America’s Dangerous Forty Percent

Throughout history democracies have been a fragile form of government. This is because Democracies depended on reasonable cooperation, a strong regard for the rule of law over personality and at least some semblance of truth telling among competing political parties. There is, unfortunately, among even the most sophisticated societies roughly forty percent of a citizenry oblivious to the big picture when it comes to national and international political issues.

In America, it’s forty percent — In the main — is composed of really good folks who are among the best acting humans when among family, friends and coworkers. However, being almost exclusively focused upon local and practical matters; and with little interest in serious biography, history or politics, and possessing a kneejerk reaction for brushing off all politicians as useless clowns, these folks tend to be devoid of a reasonable basis for divining broad but subtle issues pertaining to the protection of America’s highly venerable institutions of democracy. In fact they take American democracy for granted, assu ming that things will always somehow work out for the best without their ever having to directly participate in its protection.

Additionally, such folks tend to function on pure emotion and nature’s hardwired tribal impulses that often foster covert or overt bigotry against the “other.” Throw in feelings of being personally aggrieved over factors they see as being beyond their personal control, they can become made particularly ripe for exploitation by political charlatans, which in this country also means being helped along to this end by those parts of our social media that profit from spreading hate, lies and crazy conspiracy theories. Yes, dear friends, beating the drums for such poisonous nonsense is worth big bucks for Fox News and its right wing media allies, including that rat’s nest of disinformation, Facebook — sadly hate sells bigly.

Also among this dangerous forty percent are society’s most violent elements. In America it’s the White supremacist — mainly the Klan and patriot groups spoiling for a fight with anyone, but especially establishment components of our democracy. These are the same order of persons that in the last century comprised Hitler’s Brown Shirt ruffians that rapidly morphed into the ranks of Hitler’s SS guard units. Would-be dictators are always careful to pander to society’s ruffians as they represent potential enforcers and intimidators against those who would appose them.

And this brings us to the amazing Donald John Trump, a man long regarded by the New York business community as a gadfly buffoon, a man who squandered a 400 million dollar inheritance from his father upon poorly run business ventures — Trump water, Trump ties, Trump stakes, Trump airlines, Trump University (for which he was compelled to pay the defrauded folks 25 million dollars in penalties) and of course his Trump casinos fiascos. Indeed, in the 90s Trump teetered on the edge of bankruptcy at a time when American banks would not touch him with ye old ten-foot pole.

But if the Donald was a wretched businessman, when it came to self-promotion in the eyes of the common man, the pathological lying, con man salesmen was something of a genius. He had a ghostwriter put together a fluff piece he called the art of the deal, a joke of a book if ever there was one — this according to the ghostwriter himself. But then things took a drastic turn for the better for Mr. Trump when a reality TV show, the Apprentice, came his way.

In this highly staged entertainment production, Trump convincing portrayed himself to the nation’s regular Joes and Jills as a tough, no nonsense businessman. This gave him super name recognition and tremendous celebrity status among the masses that he would later use to gain political leverage for an easy high jacking of the Republican Party.

Trump’s prime political target was, to be sure, what would later be seen as the dangerous 40%, mostly lower middleclass White folks that were terrified of a rising multicultural American democracy. Two terms of a Back Democratic president had generated a white-hot backlash among said ilk that Trump saw as his political opening.

After months of greasing the skids for his political undertaking by relentlessly questioning President Obama’s American citizenship, Trump made his famous ride down the golden, Trump Tower escalator, making it abundantly clear to his target audience whom he was against — foreigners and minorities, especially those “rapists and murderers” coming over the southern boarder. It all came straight out of the authoritarian’s handbook for taking over and killing off a democracy, which includes undermining democratic institutions and the people’s confidence in their government, attacking the nation’s free press (calling it “the enemy of the people”). cozying up to dictators around the world and making nasty with America’s key allies.

One by one, as he eventually became president, Trump worked to politicize America’s protectors of democracy — the Justice Department, FBI, State Department, calling all who apposed his attempted run at a dictatorship the “Deep State.”

The Republican Party for the most part was helpless to put the breaks on the Donald.. Starting with the Regan administration the GOP had been moving ever move toward recruiting what would become the dangerous forty percent in tandem with its right wing media propaganda organs.

For sure, Republican political powers of the land were not happy to see Trump among their ranks, but they soon realized that what they thought to be their political base had quickly morphed into Trump’s cult like supporters. They were stuck with a dangerous personality holding the most formidable leadership post in the world. Not only could Trump ruin them politically, but with a wink toward his most violent followers he could threaten their very lives and those of their families

And so now the GOP feels compel to rig the American electoral system with undemocratic rules and laws for a Trump victory in the 2022 and 2024 races. If that happens there will be no guardrails left this time to check a President Trump’s out of control ego. Our democracy will be finished off before the nation knows what hit it.

Of course Trumpist have a need to believe otherwise about their hero who says he loves them. For they are a true believer lot that were all the angels in heaven to descend to earth and tell them that they were wrong about the Dear Donald, they would close their eyes and plug their ears, for such “heavenly hosts would not deserve to be either seen or heard.”

These are the same sorts of folks that it has been said pray not so much for their daily bread as the do their daily delusion. To that end Donald John Trump is an answer to their prayers.

We came close to seeing democracy overturned on 1/6. We likely won’t survive a second Trump inspired insurrection. Hitler was jailed for inciting insurrection in the 1920s, but returned to take total power in 1933. He also had his dangerous 40% to rely upon; with disastrous consequences for Germany and all the world it must be said.

Does Trump Have Dementia?

I may not be a doctor, but Trump is clearly showing signs of mental decline. Similar to that of a dementia patient.

Is it just me or has Trump been acting crazier than usual? Have you been listening to the shit that he is spewing? Most of it makes no sense at all.

Like demanding audits in states that he won. Take Texas, for instance. How much redder can you get than Texas? And yet, Trump wants an audit of the votes.

Or how about Trump’s demands that Arizona state leaders conduct an audit of votes in Pima County, the second largest county in the state?

Despite the fact that an audit of Maricopa County, the largest county in Arizona, found more votes for Biden and fewer votes for Trump. No problem, Trump is ignoring the facts and calling that audit a success.

Oh, and did you hear the part where Trump issued a statement that said:

“A new analysis of mail-in ballots in Pima County, Arizona, means the election was Rigged and Stolen from the Republican Party in 2020, and in particular, its Presidential Candidate. Either a new election should immediately take place, or the past election should be decertified, and the Republican candidate declared a winner.”

He wants a new election.


And then there was that speech he gave at a Republican retreat where he claimed that windmills pollute the air.

“It’s so sad when you see that they are approving these windmills — worst form of energy, the most expensive. You talk about carbon emissions, well they are making them. More goes into the air than if you ran something for 30 years.”

Maybe he was referring to the California ban on small gas-powered engines? Trump tends to mix stuff up.

And whatever happened to windmills causing cancer?


He is also mixing up Democrats and Republicans. At that same retreat he called Democrats “maniacs” and said that they “cheat like hell, and they stick together. The Republican Party has to stick together.”

Most of us see the Democrats as very divided and Republicans as united and as the party that “cheats like hell.”

I could go on and on.


Trump is beginning to sound like your dotty old uncle that everyone humors but no one takes seriously. You just agree with him to his face to keep him happy but don’t follow his advice or believe in his crazy theories.

And that’s what I don’t understand about the Republican Party. They actually take dotty old Uncle Donnie seriously.


Uncle Donnie wants an audit of a state that he won? No problem. Republicans waste time and money performing the audit Uncle Donnie wants.

Uncle Donnie says the 2020 election was stolen? Republicans use that as a litmus test for their candidates.

Uncle Donnie brags about his close relationships with Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin? Republicans agree that makes Uncle Donnie a smart man.

And on and on.


As much as it pains me to say, Mitch McConnell has it right. He ignores Uncle Donnie and goes about the business of the Republican Party in the Senate.

Uncle Donnie rants about McConnell “folding” to the Democrats over raising the debt limit and McConnell just ignores him.

McConnell has a long-range strategy and he lets nothing and no one distract him from his plans. The rest of the party could take a lesson from him.

Instead, they bow down to Uncle Donnie, putting his every idea, no matter how crazy, into action.


Some Republicans are beginning to fear that Uncle Donnie is going to cost them the 2022 election. If Uncle Donnie continues spreading the Big Lie about the 2020 election being stolen from him because it was fraudulent, Republican voters may stay home in 2022 figuring that that election will also be fraudulent so why bother voting.

Republicans need to just humor Uncle Donnie. Let him have his rallies and rant about whatever he heard on Fox that day, the 2020 election and windmills.

Then they need to be like Mitch and ignore Trump. Say “no” to the Big Lie and go on about their business of trying to cheat their way to victory in 2022.


So why am I telling Republicans how to handle Trump? Even though I am a Democratic Socaialist.

Because Trump is not just their problem. He is everyone’s problem. He cannot be allowed to run for office again. Ever. Whether he wins or not, he will destroy the country.

Trump’s mental state has declined alarmingly since he left office. His thought process is chaotic. He has lost all sense of logic. He makes almost no sense.

I am not an expert on dementia but Trump sounds just like people I have known and spent time with who were suffering from dementia.

And people with dementia have no business running for or holding public office. I’m not talking about something like Reagan’s second term where everyone around him did their best to hide the fact that he had developed Alzheimer’s. That was relatively harmless.

Trump was dangerous during his first term. He would be disastrous in a second term.

He would surround himself with sycophants. There would no longer be a General Milley to stop Trump from launching nukes or going to war with China.

This time around, it wouldn’t only be the Justice Department acting as Trump’s private law firm. There would also be a Supreme Court filled with his hand-picked appointees upholding his illegal and immoral executive orders.

The border wall construction would be resumed. The border patrol would be beefed up with active-duty military.

National parks would be sold to energy companies. Fossil fuel extraction and use would reign supreme, exacerbating climate change.


I have nightmares about this stuff. My only hope is that Trump’s disease progression seems to have sped up in the last few months.

I have my fingers crossed that by the time the 2024 primaries roll around, he will be too demented to be a viable candidate.

Then we only have to be concerned with finding a strong enough Democratic candidate to win against whichever Trump wannabe is running.

The Root Cause of Climate Change

Burning fossil fuels is said to be the root cause of climate change, but it’s not true. So, what’s the real driver? We’ll get to the answer in a moment. But first, let’s look at a few facts about our climate crisis and get a feel for the scope of the problem.

In This Post:

  • How Hot Will Earth Get?
  • What Happens If Earth’s Temperature Rises by 37° F?
  • What’s the Root Cause of Climate Change?
  • Population Growth: The No 1 Root Cause of Climate Change
  • Development: The No 2 Root Cause of Climate Change
  • Greed: The No 3 Root Cause of Climate Change
  • Human Consumption and Population Growth are Culprits Say Top Scientists
  • Solutions? Maybe
  • Renewables
  • Financial Arguments No Obstacle to Climate Action
  • Consumption Must Fall in Wealthier Countries
  • Maybe the Rich Are the Root Cause of Climate Change

How Hot Will Earth Get?

We don’t know exactly; global temperature projections vary according to the assumptions used. But current evidence points to a rise in Earth’s temperature of at least 37.4° F by the end of the century.

Even if all countries meet their climate action commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, the planet is heading for a 37.76 global temperature rise over pre-industrial levels by 2100. That’s according to the annual Emissions Gap Report compiled by the latest UN Environment Program. 1 Meantime, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization recently issued a statement forecasting a rise of between 37.4° F and 41° F.

What Happens If Earth’s Temperature Rises by 37° F?

We don’t know for certain what the effects of global warming will be by the end of the century. Climate models can’t yet cope with the complexities of our climate system and its meteorological weather patterns. Even so, scientists have a reasonable idea of how rising temperatures are likely to impact the planet in such a case, and it’s not pleasant. I

For example, according to research group Carbon Brief, warming of 3°C will lead to a 6.4-meter (21 ft) sea level rise, placing 432 million people below the water level.

Extreme weather events (hurricanes, cyclones, floods, heatwaves, marine heatwaves) will become more frequent and more intense, rainforests will dry out, and large areas of permafrost will start thawing. Some of these effects of global warming are likely to trigger irreversible sequences or ‘climate tipping points‘, involving runaway polar ice melt and the like.

Okay, now that we’ve set the scene let’s deal with the real driver of climate change.

What’s the Root Cause of Climate Change?

The main driver of our climate crisis is human consumption, which (incidentally) is going to get much worse, very quickly.

Human consumption — by which we mean the human use and exploitation of Earth’s resources — is driven by three things: (A) population growth (B) economic development and (C) greed. These three drivers together constitute the root cause of climate change. The impact of the first two will get much worse as the century unfolds. The third may well prevent us from finding the necessary solutions.

Population Growth: The No 1 Root Cause of Climate Change

As of March 2020, the world’s population was estimated to be 7.8 billion. Since the year 2000, it has risen by an average of 84 million people per year. This is 50 percent more people than the annual average during the 20th century. Demographers expect it to reach 8 billion in about 2023, 9 billion by 2037, 10 billion by 2056 and 11 billion by 2100.

To put these figures into the context of global warming, the population in 1800 (shortly after the start of the Industrial Revolution) was 1 billion, and in 1900 (the baseline for pre-industrial temperature levels) it was 1.7 billion. Today, there are 6.1 billion extra people to feed, clothe and provide for. These 6.1 billion extra human beings are the root cause of today’s climate change.

Some of the greatest growth is in the poorest areas, where large families are seen as a form of wealth and an insurance against poverty and starvation in old age. Take Ethiopia, for instance. When famine struck the country in 1985, the population of the country was 36 million. The famine eventually ended, and their current population is now 112 million. In 1960, there were only 28 million people in the entire country. (Source: Knoema Data)

It is the consumption of resources by this mass of humanity (such as water, food, housing, heat, power, transport, health services and material possessions) that leads to the burning of coal and natural gas for energy, and petroleum for transportation.

And as we know, the combustion of ever larger amounts of fossil fuel produces ever larger greenhouse gas emissions, which ramps up the greenhouse effect which traps heat in the atmosphere and leads to global warming.

But it’s all because of the huge rise in global population. More people need more food, more energy, more houses and more stuff, and it all causes more emissions and more global warming.

Yes, renewable energies don’t emit greenhouse gases, and by switching to them (as we are) we are lowering our emissions. But this switch is happening far too slowly. In fact, the percentage of primary energy supplied by renewable energy has hardly changed over the past 20 years. In 2000, coal, oil and natural gas accounted for 86 percent of the world’s energy consumption. (Source: International Energy Agency.) In 2018, they accounted for 85 percent. (Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019.)

Looking ahead, global population is due to be 28 percent larger by 2056, and 41 percent larger by 2100. Some experts already say this is likely to cause an increase in demand for food of between 50 and 90 percent, by 2050. The demand for animal-based foods is forecast to rise by almost 70 percent.

With food demand rising so fast, the crunch issue is going to be the battle between agriculture and global warming. Some political leaders are already demanding more forest clearance and more space for cattle. But more deforestation and more cattle will create more emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, which will simply add to global warming, making it progressively more difficult to increase food production because of extreme heat, soil erosion and reduced crop nutrition.

Extreme heat, for example, can be fatal to plants. If temperatures exceed the physiological limits of a plant, they lead to higher desiccation rates. In addition, they also affect plant phenology — that is, the timing of certain plant life-cycle events such as flowering.

Excessive heat can destabilize vernalisation in wheat, or cause spikelet sterility in rice, or reduce pollen viability in maize. During flowering, for instance, crop yields can suffer severe reductions if temperatures exceed critical limits for as little as 1 hour.

When extreme heat is combined with lack of water in the soil (either from drought, or from downpours causing excessive run-off), the effect on crops — including corn and soybean — is much more serious. Unfortunately, rainfall patterns are forecast to become more and more unbalanced, with long dry spells in some areas, and dangerous floods in others. The World Health Organization predicts that, by 2025, 50 percent of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.

What’s more, extreme heat leads inevitably to rising seas that can swamp fertile delta fields, as well as coastal lands and wetlands, destroying valuable agricultural land and displacing hundreds of millions of people.

Development: The No 2 Root Cause of Climate Change

The United States is the world’s richest country. But two centuries ago, it was a developing country, doing its best to grow and prosper. Today, many developing countries are doing the same, and we in the developed world must afford them the same opportunity to achieve their potential.

India, for example, contributes a significant share of global emissions, but a great deal of her economic activity is essentially directed at fighting poverty rather than creating yet more affluence. Providing food, shelter and employment for its 1.3 billion citizens (17.7 percent of the total world population) means that India is going to emit substantial amounts of greenhouse gases. Even so, India’s per capita emissions are eight times smaller than those of the United States, Canada or Australia.

The Paris Climate Agreement recognizes the need for equality of development in two ways. First, by accepting that a developing country’s greenhouse gas emissions are going to peak later than those of a developed country. Secondly, by recognizing that developing countries need financial and technical resources to help mitigate and increase resilience to climate change.

It is this implicit right of development that is going to raise human consumption to higher and higher levels during the rest of the century. For example, as of 2020, at least 60 countries have a carbon footprint per person of less than 1. 12 Hopefully, all of them will raise their standard of living significantly by 2100, even though this will add significantly to global emissions and thus to climate change.

A key indicator of economic development is calorie-intake. According to the IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land (2019), consumption of food calories per person worldwide has increased by about 33 percent since 1961, and the average person’s consumption of meat and vegetable oils has more than doubled.

Unfortunately, providing more calories to the citizens of developing countries is going to put even more pressure on agriculture, which fails to feed the world’s current population, let alone the 3.2 billion extra mouths expected by 2100.

Basic infrastructure development is another major contributor to global warming.

This can include the development of roads and rail connections, as well as the construction of power plants, hydroelectric dams, cement factories, fertilizer factories, a new airport, and so on. All of these projects, to a greater or lesser extent, involve the use of concrete. Unfortunately, a major ingredient of concrete is cement, which is second only to carbon dioxide as a driver of global warming because of the staggeringly high CO2 emissions released during its manufacture.

Since 1990, global production of cement has almost quadrupled, with Asia accounting for the bulk of this growth. China, for instance, used more cement in the three years 2011, 2012 and 2013, than the United States did during the entire course of the 20th Century.

As developing countries expand their industrial base, they often face increasing urbanization which leads to more construction and higher cement emissions. This is reflected in new forecasts showing that most future growth in construction is set to take place in the emerging markets of South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Greed: The No 3 Root Cause of Climate Change

Greed is defined as an “intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.” (Google’s English dictionary, provided by Oxford Languages.) In the context of climate action, this definition perfectly sums up the main motivation of the wealthy countries of the world.

The Gulf States, Canada, the United States, Russia and China are the wealthiest nations in terms of fossil fuel reserves. They, and other countries like them, have little interest in divesting themselves of their energy assets. As far as they’re concerned, their coal, oil and gas reserves represent real economic power, which they are not going to give up.

So when the UNFCCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) or Greenpeace call for a drastic reduction in fossil fuel combustion, the wealthiest nations nod vigorously but do nothing.

The rest of the world have few options. The top 5 fossil fuel producers not only control most of the world’s energy, they also account for more than 45 percent of global GDP.

These nations are concerned about global warming. They may suffer from serious smog, or other forms of air pollution involving wildfires, or fossil fuel pollution. And they may even be leaders in the development of renewable energy, such as solar, wind or hydropower. But they are not going to stop selling and using fossil fuels.

Some of them are actively pushing natural gas as the new “clean fuel”. Except it’s not. “Gas is a major concern,” says Bill Hare, chief executive officer of environmental group Climate Analytics. “Governments are acting as if this fossil fuel is somehow clean. Yet gas was responsible for half the increase in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption in 2017–18.”

Similarly, wood has suddenly become reborn as a clean fuel. (Which it most certainly is not.) In April, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that wood burning was “carbon-neutral”. The EU has since followed suit (along with other countries), ignoring the advice of its own scientific committee in the process. These countries do not care that their approval is already causing the loss of primary growth forests in the Southern United States and Europe, despite the fact that tree conservation is a stated objective of the Paris Agreement (2015) to which both the US and EU are signatories.

In January 2020, the British Meteorological Office advised that Australia’s bushfires of 2019–2020 were expected to contribute 2 percent to the increase in the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide. That’s about 1 billion tonnes worth of heat-trapping greenhouse gas. If this is what carbon neutrality looks like, we are all in deep trouble.

Human Consumption and Population Growth are Culprits Say Top Scientists

In a major article, eminent scientists from UCLA and Stanford University in the US, and Flinders University in Australia, have warned of a ghastly future for humanity due to the unchecked effects of global warming.

Citing 150 studies, the scientists identify a series of scary trends in biodiversity decline, mass extinction, climate disruption, and planetary “toxification”, all of which are linked to human consumption and population growth. Prof Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, an expert in mass extinction, said lack of political leadership, combined with global disinformation campaigns designed to protect short-term profits, make it doubtful that the climate action needed will be made in time.

Solutions? Maybe

There are two theoretical ways to cope with the root cause of climate change, and reconcile the needs of a growing and developing world population with the need to tackle our climate crisis.

(a) We can develop renewable energies that don’t contribute to global warming, or (b) We can agree a maximum per capita carbon footprint for all countries. Neither is problem-free.

Renewables

Unfortunately, while we all know the benefits of renewable energy, switching from fossil fuels to renewables is not quite as simple as it sounds. Renewables have yet to prove themselves in the area of transport and heating. 16 Also, the storage of renewable electric energy (batteries), as well as the integration of intermittent renewable energies (like wind power and solar energy) into national grid systems, is still under development.

In other words, it’s going to take a lot more money to develop the technologies needed to store and distribute renewable power.

In its 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, the IPCC warned that the world needed to invest $2.4 trillion in clean energy every year through 2035 in order to keep global warming below 2°C. That’s 8 times the amount (US$311 billion) that was was invested in renewable energy in 2019.

And here’s the problem: the wealthiest countries can’t/won’t agree on a global investment strategy to ramp up the supply of renewables. But they still give out huge fossil fuel subsidies.

The latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) report (2018) estimates 6.5 percent of global GDP (US$5.2 trillion) is spent on fossil fuel subsidies; a 500 billion dollar increase since 2015. The largest subsidizers are China (US$1.4 trillion in 2015), the United States (US$649 billion) and Russia (US$551 billion).

According to the IMF, “fossil fuels account for 85 percent of all global subsidies,” and reducing these subsidies “would have lowered global carbon emissions by 28 percent and fossil fuel air pollution deaths by 46 percent, and increased government revenue by 3.8 percent of GDP.” An Overseas Development Institute study found that subsidies for coal-fired power increased almost three-fold, to US$47.3 billion per year, from 2014 to 2017.

It’s important to note that the figure of US$5.2 trillion includes the full social and environmental costs of fossil fuels. Air pollution is costed at $2.3 trillion worldwide. The cost of global warming is reckoned to be $40 per ton of carbon emitted. That comes to $1.1 trillion. The costs of traffic, of road upkeep, and of car fatalities are assessed at $735 billion.

These costs are real enough, and fossil fuel companies should not get away scot-free from these liabilities, but no one is actually writing a check to these companies for US$5.2 trillion.

The amount that governments actually pay over to fossil fuel companies by way of direct subsidy is around US$296 billion per annum, of which (at a conservative estimate) the US government contributes roughly US$20 billion a year — 20 percent to coal and 80 percent to natural gas and petroleum. EU subsidies come to about $55 billion per year. In addition, fossil fuel companies are also in receipt of numerous grants and subsidies for R & D, much of which is aimed at carbon capture and storage technologies to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

Researchers still debate the fine points of subsidies. Even so, it’s safe to say that fossil fuel subsidies have outlived their usefulness and should go. At least one study has recently pointed out that subsidies could increase oil production by a fifth by 2050, equivalent to 6 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Instead of paying the fossil fuel companies to pollute the planet, we should be charging them for some of the damage they’re causing, which — as the IMF report shows — is massive. The United States took US$4.5 billion from BP for damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. It should be able to sue the oil and gas companies for damaging the planet.

It’s worth noting, that even as they agree on the need to decarbonize and reduce emissions, fossil fuel companies wage a constant guerrilla campaign against it in the background. For example, the top 5 publicly-owned oil and gas companies in America — BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total — spend about US$200 million annually on climate lobbying to delay, control or block policies designed to tackle climate change.

Financial Arguments No Obstacle to Climate Action

According to a wide range of financial experts and research institutes, financial opposition to climate change mitigation is not credible. Evidence shows clearly that the future benefits of climate action overwhelmingly outweigh the future costs of doing nothing. 22 To start with a trivial example, the UK National Audit Office estimates that for every £1 spent on climate change adaptation measures to protect communities from flooding, roughly £9 in property damages and other costs may be avoided.

According to a joint report from The Hamilton Project and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, U.S. carbon taxes would produce significant reductions in CO2 emissions together with environmental benefits in excess of the costs.

For example, an ambitious US$50 per ton price is calculated to reduce near-term emissions by 30 percent. It also reduces local air pollutants, including nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter (PM2.5), with significant improvements in human health. When all the benefits are added up, the carbon tax’s benefits exceed the cost of compliance by a factor of four. A major attraction of using a carbon tax to secure reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, (as opposed to adopting other conventional regulations for this purpose), is its ability to persuade the market to use the lowest-cost methods for reducing emissions.

Recent data corroborates the financial costs of air pollution around the world. New research from Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), shows that air pollution from burning fossil fuels causes economic losses of US$2.9 trillion — roughly 3.3 percent of global GDP. The most affected countries include China (US$900 billion), the USA (US$600 billion) and India (US$150 billion).

Meantime, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate states that transitioning to a low-carbon, sustainable growth pathway can deliver a direct economic windfall of US$26 trillion, and can generate more than 65 million new jobs by 2030, compared with business-as-usual. (22)

Consumption Must Fall in Wealthier Countries

Another way of dealing with the root cause of climate change (in conjunction with renewables), is for richer nations to reduce their consumption to an agreed per capita carbon footprint.

For example, tIhe average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 15.5 tons, one of the highest rates in the world 12 This has to come down. According to the US environmental organization The Nature Conservancy, to have the best chance of avoiding a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year needs to drop under 2 tons by 2050.) This seems way too radical. But 4–5 tons might be doable.

Countries would agree to limit their CO2-equivalent emissions to (say) 4.5 tons. So, a country with 1 million inhabitants will have a limit of 4.5 million tons of CO2. In practice, wealthier nations will have to reduce their emissions considerably, while poor countries will have room to develop.

Some of this reduction can be achieved simply by switching to forms of sustainable energy, such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass, geothermal, wave, tidal power and so on. But not all. Come what may, wealthier nations will inevitably have to reduce their actual consumption. This is only to be expected, given the fact they already use a far greater share of the world’s resources than other countries.

Wealthy Countries Consume Too Many Resources

As soon as we resolve the climate crisis there’ll be another crisis — maybe we’ll run out of copper or lithium or trees. Or maybe we’ll pollute the oceans so badly that we’ll kill all the oxygen-producing phytoplankton. The point is, there’s going to be a continuous crisis of resources. Why? Because humans consume too many resources, create too much pollution and kill too many animals.

Earth Overshoot Day is the day of the year when humanity has used up nature’s resource budget for the entire year. In 2019 (the last full year before the COVID shutdown) Earth Overshoot Day fell on July 29. This means we’re using up the resources of about 1.7 Earths. It’s a very clear measurement of how human consumption is becoming more and more unsustainable.

According to National Geographic’s Greendex, U.S. consumers rank last of 17 countries surveyed in regard to sustainable behavior. Furthermore, U.S. consumers are among the least likely to feelguilty about the impact their behavior has on the environment.

The U.S. has 4.2 percent of the world’s population, but uses 20 percent of its oil and 17 percent of its energy.

Its per capita use of energy, metals, minerals, forest products, fish, grains, meat, and even fresh water dwarfs that of people living in the developing world.

The United States has a per capita carbon footprint of 16.1 tons of carbon, per year. By comparison, the EU has a per capita footprint of 8.7 tons — 54 percent less. But billions of people in the developing world have a footprint of less than 2 tons.

In practice, this means that one American causes about the same amount of global warming as:

  • 2 Chinese
  • 5 Mexicans
  • 7 Brazilians
  • 9 North Koreans
  • 15 Pakistanis
  • 31 Nigerians
  • 41 Kenyans
  • 51 Haitians
  • 103 Madagascans
  • 155 Ugandans
  • 534 Burundians

The Average U.S. Adult Wastes One Million Dollars

The United States needs to reduce its consumption of energy and material possessions. A huge amount of this spending is non-essential. According to research commissioned by Ladder and conducted by OnePoll, the average adult in the USA spends $1,497 a month on nonessential items. This adds up to almost $18,000 a year — or more than a million dollars over the course of an adult lifetime.

Maybe the Rich Are the Root Cause of Climate Change

Then there are the rich. It’s the rich who are to blame for the global climate crisis, says a new study of 86 countries by the University of Leeds. The study shows that the richest 10 percent consume about 20 times more energy than the bottom 10 percent, wherever they live.

The gap is largest in travel and transport, where the top 10 percent use 187 times more fuel than the bottom 10 percent, the research says. This confirms previous research showing that 15 percent of UK travellers take 70 percent of all flights, while 57 percent of people in the UK don’t fly abroad at all.

According to a new report published by Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute, the wealthiest 1 percent in the world were responsible for the emission of more than twice as much CO2 as the poorer 50 percent of the world, from 1990 to 2015. The report also warns that rampant overconsumption and the rich world’s addiction to high-carbon transport, are exhausting the world’s “carbon budget”.

Anyone who works hard and makes sacrifices is entitled to enjoy the rewards. But no one gets carte blanche to do what they like. Especially if their luxury is acquired at the expense of another person’s necessities. The well-being of our families, communities and nations, depends upon a fair share of resources.

Notice we’re not saying ‘equal’: we’re saying ‘fair’.

Veteran environmentalist David Attenborough puts it best in a recent podcast. He said that Nature would flourish once again when “those that have a great deal, perhaps, have a little less.”

The richest 10 percent may not agree that the disparity in consumption between them and the poorest 10 percent is unfair, but it’s safe to say that if they had to swap places with their less fortunate cousins, they’d change their minds pretty quickly. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that many rich people in the West have absolutely no idea how few resources are available to most people in the developing world.

Think what an educational experience it would be for members of the rich, white ruling class in the United States — the only major country to have quit the Paris Agreement — to be flown into (say) the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and left there for a couple of weeks to sample the life of ordinary people on average income.

Our way of behaving is not sustainable and at some point, in the not too distant future, there is going to be no more planet.

Unless we change.

Race & Racism for Dummies

For those who are confused (and there always will be those who don’t get it… or won’t), I’d like to offer five points that, hopefully, are easily digestible.

1. White privilege is not about individuals and whether they have or have not.

It’s about a system that was designed to favor one race over all others and still does.

2. Every White person in the US benefits from White privilege.

It doesn’t necessarily make them rich. It doesn’t necessarily make them evil. It doesn’t necessarily make them racist. If you’re White, having White privilege is not your fault. But if you wield it — or refuse to acknowledge it — that’s on you.

3. Racism is not just a Southern phenomenon — or a historical one.

The end of slavery was not the end of racism or discrimination. I do not have to be a slave to be affected by the legacy of slavery, and if you are White in America in 2021, you don’t have to own slaves or even be descended from slaveowners to benefit from their legacy.

And although Southerners have historically been cast as the primary villains of racism, they weren’t the only ones and still aren’t. George Floyd was murdered in Minnesota, one of the northernmost states in the US.

4. I enjoy a degree of economic privilege (yep, I can admit it), but that doesn’t preclude White people who make considerably less money than me from benefitting from White privilege.

Our legal system tends to favor White people on both sides of crime, and that is one of the most glaring examples of White privilege. It’s why when young White men drive down dark roads late at night, their mothers have one less thing — trigger-happy cops — to worry about.

5. We won’t achieve truly meaningful change until we all face America’s collective failings and stop looking for loopholes to escape incrimination: being poor, being colorblind, etc.

The collective failings will continue to mean collective failure as long as some insist on burying their heads in the sand and denying the harsh reality that most of us in racial minorities are unable to simply disregard, as we are stuck on the short end of it. You can tune us out — a privilege we are unable to exercise in return — but you won’t shut us up.

Senator Chuck Grassley is 88 & running for re-election

When should they step aside? Should there be age limits? What about term limits?

In June of this year, the Washington Post [one of my favorite papers, btw] published an article titled: “This Senate is the oldest in American history. Should we do anything about it?” Among those who had his name and likeness featured in the article was none other than Iowan senator Chuck Grassley, who just recently — at the age of eighty eight — announced his intentions to seek re-election in 2022. On election day in 2022, he will be 89 years old and, should he win, will have been 97 for a few months in January 2028 when his six year term would officially be over.

At this point, it almost has to be considered a joke how utterly absurd it is that an 89 year old actively seeking re-election for public office, but frankly that there are no term or age limits to stop them from doing so.

Of course some would argue that it is ageist to suggest he should not have this position. I would like to argue that at some point, people can reasonably question whether someone’s age will determine whether they are capable of holding that office. After all, a person must be at least 30 before they can be sworn in as a US Senator, which is an age limitation no one seems to have an issue with. So why, then, is it considered ageist or unreasonable to consider whether 90 is too old? Personally, I can’t help wondering why someone who is older than the vast majority of the residents at my grandmother’s nursing home would even want to seek higher office.

H takes a unique [to say the least]type of individual to want to run for higher office at that age. The overwhelming majority of people who even live to that age would not have the desire, even if they were in the best physical condition. Those are meant to be the sunset years, aren’t they? A time to look back on one’s life, reminisce, surround yourself with family, and soak in all the beautiful little things about the world around us we all too often take for granted. So then what would motivate a financially comfortable politician to even consider running for re-election at that age?

At the end of the day, it really isn’t that difficult to understand.

The thing is, Grassley isn’t even the oldest Senator! The oldest is California’s Diane Feinstein, who while she has not announced her intentions to run for re-election, has filed the paperwork to do so if she wanted to. These lawmakers really do seem to have a gut-wrenching fear of not only handing over their own power, but the country overall to younger generations. Generations that are overwhelmingly progressive in their thinking, and with very different ideas for how they envision the future. It’s fascinating, isn’t it, how so much of the discourse surrounding millennials still makes it sound as though they’re winey college students who eat too much avocado toast when in reality, they’re between the ages of 26 and 41?

At some point, the hunger for power and the unwillingness to hand it over becomes so obvious it’s almost comical, and I would have to argue that’s certainly the case when it comes to Chuck Grassley.

COVID Has Become A Permanent Fixture

If you haven’t heard by now, after the government has issued this advice: COVID vaccine booster shots are now going to be in your near future. Let me translate that for you: COVID is now officially become permanent. Now I am not one to be the bearer of bad news but…

This is NOT good news. It’s actually very BAD news.

Whenever I am out in public — where everybody’s still masked up, and social distancing’s in place. How long are these types of protections going to last? The answer that is emerging is this: for the foreseeable future. Life is NOT going to go back to “normal” anytime soon, or gulp maybe ever.

What does this perma-COVID look like? Well, part of the answer’s above. We are going to need to accept certain fairly drastic changes in our lifestyle as we know it. A more sophisticated, better answer goes like this: perma-COVID goes on wreaking social, cultural, and economic havoc.

Many people like myself are happily wearing masks. Maybe you seen how school board meetings are irrupt Ing into violence, because, well, the Trumpists think that their kids wearing masks is like the gas chambers at your terminal Auschwitz. I’ll know that this doesn’t make sense, but what does when it comes to the American Idiot?

COVID going permanent is going to continue accelerating and exacerbating social tensions. Ultra conservatives don’t “believe in” masks and vaccines. I put it in quotes because facts exist whether or not you believe in them. And yes one thing the Americas Red States and the Taliban have in common is that they don’t want people to get vaccines or to wear masks, unless you mean burgers. That’s how regrets of the American conservative mind is: on the issue of COVID, it’s neatly aligned with… The Taliban.

And it’s willing to, thanks to Trump, use violence to make itself felt. Hence school board meetings and town halls and so forth — the small, everyday expressions and institutions which a functioning, modern civil society is made of — are not working. What are you supposed to at a school board meeting when Trumpists mob you and, screaming at the top of their lungs, threaten your life?

Again: shades of the Taliban, for whom, too, local governance is an exercise in brutality and stupidity and violence.

COVID exacerbates the fractures in our societies is not a joke or some kind of minor league issue. Conservatives have seized on the issue of COVID in many, many ways. In Britain, COVID’s been politicised to the point that government data is questionable at best — the Tories are deliberately using it as a bludgeon with which to break the NHS, so that they can then privatize it. But what happens when the Brits get American style “healthcare,” which mostly means bills nobody much can pay? They grow impoverished, that’s what.

So the cultural tensions COVID’s revealing and accelerating — a match dropped on an oil slick — have very real consequences. Do you want your kid to go to a school where masks aren’t required? How about college? Do you want to live in a state where the governor bans masks and mask mandates, like Texas?

This is where cultural tensions become political and social boiling points. Places like Texas and Florida have long been heading toward becoming failed states — and darn proud of it too. COVID has actually made them failed states. Florida was the world’s hottest COVID zone — it’s most virulent incubator — until a few days ago. Texas is a place where the rule of law has broken down completely, school boards and principals defying the governor’s edict against masks.

Those are huge, huge breakdowns. What does it say about a state, county, or city where people are openly defying the governor’s edicts? It says that the rule of law doesn’t work. That matters can’t be settled with formal institutions, because they don’t work anymore. People have taken matters into their own hands. Let me make clear that in this case, that is a good thing. Nobody should obey something as incredibly, painfully foolish as a ban on wearing masks.

But that America’s now the kind of place where civil disobedience is required to fight a deadly pandemic — well, that points to what a failing state it is. And who wants to live in places that are failed states? Florida has sunshine and Texas has… well… I truly don’t know what Texas has. Still, having to put up with such levels of dysfunction is a VERY real price that people must pay. When you have to engage in literal civil disobedience just to keep your kids healthy, to protect them from harm, malice, ignorance, and stupidity means that something is very, very wrong with society.

In that sense, COVID is pouring fuel on America’s burning state of collapse. Yesterday, your average sane Texan or Floridian didn’t have to engage in civil disobedience just to protect their kids from harm. Today, they do. But where does that cycle end? The Trumpists aren’t going to wake up anytime soon. COVID’s gone permanent — and unfortunately, their stupidity is forever, too. Only now it’s lethal.

The Trumpists provide an economic rationale for their willful stupidity. It hurts the economy, they say, to go on taking the basic precautions against COVID. Of course, that’s not true. It doesn’t hurt the economy to wear a mask, or even to social distance, except maybe on a Friday night in a downtown bar.

Yet, perma-COVID is going to harm the economy in a much deeper way. Do you understand how, let’s first into the idea of public health. What is it, really? It’s what economists call a public good. That means we all share it. That’s why you should have your vaccines — you getting vaccinated benefits me, and vice versa. COVID make a mockery of individual list of countries like America, and their approach is to health, reviewing them as shallow and naïve. Private health is no match for public health.

Yet, COVID is a grave and serious threat to public health — the most severe in a half a century or more. It’s probably the first new deadly virus humanity has experienced in the global still in the modern age, period.

Public health requires an investment. Again, think of America — Americans live the shortest, cities lives in the entire rich world, precisely because there is very little investment in public health. There are starting high bills for private healthcare, sure — which is the opposite of public health.

Now put those two concepts together. You have a new pandemic shopping away at public health — one that’s going endemic. That means higher levels of investments are going to be required to sustain the same levels of public health as before, if those can ever really be hit.

What does this mean in the real world? It means more nurses, more ICUs, more ventilators, more oxygen.

It means more trips to the hospital for more people, corridors overflowing with Covid patients, who require intense treatment and care, hundreds or thousands of them a day, and that’s just in one region, state, city. My wife, the doctor, went to her own doctor yesterday — and there, she saw a woman desperately struggling for breath being wheeled out on a stretcher. Multiply that by a thousand, every day, and you begin to have some idea of the stress COVID places on healthcare systems.

But every dollar we need to invest as societies to take care of Covid patients is one that we’re not investing in any of the following: climate change, global warming, ecological collapse, reversing the mass extinction of wildlife, cleaning up the oceans, reforesting the globe, clean energy, green raw materials like steel and concrete.

You begin to see the magnitude of the problem. At a macroeconomic level, the simplest and best way to visualise Covid is as what economists call a “deadweight loss.” That’s a terrible way to put it, and yet it’s all too accurate. Now we have to invest colossal sums at a social level, across the globe, caring for the ill — sums we desperately need to fight the existential threats already beginning to wreck our civilization. You didn’t have to look too hard this summer — California and Canada on fire, Asia and Europe flooded — to see the globe warming with shocking, brutal speed.

It’s not just treating COVID that diverts investment. It’s also developing new vaccines. When I say something that makes me angry — The Pharma industry‘s been betting on COVID going permanent — Americans give me their empty, dumb, blank stare.

It shouldn’t have been this way. The Pharma industry has just won one of history‘s largest jackpots. It wants to charge every one of us — you and I — A few hundred dollars a shot. Let’s call it $250. Now multiply that by 8 billion people. Now multiply that by every year. From an economic perspective, this is what’s called a perpetuity — A dividend without end. Do you know what it adds up to? About $2 trillion a year.

That $2 trillion has to come from somewhere. It’s going to come from our pockets, you and I. Added up, what it amounts to is $2 trillion not being invested in climate change, clean energy, green systems, saving the world’s ecologies, reversing mass extinction. It’s just money that goes straight into the pockets of the Pharma industry. From there, it goes to CEOs and hedge funds.

Do you see the problem here?

Let me make it even clearer. It never should have been this way. We should never have relied on capitalism to solve a problem like COVID, because it was never going to. What would anyone with a basic knowledge of real economics — that’s not you, most Americans, because you’ve been brainwashed by propaganda, ads, infomercials masquerading as news and culture — have predicted capitalism would do if and when it met a pandemic?

Exploit it, mercilessly. If you’re a good capitalist, good at your job, what do you do with a pandemic? You don’t let it stop, you don’t let it end. You make sure it a) goes on forever so b) you can sell your treatment forever at c) increasing prices under conditions of d) artificial scarcity. Marx would have guessed it, Baudrillard would have left and predicted it, Braudel would have called it obvious.

They were right.

Capitalism met its first real global pandemic, the first new virus humanity’s encountered for a millennia at a global scale. And instead of solving the problem, eradicating the virus, exploited it for maximum profit.

Hence, the world has a massive vaccine shortage. Why? Because figures like Bill Gates lobbied for vaccines to be privatized — and bang, they were. But all COVID vaccines were developed with public funds, at public institutions.

Therefore, everyone on earth has a right to a Covid vaccine. Remember, when it comes to public good, I benefit when you have access to them as well. The economics of COVID vaccines — the real ones — Say that we should distribute them as far and wide as possible, because they were made publicly, created with public funds, and public institutions, just sure up a public good, healthcare.

Yet, because COVID vaccines were privatized, they can’t be produced on the scale nearly enough to match or meet the globe’s needs. Instead, Canada and Europe have — shamefully, disgracefully, deceitfully — When did vaccines at the WTO, as if the fact that these vaccines were never made to be exclusively used for profit never existed or happened at all.

So here we are. COVID’s going permanent. Going endemic. It didn’t have to be this. It shouldn’t have been this way.

The head of the WHO recently pointed out: global vaccination is now losing the race against new cases. That is, less people are vaccinated per day the new cases emerge, globally. Obviously you can’t stop a pandemic that way. What happens that way is newer, deadlier variance, like clockwork — seasonally. Right now, it’s Delta. By winter, it’ll be Lambda. And on and on and on into oblivion. That is because capitalism is undersupplying the one thing the world needs most — vaccines. It is deliberately creating conditions of artificial scarcity to jack up profits — calls upon source Covid vaccines have come from around the world, but falling on deaf ears because America, Canada, and Europe want Pharma profits to soar more than they want a Covid free world.

That’s the grim, sinister, ugly truth.

And what that really means is something even darker. Our elites don’t care if we die. In fact, they’re quite happy to kill us off. They seem to revel in misery and suffering they cause. Why? It makes no sense — at least from history‘s eyes.

Elites do this — they kill off their underclasses. It leaves them worse off in the long run, because then there are fewer people to do their dirty work. Hence the great peasant liberation I have always followed die-offs, like the Black Death. But in the short run, killing off underclasses is great for elites. They get to jack up profit by exploiting people to death. They enjoy the sport of pitting person against person, too, emperors watching gladiators fight to the death.

And they seem, as ever, to genuinely delight in the suffering of others, like sociopaths. Causing death and misery on an eminent still seems to produce in elites the feeling of strength, the meaning that’s missing from their lives, the sense of entitled superiority they’ve always had, but fallen short of proving to themselves.

In that regard, our era is no different from other dark ages. But that much should be recognized. Die-offs are a feature of dark ages — die-offs aided and abetted by elites, who exploit them and their desperation, scarcity, and misery for profit. We’re in a dawning dark age, and our elites total indifference to COVID going endemic — when just a few decades, as the world, we conquered smallpox and polio — is visual proof of how rapidly we are going backwards

That leaves me with one last point. It’s no ordinary dark age we are entering. It’s going to be an especially grim and obscene one. Why?

It’s one thing for elites to do what they do — profit from suffering and exploit desperation. It’s another one too, when the future of the planet and life on it literally hangs in the balance, keep on doing it anyway. How bad — malicious, greedy, selfish, stupid, obscene and ugly — are our elites, really? The world is burning. And there they are, so wealthy and powerful they have more money than they to spend in 10 lifetimes, yet they’re exploding a deadly pandemic making it go endemic, to get even richer, even if they don’t have a planet left to live on.

That, my friends, makes a mockery of the word sociopath.

It didn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t have been this way. COVID shouldn’t have gone permanent.