The Big Contraction

SUBHEAD: An interview with James Howard Kunstler on the nature of our unraveling future.

Interview by Erico Tavares on 30 March 2017 for LinkedIn -

Image above: Family "camping out" of their 1958 Chevy Brookwood station wagon. Back when the car was new they were not "homeless", they were just "roughing it". From (

E Tavares: Thank you for being with us today. You have been writing about worsening societal issues, what you call “entropy in action”, for many years. Broadly speaking, why do you think the US is in so much trouble?

JH Kunstler: We’ve been sowing the seeds for our predicament since the end of World War II. You might even call this process “The Victory Disease.” In practical terms it represents sets of poor decisions with accelerating bad consequences.

For instance, the collective decision to suburbanize the nation. This was not a conspiracy. It was consistent with my new theory of history, which is Things happen because they seem like a good idea at the time.

In 1952 we had plenty of oil and the ability to make a lot of cars, which were fun, fun, fun! And we turned our war production expertise into the mass production of single family houses built on cheap land outside the cities. But the result now is that we’re stuck in a living arrangement with no future, the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.

Another bad choice was to offshore most of our industry. Seemed like a good idea at the time; now you have a citizenry broadly impoverished, immiserated, and politically inflamed.

Of course, one must also consider the possibility that industrial society was a historic interlude with a beginning, middle, and end, and that we are closer to the end of the story than the middle.

It was, after all, a pure product of the fossil fuel bonanza, which is also coming to an end (with no plausible replacement in view.) I don’t view all this as the end of the world, or of civilization, per se, but we’re certainly in for a big re-set of the terms for remaining civilized.

I’ve tried to outline where this is all going in my four-book series of the “World Made By Hand” novels, set in the near future. If we’re lucky, we can fall back to sets of less complex social and economic arrangements, but it’s unclear whether we will land back in something like the mid-nineteenth century, or go full-bore medieval, or worse. One thing we can be sure of: the situation we face is one of comprehensive discontinuity — a lot of things just stop, beginning with financial arrangements and long-distance supply lines of resources and finished goods.

Then it depends whether we can respond by reorganizing life locally in this nation at a finer scale — if it even remains a unified nation. Anyway, implicit in this kind of discontinuity is the possibility for disorder. We don’t know how that will go, and how we come through it depends on the degree of disorder.

ET: Fair points, but one remarkable feature of Western civilization has been its resilience. In less than a decade the US has been able not only to reverse the historical decline in domestic crude oil production but also come up with natural gas as an expansive new source of energy. It now exports both of these commodities. Ditto for food production, where it can afford the luxury of using 40% of its corn production as car fuel. Doesn’t all this contradict what you had postulated in “The Long Emergency” back in 2005?

JHK: We flatter ourselves a bit to harp on our “resilience.” More realistically, history is an emergent process and societies are emergent phenomena which necessarily respond to the circumstances that reality presents. Sh*t happens and sh*t unhappens and then re-happens differently. The oil situation is grossly misunderstood by the public, including you, as implicit in the question you have just put to me.

We are not exporting any meaningful quantities of oil or natural gas. In fact we’re still importing nearly 8 million barrels of oil a day.

The shale oil “miracle” has largely been a manifestation of low interest lending into an industry that can’t pay back its loans, even as it produces like mad at a loss. You can look at it as a simple equation: oil over $75 a barrel crushes economies and oil under $75 a barrel crushes oil companies. To date, American oil companies have not made a red cent off the shale oil “miracle.”

It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it kept a lot of people busy for a while, but it was essentially a stunt that is not paying for itself and it has a short horizon. The public only sees lower gasoline prices at the pump; they have no idea how low prices are wrecking the oil industry. The result of all this will be an incrementally smaller global oil industry and fewer customers for its products — without anything to replace it.

The crux of the matter is the falling Energy Return on Investment (EROI). In the 1950s you got 100 barrels of Texas crude for every equivalent barrel of energy you sunk into the project. That’s 100 to 1. Shale oil gives you about 5 to 1.

Tar sands are a little worse. The worldwide average EROI these days is 17 to 1 (including Arabian oil, deep water, etc.). We can’t run all the systems of our “advanced” society at those ratios, and that is why we have been running up the debt so dramatically — borrowing from the future to cover the cost of living as we do.

And that is exactly why we are heading into financial clusterfuck as it becomes increasingly evident that the debt will never be paid back. This will wreck the banking system, and that will force everything else to change, including the dynamic of how we produce and distribute food. So, no, none of what I am saying here contradicts my 2005 book, “The Long Emergency”, though it has played out with some strange twists in the story.

Image above: A 1958 Chevy Brookwood station wagon as it appears today. With that big cargo bay and isolated location it could easily be used by homeless persons roughing it. From (

ET: Another theme you talked about in that book is that in order to cope with looming energy and food crises Americans would have to eventually live in smaller-scale, localized and semi-agrarian communities. All part of a process you call the Big Contraction. 

However, a McKinsey Global Institute research paper from 2012 predicts quite the opposite for most of the world in the coming years, as depicted in the graph above. Indeed, growing urbanization has been one of the major trends so far in the 21st century. What do they see here that you don’t?

JHK: McKinsey’s prescience may be on a level with what the CIA failed to see in the 1990 collapse of the Soviet Union. Everybody and his mother is predicting that our cities will only get bigger and bigger. I will impudently state that they are all mistaken.

Our cities have attained a scale which cannot be sustained, given the capital and resource scarcities we face immediately ahead. This is what they don’t see: the fragility of the fossil fuel supply system (and everything that depends on it) and its relation to money and capital formation.

McKinsey and its compadres are dumb extrapolationists — they look at what’s been going on and they say we’ll only get more of it in a bigger package. These people are the “intellectual-yet-idiots” that Nassim Nicholas Taleb identifies so shrewdly.

For one thing, the successful places in the years ahead will be those places with a meaningful relationship to food production. I believe the action in US will shift to the now-derelict small towns and small cities, especially places around the extensive inland waterway system and the Great Lakes.

The giant metroplexes, so-called, will contract, probably in a messy way that includes great losses of notional real estate value and battles between various ethnic groups as to who gets to inhabit the districts with remaining value (e.g. close to the waterfront).

This contraction has already occurred in many cities of the heartland — Detroit, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cleveland, etc. In contrast, booming New York, Boston, San Francisco and Dallas are purely products of the financialization of economy, and disorder in the banking system will hit them very hard. The suburbs around these places are next to go. Their destiny is either slums, salvage, or ruins.

ET: One aspect that we find fascinatingly provocative in your work is your description of modern urban landscapes, and how instead of being welcoming social spaces they now cause anxiety, even repulsion. What have modern architects missed in relation to their predecessors? Is that in any way related to the cultural revolution of the 1960s, which profoundly impacted much of the Western world?

JHK: The architects are a dysfunctional sub-culture in themselves. Suffice it to say they are hand-maidens of the corporate racketeers and victims of a particularly virulent form of techno-narcissism that infects our culture of wishful thinking and solipsism.

But the condition of the landscape is a product of much more than architects. The suburban project comes to us courtesy of banking, the automobile and trucking interests, national chain retail, municipal planning officials (who know nothing of urban design), traffic engineers, and many other ultra-specialists who populate this matrix of racketeering.

They have produced an everyday environment that is positively punishing to human neurology. It makes people sad, lonely, confused, angry, anxious, and despondent. They didn’t do it on purpose. It was just the blowback from their methods, customs, and practices. The zoning ordinances crafted and refined over a hundred years now mandate a suburban sprawl outcome in most American places.

Look, life is tragic. As I began to say in this interview, societies can make some pretty poor choices. Our choice to live in a drive-in utopia was a terrible blunder and now we’re stuck with the consequences. Notice that the outcome on the European landscape is still rather different. They will have plenty of problems in The Long Emergency, but at least they did not destroy their old city centres, and when the time for contraction comes, as it will, they have something of great value to contract back into.

ET: You talk about a “population overshoot” relating to demographic explosions in Africa and the Middle East that you claim cannot be sustained by the existing resources of those regions. Why do you say that?

JHK: Much of this region is desert wasteland. The populations of the “nations” in it (many boundaries drawn arbitrarily by the victors of World War One) have exploded numerically. The region can’t feed nor water itself, nor employ its exploded population. It is purely a product of fossil fuel pseudo-prosperity. It went this way for less than a century and then it will be over.

For the moment these populations (especially the young men) are exploding in political violence. Categorically, “normal” life will not continue as it has. We’re already seeing the gross disintegration of whole societies. It will accelerate.

James Howard Kunstler's thinking gained prominence after the publication of his book The Geography of Nowhere (1994), a history of American suburbia and urban development “because [he] believe[s] a lot of people share [his] feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.” This was followed by The Long Emergency (2005) and most recently Too Much Magic (2012), both non-fictional books. Starting with World Made by Hand in 2008, he has written a series of science fiction novels about such a culture in the future.

Japanese meet their whale kill quota

SUBHEAD: Japanese whaling fleeting has reached their self-allocated slaughter quota of killing 333 minke whales.

By Heather Stimmler on 31 March 2017 in Island Breath -

Image above: Murdered minke whale wrapped in tarp on deck of Japanese "research" vessel Nishin Maru photoraphed by Sea Shepherd Global. From (,c2110221).

This season Sea Shepherdreturned to the Southern Ocean on its 11th Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Nemesis, named for the Greek goddess of inescapable justice.

As the Japanese whaling fleet have expanded their hunting grounds and lowered their self-allocated quota, the biggest challenge was to find and stop them before they’ve killed their quota of whales.

Despite our efforts to once again disrupt the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean, the Japanese whaling fleeting has reached their self-allocated quota of killing 333 minke whales.

Today Sea Shepherd mourns the loss of these whales. We have called an emergency meeting of the Global Board of Directors in Amsterdam this weekend to review our whale defense strategy in the Southern Ocean, and will release a more detailed statement on Monday morning

We were aware of the challenges from the outset of the campaign – the doubling of the whaling area and the reduced quota that would be easier to reach – but we did our best despite the odds because it was the right thing to do.

And – as usual – we did it without any government support. It is a reminder that the needless slaughter of marine life will continue unless governments stop making hollow statements of disapproval and start taking action to hold Japan accountable.

For further information contact:
Heather Stimmler, Sea Shepherd Global Media Director
Tel: +339 7719 7742

For Australia and New Zealand media requests, contact:
Adam Burling, Media Coordinator Sea Shepherd Australia
Tel : +61 409 472 922

More about Operation Nemesis:(

Sea Shepherd Global
Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit marine conservation movement using innovative tactics and direct action to defend, conserve and protect the worlds oceans and marine wildlife. Founded by Paul Watson in 1977, today Sea Shepherd is a worldwide movement with independent national and regional entities in over 20 countries.

With the exception of the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), they are united by a common mission through Sea Shepherd Global, based in Amsterdam, which coordinates communications, logistics and a fleet of five ships to cooperate on campaigns around the world.

Sea Shepherd investigates and documents violations of international and national conservation law, and enforces conservation measures where legal authority exists.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese Whale Slaughter 1/15/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese whaling inside sanctuary 12/23/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Sea Shepherd to obstruct Japanese 12/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Sea Shepherd Patrols Atlantic 8/9/16

Occupying the Coco Palms

SUBHEAD: Hawaiians claim ownership of property at iconic resort hotel site on Wailua River.

By Alden Alayvilla on 30 March 2017 for the Garden Island News -

Image above: Noa Mau-Espirito examines taro plant on former site of Coco Palms Resort. From original article.

[IB Publisher's note: Finally a plan that makes sense for the Coco Palms. Let Hawaiians live there and determine its future. Coco Palms Hui Inc. are a punch of con artists.]

With a royal land patent in his hand, Noa Mau-Espirito said he walked into the Coco Palms last spring to make claim of the property.

Almost a year later, Mau-Espirito, who says he is a descendant of King Kaumualii, and a group of about 25 of his formerly homeless family members, continue to live on 17 acres of land in Wailua on Coco Palms property.

He says they are not trespassers.

“We’re landowners. We have title to the land. We’re not camping,” Mau-Espirito said. “Our goal is to get all the families who have royal patents in Wailua back on their land.”

The 25-year-old said he was inspired to occupy the land after meeting with families in similar situations.

“In my eyes, if I can make it, everybody can make it,” he said. “If I can take back my family’s royal patent land from Coco Palms, anybody’s family can.”

Mau-Espirito and his cousin, Kamuela Kapule O Kamehameha, say they have a royal patent called Palapala Sila Nui, which they say gives their family the rights to the land in perpetuity.

“Because my bloodline goes straight to Kaumualii, because Kamu’s bloodline goes straight to Kapule, we have vested rights and vested interests in this land that nobody can take away from us,” Mau-Espirito said. “Once a royal patent is made, it’s in that family’s name forever. All the kids in that bloodline will be able to come on this land.”

Representatives of Coco Palms Hui, Inc. disagree.

“As the demolition work nears completion at Coco Palms, we have been working with neighbors, community members, the County and Kauai Police Department to stem the tide of illicit activity being carried out by squatters within and adjacent to the property,” said Tyler Greene, co-owner of Coco Palms Hui, in a statement.
“As we move into the construction phase of the resort, we want to make sure that our neighbors’ health and safety concerns are addressed. We understand that over the years as the property lay dormant, certain individuals have taken the initiative to try and set up shop.”
The statement continues: “It is hoped that a smooth transition can take place so that entities currently on the property will cease their illegal operations and realize that there is no place for their activity on the property, within the neighborhoods, or for that matter, on Kauai.

We feel that Coco Palms will support healthy and vibrant activity for both the residents and visitors and hope the community feels the same way.”

Greene and his partner, Chad Waters, have been trying to restore the Coco Palms since 2012. The resort closed in 1992 after Hurricane Iniki.

During public hearings on the Coco Palms restoration project, and decades prior as it sat shuttered, no one claimed land ownership.

The $3.5 million selective demolition process began in June. Demolition included tearing out the drywall, making mechanical and electrical repairs, clearing out the Lotus Restaurant and elevating the bungalow buildings so they adhere to Federal Emergency Management standards.

By spring, crews are expected to start Phase II, renovation and reconstruction, of Coco Palms.

The property will boast 350 rooms, 12,000 square feet of retail space, three restaurants, leisure areas and a four-acre cultural center.

Since taking up residence on the property, Kapule O Kamehameha and Noa Mau-Espirito said their group has been farming, fishing and clearing brush.

“We’re trying to open up the land to live self-sustainably: grow our own food, raise our own food,” Mau-Espirito said. “Us living here — that’s all my aunties, uncles and cousins. All these Hawaiian families living with me were homeless on the streets. I gave them a place to stay.”

Mau-Espirito, a 2009 Kapaa High School graduate, said drugs and alcohol are forbidden on the premises.

“I’m real big on rubbish and cigarette butts and no firearms,” he said. “When the cops come, I tell them that they have to talk to me outside or take your guns off.”

The group encountered Kauai police on three or four occasions, Mau-Espirito said, with the latest to occur on March 11.

“Anybody who retains jurisdiction over this land matter and tries to apprehend any of family in these lands will be facing war crimes,” he said.

The most recent trespass complaints at Coco Palms were reported to KPD on Feb. 11 and March 11, said Sarah Blane, county spokeswoman.

Kapule O Kamehameha, a descendant of Deborah Kapule, says he owns five acres of the property. He says they won’t leave the property and he wants to go to court.

“This is a civil matter,” he said.

Justin Kollar, prosecuting attorney, said his office is aware of the situation and is working with police to monitor it.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Self Destruction 8/18/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Annals of Pure Bullshit - Coco Palms 6/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Coco Palms Travesty  4/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Beach "Elephant Path" 12/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Bike Path Consideration  12/12/12
Island Breath: Annals of False Advertizing - Kauai Lagoons 3/18/08
Island Breath: Coco Palms Developers Break Promises 1/14/07
Island Breath: Coco Palms & Traffic Problem 3/1/06
Island Breath: Coco Palms Review 1/8/06
Island Breath: Kauai Coconut Coast Overdeveloped 11/12/05
Island Breath: Coco Palms Development 12/28/04


The Lie of the Land

SUBHEAD: Will Trump’s presidency spell disaster for the climate, or can the green movement seize back the debate?

By Paul Kingsnorth on 18 March 2017 for The Guardian -

Image above: Detail of photo of man in suit ignoring woman with sign reading "Need ticket home 2 Maine! Stranded in NYC w/abusive husband! Please help me get out of here!" From (

Last June, I voted to leave the European Union. I wasn’t an anti-EU fanatic but I was, despite my advancing years, still something of a green idealist.

 I had always believed that small was beautiful, that people should govern themselves and that power should be reclaimed and localized whenever possible. I didn’t think that throwing the people of Greece, Spain and Ireland to the wolves in order to keep bankers happy looked like the kind of right-on progressive justice that some of the EU’s supporters were claiming it represented.

So I voted to leave. I didn’t say anything about this before the vote and, despite being a writer, I didn’t write about it either. There was too much mudslinging on both sides already, and I didn’t want to throw any more or have any thrown at me. In any case, I didn’t have much to say.

The mudslinging, it turned out, was just a prelude to what would come next. The EU referendum, like the election of Donald Trump in the US five months later, and the Scottish independence question, newly reopened this week, tore the plaster off a pre-existing national wound that now began to bleed freely.

All sorts of things bubbled up that had been suppressed for years, and everyone was suddenly taking sides. Some people, when I told them that I’d voted to leave, looked at me as if I’d just owned up to a criminal record.

Why would I do that? Was I a racist? A fascist? Did I hate foreigners? Did I hate Europe?

I must hate something.

Did I know how irresponsible I had just been? Had I changed my mind yet? I needed to go away and check my privilege.

The eruption of anger that followed the vote, on all sides, was surprising enough. But what was also surprising to me was the uniformity of opinion among people I had thought I shared a worldview with.

Most people in the leftish, green-tinged world in which I had spent probably too much time over the years seemed to be lining up behind the EU.

The public intellectuals, the Green party, the big NGOs: all these people, from a tradition founded on localization, degrowth, bioregionalism and a fierce critique of industrial capitalism, were on board with a multinational trading bloc backed by the world’s banks, corporations and neoliberal politicians. Something smelt fishy.

I was born in the early 1970s. At around the same time, two forces – two movements, if you like – were also born that would shape the lives of my generation. One was neoliberalism. The other was environmentalism.

Neoliberalism was an economic project. It sought to replace stuttering statist economic models with a new laissez-faire order by removing “barriers to trade” wherever they might be found.

These barriers might be protectionist tariffs or taxes; they might also be national laws, local customs or environmental regulations.

The creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995 was the culmination of a decades-long project, pushed by the economic and military might of the United States and its allies, to globalize the neoliberal model and cement it in international law.

By the early 21st century it seemed that this globalization process was both unstoppable and almost complete. Political parties from all traditions had surrendered to it, and the pundits and the economists were happily on board.

In the process, the economic project had developed into a cultural one, promulgated by its beneficiary class, the urban, tech-savvy, cosmopolitan bourgeoisie.

Often referred to as “globalism”, this worldview envisaged a borderless, one-world culture, in which trade tariffs and national boundaries were seen as equally damaging to the new hypercapitalist conception of freedom.

Traditions, distinctive cultures, national identities, religious strictures, social mores – all would dissolve away in the healing light of free trade and a western liberal conception of social progress.

Only bigots and luddites could possibly oppose such a utopian dream.
Being something of a luddite myself, I wrote a book, One No, Many Yeses, opposing it 15 years ago.

The book tracked the great wave of anti-globalization movements that washed over the world at the end of the 20th century, from the summit blockades at Seattle, Prague and Genoa to the uprising of the Zapatistas in Mexico and the anti-privatisation riots in South Africa.

What I found as I investigated these movements was that the most lasting of them were fuelled not by a general rage against “the system”, but by a sense of place and belonging.

Somewhere that people loved or felt attached to was being threatened by outside forces, whether they be trade treaties, buccaneering corporations or oppressive governments, and people were fighting to defend what they knew and what they were.

This sense of the uniqueness of places, and of the cultures that sprang from them, had been what pushed me towards green activism in the first place.

From a young age I had an inchoate sense that much of the world’s color, beauty and distinctiveness was being bulldozed away in the name of money and progress.

Some old magic, some connection, was being snuffed out in the process. It must be 20 years since I read the autobiography of the late travel writer Norman Lewis, The World, The World, but the last sentence stays with me.

Wandering the hills of India, Lewis is ask by a puzzled local why he spends his life traveling instead of staying at home. What is he looking for? “I am looking for the people who have always been there,” replies Lewis, “and belong to the places where they live. The others I do not wish to see.”

As a writer, whether of fiction or non-fiction, I have been looking for the same thing. That first book of mine, it turned out, was a journey in search of people who belong. It was a defence of a threatened fragility. A few years later, I wrote another, this time about globalisation’s impact on England, my home country.

I’ve since written novels and essays and poems and they always seem, however hard I try to write about something else, to circle back around to that primal question: what does it mean to belong to a place, to a people, to nature, in a time in which belonging is everywhere under attack?

 Does it mean anything? Why should it matter?

All I know is that it matters to me. That was why I joined what I wanted to believe was a movement that could derail globalization. For a while, it looked like it might.

Then came 9/11, and a different kind of anti-globalization movement – violent Islamism – began stalking the west. Governments cracked down on dissent and populations grew fearful. Everything suddenly seemed darker.

Still it seemed that nothing could stop the neoliberal train. It kept rolling, faster and faster, until in 2008 it hit a wall at full speed.

Remarkably, it survived the crash. When the banks were bailed out and the corporations given another series of blank checks, I gave up on the idea that much would ever change.

The power of money seemed as stark as the stench of corruption. Perhaps neoliberalism was unstoppable after all. Perhaps, as Margaret Thatcher had once famously claimed, there was, indeed, no alternative.

On 24 June last year I woke up, made a cup of tea and turned on my computer, wondering by what margin the nation had voted to remain in the EU. On the BBC website, the headline seemed to take up the whole screen: BRITAIN VOTES TO LEAVE THE EUROPEAN UNION.

Five months later, my morning seemed to repeat itself. I woke up, made another cup of tea, wondered how many votes Clinton had won by, and then gaped at the margin of Trump’s victory. It was clear the poles were shifting. Something big was going on.

On both occasions I can remember precisely how I felt. It was a feeling that had nothing to do with what might happen next, and it wasn’t really related to my opinions about any of the issues involved.

The feeling was exhilaration. I suddenly realized that for the last decade I had believed, even though I had pretended not to believe, in the end of history. Now, the end of history was ending. Change was possible after all.

I also began to realize something else: the anti-globalization movement had not died. Its impulse had driven Brexit as it had driven Donald Trump’s victory. It had driven Jeremy Corbyn’s rise, and those of Syriza in Greece and Bernie Sanders in the US.

In their different ways and for different reasons, coalitions of people were again pushing back against the dehumanizing world that the global economy was creating. Globalization had been impoverishing the south for decades. Now it was impoverishing the west, too, and the discontent had reached boiling point.

But change is a trickster and it makes no promises.

Back in the day, those of us who fancied ourselves as radicals thought we were the shock troops in the battle against globalization. As a young greenie, I would consume the words of Edward Abbey and Murray Bookchin, Vandana Shiva and EF Schumacher, James Lovelock and Dave Foreman.

These were the people who were constructing the sane future, and I wanted to join them.

Campaigning environmentalists, the “social justice” movement, the lefties and the greens: we would be the heroes of the coming hour.

Our rational solutions to climate change, our well-argued deconstructions of neoliberalism, our piles of evidence about the negative impact of trade treaties, our righteous demands for justice – these would shake the world. When they learned the truth about the continuing corporate stitch-up, the people would rise up in opposition.

They did rise up in the end, but it wasn’t us they were listening to. The message had found a different messenger. Trump said in his last TV spot before election victory:
“There is, a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities”.
They were words that could have been heard at any social forum, anti-globalization gathering or left-green beanfeast from the last 20 years, as could the rousing final sentence:
“The only thing that can stop this corrupt machine is you.”
In a penetrating essay in The American Interest last July, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt sought to place all this in context. He suggested that the old left-right political divide, which had been looking iffy for years, was being supplanted by a new binary: globalism versus nationalism.

Nationalism, in the broadest sense of the term, was the default worldview of most people at most times, especially in more traditional places. It was a community-focused attitude, in which a nation, tribe or ethnic group was seen as a thing of value to be loved and protected.

Globalism, the ideology of the rising urban bourgeoisie, was more individualistic. It valued diversity and change, prioritized rights over obligations and saw the world as a whole, rather than particular parts of it, as the moral community to which we all belong.

The current explosion of nationalism in the west, Haidt said, was due to globalism having overplayed its hand. Different attitudes to the issue of mass immigration – the spark that lit the fire on both sides of the Atlantic – demonstrated how this had happened.

While globalists saw migration as a right, nationalists saw it as a privilege.

To a globalist, border walls and immigration laws are tantamount to racism or human rights abuse.

To a nationalist, they are evidence of a community asserting its values and choosing to whom to grant citizenship.

Psychologically, Haidt suggested, what happened in 2016 was that many nationalist-inclined voters in the west felt that their community was now under existential threat – not only from large-scale migration, but from Islamist terrorist attacks and the globalist elite’s dismissive attitude to their concerns about both.

In response, they began to look around for strong leaders to protect them. The rest is history, still in the making.

This is the power of the new populists. The likes of Stephen Bannon and Marine Le Pen understand the destructive energy of global capitalism as well as the left does, but they also understand what the left refuses to see: that the heart of the west’s current wound is cultural rather than economic.

What is driving the modern turmoil are threats to identity, culture and meaning. Waves of migration, multicultural policies, eroding borders, shifting national and ethnic identities, globalist attacks on western culture: all that is solid is melting into air.

Who can promise the return of that solidity?

Not the left, which long ago hitched its wagon to the globalist horse, enthusing about breaking down everything from gender identities to national borders and painting any dissent as prejudice or hatred.

Instead, a new nationalism has risen to the occasion. As ever, those who can harness people’s deep, old attachment to tribe, place and identity – to a belonging and a meaning beyond money or argument – will win the day. This might be as iron a law as any human history can provide.

It didn’t take Trump’s cabinet of millionaires long, having got themselves comfortable in the White House, to start dismantling the nation’s environmental protections.

Two months in, the administration has given the green light to two controversial oil pipelines and removed environmental oversight on others, cancelled Obama’s climate action plan, removed regulations protecting clean water and appointed a former head of ExxonMobil as secretary of state.

Anti-green campaigner Myron Ebell, who believes that environmentalism is “the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world” was asked to head Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency, which he wants to abolish, and which has just seen its budget slashed by 25%.

Trump himself is notorious for his cavalier attitude to anything furry or leafy that gets in the way of his gaudy developments. The natural world has always been an inconvenient barrier to economic growth, which is why we are faced with a global ecological crisis.

But Trump’s anti-environmentalism, while it serves the interests of corporations, speaks the language of the people. In his telling, protecting the natural world from destruction is another example of the globalist elite sticking it to ordinary folk.

The notion that environmentalists are a privileged elite telling the hard-pressed that they can’t have decent lives has been a staple of corporate propaganda for decades.

Look at these horrible elitists, runs the line, trying to abolish your hard-earned holiday flights and double the price of your car journey. Who are they to tell you that you can’t give your children plastic toys at Christmas, or eat air-freighted avocados? Have you seen the size of Al Gore’s house?


Like all effective propaganda lines, this one works because there is some truth in it.

The environmental movement that emerged in the west more than 40 years ago, with the founding of organizations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and the birth of green parties across Europe, had its roots in the conservation world.

While its outlook was planetary – no true ecological movement can be anything else – its actions were often local or national. “Think globally, act locally”, perhaps the movement’s most effective early slogan, looks in retrospect like a beautiful combination of the best of the globalist and the nationalist impulses.

These days, though, as the Brexit vote demonstrated, green politics is a marker of the globalist class.

With their grand ecological Marshall Plans and their talk of sustainability and carbon, environmentalists today often seem distant from everyday concerns.

Green spokespeople and activists rarely come from the classes of people who have been hit hardest by globalization. The greens have shifted firmly into the camp of the globalist left. Now, as the blowback gathers steam, they find themselves on the wrong side of the divide.

All this can look like bad news from a certain perspective, but maybe it isn’t.

While environmentalism has changed the world in the last four decades, in recent years it has been spinning its wheels.

Increasingly unrealistic demands for global action on climate change, pie-in-the-sky manifestos calling for global rollouts of this or that eco-megaplan, the promotion of enormous windfarms or solar arrays that do more damage to wild nature than they prevent, all backed with a “40 months to save the world” narrative that’s been going on for 40 years: something had to give.

Some of the new populists may hope they can sound the death knell of the green movement, but perhaps they can instead teach it a necessary lesson.

What Haidt calls nationalism is really a new name for a much older impulse: the need to belong.

Specifically, the need to belong to a place in which you can feel at home. The fact that this impulse can be exploited by demagogues doesn’t mean that the impulse itself is wrong. Stalin built gulags on the back of a notional quest for equality, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on trying to make things fair.

The anti-globalist attack on the greens is a wake-up call. It points to the fact that green ideas have too often become a virtue signal for the carbon-heavy bourgeoisie, drinking their Fairtrade organic coffee as they wait for their transatlantic flight.

Green globalism has become part of the growth machine; a comfortable notion for those who don’t really want much to change.

What would happen if environmentalism remade itself – or was remade by the times?

What might a benevolent green nationalism sound like?

You want to protect and nurture your homeland – well, then, you’ll want to nurture its forests and its streams too. You want to protect its badgers and its mountain lions. What could be more patriotic?

This is not the kind of nationalism of which Trump would approve, but that’s the point. Why should those who want to protect a besieged natural world allow billionaire property developers to represent them as the elitists? Why not fight back – on what they think is their territory?

It has been done before. The nation that gave us Trump also gave us Teddy Roosevelt, another Republican populist president, but one who believed that America’s identity was tied up with protecting, not despoiling, its wild places.

Roosevelt created one of the greatest systems of protected areas and national parks in the world, using his presidency to save 230m acres of land. He wrote:
 “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received,”“and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”
Protecting nature, Roosevelt believed, was a patriotic act.

If I had to offer up just one thing I have learned from my years of environmental campaigning, it would be this: any attempt to protect nature from the worst human depredation has to speak to people where they are.

It has to make us all feel that the natural world, the non-human realm, is not an obstacle in the way of our progress but a part of our community that we should nurture; a part of our birthright. In other words, we need to tie our ecological identity in with our cultural identity.

In the age of drones and robots, this notion might sound airy or even ridiculous, but it has been the default way of seeing for most indigenous cultures throughout history.

In the resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline, recently given the go-ahead by Trump, where the Standing Rock Sioux and thousands of supporters continue to resist the construction of an oil pipeline across Native American land, we perhaps see some indication of what this fusing of human and non-human belonging could look like today; a defense of both territory and culture, in the name of nature, rooted in love.

Globalism is the rootless ideology of the fossil fuel age, and it will fade with it. But the angry nationalisms that currently challenge it offer us no better answers about how to live well with a natural world that we have made into an enemy.

Our oldest identity is one that stills holds us in its grip, whether we know it or not.

Like the fox in the garden or the bird in the tree, we are all animals in a place. If we have a future, cultural or ecological – and they are the same thing, in the end – it will begin with a quality of attention and a defense of loved things. All else is for the birds, and the foxes too.

Paul Kingsnorth’s new book, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, is published by Faber.


Weather Whiplashing

SUBHEAD: Climate change damages water quality by seesawing between drought and flood.

By Brendan Lynch on 29 March 2017 for KU News Service -

Image above: Weather Whiplash in Georgia, 2013: the center of the state was in exceptional drought as the beginning of the year, but heavy rains in February, March, and April busted the drought. Heavy May rains then brought flooding. Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor. IB Publisher's Note: The previous post on this blog was about the recent bankruptcy of Westinghouse Corporation. It has been building a nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Georgia. It just happens to be in the extreme drought and flooding zone in the middle right of these maps of Georgia. We wonder how that plant will operate safely through expected heavy "Weather Whilpashing" in the future.  From (

One consequence of global climate change is the likelihood of more extreme seesawing between drought and flood, a phenomenon dubbed “weather whiplash.”

Now, researchers at the University of Kansas have published findings in the journal Biogeochemistry showing weather whiplash in the American Midwest’s agricultural regions will drive the deterioration of water quality, forcing municipalities to seek costly remedies to provide safe drinking water to residents.

“As rainfall patterns change with climate change, it’s predicted there will be more times of drought, and more times of excessive rainfall — really big storms,” said Terry Loecke, assistant professor of environmental studies at the University of Kansas and lead author of the new investigation.

Loecke and co-author Amy Burgin, associate professor of environmental studies, said the extreme flux between drought and rainfall changes the storage of nutrients in the agricultural landscape — nitrogen used in fertilizing farms most importantly.

 “Farmers put on their normal amount of fertilizer, but when we have a drought, plants don’t grow as big and don’t take up as much nitrogen,” Loecke said. “Instead of going into the plants, which would be harvested, it stays in the soil — and no water is flushing it away.”

But when floods occur, nitrogen is washed into surface waters such as tributaries that feed into rivers.
“The soil is like a sponge, and when it’s dry the nitrogen stays put,” Burgin said. “But as soon as you wet it, like when you wring a sponge, the nitrogen can flood into the rivers.”

Because many of these rivers supply drinking water for communities throughout middle America, remediating high loads of nitrogen will stress taxpayers as water departments are forced to build new facilities to eliminate nitrogen from municipal water supplies.

The KU researchers, along with Diego Riveros-Iregui of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Adam Ward of Indiana University, Steven Thomas of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Caroline Davis of the University of Iowa and Martin St. Clair of Coe College, analyzed data from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as other sources.

The team took a close look at a 2012-2013 drought and flood cycle that affected much of the Midwestern United States, leading to a nitrogen spike in surface waters.

“We looked at observations of the 2012 drought that ended in a flood and asked how frequently that has occurred across upper Midwest across in the last 10-15 years,” Loecke said. “We found that the connection between drought-to-flood conditions and high nitrate was pretty common.”

Indeed, skyrocketing nitrate levels in the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers forced the Des Moines Water Works to construct a $4.1 million nitrate removal plant that costs $7,000 per day to operate.

“The drinking water is a real problem, especially in Des Moines,” Burgin said.

“It has one of most expensive nitrate-removal facilities that we know about. In recent years, they’ve been running it from 25 to 150-plus days each year. That’s really adding up, because the money isn’t in the budget they have to spend to get clean drinking water to citizens.”

Recently, the water utility sued several farm-dense Iowa counties upriver from the city to recoup its denitrification costs.

According to Loecke and Burgin, who both also serve as scientists with the Kansas Biological Survey, surface-water nitrate spikes like the ones plaguing Iowa will occur more widely throughout the agricultural Midwest as weather whiplash becomes more commonplace in the region.

“The average person will pay more to have clean drinking water, like in the city of Des Moines,” Loecke said. “A city can’t predict how many days they’ll have to run a nitrate-removal facility.

When they run it a lot, it’s a huge hit to their budget, and they have to pass it on to their citizens, and it will spread out to rest of the Midwest. Midwesterners will have to pay more for drinking water going forward.”

Loecke and Burgin said they hoped their research could help inform farmers, policymakers, water departments and the general public.

“Municipal water services should be paying attention,” Burgin said. “Iowa is the bull's-eye of this problem, and it’s going to spread out from there — this might not be at the forefront of a lot of Kansas minds right now. But given it’s an agricultural state, it’s a matter of time before we’re in same boat. In Iowa, now it’s hitting smaller municipalities.

According to analysis by the Des Moines Register, 30 percent of them will have this problem — and most don’t have the tax bases to support huge nitrate-removal facilities.”

The National Science Foundation supported this work.

• The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. The university's mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The KU News Service is the central public relations office for the Lawrence campus.


Nuclear Industry Bankruptcy

SUBHEAD: Westinghouse Chapter 11 filing a defining moment in the retreat of the nuclear power industry.

By Nika Knight on 29 March 2017 for Common Dreams -

Image above: A Westinghouse nuclear plant under construction near Waynesboro, Georgia. IB Publisher's note: This nuclear power plant faces a bleak future if completed. Recent history demonstrates that this part of Georgia is experiencing "Weather Whiplashing" including extreme drought. This is not a good prognosis for the plant's long range ability cool nuclear fuel. From original article.

Major nuclear power company Westinghouse, a U.S. subsidiary of Japan's Toshiba, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday in a massive blow to the industry.

The filing marked "a defining moment in the decades-long downward spiral of the global nuclear power industry," wrote Greenpeace Japan in a statement.

"Toshiba/Westinghouse is responsible for building more nuclear reactors worldwide than any other entity," the group observed. "With the financial meltdown of Westinghouse, Toshiba also recently announced its plans to withdraw from foreign construction projects—a move that has far-reaching implications outside Japan and the U.S., such as the construction of three reactors in the U.K. at Moorside."

"We have all but completely pulled out of the nuclear business overseas," Toshiba president Satoshi Tsunakawa said at a news conference, according to the New York Times.

The Times further reports:
The filing comes as the company's corporate parent, Toshiba of Japan, scrambles to stanch huge losses stemming from Westinghouse's troubled nuclear construction projects in the American South. Now, the future of those projects, which once seemed to be on the leading edge of a renaissance for nuclear energy, is in doubt.

"This is a fairly big and consequential deal," said Richard Nephew, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. "You've had some power companies and big utilities run into financial trouble, but this kind of thing hasn't happened."
"Toshiba/Westinghouse find themselves a victim of their own hubris and a nuclear industry where financial prudence was never a strong point," Greenpeace Germany added in a brief (pdf).

It's underscoring the global meltdown of the nuclear power industry, argued Greenpeace Japan energy campaigner Ai Kashiwagi.

 "If we look at how nuclear stacks up against renewables, it's clearly in freefall," Kashiwagi said. "An estimated 147 gigawatts  of renewable power was added in 2015, compared to just 11 gigawatts for nuclear power in the same year."

"For too long the nuclear industry has locked away huge amounts of capital at the expense of developing increasingly affordable renewable energy and updating energy grids," Kashiwagi added.

"The future of energy in Japan and globally will be renewables and it's time governments get on board."

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than ever 2/5/17


Restrictions on Hawaii public land

SOURCE: Rayne Regush (
SUBHEAD: New law will make it that much easier to legally prohibit access to public trails.

By Debora Chang on 28 March 2017 in Island Breath -

Image above: Photo by Kaleo Lancaster of hike on Laie Ridge Trail on public land on Oahu, Hawaii. From (

Please take some time to read about this bill which is making its way through the legislature. I’m concerned that it could make many of us criminal trespassers if passed.

It is SB895 SD1 HD1 and here’s the link to the current version: See (

 I have also attached a PDF copy of it here: (

The bill is scheduled for a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee this Wednesday, March 29.

Unfortunately, I’ve been distracted with other concerns to pay much attention to the legislative session this year (like most of us who have jobs to do). I did see a Native Hawaiian testifying against this bill on the TV news a few weeks ago, which prompted me to take a closer look.

My concerns are not with the beginning part of the bill, but with the rather innocent-looking changes proposed at the latter part of the bill.

Beginning on p. 5, agricultural government property would be added to the list of offenses qualifying as criminal trespass in the second degree. While criminal trespass in the second degree is a “petty misdemeanor,” you end up with a criminal record if found guilty of such an offense.

The bill starts off making it a criminal trespass offense to enter on to closed “improved state land.” It describes lands that are clearly developed, fenced, signed, and closed to public access.

I don’t have a problem with such regulations over state harbors, highway baseyards, etc., although advocates of the homeless seem to be most concerned about this part of the bill.

Where the bill gets especially relevant to those of us who live in rural areas surrounded by vast, undeveloped agricultural lands, is from page 5 to the last page, where it proposes to amend Section 708-814 of the HRS.

Agricultural private lands have had this protection from trespassers in the law for some time. This bill would add government property to this protection.

The only requirement would be to post no trespassing signs at reasonable intervals and next to roads or trails entering the property.

My major concern is where historic Hawaiian trails exist on private lands. These trails, in many cases, are government property.

The Haleakala Trail, Judd Trail, Hookena-Kauhako Trail, several trails to Kaawaloa, and Kauai Ala Loa, are just a few historic trails that come to mind. These trails and many others are kept closed by the state for lack of “resources” to open them to the public. While they remain closed, they are vulnerable to being “lost” to neglect, becoming overgrown and unrecognizable, damage, and destruction.

This law will make it that much easier to legally prohibit access to trails that are public trails per the Highways Act of 1892.

Most people are respectful of keep out signs, and over time the knowledge that a public trail exists in that area will be lost.

Only Native Hawaiians will be able to legally access the public trails as part of customary practices, but posting a no trespassing sign at the trail is likely to discourage or intimidate Native Hawaiians too.

The law currently protects Native Hawaiian rights to use the trails – see Section 6 on the bill’s last page. Is this an acceptable approach where public trails are concerned?

Another important detail:  the Bill’s "Description" on the final page states that the criminal trespass offense applies to government agricultural property even though it may not be fenced or enclosed.

This clearly applies to historic trails, which are usually not fenced on both sides or otherwise enclosed.

The more I read this bill, the more deeply concerned I become. I urge you to email your concerns to the House Judiciary Committee members as soon as possible, if you share these concerns! Here’s the link to the committee that names the members: See (

If you want to send an email to them you can use this link: See (

There is a “Submit Testimony” button near the top. You will have to go through a sign in procedure before submitting your testimony.

Mahalo for your time and attention! If we don’t care, who will?

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Determining Kauai's Ala Loa Trail 2/18/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai's Ala Loa Trail 11/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Haleakala Trail is public land 4/27/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Ala Loa Trail 4/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Trails and Tribulations 2/26/13


Monsanto and EPA collusion

SUBHEAD: More evidence of collusion between the EPA and Monsanto covering up RoundUp cancer link.

By Josh Nelson on 29 March 2017 for Credo -

Image above: This story goes back to 2015 revelations, but more just keeps pouring forth. From (

Stunning new documents unsealed by a federal judge suggest that Monsanto worked directly with federal regulators to hide the health risks of and manipulate the science behind its best-selling herbicide, RoundUp.

The documents reveal that Monsanto pressured Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials to not publicly release information on the cancer risks of glyphosate, the main ingredient in RoundUp, ghostwrote research for the EPA and worked with a senior official at the agency to quash a federal review of the chemical.1

These documents suggest an unprecedented level of collusion between the EPA and Monsanto to cover up evidence that RoundUp is a likely carcinogen. The Office of Inspector General of the EPA, an independent office tasked with investigating fraud and abuse in the agency, must immediately launch an investigation to hold Monsanto and all EPA employees involved accountable.

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen, which spurred a class-action lawsuit brought by hundreds victims who developed cancer after being exposed to the chemical.

These newly uncovered documents reveal that months before the WHO’s determination, an EPA official tipped off Monsanto to the upcoming ruling in an effort to aid the agricultural giant’s public relations campaign.

The official promised the company that he would attempt to beat back an upcoming review of glyphosate by the Department of Health and Human Services, saying “If I can kill this, I should get a medal.” HHS subsequently never completed the review.2

Unsealed documents also suggest that a Monsanto executive gave his employees the go-ahead to ghostwrite favorable research on glyphosate and later attribute the studies to academics by merely placing their names on the research.3

Given Donald Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, this is a crucial opportunity for the the Office of the Inspector General to prove that it will remain truly independent under a Trump administration determined to exert total control and suppress all dissent.

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services has recently launched an investigation into the Trump administration, so there is precedent for the EPA inspector general to follow suit.4

Monsanto has a long and dark history covering up glyphosate’s dangers, but it’s simply unconscionable that the EPA would collude with Monsanto to conceal the serious threat the chemical poses to public health.

The defeat of Trumpcare shows that our activism works. Now it’s time for the the Office of the Inspector General to do its job and hold Monsanto and EPA employees accountable.

Tell the Office of Inspector General of the EPA: Investigate collusion between Monsanto and the EPA. Click here ( to sign the petition.

  1. Danny Hakim, "Monsanto Weed Killer Roundup Faces New Doubts on Safety in Unsealed Documents," The New York Times, March 14, 2017.
  2. Reynard Loki, "Has Monsanto Orchestrated a Massive Cancer Coverup? Unsealed Court Case Documents Point to a Scandal," AlterNet, March 17, 2017.
  3. Lorraine Chow, "Monsanto Faces Hundreds of New Cancer Lawsuits as Debate Over Glyphosate Rages On," EcoWatch, March 22, 2017.
  4. Mary Papenfuss, "Inspector General Probes Trump Administration’s Move To Pull Obamacare Enrollment Ads," The Huffington Post, March 25, 2017.


Trump keeps foot on gas pedal

SUBHEAD: Study says half the species on Earth today will likely disappear by the middle of the century.

By Jahr Jamail on 27 March 2017 for Truth Out -

Image above: An Alien planet like image from Meteor Crater, Arizona. A mile wide crater formed in a fraction of a second as 175 million tons of limestone and bedrock were uplifted from formerly flat terrain 50,000 years ago. The meteorite was only 150 ft. wide. From (

You can feel it, can't you?

You already know what is happening to the planet. To Gaia. To Earth. To the only planet humankind will ever "permanently" inhabit. We've nowhere else to go but here ... this incredible, majestic, beautiful Garden of Eden that has held us, and carried us, this far.

We have ignored the fact that we are, at best, mere stewards. We have forsaken the Earth by fantasizing that the planet was ours to control. To exploit. To manipulate. To drill, mine and desecrate.

To gain riches from.

The balance is upset, the die is cast, now we reap the consequences of a whirlwind of forces so vast we cannot comprehend them.

We needn't look far to see how very far off the climate precipice we have already fallen, as our pace accelerates by the day.

A recent study, Extinction Risk from Climate Change, published in the prestigious journal Nature, shows that half the species on Earth today will likely disappear by the middle of the century -- within 33 years. Although this information is devastating, perhaps we should not be surprised, since we've known for years now that we have already entered the Earth's sixth mass extinction event.

Last month, a paper titled The Anthropocene Equation revealed that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is causing the climate to change 170 times faster than it would if only natural forces were affecting it. "The human magnitude of climate change looks more like a meteorite strike than a gradual change," one of the authors of the study said.

Both NASA and NOAA data showed that this January was the third hottest January ever recorded, with the brunt of the warming extremes occurring, distressingly, in the Arctic. Some anomalies were as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit above normal over the winter.

The amount of dissolved oxygen in Earth's oceans is currently declining, according to a recently published paper in the journal Nature. This will assuredly have severe consequences for all marine organisms.

For perspective on where we are in relation to what has happened in Earth's history, National Geographic recently published a piece that shows how sudden and dramatic changes in the planet's climate have historically been catastrophic for humans, bringing plagues, famines and heat waves.

The article highlights the importance of not only the extreme change that is predicted over the next 100 years (4° to 6° Celsius, which could be an extremely conservative estimate), but also the rate of change, as it far exceeds nature's ability to adapt in order to sustain most life forms.

National Geographic goes on to point out that this exceptional rate of change will test adaptability by all global species, including humans, and that over the long term, all of our survival is far from certain.

In 2015, NASA launched a massive mission to study how quickly the oceans are melting Greenland, and the findings that are now coming in are disturbing. While we don't yet have all of the results, the study has already enabled the lead researchers to provide some broad brushstrokes on what they are finding.

"Overall, together I think these papers suggest that the glaciers as a whole are more vulnerable than we thought they were," Josh Willis, a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the principal investigator on the mission told the Washington Post.

"We could be in for more sea level rise than we thought," he added. "And we're not alone; the fact is that almost every time some new results come out of Greenland or Antarctica, we find these glaciers are more vulnerable than we thought."

At roughly the same time Willis was making those comments, US satellite data from Antarctica showed that sea ice around that continent had hit a record low.

That means that the sea ice around Antarctica has shrunk to its smallest annual extent on record, after having been at its record high just a few years earlier. It's also worth noting that in mid-February, the Larsen C ice shelf there shed a Manhattan-sized chunk of ice into the sea.

On February 22 Truthout reported that the next major bleaching event to hit the Great Barrier Reef in Australia had begun. A little over two weeks later, the first survey for this year was conducted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), and the survey confirmed that another mass bleaching event had occurred and was ongoing.

"In total, those extreme weather events and the overall impact of climate change is a major threat to the future of the reef," the GBRMPA's David Wachenfeld said grimly to the media of his findings.

Closer to home in the US, on February 12 the tallest dam in the country, the Oroville dam, was at risk of disintegrating due to an onslaught of torrential flooding that prompted the evacuation of more than 200,000 people living downstream.

The crisis underscored how infrastructure mechanisms like dams are in no way built to withstand the impacts that ACD is already causing, let alone future impacts.

Truthout published an article that contained an interview with Deborah Moore, who was a commissioner with the World Commission on Dams, an international body that investigated the performance of dam projects across the world.

 Moore was asked what experts like herself should be looking at in terms of incorporating climate science into engineering design. Her response? "We can no longer use historic data in order to plan these projects because it's no longer relevant."

The evidence of runaway ACD across the land sectors of the planet is glaring.

A recent State of the Environment Report for Australia has warned that ACD could be "irreversible," and that ACD's impact to ecosystems continues to increase. "It [ACD] is altering the structure and function of natural ecosystems, and affecting heritage, economic activity and human wellbeing," the report's summary said. "Evidence shows that the impacts of climate change are increasing, and some of these impacts may be irreversible."

As if to underscore this point, another report from Australia emerged recently, which showed that country's wheat productivity has "flatlined" as a direct result of ACD.

Lastly in this section, spring has arrived nearly a full month early for many plants in the Arctic. Scientists have warned of ominous consequences from this, as the change marks the greatest shifting of the spring plant emergence that they have ever observed in the Arctic.

"As a climate scientist who studies the start of spring, I struggle to answer the question, 'What is spring?'" Heidi Steltzer, a professor at Fort Lewis College and author of the recent scientific paper, told the New York Times. "A longer spring opens up the potential for gaps -- points in time when it would be spring with no spring-like events occurring. Would this still be spring?"

As is usually the case in these dispatches, the watery realms are where runaway ACD is the most visible.

Major droughts, which are looking more permanent with each passing year, are persisting around the globe. In Somalia, a country that has had to grow accustomed to drought, words like "unprecedented" and "record-breaking" have begun to lose their meaning.

The drought there is now so bad that hyenas won't even eat the carcasses of goats, sheep and camels that have died, as there isn't enough meat on their bones to make it worth their while. In early March, in one 48-hour period, at least 110 people died in Somalia from famine and diarrhea resulting from the ongoing drought conditions.

Famine warnings have now been issued for Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia, all of which are experiencing their worst droughts in decades, with no end in sight.

By February, it became clear that the climate in the Arctic was, and had been for several months, already well advanced into abrupt ACD. Temperatures in many areas, including the North Pole, were clocking in between 30°-40°F above normal for extended periods of time, and the Arctic sea ice was hitting record minimum extent levels.

In January, what is normally one of the colder months of the year there, sea ice extent was nearly half a million miles below the January 1981-2010 long-term average, an average that was already well below what a healthy preindustrial age sea-ice level would have looked like.

A recent study showed that as Arctic warming continues to ramp up, Canadian glaciers are paying for it dearly; the melt-off from them has risen by a staggering 900 percent. This has now caused them to become a major contributor to sea level rise. Another recent study revealed that of all the permafrost that exists in the global Arctic, at least 10 percent is already melted out.

Anchorage, Alaska will lose its drinking water source before 2100, according to another recent study. The city's water comes from the Eklutna Glacier, in the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage, which is in the process of melting away, according to United States Geological Survey (USGS) Scientist Louis Sass, the lead author of the study.

"Eklutna looks like it's going to more or less disappear," he said, adding that the only question is how long that will take. According to Sass, who this writer accompanied on a USGS glacial survey of another Alaskan glacier twice during 2016, if the climate remains as it was between 2008 and 2015, the Eklutna will be gone by 2100.

But, he said recently, if the climate warms more, which of course it will, the timeline could be half that long. To give you an idea of how fast the glacier's melt rate is increasing: Between 1957-2010, the rate of melting ice there was 5 percent per year. Between 2010-2015, that rate had risen to 7 percent. And during that same period, during hotter years like 2013 and 2015, the rate even reached 13 percent. Farewell, Eklutna.

Meanwhile, sea level rise continues, and coastal regions are paying a price. A recently published study showed that US coastal cities could be flooding three times every single week by 2045. That means, if you buy a home in those areas now, before you finish paying off your 30-year mortgage, you would have a little trouble selling your constantly flooding real estate.

Lastly in this section, even life in the deepest seas is being impacted negatively by runaway ACD. A recently published study has shown that creatures living in the deep ocean are facing major food shortages, rapidly changing temperatures and other human-caused problems.

The deep ocean plays an essential role in the sustenance of commercial fishing and also removes major amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere, but the study notes that food supply in the deeper areas of the oceans could fall by a stunning 55 percent by 2100, which will of course starve the animals and microbes that live there.

So much for fire season being in the summer.

In early March, within just a few days, wildfires had torched a 1.5 million acre swath across the Central US, incinerating at least six people. The area, ripe for burning due to ACD-warmed temperatures and an ongoing drought, detonated into fires that spread across Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

In addition to the deaths, the fires caused vast amounts of damage: Thousands of people were forced to evacuate, much livestock was burned to death, vast expanses of cropland were lost, and numerous structures went up in flames.

In Kansas, one wildfire burned more than 1,000 square miles, breaking the record for that state's largest-ever fire. These fires were ongoing in all three states at the time of this writing.

In February near the North Pole, temperatures were 50 degrees warmer than normal, yet again. In one area of Greenland, temperatures surged upwards of 43 degrees in a mere 12 hours as scientists continue to watch in amazement and shock as the Arctic literally goes into meltdown.

Moreover, these dramatic temperatures were simply one of many major heat waves sweeping the planet in February. Temperatures in North Texas reached into the mid-90s by mid-February, and one area in Oklahoma nearly reached 100. At the same time, parts of Australia were baking in 115-degree heat.

February was so hot across much of the US that the Great Lakes' already weak ice cover was cut down to nearly nothing and ski conditions across the Northeast looked more like they usually do in April.

To give you an idea of how hot things have been in the US, according to Climate Central, "There have been 3,146 record highs set for the month-to-date compared to only 27 record lows, ensuring February will go down as the 27th month in a row with more highs than lows. The astonishing 116-to-1 ratio of highs to lows would easily set a record for the most lopsided monthly ratio in history. There have also been 248 monthly record highs and no monthly record lows."

Evidence of abrupt ACD abounds, including torrential downpours following record-setting drought. This sequence is precisely what we saw in California last month, when an extreme weather event that was referred to as a "bombogenesis" or "weather bomb" brought torrential rains and floods, killed four people, swallowed cars, disrupted flights, and knocked out power for more than 150,000 people.

Additionally, it seems that a previously unforeseen nightmare scenario may have already begun.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its most recent summary, includes the fact that the carbon equivalent contained in Arctic permafrost is 1,400-1,700 gigatons, and the IPCC estimates that by 2100, between 800-1,400 gigatons of carbon will be released into the atmosphere.

Currently, humans are emitting roughly 40 Gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere on an annual basis.
Amazingly, while the IPCC does note these amounts of terrestrial carbon in the Arctic from the melting permafrost, they do not include their release and the implications thereof into their modeling predictions.

The release of all this extra carbon from melting permafrost represents yet another ACD-driven positive feedback loop: The carbon released from the permafrost will add to atmospheric warming, which will only accelerate the feedback loop by melting more permafrost.

Denial and Reality
Given that we are in the country of Trumpistan, we can now safely assume we will be fed a steady diet of ACD denialism.

With the Trump administration full of ACD deniers, climate scientists are already facing threats, harassment and a very real fear of "McCarthyist attacks." Abusive and vulgar verbal attacks, and even death threats, have already become the norm.

In just the two months since he entered office, Trump has already undertaken the most ambitious regulatory rollback since the Reagan era and, of course, some of the most dramatic acts of deregulation have been happening on the environmental front. Trump's frontrunner for the role of science advisor is William Happer, a man who has described climate scientists as a "glassy-eyed cult."

Also in Trump's denial cabal is Scott Pruitt, the new head of the EPA (which means he's the person in charge of destroying that particular agency), who recently publicly questioned whether the EPA is even empowered to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

During a recent interview Pruitt was questioned as to whether he believed ACD was caused by humans, to which he replied: "I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so, no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."

At this moment, it is worth harkening back to a 1991 film produced by the oil giant Shell, which warned that the climate was already changing "at a faster rate than at any time since the end of the ice age."

The film, titled Climate of Concern, went on to state that the rate of ACD even at that time, more than a quarter of a century ago, was "changing too fast perhaps for life to adapt, without severe dislocation."

It minced no words, stating that the world was warming and serious consequences could result. "Tropical islands barely afloat even now, first made inhabitable, and then obliterated beneath the waves … coastal lowlands everywhere suffering pollution of precious groundwater, on which so much farming and so many cities depend," the film narrates. "In a crowded world subject to such adverse shifts of climate, who would take care of such greenhouse refugees?"

Like Exxon, which knew, early on, of the dire consequences of runaway ACD and then covered up the facts, Shell is currently immersed in an elaborate charade, acting for the benefit of its bottom line.

Whether the denialists in Trump's cabinet are engaged in their own charade -- or whether they really believe their bizarre rhetoric -- no one truly knows, but there's no doubt that they are acting in the interest of the fossil fuel industry.

Once again, the oil giants have realized profits beyond their wildest dreams, while the consequences continue to be thrust upon every living being on Earth.

• Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.