The John James Newsletter 214

posted Feb 16, 2018, 3:56 PM by Clement Clarke
The John James Newsletter 214

3 February 2018 

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At the edge of extinction only love remains

We did it all.  We greedy, driven, money-mad, competitive, short-sighted, ungenerous humans, who have signally failed in our appointed task of taking care of thee earth.  
Viki Wright

Our species has failed, and continues to fail at realizing the coming crises, all due to our profligate, consumptive habits of extracting and acquiring more than we need to be happy and worthwhile inhabitants of a veritable Eden
Clifton Ware

The Earth is under the control of a few hundred corporations, and merely a few thousand capitalists
Susan Cain

Renewable energy is a political game to comfort the masses because it contradicts the second-law of thermodynamics: the materials needed to build the devices are not renewable themselves, and therefore will ultimately lead to the same outcome, if a little more slowly
Terry McNeil

An Orwellian climate: the rise of dangerous ideologies in a heating world.
There is no lack of evidence for a nexus between the extreme right and climate change denial: One Nation, the right wing of the “liberal” party, the Republican party,  several “think tanks” in the US and Australia, nationalistic parties in Europe.  While the majority of Democrat and Labor voters accept the reality of climate change, many conservative voters do not.  Emboldened by the triumph of climate denial in Washington, the Australian coalition’s “solution” and that of much of the media is to avoid mentioning the words “climate change” most of the time.

Facebook and Google a menace to society
Facebook and Google have become “obstacles to innovation” and are a “menace” to society whose “days are numbered”, said billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday. “Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment,” said the Hungarian-American businessman, according to a transcript of his speech.  “This is particularly nefarious because social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections.”
Not Even Orwell could Have Imagined 'Totalitarian' Threat Posed by Facebook and Google
There is serious threat of tech giants and authoritarian states teaming up to "bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance. They could ultimately spawn "a web of totalitarian control" if they are not reined in.

Is Pollution Artificially Shielding Us From Climate Change?
Air pollution from industry, mainly in the form of sulfate particles, basically acts as miniature mirrors in the air. They reflect back some of the sunlight, cooling the Earth just like you can cool yourself by walking into the shade. Removing these could result in “a global mean surface heating between 0.5 and 1.1°C,” as well as a 2.0 to 4.6 percent rise in precipitation.

A Climate Resistance Game Plan for 2018: communities to stop new fossil fuel projects in their own neighbourhoods. 
By working together, we can hold back fossil fuel projects long enough so that renewables take over and the economic case for building these pipelines and mines disappears. We’re going to build a groundswell for 100% renewable energy in cities and towns. By the end of the year, our goal is to have won at least 100 commitments from communities to go to 100% renewable energy. That means a lot of public education to show people this is possible, and a lot of political pressure to make sure that every candidate for elected office has signed onto our goal of 100% for all. The third way we’re going to fight back in 2018 is by continuing the fossil fuel divestment movement and ensuring that not a penny more goes to new fossil fuel projects.

Demystifying US and Israeli Power 
The most powerful way to represent power has always been to refuse to represent it; the way to show that something is truly powerful is to hide it, to render it invisible, ineffable, unknowable, utterly featureless and abstract. One of the most telling analyses of how the super-rich use wealth to run the world and hide their presence behind the shams of government.

America’s Syrian humiliation is worse than it looks
Turkey’s attack on US-backed Kurds comes as a new set of economic relationships emerges to bankroll Ankara's regional ambitions Turkey cemented a new set of strategic and economic relationships after defying the US, its erstwhile main ally. Ankara now has financial backing from China and Qatar and the strategic acquiescence of Russia and Iran, and thus the financial backing to pursue its regional ambitions.

Trump Officials Are Exploring Mass Arrests of US Mayors 
It's 4 am in New York. Federal agents in tactical gear confront the police department's mayoral security detail outside Manhattan's Gracie Mansion. After a tense standoff, the NYPD stands down and steps aside as the bedraggled mayor is removed in handcuffs. Across the nation, carefully coordinated pre-dawn raids sweep up the mayors of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle, and the governor of California. This is a plan that the Trump administration is actively considering. 

Humanity teeters on the brink of world war
“Climate change, population growth and sectarian or ethnic conflict” are likely to ensure that much of the world descends into “intrastate or civil wars.” Such conflicts will increasingly be fought in cities, ringed by “slums” and populated by millions of people, at “close quarters, block by block.” The future for large sections of humanity is the carnage that was witnessed during last year’s murderous battles over the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Sharp stones found in India signal surprisingly early toolmaking advances
The new finding suggests, however, that some humanlike populations reached South Asia shortly before H. sapiens even appeared in Africa, which possibly occurred around 380,000 years ago.

Being forgetful is actually a sign that you are intelligent
The study shows that the brain is actively working to forget details it deems as unimportant.

System Failure
Certain Western governments are engaged in a frenzy of self-destruction. In an age of phenomenal complexity and interlocking crises, the Trump administration has embarked on a mass deskilling and simplification of the state. Defunding departments, disbanding the teams and dismissing the experts they rely on, shutting down research programmes, maligning the civil servants who remain in post, the self-hating state is ripping down the very apparatus of government. At the same time, it is destroying the public protections that defend us from disaster.

What I do not find anywhere is a  reliable estimate for the environmental cost, of each of these solutions. It may produce as much carbon as its meant to draw down. Its pointless to draw down only what we put up each year. We have to reduce the total significantly or (since we have already passed too many thresholds) the Gaia System will just continue to unravel on its own. 
Humanity’s stark choice: continue genocidal wars or try to save our planetary home
CO2 levels reached 403.64 ppm in October 2017, a rise of 2.07 ppm above October 2016. This has triggered amplifying feedbacks from land and oceans. It is becoming clear the only way to avert environmental and nuclear catastrophes is to down-draw atmospheric CO2 using budgets on a scale currently only available to the military.   
Young People’s Burden
CO2 down-draw is now the only way to start and bring temperatures down.

Damning New Study Helps Explain Why Pentagon Will No Longer Release Afghan War Updates
As the Pentagon is rebuked for withholding from the public information about the U.S. military's activities in Afghanistan, new reporting reveals that—more 16 years after the U.S. began its occupation—the Taliban has open and active presence in about 70 percent of the country, and ISIS has gained more territory than ever before.

Australian trees 'sweat' to survive extreme heatwaves 
Climate experiment shows trees release water but stop capturing carbon during extreme heatwaves, which are predicted to become more frequent and severe in the future.
As world power shifts away from the seas, Australia could get caught in the wash 
Our crucial sea-lanes, and free access to the global commons, which now includes space and cyber-space, has been guaranteed by the forces of benign foreign powers whose values we share. We are net importers of security funded by others. That is why shifts in America's strategic posture matter to Australia.