The Low Road.

Politicians have taken regard of historian Simon Schama’s comment that no one ever won an election by telling voters it had come to the end of its “providential allotment of inexhaustible plenty”. The official policy articulated, in a moment of unusual candour, by Jean-Claude Juncker, the current head of the European Commission, was that when the situation becomes serious it is simply necessary to lie.

For the moment, to paraphrase Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the “permanent lie [has become] the only safe form of existence“.

The issue of climate change is no different, with the exception that blind faith in technology also incorporates a collective “amnesia” about the problems that we face because of technology. As pointed out to Stewart Brand by Winona LaDuke.

The politics of the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” are based on the most powerful (U.S.) corporate intellect, the same philosophical basis upon which all governments are run.

The very oil, coal, and gas giants that have brought us to the brink of catastrophe are not just at the negotiating table—they are coming dangerously close to running the show. Examples of Big Energy’s influence in the talks abound: from corporations actually sponsoring the last round of talks (COP19), to industry front groups like the World Coal Association and IPIECA (the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association) gaining official status, to solutions on the table that seek to enrich the private sector above all else.


Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine” on “disaster capitalism” is a stark reminder of what will happen to those who cannot pay, and the institutions on which they rely.

One of those who saw opportunity in the floodwaters of New Orleans was Milton Friedman……He wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal three months after the levees broke. “Most New Orleans schools are in ruins,” Friedman observed, “as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the educational system.”…….. George W. Bush backed up their plans with tens of millions of dollars to convert New Orleans schools into “charter schools,” For Milton Friedman, the entire concept of a state-run school system reeked of socialism. In his view, the state’s sole functions were “to protect our freedom both from the enemies outside our gates and from our fellow-citizens: to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets.” In other words, to supply the police and the soldiers—anything else, including providing free education, was an unfair interference in the market.

Within nineteen months, with most of the city’s poor residents still in exile, New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools. Before Hurricane Katrina, the school board had run 123 public schools; now it ran just 4. Before that storm, there had been 7 charter schools in the city; now there were 31

For more than three decades, Friedman and his powerful followers had been perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock, then quickly making the “reforms” permanent.

From “The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”. Introduction

Governments who make the decisions in the IPCC forum have no thought to change the economic/social system to a more egalitarian climate justice base, but the IPCC is complicit by blind adherence to science fiction and the ecomodernist answers, Corporate ideology, and feeding this back into Government thinking as “viable”.

The Papacy turned the eye once more to the “moral” case for climate justice, but known skeptics within the church such as Cardinal George Pell from Australia, said the Catholic Church had no business issuing statements about politics.

The “Precautionary Principle” has morphed into ‘cost /benefit, risk analysis’ where GDP and profit are “privatising” what were once “Human Rights”

Naomi Klein’s book set the debate in the most analytical way possible. The logic is irrefutable, but is answered with silence and has failed to produce the required debate. Read it.

This is the “low road”, but requires more crowdfunding than is possible. Needs more emissions reductions that seem possible, more “Degrowth” than seems possible. It needs new financial taxes, redistribution of wealth and social reforms that don’t seem possible. More than that, it needs a sizeable majority with Climate Justice as its main talking point. Its a road we know instinctively but haven’t travelled before, its starting again.






Some important facts to remember when thinking of the TAR SANDS development.





……………………     (Excellent articles on Climate Change evidence)





Vast reserves of low quality oil underlie the boreal forest surrounding Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, Canada in the form of “Athabasca oil sands.” While these reserves have been known since the early 20th century the high cost of extracting usable oil from these “oil sands” limited the development of a viable oil sands mining industry. 
In 2003 the rising cost of crude oil led the Oil and Gas Journal to formally recognize Canada’s oil sands as a viable resource (Woynillowicz et al., 2005).  The oil held in these reserves raises Canada to second place on the list of oil rich countries, behind only Saudi Arabia in total reserves (Oil and Gas Journal, 2004).   The rising price of oil has fueled this oil boom in Northern Alberta.  Canada’s National Energy Board predicts $125 billion in investments for creation and expansion of oil sands mining in the Athabasca area between 2006 and 2015 which will take production to around 3 million barrels per day (National Energy Board, 2006). 
Local people including the Native American population are concerned that exploitation will come at too great a cost to the environment.  The government of Alberta plans to propose a surface mining area of 280,000 hectares, “an area approximately four times the size of the City of Calgary” (Mineable Oil Sands Strategy-Government of Alberta, 2005). 
In 2001 oil extracted from oil sands (271 million barrels) exceeded oil extracted by conventional means (264 million barrels) for the first time (Canadian Centre for Energy Information, 2002-2003).   In 1967 The Great Canadian Oil Sands Company began construction at its Mildred Lake site.  In 1974 they were joined by the Syncrude Corporation which began construction of a mine in the same area.  By early 2006 the mining operations had expanded to cover an area roughly 30 km by 20 km.  Syncrude operates a second mine, the Aurora, approximately 30 km to the north of Mildred Lake.
WINONA LADUKE – As Winona displayed during her debate with Stewart Brand (below), her passion and commitment to idiginous activism brings a wisdom which the broader activist community need to embrace. The “long haul” activist explains the impacts  Tar Sands is having on the native community .
BILL McKIBBEN and ran a brilliant campaign against the KEYSTONE XL pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, to postpone a decision by Obama, but Republican “oil puppets” are forcing a decision before the 2012 election. A few days ago he wrote this in the Guardian ;
 “We waged our struggle against building it out in the open, presenting scientific argument, holding demonstrations, and attending hearings. We sent 1,253 people to jail in the largest civil disobedience action in a generation. Meanwhile, more than half a million Americans offered public comments against the pipeline, the most on any energy project in the nation’s history.
And what do you know? We won a small victory in November, when President Obama agreed that, before he could give the project a thumbs-up or -down, it needed another year of careful review.
Given that James Hansen, the government’s premier climate scientist, had said that tapping Canada’s tar sands for that pipeline would, in the end, essentially mean “game over for the climate”, that seemed an eminently reasonable course to follow, even if it was also eminently political.

A few weeks later, however, Congress decided it wanted to take up the question. In the process, the issue went from out in the open to behind closed doors in money-filled rooms. Within days, and after only a couple of hours of hearings that barely mentioned the key scientific questions or the dangers involved, the House of Representatives voted 234-194 to force a quicker review of the pipeline. Later, the House attached its demand to the must-pass payroll tax cut.”

So Tar Sands is back in the forefront of issues, join your support to HERE.


AND NOW THE CLOCK POINTS HISTRIONICALLY TO NOON,                                      SOME NEW KIND OF NORTH,                                                                                   AND WHICH WAY DO WE GO ?                                                                                     WHAT ARE DAYS FOR ?                                                                                                   TO WAKE US UP,                                                                                                           TO PUT BETWEEN THE ENDLESS NIGHTS.                                                                  Laurie Anderson, “Another day in America”.


In a year when “Time” magazine awarded the “Person of the Year” to “The Protester” we are bound to examine the society that gave rise to the nomination. If we are unable, in truth, to question the viability of the society that gives the protester this status, then that society is not free. It is captive to a mindset that is totally subjective.

When a burning man sparks a global movement  in the middle east, against the intellectual conspiracy that maintains brutal dictatorships with oppressive regimes, it is no wonder that the virus of protest spreads to those places where the myth originate, to the west.

The year 2011 has been a defining year, and as another defining year approaches, each successive year will herald a yet more defining year. There is a choice we have to make NOW.

To accept the “neutrality” of progress and all that technology offers as we sleepwalk towards a future made baron for generations to come, or to progressively rid ourselves of the shackles of amnesia and be the advocate of change rather than the victim.

Highlights from Stewart Brand and Winona LaDuke Debate.  A Spirited Exchange on Technology and the Environment.  (Eart Island Journal)

An audience question from Actor/activist Peter Coyote presents the “debate” as one between “Intelligence and Wisdom”.

Winona Laduke, anti-tar sands activist, reminds us what role amnesia plays in the acceptance of lifestyle and the intellectual hubris it promotes. The argument from Stewart Brand to accept the “neutrality” of consumerism and marketing  is totally rejected by La Duke.



Post war hardships subsided to the illusion of a vision of “You’ve never had it so good” and that was before the credit boom. The 30’s depression mantra that, “my kids will be better off than I was”, will in a very short time, not only be unrealizable, but a fool’s paradise. The next “new bubble” emerges marketing “choice” based on amnesia, but the big economic bubble is now bursting. The “lifestyle” experiment is coming to an end.

When we look to the west, we observe a social form that has tried to engineer world domination with a century of world wars, until it was taken to its science fiction conclusion with star wars.         So the west opted for a more subtle method of ideological domination, “Lifestyle”, free market capitalism, another vote winning  “no brainer.”

The global ”Occupy” virus has exposed amnesia by revealing the extent of the “inequality” that has evolved, both within western society, and between developed and developing. When the attempt is made to share the “pie” with “other than” western society, the magnanimous gesture is based on the unsustainable demand that the “American lifestyle is non-negotiable”.


 29 experts, including Herman Daly, were asked,  “What do you think should be the two or three highest priority political outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), scheduled for Rio de Janeiro in June 2012?”

His answer succinctly sums up the Steady-State perspective.

“The conclusion of the 1972 Limits to Growth study by the Club of Rome still stands 40 years later. Even though economies are still growing, and still put growth in first place, it is no longer economic growth, at least in wealthy countries, but has become uneconomic growth. In other words, the environmental and social costs of increased production are growing faster than the benefits, increasing “illth” faster than wealth, thereby making us poorer, not richer.

We hide the uneconomic nature of growth from ourselves by faulty national accounting because growth is our panacea, indeed our idol, and we are very afraid of the idea of a steady-state economy. The increasing “illth” is evident in exploding financial debt, in biodiversity loss, and in destruction of natural services, most notably climate regulation.

The major job of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is to help us overcome this denial and shift the path of progress from quantitative growth to qualitative development, from bigger to better. Specifically this will mean working toward a steady-state economy at a sustainable (smaller than present) scale relative to the containing ecosystem that is finite and already overstressed.

Since growth now makes us poorer, not richer, poverty reduction will require sharing in the present, not the empty promise of growth in the future”