I just watched the trailer for “Before the Flood” and spotted a serious error made by one of the talking heads interviewed in Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest documentary. The interviewee says:
“Politicians will do what the people want them to do. Once the American people are convinced, the politicians will fall in line very quickly.”
This fundamental error is the reason climate change is still getting worse. Gilens and Page wrote a paper that demonstrated in 2014 that although politicians respond well to the wishes of billionaires, the average voter has “little or no independent influence” on public policy. This is a difficult fact to accept, as is the reason people have not been shouting louder about the climate crisis.
Ten years ago Al Gore tried to convince us of “The Inconvenient Truth” (2006) that climate change was the most pressing issue of our time. Gore was correct, but his ideas were attacked and marginalized by organized right-wingers. The documentary “Merchants of Doubt” (2015), based on a book of the same name, unmasks the climate deniers, but fails to appreciate the role the corporate media plays in controlling the narrative. For that you have to go back to “Manufacturing Consent” (1992), to learn how the Propaganda Model works. The consolidation of media ownership is part of an even larger problem described in “The Corporation” (2003) which makes the case that if a corporation was a person, they would be considered a psycho.
This is the fundamental root problem of climate change. The biosphere is not under threat because you ate a hamburger this week (although it would be better if you didn’t). The problem is that the greed of billionaires is out of control. The climate scientists are not experts in the politics of power. The mainstream media produces propaganda instead of journalism. Corporations are abusing eminent domain not for public good, but for private profit because the Supreme Court condoned their behaviour. Politicians on both sides of the party divide are beholden to their major corporate donors. The average voter is learning that, worse than being ignored by elected representatives, even if their vote is accepted, it may not even be counted at all. Once we finally realize that the root cause of climate change is a lack of democracy, the way forward becomes clear.
When a critical mass of people wakes up, our peace officers will stop acting like rent-a-cops doing dirty deeds for greedy billionaires. Anti-corruption laws, driven by grassroots action and ballot initiatives, can take government out of the hands of corporations and Wall Street banks, and restore it to the people. Electoral reform can break the corrupt two-party system and ensure that paper ballots are used to audit electronic voting machines. The debate system can be opened up so smaller parties are not unfairly marginalized. When the people take back their power they can stop greedy corporations from destroying the biosphere and solve all kinds of problems.
Every problem has a solution, most have several and you don’t have to pick just one. If you want to be part of the solution, share these ideas with your friends, family, co-workers, clients, classmates and neighbours. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
When I learned that the micro-organisms that populate the human skin and gut outnumber human cells by about 10 to 1, something clicked. This microbiome is essential to maintain the health of the host organism. We need them and they need us.
If we don’t maintain the health of our gracious host we won’t have an environment that is capable of sustaining our lives. If humans perish from the earth, we would be only one of millions of species to have done so, but humans have produced enough nuclear weapons to turn this planet into a dead rock.
Without life, Earth would be a barren rock spinning uselessly through space. Even if you don’t buy the Gaia hypothesis that the planet has its own consciousness, if we can conceive of a corporation as a “person” we can surely comprehend that the planet, with all its complex networks of flora and fauna, is a living organism. Who has a stronger right to exist: you, or an e-coli bacterium in your colon?
If murder is considered a heinous crime, how much worse is ecocide? Why isn’t this forbidden by law yet, as a crime against humanity? Could it be that pernicious institutions like patriarchy and capitalism are getting in the way? We need a revolution in the way we think about this planet and the roles we are playing.
Once you wake up yourself, will you see how important it is to spread these ideas?
I don’t pretend to be a professional journalist. I am just a mom and curious student who is trying to help the public understand how they have been deceived. This is important because the entrenched systems that keep this constant stream of misinformation and disinformation flowing are a threat to public health and have effectively dismantled democracy. Concerned citizens who want genetically engineered (GE) foods labeled as such are not needlessly frightened about some imaginary threat. They want to vote with their dollars in the absence of credible evidence that GMOs are safe for:
a) long-term human consumption,
b) long-term animal consumption,
c) the non-GE species at risk of contamination via unwanted pollination,
d) the micro-organisms that are necessary for healthy soil (via glyphosate), and
e) crucial pollinator species at risk from pesticide use and monoculture farming.
My last blog post took apart a piece of nonsense Jon Entine contributed to Forbes just as everyone was focused on the largest climate justice mobilization in human history. Every time I see someone else share it on social media I call attention to its glaring error. The same article was used by its author as the basis for a talk at the National Academy of Sciences in which Entine tries, and fails, to pass himself off as an objective observer. Jon Entine points to two recent scientific publications in an attempt to end what he calls the “faux-debate” over the safety of GE foods. The first, by Snell, et al has already been
trounced, and the other so-called 100-billion-cow study by a researcher at UC Davis, says nothing about whether GE food is safe for long-term human consumption. In a nutshell, cows that eat GE feed for 90-120 days before they go to the slaughterhouse do not indicate that it is safe to feed our children an increasing variety of GE foods year after year.
The GMO cheerleaders keep trying to find a study that will be convincing enough that we will all stop wondering about the questions that have not yet been answered. Entine even stoops to the same name-calling that labelling proponents are often accused of, by comparing them with ‘new earth’ Creationists. He calls for co-ordination between regulatory agencies and to reducing the length of the approval process from years to months. The latter suggestion clearly prioritizes corporate profits over public health.
The National Research Council has been charged with producing a report on genetically engineered crops in 2016. The are also inviting the public to submit comments and documentation. I have no doubt that the GMO industry will try their darndest to steer the results in the direction they want, using any and every means at their disposal. The same playbook that was used by Big Tobacco has been adopted by Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Media and Big Ag because it works. The more we understand about how it works, the better equipped we will be to identify and counter its abuses.
I’ve been gathering data to illuminate the machinery that has been trying to drive public opinion where Monsanto and like-minded corporations want it to go. I noticed some rather odd contradictions with respect to funding of genetic engineering’s chief apologists. In my next post we’ll explore the flow of money into specific scientific research from the corporations who benefit from it.
Some old white guy behind the wheel is absolutely not letting go. He’s too impaired to appreciate the danger his own children are in. In fact, he may be smoking crack, which explains why his foot is jammed down on the accelerator. He could be Rob Ford, Steven Harper, any Republican, or the Koch Brothers, but let’s just call him Capitalism. We all want to get out of the car, but if we shift our weight too fast while trying to scramble out the back hatch all at once and the drive wheels touch the ground, we’re all going over. Hmmmm. What to do.
Here’s an idea, one by one, without tipping the balance, lets just carefully climb out the rear doors so that it doesn’t matter if the fat cat in the driver seat takes that nasty, smelly motor car over the cliff. How do we do this? Some of us are already out there, growing organic food in our own gardens, and some are choosing to make Christmas presents instead of buying truckloads of stuff others don’t need or even want. Every time you choose public transit or ride your bike and leave your car at home, you are helping to shift the balance of power. Growing numbers are coming out of the media fog and standing up to say no to tar sands expansion, no to fracking and yes to saving our biosphere together.
We are at a social tipping point on this small, blue planet. The guy behind the wheel is about to glance over his shoulder and realize that he isn’t going to be taking a whole bunch of us with him. If enough of us get out and vote to place firm limits on the increasingly dangerous powers of transnational corporations we may even be able to hook up a tow line and prevent a tragedy.
Thanks, Captialism, for getting us into this interesting predicament. Now go home, you’re drunk.
When I walk along the edge of Lake Ontario and see little boys tossing pebbles into the water it always brings me joy. My own little boy did that once, drawn inexorably toward the shoreline and delighted by the rings he created as they moved ever outward. We smile at their efforts to make a mark on a great body of water, but little children understand something that the rest of us forget. The first lesson of ripples is that the only moment that any of us will ever have is right now. We sense this when we crouch beside children to see the shiny new world through their eyes. Now is the dividing line between the past and the future, between desire and fulfillment. Every pebble we toss, every decision we make happens on that frontier between our intentions and our actions.
As soon as we toss the second pebble we see that interesting things happen where two worlds collide.
The border where the sea meets the shore supports tremendous biodiversity and in science, intersections like this hold important lessons. The interactions between industrial scale monoculture, genetic engineering and chemical pesticides are having a devastating impact on the living earth. We are only beginning to see the connections to mammalian health and there are even deadlier interactions connected to the burning of fossil fuels. Corporations profiting from genetically modified seeds were allowed to be responsible for safety testing but their methodology was, unsurprisingly, inadequate. Longer term studies have now been released that are cause for concern. I am now trying to process the understanding that my child, for most of his life, has been used by transnational corporations as a science experiment without my knowledge or consent and that despite my effort to end it, this experiment continues, because I don’t buy groceries at his father’s house, or the school cafeteria.
The more pebbles you toss into the pond, the more complex the ripples become.
There are bound to be some messy interactions between the ripples created by different groups and we need to allow for this while understanding that although our goals may differ in their specifics, we all share the same fundamental needs for clean air, water and non-toxic food. The politics of division is incredibly corrosive, and it threatens the very biosphere when it fragments opposition to ecocide. Whether people stand behind the Idle No More protesters as settler allies, or march against GMOs as fellow earthlings or Terrestrials, it is the joining in a common purpose that will tip the balance of power away from oppression and exploitation and towards justice and sustainability. Some people think the living earth is a sentient being, but whether Gaia has consciousness or not is a moot point if we argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin while ignoring the transnational corporations that are destroying the biosphere we need to survive. We are all on the same side in our need for air, water and food.
Ripples begin from point at which the pebble falls and travel at their own speed.
Although it is inevitable that trolls will try to sow conflict by trying to find differences between the indisputable needs of First Nations’ communities and the sympathetic desire of Settler Allies for a better world for all of our grandchildren, I think we are all bright enough to recognize and reject any false narrative that attempts to weaken our shared momentum. We all need to begin where we are. Settler Allies are not equally educated or aware of indigenous issues, and this isn’t going to change overnight. My lack of in-depth understanding of the historical issues should not preclude my participation as long as I recognize and respect First Nations moral authority and sovereignity in events that they organize. Settler allies’ understanding of the importance of dismantling the oppressive colonial power structures will grow over time, and gradually spread outwards throughout the wider community. Patience and understanding will help this process unfold.
Once they start, ripples keep going and cannot be stopped.
Years ago I would watch my son sleeping and unconsciously match my breathing to his. My love for him and the primal instinct to protect was a powerful and transformative force. When I became a mother my circles of concern and compassion expanded outward to take in other children not born into the privileged life my son enjoys. News stories of abuse and neglect that make everyone sad, seemed suddenly to cut much deeper. The protective instinct a parent feels is a powerful, primal thing. No matter what other roles I may adopt, I am a mother first, and that means I would stop a bullet for my child. While the threats to our childrens’ health are widespread and numerous, I am not going to back down just because the problem I’m trying to solve is massive and intractable.
It is no surprise that Idle No More movement has risen on the shoulders of indigenous women. Mothers Against Drunk Driving made a real difference because they have an unassailable moral authority. Mothers of children everywhere are struggling against the corrosive power of transnational corporations and winning skirmishes on the ground in their own communities. These small victories send hope and courage rippling outwards to more families, friends and neighbours, increasing numbers of whom are finding it necessary to get off the couch to defend their communities as the tentacles of unrelenting corporate greed reach further into our daily lives.
As a species, we are finally connecting the dots between the countless smaller battles being fought in communities around the globe. We are dropping pebbles into the same pond because the issues are interconnected. The campaigns of groups like Idle No More, Seed Freedom, and Occupy all have a fundamental purpose in common with Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Arab spring brought people from all faiths and walks of life into the streets to recognize their common cause, and we are seeing small groups of people in the west now coalesce in social media. There is a growing awareness that we are all on the same side, and the divide-and-conquer tactics of transnational corporations are losing traction.
The pebbles of change will continue to drop and whether we march city streets, or meet at the blockades, we can all join hands and hearts in defense of the earth. There is a reason we are all drawn toward the shorelines of lakes, rivers and oceans to make ripples. It is the same thing that draws us to the barricades to make waves. The place where two worlds meet is where the tide turns and ripples begin to spread outward. This connection is where the magic happens.
Dear One Percent,
I can understand why you might be a tad nervous these days. Your lofty penthouses must offer spectacular views of the collapse of western civilization. We have reached a fork in the road and there is a real struggle about which way to go. Since you’ve usurped most of the power in the world and your vote counts for more than mine, I’m asking you to please use it wisely.
If we continue down the broad path of globalization, unfettered corporate pillage and the continued massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the super-rich, we are all going to have a bad time. History repeatedly demonstrates the resilience of what a former employer of mine actually called “the great unwashed masses.” The stronger the downward momentum when the people hit bottom, the higher they will bounce. There were no gates high enough, or walls thick enough to resist this force when it erupted in France, Russia, China, or countless other “civilized” nations that didn’t share resources fairly. What’s worse, if ecocide is allowed to continue, there won’t be a world worth living in when the dust settles.
Nobody wants that to happen in America except Fox News. Bloody violence would be a wet dream for both Rupert Murdoch and the pundit class who are employed by the military-industrial-prison-complex. The vast majority of sentient beings on this planet, perhaps especially the cops and soldiers, want peace. However, we all have the right to defend ourselves and our families from abuse. More of us are recognizing that the planet we live on should also be inside our circle of concern, because if she dies, we do too and so more of us than ever are willing to put ourselves in harm’s way to defend the earth.
We are hearing the term ‘revolution’ being tossed around in a less figurative context these days. We are approaching a tipping point and none of us knows for certain what lies on the other side. Let’s take a moment to think about what we want to find there. I expect to see small communities building their own sustainable economies, growing more organic food in more shared spaces. We already see the growth of free-cycling, tool libraries, seed libraries, maker spaces and other alternatives to consumerism. We will see increasing engagement in governance, beginning particularly at the local level and, if necessary, increased civil disobedience in the prevention of ecocide. We will see a new economy growing to fill the void as our current unsustainable house of cards slowly but surely collapses down to a manageable size. The whole fossil fuel industry will gradually subside, while clean, renewable energy companies rise to replace them. Institutional pressure to divest from fossil fuels will accelerate this process. At the same time, we can also expect to see a number of democratic movements coalesce in order to find a way to bring power back to the people from whom it was stolen. Checks and balances on the power of transnational corporations must be restored if we are to save this planet. Please keep in mind that we don’t have another one to go to.
The massive chasm of income disparity represents a threat to everyone, no matter how much or how little money they have. Change is inevitable and its up to you, dear one percent, to make sure the transition goes smoothly. We all need you to become part of the solution by defecting from the forces of unmitigated greed and join our common cause as Terrestrials. We all breathe the same air, and so will all of our children, even yours.
Some of the rest of us.
Some handy links;
Russell Brand’s interview with Jeremy Paxman has over seven million views on YouTube in just a couple of days. Clearly, he really touched a nerve, but Paxman was right to take him to task for advocating not voting, as that is one of the many ways to attempt to fix the broken system. The difficulty is that we really need to start from the bottom and begin organizing at the local level first in order to get a foothold. Municipal politics may not sound exciting, but that is where the magic can begin to happen.
The system of party politics in western democracy ensures that some asshole is going to get the top job no matter how few people vote for him. If only three people out of a hundred vote, then two votes out of a hundred wins the election. That is the law. The system is designed to maintain the status quo, not to ensure that the voice of the people is heard. The influx of money from corporations and lobbyists – and I don’t know why we don’t just call this bribery straight up – has so tainted the whole process that it really isn’t democratic anymore, and some of the brightest minds will tell you it never really has been. We just call it that out of habit, but recent decades have seen the rise of corporate oligarchy and the influence of transnational corporations spreading throughout the world. Watch this TED talk if you want to understand the extent of the problem.
This trend really bad news because a corporation exists for one purpose only. Profit is now the one and only goal but it wasn’t always like that. Corporations used to have a charter that set out the obligations it was supposed to fulfill. There used to be a mandate, a public good that the organization was intended to serve. Today shareholder value has a legal claim above all others in corporate governance. In the top-down hierarchical structure, the overpaid CEOs and directors have the power. They are using that power and influence to subvert democracy and remove the checks and balances that once prevented their abuse of people and the environment. However corporations do have an Achilles heel, and the time has come to strike it. We, the people, can boycott their products and employees can work to rule and create collective bargaining units. Massive civil disobedience drove the British out of India and we can use it in North America to demand justice for people and the planet.
It is high time more people recognized that the whole economic model based on growth is wrong. We live on planet with finite resources. There are limits to growth, and we are coming up on them faster than most people realize. Fossil fuel consumption needs to be cut back hard and this has to happen now, or there may not be many future generations. The system that has allowed things to get this bad deserves to be tossed on the scrap heap, but first we have to organize and build a new system based on the principle of sustainability, which is just another way of saying first do no harm. The question is, can we do this fast enough?
Since our current system of government is hopelessly damaged and no longer reflects the will of the people, it behooves us all to demand a change and the system is so far gone that this change has to be revolutionary. Anyone who tries to equate the term revolution with violence is part of the problem and cannot see the forest of democracy for the trees of divisive party politics. The place to start is at the bottom. We need to extract ourselves from the matrix of lies that is spoon-fed through the mind-control devices in our living rooms and take back democracy one level at a time. We can connect with our neighbours, start gardens and free-cycling in our communities, and get involved in making our municipalities more sustainable. The revolution will begin in your heart and bring you out to meet your neighbours and even if the whole house of cards that is the current system collapses, we’ll still have each other.
Revision; Here’s an excellent article on this topic; http://rabble.ca/news/2013/10/some-thoughts-about-power-russell-brand
Having introduced the concept in a previous post, it occurred to me that I had not defined Terrestrialism. I guess there are two core principles. The first is the premise that we are all connected by interdependence. We have symbiotic relationships with billions of microorganisms that populate our bodies and similarly, billions of mammals have symbiotic relationships with the Planet Earth. There seems to be a fractal relationship between these two levels of interdependence, which seems to echo the concept “As above, so below” that one finds in theosophy. This is not to say that I “believe” in theosophy or accept its other tenets – I don’t – but I am willing to entertain the possibilty that there maybe some truth here.
This is where quantum theory comes in. According to quantum mechanics, the observation of any system causes it to change and ideas like quantum entanglement suggest that particles really can be in two places at once. I can hold the idea in my head the possiblility that perhaps the earth is an inert object and perhaps the Gaia hypothesis is correct at the same time. The symbiotic relationships that living organisms have with one another becomes clearer everyday as we observe habitat destruction leading to mass extinctions, like a row of dominoes falling over. There are some who suggest that the fundamental fabric of the universe is perhaps not entirely explained by the Higgs boson, but consciousness itself. Like quantum superposition, in which a particle can exist in all its possible states, only to be actualized in any of them when measured, I can entertain the idea that maybe it is consciousness that connects us all, and maybe its something else.
Fortunately, we don’t need to know which underlying theory is correct in order to make decisions in our daily lives. This is because of the other key principle of Terrestrialism, which follows naturally from our interdependence and reflects the core values of all the major religions. The Golden Rule is not difficult to comprehend but it becomes problematic when you realize how many people treat themselves badly. I would prefer to express the idea as “Do No Harm” to oneself or others. This non-aggression principle does not mean turn the other cheek to any kind of abuse, as there is a basic right to self defense. However, aggression for the prevention of greater harm is where the thin edge of the wedge gets shoved in and wars are defended as righteous. That hasn’t worked out so well, so maybe we should attempt to curtail that impulse.
What I am wondering, and feel free to help me out here, is whether Terrestrialism might be a missing link between science and religion or a kind of bridge between the two. The Terrestrial umbrella, since is covers every living organism on the planet, even the germs, is a club that all the scientists and all the religious belong to. I think it is helpful to express this kind of solidarity with our co-habitants because it will take all our efforts to solve all the problems that human activity has created on this planet .