All posts by keithf

A Simple Message For Humanity – Un Message Clair Pour L’Humanité – Un Mensaje Simple Para La Humanidad

A Simple Message For Humanity

Human activity is destroying the natural systems that we depend upon for our survival. Our most basic instinct as humans is to survive; yet we continue to destroy our life-support machine. Connected humans understand this terrible contradiction; disconnected humans are not able to.

Not all humans are responsible: just those who are part of Industrial Civilization. Industrial Civilization depends on economic growth and the unsustainable use of natural resources, so it has developed a complex set of tools for keeping people disconnected from the real world and living a life that keeps civilization running. Humans have been manipulated in order to be part of a destructive system.

The only way to prevent global ecological collapse and thus ensure the survival of humanity is to rid the world of Industrial Civilization.

Civilization is complex and delicate: it depends on everything running smoothly and also depends upon people having faith in its goodness. Global ecological systems are changing in unpredictable and major ways; natural resources are running out rapidly; the population is growing, particularly the population of urban areas; there is considerable political and civil unrest developing throughout the world: any combination of these factors are likely to lead to a sudden and catastrophic collapse of civilization during the 21st century.

It is possible to create a situation where civilization is left to crumble gradually, reducing the impact on humanity, and the sooner this is done, the less the global environment will be harmed. The key things we need to do are:

1) Reconnect with the real world, so that we can understand our close relationships with it in everything we do. The more you connect, the more you will realise how unreal civilization is.

2) Live in such a way that we do not contribute to the expansion of the global economy, reducing our impact on the natural environment in the process. Be aware that authority figures within the system, such as political leaders and corporations, will attempt to provide you with ‘green’ advice: this advice is designed to ensure that civilization continues, and should be ignored.

3) Create the conditions so that others may also change through education and, even more importantly, undermining the tools that civilization uses to keep us part of the machine. Don’t waste time protesting: this changes nothing – that is why it is legal.

A future outside of civilization is a better life; one in which we can actually decide for ourselves how we are going to live.


Un Message Clair Pour L’Humanité

L’activité humaine est en train de détruire les systèmes naturels dont nous dépendons pour notre survie. Notre instinct le plus fondamental en tant qu’humain est de survivre. Or, nous persistons à détruire notre support de vie. Les humains éveillés comprennent cette terrible contradiction, ceux qui ne le sont pas en sont incapables.

Ce ne sont pas tous les humains qui en sont responsables: seulement ceux qui font partie de la civilisation industrielle. La civilisation industrielle est dépendante d’une croissance économique et de l’utilisation non soutenable des ressources naturelles. C’est pourquoi elle a développé un ensemble complexe de statégies pour maintenir les gens débranchés du monde réel, lesquels mènent un train de vie qui la maintient fonctionnelle. Les humains ont été manipulés afin de faire partie d’un système qui détruit.

La seule façon d’éviter un effondrement écologique global et d’assurer la survie de l’humanité est de débarrasser la planète de la civilisation industrielle.

La civilisation est à la fois complexe et fragile; pour son fonctionnement, elle dépend du bon roulement des choses et de la croyance des gens en sa bonté. Nos écosystèmes planétaires subissent des changements majeurs avec des répercussions imprévisibles: les ressources naturelles s’épuisent rapidement, la population croît rapidement, surtout dans les milieux urbains, il y a un malaise grandissant autant politique que populaire. Ces facteurs combinés vont probablement amener un effondrement rapide et catastrophique de la civilisation au cours du 21è siècle.

Il est possible de provoquer l’effritement progressif de la civilisation, réduisant ainsi son impact sur l’humanité et, les dommages à l’environnement seront d’autant amoindris que nous agirons rapidement.

Voici ce que nous devons faire:

1) Nous joindre à la réalité du monde vivant, afin que nous puissions comprendre notre étroite relation avec lui dans tout ce que nous faisons. Plus nous sommes en affinité avec la nature, plus nous réalisons combien irréelle est la civilisation.

2) Vivre de telle manière que l’on cesse de contribuer à la croissance économique, et par le fait même, réduire notre impact sur l’environnement naturel. Devenir conscient que les figures d’autorité dans ce système, tels les dirigeants politiques ou les corporations, vont tenter de nous proposer des solutions “vertes” opportunistes : ces conseils restent axés sur l’idée d’une continuation de la civilisation et devraient êtres ignorés.

3) Créer, par l’éducation, des conditions favorables afin que les autres puissent aussi changer et, plus important encore, miner les outils dont se sert la civilisation pour nous maintenir dans ce système. Ne perdons pas de temps à manifester : cela ne change rien, c’est d’ailleurs pour cette raison que c’est permis!

Un avenir en dehors de la civilisation induit une vie meilleure: une existence dans laquelle nous pouvons décider par nous-même de notre manière de vivre.

(Thank you to Claude for the French translation / Merci à Claude pour la traduction en français)


Un Mensaje Simple Para La Humanidad

La actividad humana está destruyendo los sistemas naturales de los cuales dependemos para nuestra supervivencia. Nuestro instinto más básico como humanos es el de sobrevivir; pero continuamos destruyendo el sistema que nos mantiene vivos. Los humans que están conectados entienden esta terrible contradicción; los desconectados no.

No todos los seres humanos son responsables: solo aquellos que forman parte de la Civilización Industrial. La Civilización Industrial depende del crecimiento económico y el uso no sostenible de los recursos naturales, de tal forma que se ha desarrollado un juego complejo de herramientas que mantienen a la gente desconectada del mundo real y viviendo de una forma que mantiene funcionando a la civilización. Los humanos han sido manipulados para ser parte de un sistema destructivo.

La única forma de evitar un colapso ecológico global y asegurar la supervivencia de la humanidad es librar al mundo de la Civilización Industrial.

La Civilización es compleja y delicada: depende de que todo opere de manera estable y tambien, de que la gente siga teniendo fé que la civilización es algo positivo. Los sistemas ecológicos globales están cambiando de distintas maneras, importantes e impredecibles; los recursos naturales se están agotando rápidamente; la población está creciendo, sobre todo en zonas urbanas; se están produciendo considerables inestabilidades políticas y civiles por todo el mundo: cualquier combinación de estos factores podría llevar a un colapso repentino y catastrofico de la civilización durante el siglo 21.

Es posible crear una situación donde la civilización se desmorone gradualmente, reduciendo el impacto en la humanidad, y cuanto antes se realice, menor sera el daño al medio ambiente global. Las cosas que podemos hacer principalmente son:

1) Reconectarnos con el mundo real, para comprender nuestra relación con él en todo lo que hacemos. Cuánto más conectados, más conscientes seremos de lo irreal que resulta la civilización.

2) Vivir de una manera que no contribuya a la expansión de la economía global, que también reduzca nuestro impacto en el medio ambiente. Recordar que las figuras de autoridad que pertenecen al sistema, como líderes políticos y corporaciones, intentarán proporcionarte consejos “ecológicos”: estos consejos estan diseñados para asegurar que la civilización continúe, y deberíamos ignorarlos.

3) Crear las condiciones necesarias para que otros cambien a través de la educación e, incluso más importante, debilitando las herramientas que utiliza la civilización para que sigamos formando parte de la máquina. No desperdicies tiempo protestando: esto no cambia nada – por eso es legal.

El futuro fuera de la civilización es una vida mejor; una en la que podamos realmente decidir por nosotros mismos como vamos a vivir.

(Thank you to Joel Montes and Sara Hammond for the Spanish translation)


This statement first appeared in the online book A Matter Of Scale (www.amatterofscale.com) and also appears in the book “Time’s Up! An Uncivilized Solution To A Global Crisis.” (www.timesupbook.com). This statement has been written in such a way that it can be easily understood by a large number of people, and passed on intact so that as many people as possible can read it and act upon it.

Depletion and Abundance, Life on the New Home Front by Sharon Astyk

depletion

First off, I must apologise: this is probably one of the latest reviews of a ‘new’ book that you will ever read — although in the world of publishing, all reviews are probably welcome. In my defence, I was going to read Sharon Astyk’s latest, Independence Days first, but then realised that Depletion and Abundance : Life on the New Home Front had to come first, being Sharon’s first solo published venture and, as I would later come to realise, a book which neatly outlines her entire philosophy on sustainable living. As much a personal tale of change and achievement as a manual for sustainable living for the average civilized person, the author’s humble, often self-effacing nature washes over the pages of the book. Many authors would shun such an approach, possibly to avoid accusations of mawkishness; but not Sharon Astyk, who manages to take us into her world, introduce us to her family, invite us to feed her goats and show us her cupboards, all in the name of sheer practicality. There is not a hint of smugness in sight.

On the other hand, such homely tales of family life misrepresent the intensity of Depletion and Abundance: it is not a book to take lightly, nor is it possible to take it lightly, such is the density of Sharon’s writing style and the flood of ideas that pours from every chapter. No surprise then, that it took me far longer to read than almost every other book of a similar ilk I have read. In the early chapters, which talk at great depth of the situation we are in and how the domestic structures we ignore at our peril are being broken down by a system that only values profit and power, there really is no let-up: so while it is an educational, fulfilling and inspiring read, it is also pretty hard work, which might discourage some from reading on.

I implore you to keep reading.

Like all the best scripts — as I say, this is more story than polemic — Depletion and Abundance is eminently quotable, and lends itself perfectly to précis; such as this passage, essentially summing up the reason for the book’s existence:

The simple truth is that I want people who read this book to think seriously about whether they have a viable backup plan for a crisis in the near future. Why? Not because I think the whole world is likely to collapse at once, but because I think any crisis will come in stages and segments.

For me it might be tomorrow; my husband could lose his job because of rising energy costs, for example. For you, it might wait a while — or it might not. We don’t know; we’re playing the odds. And if, like me, you have loved ones you don’t want to risk by playing the odds, the choice becomes clear. Begin now. Begin thinking and preparing for a difficult future today.

From the beginning through to the end, Depletion and Abundance makes the assumption that the reader is ready to make a change of no little significance to their lives. On its own, the passage above may be enough to convince a nascent ‘simplifier’ to move away from the trappings of Industrial Civilization and towards a more survivable way of life; but it must always be borne in mind that the vast majority of people are too brainwashed by the consumer culture to think of any other way. I suspect, even, that Sharon herself doesn’t quite see Industrial Civilization as something to get angry with and wish the end of, more as something that can potentially be manipulated for good:

A good education, up to and including college doesn’t have to cost 30K a year. Basic public medical care including vaccinations, preventative medicine, midwifery, simple palliative care for the dying, many basic medications, birth control and some hospital care doesn’t have to cost us what it does. Neither do libraries, public services and support programs for the poor.

Which is all very desirable but not, I think, feasible without most of the other — more destructive — aspects of civilized society; particularly currency: we are hardly likely to be able to pay for hospital treatment with a bushel of carrots or an offer to repair the roof. Something has to give in a collapsing society, and it will ultimately be the public infrastructures that most people depend upon. It’s a very fine balance, and even writers like Richard Heinberg, whom Sharon quotes from in the book, haven’t really got to grips with this difficult conundrum (I am still reeling from his suggestion that the “Beauty of the built environment” is something to savour!)

One other minor criticism: for most people in the civilized world, reading Sharon’s heartfelt tales of home life may be counter-productive — a first step too far perhaps, especially when she ‘guilt trips’ over her kids eating the odd ice lolly. I just can’t compete with this level of self-flagellation, and perhaps she needs to give herself a break from time to time. No one is perfect, and it is our imperfections that make us individual.

Back to the really good stuff, and I can’t help but notice the number of times I had written “good” or “excellent” in the margins of my review copy. Her treatments of home economy and raising children in a consumer society are second-to-none. Here is a passage from the chapter ‘Making Ends Meet’, which I had commented as being “Great advice to give people in the [debt] trap”:

Are you starting to feel the pinch already? Well cut back some more. Sell the computer, and give up the Internet — go to the library instead. Find a carpool and give up your car, or get on a bike. Dump the tae kwon do lessons for the kids, and teach them to cook from scratch and play pick up soccer with the neighbor kids instead. Go vegetarian, and eat more whole foods. Give up luxuries like coffee and beer. Make your fun at home — play games instead of going out.

For a typical suburban, American parent, this would sound like torture — how could anyone suggest I change my lifestyle! And, of course, it does run counter to the way of life we have been repeatedly told we deserve, like a L’Oreal advert running on constant loop. And, of course, it’s only by thinking the way Sharon suggests, that people will ever be able to ease themselves away from the society that destroys everything it touches.

Where Sharon really excels in, though, is lists: lists of things we should do every day; lists of handy tips for survival (many of which I must admit to not seeing in the sidebars, due to the gravitas of much of the surrounding text); lists of things she does in a typical day — that was my favourite bit, because it really brought home the fact that an ordinary family, albeit one with the guts and determination to survive for the long-term, can change in extraordinary ways, and come out of it with a richer, far more fulfilling life than they could ever have experienced in the dumbed-down world most Westerners take for granted.

Depletion and Abundance is not a book to solve the energy crisis, the climate crisis or the economic crisis (long may it continue): it is a book of ideas and inspiration for those of us who already care enough to change. If you are one of those people, then I throughly recommend it.


Depletion and Abundance : Life on the New Home Front by Sharon Astyk, is published by New Society.

Keith Farnish is author of “Time’s Up! An Uncivilized Solution To A Global Crisis“. He also writes The Earth Blog and The Unsuitablog.

350.org: Right-ish Message, Wrong Method

350org

24 October 2009.

Remember that date, because in the future hundreds of thousands of people who took part in thousands of events worldwide will look back and say to themselves: “Why did I think that would do any good?”

Those thousands upon thousands of people are not the people I am blaming for thinking that by marching, letter writing, lobbying, petitioning and otherwise taking part in all sorts of conventional “actions” great changes would begin to take place. No, I have no problem with those people because, quite frankly, what else are they supposed to do? After all, the environmental groups, writers and high-profile campaigners that are regarded as the leaders of the “environmental movement” (sorry for all the quotes) told them that’s what they needed to do — and promised so much. To quote the website largely responsible for this most recent phenomenon:

To tackle climate change we need to move quickly, and we need to act in unison—and 2009 will be an absolutely crucial year. This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the treaty currently on the table doesn’t meet the severity of the climate crisis—it doesn’t pass the 350 test.

In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the 350 goal, we’re harnessing the power of the internet to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009. We hope to have actions at hundreds of iconic places around the world – from the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef to your community – and clear message to world leaders: the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis.

If an international grassroots movement holds our leaders accountable to the latest climate science, we can start the global transformation we so desperately need.

To take this at face value, it would be inconceivable to think that by taking thousands of photos and getting them into the media, these leaders (our leaders, we are told) would not make sufficient changes in policy to bring atmospheric carbon dioxide down to that critical figure of 350 parts per million. Why would you think any other way — these people told you it would be enough:

Bill McKibben
Rajendra Pachauri
Vandana Shiva
Abp. Desmond Tutu
Dr. James Hansen
Liz Thomson
Pres. Mohamed Nasheed
Bianca Jagger
David Suzuki
Van Jones
George Monbiot
Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Will Steger
Barbara Kingsolver
Hermann Scheer
Alex Steffen
Mathis Wackernagel
Colin Beavan
Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt
Homero Aridjis
Paul Loeb
Deepa Gupta
Ross Gelbspan
Keibo Oiwa
Claudio Angelo
Thomas Homer-Dixon
Bo Ekman
Bulu Imam

Well, perhaps not those precise words, for in the world of soundbites and voxpops, it’s very easy to get carried away and lend your name to something simply because it seems like a good thing to do.

“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.”

That’s James Hansen, quoted on www.350.org. Where did he say that by taking photos and getting them on the agendas of political high-ups the problem would be consigned to history? It wouldn’t be too strong to suggest that some of these people have been duped by 350.org, and that the people behind the campaign are so deluded by their own concept of “action” that they couldn’t possibly imagine that anyone would think anything different.

I’m not making this up; here is an exchange from way back in May 2008, when the group was first set up, and I found their MySpace page:

From: Keith
Date: May 28, 2008 4:33 AM

Hi 350 (or rather sub-350)

Glad to see someone taking a realistic look at things. I wrote a short article recently on The Sietch, which you might like to look at, based around this subject:

http://www.blog.thesietch.org/2008/04/03/climate-stability-we-have-already-passed-the-limit-time-to-go-in-reverse/

Keep up the good work, and if you have any radical (not symbolic) ideas for “things to do” then let me know.

keith@theearthblog.org

Best

Keith

Keith,

Thanks for the note. Something radical (not symbolic) that you can do is raise awareness in your community by holding a 350 event, and then make sure everybody calls their elected leaders asking them to push for legislation that has strong enough carbon cuts to get to 350 ppm.

Best,

Phil Aroneanu
350. org

At the time I had nearly completed writing my book, and had come to understand very clearly the huge gulf between the effectiveness of Symbolic and Non-Symbolic actions. Phil’s response demonstrated a level of delusion I had not come across since that realisation: he really thought that by holding an event and appealing to “elected leaders” the 100% cuts in industrial nations’ emissions necessary by 2030 (or earlier) would happen. He really did.

Dear Phil

I need to take this discussion off MySpace, as I think your response (see below) has doomed any chance of 350.org working, and you need to know this as soon as possible.

“Something radical (not symbolic) that you can do is raise awareness in your community by holding a 350 event, and then make sure everybody calls their elected leaders asking them to push for legislation that has strong enough carbon cuts to get to 350 ppm.”

Could you please explain in what way doing exactly the same thing that has repeatedly failed in the past to achieve even modest cuts in emissions is going to achieve the 100% cut required to return to 350ppm? Could you please explain how “holding a 350 event” is radical?

I really thought 350.org was the cusp of something different, yet you still are still trying to convince people that “their elected leaders” will do anything that turns its back on the existing consumer culture (a.k.a. Culture of Maximum Harm) — the very culture these “elected leaders” and the brainwashed public are convinced is the only way to live.

I wish you well with your campaign: I don’t want to say it will fail, but it will. If you want to know how to actually get the carbon levels down adequately then the non-technological, non-political, non-symbolic answers are out there — I have some of them, as do a number of other people who have been ostracised by the environmental mainstream: you only have to ask. Bill McKibben was *almost* there about three-quarters of the way through “The End of Nature” then he seemed to lose his nerve, and has deradicalised considerably in the last few years. The environmental movement has singularly failed to address the root cause of the problem, largely because the environmental movement is a big part of the problem.

Please read this quote from my book (www.amatterofscale.com) and then maybe you will start to understand:

—– Start of quote —–

So, go and protest, make some noise, wave some banners, sign a petition: just make sure you stay within the law. I mean it – protest of some form or another is permitted in most nations, but the severity and the type of protest allowed depends in the legislation that is in place; both standing legislation and the widely used “state of emergency” which, in fact is simply an extension of the existing laws. As the Zimbabweans ponder their electoral fate, the Mugabe regime has imposed “emergency” laws to prevent any form of gathering that may threaten the government. What the Mugabe regime knows only too well is that in Zimbabwe, as with many other African, South American and Asian states, protest often takes an entirely different form to the type of protest the people of the industrial West have become accustomed too. The Mugabe regime know that real protest is capable of overthrowing governments; whereas in the USA, for instance, it almost goes without saying that protest will lead to nothing more than a warm feeling in the hearts of those taking part:

One will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, assembled in an orderly fashion, listening to selected speakers calling for an end to this or that aspect of lethal state activity, carrying signs “demanding” the same thing.and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembled to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition.

Throughout the whole charade it will be noticed that the state is represented by a uniformed police presence keeping a discreet distance and not interfering with the activities. And why should they? The organizers will have gone through “proper channels” to obtain permits. Surrounding the larger mass of demonstrators can be seen others.their function is to ensure the demonstrators remain “responsible,” not deviating from the state-sanctioned plan of protest.[i]

Laughable, isn’t it, that such a well controlled event – and this is the way every official rally I have ever been on works – should be considered a “protest” by the organisers? The laws in each country are tailored to suit the appetite of the population for change: a country full of people that want to fight for change needs to be kept tightly controlled; a country full of catatonic, drip-fed consumers can march all they like, be given a well-controlled soapbox on TV – and the voltage on the tasers can be turned right down.

That is, unless someone decides to break the law.

….

Every day, in all sorts of ways, we hand over the responsibility of our actions to other parties. We entrust religious leaders to act as proxy supreme beings, to give us blessings and pray for the delivery of our souls and, as is becoming more common, the protection of the natural environment. We entrust politicians to justly run districts, states, countries, the whole planet, on our behalf, and deliver whatever is in their jurisdiction from whatever evils we have asked them to deal with. We ask the heads of corporations to use profits wisely, to provide fair wages, allow union representation and listen to their staff and respond appropriately – we ask them not to destroy the planet. We ask environmental organisations to look after the planet on our behalf, to lobby fiercely and petition prudently, to give us a world worth living in.

We are guilty of a mass dereliction of responsibility.

When we vote we hope the politicians will do the right thing after they have been elected. When we buy a product from a company, we hope that company are acting in the best interests of everyone and every thing they impact. When we sign a petition, go on a protest march or write a letter, we hope that it will change things for the better. But it is never that simple.

Voters vote for different things: your hope that a politician will increase pollution controls will be running counter to the hope of another voter that pollution controls will be weakened. Your entrustment of a company that they will act ethically runs contrary to the basic needs of a shareholder in that same company, that demands an increase in profits, which requires poorer labour standards, increased use of natural resources, corner cutting and cost slashing across the board. Your petition or protest march may give you hope that something will change when in fact you have simply channelled your anger and concern into a symbolic action that threatens not a single media executive, company director or head of state. You innocently believed that right would out simply because you placed your demands on the wings of dear hope.

When we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we’re in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free – truly free – to honestly start working to thoroughly resolve it. When hope dies, action begins.[ii]

——————————————————————————–

[i] Ward Churchill, “Pacifism As Pathology”, AK Press, 2007.
[ii] Derrick Jensen, “Endgame Volume I: The Problem Of Civilization”, Seven Stories Press, 2006.

—– End of quote —–

Your campaign seems to be based on the hope that something magical will change through holding “events” and lobbying politicians and corporations to change. This approach has pointedly failed for the last 40 years, and yet continues because it feels like something is being done, even while, all the time, the emissions keep going up. There is not one shred of evidence to suggest such an approach will ever work. The point is, emissions will keep going up all the time industrial civilization owns humanity.

I don’t expect you to understand, though, just as 99% of people brainwashed by this culture do not understand. The answers do not lie within the system, the answers lie within ourselves — people who may be addicted to the system but are still individuals who can decide to step out of the toxic river, and maybe knock out a few shopping malls, power plants and TV stations as they go.

Yours in desperate times

Keith Farnish
keith@theearthblog.org
www.theearthblog.org
www.sub350.org

He never did respond. I didn’t expect him too.

If you are planning to go to a 350.org event, then please go, but don’t go expecting the group’s aims to change anything: go with a view to helping people understand that only by rejecting the system that the group’s organisers are still pandering to, can the atmospheric carbon levels go below 350 parts per million. Either that, or the Earth will reject humanity.

———-
This was taken from The Unsuitablog. Keith Farnish is author of “Time’s Up! An Uncivilized Solution To A Global Crisis.
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EDIT: Have amended the title because, as we all know, even 350ppm isn’t low enough, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for giving anyone a false sense of security.

New Climate Change Denial Groups Need Your Input

co2isgreen

The Copenhagen climate change conference is coming and, quite frankly, I don’t expect it to change a thing: the focus will still be on ensuring economic growth in the face of a heating Earth, and most of the money pledged will go into building walls (both metaphorical and actual) to make people feel like they are being protected from the striking changes in environmental conditions expected when the full impact of climate change starts to hit us. If anything is agreed then it won’t be anything like enough to even slow down the impact of climate change, let alone stop it — as leaders in a world dominated by consumption and industrial might, the decision makers at Copenhagen can either say goodbye to power and the way of life they have become accustomed to; or they can make us all think everything is going to be fine in their hands.

That’s my position, and it isn’t going to change: you have my word. On the other hand, there are an increasing number of good people who really do want to change the way that they live; oridinary people who are growing increasingly restless and just need a bit of help to guide them down the road out of the industrial, consuming way of life. These are the people that the latest climate change denial groups, CO2 Is Green and Plants Need CO2, are determined to push back into the wheels of the machine.

Both of them are fronted by H. Leighton Steward, a geologist and wetland geographer who has taken a recent interest in denying the science of climate change (remember, even the conservative IPCC are more than 90% sure that [civilized] humans are behind the suddenly changing climate). He has the following biography (my emphasis):

Leighton Steward is a geologist, environmentalist, author, and retired energy industry executive. He has written about the reasons for the loss of much of the Mississippi River delta (Louisiana’s National Treasure) and has given advice on how the nation can achieve “no net loss” of wetlands in the future; advice that has been accepted by the EPA and U. S. Corps of Engineers. Leighton was lead author on a book about nutrition and health (Sugar Busters) that gave advice on how to lose weight and prevent and or treat diabetes. The book became a #1 New York Times Best seller for sixteen weeks and made a significant contribution to the changes that have occurred regarding the availability of no-sugar-added, higher fiber, and low-glycemic products in the super markets. More recently, he has written a book (Fire, Ice and Paradise) that is an endeavor to educate the non-scientist about the many causes of global climate change so that the reader will be better prepared to understand what they hear, see, and read about in the media and from the politicians. In recognition of his many environmental efforts, Leighton has received numerous environmental awards, including the regional EPA Administrator’s Award for environmental excellence.

He is Chairman of the Board of The Institute for the Study of Earth and Man at SMU, was Chairman of the National Wetlands Coalition, and was twice Chairman of the Audubon Nature Institute. Leighton currently serves on the boards or boards of visitors of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, EOG Resources, The Buffalo Bill Historical Center, the Southwest Research Institute, and is an emeritus member of the Tulane University board.

Leighton’s current interest lies in helping to educate the general public and the politicians about the tremendous benefits of carbon dioxide (CO2) as it relates to the plant and animal kingdoms and their related ecosystems and habitats, and the general health of humanity.

That biography, taken from the site, “Plants Need CO2” conveniently forgets to mention a few key things, which are elucidated so well by this more objective version, from the Forbes website:

– ———————————————————-
H. Leighton Steward
Director
EOG Resources, Incorporated
Houston , TX
Sector: BASIC MATERIALS / Independent Oil & Gas

74 Years Old
Mr. Steward is author-partner of Sugar Busters, LLC, a provider of seminars, books and products related to helping people follow a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. He retired from Burlington Resources, Inc., an oil and gas exploration, production and development company, in 2000, where he had served as Vice Chairman since 1997. Mr. Steward is former Chairman of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association and the Natural Gas Supply Association, and is currently an honorary director of the American Petroleum Institute.
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Isn’t it strange that he missed out so many things that would link him to the oil and gas industry so intimately; aspecially the API which is one of the most active climate change denial advocacy groups in the world, and whose 1998 Global Science Communications Plan was leaked to DeSmogBlog. Among the explosive statements contained in this pro-oil plan were the following words:

Unless “climate change” becomes a non-issue, meaning that the Kyoto proposal is defeated and there are no further initiatives to thwart the threat of climate change, there may be no moment when we can declare victory for our efforts. It will be necessary to establish measurements for the science effort to track progress towards achieving the goal and strategic success.

“Victory” was essentially to be achieved when the public were utterly confused about the realities of climate change, and thus could be manipulated to support the views of the oil and gas industry — the “strategic success”.

H. Leighton Steward is a director of this organisation, yet he describes himself as an “environmentalist”.

plantsneedco2

Given the rather inauspicious motives of the two groups, CO2 Is Green and Plants Need CO2 it’s clear that they are dangerous. I encourage you to spend a little time navigating the sites and seeing exactly how much peer-reviewed science they quote in defence of their position: you will find none. What you will find are lots of former oil cronies and PR companies employed by the oil and gas industry. One of these PR companies is The Patriot Group, whose Principal, Ryan Gravatt has set up a Facebook Group on behalf of Plants Need CO2.

In fact, Facebook is a major part of the efforts of these groups: the CO2 Is Green Facebook Group is rather slick, and has been expertly managed so that “discussions” are filtered to different tabs, and “fans” are banned from posting should they say anything too challenging.

This is where you come in. In order to counter the toxic messages these groups are putting around (remember, they use no objective science and are funded by the oil industry), there are two really good things you could do:

1) Repost the videos and links to their web sites with a clear message that these groups are a complete joke and are surely hoaxes because they are so laughable. Make the same kinds of comments on their YouTube videos and channels:

http://www.youtube.com/user/co2isgreen

http://www.youtube.com/user/plantsneedco2

2) Join the Facebook groups and cause havoc. Post contrary comments and links (if you are allowed to) everywhere:

CO2 Is Green: http://www.facebook.com/pages/CO2-is-Green/129006936661
Plants Need CO2: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=115687686620

Have fun!

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Keith Farnish is an environmental blogger and campaigner who has written a book which might help fix this mess, called “Time’s Up! An Uncivilized Solution To A Global Crisis.

Sacred Demise by Carolyn Baker – A Review

SacredDemise
I’m staring at a bit of a dog-eared wreck, to be honest; but it’s the words that matter, providing I can still read them. The thing is, my copy of Carolyn Baker’s Sacred Demise has followed me around on walks, road journeys, train trips, in the rain, in the sun, under trees, over hills and in dirty streets littered with Coke cans and paper. I had to finish it, despite it not being an obvious thing of beauty; despite it being a book that I learnt to fear as much as embrace with love and empathy – some things are just necessary, like hugging your children and eating your greens.

Sacred Demise is not an easy book to read; for sure, Carolyn’s words trip across the page, often with a delightful spring in their step, but then without warning they cross your path and send you flying into the nearest ditch, leaving you wondering how you ended up there. The idea of accepting the end of civilization as inevitable can be approached pragmatically, in the style of Dmitry Orlov, which is ideal for those who are mentally prepared; but for the vast majority of us who still identify – deep down – with the culture we were born into, you don’t only need rope and handholds to descend the Dark Mountain: you need the will to get you through the journey.

This is not a book to read quickly. Do it right and for the most part you will be reflecting on and writing about what you have just read. Each chapter ends with a set of questions that take into account the previous text, and which ask you to consider your feelings and physical situation – in effect, how ready are you? From a technical point of view, Sacred Demise could have been laid out in a manner that emphasises the importance of this self-reflection process better: perhaps a separate workbook, larger pages for journaling – but to give Carolyn her due, she does provide note space, and the book is, to all intents and purposes, self published (yes, I was rather surprised too).

One thing that Carolyn Baker does do very well is express complex and emotive ideas in an easy to understand way, far better – if I may be so bold – than some of the writers that she quotes from. She does have an occasional tendency to present ideas of faith as fact, for instance in quoting Eckhart Tolle, she states: “While it is true that we are more than our bodies,” which is a fine topic for discussion, but not something that would be welcome on the table of many modern philosophers. There is also an element of parochialism in some of the text, as though the civilized world consists of America and nothing else – more of an irritant than a major flaw, being English myself, but nevertheless something that could alienate non-American readers.

But these are minor flaws in a superb book. Sacred Demise is little short of seminal; the start, perhaps, of a way of writing and speaking that is paramount at the end of the Age of Empire. There are far too many lucid and memorable moments to quote them all, but if I had to choose a passage that sums up what Sacred Demise means to me, it would be this, from the cathartic chapter, “Hospice as Holy Ground”:

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than-human world do not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

Had I read this at the beginning of the book, then I may have given up there and then, but the aim of Sacred Demise is not a quick grab-you-by-the-arms and haul you up into the safety of the tree canopy; instead, it is a journey, and a damn hard one at that if you are not prepared to open up and accept the fate of civilization. This means that this book is perhaps not the first thing you should read when approaching the subject of ecological collapse and your place in the future; on the other hand, if you don’t read Sacred Demise then you had better be ready for the shock of your life when the collapse comes.


Keith Farnish, author of “Time’s Up! An Incivilized Solution to a Global Crisis