Editor’s Note; The fossil fuel industry is largely responsible for the climate crisis we are in today. The following article highlights the current state of the climate crisis.
While we believe that the fossil fuel industry needs to be stopped, DGR does not believe that “green” energy is going to save the planet. We believe that the green energy industry is just an extension of the ‘traditional” energy industry, running with the same disregard for the natural world.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
You may remember the 2004 disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, in which large parts of Europe and the American East Coast suddenly freeze up?
The plot device is that the Great Conveyor Belt—also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)—which brings heat from the south Pacific around the southern tip of Africa and up the east coast of the Americas (we call it the Gulf Stream) into the North Atlantic and Europe shuts down.
The AMOC and the heat it brings to the North Atlantic ocean is the main reason why London (at the same latitude as Calgary) has a relatively temperate climate year-round, instead of being snowbound six months out of the year.
It’s why Europe can grow enough food to feed its 740+ million people; if the AMOC was to stop transporting all that heat to the North Atlantic, the continent could be plunged into famine in a matter of years or decades (the movie was heavily dramatized).
The IPCC has warned of this possibility but had placed the danger zone for the failure of the AMOC in the early 22nd century, well past the lifetimes of most people living today. That proclamation moved it off most of our immediate-attention screens.
This adds to a growing body of alarming climate science, like the one published last year in the Journal of Climatetitled “Sixfold Increase in Historical Northern Hemisphere Concurrent Large Heatwaves Driven by Warming and Changing Atmospheric Circulations,” which indicates we’re much farther down the path of dangerous climate change than even most scientists realized.
That study essentially predicted this year’s shocking Northern Hemisphere heat waves (with more and worse to come); the lead researcher’s first name is Cassandra, no doubt an unintentional choice in the paper’s authors’ pecking order, but still.
It brings up the topic of the “Clathrate Gun Hypothesis,” which is the absolute worst case scenario for humanity’s future.
All across the planet there are an estimated 1.4 trillion tons of methane gas frozen into a snowcone-like slurry called clathrates or methane hydrates laying on the sea floor off the various continental shelves.
When they suddenly melt, that’s the “firing of the gun.” An explosion (in the context of geologic time) of atmospheric gas that’s over 70 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2. The Clathrate Gun.
The PNAS paper mentioned above concludes that 126,000 years ago there was an event that caused a small amount of these clathrates to warm enough to turn to gas and bubble up out of the seas. The resulting spike in greenhouse gas (methane) led to a major warming event worldwide:
“Our results identify an exceptionally large warming of the equatorial Atlantic intermediate waters and strong evidence of methane release and oxidation almost certainly due to massive methane hydrate destabilization during the early part of the penultimate warm episode (126,000 to 125,000 y ago). This major warming was caused by … a brief episode of meltwater-induced weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and amplified by a warm mean climate.”
The researchers warn we may be looking at a similar event in our time:
“Our results highlight climatic feedback processes associated with the penultimate climate warming that can serve as a paleoanalog for modern ongoing warming.”
As glaciers melt and the oceans warm, they note:
“[M]eltwater-induced AMOC weakening significantly amplifies the warming of intermediate waters and, in turn, destabilizes shallow subsurface methane hydrate deposits.”
In other words, the recent extreme warming of our oceans increases the chances the AMOC Great Conveyor Belt will shut down, throwing Europe into an existential crisis and wilding the rest of the world’s weather. And, most ominously, the AMOC shutting down will speed up the melting of more methane clathrates on the sea floors around the world.
The process is driven by warming of the oceans, which absorb more than 90 percent of the additional global warming heat we’re forcing by burning fossil fuels. As the BBC noted, the past month and first weeks of July “were hotter than any in recorded history” and:
“This week, sea surface temperatures along the coasts of Southern Spain and North Africa were 2-4C (3.6-7.2F) higher than they would normally be at this time of year, with some spots 5C (9F) above the long-term average.”
Ocean temperatures off the coast of Florida this week were in the range that Jacuzzi recommends for their hot tubs: 101 degrees. This has never happened before in human history.
The least likely but most dangerous outcome scenario is that the warming ocean might begin a massive melting of those methane hydrate slurries into gas, producing a “burp” of that greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, further adding to global warming, which would then melt even more of the clathrates.
It would be a deadly “positive feedback system,” with each phase of warming setting up the next and worse one. The Clathrate Gun.
At the end of the Permian, 250 million years ago, this runaway process is apparently what happened when a spike in methane led to such a violent warming of the planet that it killed over 90 percent of all life in the oceans and 70 percent of all life on land, paving the way for the rise of the dinosaurs, as cold-blooded lizards were among the few survivors.
That period is referred to as the Permian Mass Extinction, or, simply, “The Great Dying.” It was the most destructive mass extinction event in the history of our planet.
The “clathrate gun hypothesis” is controversial, but there’s a large body of evidence for it having done the damage at the end of the Permian, as we note in that video.
While it’s the least likely but most dramatic outcome of today’s global warming, it’s worth heeding the warning: by pouring over thirty billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year we have stirred a beast that could—if we don’t take serious action soon—spell the doom of human civilization, if not humanity itself.
“The key findings of our study add to a growing body of observational findings strongly supporting the ‘clathrate gun hypothesis.’ … Importantly, the interval we have studied is marked by a mean climate state comparable to future projections of transient global climate warming of 1.3 °C to 3.0 °C.” [emphasis mine]
We just this year passed 1.3 degrees Celsius of planetary warming: we are now in the territory of the Clathrate Gun Hypothesis if these researchers are right (although the risks are still small).
This is the first study I’ve seen to make such a claim, and it’s not from crackpots or alarmists; these are solid, credible scientists with a lifetime of learning and work behind them.
And, they argue, if the AMOC weakens or shuts down, all bets are off:
“Simulation studies have suggested warming of intermediate waters has been limited to ∼1.5 °C to 3 °C, and that such warmings were insufficient to significantly affect the stability of shallow subsurface methane hydrates. However, the magnitude of intermediate water warming can be significantly amplified by meltwater-induced weakening of atmospheric and ocean circulation, an amplification not considered in the simulations that examined potential gas hydrate destabilization.”
In other words, if the AMOC fails, the clathrate gun hypothesis becomes significantly more viable.
For much of the past four decades, climate activists have been warning us that we’re approaching tipping points and thresholds that will alter how Americans live, cost us a fortune, and kill millions of humans every year.
Now we’re there. Our “normal” climate is dead; the weather has gone insane, and it is annually killing thousands of Americans and millions of people all around the globe. And the numbers are increasing almost exponentially, year to year.
This is how quickly it has hit us: when I published the first edition of my book warning of climate change, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, in 1996 (it’s been updated twice since then) there was still a vigorous debate here in the United States—funded in large part by the fossil fuel industry and its allies in rightwing media—over whether climate change was even a real thing.
They knew that their product was poisoning our atmosphere, but they were making hundreds of billions of dollars in profits. Nothing was more important to these morbidly rich people than that money.
They and their bought-off politicians began to believe their own lies, or at least some did, and thought this wouldn’t happen until they were all dead anyway, even if it was true.
But then it happened. The climate emergency we were worried about arrived. It is here, now.
Looking at statistical information about major heatwaves—particularly ones that hit multiple continents at the same time—the authors of the Journal of Climate paper referenced above found:
“Such simultaneous heatwaves are 7 times more likely now than 40 years ago. They are also hotter and affect a larger area.”
In the 1980s the Northern Hemisphere averaged around 73 heatwaves during the summer months from May to September. By the 2010s that number had grown to 152 heatwaves per summer.
And those heat waves are also almost 20 percent hotter than they were the year Reagan won the presidency (and denied climate change throughout his 8 fossil-fuel-funded years in office).
One of the most startling understandings of what’s happening has only become apparent in the past decade or so: that the atmospheric Polar Jet Stream is acting weird and thus making our weather extremes more severe.
Over the course of multiple conversations with a few of the world’s top climate scientists I’ve learned that the Polar Jet Stream—the fast-moving river of high-altitude (30,000+ feet) air that circulates around the North Pole—has slowed down, weakened, and is beginning to “drool” down over parts of North America, going as far south as Texas.
This was, in fact, what caused the severe winter weather that shut down Texas’ privatized power grid a few years back, along with causing the “bomb cyclone” freezing storms hitting the Midwest and Northeast every winter, and the extended periods of 100+ degree weather all across America, Europe, Russia, and China this summer.
Historically, the Polar Jet Stream was held in place—mostly in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere—by the temperature differential between the Arctic and the middle latitudes, where most Americans (outside of northern Alaska) live.
The cold arctic air defined the northernmost margin of the Polar Jet Stream while the warmer middle latitude air defined its southernmost margin. While it pushed weather patterns across North America for much of my life, it rarely dipped below the Mason-Dixon line and, even when it did, generally just brought the hot/cold, or wet/drought weather behind it for only a day or two.
But the Arctic has been warming at least three times faster than the middle latitudes where most of us live, which means the difference in temperature between the Arctic air to the north of the Jet Stream and our air to its south has diminished.
The North Pole/Arctic, once a solid cap of ice where Santa Claus was supposed to live, is now an open sea every summer.
As that temperature differential has declined, so has the strength and velocity of the Jet Stream. Now, instead of whipping across the Northern Hemisphere, it often spills down as far south as Mexico and then stays in place for days at a time.
What would have been a one-day cold-snap or heat wave becomes multiple days, long enough to wreak billions in damage to a state’s residential and energy infrastructure.
What would have been a rainstorm lasting a few hours becomes an unrelenting downpour lasting for days, creating massive flooding.
These changes in the Jet Stream, combined with the warming of our oceans (whose temperatures also drive weather), have also caused what were once routine weather patterns to change.
Regions that were only dry during the summer are now experiencing drought year-round; parts of the country where flooding was occasional but rare are now regularly experiencing massive, days-long storms that tear up houses and flood entire regions.
Flights are bumpier and being canceled with increasing frequency because of weather, as we’re just now sliding into this unknowable new era of severe weather weirding.
This is our new normal, and it’s costing us lives and billions of dollars every year, all to preserve the profits of a fossil fuel industry that knew in the 1960s that their product was poisoning the world and would lead to this outcome.
But don’t think that just because this is the new normal that this “normal” will last. The last time our planet saw CO2 levels at their current 422 parts-per-million, sea levels were 60 feet higher and trees were growing in Antarctica.
In other words, we’re on a path, not at a destination. The planet will catch up with all that CO2, and as it does our weather will continue to become more and more severe until we figure out a way to get CO2 levels back down to the 1950s count of just over 300 ppm.
Meanwhile, we’re pouring more CO2 into the atmosphere right now than at any time in human history, despite efforts among the world’s developed nations to reduce their carbon footprints.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been a major kick-in-the-pants to Europe to get off their dependence on fossil fuels and go green, as have high oil and gas prices around the world.
But here in America, Republicans on the Supreme Court (with 6 justices put on the bench with money from fossil-fuel billionaires) kneecapped the Biden administration’s ability to regulate CO2 and promote green energy.
In 2010, five Republicans on the Court legalized political bribery with their Citizens United decision. And, of course, Republicans deeply in the pocket of Big Oil, Gas, and Coal continue to deny climate change is even happening. Just last week, Congressman Scott Perry called climate change a massive “grift.”
And now the Heritage Foundation has, according to Raw Story, a plan for the next Republican administration to gut the EPA; end the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations; end “grid expansion for the benefit of renewable resources or supporting low/carbon generation”; ban EPA workers from using certain types of science; and prevent other states from copying California’s strict environmental standards for greenhouse gasses.
The fossil fuel industry has almost unlimited money to buy politicians, per Citizens United. The ten top recipients of fossil fuel money in Congress last year were:
Manchin, Joe (D-WV) $724,270
McCarthy, Kevin (R-CA) $396,284
Lankford, James (R-OK) $275,148
Pfluger, August (R-TX) $268,011
Kennedy, John (R-LA) $264,788
Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK) $249,808
Sinema, Kyrsten (D-AZ) $230,160
Fletcher, Lizzie (D-TX) $191,765
Cuellar, Henry (D-TX) $191,450
Scott, Tim (R-SC) $181,291
Scalise, Steve (R-LA) $181,263
Gonzales, Tony (R-TX) $174,461
Rubio, Marco (R-FL) $165,636
Amazing how little it costs to buy a member of Congress to keep your multi-billion-dollar-a-year profits flowing, isn’t it?
Romney, Mitt (R-UT) $8,291,262
Cornyn, John (R-TX) $4,678,062
Cruz, Ted (R-TX) $4,138,421
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) $2,852,107
McCarthy, Kevin (R-CA) $2,581,832
Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX) $2,332,021
Inhofe, James M (R-OK) $2,320,139
Pearce, Steve (R-NM) $2,236,714
Barton, Joe (R-TX) $2,211,987
Brady, Kevin (R-TX) $2,087,396
Scalise, Steve (R-LA) $1,847,013
Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK) $1,792,602
Americans are dying because these paid-off shills have either failed to act or actively blocked any meaningful change in our nation’s climate policy. They have blood on their hands, with more to come as every year brings more severe floods, storms, and drought.
We can no longer tolerate this morally criminal level of political malpractice, particularly since there is still time to act. And we must move quickly.
If America is to reclaim its position as a leader and role model for the world and stop the disastrous new climate “normal” we’re now entering from becoming radically more severe, we must get our use of fossil fuels under control.
That means ostracizing elected officials in the pocket of the industry, rolling back Citizens United so Big Oil and Big Coal can’t continue to bribe members of Congress, and throwing significant subsidies into greening our energy and transportation systems.
The climate emergency is here. We can’t wait any longer for major and dramatic worldwide action.
Editor’s note: In order to create a culture where the greed of humans reigned supreme to the needs of life on the planet, the human civilization had to create myths. Categorically claiming that the past was worse, in terms of human rights and equality, stopped any discussion over the detrimental state of both in present society. All of these myths directly or indirectly form the basis of human supremacy, male supremacy and the Eurocentric perspective. Challenging these assumptions are just one of the ways to bring cultural changes. The following article talks about three of such myths about our past that have been dismissed by recent evidence.
This article was produced by Human Bridges, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
The New Gilded Age, wars along the Russian border, a global pandemic, battles for women’s rights, even the Titanic: history does rhyme with the present. Yet as former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert once observed: “If history tells us anything, it’s that we never learn from history.”
That’s something we can realistically change. And if we do, we’ll have an easier time addressing the macro and multiple challenges humanity faces, and finding the pathways to necessary compromises and alliances with people across all borders.
But our blinders and misconceptions about the past constrain the knowledge that we have to plan for a better future. Societies don’t get much out of living memory because the longer-term ramifications from recent decisions generally remain unsettled, and most of the big problems we face are the cumulative products of decades or centuries of the wrong approach to humanity’s histories and transitions. To leverage and learn from humanity’s history regarding what fostered sustainability in the past, we need to know the outcomes.
The good news is that through concerted research in history and archaeology, we now know a great deal more about the different paths that people have taken and their outcomes than we did just fifty years back. Long-term perspectives on cities, states, and empires are now much fuller and more regionally diverse than was known decades ago. Synthetic, comparative analyses have been undertaken. We now know what worked and what did not.
To draw better inferences and learn from past human histories, it is necessary to challenge three pervasive myths, which fundamentally shape not just what we think about the past, but why so many see history as irrelevant when it comes to guiding the present and shaping the future. Each myth is pervasive and entrenched as the ideas and presumptions behind them were born and entangled with the roots of the Western tradition of social sciences, baked into the frameworks through which researchers traditionally study the past.
The first myth supposes that humans in their natural state are nasty, brutish, and self-absorbed, only tamed by the power and coercion of the state. Clearly, humans do have the capacity for great selfishness, but as a species, we also are better cooperators with non-kin than any other animal. This seeming paradox is explicable if we recognize that people are not by nature either uniformly cunning or cuddly, but rather humans, past and present, are capable of both cooperation and selfishness depending on context. Our nature is not one-dimensional. Cooperative behavior is situational; we engage when an individual’s wants dovetail with their larger social network. Lack of alignment short-circuits cooperation whether the network is large or small.
The first supposition or myth undergirds a broadly held second one—that large premodern societies were universally coercive or despotic in organization. Autocratic governance kept the ever-selfish in line, the argument goes. Ancient Athens and republican Rome generally have been categorically distinguished as the unexplained exception to this presumed premodern path, which came to an end just a few centuries ago when ideas from the Classical era were rediscovered, giving rise to The Enlightenment, when Europeans adopted reason, science, democracy, and more.
The latter scenario became the mid-twentieth-century justification for the third myth, the walling off of modernity from the deeper past. Only after the Enlightenment with rational thought could people organize themselves democratically, in forms of governance where voice, power, and resources were not monopolized by a few.
These three myths underlie the severing of deep history, especially non-Western pasts, from the present. Often in the absence of robust historical information, contemporary observations of non-Western peoples were categorically slotted into imagined pasts that led stage-by-stage to modernist Western presents and futures.
Progressive visions of human history spurred research in history, archaeology, and related disciplines. What we have learned over recent decades does not conform with those starting myths and expectations. Change was not linear, nor was it uniform from region to region. Likewise, premodern governance was not consistently despotic, especially in the Indigenous Americas. Yet in every global region, how people governed themselves shifted over time.
When it comes to the past, we also know the outcomes. And, in the region where I study, prehispanic Mesoamerica, cities that were governed more collectively with less concentrated power tended to persist as central places longer than those urban settlements that were ruled more autocratically. A similar pattern, albeit less definitive, was also found for a global sample of states and empires. More in-depth study is necessary, but these historical patterns seem worth investigating in other regions and probing further where they have been documented. The role and success of governance and institutions in facing and meeting the challenges of the past unlock a treasure trove of information that just may guide us toward better futures.
Gary M. Feinman is an archaeologist and the MacArthur curator of Anthropology, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago.
The 2023 DGR conference is scheduled for late August in northern California. This annual gathering is an opportunity for our community to share skills, reflect on our work, strengthen our connections, and plan for the future. While this conference is only open to DGR members, we do invite friends and allies on a case-by-case basis. If you’re interested in attending, please contact us, and if you’d like to donate to support the conference, click here.
Editor’s Note: This essay was originally published in 2021, but is timely today as the new Christopher Nolan film “Oppenheimer” has just been released. As people are coming to realize the Bright Green Lies of “renewable” energy, they are looking for other ways to continue their unsustainable lifestyles. Many people are seriously considering risking more nuclear reactor accidents, waste and nuclear winter as the war in Ukraine continues to escalate.
“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our thinking. Thus, we are drifting toward catastrophe beyond conception. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
― Albert Einstein
At 8:15am on August 6, 1945, cameras began to click on board the Necessary Evil, a military flight over southern Japan. Necessary Evil’s mission was to photograph the first atomic bombing in history. Nearby, on board another plane, the Enola Gay, bombardiers opened hatches on the belly of the plane and pulled levers to release the bomb.
It was called Little Boy. Ten feet long and 28 inches in diameter, it weighed 9,700 pounds, 141 of which were enriched uranium. The bomb dropped out of the plane and began falling. It took about 12 seconds to reach terminal velocity, which, for a big oblong object like Little Boy is around 1,000 feet per second. But the extra 12 seconds of time for spend accelerating meant that it took 53 seconds to fall from 31,060 feet to 1,900 feet, where it detonated.
The explosion began directly above a hospital, Shima byōin. Within a fraction of a second, the 80 residents and staff of that building, and perhaps 20,000 other people, were dead. The first died from thermal radiation, which travels at the speed of light and causes “flash burns.” Within seconds, the blast wave followed, traveling at 300 meters per second, rupturing eardrums, shredding lungs, tearing blood vessels, and flattening buildings.
Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on another city in southern Japan, Nagasaki. Within 4 months, as casualties from radiation burns and firestorms mounted, the death toll from these two bombs reached 200,000, with as many again injured.
Mass destruction was not new. Earlier that year, in March, 325 U.S. Air Force planes bombed Tokyo with napalm, igniting a firestorm that destroyed a quarter of the city and killed 100,000 people. But Hiroshima marked the beginning of the nuclear age. Now, the same destruction could be executed with a single plane and a single bomb.
Ever since, historians have argued over whether or not these bombings were necessary. The U.S. Military’s own review concluded “Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts… [that] prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped.” Many have concluded that the bombings were, as Nobel-prize winning scientist Patrick Blackett wrote, “the first major operation of the cold diplomatic war with Russia.”
That Cold War began with 200,000 deaths, and the atrocities would continue over the coming decades, all around the world: coups, assassinations, political purges, gulags, McCarthyism, proxy wars, and brutal economic combat.
While World War II and The Cold War have ended, the threat of nuclear war has not, and neither has the danger posed by nuclear power generation. And while the dangers of Three Mile Island, Fukushima, and especially Chernobyl [and the risks around Zaporizhzhya, today] cannot be underestimated, nuclear waste is perhaps a bigger danger than accidents.
This trifecta of horrors—nuclear war, nuclear accidents, and nuclear waste—still haunts our world today.
Immediately following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, scientists from the Manhattan Project created a non-profit organization called the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists dedicated to educating about the dangers our world faces “at a time when technology is outpacing our ability to control it.”
In 1947, members of the Bulletin launched “The Doomsday Clock” — a metaphorical representation of the likelihood of global catastrophe. Each year, a team of scientists, Nobel laureates, and others experts meets to consider the current state of man-made global threats from nuclear weapons, global warming, and disruptive technology, and set the time on the clock accordingly. The closer to midnight, the higher the level of danger.
The doomsday clock currently is set 90 seconds to midnight.
This is the direst warning the Bulletin has ever issued.
In explanation, the Bulletin’s scientists write that “Accelerating nuclear programs in multiple countries moved the world into less stable and manageable territory [over the past year]… Development of hypersonic glide vehicles, ballistic missile defenses, and weapons-delivery systems that can flexibly use conventional or nuclear warheads may raise the probability of miscalculation in times of tension… Nuclear nations… have ignored or undermined practical and available diplomatic and security tools for managing nuclear risks. By our estimation, the potential for the world to stumble into nuclear war—an ever-present danger over the last 75 years—increased in 2020. An extremely dangerous global failure to address existential threats… tightened its grip in the nuclear realm in the past year, increasing the likelihood of catastrophe.”
The link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons is long established. The enriched uranium and plutonium, as well as other so-called “fissionable material” used in nuclear weapons, can be sourced from nuclear reactors, which is why Iran’s creation of a civilian nuclear power program has been so contentious over the past decade.
Proponents of nuclear power argue that it is a safe, low-carbon energy source. There are nearly 500 nuclear power reactors in the world today, with more under construction. But beyond the risks of nuclear accidents and the nightmare of nuclear waste (who thinks it is a good idea to intentionally unearth and enrich materials that will be highly toxic for billions of years?), each of these reactors is a potential vector for dangerous weapons-grade nuclear materials to be lost, stolen, or knowingly redirected into weapons programs.
According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, there were 46 cases of nuclear materials being stolen between 2010 and 2016, as well as 57 cases of lost material, and dozens of other concerning incidents. There are already nearly 900,000 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium stored around the world, most of it in Russia and the United States.
You may wonder how this is connected to Thacker Pass (Peehee Mu’huh” in the Paiute language). For the past 31 months, I have been working to protect this part of remote Northern Nevada from a proposed 28-square mile lithium mine. The mainstream environmental organizations weren’t doing anything about it, so I decided I had to.
Joining with my friend Will Falk and working to find other allies, we set out to stop the Thacker Pass lithium mine. Supporters of lithium mining believ it’s an essential mineral to help move away from fossil fuels and help, global warming. We disagree. Lithium is dangerous, for many reasons.
This work hasn’t been easy. We’ve endured winter storms, blistering temperatures, physical and legal threats, three years of long days and late-night work sessions, and the BLM is attempting to fine me and my friend Will Falk $49,890.13 for defending this land. Now, we’re being sued for defending the land. The forces arrayed against us are powerful. But we persist.
The booming demand for lithium is mainly driven by the electric vehicle industry, and demand for massive “grid-scale” batteries to store electricity from intermittent sources like wind and solar energy generation facilities. But lithium is also used in a wide variety of other industries.
This includes chemical propellants for rockets and torpedoes used by militaries and in spaceflight; in glass production; in metallurgy such as aluminum smelting, alloy production, and welding; in the production of fireworks and flares; and in the production of synthetic rubber and other plastics.
But here, I want to focus on a problem that I have not seen discussed before in regards to the Thacker Pass mine: the links between lithium and the nuclear industry.
There are two stable isotopes of lithium: lithium-6 and lithium-7. According to the World Nuclear Association, “Lithium-7 has two important uses in nuclear power today and tomorrow due to its relative transparency to neutrons. As hydroxide it is necessary in small quantities for safe operation in pressurised water reactor (PWR) cooling systems as a pH stabilizer, to reduce corrosion in the primary circuit. As a fluoride, it is also expected to come into much greater demand for molten salt reactors (MSRs).”
PWRs, or Pressurized Water Reactors, are a type of nuclear reactor that can be found in exactly two thirds of the world’s nuclear power plants. Engineers at these facilities, most of which are quite old at this point, are constantly dealing with corrosion in the components of their radioactive water cycling systems. Highly purified lithium-7 hydroxide is used in these systems “as an additive in PWR primary coolant, at about 2.2 ppm, for maintaining water chemistry, counteracting the corrosive effects of boric acid (used as neutron absorber) and minimizing corrosion in steam generators of PWRs.”
Lithium-7 is also used directly in nuclear weapons, where the reaction itself can produce the necessary tritium to fuel a runaway nuclear reaction. In 1954, the largest atmospheric nuclear weapons test in US history took place over the Bikini Atoll. Due to a shortage of lithium-6 (which is less common and hard to produce), the “Shot Bravo” nuke was built with lithium-7 instead. The bomb was projected to yield a 10-megaton blast. But due to lithium-7’s incredibly explosive features, the yield was 15 megatons—equivalent to every bomb dropped by the allies in World War II exploding at once.
One account describes the effect of the bomb: “An entire island turned into radioactive dust and the fallout seriously contaminated Bikini and two neighboring atolls. The ships of the Operation Castle task force steamed at flank speed away from the mushroom cloud, their decks covered with radioactive coral shards. The Japanese fishing vessel Fifth Lucky Dragon, sailing well outside the safety zone, suffered one death and several casualties from radiation. The bomb’s firing crew retreated to a closet in their concrete bunker for 12 hours while their Geiger counters roared.”
Lithium-6 is more rare than lithium-7 in nature, but is widely used in the nuclear weapons industry. When used as a target element in a reactor or a nuclear weapon, it reacts with a neutron to produce tritium (T), the most important thermonuclear material for weapons. According to the Institute for Science and International Security, “Lithium 6 is a critical raw material needed for the production of single-stage thermonuclear and boosted fission weapons.”
In the United States, the Tennessee Valley Authority operates three nuclear reactors. One of these, Watts Bar, uses lithium as the feedstock for producing tritium for use in nuclear weapons. This tritium is a key component in those weapons, but it needs to be constantly replenished. Tritium has a half-life of only 12.3 years and decays at 5.5% annually. That’s why tritium sourced from reactors using lithium is currently being used to rebuild and replace the U.S. nuclear arsenal as part of a 30-year, trillion dollar nuclear weapons plan launched under Obama.
Many critics of the nuclear weapons industry believe that nuclear power is, in general, little more than a civilian cover for the production of nuclear weapon material.
Meanwhile, advocates of nuclear power such as Bill Gates argue that next-generation reactors will address the problems that have plagued nuclear power—safety issues, radioactive waste, weapons proliferation, and high cost. But the Union of Concerned Scientists calls this “wishful thinking,” noting in their most recent report that serious concerns remain unresolved.
Modular Salt Reactors (MSRs), for example, produce massive amounts of radioactive waste that is exceptionally dangerous from a nuclear proliferation standpoint (U-233), and they are extremely difficult to clean up at the end of their relatively short lifespans. Current prototypes also depend heavily on lithium. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are both on the verge of activating MSR reactors (perhaps with illegal assistance from the Trump Administration and U.S. corporations), which may lead directly to them becoming nuclear powers. And fusion reactors, for the foreseeable future, consume far more energy than they produce, amounting to nothing more than an exceptionally expensive and dangerous experiment (an experiment in which lithium is being used to control plasma).
The bottom line here is that the dangerous nuclear power industry, and the nuclear weapons that depend on it, require a steady supply of lithium. As nuclear tensions once again escalate, the Department of Energy is moving toward 100% U.S. sourcing of uranium in order to bypass international treaty obligations, which require the disclosure of locations and volumes of highly enriched uranium a country possesses. By cutting out foreign sourcing, the supply chain is kept more obscure. A similar consideration no doubt underlies, in part, the swift permitting of the Thacker Pass lithium mine. This mine is a part of the nuclear supply chain, and given that most U.S. lithium is now sourced overseas, war hawks no doubt prefer that this place is sacrificed.
One must step outside the halls of power to find sanity. The nuclear industry has been an unmitigated disaster from the beginning. I say this as someone who grew up in Washington State. We have seen the horror that is Hanford. And Nevadans know the perils of nuclear weapons and waste better than almost anyone else on the planet.
If the Thacker Pass lithium mine is built, lithium produced there may end up inside nuclear reactors and inside nuclear weapons. How would you feel if you were involved in a project that supplied critical material to power the next nuclear disaster?
Yes, Nevada has a bleak history of nuclear weapons testing and waste storage. Yet from the Nevada Test Site to Yucca Mountain, there is as long and as rich a history of resistance. Of sanity. Of desire for peace. I would like to invite all the activists, politicians, and regular people who fought nuclear testing and nuclear waste disposal across this region to join the fight against lithium mining as well.
There are many ways of laying waste to the Earth, and to our future. Nuclear technologies and strip mining are two of them. And in this case, they are firmly linked. That is why we must stand up against lithium mining and nuclear catastrophes alike.
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
― C. S. Lewis
The 2023 DGR conference is scheduled for late August in northern California. This annual gathering is an opportunity for our community to share skills, reflect on our work, strengthen our connections, and plan for the future. While this conference is only open to DGR members, we do invite friends and allies on a case-by-case basis. If you’re interested in attending, please contact us, and if you’d like to donate to support the conference, click here.
Editor’s Note: The civilization has destroyed many places in the name of progress, which they call ‘sacrifice zones.’ The following piece discusses different instances of destruction from recent history, and how the current economy has actively profited from those destructions. The views expressed in the article are of the author. DGR does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed.
Considering the destruction caused by extractive mining and wars, the global corporate empire society sure seems like one huge controlled demolition. Before getting to the topic of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and specifically Thacker Pass aka Peehee Mu’huh, some examples and explanation of the context of controlled demolition.
Currently in Ukraine, various governments/investors are making bank on both ends of the stick: from the weapons manufacturers destruction end AND the BlackRock, Inc. (an American multi-national investment company) et al reconstruction end. A December 2022 CNBC headline spilled the beans: “Zelenskyy, BlackRock CEO Fink agree to coordinate Ukraine investment” and more recently: “The estimated cost of Ukraine’s reconstruction and recovery bill has grown to $411 billion.” — while US infrastructure crumbles. A key aspect of the reconstruction is multinational agri-businesses salivating over Ukraine’s rich soil, something rarely mentioned in umpteen war analyses.
Speaking of crumbling infrastructure, the derailed train and subsequent deliberate explosions of toxic chemicals in Palestine, Ohio (which includes rivers), has created an environmental disaster; another controlled demolition because lack of care for railroad maintenance and extra care for dollars helped create the accident waiting to happen.
“Three days after the derailment, on Feb. 6, we watched as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, in consultation with Norfolk Southern representatives, greenlighted a plan to blow holes in five of the cars containing toxic chemicals, which would lead to a ‘controlled release,’ and residents in nearby communities were ordered to evacuate. … By Feb. 7, according to a Norfolk Southern service alert, trains were running through East Palestine again. As thousands of dead fish floated in local waterways, as nearby residents were reporting sickness and dying pets, as untold long-term health and environmental problems lurked in the hazy future, the railroad chugged back to business as usual.”
The broader issue to consider is this: controlled demolition requires careful preparation or deliberate lack there of—and then with the virtual flick of a switch, it happens . . . like dominoes. And a ‘new reality’ is created. What quickly followed the 9-11 attacks was the Global War Of Terror, later determined to have been riddled with lies.
After Covid-19 began, there were lockdowns and a slew of enforced restrictions, many of which were later deemed unwarranted. The world changed in a flash, as did the economy, with many small and some larger businesses going bust, as the elite rich got richer. Yet whatever one’s opinion about all that, the message from the natural world was quiet and clear: rivers and skies cleared up! . . . showing that healing can happen quickly―if we drastically curtail the business as usual of industrial capitalism.
After Ukraine re-began with Russia’s attacks (because the situation ‘began’ in 2014 with the Maidan/neo-Nazi coup overthrowing elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych) . . . economic sanctions, global economic shake-ups-and-downs, nuclear saber rattling, and more, including the above mentioned agri-business ploy, which, by the way, is also global, as, for example, Bill Gates is “the largest landowner in the U.S.,” owning “270,000 acres spread across 18 different states.”
A Twitter post on March 20, 2023, by esteemed journalist and filmmaker John Pilger, succinctly sums up the media-military-complex modus operandi:
It is estimated that over 2 million people died in Iraq as a direct result of the unprovoked invasion led by Bush and Blair. The whole horror was a fraud, based on lies and corrupt 'intelligence'. So why believe similar sources on Ukraine, Russia, China?https://t.co/qBNQb57IOK
And though not as visibly dramatic, preparations for controlled demolition are happening again with the deliberate push for EVs (Electric Vehicles). For example, in New York, November 2022:
“Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation that will advance clean transportation efforts by removing barriers to the installation of electric vehicle charging stations on private property.”
“The Charge NY initiative offers electric car buyers the Drive Clean Rebate of up to $2,000 for new car purchases or leases. Combine that with a Federal Tax Credit of up to $7,500, and it’s an opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss. If you are a New York State resident looking for a new car, it’s a great time to buy or lease a plug-in hybrid or battery-powered car that qualifies for the Drive Clean Rebate.”
As any reader of Deep Green Resistance News Service and those following or participating in the efforts to Protect Thacker Pass knows, “clean” is false advertising and you would want to resist the opportunity. In the broad case of EVs, we, as human beings and as consumers have choices that can affect or re-direct the trajectory of this huge deliberate push for EVs, which is a kind of heating up of boiled frogs controlled demolition . . . because if not stopped, suddenly EVs will dominate the roads and landscapes, while sacred habitats and Native lands are destroyed.
As lawyer and Protect Thacker Pass co-founder Will Falk has alluded to in various interviews and videos, many aspects of the legal system are rigged in favor of government and corporate control of mining; this is a form of control with the goal of demolition of habitat and wildlife, too-often along with desecration of Native lands for profit.
I don’t have the answers for how to stop such control freak factors, but at least recognizing that there are various preparations so that a demolition ‘goes smoothly’ will help each person/group/organization find a best way to participate so as to help prevent specific preparations and perhaps prevent the controlled demolition of Thacker Pass aka Peehee Mu’huh, as well as other sacred site hot spots.
The natural world of plants also has an array of unseen or barely visible preparations until . . . a flower buds then blooms or fruit ripens; let’s call that process a controlled creation or the unfolding of innate potential, as with a seed. This is what those who care about the Earth work hard to defend, protect, and preserve—the natural cycles.
Further demolition examples
In 2017, investigative journalist, author and filmmaker Greg Palast reported:
“…an eyewitness with devastating new information about the Caspian Sea oil-rig blow-out which BP had concealed from government and the industry.
The witness, whose story is backed up by rig workers who were evacuated from BP’s Caspian platform, said that had BP revealed the full story as required by industry practice, the eleven Gulf of Mexico workers ‘could have had a chance’ of survival. But BP’s insistence on using methods proven faulty sealed their fate. One cause of the blow-outs was the same in both cases: the use of a money-saving technique, plugging holes with ‘quick-dry’ cement. By hiding the disastrous failure of its penny-pinching cement process in 2008, BP was able to continue to use the dangerous methods in the Gulf of Mexico, causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history.”
As with East Palestine and umpteen other so-called disasters, cutting corners for profit is too-often a factor with controlled demolitions.
“Disasters like these keep happening because the system — the train — keeps rolling, exactly as it was designed to, foisting the consequences onto communities and their environments and hoarding the spoils for the economic elites, while government regulatory agencies issue permits and legalize it all.
“Since this country’s founding, our system of government has placed profits and property interests over people and planet. The derailment in East Palestine illustrates this clearly. For over 150 years, railroad workers have been telling employers like Norfolk Southern and the government that their working conditions are deplorable and dangerous.
“With deregulation of the industry in the 1980s, which included Wall Street mergers and ’short term profit imperatives,’ trains have been getting longer and longer while the number of train workers gets smaller and smaller.”
“Villages along the road are coated with airborne debris. There are no flowers to be found. No birds in the sky. No placid streams. No pleasant breezes. The ornaments of nature are gone. All color seems pale and unformed. Only the fragments of life remain. This is Lualaba Province, where cobalt is king.”
“‘The trees were all gone’: Indonesia’s nickel mines reveal the dark side of our electric future”
To consider these areas as sacrifice zones is a form of mental trickery because it allows people to think that, overall, things are OK, a few bad apples but things are OK in the big apple tree picture. But the other perspective is that things are not OK because continuing to destroy habitats, pollute rivers and air has a cumulative effect. Out of sight, out of mind is no longer an excuse because even with Internet and book censorship, you can often find true information—with a bit of effort.
At Thacker Pass, Lithium Americas’ attempt to destroy the habitat and Native lands for lithium for EVs and other gadgets represents a watershed moment in the global and local greenwashing attempt to revolutionize the extractive energy economy. But the problem with that is, as the word suggests, such ‘revolutions’ wind up back where they started in circular fashion, yet only with a ‘new’ look.
The east coast of Turtle Island is riddled with the aftereffects of the so-called revolution of 1776: New York, New Jersey, New England, New Hampshire, New Haven, New London, New Bedford . . . and on it goes, out to New Mexico and elsewhere. Such ‘newness’ has a track record of destruction and enforced relocation of Native Peoples, and that’s some of what’s on the proverbial table at Thacker Pass.
Shift the narrative . . . dis-invest . . . donate $s . . . employ some monkey-wrenches . . . organize, defend, protest, write something, talk . . . think about a specific area of the in the works controlled demolition that you feel you could literally help thwart. Find a way to do something so as to help prevent yet another control freak demolition. Find a way to do something to preserve “the ornaments of nature” and the lifestyles of those who care for them.
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is a verbiage experiencer, in other words, he’s into etymology, writes about his experiences and to encourage people to learn from direct experiences, not just head knowledge; you know, actions and feelings speak louder than words. He’s also a publisher and enjoys gardening, talking, listening, looking… His recent book is Moving Through The Empty Gate Forest: inside looking out. Find out more at his website: www.allbook-books.com
Editor’s Note: Taking the context of Maryland’s forests, the following piece analyses how the mainstream environmental movement and pro-industry management actors have used deliberately misinterpreting to outright creation of information to justify commercial activities at the expense of forests. Industrial deforestation is harmful for the forests and the planet. The fact that this obvious piece of information should even be stated to educated adults affirms the successful (and deceitful) framing of biomass as an environmentally friendly way out of climate crisis. The same goes for deep sea mining.
Most would agree that we live in an age of multiple compounding catastrophes, planetary in scale. There is controversy, however, regarding their interrelationships as well as their causes. That controversy is largely manufactured. In the following pages I will describe the state of “forestry” in the state of Maryland, USA, and connect that to regional, national, and international stirrings of which we should all be aware. I will continue to examine connections between international conservation organizations, the co-optation of the environmental movement, the youth climate movement, and the financialization of nature. Full disclosure. I am writing this to human beings on behalf of all the non-human beings and those yet unborn who are recognized as objects to be converted to capital or otherwise used by the dominant culture. I am not a capitalist. I am a human being. I occupy unceded land of unrecognized peoples which is characterized by poisoned air, water and soil, devastated forest ecosystems, decapitated mountains, and collapsing biodiversity. I am of this earth. It is to the land, water and all of life that I direct my affection and gratitude as well as my loyalty.
Last winter, amid deep concerns about the present mass extinction and an unshakeable feeling of helplessness, I began to search for answers and ecological allies. I compiled a running list of local, regional, national, and international organizations that seemed to have at least some interest in the environment. The list quickly swelled to hundreds of entries. I attempted to assess the organizations based upon their mission, values, goals, publications and other such things. I hoped that the best of the best of these groups could be brought together around ecological restoration and the long-term benefits of clean air, water, healthy soil supporting vigorous growth of food and medicine, and rebounding biodiversity throughout our Appalachian homeland. Progress was and continues to be slow. Along the way, I encountered an open stakeholder consultation (survey) regarding a risk assessment of Maryland’s forests. As an ethnobotanist with special interests in forest ecology and stewardship, Indigenous societies and their traditional ecological knowledge, symbiotic relationships, and intergenerational sustainability, I realize that my unique perspectives could be helpful to the team conducting the assessment. I proceeded to submit thought provoking responses to each question. Because the consultation period was exceedingly brief and outreach to stakeholders was weak at best, and because the wording of the questions felt out of alignment with the purported purpose of the survey, I sensed that something was awry. So I saved my answers and resolved to stay abreast of developments.
Summer came around, I became busy, and the risk assessment survey faded from my mind until a friend recently emailed me a draft of the document along with notice of a second stakeholder consultation and the question: should we respond? This friend happens to own land registered in the Maryland Tree Farm Program. The selective outreach to forest landowners with large acreage was an indication as to who is and who is not considered a “stakeholder” by the committee.
After reviewing the Consultation Draft: A Sustainability Risk Assessment of Maryland’s Forests I felt sick. Low to Negligible was the risk assignment for every single criteria. I re-read the document – section by section – noting the ambiguity, legalese and industry jargon, lack of definitions, contradictory statements, false claims, poorly referenced and questionable sources, and more. Have you heard of greenwashing? Every tactic was represented in the 82 page document. Naturally, then, I tracked down and reviewed many of the referenced materials and I then investigated the contributors and funders of the report.
Noting, furthemore, that on the Advisory Committee sits a member of the Maryland Forests Association (MFA). On their website they state: “We are proud to represent forest product businesses, forest landowners, loggers and anyone with an interest in Maryland’s forests…” They also state: “Currently, Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard uses a limiting definition of qualifying biomass that makes it difficult for wood to compete against other forms of renewable energy,” oh yes, and this extraordinarily deceptive bit from a recent publication, There’s More to our Forests than Trees:
When the tree dies, it decays and releases carbon dioxide and methane back into the atmosphere. However, we can postpone this process and extend the duration of carbon storage. If we harvest the tree and build a house or even make a chair with the wood, the carbon remains stored in these products for far longer than the life of the tree itself! This has tremendous implications for addressing the growing levels of carbon dioxide, which lead to increased warming of the earth’s atmosphere. It means harvesting trees for long-term uses helps mitigate climate change. We can even take advantage of the fact that trees sequester carbon at different rates throughout their lifespan to maximize the carbon storage potential. Trees are more active in sequestering carbon when they are younger. As forests age, growth slows down and so does their ability to store carbon. At some point, a stand of trees reaches an equilibrium where the growth and carbon-storing ability equals the trees that die and release carbon each year. Thus, a younger, more vigorous stand of trees stores carbon at a much higher rate than an older one.
Just in case you were convinced by that last bit, my studies in botany and forest ecology support the following finding:
“In 2014, a study published in Nature by an international team of researchers led by Nathan Stephenson, a forest ecologist with the United States Geographical Survey, found that a typical tree’s growth continues to accelerate (emphasis mine) throughout its lifetime, which in the coastal temperate rainforest can be 800 years or more.
Stephenson and his team compiled growth measurements of 673,046 trees belonging to 403 tree species from tropical, subtropical and temperate regions across six continents. They found that the growth rate for most species “increased continuously” as they aged.
Al Goertzl, president of Seneca Creek (a shadowy corporation with a benign name that has no website and pumps out reports justifying the exploitation of forests) who is featured in MFA’s Faces of Forestry, wouldn’t know the difference, he identifies as a forest economist. In another publication marketing North American Forests he is credited with the statements: “There exists a low risk that U.S. hardwoods are produced from controversial sources as defined in the Chain of Custody standard of the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).” and “The U.S. hardwood-producing region can be considered low risk for illegal and non-sustainable hardwood sourcing as a result of public and private regulatory and non-regulatory programs.” The report then closes with this shocker: “SUSTAINABILITY MEANS USING NORTH AMERICAN HARDWOODS.”
Why are forest-pimps conducting the risk assessment upon which future decisions critical to the long-term survival of our native ecosystem will be based? What is really going on here?
“Europe’s largest single source of renewable energy is sustainable biomass, which is a cornerstone of the EU’s low-carbon energy transition […] For the last decade, forest resources in the US South have helped to meet these goals—as they will in the future. This heavily forested region exported over <7 million metric tons of sustainable wood pellets in 2021 – primarily to the EU and UK – and is on pace to exceed that number in 2022 (emphasis mine) due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, which has pinched trade flows of industrial wood pellets from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.”
Sustainability means using North American hardwoods.
If it has not yet become clear, the stakeholder consultation for the forest sustainability risk assessment document which inspired this piece was but a small, local, component of an elaborate sham enabling the world to burn and otherwise consume the forests of entire continents – in comfort and with the guilt-neutralizing reassurance that: carbon is captured, rivers are purified, forests are healthy and expanding, biodiversity is thriving and protected, and “the rights of Indigenous and Traditional Peoples are upheld” as a result of our consumption. (FSC-NRA-USA, p71) That is the first phase of the plan – manufacturing / feigning consent. Next the regulatory hurdles must be eliminated or circumvented. Cue the Landscape Management Plan (LMP).
“Taken together, the actions taken by AFF [American Forest Foundation] over the implementation period have effectively set the stage for the implementation of a future DBC project to promote and expand SDE+1 qualifying certification systems for family landowners in the Southeast US and North America, generally.”
“As outlined in our proposal, research by AFF and others has demonstrated that the chief barrier for most landowners to participating in forest certification is the requirement to have a forest management plan. To address this significant challenge, AFF has developed an innovative tool, the Landscape Management Plan (LMP). An LMP is a document produced through a multi-stakeholder process that identifies, based on an analysis of geospatial data and existing regional conservation plans, forest conservation priorities at a landscape scale and management actions that can be applied at a parcel scale. This approach also utilizes publicly available datasets on a range of forest resources, including forest types, soils, threatened and endangered species, cultural resources and others, as well as social data regarding landowner motivations and practices. As a document, it meets all of the requirements for ATFS certification and is fully supported by PEFC and could be used in support of other programs such as other certification systems, alongside ATFS. Once an LMP has been developed for a region, and once foresters are trained in its use, the LMP allows landowners to use the landscape plan and derive a customized set of conservation practices to implement on their properties. This eliminates the need for a forester to write a complete individualized plan, saving the forester time and the landowner money. The forester is able to devote the time he or she would have spent writing the plan interacting with the landowner and making specific management recommendations, and / or visiting additional landowners.
With DBC support, AFF sought to leverage two existing LMPs in Alabama and Florida and successfully expanded certification in those states. In addition, AFF combined DBC funds with pre-existing commitments to contract with forestry consultants to design new LMPs in Arkansas and Louisiana. DBC grant funds were used to cover LMP activities between July 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018 for these states, namely stakeholder engagement, two stakeholder workshops (one in each state Arkansas and Louisiana) and staffing.” (American Forest Foundation, 2, 7).
It is clear that global interests / morally bankrupt humans have been busy ignoring the advice of scientists, altering definitions, removing barriers to standardization / certification, and manufacturing consent; thus enabling the widespread burning of wood / biomass (read: earth’s remaining forests) to be recognized as renewable, clean, green-energy. Imagine: mining forests as the solution to deforestation, biodiversity loss, pollution, climate change, and economic stagnation. Meanwhile, mountains are scalped, rivers are poisoned, forests are gutted, biological diversity is annihilated, and the future of all life on earth is sold under the guise of sustainability.
Sustainability means USING North American hardwoods!
The perpetual mining of forests is merely one “natural climate solution” promising diminishing returns for Life on earth. While the rush is on to secure the necessary public consent (but not of the free, prior, and informed variety) to convert the forests of the world into clean energy (sawdust pellets) and novel materials, halfway around the planet and 5 kilometers below the surface of the Pacific another “nature based solution” that will utterly devastate marine ecosystems and further endanger life on earth – deep sea mining (DSM) – is employing the same strategy. Like the numerous other institutions that are formally entrusted with the protection of forests, water, air, biodiversity, and human rights, deep sea mining is overseen by an institution which has contradictory directives – to protect and to exploit. The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has already issued 17 exploration contracts and will begin issuing 30-year exploitation contracts across the 1.7 million square mile Clarion-Clipperton zone by 2024 – despite widespread calls for a ban / moratorium and fears of apocalyptic planetary repercussions. After decades of environmental protection measures enacted by thousands of agencies and institutions throwing countless billions at the “problems,” every indicator of planetary health that I am aware of has declined. It follows, then, that these institutions are incapable of exercising caution, acting ethically, protecting ecosystems, biodiversity or indigenous peoples, holding thieves, murderers and polluters accountable, or even respecting their own regulatory processes. Haeckel sums up industry regulation nicely in a recent nature article regarding the nascent DSM industry:
“…Amid this dearth of data, the ISA is pushing to finish its regulations next year. Its council met this month in Kingston, Jamaica, to work through a draft of the mining code, which covers all aspects — environmental, administrative and financial — of how the industry will operate. The ISA says that it is listening to scientists and incorporating their advice as it develops the regulations. “This is the most preparation that we’ve ever done for any industrial activity,” says Michael Lodge, the ISA’s secretary-general, who sees the mining code as giving general guidance, with room to develop more progressive standards over time.
Of course, this “New Deal for Nature” requires “decarbonization” while producing billions of new electric cars, solar panels, wind mills, and hydroelectric dams. The metals for all the new batteries and techno-solutions have to come from somewhere, right? According to Global Sea Mineral Resources:
“Sustainable development, the growth of urban infrastructure and clean energy transition are combining to put enormous pressure on metal supplies.
Over the next 30 years the global population is set to expand by two billion people. That’s double the current populations of North, Central and South America combined. By 2050, 66 percent of us will live in cities. To support this swelling urban population, a city the size of Dubai will need to be built every month until the end of the century. This is a staggering statistic. At the same time, there is the urgent need to decarbonise the planet’s energy and transport systems. To achieve this, the world needs millions more wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicle batteries.
Urban infrastructure and clean energy technologies are extremely metal intensive and extracting metal from our planet comes at a cost. Often rainforests have to be cleared, mountains flattened, communities displaced and huge amounts of waste – much of it toxic – generated.
That is why we are looking at the deep sea as a potential alternative source of metals.”
Did you notice how there is scarcely room to imagine other possibilities (such as reducing our material and energy consumption, reorganizing our societies within the context of our ecosystems, voluntarily decreasing our reproductive rate, and sharing resources) within that narrative?
Do you still wonder why the processes of approving seabed mining in international waters and certifying an entire continent’s forests industry to be sustainable seem so similar? They are elements of the same scheme: a strategy to accumulate record profits through the valuation and exploitation of nature – aided and abetted by the non-profit industrial complex.
“The non-profit industrial complex (or the NPIC) is a system of relationships between: the State (or local and federal governments), the owning classes, foundations, and non-profit/NGO social service & social justice organizations that results in the surveillance, control, derailment, and everyday management of political movements.
The state uses non-profits to: monitor and control social justice movements; divert public monies into private hands through foundations; manage and control dissent in order to make the world safe for capitalism; redirect activist energies into career-based modes of organizing instead of mass-based organizing capable of actually transforming society; allow corporations to mask their exploitative and colonial work practices through “philanthropic” work; and encourage social movements to model themselves after capitalist structures rather than to challenge them.” (Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex | INCITE!).
The emergence of the NPIC has profoundly influenced the trajectory of global capitalism largely by inventing new conservation and the youth climate movement –
“What’s infuriating about manipulations by the Non Profit Industrial Complex is that they harvest the goodwill of the people, especially young people. They target those who were not given the skills and knowledge to truly think for themselves by institutions which are designed to serve the ruling class. Capitalism operates systematically and structurally like a cage to raise domesticated animals. Those organizations and their projects which operate under false slogans of humanity in order to prop up the hierarchy of money and violence are fast becoming some of the most crucial elements of the invisible cage of corporatism, colonialism and militarism.” (THE MANUFACTURING OF GRETA THUNBERG – FOR CONSENT: THE GREEN NEW DEAL IS THE TROJAN HORSE FOR THE FINANCIALIZATION OF NATURE [ACT V]).
We must understand that the false solutions proposed by these institutions will suck the remaining life out of this planet before you can say fourth industrial revolution.
An important point must never get lost amongst the swirling jargon, human-supremacy and unbridled greed: If we do not drastically reduce our material and energy consumption – rapidly – then We (that is, all living beings on the planet including humans) have no future.
In summary, decades of social engineering have set the stage for the blitzkrieg underway against our life-giving and sustaining mother planet in the name of sustainability industrial civilization. The success of the present assault requires the systematic division, distraction, discouragement, detention, and demonization (reinforced by powerful disinformation) and ultimately the destruction of all those who would resist. Remember also: capital, religion, race, gender, class, ideology, occupation, private property, and so forth, these are weapons of oppression wielded against us by the dominant patriarchal, colonizing, ecocidal, empire. That is not who We are. Our causes, our struggles, and our futures are one. Unless we refuse to play by their rules and coordinate our efforts, We will soon lose all that can be lost.
Learn more about deep sea mining (here); sign the Blue Planet Society petition (here) and the Pacific Blue Line statement (here). Tell the forest products industry that they do not have our consent and that you and hundreds of scientists see through their lies (here); divest from all extractive industry, and invest in its resistance instead (here). Inform yourself, talk to your loved-ones and community members and ask yourselves: what can we do to stop the destruction?
All flourishing is mutual. The inverse is also true.
“…future environmental conditions will be far more dangerous than currently believed. The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts […] this dire situation places an extraordinary responsibility on scientists to speak out candidly and accurately when engaging with government, business, and the public.” – Top Scientists: We Face “A Ghastly Future”
—Austin is an ecocentric Appalachian ethnobotanist, gardener, forager, and seed saver. He acknowledges kinship with and responsibility to protect all life, land, water, and future generations—