Unlucky Number – article by George Monbiot

While those of us with a social conscience are agonizing over the DAPL (Damn All Pipe Lines – my words for the acronym) protests, there are much bigger issues facing this planet.  Issues that leave those of us who actually do look at man’s effects upon this planet wishing quite seriously that we were not here to see or experience them.  I think that as a ruling species given an entire planet to “do our thing” upon, we’ve quite completely painted ourselves into the proverbial corner and no way out.

Mr. Monbiot warns that his article could be depressing.  I suppose it is but I like to look at the truly big picture when considering solutions to the woes of man and his world.  We can no longer be satisfied in looking at solutions to our own problems because such solutions will not have any effect on the overall situation.  In fact if some local problem is resolved, let’s say the DAPL project is abandoned, many locals will feel the job is done, go home and resume life where they left off.  You can’t blame them of course but that won’t solve anything overall.  Overall there is a systematic break down.  Our “old” civilization is no longer sustainable and failing, socially, morally, economically.  It’s a combination of too much having been taken; too high expectations from too many.  Our exponential growth has smashed its face into a cement wall called the finite.  We didn’t need “Dollar” Trump to build that wall, it comes with every finite physical world and it’s up to those who would rule that world to recognize in time that there are built-in limits to growth.  Well folks, “we” chose, crassly and by some belief in entitlement not to acknowledge this number one law governing all life in a material universe.  We have been extremely foolish and we are about to experience the real consequences of that foolishness.

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Here is the George Monbiot article, copied from an email

Unlucky Number

Posted: 28 Nov 2016 04:34 AM PST

We face (at least) 13 major crises, some of which are immediate. It’s time for some hard thinking about how we confront them.

By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 25 November 2016

Please don’t read this unless you are feeling strong. This is a list of 13 major crises that, I believe, confront us. There may be more. Please feel free to add to it or to knock it down. I’m sorry to say that it’s not happy reading.

  1. The next occupant of the White House will be a man who appears to possess no capacity for restraint, balance or empathy, but a bottomless capacity for revenge and vindictiveness. He has been granted a clean sweep of power, with both houses and the Supreme Court in his pocket. He is surrounding himself with people whose judgement and knowledge of the world are, to say the least, limited. He will take charge of the world’s biggest nuclear and conventional arsenals and the most extensive surveillance and security apparatus any state has ever developed.

  1. In making strategic military decisions, he has a free hand, with the capacity to act even without the nominal constraint of Congress. His national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, is a dangerous extremist.

  1. Trump’s team is partly composed of professional lobbyists hired by fossil fuel, tobacco, chemical and finance companies and assorted billionaires. Their primary political effort is to avoid regulation and taxation. These people – or rather the interests they represent – are now in charge. Aside from the implications for the living world, public health, public finance and financial stability, this is a vindication of the political model pioneered by the tobacco companies in the 1960s. It demonstrates that if you spend enough money setting up think tanks, academic posts and fake grassroots movements, and work with the corporate media to give them a platform, you can buy all the politics you need. Democracy becomes a dead letter. Political alternatives are shut down.

  2. Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, Britain’s attempts to disentangle itself from the European Union are confronted with a level of complexity that may be insuperable. Moreover, there may be no answer to the political fix in which the government finds itself. This is as follows: a. Either it agrees to the free movement of people in exchange for access to the single market, in which case the pro-Brexit camp will have gained nothing except massive embarrassment or b. the EU slams the shutters down. Not only is it likely to reject the terms the government proposes; but it might also try to impose an exit bill of around €50 billion for the costs incurred by our withdrawal. This would be politically impossible for the government to pay, leading to a non-negotiated rupture and the hardest imaginable Brexit.

  1. The Italian banking crisis looks big. What impact this might have on the survival of the Eurozone is anyone’s guess.

  1. Whether it is also sufficient to trigger another global financial crisis is again hard to judge. If such a thing were to occur, governments would not be able to mount a rescue plan of the kind they used in 2007/8. The coffers are empty.

  1. Automation will destroy jobs on an unprecedented scale, and because the penetration of information technology into every part of the economy is not a passing phase but an escalating trend, it is hard to see how this employment will be replaced. No government or major political party anywhere shows any sign of comprehending the scale of this issue.

  1. The Jean PingMarine Le Pen has a moderate to fair chance of becoming the French president in May. Whether this would be sufficient to trigger the collapse of the European Union is another unknown. If this is not the sufficient crisis, there are several others lining up (especially the growing nationalist movements across central and Eastern Europe in particular, but to a lesser extent almost everywhere) that could catalyse a chain reaction. I believe that when this begins, it will happen with a speed that will take almost everyone by surprise. From one month to the next, the European Union could cease to exist.

  1. If Le Pen wins, the permanent members of the UN Security Council will be represented by the following people: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Theresa May and Marine Le Pen. It would be a stretch to call that reassuring.

  1. National climate change programmes bear no connection to the commitments governments made at Paris. Even if these programmes are fully implemented (they won’t be), they set us on a climate change trajectory way beyond that envisaged by the agreement. And this is before we know what Trump will do.

  1. One of the many impacts of climate breakdown – aside from such minor matters as the inundation of cities, the loss of food production and curtailment of water supplies – will be the mass movement of people, to an extent that dwarfs current migration. The humanitarian, political and military implications are off the scale.

  1. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, at current rates of soil loss we have 60 years of harvests left.

  1. The extinction crisis appears, if anything, to be accelerating.

Enough already? Sorry, no. One of the peculiarities of this complex, multiheaded crisis is that there appears to be no “other side” onto which we might emerge. It is hard to imagine a realistic scenario in which governments lose the capacity for total surveillance and drone strikes; in which billionaires forget how to manipulate public opinion; in which a broken European Union reconvenes; in which climate breakdown unhappens, species return from extinction and the soil comes back to the land. These are not momentary crises, but appear to presage permanent collapse.

So the key question is not how we weather them but how – if this is possible – we avert them. Can it be done? If so what would it take?

I write this not to depress you, though I know it will have that effect, but to concentrate our minds on the scale of the task.

(Since writing this article, I have thought of three others: the debt crisis emerging in both China and the West; the global pensions crisis and antibiotic resistance. Just in case there wasn’t enough to worry about…)

http://www.monbiot.com

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4 thoughts on “Unlucky Number – article by George Monbiot

  1. Woebegone but Hopeful

    It is salutary. Could happen. We as a race have the capacity and ingenuity even at this stage to avoid a total collapse.
    Or am I going to spend my final years in a hovel saying to folk ‘Yep! Saw it coming!!”
    (Still, I can have lots of sardonic laughs at half of the UK trying to keep insisting we can Brexit our way out of problems!)

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Brexit: another desperate protest vote in the hope that real change can happen without upheaval. History isn’t that kind. I don’t know what you personally envision as “total collapse” but in one of my visionary futuristic scenarios, there is a total collapse of computerized technology and the world literally plummets into a new quasi stone age with some areas maintaining a sort of industrial revolution level of civilization with bits and pieces of dying electrical and “petrol” driven motorized machines. My “visionary” status won’t let me sit quietly in hope that what I’m seeing of global civilization implosion is coincidental, that it’s going to reset itself and all will be well. That won’t happen. What is going to happen is so terrible that mankind’s denial safety switch has been activated to prevent mindless panic. The world will not end, mankind will not end, but it will seem like it is all going to end. Since you are a Christian believer that should come as little surprise anyway. I remember well those lessons. I used to take great consolation from these words: “Lk. 21:27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Lk. 21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” It takes great faith to hold on to such promises but I know that if I had been able to stay “in” that is where my certainty would rest, and I would be content with it. I do not regret leaving, the price demanded for staying was one I personally could not pay, but I thought I would remind you of the great gift you have in your faith. Now’s the time: use it, Roger, and be blessed.

      Reply
      1. Woebegone but Hopeful

        Thanks Sha’Tara.
        I do try. Whether one takes the Bible literally, or as a collection of works some poetical musing upon Humanity and a Creator, some allegorical, others with historical foundation, for me the important messages are
        1. That we are stewards of the welfare of this World….not doing a good job.
        2. To judge a person by gender, race, creed, religion is wrong.
        3. Try and do better.
        4. Keep the faith ( in line with 1 – 3)

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