Capitalism and Degrowth

SUBHEAD: Beware of cultural constructs that make the status quo appear natural.

By Susan Paulson on 22 September 2016 for DeGrowth -

Image above: Promotional graphic for poster of Budapest 2016 Degrowth Conference where Susan Paulson made this presentation. From (
What is capitalism?
A kind of state?
An institution?
Some values?
A power structure?
A Culture?

What governs capitalism?
Supply and demand
Invisible hand
Enclosure of land
The drive to expand
Market mechanism
Class schism
The moral virtue of productivism.

Entrepreneurial quest for
Technological success in
Pursuit of profit.

Laissez faire!
Free market
Free trade
Free enterprise
Freedom to buy
Wage slavery
And debt.

Individual self-interest!
Cut throat competition
Eat or be eaten
Grow or die.

I think about capitalism as a moment. A blink in time. Organic life has thrived on earth for four billion years. Modern humans have been walking around for some 200,000 years, looking a lot like you and me. That magical moment of capitalism dawned just 500 hundred years ago with European colonial expansion that enabled the rise of fossil-fueled industrial economies.

Vital to that rise are hierarchical systems of class, gender and race that interact with markets to engineer—and to justify—unequal exchange .Those who engage in markets from superior positions get more for their money. Ecological value flows toward them and wealth accumulates.

Those who sell labor and other resources from inferior positions tend to get drained. Degraded. Deforested. Eroded. Impoverished. Exhausted.

Net cultural exchange has flowed in the other direction: capitalist practices, values and myths have been impelled far and wide, with scant return of other traditions. Cultural features of capitalism now seem so omnipresent that it is difficult to imagine and to forge alternatives.

The most ingenious maneuver of modernity is to propagate the perception that this moment fills all horizons. As a result, political left and right, pro-growth and degrowth, slug it out in a confined capitalocentric arena.

The biggest challenge faced by degrowth is the shallow historical depth and narrow cultural scope that circumscribe contemporary debates. How to break out?

(1) Debunk myths that naturalize features of capitalism, (2) learn from all kinds of socionatural worlds, (3) forge systems driven by desires other than growth.
Degrowth is denounced as ecofascism:ideologically-driven imposition that would force unwilling victims to sacrifice their God-given freedoms and betray innate self-interests. Capitalism, in contrast, is perceived as apolitical and morally neutral; markets, in particular, appear as timeless mechanisms through which all humans freely organize livelihoods and establish value. Karl Polanyi (1944) showed they are anything but.

The commodification of labor and nature, together with the colonization of human practice and worldview by market-relations and money-value, are historical exceptions brutally imposed in 18th and 19th century Britain in efforts to “mold human nature” for industrial growth.

Moving to late 20th century, David Harvey (2007) and others have exposed the formidable political incursions enacted to force expansion of “free” market relations into the most isolated parts of the world and the most intimate realms of human intercourse.

Our stubborn blindness to these and other historical details is enabled by certain architectural features of Western language, science and philosophy, notably: hierarchical binaries.

Binaries of white over non-white, man over woman, human over other nature are engraved in the world in ways that make it difficult to question unequal exchange and exploitation, even from the position of those most exploited.

The nature-culture binary marks thinking humans as superior over instinct-driven beasts; it also cements as “natural instinct” (therefore unchangeable) those aspects of human life that should not be questioned.

Today, the conviction that human biology is responsible for the insatiable drive to increase production and consumption is fostered by powerful cultural and scientific narratives.

Featured myths include Homo economicus, the innately rational agent who always maximizes utility for personal gain; Adam Smith’s “natural propensity” to truck and barter, and that selfish gene that makes each of us crave control over resources and strive to take more than our share, condemning to tragedy any attempts at commons management.

Even the Anthropocene is portrayed as a result of human evolution! Teleological narratives surrounding climate change are exemplified by Steffen, Crutzen and McNeill (2007, 614) who write: “the first use of fire by our bipedal ancestors, belonging to the genus Homo erectus, occurred a couple of million years ago.”

And“The mastery of fire by our ancestors provided humankind with a powerful monopolistic tool unavailable to other species, that put us firmly on the long path towards the Anthropocene.”

As Malm and Holmberg (2014, 65) point out, just as the power to shape planetary climate passes from nature into the realm of humans, it is re-naturalized as innate “human nature.”

Beware of cultural constructs that make the status quo appear natural.

Antonio Gramsci (1971) taught us to beware the power of cultural constructs that make the status quo appear natural and inevitable. He also noted that historical crises can destabilize that power, opening transformative possibilities. Let’s seize this opportunity to shake up those myths. 

Learning from all kinds of socio-natural worlds expands our historical depth and cultural breadth. Archeological and ethnographic studies demonstrate that diverse hunter-gatherer-fisher cultures with extremely low societal metabolism and little or no market activity have thrived throughout human history and still today. Certainly they’ve impacted and co-constructed ecosystems in many ways– but there’s no sign of them changing the course of earth systems.

Evidence points to gradual expansion in per capita societal metabolism in some populations, starting around 10,000 years ago with the dawn of agriculture and urbanism, followed by much steeper increases just a few hundred years ago with the moment of capitalism, then a miraculous erection of supercharged growth in the late twentieth century, accompanied by skyrocketing atmospheric concentration of CO2.

Putting that latter moment in deeper historical and broader cultural context reveals the absurdity of claims that the ability to make fire (evolved two million years ago) inexorably led to human destruction of earth systems in the mid 20th century, when Geologists mark the beginning of the Anthropocene.

It also challenges the common message that this new era was provoked by humanity as a whole (rather than a minority group or social system).

Cross cultural awareness can help us answer questions like: “How can humanity progress without capitalist motivation?” And, “How can non-expanding economies even sustain human society?” I’ve been learning with a network of scholar-activists working in 15 countries with communities trying to thrive equitably with low or decreasing societal metabolism.

Some of the countries boast booming economic and material growth, others face postgrowth, or having missed out on growth altogether.

Whereas many participants in this conference promote degrowth as a purposeful project, we also pay attention to degrowth as an unintended consequence, not necessarily welcomed, and not always recognized as a consequence of growth elsewhere.

We find promising practices and meanings in long-sustained arrangements, among forced adaptations, and amid innovations toward new visions. You can learn about these diverse cultural paths in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Political Ecology on Degrowth, Culture and Power.

The purpose of these studies is not to promote a return to primitive life or third world conditions. On the contrary, awareness of many possible modes of human existence widens horizons for building unprecedented futures. We turn now to the furnace where those futures are forged.

We’ve made clear that behaviors and values that drive capitalist growth are not natural; they are artifacts of recent systems of culture and power. But there is something about human biology that is relevant here.

Creatures interacting in the earth’s ecosystems display amazing characteristics evolved to meet their needs and to assure their descendants’ survival. Spotted salamanders use solar power, Atlantic wolf fish manufactures antifreeze, and African dung beetles navigate with the Milky Way.

Cacti grow spines to defend their juicy stems against succulent-eaters, and nettles puncture predators (and passers-by), injecting poison into their wounds. Relative to those of other creatures, human bodies do not shine as particularly strong, quick or tough.

What does stand out is a biophysical capacity for symbolic thought and communication that enables usto collaboratively develop cultural systems that survive the individual organism and, in turn, shape the production of new generations of Homo sapiens, their habits, and their habitats.

These uniquely human systems take the form of languages, religions, and sciences; production, kinship and gender systems. They are our most fundamental commons. That is where the growth imperative came from, and that is what we are already changing to support equitable and pleasurable degrowth.

Video above: Evening plenary - Capitalism and Degrowth From (

This presentation was part of the plenary session “Capitalism and Degrowth“. Watch this conference session on our YouTube Channel


Gramsci, A. 1971.Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. New York: International Publishers.

Harvey, D. 2007. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Malm, A. and A. Hornborg. 2014.The geology of mankind? A critique of the Anthropocene narrative. The Anthropocene Review 1(1): 62-69.

Polanyi, K. 1944. The Great Transformation. New York: Farrar & Rinehart.

Steffen W, Crutzen PJ and McNeill JR (2007) The Anthropocene: Are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature? Ambio36: 614–621.

• Susan Paulson spent many years in Latin America, researching and teaching about ways in which gender, class and ethnoracial systems interact with biophysical environments, influencing the development of bodies, landscapes and ecosystems (including humans). Books she has written/edited include Masculinities and Femininities in Latin America’s Uneven Development (Routledge 2015), After living and working for more than 20 years outside her home country of USA, she joined the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies in 2014.


Tokyo damaged by nuclear pellet rain

SUBHEAD: Intensely radioactive glass pellets rained down on Tokyo from Fukushima explosions with impact on human health.

By Admin on 28 June 2016 for ENE News -

Image above: Still fame of simulation of radioactive particles clinging to living cell structures. From video below.

[IB Publisher's Note: I know this article is old (June 2016), but it is still informative. We've known for a while about the radioactive elements including cesium embedded in tiny glass particles or carbon buckyballs. That does not mean the issue has gone away and does not need attention. These particles will persist and be a threat for a very long time.]

Public Release from Goldschmidt Conference, Jun 26, 2016: New research shows that most of the radioactive fallout which landed on downtown Tokyo a few days after the Fukushima accident was concentrated and deposited in non-soluble glass microparticles, as a type of ‘glassy soot’. This meant that most of the radioactive material was not dissolved in rain and running water…

The particles also concentrated the radioactive caesium (Cs), meaning that in some cases dose effects of the fallout are still unclear… Japanese geochemists… analysed samples collected from within an area up to 230 km from the FDNPP…

It had been anticipated that most of the radioactive fallout would have been flushed from the environment by rainwater. However… most of the radioactive caesium in fact fell to the ground enclosed in glassy microparticles…

These particles… formed during the molten core-concrete interaction inside the primary containment vessel in the Fukushima reactor units 1 and/or 3. Because of the high Cs content in the microparticles, the radioactivity per unit mass was as high as ~4.4×10^11 Bq/g [440,000,000,000,000 Bq/kg]…

Analysis from several air filters collected in Tokyo on 15 March 2011 showed that 89% of the total radioactivity was present as a result of these caesium-rich microparticles, rather than the soluble Cs, as had originally been supposed.

Discovery (Seeker), Jun 27, 2016: Fukushima Accident Rained Glass Particles on Tokyo… Most of the radioactive fallout that descended upon downtown Tokyo in the days after the March 2011 accident [was] glass microparticles — essentially, glass-filled soot. As a result, the fallout, which contained concentrated radioactive cesium, wasn’t dissolved by rainfall, and probably lingered in the environment…

Japanese scientists thought that most of it would be washed away by rainwater. Instead, analysis… revealed that most of the radioactive cesium in fact fell to the ground enclosed in glassy microparticles.

ANI, Jun 28, 2016: Research indicates Fukushima radioactive fallout may be worse than expected… Most of the radioactive fallout, which landed on downtown Tokyo a few days after the Fukushima accident, was concentrated and deposited in non-soluble glass microparticles, as a type of ‘glassy soot’…

Inverse, Jun 26, 2016: Radioactive “Glassy Soot” Fell Over Tokyo After the Fukushima Meltdown… The findings… show that the radioactive fallout… has been poorly understood. Previously, it was assumed that most of the radiation that fell dissolved in rain. This would mean that it would wash out of the soil and through the environment…

These tiny glass particles entered the air and fell as soot on the surrounding region. Because the radioactive molecules are contained in an insoluble medium, they will not wash out of the soil with rainwater to the same extent…

Beyond the consequences for the environment, there are significant consequences for human health. Breathing caesium encased in glass particles may have a very different impact from exposure to it as radioactive rain…

Image above: Video on the creation and contamination created by radioactice nano-particles from Fukushima affecting health. From (

Scientists from Fukushima Univ., Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Stanford Univ., etc, June 2016: Cesium-rich micro-particles unveil the explosive events in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant — Cesium-rich micro-particles (CsMPs) retain novel information on the molten core-concrete interaction… CsMPs specimens were discovered… in atmospheric particulates collected at Suginami, Tokyo… [Note: "The author has requested that this abstract is not discussed on social media."]

Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya, Kyushu Univ.: “This work changes some of our assumptions about the Fukushima fallout… This may mean that our ideas of the health implications should be modified“.

Prof. Bernd Grambow, Director of SUBATECH laboratory, France: “[The observations] presented here are extremely important. They may change our understanding of the mechanism of long range atmospheric mass transfer of radioactive caesium from the reactor accident at Fukushima to Tokyo, but they may also change the way we assess inhalation doses from the caesium microparticles inhaled by humans. Indeed, biological half- lives of insoluble caesium particles might be much larger than that of soluble caesium“.

See also:
Nuclear fuel found 15 miles from Tokyo — Fukushima uranium in ‘glassy’ spheres flew over 170 km
Fukushima Nano Bucky Ball Hot Particles Filled With Uranium, Plutonium, And Cesiu

Ea O KA Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: High radioactivity in Tokyo  8/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima, What me worry? 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
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Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11

On the Thermodynamic Black Hole

SOURCE:  Ray Songtree (
SUBHEAD: Empty supermarkets, empty gas stations, even empty ATMs and pubs with no beer.

By Mike Stasse on 23 September 2016 for Damn the Amtrix-

Image above: An artist’s interpretation of what a black hole looks like. From (

I recently heard Dmitry Orlov speaking to Jim Kunstler regarding the Dunbar Number in which he came up with the term ‘Thermodynamic Trap’. Transcript here (

As the ERoEI of every energy source known to humanity starts collapsing over the energy cliff, I thought it was more like a Thermodynamic Black Hole, sucking all the energy into itself at an accelerating pace… and if you ever needed proof of this blackhole, then Alice Friedemann’s latest book, “When the trucks stop running” should do the trick.

Chris Martenson interviewed Alice in August 2016 about the future of the trucking industry in the face of Peak Oil, especially now the giant Bakken shale oil field in the US has peaked, joining the conventional oil sources. This podcast is available for download here.

Image above: Chris Martenson on "When the Trucks Stop Running" by Alice Friedman ( From (

Alice sees no solutions through running trucks with alternative energy sources or fuels. I see an increasing number of stories about electric trucks, but none of them make any sense because the weight of the batteries needed to move such large vehicles, especially the long haul variety, is so great it hardly leaves space for freight.

A semi trailer hauling 40 tonnes 1000km needs 1000L of liquid fuel to achieve the task. That’s 10,000kWh of electric energy equivalent.

Just going by the Tesla Wall data sheet, a 6.4kWh battery pack weighs in at 97kg. So at this rate, 10,000kWh would weigh 150 tonnes….. so even to reduce the weight of the battery bank down to the 40 tonne carrying capacity of the truck, efficiency would have to be improved four fold, and you still wouldn’t have space for freight..

There are not enough materials on the entire planet to make enough battery storage to replace oil, except for Sodium Sulfur batteries, a technology I had never heard of before. A quick Google found this…..:
The active materials in a Na/S battery are molten sulfur as the positive electrode and molten sodium as the negative. The electrodes are separated by a solid ceramic, sodium alumina, which also serves as the electrolyte. This ceramic allows only positively charged sodium-ions to pass through.

During discharge electrons are stripped off the sodium metal (one negatively charged electron for every sodium atom) leading to formation of the sodium-ions that then move through the electrolyte to the positive electrode compartment. The electrons that are stripped off the sodium metal move through the circuit and then back into the battery at the positive electrode, where they are taken up by the molten sulfur to form polysulfide.

The positively charged sodium-ions moving into the positive electrode compartment balance the electron charge flow. During charge this process is reversed. The battery must be kept hot (typically > 300 ºC) to facilitate the process (i.e., independent heaters are part of the battery system). In general Na/S cells are highly efficient (typically 89%).

Conclusion: Na/S battery technology has been demonstrated at over 190 sites in Japan.

More than 270 MW of stored energy suitable for 6 hours of daily peak shaving have been installed. The largest Na/S installation is a 34-MW, 245-MWh unit for wind stabilization in Northern Japan. The demand for Na/S batteries as an effective means of stabilizing renewable energy output and providing ancillary services is expanding.

U.S. utilities have deployed 9 MW for peak shaving, backup power, firming windcapacity, and other applications. Projections indicate that development of an additional 9 MW is in-progress.
I immediately see a problem with keeping batteries at over 300° in a post fossil fuel era… but there’s more…

Alice has calculated that Na/S battery storage for just one day of US electricity generation would weigh 450 million tons, cover 923 square miles (2390km², or roughly the area of the whole of the Australian Capital Territory!), and cost 41 trillion dollars….. and according to European authorities, 6 to 30 days of storage is what would be required in the real world.

The disruption to the supply lines of our ‘just in time’ world caused by trucks no longer running is too much to even think about.

Empty supermarket shelves, petrol stations with no petrol, even ATMs with no money and pubs with no beer come to mind.

I remember seeing signs on the Bruce highway back in Queensland stating “Trucks keep Australia going”.  Well, oil keeps trucks running; for how much longer is the real question.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Can Electric Trucks Replace Diesel 8/22/16


Kauai and Niihau endangered

SOURCE: Jon Letman (
SUBHEAD: Proposal for Marine Corps tilt-rotor Osprey basing of on Kauai and Niihau.

By Karen Waller on 23 September 2016 for ManTech -

Image above: Danger? What danger? Fleetwide order to Osprey pilots to wave off any landing in a dust cloud they can’t complete within 30 seconds. Needless to say, west Kauai and Niihau are covered in dry red dust and sand. From (

[Jon Letman Note: Please see the below notice which I received from a friend on Oahu this morning. This is a call for feedback on the possible future use of areas on KAUAI and NIIHAU for training with MV-22 OSPREY aircraft and CH-53 and H-1 helicopters. I am still trying to get more information but it appears there is a one-month commenting period starting today (9/23/16) until 10/23/16. This proposal requires immediate attention, careful scrutiny and a strong public response.
Source: The September 23, 2016 issue of The Environmental Notice (State of Hawaii Office of Environmental Control). Thank you for your immediate attention.]

[IB Publisher's Note: This needs to be stopped now. The old Pacific Missile Range Facility is being turned into an active military base step-by-step. Stationing the Aegis missile system and deploying the MV-22 Osprey aircraft at the site are major steps leading to the further full militarization of West Kauai and Niihau. Ultimately this will mean more noise and traffic, years of highway "improvements", new military housing sprawl - as well as the dissolution of an important manifestation of Hawaiian culture still intact in Hawaii on Niihau and Kauai. Terrain-following air routes within the project study area are in the mountain valleys east of Barking Sands (The Napali coast). On Kauai the impact of tourist helicopters is bad enough already - but the addition of military training of the crash prone all-in-one Osprey aircraft will be an environmental and tourist disaster for the otherwise isolated Napali Coast valleys and ridges. If you love Kauai resist this military plan. Fuck the Navy!]

From the Environmental Notice by US Marine Corps

Environmental Assessment (EA) for U.S. Marine Corps Aviation Training in Hawaii.

Commanding Officer Marine Corps Base Hawaii
Box 63002, Kāneohe Bay, HI 96863-3002

Status Comment Period September 23, 2016 – October 23, 2016.
Written comments can be provided by email to or by mail to the agency contact address above.

Environmental assessment the islands of Kauai and Niihau  

Project Manager Environmental Assessment
USMC Aviation Training on Kauai and Niihau
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific
258 Makalapa Drive, Suite 100, Pearl Harbor, HI 96860-3134

Karen Waller - Public Relations Flack
ManTech Corporation - "Leading the Convergence of Security and Technology"
420 Stevens Avenue, Suite 300, Solana Beach, CA 92075

The proposed action involves Terrain-Following (TERF) and Confined Area Landing (CAL) training on the islands of Kauai and Niihau, in support of MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, and CH-53 and H-1 helicopters that are either based at MCBH or transiting through Hawaii.

Two TERF routes currently exist within the project study area: one on Kauai, in the mountain valleys east of Barking Sands; and one on Niihau. On Kauai, there is an existing single-aircraft helicopter landing zone (LZ) at Makaha Ridge, and a 4-aircraft LZ within the TERF route. 

These areas have not been used in recent years by the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), which proposes to re-establish their use, and to establish up to four new CAL LZs on the northern end of Niihau.

The proposed action is needed to address a lack of TERF and CAL training areas for USMC tilt-rotor and helicopter aircraft crews in Hawaii. Pursuant to NHPA 36 CFR §800.2(d) and 800.3(b) and (e), MCBH solicits questions or comments on this undertaking and its effects on historic properties.

Members of the public, and members of Native Hawaiian Organizations, who wish to be involved as consulting parties in the NHPA Section 106 process associated with this undertaking must provide written notification (letter or e-mail, with phone contact) within 30 days of the publication of this notice.

Deadly Osprey crash in Hawaii
SUBHEAD: The crash sparked further concern in Okinawa Prefecture over the safety of the tilt-rotor aircraft stationed on the densely populated island.

By Martin Fackler on 18 May 2015 for the Japan Times -

Image above: Debris rises as a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey aircraft, not pictured, makes a hard landing at Bellows Air Force Station near Waimanalo, Hawaii, on Sunday. One marine died in the accident and more than a dozen others were taken to a hospital, U.S. media reported. From original article.

The deadly crash of a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Hawaii on Sunday sparked further concern in Okinawa Prefecture over the safety of the tilt-rotor aircraft, 24 of which have been deployed at a controversial U.S. base in the island prefecture.

The Osprey made a hard landing in Hawaii on Sunday, killing one marine and sending 21 other people to hospitals as dark smoke from the resulting fire billowed into the sky.

The injuries ranged from critical to minor, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific spokesman Capt. Alex Lim said.

The tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey, which can take off and land like a helicopter but flies like an airplane, had a “hard-landing mishap” at about 11:40 a.m., the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit said in a statement.

The cause of the crash was under investigation, Lim said.

“I’ve renewed my sense of fear that we don’t know when an Osprey flying overhead might go down in a residential area,” Chieko Oshiro, a 61-year-old resident near the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan. Okinawa Prefecture, where the 24 Ospreys are deployed.

Hiroshi Ashitomi, the co-leader of a civic group opposed to the relocation of the Futenma base to a coastal area of the city of Nago on the same island, called the aircraft “defective,” and said they should not be deployed anywhere in Japan.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that Japan has asked the United States to provide information about the crash as soon as possible.

“The government intends to steadily assert its stance to the U.S. side that maximum care should be taken with regard to safety,” Suga said.

Meanwhile, news of the crash sent a shock wave through the Defense Ministry, coming just days after Tokyo and Washington announced that the U.S. military will deploy 10 CV-22 aircraft, the air force’s version of the Osprey, to Tokyo’s Yokota Air Base beginning in 2017.

“The crash occurred at the worst possible time,” a senior ministry official said.

The crash also comes just over a week before Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga plans to visit Hawaii and exchange views with the U.S. state’s governor over base issues.

Onaga, who will visit Hawaii from May 27 before traveling on to the U.S. mainland to press Okinawa’s case in Washington, has vowed to stop the construction of a new air base off Nago’s Henoko district to replace the Futenma base.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is based at Camp Pendleton in California and is in Hawaii for about a week for training. The Osprey was being used for training at Bellows Air Force Station on Oahu at the time of the hard landing.

Kimberly Hynd said she was hiking the popular Lanikai Pillbox Trail and could see three Osprey aircraft performing maneuvers from her vantage point in the hills above Bellows. She noticed them kicking up dirt but then saw smoke and fire. Hynd, who estimated she was 2 to 3 miles (3-5 km) away, didn’t hear the sound of a large crash.

“It looked like they were doing some sort of maneuver or formation — and so I was taking pictures of it because usually you can’t see them that close up,” Hynd said.

Photos and video posted on social media showed flames and deep black smoke emanating from what was described as the crash site.

Ospreys may be equipped with radar, lasers and a missile defense system. Each can carry 24 marines into combat.

Built by Boeing Co. and Bell, a unit of Textron Inc., the Osprey program was nearly scrapped after a history of mechanical failures and two test crashes that killed 23 marines in 2000.

Fierce opposition to Osprey in Okinawa

By Martin Fackler on 1 October 2012 for the New York Times -

Image above: Two Osprey aircraft arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa, this Monday. From original article.

The United States military sent the first batch of a sophisticated but accident-plagued new aircraft to an air base on Okinawa on Monday, going forward with its planned deployment despite unexpectedly fierce opposition by islanders and warnings that any crash could threaten the huge American military presence on the island.

The first six of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, the Japanese Defense Ministry said. It said another six of the ungainly-looking aircraft were due to arrive this week at the base, in the center of the crowded city of Ginowan. The United States is counting on the deployment to serve as part of the Obama administration’s plan to increase the American military presence in the region and offset the growing strength of China and a nuclear-armed North Korea.

The Osprey — whose tilting rotors allow it to take off like a helicopter but fly like a fixed-wing aircraft — flies four times as far as the Vietnam-era helicopters it is replacing, putting the more than 15,000 Marines on Okinawa within reach of potential hot spots like Taiwan and a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

The Japanese government has backed the deployment, apparently at least partly out of hopes that it will help deter China’s recently assertive claims to those islands, which Japan controls. The United States Defense Department says it has displayed sensitivity to local feelings by delaying the Osprey deployment as long as possible.

However, both Washington and Tokyo are facing an unusually strong pushback from many of the 1.4 million residents on Okinawa, including a large demonstration and acts of civil disobedience of a sort not seen here in decades. A rally last month drew as many as 100,000 people, the largest anti-base demonstration on the island since a similar-size one that followed the rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl by three American servicemen in 1995.

On the surface, the outrage has been fueled by concerns about the safety of the aircraft, which had a troubled development and suffered two crashes earlier this year. In the lobby of the Ginowan City Hall, a large display warned of the risks by describing a 1959 crash by an American jet that killed 17 people, including 11 schoolchildren.

But Okinawan political leaders and analysts said the issue had become a lightning rod for deeper grievances over how Washington and Tokyo have imposed what islanders see as an excessive base burden on this tropical island.

Anger has spread beyond those island residents who oppose the base from the left. Even conservatives, who have traditionally backed Japan’s postwar security alliance with the United States, warn that Okinawans could now turn violently against not only Futenma but also the entire American presence.

“Anger has been building up like hot magma beneath the surface, and the Osprey could be what finally causes an eruption,” said Takeshi Onaga, the mayor of Naha, the Okinawan capital, and a member of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party. “If they force the Osprey onto us, this could lead to a collapse of the U.S.-Japan alliance.”

Of course, opposition to the American bases is nothing new in Okinawa, and it remains unclear how far the protesters would actually go.

However, most analysts in Japan and the United States seem to agree that Okinawan anger is reaching levels unseen in recent times. They say this has put the United States in a difficult position. “You cannot let politics dictate what platform you use,” said James Schoff, a former senior adviser on East Asia affairs for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “But in this environment, an accident is going to be like setting a match to a tinderbox.”

Japanese officials say they have tried to allay Okinawan concerns by conducting their own inquiries into the recent crashes, with the inquiries accepting the Pentagon’s findings that pilot error was to blame. During a visit to Tokyo last month, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta signed an agreement to allow the Osprey to fly in Japan with restrictions aimed at ensuring safety.

However, those efforts have failed to appease the island’s deeply rooted anger. With more than half of the 50,000 American military personnel in Japan stationed there, many Okinawans say their island remains a virtual military colony, long after the United States returned it to Japan in 1972. Okinawans say this has led to increased awareness about the discrimination that they say Okinawa has suffered since Japan seized the once-independent kingdom in the 1870s.

The sense of alienated outrage adds to the longstanding anger over Futenma, which has become a symbol of the Japanese failure to ease Okinawa’s burden. Tokyo and Washington still have yet to put into place a 16-year-old deal to relocate the base from Ginowan, which was originally signed in response to the 1995 rape case.

Three years ago, frustrations reached a new high when the left-leaning Yukio Hatoyama, then the prime minister of Japan, raised hopes by promising to move the base off Okinawa, only to renege in the face of domestic and American pressure.

Okinawan emotions remain raw at what was seen as Mr. Hatoyama’s betrayal

Okinawa got a taste of civil disobedience over the weekend, when police officers with riot shields towed more than a dozen vehicles that protesters had used to briefly seal off the Futenma base’s three gates — something opponents say they have not tried before.

“If they impose that dangerous thing on us, then all hell will break loose,” said Satoru Oshiro, 48, a labor union employee who joined a dozen protesters to use two vans to block the base’s Nodake Gate on a recent morning. “Enough is enough.”

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Unproved Osprey on Kauai 8/21/12


Bayer & Syngenta poisoning bees

SUBHEAD: Bayer and Syngenta criticized for secrecy after unpublished research linked high doses of their products to damage to bee colonies.

By Damian Carrington on 22 September 2106 for the Guardian -

Image above: Man spraying barley with Syngenta's thiamethoxam. From (

Unpublished field trials by pesticide manufacturers show their products cause serious harm to honeybees at high levels, leading to calls from senior scientists for the companies to end the secrecy which cloaks much of their research.

The research, conducted by Syngenta and Bayer on their neonicotinoid insecticides, were submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency and obtained by Greenpeace after a freedom of information request.

Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticides and there is clear scientific evidence that they harm bees at the levels found in fields, though only a little to date showing the pesticides harm the overall performance of colonies. Neonicotinoids were banned from use on flowering crops in the EU in 2013, despite UK opposition.

Bees and other insects are vital for pollinating three-quarters of the world’s food crops but have been in significant decline, due to the loss of flower-rich habitats, disease and the use of pesticides.

The newly revealed studies show Syngenta’s thiamethoxam and Bayer’s clothianidin seriously harmed colonies at high doses, but did not find significant effects below concentrations of 50 parts per billion (ppb) and 40ppb respectively. Such levels can sometimes be found in fields but concentrations are usually below 10ppb.

However, scientists said all such research should be made public. “Given all the debate about this subject, it is hard to see why the companies don’t make these kinds of studies available,” said Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex. “It does seem a little shady to do this kind of field study — the very studies the companies say are the most important ones — and then not tell people what they find.”

Prof Christian Krupke, at Purdue University in Indiana, said: “Bayer and Syngenta’s commitment to pollinator health should include publishing these data. This work presents a rich dataset that could greatly benefit the many publicly funded scientists examining the issue worldwide, including avoiding costly and unnecessary duplication of research.”

Ben Stewart, at Greenpeace, said: “If Bayer and Syngenta cared about the future of our pollinators, they would have made the findings public. Instead, they kept quiet about them for months and carried on downplaying nearly every study that questioned the safety of their products. It’s time for these companies to come clean about what they really know.”

Syngenta had told Greenpeace in August that “none of the studies Syngenta has undertaken or commissioned for use by regulatory agencies have shown damages to the health of bee colonies.” Goulson said: “That clearly contradicts their own study.”

Scientists also noted that the companies have been previously been critical of the research methods they themselves used in the new studies, in which bees live in fields but are fed sucrose dosed with neonicotinoids.

In April 2016, in response to an independent study, Syngenta said: “It is important to note that the colony studies were conducted by directly feeding colonies with spiked sucrose, which is not representative of normal field conditions.”

In 2014, commenting on another independent study, Bayer told the Guardian the bees “are essentially force-fed relatively high levels of the pesticide in sugar solutions, rather than allowing them to forage on plants treated with” pesticide.

“If someone had done this type of study and found harm at more realistic levels, the industry would have immediately dismissed it as a rubbish study because it was not what happens naturally to bees,” said Goulson. “So it is interesting that they are doing those kinds of studies themselves and then keeping them quiet.”

Utz Klages, a spokesman for Bayer, said: “The study [Bayer] conducted is an artificial feeding study that intentionally exaggerates the exposure potential because it is designed to calculate a ‘no-effect’ concentration for clothianidin.

lthough the colony was artificially provided with a spiked sugar solution, the bees were allowed to forage freely in the environment, so there is less stress — which can be a contributing variable — than if they were completely confined to cages. Based on these results, we believe the data support the establishment of a no-effect concentration of 20ppb for clothianidin.”

He said a public presentation would be made at the International Congress of Entomology next week in which the new results would be discussed.

A spokesman for Syngenta said: “A sucrose-based mechanism was used on the basis that it was required to expose bees artificially to thiamethoxam to determine what actual level of residue would exert a toxic effect.”

Given the lower concentration usually found in fields, he said: “The reported ‘no adverse effect level’ of 50ppb indicates that honey bee colonies are at low risk from exposure to thiamethoxam in pollen and nectar of seed treated crops. This research is already in the process of being published in a forthcoming journal and is clearly already publicly available through the FOI process in the US.”

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of conservation charity Buglife, said: “These studies may not show an impact on honeybee health [at low levels], but then the studies are not realistic. The bees were not exposed to the neonics that we know are in planting dust, water drunk by bees and wildflowers, wherever neonics are used as seed treatments. This secret evidence highlights the profound weakness of regulatory tests.”

Researchers also note that pollinators in real environments are continually exposed to cocktails of many pesticides, rather than single chemicals for relatively short periods as in regulatory tests.


EPA allows fracking fluid in Gulf

SUBHEAD: EPA plans to allow unlimited dumping of fracking wastewater in the Gulf of Mexico.

By Mike Ludwig on 22 September 2016 for TruthOut -

Image above: In May 2016 a Shell oil facility leake 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, according to federal authorities. From (

Environmentalists are warning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that its draft plan to continue allowing oil and gas companies to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and wastewater directly into the Gulf of Mexico is in violation of federal law.

In a letter sent to EPA officials on Monday, attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity warned that the agency's draft permit for water pollution discharges in the Gulf fails to properly consider how dumping wastewater containing chemicals from fracking and acidizing operations would impact water quality and marine wildlife.

The attorneys claim that regulators do not fully understand how the chemicals used in offshore fracking and other well treatments -- some of which are toxic and dangerous to human and marine life -- can impact marine environments, and crucial parts of the draft permit are based on severely outdated data. Finalizing the draft permit as it stands would be a violation of the Clean Water Act, they argue.

"The EPA is endangering an entire ecosystem by allowing the oil industry to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and drilling waste fluid into the Gulf of Mexico," said Center attorney Kristen Monsell. "This appalling plan from the agency that's supposed to protect our water violates federal law, and shows a disturbing disregard for offshore fracking's toxic threats to sea turtles and other Gulf wildlife."

The Center has a history of using legal action to stop polluters and challenge the government to enforce environmental regulations, so the letter could be seen as a warning shot over the EPA's bow.

Earlier this year, lawsuits filed by the Center and another group won a temporary moratorium on offshore fracking in the Pacific Ocean, and the groups are currently preparing to challenge fracking in the Santa Barbara Channel under the Endangered Species Act.

Offshore fracking involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at extremely high pressure into undersea wells to break up rock and sand formations and clear pathways for oil and gas. Offshore drillers also treat wells with corrosive acids, such as hydrochloric acid, in a process known as "acidizing."

The technologies have been used hundreds of times to enhance oil and gas production at hundreds of Gulf wells in recent years, and environmentalists say use of the technology could increase in the future as the industry seeks to maximize production in aging offshore fields.

Still, little was publicly known about these "well treatments" until Truthout and environmental groups began filing information requests with federal regulators.

Regulators and the fossil fuel industry say offshore fracking operations have a good safety record and tend to be smaller in size compared to onshore operations, but environmentalists continue to worry about the chemicals used in the process because many of them are known to harm marine wildlife.
Plus, dolphins and other species in the Gulf are still suffering from the lingering effects of the 2010 BP oil spill.

Under the EPA's current and draft permits, offshore drillers are allowed to dump an unlimited amount of fracking and acidizing chemicals overboard as long as they are mixed with the wastewater that returns from undersea wells.

Oil and gas platforms dumped more than 75 billion gallons of these "produced waters" directly into the Gulf of Mexico in 2014 alone, according to the Center's analysis of EPA records.

These large volumes of wastewater cannot contain oil and must meet toxicity standards, but oil and gas operators are only required to test the waste stream a few times a year. Monsell said these tests could easily be conducted at times when few or no fracking chemicals are present in the wastewater.

The EPA expects these chemicals to have little impact on the environment because the large volumes of wastewater and the ocean dilute them, but the Center points out that much of the EPA's data on the subject comes from studies prepared in the 1980s and 1990s. Offshore production technology has advanced since then and hundreds of frack jobs have occurred in the Gulf in the past five years alone.

"All they have to do is ask the Interior Department for this information, because they just compiled it all for us," said Monsell, referring to the thousands of documents recently released to Truthout and the Center under the Freedom of Information Act.

These documents, released under a legal settlement between the Interior Department and the Center, show that regulators approved more than 1,500 frack jobs at over 600 Gulf wells between 2010 and 2014 with permit modifications that were exempted from comprehensive environmental reviews.

Monsell said the EPA's permit is just another example of a federal agency "rubber-stamping" permits for offshore fracking without taking a hard look at how the technology impacts the environment.

The EPA, she argues, should prohibit the dumping of hazardous fracking chemicals and other wastes directly into ocean altogether.

"It's the EPA's job to protect water quality from offshore fracking, not rubber-stamp the dumping of the wastewater from this dangerous, disgusting practice," Monsell said.

The draft permit does prohibit the dumping of oil in the Gulf and proposes a new rule that would require oil and gas operators to keep an inventory of the fracking and acidizing chemicals kept on board.

This inventory must be made available to regulators upon request. The government's most up-to-date list of offshore fracking chemicals is now 15 years old, and the Interior Department regulators are currently working to update it.

Monsell worries, however, that these inventories would not track how much of the chemicals are dumped overboard, and the public will not be able to access them unless the EPA or Interior Department requests copies first.

Even then, watchdogs may have to wait on the government to process more information requests in order to make those inventories public.

• Mike Ludwig is an investigative reporter at Truthout and a contributor to the Truthout anthology, Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Follow him on Twitter: @ludwig_mike.


WWIII has begun in Syria

SUBHEAD: A Third World War is taking place in Syria, one which is led by the US and its allies.

By Tyler Durden on 23 September 2016 for Zero Hedge -

Image above: Under guise of fighting ISIS, U.S. policy in Syria is growing increasingly incoherent, say critics. From (

Disastrous Error in Syria by USA 9/19/16

At about 5pm on Saturday, two US F-16 fighter bombers and two A-10 specialised ground attack aircraft bombed what they believed was a concentration of Isis fighters besieging pro-government forces in the city of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria.

Whoever it was in the US Air Force who had misidentified the target as Isis made a disastrous error; the US planes were attacking Syrian Army soldiers fighting Isis at a position called Jebel Tharda close to Deir Ezzor airport. The city has been besieged by Isis for over a year and 110,000 civilians are trapped inside. By the time the US bombing raid was over it had killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers and injured another 100, enabling Isis to overrun the survivors before being forced to retreat by a counter-attack backed by Russian airstrikes.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party representative Tarek Ahmad says that the war in Syria has reached a dead end, with the intervention of foreign powers turning the situation into a chaotic mess. Moreover, the politician says that Syria is just one front in a Third World War being waged by Washington and its allies.

The Social Nationalist Party is one of Syria's oldest and largest parties. Up to 8,000 members of its armed branch, known as 'the Eagles of the Whirlwind', have successfully fought alongside the Syrian Army against Islamist militants, including Daesh. At the same time, the party has remained a key member of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation, a bloc of opposition parties in the country's parliament.

Speaking to Sputnik, party representative Tarek Ahmad said that the military situation in the country has come to an impasse, with the political crisis only fueled and intensified due to the intervention of multiple uninvited regional and global powers.

Commenting on the intensification of the conflict between Damascus, its allies, and the United States, following the US-led coalition's attack on Syrian forces in Deir ez-Zor last week, Ahmad warned that it's important to understand that the US position in Syria is tactical – not strategic.

"The US's goal is not limited to Syria," the politician emphasized. "The Syrian front is not the goal in and of itself. We need to look at this issue objectively, and to admit that a Third World War is taking place in Syria, one which is led by the US and its allies – even if these allies are simultaneously victims as well."

"America's main objective," according to Ahmad, "is to bring any world power that threatens them under control. Consequently, [Washington] is waging a war with these powers; and these powers include China and Russia."

Ultimately, Ahmad suggested that "the lies told by President Obama at the UN General Assembly are merely the continuation of the American 'television show', whose plot consists of the US desire to continue this war. Every US action takes place with the aim of continuing this war for control of the world."

With regard to the recently agreed-upon Russian-US ceasefire agreement, which is now looking less and less likely to be restored, the politician suggested that "Russia always understood that the US-Russian agreement on Syria would mean a US defeat in this conflict…if the agreement was adhered to."

Accordingly, it's only natural that the US struck Syrian forces in Deir ez-Zor, and then (baselessly) blamed Moscow and Damascus for hitting a humanitarian convoy in Aleppo. They could not afford to lose their position on the 'Syrian front' of their global conflict against the proponents of a multipolar world.


Mixing trees and agriculture works

SUBHEAD: Scientists uncover surprising source of carbon storage hidden in plain sight.

By Kristen Satre Meyer on 19 September 2016 for Ensia -

Image above: Indigenous farmer with nearby forest trees. From original article.

Agroforestry — integrating trees into cropland or pastureland — is often discussed as a promising strategy for helping to ease the threat of climate change because trees are particularly good at sucking carbon dioxide from the air and socking it away for the long term.

However, most global and regional calculations of carbon capture and storage, including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ignore farm forests.

That could change, thanks to a new study published in Scientific Reports that takes a look at trees on agricultural land and quantifies the powerful role they play in sequestering carbon.

Using estimates of global farmland tree cover derived from remote sensing observations, a team of researchers from Asia, Africa and Europe calculated the amount of carbon captured and stored by trees growing on farmland.

When carbon stored by these trees was included, total carbon storage for agricultural land measured more than four times higher than current IPCC default values.

“These results show that existing tree cover — thus far ignored in most global and regional calculations — makes a major contribution to the carbon pool on agricultural lands,” the researchers wrote.

The study found that as the world’s forest resources decline, tree cover on agricultural land is expanding. Analysis of the remote sensing results revealed that 43 percent of the world’s agricultural land was forested in 2010, a 2 percent increase over the previous 10 years.

Looking at regional patterns in the distribution of agricultural tree cover, the researchers found high percentages of tree cover occurring in humid regions such as Southeast Asia, Central America, eastern South America and central and coastal Africa.

Tree cover was moderate in the majority of agricultural areas in South Asia, sub-humid Africa, Central and Western Europe, Amazonian South America and Midwestern North America. Agricultural areas with low tree cover included Southwest Australia, Eastern China, the northern prairies of North America, and the southern border of the Sahara.

Heavily populated areas tended to have less tree cover, despite their climate, so regional variations and trends were also investigated. This analysis revealed many areas where higher tree cover density and carbon storage are possible.

Encouraging agroforestry in these regions through policy and incentives, the researchers noted, could be an “achievable and relatively fast” path to increasing greenhouse gas absorption.

The researchers also examined the amount of carbon stored on agricultural land in individual countries and found insightful differences. Places where forests are regarded as nationally important, for example Brazil or Indonesia, have high and increasing carbon storage levels on agricultural land.

In Brazil, some of the increase may stem from policy initiatives and the adoption of agroforestry practices.

Argentina, on the other hand, has experienced substantial loss of carbon capture and storage, most likely due to widespread adoption of large scale mechanized soy cultivation over the past decade.

The report notes that more research is necessary to understand what is driving these trends so effective policies and market incentives can be developed to both reduce forest conversion and encourage more trees on farmland.

In addition to being an efficient strategy to offset carbon losses due to deforestation, the researchers noted that integrating trees into the agricultural landscape also benefits small farmers around the globe by helping to optimize soil moisture, boosting soil nitrogen, and in general encouraging a more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable use of land.

“In summary,” they conclude, “our analyses highlight that agroforestry, and tree cover on agricultural land in general, has clear potential to contribute to climate change mitigation while providing an array of adaptation benefits.”

UPDATED 09.22.16: The journal citation was corrected to Scientific Reports.


Amazonians struggle with Peru

SUBHEAD: Film about Peruvian state and corporate interests taking resources that indigenous people protect.

By Ed Rampell on 16 September 2106 for Earth Island Journal -

Image above: Still frame from "When Two Worlds Collide" documentary showing Peru's Indigenous Amazonian people protesting to save their rainforest. From original article.

As members of the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes confront the Dakota Access pipeline, don’t miss Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel’s hard-hitting film about a more violent resistance by Indigenous people south of the border against would-be developers and exploiters.

When Two Worlds Collide is an eye-opening documentary about Peru’s Amazonian tribes’ struggle to protect their ancestral homeland in the rainforest against the destruction and deforestation wreaked by oil, logging, and other extractive industries acting in cahoots with the government of President Alan Garcia.

Their efforts put Peru’s indigenous peoples on the frontlines of international eco-activism and puts them on a collision course with the iron heel of the state.

At the heart of this struggle is the aboriginal tribes’ campaign to rollback laws passed by the federal government in Lima that overturn Indigenous people’s rights to collective ownership of land and water and their resources in favor of exploitation by for-profit private developers.

Amazonian activists contend up to 102 laws in Peru are unconstitutional and demand that they be repealed — in particular the despised forestry law, number 1090.

Ignored by the legislature, where tricky parliamentary maneuvers are pulled to outfox opposition party representatives and negotiations lead to a road going nowhere, Native freedom fighters resort to roadblocks, occupations, and other civil disobedience tactics.

At the vortex of this mass movement is Alberto Pizango, a Peruvian Indian who attended university, became a teacher and then leader of Native rights’ groups, including the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP). As the film’s protagonist Pizango makes a compelling character study.

In some ways Collide harkens back to the early Soviet revolutionary cinema of VI Pudovkin, that depicted the dynamic interplay between individuals and causes, as in Pudovkin’s 1928 Storm Over Asia (which also dealt with Native people fighting outsiders).

The Amazonian cauldron boils over in June 2009 when militarized Special Forces Police wearing helmets (look for cinematic metallic reflections) and camouflage uniforms, riding in armored vehicles and choppers, clash with demonstrators.

All hell breaks loose as protesters are shot and policemen killed (some by spears). Perhaps in retaliation, at a Petroperú (the state-owned petroleum company) pumping station, up to 38 outnumbered law enforcers are taken hostage and then executed.

Presumably Bandenburg and Orzel had access to TV footage of the pitched battles, although during these volatile sequences the press is seen being sidelined by the powers-that-be.

President Garcia and his Thatcher-like Interior Minister Mercedes Cabanillas blame Pizango for the casualties, calling him the rebellion’s “intellectual mastermind” and “agitator.” (Garcia — who unsuccessfully ran for a third term in 2015 — refused repeat requests to be interviewed for Collide.)

Pizango, in turn, holds el presidente responsible for sending armed riot police into the rainforest-turned-tinderbox. After the government throws the book at him, Pizango goes on the lam. In one scene straight out of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, like Jean Valjean, the fugitive from justice scampers over rooftops in Lima, where the Nicaraguan embassy grants him political asylum.

Granted safe passage, Pizango flees to the Nicaraguan capital of Managua in July 2009 where he lives in exile — but will he stay there or return to face the music?

To paraphrase its title, this documentary shows what happens when two worldviews collide, and to its credit, the film shows both sides of the story — although there’s no doubt which side the filmmakers are on.

Garcia criticizes Peru’s 400,000 Indigenous inhabitants as selfish for denying the country’s 28 million other residents use of and access to aboriginal land and resources to develop the Third World nation. (Funny how the laws of private property and ownership rarely seem to apply to Native people.)

On the other hand, Pizango explains Indigenous philosophy, wherein humans are one with nature — like Adam and Eve before they bit the apple from the tree of knowledge that led, so to speak, to Eden’s over-development.

The difference between the development-for-profit and Indigenous viewpoints is epitomized by the use of the word “savage,” by some of Collide's characters. After the hostages’ executions, Garcia calls the policemen “victims of savagery, barbarism, and brutality” and of “backward beliefs of the nineteenth century.”

Cabanillas, the South American Iron Lady, says of the executioners: “Frankly they are savages.”

For his part, Pizango declares: “the accumulation of money and wealth, we call that kind of development ‘savage’… You kill the rainforest, you kill a culture. You kill an entire people.” Natives, he says, support development that’s sustainable and doesn’t destroy Mother Nature and their livelihood, and don’t endorse violence.

Orzel’s and Brandenburg’s “concerto” is exceptionally well-made, with exquisite close-ups of rainforest flora and fauna intercut with devastating oil spills and chainsaws slicing through trees.

The 103-minute subtitled documentary, which is, curiously, co-presented by the Ford Foundation, covers lots of ground but arguably misses making a few points.

Although the Amazon forest is widely hailed as “the lungs of the world,” Collide doesn’t expand its concerns to include global warming, as Josh Fox does in his climate change documentary How to Let Go of the World which depicts Pacific Islanders battling coal ships, etc.

Nor does it point out that Peru is a conservative holdout, one of the few South American nations that didn’t join the so-called “Bolivarian Revolution” that swept left-leaning, Indigenous presidents such as Evo Morales in Bolivia and the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to power.

Despite these omissions, Collide, which bagged the World Cinema documentary competition prize for best first feature at Sundance, remains a must-see motion picture about the courageous struggle of the Peru’s Indigenous people against the despoliation of their homeland.

Video above: Official trailer for "When Worlds Collide. From (

When Two Worlds Collide will be theatrically released in Los Angeles today at the Laemmle Monica Film Center and is coming soon to a theater near you.


Lawns are for Suckers

SUBHEAD: Plant a garden. You have to grow plants that are happy with your soil and weather.

By Nathanael Johnson on 21 September 2016 for Grist -

Image above: The economic crisis in Venezuela is forcing residents of Caracas to embrace urban farming. From original article.

Ripping out your lawn and planting kale and peppers won’t just lead to great stir-fry — a new study finds it could make major contributions to fighting climate change, too.

Two pounds of carbon emissions could be prevented for every pound of homegrown vegetables consumed, according to researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara. And that could add up to a big impact: Give a highly productive garden to every family in California, the researchers calculated, and it would take the state 10 percent of the way to its previous goal of cutting emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Of course, those are sweet potato pie in the sky numbers, but that shouldn’t keep you from doing your part. And the study includes crucial caveats if you want your garden to be climate-friendly.

“We have these assumptions about what works, but we can go off in the wrong direction if we don’t make sure they are correct,” said David Cleveland, the research professor who spearheaded the project, the findings of which were recently published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.

If you want to make sure your garden is a climate boon, not bane, here are some tips.

Cherish and honor your compost pile

Image above: Save all all compostable household material for building more soil and reducing CO2 emmissions. From original article.

The main emissions reduction from gardening comes from diverting your food waste from the landfill, according to the study, where food rots and spews methane and nitrous oxide. That means that the way you handle your food waste can make or break this whole enterprise.

If you have good composting intentions but then forget to aerate and manage your compost pile, it can fart out a “buttload” (I believe that’s the precise amount) of potent greenhouse gases.
Not all dumps allow their rotten vapors to drift into the firmament. If your landfill captures methane and burns it to generate renewable energy, then it could be better to send your table scraps to the dump than try to compost at home. The best option, Cleveland said, is to have a centralized composting facility that captures gases and sends compost back to home gardeners.

This also suggests that we could reduce emissions by reusing waste in other parts of our food system. When I asked crop scientist Toby Bruce for an independent assessment of the study, he said it seemed reasonable, and pointed out that conventional farmers could also use composted food waste for fertilizer.

And, he said, if we wanted a truly closed-loop system, we could recycle human sewage for fertilizer.

Plan to commit

Image above: “If you planted a garden then just forgot about it,” according to Cleveland, you’ll end up emitting more greenhouse gases than if you never even started..

To get it right, look to someone like Karrie Reid for advice. Reid has an obligation to garden well: It’s her job. She’s an environmental horticulture advisor for the Cooperative Extension Service at University of California.

There are extension officers like Reid associated with every state university system, and they’re basically hands-on ag educators. You can find your own version of Reid by looking up your local extension’s master-gardener program.

Reid doesn’t abandon her plants midway through summer, and she doesn’t over-plant and then end up throwing out dozens of thigh-thick zucchinis.

Sure, when the cucumbers peak, there are more than she and her husband can eat, she confesses, but they share with their neighbors. The neighbors also come over to harvest herbs from the sidewalk. Follow her example, and you’ll be on the right track.

Ask about local government incentives

In the drought-ridden West, you can often get some money from the government if you tear out your lawn (and more importantly, your sprinkler system). But, in most places, to get these rebates you have to replace the lawn with something that doesn’t need irrigation — not tomatoes, Reid said.

However, you can often collect rebates when you replace a lawn with perennial food-producing trees, shrubs, and vines. Check with your local water district.

There may be more incentives to come. Cleveland hopes that his paper might lead local or state government to pay home gardeners for their carbon-reducing services. California’s climate law allows for this kind of reimbursement, but the state hasn’t done much to encourage it so far.

Work with your environment, not against it

You have to grow plants that are happy with your soil and weather if you want the numbers work in your favor. “Don’t grow things that are difficult — let the environment speak to you,” Cleveland said. “If your strawberries keep failing, the environment is telling you something.”

So don’t try to grow flood-dependent rice in a region better suited to prickly pear. (Get ready for a lot of prickly pear, California.)