The Weekly Watch
Human survival requires escaping capitalism according the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report … “The world’s top scientists just gave rigorous backing to systematically dismantle capitalism as a key requirement to maintaining civilization and a habitable planet.” Capitalism has never factored in the environmental costs of our activities. It has one goal - profit. It is past time for a broader look at priorities. Not only do we need to stop the degradation of our ecosystems, but we must begin the long term task of restoration. We have much to do, and that's one reason I support Bernie's guaranteed jobs program over Yang's UBI. Today I want to touch on the role agriculture can play in reversing our climate catastrophe, and touch on the insanity of a capitalist health care (or better stated -disease and perscription) system. We'll also take a stroll through some of this weeks news cycle.
Climate change isn’t your fault. It’s capitalism’s fault. Let me translate that. The world’s giant corporations are effectively turning the skies, oceans, forests, and mountains into cold, hard cash. So much money so fast they literally don’t know what do with it, because there’s nothing left to do with it. So much inequality has resulted that it’s destabilizing societies like America and Britain by creating classes of new poor. As result, societies don’t have the resources left to fight problems like…climate change. Capitalism is sucking in nature, turning it into insane, needless, pointless profit — and destroying democracy, the planet, and life as we know it on it along the way.
Reflecting that huge power imbalance between people and corporations, corporate profits have never been higher than they are today — at the exact same time that life on the planet is dying, and so is the planet itself. That’s not a coincidence — it’s a causal relationship. It’s that system of profit-maximization, of exploitation, of abusing everything in the name of more, more, more money, that’s really killing the planet and life on it.
The climate catastrophe is interwoven with many social and environmental crises, including oppression, corporate power, hunger, water depletion, biodiversity loss and deforestation. At its heart sits an unsustainable economic system, the sole aim of which is endless growth and profit. This system concentrates wealth, power, and obscene privilege with the few.
We must tackle climate change and the associated social and environmental crises by taking rapid and bold action to address the common root causes; privatization, financialization and commodification of nature and societies, and unsustainable production and consumption systems.
The magnitude of the crises we face demands system change.
Why is capitalism so bad for the climate and ecosystem?
This can be understood by looking at some of the details GDP measurement. The work of subsistence workers in agriculture (or women working in the household) is not included in GDP since their production is outside the commodity market. If an oil tanker hits an iceberg causing an oil spill, GDP increases, due to all the cleanup costs, insurance payments, and lawyer fees. However, there is no deduction in GDP for the effects of the oil spill on the environment. Social and environmental costs, in this sense, are treated as “externalities,” that is to say, they are excluded from national-income accounting. The growth of a forest adds nothing to economic growth. But the cutting down of the same forest (viewed as so many millions of board feet of standing timber) for sale on the market counts as growth. A war that kills millions drives up economic growth, and leads to faster growth afterwards because of the need to replace capital destroyed. The lives lost in the war, however, count for nothing in economic growth terms.
The problem here is not GDP accounting itself. Rather this way of measuring growth accurately reflects how the capitalist system works.
Ecosocialism thus emerged as a radical movement both in capitalist and “actually existing socialist” societies. Unlike mainstream Green theory, it recognizes that More and more people, especially in the global South, are concluding, as a result of their own material experiences, that the degradation of the environment and the exploitation of human beings have a common basis in an alienated system that needs to be transcended. This takes us back to the classical historical-materialist tradition associated with Marx and Engels, which emerged at a time when struggles over the workplace, the urban environment, and the land were seen as inextricably connected. Understood in these terms, ecosocialism, is based on the dual necessity of substantive equality and ecological sustainability.
So if we accept the notion that we must change our capitalist system in order for our species and the current ecosystem to survive, just how can we do that? XR (extinction rebellion) recommends citizen assemblies and the UK government has issued 30,000 random invitations. https://www.edie.net/news/11/Government-to-send-30-000-invites-for-citiz... XR has had other successes too.
For more on XR check out this weeks newsletter on actions around the globe
I don't think we can nor should wait for government action in the US. We must begin our own plan. Citizen groups like these in Ireland are gathering to begin work on a Manifesto of EcoSocialism. In the US there are organizations and chapters around the country.
The great irony here is the dirty fracked gas in the US is NOT profitable, but the banks are over-extended on them as they were in the housing market a decade or so ago.
over the last year and a half, the shale oil and gas industry, which has driven the recent boom in American oil and gas production, has been on a more than decade-long money-losing streak, with estimated losses of approximately a quarter trillion dollars. Those losses have continued in 2019.
Max and Stacy went so far this week as to compare investing in fracked gas as literally burning money. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRAPlJ1_gR4 (1st 15 min)
So here we are extracting the dirtiest abrasive oil and pumping it through pipelines destined to fail. Just this week...
The 383,000-gallon crude oil spill occurred in North Dakota, about 50 miles from the Canadian border, The New York Times reported. The spill covered about a half-acre of wetland,
This is really insane. Allowing the elites to poison our water, collapse our climate, and drive a mass extinction of lifeforms we are dependent upon for our own survival. All to cover for their bad investments. It is past time to re-invent our system.
This week The editor of “A Better Planet: Forty Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future,” which covers 40 contributors’ proposals for combating climate change, joined Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer to discuss our environmental challenges.
So what do we demand and work toward? I think step one is no new wells...Period The End. Then use existing wells to cushion the transition to solar, wind, geothermal, even hydrogen could have a place. And those wells and mines should be nationalized on the Norway model. We should create a mass transit system of solar powered electric trains. We could use one side of the interstate system and make the other side two way for local traffic. We need to develop local communities that are easily accessed by walking and biking. Let's face it, we will all have to change our lifestyles....and we need a healthier one. In fact . Evidence based doctors are trying, but they face the power of big pharma and a for profit disease care system.
Both our health system and agricultural systems are capitalist profit based. The outcomes have been as devastating to people as the capitalist fossil fuel industry is to the ecosystem.
Let's go to a few sessions of Public Health Collaboration Conference at the Royal College of General Practitioners in London. These are good presentations mostly by doctors to doctors.
Corporate wealth or public health? by Prof. Robert Lustig
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tijv_T4BpSc (1 hour - the last 20 min focuses on corporate influence, but the whole presentation is good. There's some biochem midway that you can fast forward through if you want.) This presentation is well worth your time.
Dr Andreas Eendfeldt explains to other doctors the well reasoned need for a Food Revolution
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_b5IBGbnmMs (39 min)
This is also an excellent evidence based presentation.
Part of a food revolution is producing local sustainable food products. Here's a UK dairy farmer explaining his ideas of sustainable farming and food production.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK-si6osccc (29 min)
I include this clip because his path and mine have been similar...
both 70's back to the landers influenced by 30's vintage farmers/philosophers.
We need to do more than just sustain. We need to capture carbon, restore ecosystems, and regenerate a diverse biota.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7Cs24SNfmw (6 min)
Virginia farmer Joel Salatin is a premier restoration practitioner. This is a student/intern of his describing the operation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCGUzgYDoqQ (9 min)
If you want the full farm tour here's Justin Rhodes walking the farm with Joel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-zaAie8UZs (42 min)
So in addition to health/diet myths there are also many myths in agriculture. Among them is the idea that animal production is bad. It is true CAFO meat production is horrid for the animals. our health, and the ecosystem too. However using animals to build diverse grasslands is a better approach than these massive chemically driven monocrop systems of corn and soybeans. Remember those crop fields were once prairie with giant herds of Bison. That is a more natural sustainable system. Check out Allen Savory's work for visual evidence of restoring healthy ecosystems with grazing animals. https://www.savory.global/
Richard Perkins is a UK farmer located on 25 acres in Sweden. He has an excellent approach combining animal and vegetable production. His channel is here -
And here's a general description of his operation -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5iJYVnw4ns (56 min)
So Joel's farm illustrates healthy animal production. Richard's is a mixed production aiming toward a perennial permaculture system. The next clip shows how to raise veggies in a market garden. My vision involves operations like these...imagine one of these in every community. Josh Sattin takes the full tour with Elliot Seldner of Fair Share Farm in Pfafftown, NC (just outside Winstom-Salem). They are thinking about climate chaos with their approach.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbSW45AmGiQ (25 min)
I think these leafy greens should be the base/bulk of our diet....eaten with plenty of organic olive oil and grassfed butter.
Personal Blows to the Capitalist State...
First take control of your health. My path has led me to a simple diet recipe... No sugar, little to no grain, no vegetable or seed oils, and perhaps most important - a narrow eating window...typically one meal a day with a snack (like nuts or homemade yogurt). Three years ago I would have thought that this was insane advice, but it is amazing how once you break out of hyperinsulinemia and become a fat burner (metabolically flexible) your hunger abates. I dropped about 60 pounds, brought my blood pressure way down, all joint pain disappeared, and I feel better than I have in years.
So how is that a blow to capitalism? I have no prescriptions nor need to go to the doctor. I have medicare, but only use it to get blood work every couple of years to see where my markers are.
The other piece of the puzzle is the quality of the food you eat. I've come to see what is on the end of my fork as my medicine. This time of year it is so nice to gather fresh salad almost daily. Every food item I grow is one less to buy from corporate agriculture. I understand many of you are not in a situation to garden. In many communities there is a rising generation of young ecological farmers...support their work. We buy our meat from local grassfed operations. I do buy some tropical fruits like avocados that typically come from Mexico, so I'm not a total locavore.
Lustig's presentation above explains that the idea "we should take personal responsibility for our health" came right from the tobacco industry. He goes on the explain how the corporations both big Pharma and big Ag have corrupted diet and health advice to maximize profit. The AARP bulletin this month has an article about inflammation as the cause of all our modern disease. Yet, they never mention sugar nor grains nor vegetable and seed oils as the likely cause. In fact the AARP advise eating whole grain breads to slow your inflammation. Lustig and Andreas Eendfeldt in the clips above shatter that concept.
So can we escape this capitalist system? I don't know. We need to do so. However, I'm a soil scientist not a political scientist. Ralph suggests that the world is waiting on the US to rise up and throw the bums out. https://www.truthdig.com/articles/ralph-nader-the-world-is-waiting-for-a...
Brazil is fighting back against the fascists.
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was released from prison after a key Supreme Court ruling. https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/lula-could-be-freed-after-surprise-...
Recent damning reports by the Intercept Brasil and journalist Glenn Greenwald exposing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his administration culminated in personal attacks on Greenwald’s family and a slap in the face.
I like this idea of citizen assemblies, but they will need accurate information to make good decisions. I fear corporate interests will wiggle their way in to corrupt the process or just outright disrupt it. All over the world people are standing up to TPTB to demand a better system focused on people and planet rather than profit. We need to act collectively and as individuals to bring about this shift in our system...because despite the rhetoric, capitalism is not self-correcting.
Rather capitalism is self-destructive to people and the ecosystem. I look forward to your ideas and comments below. I think this is an important question about the nature of a new system designed for people and planet.
As today I regret I didn't cover more news, but I want to leave you with a Bernie Rally in Iowa. In 2016 I went to almost every Bernie rally (on youtube that is). This year not so much, but I did catch the big rally in NYC and this one. I enjoyed it and those who have an interest might like it too. I'm cutting to the speeches, the first part is music which you might enjoy. It is a first nations woman, AOC, then Bernie.
I think someone has already posted their climate crisis summit in Iowa with Naomi Klein, AOC, Bernie, and several others https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSc7qYpCWp8 (3.3 hours)
It starts with a farmer.