Saturday, September 19, 2009

The 6th Mass Extinction: Irrefutable Proof that Gregory, Stephanopoulos, Schieffer & Blitzer are Not Real Journalists? (As if You Needed Any More)

Celtic Triple Spiral/Triple Goddess Symbol

The world's largest global investors issued a joint call today for strong action this year from U.S. and international policy makers in the fight against global warming ... Reuters, 9-16-09

Climate change risks could cost nations up to 19 percent of their GDP by 2030, with developing countries most vulnerable, according to a new report from the Economics of Climate Adaptation Working Group. Environmental Leader, 9-15-09

Failure to agree a new UN climate deal in December will bring a "global health catastrophe", say 18 of the world's professional medical organisations. Richard Black, BBC, 9-15-09

Quakes, volcanic eruptions, giant landslides and tsunamis may become more frequent as global warming changes the earth's crust itself, scientists warned ... Reuters AlterNet, 9-16-09

The 6th Mass Extinction: Irrefutable Proof that Gregory, Stephanopoulos, Schieffer & Blitzer are Not Real Journalists? (As if You Needed Any More)

By Richard Power

Baraka Obama, the President of the U.S.A., is engaging the Sunday a.m. news show anchors on the issue of health care reform. As he picks his way through their warped and loaded questions, he will by extension make them look much more like credible journalists than perhaps they really are. As you and I know, whether or not they are real journalists (or at least are performing that function at this point in their careers) is an open question.

As proof, I offer one simple term, "the Sixth Mass Extinction" together with one simple challenge: show me an instance in which any of them has uttered the term once in their broadcasts to you. (Indeed, they should be uttering it almost every single week in one context or another.)

I would be so very happy to be proven wrong.

Because the Sixth Mass Extinction is the greater reality behind the profound and destructive shift that is the Climate Crisis; and it directly threatens our species and, for lack of a more accurate word, its "civilization."

The Earth may be on the brink of a sixth mass extinction on a par with the five others that have punctuated its history, suggests the strongest evidence yet. New Scientist, 3-18-04

The Sixth Mass Extinction, already underway, is not just about the scintillant colors of butterflies or the rhapsodic night songs of frogs, or even the extraordinary healing powers held in our flora and fauna; it is also about our own survival as a species.

But you shouldn't be surprised.

After all, when Obama sits down with them, Gregory, et al, will NOT ask, "Mr. President, contrary to 'conventional wisdom,' the USA does not have the best health care system in the world, indeed, it is way back in the pack. Why is this so?"

They will NOT ask, "Mr. President, poll after poll show that a majority of citizens want single-payer health care or at least a strong public option. If that is the case, why is single-payer not even "on the table" and why have you refused to say you will veto any bill that does not include at least a strong public option?"

They will NOT ask, "Mr. President, while many citizens are going bankrupt from medical costs, and many other citizens are dying because they have been denied coverage by insurers, at the same time, insurance companies are reaping in high profits and dispensing fat bonuses to their executives. Is this why we are the only industrialized country, the only leader of the Western world, and the only great democracy, to allow for-profit insurance companies to control its health care system?"

They will NOT ask, "Mr. President, what does this current battle over health care reform in the House and the Senate tell us about campaign finance system and the need to reform it?"

No, they will not ask those questions. Nor anything similar.

Again, I would be so very happy to be proven wrong.

The remarkable political struggle to deliver meaningful health care reform that progressives and genuine "moderates" have waged over the last few months, has actually helped sharpen my focus on the Climate Crisis and the ongoing failure to deal with it.

Do not expect real journalism on either the struggle for meaningful health care reform or the struggle for meaningful climate crisis legislation from the mainstream news media.

You can't expect a corporatist, monopolistic special interest group, which is what the US mainstream news media has become, to attack other corporatist, monopolistic special interest groups with which it has interlocking boards of directors and interdependent profit motives. You might as well expect a pimp to drop his human slaves off at a women's shelter, or expect a pusher to take his addicts to detox.

Harsh language? Let's be serious. The US Chamber of Commerce spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the month of August to protect the health insurance industry's right to gauge you on every pay check and then deny you health care based on pre-existing condition, etc., and they are about to spend hundreds of millions more to thwart attempts to bring the USA into line with the desperate global demand for steep, urgent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

No, we are on our own. If we are going to save the world, we must do it in spite of the US mainstream news media. Health care reform is a life or death issue for the nation. Climate change is a life or death issue for much of life on the planet. And yet, on both issues, is the US mainstream news media anything more than a IV-drip of disinformation and denial? Again, prove me wrong -- please.

Next time you see Gregory, et al pretending to provide insight on the great political issues of our time, just yell out, "SIXTH MASS EXTINCTION," particularly if you are in a public place. It feels good, and there is magic in it.

But even more important, of course, is to start having serious discussions with your friends and colleagues, about what is already underway, and what we have to do.

You can responsibly agree or disagree with James Lovelock's conclusions about the Climate Crisis; but you cannot responsibly ignore them:

Five years ago, Lovelock's "The Revenge of Gaia" issued a terrifying warning: if humankind didn't radically curtail greenhouse-gas emissions, there would, quite literally, be hell to pay.
His new book out this year, "The Vanishing Face of Gaia," says it has now become bleakly apparent that we blew our chance.
"We have left it far, far too late to save the planet as we know it," Lovelock told AFP.
So what advice would he give to world leaders gathering next week in New York for a climate summit, less than three months ahead of a make-or-break UN conference in Copenhagen?
"Be prepared for change, and adapt to the change that is coming. And get ready for a great, great loss of life during the process," he said.
Lovelock's grim conviction that we cannot prevent a global warming apocalypse in which billions of people will perish is rooted not in what we will fail to do in the future, but what we have already done in the past.
For even if we stop spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere tomorrow, he says, the carbon dioxide (CO2) already there has triggered natural events -- the shrinking Arctic ice cap, the decay of the Greenland ice sheet, methane release from permafrost -- that will continue to drive global warming on their own.
"He says our current tendency to interpret climate change as a smooth, relatively controllable process is misleading, and that it is much more likely to be a sharp adjustment and an uncontrollable process," said Andrew Watson, a top climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, eastern England.
"That is the heart of his message."
Agence France Press, 9-19-09

Go to Stand w/ Howard Dean for more information on how to participate in the struggle to bring meaningful healthcare reform to the USA.

If you have not already joined the Alliance for Climate Protection, Al Gore and I urge you to do so. Click here.

I also urge you to participate in some way in the International Day of Climate Action on 10-24-09. Go to for more information.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

, , , , ,

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Secret is Lost Within Us, Between Darfur & Denmark; If We Don't Find It, We Will Perish or Wish We Had; Reflections on Thom Hartmann's Threshold

Buy Threshold for yourself, your loved ones, your friends and colleagues, and help sustain the alternative media by buying it from Buzzflash!

The difference between us today and those who lived in previous times is that we have the luxury of looking back across the whole sweep of world history and "prehistory" to see how it works (and what prevents it from working) and, it is hoped, to finally get it right. Threshold: The Crisis of Western Civilization

A Secret is Lost Within Us, Somewhere Between Darfur & Denmark; If We Don't Find It, We Will Perish or Wish We Had; Reflections on Thom Hartmann's Threshold

By Richard Power

Here we are less than a year into the Obama-Biden administration, and yet it is already painfully clear just how toxic the US body politic became over the years of right-wing ascendancy that began with the so-called “Reagan Revolution.”

Although Barack Obama’s roots are in the progressive movement, he is a centrist, and this should be of no surprise to anyone; and yet he is vilified by the right as a Marxist, a Socialist, a Communist, etc. Absurd lies embraced by the willfully ignorant.

Oh, but of course, those labels aren’t really slapped on him because of his ideological predisposition are they? No, it is because he is an African-American. After all, that is also the way they demonized Martin Luther King, Jr. “Marxist, Communist, Socialist …” (Absurd lies embraced by the willfully ignorant.)

And then they killed him.

The demented resistance whipped up against the most modest and incremental health care reform proposals is a bad sign of what is to come. The U.S. health care crisis is debilitating and shameful. And in a civil society it would elicit a broad, deep and indignant consensus for urgent and sweeping action.

But here … Well, we shall see soon enough …

Progressives are faced with a tremendous challenge, to somehow strike a balance strong enough to stand with Barack Obama against the uprising of the Neo-Confederacy and its financiers in the US Chamber of Commerce, and shield him as best we can against the poison-tipped arrows that are hurtling his way, while at the same time pushing back hard against unsavory policy compromises made appealing to him and his inner circle by the grim realities of the current campaign finance system.

Meanwhile, the planetary sustainability crisis (climate change in particular) looms just ahead, its scope and potential impact almost beyond comprehension; and at the same time, genocide in Darfur, rape as a weapon of war in the Congo, as well as crimes against humanity committed in Burma, Tibet and elsewhere, are condemned rhetorically but, for all practical purposes, tolerated as a price of doing business.

Grassroots organizing is vital, citizen journalism is vital, a personal commitment to human rights and going green is vital; but there is something missing …

We have great need for a bold vision, a new way of thinking and speaking about the challenges that face us.

In Threshold: The Crisis of Western Civilization, Thom Hartmann has weighed in on that great need; and what he has to say is of profound importance and usefulness.

Best know for his radio show, Hartmann is an extraordinary resource and an invaluable asset, not only for progressives, but for anyone really looking for in-depth analysis and practical solutions in this era of global crisis; and Hartmann’s influence can be felt not only on the air waves, but on the plane, at the cafĂ© and in the library.

Because Hartmann is the author of 20 books (and counting), including three books on my must read list for people who are both patriots and citizens of the world: What Would Jefferson Do (“how this most brilliant thinker of his day would respond to the challenges of the 21st Century”), Last Days of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late (“details what is happening to our planet, the reasons for our culture's blind behavior, and how we can fix the problem”), and Unequal Under The Law (“the ultimate theft of human rights before the Supreme Court in 1886”).

All of these books were both prescient and timely, but none more so than Threshold.

Hartmann wrote the Introduction to Threshold on the ground in the Hell of Darfur:

The forty-five thousand people around me share on single hand-pumped well (drilled a decade ago by the United Nations) and no other infrastructure beyond that. No building, no roads, no septic tank or sewage system, no school …

One of my personal goals for this trip was to find ten stones to build a small altar, anoint it with oil, and say the ninety-first psalm over it. It’s an eccentricity I learned from my mentor, Gottfried Mueller. The problem I encountered is that there are no stones.
The land is so incredibly ancient that all the stone has been weathered to dust.

In the Darfur region, we are seeing the failure of modern thinking. The failure of a consumerist society that values its stuff more than it does other peoples cultures, and the environment, so it’s willing to colonize, pillage, and then desert another nation. The failure of capitalist/communist society … The failure of modern Islam to learn from the mistakes of Christianity …

On the journey that is the book, through his eyes and with his heart and mind, you immerse yourself in that Hell and then contrast it with human life in Copenhagen:

Quite literally, from birth to death, while Danes have millions of choices to make with and about their lives, from partnership (gay marriage/partnerships have been legal here since 1989) to occupation to travel, they have few worries about the things that most nations in the world consider “quality of life” issues. Water is pure. Electricity is inexpensive (20 percent of Danish electricity is produced by windmills, with a goal of 50 percent within the next decade). Sickness and old age, while inconvenient, are not the threats to comfort or survival that they are in the United States.
So how, exactly, did the Danes get it so right? And why does the principle that their society is based on – higher taxes equals greater overall quality of life – seem so scary to Americans?

Compelling questions and fascinating answers arise from this bold counterpoint.

Hartmann articulates the three thresholds, just in case you have not yet stumbled upon them yourself:

… an environment that is so afire it may soon no longer be able to support human life; an economic “free market” system that is almost entirely owned, run and milked by a tiny fraction of one percent of us and has been crashed and in many ways is burning around us; and an explosion of human flesh on the planet that has turned our species into a global Petri dish just waiting for an infective agent to run amok.

He also enumerated four mistakes that have led us into these dangerous circumstances:

The first mistake is to believe we are separate from nature …

The second mistake is to believe that an abstraction – an economic system – is divine and separate from us …

The third mistake is to believe that men should run the world, and that women are their property …

The fourth mistake is to believe that the best way to influence people is through fear rather than through the power of love …

This is not where Hartmann’s brilliant analysis ends, this is where it begins.

In Threshold, he paints the Big Picture, asks the Big Questions and yes, delivers answers.

Hartmann offers several simple but powerful prescriptions for what ails humanity.

But you will have to buy it to read those.

I urge you to do so, and when you do, buy two (at least) and pass it on to a friend, a loved one or a colleague, it is going to take a lot of us to realize there is only one of us.

Go to Stand w/ Howard Dean for more information on how to participate in the struggle to bring meaningful healthcare reform to the USA.

For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

If you have not already joined the Alliance for Climate Protection, Al Gore and I urge you to do so. Click here.

I also urge you to participate in some way in the International Day of Climate Action on 10-24-09. Go to for more information.

As always, I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

, , , , ,

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What Needs to Be Done? Create 100,000 Artificial Trees, Save Our Last Great Boreal Forest, Pass Waxman-Markey, Embrace "350" &, Yes, Wage Cultural War

Frida Kahlo's Roots

"What the U.S. and China do over the next decade," declared Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize – winning physicist who is leading President Obama's push for a clean-energy economy, "will determine the fate of the world." Time, 8-23-09

{The American Petroleum Institute] is attempting to undermine the U.S. Senate’s consideration of climate-change legislation, and it just might succeed. The House bill, referred to as the American Clean Energy and Security Act or the Waxman-Markey climate bill, is up for consideration by the Senate in September. Fast action would be required in order to grant President Barack Obama the room to negotiate at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh in late September, a key step in the lead-up to Copenhagen. But Sens. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry said this week that the bill will be delayed, citing the health-care debate and the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy ... Genuine citizen action, in the U.S. and beyond, will be critical to counter industry influence over the Copenhagen talks. Amy Goodman, TruthDig, 9-2-09

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll has found that 55 percent of Americans approve of the way President Obama is handling energy issues and nearly 60 percent support changes in U.S energy policy being proposed by Congress and the administration. Fifty-two percent support a cap-and-trade system.
Business lobbying groups are launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to defeat climate change legislation.
Think Porgress, 8-28-09

Changing weather patterns have decimated crops in several of the world's poorest countries this year, leaving millions in need of food aid and humanitarian workers warning about the dangerous effects of climate change., 9-2-09

A team of British experts has discovered that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has seriously underestimated the expected annual cost of dealing with climate impacts. It suggests that the true cost could be at least two or three-fold greater, and possibly much more if other hidden factors are taken into account. Steve Connor, Independent, 8-28-09

Climate Crisis: What Needs to Be Done? Create 100,000 Artificial Trees, Save World's Last Great Boreal Forest, Pass Waxman-Markey, Embrace "350" &, oh yes, Wage Cultural War

By Richard Power

Obama will soon deliver an address on healthcare reform to a joint session of Congress.

Perhaps we will know where we stand after that speech. Perhaps we shall be behind a leader who is willing to press on for real change, perhaps we will be at odds with a leader who suffers from a predilection to compromise at any cost.

On this issue, I stand with Howard Dean, and with the AFL-CIO (see Labor Warns Dems: We'll Sit Out Election If You Oppose Public Plan).

Meanwhile, keeping perspective on the big picture is vital. There are even more urgent struggles ahead of us, for which we will have to try to come together again.

We are only eight months into the Obama administration. Consider the hateful frenzy that has already been whipped up at even the most moderate promise of meaningful change.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) delivered a “speech filled with urgent and violent rhetoric” at a gathering sponsored by the Independence Institute in Denver ... “This [health care reform] cannot pass ... What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t pass ... ” Think Progress, 9-1-09

Arizona Pastor Steven Anderson has received national attention for ... having a parishioner who brought an AR-15 to a protest outside a speech delivered by President Obama ... he escalated his rhetoric yesterday: I hope that God strikes Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy. You know, and I hope it happens today. Think Progress, 8-31-09

These are the remarks of an elected official of the U.S. House of Representatives and a man who claims to be a minister in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Imagine what Bachman and Anderson will say, and incite the woebegotten sheeple to do, when it comes to the final push to get Climate Change legislation to Obama's desk. (And remember, we already wasted the EIGHT YEARS in disinformation and denial, EIGHT YEARS that we could not afford to waste.)

The healthcare debate is one of dire national importance for the USA, and the nature of opposition to meaningful reform is, in many ways, self-abusive.

But the climate change debate (by that I mean what to do about it, not whether it is real), is not... simply of one of dire national importance, it is one of dire planetary importance, and the nature of opposition to meaningful action on climate change is not simply self-abusive, it is suicidal.

The USA should be leading the planet in the struggle to BOTH adapt to AND roll back the worst of Climate Change, but because of the dysfunction of the body politic, the scientific illiteracy of the populace, and the blind greed of the energy industry lobby, and, as I mentioned, we are already EIGHT YEARS behind the curve.

Here are some worthy glimpses into the vital issues that we need to come to grips with, just beyond this struggle over healthcare reform.

We urgently need to cease the destruction of our great forests:

"The researchers from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, University of Adelaide in Australia and the National University of Singapore have called for the urgent preservation of existing boreal forests in order to secure ... biodiversity and prevent the loss of this major global carbon sink.
The boreal forest comprises about one-third of the world's forested area and one-third of the world's stored carbon, covering a large proportion of Russia, Canada, Alaska and Scandinavia.
To date it has remained largely intact because of the typically sparse human populations in boreal regions. That is now changing says researchers ..."
Terra Daily, 9-1-09

We urgently need to invest in new science and technology to cope with the consequences of what we have wrought:

Engineers say a forest of 100,000 "artificial trees" could be deployed within 10 to 20 years to help soak up the world's carbon emissions. The trees are among three geo-engineering ideas highlighted as practical in a new report.
The [authors] from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers say that without geo-engineering it will be impossible to avoid dangerous climate change.
The report includes a 100-year roadmap to "decarbonise" the global economy.
BBC, 8-27-09

We must accept that adaptation is as important as mitigation, but we must also be quite clear that adaptation is not a substitute for mitigation:

This week, however, that debate has grown more contentious, as some environmental writers and activists have pointed out adaptation's bargain with the devil: because resources are limited, it will undoubtedly divert funds from mitigation. Calling adaptation a "cruel eupmemism," Climate Progress writes that this increasing focus on adaptation is unrealistic, irresponsible, and could allow, rather than prevent, more disasters like Hurricane Katrina across the world ... Mother Jones, 9-2-09

We must learn the power of the magic number, and impress upon the collective psyche of humanity:

"As chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) I cannot take a position because we do not make recommendations," said Rajendra Pachauri when asked if he supported calls to keep atmospheric carbon d...ioxide concentrations below 350 parts per million (ppm).
"But as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target," he told AFP in an interview.
Agence France Press, 8-25-09

And in regard to Michelle Bachman, Steven Anderson and their disturbed ilk, we must acknowledge that this is not only a scientific debate, it is a cultural debate, and we better be willing to face that music when it starts playing:

"In the 20 years since we climate activists began our work in earnest, the state of the climate has become dramatically worse, and the change is accelerating—this despite all of our best efforts. Clearly something is deeply wrong with this picture. What is it that we do not yet know? What do we have to think and do differently to arrive at urgently different outcomes?
The answers lie not with science, but with culture."
Adam Sacks, Grist, 8-25-09

Go to Stand w/ Howard Dean for more information on how to participate in the struggle to bring meaningful healthcare reform to the USA.

If you have not already joined the Alliance for Climate Protection, Al Gore and I urge you to do so. Click here.

I also urge you to participate in some way in the International Day of Climate Action on 10-24-09. Go to for more information.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

, , , , ,

Hard Rain Late Night: Eric Clapton -- Change the World

Hard Rain Late Night: Eric Clapton -- Change the World

Click here for Hard Rain Late Night Music Video -- Archive

, , , , ,