|Darfuri Child Artist (Source: Mia Farrow, http://miafarrow.org)|
The idea behind the report was simple. Tally up all the world’s natural capital — land, water, atmosphere, etc. — that doesn’t currently have a dollar value attached to it, and figure out the price. But the next step was where it got interesting. Figure how much of that natural capital is being consumed, depleted or degraded without the responsible party paying the cost for that use. The number the study hit on was a staggering $7.3 trillion in 2009 — about 13 percent of global economic output for that year. ... Jeff Spross, Climate Progress, 4-23-13
Four Important Questions, Four Appalling Answers
By Richard Power
I have very little to say anymore about the fate of this nation, or its sorry lack of leadership.
But just to keep the timeline going, here are four critical questions to ask yourself, along with some worthy commentary to provide context for the appalling answers.
Tell me, do you truly comprehend what is happening in the world around you?
The world is likely days away from a "sobering milestone" in our planetary history. Concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide will likely reach 400 parts per million (ppm) for first time in human history, say scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and unless drastic action is taken, we're on track to hit 450 ppm in the near future. "I wish it weren't true, but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400-ppm level without losing a beat," said Scripps geochemist Ralph Keeling, whose father Charles David (Dave) Keeling began the "Keeling Curve" to track daily CO2 levels recorded at Mauna Loa Observatory. The last time the greenhouse gases were at 400 ppm was likely the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2 million and 5 million years ago. The current reading is at 399.72 ppm -- far past the 350 ppm level many, including noted climate scientist James Hansen, have warned is the upper safe limit before the planet hits a tipping point. Andrea Germanos, Climate Collision Course: CO2 Levels About to Hit 400 PPM, Common Dreams, 4-29-13
Do you understand why your political leaders are not doing anything about it?
If you want to see why the public approval rating of Congress is down in the sub-arctic range — an icy 15 percent by last count — all you have to do is take a quick look at how the House and Senate pay worship at the altar of corporations, banks and other special interests at the expense of public aspirations and need ... Sadly, such is the way of Washington, home of the scheme and the fraud, where the unbreakable chain between money and governance weighs heavy and drags us ever deeper into a sinkhole of inaction and mediocrity. Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, The Worst Congress Money Can Buy, Moyers and Company, 4-27-13
In other ages, states sought to seize as much power as they could. Today, the self-hating state renounces its powers. Governments anathematise governance. They declare their role redundant and illegitimate. They launch furious assaults on their own branches, seeking wherever possible to lop them off. This self-mutilation is a response to the fact that power has shifted. States now operate at the behest of others. Deregulation, privatisation, the shrinking of the scope, scale and spending of the state: these are now seen as the only legitimate policies. The corporations and billionaires to whom governments defer will have it no other way. Just as taxation tends to redistribute wealth, regulation tends to redistribute power. A democratic state controls and contains powerful interests on behalf of the powerless. This is why billionaires and corporations hate regulation, and – through their newspapers, thinktanks and astroturf campaigns – mobilise people against it. George Monbiot, Guardian, 4-22-13
Do you understand that the mainstream news media, the Fourth Estate, is now nothing more than a Fifth Column, engaging in disinformation warfare in the service of your Corporatist overlords?
And, the likelihood now is that the Right will consolidate its dominance of the U.S. news media in the years ahead. In the very near future, some of the country’s most prominent regional newspapers may fall under the control of right-wing ideologues like Rupert Murdoch or the Koch Brothers. Koch Industries, a privately owned oil and gas giant which has provided the means for Charles and David Koch to lavishly fund libertarian think tanks and Tea Party organizations, is now exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel, the Hartford Courant and the Chicago Tribune ... Without major investments by honest Americans in honest journalism – whether the Old Media of print or the New Media of electronics – the United States will continue to drift into a made-up world of right-wing paranoia and pretend facts. And that is a danger for the entire planet. Robert Parry, It's the Media, Stupid! Consortiumnews, 4-26-13
Do you understand that in this once great nation there is more political will to bestow the trappings of imaginary personhood on giant corporations and tiny fetuses than there is to acknowledge the systematic annihilation of an entire population?
There is in Darfur no end in sight for conflict, murder, rape, assaults on displaced persons camps, agricultural and village destruction, brutal extortion schemes, and continuing violent human displacement. The primary targets of this mayhem overseen by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime in Khartoum continue to be primarily civilians from African tribal groups surviving tenuously in an increasingly chaotic Darfur; it is the cruelest of counter-insurgency strategies, since the military opponents of the regime are rebel groups that refuse to accept a peace agreement contrived in Doha (Qatar), not ordinary farmers and landholders. Moreover, for several years an increasing number of Arab tribal groups have been drawn into the fighting, often pitting one Arab group against another; this has produced rapidly growing “collateral damage” as Khartoum seeks to subdue Darfur by means of a war of attrition in which impunity, chaos, and inter-ethnic violence serve the regime’s ultimate military and political purposes. The insecurity consequent upon such polices threatens international relief organizations, many of which have already withdrawn or been expelled, and many more are contemplating withdrawal. International civilian protection—publicly called for since 2003—has been disastrously inadequate. The international community, long unwilling to act meaningfully, pretends that a raft of ignored UN Security Council resolutions—filled with “Chapter 7 authority” and various “demands” that have gone entirely unmet by Khartoum—is an adequate diplomatic response. Peace negotiations, under myriad auspices, produced first the disastrously ill-conceived and ill-fated “Darfur Peace Agreement” (2006, Abuja)—an agreement that ensured the fragmentation of Darfur’s rebel movement. More recently (July 2011) the “Doha Document for Peace in Darfur” (DDPD) has served as the diplomatic point of departure, and touchstone for all comments about ending violence in Darfur ... This is so even as the DDPD has been overwhelmingly rejected by the major rebel groups and Darfuri civil society, and whose terms have been almost entirely ignored by the Khartoum regime since the time the agreement was signed twenty-one months. Eric Reeves, THE DARFUR GENOCIDE AT TEN YEARS: A Reckoning, 4-19-13
Listen my friend, even if you won legislative victory after legislative victory on gay marriage, immigration reform and gun control, this once great nation would still be utterly lost in a wasteland of its own making.
Because of our collective failure to address the appalling answers to these four critical questions.
Do you know why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love? Go to 350.org for the answer.
Richard Power is the author of eight books, including Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in an Era of Global Peril, Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity in Anticipation of Itself and True North on the Pathless Path: Towards a 21st Century Yoga. Power writes and speaks on spirituality, sustainability, human rights, and security. He blogs at Words of Power and Primal Words of Power, and is a member of the Truthout Board of Advisors. He also teaches yoga.