RG- A century ago, in October 2017, journalist Dahr Jamail sadly observed: “The Earth is unraveling due to human-forced warming. We've changed the composition of the atmosphere, and are acidifying the oceans. The cryosphere is melting before our very eyes, and the seas are rising. Global wildlife populations have decreased nearly 60 percent since just the 1970s, and the current extinction rate of species is 1,000 times the normal background rate. Functional coral reefs could be completely gone by 2050, and oceans could be completely free of fish by 2048 due to anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), overfishing, pollution and habitat loss. And there is nothing to indicate that governments around the globe are doing anything remotely serious enough to mitigate ACD impacts, in order to prevent the worst-case scenarios from unfolding.That there will be a massive die-off of humans seems inevitable, and the extinction of our species is very much a possibility. This is terrifying, heartbreaking, enraging information to take in.”
Indeed, ACD was progressing dramatically and abruptly. In 2017 Hurricane Harvey led to the single largest rain event in US history, which was then followed in short order by Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded by satellites. In Canada, rapidly thawing permafrost was already releasing massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere which fuels a positive feedback loop of ACD: The warming atmospherecauses the permafrost to thaw and release CO2, which warms the atmosphere further, and the cycle feeds on itself. (There is twice as much carbon locked up in the permafrost as there is in the atmosphere.
A paper from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography published in mid-September 2017, warned of a small but distinct possibility that abrupt ACD could pose an “existential threat” to the survival of humans by 2050. Scripps went on to propose two new classifications for ACD: catastrophic (meaning that the majority of humanity would struggle to adapt to the change) and existential (meaning that humanity would not be able to adapt to the change.)
It appeared that deforestation was having twice the negative impact on ACD as previously believed. Deforestation had two main negative impacts. First, the trees were burned and they immediately released their stored carbon into the atmosphere. Then, farms were created in their place, which went on torelease other greenhouse gasses like methane and nitrous oxide. Furthermore, without trees to act as a carbon sink, less carbon dioxide is being removed from the atmosphere. Meanwhile, tree-killing beetles were spreading much more quickly into northern US Forests. Southern pine beetles – one of the most aggressive tree-killing insects, which cause ecosystem harm and increase risk of forest fires – were moving northward as their ranges are expanding dramatically due to hotter temperatures.
Data from Nevada's Geodetic Lab showed that flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Houston pushed down the Earth's crust two centimeters. This was because the amount of water released from the storm weighed 275 trillion pounds.
In the watery realms, there were also significant developments. For the first time in history, in late August 2017, a tanker crossed the northern sea route without an icebreaker. A 300-meter long Russian commercial liquefied natural gas ship carried the gas from Norway to South Korea in just six and a half days, setting the record. The ongoing and increasing loss of the Arctic summer sea ice was impacting the Atlantic Ocean water circulation system, altering the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a current that plays a major role in both regional and global climate systems. AMOC affects the climate of all of the countries on the Atlantic rim, especially those in Europe, but also has climate impacts far, far beyond those, including weather patterns around the entire globe.
Since a warmed atmosphere can hold more moisture, so rainstorms became deluges and epic flooding events was the planet’s response to human-forced warming. In August 2017, flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal killed at least 1,200 people and displaced millions. Monsoon rains in India were so intense, a building inMumbai collapsed from them, killing at least 21 people and trapping more than a dozen. Thirty-two million people were impacted by the flooding in India, while another 8.6 million in Bangladesh and 1.7 million in Nepal also suffered. Since 145 million people were living less than three feet above sea level, flooding and rapidly rising sea-levels soon created multiple generations of climate refugees.
The flip side of this was drought. This had social consequences, given that the extended bloody conflict in Syria has its roots in a multi-year drought that hit that country. (More examples needed) During the summer of 2017, massive wildfires, fueled by prolonged drought, extreme heat and high winds, spread across Spain and the US West and continued to burn well through the fall, moving so fast that it was impossible to run away from them. By early September, a wildfire in Oregon scorched the picturesque Columbia River Gorge and rained ash and burning embers across communities several miles away. At least 10,000 acres burned, sending hundreds of residents in the area to flee their homes. Heat and fire records were broken throughout the summer across the US and Canadian Wests.
To be sure, climate scientists had long been aware of the capitalist-generated, man-made causes of this growing climate chaos, but their findings got little respect. The U.S. government was in the hands of climate-change deniers, and the media consistantly refused to use the phrases “global warming” and “climate change” on the specious ground that they had become “politicised” (by the very people who denied their existence!). In the wake of the two major hurricanes that struck the US this season, while Harvey was still besiegingHouston with record rains, climate scientist Michael Mann told ThinkProgress: “The kind of stalled weather pattern that is drenching Houston is precisely the sort of pattern we expect because of climate change.” Mann had, earlier in 2017, co-authored a study that showed how ACD is changing atmospheric circulation, including the jet stream, in a way that causes an “increase in persistent weather extremes” during summers.
The two major hurricanes caused scientists to express concern publicly that this may become the new normal for the planet.“But historically unusual weather is no longer freakish,” wrote Jonathan Watts in The Guardian“The floods that hit Houston last week were described as a once-in-500-years eventbecause records suggested there was only a 0.2% chance of such heavy rainfall. However, precedent isan increasingly unreliable guide in a changing climate. In the past three years, Texas has been hit by three 100- to 500-year events, according to local media.” According to NASA data global temperatures were rising muchfaster over land than over oceans,. In other words, overall warming was speeding up everywhere, but particularly over land, where we humans happen to live. Temperatures over land were warming approximately twice as fast as those over water, and the disparity in the warming over land compared to the oceans was increasing rapidly.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration continued to work feverishly and consistently to scrub any mention of ACD from government departments and websites. NOTE add RG material from “Fake News” article.
Cities were the defining social and ecological phenomena of the twenty-first century: they housed the majority of humanity, they contributed the lion’s share of carbon to the atmosphere, and they were peculiarly vulnerable to climate chaos. By 2017 more than 50 percent of the world’s population were living within 120 miles of the sea; and it was estimated that this figure would soon reach 75 percent. In addition, urbanites all over the world were particularly vulnerable to deadly heat waves, whose intensity and frequency were increasing as a result of global warming, because of the “heat island” effect that makes urban areas hotter than their rural surroundings. For decades people had been migrating out of drought-prone areas in the developing world and into coastal cities that were prone to floods and cyclones. Anthropogenic climate disruption was dramatically altering the world’s cities, and that is where the effects of climate change were of most consequence.
As the Occupy Wall Street activists of 2011 tirelessly pointed out, the city had become a place of extreme economic and social inequality. It was also a site in which a variety of high-profile initiatives were undertaken to turn the city into a green metropolis. Yet inequality in the city continued to spiral. New York was the consummate example of the prototypical social form of the early 21st century: the “extreme city.”
In the words of Ashley Dawson, who coined the phrase back in 2017, “Extreme city refers to an urban space of stark economic inequality, the defining urban characteristic of our time, and one of the greatest threats to the sustainability of urban existence. How a city copes with stratifications of race, class, and gender (or how such inequalities are left to fester) has everything to do with how well it will weather the storms.”
As “once in a century” storms, floods and wildfires became commonplace, the predominant outlook on urbanization among the political and financial leaders remained surprisingly sunny, even utopian. Their “smart,” technologically-enhanced forms of urbanism was supposed to usher capitalism into a new era of “green” urban growth and produce a “city fix” for climate change. But these blithe predictions elided the glaring contradiction of capitalism’s destruction of nature, its material base.
Technology and planning were certainly needed to help adapt to the increasingclimate chaos, but under the social conditions of the period, these tools were mostly employed by elites to create architectures of apartheid and exclusionary zones of refuge.
Thus the movement for climate justice, which was built on anti-imperialist, antiracist, and feminist movements of the past, had necessarily to grow through solidarities forged in urban terrain. This phenomenon challenged the then-accepted notion that the city is the antithesis of “nature.” Not only were cities dependent upon nature, but they also structured increasingly chaotic natural world. Climate change unleashed the greatest havoc in cities, but cities also produced the most ferocious struggles against the inequalities of our urban age.
This was because under the class societies of the past, there was no such thing as a natural disaster: “In every phase and aspect of a disaster—causes, vulnerability, preparedness, results and response, and reconstruction—the contours of disaster and the difference between who lives and who dies is to a greater or lesser extent a social calculus.” [who said this???]
There was no better place to bear witness to these contradictions and shifts than New York City… How New York City attempted to mitigate and adapt to climate change—and also to respond to climate justice more broadly – set key precedents nationally and internationally.
Introduction to this section and invitation to contribute to it - RG, 3/8/19
Dear Colleagues! A new subject, Collapsology, is all the rage in France. Multiple major disasters, catastrophes and system collapses seem inevitable today, indeed are already happening. As future historians we need to face them squarely. We haven’t yet. Even some of ecosocialists of 20 years standing have been complicit in denial out of fear of provoking despair, fatalism and passivity.
“For decades, the climate movement has suffered from a debilitating self-inflicted wound: the assumption that “we can’t tell the public the truth” about the urgency of the crisis, or the scale and speed of the necessary solution. Many climate scientists joined forces with professional “climate communicators” and corporate philanthropies to decree: Fear doesn’t work as a motivator! Only hope “works,” so let’s keep things positive and promote gradualist policies like carbon pricing! 1)
The Collapsologists, typically scientists who have finally realized the interconnectivity (Complexity) of multiple systems and stepped out of their disciplines to create an interdisciplinary study, are all calling for one thing: “a new narrative,” a way to comprehend what is happening to us and imagine a path forward. In other words what we are doing. Imagining plausible scenarios.
As historians of 2120, our task is to face the worst; and yet also come up with a possible survival scenarios. Such scenarios, far from discouraging, would give our readers something to hope for and work for.
These scenarios fall in our history text at the intersection of Catastrophes and HOW we somehow survived them), which is the most difficult and important part of our narrative. If planetary emergence does take place in the future, it will be on a planet rapidly collapsing, which will exacerbate the conflict between the eight billion who toil and the eight billionaires who own half the world’s wealth. This is the point we must develop.
If there is indeed a 1 in 100 chance for there to be historians in 2120, this emergence must have transpired by around 2030, while there was still a chance for a united humanity to stop pollution and start massive remedial action to mitigate its results. Some “tipping points” perhaps had already been reached by 2030.
Our working hypothesis: that there MAY be one chance in 100 or 1000 that a world made up of just, egalitarian societies did emerge and survive the multiple catastrophes now impending. This “ecotopian bet” is now elaborated here on our Wiki.
The challenge for our paradoxical enterprise is to develop a scenario of global collapse and catastrophe with a “happy ending,” as it were (since we are still here in 2120). The negative part of our collective task will be easy: borrow from the best descriptions by authors of dystopian sci-fi which abound and adapt them to our own. If we subvert whole paragraphs or more we can put them in quotes and attribute them to a “contemporary” journalist by the name of (the real 2019 author).
As you may recall, in 2017 we collected an excellent library in the Dropbox of articles on impending catastrophes to document our THEN about ecocidal capitalism. Alas, some of the direst predictions of two years ago have been surpassed by reality (following “Greeman’s Curve”). By changing the tenses of their predictions into the past, our technique was to give them the power of objectivity.
What about the “happy ending?” To my mind, excluding divine or extraterrestrial intervention, the the most credible basis for human survival is what Kropotkin called Mutual Aid. So we must imagine how Mutual Aid, cooperation, human decency, etc. emerged in the face of disaster. We can elaborate our narrative based on examples such as New Orleans, Occupy Sandy, and other historical and international instances where communities spontaneously organized effective mutual aid in disaster situations while authorities did nothing or imposed violent repression and mistreatment of victims.
Mutual aid springs up naturally in revolutionary situations, as many of us have experienced, whether in 1968 or 2011 or in other such risings. This feeling of generosity and exaltation, of belonging and freedom, has been called by George Katsiaficas “the Eros effect.” Again, for the purposes of our narrative, we can quote the feelings of participants in such risings and import them into our narrative to give realism and make believable the power people feel and demonstrate at such moments in history.
Can we do this together? I hope we at least give it a try. For openers I was inspired to write a very rudimentary outline for a narrative about global collapses with a happy ending: survival - thanks to mutual aid - of a peaceful, cooperative global society. It is intended as a skeleton of sorts, and I invite you to fill it out and add new limbs. My hope that we can get together and elaborate a collective narrative (perhaps less intimidating than asking a each of you to invent a scenario).
Our method is as always: use our readings to appropriate descriptions, scenes, analyses from good authors and adapt them to one limb or another of the skeleton. you are invited to add pieces to the draft that follows here, either by editing this page (don’t forget to add your name), or adding them in the Dropbox, or emailing them to AnotherWorldNYC@gmail.com.
RG Catastrophe Draft 3/14/19
Introduction: The Great Collapse, as you already know, was not a single event, but rather a concatenation and culmination of a number of intersecting crises: including an energy crisis, a climate crisis, an ecological crisis, a refugee crisis, a financial crisis, a food crisis, myriad social crises, and crises of inequality, government legitimacy, continuous wars, nuclear proliferation - all rapidly reaching their limits. Disasters and catastrophes abounded, each aggravating the others. There were unprecedently violent tornados, widespread wildfires and floods, nuclear accidents, food and energy shortages. Climate refugees fled zones of flood, fire and unliveably hot temperatures, carrying with them epidemic diseases which spread among the inhabitants of more clement zones and became pandemic. Famine weakened the resistance to disease of entire populations, while blatant inequality between rich and poor aggravated tensions.
Global warming, the result of carbon-capitalism’s accelerating injection of greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere, was approaching an irreversible tipping point. Had it continued for another decade, we would not be here now, students and teachers, studying our planet’s history while at the same time struggling with all our collective energies to survive the results and mitigate the damage. A struggle you were born into and know will last for centuries.
The Great Collapse marked the dividing line between Then and Now. It was the global crucible in which our cooperative, egalitarian, peaceful and democratic societies were forged. Although it entailed vast suffering and the deaths of billions of humans along with the extinction of many species, in hindsight we are obliged to look upon it as a “fortunate fall.” Not only did the Great Collapse prevent accelerating Climate Chaos from exploding into total apocalypse, it released the human powers of caring, solidarity and mutual aid from which today’s societies emerged.
The global crash and collapse in the value of securities destabilized the international financial system. Fortunes in paper profits and fictitious capital vanished overnight, wiping out years of heedless, unregulated speculation. Banks closed their doors as crowds of depositors rushed to withdraw their savings. For want of credit (and of customers able to pay) factories and businesses closed their doors, provoking mass unemployment and a rapid decline in production. This collapse of capitalist production and trade did have one positive effect: carbon emissions fell back to pre-20th century levels for an extended period, long enough that mitigation efforts could get under way and fossil fuels could be phased out almost entirely.
In many areas, basic services like electricity, water, and health care collapsed. National governments proved largely incapable or unwilling to provide disaster aid to the victims. Inequality, already severe, became starker as the rich retired behind the militarized walls of their gated communities or fled to their well-stocked and well-defended estates in isolated zones. States were reduced to their basic function in class society: armed repression, defending the status quo against opposition by oppressed populations or rival states (and proto-states). When governments did send troops to disaster areas, their assignment was to “preserve law and order” and “protect property” by shooting “looters” rather than to help the locals by providing food, shelter and medical aid.
This pattern had been observed as early as 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the iconic American city of New Orleans, Louisiana. The storm had provoked disastrous flooding when the levees were overwhelmed by accumulated rainwater, and it was later revealed that poor planning on the part of corrupt local government and blunders by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were responsible.
Immediately there were extensive reports of looting, violence, shootings of rescue personnel, murder and rape, and snipers taking potshots at rescue helicopters. Reports circulated of gangs roving the city, shooting police officers and survivors. All of these reports were later proven false. Violence there was: racist violence on the part of white vigilante snipers who murdered at least 18 Black flood survivors. Ironically, instances of looting were later found out to have been carried out by a small number New Orleans Policemen (half of whom had fled the city as the storm approached).
Meanwhile, the remaining survivors had been struggling, sometimes with considerable heroism, to help their neighbors, many of them elderly people stranded on the roofs of their flooded homes. Reported instances of “looting” were in fact survivors scavenging necessary supplies such as food, water, clothing, and shelter.
The arrival of the National Guard did little or nothing to aid the survivors while in effect criminalizing the survivors' own efforts at helping each other. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) proved ridiculously incompetent. During the recovery, under cover of the emergency, monied interests took control of the city’s reconstruction, driving poor and Black residents out of their historic neighborhoods, further gentrifying the historic French Quarter, and privatizing the school system and other public goods.
By 2007, the journalist Naomi Klein had theorized this process of militarization followed by privatization as “Disaster Capitalism,” and the tendency became more pronounced throughout the early 21st century as disasters became more frequent and governments more authoritarian. In 2010, for example, a devastating earthquake had struck the already poor island country of Haiti. Although citizens and NGOs around the world immediately sent material and financial aid, the U.S. Army dominated the U.N.-sponsored mission, prioritized security, and turned away planes full of medical aid from the overburdened airport in order to bring in more soldiers and military equipment.
Some of the soldiers arrived already infected with cholera and failed to contain their wastes, provoking an epidemic among the weakened, undernourished Haitians. Little was done to rebuild Haiti’s fragile infrastructure (housing, hospitals, roads) and financial aid was diverted into projects like a luxury hotel for aid workers. U.S. military occupation propped up the dictatorial, kleptocratic regime which had tyrannized Haiti for generations, tolerating the Tontons Macoutes death squads, outlawing the popular opposition, and frustrating the poor masses’ yearning for real democracy. Haitians' suffering became still worse in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew leveled entire communities and caused an upsurge in the ongoing cholera epidemic.
During the Ebola epidemic in Africa in 2119, attacks on two treatment centers operated by Doctors Without Borders led the group to close them, and brought a scorching and highly unusual self-assessment by a Dr. Liu, who included her organization among those that had fallen short. She urged medical teams to treat Ebola patients “as humans and not as a biothreat.” She blamed not the communities, but the responders, for failing to win people’s trust. Local residents “hear constant advice to wash their hands, but nothing about the lack of soap and water,” Dr. Liu said. “They see their relatives sprayed with chlorine and wrapped in plastic bags, buried without ceremony. Then they see their possessions burned.”
Another physician from Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Vinh-Kim Nguyen, wrote: “Early in the epidemic, we witnessed armed agents forcibly bringing patients in for treatment. In a population already traumatized by violence and forceful responses to numerous crises, such tactics fuel distrust of responders, which prompts patients to flee and spawns violence.” Dr. Nguyen also noted that when Ebola teams were accompanied by security forces, they were met with fear and distrust, especially of forced vaccination. But when the security forces were absent, people would actually ask to be vaccinated. “The lesson is clear: Guns and public health don’t mix,” he wrote. But the lesson was never learned by governments.
Many other examples could be cited as this pattern persisted through the next decades. Observing generalized government incompetence, brutality, corruption and indifference to their suffering, great masses people around the world began to lose faith in authority - all the more as evidence mounted of governmental responsibility for and complicity in provoking disasters. Such revelations spread widely and quickly across social media on the Internet. (Since the Internet was originally designed to permit the U.S. military to maintain communications in case of war and mass destruction, it actually remained largely operational throughout the Great Collapse.)
The Great Pandemic, which eventually wiped out over a billion people, was widely blamed on the U.S. when it was discovered that the CIA had been testing an experimental virus in Africa. Apparently a few of the victims escaped and the virus spread, while the authorities conspired to cover it up until it was too late. This phenomenon reminded contemporary commentators of the AIDS tragedy, which in the late 20th century ravaged millions while media, medical and government elites remained indifferent. That epidemic eventually led to the self-organization of the Gay community, unleashing a powerful social force. (We are fortunate in having among our Future Historians Sam Friedman, who, at a spry 180, is both a social epidemiologist and a poet, to help us elaborate this particular scenario.) In any case, under the then-operative market system, there was little incentive for pharmaceutical companies, which spent billions annually lobbying to preserve their monopolies, to invest in research on epidemic diseases, which mainly affected poor people who could seldom afford the cost of patented remedies. Research concentrated instead on sexual enhancement, esthetic improvement, longevity, and transhuman devices sold to the rich at a profit at inflated prices.
The pandemics were a catastrophe of planetary proportions. In their wake, famine also developed into a planet-wide catastrophe, and this ultimately led to a planetary response. Sporadic, local food riots gave rise to cooperative self-organization against agribusiness monopolies that hoarded and speculated while people starved. Debt strikes (instead of suicides) broke out among peasants ruined by the need to buy seeds from corporate monopolies and barred from using their own seeds as peasants had done for millennia. Industrial farmers too had been driven to bankruptcy and suicide by the high cost of petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides and other chemical inputs. Monsanto was attacked and shunned, money-lenders were rooted out.
In less than two decades, between pandemics and famines, the world population of 8 billion humans was, according to our best estimates, reduced by more than one-half. One result of the horrific die-off was that unemployment, the Iron Law of capitalist economics, fell nearly to zero for an extended period - for the first time in the Industrial Age. The scarcity of labor put working people at a relative advantage in dealing with their employers, encouraging them to demand better wages and conditions; to struggle and to win as they grew more aware of their strength.
Historians noted that a similar phenomenon had taken place at the close of the Middle Ages, when the Black Death wiped out large swathes of the European population. In the aftermath, peasants gained the upper hand against feudal landowners and forced an end to serfdom in the north and west of Europe. Although some of the more dramatic peasant revolts, such as that Wat Tylor and John Ball in England, were put down, the overall result was a major weakening of landlord power and a temporary flourishing of peasant communities among those who had survived the plague. Ruling elites later resorted to enclosure of common lands and witch-hunts to break the power of the peasantry and especially that of women; these in turn facilitated the rise of capitalism, a new form of oppression.
Pandemics, famines and other catastrophes began to be seen by the victims as the responsibility of the powerful, the rich, the multinational corporations and the governments. Their own suffering and that of their neighbors forcibly opened their eyes. The ruling classes, the 1%-ers, were perceived as responsible for provoking disasters, mishandling them, and profiteering from them. Worldwide, the 99% of ordinary folk on the land and in the towns and cities were increasingly disaffected and held in check only by pro-system media propaganda and ultimately by security forces, which made use of high-tech surveillance of entire populations along with the persecution of journalists, whistle-blowers, and agitators.
There was increasing tension, indeed conflict, between the attempts at self-help, self-organization, and mutual aid that recurrently accompanied the outbreak of disaster situations, and the conduct of the military and civil authorities that imposed themselves by violence, often hampering rescue and reconstruction efforts, and everywhere imposed the interests of private property to the detriment of human rights, indeed of human survival.
This glaring contradiction transformed every catastrophe into a struggle not only against suffering but against authority. Despite government and commercial censorship and propaganda, the evidence of this contradiction circulated through Internet platforms and alternate media and became part of planetary consciousness, paving the way for the eventual emergence of a global uprising of the billions against the billionaires of sufficient strength to overwhelm them and their paid mercenaries and lay the basis for new, democratic, egalitarian societies to arise among the wreckage of the old.
Why did the Great Collapse take so many people by surprise? Although academic specialists in various fields like climatology, geology, economics, agriculture, sociology, politics and even finance (a few old Marxist critics) were warning about impending crises ranging from over-leveraged financial bubbles, to melting icecaps, rising oceans, extinction of coral reefs, peak oil, inequality, global conflicts, homeless refugees, ethnic strife and famines, there was little interdisciplinary study of the myriad ways in which each of these crises would interact with, and frequently aggravate, each other.
The planetary consciousness that humanity was dealing with the crisis of a complex, interconnected system only dawned slowly. Around 2000, the term “Anthropocene” began to be used to mark a new geological epoch in which human activity had begun to have adverse consequences on the entire earth system - above all on the atmosphere, such that mounting levels of carbon dioxide from the worldwide burning of fossil fuels threatened to touch off uncontrolled heating of the planet to levels incompatible with human life. But the term “Collapsology” – the study of the interaction of collapsing systems in various fields – did not come into usage until about 2015.
Nonetheless, by the early 21st century, most of informed world opinion was aware of the impending climate chaos due to growing carbon emissions, despite the massive denial campaign of petroleum lobbies and the governments they controlled. World conferences were held, pious resolutions to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions were endorsed by all nations (with the exception of the biggest polluter, the U.S. under the Trump administration). But carbon emissions continued to rise every year, and few effective measures were taken despite the near-unanimous predictions of climatologists and increasing agitation among citizens’ groups - above all, starting in 2019, strikes and mobilizations of school-age children and youth outraged at what they judged as the criminal indifference on the part of older generations.
As early as the 1970s, scientists working for the petroleum giant Exxon had been warning management in private memos about global warming. The scientists’ modeling correctly predicted that if oil and gas consumption continued to increase it would eventually lead to climate chaos. Their predictions were ignored and their research was suppressed for decades, only becoming known in 2010, thanks to the nonprofit organization Inside Climate News.
As the editors of The Wall Street Journal commented at the time: “More damagingly, the company set a model for the rest of the industry. Today, scientists who say the exact same thing are ridiculed in the business community. Exxon, rather than change its business plan, chose the path of disinformation, denial and delay – just like the tobacco industry faced with the evidence of cancer.”
But the petroleum interests were to prove far more powerful than the tobacco lobby. They dominated a number of authoritarian, kleptocratic petro-states from Saudia Arabia to Russia. They also strongly influenced the U.S. and NATO governments, dictating foreign policy including military action to protect the oil giants’ overseas interests. They were at the nexus of the “military-industrial-complex” – the “deep state” of U.S. imperialism. Thanks to their predominance over other economic sectors (like manufacturing and retailing), they continued to benefit from huge government subsidies and arcane tax privileges, all the while reaping fabulous profits.
The Big Lie of the half-century 1970-2020 was the denial of Anthropogenic (human-generated) Climate Disruption (ACD). This big lie was propagated by the fossil fuel industry, whose profits, indeed whose very existence, were immediately threatened, if the truth should come to light and be acted upon. Having dismissed their own truthful scientists, Big Oil hired bogus “climate specialists” to undermine fast-accumulating reports by commissions of highly respected scientists. Carbon corporations had also long dominated the media through “sponsoring” and pre-censoring radio and TV shows through commercials. The fabricated “controversy” over ACD permitted governments to continue to claim that the danger was still unproven.
So although by the early 21st century the visible effects of global warming (droughts, floods, forest fires, melting icecaps and glaciers, rising seas) could no longer be hidden, ruling elites by and large stuck to the Big Lie that global warming and catastrophic climate change were unproven. Indeed, some claimed that it was a myth cooked up by a conspiracy of liberals, left-wing scientists and/or the Chinese. Although the climatic tipping point was known to be a life and death, existential question for the future of humanity, the evidence of independent scientists was not taken seriously enough, and their conclusions were given lip service at best by world leaders. Instead, in the name of “economic growth,” they continued to enable more fossil fuel production, to stall on implementing even the feeblest attempts to limit it (e.g. the Paris agreement), and to fight bloody wars over the domination of petroleum-rich countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.
As Adolf Hitler asserted in Mein Kampf: “The grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.” The “conspiracy of expert liars” in the case of climate change included the petroleum corporations, the governments and the mainstream press who had been suppressing or obfuscating the truth – although the facts had been “nailed down” for over half a century.
Like Hitler’s Big Lie about the responsibility of the Jews for Germany’s humiliating defeat in WWI, big petroleum’s climate denial lie was backed up by bullies who intimidated potential truth tellers. For example, under capitalism the geology departments of the major research universities were largely funded by petroleum money, and so professors were hardly encouraged to speak out on the necessity to stop burning oil if they who wanted to keep their jobs and their grants. Similarly the major media, dependent on advertising revenues from petroleum and related industries (auto, highway construction, agrobusiness, shipping), were roped into the climate-denial “conspiracy of expert liars.” So it is hardly an accident that although in the early 21st century weather reporting filled up more than 20% of news broadcast time in the U.S., TV “meteorologists” avoided such tainted “politicized” expressions as “global warming” and the “greenhouse effect” and devoted almost no air time to the causes of the increasing climate chaos whose consequences they were describing.
As for the U.S. government, oil states continued to dominate Congress, and the White House had been controlled by oilmen since at least LBJ (1963). In 2017 Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson was named President Trump’s first Secretary of State, and Oklahoma oil-lobbyist Scott Pruitt ruled the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt, who made his career as a paid “expert liar” for the oil companies and who was apparently not very bright, apparently actually believed climate denial, and so he once naively proposed a “public debate” on the forbidden topic. Pruitt’s great idea was promptly quashed by the Trump White House, as such a public debate would have been a “damaging spectacle, creating an unnecessary distraction from the steps the administration had taken to slash environmental regulations.” Any such public debate would inevitably have implicated the military, a major consumer of petroleum, whose primary mission had long been to protect (and if possible expand) U.S. petroleum interests around the world and whose massive budget depended on serving the global interests of the petroleum lobby.
Why did these powerful leaders, special interests, and institutions conspire to lead the planet to self-destruction by any means necessary, including war and fake news? Alas, there is only one possible answer to this question: to preserve the wealth and power of that fraction of the capitalist 1%-ers whose wealth was tied up in carbon deposits beneath the soil.
Why, since they were so rich and powerful, didn’t they ever reverse the course of denial and domination they chose in the 70’s and invest their capital in renewable energy sources? The answer is that their vast wealth took the form of fossil minerals in the ground, whose value could only be realized when they were burned. At the pump a gallon of gas may have been worth two or three dollars, but in the ground it was worthless. As with all commodities under capitalism, the value of carbon deposits was based on what financiers called “futures” – the expected price they would bring when brought to market at some future time. If governments had made the decision to save the planet by converting to renewable energy before it was too late, that “future time” of sales and profits would never have come. The buried minerals would have become what economists called “stranded assets.” Their monetary value, on which the wealth and power of the petroleum corporations depended, would rapidly have sunk and with it the price of petroleum shares. Petroleum shareholders would soon have been as broke as the owners of buggy whip factories the year after Ford introduced the Model T.
Naturally the carbon interests were desperate. For them – and for the military industrial complex which they dominated – there was no turning back. They could only go forward into increased petroleum production, taking their profits at once while leading the rest of the world like lemmings over the cliff of climate catastrophe. From a business point of view, they could have no thought for the human future. Only for petroleum futures. Hence the need to keep repeating the same Big Lie of climate denial.
The Petroleum lobby was able to dominate the world not only because oil (and coal of course) was indispensable for transportation and industry, it also dominated the plastics industry (polluting the oceans with indestructible plastic bags and other such waste) and, most fatally, agriculture. For the industrial agriculture that produced more than half of the world’s food supply in the early 21st century was totally dependent on petroleum-based fertilizers, having turned the exhausted soil into a container for ‘inputs’ (fertilizer, chemical insecticides, pesticides) spread by gigantic petroleum-powered farm machinery.
The petroleum lobby was thus intimately linked with the agro-chemical industry, which produced the pesticides, developed genetically-modified seeds, and which through the enforcement of “intellectual property” rights created a monopoly of seed stocks, which for thousands of years had been set aside by peasant from their harvests to plant for the following year's crop. Monsanto and other such companies sent scientists to gather the native knowledge of peasant farmers around the world and then patented these seeds to prevent their original possessors from planting them without buying them from the Corporation! So that under patent laws adopted by government they lobbied, it became a crime to plant your own seeds on your own land.
Fortunately for our survival, petroleum-based industrial agriculture only produced half what people ate. The rest of the world, the so-called “underdeveloped” world, was still largely dependent on peasant agriculture, mostly carried on by women, who cultivated the land, fed their families, and brought the rest of their produce to local market-places. Moreover, in the industrialized countries, aware consumers had begun rejecting the bland, fattening, unhealthy commercial diets, creating a market for so-called “organic,” untreated food. At the same time, there were movements among young people to go back to the land, become farmers using organic methods, and distribute their produce through non-commercial networks and consumer cooperatives. In China as well, where famine had been chronic throughout every dynasty including that of Mao Tse-tung, desert lands were being brought back to life through the use of Permaculture methods.
Slowly but surely, despite the cut-throat competition of billionaire supermarket corporations which purchased vegetables cheaply at wholesale markets and resold them at ten times the cost, the so-called “slow food” and and “buy local” networks continued to grow. These networks, and the surviving traditional peasant farms, laid the groundwork for the food system we have today. For with the collapse of the petroleum and chemical-based globalized industrial agricultural and distribution system, humanity was able to build on that basis in the face of global famine. But why was there famine in a world where in a country like the U.S., half the food purchased ended up as garbage? Why hunger in poor countries where food was produced and exported in great quantities?
[Here we summarize the arguments of Frances Moore Lappé’s “10 questions about world hunger” transformed into the past. We then borrow texts describing today’s (2019) efforts at permaculture, local food, etc and extrapolate. We give this movement full historical credit for setting the example and laying the groundwork under capitalism, spreading its methods as the crisis deepened, and in a position to transform itself into a new global way of feeding humanity in the crucible of the Great Collapse]
A hungry world fell back into mixed peasant agriculture, organic, permaculture and multi-crop farming began developing all over, from traditional peasant lands to urban gardens. Paradoxically, fewer acres under intensive cultivation began producing larger quantities and variety of foodstuffs than monocrop industrial methods on huge farms. The supermarkets, having been systematically looted, were razed. Their parking lots were dug up and transformed back into farmland. The countryside and villages began repopulating, as much more intensive human labor was required in agriculture. Animal traction replaced oversized petroleum-driven machinery, and animal waste (as well as human) replaced petroleum products as fertilizer.
[Summary to be developed]: Geologists estimate that what was known in the 21st century as “peak oil” had been reached by about 2007. By then, half of the known, easily accessible petroleum deposits in the world had already been used up in the frenzied race for industrial growth. This meant that each new barrel of oil would, over time, cost increasingly more to produce, using unconvential methods of extraction such as refining oil sands, fracking shale oil, and drilling in the deep ocean. All of these entailed enormous damage to the natural and built environments.
Setting aside huge costs which the oil companies, protected by government “regulation” were able to “externalize” (and which we are still struggling to restore), the net result of peak oil was rising costs, so that it required more and more energy to recover and refine each new barrel, thus making petroleum-based sources more costly than non-polluting sources like wind and sun. But wind and sun are free, while the wealth and power of the Petroleum/Military/Industrial/Agrobiz complex depended on a near-monopoly on energy extraction and distribution. So as the world heated up, capitalist governments continued to subsidize oil instead of cheaper ecological alternatives.
Rapidly, petroleum inputs became too costly for the profitable fertilization of small farms, and peasants became debt-slaves to the money-lenders and banks who represented Agrobiz. Even the massive factory farms linked with the vast international supermarket chains and petroleum-based transportation systems that delivered their products were affected. Competition forced them to keep their prices as low as possible, and many went bankrupt or were absorbed by their competitors. The fortunate side of this squeeze was that it gave the price and quality advantage to the networks of small, local, organic farms that were developing everywhere.
Whether under conditions of famine, epidemic, flooding, fire or drought, when disasters struck, ordinary people all over the world generally reacted more or less the same way: by showing compassion and helping each other, neighbors and strangers joining together to save what could be saved. Almost everywhere, informal networks spontaneously sprang up to provide food, shelter, medical assistance, and transportation. Acting locally in response to immediate needs, neighbors appropriated whatever materials were necessary to save lives, feed the children and care for the injured.
An ethos of mutual aid and solidarity, charity and human decency, caring and sharing emerged in almost every disaster-stricken community. Networks formed between communities as aid flowed in from the outside. Individuals who did not see themselves as particularly courageous or generous found themselves taking enormous risks to save the lives of strangers. People emerged from their previous isolation and felt themselves part of a community, no longer alone, both protecting and protected. Common suffering and common struggle created powerful bonds among previous strangers. They discovered new strengths and capacities within themselves, and shed their guilt and inhibitions. Together, they felt a sort of exultation, a sense that their lives had a meaningful purpose, a kind of joy in the midst of sorrow and struggle.
This contagious exaltation had been observed throughout history in revolutionary periods. During the European peasant wars of the 15th through 17th century and the 19th century Taiping Rebellion in China, it had taken the form of religious ecstasy. Karl Marx had described the Communards of revolutionary Paris in 1871: [“storming the heavens, careless of …” [Help CAN’T FIND QUOTE] The classic French sociologist Emile Durkheim labeled this contagious feeling “collective effervescence.”
This revolutionary effervescence showed itself capable not only of infecting individual communities but of leaping across national and cultural boundaries. The contagion of democratic revolutions of 1848, known as “the Springtime of nations,” had spread from Paris across all Europe within days, thanks to the new connectivity of the day: the telegraph and the railroad. And in 1968, in the wake of an international wave of radical uprisings, the contemporary historian George Katsiaficas dubbed this phenomenon (borrowing a phrase from Herbert Marcuse) “the Eros Effect.” [insert quote] In 2009, the writer/activist Rebecca Solnit published a book whose title prefigured the dominant social phenomenon of the Great Collapse and the nature of our own surviving societies: A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disasters.
[Develop here the reversal of accepted wisdom that humans are basically competitive, egotistical and mean - law of jungle lie to bolster capitalism’s inhumanity. Show how Darwin’s ideas of natural selection were distorted by Huxley and especially Spencer, to stress competition and reinforce the negative view of human nature propounded by Hobbes and the atomized economic individual of Locke at the beginning of the modern era. Then quote Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid as a Factor in Evolution. Modern 21st century biological research now proves him right, with discoveries of complexity, interrelation and mutual support of every organism from bacteria and mushrooms to trees and humans. Quote from work of Pablo Servigne the Collapsologist on the same subject. Develop examples narratives of Mutual Aid in disasters.]
Workers were still doing their jobs in emergency situations to help others live, land was taken over and cultivated, available food was distributed. Stockholders’ interests, corporate profits, and the stock market itself were things of the past. Who would bet his wealth on a dead horse? Who would bet his life on a collapsing system?
Split in ruling classes. Many decent technicians, officers, engineers and managers broke ranks with their their peers and joined in as volunteers in disaster relief, bringing with them their skills and experience. Likewise, firefighters and medical personnel pitched in with the communities they lived in, and no longer respected the official hierarchies.
[Needs much development]
Transport workers commandeered trains and trucks to help move people out of and relief supplies and personnel into disaster zones. Communities spontaneously requisitioned and took over resources needed for disaster aid.
Then governments and the powerful would intervene violently with ‘aid’ in the form of armed repression as in New Orleans and Haiti, to defend the private property of the rich and prevent the people from appropriating the resources necessary to survive.
Conflict and dual power developed [SECTION TO DEVELOP BELOW: dual power. Develop how the pre-Collapse work of ecologists developing new forms of permaculture and the gains of the Green New Deal both were important for laying the groundwork for future transformation. Give them full credit.]
Money was no longer the issue, since the global financial collapse. The value of stock certificates and money itself were blown away in the general panic. Middle-class people had run to withdraw their savings and found the bank doors closed. Over-extended banks and other highly leveraged financial institutions found themselves bankrupt and collapsed.
The 1% had nothing left to defend their wealth but the loyalty of their own servants and security personnel, who were increasingly reluctant to risk their lives and kill their countrymen and women for worthless money and uncertain prospects. The majority of security forces had been recruited from the ranks of the masses, underpaid and mistreated by their officers, ordered to kill their own kind in order to protect the property of the absentee owners of sweatshops and luxury apartments.
[What about countries like Egypt with mass armies of poorly-paid, uneducated, peasant soldiers, where the officers as a group owned large amounts of the country’s wealth.]
The national guards and other constabularies would be ordered to repress and kill in defense of a hated system which was beginning to crumble. Their loved ones and relatives were among those they were ordered to repress, and they also feared being murdered in revenge. They began first to look away or play dumb and finally to go over to the side of the community. They went over as whole units, for the soldiers understood that if only a few of them mutinied, they would be found and shot. Soldiers assemblies allied themselves to community assemblies. They would pitch in with disaster aid and relief, while keeping their weapons and access to military materiel.
Soon self-organized militias and local national guard units defending their own communities stood off against mercenaries and elite units of government enforcers, creating a temporary stalemate in which there was little actual violence, given the inevitable consequences of deaths on both sides. In such situations, groups of unarmed women might intervene, approach the government troops, and try to win them over. With the exception of elite units, high-paid mercenary specialists, fanatical ideological militias, they were often successful.
What about geoengineering? Under such circumstances, but only if under the control of a planetary federation of democratic, egalitarian communities and on the advice of the best scientists, some forms of geoengineering would inevitably be discussed (starting with planting trees) and might be effective. Can we imagine ways in which certain techniques might be tested?
Little by little the natural order was re-establishing itself on earth. In the agricultural countries of the South, the peasants had taken back the good lands expropriated by invaders and used to cultivate luxury products for export to rich countries. These export commodities —coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, bananas, spices – had been produced by the labor of impoverished natives reduced to semi-slavery. Their children had ended up in horrible favelas, bidonvilles, slums and urban projects where they lived on garbage. In the name of “free markets,” rich monopolies had ruined peasant markets by flooding them with produce at the lowest prices. That unfair competition was subsidized by the “democratic” governments that offered gross subsidies to big agro-business enterprises.
In Africa today, there are museums devoted to the 'chocolate children'. Pathetic huts, child drawings, photographs and recorded interviews bear witness to a common early 21st Century practice. It was a memorial of the sufferings of parents too poor to feed their own children who ended up selling them to manpower merchants and never seeing them again. These merchants sold them to cocoa cultivators who starved them while making them work endless hours picking cocoa to fulfill contracts with the multinationals. Companies like Nestlé resold these chocolates to children in industrial countries at prices twenty to a hundred times the cost of production. Interviews revealed that none of these children had ever seen, much less tasted a chocolate bar.
During the planetary Emergence, these poor peasants of Africa, Latin America, and Asia organized and struggled to take back their traditional lands. Their first goal was to become self-sufficient nutritionally by planting traditional subsistence crops. At the same time on part of the land, they continued to farm the sugar, cocoa, coffee, spices and other commodities that city workers like to eat, to use for trade. Women had long provided the labor and commercial savvy for agriculture in Africa, and now their energy and experience was united as they took the initiative long monopolized by male profiteers and armed thugs.
Regular trade or barter was re-established spontaneously from the very beginning of the reconstruction period. Sailors and aircrew who brought emergency relief and the technical aid for things like irrigation and communication, didn’t return home with their planes and boats empty. They filled them with good things for workers of the world’s metropoles. Railroaders, truckers, sailors and aviation crews had played a primordial role by bringing aid. After medication and food came tools with teams of aid-workers and technicians working in cooperation with local assemblies. They helped the peasants dig wells, construct cisterns and irrigate. They helped push back the hunger, thirst, and diarrhoea that had for so long tortured the Billions in the south of the planet.
Thus the natural rapport between city and country was re-established almost spontaneously in outbursts of solidarity, mutual help and cooperation. For the first time in five imperialist centuries, nobody was dying of hunger either in the rich fields of the earth or in the slums of great opulent cities.
Today in 2117 we live on a planet where vast desert lands have been reclaimed through irrigation and the revival of long-dormant native seeds, where new forests have been planted to halt erosion, prevent desertification, and absorb CO2 while releasing oxygen, where animal and vegetable waste matter is recycled as nature fertilizer, where permaculture techniques have replaced chemical fertilizers and pesticides, where small farmers flourish and provide fresh, healthy, seasonal produce to local markets which also serve to unite communities, etc, etc.
Yet all this was not only possible, it was already actually happening in a century ago on a small scale in the interstices of capitalist society, visible elements of the new world growing within the old.
We now look back in horrified amazement at the world of 2017 — a planet of continued enclosures where forest people were exterminated and forests cut down to graze cattle for McDonald's burgers, where peasants were legally deprived of the right to plant their own seeds and forced to buy them from global monopolies like Montsanto, where peasants routinely committed suicide to escape the overwhelming burden of debt, where traditional subsistance farmers in Mexico were ruined by the dumping of huge amounts of cheap industrially-produced corn into local markets, where vast factory-farms, owned by banks and conglomerates, were making billions transforming inputs of petroleum-based chemical fertilizers and pesticides into mega-tons of uniformly tasteless produce designed to attract the eye and to remain salable for weeks after harvesting, where agricultural products were transported thousands of miles to markets at a huge cost in carbon pollution, where monopolistic distribution chains paid farmers ridiculously low prices for their produce and suck up enormous profits overcharging customers, where nearly half of this excess produce went to waste in the 'advanced' while famines raged across half the world, where food riots out periodically broke out in Asia, and where the extraction of petroleum for industrial agriculture and the clear-cutting of forests for profitable luxury crops like palm oil contributed massively to global warming and impending climate catastrophe.
Fred-Jamail_ExistentialThreat.pdf Dahr Jamail | Climate Disruption Could Pose “Existential Threat” by 2050 Detailed documentary summary of all the impending disasters as of Oct. 2017 (5 pages). WikiPaper: RG-CataWikiTHEN
FRED - Fleming_Fixing the Sky.docx - Fleming, Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control (book excerpts - 2 pp.) - “For several centuries now, planners, politicians, scientists, and soldiers have proposed schemes for the purposeful manipulation of weather and climate, usually for commercial or military purposes. Their stories have tragic, comedic, and heroic aspects. Control of weather and climate is a perennial issue rooted in hubris and tragedy; it is a pathological issue, illustrating what can go wrong in science; and it is a pressing public policy issue with widespread social implications.”
RG- www.truth-out.org/news/item/42309-our-summer-of-fire-and-the-fires-to-come “The smoke and fires this summer were a wake-up call about how quickly things can change in the natural environment and how large the stakes are. But is this devastating summer just the beginning of much worse things to come? And if this is the harbinger of the future, what will this mean for the health of humans and ecosystems?”
Hunziker_EcologicalCollapse.docx A recent landmark study that investigated alarming loss of insects is leaving scientists dumbfounded, deeply troubled, potentially the biggest-ever existential threat, risking ecosystem collapse too soon for comfort. In contrast to global warming, this may be much more imminently dangerous across-the-board to terrestrial life. An enormous loss of insect population, almost decimation in some parts of the world, threatens the life-giving structure of the ecosystem. This is a deadly serious problem!
RG- THE FOOD CRISIS - based on Holt-Gimenez-Food Crisis to Food Sovereignty.pdf Abstract: “The current global food crisis—decades in the making—is a crushing indictment against capitalist agriculture and the corporate monopolies that dominate the world’s food systems. The role of the industrial agrifood complex in creating the crisis (through the monopolization of input industries, industrial farming, processing, and retailing) and the self-serving neoliberal solutions proposed by the world’s multilateral institutions and leading industrial countries are being met with skepticism, disillusion, and indifference by a general public more concerned with the global economic downturn than with the food crisis. Neoliberal retrenchment has met growing resistance by those most affected by the crisis—the world’s smallholder farmers.”
FRED - Moore-Food and Negative Value.docx - Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life, excerpts from ch. 10 - “RoundUp Ready crops are not protecting yield so well, either. “Superweeds,” especially but not only in GMO soy, have evolved to survive the onslaught of the famed herbicide. 161 These superweeds stand in for a much more radical shift—the transition from surplus value to negative-value—that we explore in the next section. What became clear, by the late 2000s, was that the agro-biotech expansion was actively limiting the space for a new agricultural revolution. The superweeds’ dramatic, if still-regional, negative impact on labor productivity points towards a broader set of forces undermining neoliberalism’s Cheap Food regime.”
Monsanto Weed Killer Divides Farmers.pdf
FRED - Seymour_Oceans of Acid.docx - Richard Seymour, “Oceans of Acid” - “Ocean acidification has been established in study after study, with serious and wide-ranging consequences. Here, for the perplexed, or anyone who would simply wants to begin their seasonal depression a little early this year, is what is happening. We release about 38.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. A quarter of that is dissolved into the oceans, thus dampening capitalogenic climate change. But the chemical reactions that produces are lethal for marine life. This life, as it happens, produces most of the oxygen that we breathe. It was oceanic cells that oxidised the atmosphere in the first place. And it is responsible for at least half of all 'primary production' on the planet – that is, the synthesis of organic compounds using energy from the sun.”
FRED - NYTimes-OliveOil.docx - How Climate Change Is Playing Havoc With Olive Oil (and Farmers) - “Gone are the days when you could count on the mild “mezze stagioni,” or half-seasons, that olives rely on before and after the heat. Gone, too, is the cycle you could count on: one year good, next year not good. Harvests have been bad three of the last five years, subject to what Vito Martielli, an analyst with Rabobank, based in Utrecht, the Netherlands, called weather-related “shocks.” And with growing demand, wholesale prices have gone up. No one will go hungry if there’s not enough olive oil on the market. But the impact of climate change on such a hardy and high-end product is a measure of how global warming is beginning to challenge how we grow food.“
BULLETIN OF ATOMIC SCIENTISTS - The lowest point for the Doomsday Clock was 1953, when the clock was set to 2 minutes until midnight after the U.S. and the Soviet Union began testing hydrogen bombs. In the years after, the clock’s time has fluctuated from 17 minutes in 1991 to 3 minutes in 2016. Rise of nationalism, United States President Donald Trump's comments over nuclear weapons, the threat of a renewed arms race between the U.S. and Russia, and the expressed disbelief in the scientific consensus over climate change by the Trump Administration. This is the first use of a fraction in the time, and the Clock's closest approach to midnight since 1953.
Wikipedia - Health in Belarus and Ukraine has shown disturbing trends following the Chernobyl disaster. In Belarus, incidence of congenital defects had risen by 40% within six years of the accident, to the point that it became the principal cause of infant mortality.:52[unreliable medical source?] There was a substantial increase in digestive, circulatory, nervous, respiratory and endocrine diseases and cancers, correlated with areas of high radioactive contamination, and in one especially contaminated district of Belarus, 95% of children were in 2005 reported to have at least one chronic illness.:129, 199[better source needed] The Ukrainian Ministry of Health estimated in 1993 that roughly 70% of its population were unwell, with large increases in respiratory, blood and nervous system diseases.:27[unreliable medical source?] By the year 2000, the number of Ukrainians claiming to be radiation 'sufferers' (poterpili) and receiving state benefits had jumped to 3.5 million, or 5% of the population. Many of these are populations resettled from contaminated zones, or former or current Chernobyl plant workers…Poor or inaccessible statistics has meant that causal connections are very difficult to make in both Belarus and Ukraine. It has been observed that Belarus in particular actively suppresses or ignores health-related research…Under Soviet rule, the extent of radiation injury was systematically covered up. Most cases of acute radiation sickness (ARS) were disguised as ‘Vegetovascular dystonia’ (VvD), a Soviet classification for a type of panic disorder with possible symptoms including heart palpitations, sweating, tremors, nausea, hypotension or hypertension, neurosis, spasms and seizures: symptoms which resemble the neurological effects of ARS.
(weapons and powerplants) wikipedia - “On 5 July 2012, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) found that the causes of the accident had been foreseeable, and that the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), had failed to meet basic safety requirements such as risk assessment, preparing for containing collateral damage, and developing evacuation plans. On 12 October 2012, TEPCO admitted for the first time that it had failed to take necessary measures for fear of inviting lawsuits or protests against its nuclear plants….In 2014 Japan enacted the State Secrecy Law. The Fukushima incident falls under this law and, as a “state secret”, independent investigations and reports are forbidden by law.