‘rate of increase’ of carbon by 2030 or 2050 or – some other target date far away…that doesn’t impact on their corporate ‘sponsorship’.

However, right now that rate of increase of carbon emissions is just going higher and higher- we are indeed ‘accelerating towards the cliff’.

But somehow many of us continue to believe that those great human minds will save us with some new technology -perhaps detonating some nuclear bombs to provide a nuclear winter for us, or sending dust particles into the atmosphere!

Are we consuming more and more to cope with our fears for the apocalyptic future?- bigger and bigger cars, more and more tinsel and useless consumption, more and more glorification of killing of defenseless animals for pleasure- hunting and fishing ?

But the answer , while not immediate, is simple.

  1. We have to adjust to a world where the climate is warming rapidly- first by accepting that infinite ‘growth’ on a finite world is just plain stupidity. We need to rapidly traverse to global no-growth economies.
  2. We need to try and reverse our rapid destruction of nature around us- encourage insect, bird and other non human populations to rebuild in the face of a rapidly warming world- create new perpetual habitats for other species, stop the chemical spraying, return habitats to their natural states as much and as quickly as possible .. and most importantly, plant more indigenous forest- not for forestry- but for life!
  3. We need to acknowledge that technology is not going to ‘save’ us from the climate crisis- in fact it is one of the significant causes of species loss and habitat destruction that is killing our planet.
  4. We need to acknowledge that humans simply need to support nature to get back to doing its job of making this planet a living world for every remaining species here – there’s nothing fancy about it, it won’t create many new jobs, and it wont seem like ‘progress’ – but it will save us.
  5. We need to encourage politicians to stop lying about what they intend to do about the environment and the climate. There’s no money in it from their company ‘sponsors”, and its not going to boost their fragile egos.
  6. Saving the planet from global heating and species loss is not a side issue to any decisions any of us make. Every bit of ‘progress’ and ‘development’ we make as humans must now put the cost to the climate and species loss at the forefront of EVERY decision. In most cases, human ‘progress’ is not worth the cost to the planet.
  7. We need to accept that we don’t need ‘more’. Teaching people how to be thankful and at peace with what they have and how to re-build their connection with nature – along with a respect for all living things.-that we don’t have a God-given right to treat other living entities as resources.

It’s not going to be easy- but it is simple…..

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Links

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-01092-9.epdf?

https://www.ipcc.ch/assessment-report/ar6/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-is-warmer-than-its-been-in-125-000-years/

https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/

https://scheerpost.com/2021/08/09/code-red-for-humanity/

The United Nations & ‘Human Rights’

The recent article in the Guardian which notes that the world has the “worst cascade of human rights setbacks in our lifetimes’, focuses on a rather selective set of human rights abuses. While no-one in the West at least, can argue that Russia is a ‘selective’ democracy and the Chinese Communist Party (while supported by the vast majority of mainland Chinese) rules the country with a strong and often repressive hand, those excesses pale into insignificance when we look at the human rights abuses perpetrated by many Western states across the globe.

Wars of aggression in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen (let alone their unconditional support for Israel’s slow genocide of the Palestinian people), by the West are indisputably gross human rights transgressions which require the U.N. to demand , on behalf of those populations, compensation from the aggressor. The U.N. is silent….

And let us not forget the Guantanamo Bay torture centre, nor the genocide against indigenous populations by Canada, the United States and Australia.

While Uighur ‘re-education’ camps, which significantly impact on some Uighurs’ human rights, certainly exist in Xinyang (China says these are to reduce the risk of Uighur Muslim extremism and terrorism promoted by Turkey, the Saudis and Western intelligence groups); current evidence tends to suggest that statements about genocide are a fabrication by those very groups.

The Uighur genocide stories can perhaps be likened to the U.S. state political propaganda theatre of American POWs captured by the Koreans and Vietnamese in the United States’ genocidal colonial wars against those two countries. No solid evidence exists of genocide of Uighurs, but we can make up a really good story with ‘anecdotal evidence’ and ‘statistics’ and newspaper headlines …..

In response to U.N. criticisms of Navalny’s political party in Russia being forcibly disbanded, and Hong Kong protesters and their Western funded protests militantly arguing for separatism from mainland China, we may yet have to see how Western countries respond to foreign countries funding political parties advocating separatism and sanctions of their own countrymen, on their own patch….

Indeed the continuing and increasing use of sanctions by Western countries against those countries they wish to destabilise is surely another key example of breaches of human rights of those populations. Cutting off access to food, energy and medical supplies and ‘withholding’ ( i.e stealing) money in state bank accounts from countries like Iran, Venezuela and Cuba are blatant abuses of those populations ‘ human rights.

As Telesure notes about Nicaragua: Human Rights Watch… has been notorious for taking a pro-State Department line on Latin America and even contains former State Department personnel on its board of directors. The former (the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation ) , meanwhile, is led by an anti-government partisan who supports imperialist sanctions on her own country. As The Canary reported in December 2018, Jagger has not only expressed support for the crippling US sanctions already in place but even called for the European Union, Canada, and other Latin American nations to issue their own set of sanctions as well.

And perhaps we could look at the multiple and gross human rights violations committed by the West’s ‘colonial’ troops in Africa in the past decade, or the ongoing catastrophe in South and Central America caused by the United States’ brutal Monroe Doctrine tactics.

Western led statements supporting greater freedom and democracy in Russia and China and other autocratic states that don’t kneel to Western business interests, should indeed be a wonderful ideal and a catalyst for freedom for all, were it not for that fact that those very Western governments- particularly the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and some other Western European countries, are also the countries that have waged savage wars across the third world to promote their own ‘interests’ ( i.e. money).

For some unknown reason, those countless wars of aggression by Western and predominantly ‘white’ countries; along with indiscriminant sanctions, torture, drone murders and the promotion of extremism in other countries, do not appear on the list by the U.N. advocate for human rights- one might wonder why that is?

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Links

https://www.qiaocollective.com/en/education/xinjiang

https://covertactionmagazine.com/2021/06/21/new-evidence-reveals-that-senator-john-mccain-and-other-high-ranking-vietnam-war-pows-may-have-lied-to-the-american-public-about-being-tortured-in-order-to-bolster-support-for-an-imperialist-war-that/

https://www.rt.com/news/527292-us-seizes-iran-presstv-websites/

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2021/06/22/660640/Yemen-Saudi-aggression-Saudi-Arabia-United-Nations-Children-Antonio-Guterres

https://www.telesurenglish.net/opinion/What-Media-Dont-Want-To-Tell-About-Arrests-in-Nicaragua-20210619-0011.html?

‘Planning’ our way to Environmental Catastrophe

We desperately need to understand and acknowledge that preserving and sustaining the living world around us is not just a vital thing to do in order that humans survive, but to acknowledge that our world is in reality a living entity; we do not have the right to destroy it, to market it, to unravel it.
All life is sacred.

A recent (May 19 2021) article in Common Dreams by Richard Heinberg highlights the fact that at least some planners have known since the 1950s that our current human civilization based on fossil fuels will end- and that unless we slow down our global economy (‘de-growth’) we are in a for a very very hard landing, and not far off.

Perhaps like the genial but simpleminded U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, we believe that, in the words of Charles Dicken’s Wilkins Micawber, ‘something will turn up’, to solve our environmental problems. Somehow, somewhere, some yet to be discovered masterpiece of human engineering will magically solve the anthropomorphic climate heating and catastrophic biodiversity loss humans have caused.

Or, like John Kerry’s older master, we believe that reducing the impact of climate heating and species loss can be done while creating more jobs that create more climate change and loss of species. While “Green” technology will reduce the use of coal fired electricity and less combustion engine vehicles, it will only minimally impact on human economic ‘growth’, which is the key driver in increasing environmental destruction of the web of life which sustains us all- for now.

Or, perhaps we can just ignore the whole issue and hope it will go away- like Russia’s Vladimir Putin. A country that is at the forefront of climate heating, with Siberia set this year (2021) to more than meet last years record temperatures in May of 10C higher than ‘average’

Or , we can, as most political ‘leaders’ do, spout all the right words about protecting the environment and launch some new project that is superficially ‘green’, and then support and fund countless other national and local projects which directly destroy the environment; more roads, more factories, more industrial jobs, more housing, more corporate agriculture, more importation of migrants from poorer countries, more international tourism…… the list goes on and on

Why do we need ‘growth’?- what is its purpose?- does it lead us somewhere when it is continuously destroying the web of life that keeps us all alive?

There are a multitude of possibilities for a significant proportion of national populations to live sustainable and ‘growth-free’ lives; growing and sharing the abundance of nature. But of course those simple lifestyles do not translate into taxes, into corporate expense accounts, into how big your GDP is, or into state expenditure on ‘important’ projects that swell the egos of politicians and that provide a military budget for threatening your neighbours, or subduing your own population.

Once those so-called ‘growth’ projects are eliminated, there will still be more than enough state resources for free health and education for all, and a sustainable future for our children and the planet

We desperately need to understand and acknowledge that preserving and sustaining the living world around us is not just a vital thing to do in order that humans survive, but to acknowledge that our world is in reality a living entity; we do not have the right to destroy it, to market it, to unravel it.

All life is sacred.

As the 2010 ‘Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth‘ unequivocally states in its First Article; (1)  Mother Earth is a living being, and (2)  Mother Earth is a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.

How could we have forgotten that?

Links

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/05/21/humanity-must-embark-new-relationship-natural-world-says-jane-goodall

https://www.unep.org/resources/making-peace-nature?

https://www.climateemergencyinstitute.com/

https://climate.copernicus.eu/latest-projections-future-climate-now-available

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/05/19/most-colossal-planning-failure-human-history

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/six-reasons-why-the-eu-isnt-as-green-as-it-claims/

Red Alert: Only One Earth

The International COVID 19 Vaccine Response

It is important to acknowledge the enormous grief and loss and suffering that a pandemic brings- those who lives were cut short , those who others relied on for their physical or emotional wellbeing, and those who made a wonderful contribution to a better life for all, while they were alive.

Prior to vaccine rollout in the ‘developed’ world, those countries that did best at reducing COVID deaths and infections were island nations- New Zealand, Taiwan, Iceland, Australia and even South Korea whose mainland border to the north is almost completely sealed. Being able to restrict access by humans from other countries played a huge role in reducing risk, and a sea border is a very efficient border wall once passenger flights are stopped or very closely monitored.

The most marked exception to the sea border rule is China, whose COVID restriction practices, while repressive to a degree, resulted in more freedom as a result of the control of the spread of COVID infection.

The map below from Our WorldinData.org for 3rd May 2021 illustrates the wide variation in death rates across the globe. Infection and death rates are a far more reliable indicator of a country’s effectiveness in managing the Covid crisis than simple numbers. A case in point being India , with a current horrific number of deaths (226,188 as of 4th May- but a rate per million population of only 163.9, as opposed to for instance the current rate of deaths in Bulgaria of 2390 per million but ‘only’ 16,609 deaths in total.

The map would suggest that while poorer countries have less effective formal health systems, they have an advantage of less mobile populations to spread the virus, and often greater access to open spaces where virus particles can more safely disperse.

However, once vaccines began to roll out, we begin to see a different story. Britain, a country with the highest death rate per million population for much of the earlier pandemic as a result of government incompetency and corruption, has now seen a remarkable reduction in deaths over the past month as the vaccine has been rolled out in a very systematic way. Similarly the United States, and some of the more wealthy European countries like Germany and the Scandinavian countries are also beginning to show marked improvements in death rates; in part because of tight lockdowns and the onset of summer with people spending less time in enclosed spaces , but mainly due to the vaccine roll-out.

Unsurprisingly, ugly power games between countries vying to be ‘top dog’ in the world, have resulted in extensive propaganda by all sides in rolling out vaccines to the world. These global power plays and the truly appalling greed of the pharmaceutical companies has also played a part in ensuring that the poorest countries do not get adequate access to vaccines, despite all the hollow platitudes from the United Nations and the propaganda from states.

One sublime example of the propaganda at play is this Guardian article which argues that because many Western governments are refusing to use the Russian Sputnik V vaccine because it is Russian (and dares to have the Russian flag on the box!), it is therefore a Russian ploy to sow dissent in the West. The fact that the esteemed (U.K.) Lancet medical journal has stated that Sputnik V has an enviable efficacy rate of 91.6%, doesn’t rate a mention. Sadly the article is one more demonstration of the global degradation of investigative reporting skills, understanding the difference between allegation and fact, and the capacity to use logical analysis. (but anything to further the ‘West is good/Russia bad’ meme)

The COVID epidemic has graphically illustrated the incompetency of many world leaders, and a reminder of the brutal sadism of many of them to kill innocent people in far away lands because of petulant power plays, jingoism and systematic racism.

Along with state power and incompetency, we have also witnessed the capacity of global pharmaceutical companies to capture the enduring essence of capitalism:- profits at any expense, including the loss of millions of human lives.

We need a better way……..

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Links

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/apr/30/is-russias-covid-vaccine-anything-more-than-a-political-weapon-sputnik-v

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sputnik-v-vaccine-covid-brazil-russian-vaccine-ban-efficacy-recombination/

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/03/16/russia-slams-us-over-brazil-coronavirus-vaccine-pressure-a73250

https://ourworldindata.org/covid-deaths?country

https://thegrayzone.com/2021/03/24/chomsky-on-the-joke-of-russian-interference-and-the-savagery-of-us-sanctions/

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00234-8/fulltext

Ego Emere, Ergo Sum; (I buy, therefore I am)

J.G. Ballard’s ‘The Subliminal Man’, written in 1963, outlines a future 1960-ish world where the state ‘encourages’ the population to buy more useless things so that they work more hours to pay for them and therefore consume more… in a never-ending circle of supply and demand.

In ‘The Subliminal Man’, the population is locked into this endless cycle via subliminal messaging from huge electronic billboards next to the motorways…How far we have come since 1963!

Today one is struck by governments all over the world exhorting the public to go out and spend, go on holidays etc, once COVID 19 lockdowns are over, ostensibly to ensure that we have full employment and therefore more money in the system….

But the reality is that we are all locked into a crazy system that relies on ever increasing demand for ever increasingly useless items that need to be ‘sold’ to us as essential, as ‘must-haves’, or the ‘bucket-list’, so that we can afford to live the life we ‘choose’….

We are no longer consumers; we are the consumed.

The barrage of advertisements on our cellphones delivered via social media and the apps we use; the ever more strident advertisements on TV for another ‘latest product’; even the billboards on our highways, are all testament to the fact that those advertised things are really non-essential- otherwise they would not need to be ‘sold’ to us. We would simply purchase them when our old product stops working, when we really need them, or not purchase them at all.

The ongoing process to ensure ‘essential items’ are designed to be non-repairable, only replaceable, and that commodities are constructed with plastics and other materials that deteriorate rapidly, also ensures that we must continue to buy and consume.

Everything that humans now require to live becomes a commodity, a consumable, packaged and labelled and sold; from the food we eat to the water we drink, the sentient animals we depend on for food; perhaps soon too, the air we breathe. Only money now provides us with meaning …’we know the price of everything and the value of nothing’.

Given that societies’ globally almost all rely on this psychotic fragile consumer cycle – we are in deep sh*t.

We know our consumer behavior is pushing our living world to oblivion- destroying the remainder of the natural world and creating enormous amounts of toxic gases and plastics and ‘land-fill’-yet our governments continue to relentlessly promote this consumer society, while simultaneously talking about reducing carbon emissions and retaining biodiversity.

It is as if they don’t think there are any other options- but of course- there are- just not ones palatable to the businesses and global corporations feeding off our consumer addictions.

We all deserve a better life than this..

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Links

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/01/could-we-live-in-a-zero-growth-society/

A Submission to my local Council on Environment Change

The Council’s 10 Year Plan’s ‘climate change’   position  is remarkable in its minimalism, absence  of vision and  lack  of understanding of the enormous impacts  climate change and biodiversity loss will do to the way we survive in our district  and around this country and the globe.  

All  previous measurements of CO2 levels in the past  indicate that while we are predominantly in  a latency  period as  oceans  continue to  absorb most CO2,  we are heading for long term  considerable  temperature and sea level  rises  for many millennium.

We cannot stop these changes occurring to our world, even if we were to  make good on our global  promises and reduce carbon  dioxide emissions substantially right now , but we can  take action now  to  somewhat mitigate the  extreme risks that climate change will bring to  both  humans, and other species that  we depend upon for our survival- both the known and the currently unknown species.

Additionally, there is now considerable evidence that the loss of species diversity globally is likely to significantly reduce  survivability risks for humans in the medium  to  long term. Retaining and restoring as much biodiversity in  our communities as possible is therefore just  as  vital as attempting to reduce the impact  of global heating.

Growing more trees that live for centuries is one of the key opportunities to reduce the impacts of rising levels of CO2, reduce species loss, provide some protection from intense weather events, enhance human wellbeing, and provide shade in summer and warmth in winter. 

BELOW ARE Just some of the key changes required :

  1. Develop  a  well-funded programme  to  develop  a local  nursery to grow native plants indigenous to  this locality, for both  Council  planting regimes,  and also  for property owners and community agencies.
  • Provide an educational resource (online and in person) on how to plant and grow more native vegetation and its importance to our communities and the planet.
  • Ensure all   available areas in the surrounding hills are replanted in native trees (not pines, which dry out the atmosphere and ground). This will not only create more habitat for native birds, insects and other biota, but also, once the trees are established, help restore rainfall levels in summer to what they were prior to settlement, and somewhat mediate temperature fluctuations.
  • Plant native plant corridors from the hills to the coast to ensure long term viability of native wildlife.
  • Ensure all existing non-pine tree’d areas are maintained and extended on public and private lands..
  • Plant all available park and reserve areas with native trees. There are far too many grass areas in our district with no trees, which serve no use, other than to employ lawn mowers and produce more CO2.
  • Ensure streams that have been buried in culverts are re-opened to the air, and the water margins planted in native plants.
  • Provide incentives for businesses to plant trees on their properties- e.g. rates rebates.
  • Provide stronger guidance  and enforcement of  local  agricultural  businesses  about their use of toxic pesticides,  artificial  fertilizers, and the considerable current threat  to  human  welfare of groundwater contaminated with fertilizer runoff, particularly nitrates.
  1. Financial and other encouragement for local food producers to become organic growers.
  1. Develop a project alongside other local councils and the NZ Transport Agency to develop a low emission public rapid light transit system using electric public vehicles.
  1. Council needs to be encouraging businesses and services to be truly sustainable and to use organic sources wherever possible whilst discouraging businesses that damage the remainder of our living environment through fines and regulation.
  1. Council needs to establish a bio-impact measure for all goods and services within its catchment. Ie a simple graded scale that measures a business’ impact on climate change and species loss, so that consumers can start to make more informed choices about the products they  consume.
  1. Long term planning for ocean level rises, which will progressively increase; particularly road access to our coastal towns.

________________________________________

Postscript

My Council’s response below to anyone who made a submission to them on climate change… As can be clearly seen, there is no recognition that traditional cost/benefit analysis processes do not work when it comes to nature, and no recognition of the gravity of the environmental crises that have started to impact us, and will increasingly do so.

Nor is there any recognition of the other equally disastrous impacts of environmental damage; particularly species loss.

This planning strategy of burying one’s head in the sand is an option pursued by many local and central governments across the world…

Climate Change

We are experiencing more frequent weather extremes and effects, including floods, droughts and fires as a consequence of our changing climate. We have a large coastline, inhabited by thousands of residents. Adding to the complexity, much of our public infrastructure is built near the coast. Where to spend our time, effort, and funds to best prepare the <x> community for the likely effects of climate change and mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions is a key decision we needed to make. We asked you which of two spending options you preferred for Council to take to respond to climate change.

We decided to proceed with an affordable level of investment spread over the next 10 years. Once we have measured Council’s baseline emissions, we will investigate methods to reduce our emissions. The <x> Climate Action Plan is designed to be a living document. Suggestions from submitters and new knowledge (e.g. results from our emissions measurements) can be incorporated into a review of the Action Plan. The financial implications can then be worked through in further detail and consideration given to including them in future Annual or Long Term Plans.

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References

https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2020/cities-and-biodiversity-.html

http://www.fao.org/3/w2598e/w2598e06.htm

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/09/1072292

The unraveling of the web of life

The Leaf in  the Concrete Pool
The Leaf in the Concrete Pool

A U.K.  February  2021 report by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta,  entitled ‘The Economics of Biodiversity’ outlines the ‘extreme risk’ the ‘world’, is being put by  not taking into  account the  ‘rapid depletion of the natural  world’.

While the overarching intent of the paper is to  be applauded in attempting to  reduce species loss,  the underlying assumptions outlined in  the paper  about humans’ relationships to  the rest of this living world  are,  to  put it mildly,  grotesque.

Prof. Dasgupta’s comment that  ‘Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognising that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them’, is truly bizarre.

The natural  world (including the human  species) does not exist  to provide ‘goods and services’. This arrogant and ignorant perspective of the living world around us  is the root cause of  why  the  living planet around us, is dying. All  living things on  this planet exist  in their own  right and to  construct  a web of  interdependent life around themselves; a web  that  humans have been  unravelling at  ever-increasing speed for the past 3000  years.

To  view other living organisms as ‘good and services’  for humans, is not only  to  debase the sanctity of life, but also confirms our  fundamental  lack of understanding of how life on  this planet life continues to  maintain  itself,  and once thrived. The more humans choose some organisms as being ‘worthwhile’  ( for humans),  and others not-  the more we destroy the web that  holds all  life on this planet together.

There are many humans on this planet who  have never known  what  it is to  be connected with  the living world around them – who  look  out their windows in  the morning at  the dead concrete jungle surrounding them  and think  this life. Who  truly do  think  of the living world as a commodity solely for humanities’  use, and who  never once consider that  the view from  their window  would have once been  a joyous riot of life-   of birds,  trees  insects and many other  animals. What  humans have not known, we do not miss. The more humans become immersed in  an inanimate world of concrete  and tar, the more it becomes ‘normal’.

We do  not comprehend what  we have done to  our world, and what  awaits us at the end of this journey  of ‘commodification’.

 


Links

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/02/economics-failure-over-destruction-of-nature-presents-extreme-risks

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/final-report-the-economics-of-biodiversity-the-dasgupta-review

Recognising the Environmental Impact of Consumption

Tena koutou
While the NZ Government’s decision to  declare a climate emergency  in New Zealand is to be applauded-  currently there appear few mechanisms  to   achieve a carbon-neutral  government by  2025. Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s touted response to  have all  government vehicles  electric,  is a case in  point of the contradictions in  environmental  policy. There is an  urgent  need for all  citizens to recognise the  impact of product and service consumption.
While electric cars will  reduce carbon  emissions through  vehicle  exhaust pipes, the production of the required number of  electric vehicles will  result in  further destruction of our environments-  lithium  mining for batteries ,  steel  production,  plastics production. to  name just  a few.  A sleight of hand process that  reduces emissions in  one area and replaces it with  more consumption in  another-  is simply deceitful  and will  not improve our environmental impact. Any  climate “emergency planning (an  ’emergency’  implies a short -term  problem- this is not a short-term issue)  must  also  address the collateral  bio-diversity loss that  is occurring in New Zealand and everywhere in  the world.
As a recent Israeli  study  amply demonstrates;  production of inert ‘stuff’  by  humans now literally out-weighs  the living  things on  this planet https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/09/human-made-materials-now-outweigh-earths-entire-biomass-study
We are replacing  living entities with  dead inert  matter at  a rapidly  increasing rate-  a recipe not just  for  an  emergency,  but a planetary  disaster.
While moving to  a steady  state economy is the only plausible  response to   the disaster rapidly unfolding  on our little plant; current levers of power and influence globally and in New Zealand clearly will not allow that  to  happen in  the short -term.
Consequently ,  rather than moving gently and steadily to  a slow-down  and cessation of human  ‘growth’ ,  we are  rushing headlong and ever faster  towards the precipice of environmental  catastrophe,  before we  fall over…and reach ‘steady-state’  in a way  that  will  cause huge immediate human  and other species’ suffering  and death.
To   hopefully avoid that precipitous  fall, I would suggest a measure that  will  in a relatively short  time ,  allow all  members of New Zealand society to   appreciate we cannot continue  this headlong dash  to  oblivion.
A requirement  that all animate and non-animate goods   and services in New Zealand carry  a warning label  which  indicates how much  the product has impacted on  both  climate change ( positive or negative) but also  ( and more crucially)  biodiversity. The labeling could be something similar to   cigarette warning labels and provide an  opportunity for purchasers to  be aware of the environmental  impact  of their purchase,  to  compare  goods’  environmental impact  and to encourage producers to  reduce their  environmental  footprint..
Over time this labeling would also  provide an opportunity for government  to   additionally tax those products and services  that  were  high in  environmental  impact,  once public support had reached an  acceptable level.
From  there, the public debate on how to  implement a  sustainable  steady  state economy  could proceed.
As you will  be well  aware, as you see the  data continue to   pile in at  an  ever increasing rate  on  global  warming and bio-diversity loss ,  we now  have little time and opportunity  to change our trajectory.
nga mihi

Footnote
The response to  my email   from  New Zealand’s Ministry of the Environment  courteously noted my suggestions,  but declined to  support it,noting that there were some unnamed private New Zealand companies interested in such  an idea.
Subsequently my daughter has suggested that  there would be web  companies out there who  could develop  an  app  which   could provide information online  for ‘consumers’  on  the relative  carbon  footprint and impact on  biodiversity of products being sold.
Yes please!