The Weekly Watch
Tumbling Toward the Tipping Points
We sit at a convergence of tipping points. Climate chaos is already upon us, just ask the folks out west who are in a megadrought. Ecosystem collapse is evident in the disappearing insect and bird populations, as well as deforestation and environmental degradation. The US is on the verge of empire failure as China becomes the new world leader (empire). The US collapse is driven in part by the failure of our currency to have any real intrinsic value other than our military threat to those countries which try to circumvent the use of the USD. So on multiple levels and in many dimensions we are experiencing a cascade of change. We simply must prepare as best we can for the rapid changes ahead.
I read and heard Alvin Toffler speak about Future Shock. Here's a brief summary from the link.
1. Society is experiencing too much change too soon.
The author calls the feeling of being overwhelmed by change “Future Shock” and explores how to make the best out of it. He first published his book in 1970, when most people didn’t know that many familiar forms of commerce, discourse and technology would soon vanish.
Toffler established a new aspirational social norm by advocating for people to embrace change. He made predictions that sounded crazy at the time, such as the advent of the World Wide Web. However, his abstract examples turned out to be quite accurate descriptions of some of the cataclysmic changes brought about by Internet technology.
2. To deal with change, you must be adaptable.
Since Toffler’s book was written before the younger generation started demanding change in the 1970s, his support for change is unusual. The older generation at that time were against change and took reactionary positions. He advised them to be adaptable as this would help them deal with coming waves of changes. This shows his foresight as it’s now commonplace to hear people who are successful in Silicon Valley or other places say that “change is the new status quo.” Toffler prepared readers for a future where things will never be static and they should embrace it rather than try to fight it. He also wisely says that since we can’t predict everything perfectly, we shouldn’t worry about being right all the time but instead focus on being imaginative and insightful so we can make better decisions going forward
2. Expect to work in a “free-form world” of “kinetic organizations.”
While Alvin Toffler was not a visionary, he did discuss the future of work and society in his book “The Third Wave”. He predicted that technology would make it possible for people to work together regardless of where they are. In this way, their roles will shift and change constantly. Communication will be constant over many different media platforms. Overall, people must accept an unprecedented level of fluidity in their lives.
3. You’ll need to balance actual and vicarious experiences.
Toffler’s predictions might make you wonder how he could have possibly been so accurate. He asks a question that didn’t seem important until recently, but now dominates conversations about social media and identity. Toffler says we should balance vicarious experiences with real-life experiences. We should pay others for things like entertainment, while doing things ourselves as much as possible.
It’s amusing to read Toffler’s descriptions of three-network TV, pre-gigaplex movie theaters and the pre-Internet world of 1970. However, his points about finding a balance between personal and received experience are even more on target today. He poses a fundamental unanswered question that has grown only more relevant since he asked it. He wonders whether children who are subjected to an overwhelming, nonstop avalanche of information may become intellectually and socially precocious. This describes today’s work world precisely as children raised with the Internet now create and run major businesses.
4. Advanced technology will lead to product variety.
In the future, consumers will be faced with an abundance of choice. People want to stand out and express their individuality. They are no longer satisfied with mass-produced products that don’t fit them specifically. The market is segmented into many different types of customers who all have unique tastes and desires. Technology has advanced so much that it’s possible for businesses to produce customized goods for each customer without losing efficiency or cost effectiveness in production.
My big take away from this 70's vintage book is that the world is changing at an ever faster rate, and humans simply can't (won't?) react to the changes in a timely manner...for we are collectively a reactive species rather than a proactive one. Fortunately, as individuals we can look ahead and prepare as well as possible.
Is the issue which most illustrates (to me) human's future shock blindness. We're probably past the tipping points. Like dominoes, once one system tips, other co-reliant systems fall as well.
"Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene", a recent study co-authored by Will Steffen, noted chemist, climate systems analyst, and professor of Earth System Science at Australian National University, warns of catastrophic changes to the Earth climate if current emission trends are not immediately reversed.
#TippingPoints lead to #TippingCascades, and the resulting failure of inter-twined systems leading to systemic collapse. While it is still possible to 'guide' the climate trajectory toward a new stabilized Earth system. But the window of opportunity to reach this goal is closing fast. Achieving it will require huge and pro-active changes to human economy, culture and politics.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgEYfZDK1Qk (30 min)
Rick Wolff on What Will it Take to Tackle the Climate Crisis?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elOi6cljx0I (35 min)
It is another 70's book (I'm dating myself) which I think holds an answer to a way to tackle climate and many other problems we face...
Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered is a political nonfiction book by Ernst F. Schumacher. Published in 1973 by Harper, the book centers on the premise that economics should serve us, the people, as opposed to the other way around.
First, in “The Modern World,” Schumacher challenges our understanding of nature and our place within it. We see ourselves as seemingly above nature, and our goal is to conquer and control it. The irony is that, if we do conquer nature, it will be the end of us all.
For Schumacher, we currently have one overarching belief—universal prosperity is not only possible, but also the only way to ensure peace. This is a contradiction because we can’t achieve prosperity in the modern sense other than through greed and ill actions. We base our entire theory of economics on contradictions like this.
If rural workers have little to no employment, they move into urban areas. This creates a mass shift in population to an area that can’t sustain them all. Trying to “urbanize” a country cannot work in even the wealthiest nation because there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around. Our entire philosophy is causing the problem to only get worse.
The problem comes down to our own natures—we are greedy and envious and stop at nothing to ensure our materialistic growth. Our desires are at odds with our finite natural environment. It’s on us, then, to find a new system that supports our environment before we destroy it. Capitalism will, eventually, ruin us.
What we should be focusing on, according to Schumacher, is small-scale private enterprise and local sufficiency. If enterprise takes place on a far more manageable scale, then we can improve employment, sustain the economy, and place far fewer demands on the environment. This structure will not generate a lot of wealth, but that’s precisely the point.
It is also the Bucky Fuller concept...
We need communities that are designed for the needs of the local people. We are basically tribal creatures. I think we could be happy back in a tribe (or community by today's standard). Even folks I know in the big city of Atlanta have a neighborhood (little five points) where they spend most of their time. In small communities we could walk and bike without the need of gas burning cars.
The future of gas and fossil fuels doesn't look promising. Chris suggests future oil shortages.
Many of the planet’s most diverse and ecologically important areas—including the Arctic and Virunga National Park in the Congo Basin—also happen to hold large underground deposits of oil and gas. Extracting these oil and gas deposits can result in lasting damage to the environment. Specifically, oil and gas exploration and development causes disruption of migratory pathways, degradation of important animal habitats, and oil spills—which can be devastating to the animals and humans who depend on these ecosystems.
Most easily accessible oil has already been developed. Today, oil and gas exploration is probing the Earth’s most remote and inhospitable places. It employs new and often unproven technologies to extract hydrocarbons from deep within the earth. Oil spills can occur from blowouts, pipeline leaks or failures, or shipping accidents. These spills pose a serious threat to ecosystems—whether they happen in the Congo Basin, the Timor Sea, or in the Arctic. Furthermore, in the Arctic, there is no proven, effective method to clean up oil in ice.
The extraction of oil is responsible for the deforestation, degradation, and environmental devastation of lands across the globe. The oil extraction process results in the release of toxic drilling by-products into local rivers, while broken pipelines and leakage result in persistent oil spillage. In addition, the construction of roads for accessing remote oil sites opens remote lands to colonists and land developers.
Some of the world's most promising oil and gas deposits lie deep in tropical rainforests, especially in the Western Amazon. With oil at historically high prices, the incentive to develop oil resources has never been greater.
While hydrocarbons can be extracted at a relatively low direct cost to tropical rainforests, governments and oil companies have traditionally opted for expediency over consideration for the environment or the interests of local people most affected by production. One of the most egregious examples of this comes from eastern Ecuador, where U.S. oil giant Texaco (owned by Chevron since 2001) laid waste to an area of rainforest renowned for its wildlife. The firm's operations also affected the lives of thousands of Indigenous people and settlers.
You may remember, that is the case Steven Donziger is being punished for winning.
There are consequences for our greed and misuse of resources that WILL come back to haunt us.
Forests are disappearing...
Many earlier civilizations, including Middle East, New Mexico, and Easter Island precipitated their own decline through deforestation. Currently, we are destroying our forests faster, and on a larger scale than ever before. Earlier in this century forests covered around 40% of the earth's total land but now it has decreased and till the end of the century, it will stand at about 25%. Its destruction causes the greenhouse effect, irreversible loss of many thousands of species of flora and fauna also a lot more animals, landslides, soil erosion, siltation of rivers and dams, droughts, and weather extremes. If it continues then it will hamper the ability of the biosphere to sustain life.
Earth’s forest cover is at slightly over 4 billion hectares and continues to decrease, according to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rampant deforestation has led to the loss of 420 million hectares in just four decades, mainly in Africa and South America.
“The top countries for average annual net losses of forest area over the last 10 years are Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Angola, Tanzania, Paraguay, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bolivia and Mozambique,” FAO notes.
Only 3% of land on Earth still qualifies as “ecologically intact,” with undisturbed habitats and healthy populations of its original animal species, grim new research shows.
That’s a much bleaker picture than the one painted by previous assessments, which pegged that number much higher, estimating that 20% to 40% of land is still intact. But those analyses, focused specifically on habitat intactness, were mostly based on satellite imagery, which doesn’t provide much detail about what’s happening on the ground.
“Field work by many people clearly shows there are species that have been lost from these areas of intact habitat—large and medium carnivores and large and medium herbivores in particular,” Andrew Plumptre, who heads the Key Biodiversity Areas Secretariat and was the lead author of the study, wrote in an email. “Some have been lost or reduced in number because of hunting by people, some lost because of the introduction of invasive species, such as cats and dogs, and some due to disease.”
Ecosystem collapse leads to species collapse. Though we are a top predator, our day will come sooner rather than later if we don't redesign our approach.
The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.
, the analysis found. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.
The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.
Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global. The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.
“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”
It doesn't stop with insects...
North America's birds are disappearing from the skies at a rate that's shocking even to ornithologists. , U.S. and Canadian researchers report this week online in Science. "It's staggering," says first author Ken Rosenberg, a conservation scientist at the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. The findings raise fears that some familiar species could go the way of the passenger pigeon, a species once so abundant that its extinction in the early 1900s seemed unthinkable.
The declines are rippling. Like dominoes. the web of life is in collapse...
, according to World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Living Planet Report 2020. Populations in Latin America and the Caribbean have fared worst, with an average decline of 94%. Global freshwater species have also been disproportionately impacted, declining 84% on average. As an important indicator of planetary health, these drastic species population trends signal a fundamentally broken relationship between humans and the natural world, the consequences of which—as demonstrated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—can be catastrophic.
Are we on the verge of WWIII? (I sure hope not). To my mind this is the second most threatening scenario after climate chaos and mass extinction, and will indeed accelerate environmental degradation.
TPTB are doing their best to crank up more profitable war. Max Blumenthal explains how US reporters at the G7 are little more than CIA mouthpieces.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0w2Fz7ts60U (45 min)
The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity sent Biden a letter before the summit
With your meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Geneva just three days away, mainstream media are barely reporting – and at times distorting – olive-branch remarks by Putin, and are at pains to "accentuate the negative". Revelations since the last summit in July 2018 – including testimony under oath to Congress – give President Putin some very high cards. Should things get acrimonious, he might decide to put them into play.
Max had his work cut out in this discussion of the Biden Putin conference with a NATO Atlantic Council advisor, American University prof (and CIA?), as well as a China proponent. About 5-10 min covers the difference between Max and the others.
Leave it to Caity to find the humor in the situation...
America’s Soup-Brained President Says The US Never Interferes In Other Countries’ Elections
During an astonishingly sycophantic press conference after the Geneva summit with Vladimir Putin, President Biden posited an entirely hypothetical scenario about what the world would think of the United States if it were interfering in foreign elections and everybody knew it.
When AP’s Jonathan Lemire asked the president of the most powerful government in the world what “consequences” he’d threatened the Russian leader with should the Kremlin interfere in US elections going forward, Biden meandered his way through one of his signature not-quite-lucid word salads, and then said the following:
“Let’s get this straight: How would it be if the United States were viewed by the rest of the world as interfering with the elections directly of other countries, and everybody knew it? What would it be like if we engaged in activities that he is engaged in? It diminishes the standing of a country that is desperately trying to make sure it maintains its standing as a major world power.”
Why would any country believe the US? We make treaties to break them. Ask the first nation's peoples. Ask Iran. Ask Russia about the promise not to expand NATO. The US simply does not act in good faith. So despite the words of good will, look at US actions.
President Biden intends to reduce the number of US troops in the Middle East by several hundred. This includes removing antimissile batteries, and personnel assigned to them, as well as reducing the number of troops assigned to jets in the area. The largest number are to be removed from Saudi Arabia.
Officials say that the plan is to redeploy the troops away from the region and to operations focused on Russia and China. These sorts of pivots have been reportedly planned by the Pentagon for multiple administrations.
China seems well aware of the US lack of sincerity.
Relations may be too tense for Xi-Biden talks
•White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has suggested direct talks may be on the cards
•But Chinese observers say Beijing might not be keen and there is little room for compromise on key issues
Chinese observers said while a Xi-Biden meeting could help to control military risks it may be difficult to make progress given the current tensions
and following fractious US-China talks in Alaska in March. The world’s two largest economies are at loggerheads over everything from trade and human rights to the South China Sea.
What is driving US aggression? I feature this all the time, but if you look at US goals, you can understand our actions
The goal isn't peace and cooperation, it is world domination...
and TPTB don't even try to hide it.
To prop up the US failing economic system.
One reason the US has the ass at Russia...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS5dwtsD66Y (17 min)
...the recent move by Russia to diversify its wealth fund away from US dollars and into other currencies and gold, and what it means for the US dollar financial system.
The world is slowly moving away from the US dollar as the primary reserve asset, and the yuan and euro are the two chief competitors.
That being said, fiat currencies will continue to be devalued and stores of value like gold and Bitcoin will continue to see inflows.
The world’s major central bank has indicated it will do nothing that could be construed as withdrawing support from the mountain of debt and fictitious capital its policies have created in the US and worldwide and will continue the flow of ultra-cheap money that has enabled the enrichment of a financial oligarchy to levels never before seen in history.
The US can't allow another approach...
World Bank rejects El Salvador request for help on bitcoin implementation
The World Bank said on Wednesday it could not assist El Salvador's bitcoin implementation given environmental and transparency drawbacks.
"While the government did approach us for assistance on bitcoin,."
The biggest advantage presented by bitcoin — or to be more precise, the underlying blockchain technology — comes in the form of creating a completely transparent trading system.
So how did the FBI find the Colonial pipeline ransom money? Because all the blockchain transfers are a matter of public record. Bitcoin is much more transparent than dollars.
And as to energy, the question is compared to what...
The IMF is a US economic control tool just as is NATO is a war arm of the US.
As a final tipping point discussion today, let's look at media suppression, propaganda, and the tech giants control of the narrative.
No story carries more power of suppression than Julian's, who is imprisoned and tortured as warning to any journalist who reveals US war crimes and dirty tricks.
Chris Hedges gave this talk at a rally Thursday night in New York City in support of Julian Assange. John and Gabriel Shipton, Julian’s father and brother, also spoke at the event, which was held at The People’s Forum.
Tyrannies invert the rule of law. They turn the law into an instrument of injustice. They cloak their crimes in a faux legality. They use the decorum of the courts and trials, to mask their criminality. Those, such as Julian, who expose that criminality to the public are dangerous, for without the pretext of legitimacy the tyranny loses credibility and has nothing left in its arsenal but fear, coercion and violence.
The long campaign against Julian and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that maintains the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but internally has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations.
House Democrats have made no secret of their ultimate goal with this hearing: to exert control over the content on these online platforms. “Industry self-regulation has failed,” they said, and therefore “we must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.” In other words, they intend to use state power to influence and coerce these companies to change which content they do and do not allow to be published.
Instead, the key point raised by these last threats from House Democrats is an often-overlooked one: while the First Amendment does not apply to voluntary choices made by a private company about what speech to allow or prohibit, it does bar the U.S. Government from coercing or threatening such companies to censor. In other words, Congress violates the First Amendment when it attempts to require private companies to impose viewpoint-based speech restrictions which the government itself would be constitutionally barred from imposing.
And so we as a world system sit upon an array of tipping points...climatic, environmental, economic, and military conflict among them. The media outlets are not honest brokers and most people are ill informed. I don't know the numbers, but I dare say a majority of Americans still view the US as the best nation on Earth. Despite the surrounding chaos, we as individuals can select a more sustainable path. I've been busy in the garden. Got in the last of the summer seed and plants yesterday before the over 6.5" rain from tropical storm Claudette yesterday and last night. We need to walk open eyed into the future, not shying away from the many challenges. I know today's column wasn't a cheery topic. None to less we can't wallow in ignorance. We need to be realistic about the future and help the young folks in their journey. The road ahead looks rocky. It is time to prepare in whatever ways we can. My thought turned to Ranting Rooster and his recent lifestyle change toward a more sustainable future. I wish him and all of us the best of luck as we plow onward through the fog.
Hope you all have a good day and I look forward to your thoughts and comments below.