Survivors’ Guide: Wake up Call

So Global Warming is indisputably for real, unless you believe the Earth is flat as well, a born no-hoper. The rest of us need to act now. Many folk have been doing stalwart work to halt Global Warming for years. But far more have not, through lethargy, inability or disinterest in the future we are bequeathing to our children and grandchildren.

The problem, as always, is big money and its use to buy politicians and warp our thinking.

Billions of dollars are tied up in fossil fuel reserves that supply most internal combustion engines, which pollute our air and stop us walking. Billions of dollars more are tied up in food chains that supply adulterated food to supermarkets. Billions of dollars are spent to prevent us knowing what we eat, drink and medicate ourselves on. Billions of dollars more are tied up in health industries, managed by insurance companies and big pharma that make them rich and keep us ill. Billions of dollars are tied up in the packaging industry that churns out rubbish by the millions of tons a day.

Billions of dollars are tied up in marketing and the media which persuade us that riding, eating chemically adulterated food, buying from supermarkets, addiction to big pharma’s dubious offerings and  plastic wrappings on everything we buy are good for us.

To hold that nothing can done to reverse rampant commercialism and corruption of politicians, senior functionaries, media and marketing types and their ilk is defeatism. Many things, such as  life style change and community engagement, can be done by everyone. Social media carry many examples of life style change and long time advocates of common sense have written helpful guides on community engagement, such as Ralph Nader’s  Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think.

Commercialism depends on folk doing what they’re told to do by big money. Big money naturally wants to generate more big money.

Freedom wants less of what commercialism has on offer and more of what is natural.

Commercialism specializes in de-skilling, creating dependence on gadgets and physical comforts.

Freedom seeks and learns new skills of independence and physical strengths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographs by jo-hernandez and boris-stefanik gratefully acknowledged as is Unsplash.

 

 

Survivors’ Guide: Desertification

Earth’s biosphere is the only place where life is known for certain throughout the entire  universe. The biosphere is the flimsiest, fragile mantel of lifeforms and their support systems that clothes planet Earth. From the living depths of the Earth’s crust to the highest point in the atmosphere, reached by birds and insects, is no more than a mile or two. Most life forms are concentrated on and near the Earth’s surface, a mere thirty yards up on land and not much deeper in the oceans and seas.

All other bodies in the universe appear to be inorganic conglomerations of gaseous, fluid or solid matter with no life forms. Instead of concentrating vast effort, intellectual activity and treasure on scouring the Universe for life elsewhere, safeguarding life here is an urgent necessity. All other planets appear to be lifeless deserts. Earth could very soon join them.

Earth started out as desert but extraordinary combinations of matter and circumstances produced the simplest life forms that evolved over millions of years to the complexity and diversity we appear to be hell bent on destroying.

Diversity lessens more rapidly year on year as the living conditions of endangered species deteriorate to the level where they are no longer supported. Humans are not immune from this phenomenon. More disposable people are disposed of every year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

War disposes of places and people indiscriminately. Corporate agriculture is equally damaging. The crazy theories of politicians such as Stalin ruin the land. Some nearer home produced the enormous dust bowls of the Midwest at much the same time.

Now corporate greed amasses land for quick-profit exploitation. Rain forests are felled for profit from timber. Industrial agriculture then denatures the land with chemicals and genetically engineered plants that introduce unknown hazards into the food chain.

Phil Angell speaking on behalf of one corporation said Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much as possible. Assuring its safety is the Food and Drug Administrations job. Meanwhile bribery and corruption or Presidential proposed cuts in the funding of regulatory bodies will ensure the FDA’s job is not done properly.

Temperate zones will survive longer than equatorial ones hence the Mexican Border Wall to keep refuges out of America and the Wall’s more subtle European equivalents to keep refuges out of Europe.

Those who live in temperate zones use war and land degradation to dispose of disposable people. Then complain about the refugees they have created along with the deserts. Presumably everyone is expected to stay put and die.

This concludes the brief survey of evidence for Global Warming, with which the SURVIVORS’ GUIDE has started. Dudes will continue to go with the flow. The rest of the GUIDE will concentrate on personal and collective survival.

Thanks to bar-hain and Jordy-meow for the photographs from Unsplash.

 

Survivors’ Guide: NASA

The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration was set up at the end of the Eisenhower era in 1958. To catch up with the Russian sputnik program various predecessor bodies were put together as a Federal agency, independent of federal government. We shall soon see how independent it is. With an annual budget of well over $18billion , about 1% of the total federal budget, it has become a target for cuts in the current budget proposals.

NASA is an irritant to the Trump administration, dominated by Global Warming deniers, because one of its major scientific contributions is dedicated to publication of data and photographs that indicate that Global Warming deniers belong with the Flat Earth brigade.

NASA’s GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE web site, subtitled Vital Signs of the Planet, has constant update of vital statistics and revealing photographs. Currently the published data is: Carbon Dioxide up at 405.92 parts per million, Global Temperature up 1.7°F since 1880, Arctic Ice down at the rate of 13.3 % per decade, Land Ice down 281.0 gigatonnes a year and Sea level up 3.4 milliliters a year. The data is supported by five amazingly illustrated articles about Global Warming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This NASA illustration shows the North West Passage ice free in 2014. Greenland, a land mass, still has its ice sheet over land at subzero temperatures. The North Pole ice is floating on sea water. The ice cap is likely to disappear completely during the summer 2017 and then freeze over again as winter sets in.

Global Warming is not a figment of the imaginations of anybody. Global Warming is a reality. Here and Now. The rate of warming is accelerating faster this century than last and predicted to go on doing so.  Although some action is being taken it is insufficient to reverse a well established trend and one being added to all the time;

 

SURVIVORS’ GUIDE: TREES & SEAS

Rain forests are being felled to make land available for extensive cultivation of maize to feed cattle kept in compounds. The cattle will be slaughtered for meat, beef fat, bone meal and leather at the earliest profitable moment.

All governments have laws to protect rain forests but don’t apply them, laws to treat livestock humanely but don’t apply them and laws against corruption of politicians and State agencies by International Corporations but don’t apply them.

National and International Law no longer applies to the corruptible ruling classes and their International Corporative pay masters. The purpose of these laws is window-dressing to please the gullible. Shakespeare has Wat Tyler, leader of revolting peasants at the end of the Fourteenth Century, reply to the question: What shall we do first? with Hang all lawyers. The elite have always protected themselves with law and lawyers. There are notable and noble exceptions in the legal professions.

Prior to contemporary civilization the rain forests were impenetrable except by local tribes who lived in and off the forests, loved them and cared for them. Contemporary civilization has ability to manufacture vast and powerful machines to destroy any natural habitat for profit, from Canadian Tar Sands to Amazonian Rain Forests. We are all aware of this and sense the dangers involved, even if not paying much attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Human civilization has required primeval forests to be felled across the face of the globe. We are attuned to such activity and regard it as natural. In historical terms deforestation is recent. The Ancient Greeks turned much of Greece into arid, rocky terrain incapable of growing trees and had to import timber from Italy. Since the Industrial Revolution three hundred years ago most primeval forests have been felled.

Trees are net extractors of Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere. Animals are net producers of Carbon Dioxide and Methane, the gases that cause the greenhouse effect, that cause Global  Warming.

Burning fossil fuels are part of the problem, they release carbon dioxide long stored in oil and coal. But here and now loss of plants, especially trees, and massive increase in numbers of animals especially beef cattle and people results in production of damaging gases far in excess of the capacity of the remaining trees to absorb them.

The Earth’s surface is roughly 30% land and 70% seas. The seas have kept the concentrations of gases in the atmosphere more or less stable by absorption of excess amounts of any gas above levels that have remained normal for thousands of years.

The seas are becoming more acidic with the massive increases in acidic gases to be absorbed and are warming at the same time. This is harmful to sea life. Coral reefs are dying as are many species of algae that inhabit them and the sea generally. Marine food chains start with these miniature life forms.

Its not just burning fossil fuels that is the problem but thoughtless human behavior patterns that pollute the air, land and sea and at the same time destroy the natural means of clearing up.

Photographs courtesy eutah-mizushima and dawid-zawila from the Unsplash collection.

 

 

 

SURVIVOR’S GUIDE: ICE

There will soon be no need to learn the skills of living with or on ice. There soon won’t be any ice. Ice skating and skiing will be skills of the past.

In 1847 the Franklin Expedition to find the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, across the ice lands of the North Canadian Arctic Ocean, ended in disaster with all hands lost.

A passage, there are several, was found by the Amundsden Expedition in 1906. Not until 2009 was there any regular shipping through the Pasage.  By now (2017) some three hundred ships have sailed between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans across the Arctic Ocean. The Ocean has been ice free in its southern latitudes throughout the summer for the past few years. This summer it is probable that the ice will melt completely, even at the North Pole!

There are many implications to an ice free Arctic Ocean. Rise in overall sea level world wide will be negligible because frozen seas occupy much the same volume as those that aren’t frozen. Ice being lighter than water floats, its density being such that most of an iceberg is below the surface. Liquid or solid the volume at 0° is much the same. However, as the seas generally rise in temperature and water expands on heating, sea level rises are predicted with global warming.

Ice on land, such at the South Pole, Siberia and up mountains is melting much slower than sea ice as it is on land at subzero temperatures. The sea was not frozen solid at the North Pole. The structure of H2O conglomerates changes at different subzero temperatures and over long periods of time.  Floating ice masses protected the sea water below from sunlight by reflection back into space.

The Arctic ice was a vast white skull cap on the globe of Earth that reflected sunlight, with its heating effect, back into space. For increasingly long periods of time each year that cooling effect is being reduced and with no ice will be lost completely.

The importance of this in areas of permafrost can not be over stated. Vegetation traps carbon dioxide, which is why burning fossil fuels causes global warming. The carbon dioxide trapped in coal and oil by vegetation hundreds, thousands, millions of years ago is released in a short period of time. But more recent decaying vegetation that has been frozen also has trapped carbon dioxide, which is released as permafrosted land surfaces thaw.

There is further global warming effect from permafrosted land being thawed out as methane is released. A molecule of methane has 23 times the effect on global warming than a molecule of carbon dioxide does. Animals release methane as their food is rapidly decomposed in their guts. Humans as members of the animal kingdom contribute their share of methane when they fart and shit.

Life systems are a complex of inorganic and organic inter reactions. The balance maintained for millions of years has allowed the evolution of almost endless varieties of  plants and animals.

The symbiosis between plants and animals is a fundamental factor in the evolution of higher forms of plant and animal life. Mobility demands high oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide exhaust, whilst static plants consume little oxygen for transpiration but photosynthesis demands high carbon dioxide consumption. The seas absorb excesses of gases in the atmosphere and for thousands of years have maintained proportions of gases more or less constant.

Life systems are a complex of inorganic and organic inter reactions. The balance maintained for millions of years has allowed the evolution of plants and animals. None of these balances are stable any more. Hence climate change in temperate regions, global warming in equatorial ones and loss of the Arctic Ice Cap.

Acknowledged with thanks: A FAREWELL TO ICE A REPORT FROM THE ARCTIC by Peter Wadhams is essential reading. The Andy-Mai photograph is of ice melting in northern Iceland from the Unsplash collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survivors’ Guide: Rubbish

Growth of cities has required supply chains of great complexity to bring fresh food, other consumables and movables to growing populations in ever increasing quantities.

Packaging and transportation have become indispensable. Both consume large amounts of energy and produce waste products galore. Atmospheric pollution and accumulations of rubbish abound in and around cities.

Residents of gentrified areas see none of this. Local authorities ensure they are immune from unpleasantness. Some local authorities manage waste disposal systems well. They collect and use all waste: organic waste is converted into useful compost, metal waste is recycled into new tins and cans, burnable waste is incinerated to provide central heating to large areas. These are the exceptions. Such schemes are costly to implement, although they pay for themselves longer term.

Mostly commerce and industry cause new types of rubbish to accumulate before anyone is aware of the problems created. When plastic bags first hit developing countries they were everywhere, in trees, rivers, ankle deep in the streets. Co-ordination between making and collecting rubbish is poor and response is slow. Napoli was infamous for years because of the failure to collect rubbish satisfactorily. Visitors to the National Museum there wondered what had become of ancient civilizations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only beaches are littered with rubbish around seas and oceans. There are huge islands of rubbish accumulating,  getting bigger all the time. The effects of human life as now lived are visible all around us. What is not seen is worse. Very small white plastic particles are a main ingredient of many toothpastes. They finish up in the sea in the gills of fish, blocking intake  of oxygen and thus die.

Gaseous, liquid and solid chemicals, often designed to enhance affluent life styles, have the opposite effect on the majority of life on Earth, humans as well as animals and plants.

In his account of the effects of Climate Change Pope Francis drew attention to the fact that we are turning planet Earth into a rubbish tip and risk collapse of the ecosystem as we know and need it.  The pope’s message was ignored completely by powerful elite Catholics, who have been bought by the fossil fuel industry to deny Climate Change.

Pope Francis published his account in August 2015 in advance of the PARIS COP 2015, the opaque name of the United Nations 21st  Climate Change Conference. The Conference was held under tight police control, achieved by a State of Emergency that had all the characteristics of contrivance. The International Conference achieved negligible results, the same as the previous 20. Nation States handicap progress. They don’t make it.

However, there was encouraging report of sensible action being taken by local authorities, commerce and industry. Naturally, with Nation States doing their utmost to delay progress in the interests of their oil and coal industries and pusillanimous and corrupt political classes  progress is painfully slow.

Pope Francis pulled no punches in his account. He has commented several times since on the lack of response and the further increase in accumulation of rubbish.

 

Survivors’ Guide: Surpluses

Surpluses occur when supply exceeds demand. Good harvests produces surpluses which are stored for use later. Surpluses in the global food chain, with ability to move anything anywhere, are located in the area of production awaiting a buyer. Affluent societies buy, poor ones can’t afford to. When starvation sets in charitable organisations or the United Nations buy and ship surpluses as relief, usually too little and too late. About an eighth of the world population are undernourished. Millions die of starvation every year, including over 3 million little children.

Capitalists manipulate supply artificially to keep oil prices high. Surpluses are avoided or held back to maintain high prices at petrol pumps and for heating oil. Since the middle of the twentieth century oil, food and water supplies have been skilfully controlled at levels the majority can afford but large minorities, even in the developed world, cannot afford. There are significant numbers of families on the bread line in the USA, UK, France, Israel and other of the twenty richest countries.

Management of supply, both production and logistics of delivery are controlled ultimately by International Corporations over whom governments have little or no control. The only control the consumer can apply is to buy or not to buy. This is no choice if you live in a city and are dependent on the necessities of life provided commercially.

There were controls on all aspects of supply and demand to ensure fair prices were charged, fair wages were paid and fair profits were made.  This golden age of the mid twentieth century has gone. Nowadays all surpluses are controlled by International Corporations, with Chief Executive Officers using their inherited wealth to buy political and corporate favours to further enrich themselves.


Money not in circulation is horded and useless. It is not available to pay wages or buy goods and services or enable an entrepreneur to start a business. Investment of money, rather than hording it, allows it to circulate to the advantage of all: earners, buyers, sellers, producers and stock holders.

But Chief Executive Officers of International Corporations are able, now all controls are off, to pay their employees a pittance, charge excess prices, avoid taxation and amass wealth. This is used to buy politicians, the media and publicize their wares or services even further afield to get even richer. Many have so much money that they buy out shareholders so that all the wealth generated by the Corporation stays with them.

In addition to global warming and war humanity now faces economic disaster as electorates are disenfranchised or disabled, governments are in the hands of politicians beholden to Corporations, which are run by megalomaniacs who hoard money.

Survivors’ Guide: Population Growth

Money flowing freely throughout growing populations leads to economic growth. Economies boom when there are more demanders than suppliers, always provided work rewards the poor to enable them to buy.  But perpetual economic growth can not be achieved by perpetual population growth, as there are limits to water and food supply.

Malthus wrote his famous treaties on population growth early in the 19th century. The relationship between food supply and population growth is obvious but his conclusions less so. He recognized that poor people were always at the end of the food supply and their undernourishment depressed population growth.

When Malthus was writing the world population was about 1 Billion. It is now (2017) about 7.5 Billion and estimated to reach about 9 Billion by 2050, if humanity survives that long. The rate of growth peaked in 1960 and has rapidly declined since birth control became generally available at that time. But since 1960 life expectancy has increased dramatically.

Public health and healthy life styles (the relationship between smoking and lung cancer was demonstrated in the sixties)  have all but eliminated perinatal deaths, childhood deaths and extended life expectancy in wealthy countries into extreme old age. There’s a lot of us about

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Our basic needs are for water and food. All food plants and animals require water. Water is essential to life. Astronomy, for reasons by no means clear, tasks itself with seeking life elsewhere in the Universe. Water is looked for in the most unlikely places because it indicates the possibility of life. Meanwhile on planet Earth thousands are dying in droughts. Scientific priorities are bizarre.

Most of the water on Earth is undrinkable. The sea is salt. Fresh water supplies are increasingly polluted. In many places even rain water falls as acid rain, contaminated by pollutants in the air as it falls through the atmosphere. There will soon not be enough water to go round. Equitably shared and distributed there is at present. But equality in practice has minimal approval rating, since poor people were disenfranchised. Liberty, Equality and Fraternity has become a series of empty words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survivors’ Guide: Perpetual Economic Growth

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Economic growth measures increase in wealth. Economic growth of a nation state is treated as the most important indicator of its performance. Such prestigious organizations as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Federal Reserve, the Bank of International Settlements and similar overseers of the World Economy all agree that Perpetual Economic Growth is essential to human well being.

According to Friedman’s theory, wealth trickles down from the captains of industry and commerce, who accumulate wealth by whatever means, to benefit all strata of society to the very poorest.  Therefore, entrepreneurs are to be encouraged by low taxation and lack of regulation, to make vast fortunes. Evidence in support of the trickle down theory is awaited too patiently by the majority of workers, on whom wealth creation depends.

Perpetual Economic Growth is essential to the accumulation of wealth by the characters who manage the World Economy. The most honored of them was Alan Greenspan, who ran the Federal Reserve for nearly 20 years, until 2006. His cryptic remarks were mainly undecipherable as he depressed workers’ wages, orchestrated the housing boom and presided over the resultant economic growth. He forecast the 2008 economic crisis and got out in time, awarded with high honors by the USA, UK and France.

Masters of commerce and industry work in harmony with their political and banking cronies. They meet in exclusive cabals. Bilderberg and Davos are locations for their  international annual conferences. There are hundreds of more local events such as Warren Buffet breakfasts and Sun Valley Conferences that attract multibillionaires to discuss perpetual economic growth and tightening their control on governments.

Beneficiaries of economic growth include inventive geniuses such as Fredrick Koch, who revolutionized cracking processes to most effectively break down large crude oil molecules to form gasoline for automobiles and airplanes.

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Skills of Invention linked with entrepreneurial skills enrich founders of companies and their shareholders. Some provide safe working environments, collaboration on working methods and a fair share of the profits as take home pay and pension entitlements. Some don’t. They prefer to bribe governments to reduce taxes on the wealthy and remove laws designed to protect workers.

The Koch Brothers, two of Fredrick’s four sons, claimed their father’s businesses and vast fortune (most wealthy people’s only claim to their wealth is a result of other people’s work and often obtained by trickery).  The Koch brothers have used their father’s fortune to control Federal and State governments to massively increase their wealth and power. It is reckoned more than a third of the members of Congress are beholden to the Koch Brothers and sworn to vote in their interests. Denial of Climate Change and support for funding the Terror War are part of dozens of sordid deals that enrich many Representatives and Senators.

Illustration courtesy of  jackson-jost     Further reading DARK MONEY by Jane Mayer