The calamities that are besetting humanity or are about to beset humanity, either partially or in whole, all too frequently leave me dumbfounded as to our collective inability to deal with it all. While problems are reported and recorded as separate and seemingly disparate items in the news and reviews of the world, they are necessarily related. That relationship is the overall economic-military-political structure of the global human society - its financial-economic systems, its military political systems, and its environmental cultural systems, all of which overlap and are part and parcel of each other. The sum is our global culture, heading towards almost certain paradigm shifting events that will force a change in the way we live.
Most people devote themselves to one cause or another, as I tend to do so myself. Yet, looking at all the events that tie into that one cause, whether it is the one I devote myself to or any other one that I look into because it pertains to the core of my investigations, all these individual causes are really bush fires, flare-ups in the general slow inexorable flow towards a large change in our global society.
Broadly speaking there are three main areas that receive focus, each one of these areas again can be subdivided into a multitude of individual causes and actions that reflect personal interests and abilities. One of three broad areas is the military-political- corporate regimes that have created the war and terror that haunts so many people and regions in the world today. A second is the financial sector of the corporations and their integration with the government and military - pretty much the same thing as the first, but observed from a different perspective. Rather than being a war crime-humanitarian interest, it stems from an economic food on the table, roof over the head compassionate view of humanitarian neighbourliness. The third, the one that often becomes disregarded under the more immediate threats of the other two, at least for the general media, is the environment. Environmental subcategories generally are separated as being changes to the weather/climate and or pollution to the air, water, and soil resources of the world.
Underlying all three is the factor of easy energy supporting a huge increase in the world's population. I could have just said oil, but that simplifies the problem a bit too much. However, it is the easy access to and refinement of crude oil that has propelled the great changes in society over the last century. That easy energy has made huge increases in efficiencies for manufacturing, agriculture, medicine and the resulting huge increase in the population and its demands on the environment. We are receiving many signals that we have already reached our limits, or at least crossed certain parameters or "tipping' points from which we cannot recover.
All the events occurring from the military or financial or environmental perspectives - the big three - are all intertwined and related to each other.
The financial system, now based on huge debt, on "finance' capitalism, where the rich and powerful create their own trading devices and work the revolving door between the financial institutions and the government, is a house of cards, with ill winds ready to blow it down. It almost succumbed after 2008, but the political powers that be, also being pretty much the same as the financial powers that be, created more money out of thin air to pay out the debts of the banks and institutions that under the rules of free market capitalism should have been allowed to collapse. Free market capitalism is of course a myth as the corporate bosses above and beyond the national governments of the world have successfully colluded to gain the power to increase their own wealth. The rest of us are intended to suck it up, to buy into the austerity programs that they, the financial political elites, choose as the best way to keep the majority of people impoverished.
At the same time the political argument turns to consumption, as the basis of the capitalist society is the consumption of more and more goods, most of them unnecessary but advertised/propagandized as needs - created wants. This puts the system into a paradox - the wealthy create their wealth by flipping around imaginary fraudulent financial devices, while extolling the rest to go out and buy, to consume, with money that they do not have.
The easy energy supporting this consumption allows for transportation of products - agricultural as well as commercial - from all areas of the earth. The same easy energy, when altered to provide the basis for products, influences every aspect of our life: anything made of plastic, most of the agricultural herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, pharmaceutical products, are all based on oil derivatives.
Oil - it comes back to that again - creates our consumptive patterns for more and more cheap goods, more and more cheap holidays to foreign areas, more and more reliance on foreign foodstuffs to the detriment of our own home-grown sustainable agriculture. It runs our society, literally.
Oil. It's running out. Sometime around now we are at peak oil, meaning from here on in, the amount of oil available to the world will be decreasing, as population demands for it are increasing. There will always be some oil, as it cannot all be extracted. Its cost has already begun a steady rise, with dips and hollows for sure, but it will invariably tend upwards over the next decade, until it becomes too expensive for consumption, and too expensive for extraction. Yet we are doing nothing really effective to shift our energy sources. Certainly we can build wind power units, tidal power units, solar energy units, but we better do it now while we have the relatively easy energy of oil to do it with, or we won't have the necessary infrastructure and power with which to make the change.
As for nuclear power, the history of "small' unreported incidents combined with the larger events of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and now Fukushima, all indicate that sooner or later there will be system errors that will contaminate huge swaths of the world.
Our environment is under serious threats from several sides and no matter how gloriously we pride ourselves in our technological expertise in avoiding the worst that mother nature can throw at us - from viruses and bacteria to hurricanes and earthquakes - we are inevitably a part of the whole and cannot remove ourselves from it, nor recreate it in order to make it safer for our existence. Global warming, one aspect of overall environmental damages, is already upon us as the science is too definitive and the wave of recent "hundred" year events happening every year support it.
We are it. We are the environment. We live in it, breathe it, drink it"and continue to despoil it at such a rate that sooner or later there will be consequences to great for the majority of humanity to deal with. A nuclear meltdown and blow-out"weather system changes (climate) that will tip us into a world of unknown consequences".agricultural sectors that will continue to decline as pollution and overuse destroy the quality and quantity of the soil.
Too many people consuming too many resources. Oil on the decline. Climate changes with more powerful events occurring with more frequency.
So what's the military got to do with all this? Are they not just protecting us from the terrorists who want to kill us all? That is the simplest of the media beliefs that the wealthy would have as many people as possible believe. The military first and foremost and always has been the main diplomatic tool for empires attempting to capture resources and markets. It is very much so that way today. The military is about regional control, about doing away with anyone who defies the corporate consensus of corporate rule of gathering wealth to the elites. Nothing new in that. Not is there anything new in the revolving door between the military, the political system, and the financial system, an integrated entity determined to keep itself in place regardless of the wishes of the common people.
Thus we have wars purportedly against terror (without asking the question where and why that terror originated in the first place, or looking at alternative and better ways to stop its nourishment). We have wars for democracy and freedom and no fly zones for the protection of the people. Only for a select few of course, the others can bully and torture and demand obeisance of their citizens regardless of "universal' U.S. values as long as they are will within the U.S. sphere of influence. The military protects the very oil it wants and needs, the cheap energy it requires to keep it functioning. It also attempts to create spheres of influence, areas of containment in order to try and secure not just oil resources, but other earth resources that are becoming increasingly scarce.
I am not sure that either individually or collectively there is really much that can be done. What is required is a societal paradigm change, one that in and of itself will bring about changes that for many will be as disturbing as those we are heading for if we do nothing. So what to do? Persist, activate, write, complain, do"something. Maybe before it is too late our collective society, such as represented by the peaceful coalition of demonstrators who overthrew Mubarak in Egypt, will be able to overhaul our current system.
Put all together, the course our society is on resembles a large vessel, running out of fuel, running out of room to manoeuvre. Under "normal' circumstances this will not be a fast event at least by human standards, but one in which, as events change circumstances, there will be an ongoing series of new normals. Each generation will think that what they have is the norm and will respond to their particular circumstances as necessary. Under abnormal circumstances, circumstances could change rapidly. An attack on Iran would unleash a new wave of military violence that may not be limited to just the Persian Gulf nor just to conventional weapons. Fukushima may yet develop into an serious man-made disaster"the whole country of Japan irradiated with long lasting radioactive elements"where will they all go? Could the same happen to Los Angeles? New York?
The signs of change can be determined by asking yourself the following questions as the years go by. They are simply signposts tracking our unwieldy vessel on its apparently unwavering course.
Has oil reached $150 per barrel yet? That affects absolutely everything"everything"in our society.
Has Iran been attacked yet? Hardly a question that needs asking, the response will be immediately self-evident.
Has the polar ice cap melted during the summer? Big deal, more open water, but open water that signals large dislocations in air circulation patterns, in levels of moisture in the air, changes in ocean currents, and in further heat retention, plus perhaps a whole range of inconceivable relationships tying into other large climate processes such as El Nino.
Where has the next nuclear melt down occurred? With over 100 aging and accident prone plants in the U.S., this question will sooner or later have an answer.
Is the internet still free? Think about that.
Has the population passed 9 billion yet?
Is the Middle East still under occupation, in part or in whole?
Have you had a good coffee recently? Or a good piece of chocolate? Simple, yet powerful, as our coffee and chocolate are grown using cheap water, cheap land, cheap labour, and oil derived agricultural chemicals in poorer countries and then transported large distances for our convenience.