Category Archives: Climate Change

Lurpak Go Home

Annoying advert

These days I cannot cycle across London without giant advertizing  boards getting up in my grill, hawking Lurpak butter. The posters shamelessly try to link a mass butter product with the complex and rich well-being benefits of cooking. Be happy, buy Lurpak and cook.

The one problem with this cheery narrative is that Lurpak butter  is shipped across a sea to get here releasing unnecessary and dangerous green house gasses into our unbalanced atmosphere. Why are we creating this risk when we have great local butter, produced skillfully within these lands? The only butter I will buy is local butter. So Lurpak get your big, dangerous, stupid adverts out of my face and stick to selling your Danish butter to the Danes.

Another annoying advert

This is just getting boring

Earth 2 Jay Kay

Earth to Jay Kay… Come in Jay Kay!

[NOTE TO READER: for some reason (possibly their revolutionary content) the great eco-corporate Sony has deemed these videos to be restricted access (nice move Sony, you assholes). To get the full effect open the tunes in a new window.  : )  ]

The first CD album I ever bought was Emergency on Planet Earth the debut album of Jamiroquai. I was blown away, not just by the wicked tunes and musical groove but by the uncompromising, switched-on message. Undoubtably this album had a profound impact on my 13-year-old mind. There is an emergency on planet earth and these dudes have made a whole album about it!

Remember how good this one is:

Yeah baby! But wait a second… check out this mother… it’s even better!

This was in 1993! This cat was way ahead of his time! But then something went terribly wrong…

Jay Kay post ‘success’

After becoming a multimillionaire popstar, Jay Kay was lured to the Darkside. In particular he became fascinated with the power of long dead organisms, released with fury in the internal combustion engines of his supercars. The fossil fuel fumes must have done something to his brain because since then he is often seen  in London, off his nut, getting noticed for all the wrong reasons.

Jay Kay in a new Ferrari Source: http://bit.ly/eoue8X

Jay Kay's £180k Lamborghini Diablo SE30 ultra-rare 'Anniversary' edition after a smash

Jay Kay scrapping on a night out in London (Source: http://bit.ly/fxqiJs)

Jay Kay gets nailed by the dreaded 'biker cops'. Source: http://bit.ly/gAAbN

Jay Kay… what happened? Come back to planet earth! We need you now more than ever!

Didgin’ Out

Coolest opening of any tune? Didgin’ Out (I used to repeat the first 5 seconds repeatedly)

For more sweet eco tunes… check out: http://ecohustler.co.uk/top-10-eco-tunes-of-all-time-ever-for-now/

Naomi Klein: Addicted to risk

Breaking News: International Sex Scandal at COP 16

Shocking news just in: nations of the world are sending their wankiest people to Cancun after word got out that it is just going to be a giant international circle-jerk. Last year leaders of the free world gathered in Copenhagen for COP 15 but decided, at the last-minute, not to bother with a global treaty to protect: the natural world we depend on, our children or their future descendents. So this year… the gloves are off!

In a desperate last-minute bid for alien intervention to save us from the evil alliance of perverted-banker-greed and slimey-politician-scum good citizens of the world (http://earth.350.org/)  are coming together to create giant symbols to grab the attention of passing alien vessels. Maybe a more advanced civilization can point out that nature needs the bailout out not a pathological economy founded on consuming our planet.

350 eARTh Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic

350 eARTh - Solar Eagle, Los Angeles

350 eARTh Mexico City

350 eARTh - Delta del Ebro, Spain

Rewinding Life

The Humpback Whale: endangered

Nations of the world are coming together at COP 10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, to face up to the fact that our efforts to rein in the current mass extinction crisis have failed. In an attempt to put the issue on the political map, biodiversity is being allocated a monetary value much as the Stern Report’s did with climate change. However, this approach fails to acknowledge a bigger truth. Reducing the diversity of life on earth effectively puts evolution in rewind taking us back to an ecological period when humans didn’t exist. This unraveling of life’s rich tapestry destroys real value that took millions of years to create and shifts ecosystems away from those human’s are adapted to.

The Gorilla: endangered

Human’s who continue to generate ‘wealth’ by consuming nature are perverted and sinful. This may not be the conventional attitude today but it will be the attitude of our wiser descendants if they survive the coming austerity of a decimated planet. They will look back at our time as an idyllic Eden, so rich in life it was home to panda’s, cheetahs, blue whales and other extraordinary creatures. They will consider the leaders and powerful elite who presided over this ecocide as criminals. To prevent the worst from happening this must become the attitude of us all now.  We must wake up to the true value of nature.

Everyone has been talking about climate change and for nefarious reasons the media insists on including climate scepticism in the debate as if it were a sane position. But leaving all that noise to one side, it is still hard to discern how fragile life on earth is and therefore how precarious a situation human civilization is in. On one extreme we have scientists and environmentalists telling us that the human eco-footprint is unsustainable and that many critical ecosystems we depend on are nearing collapse and on the other we have pioneers and prospectors who, appealing to our rugged, masculine urges, tell us that nature is strong and we should concern ourselves with the folks back home not something ‘out there’ called ‘nature’.

WWF’s Living Planet Index: decreasing

How can we examine the world around us to objectively determine where on this scale we actually are and therefore what our course of action should be? Measuring carbon in the atmosphere or the abundance of natural resources is reasonable, but both are debatable and therefore political. For example, the warming effect of CO2 can in theory be reversed by geo-engineering or perhaps captured by a new technology and turned into a fuel. Declining resources can, in theory, be restocked and a complete knowledge of, say, a cod stock, can be disputed.

The Leatherhead Turtle: endangered

In contrast, biodiversity is an absolute that cannot be disputed. As we destroy the natural world, species go extinct. This is not negotiable. Either you can find a living specimen or you can’t. If you can’t, it is game over. It is not possible to bring a species back and habitat loss means that if in the future we can, they won’t have anywhere to live.

 

Gradinsko Lake Croatia

Human’s turn ‘natural capital’ (forests, fisheries and mountains) into ‘human capital’ (cloths, cars and iphones) and in doing so are pruning the tree of life. The current loss of species is so extreme it is being called the 6th mass extinction event. The last one is the most famous because it caused the extinction of the dinosaurs but several others were far more severe. For example the Permian extinction event led to a 90% die off. It takes at least 10 million years for diversity to begin to recover from such an event.

The Dinosaur Impact 65 million years ago

Mass extinctions are thought to result when a long-term stress is compounded by a short term shock.  Remarkably humans appear to be doing both simultaneously with cataclysmic results: “The speed at which species are being lost is much faster than any we’ve seen in the past — including those [extinctions] related to meteor collisions,” said Daniel Simberloff, a University of Tennessee ecologist and prominent expert in biological diversity. If present trends continue one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years, as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species, and climate change.

Humans are killing the world that we evolved from. This is far worse than biting the hand that feeds us; it is kicking the vagina that delivered us. This petulant destruction will cost us money; it will limit new opportunities in medicine and cuisine and travel and adventure; but it will also shift the planet’s ecology away from one that can sustain us massively increasing the risk of our extinction. Surely this is the main reality to engage with?

Today, whilst human minds fixate on the financial ‘crisis’ and channel unprecedented resources into keeping pathological markets afloat, the real crisis goes unchecked. It is nature that really needs the bailout.

Big impact mass extinction

65 million years ago it wasn’t the impact of the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs. It was the ecological changes that occurred as a result of the long, nuclear winter that followed. Massive plant eating dinosaurs starved after plants withered and soon so too did their predators. The tiny shrew-like early mammals we are descended from probably survived the long darkness by gnawing on the fetid flesh of the multifarious dead behemoths.

Evolutionary destiny

If humans do not wake up out of this mass, suicidal hallucination and start apportioning a proportional value to their life support system it may be the cockroaches who survive the dark of our nuclear winter by gnawing on the dead bodies of people laid strewn through the wreckage of civilization. Maybe the roach descendents will learn from our ruins and exist for long enough to seize life’s opportunities and increase exploration of (both internal and external) space?

Although the trends today are apocalyptic, the solutions to the biodiversity crisis are well understood. The way to stop species going extinct is to preserve their habitats. The only effective way of preserving habitats is by creating large nature reserves that are off-limits to human exploitation. We could imagine a future sustainable world in which human cities, towns and farms are nestled within an international network of mega-wildlife corridors which are large enough to allow for terrestrial species migrations. Huge human-free marine zones are also required.

The Blue Whale: endangered

Dead

To secure these vital eco-systems the human economy must acknowledge and respect limits to its prospecting of nature’s bounty. Limiting human expansion isn’t even on the table as an option as government’s fall over each other to try and endlessly stimulate new economic growth. When will they see that as Edward Abbey says: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” And that growth that destroys life is actually death.

We must put part of nature beyond the reach of markets. This is entirely logical because, as our cosmic mother, home, nourishment and inspiration nature is, of course, literally priceless. Whilst this may be anathema to free-market apostles who understand their universe only through attaching dollar signs to everything, human species-control is the only practical way to maintain the ecological integrity of the biosphere; which is the way for us to survive.

The Orang-Utan: endangered

To make limiting further growth of the human economy politically viable we need people’s values, attitudes and behaviours to change. First up, understanding that it is not just that losing species depletes our planet and undoes value that has taken millions of years to accumulate, value well beyond the puny, vulgar dollars and pounds that rule this brief epoch. It is that we are undoing the ecology that we evolved into. We cannot be certain that whatever follows may not be so hospitable. Whether pioneers, prospectors, religious fundamentalists and other anthropocentrists can stomach it or not, our destiny is utterly and completely bound to the destiny of all the other species of life on earth.

White Ttiger Swimming: endangered

We also need to share widely the understanding that improving the human condition is no longer dependent on extracting more from nature. Collectively, we have all we need. All future progress must be dematerialized; from government policy to business development through to what we do on the weekend, enough with stuff.

We are the smartest species that ever existed but somehow we are not collectively using our brains. We are blessed with a planet brimming with, literally, the most extraordinary richness in the known universe. This phenomenal, unique, living layer which pulses and shimmers against the dead blackness of infinity and drawing on the energy of the nearest star steadily increases in mass and diversity is not just our home. It is our destiny. So it is time to show compassion to the millions of other species who share our world. Let’s follow the golden rule and do unto them as we would have done unto us. Let’s love our fellow creatures as we love ourselves because ultimately any sense of separation is an illusion.

Gaia

Will we stop mass extinction?

I’ve just signed an urgent global petition supporting a new treaty to prevent mass extinction. The petition will be delivered Friday at UN talks in Japan — check out the email below and sign on here:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/the_end_of_whales/98.php?CLICKTF

Peace… or die

Liberty Doom by azrainman

  • Part 1: Peace… or die.
  • Part 2 Monkey wrenching the war machine
  • Part 3: The Horrors of War (including video)

Part 1: Peace… or die.

'Shock and Awe' Bagdad 2003

On August the 2nd President Obama reaffirmed his plan to end the War in Iraq (AKA ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ AKA ‘Operation New Dawn’).  Between 2003 and 2010 the UK spent £4.5 billion and the total cost to the U.S. economy is estimated at $3 trillion. The Iraq Body Count project estimates the violent civilian deaths from the conflict to be between: 94,902 – 103,549. At a time when scientists were reporting on the increased speed and severity of climate change the most powerful nation on earth backed up by the nation in which the industrial revolution started were doing exactly the wrong thing. The world needed to be uniting to combat climate change and move away from fossil fuels. Instead a coalition of politicians and corporations backed up with the planet’s fiercest war machine were invading a sovereign state to steal its oil. Now is an appropriate time not just to look at the gross stupidity of this war; but also to reflect on how the process of war is diametrically opposed to the emergence of a human civilization that might survive this century.

An early victim of the Iraq War

War is the apex of human stupidity. It is the antithesis of sustainability. It is the most extreme example of waste. Wasted resources, wasted human potential, wasted land, wasted minds and wasted lives. The modern era’s most bellicose nation, The USA, has allocated $533.8 billion to the Department of Defence in fiscal year 2010. The U.S. military is the single largest consumer of energy on the planet. In 2007 it used 132.5 million barrels of oil (363,000 barrels per day). Imagine what all these resources could do if aimed at ending global poverty or conserving biodiversity or actually doing something good in the world. Now in a sick irony they are sure to miss a twitchy Pentagon is warning us of peak oil reporting that output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015. One obvious solution is to stop burning unimaginable quantities of oil in the violent quest for more oil.

US soldiers in Iraq

The absurdity of expending precious, dwindling resources on deliberate destruction and pollution at a time when the scientific community is in agreement that human activity is driving the current ecological crisis is compounded by the fact that at the same time as fighting this war for oil it has also been engaged in international negotiations for a binding climate treaty. Well surprise surprise we haven’t signed one yet. How are nations suppose to agree a binding treaty which in effect is an agreement to share the atmosphere, a pivotal moment in the ethical evolution of our species, when countries are still bombing each other and fighting wars for resources!? It is time to grow up.

It’s not just the climate. The ongoing rise in human population and per capita consumption means that everywhere you look resources are running out; from oil to fish to fresh water. As resources are increasingly constrained we face the spectre of escalating violence and increasing wars for resources. Bold pre-emptive action is required to ensure we allocate resources fairly and safeguard against a surge in brutality.

Child in front of a burning oil well in Iraq

The fundamental changes to our world we currently are living through mean that finally war’s time has come. Exponential population growth means that our species now controls a majority stake in the planet’s biology; emergent new technologies transform our potential to change our world and resource depletion pushes ecological systems close to collapse.  With great power comes great responsibility and our ethics and morality must now take a great step forward to match that of our technological progress. The novel treaties and structures required to bind our species to a common goal are already well under way. Now is the time to use the international framework of the United Nations to begin the process of agreeing treaties binding nations to disarmament, cooperation and peace.

The British military in Kuwait pre-invasion

Part 2 Monkey wrenching the war machine

Statue in front of the UN in NYC

‘There will always be war… it is a part of human nature’.

This is a logical fallacy that has dogged human progress for generations. The persistence of war significantly reduces the probability of the persistence of humanity. This is most obvious in the case of nuclear obliteration. Less obviously but more significantly the solution to climate change and resource constraints is a treaty based on global cooperation. This will not be possible in a world of antagonistic nation states.

Peace is possible

The logical statement is ‘there will not always be war’. This is true because either we will remain a world of antagonistic nation states and annihilate each other / be wiped out by runaway climate change or we will become sustainable which requires uniting as a species, rising above the limitations of the outdated concept of the nation state and together creating a globally regulated resource based economy. Either way, war is over.

‘Naive, idealistic, dreamer’ we hear the jaded, soulless readers of the right wing press spit out of their fearful faces. It’s not idealistic. It’s pragmatic. It isn’t naive either. We know, full well that there is a small powerful minority of men who have a vested interest in keeping fighting wars, of course, this has always been the case but the information age is tipping the balance in favour of the peaceful.  Information activism brings the horrors of war into clear view and we understand more clearly than at any time in history why wars are fought, who is driving them and how they manage to coerce the young people of their country over to another to commit murder and more than at any time we have the tools to stop wars before they start (see below).

Film: The Power of Nightmares

The Zeitgeist Movement-Activist Orientation Guide identifies 3 motivations for war. 1) Industrial Profit, maximized for the elite 2) Resource Acquisition (theft) 3) Geopolitical Alignment to increase the ease of further industrial profit and resource theft. Whether you make bombs, mine resources or pump oil the spoils of war equate to bumper profits unachievable in peace time. When the time is right governments and corporations collude to create the conditions for an invasion. Fear, nationalism / racism and twisted morality can all be manipulated via propaganda to stoke the flames. The information age means increasingly the general public is not fooled but even as far back as 1935 the shine was coming off the industrial war machine. In the words of Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, Major General Smedley D. Butler:

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes…”

US veterans protest against the war

Another vile racket was the international slave trade. Tens of millions of people suffered horrendous fates and a small number of slave traders amassed vast fortunes. No doubt the slave traders said in their defence that it was a natural feature of the human condition. Fortunately, the good people of that time had the vision to see forward to a fairer, better world and stood up for what they believed in. William Wilberforce in a speech before the House of Commons, 18 April 1791:

William Wilberforce

“Let us not despair; it is a blessed cause, and success, ere long, will crown our exertions. Already we have gained one victory; we have obtained, for these poor creatures, the recognition of their human nature, which, for a while was most shamefully denied. This is the first fruits of our efforts; let us persevere and our triumph will be complete. Never, never will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, under which we at present labour, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonour to this country.”

Anti war protest

War is not a fundamental part of human nature. War is the most sinister part of human nature manifested, magnified and exploited by evil, powerful men. The fact that wars are created by a tiny number of people makes them easier to prevent in the information age. We must more effectively and proactively go after warmongers; isolating and stopping them. Like the great Wilberforce before us we can be bold and ambitious and wipe away this scandal to create a better world. We are conditioned to believe that war is inevitable because this is all that we have seen but another world is possible. In fact, another world is imminent… our species has to learn to cooperate to survive.

Ending war is no more farfetched then ending slavery, giving women the vote or going to the moon. Martin Luther King ‘had a dream’ and it became reality. So we must dream it, plan it, and then make it happen.

UN peace poster

Things you can do right now:

  1. Take and maintain a united zero-tolerence attitude to violence and aggression. Hold to account anyone who attempts to use violence as a means to an end by use of non violent direct action and all other available means.
  2. Go ethical: change your bank and if you have money to invest put it only in ethical funds. Did you know that most banks will invest your money with the arms industry? This makes you complicit in the industrial war machine. Take a stand, wash the blood of your hands and switch to an ethical bank e.g. in the UK: Smile. For ethical investment: Triodos. Make a point of telling your current bank why you are leaving.
  3. Fax / email / speak to your MP (or political representative). Tell them that you want your country to take a lead in peaceful foreign policy, supporting the United Nations and reducing the military budget. In the UK now is a critical time to stand against the nightmare of the Trident Missile System. Who the hell are we going to use it on!?
  4. Sign up for organized protests, for example via Avaaz or 38 degrees.
  5. Cultural: let’s make involvement in the death industry a taboo alongside racism and incest. Do you know someone who designs missiles? Or a soldier? Let’s make the case in a polite and non-judgemental way that there are far better ways for them to be spending their time and that it is no longer acceptable to be making a living from war.
  6. Name and shame: we all know Donald Rumsfeld was a key architect of the Gulf war and that more than anyone he profited via his large stake in Halliburton. Who else profiteers from war? Let’s get a public list together and let them know what we think of their sick existence.
  7. Arrest Tony Blair (and get paid!) check out: http://www.arrestblair.org/
  8. Be Peaceful.
  9. Any other suggestions? Please post in the comments below.

Part 3: The Horrors of War (including video)

Important speech by US Iraqi war veteran

The information age means that wars fought in distant lands can now be brought into our homes. The immediacy of information flows makes it far harder for those in power to conceal either their motives for war or the atrocities committed to achieve their aims. For example, Wikileaks is an “uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking“. In April it released a secret video (see below) showing US air crew falsely claiming to have encountered a firefight in Baghdad and then laughing at the dead after launching an air strike that killed a dozen innocent people, including two Iraqis working for Reuters news agency. The video brings into sharp relief, if we needed reminding, how appalling, uneven, cold blooded and ultimately devastating modern warfare has become.

Collateral Murder

A classified US military video depicting three airstrikes from a US Apache helicopter on July 12, 2007 in New Baghdad, Iraq.  At least eighteen people were killed in the airstrikes, including two journalists working for Reuters, Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen. The video was recorded by the gunsight camera on the Apache helicopter, identified as Crazyhorse 18, and is accompanied by the radio communications of the helicopter gunmen as they communicate with their commanders and troops on the ground.

U.S. Army specialist Ethan McCord was one of the first on the scene after the helicopter attack. He describes what he saw:

Ethan McCord

“The top of one guy’s head was completely off… another guy was ripped open from groin to neck. A third had lost a leg … Their insides were out and exposed. I’d never seen anything like this before.”

Then McCord carried a child crying from a black minivan caught in the barrage of 30mm bullets. Inside, he found a frightened and wounded girl, perhaps 4. Next to her was a boy of 7 or so, soaked in blood. According to McCord their father,

“…was slumped over on his side, like he was trying to protect the children, but he was just destroyed… I started seeing images of my own two children back home in Kansas.”

Unsurprisingly McCord was devastated by his experiences. The Pentagon is struggling to deal with legions of young people warped by the stress of war. Back home McCord was dosed with antidepressants but turned to a zombie and took to downing pills with whiskey and walking around the house with a military knife. However, he isn’t doing so badly in June 32 members of the US military could bear it no longer and killed themselves.

The terrible legacy of the Iraq War goes beyond the trauma of the heart and minds of the survivors. The use of depleted Uranium in Iraq is now causing a surge in birth defects passing on the suffering to a new generation of innocents.

Nuclear War (it’s a mother fucker)

Music by Sun Ra:

The biggest no–brainer ever

 

Death by fossil fuel

All the eyes of the world are turned to the beaches of the most dominant nation of our times. The world is watching closely as this pivotal culture wrestles with this unprecedented environmental catastrophe. Will Obama use this as his movement to make a clean break and fundamentally restructure the energy infrastructure in the same way that 9/11 was used as the catalyst to restructure US foreign policy? Will regulation be changed in such a way that big business can no longer dictate the terms of its own scrutiny?  Will BP finally be seen for the serial offender and gross violator of nature that it really is… yada yada.

Obama looking as serious as possible

A Nigerian man stands in front of the flare that burned him (Source: http://www.chrishondros.com)

But wait a second… is this really an unprecedented environmental catastrophe? Or is it really that a far bigger fuss is made when the USA and its sacrosanct way of life is threatened? Just across the Atlantic a far larger spill has been ravaging the coastal ecosystem, poisoning the people and devastating a way of living for over two decades. Nobody is watching and nobody cares. Presumably this is because this is not an aspirational culture. It is not a holiday destination and could it also be because the oil is harder to see on the people’s skin? This is Africa and the people being poisoned are Nigerian.

A ruptured pipeline burns in a Lagos suburb after an explosion in 2008 which killed at least 100 people. Photograph: George Esiri/Reuters

The companies operating (Shell, Agip, ExxonMobil) may be different but the catastrophe is exactly the same. This is the inanity of Obama rounding on BP and calling it ‘British Petroleum’. It doesn’t matter which company it is or which country it is head office is based in. This is the same dirty shit. This is massive corporations that have grown too big to control doing what they were set up to do. Converting natural capital into cash as fast as humanly possible to satisfy the false god made manifest by the demons at Harvard Business School that have for years spread their sick sermon of shareholder return over people and the planet. These tormented cogs in an ungodly machine have sold their souls along with the planet and now we reap the vengeance as hell is brought down to our earthly paradise.

Kids play football in front of a flare (Source: http://www.chrishondros.com)

The Nigerian coastline has had to endure 1.5m tons of oil. More oil is spilled from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, What isn’t spilt is shipped to… you’ve guessed it! Our favourite Empire… the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports. The burden of its role as furnace stokers of the bloated, inefficient and distended US machine is almost too much to bear. Life expectancy in its rural communities, half of which have no access to clean water, has fallen to little more than 40 years over the past two generations.

A devastated land

In this unregulated, pioneer land western companies bribe the government and suffocate dissent allowing them to cut endless corners and operate as cheaply as possible. By their sick algebra the most profitable means of extracting the black gold is simply to burn the accompanying gas (a scarce and valuable resource) off in flares (definition below). In Nigeria there are flares that have been burning continuously since 1972.  You don’t need a degree in atmospheric or environmental science to know that deep down this is just wrong.

All this goes to show without a shadow of a doubt that we do not face a choice. The questions have already answered and it is a no-brainer. Two roads bifurcate in front of us. One leads to a sustainable future in which we shift rapidly away from fossil fuels; live more locally; work fewer hours; shift our attentions from consumption to creativity; from competition to cooperation and provide space for the natural world to recover and evolve. This way of life is not mysterious. It is not fanciful. It is not utopian. It is practical and people are already doing it. Transition Towns show how to implement an ‘energy decent plan’ and check this new report from the Centre from Alternative Technology and NEF outlines a zero-carbon vision of the UK within 20 years.

The other road leads straight to hell. People of earth… the choice is yours.

Deepwater Horizon in flames off the coast of Louisiana (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Steadfast TV)

Gas flare definition (source: wikipedia)

A gas flare, alternatively known as a flare stack, is an elevated vertical conveyance found accompanying the presence of oil and gas wells, rigs, refineries, chemical plants, natural gas plants, and landfills. They are used to eliminate waste gas which is otherwise not feasible to use or transport. They also act as safety systems for non-waste gas and is released via pressure relief valve when needed to ease the strain on equipment. They protect gas processing equipments from being overpressured. Also in case of an emergency situation, the flare system helps burn out the total reserve gas.[1][2][3]

Extensive flaring makes Nigeria glow bright in the dark of Africa

Flaring and venting of natural gas from oil & gas wells is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Its contribution to greenhouse gases has declined by three-quarters in absolute terms since a peak in the 1970s of approximately 110 million metric tons/year and now accounts for 0.5% of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.[4] The World Bank estimates that over 150 billion cubic metres of natural gas are flared or vented annually, an amount worth approximately 30.6 billion dollars, equivalent to 25 percent of the United States’ gas consumption or 30 percent of the European Union’s gas consumption per year.[5] This flaring is highly concentrated: 10 countries account for 75% of emissions, and twenty for 90%. The largest flaring operations occur in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The leading contributors to gas flaring are (in declining order): Nigeria, Russia, Iran, Algeria, Mexico, Venezuela, Indonesia, and the United States.[6] In spite of a ruling by the Federal High Court of Nigeria (that forbade flaring) in 2005, 43% of the gas retrieval was still being flared in 2006. It will be prohibited by law as of 2008. [citation needed]Russia has announced it will stop the practice of gas flaring as stated by deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov on Wednesday September 19, 2007.[7] This step was, at least in part, a response to a recent report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that concluded Russia’s previous numbers may have been underestimated. The report, which used night time light pollution satellite imagery to estimate flaring, put the estimate for Russia at 50 billion cubic meters while the official numbers are 15 or 20 billion cubic meters. The number for Nigeria is 23 billion cubic meters.[8]

Big Oil is the dirty boot of an out of control sociopath committing ecocide

Oil burns during a controlled fire in the Gulf of Mexico, May 6, 2010 (REUTERS)

It is time to wake up and freak the fuck out. BP and the American government want you to sit tight and imagine that this environmental catastrophe is being fixed by responsible people. Don’t worry. Keep calm and carry on. Do not adjust your television. Go back to sleep.

The truth is that we are being lied to on many levels and responsibility was flushed out to sea a long time ago along with our grandchildren’s destiny.  The reality is that this is an unprecedented rupture of one of the planets most pressurized wells.  An engineer with 25 years of experience writes

Aerial view of the oil leaked from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead, May 6, 2010. (REUTERS/Daniel Beltra)

They go out where the ocean is 5,000 feet deep and drill another 30,000 feet into the crust of the earth. This it right on the edge of what human technology can do. Well, this time they hit a pocket of oil at such high pressure that it burst all of their safety valves all the way up to the drilling rig and then caused the rig to explode and sink. Take a moment to grasp the import of that. The pressure behind this oil is so high that it destroyed the maximum effort of human science to contain it. Now they’ve got a hole in the ocean floor, 5,000 feet down with a wrecked oil drilling rig spewing 200,000 gallons of oil a day into the ocean. The only piece of human technology that might address this is a nuclear bomb.

A pod of Bottlenose dolphins swim under the oily water, Louisiana, May 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Obama says he is going to aggressively pursue the costs of the oil leak; as if any amount of money can compensate for dolphins dieing slowly in our toxic shit, dugongs drowning in sludge or whole coral reef systems being eradicated. However, the horrendous truth that we ignore at our peril is that this vast aberration is just the dirty boot of an out of control sociopathic giant that is stomping across our planet leaving nothing but death and devastation in its wake.

Humanity's dark side is out of control

The psychotic beast that terrorizes nature and endangers our grandchildren’s existence is growing more powerful every day. He assaults every known ecosystem on the planet. He knows no mercy. He thrives on young plump flesh and howls with glee as he snuffs out of existence the billions of humans that may now never live.  Look in the mirror, nice and close and you might glimpse him staring back at you out of the dark heart of your beady little eye.

Corporate Baby

We might wish this evil behemoth was extraterrestrial. This would be an easier foe to confront. Indeed it might even lead to the long awaited unification of the human species. The truth is far harder to accept. We have created this monster. Indeed it is a manifestation of our ugliest characteristics; our greed and vanity.

Of the world’s largest 150 economic entities, 95 are corporations. Wal-Mart, BP, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch/Shell Group all rank in the 25 largest entities in the world, above countries that include Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Norway.

'Honest Logo-bp' from http://www.b3ta.com

The corporate giants we have created, as well as being bigger then nations, are far more focused and efficient in their endeavours. Whereas nations are composed of millions of people who are all doing different things a corporation is structured entirely around its modus operandi. Most corporations have linear business models. They extract natural resources, convert them into products and sell them to consumers who eventually discard the product as harmful waste back into nature. A Corporation’s profits (and power) increase with the increasing efficiency and scale with which they convert natural capital (forests, mountains, fisheries) into human capital (cars, cities, cloths).

Amazonian Deforestation: resource extraction for products

So what actually are these enormous entities that are altering the composition of the oceans, the atmosphere and even the building blocks of life itself? The Corporation is a bizarre, ancient construct. In medieval times entities like churches and local governments were ‘incorporated’ so that they could survive longer than any particular members allowing them to exist in perpetuity. Despite not being natural persons, corporations are recognized by the law to have rights and responsibilities like actual people. A key feature of a corporation is limited liability which enables corporations to socialize their costs (e.g. pollution) whilst privatizing their profits for the benefit of shareholders.

Altered BP Ad

Early companies used rivers to remove waste from factories. In developed countries this came under control when people downstream were harmed by the pollution and brought a case to court. However, to this day, no organism, ecosystem or indeed, nature as a whole, has ever been afforded a legal right, despite their role in sustaining civilization. This is a new and important front for environmentalists (for example: Wild Law, The Universal Declaration of Planetary Rights & Earth Jurisprudence).

A Typical Business Leader

Critiques of the modern corporation highlight its pathological self-interest, amorality, and voracious appetite for more. Historically corporations have cut deals with any style of government – from Nazi Germany to despotic states today. They influence policy for their own interest despite the social cost for example by consistently lobbying for weak environmental policy. They also concentrate unprecedented wealth in the hands of men who are, by and large, greedy, immoral and myopic.

Great Film: The Corporation

The exceptional film The Corporation evaluates the contemporary corporation’s behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychiatrist might evaluate an ordinary person. The film’s assessment is effected via Robert Hare, a University of British Columbia psychology professor and a consultant to the FBI who compares the profile of the contemporary profitable business to that of a clinically-diagnosed psychopath.

The psychopaths may have run amok unchecked were it not for a new crime of a scale never before seen. The crime, like the corporations committing it, is bigger than anything ever achieved before by man, thus requiring a new word; Ecocide: the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished. A campaign for the United Nations to accept “ecocide” as a fifth “crime against peace”, which could be tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC), alongside genocide and crimes against humanity – was being launched in the UK this year by environmental barrister Polly Higgins.

Ecocide in the Niger Delta; guess who's behind it...

Ecocide is now happening all around the world. 10 ecocide hotspots include: Texaco Chevron dumping roughly 18.5 billion gallons gallons of crude oil and toxic waste waters into the Amazonian jungle over two decades; Vedanta Resources , a British company, planning to dig an open-pit bauxite mine in the forest’s of the ’sacred’ Niyamgiri mountains in India; Royal Dutch Shell in the Alberta Tar Sands referred to as the most damaging project on the planet which of course will now be overtaken by BP’s holocaust in the gulf of Mexico.

It is time for the green movement, civil society and any independent minded beings out there to wake up see what’s happening and take the fight to the source. Humanity’s survival depends on reining in the out of control behemoth that is disemboweling Mother Nature right in front of our unseeing eyes. The psychotic corporate machine is literally moving mountains, poisoning the sea, changing the atmosphere and making the planet in inhospitable. It must be stopped.

Photos from the gulf: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/05/disaster_unfolds_slowly_in_the.html

Ten worst ‘ecocides’ in pictures: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2010/may/04/top-10-ecocides

Protest in Washington, 11th May 2010 (photo: Chris Eichler)

This is not a chimney

A Cooling Tower

A Chimney

It looks like a chimney… but it’s not! At a fossil fuel burning power station the chimney looks like this:

So what are these enormous concrete monstrosities? These belching behemoths are cooling towers. In the UK’s creaking, outdated power stations coal is burnt to heat water to steam. The steam is sent through turbines at high speed generating electricity. Once through the turbine a huge amount of energy remains in the hot water. For some reason the geniuses who designed these power plants decided that instead of using this heat for something useful like… er… heating… they would call it ‘waste heat’ and fart it into the sky. Some power stations also fart the heat into rivers killing fish. Great move guys!

Cooling Towers at sunset

The really stupid thing is that this electricity is then transmitted along wires to houses where, yes, you’re not going to believe this; it is used to generate heat in electrical heating devices. This process is massively inefficient. More than 75% of the carbon in those lumps of coal is released into the atmosphere for no good reason at all.

This insanity goes someway to explain why countries like Denmark and Sweden are so much more efficient then the UK. When I was in Copenhagen for COP 15 it was exciting to see a small power station within the city limits. This power station only had a chimney. It didn’t need cooling towers because all the ‘waste’ heat was being piped into the city to keep the homes snug. There are no boilers in homes over there (so no need for a boiler scrappage scheme); just large tanks storing the plentiful hot water. Using the hot water produced from generating electricity to heat neighbourhoods is known as district heating or combined heat and power (CHP). Most exciting of all was the giant company name emblazoned on the side of the building… DONG energy. This is clearly the way to warm a city!

Dong Energy in Copenhagen: no cooling towers

It is almost certainly not a coincidence that the countries that lead the world in energy efficiency are also the countries with the highest levels of equality. Efficiency and equality are two noble steeds drawing civilization forth to a better future.

The flip side to the gross inefficiency that lies at the heart of our green and pleasant land is that enormous efficiency savings and therefore emission reductions are readily available. All the government has to do is legislate to pass an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) to ensure our electricity supply is subject to similar efficiency rules as everything else in our lives (fridges, cars, homes). Simple, you might think. Well it is, but unfortunately, politicians tend to be the snivelling dishonest type. In their quest to service the needs of big business they fail again to serve their true constituency… the people.

The big 6 energy companies in the UK have a great time enjoying both a deregulated market and historic and ongoing megasubsidies (£1676 million a year since 1990). You would think all this money might be spent on innovation, new technologies or improving service. Unfortunately as with the deregulated rail network we get increasing prices and worse service. Deregulation was supposed to give the consumer more choice but the myth of the free market flounders yet again. The ‘Big Six’ meet regularly behind closed doors racking up profits by keeping domestic bills broadly ‘in line’ with one another, restricting energy supplies to competitors and demanding laborious accreditation and credit requirements for new companies. As MP Alan Simpson points out deregulation has delivered an energy cartel but not energy security.

The Direct Approach

The Big Six are: Scottish and Southern Energy, Scottish Power, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON UK and npower. The members of this exclusive club are now fat, powerful and greedy. They resist any regulation to reduce emissions whilst ripping off the consumer during a cold spell. Energy companies’ profit margins have increased for the fifth quarter in a row, while wholesale costs continue to fall. No doubt their CEOs are enjoying winter in the Caribbean on their yachts while your gran shivers at home wearing her entire wardrobe with a tea cosy on her head.

Yeah right

Instead of moving us to a new energy model the government is putting its’ efforts into an approach The Big Six approve of. It’s called Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). This involves capturing pollution at the chimney and pumping it underground. Despite the fact that this makes power stations 20% less efficient and despite the fact that its effectiveness is yet to be proved the government is throwing a £9.5 billion subsidy at it in the building of four new coal-fired power stations. Describing this as throwing good money after bad is the understatement of the millennium.  This ‘solution’ is the same old bullshit with a new hat on.  It’s still big, it’s still dirty it’s still inefficient… and guess what?… you’re still paying for it! Families will  have to pay a new levy on electricity bills for at least the next 20 years in order to fund this dubious technology that keeps us bound to burning fossil fuels for years to come. The government continues to rein back the noble steeds backing instead the old inefficient knacker ridden by the big fat cats.

Instead of tackling the pollution at its source the government is focusing its energy down stream on the consumer despite the fact that by this point most of the enegy has been wasted already. In this Act on CO2 advert the government skilfully uses fear and the love of our children to try to create behaviour change.

However, there isn’t much point telling people to unplug their mobile phone chargers when the companies doing the charging have a carte blanche to tip us into apocalyptic meltdown and the electricity being delivered to your house is dirtier than an oil spill in the Persian Gulf. Yes, the future is scary, in large part because our leaders are cowardly and are not making the bold joined up move to a low carbon future we so desperately need.

The government should commit to building no more old-school power stations. Instead of enormous power stations in the countryside let’s see smaller power stations around cities burning waste, secondary bio fuels and other fuels and making use of all the heat generated by connecting up to district heating networks. All new homes built should be on brown field sites joined to such a grid.

If the government doesn’t join up it’s messaging to electricity users with that to generators it risks losing any credibility on climate change when we need leadership from government most. Right now this would be a disaster and would undermine a lot of the good work that Act on CO2 has done on the consumer side.  We need to prioritize our actions in such a way that those that reap the greatest reductions in emissions are enacted first. Of course, the biggest polluters must be looked at first and hardest. By wimping out of regulating Europe’s biggest polluters what message is the government sending to us?

The usual suspects?

The repeated failure of our government to take appropriate action and reign in the power companies gives concerned citizens only one course of action. As Al Gore, Sir David King and a UK jury have made clear civil disobedience is now urgently required. Is it is time to break the law for a higher cause?

Hasta la vista baby!

 

Climate sceptic!? You do the maths…

Our Atmosphere: you gotta love it!

The process behind altering the earth’s atmosphere and therefore its climate is now well understood. Humans mine from the earth and from the bottom of the oceans the compressed fossils of organisms that lived on the planet eons ago. These beings were sustained by the energy captured from ancient sunlight beamed through space in an epoch before the first mammals had even evolved.

Geological Time Spiral

Photosynthetic organisms use the energy of sunlight to turn CO2 from a gas in the atmosphere into the living matter of all the creatures on earth. When these plants, algae and plankton are eaten the matter is passed up the food chain. When living organisms die if they are not consumed by another they may be transformed to soil, sedimentary rock or the infamous, so-called fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas). Thus the total mass of organic matter has been increasing on earth continuously since the dawn of life.

Prehistoric Life

The industrial revolution and subsequent, derived technological expansion reverses this process. Power stations, the boiler in your cupboard and the engine in your car take the fossilized remains of ancient animals and burn them. This combustion releases the energy that was captured back in the day and returns the complex organic carbon matter back to molecular form (CO2 and water). Because we live in a ‘fossil fuel economy’ almost everything we do has a carbon footprint. However, because this is a new science and only recently taught in schools many people struggle to understand what a carbon footprint actually is. A carbon footprint is the carbon released into the atmosphere from whatever you do…  but how can we conceptualize this?

People discussing climate change often use the unit of a tonne of co2. We know that on average in the UK we release 11 a year, about 1 a month. In the US it is about double this. Specific activities can be given a carbon footprint. For example, flying to New York releases about 3 tonnes of co2 and flying to Australia about 10.

What is this tonne? Where is this tonne? What is it doing? Even within the low carbon world this practical information is not well understood. Presumably this is because we are discussing an invisible gas. This may get to the heart of the climate challenge. No one can see it happening. The ‘greatest threat humanity has ever faced’ is invisible and gradual (until it goes non-linear that is; if feedback loops amplify change so that it ‘runs away’ change will be fast and irreversible).

Last year I worked with a crack squad of artists, architects, event producers and the world’s leading projection company to construct a sculpture the size of 1 tonne of co2 at COP 15 and project upon it a range of climate themed audio visuals.

Standing in front of the work of art elicited a range of psychological, emotional and physical responses. This mega monolith manifested in downtown Copenhagen was so big (8m x 8m x 8m) it was shocking; but it was the accompanying data that really knocked the wind out of you. In total humans release 80 million of these suckers every day (2006 data). Stacked on top of each other these would go to the moon and back 1.5 times (every day). In a year the figure is 28,431,741,000 tonnes. In other words we have got cubes coming out of the ying yang!

The Cube from the Air

The exhibit culminated with a Kenji Williams performing Bella Gaia in front of the cube with exclusive NASA footage projected in the background.

This staggering scale is even more sobering when it is made relative to the total volume of the atmosphere. From the scale of us humans busy with our daily endeavours on the planet’s surface the atmosphere seems enormous. It dwarfs us. However, at the scale of the planet the atmosphere is almost unnoticeable. The atmosphere and oceans are so small in comparison to the overall earth it is comparable to a film of water on a billiard ball. Even all the mighty oceans only make up 1/4000 of the earth’s total mass.  The scale height of the atmosphere is about 8.5 km.[8] Whereas the radius of the earth is 6,371.0km[3] in other words the earth is more than 1000 times bigger than the atmosphere.

 

The third rock from the sun contains around it a thin layer of water, gases and vapour at a temperature of between −89 °C to 57.7 °C (mean = 14 °C). Within this exists all of the known life in the universe and all that most of us holds dear. For astronauts in space seeing this can be an epiphany. Here are some reactions to seeing our home from space:

An Astronaut

Looking outward to the blackness of space, sprinkled with the glory of a universe of lights, I  saw majesty – but no welcome. Below was a welcoming planet. There, contained in the thin, moving, incredibly fragile shell of the biosphere is everything that is dear to you, all the human drama and comedy. That’s where life is; that’s were all the good stuff is.

– Loren Acton, USA

For the first time in my life I saw the horizon as a curved line. It was accentuated by a thin seam of dark blue light – our atmosphere. Obviously this was not the ocean of air I had been told it was so many times in my life. I was terrified by its fragile appearance. – Ulf Merbold, Federal Republic of Germany

A Chinese tale tells of some men sent to harm a young girl who, upon seeing her beauty, become her protectors rather than her violators. That’s how I felt seeing the Earth for the first time. I could not help but love and cherish her.  – Taylor Wang, China/USA

The total annual emissions of greenhouse gasses from human activity are a not insignificant percentage of the total atmospheric mass. If our atmosphere was the size of an apple, every year we are sticking a pea size amount of poisonous gas into it. We have been doing this since 1750. It is not unbelievable that doing this would create a change to our atmosphere and to our climate. It is unbelievable that we have been doing this for 250 years and we are still around to talk about it. Why aren’t we already extinct!? The resilience of the earth’s atmosphere is largely down to the dynamic nature of the ecological systems that make up the biosphere. At this point it may be worth pointing out that at the same time as pumping vast amounts of gas into the biosphere we are also removing the great forests of the world which draw co2 out of the atmosphere.

Personally I sincerely wish it was true that a group of scientists had invented climate change as an elaborate plot to usher in a world government who will curtail the rights of US gun toters, ban Christianity and create a homosexual communist utopia. The inconvenient truth that just will not go away is that thousands of different scientists in different parts of the world, using different techniques and speaking different languages are measuring and monitoring the same phenomena. We are changing our atmosphere and our climate.

Whatever your ideological stand point you need a healthy atmosphere to breathe. The people who are slowing down and hampering global efforts to preserve our atmosphere fit into 3 different categories. They are either not educated to the level to enable them to understand the science; they are stupid or they work for the fossil fuel industry. If you can’t understand the science for whatever reason, we politely ask you: please step aside; your ignorance is deadly. Those who can understand the science are aware of an enormous imminent threat and are working hard to find solutions. For the other category you are worse than irresponsible. You are traitors to your species, your planet and this grand evolutionary adventure. Your greed is endangering all of the life on this planet. The best thing we could do with you would be to stick you on a planet that doesn’t have an atmosphere and see how you like it when your eyes pop out of your skull rapidly followed by your evil little reptilian brain.

Sunrise on Earth