Deep analysis by Paul Kingsnorth

Here is Kingsnorth’s persuasive analysis of how environmentalism has become associated by populist and anti-globalist voters with the privileged internationalist elites against whom they express their anger with the Brexit and Trump successes. Green globalism is now seen as part of the ‘Global Growth Machine’ not able to counter ‘the rootless ideology  of the fossil fuel age’ that will pass with the depletion of fossil fuel reserves. Kingsnorth argues that current cultural identity, with its emphasis on nationalism (tribal belonging) and material advance, fails to incorporate ecological identity and a pride in the the sense of nature or the locality.

Climate in ‘uncharted territory’

The World Meteorological Organisation’s new report findings summarised here record unprecedented maxima in sea ice loss in both the Antarctic and Arctic, unprecedented heat waves in the Arctic, unprecedented rate of sea level rise five times the recent rate and CO2 levels in the global atmosphere not seen since 4 million years ago.

“Climate change harms people most directly by increasing the risk of extreme weather events and the WMO report states that these raised risks can increasingly be calculated. For example, the Arctic heatwaves are made tens of times more likely and the soaring temperatures seen in Australia in February were made twice as likely.”

Here is the BBC’s short article with maps and graphics about the same WMO report that 2016 was the hottest year on record,  a trend that is continuing into 2017.

Climate affects volcanism

This BBC Earth video from Iceland offers a surprising explanation of how melting glaciers can affect the activity of magma in the lithosphere resulting in more volcanic eruptions as the weight of the glaciers decreases.

This is yet another example of the unintended consequences of human activity as the Machine World impacts upon the Natural World. Meanwhile, the Trump government in the USA overtly denies that climate change is related to the business of making America great again as the real estate mogul turned president ploughs a furrow through hopes for a sustainable future,

Fukushima’s post-truth update

This alarming Guardian report on the damaged Japanese nuclear plant is yet another example of politicians being economical with the truth.

“The tsunami killed almost 19,000 people, most of them in areas north of Fukushima, and forced 160,000 people living near the plant to flee their homes. Six years on, only a small number have returned to areas deemed safe by the authorities.

… the scale and difficulty of decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi – an unprecedented undertaking one expert has described as “almost beyond comprehension”.

Cleaning up the plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl after it was struck by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on the afternoon of 11 March 2011, is expected to take 30 to 40 years, at a cost Japan’s trade and industry ministry recently estimated at 21.5tr yen ($189bn).

Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former Babcock-Hitachi nuclear engineer, accuses Abe and other government officials of playing down the severity of the decommissioning challenge in an attempt to win public support for the restart of nuclear reactors across the country.

“Abe said Fukushima was under control when he went overseas to promote the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but he never said anything like that in Japan,” says Tanaka. “Anyone here could see that the situation was not under control.

“If people of Abe’s stature repeat something often enough, it becomes accepted as the truth.”

This is a timely reminder that all the soothing noises made by Japan and the nuclear industry are nothing more than lies. And meanwhile Hinkley C, the largest ever construction p roject of its kind,  is going ahead on the coast of the Bristol Channel in the SW of England.


Earthland 2084 – after the Transition

Charlie Goldman, a friend in South Carolina, sent me this today. It offers an imaginary and hope-filled sequel to the last post “Beyond the Anthropcene” (my highlights).

Long, interesting article. See my excerpts below.

This essay is written as a dispatch from the future. We visit Earthland in 2084, the flourishing planetary civilization that has emerged out of the great crises and struggles that today still lie before us. We learn how decades earlier a “global citizens movement” had coalesced and gathered momentum, becoming the key agent of the Great Transition that bent the arc of history from catastrophe to renewal.

At the highest level, three broad channels fan out from the unsettled present into the imagined future: worlds of incremental adjustment (Conventional Worlds), worlds of calamitous discontinuity (Barbarization), and worlds of progressive transformation (Great Transitions).

The fictive author is a veteran of the battle for the twenty-first century, and now an elder statesman of the new order. He celebrates how far the world has come, yet acknowledges that, struggling to heal past wounds and invent a viable future, Earthland is no utopia. Still, its humanistic and ecological values, its ethos of balance between globalism and pluralism, and its enlightened economic and political system fill him with hope. He could be your grandchild or child; or, young Earthlander, might he be you?

Here is his “essay” [excerpts]:

The prevailing pre-transition ethos—consumerism, individualism, and anthropocentrism—has yielded to a different triad: quality of life, human solidarity, and ecocentrism.

The celebration of both unity and diversity animates our “politics of trust” with its two prongs: the toleration of proximate differences and the cultivation of ultimate solidarity. The transformation has demonstrated that the tension between globalism and localism, although very real, need not be antagonistic.

Today [2084], the paramount ideals of modernity— equality, tolerance, reason, rule of law, and active citizenship—are ubiquitous, but find sundry expression across a variegated social landscape.

The most controversial question—What should be considered irreducibly global?—has provoked a tug-of-war between contending camps advocating for either a more tight-knit world state or a more decentralized federation.

The pursuit of money is giving way to the cultivation of skills, relationships, and the life of the mind and spirit. The cynics of yesteryear, who feared the indolent masses would squander their free time, stand refuted.

Most significantly, educational institutions were engines of change and loci of action. They still are, not least through educating tomorrow’s leaders, social entrepreneurs, and citizen-activists. The fully humanistic university has arrived, synergistically pursuing a triple mission—mass education, rigorous scholarship, and the common good—once thought to be contradictory.

Caps on total personal assets and limits on inheritance have made the super-rich an extinct species, while redistributive tax structures and a guaranteed minimum standard of living have nearly eradicated destitution.

At last, humanity understands the moral and biophysical imperative to care for the ecosphere, a hard-learned lesson that, future generations may be assured, shall not be forgotten.

The immediate task is to heal the lingering injuries of the past—eradicating the last pockets of poverty, quelling old antagonisms that still flare across contested borders, and mending nature’s still-festering wounds. Strengthening educational programs and political processes is vital to solidifying Earthland’s ideals in minds and institutions. Social capital is the best inoculation against resurgence of the merchants of greed,  demagogues of hate, and all who would summon the dark hobgoblins from the recesses of the human psyche.