ISIS made in USA

SUBHEAD: Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US "Created" ISIS As A "Tool" To Overthrow Syria's President Assad.

By Nafeez Ahmed on 24 May 2015 for Zero Hedge -
(http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-23/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-us-created-isis-tool-overthrow-syrias-president-assad)


Image above: The unknown man was photographed being killed by a masked executioner in a village just outside ISIS' stronghold and de facto capital Raqqa while a large crowd looked on in February 2015. From (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2945684/Beheaded-WITCHCRAFT-Latest-ISIS-execution-Syria-echoes-Dark-Ages-man-killed-invoking-magic.html).

From the first sudden, and quite dramatic, appearance of the fanatical Islamic group known as ISIS which was largely unheard of until a year ago, on the world's stage and which promptly replaced the worn out and tired al Qaeda as the world's terrorist bogeyman, we suggested that the "straight to beheading YouTube clip" purpose behind the Saudi Arabia-funded Islamic State was a simple one:
Use the Jihadists as the vehicle of choice to achieve a political goal: depose of Syria's president Assad, who for years has stood in the way of a critical Qatari natural gas pipeline, one which could dethrone Russia as Europe's dominant - and belligerent - source of energy, reaching an interim climax with the unsuccessful Mediterranean Sea military build up of 2013, which nearly resulted in quasi-world war.

The narrative and the plotline were so transparent, even Russia saw right through them. Recall from September of last year:
If the West bombs Islamic State militants in Syria without consulting Damascus, LiveLeak reports that the anti-ISIS alliance may use the occasion to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad’s forces, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Clearly comprehending that Obama's new strategy against ISIS in Syria is all about pushing the Qatar pipeline through (as was the impetus behind the 2013 intervention push), Russia is pushing back noting that the it is using ISIS as a pretext for bombing Syrian government forces and warning that "such a development would lead to a huge escalation of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa."
But it's one thing to speculate; it's something entirely different to have hard proof.

And while speculation was rife that just like the CIA-funded al Qaeda had been used as a facade by the US to achieve its own geopolitical and national interests over the past two decades, so ISIS was nothing more than al Qaeda 2.0, there was no actual evidence of just this.

That may all have changed now when a declassified secret US government document obtained by the public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.

According to investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed in Medium, the "leaked document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of the strategy, but described this outcome as a strategic opportunity to “isolate the Syrian regime.” 
And not just that: as we reported last week, now that ISIS is running around the middle east, cutting people's heads of in 1080p quality and Hollywood-quality (perhaps literally) video, the US has a credible justification to sell billions worth of modern, sophisticated weapons in the region in order to "modernize" and "replenish" the weapons of such US allies as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iraq.

But that the US military-industrial complex is a winner every time war breaks out anywhere in the world (usually with the assistance of the CIA) is clear to everyone by now. What wasn't clear is just how the US predetermined the current course of events in the middle east.

Now, thanks to the following declassified report, we have a far better understanding of not only how current events in the middle east came to be, but what America's puppermaster role leading up to it all, was.
From Nafeez Ahmed: Secret Pentagon report reveals West saw ISIS as strategic asset Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion', originally posted in Medium.

Hypocrisy
The revelations contradict the official line of Western government on their policies in Syria, and raise disturbing questions about secret Western support for violent extremists abroad, while using the burgeoning threat of terror to justify excessive mass surveillance and crackdowns on civil liberties at home.

Among the batch of documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a federal lawsuit, released earlier this week, is a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document then classified as “secret,” dated 12th August 2012.

The DIA provides military intelligence in support of planners, policymakers and operations for the US Department of Defense and intelligence community.
So far, media reporting has focused on the evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold to rebels in Syria.

Some outlets have reported the US intelligence community’s internal prediction of the rise of ISIS. Yet none have accurately acknowledged the disturbing details exposing how the West knowingly fostered a sectarian, al-Qaeda-driven rebellion in Syria.

Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer, said:
“Given the political leanings of the organisation that obtained these documents, it’s unsurprising that the main emphasis given to them thus far has been an attempt to embarrass Hilary Clinton regarding what was known about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012. However, the documents also contain far less publicized revelations that raise vitally important questions of the West’s governments and media in their support of Syria’s rebellion.”
The West’s Islamists
The newly declassified DIA document from 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies.

Noting that “the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” the document states that “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,” while Russia, China and Iran “support the [Assad] regime.”

The 7-page DIA document states that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the precursor to the ‘Islamic State in Iraq,’ (ISI) which became the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,’ “supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media.”

The formerly secret Pentagon report notes that the “rise of the insurgency in Syria” has increasingly taken a “sectarian direction,” attracting diverse support from Sunni “religious and tribal powers” across the region.

In a section titled ‘The Future Assumptions of the Crisis,’ the DIA report predicts that while Assad’s regime will survive, retaining control over Syrian territory, the crisis will continue to escalate “into proxy war.”

The document also recommends the creation of “safe havens under international sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya when Benghazi was chosen as the command centre for the temporary government.”

In Libya, anti-Gaddafi rebels, most of whom were al-Qaeda affiliated militias, were protected by NATO ‘safe havens’ (aka ‘no fly zones’).

‘Supporting powers want’ ISIS entity

In a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar)”:
“… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.”

The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”

Further on, the document reveals that Pentagon analysts were acutely aware of the dire risks of this strategy, yet ploughed ahead anyway.

The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, it says, would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.” Last summer, ISIS conquered Mosul in Iraq, and just this month has also taken control of Ramadi.
Such a quasi-state entity will provide:
“… a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of territory.”
The 2012 DIA document is an Intelligence Information Report (IIR), not a “finally evaluated intelligence” assessment, but its contents are vetted before distribution. The report was circulated throughout the US intelligence community, including to the State Department, Central Command, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, FBI, among other agencies.

In response to my questions about the strategy, the British government simply denied the Pentagon report’s startling revelations of deliberate Western sponsorship of violent extremists in Syria. A British Foreign Office spokesperson said:
“AQ and ISIL are proscribed terrorist organisations. The UK opposes all forms of terrorism. AQ, ISIL, and their affiliates pose a direct threat to the UK’s national security. We are part of a military and political coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and are working with international partners to counter the threat from AQ and other terrorist groups in that region. In Syria we have always supported those moderate opposition groups who oppose the tyranny of Assad and the brutality of the extremists.”
The DIA did not respond to request for comment.

Strategic asset for regime-change
Security analyst Shoebridge, however, who has tracked Western support for Islamist terrorists in Syria since the beginning of the war, pointed out that the secret Pentagon intelligence report exposes fatal contradictions at the heart of official pronunciations:
“Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.”
According to Brad Hoff, a former US Marine who served during the early years of the Iraq War and as a 9/11 first responder at the Marine Corps Headquarters in Battalion Quantico from 2000 to 2004, the just released Pentagon report for the first time provides stunning affirmation that:
“US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.”
Hoff, who is managing editor of Levant Report — ?an online publication run by Texas-based educators who have direct experience of the Middle East?—?points out that the DIA document “matter-of-factly” states that the rise of such an extremist Salafist political entity in the region offers a “tool for regime change in Syria.”
The DIA intelligence report shows, he said, that the rise of ISIS only became possible in the context of the Syrian insurgency?—?“there is no mention of US troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State’s rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits.” The report demonstrates that:
“The establishment of a ‘Salafist Principality’ in Eastern Syria is ‘exactly’ what the external powers supporting the opposition want (identified as ‘the West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey’) in order to weaken the Assad government.”
The rise of a Salafist quasi-state entity that might expand into Iraq, and fracture that country, was therefore clearly foreseen by US intelligence as likely?—?but nevertheless strategically useful?—?blowback from the West’s commitment to “isolating Syria.”


Complicity
Critics of the US-led strategy in the region have repeatedly raised questions about the role of coalition allies in intentionally providing extensive support to Islamist terrorist groups in the drive to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria.

The conventional wisdom is that the US government did not retain sufficient oversight on the funding to anti-Assad rebel groups, which was supposed to be monitored and vetted to ensure that only ‘moderate’ groups were supported.

However, the newly declassified Pentagon report proves unambiguously that years before ISIS launched its concerted offensive against Iraq, the US intelligence community was fully aware that Islamist militants constituted the core of Syria’s sectarian insurgency.

Despite that, the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq.

As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion”?—?namely, the emergence of ISIS?—?“but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.’”

Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer who blew the whistle in the 1990s on MI6 funding of al-Qaeda to assassinate Libya’s former leader Colonel Gaddafi, similarly said of the revelations:
“This is no surprise to me. Within individual countries there are always multiple intelligence agencies with competing agendas.”
She explained that MI6’s Libya operation in 1996, which resulted in the deaths of innocent people, “happened at precisely the time when MI5 was setting up a new section to investigate al-Qaeda.”
This strategy was repeated on a grand scale in the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, said Machon, where the CIA and MI6 were:
“… supporting the very same Libyan groups, resulting in a failed state, mass murder, displacement and anarchy. So the idea that elements of the American military-security complex have enabled the development of ISIS after their failed attempt to get NATO to once again ‘intervene’ is part of an established pattern. And they remain indifferent to the sheer scale of human suffering that is unleashed as a result of such game-playing.”

Divide and rule  
Several US government officials have conceded that their closest allies in the anti-ISIS coalition were funding violent extremist Islamist groups that became integral to ISIS.

US Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, admitted last year that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey had funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Islamist rebels in Syria that metamorphosed into ISIS.

But he did not admit what this internal Pentagon document demonstrates?—?that the entire covert strategy was sanctioned and supervised by the US, Britain, France, Israel and other Western powers.

The strategy appears to fit a policy scenario identified by a recent US Army-commissioned RAND Corp report.

The report, published four years before the DIA document, called for the US “to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.”

The US would need to contain “Iranian power and influence” in the Gulf by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.” Simultaneously, the US must maintain “a strong strategic relationship with the Iraqi Shiite government” despite its Iran alliance.

The RAND report confirmed that the “divide and rule” strategy was already being deployed “to create divisions in the jihadist camp. Today in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level.”

The report observed that the US was forming “temporary alliances” with al-Qaeda affiliated “nationalist insurgent groups” that have fought the US for four years in the form of “weapons and cash.” Although these nationalists “have cooperated with al-Qaeda against US forces,” they are now being supported to exploit “the common threat that al-Qaeda now poses to both parties.”

The 2012 DIA document, however, further shows that while sponsoring purportedly former al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq to counter al-Qaeda, Western governments were simultaneously arming al-Qaeda insurgents in Syria.

The revelation from an internal US intelligence document that the very US-led coalition supposedly fighting ‘Islamic State’ today, knowingly created ISIS in the first place, raises troubling questions about recent government efforts to justify the expansion of state anti-terror powers.

In the wake of the rise of ISIS, intrusive new measures to combat extremism including mass surveillance, the Orwellian ‘prevent duty’ and even plans to enable government censorship of broadcasters, are being pursued on both sides of the Atlantic, much of which disproportionately targets activists, journalists and ethnic minorities, especially Muslims.

Yet the new Pentagon report reveals that, contrary to Western government claims, the primary cause of the threat comes from their own deeply misguided policies of secretly sponsoring Islamist terrorism for dubious geopolitical purposes.


• Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award, known as the ‘Alternative Pulitzer Prize’, for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work, and was selected in the Evening Standard’s ‘Power 1,000’ most globally influential Londoners.
Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the scifi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.

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Women Crossed the Line

SUBHEAD: For world peace these women crossed the DMZ Line from North Korea to South Korea.

By Jon Letman on 24 May 24 for Boing Boing  -
(http://www.islandbreath.org/2015Year/05/150524dmz.jpg)


Image above: A press conference for "Women Call for a Korean Peace Treaty". From original article.

In an historic move, a group of global feminist activists march into the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea to create a space for a new type of conversation about truly ending the Korean war.

At the time of this blog post in Seoul and Pyongyang it’s already Sunday, May 24th, International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, when a group of more than 30 women are scheduled to cross the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at Kaesong from North Korea into South Korea. Their goal: to draw attention to Korea’s “forgotten” and unfinished war, and move toward a real peace that can reunite families and, perhaps, a divided nation.

The march includes both North and South Korean women marching on their respective sides, and was preceded by a peace symposium in Pyongyang (watch North Korean TV coverage here). It will be followed by a similar symposium in Seoul after they cross the DMZ (Saturday evening in the U.S.).

The Korean War (officially 1950-53) stands out for its bloody toll. Some 4 million people, mostly civilians, perished. Although a “temporary” cease-fire was signed, the last 62 years have been marked by a protracted cold war defined by ongoing threats by both sides of the DMZ, decades of profligate military spending, and what is effectively a permanent state of near-war and the fear of attack.

The idea to walk from North Korea into South Korea began with a dream that lead organizer Christine Ahn had several years ago. The concept grew after Ahn connected with feminist icon Gloria Steinem who took a public stand in 2011 against the militarization of South Korea’s Jeju island.


Activist and feminist Gloria Steinem (C) speaks at a news conference before the WomenCrossDMZ group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015.  REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Image above: Activist and feminist Gloria Steinem (C) speaks at a news conference before the WomenCrossDMZ group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon. In original article.

The movement evolved into WomenCrossDMZ as Nobel Peace Prize laureates Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia joined Ahn, Steinem and what has grown to more than 30 women from South Korea, Japan, the US, Britain, Australia--at least 15 countries, in all.

A Different Future
Gwyn Kirk, a founding member of Women for Genuine Security, and one of the DMZ marchers, says WomenCrossDMZ is intended to create a space for a new type of conversation about ending the Korean war once and for all. After more than 60 years of tit-for-tat provocations, costly and dangerous brinksmanship and outright nuclear threats, Kirk says it’s time to create a different future.

That this movement is organized entirely by women is natural, says Kirk, pointing to UN Security Resolution 1325 which reaffirms “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction…”

As these women mount a brave effort to do what men have failed to achieve (bring peace to the Korean peninsula), they are also receiving criticism for their efforts. One Korea policy commentator went so far as to call the group “naïve, duplicitous, disingenuous, fatuous, and [stupid].”

CNN’s Brian Todd asked if Kim Jong-un was “in league with a women’s group to bring peace between North and South Korea” and played up suggestions Christine Ahn might be “sympathetic” to North Korea. The Monthly Review responded by breaking down why The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer did a “hatchet job” on WomenCross DMZ rather than a serious examination of what they set out to achieve.


NGO activist Choi Ai-young (R) and other members of the WomenCrossDMZ group pose with Korea's traditional patchwork before the group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Image above: NGO activist Choi Ai-young (R) and other members of the WomenCrossDMZ group pose with Korea's traditional patchwork before the group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. In original article.
 
Making history
Independent investigative journalist Tim Shorrock had a different take. In an email from Seoul, he called the DMZ march “an important milestone because it runs against the grain of the militarist approach to Korea taken by the Obama administration and the hostility of the South Korean government.”

Shorrock, who has covered Korea and Japan for more than three decades, said the women’s march and symposia held in Pyongyang and later Seoul, sends a message to the North that peace and reconciliation are possible. He hopes the march will also spur the U.S. to “take measures to defuse the tense situation in Korea and adopt a more flexible approach to settling its differences with North Korea.”

Responding to charges that she and her colleagues are “sympathetic” to North Korea, Christine Ahn says it’s ironic that people who claim to be staunch supporters of human rights are the ones most vehemently opposed to efforts to pursue a real peace agreement.

“You’re not going to see any improvement in North Korean human rights if you continue to isolate them or not engage or have dialogue,” Ahn said by Skype. The universal theme that has united years of international NGO reports, she says, is that there needs to be a peace settlement to improve human rights in North Korea.

Crazy repression, crazy militarization
WomenCrossDMZ, Ahn says, seeks to “get to the root cause of the issue of divided families” and what she calls “crazy militarization” and “crazy repression” of democracy in both North and South Korea.

Ahn says former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea James Laney cut to the core of the Korean issue when he said, “...One item should be at the top of the agenda...that is the establishment of a peace treaty to replace the truce that has been in place since 1953...”

To fully appreciate why North Korea has evolved into a “paranoid, hyper-militaristic society,” Ahn says it’s important to carefully examine history before the 1950-53 Korean war and remember the tremendous losses suffered by the North. “We might have forgotten that history,” she says, “but [North Korea] hasn’t.”

Ahn describes WomenCrossDMZ as “peace women” who want to find a peaceful resolution to the Korean stalemate. To do that, she says, requires listening, understanding, dialogue and a degree of empathy which is absent today. Dehumanizing the other side won’t bring peace, Ahn says. “It’s a tough place to be, but I really believe there is no other alternative.”

Being armed to the teeth (hasn’t worked) 
Gwyn Kirk says that reducing military tensions is more likely to lead to better human rights conditions. “That’s what we’re advocating...more dialogue and more openness.” As long as there’s no dialogue or engagement, nothing will change.”

Kirk points to diplomatic progress between the United States and both Cuba and Iran, saying that “sanctions, being armed to the teeth [and] militarism hasn’t worked.” 
She adds, “So if that’s controversial, I guess [it’s] controversial but it just seems to me that this old cold war stuff is really history...We need to move forward and think differently.

Follow the organization on Twitter or Facebook. Link to announcement from “Women Cross DMZ” (PDF)
Photo, top: Members of the WomenCrossDMZ group attend a news conference before they leave for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON

Jon Letman is an independent freelance journalist and photographer on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. His articles on conservation, the environment, politics and the Asia-Pacific region have been published in Al Jazeera English, Truthout, Inter Press Service, Christian Science Monitor, CNN Traveller, as well as publications in Finland, Iceland, Russia, Japan, Canada, the UK and across the US.  

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Arguements against GMOs

SUBHEAD: GMOs only move us further towards an unsustainable goal of continued growth for a global economy in overshoot.

By Mary Odum on 21 May 2015 for Prosperous Way Down -
(http://prosperouswaydown.com/arguments-gmos/)


Image above: Image of farming in the Dustbowl from the Library of Congress. Also, in original article.

I recently decided to take an epidemiology course to fill in gaps in my knowledge base. The entire online graduate certificate in Environmental Health looked interesting, so I applied for the entire certificate. Environmental Health was the first course that I took online at this flagship Florida university.

The online experience would be a separate post in itself — the online course was mechanically flawless but grossly deficient in interactions and building critical thinking skills.
One of my class assignments was to argue in a paper against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Since the course and the textbook were too reductionist for my tastes, I argued using macroscopic arguments.

I doubt the teaching assistants read it–like all other assignments in this MOOC, it received a grade with no comments. Various friends are asking me what I think of GMOs, and most students in the class and most of my friends think that GMOs are a great solution for our food problems, so I am reposting the paper here.

Corporations promote GMOs as the solution to world hunger through expanded global food sources. That hopeful argument is not based on evidence, and there are many arguments against widespread GMO use. Most science and policy arguments are reductionist.

But Einstein said that we cannot solve problems from the same consciousness that created the problems. We must learn to see the world anew, from a larger scale to see a complete picture of the processes involved. Reductionist science is not the answer to the problems engendered by a finite biosphere with a human population in overshoot.

Therefore, the arguments presented here address macroscopic arguments against GMOS, including the impact of peak oil production on the current developed countries’ system of industrial agriculture, the rapidly expanding pesticide treadmill that accompanies GMOs, replacement of natural biodiversity, water and soil loss or degradation, and expanding corporate domination, with increasing social inequity, loss of small farmers, monopolization and unsustainability of our food system, and the potential link between gut health and inadequately studied GMOs.

Feed the hungry or “cows and cars?”

Cassidy (2015) critiques the argument that GMOs can feed a rapidly growing global population this month in an Environmental Working Group paper. The author contrasts the reported need for a doubling in food supply in the next 50 years with the progress up to now in GMO crops, which primarily feeds “cows and cars” while expanding social inequity through monopolization and profit-making by large corporations.

The expanding social inequity and loss of small farmers contributes to more poverty, which is the real source of hunger. Feeding cows and cars instead of people also puts added pressure on water use and soil degradation, while expanding nitrate pollution in our waters and nitrous oxide pollution in our air. Cassidy also argues that crop yields with GMOs are no better and are sometimes worse than yields of traditional crops.

Holt-Giménez et al. (2012) add a different argument against the claim that GMOs can feed the world. We already grow enough food for a global population of 10 billion people, but because of social inequity and poverty, that food is not distributed evenly. Even if we expand food production faster than population growth, GMOs are not the answer.

High transformity agriculture

The most systemic argument against GMOs is the energy-intensive nature of high-tech agriculture that requires the extraction of profit, not letting Nature do the work through traditional diversity and seeds. Energy/emergy intensity of agriculture has increased many fold during the past century of agricultural industrialization (Rydberg and Hayden, 2006). Global energy production has plateaued and is forecast to decline, with a large discrepancy in available fossil fuels to support our current developed society (US-EIA, 2013).

The Middle East retains about 2/3 of all proven reserves of oil, while the United States oil production peaked in 1970 (BP Statistical Review, 2014). These facts do not bode well for the sustainability of industrial agriculture, which has evolved to rely heavily on natural gas and fossil fuel subsidies for fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, over-sized tillers and harvesters, and now tech-intensive GMOs that are necessary to stay ahead of plant blights that impact monoculture farms.

The research, marketing, law, and other complex necessities of high-tech agriculture each demand more emergy from society, which takes resources from other needed societal supports.

Renewable energy sources have less net energy, so renewables are unable to sustain industrial society in the place of non-renewable liquid fuels (Day et al., 2009). GMOs make us less sustainable, as they make our food system increasingly dependent on fossil fuel inputs and increasingly centralized and high-tech.

The pesticide treadmill

The second controversial argument against GMOs relates to environmental health and the accumulation of increasing volumes of pesticides in the environment as a result of the pesticides treadmill. Annual proprietary seeds that demand concurrent use of changing, untested and expanding mixes of both fertilizer and proprietary pesticides leads to a pesticide treadmill (Tilman, 2002).

The evidence on how much pesticide use is increasing globally varies greatly by report, ranging from a sympathetic meta-analysis report of a reduction in pesticide use by 37% over the past 20 years (Klumper & Qaim, 2014), to an increase of 7% over that same general period (Benbrook, 2012). The information on global pesticide production is proprietary and not widely touted, but the evidence is visible in healthy, growing corporate profits.

Corporate pressure may influence scientific reports through funding and publication bias. Pesticide-resistant super weeds develop, old patents expire, and new GMO seeds are repeatedly developed for new crop categories in hopes of expanding corporate markets and profits, leading to increased costs for farmers and increasing damage to the environment.

What is the relevant endpoint if corporate survival mandates ever-increasing growth of herbicides, which kill plants, insects, and birds in the environment? The loss of creatures who eat crop-eating insects leads to the need for more pesticides, and around we go again.

Monocultures replacing natural biodiversity

How much is too much pesticide for the planet as a whole, given the additive toxicity of many pesticides and non-food uses? The third large-scale argument against GMOs is the loss of biodiversity, water, and soil nutrients/erosion, through expansion of pesticides, replacement of natural systems with industrial-scale agriculture, and over-fertilization and irrigation.

Replacing natural biodiversity and insects with insect-free monocultures hastens the demise of our environmental support systems that we cannot live without—witness dead zones in the ocean, depleting and nitrate-polluted aquifers, and so on.

Rockstrom et al. (2009) name biodiversity loss as our greatest problem, and Rhodes’ excellent recent article describing the linkages between the problems of biodiversity and soil loss with bee declines and other problems illustrates this.

Additionally, chemical and GMO-based agriculture is fertilizer and water-intensive, adding to ocean dead zones and water shortages, which some claim as the biggest problem of the 21st century. In essence, the idea that we can outsmart Mother Nature and replace her biodiversity with a genetically new agricultural system is arrogant.

Unsustainable corporatization and centralization

The fourth large-scale argument addresses expanding corporate domination of seed patents, farm ownership, research, marketing, and so on. Fossil-fuel-based industrial agriculture winnows small farmers and creates a trend towards large-scale production with an inverse correlation between per capital farmers and energy intensity (Bradford, 2007).

Since we are now beginning energetic descent, we will need more small farmers, less intensive methods such as agroecology, and less reliance on technology to become sustainable and avoid collapse of societies.

The loss of small farmers adds to social stratification and inequality within the farming industry, but also in society at large, as regulatory capture by corporations leads to weakened regulations, more GMOS, more pesticides, and so on, in an autocatalytic merry-go-round. Feedback loops for policies favorable to corporations beget more large corporations, which expands unsustainable trends into overshoot.

Poorly studied GMOs and health

The fifth argument is the question of human health and poorly studied GMOs. The United States in particular places the burden of proof for regulation of hazardous chemicals on the Environmental Protection Agency and citizens to defend environmental health based on the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.

Laws in the last decade in the European Union assume a more precautionary approach by ruling that the proponent of an activity must bear the burden of proof in showing safety. One must wonder whether there is a correlation between the new “disease” of gluten intolerance and the recent rapidly expanding production of GMO foods. We do not know the human health or environmental results of gene manipulation of our food are.

A quick search of the literature suggests that there is much research on genetic treatment of diseases, but very little study of the questioned link between human health and GMO-based diets. The only studies so far consist of 90-day rat-feeding trials.

A small, longer-term study in 2012 of rat health by Seralini et al. (2014) received great criticism and the journal editors retracted the article. Large corporations can pay for biased research, and can control publication and news media. Who will fund neutral research on GMOs and human health?

What is the energy basis of GMOs?

The claim that GMOs exist to feed the world is a false one, derived from corporations’ desire for profit. This post has raised energetic, ecological, social, and health arguments against GMOs.  Other arguments include the unknown, unintended consequences of intentional mutation of the gene pool of our food, and the biased funding and publication of research.

In an era of population overshoot and resource scarcity, being able to fall back on our biosphere’s ecosystem services will be critical for a society that prospers. An industrialized, high-tech food system that requires increasingly complex research, laws, profit-making corporations, and annexation of natural systems into massive fields sowed with machinery, sprayed with poisons, fertilized with fossil fuels, and irrigated with our children’s aquifers while being supported by massive research labs to stave off the next pesticide-resistant insect is not a sustainable model.

In my opinion, the only way to avoid collapse of our food system is to return to agroecological systems which show four systemic properties: productivity, stability, sustainability, and equitability.
The land company—that’s the bank when it has land—wants tractors, not families on the land. Is a tractor bad? Is the power that turns the long furrows wrong? If this tractor were ours, it would be good – not mine, but ours. We could love that tractor then as we have loved this land when it was ours. But this tractor does two things – it turns the land and turns us off the land. There is little difference between this tractor and a tank. The people were driven, intimidated, hurt by both. We must think about this (Steinbeck, 1939, Chapter 14).
As Steinbeck suggests in The Grapes of Wrath, there may be a point at which technology owns us, and takes us to a place from which we cannot return without revolution of the system. We’re going to need a lot more farmers and less technology in a future with less fossil fuel, and more sustainable and ecologically based agricultural practices. GMOs only move us further towards an unsustainable goal of continued growth for a global economy in overshoot.

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DuPont-Pioneer to close in Kekaha

SUBHEAD: Global seed company DuPont Pioneer has shut down its facility in Kekaha.

By Anita Hofschneider on 21 May 2015 for Civil Beat -
(http://www.civilbeat.com/2015/05/dupont-pioneer-shuts-down-one-kauai-facility/)


Image above: Main entrance to DuPont-Pioneer offices in Waimea, Kauai. Photo by Juan Wilson.


Global seed company DuPont Pioneer has shut down its facility in Kekaha, Kauai and plans to consolidate its parent seed operations with another facility in Waialua on the North Shore of Oahu.
Laurie Yoshida, spokeswoman for the company, said that DuPont Pioneer has laid off 23 employees and plans to lay off 11 more once the closure is complete.

That will take time because equipment needs to be transferred and the 3,000 acres of leased land needs to be prepared to return to landowners. The employees will be offered severance packages, she said.

The news comes just 10 days after a federal court jury ruled DuPont Pioneer owes over half a million dollars to 15 residents in Waimea, Kauai, for property damage and other costs associated with red dust generated from the company’s fields.


Image above: Protest against GMO experimentation and pesticide spraying in front of DuPont-Pioneer security gate in by three residents of nearby Waimea Valley in 2013. Photo by Juan Wilson.

Yoshida said Wednesday’s closure is unrelated to the lawsuit and that DuPont Pioneer’s 1,500-acre Waimea operation in west Kauai will be unaffected.

She said the consolidation is due to the softening of the market and the desire to streamline operations. Both the Kekaha and Waialua facilities focused on parent seed operations, growing the initial seeds used to create hybrids.



Fighting GMOs for a Decade

SUBHEAD: Since 2005, Hawaii SEED has been organizing to educate the public about the risks posed by GMOs.

By Jeri DiPietro on 21 May 2015 for Hawaii Seed -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2015/05/dupont-pioneer-to-close-on-kauai.html)

On the occasion of our 10 year milestone as a non profit corporation working to "Raise Awareness and Inspire Change", we ask for your continued support. We mahalo all of GMO Free Kauai for the taking a leading role in food sovereignty and working towards meaningful solutions to the end of the infamous distinction as GMO ground zero.

Hawaii SEED and GMO Free Kaua`i are honored by the support of Dr. Jane Goodall and her quote below. Please consider donating towards our continued efforts to provide free events and educational materials. Mahalo nui loa. What we love we will protect!  Have hope and do what you can to protect biodiversity and avert biodestruction.

"I have learned that some of the most toxic chemicals used in industrial agriculture have been tested on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. I strongly support Hawai'i SEED and the Kauai activists who are working to create a healthy local food system in Hawaii and standing up to the chemical-biotech companies and I congratulate them on passing their local 'right to know' law. Perhaps this will encourage others to persevere in their fight against the giant corporations."  Dr. Jane Goodall

Aloha mai kakou,

Since 2005, Hawaii SEED has been organizing to educate the public about the risks posed by genetic engineering, the associated pesticide use and experimentation, while promoting diverse, local, and ecological food and farming. On the occasion of our tenth anniversary as a non profit corporation, the need for this work has never been greater -- and so too is our need for your support.

Please consider donating to our ongoing educational efforts by clicking the paypal “donate” button at hawaiiseed.org or by check to:
Hawaii SEED
PO Box 1177
Koloa, HI 96756
(808) 651-9603
We value contributions of any amount and your tax-deductible donation will help us to host thought-provoking speaker series, films and other community events, and help distribute our book “Facing Hawaii’s Future”, and Pesticide Action Network's “A Generation in Jeopardy” and other educational resources to the community, free of charge.

Resources for these efforts are key to expanding the reach and impact of what we know are important issues facing Hawaii’s future. We are grateful for your ongoing support.

Lots of exciting news and events coming up!  I did want to mention that my email reply to Stephanie Seneff to plan a speaking tour accidentally got mailed to the list and I apologize for that. A bit of a funny oops, oh well. 

We are firming up dates on that speaking tour, it looks like Kauai dates will be around 7/27 - 7/30.  The only firm date so far is 7/30 at KCC PAC, no time set yet.  We will keep you up to date as the places dates and times for events are made concrete.

\We are supporting a march this Saturday, its the Kauai supporting march for the worldwide march against Monsanto.  Its in two days, this coming Saturday, Noon to 2pm, at the airport intersection on the highway.  More information at the following link, hope to see you there!

https://www.facebook.com/events/478086505674401/

Mahalo nui loa,

The Hawaii SEED Board of Directors
Jeri Di Pietro, MiKey Boudreaux, Walter Ritte,
and Mary Lacques, Oʻahu Outreach Coordinator

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Dupont guilty in Waimea, Kauai Suit 5/8/15


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IMF Half Truth

SUBHEAD: The International Monetary Fund avoids admitting response to Global Warming is deindustrialization.

By Richard Heinberg on 20 May 2015 for Post Carbon Institute -
(http://www.postcarbon.org/the-imf-tells-a-half-truth/)


Image above: A study found that China's export industry is responsible for pollution that blows across the Pacific Ocean and contributes to smog in the United States. (Peter Parks / AFP/Getty Images) From (http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/20/science/la-sci-sn-china-exports-air-pollution-united-states-20140120).

On May 18 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a report titled “How Large are Global Energy Subsidies?

The question is a bit misleading: most readers, when they see the word subsidy, probably tend tothink of tax breaks or cash gifts to specific industries. The report, however, uses the term mostly to refer to environmental externalities—and not ones tied to all energy use, but ones related to fossil fuel combustion in particular.

An economic externality is an impact of a commercial activity that is not reflected in the prices of goods or services traded. There can be positive externalities: if I buy organic, responsibly farmed food, I usually expect to pay more—thus the beneficial impact of my food choice upon the environment isn’t reflected in a price that would reinforce my behavior; just the opposite is true.

But far and away most externalities are negative: companies are always looking for ways to make society as a whole clean up after them so that they don’t have to pay the full costs incurred by their activities.

Indeed, John Michael Greer has convincingly argued that industrial capitalism is, in effect, a negative externality-generating machine: the faster it goes and the bigger it grows, the more externalities it spews out for society as a whole to try to mitigate.

It’s certainly helpful to have an accounting of the externalities of our collective fossil fuel consumption.

But the choice of the word “subsidies” over the more precise “externalities” makes a difference: governments can cancel subsidies in the forms of tax breaks and gifts, but they can’t so easily cancel fossil fuel externalities without curtailing fossil fuel consumption—and that’s a big job, if they’re to do it in a way that doesn’t entail the rapid, uncontrolled collapse of society.

The take-away message of the IMF report for most readers would seem to be, “It costs us so much to burn fossil fuels ($10 million per minute, according to authors David Coady et al.) that we would save enormous sums by transitioning to alternative energy sources.”

But there is a lot of long, hard work involved in actually doing that. An across-the-board energy transition can’t be accomplished with a simple policy declaration (the way a tax break can be rescinded, for example).

The report notes that, of all nations, China has the highest externalized energy costs as a result of burning so much coal. But how else could China produce half the world’s steel and cement—with solar-powered blast furnaces and cement kilns?

In reality, China can substantially reduce its energy-related environmental externalities only by shrinking its industrial output. It can nibble around the edges of the problem by shifting to more renewable electricity, but electricity is only about one-fifth of all energy consumed globally.

And building massive numbers of solar panels and wind turbines would require a ramping up of high-temperature industrial processes (production of glass, steel, aluminum, cement, and silicon wafers) that currently rely on fossil fuels.

The IMF evidently wants policy makers to think fossil fuels are harmful and costly. Good: that’s true, and it’s helpful to know. It would be even better if this prestigious economic organization were to admit that eliminating the local pollution and global climate impacts of our current energy regime will require policy makers to do the very thing they least want to do: curtail and reverse economic growth.

This in turn would probably entail redesigning financial and monetary systems so they do not require growth, supplementing GDP with quality-of-life indicators, rationing energy with a tradable quota system, enacting policies to gradually reduce population, and directing an ever-increasing share of continuing fossil fuel consumption to the industrial processes necessary to build the slower, more localized, renewable energy infrastructure of the future.

Evidently the IMF wants spoon-feed its audience a little truth at a time. Only the easy bits are suitable now. It will save the hard truths for . . . when, exactly?

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Highjacking the Anthroocene

SUBHEAD: How the anti-green ‘Breakthrough Institute’ misrepresents science to advance a technocratic agenda.

By Ian Angus on 19 May 2015 for Climate and Capitalsim -
(http://climateandcapitalism.com/2015/05/19/hijacking-the-anthropocene/)


Image above: In original article and from (http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/news/2013/10/geological-anthropocene-era/). A 2013 art installation at Edge Hill University near Liverpool, England, by Robyn Woolston that included this mock sign, "Welcome to the Fabulous Anthropocene"

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone,
“it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
—Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

What can lobbyists do when science contradicts their political messages? Some simply deny the science, as many conservatives do with climate change. Others pretend to embrace the science, while ignoring or purging the disagreeable content. That’s what the Breakthrough Institute (BTI) is doing with one of the most widely discussed issues in 21st century science, the proposal to define a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene.

BTI has been described as “the leading big money, anti-green, pro-nuclear think tank in the United States, dedicated to propagandizing capitalist technological-investment ‘solutions’ to climate change.”[1]

Founded in 2003 by lobbyist Michael Shellenberger and pollster Ted Nordhaus, its philosophy is based on what’s known in academic circles as ecological modernization theory – described by Richard York and Eugene Rosa as the view that “industrialization, technological development, economic growth, and capitalism are not only potentially compatible with ecological sustainability but also may be key drivers of environmental reform.”[2]

In BTI’s simplified pop version, to which they’ve assigned catchier label ecomodernism, there is no “may” about it – their literature consistently couples a professed concern for the environment with rejection of actual pro-environmental policies, on the grounds that new technology, growth and capitalism are the only solution to all environmental concerns.

Most notably, BTI opposes efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, claiming that investment in nuclear reactors and shale gas will produce all the energy we need, and global warming will wither away as a side-effect. “The best way to move forward on climate policy,” write Shellenberger and Nordhaus, “is to not focus on climate at all.”[3]

As Australian environmentalist Clive Hamilton comments, BTI’s founders “do not deny global warming; instead they skate over the top of it, insisting that whatever limits and tipping points the Earth system might throw up, human technology and ingenuity will transcend them.”[4]

In 2004, Shellenberger and Nordhaus wrote a notorious pamphlet, The Death of Environmentalism. That title wasn’t an announcement – it was a goal. They declared their conviction “that modern environmentalism … must die so that something new can live.”[5] Their organization has worked to achieve that death ever since.

Bill Blackwater has exposed the “self-contradictions, simplistic fantasy, and the sheer insubstantiality” of BTI’s thought, and John Bellamy Foster has shown that ecological modernization theory involves “a dangerous and irresponsible case of technological hubris [and] a fateful concession to capitalism’s almost unlimited destructive powers.”[6] In this article I examine one specific feature of BTI’s current activity: its attempt to hijack the Anthropocene, to misrepresent one of the most important scientific developments of our time so that it seems to serve Breakthrough’s anti-environmental agenda.

Scientists define the Anthropocene
For scientists, the arrival of a new geological epoch signifies that there has been a qualitative change in the Earth System. For 12,000 years we have been in the Holocene epoch, but we now face conditions that are as different from that as the Holocene was from the ice age Pleistocene that preceded it. Paul Crutzen, the Nobel Prize winner who first suggested that such a change had occurred, and Will Steffen, former director of the International Geophysical-Biophysical Program, write:
“The Earth System has recently moved well outside the range of natural variability exhibited over at least the last half million years. The nature of changes now occurring simultaneously in the Earth System, their magnitudes and rates of change, are unprecedented and unsustainable.”[7]
The name Anthropocene, from the Greek anthropos, meaning human being, was proposed to emphasize that the new epoch is driven by a radical change in humanity’s relationship with the rest of the Earth System – that “global-scale social and economic processes are now becoming significant features in the functioning of the system.”[8]
 
The shift began with the growing use of fossil fuels in the Industrial Revolution, and went into overdrive in the “Great Acceleration” of economic activity, pollution and environmental destruction in the second half of the 20th century.

Now human activity is “overwhelming the great forces of nature,” to the point that if “the institutions and economic system that have driven the Great Acceleration continue to dominate human affairs … [then] collapse of modern, globalized society under uncontrollable environmental change is one possible outcome.”[9]

Foster describes the Anthropocene as “both a description of a new burden falling on humanity and a recognition of an immense crisis – a potential terminal event in geological evolution that could destroy the world as we know it.”[10] Similarly, the editors of Nature say it “reflects a grim reality on the ground, and it provides a powerful framework for considering global change and how to manage it.”[11]

By contrast, Nordhaus and Shellenberger want us to believe that everything’s going to be just fine.

They tell the world that “by 2100, nearly all of us will be prosperous enough to live healthy, free and creative lives.” All we need to do is “once and for all embrace human power, technology, and the larger process of modernization.”[12]

Foolish environmentalists may “warn that degrading nonhuman natures will undermine the basis for human civilization but history has shown the opposite: the degradation of nonhuman environments has made us rich.”

Environmental problems are merely unfortunate side-effects of developments that are fundamentally positive for humanity: “the solution to the unintended consequences of modernity is, and always has been, more modernity.”[13]

Hijacking a word, misrepresenting science
Given the huge difference in views, it would have been appropriate and honest for BTI to declare how and why it disagrees with the scientists who have identified profound changes in the Earth System and are proposing to declare a new epoch.

Instead, when the word Anthropocene started appearing frequently in academic journals and mainstream media, Nordhaus and Shellenberger jumped on the bandwagon and tried to steer it in a direction more congenial to their views.

In contrast to scientists they deem to be depressing, pessimistic, and catastrophist, they declared that the Anthropocene isn’t a crisis, it’s an opportunity to build a global technological utopia, in which humanity embraces nuclear power and shale gas, and we all enjoy US-style consumerism forever.

What they offer is a homeopathically diluted Anthropocene, in which the only remaining trace of Earth System science is the fact that the Earth is dominated by human activity – and even that, BTI insists, is neither a recent development or a matter for concern.

Nordhaus and Shellenberger gave the game away in an article they wrote for Orion magazine and then reprinted in a BTI-published e-book. After agreeing that humans are “rapidly transforming nonhuman nature at a pace not seen for many hundreds of millions of years,” they wrote:
“But the difference between the new ecological crises and the ways in which humans and even prehumans have shaped nonhuman nature for tens of thousands of years is one of scope and scale, not kind.”[14]
Read that again. If it’s true, then there is no case for declaring a new epoch. There has been no qualitative change, so we are still in the Holocene, still doing what humans have always done, since long before the ice sheets retreated.

Landscape ecologist Erle Ellis, a Breakthrough Institute Senior Fellow, has been arguing for the “scope and scale, not kind” view in the Anthropocene Working Group, the international committee that is evaluating the proposal for a new geological epoch. He supports an early Anthropocene – the view that the Anthropocene began not recently but thousands of years ago, when humans first made large-scale changes to landscapes and ecosystems.

Official endorsement of an early date would strengthen the Nordhaus/Shellenberger claim that there is no qualitative break between current and past human impacts on the Earth. As Clive Hamilton and Jacques Grinevald write, the early Anthropocene option justifies a business-as-usual understanding of the present.
“It ‘gradualizes’ the new epoch so that it is no longer a rupture due principally to the burning of fossil fuels but a creeping phenomenon due to the incremental spread of human influence over the landscape. This misconstrues the suddenness, severity, duration and irreversibility of the Anthropocene leading to a serious underestimation and mischaracterization of the kind of human response necessary to slow its onset and ameliorate its impacts.”[15]
BTI’s website describes Ellis as “a leading theorist of what scientists increasingly describe as the Anthropocene,”[16] but doesn’t mention that his early Anthropocene position, while compatible with BTI’s philosophy, has little support among the other scientists involved.

In January 2015, over two-thirds of the Anthropocene Working Group’s 38 members endorsed 1945 as the beginning of the Anthropocene, both because the Great Acceleration is an historical turning point, and because it can be located in geological strata by the presence of radiation from nuclear fallout. The early Anthropocene argument, they write, unduly emphasizes just one aspect of the case for a new epoch:
“The significance of the Anthropocene lies not so much in seeing within it the ‘first traces of our species’ (i.e. an anthropocentric perspective upon geology), but in the scale, significance and longevity of change (that happens to be currently human-driven) to the Earth system.”[17]
The AWG hasn’t formally decided yet, but Ellis, who evidently believes he has lost the debate, recently told an editor of the journal Nature that he opposes making any official decision. “We should set a time, perhaps 1,000 years from now, in which we would officially investigate this…. Making a decision before that would be premature.”[18]

That would allow BTI to continue misusing the word, but he seems to have little support: a recent article in Science, proposing to “avoid the confinement imposed by a single formal designation” has only four signatures, and of them, only Ellis is a member of the AWG.[19]

Oxymoron alert
Breakthrough has invited influential environmental writers to a luxury California resort in June, all expenses paid, for a two-day seminar on “The Good Anthropocene.”[20] So don’t be surprised if articles using that oxymoron appear in the mainstream media this summer. Phrases like “unprecedented and unsustainable” will not be emphasized, if they appear at all.

The seminar’s message was revealed in April, in An Ecomodernist Manifesto, signed by Nordhaus and Shellenberger and 16 others, all closely associated with BTI. Subtitled From the death of environmentalism to the birth of ecomodernism, it is self-described as “an affirmative and optimistic vision for a future in which we can have universal human development, freedom, and more nature through continued technological and social modernization.”[21]

The manifesto extends the oxymoron, promising “a good, or even great, Anthropocene” if only we will reject the “long-standing environmental ideal … that human societies must harmonize with nature to avoid economic and ecological collapse.”

Yes, you read that right. BTI’s pseudo-Anthropocene requires deliberately expanding the metabolic rift between humanity and the rest of nature into a permanent chasm. After all, “humans have remade the world for millennia,” so more of the same must be good.

A striking feature of all BTI propaganda is the gulf between the concrete problems they admit exist and what Bill Blackwater calls “the daydream quality of their positive solutions.”[22] That is clearly on display in their Ecomodernist Manifesto, which proposes to solve the pressing problem of climate change with “next-generation solar, advanced nuclear fission and nuclear fusion” – technologies that don’t exist and won’t soon arrive. In the meantime, BTI proposes reliance on hydroelectric dams, which can cause major environmental problems, and on carbon capture and storage, which doesn’t exist in any practical form.

Clearly, BTI’s “Good Anthropocene” won’t arrive before the climate and other essential elements of the Earth System reach tipping points. As Blackwater says, BTI’s purported realism is actually “the very height of fantasy,” a contemporary form of what C. Wright Mills used to call “crackpot realism.”

It’s time to defog
The pundits, politicians and CEOs whose interests are served by the Breakthrough Institute don’t want to be identified with the science deniers of the far right, but neither do they want the radical measures that responding to the real Anthropocene requires.

BTI’s fantasy of a Good Anthropocene builds the illusion that both objectives are easily achieved. Don’t worry, be happy – technological ingenuity will save capitalism from itself.

BTI could have avoided mentioning the Anthropocene, but that would have left a widely discussed concept unchallenged, posing the possibility that public understanding of the state of the Earth System will grow, strengthening the environmentalism that BTI wants to kill. It’s far more effective to appropriate the word, to sow confusion by promoting a caricature that has nothing to do with the actual Anthropocene and everything to do with preserving the status quo.

There can be no question about which side the left is on in this conflict. We may not endorse every element of the Anthropocene project, but we must not allow Earth System science to be hijacked and misused by enemies of the environment.

As Dipesh Chakrabarty writes, the scientists whose work BTI is trying to undermine “are not necessarily anticapitalist scholars, and yet clearly they are not for business-as-usual capitalism either.”[23] Many are adopting more radical views as they study what’s happening to the Earth System. It’s our responsibility to help them blow away Breakthrough’s fog of confusion, and work with them to stop capitalism’s drive to ecological disaster.

Ian Angus is editor of the ecosocialist journal Climate and Capitalism, and of the anthology The Global Fight for Climate Justice

Notes
[1] “Notes from the EditorsMonthly Review 66, No. 2 (June 2011).
[2] Richard York and Eugene A. Rosa. “Key Challenges to Ecological Modernization Theory.” Organization & Environment 16 No. 3, September 2003
[3] “Statement on ‘Climate Pragmatism’ from BTI Founders Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus.’” Breakthrough Institute, July 27, 2011.
[4] Clive Hamilton. “The New Environmentalism Will Lead Us to Disaster.” Scientific American Forum, June 19, 2014.
[5] Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus. The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World. Oakland, Breakthrough Institute, 2004.10
[6] Bill Blackwater. “The Denialism of Progressive Environmentalists.” Monthly Review 64, No. 2 (June 2012). John Bellamy Foster. “The Planetary Rift and the New Human Exemptionalism.” Organization & Environment 25 No. 3 (September 2012)
[7] Paul J. Crutzen and Will Steffen. “How Long Have We Been In The Anthropocene Era? An Editorial Comment.” Climatic Change 61 No. 3 (2003)
[8] Will Steffen et al. “The Anthropocene: From Global Change to Planetary Stewardship.Ambio 40, No. 7. October 2011.
[9] Will Steffen, Paul J. Crutzen and John R. McNeill. “The Anthropocene: Are Humans Now Overwhelming the Great Forces of Nature?Ambio 36, No. 8, December 2007.
[10] John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York. The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth. New York, Monthly Review Press, 2010), 18.
[11] Editorial. “The Human Epoch.” Nature 473, No. 7347, May 19 2011.
[12] Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, “Introduction,” in Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, editors,  Love Your Monsters: Postenvironmentalism and the Anthropocene. (Breakthrough Institute, Oakland, 2011). Kindle e-book.
[13] Nordhaus and Shellenberger, “Evolve.” in Love Your Monsters
[14] Nordhaus and Shellenberger, “Evolve.” in Love Your Monsters
[15] Clive Hamilton and Jacques Grinevald. “Was the Anthropocene Anticipated?The Anthropocene Review 2 No. 1. (April 2015)
[16] “Erle Ellis, Associate Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.” Breakthrough Institute, n.d.
[17] Jan Zalasiewicz, et al., “When Did the Anthropocene begin? A Mid-Twentieth Century Boundary Level is Stratigraphically Optimal.” Quaternary International, In Press, January 2015
[18] Quoted in Richard Monastersky. “Anthropocene: The human age.Nature 519, No. 7542. (March 11, 2015)
[19] William F. Ruddiman et al. “Defining the Epoch We Live In.” Science 348, No. 6230 (April 3 2015)
[20] In “Ecomodernists Envision Utopia—but What about War?Scientific American blogger John Horgan says his expenses are being paid.
[21] Ted Nordhaus, Michael Shellenberger et al. “An Ecomodernist Manifesto.” (April 2015)
[22] Bill Blackwater. “The Denialism of Progressive Environmentalists.” Monthly Review 64, No. 2 (June 2012)
[23] Dipesh Chakrabarty. “The Climate of History: Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry 35 No. 2 (Winter 2009).

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: EcoModernist Claptrap 5/10/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Go Nuclear or Go Native 10/20/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Rocky Mountain High 6/24/12
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The Transforming Castle Truck

SUBHEAD: New Zealanders Jola and Justin have created a three level road worthy house truck with its own turrets!

By Andrew Martin 15 May 2015 for Onenes Publishing -
(http://onenesspublishing.com/2015/05/seeing-is-believing-the-transforming-castle-house-truck/)


Image above: Exterior of road legal truck before its transformation into a castle home. Still shot from video below.

With the average size of houses having increased over recent decades, there is a growing movement for people seeking alternatives to large, expensive, energy intensive housing. Australia currently holds the record for the country with the largest homes.

The average size of a new Australian house increased from 162.2 square metres (1742 sq feet) in 1984 to 227.6 square metres (2444 sq feet) in 2003. The average new Australian home is now 10% bigger than even its U.S. equivalent [1].

Australian is closely followed by the U.S., Canada and New Zealand all having homes either over 200 metres squared or just under 200 metres squared (2200 feet squared). In contrast other countries have significantly smaller houses such as Germany (109 m2), Japan (95 m2), Sweden (83 m2), UK (76 m2), China (60 m2) and Hong Kong (45 m2).


Image above: Exterior of castle during transformation from truck. Still shot from video below.

While the trend over the last decade has been for larger homes, the tiny house movement is becoming popular among those wishing to be more sustainable and wanting to live simpler less consumerist lifestyles. The small house movement is about reducing the overall size of dwellings to less than 1,000 square feet or approximately 93 square metres.

Following the Global Financial Crisis and Hurricane Katrina both of which helped spark interest in the small home movement, there is a small but growing younger demographic moving toward living with less. While still a relatively small sector, the tiny house market is set to see more interest over the coming decades. As housing affordability deteriorates along with economic conditions people will seek alternative ways of living [2].

One such couple who have embraced the tiny house movement with their passion and skills are Jola and Justin from New Zealand. They have combined functional and practical with quirky and fun. They have created a three level road worthy house truck with its own turrets! The 40 square meter ‘Castle’ truck is an engineering masterpiece.


Image above: Interior of kitchen area of castle truck. Still shot from video below.

The Castle truck includes biofold doors, a loft, a rooftop bathtub, a large food dehydrator, a full working kitchen complete with oven cook top and refrigerator. The bathroom facilities include a shower (within one of the turrets) and composting toilet (in the other turret) and a washing machine. Solar panels pull out to provide power for the family and recycled materials have been used throughout the vehicle [3].

Don’t take my word for it see for yourself what the team over at Living Big in a Tiny House have done to showcase this quirky, fun and functional engineering masterpiece.


Video above: Unbelievable house truck transforms into fantasy castle. From (https://youtu.be/CnHGKUh-5O4).

Article compiled by Andrew Martin editor of onenesspublishing and author of One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future… and the JUST RELEASED Rethink…Your World, Your Future.




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Another USA Pacific territorial grab?

SUBHEAD: Yes, yes. We know it's to save the whales. Just like the US Navy Range is to protect us from the Chinese.

By Juan Wilson on 18 May 2015 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2015/05/another-usa-pacific-territorial-grab.html)

http://www.islandbreath.org/2015Year/05/150518niihaubig.jpg
Image above: Map showing proposed Whale Sanctuary boundary around Niihau in yellow. Note it just encloses an offshore Navy training area and overlaps the Barking Sands Underwater Range Expansion area - thus blocking north south passage between Niihau and Kauai under some circumstances. Click to enlarge. From poster on a bulletin board at Salt Pond Store in Hanapepe that urged interested parties make comment on sanctuary expansion.

It has been called the Asian Pivot by talking heads, pundits and political flacks. It seemed it was going to be the final chapter in the westward expansion of America across the world. I suppose it began with the taking of Hawaii and the Spanish American War and was fulfilled World War Two in the Pacific: then perpetuated with the atmospheric nuclear tests through the fifties and began degrading with the Vietnam debacle and subsequent defeat.

 It is my opinion that American expansion of authority in the Pacific Ocean may have crested. There seems to be an increased skepticism and resistance to claims by America of open ocean and island nations despite our "historic victories" and newer assertions.

Note that as dedicated, environmentally aware and scientific some National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration staff are, that NOAA is a subsidiary of the Commerce Department and is responsible for administering commercial fishing throughout American territories in the Pacific (including Hawaii) through through the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Council (WESPAC).

In recent decades the military ranges, marine sanctuaries and monuments that the Navy and NOAA administer have grown and overlapped alarmingly.

This is happening to such an extent that we are creating a contiguous area that claims millions of square miles of the Pacific (that include dozens of strategic islands) - an area that would be hard for any navigator to avoid sailing into.

(http://www.islandbreath.org/2014Year/10/141022uspivotbig.jpg
Image above: The elliptical boundary of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument shown overlapping the testing area of the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. Click to enlarge (http://www.islandbreath.org/2014Year/10/141022uspivotbig.jpg).

As an example of difficult navigation just look at the overlapping ellipses that make up the newly proposed Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (or PRIMNM). It encompasses approximately four-million square miles of the Pacific Ocean and several islands used as nuclear barbeque pits in decades past. The perimeter of this area is area bounded by no less than seven overlapping ellipses.

It you were a sailor or fisherman who needed to avoid the area of the PRIMNM you would find that such curves are impossible to circumnavigate with traditional techniques. They require a constantly changing compass heading. It is much easier to navigate around a rectangular or rectilinear shape with sides made up of lines of latitude or longitude. Just bear a constant North, South, East or West.

So when the Obama Administration proposed the current marine national monument expansion of the PRIMNM the RAMNM (Rose Atoll Marine National Monument 90,000 sq miles), the MTMNM (Marianna Trench Marine National Monument 1,000,000 sq miles) and the PMNM (the Papahanaumokukea Marine National Monument 1,300.000 sq miles) you might wonder how they generated elliptical boundaries. I think I know the answer. It is a lesson in how detached and out of touch the US government is to reality on the ground (or on the sea).

I believe some hustling anonymous assistant to a committee made up of military brass, Commerce Department honchos and Obama administration aides was tasked with showing the proposed monument areas on a map of the Pacific Ocean. 

That assistant was  provided a jpg file  by the Defense Department of our military test ranges in the Pacific. The assistant used his/her PC to open the file with CorelDRAW and preceded to use the application's ellipse drawing tool to surround the proposed monument areas under consideration with overlapping ellipses following the instruction from "Now to Make Hippos using CorelDRAW".


Image above: A step in the instructions for drawing a hippo (and Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument boundaries) with CorelDRAW. From (http://www.duniamedia.com/coreldraw/how-to-make-hippos-using-coreldraw.html).

As you may know, now the US Federal Government is proposing expanding the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HWNMS). The areas making up the sanctuary would be administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (or NOAA) and include the whole state.

When  Kauai fishermen, indigenous Hawaiians, and sovereignty advocates got wind of the plan they put together a six-page resolution endorsed by some 6,000 Kauai ocean users who oppose to the expansion of the HWNMS. This was presented to the Kauai County Council for approval. The Council, in a typical act of political cowardice, deferred the item until October.
See TGI here (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/whale-wars/article_3e14e102-83cb-11e2-917a-001a4bcf887a.html) 3/3/15

There were public meetings conducted by NOAA to present the expansion plan to Hawaiian residents. The meetings were packed with interested members of the public and did not go well for Sanctuary Superintendent  Malia Chowin her presentation.

The meetings were rauckus and on occasion profane. Many members of the public were suspicious and angry. See TGI here (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/first-sanctuary-meeting-draws-fire/article_b45a7a96-f388-11e4-ac4b-4786d5f0d807.html) 3/27/15.

One upshot is that the HWNMS expansion presentation scheduled for today on Oahu has been cancelled by NOAA with this statement of their website (http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/)
"The Sanctuary Advisory Council Meeting that was scheduled for May 18, 2015 at the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu has been cancelled. Stay tuned for the rescheduled meeting date."
I guess it is time to reassess the public relations of this Humpback Whale Sanctuary. You can submit testimony on this issue at (http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov). You have until June 19th 2015 to comment. Also you can write our governor. An example from the bulletin board at Salt Pond Store is below.



To: Office of the Governor
The Honorable David Y. Ige
Executive Chambers of the State Capital
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813


I am in opposition to the proposed document Hawaii Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary: Expansion, Regulatory Revision and New Management Plan for the following reasons.

• The expansion of the Sanctuary is not justified or warranted.

• There is no justification for the proposal to move from a single species humpback whale sanctuary to managing everything in the ecosystem

• Federalization of State waters is not needed.

• The Environmental Impact Statement does not identify management gaps that need to be filled to enhance the conservation and protection of Hawaii's natural resources.

• The proposed rule clearly duplicates existing State and Federal management authority and regulations. See Appendix 4 of the Humpback Whale Sanctuary Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

• NOAA has proposed to delist the Humpback Whale from the Endangered Species list.

• The existence of the Whale Sanctuary is not justified in State waters. I am opposed to all Federal Sanctuary proposals in Hawaii.

Mahalo from

Name:

Date:

Address:


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