In a desperate bid to evade the international reach of US authorities Snowden has applies for asylum to Wall Street. “Where else can I go?”, says Snowden. Pointing out that Wall Street ripped off 10 trillion dollars in 2008 and no one went to jail Snowden thinks this is the only place on Earth that is beyond the reach of the Justice Department. “If they can get away with that,” says Snowden, this must be the best place in the world to hide!”
via Dvorak News Blog.
We have a word for the conscious slaughter of a racial or ethnic group: genocide. And one for the conscious destruction of aspects of the environment: ecocide. But we don’t have a word for the conscious act of destroying the planet we live on, the world as humanity had known it until, historically speaking, late last night. A possibility might be “terracide” from the Latin word for earth. It has the right ring, given its similarity to the commonplace danger word of our era: terrorist.
The truth is, whatever we call them, it’s time to talk bluntly about the terrarists of our world. Yes, I know, 9/11 was horrific. Almost 3,000 dead, massive towers down, apocalyptic scenes. And yes, when it comes to terror attacks, the Boston Marathon bombings weren’t pretty either. But in both cases, those who committed the acts paid for or will pay for their crimes.
In the case of the terrarists — and here I’m referring in particular to the men who run what may be the most profitable corporations on the planet, giant energy companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell — you’re the one who’s going to pay, especially your children and grandchildren. You can take one thing for granted: not a single terrarist will ever go to jail, and yet they certainly knew what they were doing.
It wasn’t that complicated. In recent years, the companies they run have been extracting fossil fuels from the Earth in ever more frenetic and ingenious ways. The burning of those fossil fuels, in turn, has put record amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Only this month, the CO2 level reached 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. A consensus of scientists has long concluded that the process was warming the world and that, if the average planetary temperature rose more than two degrees Celsius, all sorts of dangers could ensue, including seas rising high enough to inundate coastal cities, increasingly intense heat waves, droughts, floods, ever more extreme storm systems, and so on.
How to make staggering amounts of money and do in the planet
None of this was exactly a mystery. It’s in the scientific literature. NASA scientist James Hansen first publicized the reality of global warming to Congress in 1988. It took a while — thanks in part to the terrarists — but the news of what was happening increasingly made it into the mainstream. Anybody could learn about it.
Those who run the giant energy corporations knew perfectly well what was going on and could, of course, have read about it in the papers like the rest of us. And what did they do? They put their money into funding think tanks, politicians, foundations, and activists intent on emphasizing “doubts” about the science (since it couldn’t actually be refuted); they and their allies energetically promoted what came to be known as climate denialism. Then they sent their agents and lobbyists and money into the political system to ensure that their plundering ways would not be interfered with. And in the meantime, they redoubled their efforts to get ever tougher and sometimes “dirtier” energy out of the ground in ever tougher and dirtier ways.
The peak oil people hadn’t been wrong when they suggested years ago that we would soon hit a limit in oil production from which decline would follow. The problem was that they were focused on traditional or “conventional” liquid oil reserves obtained from large reservoirs in easy-to-reach locations on land or near to shore. Since then, the big energy companies have invested a remarkable amount of time, money, and (if I can use that word) energy in the development of techniques that would allow them to recover previously unrecoverable reserves (sometimes by processes that themselves burn striking amounts of fossil fuels): fracking, deep-water drilling, and tar-sands production, among others.
They also began to go after huge deposits of what energy expert Michael Klare calls “extreme” or “tough” energy — oil and natural gas that can only be acquired through the application of extreme force or that requires extensive chemical treatment to be usable as a fuel. In many cases, moreover, the supplies being acquired like heavy oil and tar sands are more carbon-rich than other fuels and emit more greenhouse gases when consumed. These companies have even begun using climate change itself — in the form of a melting Arctic — to exploit enormous and previously unreachable energy supplies. With the imprimatur of the Obama administration, Royal Dutch Shell, for example, has been preparing to test out possible drilling techniques in the treacherous waters off Alaska.
Call it irony, if you will, or call it a nightmare, but Big Oil evidently has no qualms about making its next set of profits directly off melting the planet. Its top executives continue to plan their futures (and so ours), knowing that their extremely profitable acts are destroying the very habitat, the very temperature range that for so long made life comfortable for humanity.
Their prior knowledge of the damage they are doing is what should make this a criminal activity. And there are corporate precedents for this, even if on a smaller scale. The lead industry, the asbestos industry, and the tobacco companies all knew the dangers of their products, made efforts to suppress the information or instill doubt about it even as they promoted the glories of what they made, and went right on producing and selling while others suffered and died.
And here’s another similarity: with all three industries, the negative results conveniently arrived years, sometimes decades, after exposure and so were hard to connect to it. Each of these industries knew that the relationship existed. Each used that time-disconnect as protection. One difference: if you were a tobacco, lead, or asbestos exec, you might be able to ensure that your children and grandchildren weren’t exposed to your product. In the long run, that’s not a choice when it comes to fossil fuels and CO2, as we all live on the same planet (though it’s also true that the well-off in the temperate zones are unlikely to be the first to suffer).
If Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 plane hijackings or the Tsarnaev brothers’ homemade bombs constitute terror attacks, why shouldn’t what the energy companies are doing fall into a similar category (even if on a scale that leaves those events in the dust)? And if so, then where is the national security state when we really need it? Shouldn’t its job be to safeguard us from terrarists and terracide as well as terrorists and their destructive plots?
The alternatives that weren’t
It didn’t have to be this way.
On July 15, 1979, at a time when gas lines, sometimes blocks long, were a disturbing fixture of American life, President Jimmy Carter spoke directly to the American people on television for 32 minutes, calling for a concerted effort to end the country’s oil dependence on the Middle East. “To give us energy security,” he announced,
“I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation’s history to develop America’s own alternative sources of fuel — from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun… Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II, so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war. Moreover, I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this nation’s first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20% of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.”
It’s true that, at a time when the science of climate change was in its infancy, Carter wouldn’t have known about the possibility of an overheating world, and his vision of “alternative energy” wasn’t exactly a fossil-fuel-free one. Even then, shades of today or possibly tomorrow, he was talking about having “more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias.” Still, it was a remarkably forward-looking speech.
Had we invested massively in alternative energy R&D back then, who knows where we might be today? Instead, the media dubbed it the “malaise speech,” though the president never actually used that word, speaking instead of an American “crisis of confidence.” While the initial public reaction seemed positive, it didn’t last long. In the end, the president’s energy proposals were essentially laughed out of the room and ignored for decades.
As a symbolic gesture, Carter had 32 solar panels installed on the White House. (“A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people: harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”) As it turned out, “a road not taken” was the accurate description. On entering the Oval Office in 1981, Ronald Reagan caught the mood of the era perfectly. One of his first acts was to order the removal of those panels and none were reinstalled for three decades, until Barack Obama was president.
Carter would, in fact, make his mark on U.S. energy policy, just not quite in the way he had imagined. Six months later, on January 23, 1980, in his last State of the Union Address, he would proclaim what came to be known as the Carter Doctrine: “Let our position be absolutely clear,” he said. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”
No one would laugh him out of the room for that. Instead, the Pentagon would fatefully begin organizing itself to protect U.S. (and oil) interests in the Persian Gulf on a new scale and America’s oil wars would follow soon enough. Not long after that address, it would start building up a Rapid Deployment Force in the Gulf that would in the end become U.S. Central Command. More than three decades later, ironies abound: thanks in part to those oil wars, whole swaths of the energy-rich Middle East are in crisis, if not chaos, while the big energy companies have put time and money into a staggeringly fossil-fuel version of Carter’s “alternative” North America. They’ve focused on shale oil, and on shale gas as well, and with new production methods, they are reputedly on the brink of turning the United States into a “new Saudi Arabia.”
If true, this would be the worst, not the best, of news. In a world where what used to pass for good news increasingly guarantees a nightmarish future, energy “independence” of this sort means the extraction of ever more extreme energy, ever more carbon dioxide heading skyward, and ever more planetary damage in our collective future. This was not the only path available to us, or even to Big Oil.
With their staggering profits, they could have decided anywhere along the line that the future they were ensuring was beyond dangerous. They could themselves have led the way with massive investments in genuine alternative energies (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, algal, and who knows what else), instead of the exceedingly small-scale ones they made, often for publicity purposes. They could have backed a widespread effort to search for other ways that might, in the decades to come, have offered something close to the energy levels fossil fuels now give us. They could have worked to keep the extreme-energy reserves that turn out to be surprisingly commonplace deep in the Earth.
And we might have had a different world (from which, by the way, they would undoubtedly have profited handsomely). Instead, what we’ve got is the equivalent of a tobacco company situation, but on a planetary scale. To complete the analogy, imagine for a moment that they were planning to produce even more prodigious quantities not of fossil fuels but of cigarettes, knowing what damage they would do to our health. Then imagine that, without exception, everyone on Earth was forced to smoke several packs of them a day.
If that isn’t a terrorist — or terrarist — attack of an almost unimaginable sort, what is? If the oil execs aren’t terrarists, then who is? And if that doesn’t make the big energy companies criminal enterprises, then how would you define that term?
To destroy our planet with malice aforethought, with only the most immediate profits on the brain, with only your own comfort and wellbeing (and those of your shareholders) in mind: Isn’t that the ultimate crime? Isn’t that terracide?
[Note: Thanks go to my colleague and friend Nick Turse for coming up with the word “terracide.”]
“Even though the pictures were taken whilst that side of the earth was in darkness, Japan is seen to be glowing bright green. It proves our worst fears are probably true about the extent of radiation emanating from the unfortunate country.”
The Japanese people are very resilient and have lived through incredible hardship over the centuries, and they will surely shrug off this rather radioactive episode as they have done many times before.
“The high levels of radiation that are leaking from Fukushima right now have their advantages. For example if I lose my sushi in a darkened room, I can see it clear as day, even in a closed fridge,” Satsumi Kendo, a physics student from Tokyo told Japanese state radio today.
A quick look at how we humans run our planet
It would appear we as a race are clueless when it comes to population control.
In relation to the distribution of resources and wealth we appear to be equally naive.
When it comes to the subject of Ecocide this is an area where humans appear to have developed considerable skills
A radical new solution to global warming has been suggested by scientists working at the University of Sevenoaks.
The idea is to pump thousands of gallons of factor fifty sun block into the upper atmosphere thus protecting the planet from sunburn.
Various governments are considering the idea and what it might cost to implement, but in theory they think it is a very clever idea.
Critics of the plan have argued that Planet Earth may develop a golden brown tan which may lead to racial unrest among the other planets, but this is difficult to prove.
It is estimated that if waterproof sunblock is used it should last about fifty years, by which time we’ll hopefully have lots of new gadgets to sort the problem out with.
The only side effect predicted by the Sevenoaks team is that the world’s atmosphere might take on a pleasant coconut odour which may upset sufferers of nut allergies.
Green campaigners who complain about the use of smashed baby orangutan baby brains in the manufacture of sunblock have promised to disrupt any attempts to implement the issue.
After plans were announced for private investment to be the driving force for a return to the lunar surface, speculation has grown that advertisers could be on the verge of putting the first corporate logo on the moon.
Depending on how many customers sign up, the first mission could be ready to fly by 2020, and speculation about which corporations would be looking to get on-board has already begun.
With the possibility of popular album and song titles being changed to ‘Walking on the Coca Cola Lunar Globe’ and ‘Dark Side of the McDonald’s McMoon’, some critics have warned that the involvement of private investment could transform the moon into an orbiting billboard.
“Whilst I welcome investment in space exploration with open arms, I’m worried at the prospect of advertising becoming involved,” said astronomy enthusiast Trevor Morgan.
“I don’t want to look through my telescope and see a Nike swoosh in the night sky.”
Golden Spike president, Alan Stern, Nasa’s former associate administrator for science revealed that they would need to sell “a bunch” of missions to turn a profit.
“We would welcome investment from any number of sources and that would include corporations,” he admitted.
“If these missions prove successful then hopefully we can expand sponsorship deals beyond the moon.”
“It could be a small step for man, a giant leap for GlaxoSmithKline.”
You have exactly 14 days until the end of the world, according to ancient predictions based on the Mayan calendar.
NASA and the U.S. government have made clear that Apocalypse rumors are false. Thought it has not stopped people from preparing for Earth’s imminent destruction.
Keep in mind that doomsday theorists and religious sects have been predicting The End for thousands of years.
Fortunately, all of these dates have come and gone uneventfully.
To maintain your faith that this will also be the case in two weeks when the 21st rolls around, we’ve compiled 10 other dates when the world was supposed to end, but didn’t.
Christian authorities believed the new millennium would be the Second Coming of Jesus.
In anticipation of his return, many people disposed of their belongings, left their jobs, and abandoned their homes.
When the date came and went with no apocalypse, folks who thought the end was near realized they had miscalculated Jesus’ age and decided the world would actually end in 1033 A.D.
This, as we know, also turned out be a vast miscalculation.
Feb. 1, 1524
London astrologers freaked everybody out when they interpreted the alignment of planets in the constellation Pisces (a fish) to mean the world would be wiped out in a massive flood.
Tens of thousands of people sought refuge on higher ground and some people built arks.
The Great Flood never came.
May 19, 1780
On May 19, 1780, a heavy gloom fell over New England prompting a religious group known as the Shakers to believe Judgment Day had come.
Though the unusual blackened sky, later called the “Dark Day,” was most likely caused by a mix of smoke from forest fires and heavy fog, it sent the religious sect on a mission to spread their message of celibacy as the path to redemption.
March 21, 1843 — March 21, 1844
William Miller tricked thousands of followers, or Millerites, when he declared that the world would end between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.
When the year rolled over and nothing happened, the date was moved to Oct. 22, 1844.
May 19, 1910
During the early 20th century, astronomers learned that comet tails contained a poisonous gas called cyanogen. The discovery sparked widespread panic in 1910 when people learned that Earth would pass through the long tail of Halley’s Comet.
Although scientists agreed that Earthlings were not in danger, newspapers, including the venerable New York Times played up superstitions, convincing the public that the end was near.
Of course, there was nothing to worry about. The tail’s noxious gas would never be able to get through Earth’s atmosphere, and there was not enough gas to cause harm in the first place.
In 1876, Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, predicted that Christ would return in 1914.
Since that prophecy failed, the society has predicted at least seven other dates when Armageddon would occur.
The world still hasn’t ended and the group is now best known for distributing religious pamphlets door-to-door and refusing blood transfusions.
1936, 1943, 1972, and 1975
The founder of the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, told members of his church that the Rapture would take place in 1936, and that only they would saved. After the prophecy failed, he changed the date three more times.
March 10, 1982
In 1974, astrophysicists John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann published The Jupiter Effect, which claimed that on March 10, 1982, the planets would align on the same side of the Sun creating gravitational effects that would lead to catastrophic earthquakes.
It goes without saying, the book was eventually followed by The Jupiter Effect Reconsidered.
Y2K (Jan. 1, 2000)
Nobody was really sure what would happen on January 1, 2000, except that it necessitated stockpiling bottled water, D batteries, and guns.
The fear was that computers would not understand the year “00,” reading it as 1900 instead of 2000. Presumably, this would cause the technological universe to collapse.
The millennium came. Everyone was fine. A few people were disappointed about spending their life-savings on a doomsday bunker.
May 21, 2011
Harold Camping, president of the Family Radio Network, created a lot of hoopla last spring when he predicted that world would end in a series of rolling earthquakes known as “The Rapture.”
After May 21 came and went sans any signs of hell-fire and brimstone, Camping pushed The End back to October 21.
No word yet on why we’re all still here, although the 90-year-old preacher has decided to stop making predictions. Camping resigned from his post shortly after the second failed doomsday forecast.
WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (Reuters) – All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but it is the world’s poorest countries that will be hit hardest by food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank said in a report on climate change.
Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development.
“We will never end poverty if we don’t tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today,” Kim told reporters on a conference call on Friday.
The report, called “Turn Down the Heat,” highlights the devastating impact of a world hotter by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, a likely scenario under current policies, according to the report.
Climate change is already having an effect: Arctic sea ice reached a record minimum in September, and extreme heat waves and drought in the last decade have hit places like the United States and Russia more often than would be expected from historical records, the report said.
Such extreme weather is likely to become the “new normal” if the temperature rises by 4 degrees, according to the World Bank report. This is likely to happen if not all countries comply with pledges they have made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even assuming full compliance, the world will warm by more than 3 degrees by 2100.
In this hotter climate, the level of the sea would rise by up to 3 feet, flooding cities in places like Vietnam and Bangladesh. Water scarcity and falling crop yields would exacerbate hunger and poverty.
Extreme heat waves would devastate broad swaths of the earth’s land, from the Middle East to the United States, the report says. The warmest July in the Mediterranean could be 9 degrees hotter than it is today — akin to temperatures seen in the Libyan desert.
The combined effect of all these changes could be even worse, with unpredictable effects that people may not be able to adapt to, said John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, which along with Climate Analytics prepared the report for the World Bank.
“If you look at all these things together, like organs cooperating in a human body, you can think about acceleration of this dilemma,” said Schellnhuber, who studied chaos theory as a physicist. “The picture reads that this is not where we want the world to go.”
SHOCKED INTO ACTION
As the first scientist to head the World Bank, Kim has pointed to “unequivocal” scientific evidence for man-made climate change to urge countries to do more.
Kim said 97 percent of scientists agree on the reality of climate change.
“It is my hope that this report shocks us into action,” Kim, writes in the report.
Scientists are convinced that global warming in the past century is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. These findings by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were recognized by the national science academies of all major industrialized nations in a joint statement in 2010.
Kim said the World Bank plans to further meld climate change with development in its programs.
Last year, the Bank doubled its funding for countries seeking to adapt to climate change, and now operates $7.2 billion in climate investment funds in 48 countries.
The World Bank study comes as almost 200 nations will meet in Doha, Qatar, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 to try to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations that runs to the end of the year.
They have been trying off and on since Kyoto was agreed in 1997 to widen limits on emissions but have been unable to find a formula acceptable to both rich and poor nations.
Emerging countries like China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, have said the main responsibility to cut emissions lies with developed nations, which had a headstart in sparking global warming.
Combating climate change also poses a challenge for the poverty-fighting World Bank: how to balance global warming with immediate energy needs in poor countries.
In 2010, the World Bank approved a $3.75 billion loan to develop a coal-fired power plant in South Africa despite lack of support from the United States, Netherlands and Britain due to environmental concerns.
“There really is no alternative to urgent action given the devastating consequences of climate change,” global development group Oxfam said in a statement. “Now the question for the World Bank is how it will ensure that all of its investments respond to the imperatives of the report.”
Kim said the World Bank tries to avoid investing in coal unless there are no other options.
“But at the same time, we are the group of last resort in finding needed energy in countries that are desperately in search of it,” he said.