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In memory of Abu Ward

So. Let me begin by saying that this video is naked Western propaganda.Both sides are bombing Aleppo. Both (all) sides are responsible to stop this ongoing nightmare. Do we have the politics out of the way now?

I want to remember this man. Abu Ward, “Father of the Flowers.” I want to tattoo his name and his world view in my heart. His wealth was his garden and he thanked Allah for its resilience. Abu Ward is my brother.. I am grateful for this propaganda because it introduced him to me.

Abu Ward displays an attitude familiar to me. He is like DoYū Risa Bear. This man is like every collapse aware farmer and gardener and permaculturist on Eaarth. This man is like every one of us who consciously plants a garden and tends to its beauty in the face of a global situation we know is deteriorating and increasingly deadly.

His attitude and his spirit are what we need to keep moving through this. To keep planting through this.

In a way, we are all living in Aleppo. And I do not mean to minimize what the people of Aleppo are suffering. I am perfectly aware that I cannot conceive of Aleppo, of living in a city under constant bombardment. The resource and climate wars are in full swing in Syria. We remain protected in Canada, the US, many places.

I do though also see a resonance here: Aleppo is what is coming. Aleppo is already here. Aleppo is drought, it is torrential rains, rain bombs, flooding, sink holes, craters in Siberia, melting ice at all three poles, glaciers receding.. Aleppo is also ocean acidification, the increasing temperatures, the weather extremes, rising seas, mass extinction, resource depletion, and human conflict to struggle over the last crumbs as we tear the planet apart seeking “a good life.”

Aleppo is also then a symbol of the situation that we all face. A preview of the near future for the still resource & climate-privileged.

Let’s redouble our efforts to force our governments to make peace. For Aleppo. Let us stand with the Red Cross and international aid agencies who are calling for an immediate cease fire. Let’s do this in memory of Abu Ward and for his children.

And let’s stand in solidarity with this incredible man, this gardener with his priorities straight. Let’s do this knowing that we (in many ways) share his fate. Symbolically and, perhaps very soon, literally. Let’s be brave. Let’s be fierce. Let’s plant flowers, propagate trees. Let’s be like Abu Ward, gardener of Aleppo.(Not, actually the last, by the way.)


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Not to Alarm Anyone, But We Should Be Alarmed – And then some!

Thus it has become my adopted position that in order to limit suffering of all sentient life we must form a cogent movement and unseat the controlling entities and their falsehoods we have lived by for too long – and finally treat our illness instead of its symptoms. Jason Holland

The problem we really have is though Holland’s analysis is correct, on several counts, it is wildly optimistic on the most critical point: that there is a solution and time to enact it.

Holland’s key points: 
1. “All these systems natural and man-made alike seem to be sharing exponentiating curves leading  down the road to collapse, possibly of a Cormac McCarthy variety. The hard truth is we can no longer live in this manner.”
 
2. “Thus it has become my adopted position that in order to limit suffering of all sentient life we must form a cogent movement and unseat the controlling entities and their falsehoods we have lived by for too long – and finally treat our illness instead of its symptoms.”
 
3. “[D]ue to ecological concerns we have run out of time to rely on incrementally changing something which has proven itself corrupt, intractable, and willing only to offer conciliatory gestures with an aim to appease and not fix.”
 
In sum, we have a dire situation, an ELE (Extinction Level Event), created by our current manmade operating system, the global economy, the operators of which are not willing to turn the Titanic around. Thus, the only viable option is to stage a revolution, and take over the levers of power so we can set the human ship on a sustainable course.
Holland precludes the slow change of reformism because we are so short on time. Sensible, for sure.  The problem is Holland, as Chris Hedges and most other revolutionary or socialist strategists, seem to forget…
 
A. Revolutions may sometimes happen overnight, but the mass movements that eventually lead us there tend to take time to build, decades or centuries. And then, once the revolution is sparked it must win. And then it must face inevitable counter-revolutionary pushback. All of this has historically taken far more time than we have, even by Holland’s timeline.
 
B. You may argue we already have a lot of people mobilized to fight the fossil fuel industries. Are we half-way there already? Might the revolution be just around the next pipeline protest? I would argue, not so much.

The movement against climate change currently mobilized is largely being run (or actively coopted) by large NGOs (like AVAAZ and 350.org) who are not recruiting on the basis we must stop the economic engine that is eating the world. They are recruiting to end fossil fuel use and replace it with “clean energy.” In fact, they basically agree with the more enlightened elites, that we just need to “switch to renewables” and grow our global economy “greenly”

Therefore, a movement bent on preserving all life on Earth, rather than saving civilisation, would have to take over the climate movement that already exists and redirect it to more sensible goals *before* taking over the world. The far more likely alternative, given the masses of funding those NGOs enjoy and no degrowth movement ever could attract, is that we would be fighting *the climate change activists,* as well as TPTB.
 
C. The issue, by the way – as Jason Holland hints – goes well beyond the problem of a changing climate.
 
We have a very large human population, spread across the globe, mostly attached to the machinery of a globalised economy and dependent on its structures of ever-increasing exploitation of resources (many of which, if not most are near, at or post peak extraction), ever-increasing debt (that is how money is created– but we are likely at peak debt now, too), and ever-increasing complexity. (See Joseph Tainter on the implications of that and his analysis of how we seem to be approaching peak complexity, too).
 
That means most people – the people we want to put in charge of the global economy – are very heavily invested in its continuing expansion – pretty much, each in their own way, as invested as the elites.
 
And almost nobody is going to be interested in turning the Titanic around unless they become totally convinced there is no other survival option.
 
That means convincing the billions to abandon wealth-seeking and deliberately choose to re-ruralize (without equipment run by fossil fuels we need most humans in the fields growing food).
 

Does this remotely sound feasible, even if we had 100s of years to do it?


To make matters worse, we may be completely out of time:

As I mentioned, we are collectively (along with many other species on this planet) facing the Sixth Mass Extinction crisis, an ELE for humans as well, created by our current means of surviving. We need to radically change this for the sake of all life, including our own. this is a tall order, even if all were willing. It would take a lot of time to reorganise in a deliberate manner, right? So how much time do we likely have? 
It is likely our Titanic civilisation has already hit the iceberg, as described here: “Unravelling the myth of a “carbon budget” for 1.5C
 
And, 1.5C, rather than the generally agreed 2c limit, is actually the most salient target we have any kind of scientific consensus on. That is because it has been confirmed as the temperature rise at which we set off the drastic, rapid and unstoppable feedback of mass permafrost thaw.  The Big Thaw.  
 
To really get down to the depressing facts, though, we actually have no idea *what* the goals of a planet-saving or human-species rescue biodiversity-enhancing program for change would be.
There is no consensus how (or even if) humans CAN live sustainably on Earth (the planet as it once was…
let alone the new Eaarth (a degraded and toxin-ridden place).
…Even if we had the awareness and the will, en masse, to attempt to achieve sustainability, there is no clear or agreed upon “truly sustainable human society” to aim at building.

Opinions vary so widely about whether we should bunch up in cities, return to mass ruralisation, try to maintain civilisation or rewild ourselves, reform agriculture or replace it with permaculture, develop animal intensive agro-ecology or go vegan and end the domestication of animals, depend on herbivores to restore prairie soils…and on and on…Many, who have really examined the numbers and the history, believe humans as a species are simply not viable. Who knows? I argue only Gaia knows, or, in any case, Gaia will decide. 

 
So, the situation is far worse than Holland’s already shocking (to most people) analysis indicates.
 
Lover of revolution over reformism that I have long been, I am afraid we are doomed to face all of these intersecting crises (of the ecological and civilisational varieties) with what Holland so very ably sums up as an ancient predatory system:

“It’s the same ole alpha competitive predatory system which preys on the weakest to feed the strongest. Social hierarchies and people pretending to be more exceptional than others is a busted stupid system. After all our claims of sophistication and technological progress we are living under the most asinine social system imaginable. The central philosophy is quite simple: Might makes right.

 
And it is that simple, but all gussied up in trade agreements, sanctions, economic systems, climate conferences, constitutions, and the heap of other complex and very serious sounding bullshit the people have been sold under the pretenses of security and health.”

Which really leaves us with anarchism, mutual aid and self-organising to the best of our abilities. The problems are systemic, global in scope and have no clear solution. The solutions available are local in scope and scale and utterly inadequate to the concatenation of crises we are facing. The “solution space” is small, the problems enormous, and well beyond our capacity to fully comprehend, let alone to manage. 


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Biosphere 3?

Let`s talk solutions!
Do you know about Biosphere II? (Read here about what went wrong.) There is some muttering about living on Mars. There has been some muttering about underground bunkers for elite survival. Somebody built a seed bank deep underground. Some folk have hope that – since we can build self-sutaining(-ish) space stations, we can figure out how to survive the eco-pocalypse we have kicked off.
So…. What about a collective action to preserve current biodiversity through building biospheres here, on earth? Is this feasible? Desirable?
(For more information on such projects, you can check out this link about C.E.LS.S.  — Controlled Ecological Life Support System — which came to me via Logan Ray.)
The only possible *out* that remains, it seems to me, is to throw everything we have into designing isolated, partially buried biospheres.193px-Eden_project
By A1personage at en.wikipedia – Own workTransferred from en.wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17254898
I say this because current conditions look like they are going to wipe out almost all plant life. Both on land and in the waters. Through a combination of extremely rapid climate change, chaotic weather, and toxins that are everywhere. Let us not forget the nukes, the radiation.
So how about Biosphere 3?
First, it should not depend on any inputs, and should be sustainable indefinitely. Think about what that means for the structure itself. Any structure. The longest standing human structures are not looking too airtight. Is it conceivable to build airtight domes that could be repaired without materials brought in from outside those domes? In perpetuity? For how long, then?
Second, best to make sure they do not rely on any form of power other than sunlight and muscle, eh? Because you are not going to be growing biofuels in domes. And you are not going to be mining rare earth minerals and bauxite in domes, either.
Biospheres that do not include the use of any electricity or fuels of any kind to maintain are not, to my knowledge a conception in anyone`s mind. except mine as it popped in there this morning.🙂
Biospheres need to cycle nitrogen-oxygen-carbon without any energetic systems or external inputs.
Biospheres must be able to protect their plant and animal inhabitants not only from the extremes of weather, but from radioactive fallout and the toxins we have spread everywhere.
We do not have this technology. No one is working on it.
The last time we gave this a go, the experiment failed horribly – the humans could not get along, locked up and confined, and oxygen had to be imported.
Does glass or plastic exist now that could repel radiation?
And what if solar radiation management (SRM) is tried?  This would create a perpetual grey skies scenario. Should that be planned for?
What then if it isn`t deployed? The light conditions under an SRM regime are very different. clouds-cloudy-field-meadow
CR free image from Pexels
How could this be accounted for? Can we build anything that would bring in the sunlight, protect from radiation and work effectively under an SRM regime *and* without SRM?
Perhaps those folk working on the whole *escape to Mars* scheme are working on something like this. They had better be. But really, what are the chances they are planning as if external inputs and electricity won`t be available? Ever. And fuels won`t be available?
And, of course, such scheming violates utterly everything we know about what Nicole Foss calls *solution space*…In times of contraction – energetically, economically – huge endeavors like this biosphere idea are pure hopium. Governments & financial institutions and corporations juggling to prevent collapse are not in any position to fund such sci-fi ventures.
And almost no one recognizes the true level of risk. Without broad social consensus that NTHE was a very real risk, would anyone undertake such a survival project? And why is Elon Musk trying to get to Mars rather than do this, BTW?
And then there are the ethics.
Let us say a few wildcard governments and gazillionaires threw their weight-cash at this biosphere project…
Let us say they were successful ….
Who gets to go and live there… like a peasant farmer-ecologist-zoo keeper in these biospheres?
Who decides?

And who keeps everyone else out?

1280px-Circle_of_Juan_de_la_Corte_-_The_Burning_of_Jerusalem_by_Nebuchadnezzar’s_Army_-_Google_Art_Project (1)

Horrifying.

Featured Image -- 1822


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The Logical End of Barbarity

Thank you, Kenn Orphan. This needs saying.

Kenn Orphan

It’s true. Donald Trump is a frightening character to watch; and his ties to white nationalism and appeals to mob violence are downright chilling. But he has been successful, unwittingly or not, at one thing: lampooning the sham of the American political establishment. For decades the political landscape has been defined by the condescension of its aristocratic elite. And their apathy at growing income disparity and indifference to the suffering of common people are why he is so popular. But as the elite attempt to distance themselves from him it is worth considering some facts.

In the case of Donald Trump, his rise is anything but shocking for those who have kept a keen eye on the trajectory of the collective psyche of the American elite.  He is the atrocious id to their inflated ego.  He has emerged from an ideology of exceptionalism that is firmly rooted in a narcissistic…

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Chaplin: Reboot

Charlie Chaplin`s speech, from The Great Dictator. Set to music so wonderfully by melodysheep, here.

From his perspective a lot seemed possible. Some of it has come or is coming to pass. The dictators died. Mussolini at the hands of his own people. Hitler, at his own hand. And new dictators have arisen, continue to arise. But that, along with the civilizations that spawned dictatorship, is coming to an end.

Dictator_charlie3

I got to thinking: How would I amend his speech, for our time?
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. (I would add women, and the transgendered. Because we live in times in which cis genderism and heterosexism are issues, excuses for hate and hateful speech, I would add the gay, the straight, the lesbian and the queer. Because we live in an age in which hate is most often and notably and with deadly force fomented against Muslims, I would definitely include them…and add people of all faiths,  and those of none.) We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. (I would say we must struggle to make room for everyone because the good earth has been stripped and mined and She is no longer rich. We have impoverished Her. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. She once was rich; She once could provide for everyone, every animal, plant, every micro-organism, every fungus. Can we make Her so again? What greater or more noble task could we set for ourselves in this time of mass extinction and catastrophic climate disruption?) The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. (Yes, and and almost certainly we have doomed our own species along with so many others. Can we not dedicate our last years, our final labours to creating peaceful abundance, rather than adding to the paroxysms of destruction and hate?)

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. (…and indeed, so has it come to pass. Not enough feeling and kindness, not enough courage for that path … but so long as we draw breath, we can behave otherwise.)

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. (Some of us, those with access to these trinkets. More so the internet. And these technologies have been used against us to convince us we are unworthy, ugly, smelly, too old, too fat, and that we can have happiness through consumption of all manner of useless, designed to be discarded products. They have divides us from our happiness and satisfaction and from one another and from all that lives, every bit as much, likely more than they have brought us together. And the aeroplane has brought death to millions, and is choking the skies, a leading factor in altering our once stable climate. For what? To move products more quickly. To move us more quickly. So the few can indulge in foreign travel, while we all pay the price. So that few can photograph themselves in exotic locations before the world goes to dust?) The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all. (Apparently he was just grossly wrong about that.) Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women, and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. (Which continues and seems to have gotten worse. Torture has been normalized.)

To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. (Charlie could still believe industrial machinery and human progress were compatible. Some still believe this. Strange, isn`t it?) The hate of men will pass, (Yes, with the last of us, certainly, perhaps, if we are courageous and really lucky, and we work on it, before then.) and dictators die, (They did. They do. They will, again.) and the power they took from the people will return to the people. (This is almost a sure thing. With declining energy, declining productivity and declining ability to project power. One small blessing amidst the wreckage of collapse.) And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. ….. (Nice idea. But liberty requires deep cooperation and the willingness to cede some decision-making power to a collective of individuals who respect one another`s liberty. This has become a rarity.)

Soldiers! (People!) don’t give yourselves to brutes (the industrial death machine)– men who despise you (a system threatening your death and the death of all that lives) – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! (Thanks to Edward Bernays.) Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, (Who, quite frankly, ought not to be “treated like cattle“ either!) use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men (this truly omnicidal system)(which will make of you) machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! (Really this kind of speciesism is not called for! cattle are lovely.) You are men (people, even)! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! (Well, this is just patently untrue. people can get carried away with anger and blame and fall into hatred. We all can. We all must guard from it. It is always illogical and counter-productive. And it makes us prone to manipulation by demagogues.) Soldiers! (People!) Don’t fight for slavery (servitude is more appropriate)! Fight for liberty! (One thing the 20th century conclusively proved to me was that fighting for freedom and equality with guns, knives, or fists is just not possible. Not, certainly, in the mass movement, violent overthrow of the state sense, in any case. The state is always a problem, no matter who heads it. Unrepentant, repeat, bullies, however,  can and must be turfed out of communities that seek to be egalitarian and respectful. If necessary, by force.)

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! (I actually think this kind of spiritual claim can be backed up by science. Whatever created the universe, whatever force, however we care to personify it – or not – is certainly in every one, in every thing, living or not.) You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. (Yeah, but let`s stop doing that, eh? Most of them have added to the problem.) The power to create happiness! (Yes, the power to love, to feel joy, appreciation, friendship, to nourish life, enrich soils, plant trees, protect diverse species, move water across the landscape slowly, so it has time to sink in and recharge shallow aquifers… We can do lots of things to aid life while feeding ourselves and our families and communities … and to simply enjoy being alive. The power to design pleasant, abundant, restorative systems for living. The power to make art and music and really cool solar dehydrators. The power to think and act and speak with compassion, with wisdom. There is still time and opportunity for all of that and more.) You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. (Yup! Life is a wonderful adventure, when you have relearned how to notice.)

mossy trees SSP

Then – in the name of democracy (fuck democracy-in the name of All Life)- let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to (choose meaningful) work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. (Well, I am not sure giving youth too much of a future remains possible. But, at least in the short term, we can care for one another and do what we can to make life more possible for all life on earth.) By the promise of these things, brutes (not to mention the well-intentioned bunglers) have risen to power. But they lie! (Often to themselves, as well.) They do not fulfil that promise. They never will! (As true now as then…and good people have risen to power on such empty promises, too. And failed to deliver. Most political promises are simply un-keepable or else you wouldn`t want them kept!)

Dictators free themselves (Really, I am not sure about this. They certainly do seem desperate to hold onto power once they get it…they do seem to get pretty miserable and paranoid though the longer it lasts.)  but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers (A VERY good idea, especially with 60 million humans on the move and more expected every year.)– to do away with greed, (Yeah, who needs it. A trail of broken promises that money was going to make us happy. An excess of leisure seems to make most people rather miserable and lost and sometimes nasty, too.) with hate and intolerance. (Actually, I am a big fan of embracing radical respect, which is the step beyond mere *tolerance* of differences. Bullying and abuse, cruelty and scapegoating, however, do not deserve tolerance.) Let us fight for a world of reason, (Now why does he go for the old *reason* bugaboo…when he was earlier telling us to get in touch with our feelings? The enlightenment, the great Age of Reason led us precisely to the edge of extinction. Calm contemplation and logic have their place, but only when reason is used consciously with deep emotional introspection and compassion is valued highly.)  a world where science (See comment on Age of Reason directly above. Sad, is it not, how the scientific method became a corrupt religion?) and progress (Yeah. In the early 20th century a lot got hitched to the *progress* narrative, didn`t it? And we haven`t quite worked ourselves out of that tangle, yet.) will lead to all men’s (people`s) happiness . Soldiers! (People!) in the name of democracy, (Democracy was a false promise, never kept, unkeepable in current conditions. How about in the name of All Life, instead?) let us all unite!