Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

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Links September 2022

September 7, 2022

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tucW1ji4A4

I was glad to see Alfred de Zayas and Gilbert Doctorow, both very knowledgeable and well educated persons (and both among my favorite experts), comment on the looming energy crisis in Europe. Everything what they said was spot on, and yet, I personally come to a completely different conclusion in regard of the ongoing economic war between the Western powers and Russia.

How come?

From an ecological point of view, sanctions against Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, and other adversaries of the USA are positive because they help to reduce energy consumption and industrial activity. Low energy prices and easy access only increase energy use and enable industrial activity at a level which is unsustainable and which is destroying what is still left of the natural world.

Leave it in the ground,” leave the fossil fuels in the pristine Arctic and other remaining nature reserves or wildlife sanctuaries. What has become of this catchphrase? Who pursues this policy still?

Well, then comes the argument that reducing industrial activity will cause unemployment, will increase prices of food and bare necessities, will hurt the poor and disenfranchised most.

Let’s be clear, economic inequality in Europe is primarily a matter of social policy, of politic priorities, and a fair distribution of goods would be possible even if resources were less plentiful than they are now.

“Common prosperity,” the social objective which China aims at, can be achieved even with radical reduced consumption of energy and materials.

China’s Poverty Elimination Campaign. which lifted 800 million people out of poverty, was based on job training, migration, social welfare expansion, improved infrastructure, and precisely targeted business support. It was not based on increased use of fossil fuels!

Chinese life expectancy is now one year higher than life expectancy in the USA!

Europe is still a rich and privileged place and Europeans need not starve or freeze to death. European governments have still enough means to avoid extreme hardship of disenfranchised populations.

The changed geopolitical situation (declining Anglosphere, rising BRICS) and the diminished ability of Western nations to exploit the global south (also called “Third World”) in a quasi neocolonial fashion will of course necessitate certain lifestyle changes.

Long distance travel will become a luxury again, it will not be possible to buy a new car every other year, appliances and gadgets will be used till they break to be then repaired instead of being replaced and thrown away, fanciful “fast fashion” will be derided, cloth will be used till it falls apart, disposable “one way” goods will be avoided. There will be an emphasis on reducing, repairing, and recycling. Barter groups and flea markets will try to find new uses and users for obsolete goods.

People will spend more time in nature instead of fiddling with their smartphones or sitting in front of computer and TV.

A long way to go for sure, but switching off the gas and oil deliveries via pipeline, ships, and railroad at least brings us a step closer to this vision.

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The following paragraphs are from my last post, but I repeat them here because there are a few important corrections and the two texts complement each other and belong together.

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There is astonishing strong support for Russia’s military operation against Ukraine among European dissident groups. These Russia-friendly groups are clearly a minority, but they are a seizable one.

Some writers, investigative journalists, and anti-establishment commentators have even made a career out of their Russian-friendly stance, gathering strong followings on alternative social media platforms like Rumble, Duran, Odysee, Locals, Telegram, VK, Weibo, and others.

Some of these persons and the groups which they represent could be labeled as right wing, some as left wing; some have special interests (anti-war, social and gender equality, minority rights) or grievances against the political leadership, which they rightfully deem as inept, arrogant, and corrupt.

While normally these dissenters would be ignored, censored, or lampooned and ridiculed, the level of disillusionment and loathing which the European public now feels against traditional political parties has reached an intensity which makes it likely that cunning and astute persons will exploit the situation and replace the current leadership. Giorgia Meloni from the ultranationalist Brothers of Italy party is one example.

Such an upheaval and breakdown of the existing political order could of course give chance to a new dawn, a new era, and the return of sanity and peace, but the more likely outcome will be chaos, anarchy, and social collapse.

A troubling facet or characteristic of the pro-Russia movement is the lack of a global perspective, a lack of alternative visions, and a complete unawareness of the need for sustainable social, economic, and ecological systems. The persons who are cheerleading Russia’s demilitarization and denazification treatment of Ukraine are not environmentalists, by far not!

They don’t mind that Russia flares 4.34 million cubic meters of natural gas which it cannot easily reroute to China or India, that Russia promotes nuclear energy in the global South, that China and Russia increase coal burning in power plants, that Russia increases oil exploration in pristine Arctic areas, that Russia experiments with nuclear propulsion systems in missiles (9M730 Burevestnik), that the paradigm of unlimited growth is still the foundation of Chinese and Russian economic planning.

They (the pro-Russia people) are blind to ecological devastation just as the broad European public is blind to undeserved privileges and unaware of global injustice or ongoing neocolonial exploitation.

So, here we are,” as Alexander Mercouris, a leading proponent of the pro-Russia-anti-Ukraine movement, uses to say. (He is btw one of the most reasonable and sensible commentators of the Ukrainian conflict who never misses a chance to call for peace and a swift end to the slaughter.)

Europeans are used to affluence, even opulence, to filled up shelves in supermarkets, to fancy gadgets, slick fashion, and luxury tourism. They feel entitled to conspicuous consumption, to a “throwaway culture,” to the mindless waste of resources in disregard of environmental impacts. Impacts, which are only manifest far away in Asia anyway, because Western countries have cleverly outsourced manufacturing to China and other Southeast Asian nations.

Europeans don’t realize, or deliberately ignore, that their privileged position is based on colonial exploitation. Many European countries were colonial powers, and while they have mostly released their colonies between 1946 and 1974, they, acting under the umbrella of the United States empire, still keep a tight grip on global trade, finance, and technology transfer.

So, Europeans will march in the streets, chanting for change (but in reality against change), chanting against a fair distribution of resources and against the sharing of scarce goods with the destitute, impoverished, and hungry.

All the while Russia rains shells, rockets, and precision guided missiles on Ukrainian fortifications, demilitarizing Ukraine and at the same time NATO, which has sent much of its arms stockpiles to Ukraine. This could be the end of NATO, even the end of US hegemony, which is a good thing from the view points of social justice, ecological sustainability, and peace.

But, the environmental costs are severe, and neither Russia nor China are exempt from the ironclad rule that more industrial activity causes more environmental destruction. The huge industrial base of Russia enables it to stand up against the collective West, the even more massive industrial base of China will end US hegemony. These developments are inevitable and need no additional support, while all efforts of nonconformists, revolutionaries, and visionary opinion makers must be put into demands for a wise, cautious, and economical use of the existing industrial capacities in China, Russia, Iran, and wherever else.

At the same time all efforts must be made to awake the Western public from their dreams of never ending conspicuous consumption, from their delusions of unlimited economic growth, from their addiction to shopping and gathering more stuff.

Finally and most importantly: All efforts must be made of reconnecting humans to the wonders and the beauty of the natural world.

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How tired the Russians must be about the West. As was stated countless times, “the empire never retreats or compromises,” and Western nations have shown to be utterly unable no negotiate in good faith. Russians realized that the ultimate goal will always be the destruction of Russia and the looting of its remnants by the West.

Facing an existential challenge, the Russians are the ones armed with the necessary resolve to prevent this outcome at any cost. They endured the Communist Revolution, then the Nazis, and later the dissolution of the Soviet Union and excessive looting by the West during the Yeltsin years.

The mindset of the global elite is clear and straight forward:

a) We can seize whatever assets other people own for any reason we want.

b) There will be no legal or other repercussions for illegally seizing other people’s assets.

One has to acknowledge that the seizures of Russian assets is wrong. And, whatever one thinks about Western sanctions, one has to accept that Russia is free to respond in equal measure. The apparent shock that the West seems to have over the Russian response is embarrassing. Not realizing that the sanctions inevitably would backfire and refusing to back down is irrational.

It is amazing that no one thought about the impact of Russia cutting off gas flow to Europe. Did European politicians really believe that Russia would invade Ukraine without preparing for economic war and reciprocal actions by Russia? How could they believe that the entire world to go along with NATO after all the catastrophic invasions of countries in the Middle East and constant illegal meddling in Africa, Latin America, and Asia?

We may see a certain percentage of Europeans freeze and starve to death this winter unless multiple governments are replaced. And even then, even when facing more rational and fair-minded Western leaders, one can’t expect Russia to relent. The best lesson for Europe from a Russian perspective might be to endure hardship so they never again agree to this kind of mad Ukrainian proxy war.

There is no hope though that the USA will ever learn from this experience. US politics has already condemned more than a million people to die from COVID-19 and US officials are OK with an additional yearly sacrifice of 300k to 700k lives taken by COVID. The US government is OK with killing about 60k people each year due to a lack of universal healthcare and extreme poverty. The financial experts are advocating for 10 percent unemployment for two years to break the supply induced inflation, even though they must be aware that every 1 percent of unemployment correlates to roughly 40k deaths.

And Europe goes along, taking its cues from the USA.

Stainless steel mills close down because of high energy prices. Aluminum mills and other factories will follow. As crucial industries shut down, what are the chances that they will ever be able to open up again? Supposing that the energy problem could be resolved, how would they be able to reassemble the workforce further down the track. A lot of well trained and experienced employees will retire or emigrate or be rendered incapable of working due to long-COVID ailments.

All things considered, Europe may well be turned into an inconsequential peninsular attached to the Eurasian mainland. All the while Europeans have to get used to the idea, that the “good times” of (undeserved) privilege, affluence based on neocolonial exploitation, and conspicuous consumption are over and will never come back again.

Feline news:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/pet-cat-hdb-microchip-avs-survey-welfare-framework-public-consultation-2919451

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/cna-explains-why-cats-are-not-allowed-hdb-flats-and-how-could-soon-change-2921006

Against the odds:

https://www.hcn.org/issues/54.9/indigenous-affairs-food-indigenous-farmers-reclaim-time-honored-techniques

https://dezayasalfred.wordpress.com/2022/09/06/11-ep166-elaina-porter-of-the-pendo-center-for-self-determination-human-rights-alfred-de-zayas/

Environmental news:

Germany extends the use of 2 nuclear reactors which were scheduled to shut down at the end of the year. The step is intended to cushion a growing energy crisis in Europe but could upend the country’s plans to become the first industrial power to shutter its nuclear energy program.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/f1-singapore-grand-prix-ticket-sales-iswaran-tourism-2904116

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Germany-Reactivates-Second-Coal-Fired-Power-Plant-to-Save-Gas-20220829-0006.html

https://e360.yale.edu/features/ukraine-russia-war-environmental-impact

https://journal-neo.org/2022/09/04/us-dependence-on-russian-uranium-and-sanctions-policy/

Economic news:

British government bonds are on course for their biggest monthly fall since 1994, as surging energy prices create a perfect storm of higher inflation, tighter monetary policy and the prospect of greater government borrowing.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2022/08/small-businesses-are-about-to-die-off-in-droves-across-europe.html

https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2022/08/eu-controlled-demolition/

https://counterinformation.wordpress.com/2022/08/26/sanctions-against-russia-damage-western-business/

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/gdp-measurement-new-zealand-beyond-economic-growth/

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2022/08/will-europe-go-down-to-defeat-before-ukraine.html

https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v44/n16/geoff-mann/reversing-the-freight-train

https://counterinformation.wordpress.com/2022/09/05/energy-crisis-worsening-in-finland/

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2022/09/europes-economic-controlled-flight-into-terrain.html

Pandemic news:

The pharmaceutical industry (Big Pharma) makes profit from human misery, and it sells medicines and other medical supplies at high profit margins which rather should be provided for free to anyone who needs them. Provided for free because it should be the duty of everyone to help her or his fellow humans avoid or heal from sickness and live a good life without pain and suffering.

These are socialist ethics of course and they don’t apply in a capitalist society which is based on wealth accumulation and profit maximization.

So, Pfizer, a criminal company who was fined 2.3 billion US$ for illegally marketing drugs like Zyvox, Lyrica, Bextra, and Geodon, sells COVID-19 vaccines (developed by another company) for 20 to 30 US$ a shot, and clueless politicians, discredited for their dismal performance and mismanagement of the pandemic emergency, jump at the vaccination train, hoping that this is the perfect solution, the silver bullet to end this health crisis.

After a while it comes to light that vaccines from Pfizer and other pharma companies don’t prevent infections and don’t disrupt transmission chains, while more and more cases of dangerous, even deadly side effects are reported.

Pharma lobbyists, politicians, bureaucrats, and the mass media go in overdrive, telling the dismayed and horrified public that the vaccines are not useless because they mitigate the infection and prevent severe sickness.

The statistics are plentiful and contradictory, but global data show no clear correlation of vaccination rates with hospitalization rates.

China, lambasted and ridiculed for its zero-COVID policy, still uses the whole array of mitigating measures (contact tracing, quarantine, lockdowns, travel bans, masks, and vaccines) in an unrelenting drive to eradicate COVID-19.

Chinese life expectancy is now one year higher than US life expectancy!

In the USA two to four million working-age adults have left the labor force due to Long COVID:

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/09/05/ylsf-s05.html

Media, technology, and propaganda news:

http://patricklawrence.us/patrick-lawrence-when-correspondents-came-home/

https://apnews.com/article/technology-police-california-arkansas-d395409ef5a8c6c3f6cdab5b1d0e27ef

https://countercurrents.org/2022/09/the-road-to-fascism-how-the-war-in-ukraine-is-changing-europe/

https://scheerpost.com/2022/09/04/the-chris-hedges-report-ukraine-and-the-crisis-of-media-censorship/

Imperial news:

Life expectancy fell in the United States in 2021 for the second year in a row to its lowest level since 1996, driven by COVID-19 deaths. The decline to 76.1 years marked the largest two-year drop in life expectancy at birth in close to a century. All together life expectancy dropped to 2.7 years lost since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disparity in life expectancy between men and women widened last year to the highest in over two decades, with men now expected to live 73.2 years, nearly six fewer years than women.

Deaths from COVID-19 contributed to half of the overall decline in life expectancy, with drug overdoses and heart disease also major contributors. COVID-19 was associated with more than 460,000 deaths in 2021.

In 2020, US life expectancy saw its biggest one-year drop since World War Two, with COVID-related deaths contributing nearly 75 percent to the decline. Life expectancy this year will likely not return to pre-pandemic levels, and a lot depends on what happens toward the end of the year as deaths typically rise during winter months.

While deaths from suicide had decreased in 2020, they were the fifth biggest contributor to the drop in overall life expectancy last year. Suicide-related deaths were the third leading contributor of the decline in life expectancy for men.

https://covertactionmagazine.com/2022/08/30/thirty-six-percent-of-mass-shooters-were-trained-by-the-u-s-military-but-few-americans-know-this-because-the-media-never-report-it/

https://peoplesdispatch.org/2022/09/02/water-is-dignity-residents-in-majority-black-jackson-mississippi-left-without-drinkable-water/

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/09/07/pers-s07.html

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/8/31/us-life-expectancy-plunged-again-in-2021-down-nearly-a-year-cdc

Imperial conquest news:

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/08/23/us-media-ignored-major-anti-us-military-protest-in-south-korea/

https://korybko.substack.com/p/the-tplfs-latest-terrorist-offensive

https://resumen-english.org/2022/08/argentina-the-attack-against-cristina-is-backfiring/

The Euphrates, West Asia’s longest river, is the source of current and future conflicts between Turkey and the downstream littoral states Syria and Iraq as Ankara uses its control over water flows to project power in the region.

https://thecradle.co/Article/Investigations/14625

https://resumen-english.org/2022/08/chinese-company-ships-crude-from-venezuela-defying-us-sanctions/

https://covertactionmagazine.com/2022/09/03/july-26-marked-the-sixty-nine-year-anniversary-of-the-attack-on-the-moncada-barracks-the-beginning-of-the-cuban-revolution/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/09/05/why-gorbachev-was-one-of-the-greatest-failures-in-history/

https://newsghana.com.gh/sadc-rejects-anti-russian-bill-in-united-states-congress/

https://peoplesdispatch.org/2022/08/30/us-backed-tplf-resumes-war-in-northern-ethiopia/

https://blackagendareport.com/international-community-unreliable-broker-ethiopia-conflict

Ukraine news:

Russia has been quite disciplined about not destroying infrastructure in Ukraine (electricity, water, internet). These are obvious targets that have to be avoided if one wishes to win some hearts and minds. However, Ukraine has fewer compunctions, which has been made clear not only with countless crimes (torture, rape, robbings) by neo-NAZI gangs but also by dropping butterfly munitions in Donbass and shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar.

Pepe Escobar writes, that Ukraine is finished as a nation — neither side will rest in this war. The only question is whether it will be an Afghan or Syrian style finale.

https://thecradle.co/Article/Columns/14989

Corporal Dominic Abelen, a soldier of the New Zealand Defense Force, was killed on the front lines in eastern Ukraine, while serving in the foreign legion.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/09/01/dqtk-s01.html

https://libya360.wordpress.com/2022/08/26/from-nurseries-to-nazis-ukraines-terrorist-radicalization-of-children/

https://libya360.wordpress.com/2022/08/25/sbu-hq-in-mariupol-torture-and-executions/

https://www.indianpunchline.com/ground-beneath-zelenskys-feet-is-shifting/

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/08/26/biden-to-name-a-us-military-operation-for-ukraine/

https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2022/09/if-true.html

https://sonar21.com/ukraines-western-backed-gamble-to-capture-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-power-plant-backfires%EF%BF%BC/

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Russia-Halts-Drone-Attack-on-Zaporizhzhia-Plant-20220904-0005.html

https://www.thepostil.com/our-latest-interview-with-jacques-baud/

https://news.antiwar.com/2022/09/02/white-house-asks-congress-for-14-billion-to-fund-its-war-against-russia/

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Thousands-Demand-the-Resignation-of-the-Government-in-Prague-20220903-0001.html

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/09/06/c44b-s06.html

China news:

Although the total number of COVID cases remains small, Beijing’s Zero COVID policy implies that new lockdowns could be imposed at any moment and several big Chinese cities have indeed increased COVID-19 restrictions.

Longhua, a Shenzhen district with 2.5 million residents, closed various entertainment venues and wholesale market-places; large events are suspended.

In Dalian, a major port in northeastern China important for soybeans and iron ore imports, the main urban areas with around 3 million residents entered a lockdown. Households are allowed to send only one person out per day to shop for daily necessities.

In the southwestern city of Chengdu, the districts of Wuhou and Qingyang suspended many venues and tour groups and planned to delay the start of the fall semester for schools, after the district of Jinniu tightened curbs. But following a spike in COVID-19 cases, the whole city of 21 million people is now locked down.

The northern municipality of Tianjin (13.7 million residents) started a new citywide COVID testing to identify community infections, the fourth such testing in a week.

In the northern city of Shijiazhuang, about 3.5-hours drive from the capital Beijing, four big districts have ordered more than 3 million residents to work from home, excluding essential workers.

Qinghai’s provincial capital, Xining, with 2.5 million residents, has ordered a lockdown for its main urban areas, halting public transport and restricting movement outside residential compounds.

China reported 1,717 domestically transmitted COVID infections for August 29, including 349 symptomatic ones and 1,368 asymptomatic infections.

Among the 20 provinces, regions, and municipalities that reported cases, the region of Tibet, the province of Sichuan, of which Chengdu is the capital, and the province of Qinghai contributed the most daily cases.

Officials in Tibet and Hainan were punished for not successfully enforcing the zero COVID policy.

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The youth unemployment rate rose from 15.3 percent in January to 19.9 percent in July as a record 10 million university graduates entered the job market.

If the USA imposes broad restrictions on EDA chip design tools exports to China, a full-dress trade war is a likely outcome. But the global semiconductor supply chain is so complex and interdependent that China has almost as much ability to disrupt the industry outside China as the US has the ability to disrupt China’s chip industry.

Much quoted recently is a 2021 remark by TSMC founder Morris Chang: “If you want to reestablish a complete semiconductor supply chain in the US, you will not find it as a possible task, even after you spend hundreds of billions of dollars, you will still find the supply chain to be incomplete, and you will find that it will be very high cost, much higher costs than what you currently have.”

For example, China controls 60 percent of the world’s supply of fluorites, a rare earth used in the fluoropolymers used for valves in chip fabrication plans, and identified by a 2021 US government report as a strategic vulnerability.

Even more important, China ranks first in the world in testing and assembly and packaging of microchips, a stage of the manufacturing process requiring high skills. China’s annual revenue for testing and assembly was about 50 billion US$ in 2021. Finding enough skilled labor outside China to replicate that capacity would be next to impossible.

https://qz.com/china-life-expectancy-exceeds-us-1849483265

https://scheerpost.com/2022/08/26/chinas-development-path-indigenous-innovation-and-global-competition/

https://apnews.com/article/china-lakes-droughts-climate-and-environment-a8a9278e0bf6ea53f9e3de49d0446f64

https://scheerpost.com/2022/08/29/transforming-the-real-estate-market-using-the-crisis-in-the-localized-real-estate-market-to-promote-healthy-development-and-economic-growth/

https://theupheaval.substack.com/p/why-is-china-so-obsessed-with-food

https://dezayasalfred.wordpress.com/2022/09/06/counterpunch-the-flaws-in-the-assessment-report-of-the-office-of-the-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-on-china/

Armageddon news:

https://counterinformation.wordpress.com/2022/08/27/the-b61-12-mini-nukes-made-in-america-to-be-used-in-a-nuclear-first-strike-coming-soon-to-italy-belgium-germany-netherlands/

https://taskandpurpose.com/history/us-military-nuclear-weapons-missing/

Uncategorized musings:

I opened the window for a trapped little fly

To let it escape to where it belongs

But the fly didn’t try, didn’t understand why

So it was bound to die. Bye bye, little fly

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The Four Pests campaign was one of the first actions taken in the Great Leap Forward in Mao’s China from 1958 to 1962. The four pests to be eliminated were rats, flies, mosquitoes, and sparrows. The mass eradication of sparrows resulted in an increase of crop-eating insects and were one of the causes of the Great Chinese Famine in 1959. In 1960, the campaign against sparrows was ended and redirected to bed bugs.

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Empathy can be all-encompassing or selective.

Even though at the moment it doesn’t look like the human species can be saved, I try to make my tiny contribution of mitigating the damage we do to the natural world.

I do it for my beloved cat companions. I do it for the animals of the forest, for the trees and the other plants. Fellow living beings they are, but nevertheless thoughtlessly pushed aside, poisoned, cut down, eradicated by us humans.

We should live with them in harmonious cooperation instead of extinguishing them.

Anyway, being in a mode of love and understanding, of grace and kindness, of tenderness and peace makes me feel better.

Unashamed of New Age catchphrases: Love is healing.

Smiling and watching my breath.

A few pictures from cat land: