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Nazi regime turning mosques into synagogues, bars

The Omari Mosque in Tiberias, built by Zahir [Wikipedia]

The Omari Mosque in Tiberias, built by Zahir [Wikipedia]

One of the landmarks of Tiberias, the mosque, also known as the Zaydani mosque, was built on the Mameluke architecture, with a big dome and a minaret.

“Like most Palestinians, the Tiberias residents have fled to Syria and Lebanon following the Nakba,” Kamal Khatib of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens, told Anadolu Agency.

“The Zaydani family, however, moved to the adjacent city of Nazareth,” he said.

Khatib said the Zaydani family had asked the Nazi authorities to give them permission to renovate the Umari mosque.

“The Tiberias Municipality, however, refused, arguing that it would renovate it, but nothing happened,” he said.

“Even since the mosque has been closed with ‘Israeli’ authorities banning worshippers and visitors from entering it,” he said.

The study also showed that 40 mosques were either destroyed, closed, or abandoned, while 17 others were turned into bars, restaurants, or museums.

For example, the Al-Ahmar Mosque in the northern town of Safed was turned into a concert hall, while Al-Jadid Mosque in the city of Caesarea was changed into a bar, according to the study.

Khatib recalled that mosques in the pre-Nakba era were teeming with worshippers. “After the Nakba, however, mosques were destroyed, particularly those in villages. Other mosques were either turned into synagogues, bars, museums, cafes or restaurants.”

Khatib lamented that the Israeli policy “disregards the sentiments of Muslims”, citing the al-Isaaf cemetery in Jaffa, where tombs were razed despite protests from local residents.

Khatib said Israeli authorities have enacted legislation to confiscate the property of Palestinians, who fled their homes.

“The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the law of absentees, under which Israel confiscated buildings and property of Arab citizens [who left their homes to other areas],” he said.

The Nazi regime denies the accusations of using mosques for other purposes than worshipping.

In October 2015, the Nazi Foreign Ministry said there were around 400 mosques in ‘Israel’ and that the number of worshippers doubled five times over the past 25 years.

Khatib, however, dismisses the Nazi claim, saying “The Israeli government has never built a mosque in the country’s history”.

Judaisation of Jerusalem - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Environment, Human Rights0 Comments

Thawing Arctic Permafrost

by ROBERT HUNZIKER

Photograph Source: Steve Jurvetson – CC BY 2.0

It’s no surprise that first prize, or the blue ribbon, for exceeding 2°C above baseline goes to the Arctic with permafrost that covers 25% of the Northern Hemisphere. Recognition is long overdue, as it’s been totally neglected far too long by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

This crucial nugget of knowledge comes by way of a recent virtual science session (1:27 in length) sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences.

The webcast is entitled: Thawing Arctic Permafrost: Regional and Global Impacts, hosted by John P. Holdren, Teresa & John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

The timing couldn’t be better. The Arctic Circle has been very newsworthy. As such, people must be wondering what to make of the disturbing news that’s unsettling, to an extreme.

According to Euronews, as of July 14th:

“The extreme north and beyond the Arctic Circle has this year registered record temperatures. On June 20, the meteorological service of Russia recorded a peak of 38°C in Verkhoyansk, the highest recorded temperature since records began in the late nineteenth century.”

“This is contributing to the rapid melting of permafrost, the region’s frozen ground, on which are built many industrial construction sites and buildings, many for mining hydrocarbons,” Ibid.

“The melting of the poles that act as temperature controls for atmospheric currents has consequences for the entire climate,” Ibid.

Decidedly, what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.

According to Professor Holdren: “Temperatures across the Arctic are increasing 2 to 3 times faster than the global average… The Arctic will continue to be the leading edge of climate change.”

The first speaker on the virtual webcast was Dr. Susan M. Natali, Associate Scientist and Arctic Program Director, Woods Hole Research Center, an Arctic ecologist focusing on the ecosystem and carbon cycling consequences of permafrost thaw.

According to Dr. Natali, the Arctic temperature anomaly is already 2°C warmer than the long-term average. The consequences include sea ice loss, melting of Greenland ice sheets, and permafrost thaw.

Permafrost thaw is monitored by boreholes drilled at depths of 20 meters (66 feet) throughout the Arctic. Thus, measured temperature changes avoid seasonal dynamics. These deep permafrost temperatures, in some instances, have been measured for up to 40 years. Results: Permafrost temps are markedly warming across the board, regardless of season.

Of note, Northern Hemisphere permafrost contains 1100-1500 billion tonnes of carbon in the form of ancient organic matter. For comparison purposes, this is twice the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere, and it is three times as much carbon as in the world’s forest biomass.

An obvious implication of Dr. Natali’s statements is humanity is playing with fire in a very big way by allowing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (cars, planes, and trains, etc.) to run wild, increasing by the month, by the year, by the decade with absolutely no end in sight, none whatsoever. At some point in time all of those billions of tonnes of carbon stored in frozen permafrost will start breaking lose beyond normal background rates and humanity will find its goose cooked, maybe well done.

According to Natali, permafrost carbon emissions are not included in the IPCC’s global carbon budget that targets 2°C or below, preferably below 1.5°C. Well, maybe a suddenly overheated Arctic will bring on an eventual recalculation of how the IPCC looks at and calculates the carbon budget. Better late than never.

And, here’s the distressing part (one of many): Fieldwork by scientists proved that permafrost is already a “net emitter of CO2,” this after thousands of years as a “carbon sink,” but no longer! As such, thousands of years of one of the largest carbon sinks on Earth erased by recklessness of human-generated over-heating ecosystems.

Not only that, according to Natali, permafrost thaw alone is equivalent to ~25% of the IPCC’s allowable emissions to stay below 1.5°C. Yet, the IPCC does not include permafrost in its carbon budget, meaning there’s a very nasty surprise down the line for the rah-rah climate mitigation crowd.

The second virtual speaker was Katey Walter Anthony, Aquatic Ecosystem Ecologist and Professor, Water and Environmental Research Center, University of Alaska/Fairbanks.

Dr. Anthony has done fieldwork throughout Russia with a lot of work in Siberia (a hothouse nowadays). Her research focuses on thermokarst, lake formation, and greenhouse gas methane.

Per Dr. Anthony, current climate models in the world do not include carbon emissions from thermokarst lakes. Yet, they’re plentiful with millions of thermokarst lakes expanding and releasing methane all across the Arctic.

Not only that but permafrost soils contain 1500 gigatons of carbon, which according to Dr. Anthony, equates to 150 years of fossil fuel emissions under present conditions. Imagine turning lose a sizeable fraction of that carbon. Once again, nation/states’ carbon emission mitigation plans are dead certain to come up real short of professed goals.

Field tests on thermokarst lakes are conducted by lowering a bubble trap into the water to trap microbial methane seeps as the methane bubbles year round. Bubble traps exist in over 300 lakes throughout the Arctic.

It was 14,000 years ago, as the climate warmed, when permafrost thermokarst lakes flared up on the landscape, bringing 4°C warming over a period of 8,000 years. Nowadays, according to Dr. Anthony, a similar 4°C warming will likely occur over only 80 years in sharp contrast to 8,000 years in the paleoclimate record. Obviously, without her stating as such, it implies a climate system that’s on turbo charger training-wheels, real big ones.

“We are standing at the threshold of abrupt change in permafrost carbon emissions.” (Anthony)

Mercy! And, all of those mitigation plans by 195 nations, but did they ever really get off the ground? The truth is emissions relentlessly climb upwards, ad nauseam. Thus, questioning who’s seriously watching the store?

John Holdren wrapped up the virtual session: We’re probably looking at 80 to 100 gigatons of carbon released from permafrost over this century. In turn, this takes a big bite out of the global carbon budget. According to Dr. Holdren, that prospect is in addition to a global temperature increase, to date, of 1.1°C to 1.2°C above baseline.

Permafrost, which is not included in the global carbon budget by the IPCC, could add 25% to 40%. That’s an enormous problem that lends itself to big trouble down the line. What’s a nation in the throes of carbon emission mitigation plans to do?

Nevertheless, Dr. Holdren, who co-chaired Obama’s President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, says it is still possible to mitigate enough to hold temps to 2°C. But at a cost of ~3% of world GDP. Ahem! He further nearly apologetically suggested that the hit to civilization for failure to mitigate would far exceed that cost, which happens to be 3% of $85T or a whopping $2.55T (that’s trillions). Hello, anybody still out there?

Meanwhile, after years of handwringing and gushing teardrops of green sympathizers, the world is still 80% dependent upon fossil fuels, a fact revealed by Dr. Holdren at the close of his presentation. That’s very troubling.

That’s the same 80% as 50 years ago and a clear signal of absolute failure by governments around the world and a resounding failure by the IPCC to fully implement/organize/promote its heavenly Paris ’15 plans to save the planet. It’s disgraceful!

As for final questions/thoughts via the virtual webcast:

According to Dr. Anthony: The East Siberian Arctic Sea is a place where “we’ve seen really large numbers of CH4 release.”

The following was not discussed in the webcast: Temperatures were recently 30-34C (86-93F) in the East Siberian Arctic Sea (ESAS) region, which region is equivalent in size to Germany France Gr Br Italy and Japan combined and with 75% of the area in 50-80m, shallow waters, allowing quick and easy CH4 release from the subsea permafrost without oxidation. Drilling by other scientists has discovered enormous quantities of frozen methane, and noticeable thinning of the subsea permafrost. Trusted sources that closely follow CH4 emissions in the ESAS region are of the opinion: “It may be out of control.” But, it’s important to note that’s anecdotal information.

Also, disconcertingly, the heaviest season for methane release into the atmosphere has only just begun.

Making matters even worse, at the Top of the World, Arctic Ocean sea surface temperatures, which this time of year are typically 0.3°C (32°F) were recently 12°C (54°F). That’s downright spooky!

Postscript: Scientists have identified the first active methane gas leak in Antarctica, announced July 22nd, discovered by researchers led by Andrew Thurber/Oregon State University, who commented: “I find it incredibly concerning.” (Source: Andrew R. Thurber, et al, Riddles in the Cold: Antarctic Endemism and Microbial Succession Impact Methane Cycling in the Southern Ocean, The Royal Society, July 22, 2020).

Speechless!

Posted in Environment0 Comments

The Coronavirus-Climate-Air Conditioning Nexus

by STAN COX

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

A wave of persistent, intense heat and humidity has enveloped the Midwest, South, and Northeast in this second half of July. By the time it subsides, more than half of the U.S. population will have been hit with heat indexes above 100; for many, the heat wave will last for several days.

The severe heat is driving almost all social gatherings and group activities into enclosed, air-conditioned spaces. That’s been the American way for more than fifty summers now, but this summer is different. Getting together these days in the cool indoor world can dramatically raise the risk of coronavirus infection.

For the duration of this pandemic, it will always be riskier to gather indoors than outdoors. In a paper published by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases last month, more than 240 scientists warned that in an enclosed space, airborne, virus-laden “microdroplets” exhaled by an infected person can easily travel the length of a room and be inhaled by another person. Social distancing of six feet between people, they wrote, offers little protection in such a situation.

One of the scientists’ chief recommendations was to keep occupied rooms well ventilated with outdoor air, most effectively by keeping windows open. But air-conditioned spaces have to be zipped up tight, allowing airborne droplets to accumulate.

Air conditioning raises the risk further by lowering the indoor relative humidity. Studies show that coronaviruses in general, including those that cause the common cold, SARS, and MERS, remain viable and infective longer when humidity is low, whether they’re in the air or on surfaces.

There’s more. When humidity is high, exhaled virus particles are carried inside bulky droplets that fall to the floor or other surfaces within seconds. But with low humidity, they are in much smaller droplets called aerosols that can stay aloft in an enclosed space for as long as 9 minutes, waiting to be inhaled.

Some types of cooling systems also serve to circulate aerosols very efficiently and infect large numbers of people. A widely cited case study found that in January, one customer at a restaurant in Guangzhou, China infected nine other diners at three different tables with coronavirus. The breeze from an air conditioner near one of the tables had efficiently distributed virus-laden droplets along a twenty-foot-long path.

Air conditioning also can aggravate more routine maladies, including nasal congestion, asthma, and allergies. Studies in North and South America and Europe have found that people employed in air-conditioned workplaces have more health problems than those who work in non-cooled spaces.

Despite such impacts, air conditioning is customarily viewed as a net health benefit, because it can help prevent deaths during heat waves. However, research shows that heat deaths occur predominantly in marginalized, economically stressed urban areas with too much concrete and too little vegetation, often in communities of color who have inadequate access to services, especially health care.

Those who die in heat waves also are often elderly and/or have preexisting health problems, and they may be unable to afford the electricity to run an air conditioner. Not coincidentally, these communities and individuals who are most vulnerable to heat waves are also the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

To be clear, air conditioning can indeed help keep people alive under harsh conditions, and that is no small thing. Nevertheless, it is important for us to acknowledge that in that role, the air conditioner is an in-case-of-emergency-break-glass tool. It’s not designed to fix the underlying social and economic injustices from which people need to be rescued, whether it’s from extreme heat or a viral pandemic.

Air conditioning is increasingly viewed as a key technology for adaptation to climate change, which is ironic because it also accelerates greenhouse warming. It accounts for 17 percent of year-round home electricity consumption and the resulting emissions; furthermore, the Energy Information Agency predicts that U.S. energy use for air conditioning will grow faster than any other use of energy in buildings of all kinds in coming decades.

The chain of causation forms a perfect circle. Greenhouse emissions from past decades (including billions of tons of carbon dioxide emitted by air conditioning, aircraft, and other technologies that also happen to be implicated in the pandemic) have made summers hotter than ever, prompting even more air conditioning use, which will further increase greenhouse emissions. Those emissions will help ensure that future summers are even hotter and future air-conditioning systems are pushed even harder.

Ending the climate emergency will require the rapid, mandatory reduction of fossil fuel use to zero and a complete overhaul of our built environment—including good, affordable housing and a healthy environment for all.

Meanwhile, we can at least curb the short-term damage. Home air conditioning should be turned off on those many days of the year when shade and fans can provide sufficient comfort. Offices should never be so frigid that workers resort to wearing sweaters or keeping space heaters under their desks in July. Every building should have windows that can be opened and that stay open as much as possible.

And, at least for the rest of this summer, let’s all get together outdoors.

Posted in Environment, Health0 Comments

Climate Change is Genocide

by EVE OTTENBERG

Pulp mill, Halsey, Oregon. Photo:L Jeffrey St. Clair.

The only good thing to say about Covid is that it caused carbon emissions to drop. Not enough to save humanity from catastrophic climate change, but significantly. At the height of the global lockdown, carbon emissions fell 17 percent – when the whole world basically stopped driving and flying. According to Eric Holthaus’ new book, “The Future Earth,” by 2035 the United States must have a carbon neutral economy or face utter disaster. That, folks, pretty much means the end of capitalism as we know it.

Indeed, that’s what “The Future Earth” advocates. A planet of vegan eco-socialists – sounds good to me, though I think the ExxonMobil ceo might stand in the way. With such opposition and other, more ordinary lukewarm opponents in mind, Holthaus himself carefully avoids terms like socialism or eco-socialism, but that’s what his proposal amounts to. And even that won’t save us from the warming we’ve already locked in.

“Reducing emissions to zero is the best way to slow down climate change…what if after already greatly reducing our global emissions, the climate tipping points we previously set in motion are triggered anyway?” So even if we transform our economies, stop burning any fossil fuels, put the brakes on the disaster of animal agriculture (it consumes “half the world’s arable land and uses 80 percent of the world’s fresh water supply”) and so forth, by mid-century parts of the inhabited earth could still occasionally reach 170 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, coastal cities will be submerged, island nations will drown, megastorms and category 6 hurricanes will still tear up our countries, droughts will displace tens of millions of people and wild-fires will empty places like California and much of Australia. That this is our best scenario even when we go all out and totally redo our societies tells you a lot about how much damage we’ve already inflicted on the planet. And this list of what’s coming regardless of our best efforts looks like a walk in the park if we don’t cut emissions to zero by mid-century, when the effects of runaway climate change will be unimaginably awful. We don’t have time – we must de-carbonize at once.

“Climate change is not a war,” Holthaus writes. “It’ is genocide. It is domination. It is extinction. It is the most recent manifestation of how powerful men throughout history have sought to steal from the less powerful and dismiss them as merely inconvenient.” More specifically the problem is growth. Capitalism depends on endless growth. So does cancer. In fact, cancer is an apt metaphor for capitalism. Of course plutocrats, confronted with this comparison, opt for chemotherapy, which is what Holthaus calls techno fixes like geo-engineering. But he argues convincingly that given the very real dangers, those should be a last, not a first, resort. Indeed, if Newt Gingrich supports geo-engineering, and he does, you can be pretty sure it’s a bad idea. “We need to become a society with a cultural focus on repair and maintenance,” Holthaus writes, “rather than innovation and efficiency.” The lunacy of planned obsolescence should be tossed into the insane asylum and left there.

“The Future Earth” sketches what must be done between now and 2050. It is a tall order. It includes: “carbon-free electricity generation through a blend of wind, solar, geothermal and hydro-power…phasing out petroleum-powered engines from all cars, trucks, trains, ships and aircraft…finding alternatives to fossil-fuel based chemical fertilizers…and finding new processes for cement production.” But all of this is doable – if we don’t have leaders like Trump, Bojo and Bolsonaro. Holthaus quotes folksinger Utah Phillips: “The earth is not dying, it’s being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” One address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Along with our so-called leaders, planet killers include fossil fuel corporate executives and investors. So: corporations, banks, Wall Street, political elites, basically the people an older generation of leftists called the ruling class.

Holthaus’ plan to limit the damage is wonderful; the problem is prizing the oligarchs’ fingers off the levers of power. They will not go willingly. They do not care if they render the earth uninhabitable for the next generation. They don’t care what happens after they die. They never did and never will. And if the catastrophe comes in their lifetimes, they delude themselves with the notion that they have a plan. They mistakenly believe they can flee climate change to their gated estates in New Zealand (billionaire Peter Thiel) or to a new abode on Mars (billionaire Elon Musk). Disabusing them of these fantasies is probably a waste of time, but still it’s worth noting that if climate change goes unchecked, typhoons and wild fires will ravage New Zealand. Even if terraformed, Mars will remain less hospitable to human life than a climate-scorched earth.

The only way to change our rulers is to make their current business model unprofitable. That means court cases for millions or billions of dollars in damages. It means legislation that zeros out subsidies for fossil fuel companies. It means the Green New Deal and Holthaus’ idea for an environmental global Marshall Plan. In other words, it means a fight, a huge fight against the ruling class, because that class has no intention of yielding power – environmental apocalypse or no. They would rather life on earth perish, with them in charge than survive, with them losing power.

“If what you’ve been doing for hundreds of years has brought you to the brink of extinction, maybe it’s time to try something new,” Holthaus writes. Most of his readers will agree. It’s that sliver, the one percent who hold power, who disagree and see no reason to alter business as usual. Their current attempts to suppress or ignore the truth about climate change condemns hundreds of millions of people to forced migration, homelessness and premature death. But truth will out. And truth can galvanize millions of ordinary people into taking matters into their own hands, ignoring their rulers and stopping more global warming once and for all.

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Shrink-Wrapped: Plastic Pollution and the Greatest Economic System Jesus Ever Devised

by DANIEL BEAUMONT

Photograph Source: Marco Verch – CC BY 2.0

When exactly I began putting plastic items in a special tub for recycling I don’t remember. Probably in the 1980s when I moved to Princeton. Then my wife and I separated plastic items, tin cans and newspapers from the regular garbage and put them in a special can to be recycled. Then too certain plastic bottles were separated from all of the other plastic items and joined with aluminum cans in a large leaf bag—plastic of course—because we took those to the supermarket where they earned us a nickel a piece. And all of this continued in Rochester after we moved there and bought a house where I live now—by myself since my wife and I parted ways. I continued to separate the plastic bottles from the rest of the plastic items, mostly food containers and plastic bags from the supermarket which I put in the blue plastic tub that on garbage day I set on the curb beside the garbage can. All of this recycling I continued to do without ever giving it any more thought than I did the garbage until one garbage day the wind blew the recycle tub into the street where a vehicle hit it. It did not completely shatter it—the well-known durability of plastic is why it finds so many uses. I tried to salvage the tub with duct tape—whose top layer I might add in passing is made of a plastic called polythene. Polythene, polystyrene—there are more kinds of plastic than you can shake a stick at.

But, back to the fate of my blue plastic recycling tub. Despite duct tape’s well-deserved fame as a quick fix for all manner of things, in this instance it really didn’t work very well. So I threw the recycle tub in the garbage can.

Which might be the epitome of all that is to follow.

I’m well aware that readers may fear this account of my long involvement with recycling plastic may be begin to sound like a parable about my marriage, but believe me that is not my intent. The proof of that is that after my divorce I resolved never to get married again, whereas after I threw the recycle tub in the garbage can, I called the city to get another tub. Twice. It was only after the second call failed to yield any result that I said forget it. And I just started throwing everything in the garbage. Which rest assured did not cause even a hint of discord between me and my conscience.

The reason for my indifference to the matter was that, in my view, a problem produced by a socio-economic system could not be solved by a mere aggregation of individual actions. The view that it could be solved that way I wrote off, in the case of individuals putting plastic tubs full of plastic ware on the curb, was a homely example of what Marx calls bourgeois philosophy. Whose failing is to not see beyond the surface of myriad individual actions to the social reality that underlies them. To say it in still homelier terms, it is what I sometimes think of the Rock Festival Theory of Sociology. This term derives from my experience at rock concerts where “festival seating” was in effect. The floor of a coliseum had no chairs and it was first come, first serve as to where you ended up in the crowd. When the music began, the crowd would stand and surge forward and invariably an individual at the very front, feeling pressed by the crowd behind him, would shout at that mass of people, “Everybody take three steps back!” And immediately a disjointed chorus of three or four people in the front would chime in with some others a little farther from the stage, changing this slightly, shouting, “Move back! You’ll see better!” I hardly need to tell you that none of this had any effect whatsoever. Not because everyone towards the rear knew that these shouters subjectively did not care whether the people in the rear could see or not, but only were only using the three steps move back ploy because they were crowded. But that ploy was not the reason no one ever took three steps back. Even though, if not most at least many of them knew that objectively it was true that if all stepped back—practicing social distancing before the term had even been invented—they might have a marginally better view. No, the reason no one ever took three steps back was because each person made the subjective calculation that probably no one else will do it and if he does he will end up with a slightly worse view. But, if by chance everyone else but him does take three steps back, he will obtain a marginally better view by not doing what everyone else is doing!

And that was why initially I felt no remorse about ceasing to recycle plastics or—to come clean—a few other things as well since I no longer had a plastic tub.

And that might have been the end of me devoting any thought at all to recycling. Except for the minor matter that I knew I should not mention the fact I wasn’t recycling anything anymore to certain friends who take recycling as a moral duty, friends are not nearly as far to the left as me—which is somewhere well beyond the comfortable suburbs of thought. I could’ve written their tiresome scoldings for them so I had no need to hear any of those.

Anyway, that might have been the end of my thoughts about recycling had I not happened upon a program on PBS’s program Frontline at the end of March. The program sketched in the history of environmentalism from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring through Earth Day to the present. It showed how the concern for the environment grew out of incidents like rivers catching fire soon led to the recycling of waste, an activity that grew to the point until it became what it is today, a fact of daily life that, as I’ve said, no one pays any attention to until the day when they must put out on the curb the special plastic tub etc etc and even then, who thinks about it? And the recycling of plastic also became something more important with respect to this essay. It became a commercial industry. And the plot twist of PBS documentary followed from that.

The documentary showed how recycling attempts not only failed to eliminate plastic pollution, they actually increased it. And that empirical evidence nailed the case that formerly rested merely on my Rock Festival Theory. And it was at that point in the program I increasingly began to look at the entire issue of recycling from a Marxist perspective, so that when it ended I thought the one critical piece missing was someone well versed in the Marxist critique of capitalism to wrap it up by saying all of these things would have been predicted by Marx.

With mention of Marx the camel has his nose inside the tent, and by the end of this essay the whole camel will be inside the tent with us. That is how these things go as my Rock Festival Theory also shows—in its own way.

Be that as it may, as a result of the documentary, or perhaps because I felt it lacked the appropriate ending, I devoted some time to reading about plastic. That soon grew in ways I had not anticipated. Even as the invention of plastic would lead to developments on a global scale its inventor could not have imagined in his wildest dreams.

What follows—a summary of the history of plastic, of plastic pollution and of the recycling of plastic—is the result of that reading. Which began—where else?—with Wikipedia.

Wikipedia tells us that plastic was invented by Alexander Parkes in England in 1856 He called it “Parkesine.” It was made from cellulose (the major component of plant cell walls) and was treated with nitric acid as a solvent.

As a bid for everlasting fame, Parke’s name for what he invented fell somewhat short. And it’s just as well he never lived to see what his discovery would lead to, because the obscure fate of his name would be a crushing disappointment. His name never attained the status of Faraday or Madame Curie or Marconi. Probably this is because other improved forms of what we now call generically plastic soon replaced Parkesin for all intents and purposes, and not unreasonably these had new names. Galalith, Bakelite. The latter like Parkesine was named by its Belgian inventor Leo Baekeland after himself and as a bid to immortalize himself the term he coined was more successful since certain cookware is still described as made of “bakelite.” Unfortunately I have not been able at this stage of my research to pinpoint precisely when and by whom the term “plastic” was first used in the generic sense we now use it. Apparently none of the people involved in the early history of plastic shared my interest in the nature of language, in words and their etymologies, in their evolving and changing meanings over time and such things. That’s because they didn’t read Nietzsche. So much the worse for them—and unfortunately, in this instance, for us too. So that all that can be said about when “plastic” became the generic term is that by the 1930s it was used in the sense we still use it. Sorry. History is mostly a record of disappointments and flops, and that’s why I’m a professor of literature and not history.

Nevertheless back to history of plastic. Which, if you’re an engineer for Dow Chemicals, might seem an epic that proceeds from triumph to triumph, or if you’re an effete bohemian, reads like Faulkner’s depressing story of the Snopes and their takeover of Yoknapatawpha County. A mobile mass of ugliness that wipes out and replaces much of what is distinctive and beautiful in the world. Well in the case of plastic, there is at least this to be said. An American didn’t invent it, and we can say what a Starbuck’s manager said to one of my Italian friends about pizza after he went to Italy for the first time, “You people may have invented pizza, but we perfected it.”

But yes—the history. Just the facts, mam. The industrial/commercial uses of plastic were limited until after World War I. Then the varieties of plastic multiplied rapidly which led to a similarly rapid expansion of its industrial and commercial uses. The German corporation BASF developed polystyrene and became in the 1930s one of the leading producers of plastic, as it still is today. By the 1940s and 1950s mass production of plastic fantastic things exploded, and mass production has grown rapidly ever since with new uses for plastic being found all the time. If you google, “How many types of plastic are there,” the reply is that there are seven types of which five end in either the suffix –ene or – ide, the sixth ending in –ate. That leaves the seventh. The seventh type is, ominously, “Other.” Which tell us that no one has tabulated them, and that fact tells us more than the other six put together. I doubt that any other material can match the expansion of plastic throughout all the segments of the global economy and all over the physical globe itself.

Now at least the story of plastic begins to resemble the pandemic instead of my marriage.

Oil companies expanded their petrochemical activities since many plastics were made from petrochemical materials. Many more types were made from agriculture products. At the same time the use of plastics expanded into the automotive industry, and the manufacture of airplanes, clothing, home furnishings, packaging, the construction industry, tools and instruments used in medicine, engineering, photography, film—it would be very difficult to name any facet of human life in which plastic is not used.

Now it is important to pause and note that in the first three or four decades of the mass production of plastics until the beginning of recycling of plastics in the 1970s anything made wholly or partly of plastic when it ceased being used was treated as garbage. And therefore all plastic objects were treated in all the different ways that garbage was treated in those years. It was buried. It was burnt. It was thrown in the river—if the river was on fire so much the better—and it was thrown out the car window. And it may perhaps surprise some readers that today fifty years after the mass recycling of plastics began, burying, burning and throwing it aside wherever one happens to be at the moment remain the ways by which 91% of all plastics are disposed of. After fifty years of recycling only 9% of all plastics are recycled. And you will not be disappointed to know of that 9% there’s more bad news to come. Relax.

Plastic production surged from 15 million tons in 1964 to 311 tons in 2014 — an increase of more than 2,000%. A rate of growth in any human activity probably unmatched until Donald Trump invented tweeting.

And what was more surprising, even at this preliminary point in my research, was that the recycled plastic used to make new products required an additional component of newly manufactured plastic. In other words the use of recycled plastic is also increasing the manufacture of new plastic rather than replacing it. So that one ton of recycled plastic does not replace one ton of new plastic—even if part of the new plastic was made from recycled plastic. And that now new plastic when recycled again will again not replace the equivalent amount of new plastic. We dare not pursue that issue any further. It begins to summon up a prospect as vertiginous as Nietzsche’s Eternal Return.

The ubiquity of plastic now means it is found now not simply everywhere in human society, but also everywhere in the natural world. A United States Geological Survey 2019 publication bore the title “It Is Raining Plastic.” One of the three authors of the article Gregory Wetherbee examining rainwater samples collected in the Rocky Mountains was surprised to find microscopic multicolored filaments of plastic. “I think the most important result that we can share with the American public is that there’s more plastic out there than meets the eye,” said Wetherbee. “It’s in the rain, it’s in the snow. It’s a part of our environment now.”

Another recent study found microplastics in the Pyrenees, suggesting plastic particles could travel with the wind for hundreds, if not thousands, of miles. Other studies have turned up microplastics in the deepest reaches of the of the ocean in lakes and rivers and shorelines in Asia, Europe and North America, UK lakes and rivers and in US groundwater.

Where do these particles of plastic come from?

Sherri Mason, a microplastics researcher at Penn State-Behrend says that one major source is trash. The plastic in landfills decomposes—degrades is the favored term among plastic experts—until it reaches the size where it can leech into the ground water which carries into lakes and rivers and from there into the oceans—all along the way degrading into smaller and smaller particles until they become the size of the filaments that ended up in the rain water samples that Wetherbee saw. Or until they end up in the Marianna Trench and in the bellies of the creatures that live there. Or until they end up in our drinking water.

Mason pointed out that there are also numerous sources of plastic microfibers besides trash. “Plastic fibers also break off your clothes every time you wash them, and plastic particles are byproducts of a variety of industrial processes.” Almost anything made of plastic could be shedding particles into the atmosphere, the water and the ground and then into plants, animals and humans.

Unknown is whether it would be theoretically possible to flush all plastic out of the natural world, and how long that might take. When those questions were put to Gregory Wetherbee he replied, “Even if we waved a magic wand and stopped using plastic, it’s unclear how long plastic would continue to circulate through our rivers and waters systems. Based on what we do know about plastic found in deep sources of groundwater, and accumulated in rivers, I would guess centuries.”

On that note, let’s consider why recycling plastic has failed so miserably—“failed” that is, if at the outset of recycling in the 1970s we grant that most of the people thought the purpose of recycling was to reduce plastic pollution. A brief excursus will show why its putative failure was actually a success from the standpoint of the greatest economic system Jesus ever devised. The evidence for this claim is found in two simple formulas made up of the same two letters, rearranged as though they are a simple word game for children. The formulas are found in Vol.1, Pt. 2 Marx’s work Capital. Read ‘em and weep:

C – M – C

M – C – M

The two formulas represent two different modes of exchange. In C – M – C a commodity C is sold for money M in order to buy another commodity C. In the second formula money buys a commodity in order to sell it for money. Marx explains the key difference between the two modes this way:

The circuit C-M-C starts with one commodity, and finishes with another, which falls out of circulation and into consumption. Consumption, the satisfaction of wants, in one word, use-value, is its end and aim. The circuit M-C-M, on the contrary, commences with money and ends with money. Its leading motive, and the goal that attracts it, is therefore mere exchange-value.

The formula M—C—M explains why the global business of recycling plastic has not only increased plastic pollution which now become a commodity but—and this aspect was not noted in the “Front Line” program—what quickly became the recycling industry has actually increased the production of new plastic whose byproducts create more pollution and therefore more commodities. Obviously the circuit M—C—M can be repeated as infinitum—or ad nauseam?—generating ever more plastic and plastic pollution with the whole miserable process looking more and more like, yes, a pandemic.

One more part of the story remains to be told. What is it about the 91% of plastic that—like the legendary stay-at-home voter—they defy a great public project whose essential goodness is acknowledged by everyone and his dog?

Much of the 91% of plastics that aren’t recycled are called “mixed plastics.” The terminology—the 9%, the 91% and so on—begins to resemble that describing the society that generates so much plastic and plastic pollution. Mixed plastics are those that due to their composition cannot be recycled, though this might change. In 2017 the Eastman Chemical Company announced a breakthrough in recycling mixed plastics. An article in Plastics News said the company planned to begin “commercial production in 2019 by leveraging existing assets” which will “accelerate the circular economy.” I searched Plastics News to see if this had in fact happened, but I had already used up my limit—1 apparently—of free articles. My knees nearly buckled at the thought of having to pay for a subscription to Plastics News. Fortunately the company’s website rescued me from that dismaying prospect. There I learned that in October of 2019 the company began commercial production of recycling mixed plastics. Before we pop open the champagne I must add two things that even at this stage of my knowledge of plastic I know that will almost certainly make the company’s claim that this will end all plastic waste false. Shit, go get a drink. The first problem with mixed plastic is a chemical issue. If the process resembles that of recycling the 9% then it will require use of an additive of new plastic and hence increase the production of all sorts of plastics—and the implications of that bring us to the other kind of plastic that makes up the rest of the 91%, what is called “dirty plastic.” The very words offer an unpleasant prospect. Like kicking a plastic tub in your basement and seeing a horde of cockroaches scatter every which way

The reason dirty plastic is not recycled now is not a chemical issue, but a financial one. Dirty plastic may consist of mixed plastic or of the sorts of plastic that now make up the 9%. The reason they are not now recycled has nothing to do with their chemical composition. The reason they are not recycled is that they are grimy having labels and what not that cannot be removed from each plastic object except by hand. By painstaking and filthy work no one except the poorest people would perform. For which reason it is highly unlikely that Eastman Chemical’s process will recycle dirty plastic. Some portion of dirty plastics will, eventually be recycled. Yet even in that case, the same is true of their recycling that is true of all recycling of plastic: it will require an additive of new plastic and hence will not completely replace the production of more new plastic which in turn will mean there will be more dirty plastic and so on. And that’s all I’ll say about that since I’m trying to keep this upbeat.

Now it is time to switch from the circulation of plastic back to Marx and the circulation of money and commodities. Which almost seems like a relief at this point. We begin with the fact in the circulation of money and commodities even dirty plastic after some lengthy and arduous process becomes a commodity C. But, sadly, one for which there is little demand. The little sunshine moment—as the last feature in local news is called—is almost immediate extinguished by the larger bad news that leads the national news. And the same is true here. If it bleeds it leads.

Certain poor countries—Ethiopia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Viet Nam to name a few—that have been paid to serve as a dumping grounds for waste plastics, especially dirty plastics since China stopped receiving all but the “cleanest” plastics in 2017, are the locations where that miserable labor is done, that is, sorting out what may be salvaged from the dirty plastic.

The dirty plastics are often bundled up in 10 ft. cubes and stacked next to each next to the shantytowns of the poorest people. The only positive thing to be said of these peoples’ jobs is that they don’t involve a long commute. But the painstaking nature of the work proceeds so slowly, that the people cannot possibly keep up with the ever-increasing amounts of the massive cubes of dirty plastic always arriving from the wealthy societies of the world, so that the growing mass of dirty plastic threatens to crowd them out of their homes—another of the contradictions that Marx says capitalism inescapably creates—so that now even the poor countries are looking for buyers who will complete the whole sorry circuit M—C—M. No doubt at a loss. Remember that Marx’s formula does not mean that a given value of the second M represents a profit. It only signifies the conversion of the commodity C back into money, in this instance almost certainly at a loss. And here again another aspect of Marx’s critique of capitalism finds its grim validation. The more they work, the poorer they become.

On this account, the oceans being wholly unregulated have become a last resort for the vast amount of unrecyclable plastic. And now a permanent island of plastic bottles and containers floating around in the Pacific Ocean is now large enough that it could be considered geographical feature. In which case it deserves a proper name. I propose Milton Friedman Island after the wizard of neo-liberal economics. The 10 ft. cubes of plastic now crowding the shanty towns of the poor must have some buoyancy. Perhaps they could be towed out to Friedman Island, lashed to it and paved with astroturf to form a new nation made entirely of plastic. A nation in which plastic would no longer be considered pollution or waste. How could it be, it being the very material substance of its nationhood?

I mentioned the Frontline show in a conversation with my friend Kurtis, telling him also that sometime well before that I had stopped recycling things. And he then told me of watching a friend cutting the plastic webs that harness together six-packs of canned beverages. When she noticed him watching her, she explained she did this because fish and land creatures get the plastic webs caught on their bodies. After a moment Kurtis commented that the product should not be on the planet to begin with and it was an example of a corporation training the populace to try to solve without payment a problem the corporation had created. He said all she was doing was enabling the continuing production of the plastic webs. She looked at him and went on cutting them up. Which might be taken as a minor form of neurotic behavior. I know it’s not true, but I’m going act as though it’s true. Because it makes me feel better to think I’m help the little animals. Thinking that falls entirely in the domain of the Pleasure Principle. Or to give the last word to Marx: she prefers the fog of ideology and the opiate of the people.

Of the greater climate and ecological crisis of which plastic is one part—though a very large part—no one puts the solution in clearer terms than little seventeen-year-old Greta Thunberg: “The climate and ecological crisis cannot be solved within today’s political and economic systems. That isn’t an opinion. That’s a fact.”

We live in a world shrink-wrapped in global capitalism. We breathe plastic. We drink plastic. We eat plastic. Microscopic particles of plastic float in air of the room in which I write. In the Pacific Ocean is an island made of plastic. Plastic has become part of nature. It is our fate. There is nothing more to say. And as Huck says, I’m rotten glad of it.

M—C—M.

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Will Covid Start a Trade War Over U.S. Meat Exports?

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

On June 21, the official China website posted that products from Tyson Foods’ Springdale, Arkansas plant “that have arrived or are about to arrive in Hong Kong will be temporarily suspended by the customs department.” Two days earlier, 455 Tyson Foods workers living in Benton and Washington counties in which Springdale is located were found to be COVID-19 positive. Most were asymptomatic.

The meat industry and public health groups say transmission of a virus like COVID-19, SARS or MERS through meat is unlikely. But apparently China, whose love of eating palm civet cats mired it into a huge SARS outbreak, is less sure. Scientists also have their doubts.

Researchers writing in the EMBO journal found the enzyme called ACE2 would bind to the SARS virus whether derived from humans or palm civet cats. Proteins on the virus “utilized palm-civet ACE2 efficiently,” write the researchers.

Researchers writing in the Journal of Virology concurred. “The efficiency with which virus from both [studied] human outbreaks utilized palm civet receptor is consistent with the recent transfer of SARS-CoV from palm civets to humans,” they wrote.

Dung and Eggs Thrown

This is not the first time other nations have balked at U.S. meat. In 2007, a rumor in Taiwan that a ban on the growth promoter ractopamine, widely used in the U.S., was to be lifted caused riots. Chanting “We refuse to eat pork that contains poisonous ractopamine,” and “Get out, USA pork,” protesters threw eggs at police, soldiers and reporters and pig dung at government buildings.

Europe has banned U.S. beef for years because of the use of the hormones oestradiol-17, zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate in its production which the European Commission links to cancer.

Chicken has also been an issue. During the 2014 European elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “There will be no imports of chlorinated chicken from the U.S….I have prevented those imports for years, and I will continue to prevent them. No question.” Chlorinated chickens? Yes, the U.S. dips chickens into chlorine to prevent pathogens like salmonella which are ubiquitous in U.S. meat production.

And then there was BSE also known as mad cow disease. Within 24 hours of discovery of the U.S.’s first mad cow in 2003, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea and ninety other countries banned U.S. beef. Ninety-eight percent of the United States’ three-billion-dollar overseas beef market evaporated almost overnight.

Government Supports Meat Suppliers Not Consumers

If COVID-19 were in U.S. meat, at least until it was cooked, would Big Meat and the government admit it? In 2003, the government said the first U.S. mad cow, which came from Canada, was located and “This product was disposed of in a landfill in accordance with Federal, State and local regulations.”

But the Los Angeles Times reported that despite “a voluntary recall aimed at recovering all 10,000 pounds of beef slaughtered at the plant the day the Washington state cow was killed, some meat, which could have contained the Washington cow, was sold to restaurants in several Northern California counties.” Worse, the identities of the restaurants were hidden from the public according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In the next few years, the government hid the identities of an Alabama and Texas ranch that both produced the first homegrown mad cows from the public. The USDA’s charter is to support food producers not the public so why would it want a meat supplier to suffer a loss of consumer dollars?

Is U.S. Meat From Infected Slaughterhouses Safe?

If the sudden rise in COVID-19 cases in some states is not explained by people going maskless or the recent street demonstrations, what about meat from the COVID-19 infected slaughterhouses which is now reaching stores and restaurants?

Since March, U.S. slaughterhouses have been incubators for COVID-19, closing and experiencing worker walkouts. Unable to make a profit because of slaughterhouse shutdowns, U.S. meat producers have been killing their animals onsite by gassing or suffocation reports the Guardian. An undercover video documents the shocking culls and agonized animals.

Tyson is the world’s second largest chicken, beef and pork producer. Being boycotted by China, a country with arguably the world’s worst food safety standards, adds to the list of Tyson’s safety and corruption violations which can be found here.

While China launched COVID-19, U.S. slaughterhouses are certainly perpetuating it and rural communities are increasingly affected. As the U.S. becomes one of the world’s top COIVD-19 hotspots, will other countries follow China’s actions and refuse meat exports? It has certainly happened before.

Posted in Environment, Health, Politics0 Comments

US to Form Icebreaker Fleet for the Arctic. “Polar Security Cutter”

By Lucas Leiroz de Almeida

In the past few months, the United States has tightened its policies in the Arctic, as several measures show. For decades, Washington has not been concerned with strengthening its military presence at the poles, giving greater focus to other regions of the planet, such as the Middle East. Due to this lack of attention to the Arctic, the US does not yet have a fleet of icebreaker ships, far behind its rivals such as Russia and China. Now, the American government intends to change this attitude.

On June 9, Donald Trump announced that he plans to create a fleet of icebreakers by 2029, according to a statement made to several departments. The fleet would be used in the Arctic and Antarctica. The project already has a name: Polar Security Cutter. The goal is to replace the only two American icebreakers, USCGC Polar Star and USCGC Healy, with a new, more modern and equipped fleet, capable of meeting the new objectives of the American strategy for the poles.

The main US ally in this project is Canada. The neighboring country, despite being militarily much inferior to the USA, already has a very capable icebreaker fleet, with more than 10 operational ships and three others under construction, in addition to planning to build another 4 in the near future. Together, the USA and Canada intend to face the growth of the Russian and Chinese fleets. China, even without direct access to the Arctic, has a small fleet of four icebreakers and plans to build two more ships soon. The Russians, however, are the most equipped. The Russian fleet consists of 53 ships, with another 6 under construction and another 12 scheduled to be built soon.

The American program is the result of a partnership of the US Coast Guard with the company VT Halter Marine Inc., signed in the amount of US $ 746 million. The contract was signed in April 2019, although the details of the cooperation have only been made public recently. There are interests beyond national defense involved in the project. Among the objectives of the program there is the use of the Coast Guard for the safety of commercial ships in the polar zones.Video: Icebreakers and the Arctic Power Play

An important point is that the project also aims to replace diesel-powered ships with nuclear powered ships. Diesel-powered propulsion ships are less powerful and less efficient in breaking ice, but currently only Russia has nuclear powered icebreakers, which makes the dispute fiercer. In fact, the United States has all the necessary resources to build nuclear icebreakers, but this will certainly start a “nuclear era” in the Arctic, with the beginning of a new industrial-military race for the modernization of ships.

However, whether or not building nuclear icebreakers, the US will not reach the capacity of the Russian fleet anytime soon. For this reason, the project seems to make it clear that the initial objective, from a realistic perspective, is to undermine Chinese growth. The Chinese presence in the Arctic is the initial target of the cooperation between the USA and Canada, with Russia being a “further step” – and, perhaps, unattainable, considering the immense superiority of the Russian military presence in the Arctic.

It is likely, however, that the project’s slowness will hinder the US government’s claims. The estimated nine-year period for completing the project is long and in this time many things can happen on the international stage and in the Arctic in particular. Russia and China may further increase or modernize their fleets in that time and the United States will remain far behind its “targets” in this dispute. It is unlikely that Washington will be able to assemble a fleet of icebreakers strong enough to face Russia in the near future. The Americans’ dispute will continue to be with China – which already has a big advantage.

To compensate for its weakness in the Arctic, the United States is likely to begin a series of increasingly aggressive and provocative military training aimed at disguising its weakness with a smoke screen. The most strategic, viable and acceptable attitude for Washington would be to stop investing in projects of militarization of the Arctic and start more elaborate national recovery plans for the end of the pandemic, which affects the country drastically. Freezing military spending, withdrawing troops scattered around the world in regional conflicts and focusing on a policy for internal problems would be the best way to deal with the current American situation. However, Washington insists on maintaining a heavy-handed international policy and military presence in all areas of the planet.

Posted in USA, EnvironmentComments Off on US to Form Icebreaker Fleet for the Arctic. “Polar Security Cutter”

Invisible Rainbow: 5G Electromagnetic Radiation and the Evolution of Life on Planet Earth

By Robert J. Burrowes

In his recently revised and updated book The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life, scientist Arthur Firstenberg has made both science and history comprehensible by explaining the importance and significance to life on Earth of a vital consideration that has long been ‘invisible’: electricity.

Indeed, as Firstenberg makes clear, if we want to understand life on Earth, we cannot do so without understanding the role that electricity plays in making life possible, healing it and, if abused, threatening us all.

Firstenberg’s book is unusual on at least two counts. Based on decades of scientific research, he carefully explains each point in language accessible to the non-scientist while documenting his case with exceptional clarity and detail complemented by a 138-page bibliography.

If you want to really understand this issue, and what is at stake, you will be doing yourself a favor by reading this book.

The Universe, Electricity and Life: In Brief

As Firstenberg’s subtitle promises, his book includes a history of electricity and its role in the Universe but particularly on Earth.

Almost all of the matter in the universe is electrically charged…. The stars we see are made of… charged particles in constant motion. The space between the stars and galaxies, far from being empty, teems with electrically charged subatomic particles, swimming in vast swirling electromagnetic fields, accelerated by those fields to near-light speeds. Plasma is such a good conductor of electricity, far better than any metals,  that filaments of plasma – invisible wires billions of light-years long – transport electromagnetic energy in gigantic circuits from one part of the universe to another…. Under the influence of electromagnetic forces, over billions of years, cosmic whirlpools of matter collect along these filaments, like beads on a string, evolving into the galaxies that decorate our night sky.

The Milky Way, the galaxy in which Earth is located, is a medium-sized spiral galaxy that is 100,000 light-years across; it rotates around its center every 250,000,000 earth years, generating around itself a galactic-size magnetic field. Filaments of plasma, 500 light-years long, generate additional magnetic fields.

Our sun, also made of plasma, sends out an ocean of electrons, protons and helium ions in a steady current called the solar wind. This wind bathes the Earth before diffusing out into the plasma between the stars.

The Earth, with its core of iron, rotates on its axis in the electric fields of the solar system and the galaxy, in turn generating its own magnetic field that traps and deflects the charged particles of the solar wind wrapping the Earth in an envelope of plasma called the magnetosphere. Some of the particles from the solar wind collect in layers we call the Van Allen belts where they circulate 600 to 35,000 miles overhead.

The sun also bombards the Earth with ultraviolet light and X-rays. In addition, atomic nuclei and subatomic particles (known as cosmic rays) shower the Earth from all directions as well. It is these cosmic rays from Space and the radiation emitted by uranium and other radioactive elements in Earth’s crust that provide the small ions that carry the electric currents that surround us in the lower atmosphere.

It is within this electromagnetic environment – a fairly constant vertical field averaging 130 volts per meter – that all life, including Homo Sapiens, evolved on Earth.

In fair weather, the ground beneath us has a negative charge and the ionosphere above us a positive charge. ‘Electricity courses through the sky far above us, explodes downward in thunderstorms, rushes through the ground beneath us, and flows gently back up through the air in fair weather.’ This happens in an endless cycle as about 100 bolts of lightning, each delivering a trillion watts of energy, strike the Earth every second.

Every living thing is part of this circuit. The current enters our heads from the sky, circulates through our meridians, and enters the earth through the soles of our feet. This current provides the energy for growth, healing, and life itself. See ‘Putting the Earth Inside a High-Speed Computer’.

The strength of the atmospheric electrical current is between 1 and 10 picoamperes (trillionths of an ampere) per square meter. Dr. Robert Becker found that 1 picoampere is all the current that is necessary to stimulate healing in frogs…. It is these tiny currents that keep us alive and healthy. See ‘Planetary Emergency’.

The fundamental point about all this is simple: The Earth is incredibly delicately balanced with a great many forces making up this balance and thus making life possible.

One of the many ways in which we have been disrupting this balance is by disturbing the global electrical circuit, that evolved over eons and sustains all life, without paying genuine and sincere attention to what we are doing and what this means for the Earth and all of its inhabitants, including us.

Given the profound implications of generating ‘electric pollution’, some might label this behaviour insane. It is certainly unaware.

Human-Generated Electricity on Earth

It was in 1746 that scientists were finally able to ‘capture’ electricity so that a start could be made on using it directly for human ends. Sure, the wider implications of its use were not considered but it offered opportunities not previously available. And when the damage from its use, on humans and other living organisms, started and then rapidly picked up pace, the association between the spread of electricity (particularly through the telegraph wires in the mid-nineteenth century and electric lighting a few decades later) and the adverse health and environmental impacts were not made, or ignored when they were. And so diseases not previously recorded in the medical literature started to appear: anxiety disorder, influenza, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

But it wasn’t just us that was impacted; so were the other living organisms of our planet.

And now we are bathed in the 60-cycle current in our house-wiring; the ultrasonic frequencies in our computers, Wi-Fi routers and modems; the radio waves in our televisions; the microwaves in our cell phones and the electromagnetic radiation generated by everything from baby monitors to ‘smart’ devices of all kinds, as well as the vast network of satellites, transmission towers and power lines all endlessly but variably impacting, adversely, virtually every human being on Earth. And if 5G is deployed, there will be nowhere on Earth that is safe for humans, insects, birds, animals and plants.

We will have fundamentally altered the very conditions that made the evolution of life on Earth possible.

An exaggeration?

Here is the briefest sample of the damage existing human-generated electromagnetic radiation is causing life on Earth.

Forests

Apart from being logged mercilessly, burned down to create cattle or soy farms or palm oil plantations, destroyed by the endless proliferation of mining for various mineral resources including coal and oil, damaged by dam construction, wildlife poaching and the extraction of resources like rayon, viscose and modal to make clothing, and adversely impacted in many other ways, forests are being destroyed by electromagnetic radiation inflicted by humans. While acid rain and global warming have been blamed for much of the ‘forest die-off’ that has occurred over the past 40 years, the evidence that electromagnetic radiation has been the real, or at least primary, cause is rather overwhelming once the full circumstances of the damage are seriously investigated. While Firstenberg cites many very compelling examples, the case of the Amazon rainforest makes the point rather starkly.

In 2005, it was noticed that trees were dying without obvious cause. This has been blamed on global warming which caused an unusual drought in that year.

However, on 27 July 2002, the US-financed and Raytheon-built System for Vigilance of the Amazon (SIVAM), a $US1.4 billion system of radars and sensors, began its monitoring activities in a two million square mile area of remote wilderness.

Ostensibly to deprive drug traffickers and guerrillas a safe haven, it also ‘required pretending that blasting the rainforest with radiation at levels that were unprecedented in the history of the world was of no consequence to the forest’s precious inhabitants, human or otherwise’. So the system’s ‘25 enormously powerful surveillance radars, 10 Doppler weather radars, 200 floating water-monitoring stations, 900 radio-equipped “listening posts”, 32 radio stations, 8 airborne state-of-the-art surveillance jets equipped with fog-penetrating radar, and 99 “attack/trainer” support aircraft’ can track individual human beings and ‘hear a twig snap’ anywhere in the Amazon.

Again, at the cost of electromagnetically damaging every living organism in the rainforest.

To reiterate though, the Amazon is not the only forest in the world adversely impacted by electromagnetic radiation with many studies examining the issue, wherever they are conducted, consistently revealing forest damage by electromagnetic radiation from civilian and military installations (and even recovery when, as happens occasionally, the local radiation stops).

Insects

In 1901, Marconi sent the world’s first long-distance radio transmission from the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England. By 1906 and now host to the greatest density of radio transmissions in the world, the island was almost empty of bees. ‘Thousands, unable to fly, were found crawling and dying on the ground outside their hives’. And healthy bees, imported from the mainland, began dying within a week of arrival. ‘Isle of Wight disease’ was then reported in European countries, South Africa, Australia and North America over following decades with almost everyone assuming it was infectious. Despite various suspected diseases and parasites accused over many decades, each was eventually ‘cleared’ of causing the problem.

But in the second half of the 1990s,  problem again accelerated and acquired the name ‘colony collapse disorder’ in 2007 as bee populations were decimated in many parts of the world. And despite the resistance of beekeepers (who are largely convinced that infectious diseases are driving bee losses and that toxic pesticides are necessary to kill mites), some scientists were starting to investigate the impact of electromagnetic radiation on bees. The simplest experiments involved placing a cell phone inside a bee hive: ‘The results of such experiments, considering the complete denial by our society that wireless technology has any environmental effects at all, have been almost unbelievable.’

‘The quickest way to destroy a bee hive, investigators have found, is to place a wireless telephone inside it.’ Landmark research conducted originally in 2009 and then subsequently, which involved placing two cell phones in a hive for 30 minutes at a time every few days, demonstrated that electromagnetic fields interfere with cellular metabolism: bees practically could not metabolize sugars, proteins or fats and, as in humans but far more rapidly, their cells become oxygen starved. Three months, at this modest level of exposure, would destroy a hive.

One particularly nasty development that occurred in the (northern) Winter of 2006-2007 that is considered by some the likely immediate cause of the disastrous colony collapse disorder at the time, is that the US military’s HAARP – High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project – in Alaska reached full power with the installation of the last of its 180 antennas at that time. HAARP is the most powerful radio transmitter on Earth and ‘turned the ionosphere itself – the life-giving layer of sky to which every creature is tuned – into a gigantic radio transmitter’. Why? HAARP was being used for US military communications, particularly with submarines.Wireless Radiation: Stop the 5G Network on Earth and in Space, Devastating Impacts on Health and the Environment

Even in 1988, when HAARP was still being planned, physicist Richard Williams, a consultant to Princeton University’s David Sarnoff Laboratory, called the project ‘an irresponsible act of global vandalism’ given the power levels that were to be used.

In fact, according to other researchers, the HAARP project has also been used to research and develop electromagnetic weapons, such as directed energy beams. See ‘HAARP: Secret Weapon Used For Weather Modification, Electromagnetic Warfare’.

But whatever its functions, even though now transferred to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Ulrich Warnke points out that the frequencies of HAARP superimpose unnatural magnetic fields on the natural resonant frequencies of the sky, the daily variations of which have not changed since life appeared on Earth.This is disastrous for bees because they ‘lose an orientation that served them for millions of years as a reliable indicator of the time of day’.

Of course bees are not the only insects adversely impacted by this recent human obsession with electromagnetic radiation. Experiments with other insects, such as ants and fruit flies, again simply using exposure to cell phones rather than any specialized equipment, revealed equally instructive results. A few minutes exposure for a few days, for example, dramatically reduced the reproductive success of the flies. And exposed to phones turned off, in standby mode and then turned on, ants displayed a variety of behaviors including leaving their nest and taking all of their eggs, larvae and nymphs with them.

As an aside, experiments of this nature also revealed ‘intensity windows’ of maximal effect. This means that ‘the greatest damage is not always done by the greatest levels of radiation. Holding your cell phone away from your head may actually worsen the damage.’ And even a cell phone that is turned off but has the battery in it, is ‘clearly and obviously dangerous’.

Birds

The disastrous effects of radio waves on birds were first noted in the 1930s. It was immediately obvious, for example, to diverse groups of people who worked with pigeons – those involved in pigeon racing and those still using pigeons for military communications – when the birds lost their way during the rapid expansion of radio broadcasting. But by the late 1990s, as cell phone towers proliferated and vastly greater numbers of birds were unable to fly home, pigeon-racing plummeted compelling pigeon-fanciers to revisit an issue they had earlier set aside. Unfortunately, it was too late. In 1998, shortly after Motorola’s launch of 66 Iridium satellites had begun providing the first cell phone service from Space, 90% of pigeons being raced in various locations in the United States over a two-week period vanished.

Of course, it is not just pigeon populations that are being decimated. Wherever dramatic bird population declines are being studied and electromagnetic radiation is considered as a possible factor (which is not always the case), the results usually reveal a link even if the damaging impac
t is variable.

If electromagnetic radiation totally disorients pigeons, how do migratory birds navigate? Often enough, they don’t.

For example, in 2004, scientists at the University of Oldenburg in Germany were shocked to discover that migratory songbirds they had been studying were no longer able to orient themselves for their migratory journeys. Conducting a simple experiment – surrounding the aviaries of Europea robins with grounded aluminium sheeting to remove the influence of electromagnetic radiation – the immediate and positiveimpa
ct ‘on the birds’ orientation capabilities was profound’, they noted in a study published in 2014.

One series of studies was conducted by wildlife biologist Alfono Balmori Martínez in Spain for more than a decade from the 1990s, after noting the dramatic increase in leukemias, cancers, headaches, insomnia, memory loss, heart arrhythmias and acute neurological reactions suffered by people near a new installation of antennas adjacent to a local school.

His subsequently published research revealed, among many other points, the following:

  • kestrels vanishing from breeding sites after antennas for mobile telecommunications were installed, nest abandonment by storks near the radiation beams from telephone masts,
  • rock doves dead near phone masts,
  • plumage deterioration and locomotive problems in magpies at points highly contaminated with microwave radiation,
  • a dramatic decline in sparrow populations in irradiated areas, which matched a European-wide trend with, for example, sparrows in the UK declining by 75% between 1994 and 2002.

Balmori’s conclusion was simple: ‘This coincides with the rollout of mobile telephony.’

One of the problems peculiar to birds, already identified by Canadian researchers in the 1960s, is that ‘feathers make fine receiving aerials for microwaves’.

By the way, have a ponder what happens when a bird (or animal, reptile, amphibian, fish or even insect, for that matter) is radio tagged so that its behavior can be monitored. It exposes the creatures to immediate radiation, in comparison to that from distant cell phone towers, thus adversely impacting their functioning and altering their behavior! Firstenberg characterized this procedure, politely in my view, as ‘scientific folly’. Other scientists have documented many serious, adverse impacts from radio tagging but the practice is far from over with most wildlife scientists simply assuming that tagging has zero impact.

Amphibians

The ongoing serious decline of frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians all over the world has been notable since at least the 1980s. Not something you think about?

Well, amphibians have been falling silent for a range of reasons but, once again, electromagnetic radiation is a key one. Notably, even iconic species, such as the famous and highly protected Golden Toad, named for its brightly colored skin and resident of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica, have gone extinct without any real fight to save them.

Puzzling to most scientists was the fact that amphibians have been vanishing even in ‘many pristine, remote environments that they thought to be unpolluted’. And they were pristine, except for the ‘invisible pollutant’ that permeated even these environments: electromagnetic radiation.

Needless to say, the usual range of scientific studies has long since proved that exposure of amphibians to electromagnetic radiation is ‘incompatible with [their] survival’.

As Firstenberg notes:

Environmentalists, for the most part, like the rest of modern humanity, have one terrific blindspot: they don’t acknowledge electromagnetic radiation as an environmental factor, and they are comfortable with placing power lines, telephone relay towers, cell towers, and radar stations in the middle of the most remote, pristine mountainous locations, never realizing that they are intensely polluting those environments.

The key question is this: Will humanity, and not just environmentalists, wake up to the threat posed by electromagnetic radiation in time?

Humans

In this brief review, I am not going to discuss the extensive evidence of the damage to human health caused by electromagnetic radiation. But there is not a significant, modern human disease – diabetes, ‘influenza’, cancer, heart disease, strokes, obesity… – and a host of other mental and physical ill-effects (including anxiety, memory loss, impaired motor function, attention-deficit, sleep disturbance, reduced lung capacity, higher white cell counts and headaches as well as a disturbed balance in the boy/girl birth ratio) that can be fully understood without understanding the impact of living in a disturbed electrical environment. Again, Firstenberg spells it out in gruesome detail.

However, to briefly mention two examples: Firstenberg explains how electromagnetic radiation damages the mitochondria – thus inhibiting cellular metabolism – with disastrous consequences for those many individuals impacted. However, they are only rarely medically diagnosed as such. And the effects of radio waves on blood sugar are extremely well documented but none of this research has been done in the United States or western Europe.

As an aside, you might be interested to know that a large, rapid, qualitative change in the Earth’s electromagnetic environment has occurred six times in Earth’s history, as noted by Firstenberg: in 1889 power line harmonic radiation began (accompanied by the 1889 pandemic of influenza), in 1918 the radio era began (accompanied by the ‘Spanish’ influenza pandemic), in 1957 the radar era began (accompanied by the Asian flu pandemic), in 1968 the satellite era began (accompanied by the Hong Kong flu pandemic), and twice more coinciding with changes that you can read in the book.

Since a few months before the book was published in February 2020, however, the deployment of 5G technology has been proceeding in earnest, as discussed below. Interesting that during this time people have also been impacted by a ‘virus’ labeled COVID-19, don’t you think?

Anyway, as you probably guessed as well, electromagnetic radiation causes biological damage to fruit trees, crops, farm birds and animals too, with adverse implications for the human food supply (apart from the shocking impact from the mass killing of pollinators such as bees).

What is the State of Play Now?

Despite its enormous health hazards and implications for military violence, as well as its potential for intrusive surveillance, which is also extensively documented. See the following important articles:

How Big Wireless Lobbied Governments to Build 5G for Citizen Data Collection and Surveillance – and the vulnerability of satellites to cyber attacks with potentially horrific consequences –

Hackers could shut down satellites – or turn them into weapons’ – the deployment of 5G has begun. From the elite perspective, it is critical to implementation of the so-called fourth industrial revolution.

Techno-Tyranny: How The US National Security State Is Using Coronavirus To Fulfill An Orwellian Vision.

This means that the existing fleet of functional satellites orbiting Earth, which totaled 2,666 on 1 April 2020 – see ‘Satellite Database’ – but has already grown by a couple of hundred since then, will be vastly expanded to tens of thousands in the near future.

For example, the Elon Musk corporation SpaceX has already launched 538 satellites into Space and is planning to launch another 60 every two weeks into the ionosphere. See ‘538 Satellites and Counting’. Again: ‘The ionosphere is a source of high voltage that controls the global electric circuit, which in turn provides the energy for life.’

Moreover, on 26 May 2020 SpaceX filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the USA for 30,000 ‘next-generation’ (‘Gen2’) satellites. ‘If and when [SpaceX’s] Starlink signs up millions of paying customers, it is possible that nothing will survive – no humans, no animals, and no insects. It is likely that it will be blamed on COVID-19, unless this world wakes up in time.’ See ‘Putting the Earth Inside a High-Speed Computer’.

But SpaceX is not the only satellite corporation although it has a large scheme compared to most of its major competitors, except OneWeb (UK/USA) which submitted a plan to the FCC in the USA on 27 May 2020 for 48,000 satellites.

Some other private corporations or government agencies that have satellite constellations they are planning to expand include Boeing (USA), Spire Global (Luxembourg, Scotland, USA), Iridium (USA), Orbcomm (USA), Globalstar (USA), Telesat (Canada), Eutelsat (Europe), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Earth Observing System (USA), the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency (USA) with plans for hundreds or potentially thousands of satellites in seven layers – see ‘National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA), Systems, Technologies, and Emerging Capabilities (STEC)’ – the Russian Satellite Communications CompanyGLONASS (Russia) and the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (China).

Yet other groups, such as Amazon, are planning major constellations – see ‘Amazon to offer broadband access from orbit with 3,236-satellite “Project Kuiper” constellation’ – and Facebook has an experimental satellite license.

In addition, the new corporation Lynk (USA) has been deploying ‘cell-towers-in-space’ satellites and boasts ‘We will connect all 5.2 billion mobile phones on the planet, everywhere.’ How? ‘Subscribers receive coverage from terrestrial towers when they have it and satellite towers when they need it, all from their existing phone.’

As has been noted before this, the slowly-evolving night sky that creatures from Earth have observed for billions of years will be rapidly obliterated in what will presumably be the first instance of astronomical pollution. Stars visible to the naked eye will vanish from view.

On 23 March 2020, the ‘Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020’ became law in the United States. See Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020. It’s purpose?

To require the President [within 180 days] to develop a strategy to ensure the security of next generation mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure in the United States and to assist allies and strategic partners in maximizing the security of next generation mobile telecommunications systems, infrastructure, and software, and for other purposes.

So 5G technology is now being rapidly rolled out with elite agents in the telecommunications industry advertising bigger and faster downloads. They just don’t mention that it will kill us.

‘Why not?’ you might ask. ‘Won’t it kill them too?’

Yes, but they are insane which, in this case, means that their minds are incapable of paying attention to, and considering, the ‘big picture’ (including all of the ecological and social variables impacted by their decisions) because their focus is on limited imperatives, such as profit. This is why all of those scientific studies that have consistently exposed the extreme dangers of electromagnetic radiation over recent decades have not only been ignored but great effort, including through the corporate media, has been made to prevent public discussion of the impacts based on the knowledge in this research.

For brief explanations of this insanity,

see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’

and ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’

with fuller explanations in ‘Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

This insanity is why the global elite, through its corporate and political agents, is endlessly manipulating us into fighting their wars – even dragging us to the brink of nuclear war – destroying the climate and the environment, driving the collapse of biodiversity, and generating a vast range of political, economic and social crises without ever considering the fundamental outcome – its deleterious impact on all life – of their behaviors. 5G is just the latest manifestation of this insanity.

Of course, all of these crises could be resolved if we were dealing with people who were sane. And if most of us were not readily distracted from paying attention to reality.

See ‘The Disintegrated Mind: The Greatest Threat to Human Survival on Earth’.

Resisting the Deployment of 5G

Given the military and surveillance implications of 5G, if you think that governments are particularly concerned to investigate and consider the extensive evidence of the enormous hazards of 5G, you might find it sobering to read the dismissive three paragraphs given to the subject in the European Parliament’s official report on 5G.

See 5G Deployment: State of Play in Europe, USA and Asia’.

The reality, as touched on just above, is that elite interests are shaping what happens. You still don’t think so?

In 2002, Gro Harlem Brundtland, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the former Prime Minister of Norway, ordered people entering her office in Geneva to not carry a cell phone. Why? Because cell phones gave her a headache. The following year Brundtland was no longer the Director-General of the WHO. ‘No other public officials have repeated her mistake.’

See The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life.

Nevertheless, the resistance to 5G is rapidly gaining pace with concerned scientists and activists setting the pace. For example, you can see a ‘List of Cities, Towns, Councils and Countries that have Banned 5G’.

And if you wish to join those resisting the deployment of 5G, options include signing the International Appeal: Stop 5G on Earth and in Space, supporting legal challenges such as this one in Denmark – see ‘State of Play and Danish Suing FiveG Network’– and simply getting rid of your mobile (cell) phone. See ‘End Cellphones Here on Earth (ECHOEarth)’.

Moreover, if you wish, you can campaign strategically to halt the deployment of 5G. You can read a list of strategic goals, as well as how to develop a local strategy to prevent/halt the deployment of 5G, at Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.

Separately from this, if you would like to join the worldwide movement of people working to end all violence, you can do so by signing the online pledge of The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.

Conclusion

So what is Arthur Firstenberg’s chilling conclusion?

‘You cannot contaminate the global electrical circuit with millions of pulsed, modulated electronic signals without destroying all of life.’

But, as outlined above, since ‘controlling’ electricity in 1746, humans have been increasingly contaminating the global electrical circuit and it has culminated in what will now be the final electromagnetic assault on Earth.

Which means that unless we can halt the launch of these 5G satellites and the rollout of the technology ‘on the ground’ we will be ‘destroying all of life’. And while some groups advocate measures to protect ourselves as individuals, inadequate though these must be in the unfolding circumstances, no amount of measures to individually protect ourselves from this electromagnetic radiation will protect ‘all of life’ in the wild.

According to Ross Adey, the grandfather of bioelectromagnetics and atmospheric physicist Neil Cherry, we are electrically tuned to the world around us and ‘the safe level of exposure to radio waves is zero’.

There is virtually no time left to understand and act powerfully on that knowledge. What will you do?

Posted in Education, Environment, HealthComments Off on Invisible Rainbow: 5G Electromagnetic Radiation and the Evolution of Life on Planet Earth

Warning over pollution link to Covid-19 as public calls for cleaner air

Respiratory expert warns of worse outcomes for coronavirus patients who live in polluted areas

By: Dominic Penna

High levels of air pollution have combined with other factors to create a perfect storm resulting in worse outcomes from coronavirus in polluted areas, a prominent respiratory expert has said.

Professor Fan Chung, professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London’s National Heart and Lung Institute, pointed to mounting research suggesting that air pollution worsens the outcomes of those who contract the disease.

His comments come as a new YouGov poll found two-thirds of Britons support stricter laws to tackle pollution after the pandemic, and a report from the Clean Air Fund called on governments to do more on the issue.

“Pollution has been linked to asthma, diabetes and so on, and these are conditions where we know that if you get Covid-19, the outcome can be poor,” Professor Chung told the Telegraph.

“Like coronavirus, pollution has a greater effect on elderly people, and we know that pollution causes inflammation of the lungs. It may be that this is contributing to poorer outcomes in Covid infections – pollution is involved directly or indirectly through accentuating or causing many of these conditions.

 “And people who are in poorer socioeconomic groups, and live more commonly in the big cities, tend to have more respiratory diseases. So this is another factor that may predispose them to Covid, among many factors that need to be addressed.”

Professor Chung pointed to work during the height of the epidemic in Bergamo, northeastern Italy, where the coronavirus was detected in pollution particles.

This suggested the virus spread through fine particulate matter such as PM2.5, he said. He has now applied for funding in order to carry out further research.

“If this virus does travel on particles, it means that if you go into areas where they are circulating, you inhale it directly. We know the usual way you get it is to inhale droplets into the nose and throat. But here, we are talking about the potential for particles to go directly into the lungs.

“In a polluted area like on the London Underground, the levels of PM2.5 are particularly high. So, in this way, the Covid virus could piggyback on these particles, and be inhaled directly into your lungs.”

Millions of people have respiratory problems and other health issues which have left them vulnerable to the most severe impacts of Covid-19. This is especially true among poorer people living in bigger, polluted cities.

Wuhan, where the outbreak originated and spread rapidly, ranks among the 200 most polluted cities in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the Clean Air Fund – the first survey of attitudes towards pollution across the UK, Bulgaria, India, Nigeria and Poland – today painted a stark global picture around air quality issues.

A report, Breathing Space, was released alongside the poll and it highlighted how air quality has improved worldwide because of the travel and trade shut down.

The poll showed that more than 90 per cent of respondents in Nigeria and India wanted to see air quality improved in their area. It is estimated India could see up to 650,000 fewer deaths per year if its current levels of pollution were to be maintained.

Ninety-four per cent of respondents in India said that air pollution directly affects their general health, and almost two in three said living in an area of high pollution would predispose an individual to catching and finding it more difficult to recover from coronavirus.

More than seven in 10 respondents across the five countries were concerned about pollution as both an environmental and a public health issue, whilst there was overwhelming support for clean air policies, with 85 per cent of respondents backing stricter environmental regulation.

The report has called on governments to do more after the pandemic by jointly tackling transnational pollution, prioritising pollution reduction within economic packages, and repurposing city streets for walking and cycling.

Posted in Environment, Health, Human RightsComments Off on Warning over pollution link to Covid-19 as public calls for cleaner air

Barbarism on the Rise: Hunting Mama Wolves and Bears and Their Cubs in Alaska

by EVAGGELOS VALLIANATOS

Arctic wolf. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

When I was in elementary school, I had a slingshot for hunting birds. To this day, I find it impossible to explain why I indulged in such unsavory behavior.

However, since those youthful days, I never hunted again with either a slingshot or a gun.

I abhor the killing of wild and domesticated animals. They have as much right as we do to exist without fearing hunters may kill them.

I know humans have hunted and killed animals for food. Such open season lasted for millennia. Hunting of wildlife for food is probably still alive in some form or another in most countries of the world.

Hunting for sport is another, even more vicious, kind of killing of wild animals. Affluent European hunters decimated Africa’s wildlife in the nineteenth century.

Hunting for sport is probably just as ancient as killing wild animals for food. Members of the ruling classes in the past and now convince themselves they have divine rights to target wildlife at their convenience and pleasure.

This cruel and perverse habit is especially strong in affluent societies, where people with money and guns give license to their pathological instincts in killing wolves, bears, lions, tigers and other wild animals.

Human footprints

This killing, especially of important large carnivorous animals, adds more unnecessary instability in an already destabilized natural world.

Humans have been leaving their bloody and destructive footprints everywhere in the planet for a very long time.

Their industrialized farming has been producing unhealthy food while generating climate change. The effects are thoroughly unpleasant: insects, birds and small animals are steadily being driven towards extinction.

The logging of the world’s forests, no less than factory farming, disrupts and breaks down ecosystems, all but eliminating biological diversity and degrading land and life.

The damming of wild rivers unsettles water life and pushes countless species over the cliff.

As if these terrible practices, which “civilized” people do routinely, did not produce enough disruption and violence in the natural world, humans have been ravaging the land for petroleum, natural gas, coal, gold, silver, and other minerals.

War against the natural world in Alaska

It’s this political madness and ecological tsunami, the horror humans have been sowing in every wild land of the world, including the forests, rivers, and lands of the United States, that sets the stage for an additional and unusually horrific practice about to start in the parks of Alaska.

The Secretary of the US Department of the Interior, a Trump appointee by the name of David Bernhardt, signed a final rule June 11, 2020, that allows a dark age killing of bears, wolves and their cubs.

This is barbarism triumphant under the guise of restoring the authority of Alaska to do as it pleases with our national treasure of wildlife.

Hunters will be filling buckets with bait to attract bears in order to shoot them.

This reminds me of a story a friend told me of a similar barbaric practice in Michigan. Owners of gasoline stations attract deer with large carrots. Drivers buying gasoline shoot the deer from the comfort of their cars.

Listening to this story I thought he was making things up. But, no, he assured me, he witnessed such shameful affair. This put me in a bad mood.

How could these people be so cruel, so stone-dead in their feelings and emotions? Where did they grow up?

The evolving cruelty in Alaska confirms my friend’s story. The roots of violence against wildlife are deep and widespread.

Local and tourist hunters will soon be killing bears, wolves and their offspring in the vast national parks of Alaska.

This is a gift of the Trump administration, which made it legal to hunt these persecuted animals during the denning season.

Imagine TV-like explorers-hunters loaded with war pistols and guns and high tech flashlights entering holes in the ground or caves to shoot mama wolves and bears and their cubs.

What a tragedy, a charade, and paradigmatic act of utter stupidity. Could we say this is hidden hatred of compromised armed people for the animal emblems of wild freedom? Are these hunters hunting their nightmares or civilization itself?

Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, criticized the Trump administration, but she failed to express the anger of a person dedicated to protecting the threated animals. She was too diplomatic in describing the extraordinary vicious turn of policy:

“Amid the global pandemic, the Trump administration is declaring open season on bears and wolves, through their sport hunting rule on national parklands in Alaska….

“National preserve lands at Denali, Katmai, Gates of the Arctic… [in Alaska] are the very places where people travel from around the world, in hopes of seeing these iconic animals, alive in their natural habitat. Through this administration’s rule, [officials of] such treasured lands will now allow sport hunters to lure bears with greased donut bait piles to kill them, or crawl into hibernating bear dens to shoot bears and cubs.”

Trump above all  

This shameful and uncivilized behavior does fit the pattern of Trump, his administration, and his Republican Party and evangelical supporters. They are operating as if in a conquered territory.

Like the French monarch Louis XIV, Trump said I am the state. I can do anything I want. There’s no climate change. Corporations are right about the environment and pollution. I will follow their guidance.

In about 3.5 years, he reversed the modicum of theoretical and real environmental and public health protection Americans enjoyed.

He put this national dangerous policy into effect in the glare of television and lots of additional publicity. Most large media gloated over the tragic spectacle of a president ordering the demise of America. Yet, for the most part, these national televisions and newspapers have been treating him like a king.

I did not see demonstrations by either environmentalists or public health experts or citizens concerned with the rising pandemics of cancer, neurological disease, and the extinction of species. Climate change, the giant among environmental threats, did bring thousands in the streets of Europe and fewer in America.

This means TV advertisements, business practices and propaganda, and poisons in the food, drinking water, and air have diminished the intelligence of Americans – and people throughout the world. Otherwise, it’s impossible to explain these suicidal tendencies.

I consider the threats to our health and the health of the natural world the highest priorities of any civilized society. And yet, in the US House of Representatives “impeachment” of Trump, these existential threats directly linked to the Trump administration were ignored.

This undemocratic politics explains why Trump feels at home with both the virus pandemic and, potentially, ordering the military to take over the country. Like any other billionaire, Trump feels contempt for democracy.

As long as soldiers are in their barracks, Trump wants to be reelected. He is pleasing trophy hunters and Alaska elites that aspire to the total control of public wealth.

It is possible, though hard to document, that the projected visit of the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., to Alaska for hunting mother grizzly bears and wolves and their cubs had something to do with the demolition of the slight protection these vulnerable animals enjoyed under previous administrations.

Trump’s son goes out of his way to kill wild animals. He even went to Mongolia where he hunted an endangered sheep.

The meaning of vicious hunting

The spectacle of the US government encouraging outrageous attacks on wildlife in Alaska tells us much more than the perverted habits of trophy hunters and the myopic and self-destructive politics of Alaska.

Killing animal mothers and cubs is an act of desperation. The killers have lost their humanity and a sense of living among other citizens under the rule of law. They have become what the Greeks defined as barbarians: people of incomprehensible speech and alien to civilization.

I like to think that Americans will have at least the sense of electing Joe Biden as our next president. His work will be much more difficult than I ever thought. He will be governing a country nearly unhinged by the Republicans, evangelicals, and their commander-in-chief, Trump.

Biden will have to tone down the Wall Street ideology of “me” for “us,” and, no less significant, embrace the environment and wildlife as foundations of our civilization.

Fight climate change and ban killings of mama wolves, grizzly bears and their cubs.

Posted in EnvironmentComments Off on Barbarism on the Rise: Hunting Mama Wolves and Bears and Their Cubs in Alaska

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