3. ECOLOGY: CLUB OF ROME, JAMES LOVELOCK, CLIMATE DANGER, COP26
When you first started to study ecology, there was not the same widespread interest in that subject as there is today. Can you comment further on the subject as a whole? Do you agree with theories of James Lovelock? How do you view current climate hazards? COP26 (November 2021) was widely advertised as the last chance to avert climate disaster. So what is your view on that high profile event?
I did not fully grasp the importance of ecology until 1980. I had formerly heard of this subject, without comprehending many details. I did not achieve any intensive study until 1981, when I gained access to the shelves of Cambridge University Library (CUL), where I found material relating to the Club of Rome. That grouping was founded in 1968 by an eminent British scientist and an Italian industrialist, namely Dr. Alexander King (1909-2007) and Aurelio Peccei (1908-1984). Dr. King had the repute of an international civil servant. These two very notable collaborators grasped that if certain crucial matters continued to be ignored by governments, then the global situation would deteriorate markedly in the not too distant future. They have been proven decisively correct.
Peccei is noted for stating: “If the Club of Rome has any merit, it is that of having been the first to rebel against the suicidal ignorance of the human condition.” The Club started as an informal gathering in Peccei’s home. They developed the leitmotif “limits to growth,” assimilating cues associated with a project undertaken by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The pioneering ecological themes which then evolved were: population increase, agricultural production, non-renewable resource depletion, industrial output, and pollution.
A controversial book resulted, being commissioned by the Club of Rome. The Limits to Growth (1972) gained widespread acclaim, also strong resistance from both academics and governments. The Club of Rome subsequently amplified their pioneering probe. During the 1970s, King and Peccei were very active in the ecological cause. King contributed summaries and books like The State of the Planet, while Peccei became a futurologist in One Hundred Pages for the Future (1981). However, governments failed to act upon the Club’s message, instead preferring to elevate contrasting priorities such as industrial growth.
l to r: Alexander King, Aurelio Peccei
The Club was run on independent lines, with no employees or livelihood factors. Peccei was the President, insisting that the Club should not handle money. He and King travelled continually to meet heads of state in almost every country on the globe. Politicians listened to the ecological pleading, while knowing that their own positions were at risk if they commenced the measures necessary for rectification. Some argued that the public would resist the transition; unpopular measures could not be imposed in democracies.
More than most other ecologists, King and Peccei knew by 1980 that time was seriously running out. The opposition and prevalent lethargy were too great. They were aware that if this situation persisted for much longer, the consequences would be out of control. That was many years ago.
The death of Peccei was a further setback. King took over leadership for a few years until 1990, and later resigned from the Club during 1999, in the face of new internal bureaucratic measures. These included the Paris secretariat being abolished against his advice. The Club headquarters were newly accommodated in the UNESCO branch at Paris. Dr. King complained at these developments. Some felt that the originating inspiration of the Club had ceased. The momentum was being sidelined. The significant autobiography of Alexander King is Let the Cat Turn Round: One Man’s Traverse of the Twentieth Century (2006).
I was keen to incorporate some pages on the Club of Rome in my first book Psychology in Science (1983). At that time, many people did not understand the extent of the ecological data. They ignored the problems incurred by technology. Some people dismissed ecology as a marginal factor, or as an exaggerated topic. The Club of Rome were predicting the melting of the polar ice masses (Shepherd 1983:153), for instance. This sounded incredibly far-fetched to a society reared upon complacent affluence and “increased standards of living,” a phrase that I came to dislike. Twenty years elapsed before global warming came to be recognised as a fact of life. Popular science columnists in Britain were disputing the validity of global warming until the last minute (in the second decade of the twenty-first century). Even afterwards, many commentators minimised the topic and the dangers, with some even querying the reliability of scientific climate change data. Denialists were insidiously influential.
In reality, the problem had set in far too strongly to eradicate. Some members of the scientific establishment adversely influenced the politicians. Too many scientists ignored the danger, sharing in the affluent complacency. "Science" is a word of ambivalent meaning; it can, for instance, merely designate well paid technicians who create lethal weapons of destruction. However, in a more specific area of expertise, many climate scientists have convincingly argued for global warming in the face of denialism. The situation in America was practically unbelievable; political evasionism proved extreme. The Club of Rome became demonised by conservative factions in America. See further my Pointed Observations (2005), chapters 38 and 39, for the Club of Rome and related matters. See also Climate Change Complexities.
A relatively small rectification occurred via the refrigerator issue, highlighted in relation to the ozone layer. Some sanity prevailed in the Montreal Protocol, which confronted ozone issues. The international treaty of 1987 banned the use of chemicals such as CFCs (chlorinated fluorocarbons), released by refrigerators and aerosols. People at last knew that their fridges were a danger to the atmosphere, a theme which only a short while before had been regarded as “loony,” to use a common epithet.
Another problem then started. The confused public were now led to believe, by politicians and entrepreneurs, that all drawbacks would be solved by wonderful scientific adaptations to refrigerators and aerosols. Ozone-friendly chemicals had now become a saviour (the damaged ozone will not recover for many years). Factories, motor cars, and aeroplanes were just some of the reasons why no common solution was afforded to a growing complex of very serious problems. These drawbacks were still being swept under the carpet by defensive oil companies and other lucrative agencies.
The problems involved in climate change worsened continually. A fatal blow to potential curb was the refusal of America to comply with crucially necessary reductions in carbon dioxide emission. That ominous event occurred many years ago. The situation of this planet is now staggeringly precarious. Coal, gas, and oil are all big ecological headaches. The oceans are poisoned. The Arctic became dangerously warm. Ice sheets continue to melt in the Antarctic, yet affluent standards of living breed multiple examples of the proverbial ostrich with his head in the sand. Some human polluters may suffer environmental decapitation.
West Greenland glaciers melting in 2019, a record year for ice loss. Courtesy CNN
Torrents of meltwater cascaded in summertime from the glaciers of Greenland. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) caused much consternation in their research view of global warming (see Michael Mann and Lee Kump, Dire Predictions, 2008). Warming denialists jibed at the disclosures. The IPCC nevertheless made a conservative assessment of ice melt. Many scientists have continued the exercise of understatement. The melt process at Greenland is now very formidable, the terrain losing vast quantities of ice, alarming researchers.
Confusion has for long existed about what to expect. An IPCC report in 2007 predicted a maximum of 60 cm, or two feet, in the rise of sea level by 2100. Whereas other commentators spoke in terms of two metres. Even a 60 cm rise in worldwide sea level will amount to a catastrophe for many coastlines.
How Deep is Catastrophe?
Some commentators calculated that the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica may take more than a century (or centuries) to melt completely. The change in sea level will eventually be dramatic, even raising the oceans by fifty metres (David Archer, The Long Thaw: How Humans are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate, Princeton University Press, 2009). Much depends upon the increasing temperature. The increase in heat and sea level will not conveniently cease if fossil fuels are discarded. The Archer format spells out: "Carbon dioxide emitted today will be a problem for millenia."
The initial IPCC forecast of 0.6 metres in sea level rise included the effect of thermal expansion and the water from melting mountain glaciers in places like Alaska. This well known conservative contraction did not include the melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets (Archer 2009:7-8).
"The IPCC business-as-usual forecast for 3 degrees Celsius would translate to 20-50 metres of sea level rise" (Archer 2009:9). The global warming average temperature was then 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial level (now 1.2 or more, with a nasty possibility of reaching 1.5 in the next few years). The average temperature can be misleading, in that some regions have already exceeded 1.5. If that temperature goes out of control, severe repercussions could ensue. The statistic of 1.5C should be considered deadly, not just a news flash between major diversions on television screens. For instance, 1.5C could dramatically increase the number of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic and assist heavy flood waters. At the current rate of global warming, 2.0C is far too close, not a distant prospect.
America is the second major contributor to climate change. According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), by 2100, global mean sea level is likely to rise by at least a foot above the level of year 2000, even if greenhouse gas emissions are relatively low. Whereas the highest emissions charted could precipitate a rise in sea level to eight feet above the 2000 reading (Global Sea Level). This American source warns that almost 40 percent of the national population are concentrated in coastal regions.
In relation to sea level rise, the IPCC eventually gave a figure of 3.6 feet or 1.1 metre by 2100. In contrast, the Niels Bohr Institute (University of Copenhagen) has revised that figure in terms of 1.35 metres in a worst case heating scenario (Transient Sensitivity of Sea Level, Ocean Science, Feb. 2021).
The Greenland ice sheet is now melting very fast, a media report in 2021 emphasising that the daily loss is now measured in terms of billions of tons. The amount of vanishing ice, on a single day in July 2021, was assessed in terms of being enough to cover the whole of Florida in two inches (5 cm) of water.
1.5C Hazard is Imminent
According to the World Meteorological Association update in 2021, "the chance of reaching 1.5C has roughly doubled compared to last year's predictions." Chance could too easily become a definite fact. The danger increase is facilitated by political lethargy on a global scale. Optimists still say that the worst can be averted. In contrast, one may easily interpret the situation in terms of: too late to stop the damage. The politicians certainly had many years to make neglected adjustments sufficient to save a vast number of lives.
Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica is the size of Florida, and might fully collapse in a few decades
The Greenland ice melt increased in the 1990s. Greenland contains about eight per cent of all ice on the planet. Ice is more than a mile thick in some areas of Greenland. The same online source states: "If the entire Greenland ice sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by 20 feet." Other factors are also relevant. Since 1992, Antarctica has lost nearly three trillion tonnes of ice. This statistic is now outdated (and means nothing to many politicians and denialists; even if uprated to 33 or 133 trillion, such a drawback would not compete with preferred agendas such as oil and aviation). Almost half of this substantial loss has occurred in recent years. The IMBIE project has assessed Antarctic ice sheet mass balance. Sea level rise is currently measured in millimetres; this is nevertheless a matter for concern, the increase being sufficiently substantial. The anticipated boost from further ice melt could trigger without warning.
Predictions affirm that all low-lying coastal cities will become uninhabitable, unless the process of warming is arrested (a facesaver which cannot now realistically occur at a more than fractional degree). This means New York, London, Tokyo, Kolkata, and other metropolitan sites.
In May 2021, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research relayed that a significant portion of the Greenland ice sheet is on the brink of melting, threatening a rise in global sea level of one to two metres. The time span for this development is uncertain, and variously estimated. A warning is given that the Greenland ice sheet might already be at the "tipping point." If that dire threshold is reached, then accelerated melting will be inevitable even if global heating were to cease. According to climate expert Niklas Boers: "The current and near future ice loss will be largely irreversible" (Greenland Ice Sheet on the Brink).
Another huge potential problem, likewise charted in technical format by the Potsdam Institute, is Gulf Stream collapse. This is a further "tipping point" scenario. The dateline is currently impossible to forecast, whether in terms of a decade or centuries. The consequences would be colossal disaster, for instance, disrupting rainfall in India, South America, and West Africa.
The tangible and tragic phenomenon of warming oceans, blighted by acidity, is relegated by convenient distractions in political lore. Some governments resort to a facesaver of planting trees in their unduly simplified confrontation with climate. A UN bulletin of 2021 states that oceans have absorbed about 90 percent of the heat generated by rising greenhouse gas emissions, while also assimilating 30 percent of carbon emissions. This punishment by poison has caused ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation, and sea level rise, entailing severe impacts for the ocean and coastal life.
A higher rate of warming occurs in the Arctic than over the globe as a whole. The surviving Arctic ice is "thinner and more fragile" than formerly. In 1985, old thick ice comprised a third of the Arctic Ocean ice pack at winter maximum. In 2020, the old ice had almost vanished, providing only a 5 percent statistic (Arctic Sea Ice).
The Arctic zone is out of control. "In Arctic regions, tipping points may already have been reached such that adaptive practices can no longer work" (Urgent Climate Action Needed to Safeguard Oceans, 2021). Industrial greed and political connivance have made the Arctic a warm air danger zone creating climate influences still not fully understood.
The first instalment of a renewed IPCC report (Aug. 2021) warns that 1.5C could occur by the early 2030s. Some consequences of climate change are already becoming irreversible. The report is basically cautious or moderated, according to some rigorous analysts; severe consequences are seldom described in depth. The IPCC impart an optimistic message that rising sea levels can still be modified by extensive reduction of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide). Flooding in some areas will otherwise be very serious by 2030, including London. About 40 percent of the global population live in coastal regions.
Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion - such as continued sea level rise - are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.... Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5C or even 2C will be beyond reach. (Climate change widespread, rapid, and intensifying)
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue at an alarming rate. The largest zone of danger emissions is China, followed by America, the European Union, India, Russia, and Japan. The precise negative rating of many adverse countries varies in fatality charts. They are all agents of severe climate damage.
James Lovelock and Gaia Theory
To ascertain the ecological problem is one thing, but to make firm chronological predictions about future events is quite another. Some ecologists query views expressed by Dr. James Lovelock, an independent British scientist who became known on the media as a "climate science maverick."
A chemist by training, Lovelock was the first to detect the widespread presence of CFCs in the atmosphere. He also created the Gaia hypothesis, viewing the planet in terms of a living and self-regulating organism whose balance has been disturbed by carbon dioxide emissions. See Lovelock, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (1979); Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia (2006). The hypothesis was not accepted by all the scientific community. The factor of global warming was for long repudiated and modified on the media to suit pedestrian tastes.
An agnostic, Lovelock was in some friction with contemporary greens; he maintained that the desired sustainable development is contradicted by population growth (A man for all seasons). According to official forecasting, the global population is expected to reach ten billion by 2055, including a strong Asian component. Lovelock affirmed that the current population of the planet (now over seven billion) is too big to sustain equably. He stated that a billion is the sustainable number. This verdict decodes to the level of global population in 1804. The statistic doubled by 1927.
This issue can evoke strong reactions, also generalising perspectives. Rising population statistics are "widely used as a blanket explanation of environmental breakdown" (George Monbiot, Population Panic, 2020). In some Western versions, a depreciatory tone is applied to Asiatic and African populations. An earlier instance of distortion was achieved by Sir Winston Churchill, who "blamed the Bengal famine of 1943, that he helped to cause through the mass import of India's rice, on the Indians 'breeding like rabbits' " (Monbiot 2020, linked above).
Westerners are very accustomed to the use of technology, including aviation. A point has been made that customers of British Airways "produce more greenhouse gas emissions on one flight than many of the world's people generate in a year" (ibid). Aeroplanes are poisonous emitters. "Even short-haul flights produce huge amounts of CO2" (Niko Kommenda, Emitting Carbon Dioxide, 2019). Statistics relating to air flight are relevant to climate change. Air travel has increased 300 percent since 1990. During 2019, almost 40 million flights were in occurrence worldwide. According to The Guardian analysis of 2019, aeroplane emissions could triple during the next thirty years (last article linked). Vast numbers of Asians and Africans never board an aeroplane, not having the money to do so.
The provocative predictions of James Lovelock were reported on the media. For instance, “by 2040, China will be uninhabitable” (Sarah Sands, “We’re All Doomed!,” Daily Mail, March 22nd 2008, p. 43 col. 1). That is a very strong statement; other ecologists were far more cautious. There are numerous complexities in train. If unchecked, the situation in China will surely become critical. The affliction and disappearance of plant life is certainly a pressing issue; the intensive industrial activity of the Chinese remains a matter of international concern. Lovelock nevertheless expressed the eccentric argument that global warming could get even worse if Chinese industry weakens, as a consequence of removing the side-effect dust and haze which screens out heat. China (or parts of China) will probably still be habitable in 2040; however, ecological pressures will prove daunting in relation to carbon emissions, flooding, and a substantial population.
The theories of Lovelock about ethnic migration did not meet with universal agreement. He became notorious for predicting that the Chinese will migrate to Africa, while Americans will move to Canada. We need not doubt that there will be some very climatically harassed regions in North America; recent hurricanes (in 2018) caused havoc on the East Coast, astounding many inhabitants by the ferocity of winds over 150 miles per hour. Televised interviews with inhabitants of the danger zone did not mention climate change. Too late to stop more cyclones. Fifty years of serious environmental warning could not even gain a single sentence of acknowledgment in the local Florida conversation influenced by politicians and denialists.
The controversial dateline of 2040 is attended, in the Lovelock presentation, by a culling of the global population through floods, drought, and famine. This version of natural selection is very grim in certain dimensions of the argument. We are told that flooding will wipe out entire countries. There will be almost no food grown in Europe, says Lovelock, while Saharan desert areas will encroach onto the European mainland. Paris and Berlin are both in jeopardy from this scenario. The inhabitants of southern Europe are here forecast as migrating in desperation to countries like Canada, Britain, and Australia.
Britain is viewed by Lovelock as having a more favourable position than many other countries. The proposed reason being that soaring temperatures will be offset via cooler water created by cessation of the Gulf Stream. In this projection, Britain will nevertheless be subject to rising sea levels sufficient to harass areas like central London. Parliament will have to move, an exercise that could conceivably make the political outlook more realistic in a metropolis where the government is now intent upon banning protest. In July 2021, London was entirely unprepared for the flash flooding created by climate change. Hundreds of cars were stranded on roads that quickly became rivers.
In 2008, an interview with Lovelock in The Guardian featured the title "Enjoy life while you can." This gained a reputation for scepticism. For instance, Lovelock asserted that carbon offsetting by planting trees was a joke. The claim is here made that 80 percent of humans will perish by the year 2100. By that date, a potential global temperature increase of between two and six degrees Celsius has been forecast by the IPCC (in the absence of due control). Even two degrees (above pre-industrial level) is a serious climatic hazard. Even 1.5 is playing high risk with millions of lives after half a century of wasted opportunity to prevent all hazard.
The hostility of Lovelock to renewable energy is well known. This is because he viewed such commitment as superfluous, being too late to alter the basic ecological situation. Fifty years grace would be needed for these alternatives, he said, and there was no such time in hand. According to Lovelock, wind turbines are effectively useless, such an extensive number of these mechanisms being needed for the purpose envisaged. Even if all fossil fuel burning were to stop immediately, the consequences of that activity to date will last for a thousand years (some experts say much longer). On many points, Lovelock was realistic, but not in all respects. There are holes in his celebrated argument.
In 2004, Lovelock caused a stir when he asserted that only nuclear power can now halt global warming. The professed reason for this adamance is that nuclear power comprises an energy source not causing global warming. Lovelock argues that nuclear waste and radiation are not dangerous; he refers to “the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals or radiation” (Lovelock, “Nuclear power is the only green solution,” The Independent, May 24th 2004). Other environmentalists remain in strong disagreement. Nuclear power is very expensive, using uranium (U-235) or plutonium, which are non-renewable. The dangerous radioactive waste created can be a problem, requiring storage that is controversial. The Conservative government of England have nevertheless opted for an ambitious nuclear programme. The new Hinkley Point C reactor could cost over £23 billion (a Chinese corporation has been a major investor). Even some nuclear advocates have opposed Hinkley Point as an expensive and unproductive distraction (George Monbiot, Power Failure).
Some aspects of Lovelock theory converged with Conservative Party policy in Britain. That dominating contingent resisted Green renewables in 2015, minimising these alternatives with an evident preference for nuclear power (Nine Green policies killed off). Strong doubts attended the subsequent leadership of Boris Johnson, who was not regarded as an environmentalist (Political Parties).
Meanwhile, Lovelock duly stressed that ignorance of the ecological situation was perpetuated by the American political attitude of denying climate change. He emphasised that the highly rated oil reserves will substantially deplete in the not too remote future. The Club of Rome were certainly misrepresented by American oil economists, blocking due perspective on climate change (Shepherd, Pointed Observations, 2005, pp. 313ff).
The Gaia hypothesis became the most popular ecological format in Britain. This was pirated by the "new age" eco-lore of the human potential movement. “Pop ecology” of the 1980s and 90s yoked Gaia to such themes as a spiritual enlightenment, supposedly achieved by commercial therapy centres like Esalen and the Findhorn Foundation. There has been no such era of enlightenment. Instead, extortion and narcissism are demonstrated in the new spirituality sectors.
Critique of Lovelock and Novacene
Eight years after his "Enjoy life while you can" proviso, Lovelock gave another interview to the same journalist. This is very disappointing, being regarded by critics as an eccentric digression. His attitude to climate change had now become flippant. "I'm not sure the whole thing isn't crazy, this climate change." Lovelock now sounded more like a denialist than an ecologist, just another of the affluent spectators. He remained a supporter of nuclear power, to which he now added fracking. "Gas in America is incredibly cheap, because of fracking." Economics are not the best guide to global problems, despite denialist assumptions.
In 2016, Lovelock resorted to superficial chat with a Darwinist accent. Perhaps influenced strongly by science fiction, or more likely technology, he now believed that robots will rule the world by 2100. Lovelock cannot diagnose the situation effectively. He believes that computers will develop independent volition and intuition. The word intuition, like the term holistic, has been hijacked by chat society, now amounting to a meaningless mantra of intellectual poverty. Computers will be capable of evolving, we are told. "We'll have a world where Darwin's working." His confidence in the robotic future is "fairly high."
In an extremist idiom, Lovelock asserts: "Human beings may fuse with robots to become a blend of robotic and human tissue." However, the more likely scenario will be "pure robots." This scenario is supported by an assertion that the robots "won't give a fourpenny f--- about the temperature." Four letter words are very fashionable in contemporary chat, but do not prove science or intuition.
His subsequent book Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence (2019) is a very misleading exercise in techno-fantasy. This diversion envisages a benevolent form of artificial superintelligence as the dominant form of life on our planet. Robots here become the controllers of climate change. In this extremist format, robots act to stop climate change. Lovelock even suggests a role for humans as the pets of robot intelligence. The fact is that computer models cannot even predict the speed of current global overheating, a development which has overtaken Lovelock and many others demonstrating confusion. The entrenched habit of regarding technology as a saviour could prove fatal.
As a citizen philosopher, I reject super-intelligent robots and aborted Gaia. The pets of artificial intelligence and smartphones are already mesmerised by their owners, who are ultimately the high tech billionaires manipulating lifestyles and mindset. The anthropogenic dimensions of global warming are demonstrated by the substantial increase in CO2 emissions. The scale of man-made disaster has not been cognised by those still adding to the damage.
The Arctic and the Enemy
The Arctic is becoming the Atlantic. This drawback, created by an industrial society of manic tendency, has scarcely been assimilated by a large proportion of the human race. To drastically alter the polar temperature is a disaster of the first magnitude. There is far more at stake than the methane hazard of melting permafrost. The consequences are very unpredictable. Instead of taking due measures, countries like Russia, China, Australia, America, Canada, and Korea have been planning more exploitive commercial operations in the Arctic zone, including mining. Crass human intelligence is the underlying enemy of the planet, a complication also rendering artificial intelligence a playground for the vast array of distractions such as trolls, fake news, commercial adverts, violent computer games, and the dark web. Hackers are more successful than many good causes, including climate science, only recently gaining a degree of widespread acknowledgment as distinct from incredulity.
Arctic ice melt is a multi-faceted hazard. Courtesy Getty Images
The Arctic comprises (or did comprise) some nine million square feet of ice, part of this being more than a million years old. The very recent phase, from the Industrial Revolution onwards, has ruined the eco-balance and contributed enormous dangers, some of which are still scarcely recognised by deviant national policies. Industrial byproducts of fossil fuels were introduced into these permafrost zones. Mining for metals like arsenic and mercury has caused huge contamination from waste material across tens of millions of hectares. High concentration pollutants, stored within melting permafrost, could now be released back into the atmosphere. Increased water flow could disperse this danger over a wide area, damaging animals and birds, and entering the human food chain with totally unknown effects.
More than a thousand settlements (including those for mining and military purposes) were created in Arctic permafrost during the past seventy years. The waste they have discharged includes nuclear materials. The big melt could cause the spread of nuclear waste components and undiscovered viruses, plus other chemicals. Between 1955 and 1990, the Soviet Union conducted 130 nuclear weapon tests, both in the atmosphere and in near surface ocean, off the coast of North-West Russia. The radioactive substances caesium and plutonium constitute a potential menace. Another problem was the American activity in Greenland, obsessed with nuclear power research that generated much nuclear and diesel waste left in the accumulating ice, now a potential threat to humanity (Arctic's Unknown Viruses and Nuclear Waste).
Industrial and intensive military activity is accompanied by tunnel vision perspectives that constantly endanger other spheres of life. Any society which indulges in these pursuits is a hazard of unpredictable proportions. The Cold War and other events were forms of madness, contracted by limited psychologies with nothing better to do. Their example and legacy should be shunned as behavioural lunacy. Many governments are afflicted by a psychological disability that is not diagnosed by technological society, which will pay the overwhelming cost of folly.
A recent book has provided relevant detail about the American military drawback in the Pacific. For more than seventy years, the American army has been contaminating the Pacific with toxic substances, including plutonium, dioxin, sarin, and VX nerve agent. The American government have continually denied the damage, while refusing to help large numbers of victims, both servicemen and civilians. The same military project has violated Indigenous rights, seized land, and damaged ecosystems. The Pentagon gains an adverse profile in these disclosures. See Jon Mitchell, Poisoning the Pacific: The US Military's Secret Dumping of Plutonium, Chemical Weapons, and Agent Orange (2020).
The herbicide Agent Orange, containing dioxin, was dropped by American forces on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia during the period 1961-73. Approximately three million victims of this campaign suffered from Agent Orange and similar chemicals used in the American War on Vietnam. Agent Orange also destroyed and poisoned the food supply of many civilian villages. American leaders regarded this measure as "a superb war tactic" (Amiad Horowitz, Toxic Legacy, 2021). As a consequence, at least 150,000 children were born with serious birth defects. In this martial gesture, Agent Orange was sprayed at up to twenty times the concentration recommended by the manufacturers for killing plants. That notorious chemical project "defoliated millions of acres of forest and farmland" (Agent Orange). Today, the Agent Orange operation is viewed as a major war crime. The British military also used the lethal Agent Orange during a 1950s colonial war against Malaysia.
Denialist Madness Fatally Triumphed for Too Long
Ideological "climate wars" became a revealing feature of the contemporary American milieu. Climate scientists were repudiated by an extensive "denialist" faction vested in the oil and energy industries. Denialists opposed the prospect of any governmental regulation of their exploitive activities. Climate science discovered that humans had increased CO2 levels to the point of impending catastrophe. In the opposite camp, commerce opposed restraints, influencing an ignorant media committed to urban excess and trivia (see Michael Mann, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, 2012; Mann, The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, 2016).
I have encountered persons who were completely fooled by the denialist versions. There were (and are) large numbers of casual and complacent followers of denialist doctrines in diverse countries. In this erroneous perspective, humans are not guilty of any ecological backslide. See further Climate Science, Denialism, Politics, Greta Thunberg.
The Trump administration is closely associated with repressive measures against climate science. In this disastrous situation, hurricanes increased via the response of oceans to global warming. A government censorship on climate change was a lunatic feature of the Republican twenty-first century. Far more positive is SR15, meaning the IPCC Special Report dating to October 2018 (now outdated). The title of this important document is Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius. A catastrophic rise to 2 degrees Celsius would eliminate all coral reefs, while producing many other drawbacks. An impending rise to 3 degrees Celsius is now mentioned by the IPCC.
Limiting the effect of average warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (above pre-industrial level) will require rapid and extensive transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. The current rate of average warming is little more than one degree, symptomatic of rising sea levels. For too long, both the public and academe have in general ignored the significance of "even half a degree" in the global context denoted. Doubling one to two is ecological suicide. There is nothing to prevent that excessive prospect.
The Special Report states that global man-made emissions of CO2 will need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030. Furthermore, carbon pollution will need to come down to zero by 2050. Countries with non-compliant agendas render this objective impossible. Both of those deadlines are meaningless in terms of current inaction and incompetence. The plainly evident increased reaction of nature to human abuse is not conducive to last minute reshuffling of wasted cards. Political complications offset basic targets stipulated at the Paris Agreement in 2015. Nations like China, Russia, and Canada are setting the world on course for more than 5 degrees Celsius average warming by the end of the century. America and Australia are accused of being close behind in the creation of high danger 5.0C.
The loaded UN option of twelve years is optimistic. The timeline is afflicted by fifty years of political and social neglect occurring since the Club of Rome supplied due warnings. Refractory nations are creating unlimited catastrophe. The prospect is one of extreme heat, drought, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and poverty for vast numbers. Atlantic hurricanes have increased in strength as the consequence of overheated ocean waters, recently demonstrating an alarming power of disruption. The acute danger subject of earthquakes is still very little understood in general, too often being omitted from the inventory under discussion.
Capable researchers are altering the "controversial" perspective on climate change precipitating earthquakes. The decrease of ice sheets may affect seismic activity and create tsunamis. This matter is potentially crucial to understanding the phenomenon of global warming. Dr. Christian Brandes reveals how earthquakes are quite likely to be influenced by climate change. The same source emphasises that "because many people live in earthquake-prone regions, a huge proportion of the global population is at risk of injury or death." An explicit contribution is Bill McGuire, Waking the Giant (2012). The sub-title of this significant book is: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes. Such themes are a pertinent reminder that climate change is a very formidable (and terrifying) landscape requiring due attention.
One conclusion encountered is: "Sea level rise from climate change is a possible influence on tectonic processes" (I. Kelman, Climate change, earthquakes). There are many uncertainties relating to earthquakes. "Climate-related stress changes might or might not promote an earthquake to occur, but we have no way of knowing by how much" (Alan Buis, Can Climate Affect Earthquakes, 2019). More definitely, two strong earthquakes occurring in the Mojave Desert of California, in 2019, were felt by up to 30 million people in California, Nevada, and Arizona. The remote location minimised impacts. Those vibrant quakes "did serve as a wake-up call for complacent Californians that they live in Earthquake Country and need to prepare for the inevitable 'Big One' that scientists say is sure to come" (NASA, last article linked).
Wrong Lifestyles and Population Growth
A major dimension of the ecological problem is that affluent American and European lifestyles are imitated by the rest of the world. New York style skyscraper cities proliferate in Asia, their industrial equipment including coal-fired power plants. Everywhere, the affluent people wish to drive cars and travel in aeroplanes. The UN estimate for global population, at ten billion by 2055, is no reason to believe that major disasters will be averted. The basic consequences of non-arrested warming are very predictable. An uncertainty is the amount of damage. Even minimal damage will be extensive, too easily out of control sooner than expected.
A formerly fashionable belief emphasised world population growth to level out by 2050 with 7.8 billion. In fact, that number was reached in 2020 at an estimated 7.8 billion (over half of this total being Asian). Thirty years in advance, thus confounding Western demographic reductionists and their reassuring calculation of supposedly all-important economic affluence (at the expense of climate factors). The supply chain would not be seriously depleted, said the optimists, ignoring indications of global heating. Many supply chains could be broken in disruptive climate conditions.
The UN world population estimate for 2030 is 8.6 billion. There are diverse factors to take into account. Population growth, by 2050, "could result in oceans containing more plastic than fish by weight" (World Population). Some commentators emphasise the declining rates of population growth. Unfortunately, this welcome development will not prevent climate change being furthered by the massive and increasing number of humans currently in existence.
Computer Models and Convenient Myths
The years 2014-2021 have provided the hottest continual weather yet known. In Britain, weather experts on television were frequently observed to downplay the association with global warming. Caution can go too far, and look ridiculous in due perspective. July 2021 was the worst summer month on record for wildfires. Climate scientists and meteorologists are now commenting with surprise that the extreme weather of 2021 has substantially exceeded their projections. Their computer models are clearly not adequate. Alarming events have evoked strong conclusions from some analysts that the much feared danger threshold (or tipping point) has arrived. If so, there is no appropriate means to reverse the reaction of nature to anthropogenic climate change.
This is a stark situation, not palatable to evasionists who wish to think that everything can be rectified by 2050, and even by 2030. Such misleading beliefs merely afford diverse governments a convenient breathing space after their long term demonstration of dire incompetence lasting half a century.
Current net zero policies will not keep warming to within 1.5C because they were never intended to. They were and still are driven by a need to protect business as usual, not the climate. (Quote from James Dyke et al, Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap, 2021)
The lore of net zero cannot be taken seriously by a diligent investigator. The very recent public acknowledgement of climate change hazards is confronted by a substantial retrospective need to gain due focus. Politicians will promise anything by 2050, conveniently far in the future.
Russian Setbacks, Turkey, and Europe
In 2020, wildfires burned almost 255,000 square kilometres of Siberian forest, leading to the release of 50 megatons of carbon dioxide in June of that year. Attendant thaws of widespread permafrost caused further damage. The heat exceeded 38C (100F) in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk, located above the Arctic Circle.
Siberian forest fire in Sakha Republic, July 2021. Courtesy Getty Images
The following year of 2021, Siberia was again hit by a heatwave, sparking many forest fires, with thick toxic smoke threatening the city of Yakutsk. In August came the grim message: Siberian wildfires were now bigger than all other wildfires in the world combined.
Moscow was the recipient of a severe heatwave in June 2021, reaching a temperature of 34.8C (94.6F). Several other Russian cities were likewise hit by oppressive heat. Russian Arctic temperatures can now be hotter than the Mediterranean. The Arctic has warmed three times more quickly than the planet as a whole, indeed “faster than previously thought,” to use an expression often found in coverages of such ominous phenomena.
Politicians frequently exploit the planetary damage. The Russian government has been planning to develop numerous fossil fuel projects in the Arctic regions, to increase the production of liquid gas tenfold by 2035. However much damage occurs, politicians and billionaires so frequently act to inflict more harm.
In July 2021, southern Turkey was afflicted by nearly two hundred wildfires, the temperature reaching 49C (120F) at Cizre. The Turkish conflagration was "driven by a southern European heatwave triggered by hot airwaves from Northern Africa, spreading incendiary chaos across the Mediterranean, enveloping Greece and Italy" (Ozer Khalid, Lessons Learnt from Turkey's Forest Fires). There are many who agree with the Turkish reflection: "Climate deniers should hang their heads in shame" (article last linked). Denialists proudly voiced their camouflage doctrine while vast quantities of harmful gas accumulated in the atmosphere as a consequence of human activity.
Wildfire at Kineta, near Athens, July 2018. Courtesy Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty
Greece was the scene of severe wildfires in July 2018. This problem was played down by denialists. According to them, this catastrophe was merely a freak episode of a kind that regularly occurred throughout history. The fires would not occur for another ten or twenty years.
In the summer of 2021, Greece had to contend with 140 wildfires in a heatwave reaching 45C (113F); the terrifying damage extended to Athens. Southern Italy was also badly hit by 800 wildfires, about half of which were possibly caused by malicious persons or reckless farmers in the very dry conditions influenced by climate change. The northern sector of Italy was a scene of heavy rainfall and flooding. Part of Spain was similarly a wildfire zone. Further north, various countries were hit by heavy flooding strongly associated with climate change. The list includes Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Romania. The climate message is that warmer air holds more moisture, a factor which can mean heavier rainfall than the normal.
American Climate Change
In western regions of America and Canada, the heat in summer 2021 proved searing. A severe drought was in process, created by climate change over the past thirty years. In July, over eighty major wildfires raged across American territories, some of these conflagrations being very large. An Oregon inferno (the Bootleg fire) was stated to be the size of Los Angeles or New York. Many homes were destroyed. In Death Valley, California, the heat peaked at 130F (54C). A Canadian zone was also too hot at 120F (49C). Hundreds of deaths from heat occurred in Oregon and Washington. Unhealthy smoke spread to the east coast. The New York Times ran a headline stating: "Much of U.S. to sweat in intense heat under spreading wildfire smoke" (27/07/2021). The wildfires were accompanied by deadly flash floods in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. This dual aspect of climate change has to be reckoned with.
Dixie Fire at Indian Falls, Plumas County, California, July 2021. Courtesy Noah Berger/AP
By early August 2021, nearly a hundred large wildfires were burning across thirteen American states. The severe hazards engaged more than 20,000 firefighters. California was stated to be afflicted by 11 large wildfires, while 21 raged in Utah, and 25 in Montana. The largest fire in California was the Dixie, devastating an area more than twice the size of New York. The casualties included Greenville, a well known town in North California.
Ecologists have been warning for many years of water shortages in the American West. Denialists ignored symptoms of drought; only big profits from pollution counted. The reservoir at Lake Mead is in decline. The Colorado River is in trouble. Drastic cuts in water supplies are now anticipated. The American West will become arid; sources are already saying that inhabitants may be forced by circumstance to move east. Some Americans aptly refer to climate change as "a threat multiplier." For many years, the biggest threat came from those who denied all the dangers, both in America and other countries like Britain. Some British newspapers ignored or denied climate change, an unpopular subject deemed "alarmist." A notable exception was The Guardian, which told the truth in graphic articles.
A London-based thinktank, InfluenceMap, has accused petroleum giants of using Facebook to promote oil and gas as part of the solution to climate crisis. No less than 25 fossil fuel industry organisations are here revealed to have spent at least 9.5 million dollars to insert more than 25,000 adverts on the American platforms of Facebook in 2020. ExxonMobil spent 5 million dollars in this campaign (Chris McGreal, Facebook let fossil fuel industry push climate misinformation, 2021).
As a consequence of technological mismanagement, nearly half of America is now in drought. Seven states are "entirely in drought" according to CNN in August 2021. That means California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, and Utah. Denialists fooled American populations for many years. The denialist hoax is more difficult to exert now that climate change is better known. In August 2021, a major Californian hydroelectric power plant was forced to shut down. The Edward Hyatt Power Plant, at Lake Oroville, was suffering the lowest water levels since opening in 1967.
Water has become increasingly scarce in California. Thieves have stolen "billions of gallons" of water from rivers, fire hydrants, farms, and homes. This crime frequently occurs for the purpose of cultivating "the growth of illegal marijuana crops." More than 12 billion gallons of water are estimated to have been stolen since 2013. Nearly a thousand felony arrests are reported (Thieves in California). Meanwhile, many people are complaining about the relentless heat and explosive wildfires.
In purportedly democratic California, there are racial disparities in access to shade and air conditioning. Californian farm workers die of heat exposure at about twenty times the national rate (No Escape from Desperate Heat). Even in billionaire America, elite inhabitants may have to endure the emerging "hell on earth,” a plight that could have been prevented by politicians averse to ecological priorities hindering the grab stakes.
Deforestation Disaster in Ecuador and Brazil
Ecuador has furthered a high annual deforestation rate, in the Amazon basin and the Choco-Darien. The insane dependence upon fossil fuels demands oil exploitation, the main driver of deforestation in this country. Satellite data now reveals the intensive eco-crime of industrialism and the government of Ecuador. Here pipelines connect over 3,400 oil wells. "The Ecuadorian government is on a reckless crusade to extract the last drops of crude oil out of the Amazon" (Nicolas Mainville, Deforestation of the Ecuadorian Amazon). These operations have encroached upon territories of Indigenous peoples like the Waorani, who provide the only buffer against retarded urban greed that destroys nature and pollutes the world. The worst pestilential flea in the universe is industrial man, who is guillty of global murder and multi-species affliction.
Another severe example of misconduct is the Brazilian attitude to the Amazon Rainforest. A racist government pursuing relentless colonisation of the Amazon is a major symptom of human retrogression. The scrupulous Brazilian official who duly monitored deforestation was removed by the forest-killer Jair Bolsonaro. That official warned: “If the Amazon is destroyed, it will be impossible to control global warming.” The Amazon is now a scenario of logging yards, cattle ranches, and soya farms. More heat and drought will be a consequence of greed. “If things continue as they are now, the Amazon might not exist at all within a few generations, with dire consequences for all life on earth” (Matt Sandy, The Amazon Rainforest is Nearly Gone). Because of forest fires, the blighted Rainforest now emits more CO2 than is absorbed.
Bolsonaro is also a Covid-killer, being accused of the deaths of hundreds of thousands, as a consequence of his undeclared policy of "herd immunity," reflected in the lack of public health measures in Brazil. The national figure of 600,000 Covid deaths is very high. Bolsonaro is now denigrated by many in Brazil as a mass murderer, spreading disinformation. In a more extensive compass, global eco-death means nothing to the deficient governments of Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela, and French Guiana. A longstanding social discrimination in these countries is based on class, ethnicity, and gender. This is the legacy of conquistadore predators from Europe, the originating causal zone creating global affliction. The European scenario of vicious monarchies and manic religious wars is testimony to a Christian backslide into savagery.
Nemonte Nenquimo. Courtesy Jeronimo Zuniga, Amazon Frontlines
The Waorani leader Nemonte Nenquimo won a legal victory in 2019 against the overbearing government of Ecuador, which planned to put Waorani ancestral land up for sale. Nenquimo and her Kofan associate Alexandra Narvaez, published an Indigenous reminder of oppression and the Spanish Requirement of 1513:
Over five hundred years ago, the conquistadores invaded Indigenous territories throughout the Americas on their horses, carrying swords, rifles, and a document - they called it the "Requirement." They read this document to us in Spanish - a language that Indigenous peoples did not understand. The document essentially said: "From now on, let it be known that we are your owners. If you submit to this, then you can live in peace with us, and if not, we are going to wage war against you." It was a violent document. But that ink on paper satisfued the formalist and bureaucratic needs of the conquerors and in turn, justified the cruel history of conquest that our world knows only too well. (Our Territories, Our Decision, 2021)
The Spanish Requirement was an innovation of the Spanish monarchy via the Kingdom of Castile. This imperialist declaration assumed a divinely ordained right to possession of New World territories. This hideous document was composed to justify oppression of Indigenous peoples by imperialist profiteers. Roman Catholic theology was employed to justify conquest and enslavement by cruel and thieving opportunists who resorted to mass genocides and atrocities.
Today, Indigenous nations of the Amazon countries need help in fighting extractive and invasive industrialism of the European colonialist legacy. Criminal governments should be held to account, even in a world full of criminal politicians with insular agendas. Oil fields and illegal settlers in the Amazon are proof of the industrialist tendency to genocide, assisted by Christian missionaries gaining support for their bloodstained coffers ongoing since the time of the diabolical Inquisition. Wealthy American Evangelicals are now gaining ground over Roman Catholics in some regions. The male Evangelicals have emphasised a Biblical gender disparity, meaning that women are supposedly second to men. Indigenous women of the Amazon compare well with dogmatic voices of American men (see also Message from Indigenous Women of the Ecuadorian Amazon, 2019).
Environmental defenders in the Brazilian Amazon are being molested and killed by violent ranchers and loggers who are destroying the planet. These contingents attack Indigenous people whose land rights are abused by the Bolsonaro regime. This is a situation of wealthy ranchers versus poor subsistence farmers. The aggressors burn homes, beat and injure occupants, hospitalising victims. They tie up weak elderly people and leave them helplessly on dangerous anthills. Any responsible government would jail the aggressors. The UN political farce called COP should be replaced by an international relief force despatched to the Amazon in pursuit of justice.
Bolsonaro is the son of a garimpeiro, a term signifying illegal gold miner. Those miners in the Amazon are currently very violent, issuing death threats to Amazon natives and carrying automatic weapons that are used against victims. The miners pollute rivers with mercury. They bring alcohol, drugs, and disease. The fact that COP26 could welcome a deceitful delegation from this quarter, rendering Bolsonaro a signatory, is indication of substantial UN errors.
Industrialism in South America has substantially contributed to lethal global climate change. When the politically indoctrinated urban and rural victims eventually perceive what is actually happening, they will want to trash evil governments into the poisoned chemical mud. That outcome will be too late to save their own children, and perhaps even themselves. Hardcore analysts of climate change predict that Brazil (like India and Ethiopia) will suffer a high death rate from intense heatwaves and deforestation, a bonus of tragedy furthered by the Bolsonaro regime.
Chinese Climate Problems
The largest market for Brazilian hazard produce is China. Ecology problems in China have long been profiled in terms of air pollution, water pollution, water shortage, desertification, and soil pollution. Sixteen of the world’s most polluted cities are in China. Thousands of factories have churned toxic waste into rivers and lakes. Much of the energy in that country still comes from coal. China surpassed America as the top carbon emitter in 2005. By 2018, this nation could boast 240 million motor vehicles, a massive rise on the earlier total. The suppression of Muslim Uighurs and Buddhist Tibetans is not mentioned in the political cosmetic exercise of Communism. Chinese torture prisons are nevertheless notorious.
China contributes more than a quarter of the global menace of carbon emissions. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is infamous for the financing of coal plants in other countries. “BRI remains dominated by fossil fuels” (J. Hillman and A. Tippett, Climate Challenge and China’s Belt and Road Initiative, 2021).
Many millions of Chinese live on coastal land that could be underwater by the end of this century, if the global warming temperature exceeds 2.0C. That threshold will easily be surpassed. Some analysts say that submergence will occur much more quickly in view of fast rising temperatures. The danger of intensive inland flooding is also acute. Entire towns have been destroyed in South China by heavy rainfall and flooding. "Every year, natural disasters kill hundreds of people and destroy millions of acres of crops. As temperatures rise, China's glaciers will continue to melt at an alarming rate" (Lindsay Maizland, China’s Fight against Climate Change). There are 2,684 glaciers in the Qilian mountains on the north-east edge of the Tibetan plateau. The icemelt here does not merely create flooding, but also the prospect of long term water shortages (China's Glaciers in Retreat).
Flood at Zhengzhou, China, July 20th, 2021. Courtesy UN Climate Change Twitter feed
In 2020, extensive flooding on the Yangtze River caused the displacement of two million people in cities and towns. The Yangtze is the longest river in China, flowing through Wuhan and Nanjing before reaching Shanghai. In the Yangtze basin is the massive Three Gorges Dam, which critics say is under considerable pressure to cope with severe weather events (failure would be a substantial disaster). In July 2021, severe rainfall caused heavy flooding in the Henan province of Central China. A summer typhoon created in three days what amounted to a year's rainfall. At the city of Zhengzhou, on the Yellow River (Huang He), over 200 mm (20 cm) of rain fell in a single hour. Over 25 inches of torrential rain fell in 24 hours, leaving 33 people dead. About 200,000 people were evacuated. More than a dozen cities were affected.
Some analysts urge that the North China Plain will become a zone for deadly heatwaves. That region is densely populated with about 400 million people. The congested Plain is crucial for food production. Beijing is on the fringe of this zone, and will not escape the dire consequences of atmospheric pollution.
In July 2021, China and India both missed a UN deadline to submit fresh plans for cutting emissions (China and India miss UN Deadline). That means the first and third countries on the danger list of global emitters. Over eighty other countries also failed the deadline, including Saudi Arabia, Syria, and South Africa. Only 58 percent of countries met the deadline. The failures reveal an absence of alacrity to comply with well known requirements. In 2020, China declared a target of achieving carbon neutrality before 2060. That protocol involved the factor of Chinese carbon emissions peaking before 2030. Critics point to the hopeless nature of any short term global resolution, a matter aggravated by the rapidly growing climate crisis extending to wildfires and heavy floods. Some citizen critics (myself included) do not believe there will be any long term resolution either, because that represents a contradiction in possibility within the sphere of more immediate calamity.
Coastal cities like Shanghai face the danger of submergence. "By 2050 at least 570 cities and some 800 million people will be exposed to rising seas and storm surges" (Robert Muggah, Preparing for Sea Level Rise, 2019). This relevant report is already outdated. Some say that we are discussing a dateline of 2040 in this context. A number of Eastern cities are actually sinking because the residents have extracted too much groundwater, a serious problem in both India and China. Sinking cities are even more prone to incoming sea waters. Subsidence is also caused by oil and gas extraction, likewise by sand mining. During the twentieth century, parts of New Orleans, Jakarta, Shanghai, and Bangkok sank between six and ten feet (Sinking Land and Rising Seas).
Submergence dangers are far more widespread than China and the Orient. For instance, the East coast of America is vulnerable. The most topical subject in this respect is Thwaites Glacier, an Antarctic giant exhibiting deep seafloor channels providing access for the infiltration of water warmed by industrial activity. Those channels are “much bigger than formerly thought,” up to 600 metres deep and alarmingly wide. About the size of Britain, Thwaites is probably now losing about 80 billion tonnes of ice yearly. If that glacier collapses, then 65 cm (25 inches) could be added to the rise in sea level. The time scale is unknown, but could easily transpire to be “faster than previously thought.”
Computer models cannot be relied upon to predict speed or extent of global heating and attendant consequences. Many politicians slumber hopelessly in dreams of national progress and economic acquisition. In relation to global heating, the realistic implication is: too late now for urgent long term strategies rejected and ignored for so many years. The increasing heat can depopulate heedless nations misled by ruses of soporific leaders and denialists of anthropogenic climate change (denialists are now often facilely presenting themselves as climate renovators). The subject of "tipping points" is still frequently unwelcome. The basic thrust of global heating is currently at the long feared "runaway" stage defying computer models and optimistic assessment. A "shock events" threshold is now operative. A predatory technological society has severely damaged the planet.
The failed COP26 cannot change the deadly 50 Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) affliction plainly visible in some countries, which may too soon become uninhabitable. Various oil-producing and oil-consuming nations are cutting their own throats. At the compromised COP26 (venue Glasgow; date November 2021), the official status Brazil delegation generated an eco-friendly image, even while the vital Amazon rainforest is being ruthlessly destroyed by denialist Jair Bolsonaro and his Brazilian government. The near-term and long-term consequences of denialism and rapacious greed will be shattering, defying all current description and COP rhetoric.
Shortly prior to this climate summit, in October 2021 news emerged concerning a leak of documents. This discovery revealed that some countries (plus organisations and companies) were requesting the UN to play down the need for a speedy termination of fossil fuel usage. These reactionaries were plying thousands of suggestions and objections, trying to rewrite the science of climate mediated by the UN. The agitating countries included Australia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Argentina, Norway, Iran, India, and Japan. Some countries like Australia have a primary interest in coal production, while Brazil and Argentina sustain strong investments in beef and animal feed (Climate Lobbying). There was an ambitious reliance upon the unproven technology of carbon capture (and direct air capture), an innovation diagnosed by some critics in terms of fantasy at all costs.
COP26 became noted for a pledge to reduce methane emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2020 levels. However, a major drawback is that the labouring commitment was not shared by substantial polluters like Russia, India, Australia, and Turkey. COP26 proceedings were accompanied by the ludicrous carbon offset scheme, a criminal excuse for pollution, assisted by the UN. Fossil fuel giants, still exerting their reign of global damage, are easily able to utilise the offset loophole as a means to further environmental degradation. The affluent COP26 exercise in mitigation has little substance for ecology, because political commitment is fractional. The UN is dominated by rich nations of insular tendency. Industrial money counts most in a wealthy global society addicted to ecological suicide. The reductionist methane tactic will not be sufficient for redress even if acted upon (which is very doubtful). Oil and gas production are growing worldwide, not diminishing.
The leisurely politicians at COP26 also pledged to halt deforestation by 2030, an option favoured by the absentee denialist Jair Bolsonaro. Greenpeace were very critical of the careless loopholes thereby provided for the Brazilian forestkiller. COP26 accordingly signifies the end of life-giving forests and increase in severe water shortages at some locations. Thirsty populations may be left with only oil to drink.
The COP26 fiasco decodes to official endorsement of another ten years of forest reduction, including crucial reserves in Africa. Forty governments have already failed hopelessly in a pledge to reduce deforestation 50 percent by 2020; deforestation has actually increased by 40 percent. Political promises occur in a vacuum of moral responsibility; what counts most to politicians, in the last analysis, is deference to industry. Deforestation entails not only logging, but also mining and oil exploitation. This activity is an offensive measure by which unprivileged people lose their forests to eco-deadly corporate predators, who bleed nature to the bone in their interminable greed, assisted by notorious banks and calculating politicians. The current world society is the worst ever in achievement of low standards detrimental to humans and nature.
COP26 demonstrated a relaxed attitude to coal production over the next ten years and more. That production is officially permitted to extend into the 2030s, with no effective timeline. China and India staged last minute interventions on the diluted coal issue. The negligible constraints, on other countries in agreement about phase-out, can never compensate for the output of dissenting China and India, who operate almost half of the 2,600 coal plants existing globally (whether already functioning or in process of menacing construction).
China is by far the largest producer and consumer of coal. At COP26, Poland confirmed a national plan to continue burning coal until 2049. Germany has pledged to phase out coal production by 2038, even while planning new coalfields. By 2038, flooding and other climate damage will be intensive over large areas of Europe. Water, fire, and hurricane winds will not register COP preferences or carbon offset schemes.
COP26 cannot be understood without reference to the largest delegation present, meaning the fossil fuel industry personnel (advocates of oil and gas). This delegation, comprising over 500 representatives, outnumbered that of any single country. This influential lobby had been accredited for participation in COP26. Critics complained that this lobby should have been banned, not welcomed (Largest delegation at climate summit).
A verdict of Greenpeace reads: "We have witnessed [at COP26] a deliberate and cynical effort by a few [wealthy] nations to create a charter for cheating, offsets and loopholes. Hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists are here, and their fingerprints are all over this conference. They want to buy their way out of responsibility for the climate crisis."
The farce of greenwash is now fashionable. The English Conservative government had been boasting for months that Glasgow COP26 would be the most inclusive climate summit on record. In reality, "about two thirds of civil society organisations," who had usually sent representatives to COP events, did not travel to Glasgow. This was a consequence of such hindering factors as "extortionate travel costs and Britain's hostile immigration system" (COP26 legitimacy questioned). Nevertheless, visitors from many organisations were present. However, the legitimacy of COP26 was questioned by those participants who complained about the unprecedented restrictions on access to negotiations. "Observers representing hundreds of environmental, academic, climate justice, Indigenous and womens' rights organisations, warn that excluding them from negotiating areas and speaking to negotiators could have dire consequences for millions of people" (ibid). COP26 was an elitist event, guided by an assumption that the leaders needed no support to channel decisions into the sphere of ordinary citizen life. The gap between these two different levels is now so pronounced that the huge scope for error is obvious.
The UK Met Office was soon galvanised into a response against COP26 decisions, which inspired Australia and other countries to glorify the COP procedure as being one of due control and success, ensuring a temperature below 2.0C above pre-industrial level. In fact, the computation was reassessed elsewhere in terms of a very dangerous 2.4C. The Met Office duly warned that a billion people (more likely half the world population) will be affected by extreme heat stress in the dire temperature that will inevitably result from lax control. Even healthy people, sitting in the shade, will die within six hours. Some of the COP26 negotiators would probably have to experience such an extreme death to gain a due perspective on events. Too late and completely useless for this planet.
Txai Surui giving her speech at COP26
One of the most notable speeches made at COP26 was totally genuine, and received a standing ovation. A 24 year old Indigenous activist from the Amazon was Txai Surui. She duly complained that rivers are dying and that "we have no more time." She also reflected: "It's not 2030 or 2050 - it's now." She added that one of her friends was murdered for protecting forests. She was afterwards publicly criticised by President Jair Bolsonaro for "attacking Brazil" (Indigenous Amazon activist, 2021). This hostile misinterpretation caused many Bolsonaro supporters to target Txai Surui with abuse and death threats on social media (the worst media, an American muddle and social catastrophe). This dark episode tells the rest of the world all they need to know about the Bolsonaro regime of post-conquistadore violence and intimidation.
The Amazon rainforest is losing about 10,000 acres per day, crippled in the agribusiness encouraged by Bolsonaro. The Brazilian congress have recommended that the advocate of torture and deforestation should face criminal indictments for his reckless COVID-19 strategy of misinformation, a problem viewed as causing 600,000 Covid deaths that were avoidable. Now COP26 has given Bolsonaro a potential new lease of life as a signatory to ten years of further deforestation while being backed by the UN. The ambivalent COP agenda, inclusive of ecological disaster, here amounts to a sick joke of administration.
The Conservative government of England is one of the mercenary agents for climate disaster, being noted for a strong interest in oil and gas production. The UK has ranked 19th in the world listing for oil producing countries. Relevant reports refer to some 120 onshore oil and gas sites with 250 operating wells, furthering government revenues from UK oil and gas. The image of climate saviour is favoured by Boris Johnson (a former denialist) and other wealthy celebrities similarly amenable to private jet flights using large quantities of eco-damage fuel. Private jets are elsewhere stated to be fifty times more polluting than trains. The same week that COP26 was in process, the English government was ridiculed (even by partisans) for moral bankruptcy in the much publicised issue of sleaze. Double standards are not impressive.
At COP26, the English Conservatives decided not to join a new international alliance to phase out fossil fuels. The United Kingdom continues to grant oil and gas licenses in the North Sea. Boris Johnson was conspicuous by his absence at the end of COP26. His earlier enthusiasm was not sustained. Ed Miliband, the COP spokesman for the Labour Party, complained that, instead of a statesman, Britain had a showman as Prime Minister.
The UN leader, Antonio Guterres, complained at COP26 that the fossil fuels industry is still receiving trillions in subsidies, an adverse phenomenon measured by the IMF. The English government is one of the bodies continuing to subsidise fossil fuel companies. In August 2021, news arrived that BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil were in receipt of "hundreds of millions of points in tax repayments from HMRC [HM Revenue and Customs]." The Conservative regime is planning to support fossil fuel companies while planting trees as a diverting facesaver for "net zero" rhetoric. Planting trees is one of the recent ecobiz ploys to avoid blame, supposedly offsetting carbon emission. Oil giants like Shell also favour this ruse, which makes the Tory government look like a mischievous yob (or industrialist flea) in the general COP26 climate of hypocrisy and exploitation.
A mother and child with dead cattle, Kenya 2017. Courtesy UNICEF Kenya/2017/Oloo
At COP26, the Tory strategy supported American indifference to climate finance for disadvantaged countries like Kenya, where more than two million people are facing starvation because of recurring severe drought. America was described by some informed analysts as the key blocker in this issue of international aid. The President of Kenya declared a national disaster in September 2021. Crucial cattle are frequently dying of thirst near the huts of villagers.
The Tory budget of Rishi Sunak (Chancellor of the Exchequer) declared that Britain was to become the world's first "net zero" aligned financial centre. Climate crisis was circuitously negotiated. Sunak screened young climate activists from his talk at COP26 because of their embarassing questions. These sceptics asked why he was giving substantial tax concessions to fossil fuel companies. The vaunted Green Box, displayed by the Chancellor, did not convince everyone that eco-paradise has arrived. Net zero can mean: climate disaster is a foregone certainty with no remedy. The Tories have even cut the air passenger duty, thus encouraging aeroplane flights in Britain. Toxic fumes are innocent and highly desirable perfume to a new wave of commercial denialists.
The Conservative eco-ploy in Britain should be duly comprehended. Green means grey poisoned air and black poisoned earth. The contradiction posed by Tory "climate saviours" is memorable. Camouflaged denialists are very deceptive. COP26 was basically a denialist event (assisted on the spot by the omnipresent fossil fuel lobby), ingeniously formatted as a unique achievement, allowing expansive scope to contaminating industry for a deadly duration. Oil, gas, and coal are very welcome, while in the process of supposedly being phased out. Sir David Attenborough and the Prince of Wales are status pawns in the renewed denialist strategy. The United Nations are a decimated community offset by the fossil fuel lobby and catastrophic disagreements.
The UK government department planning COP26 opted to contract the BCG (Boston Consultancy Group), an enterprise notorious in their role as regular advisors to the fossil fuel industry. The contract was worth £1 million. Critics deemed this consultancy move a serious failure, symptomatic of an alarming conflict of interest (BCG hired as consultant for COP26). For one thing, the five biggest oil companies (BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and Total) had been spending a combined 200 million (US) dollars annually (for four years since 2016) in their campaign to block climate policy.
On November 9th, 2021, BP and Shell withdrew their participation from COP26 after a complaint. This was the day after the presence of at least 503 fossil fuel lobbyists at this summit had been revealed. By then, the second week of COP26 was in progress (or retardation), with many complaints surfacing. Over a hundred fossil fuel companies were represented in this chronic abuse of principle, flooding the summit with corporate influences.
COP26 was a manipulated assembly relegating worldwide climate activists, crippling the UN puppet, and distorting climate science. This camouflaged denialist project furthered “net zero” mythology. In other words, COP26 was hijacked by the fossil fuel lobby associated with Texas, London, and elsewhere.
Government documents reveal that the Conservative Party “is being formally advised by Texas fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil – one of the world’s biggest funders of climate science denial…. The most carbon polluting fossil industries in the world have become integral to the [Tory] Government’s net zero deliberations, allowing them to circumvent traditional cumbersome lobbying mechanisms” (Nafeez Ahmed, How ExxonMobil Captured COP26). A more well known detail is that in 2020, the Tories nominated fossil fuel giant and climate murderer BP (of London) as a key stakeholder in COP26. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill can still arouse strong reactions. A meeting between Boris Johnson and BP, in September 2020, is now subject to official secrecy:
Details of a meeting between Boris Johnson and oil company BP are to be kept secret, the UK government has said, claiming it would "not be in the public interest" to reveal what was discussed. (Jenna Corderoy, Johnson's Talks with BP)
BP were one of the companies in evidence at COP26. The unabashed greed and hypocrisy of a sleaze government is readily evident. “Despite Boris Johnson’s pledge to end support for foreign fossil fuel investments in December 2020, the Government continues to actively encourage UK businesses to profit from oil and gas projects in countries like Saudi Arabia, Norway, Brazil, and Argentina" (Nafeez Ahmed, How ExxonMobil Captured COP26, linked above). See further COP26 Host Urges UK Businesses to Reap Oil Profits. See also the informative contribution in Nafeez Ahmed, Britain Courts Fossil Fuel Lobbying Governments to Increase Oil and Gas Production. Some readers are indignant at the extent of Conservative folly in recent years.
Since 2020, Government officials repeatedly met with Exxon representatives, at least nine times, to discuss UK climate strategy and net zero. Carbon capture and storage is a major component of net zero plans for many of the global fossil fuel producers. This problem is also a feature of Boris Johnson’s net zero 2050 scheme, which promises to back carbon capture with big money. The speculative technology has met with criticism from scientists, who warn of danger from an unproven and very expensive theory. Despite lack of evidence, carbon capture is favoured as a vague long term remedy by fossil fuel industries with much to lose from speedy climate action. The consequence is confusion and widespread delay.
False promises about carbon capture and sequestration abound, propagated purposely by those with a vested interest in perpetuating our addiction [to fossil fuels]. (Address of Jesse George at Environmental Justice, 2021)
ExxonMobil have also strongly influenced President Joe Biden’s feeble climate policy, resulting in a cut back on renewables. The “Exxon plan” is sheer folly. Exxon has funded climate denial for more than 30 years, wasting many millions of dollars; they are still acting reprehensibly. Their recent tactic acknowledges the risk of climate change while relentlessly aggravating this calamity (Delay is the New Denialism). Nobody with any discernment or integrity would take them seriously. The corrupt political, business, and banking worlds deserve a zero vote to prevent further hazard. The remedy is now becoming too late because of defective media and a commercial apathy of convenience, existing for decades.
Alok Sharma, an MP of the Conservative Party, gained high profile as the UK President of COP26. He is nevertheless portrayed as a defender of fossil fuels for a decade, receiving donations from the chairman of Foresight Group International, a billion dollar enterprise devoted to oil drilling and shipping, involving the operation of oil tankers for ExxonMobil (COP26 President Received Funding). Sharma has also received money from Aquind, the energy cable firm linked to Russian oil interests. In 2019, Sharma “dismissed environmental concerns about shale gas extraction causing tremors” (Nafeez Ahmed, COP26 President’s decade of defending the fossil fuel industry and torpedoing climate action). At COP26, Sharma hailed the Glasgow "Climate Pact" as a major milestone in the avoidance of catastrophe.
After the event, Boris Johnson and other officials hailed COP26 as a success. There are many who disagree. The Labour Party leader, Keir Starmer, concluded that COP26 was "a missed opportunity, a stumble forward when we needed to make great strides." Starmer also reflected: "Boris Johnson is the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time."
COP26 betrayed the British people, facilitating climate disaster, while creating a lethal delaying tactic for the world as a whole. Prestige banks in London are corrupt supporters of fossil fuels. British police arrest the wrong people in a surfeit of Conservative Party cordon. The puppet UN were host to climate denialism in the facile guise of COP26 ecobiz.
James Brown and his action at London Airport, 2019. Courtesy Extinction Rebellion/PA
If protesters in Britain complain at the contrived Conservative idealism, they might be jailed. The aeroplane fuel controversy should include reference to James Brown, an Extinction Rebellion activist who glued his right hand to the roof of a British Airways passenger jet in October 2019. Aged 56, Brown was "registered blind since birth," or "partially blind," to quote two contrasting press descriptions. This former Paralympic gold medallist, in cycling and athletics, was born in North Ireland, more recently living at Exeter. The blind man, with a white stick, managed to climb on top of a jet bound for Amsterdam. The police led him away in handcuffs. James Brown was "sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment, of which he will serve half," by the legal wing of the Johnson regime. He was objecting to carbon emissions. The sentence was administered at Southwark Crown Court in September 2021 (a deterrent now seen as anticipating the camouflaged denialist mood of COP26).
The crime of James Brown was that of costing super-rich British Airways £40,000, delaying 300 affluent passengers for an hour at London Airport (Blind Paralympian). He wept at his trial, attempting to explain his reason for protest action. "There were cries of 'shame' from the public gallery as Brown was taken down to the cells" (Judge issues protest warning). His citizen reminder from Wandsworth Prison, during the elitist agenda at COP26, deserves to be read rather than consigned to oblivion by the Conservative Party curfew on protest. The Irish will never forget James Brown, viewing the English judge as the brainwashed culprit heedless of eco-damage caused by air flights. Brown writes:
The government's recent Net Zero strategy tells a story of delusion, carbon offsetting, incremental policy change, and tech fixes not yet invented, dressed up as a shiny plan for COP26. The reality is their proposal still falls hugely short of the UK's Paris Commitments, with our carbon budget more in line with 2.5 to 3C of warming than 1.5 to 2C. (James Brown, I was Jailed for Protesting against Climate Change, but Johnson Refuses Responsibility, 02/11/2021)
At COP26, an aviation manifesto appeared. This gesture was critically received as being "full of scams." The necessity to cut aviation omissions was bypassed, any potential action being postponed for another year. The suspect commercial scenario of low carbon aircraft, sustainable aviation fuels, and carbon offsetting is open to strong disagreement from sober analysis. The aviation industry enjoys unrestricted growth, being favoured by "progressive" governments. The disputed document was signed by twenty countries, including the UK and America. Germany, China, and Russia are also very keen to maintain air flights. The scams are successful in a denialist sphere of affluent comfort and convenience. In some directions, Justice is a computer game.
At the time of COP26, the media revealed that one in fifteen English Conservative MPs still do not believe that climate change is real. In a poll conducted by The Independent, five percent of Conservative MPs described climate change as a "myth." The retarded mindset of some politicians is no longer a joke. The same newspaper reported a comment from the Durrell Institute (University of Kent) that over 15,000 scientists had declared a climate emergency, but most of them were not acting as if the situation were an emergency. Citizens generally fill the gap.
Vanessa Nakate at COP25 and the revealing edited group photograph
Greta Thunberg told the BBC that that she had not been officially invited to COP26. This omission in the protocol is a glaring testimony to denialist strategy. The Conservative Party are not the most generous platform for radical speech. Vanessa Nakate, a climate activist from Uganda, accused COP26 of sidelining nations most affected by climate change. Poor countries in the southern hemisphere (and closely adjacent regions) are not always in favour amongst opulent jet set populations. Earlier that year, at the Youth4Climate event in Milan, Nakate told delegates that world leaders are lost and the planet has been damaged. She then emphasised: no more empty promises, no more empty summits. Now COP26 and lost leaders have provided another deficient climate summit (or chaotic pitfall) with a strong potential to cause further damage.
Nakate is noted for her relevant theme of African nations being responsible for only 3 percent of harmful global emissions, while unfairly suffering more from climate change than other countries. Her plight in the northern hemisphere was the deletion of her image from a group photograph featuring white climate activists. The deletion was achieved by an American news agency. This now well known event attests the racist psychology permeating a hugely wealthy nation currently second in the listing of giant emitters.
At COP26, Vanessa Nakate complained: "We see business leaders and investors flying into COP on private jets. We see them making fancy speeches. We hear about new pledges and promises. We are drowning in promises.... Only immediate and drastic action will pull us back from the abyss." Now the eco-abyss is even closer after COP26 failure.
The extensive COP26 site at Glasgow became notorious for many deceptive pavilions provided by countries and organisations paying tens of thousands of dollars for renting a space. Major fossil fuel producers and emitters were included in this ecobiz. The participants represent a global industrial society in which net worth, video persona, Facebook, and commercial advertising are the criteria of existence. The consumer philosophy of the climate change bandwagon is totally bankrupt, comprising catchphrase and insipid greenwash.
America and the European Union casually refer to “net zero” by 2050. That remote and nebulous goal is meaningless, impervious to the dramatic increase in global heating and ecological tragedy that will occur during the intervening thirty years. In March 2021, supporting the oil industry, fourteen Republican states in America filed lawsuits against the Biden administration, challenging suspension of oil and gas leasing. The commercial mentality is toxic.
In the glittering COP26 pageant of prominent celebrities, conspicuously absent were some representatives of Indigenous peoples. Too many marginalised communities still do not have a seat at prestigious COP summits. They do not even have access to some areas of the elitist venue (inhabited by UN officials, politicians, royalty, businessmen. and journalists). American Indians, the real Americans, refer to carbon offsets as a new form of colonialism, perpetuating theft of Indigenous land. These suppressed outsiders, accustomed to broken treaties from the ruling white class, view Joe Biden as a liar in the failed situation of curbing oil extraction.
Tom Goldtooth, a Native American from Minnesota, is director of Indigenous Environmental Network. He says that carbon offsetting "allows polluters to buy and sell permits to pollute instead of cutting emissions at the source. It lets governments and corporations pretend they are doing something about climate change, when they are not." A closely related factor is relevant: "They are now using the market system so that the people investing in the land are actually the polluting companies, the mining corporations, and the petroleum industry" (Cultural Survival).
According to Goldtooth, President Biden "said that he was going to recognise Indigenous rights [but] he has continued to perpetuate a legacy of broken treaties" (quote dated November 2021). America is a hideously racist country with a superficial claim to democracy. Run by billionaires, a mercenary output glorifies violence (and pornography) ever since Hollywood went into decline. The American video debacle is now notorious for a sinister Republican attack on the Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. A depiction of murder (and racist misogyny) is an extremist resort of power complex. Some years ago, the victim was one of those in sympathy with the Sioux women at Standing Rock (North Dakota), whose legitimate protest was snubbed by the fossil fuel industry in a menacing fashion.
Intimidating eviction forces of big business at Standing Rock, North Dakota, 2016. Courtesy Ryan Vizzions
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) were a multi-billion dollar natural gas enterprise based in Texas. They sent bulldozers to further their lucrative project known as Dakota Access Pipeline, at a site near an encampment of Standing Rock Sioux tribe. This operation desecrated old Sioux burial sites and was viewed as a danger to Sioux water supplies. The reservation tribe filed an injunction to stop the invasive pipeline. In 2016, a Sioux protest against bulldozers occurred at the construction site. ETP responded with the use of force via a private security company, County police, and the New Mexico National Guard. The baton-wielding invaders resorted to attacking protesters with rubber bullets and pepper spray (an eye and respiratory irritant). The intruders also set attack dogs upon Sioux people, including a child and a pregnant mother. The fierce dogs drew blood. Even praying female protesters were intimidated by police yobs. Wounded victims were carried away screaming.
Journalist Amy Goodman reported on the protest, using footage showing what the belligerent “security personnel” actually did. She was charged by a state prosecutor with criminal trespass. Subsequent events involved support for the Standing Rock Sioux by February 2017, when thousands of US army veterans were prepared to protect the victims. This defence was trashed by the new Trump administration, who ensured that the Dakota Access Pipeline was completed. In his general presidential policy, Donald Trump proved to be a complicit agent of environmental degradation. Meanwhile, a total of some 800 Sioux people and allies were arrested, a number of these (including women) being consigned to jail cells (“dog kennels”) with no furniture or bedding in harsh winter conditions.
Republican oppression and Sioux women against barbed wire at Standing Rock, North Dakota
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe continued a legal struggle for years. In March 2020, a federal judge ordered a full environmental impact assessment. The officially accepted assessment had been proffered by the commercial interests of ETP and the Army Corps of Engineers. That assessment was now found to be gravely deficient. The Army Corps were in violation of existing rules, glossing over the possible consequences of a potentially lethal oil spill. A year later, the Army Corps were still resisting a request to shut down the pipeline for safety reasons. A federal district court denied the legitimate request. The firm selected to conduct the new assessment was a member of the American Petroleum Institute, a notorious opponent of climate legislation intent upon the financial interests of nearly 600 corporations. An early draft of the new impact assessment for Standing Rock was replete with errors and omissions. A conclusion is pressing that the American racist bureaucratic and legal process is corrupt, ruled by big business. As a consequence of wrong policy, the American people at large will suffer adverse climate pressures.
America is now faced with severe ecological problems of drought and flooding, as a result of unbridled fossil fuel industry output accelerating climate change. There is no means of preventing the climate landslide after so many years of chronic neglect by billionaires, politicians, corporations, and innumerable bureaucrats. The Indigenous Americans never made the same colossal errors.
Elsewhere, Afghan civilians felt betrayed when American forces hastily retreated from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021. The treacherous American example was followed by other "democratic" leaders involved in the retreat from Afghanistan. England, Australia, and New Zealand were amongst the callous collaborators with America. Deceptive leaders like Biden and Johnson lost no sleep at the unpleasant fate of victims they disgracefully consigned to hazard and oblivion. Loyalty to calculating Western politicians is a huge mistake for any sector on the globe.
When the publicity spotlight was closed down, the fate of betrayed Afghans went into general oblivion. Affluent Western politicians were content to cease evacuation of Afghan refugees in danger of their lives from the Taliban. Justifying messages, excusing bad conduct, were transmitted to the media in America and England. The abrupt termination of international funding hit Afghan hospitals and schools that were built to rely on overseas aid. Skeletal children are now racked with malnutrition and disease.
Climate change in Afghanistan has been aggravated by decades of political conflict. Russia and America used that country as a battleground. Parts of Afghanistan have warmed twice as much as the global average. Extreme droughts are now frequent. The Afghans are afflicted by air and water pollution, soil degradation, a high rate of deforestation, desertification, and overpopulation in urban areas. Over 85 percent of Afghans are farmers. Floods and droughts have pushed millions of these people into poverty and starvation. Many of them are forced by circumstance to live in urban slums.
Afghan Refugees, 2021
The so-called “United Nations” does not always match up to the ideal. There were no representatives of Afghanistan at the much publicised COP26. The Western media duly reported that the UN prevented a group of young Afghan ecologists from attending COP26. The prohibition was made for “political reasons.” Millions of Afghan victims of climate change were thus ignored by UN bureaucrats, a finishing stab to the process in which Russia and America contributed to deterioration of the Afghan environment. The UN logic decoded to the pretext: America had withdrawn from the terrorist country, which was now to be ignored as a hell-hole of religious maniacs.
Constant wars in rural areas of Afghanistan had often ruined the landscape, while claiming the lives of many Afghan farmers and their helpless families subject to bombing and other intrusions. Russian soldiers raped many Afghan women. The American presence was not always beneficial. "A total of about 2.8 million Afghans have been killed due to the War on Terror" (Nafeez Ahmed, Up to Six Million People: The Unrecorded Fatalities of the "War on Terror"). The departing Americans left Afghan men and women to a fate that will not be forgotten. Waves of refugees poured into Iran and Pakistan, risking deportation. Fleeing Afghans were trying to escape from persecution, bombs, hunger, and refugee camps. Increasing poverty in Afghanistan meant that a trade in smuggling people was flourishing. At the border with Iran, when the refugees were exhausted from their arduous travail, many of them were sent back, an experience not cognisable by the wealthy armchair denizens of America, who were more intent on arguing about domestic matters filling the tabloids and social media.
"The UK Government has never taken a strong stance against torture" (Maria Norris, The War on Terror). Some records reveal that the gap between American military tactics and Chinese torture prisons is not so wide as is often believed. The harsh UK government favours aggressive police action against climate protesters, including women.
The UN facility for bungling is generally suppressed in published coverages. The UN became an unsuspected cover act for the fossil fuel lobby COP26 abuse. UN officials walked into the trap laid by a commercial and unprincipled sleaze government. The error is not unprecedented. The UN staff scrupulously avoided confrontation with their mistakes in supporting a well known centre of alternative therapy and “new spirituality.” The UN conferred upon the Findhorn Foundation (Scotland) the role of hosting an ecological CIFAL venue (an arrangement ending in 2018). The misleading profile offset relevant criticism of management strategy and high charges for “therapy” in the flawless “ecology” centre, where a giant carbon footprint could be traced. Air flights were a substantial priority to and from wealthy countries. During the 1990s, the resident usage of motor vehicles in this community exceeded the British national average (CIFAL Findhorn).
Findhorn Foundation treatment of dissidents was diabolical. "The glowing promotions about love and healing are offset by real life events ignored by partisans" (Discrepancies). The economic agenda of a supposed "conflict resolution" management created a heavy debt, which the Findhorn Foundation initially suppressed in their pursuit of NGO status. Gullible outsiders were led to believe that this venue was a perfect setting for advanced spirituality, divine mandate, and ecology. The Findhorn Foundation projected the image of a role model for sustainability, a pet cliche of ecobiz. Local Scots were rarely interested in (or capable of) paying the exorbitant prices charged for “workshops” in fantastic subjects not at all related to ecology. The lavish publicity gloss has not been able to conceal suicides and other problems in recent years.
The Findhorn Foundation was an extension of the Californian “Human Potential Movement,” being served in Scotland by gullible American (and European) subscribers addicted to bizarre therapies. Ecology was a buzzword useful for commercial promotion. The "transformation game" was a moneyspinner, along with the holotropic breathwork of Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. The far distant UN bureaucrats ignored English and Scottish dissidents with first-hand knowledge of relevant events (the BBC also resisted real life factors discounted by a myth of partisan preference). UN personnel repeatedly failed to reply to complaints. Only a prominent English MP was eventually able to elicit a response from a UN organisation on this issue, a reply that was revealing, enigmatic, and very inadequate. The UN (like the BBC) proved incapable of due explanation or apology. Official wordings can frequently be faulted, including many of those heard at COP26.
China has stated an objective of carbon neutrality by 2060. The intervening volume of heatwaves, floodwater, and submerged cities may comprise a horror matched only by reports of Chinese jails and torture of dissidents (plus viciously stolen human organs). The cultural genocide of Muslim Uighurs and Buddhist Tibetans is not something to be forgotten. The stranglehold on democracy in Hong Kong was further proof of a big bully mentality. Chinese lawyers and experts in human rights are included in the ugly suppression. Communism, like capitalism, is barbarous.
Reports confirm that China has been committing human rights abuses on a massive scale. Uighur Muslims are tortured and murdered in concentration camps. Uighur women have been sterilised and raped. Children are systematically separated from their family, and subjected to Communist indoctrination by learning Chinese. "Only Chinese should be spoken," is one of the oppressive rules of Chinese Communism. Some Uighurs fled to Turkey, but many others are trapped in China. An accepted academic description for their plight is now "cultural genocide." The "United Nations" is a meaningless phrase in some directions.
At COP26, a premature sense of relief occurred when America and China declared a form of alliance in methane reductions. The two biggest global polluters were now said to be joining hands to save the world. Astute critics soon pointed out that no means existed of holding these two major emitters to account in the absence of timetables and precise figures. The scenario of strategic alliance has the edged drawback of, for example, American gun lobby tactic being an agent for the shooting of schoolchildren. Chinese torture prisons are notorious to human rights organisations throughout the world. Visitors to America could easily be shot dead in the street, while visitors to China could be even worse off. Complaints are dismissed by the super-rich, while climate pollution is at stunning levels of impact.
Causing dismay was the news that, less than a week after COP26, the Biden administration was to auction off more than 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to triumphant oil and gas drilling companies (Biden Administration and Offshore Drilling). "The offshore lease sale alone has the potential to emit 723 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere" (Oil Lobbyists Use Rigged System). Climate crime in America is a total travesty of integrity.
Russia, the fifth biggest emitter, has also mentioned 2060 for "net zero." The protracted interim spells acute disaster for Siberia and the Arctic. The afflicted Russian people have many environmental problems in the largest country on earth. Water pollution and air quality have for long been issues. The Russian economy relies on oil and gas production. For many years, President Vladimir Putin was notorious as a denialist of anthropogenic climate change. He believed that Russia would benefit from global heating. Russian industrialists debunked climate change, which was even interpreted as a foreign plot aimed at their exports. Putin was still denying man-made climate change in 2019, adopting a sceptical attitude. He has since acknowledged that severe forest fires, caused by drought conditions, are very dangerous. In southern areas of Russia, "the monthly norm of rainfall now falls in a few hours," to quote his own reported words. Unpredictable storms have caused additional fears. Climate-related economic damage soared in the Moscow zone. The prospect of stronger heatwaves, sufficient to kill humans, has caused much talk about adaptation. By 2020, a Russian plan emerged to allow a rise in overall emissions by 2030, a decrease being envisaged by 2050. This theme met with strong criticism elsewhere.
India is the fourth (or third) biggest carbon emitter, pledging “net zero” emissions by 2070. More than fifty percent of electricity in India is derived from coal. Half a century of increasing heat could leave tens of millions dead from heatstroke in North India alone. Even the Indian high caste nationalists, killing and raping “untouchables” (Dalits), will not be spared by their insular programme of oppression.
Coal mining was introduced to India in 1774, when the East India Company commenced an operation in West Bengal. Today the situation is dangerous. Indian coalmines are drying up and contaminating groundwater, destroying crops. Coal (and mineral) mining causes a huge volume of polluted water to enter rivers. India is the largest user of groundwater in the world. About 85 percent of drinking water supplies in India are dependent on groundwater. "An increasing number of aquifers are reaching unsustainable levels of exploitation" (India Groundwater). That informed statement appeared a decade ago.
Degradation created by coal mining includes air pollution, water pollution, land and forest damage, extensive waste disposal of toxic substances, and health hazards (Groundwater Contamination in Coal Mining Areas, 2016). At least 20 cities, including New Delhi, will soon run out of groundwater, meaning that about 40 percent of the population will have no access to drinking water by 2030. Climate change has damaged the monsoon pattern of rainfall. Conditions are already extremely critical in places like Chennai (formerly Madras).
Members of Kalkadoon Aboriginal Tribe of Australia, circa 1900. Courtesy Vintage Queensland
Australia has the repute of demonstrating the worst ecological outlook in the world. The Australian coal boom is oblivious to searing forest fires and related catastrophes. The Australian government, lacking all conscience, has proved intent upon fracking the land of Indigenous people. "Traditional owners opposed to fracking in the Beetaloo Basin have condemned the Morrison government for handing tens of millions of dollars to gas companies, while Indigenous communities lack basic housing and health infrastructure" (C. Knaus, Fracking Handouts, August 2021). The Indigenous people live in tin shacks with bare floors, while the white exploiters enjoy sumptuous comfort and huge bank accounts.
Aboriginal woman of Cape York, Queensland, Australia
On top of the recent destruction caused by wildfires, predatory logging also occurs in Australia. In 2020, the New South Wales Forestry Corporation were eager to cut down the forest of Indigenous people for white housing materials. The corrupt Australian government continues to steal Aboriginal water, land, and forest. The predatory license has continued since 1788, when the marauding British fleet landed in Sydney to begin colonisation, land theft, murder, and environmental degradation. Over the next 140 years, more than 300 massacres of Indigenous people were committed by British soldiers, police, and settlers.
The deliberate destruction of Indigenous culture continued into the twentieth century, when for many years Aboriginal children were removed from their families to “breed out the colour” (similar events occurred in Canada, another disgraceful "commonwealth" sector). The British (Australian) racists celebrated “Invasion Day” as an excuse for their atrocious conduct. The narrative of imposed poverty, murder, and sexual violence is a feat of white superiority complex, accompanied by hundreds of deaths of Aboriginal people held in custody during recent years.
Many climate activists concluded that Australia was the primary culprit at COP26, relying upon coal and defending the ongoing fossil fuel exports. The second major culprit was considered to be America, failing to supply climate aid for poor countries while continuing an expansion of oil and gas drilling as a prominent oil producer (the vast number of American oil and gas wells is a factor attended by methane leaks and groundwater pollution). The third major culprit is England, whose Conservative Party presided over a disastrous COP26 that, for example, imposed a lack of access for civil society. We should not forget that Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia proved allergic to fossil fuel phase-out.
The COP26 denialist circus ended with a treacherous dilution of wordings resented by some politicians. The “phase out” of coal became “phase down.” News bulletins (such as those of the BBC) were frequently misleading and partisan, praising COP26 progress with a faint acknowledgment of drawbacks. Rule Britannia, heil Boris the climate saviour. More reliable is a Greenpeace conclusion: “The offsets scam got a boost in Glasgow with the creation of new loopholes that are too big to tolerate, endangering nature, Indigenous Peoples, and the 1.5C goal itself.” Forget 1.5C, which will soon move up to 2.0C and more, with deadly effect.
The mutated phenomenon of United Nations honestly admitted, at the end of COP26, that negotiations had failed to meet any of the three basic UN objectives. The complacent political sphere of elite countries is a disaster for global populations dependent upon deficient leaders. Officials (and some academics) urged that solid progress had been made at COP26, obviously wanting the audience to go back to sleep. Some COP enthusiasts even entertain a "climate science" belief that ice can be restored to the Arctic. The myth of carbon capture, assisting the fossil fuel industry, has a confused following.
Anybody believing in ecological salvation by 2050 is living in a rabid fantasy world, negated by current events and half a century of climate change denialism, plus extensive bureaucratic neglect, corporate lies, and racial oppression.
The increasing heatwaves will kill and afflict vast numbers of people. The extent of floodwater will disable some governments. Severe drought will cause migrations for which existing governments have no remedy. The technology boom, associated with the Industrial Revolution in England, will be globally detested by survivors. Chronic disruption is a certainty. A question remains as to the number of resilient survivors.
COP26 will be remembered as a pantomime of affluent escapists wishing to preserve the industrial lifestyle until the last moment. The much publicised "last chance for humanity" was sabotaged by a conglomeration of ecobiz entrepreneurs and diverse apologists for fossil fuels.
Postscript November 2021
The journalist and author George Monbiot has described COP26 in terms of resembling a “suicide pact,” rendering “incremental change” an unrealistic prospect. Instead, there is “only one last hope for our survival.” Monbiot urges the prospect of mobilising 25 percent of people, so that “we can flip social attitude towards the climate” (Only one last hope for our survival). He is referring to a strategy he describes as "raising the scale of civil disobedience," opposing the destruction of climate. This angle is associated with Extinction Rebellion.
I likewise view COP26 as a fatality. I agree that suicide is a realistic description of a lunatic shortfall. However, I am not a campaigner for civil disobedience, whatever advantages this inclination may possess (I have highlighted James Brown above). In some countries like China, if a protester is jailed, he or she might never get out alive.
As a citizen philosopher, not a climate activist, my option has been to create multi-subject websites not relying upon commercial adverts, cookie traps, and other features of the web consumer system (even The Guardian has drawbacks). Many people in “advanced literate” Western nations prefer tweets and other short-read online entries: one, two, three, or five minutes only. They are frequently misinformed by items erasing much history and 99 percent of detail in both well known and less familiar arguments. The web is saturated with skeletal features of topical interest; the vast number of these is perhaps now beyond computation. In contrast, my own disposition for online output extends to long-read articles, often annotated or with bibliographies.
I have been told by academic web specialists that I am the only author known to them with eight non-commercial information websites. Those sites do not earn me any money. I dislike commercial adverts and have declined offers from promoters in that respect. I regard personal video programmes as superfluous; my image should be enough for identity purposes. I do not claim any importance, merely citizen orientation.
COP26 hosted the fossil fuel industry, a symptom of crass ineptitude. The globe is already in a severe plight. The situation in West Canada and North-West America is currently described by inhabitants as terrifying. A summer of searing heatwaves was followed by flooding of a dramatic kind, causing evacuations. Even Vancouver was cut off. There may no longer be time for protest to succeed by emphasising the consequences of neglect. Some territories may no longer prove inhabitable. Kuwait and other countries are being burned by climate heat to a potential standstill. The “tipping points” are not a myth; they are actually visible and open to sensory confirmation. What happens when all the ice melts too quickly is not precisely known. The melt cannot be stopped, even if some choose to believe that Arctic ice can be miraculously restored.