Why Your Tech Is Killing Earth

Why Your Tech Is Killing Earth

By Katie Singer

A tech lover recently told me that he and several colleagues have realized:

1.     The Earth does not have enough energy, minerals or water to support AI, e-vehicles, solar PVs, industrial wind facilities and batteries. Not at the scale we dream to fulfill. Not with eight billion humans.

2.     Expanding the Internet and AI ravages the Earth and wastes young brains.

I consider this man’s honesty excellent news. If more people acknowledge that our electronic tools take from the Earth faster than it can replenish and waste faster than the Earth can absorb, maybe we could take a collective pause. We could question which manufactured goods are necessary and which ones are not. We could stop ravaging ecosystems, reduce production and consumption. We could have truth and reconciliation parties about our relationship with nature and ask each other for help in living within our bioregion’s ecological limits. We could cultivate humility.

Meanwhile, reports about the technosphere’s harms continue to flood my inbox. I do also get some Good News. Thanks for taking a look:


In June, 2024, the Aratina Solar Project in Kern County CA will destroy 4,287 five-hundred-year-old Joshua trees to power 93,000 homes with “clean” (solar PV) energy.

According to a report by Sheffield Hallam University, “almost the entire global solar panel industry is implicated in the forced labor of Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples” who crush quartz rocks and work in coal-fueled furnaces to produce polysilicon for solar panels. Investors nor governments adequately address Uyghur forced labour risks in the renewable energy sector.

In Slavery Poisons Solar Industry’s Supply Chains, Miles Pollard reports that roughly 80% of solar components are manufactured in China using slave labor.

See European Parliament resolutions regarding forced labor in China to make solar PVs. See the 2021 U.S. Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which expanded the mandate that all U.S. companies importing silicon from Xinjiang confirm supply chains free of forced labor. In June 2021, a US Withhold Release Order prevented imports containing silicon from Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd and its subsidiaries from entering the U.S. until importing companies could prove they were not made with forced labor.

What to do? Solar corporations should obtain nearby communities’ free, prior and informed consent before mining or smelting. They can use standards like the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition’s Solar Scorecard. The Solar Equipment Buyers’ Guide for Supply Chain Traceability explains how manufacturers can track finished solar modules’ material origins.

Before buying solar PVs, require the manufacturer to trace its supply chains.

Read Tuco’s Child, a Substack written by a retired chemist who worked in nanomaterials, polymer chemistry, semi-conductor process engineering and the mining industry and treated wastewater from semiconductor effluent. See his photo essay, Fossil Fuels Create 1 Trillion Computer Chips per Year. Computer chips and solar panel wafers are both made from silicon. Making silicon is like working in a volcano. Every 50,000 tons of silicon produces 500,000 tons of CO2. (Solar PVs also use copper, aluminum, boron, phosphorous, PFAs and much more.) Since recycling solar panels is not feasible or economical, expect an avalanche of solar panels at the landfill near you (another fab photo essay from Tuco’s Child).


Tuco’s Child also reports that wind turbine blade waste will exceed 43 million tons/year by 2050.

Major offshore wind projects in New York have been canceled.

U.S. wind generation declined in 2023 for the first time since the 1990s despite the addition of 6.2 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity in 2023. Power Plant Operations Report shows that U.S. wind generation in 2023 totaled 425,235 gigawatt hours (GWh), 2.1% less than in 2022. For a list of wind and solar facilities rejected by NIMBYs, see Robert Bryce’s Renewable Rejection Database. See also Bryce’s “Wind/Solar/Al-Energy Subsidies to Cost Federal Taxpayers $425 Billion Between Now and 2033.”


A 2022 California energy bill has households paying a fixed monthly charge in exchange for lower rates for each kilowatt hour used. Opponents call the legislation a financial gift to investor-owned utilities. Californians who use little electricity pay more, while people who use lots of electricity save money. The policy signals “that conservation doesn’t count,” said Environmental Working Group’s Ken Cook. The new law’s inspiration came from a 2021 paper written by UC/Berkeley’s Energy Institute (partly funded by utilities). The paper detailed how costs for building “renewable” energy plants, burying power lines to reduce wildfire risks, and compensating fire victims increased electric rates—and discouraged Californians from buying EVs and electric appliances.

For a deeper dive, please read my Substack, “Discovering Power’s Traps: a primer for electricity users.”

Isaac Orr and Mitch Rolling (Energy Bad Boys), “Green-PlatingTM the Grid: How Utilities Exploit the ‘Energy Transition’ to Rake in Record Profits.”


Ed Ballard, “Air Conditioning and AI are Demanding More of the World’s Power—Renewables Can’t Keep Up: Renewables can’t keep up with growth, which means more coal and more emissions.”

Amy Luers, et al., “Will AI accelerate or delay the race to net-zero emissions?As AI transforms the global economy, researchers need to explore scenarios to assess how it can help, rather than harm, the climate.” Nature, April 2024. This article says that AI’s energy costs are a small percentage of global energy costs—but doesn’t count the energy (or mining, water, or indigenous community impacts) involved in manufacturing devices and operating AI’s infrastructure. The push is for standards—a long slow, industry-run process—not actions. Power grid outages are considered ‘local’ problems…without recognizing data centers’ global impacts.

Indigenous peoples rush to stop ‘false climate solutions’ ahead of next international climate meeting: COP29 could make carbon markets permanent. Indigenous leaders are calling for a moratorium before it’s too late.” Maria Parazo Rose, April 22, 2024.

Matteo Wong, “The AI Revolution is Crushing Thousands of Languages: English is the internet’s primary tongue—which may have unexpected consequences as generative AI becomes central to daily life,” The Atlantic, April, 2024.

Karen Hao, “AI is Taking Water from the Desert: New data centers are springing up every week. Can the Earth sustain them?” The Atlantic, March 1, 2024.

Valovic, Tom, Big Tech Companies Are Becoming More Powerful Than Nation-States. Already richer than many countries, AI’s rise looks to increase big tech companies’ influence.


How G.M. Tricked Millions of Drivers into Being Spied On (Including Me)

by Kashmir Hill, The NY Times, April 23, 2024. When this privacy reporter bought a Chevrolet Bolt, two risk-profiling companies got detailed data about her driving. (Note: new, gas-powered vehicles also provide detailed data to profilers.)

Bruno Venditti, “Visualized: How much do (replacement) EV batteries cost?” October 15, 2023.

Purdue University, the Indiana Dept. of Transportation and Cummins Inc. will build the U.S.’s first electric charging highway. Transmitter coils installed under pavement in dedicated lanes will send power to receiver coils attached to vehicles’ undersides. What if people with medical implants (deep brain stimulators, insulin pumps, cochlear implants, pacemakers) experience electronic interference?


People of Red Mountain: Life Over Lithium (an excellent, short film about mining Thacker Pass for EVs). See also my Substacks, “When Land I Love Holds Lithium: Max Wilbert on Thacker Pass” and “What choices do we have—when a corporation wants to do business?

Eileen Crist on deep-sea mining with appropriately systemic responses.

DRC Bleeds Conflict Minerals for Green Growth,” by Alexandria Shaner.


Jessica Grose, “Every Tech Tool in the Classroom Should Be Ruthlessly evaluated,” NY Times, April 25, 2024. OpEd.

Patricia Burke, “The FCC is the Bully Boarding the School Bus: The Eyes are (Not) Having It.” Excessive screen-time leads to eye damage, yet the FCC funds installation of Wi-Fi on school buses, supposedly so that children can do homework while riding.

Environmental Health Trust (EHT) revealed that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hid test results showing that smartphones in close proximity to the body (i.e., in a pocket) exceed federal radiation exposure limits. EHT’s Theodora Scarato says: “Why did the FCC perform these tests and then decide to not release the results…while it was conducting a rule-making on this very subject? Why did the FCC refuse to release all the records on this issue? It is outrageous that the U.S. allows phones to be tested with whatever separation distance the companies want. Children and adults (keep) phones pressed to their bodies for hours every day. We need a strong oversight and compliance program…that reflects the way people use phones.”

Is Elon Musk’s Starlink Constellation Slowly Poisoning Earth? Starlink satellites could be eroding Earth’s magnetic field and slowly poisoning us all.

People undergoing therapeutic radiation should avoid exposure to wireless radiation prior to, during, and after treatment. In combination, it could seriously damage DNA. Medical/radiology practitioners need education about the risks of EMF-exposures combined with ionizing radiation.

GOOD NEWS…that might dovetail an era of humility  

In Finland, a daycare replaced its sandy playground with grass, dwarf heather, planter boxes and blueberries. The children tended them. After one month, the children had healthier microbiomes and stronger immune systems than their counterparts in other urban daycares. Researchers conclude that loss of biodiversity in urban areas can contribute to poorer health outcomes; and easy environmental changes can radically improve children’s health.

In Denmark, engineers, architects and manufacturers have written the Reduction Roadmap. They advocate for living on less space. Re-using building materials, elements and structures. Selecting low-carbon, biogenic and regional building materials. Applying life cycle thinking to reduce carbon emissions and building materials’ environmental impacts. Using renewable energy for heating, cooling and electricity. (I question this one.) Collaborate.

In the UK, Daisy Greenwell reports that 75,000 parents have come together to give their kids a smartphone-free childhood, April 29, 2024.

In the Washington Post, Joanna Slater reports “How a Connecticut middle school won the battle against cellphones,A study shows that banning smartphones decreases bullying among both genders. Girls’ GPA improves, and their likelihood of attending an academic high school increases. Consider banning smartphones at school a low-cost policy to improve student outcomes.

Katie Singer writes about the energy, extractions, toxic waste and greenhouse gases involved in manufacturing computers, telecom infrastructure, electric vehicles and other electronic technologies. Visit OurWeb.tech and ElectronicSilentSpring.com.
Capitalism Won’t Save the Planet

Capitalism Won’t Save the Planet

Editor‘s note: This review from the book “Capitalism Won’t Save the Planet” talks about why the energy transition from fossil fuels to so-called renewable energy is slow and not that profitable. We at DGR believe it is not a transition – worldwide we see an increase in fossil fuel consumption. But the use of electricity from wind and solar power increases are just as strong, especially by digital companies like Amazon whose carbon emissions go up while powering with electricity. The public should get much more skeptical towards the “energy transition” and question the profit-making energy corporations.

Review of ‘The Price is Wrong: Why Capitalism Won’t Save the Planet’ by Brett Christophers.

By Simon Pirani/The Ecologist

Wind and solar power projects, that for so long needed state backing, can now provide electricity to wholesale markets so cheaply that they will compete fossil fuels out of the park. It’s the beginning of the end for coal and gas. Right? No: completely wrong.

The fallacy that ‘market forces’ can achieve a transition away from fossil fuels is demolished in The Price is Wrong: Why Capitalism Won’t Save the Planet, a highly readable polemic by Brett Christophers.

Prices in wholesale electricity markets, on which economists and analysts focus, are not really the point, Christophers argues: profits are. That’s what companies who invest in electricity generation care about, and these can more easily be made with coal and gas.


Christophers also unpicks claims that renewables projects are subsidy-free. Even with renewably-produced electricity increasingly holding its own competitively in wholesale markets, it’s state support that counts: look at China, which is building new renewables faster than the rest of the world put together.

The obsession with wholesale electricity prices, and costs of production – to the exclusion of other economic factors – emerged in the 1980s and 90s as part of the neoliberal zeitgeist, Christophers explains.

The damage done by fossil fuels to the natural world, including climate change, was priced at zero; all that needed correcting, ran the dominant discourse, was to include the cost of this ‘externality’ in prices.

This narrative became paramount against the background of neoliberal reforms: electricity companies were broken up into parts, typically for generation, transmission, distribution and supply; private ownership and competition in markets became the norm.

However prices do not and can not reflect all the economic factors that drive corporate decision-making.


The measure that has become standard, the Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE), is the average cost of a unit of electricity produced by different methods. But for renewables, 80 percent-plus of this cost is upfront capital investment – and the fate of many renewables projects hinges on whether banks and other financial institutions are prepared to lend money to cover that cost. And on the rates at which they are prepared to lend.

The volatility of wholesale electricity markets does not help: project developers and bankers alike have to hedge against that. “We don’t like to absorb power price volatility”, one of the many financiers that Christophers interviewed for the book said. “We’ll take merchant price risk – right now we often don’t have a choice – but we’ll charge three times more for it. […] No bank in the world will take power price risk at low returns”.

Christophers writes in an exemplary, straightforward way about markets’ complexities. He details the hurdles any renewables project has to get over before it starts: as well as securing finance, it needs land and associated rights and licences, and – increasingly a problem in many countries including the UK – a timely connection to the electricity grid.

If we confront, confound and supercede capitalism a future in which electricity is used equitably and within bounds set collectively with a view to avoiding catastrophic climate change is surely plausible.

Corporate and financial decision-makers are concerned not so much with costs, compared to those of fossil fuel plants, as with “an acceptable rate of financial return”. Does the project meet or exceed that rate?

“The conventional transition model […] assumes an effortlessly smooth trade-off between fossil fuels and renewable electricity sources, just as stick-figure mainstream economics more widely assumes all manner of comparable smooth trade-offs, not least between present and future goods.

“But real-world processes of production and consumption involving real-world businesses do not come even close to approximating to such smooth trade-offs.”


The clearest illustration of the argument that profit is the main driver of investment, not price, is the big oil companies’ behaviour.

Christophers writes: “[T]he returns ordinarily associated with wind and solar power are much lower than those to which fossil fuel companies are accustomed in their core businesses.”

He adds: “The big new hydrocarbon projects still being initiated by the international oil majors in the 2020s, in the face of widespread public fury and dismay, promise significantly higher rates of return – and, of course, on a significantly greater absolute scale – than renewables ever do.”

So tiny renewables businesses are used solely to greenwash the companies’ continuing investment in fossil fuel production. Shell, which in 2020-22 dabbled in slightly larger renewables investments, found that the rate of return for shareholders was the lowest of all its businesses.

“Chastened by Wall Street’s savage indictment of his company’s erstwhile turn – effectively – away from profit, [Shell chief executive Wael] Sawan spent the first half of 2023 pivoting Shell back to oil and gas. Hence the horrific spectacle of a significant revival in upstream exploration activity on the part of the European majors, with Shell to the fore. […] At the same time, Shell and its peers were busily scrapping projects (including in wind) with ‘projections of weak returns’.”

The Price Is Wrong, published by Verso.


Despite all this, renewable electricity generation is expanding. Christophers forensically dissects the economics, showing that ‘market forces’ have played little or no part in this.

Many renewables projects only go ahead when they have signed long-term sales agreements (power purchase agreements or PPAs), that shelter sellers from choppy markets and provide good PR (“green” credentials) for buyers.

In many countries, PPAs with utility companies that provide electricity to households are being superceded by those with corporate buyers of electricity, and above all big tech firms that wolf down electricity for data centres and, increasingly, artificial intelligence.

And then there is state support – not only overt subsidies such as the tax credits offered by the US Inflation Reduction Act, but also schemes such as feed-in tariffs and contracts for difference, market instruments that shelter projects’ income from volatility.

China’s new megaprojects are “about as far from being market-led developments as is imaginable”, Christophers writes. So too are those in Vietnam, mammoths given the total size of the economy, that soared with a special feed-in tariff in 2020, and slumped to zero in 2021 when it was withdrawn.

“That investment plummets when meaningful support for renewables investment is substantially or wholly removed demonstrates precisely how significant that support in fact, and also just how marginal – or even downright unappealing – revenue and profitability prospects, in the absence of such support, actually are.”


Christophers concludes that the state has to champion rapid decarbonisation, and “extensive public ownership of renewable energy assets appears the most viable model”. But this should not be done in a fool’s paradise, where it is presented as a means for taking profits from renewable electricity generators (what profits?!) and returning them to the public purse.

This is how the Labour Party is portraying its proposed state-owned renewable electricity generator, Great British Energy. Labour’s claims that GBE will benefit the state and taxpayers “betray a deep and perilous misunderstanding of the economics of renewable energy, and of the weak and uncertain profitability that actually plagues the sector”.

By way of contrast, Christophers points to the Build Public Renewables Act, passed by the US state of New York in 2021 in response to years of campaigning by climate action groups – which rests on the assumption that it is precisely the market’s failure to produce renewable energy projects on anything near to the timescale suggested by the climate emergency that necessitates state intervention.

All this prompts the question: don’t we need to challenge the whole idea of electricity being a commodity for sale, rather than a requirement of 21st-century living that should be provided as a public service?

Yes, we do, Christophers writes in his conclusions, with reference to Karl Polanyi’s idea of “fictitious commodities”, that under capitalism are bought and sold, but only in markets that are fashioned by “props, rules, regulations and norms”, and are therefore essentially pretences. The description fits the electricity markets ushered in by neoliberalism well.


The commodification of electricity, and other energy carriers, raises the prospect that, with a perspective of confronting and superceding capitalism, it should be decommodified.

Renewables technologies have opened up this issue anew, since they have hastened the trend away from centralised power stations and made it easier than ever for people – not only through the medium of the state but as households, community organisations or municipalities – to source electricity from the natural environment, without recourse to the corporations that control the market. How this potential can be torn from those corporations’ hands is a central issue.

The analysis by Christophers of the “props, rules, regulations and norms” used to bring renewables to neoliberal markets certainly convinced me. So too did his point that the returns from developing oil and gas, relatively higher historically, “are not ‘natural’ economic facts” either.

On the contrary, government economic support has always characterised the oil and gas business: in fact the line between state and business is often blurred.

In many countries they are “the selfsame entities, actively assembling monopolistic or oligopolistic constrol specifically in order to subdue volatility, stabilise profits and encourage investment”; indeed these “established institutional architectures of monopoly power” that scaffold oil and gas are a key distinction between it and renewables.


We badly need a comparative analysis of state support for renewables and for fossil fuels – not just the bare numbers, which are available in many reports, but an understanding of the social dynamics that drive it, and that are deliberately obscured by oceans of greenwash manufactured by the political class everywhere.

Themes that Christophers touches on, such as governments’ failure to phase out fossil fuel plants, even as they make plans to expand renewables need to be developed. The appallingly slow progress of renewables and the weight of incumbency that favours fossil fuels can not be separated.

This understandable book, which brings dry capitalist realities to life so well – and is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why the transition away from fossil fuels is so disastrously slow – raised some questions in my mind about electricity demand.

Take the steep increase in demand for renewably generated electricity from big tech. Amazon is the world’s biggest buyer of solar and wind power under corporate PPAs, and an even bigger promoter of its own “green” image. But its carbon footprint continues to grow, Christophers points out, especially that of its “energy-gorging cloud-computing Web services business”.

A big-tech-dominated fake energy transition? “It would be difficult to conceive of a more ironic statement on the warped political economy of contemporary green capitalism.”


Which is reason to interrogate the way society uses electricity – and the way that capitalist social relations turn use – to fulfil needs, to make people’s lives good into demand – an economic category no less ideologically-inflected than other ‘market forces’.

Amazon and the rest are sharply increasing their electricity demand, which in the US and elsewhere has led to shutdowns of coal-fired power station being postponed – while hundreds of millions of people in the global south still have no electricity at all.

Furthermore: the “green transition” envisaged by most politicians will see the economic sectors in the global north that gulp down the greatest quantities of fossil fuels – road transport, the built environment, and industry – switching many processes to electricity. The classic example is the shift from petrol vehicles to electric vehicles. And this will increase electricity demand.

Christophers takes no view on these issues: “[R]ight or wrong, good or bad, electrification largely is what is happening and what will continue to happen”.

While I agree that, under capitalism, the dominant political forces take this for granted, I think that we should not. To stick with the example of road transport, none of the scenarios that assume swapping petrol vehicles one-for-one for electric vehicles can happen without trashing meaningful climate targets.


The economic transformations that tackling climate change implies must include reshaping – for collective social benefit, and with a view to rapidly reducing emissions – the huge technological systems, like road transport, that account for the largest chunks of fossil fuel use. Simply electrifying them is not enough.

Moreover, with the current level of technology, including the prospects opened up by decentralised renewables, there is potential to establish completely new relationships between production and use – which are currently controlled by big capital, but need not be.

Hopes of energy conservation implied in the International Energy Agency’s latest net zero report “border on the Pollyannaish”, Christophers writes. Yes, granted – if the perspective is limited to one dominated by capital.

But insofar as it is possible to confront, confound and supercede capitalism, a future in which electricity is used less wastefully, more equitably, and within bounds set collectively with a view to avoiding catastrophic climate change, is surely plausible.

That is where hope lies – outside the matrix of profit-driven relationships that Christophers skewers so exquisitely.

Title photo by Matthew T Rader/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Simon Pirani is honorary professor at the University of Durham and writes a blog at peoplenature.org

Dispatch From the Lithium Mining War on the West

Dispatch From the Lithium Mining War on the West

A recent financial Webinar features Jindalee mining company executive Lindsay Dudfield selling the company’s plan for an immense lithium mining project that would tear apart the heart of irreplaceable Sage-grouse habitat at McDermitt Creek in southeast Oregon. Australian miner Jindalee has spun itself off as a US company, just as Lithium Americas did when it formed Lithium Nevada Corporation (LNC) to mine Thacker Pass further south in the McDermitt caldera. This positions the miners for federal loan largesse as they pursue mining destruction of the sagebrush sea. I wrote about the extraordinary McDermitt Creek values at stake, and the damage and habitat fragmentation already inflicted by 70 or so previous Jindalee exploration drilling sites here.

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Distant view of scar from a new road and just one of Jindalee’s past McDermitt drill sites. Look at how wide open and unencumbered by hills this country is – maximizing the distance any mining disturbance sights and sounds will travel.

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Jindalee drill hole sump. Drilling waste water left to seep into the ground, Wildlife “exclusion” fence fallen down.

lithium mining This is a map of the ghastly 2023 Jindalee exploration plan to punch in 267 new drill hole and sump sites and construct 30 miles of new roads. It would fragment an area with a very high density of nesting sagebrush songbirds of all kinds. Birds like Sagebrush Sparrow require continuous blocks of dense mature or old growth big sagebrush. Jindalee boasts its consultant environmental and cultural studies have found “no show-stoppers” and “no red flags”. Industry gets the results it wants when it pays for mine consultant work. Federal and state agencies, after a bit of pro forma sniping, acquiesce to what the mine comes up with.

No red flags? Does the company really expect us to believe they or their consultants aren’t aware of the plight of Sage-grouse, and the importance of the stronghold habitat they would wipe out? The 2015 BLM Sage-grouse plan found the entire McDermitt Creek area and nearly all caldera lands were essential for the bird’s survival. BLM determined that a federal mineral withdrawal was necessary to protect this Focal habitat and to ensure Sage-grouse species survival. The withdrawal never happened, stopped first by mining and cattle industry litigation. BLM then began a stand-alone NEPA analysis for the withdrawal. Trump terminated that withdrawal analysis process. Then after a court ruled his action unlawful, BLM foot-dragging has stalled the most recent withdrawal process at the NEPA scoping stage and it appears merged with a cumbersome major plan revision.

Jindalee’s new exploration proposal – a prelude to a mine – would tragically rip apart the Basin heart. A full blown mine here would obliterate it. Mining noise and visual disturbance emanating outward would make the remaining sage ringing the mine site uninhabitable. The site is surrounded by dozens of leks.

The impossibility of mitigating a mega-mine at McDermitt Creek just blasted further into the stratosphere. Mounting scientific evidence shows how seriously the sight and sound disturbance footprint of industrial projects harms the birds. New research examined geothermal energy development impacts from Ormat plants at Tuscarora Nevada and McGinness Hills/Grass Valley near Austin. (I remember the Battle Mountain BLM manager extolling Ormat’s virtues when the McGinness project was pushed through and then later expanded to take a bigger bite out of sage habitat). New research found:

“… sage-grouse population numbers declined substantially in years following the development of a geothermal energy plant … sage-grouse abundance at leks [breeding sites] decreased within five kilometers of the infrastructure and leks were completely abandoned at significantly higher rates within about two kilometers. So, we looked at the mechanisms responsible for declines in numbers and lek abandonment, and we found adverse impacts to survival of female sage-grouse and their nests”.

This reinforces common sense: “Nests located farther from the plant tended to experience higher rates of survival. Interestingly, where hills were located between sage-grouse nests and infrastructure [high topographic impedance], we found the distance effect to be less important. Under those circumstances topography was compensating for the lack of distance and likely serving to reduce effects of light and sound”.

The physical footprint of geothermal energy infrastructure is small relative to other renewable energy … but noise and light pollution emanating from these power plants likely cause larger adverse direct impacts to wildlife populations than infrastructure alone”.

There aren’t big hills to block a lithium mine’s 24 hour a day sight and sound impacts in the McDermitt bowl. The mined area would suffer outright sage obliteration. Surrounding sagebrush would be exposed to unimpeded straight line 24 hour a day mine operation visual impacts and noise of all kinds.

Jindalee must know of the indigenous opposition and resistance to the Thacker Pass lithium mine in the southern caldera, located in similarly unceded Paiute-Shoshone ancestral lands. Controversy and lawsuits over Thacker Pass have been in the headlines for years. It’s a pre-eminent example of an unjust transition to alternative energy and the green-washing of air and water polluting habitat wrecking dirty hard rock mining. Unfortunately, a District Court Judge’s ruling did not halt the Thacker Pass mine construction. However, the lawsuits by environmental groups, Tribes and a local rancher opposing the mine continue. The District Court decision was appealed to the Ninth Circuit, where a hearing is scheduled for June 26.

Thacker Pass mine development would destroy a Traditional Cultural Property, where Paiute-Shoshone ancestors were massacred. This spring, it’s been the site of the indigenous Ox Sam Women’s Camp, Newe Momokonee Nokotun, set up in protest. Descendants of Ox Sam, a survivor of a US cavalry massacre at Thacker Pass, helped establish it.

Jindalee Webinar statements also hint at efforts afoot to alter Oregon state mining processes. After lamenting the project wasn’t in Nevada, Jindalee said it was talking to politicians and the head of the state mining Department (DOGAMI).

The company’s braggadocio made me blow off deadlines and go once again to McDermitt Creek to document its great biodiversity values. I then went from the beauty of singing sagebrush songbirds, newly hatched Sage-grouse chicks and peaking rare plant blooms at McDermitt Creek (photos below) and down into the Montana Mountains by Thacker Pass.

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Sagebrush Sparrows abound at McDermitt Creek. They’re great little birds and often sing throughout the day. And they’re vanishing from many places. A biologist just told me he thinks they may be extirpated in Morrow County Oregon where he’s long inventoried bird. No larger continuous blocks of lower elevation sage = no Sagebrush Sparrows.

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Hymenoxys, an Oregon sensitive plant growing on clay soils.

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Humboldt Mountains Milkweed, a medicinal plant, on clay soils.

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Mountain Bluebird.

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Sky drama all spring long.

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Short-horned Lizard – a master of invisibility.

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Gray Flycatcher. They nest in head high Basin big sagebrush, which is becoming as scarce as hen’s teeth.

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Lark Sparrow. They’re exuberant singers and are dining on Mormon crickets at McDermitt Creek.

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An indescribable Indian paintbrush hue.

We’re supposed to sit back and let all this beauty and biodiversity be destroyed for a lithium mine? No way.

Thacker Pass – Turmoil, Land Mutilation, Montana Mountains

I drove south to Orovada and headed west to the turn-off from the state highway into Pole Creek road, the main access to the Montana Mountains. Thacker Pass lies at the southern base of these mountains. A maroon Allied Security company truck squarely blocked the road. Chain link fencing with No Trespassing and No Drone Zone signs was placed off to both sides.

lithium mining I stopped, got out and approached a security guard who appeared at the truck. He refused to let me pass. After several minutes of my insistent repetition that this was a public road, the BLM mine EIS said this road would always be open, and that blocking use of this road indicated the EIS, the BLM and Lithium Americas had lied, the security guard relented and said he would call the head of security.

lithium mining  The boss pulled up in a white truck as a sudden rain whirlwind bore down. His face was obscured, and identity concealed by a tan balaclava-like hood and dark sunglasses. When he first arrived, he got out of his truck and pointed a camera device at me. I thought WTF is this – a security firm mercenary decked out for Operation Iraqi Freedom? Abu Ghraib in Orovada? I again repeated repeatedly that this was a public access road, and I was going up into the Montana Mountains to camp. He retreated to his pickup, likely to run me and my license plates through some creepy database. Finally, I was allowed to pass through.

Just up the road was the Ox Sam Protest Camp site, located on a huge mine water pipeline gash that the lithium company had gouged into the earth. The pipeline gash runs right by the sacred Sentinel (or Nipple) Rock. The tents appeared lifeless, flaps blowing open in the rain squall as I drove by. With better cell phone service up in the mountains, I called Winnemucca BLM, asked to talk to a Manager, Assistant Manager, somebody, and told the receptionist that the mine was trying to block the public access road. She said there was no one to talk with. I asked for a Manager’s e-mall address. She refused to give me an address and shunted me to the general BLM mailbox where public comments go to be ignored. Winnemucca is the BLM outpost in charge of enforcing LNC’s compliance with EIS requirements. They’ll be sure to jump on enforcement actions when the public brings potential mining violations to their attention over the next 45-years.

Later I saw a Google alert for “Thacker Pass”, and read that the camp had been raided after an incident. Underscore News/Report for America writes: “On Wednesday, police from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and private security for Lithium Nevada, a subsidiary of Lithium Americas, cleared the camp and arrested one protester.

When I left the next day, the chain link fence with No Trespassing signs was still up by the sides of the access route. The security truck was gone, and I drove on through. A local resident pulled up. We chatted, gazing up at the mountains that were witnessing the lithium mine destruction unfold. He knows the country like the back of his hand. He said you could see over 20 mountain ranges from the Montanas. Our presence generated the interest of security guards who came by to check us out as we stood by the state road right of way. A project worker came and moved the chain link fence with its No Trespassing signs away – at least for now.

Allied Security’s aggressive approach to security has gained notoriety. The Denver city council canceled their contract after two Allied guards beat a black man so hard they caused him permanent brain damage. In May, Time magazine profiled a long troubling history of Allied incidents.

How fitting. Lithium Americas came in claiming Thacker Pass was some kind of great “green” mine, as cover for plain old dirty open pit mining and a noxious lithium processing plant. Now they’ve hired a security firm prone to violence. I don’t know what went down with the Ox Sam camp. But I do know that having the security boss decked out in black ops head gear is an effort to intimidate, and an indication the security firm may have things to hide. Security personnel concealing their identity or playing gatekeeper on a public lands access road in this way have no place at a project on public lands. Months before the Ox Sam camp was set up, LNC had established a manned compound with a building and fencing and what looked like cameras right by the Pole Creek access road. Driving up into the mountains in April to trek across the snow to the Montana-10 lek had already felt like running a gauntlet. I wager that anyone going in or out that public road gets recorded.

LNC has many mining claims staked up in the mountains in Sage-grouse stronghold habitat including at the Montana 10 lek. This makes efforts to limit access or intimidate people so they don’t go up there more concerning. Back home, I consulted the Thacker Final EIS:

SR 293, Pole Creek Road, Crowley Creek Road and Rock Creek Road are the main transportation routes in the Project area. Under Alternative A, LNC would not close, block, or limit in any manner access along these routes”. FEIS at 494-495. The EIS also constrained use of these access roads for certain types of mine activities.

Photos below from up in the Montana Mountains looking down on spring 2023 LNC scars from drilling and bulldozing in migratory bird nesting season. The drilling is creeping upslope. It’s hard to tell if some may be outside the project boundary. Nevada BLM uses in-front-of-the-bulldozer bird survey protocols that are deeply flawed with transects spaced 100 ft. apart – a distance far too wide to detect cryptic sagebrush birds that are experts at concealment. You practically have to step on or by a nest to detect it. The only way to avoid migratory bird “take” is for the mine to not destroy the bird habitat in spring.

A picture containing outdoor, grass, landscape, mountain Description automatically generatedA picture containing outdoor, ground, mountain, soil Description automatically generatedA picture containing cloud, mountain, outdoor, sky Description automatically generatedLNC’s drill scarring is a mere prelude to the destruction that’s planned – 5,694 acres of outright destruction in a 17,933 acre project zone. The enormity and scale of the planned mine is mind boggling – a deep open pit, a waste rock pile, all types of infrastructure, a lithium smelter/sulfuric acid plant on-site using huge volumes of waste sulfur shipped into a new railroad off-loading site by the Winnemucca airport. The latter was just announced a few months ago, to the dismay of nearby residents who find themselves facing living by a hazardous materials zone. Hundreds of tons of off-loaded material will be trucked to Thacker Pass and burned every day in a plant whose air scrubber design wasn’t even finalized before the Thacker decision was signed by BLM. What stink and toxic pollution will this lithium processing generate? McDermitt caldera soils contain uranium and mercury. Mine water use is estimated to be 1.7 billion gallons annually. Enormous volumes of diesel fuel will be used throughout the mine’s operation. What’s green about all this?

lithium mining

Think of the volume of water that will be sucked through these pipes.

A picture containing cloud, outdoor, grass, plant Description automatically generated

Beautiful dense big sagebrush full of Sage Thrashers, Brewer’s Sparrows, and Sage-grouse sign, up in the mountains where LNC has claims galore.

A picture containing outdoor, flower, sky, plant Description automatically generatedClose up of purple flowers Description automatically generated with low confidenceSacrificing the Interior West for Corporate Energy Dominance While Energy Conservation Lags or Is Forgotten Altogether

Big Green environmental groups and outdoor interests who’ve been silent on the unfolding lithium mine destruction at Thacker Pass, or the tragic destruction of Mojave Desert Tortoise habitat for Big Solar and many other brewing “green” energy controversies better wake up. The lithium boom plague that’s descended on the West is hard rock mining at its worst. Thousands of acres at each mine site become essentially privatized (with security guards) for 40 or 50 years. Much of the land is reduced to waste rock rubble piles, gaping pits, infrastructure all over the place. Local water is used up for processing and for suppressing clouds of dust, and mine pollutants contaminate the air and ground water.

US taxpayers are helping finance these colonialist lithium mines. LNC received commitments for a $600 million dollar loan investment of US tax dollars. General Motors, while continuing to pump out gargantuan trucks and EV Hummers priced at $110,000, provided LNC with a $600 million dollar injection. In the Jindalee Webinar, executive Dudfield assured a questioner that their company will also be “in queue” for similar handouts. The miners are gobbling up funds for a battery technology that may soon be outdated. China is zooming past the US with its development of sodium batteries and is introducing them in low-end vehicles, a sane path forward. Why aren’t these funds going to research alternatives to lithium and safer less earth-wrecking technologies? Why isn’t Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto directing her attention to spurring new technologies and sustainability? Instead she’s using “critical minerals” mantra to justify introducing a bill to make the 1872 Mining Law even worse, and a wholesale giveaway to mining companies.

Jindalee’s Webinar talk said the company embraced “social license and responsibility”, then later emphasized that McDermitt Creek was “a long, long way” from Oregon population centers like Salem and Portland. This highlights how lithium mine pollution, cultural site desecration, community de-stabilization and ecological damage will be out of sight and out of mind of urban elites.

US government policy is now based on greatly accelerating energy colonialism of all types within our own borders, and especially on willy-nilly sacrifice of the public lands of the Interior West. This allows massively subsidized corporations (often tied to a foreign mothership) and billionaires to retain a chokehold on energy. Conservation is paid lip service. BLM’s Tracy Stone-Manning just announced a new proposed rule making it easier for BLM to hand over public lands to wind and solar developers, furthering de facto public lands privatization for half a human lifespan.

But people are catching on. A surprising thing recently happened in Idaho. The entire Idaho legislature (all the Republicans and the hand full of Democrats alike) voted in favor of a Resolution opposing the BLM Lava Ridge Wind Farm, with its 400 turbines standing 800 feet tall sprawling across 3 counties. Lava Ridge’s plan managed to offend or disgust everybody – from agricultural operations and home site impacts, to Golden Eagle and rare bat killing, to destroying the stark setting of the Minidoka Japanese Internment Camp Monument and marring the Dark Skies and wildness of Craters of the Moon.

The same Legislators, who in a normal year would be inviting Land Grab proponents from Utah to speak in the session, were pushing protection of public lands from this behemoth of LS Power’s subsidiary Magic Valley Energy. It’s facilitated by the planned new LS Power SWIP North renewables-focused transmission line. Idaho Power and PacifiCorp’s Gateway “green” transmission line has also resulted in a stampede for more wind and solar
leases in south-central Idaho.

If you live in the West and love the outdoors, be very afraid of what the Biden administration’s breakneck push for many more of these “green” lines will do to public lands, and your access to areas beyond – once projects feeding energy into the line are built and the fencing goes up. It’s the sagebrush sea equivalent of building a road through the Amazon.

While there are no huge wind farms yet on public lands in Idaho, there are many smaller scale turbine arrays on private lands across the Snake River Plain. It’s become quite apparent that industrial wind is not benign. Above all else, folks realized how badly Idaho was getting screwed by the Lava Ridge project and its export of energy to benefit coastal populations. The Legislature said No to Lava Ridge exploitation of Idaho as an energy colony. Counties in the Mojave Desert are now starting to resist some industrial solar developments overrunning public lands. Remotely sited “renewable” energy or “critical minerals” projects amount to public land privatization. They cause profound losses of many kinds – scarring the land, sucking it dry, extinguishing the wildlife that’s managed to persist in the face of merciless domination since White settlement, trenching a massacre site.

lithium mining I’m outraged at the ecocidal stupidity with which this “energy transition” is being carried out. Will we soon see Jindalee get US tax dollars to wipe out the McDermitt Creek Sage-grouse stronghold? How ironic that would be. Interior just announced funding for major sagebrush habitat restoration using Infrastructure Bill funds in High Priority sagebrush areas. It turns out one of the sites chosen is the Montana Mountains area. Mapping shows it includes the Thacker Pass mine area too, where nearly all the sage is on the verge of being destroyed by LNC. Close review of maps for Interior’s Montana “restoration” project shows it encompasses the McDermitt Creek watershed, hence the entire area coveted by Jindalee for massive new drilling followed by open pit mining. It would be absurd to greenlight Jindalee’s ghastly exploration plan in primo habitat, when the Interior Department has identified this very same landscapeto be among the highest priority for restoration – because so much sage has already been lost already. The caldera is also key for connectivity between Sheldon and Owyhee Sage-grouse populations and for biodiversity preservation.

How long before rejection of lithium and other “critical mineral” mines grips communities, especially as promised jobs evaporate with increased mine automation and robot technology, and as the environment goes to hell? But hey, as LNC is showing us, there’s always a bright future as a security guard– at least until the lithium company gets itself a pack of Robodogs.

lithium mining

Katie Fite is a biologist and Public Lands Director with WildLands Defense.

The Wrong Side of the Tract: Abstract, Extract, Distract

The Wrong Side of the Tract: Abstract, Extract, Distract

“The climate crisis for example, has been framed as an environment issue and a technology issue, when it is actually a crisis of the human consciousness and psyche. This criminally negligent misdiagnosis, reframing and distortion of major existential crises into simple practical problems to be solved by technology, demonstrates how superficial and corrupted our very approach to problem-solving is. We are trying to solve the disasters of capitalism with more capitalism. This has never worked, and it never will. The very desire to profit out of these solutions, to “create jobs” and prosperity through Green New Deals, only demonstrates the level of delusion and persistent lack of any seriousness in dealing with a problem which is of apocalyptic proportions…..There are thousands of “environmental” organisations who are nothing but shopfronts for extractive capitalism in the form of renewable technology.  Their very organisation and operating principles emulate capitalist ventures.” – George Tsakraklides

By Mankh

“Now they worry and they hurry and they fuss and they fret
They waste your nights and days
Them, I will forget
You, I’ll remember always”
– Bob Dylan, from “Workingman’s Blues #2

”Crazy Horse
We Hear what you say
One Earth, one Mother
One does not sell the Earth
The people walk upon
We are the land
How do we sell our Mother?
How do we sell the stars?
How do we sell the air?”
– John Trudell “Crazy Horse

Adults, teens and some kids got duped. The slick, climate confidence tricksters distracted people by fixating on CO2 air quality and temperatures at the expense of the very land you’re standing with.

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” they shouted, hurling numbers, measurements, and projections at the dart board of your mind so they could usher in a trendy era greenwash cash cow – buy now and save the planet! Their rewrite of Henny Penny more like the fox guarding the hen-house for an ugly penny i.e. billions. Fixating on the sky while habitats being mined and destroyed beneath the very land you’re standing with, but are you, too, yearning for a piece of that pie in the sky?

There’s an African saying, “No one shows a child the sky.” I interpret that as: Children naturally look to the sky, there is an innate knowing and rapport, they don’t need to be told. Yet if overly instructed, children can miss out on the wonder of finding out and experiencing for themselves. If manipulated, children and adults can be misled.

My proof of how all that seeps into the mainstream everyday society is via web-searching for a few days to find a corded weed trimmer because I don’t enjoy the gas fumes or noise from the old one; virtually every trimmer and other such gadgets, including vacuums, now use lithium batteries.

“As of February 29, 2024 an estimated 21,897 active, filed, and submitted placer claims, have been located in Nevada, presumably for lithium or lithium brine in 18 different hydrographic basins,” not to mention the rest of the world, and already destruction of sacred Native lands at Thacker Pass/Peehee Mu’huh in so-called Nevada. A case of destroy the land out west so the suburban east and elsewhere can feel good about greenwashed tools that are helping to protect the environment by destroying it! By the way, the cost of trimmer and electric cord was much less expensive than the others.

The sky story (not to diminish actual air quality issues and other data) is a textbook distraction or dis-tract attention, the word meaning “dis-” “away from” and “tract” “tracts of land and water.” Yet “distract” is step three of a simplified three-stage “tract” pattern of colonialism and disaster capitalism.

First comes “abstract” from “ab-” “to draw away from” & “tracts of land and water.” Abstract so as to get your attention in your head and disregard the feet and heart and soul of things. A prime example comes from Dr. Tink Tinker (Osage – Wazhazhe); the conversion of land into “property” which “chopped up our Grandmother [Earth] into pieces.”

Fast-forward to bizness lingo:

A tract of land is a well-defined piece of property with specific boundaries.

  • It plays a key role in real estate transactions, zoning regulations, and property disputes.
  • It can range from small residential lots to extensive commercial developments.
  • Knowing what constitutes a tract of land is essential for demarcating property lines.”

Yet not even a homeowner’s God’s little acre backyard is sacred. In the 1950s chemical companies turned the medicinal Dandelion Nation into an abstract noun, “weed,” then got brainwashed yard-gardeners to poison (a form of extraction) the dandelions; thus distracting people from the medicinal values available from the very land they were standing with.

Number 2 is “extract” — from “ex-” “draw out of” & ”tracts of land and water.” Abstracting consciousness – which is a cutting off of empathy and recognition of the very substances that nurture us — enables the extractive industry mechanism to proceed without a care. Most of the extraction has to do with mining minerals and pumping oils, yet chopping down trees for solar panel ‘fields’ or another Amazon “fulfillment center” warehouse is another form of extraction, especially if you’re a tree whose deep roots are ‘drawn out of the Earth.’

Number 3 is “distract” — so as to keep your consciousness away from Land and Water, so as to enable the extractive industry to continue as if it’s normal business as usual. Distractions run the gamut from the more immediate and in your face corporate media, tabloid news and mainstream so-called culture to longstanding institutionalized religions that dis-empower people by keeping them at a distance from their direct and personal relating with Mother Earth and Spirit. Plus there’s the educational system as Information Factory, or as Birgil Kills Straight (Oglala Lakota) summed up the systemic process, “They cut you off from your heart, stick you in your head, and manipulate you out of a book.” Yet: “No one shows a child the sky.”

Though not specifically included in the “tract” etymology, Air can be considered an extension of Land and Water since what is done to them often affects the Air.

All of Land and Water as Property
The two more recent, mostly hidden, insanities are:
1): deep-sea mining
Deep sea mining is the extraction of minerals from the ocean floor at depths of 200 metres (660 ft) to 6,500 metres (21,300 ft). Deep-sea mining uses hydraulic pumps or bucket systems that carry deposits to the surface for processing.”

What could go wrong?

My investigative call to the Octopus has not been returned. I pray they are ok.

2): The NYSE valuing of all of Nature aka Mother Earth as an “asset class.” I read about that in 2021 but don’t recall hearing of anything else until an interview with Rebecca Adamson (Cherokee) on First Voices Radio (FVR), well-worth the listen.

From a 9/14/2021 article: “NYSE and Intrinsic Exchange Group Partner to Launch a New Asset Class to Power a Sustainable Future”:

“This new asset class on the NYSE will create a virtuous cycle of investment in nature that will help finance sustainable development for communities, companies and countries,” said Douglas Eger, CEO of IEG. “Together, IEG and the NYSE will enable investors to access nature’s store of wealth and transform our industrial economy into one that is more equitable.”

You have to have money to invest, so the “virtuous cycle of investment in nature” con game is rigged from the get-go. And, “more equitable” is an oxymoron because “equitable” is “just and fair, equal,” therefore ‘equal is equal’ and “more equal” is bullshit. Then again, the masters of fine print manipulation may be referring to another dictionary definition of “equitable” along the lines of the title of Peter d’Errico’s book Federal Anti-Indian Law: The Legal Entrapment of Indigenous Peoples – “of or relating to rights historically enforced in courts of equity.”

In an article by Whitney Webb and Mark Goodwin from 2/8/2024, “Tokenized, Inc: BlackRock’s Plan To Own The Fractionalized World,” there’s an excellently concise analogy summary of the current potential global disaster: “Nature, the New Gold.”

History 101 shows a progression:
– gold rush, gold
– black gold, oil
– white gold, lithium
But now the powers that do too much are going for the whole kit and caboodle: Nature/Mother Earth as gold. This should bring shudders to anyone with an ounce of empathy. Or else, another line from Trudell’s “Crazy Horse”: ”Mirrors gold, the people lose their minds.”

As highlighted by Rebecca Adamson in the FVR interview, also in on the deal is Bloom23, a slickly-worded website proclaiming “protecting nature” and working with “BIPOC” [Black, Indigenous, (and) People of Color], yet it’s all under the banner of business, or more accurately, as the website name attests to, GreenBiz.

Here’s a blurb from Theresa Lieb, Sr. Director, Nature and Food Systems:
“Biodiversity has quickly become a hot topic for companies and investors. At Bloom 23, the flourishing group of nature-focused business leaders will come together with policymakers, entrepreneurs, Indigenous groups and other key stakeholders to transform rising awareness into real progress.”

Sounds pretty good, right? But a FAQ spill$ the bean$:
”Who attends Bloom 23?
The majority of attendees will come from Fortune 500 companies, investment and insurance firms, service providers, leading nonprofits and government agencies. Experts from community organizations, academia and nature tech startups will also participate.”

Indigenous Peoples have been doing “nature tech” for thousands and thousands of years. For one in-depth example, read the book Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence by Gregory Cajete.

According to Rebecca Adamson’s article “Water + Indigenous Peoples Rights = Risk”, 3/8/2024:
“80% of the planet’s remaining biodiversity is within Indigenous territories along with 40% of the terrestrial areas, 33% of the intact forest landscapes and 70% of tropical forests.”

So there’s the not new battle line, as most at risk from such investments are Native/Indigenous Peoples on the front lines — and “nature focused” woke inclusivity won’t stop the destruction.

The least one can do is to de-abstract the thinking process so as to access the true nourishing energies; be wary of any and all extractive processes; and minimize being distracted from caring about Land and Water — and maximize actually caring for Land and Water by doing whatever you can to thwart those who see dollar signs instead of true gold: Sunlight amplifying Daffodil, Forsythia, Dandelions, Marigolds, Freesia, Black-Eyed Susan, Goldenrod . . . . .

yellow petaled flower on grass

Photo by Natalia Luchanko on Unsplash

Banner Photo by Michael & Diane Weidner on Unsplash

Just Keep Bringing Awareness to the Depravity of the Empire

Just Keep Bringing Awareness to the Depravity of the Empire


Editor’s Note: Now as the evil empire is falling apart, it is trying to do as much damage as it can while it still can. As Dylan Thomas said: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” There is currently an onslaugth of “green” energy projects on the land and sea in a desperate attempt to transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the age of the intelligent machine. The sooner this culture dies the more of the living world will be left. But as we see with the violent reaction to the current protests, to their last gasps in Gaza, it will be brutal. We truly are on the eve of destruction.

You never know what could be the one thing that snaps somebody’s eyes open.
Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

At this point in history the most effective way for westerners to fight the empire and build support for revolutionary change is to undermine public support for western status quo systems and institutions. One does this by using every means at their disposal to help people see that the power structures which rule over us don’t serve our interests, and that they are in fact profoundly evil and destructive.

It takes a flash of insight for a westerner to be able to really see the perniciousness of the US-centralized empire in all its blood-soaked glory. This is because westerners spend their entire lives marinating in empire propaganda from childhood, which has normalized and manufactured their consent for the murderous, exploitative and oppressive power structure we live under. The current status quo is all they’ve ever known, and the idea that something better might be possible is alien to them.

Teachers of spiritual enlightenment point students to the truth of their being in as many ways as possible in an effort to facilitate a flash of insight into reality. The reason they do that rather than saying the same words over and over again from day to day is because everyone’s mind is unique and ever-changing, and what knocks things home for one student one day will just be useless noise to another student who will later pop open at something completely different. The receptivity to insight varies from person to person.

Similarly, a westerner who’s been swimming in empire propaganda their whole life won’t have their moment of insight into the depraved nature of the empire until something lands for them that they are personally receptive to. Someone who isn’t receptive to words about the exploitative and ecocidal nature of global capitalism may be receptive to the threat of rapidly expanding censorship, surveillance, police militarization and other authoritarian measures. Someone who is unbothered by the empire’s nuclear brinkmanship with Russia and looming war with China may have their heart broken and their worldview changed when shown what is happening in Gaza.

What triggers the opening of one pair of eyes may not be what triggers another. A kickboxer doesn’t throw only overhand rights because that happened to be what scored a knockout in his last bout, he throws a diverse array of strikes in varied combinations at all levels to overwhelm the defenses of his opponent and land a fight-ending blow. When fighting the empire, one needs to bring the same approach.

Look for fresh opportunities to show westerners that the mass media are deceiving and propagandizing them to get them questioning their assumptions about what they’ve been told about the world. Look for fresh opportunities to show them evidence that the US war machine is the most murderous and destructive force on this planet. Look for fresh opportunities to show them how status quo systems create a far less beneficial society and a far less healthy world than what we could have under different systems. You never know what could be the one thing that snaps somebody’s eyes open.

Nothing you do on this front is wasted effort. All positive changes in human behavior at any level are always preceded by an expansion of awareness, so anything you can do to help bring awareness to the reality of our situation is energy well spent. Any effort you make to shove human consciousness toward the light of truth in even the tiniest way has a beneficial effect on our species.

So use whatever tools you can to make that happen. Have conversations, attend demonstrations, put up signs and stickers, write, tweet, make podcasts, make videos — whatever you find effective for you. Just make sure you’re coming at this thing from as many angles as possible, because diversifying your attacks on the mind control machine is the best way to get through its defenses.


My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece here are some options where you can toss some money into my tip jar if you want to. Go here to buy paperback editions of my writings from month to month. All my work is free to bootleg and use in any way, shape or form; republish it, translate it, use it on merchandise; whatever you want. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash