Monday, March 31, 2014

Of UN And Harassment Of Kashmiri Students By Abdul Majid Zargar

Of UN And Harassment Of Kashmiri Students
By Abdul Majid Zargar
31 March, 2014
The democratic credentials of India touched a nadir when 67 Kashmiri students studying in a Meerut University were charged with sedition and expelled from the university for cheering for Pakistan cricket team. Since then news of hounding & harassment of Kashmiri students are pouring in from many other Indian States as well. Though charges of sedition have since been dropped, the other charges of rioting & promoting enmity between different group etc. still remain, jeopardizing the career of many a meritorious student.
It is not for the first time that Kashmiri Students studying in various Indian States have complained of threats & harassment. Such instances are galore. In 2003, Omar Abdullah, the then member of the Lok-Saba & president of National Conference had to Appeal to then Home Minster L.K.Advani to stop harassment of Kashmir students studying in Meerut & Ghaziabad universities (PTI-18-03-2003).A student sporting a beard was harassed in Bhopal’s Barkuttah University. In Bhopal’s Hamidia University, Students were subjected to witch-hunting & mental torture. Similar instances of harassment have been reported from Gagan institute, Haryana. Banglore, otherwise touted as a cosmopolitan city, has not lagged behind in the hate game either. There are also reports that the Madhya Pradesh BJP government has passed strict instructions in 2012 to the colleges and universities across the state to restrict the number of Kashmiri muslim students. This is in stark contrast to open-gate policy for students of other community. The list is too long to be mentioned. Mind you - cheering for Pakistan cricket team was not the reason in any of these incidents.
Some noted columnists have put a part of the blame on Kashmiri students as well, for cheering for Pakistani victory, which has landed them in trouble in Meerut University. But what needs to be understood is that these students are all post conflict born young boys who have witnessed torture, killings, rapes, forced disappearances in their land at the hands of Indian security forces. Hence they nurse an anger & hatred against India which is manifested in activities like cheering for Pakistani team. But having said that, it needs to be emphasized that in-spite of grave provocation, the students need to exercise utmost restraint & conduct themselves in a more elegant way without surrendering their dignity.
It is heartening to note that a United Nations panel on right to education in conflict zones has censured India for maltreatment of Kashmiri students and said that it represents a new low in the global situation of students from war-torn regions. The panel discussion was organized at the Palace des Nations in Geneva by the OMAEP, a France-based NGO accredited by the UN in New York and Geneva. While the observation of the panel is welcome, it should have gone a step further to advise India to hold the Conflict ridden Kashmiri students in trust with best possible care & attention till the resolution of the dispute.
But then it is also a fact that UN does not carry a commendable record of taking cognizance of the observations of its own sub-committees & panels. In 2004, it constituted a High level panel on “threats, challenges & change” under the chairmanship of Anand Panyarachun, Former Prime Minister of Thailand. The panel submitted a long & meaningful report and recommendations to the UN secy. General on the causes of Threats & challenges across the globe & the preventive and remedial measures to be taken. A relevant para of the said report/ recommendations is reproduced below:
“Our mandate from you precluded us from any in-depth analysis of individual conflicts and we have respected that guidance. But the members of the panel believe it would be remiss of them if they fail to point out that no amount of systemic changes to the way United Nations handles both old & new threats to peace and security will enable it to discharge effectively its role under the charter, if efforts are not redoubled to resolve a number of long outstanding disputes which continue to fester and to feed the new threats, we now face. Foremost among these are the issues of Palestine & Kashmir.”
But so far we have not witnessed any assertive action on the part of the UN to resolve these conflicts in general & Kashmir in particular.
(The author is a practicing Chartered Accountant;E mail:

Crimean crisis: The smell Of American Hypocrisy In The Air By Kourosh Ziabari

Crimean crisis: The smell Of American Hypocrisy In The Air
By Kourosh Ziabari
31 March, 2014
The war of words between Russia and the United States is soaring these days over the sovereignty of the Crimean peninsula, and the White House officials are constantly directing accusations and excruciating verbal attacks against Kremlin in what seems to be the most serious dispute between Moscow and the West in the recent years.
The United States has pulled out all the stops to defeat and isolate Russia diplomatically, and has even gone so far as to impose economic sanctions against the Russian individuals and companies, and excluding Russia from the G8 group of the industrialized nations. The 40th G8 summit was slated to be held in Sochi, Russia on June 4-5, but following the suspension of Russia’s membership in the G8, the summit relocated to Brussels, Belgium, and it would be the first time that a G8 leaders’ convention is going to take place in a non-member state country. Some of the Western media outlets have even started to refer to G8 as G7, implying that Russia does not have any position in this influential group of the affluent, developed nations.
But as always, when it comes to flexing the muscles and showing political prowess, the United States and its partners are behaving in an intolerant, duplicitous and hypocritical manner. In a statement, the newly-termed G7 leaders reaffirmed that Russia’s “occupation of the Crimea” was against the principles of the G7 and contravened the United Nations Charter.
It’s interesting that the innumerable violations of the international law, the UN Charter and Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in time of War by the United States in the recent years have never caught the attention of the G8 leaders and never compelled them to at least consider warning the United States to behave more responsibly and respect the internationally recognized conventions and regulations or refraining from destroying and annihilating other nations through its “humanitarian” missions!
If Russia should be punished for sending troops to Crimea, while it’s legally entitled to do so, and if its military intervention in Crimea represents a violation of the UN Charter in the eyes of the Western leaders, then it will be taken for granted that all violations of the international law and the United Nations Charter should be reprimanded and responded appropriately and the wrongdoers should be penalized in a fair manner. If Russia has occupied a sovereign entity – which is of course not the case, and should bear the burden of sanctions and diplomatic isolation, it’s ok, but why shouldn’t the United States be castigated and prosecuted for the same reason? What makes the military intervention of Russia different from the wars the U.S. offhandedly wages across the world?
For those of us who willfully ignore the historical facts, it’s noteworthy that the Partition Treaty on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet signed between Russia and Ukraine on May 28, 1997, permits Russia to lawfully maintain up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems, 132 armored vehicles and 22 military planes on the Crimean peninsula. This agreement will be effective until 2017, and so it can be the most convincing logical justification for Russia’s military action in Crimea.
So, what has happened is not an “occupation” as the U.S. leaders claim, but that Russia has exercised its legal right for sending troops to a geographical area where the majority of inhabitants are ethnic Russians and don’t want to remain under the Ukraine autonomy and are overwhelmingly inclined to join Russia.
What every neutral and unbiased observer of the international political developments can easily note is that it’s the United States which is renowned for its hegemonic policies and its imperialistic modus operandi, not Russia. Russia’s intervention in Crimea took place after it felt that its national interests are being seriously endangered on its borders, where 58% of the population is consisted of indigenous Russians who prefer to be reunited with Russia, rather than being seen as an asset and prize for the United States under the leadership of a new government in Ukraine which has neo-fascist backgrounds.
The prominent American syndicated columnist and journalist Ted Rall has recently written on his website that there are traces of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism in the government of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk who has just come to power: “There’s no doubt that a Ukrainian nationalist strain runs deep in the new regime. It has been estimated that roughly 1/3 or more of the supporters of the new government come out of xenophobic, anti-Semitic, neo-fascist movements that draw much of their ideological heritage from the Nazi puppet regime that governed Ukraine under German occupation during World War II.”
So, on March 16, the Crimean parliament and the local government of Sevastopol held a public referendum in Crimea to give the citizens two choices for the future of their territory; either to remain associated with Ukraine or reunite with Russia. With a high turnout of 83.1% of the eligible voters, 96.77% of the participants in the plebiscite voted in favor of joining the Russian Federation. The United States and its allies didn’t hesitate to call the referendum as rigged and invalid, as they usually does with the elections in countries with which they are at odds. Washington even drafted a resolution in the United Nations Security Council to call the referendum null and void, but Russia used its veto power, while China abstained, and the United States simply pushed the General Assembly member states to pass a non-binding resolution, declaring the referendum invalid, which doesn’t seem to have any certain impact on the future of Crimea.
The policy of de-Russanization was long underway in the Crimean peninsula, and many other former Soviet Union republics, as Ted Rall elaborately details. Perhaps the fact that the Ukrainian Parliament Verkhovna Rada voted on February 23 to repeal the 2012 language law that had declared Russian an official language in Ukraine and allowed it to be used in the schools, media and official correspondence, was a driving force for the Crimean people to rise up and call for independence from Ukraine that they believed didn’t respect their cultural and lingual background.
The future of Crimea and the prospects of the marred relations between Russia and the West remain blurred and unknown, but the United States’ accusations that Russia is “occupying” Crimea and exerting military aggression and so should be punished with economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation sound gravely outrageous and entirely hypocritical. The United States has the biggest war machinery in the world, has been directly or indirectly involved in more than 50 wars and military strikes on other countries without the approval of the UN Security Council, and has incontestably perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As the prominent American lawyer and legal expert Marjorie Cohn has noted in a recent article, the United States is the largest user of unconventional and forbidden chemical weapons in the illegal wars it has waged across the globe. “The U.S. militarily occupied over 75% of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques for 60 years, during which time the Navy routinely practiced with, and used, Agent Orange, depleted uranium, napalm and other toxic chemicals and metals such as TNT and mercury. This occurred within a couple of miles of a civilian population that included thousands of U.S. citizens,” wrote Prof. Cohn.
“The use of any type of chemical weapon by any party would constitute a war crime. Chemical weapons that kill and maim people are illegal and their use violates the laws of war,” she added.
She also goes on to explain the use of chemical weapons by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria and also underlines that the majority of wars in which the United States has taken part were not ever approved by the Security Council. Aren’t these crimes a contravention of the UN Charter? Why don’t the G7 leaders and European Council and European Commission officials ever react to these violations? Does the United States have the prerogative to attack other countries and maim their people without any legal or moral justification and then get away with its crimes?
The United States is imparting a clear message by adopting this insincere and hypocritical approach toward Russia, which is also a message to other countries: We can invade your countries, we can kill your citizens, we can rule you tyrannically, we can behave in any way we desire, but if you do something which doesn’t please us, we will impose sanctions on you, we will banish you from international organizations, and we will come down on you like a ton of bricks. This is how the American hypocrisy works…
Kourosh Ziabari is an Journalist, writer and media correspondent

I Didn't Sign Up For Third By Tim Gatto

I Didn't Sign Up For Third
By Tim Gatto
31 March, 2014
It is no secret that I spent twenty years in the U.S. Army. However the World has changed, and unfortunately, not for the better. At the time I enlisted, the Soviet Union was the biggest World threat, and had been so since my birth in 1950. When I manned the radars in the fire control section of the Nike-Hercules missile system (designed to protect the U.S. and our overseas allies from a Soviet bomber attack), I felt proud to be a part of using these nuclear devices to protect my country. It was a different era and I had a different mindset.
Today I am looking at the World that my service, along with millions of other people helped to create. The least I can say is that I am aghast at what we have helped to create and I apologize for my part in what we have succeeded in achieving; a near fascist nation with the military power to subjugate every nation on the planet. This is what we have achieved, and the American people need to understand the implications of this. The fact is that the people in power in this country are trying to use this military power, along with our economic power to create World hegemony, another way to say that they want to conquer the World.
This is what we accused the Soviet Union of trying to do during the Cold War. This was the reason millions of Americans signed up to go to war and to work in the defense industries and allow our tax dollars to go toward bigger and better armaments to defend the "Free World" from Russian and Chinese Communism instead of rebuilding out infrastructure and trying to devise ways to develop green energy to get off the fossil fuels that are killing this planet. This was also the reason we neglected to properly fund medical research that could have culminated in destroying diseases that are still rampant around the World. The fear of Communism also took funds away from the American people that had contributed their tax dollars and now find themselves worse off than their parents and under trillions of dollars in national debt in order to fund a military that uses an amazing 54% of our discretionary national budget.
We have seen our political system being used to a degree never seen in our history by the wealthiest amongst us in order to receive favors from Congress and the Executive branch. We have allowed these bought politicians to allow for foreign manufacturing of "American" products to allow our industrialists to reap bigger profits for themselves and their shareholders through "Free Trade" agreements that sold off American manufacturing to other nations. We hear talk of a "World Economy" that is in essence a way to skim the profits from manufacturing the products in the World to the people that own the companies that produce these products and those that fund their International manufacturing adventures (Wall Street).
We are told that America is the richest nation on Earth. I have no doubt that this is true, but I can see that this nations riches are not being dispersed to the American people that fought the wars and paid their taxes to create the monster of a global economy. Instead, the money is being held by the richest families that run and control these huge American assets and to those shareholders wealthy enough to buy stock in these companies that manufacture globally instead of giving manufacturing jobs to the American people that allowed them to do this through a system of half-truths and lies foisted upon them by every party in power after the Kennedy era.
We have seen the creation of institutions such as The World Bank and The International Monetary Fund that are run by the same bankers that have run the Western System of banking for well over a hundred years. The same six families that have control over much of this banking system have used their interests to create World Wars and supported both sides of these wars at times to create huge fortunes that added to their coffers. Now they are humankinds greatest predators. They set the stage for nations to wage economic wars against each other and when some nations economies falter, they rush in to render huge loans to "save" these nations.
Meanwhile, as with most things that are too good to be true, they also dictate how these funds (which amount to billions of dollars) are to be used. They make sure that debtor nations only use the borrowed money to buy equipment and to use contractors from an approved list that they supply, adding to the profits of their subsidiaries. The proceeds of the money borrowed doesn't usually flow back into the economies that borrowed this money and there isn't enough economic expansion to pay back the banks that made these loans. Now the real fun begins. The desperate nations that are in debt to the World Bank and the IMF now must sell off its assets such infrastructure (transportation facilities, hospitals, airlines) to internal conglomerates. They also sell mining rights and fisheries and other national resources to international interests to pay their bills, in other words, these nations are raped by the bankers.
This brings us to this "special relationship" we have with the United Kingdom. It seems that most of these bankers come from the U.S. and the UK. After 150 years of trying to derail the United States in almost every endeavor we undertook, we now are the World's greatest allies. We forget that it was the threat of war with the UK and France from Russia that stopped those nations from recognizing the Confederate States of America that almost started a first World war. The Russians even sent two fleets to the United States and put one in San Francisco and one in New York Harbor. That part of history has been scrubbed out of history since the cold war by American revisionists.
While many allied soldiers died during World War II, it was the Russians that paid the price in blood. Over twenty million Russians died fighting and having their citizens killed by the Nazi's. It wasn't just German Nazi's that did the killing however, it was Hungarian, Romanian, Italian and yes Ukrainian Nazi's. It was no surprise to FDR when Russia demanded control of Eastern Europe. It was completely understandable to anyone that understood the horror that they had gone through. Still, the American propaganda machine after FDR's death hyped the take-over of Eastern Europe as nothing but a Communist plot, downplaying the carnage that most of these nations had brought against the Soviet Union. Still, in the Khrushchev Era (Khrushchev, by the way was Ukrainian), The Ukraine was given Russian provinces in order to temper the nation and remove the threat of unrest. One of those provinces was Crimea.
Russian troops fought Ukrainian fascists well after the official end of World War II. It was a few years before the Ukraine was at peace. Many Ukrainians fled to the US and Canada to escape the USSR and were greeted with open arms. Unfortunately, many of these emigrants escaping communism were hard core Nazi's. Huge communities in Canada and the U.S. of Ukrainians popped up, sending money back to their homeland and keeping their traditions including National Socialism. When the "Orange Revolution" happened (with CIA help) they sent money and materials. When the Orange Revolution fell apart, they waited until another period of unrest.
They got it when the EU (UK, Germany and others) made overtures to Ukraine. The Western part of the nation (including Galicia with the largest concentration of Nazi's in their population) was ecstatic. Many Western Ukrainians despised Russia. They were also tempted by the richness of the West and the promise of economic help by the IMF and the World Bank, not understanding the ramifications of taking their "help". Huge demonstrations erupted in Kiev helped in part by 5 Billion U.S. taxpayer Dollars admitted by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. Now the demonstrations got ugly. Snipers were killing not only the police, but protestors. It was recently reveled that the shots were coming from a building that the protestors occupied. It has been determined by some as an attempt by the protestors to create a revulsion towards the democratically elected government.
It apparently worked. With mounting pressure from the protestors and under EU pressure he signed a deal to transfer powers to parliament and hold early elections. But within hours the President had fled the capital and his administration had crumbled. He then went to Russia with his family and to safety. Putin admits that Viktor Yanukovych was a horrible leader and he is politically doomed, but he still contends that he was ousted in a coup. He doesn't mention that it was a Western backed coup but look at the facts. Putin has been acting as diplomatically as he can.
Most people in the World understand that Crimea is occupied by a 95% Russian population and was ceded by Khrushchev in the 1950's. The Crimean's, seeing a chance to return to Mother Russia, immediately organized a referendum to rejoin Russia. Russia never invaded the Crimea, contrary to what the State Department, President Obama and the mainstream media tell you. Russia is allowed to have 26,000 troops in Crimea and had a 50 year lease on the port of Sevastopol, the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. These Russian military took no part in the events in the Crimea, it was the military self-defense force of Crimea that detained Ukrainian solders at their bases.
The referendum passed with 97% of the vote and the Russian Duma passed a bill to incorporate them back into the Russian State and President Putin signed the bill. End of story. The U.S. government and U.S. media story that the Crimea was "invaded" by Russia is a propaganda event designed to mislead the American people and it is working... unfortunately. Many Americans still trust in the mainstream media to tell them the truth, it doesn't. The corporate media regurgitates exactly what the government wants them to say. People like Scott Pelley on CBS is nothing but a lackey that spews out American State Department information designed to deceive the American public.
This time, American propaganda has overstepped its ability to deceive many Americans. There are U.S. citizens that are rethinking what the government is telling them. I credit Edward Snowden for telling us the truth about the mass surveillance on American citizens for raising the consciousness of the American public. I also credit President Obama for informing us on how the American government stoops to lies and deception by letting him tell us outright lies and distortions about the events in the Ukraine and the Crimea. Congressman Alan Grayson just stated about the events in the Crimea;
“Why are we pretending otherwise? Why are we speaking about naked aggression, why are we speaking about stealing Crimea, why are we speaking about bullying, or the new Soviet Union, or thuggery, or audacious power-grabbing, or bully bear Putin, or Cold War two?”
Our nation wants the Ukraine to loot the natural resources of that country and to put it into NATO and use it as launching pad for missiles in order to render Russia helpless to retaliate after a U.S. first nuclear strike. This would make Russia pliant and subservient to this coalition of the U.S. and the EU.
The sad part of this story for me personally, is that I now find myself living in a country (and pardon the hackneyed phrase) that is on the wrong side of history. I admire Steven Segal (who I don't like as an actor) for going to Russia and siding with President Putin. If I had the resources I might also move to Russia. I find myself living in a country that fails to live up to our Constitution and treats its people, not as citizens, but as subjects. There is no real democracy in this nation and our political system is broken with no chance of repairing it. It is controlled by influential people with money to act in their interests.
Everything you hear in the Mainstream media is suspect. Everything that comes out of Congress is suspect. The President lies to his people. The government spies on us. This is something I didn't sign up for.
Tim Gatto is former Chairman of the Liberal Party of America, Tim is a retired Army Sergeant. He currently lives in South Carolina. He is the author of "Complicity to Contempt" and "Kimchee Days" available at Oliver Arts and Open Press. Tim Gatto's new book "Contempt to Outrage" will be available soon from Oliver Arts and Open

MH 370: Respecting One's Friends By Chandra Muzaffar

MH 370: Respecting One's Friends
By Chandra Muzaffar
31 March, 2014
There is an irony in this. On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia, Sino-Malaysian ties are at their lowest ebb.
In the wake of the MH 370 tragedy, relatives of some of the Chinese passengers on that ill-fated flight, a segment of the Chinese media and a section of the public have chosen to vent their anger against Malaysia. Malaysian leaders and MAS officials have been labelled ‘liars’ and ‘murderers’; Malaysian celebrities with a following in China have been verbally abused; a demonstration has been held outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing; and there have been calls to boycott Malaysian products. At the same time, there are Chinese citizens who have come out in defence of Malaysia.
The anger and frustration among relatives of some of the passengers is understandable to a point. 153 of the 227 passengers were Chinese nationals. For some of them the loss of a son or daughter means the end of the family line, given the one-child policy of the last few decades. Besides, Malaysian authorities in the initial days also exacerbated the angst and agony of the relatives through some contradictory statements about the lost airliner. They have also not been able to explain satisfactorily why an “unidentified object” captured on Malaysian military radar in the early hours of the 8th of March --- later confirmed as the missing aircraft --- did not evoke a prompt response from the Malaysian air force. This is an issue which Chinese relatives have repeatedly raised at MAS briefings in Beijing.
Nonetheless, our shortcomings do not warrant the sort of harsh and aggressive reaction we have been witnessing from some overly emotional and irrational Chinese in the last three weeks. Everything considered, Malaysian authorities have --- after some early fumbles --- managed the flow of information with as much transparency as possible in an extraordinary situation characterised by an incredible dearth of evidence. They have also offered care and counselling services, financial assistance, hotel accommodation in Malaysian cities and Beijing, and free flights to aggrieved family members, as part of the humanitarian support that typifies Malaysian hospitality.
How Malaysia has been responding to Chinese nationals and others affected by the MH 370 tragedy has to be viewed in the larger context of Malaysia’s bilateral ties with China. Malaysia was not only the first non-communist state in Southeast Asia to recognise China in 1974, it has also consistently refused to be drawn into any military or security arrangement that would directly or indirectly impact adversely upon China. On the question of both the Straits of Melaka and the South China Sea --- strategic routes in China’s geopolitical map --- Malaysia has adopted positions which are more benign to China’s interests than the approach taken by almost all its other neighbours. There is no denying that over the last 40 years Malaysia has emerged as one of China’s most trusted friends.
This is why a lot of Malaysians are deeply disappointed with the hostility and antagonism shown by some sectors of Chinese society towards us in the wake of the MH 370 tragedy.
This deplorable attitude has to be understood against the backdrop of China’s conflicts with a number of its neighbours in recent times. Even when there is a certain degree of historical justification for aspects of the Chinese position in some of its conflicts with Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, there is a tendency on the part of the Chinese to display such self-righteous indignation that it often borders on jingoism. This is true even in the case of its conflict with the Philippines --- a conflict which is not as historically rooted nor as multi-dimensional as China’s conflict with Japan --- where the uncompromising stance of the Chinese on the Spratly Islands has limited the options available to the Philippines. Indeed, on issues of territorial sovereignty pertaining to the South China Sea as a whole, it is partly because of China’s unyielding approach that those who dispute its claims have not been able to arrive at some settlement with their giant neighbour to the north.
The Chinese approach to its neighbours raises some disturbing questions about bilateral and multilateral relations. As China wields more economic and political clout, is it also becoming less accommodative of the interests of its neighbours? Is its assertiveness a manifestation of a psychology that privileges its own interests even to the extent of marginalising the well-being of others? Is this some sort of ‘Middle Kingdom Complex’ that is inherently incapable of according the same degree of rights and respect to the other as it demands for itself?
As someone who for many years has defended the peaceful rise of China as a global power as a positive development that will lead to the emergence of a more equitable multi-polar international order, it is imperative that China demonstrates greater sensitivity towards its neighbours. It should never be seen as a nation with a narrow, blinkered view of its own interests with little empathy for the honour and dignity of other people, especially those who are its true and tested friends.
The MH 370 tragedy has brought this issue to the fore.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar has written about the rise and role of China in world politics in Hegemony Justice and Peace (2008) and A World in Crisis: Is there a Cure? (2013).

Adam Smith's Invisible Hand Is At Our Throats By John Scales Avery

Adam Smith's Invisible Hand Is At Our Throats
By John Scales Avery
31 January, 2014
The “invisible hand”
As everyone knows, Adam Smith invented the theory that individual self-interest is, and ought to be, the main motivating force of human economic activity, and that, in effect, it serves the wider social interest. He put forward a detailed description of this concept in an immense book, “The Wealth of Nations” (1776).
Adam Smith (1723-1790) had been Professor of Logic at the University of Glasgow, but in 1764 he withdrew from his position at the university to become the tutor of the young Duke of Buccleuch. In those days a Grand Tour of Europe was considered to be an important part of the education of a young nobleman, and Smith accompanied Buccleuch to the Continent. To while away the occasional dull intervals of the tour, Adam Smith began to write an enormous book on economics which he finally completed twelve years later. He began his “Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” by praising division of labor. As an example of its benefits, he cited a pin factory, where ten men, each a specialist in his own set of operations, could produce 48,000 pins in a day. In the most complex civilizations, Smith stated, division of labor has the greatest utility.
The second factor in prosperity, Adam Smith maintained, is a competitive market, free from monopolies and entirely free from governmental interference. In such a system, he tells us, the natural forces of competition are able to organize even the most complex economic operations, and are able also to maximize productivity. He expressed this idea in the following words:
“As every individual, therefore, endeavors as much as he can, both to employ his capital in support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of greatest value, each individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the Society as great as he can.”
“He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of greatest value, he intends only his own gain; and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end that was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for Society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest, he frequently promotes that of Society more effectively than when he really intends to promote it.”
In other words, Smith maintained that self-interest (even greed) is a sufficient guide to human economic actions. The passage of time has shown that he was right in many respects. The free market, which he advocated, has turned out to be the optimum prescription for economic growth. However, history has also shown that there is something horribly wrong or incomplete about the idea that individual self-interest alone, uninfluenced by ethical and ecological considerations, and totally free from governmental intervention, can be the main motivating force of a happy and just society. There has also proved to be something terribly wrong with the concept of unlimited economic growth. Here is what actually happened:
Abuses during the early Industrial Revolution
In preindustrial Europe, peasant farmers held a low but nevertheless secure position, protected by a web of traditional rights and duties. Their low dirt-floored and thatched cottages were humble but safe refuges. If a peasant owned a cow, it could be pastured on common land.
With the invention of the steam engine and the introduction of spinning and weaving machines towards the end of the 18th Century, the pattern changed, at first in England, and afterwards in other European countries. Land-owners in Scotland and Northern England realized that sheep were more profitable to have on the land than “crofters” (i.e., small tenant farmers), and families that had farmed land for generations were violently driven from their homes with almost no warning. The cottages were afterwards burned to prevent the return of their owners.
The following account of the Highland Clearances has been left by Donald McLeod, a crofter in the district of Sutherland: “The consternation and confusion were extreme. Little or no time was given for the removal of persons or property; the people striving to remove the sick or helpless before the fire should reach them; next struggling to save the most valuable of their effects. The cries of the women and children; the roaring of the affrighted cattle, hunted at the same time by the yelling dogs of the shepherds amid the smoke and fire, altogether presented a scene that completely baffles description - it required to be seen to be believed... The conflagration lasted for six days, until the whole of the dwellings were reduced to ashes and smoking ruins.”
Between 1750 and 1860, the English Parliament passed a large number of “Enclosure Acts”, abolishing the rights of small farmers to pasture their animals on common land that was not under cultivation. The fabric of traditional rights and duties that once had protected the lives of small tenant farmers was torn to pieces. Driven from the land, poor families flocked to the towns and cities, hoping for employment in the textile mills that seemed to be springing up everywhere.
According to the new rules by which industrial society began to be governed, traditions were forgotten and replaced by purely economic laws. Labor was viewed as a commodity, like coal or grain, and wages were paid according to the laws of supply and demand, without regard for the needs of the workers. Wages fell to starvation levels, hours of work increased, and working conditions deteriorated.
John Fielden's book, “The Curse of the Factory System” was written in 1836, and it describes the condition of young children working in the cotton mills. “The small nimble fingers of children being by far the most in request, the custom instantly sprang up of procuring 'apprentices' from the different parish workhouses of London, Birmingham and elsewhere... Overseers were appointed to see to the works, whose interest it was to work the children to the utmost, because their pay was in proportion to the quantity of pay that they could exact.”
“Cruelty was, of course, the consequence; and there is abundant evidence on record to show that in many of the manufacturing districts, the most heart-rending cruelties were practiced on the unoffending and friendless creatures... that they were flogged, fettered and tortured in the most exquisite refinements of cruelty, that they were in many cases starved to the bone while flogged to their work, and that they were even in some instances driven to commit suicide... The profits of manufacture were enormous, but this only whetted the appetite that it should have satisfied.”
Dr. Peter Gaskell, writing in 1833, described the condition of the English mill workers as follows: “The vast deterioration in personal form which has been brought about in the manufacturing population during the last thirty years... is singularly impressive, and fills the mind with contemplations of a very painful character... Their complexion is sallow and pallid, with a peculiar flatness of feature caused by the want of a proper quantity of adipose substance to cushion out the cheeks. Their stature is low - the average height of men being five feet, six inches... Great numbers of the girls and women walk lamely or awkwardly... Many of the men have but little beard, and that in patches of a few hairs... (They have) a spiritless and dejected air, a sprawling and wide action of the legs...”
“Rising at or before daybreak, between four and five o'clock the year round, they swallow a hasty meal or hurry to the mill without taking any food whatever... At twelve o'clock the engine stops, and an hour is given for dinner... Again they are closely immured from one o'clock till eight or nine, with the exception of twenty minutes, this being allowed for tea. During the whole of this long period, they are actively and unremittingly engaged in a crowded room at an elevated temperature.”
Dr. Gaskell described the housing of the workers as follows: “One of the circumstances in which they are especially defective is that of drainage and water-closets. Whole ranges of these houses are either totally undrained, or very partially... The whole of the washings and filth from these consequently are thrown into the front or back street, which, often being unpaved and cut into deep ruts, allows them to collect into stinking and stagnant pools; while fifty, or even more than that number, having only a single convenience common to them all, it is in a very short time choked with excrementous matter. No alternative is left to the inhabitants but adding this to the already defiled street."\\
``It frequently happens that one tenement is held by several families... The demoralizing effects of this utter absence of domestic privacy must be seen before they can be thoroughly appreciated. By laying bare all the wants and actions of the sexes, it strips them of outward regard for decency - modesty is annihilated - the father and the mother, the brother and the sister, the male and female lodger, do not scruple to commit acts in front of each other which even the savage keeps hid from his fellows.”
The landowners of Scotland were unquestionably following self-interest as they burned the cottages of their crofters; and self-interest motivated overseers as they whipped half-starved child workers in England's mills. Adam Smith's “invisible hand” no doubt guided their actions in such a way as to maximize production. But whether a happy and just society was created in this way is questionable. Certainly it was a society with large areas of unhappiness and injustice. Self-interest alone was not enough. A society following purely economic laws, a society where selfishness is exalted as the mainspring for action, lacks both the ethical and ecological dimensions needed for social justice, widespread happiness, and sustainability.
Our greed-based economic system today
Today our greed-based, war addicted, and growth-obsessed economic system poses even greater threats than it did during the early phases of the Industrial Revolution. Today it threatens to destroy human civilization and much of the biosphere.
According to a recently-published study by Oxfam, just 1 percent of the world's population controls nearly half of the planet's wealth. The study says that this tiny slice of humanity controls $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion people. The world's 85 richest people own as much as the poorest 50 percent of humanity. 70 percent of the world's people live in a country where income inequality has increased in the past three decades.
This shocking disparity in wealth has lead to the decay of democracy in many countries, because the very rich have used their money to control governments, and also to control the mass media and hence to control public opinion. The actions of many governments today tend not to reflect what is good for the people (or, more crucially, what is good for the future of our planet), but rather what is good for special interest groups, for example, the fossil fuel industry and the military-industrial complex.
An excellent description of the military-industrial complex was given by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. When he retired, he made a memorable farewell address, containing the following words: “...We have been compelled to create an armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men are directly engaged in the defense establishment....In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. “
In another speech, Eisenhower said: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in a final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, and the hopes of its children.”
Today the world spends roughly 1,700,000,000,000 US dollars on armaments, almost 2 trillion. This vast river of money, almost too great to be imagined, flows into the pockets of arms manufacturers, and is used by them to control governments, which in turn vote for bloated military budgets and aggressive foreign policies which provoke the endless crises and conflicts that are necessary to justify the diversion of such vast sums of money from urgently-needed social goals into the bottomless pit of war.
The reelection of the slave-like politicians is ensured by the huge sums made available for their campaigns by the military-industrial complex. This pernicious circular flow of money, driving endless crises, has sometimes been called “The Devil's Dynamo”. Thus the world is continually driven to the brink of thermonuclear war by highly dangerous interventions such as the recent ones in North Africa, the Middle East, Ukraine, South and Central America, and the Korean Peninsula.
It is doubtful that any of the political or military figures involved with this arrogant risking of human lives and the human future have any imaginative idea of what a thermonuclear war would be like. In fact it would be an ecological catastrophe of huge proportions, making large areas of the world permanently uninhabitable through long-lived radioactive contamination. The damage to global agriculture would be so great as to produce famine leading to a billion or more deaths from starvation. All the nations of the earth would suffer, neutrals as well as belligerents.
Besides supporting the appalling war machine, our bought-and-paid-for politicians also fail to take the actions that would be needed to prevent the worst effects of climate change. The owners of the fossil fuel industries have even mounted advertising campaigns to convince the public that the threat of anthropogenic climate change is not real. Sadly, the threat of catastrophic climate change is all too real, as 99 percent the worlds climate scientists have warned.
The world has recently passed a dangerous landmark in CO2 concentration, 400 ppm. The last time that the earth experienced such high concentrations of this greenhouse gas were several million years ago. At that time the Arctic was free from ice, and sea levels were 40 meters higher than they are today. Global warming is a slow and long-term effect, so such high sea levels will be slow in arriving, but ultimately we must expect that coastal cities and much of the world's low-lying land will be under water. We must also expect many tropical regions of the world to become uninhabitable because of high temperatures. Finally, there is a threat of famine because agriculture will be hit by high temperatures and aridity.
There are several very dangerous feedback loops that may cause the earth's temperatures to rise much faster than has been predicted by the International Panel on Climate Change. By far the most dangerous of these comes from the melting of methane hydrate crystals that are currently trapped in frozen tundra and on the floor of seabeds.
At high pressures, methane combines with water to form crystals called hydrates or clathrates. These crystals are stable at the temperatures currently existing on ocean floors, but whenever the water temperature rises sufficiently, the crystals become unstable and methane gas bubbles to the surface. This effect has already been observed in the Arctic seas north of Russia. The total amount of methane clathrates on ocean floors is not precisely known, but it is estimated to be very large indeed, corresponding to between 3,000 and 11,000 gigatons of carbon. The release of even a small fraction of this amount of methane into our atmosphere would greatly accelerate rising temperatures, leading to the release of still more methane, in a highly dangerous feedback loop. We must at all costs avoid global temperatures which will cause this feedback loop to trigger in earnest.
Human motivations were not always so selfish
For the reasons mentioned above, we can see that an economic system where selfishness and greed are exalted as the mainspring for human actions lacks both a social conscience and an ecological conscience. Both these dimensions are needed for the long-term survival of human civilization and the biosphere.
We must remember, however, that the worship of the free market and the exaltation of selfishness are relatively recent developments in human history. During most of their million-year history, humans lived in small groups, and sharing was part of their lifestyle. Perhaps that lifestyle is the one to which we should return if we wish the human future to stretch out for another million years.

John Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965. He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Fellowships, memberships in societies: Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. He was the Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004. He can be reached

Beautiful Sunsets (and Sunrises) In Art By Subhankar Banerjee

Beautiful Sunsets (and Sunrises) In Art

By Subhankar Banerjee
Many people have, over the years, told me that I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But no one ever told me that I shouldn’t judge a sunset (or sunrise) by its beauty. After all these years, a group of scientists finally pulled the curtain off of the golden lights of dawn and dusk.
On March 25, the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal published an article that addresses pollution in art. Soon I’ll talk about that, but first a bit about the Arctic.
It was a cold November evening, in 2011. I was at a dinner gathering at the home of Peter and Helen Goddard. At the time, Peter Goddard was the director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. I was engaged in a conversation about—pollution in art—with art historians Christopher Wood of Yale University and Nicola Suthor of Freie Universität in Berlin. The question we were trying to figure out is this: Does a red sunset always mean that there is pollution in the air? The eminent theoretical physicist Peter Goddard stood there in silence, listening to our conversation. Perhaps he was curious about how a group of art folks would go about resolving a physics question. Even though I was “Once a physicist” and had an opinion on the subject, we art folks didn’t conclusively resolve the question that evening.
At the time I was a director’s visitor at the Institute, working on the anthology, Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Seven Stories Press, 2013). Here is an excerpt from my introduction in the anthology, “From Kolkata to Kaktovik” that directly relates to that November conversation.

Musk oxen in the haze of a toxic north, Canning River Delta, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,
Alaska. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 8 May 2001
There is a kind of Arctic pollution that a photo helped me to understand. Upon seeing one of my photographs people have asked, “Are these colors real or manipulated?” The photograph in question is of a group of musk oxen on the Canning River Delta that I had taken in early May 2001, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (see here). The temperature was about minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit; deep haze severely restricted visibility, as I lay flat on my belly with the lens touching snow to make the animals visible, barely. Indeed, I began to wonder how could there be such vibrant colors in an environment that is supposed to be free of pollution? I remember from my childhood many colorful sunrises and sunsets in Kolkata, where pollution in the air was all around us; it still is. There had to be particulates in the air to create those deep red-orange colors in the musk oxen photo, and I surmised that the source of the pollution was perhaps the nearby oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, but on probing further I also came to know about the Arctic haze that a handful of scientists have been studying. I don’t know if what you see in the photo is indeed Arctic haze or pollution from Prudhoe Bay, but, nevertheless, a fact sheet states:
“Arctic haze is a thin, persistent, brown haze that causes limited visibility on the horizons of what had been previously very clear Arctic skies. It is most visible in the early spring and can be seen from northern Greenland, the Arctic coasts of Canada and Alaska, and occasionally in eastern Siberia. … The Arctic haze that accumulates by late winter, trapped under the dome of cold air, is as large as the continent of Africa! … Arctic haze is made up of a complex mix of microscopic particles and acidifying pollutants such as soot, hydrocarbons, and sulfates. Up to 90% of Arctic haze consists of sulfates. … We can find out where Arctic haze comes from because the chemicals that make up Arctic haze are like a footprint that can lead us back to their sources. The main sources of the sulfates found in Arctic haze are things like power plants, pulp and paper mills, and oil and gas activities. The other pollutants found in Arctic haze can be traced to industries such as vehicles, shipping and agriculture. The places in which these industries occur, and where these pollutants thus originate, are in the heavily populated and industrialized areas of Europe, North America and Asia.”
The question is: What is the long–term stress acidification from Arctic haze might put on the fragile Arctic ecology? While we don’t know this yet, the haze might also be contributing to the rapid polar melt. “Industry, transportation, and biomass burning in North America, Europe, and Asia are emitting trace gases and tiny airborne particles that are polluting the polar region, forming an ‘Arctic Haze’ every winter and spring. Scientists suspect these pollutants are speeding up the polar melt,” the Science Daily reported in 2008.
Lindsey Konkel has written a wonderful article, “Old Masters’ Paintings Hide Clues to a Past Climate” in Climate Central’s The Daily Climate, to bring attention to the study by the German and Greek scholars. Her lucid prose makes their academic paper more accessible for the larger public.
The researchers have “analyzed 124 sunsets painted by European artists between 1500 and 2000.” Apparently during this period there was fifty large volcanic eruptions, and the scholars found that “reddish hues in sunsets spiked during periods of volcanic activity.”
The red, and other warm colors, during dawn and dusk, arise from scattering of light from particulates, called aerosols, in the atmosphere. Aerosols can come from varieties of natural and anthropogenic sources, including volcanic eruptions, forest fires, dust storms, agricultural burning, natural gas flares, soot from vehicles and coal-fired power plants, and burning of trash.
“Paintings may provide reliable estimates on aerosols in the atmosphere at times before instrumental measurements,” Christos Zerefos, the lead author of the study and professor of atmospheric physics at the Academy of Athens in Greece, wrote in an email to Konkel. This is an important affirmation that art can provide valuable information for scientific analysis.
The team analyzed the “sunsets painted by famous artists as proxy information for the aerosol optical depth (AOD).” The data gathered from this analysis “significantly correlated with independent proxies from stratospheric AOD and optical extinction data, the dust veil index, and ice core volcanic indices.” The researchers concluded that the “increase of AOD at 550 nm calculated from the paintings grows from 0.15 in the middle 19th century to about 0.20 by the end of the 20th century.”
Scientists have been using plant stomata as a proxy to build a picture of the paleoclimate that goes back tens of millions of years. In a similar way, by using historic paintings as a proxy, the scholars in Europe maybe building a picture of, not only aerosols in the atmosphere during volcanic eruptions, but also a portrait (of pollution) of the industrial human.
Konkel points out that according to the researchers, “the deeper the red in the painting, the more pollution in the sky at the time.”
The red and orange colors in paintings, such as Joseph Mallord William Turner’s Red Sky and Crescent Moon, circa 1818, and Casper David Friedrich’s Woman before the Rising Sun (Woman before the Setting Sun), circa 1818, can likely be linked to the 1815 eruption of Indonesia’s Tambora volcano. “That eruption scattered particles high into the atmosphere that produced bright red and orange sunsets throughout Europe for three years,” Konkel writes. These paintings provided a clue to past atmospheric pollution due to volcanic eruptions.

Casper David Friedrich’ Woman before the Rising Sun (Woman before the Setting Sun), circa 1818 (source: Wikimedia Commons).
Furthermore, the team also found that “depictions of sunsets have gotten redder from the Industrial Revolution onwards, even during periods of no volcanic activity,” Konkel writes. “Artists, they suggest, are inadvertently capturing increases in pollution during the past 150 years.”
In the muskoxen photo, I too had inadvertently captured the increase in pollution, in the far North.
Aerosols, natural (volcanic eruption) and anthropogenic (Atmospheric Brown Cloud over Asia), are known to cool the earth temporarily, by reflecting back part of the incoming solar radiation. The anthropogenic aerosols that contain black carbon (Arctic Haze and the Atmospheric Brown Cloud), however, can have significant warming effect.
Irrespective of its impact on the climate, anthropogenic aerosols from coal-fired power plants, natural gas flaring, and other industrial sources have very significant health impacts.
“In India alone, about two million people die each year from conditions associated with atmospheric pollution,” according to a 2002UNEP reportAsian Brown Cloud: Climate and Other Environmental Impacts.

Gas flaring at Gathering Center 1 production facility at Prudhoe Bay. Photograph by Pamela A. Miller, 1988.
Furthermore, Iñupiaq cultural activist Rosemary Ahtuangaruak wrote in her testimony in the Arctic Voices anthology that in her community, Nuiqsut, in Arctic Alaska, between 1986 and 1997 there was “a 600 percent increase in respiratory patients in a village of 400 people.” As a community health aide, she was able to analyze the cause:
“What was contributing to this increase in respiratory illnesses? The most overwhelming issue was that oil development around Nuiqsut had increased, and had gotten closer. The worst nights on call were nights when many natural gas flares occurred. Those flares release particles that traveled to us. Increased concentrations of particulate matter from flares occur during inversions, a bowl–like trap, with cold air trapped by warm air.”
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just released the “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability | Summary for Policy Makers” report. I don’t want to overstate the significance of art in addressing the Himalaya of environmental injuries that surround us today. I do want to point out, however, that while scientists have been telling us about earth’s climate in the deep past, and into the distant future, artists on the other hand, have been bearing witness, in the present. They always have.
Subhankar Banerjee is a photographer, writer, and activist. His most recent book is Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Seven Stories Press). He was recently Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Fordham University in New York, received Distinguished Alumnus Award from the New Mexico State University, and Cultural Freedom Award from Lannan Foundation. For more information visit his
Copyright 2014 Subhankar Banerjee
This article and the accompanying muskoxen photograph may be reproduced free of charge by any person or publication, without permission from ClimateStoryTellers or the author.

Climate Crisis Is Increasing Insecurity By Farooque Chowdhury

Climate Crisis Is Increasing Insecurity
By Farooque Chowdhury
31 March, 2014

Climate crisis generated increased insecurity is now boldly visible. IPCC, the global scientists’ panel on climate change, for the first time, has connected climate crisis to possibilities of conflicts.
The increasing insecurity is felt by the dominating global system and in concerned societies/economies.
Climate crisis has long ago reached the realm of geopolitics. Competition, geostrategy, and geo-tactical aspects are subtexts of climate crisis negotiations. A part of capital has already accepted the fact of climate crisis while a part is still busy with its dirty denial doings.
It’s the crook part of capital playing conservative. It’s the conservative character: deny changing reality, attempt to move backward, not only deny science, but also attempt to prove science wrong. Ultimately it comes to compromises or crashes down itself, a foolish consequence.
But geopolitics can’t rely on conservatism as reality is always changing, socioeconomic forces are confronting, and new forces are either emerging or changing position.
Or, geopolitics resorting to conservatism invites unhappy fate.
Not only geopolitics, security is also related to climate crisis. Actually, it’s the security of world powers that concerns the “guardians” of world affairs. Spheres of influence, countries/regions required for geopolitical “game”, are related to security concern of the world masters.
Citing the latest IPCC draft report AP on March 30, 2014 said: The climate crisis will complicate and worsen existing global security problems, such as civil wars, strife between countries and refugees. It will turn the reality more dangerous. Fights over resources including water and energy, hunger and extreme weather will destabilize the world.
Seven years ago, the Yokohama datelined AP report said, IPCC didn’t mention security issues. For the past seven years, social science has found more links between climate and conflict. Now, there are hundreds of studies on climate crisis and conflict.

The US department of defense in its 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) has also related climate crisis to national security, terrorist activity, frequency, scale, and complexity of future missions, defense support to civil authorities, undermining the capacity of domestic installations. (Steve Horn, March 5, 2014, “Pentagon Calls Climate Change Impacts Threat Multipliers, Could Enable Terrorism”)
It focused on the pressure on international governance that global warming will apply. “The pressures”, the report said, “caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world.” (ibid)
Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an NGO in the UK, in its report The Gathering Storm: climate change, security and conflict identified climate crisis as a possible “tipping point” for conflict, particularly in already fragile, post-war states.
Inaction on climate crisis, the report said, is the world’s “gravest threat to human and national security”. It cited warnings by military experts: Violence could escalate as a result of ever scarcer resources.
The issue has been raised by others also. About two years ago, the African Union considered climate crisis a security threat. About a year ago, G-8 ministers had, broadly, the same opinion. Last week, the US and EU said climate crisis is a threat to security and economy. The crisis, the two powers consider, is a “risk to global security”.
“[M]ilitary experts”, writes Sophie Yeo, “have reinforced that climate change could pose a threat to national security.” Retired US Brigadier General Chris King compared climate crisis to a “100 year war” without an exit strategy. (“Climate change is world’s ‘gravest security threat’ – report”, March 27, 2014)
Sir David King, the UK’s special representative on climate change, told MPs that climate change was an issue that needed to be “carefully addressed” by militaries across the world, due to their dependence on oil in conflict situations. (ibid.)
Militaries in a number of countries, as press reports say, have already started taking steps to face the crisis: a security risk. The steps range from relocation of bases to shifting of energy source, like, from hydrocarbon fuel to solar power.
No doubt, the steps will not be limited into the area of logistics. These will also cover areas of doctrine, strategy, tactics, training.

Now, the US president and EU leaders find, as the joint statement following their recent meeting said, climate crisis is going to make sustainable economic growth in their two regions an impossible task, and sustainable economic growth is not isolated from security. Now, they have “strong determination” to conclude a proposed UN climate deal in 2015.
One can expect a new US-EU climate crisis strategy facing the rest of the world. The two powers will be “intensifying their cooperation” in climate diplomacy. They will have their joint bargaining chips for the periphery in areas of trade, growth, and development. It will be the old game with a new name: green growth, green trade, green export, green development, green aid and green diplomacy for conflict resolution.
But as the basic structure, regimes, pattern and relations will not be changed a cynic might add: green exploitation, green plunder, green appropriation, green loan, green interest, green dominance, green aggression and green intervention – a green show of force.
“Green” will be there in the world system, and all the old regimes of trade, loan, the so-called development assistance/aid and “cooperation” based on a dominance-subservience relation will be there. The US-EU-Japan triad, as Samir Amin identifies, is there occupying the global throne.
Questions of security/insecurity thus move in two spheres: in the sphere of dominating powers and in the sphere of dominated societies/economies.
Security/insecurity of the dominating powers’ is in two areas: within their societies and in the sphere of their dominance.
With increased vulnerabilities in many areas, death, hunger, destruction and damage (cities, infrastructure, utilities, etc.), drought, heatwave, flood, water shortage (mainly in cities and for irrigation), scarcity of food (fish, livestock, etc,), poverty and poor, the “key risks” as the IPCC identifies, economies in the periphery face the question of security/insecurity from within and from outside: the dominating powers and their wars, aggressions, interventions.
People face insecurity as food and water securities are threatened, their livelihood turns vulnerable, they face uncertain destination. The increasing insecurity in spheres of life and livelihood cuts down their democratic and human rights.
Mismanaged water resource is one example.
Tension and conflicts at regional level lurch around with increased competition for receding water from trans-boundary rivers. It damages in economy, displaces population, and ignites war.
Already a number of river basins in Asia had/are having the experience. The 251-kilometer Jordan River, the 2,700-kilometer Euphrates, the longest river in Southwestern Asia, the 2,540-kilometer Amu Darya, the longest river in Central Asia flow with tension and conflict.
Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan’s competition for control of the Amu Darya water “developed” to Uzbek troops, as was reported, taking control of water installations in Turkmenistan.
Parts of South Asia also face competition for water.
At the seemingly “heart” of the problems are intensified farming, increased irrigation, new hydroelectric dams, increased demand for fodder, etc. But is there any connection between these problems that are affecting millions of people and creating a security situation?
A closer look will find a common pattern: on the one hand, broadly, capitalist mode of production, and on the other, victim of the capitalist mode of production. The latter is the “product” of the mode of production.
The system is ever “hungry” for expansion; and it’s anarchic; and it’s based on narrowly defined self-interest. Its type of production creates causes for deterioration of nature, biodiversity and climate. Deterioration of climate affects nature, biodiversity and living condition of all life, not only human life. It’s like a multiplying act.
Capital’s expansionist hunger devours, defaces, destroys and demolishes everything around; and these in turn creates pressure on land including forest, soil, grazing land, water, mountains, glaciers, population, etc.; and these in turn again create “pressure” on climate; and the security situation emerges.
At the same time, capital’s expansion requires war, aggression, intervention as capital requires “occupation”, in many forms, and “security” that “induces” use of force. The force requires unhindered movement to any corner of the world, desert or deep in forest, and the unhindered movement again requires force.
This pattern – war, show and use of force, permanent presence of force in parts of the world and unhindered movement of force – taxes nature and climate. Again, a “contribution” to climate deterioration is made by the system.
The extent and level of deterioration turns immense and serious when an entire economy bases its expansion on war – real and imaginary.
Inefficient use of resources – wastage – by the system presses nature and climate. The wastage occurs in production, distribution, manipulation, war, war efforts and war postures.
“At present, around 168 countries are estimated to suffer from land degradation, costing the global economy an estimated US$ 40 billion a year. Global soil erosion exceeds new soil formation by as much as 23 billion tonnes per year, or 1% of soil stock, a process described by some scientists as the ‘skinning’ of the planet.” (The Economics of Land Degradation Initiative study) However, the study finds, “crop yields worth US$ 1.4 trillion could be grown if sustainable land management practices are introduced around the world.”
“Up to 1.3 billion people may be exposed to longer-term food insecurity in 2050 in low-income economies (mainly in Africa), if their economic development doesn’t allow them to afford productivity improvements, cropland expansion and/or imports from other countries.” (Marianela Fader, Dieter Gerten, Michael Krause, Wolfgang Lucht and Wolfgang Cramer, “Spatial decoupling of agricultural production and consumption: quantifying dependences of countries on food imports due to domestic land and water constraints”, Environmental Research Letters.)
The study found: “A number of developed countries including the UK, the Netherlands and Japan are already unable to meet the food requirements of their populations. This reliance on imports looks set to become worse as population levels rise. However, unlike the developing countries, these nations will probably be able to buy their way out of the problem.” Currently, says the study, only 950 million people (16% of world population) use the opportunities of international trade for covering their demand of agricultural products.
The reality, as the study found: Even, countries considered advanced economies are facing the problem of food. And, the question: The rich can buy, import, food, but what shall happen to the poor?
These are only a few examples from thousands and thousands of inefficient use and distribution of resources, and inefficient use of resources is “party” to generation of inequality and disparity, and it’s capitalism that’s sustaining this inefficient, unequal system.

Today’s climate crisis thus has been created by the capitalist system, and it is aggravating the crisis with each passing day. The crisis, like Frankenstein’s monster, is now threatening the system, the creator of the crisis. The question of security/insecurity/threats is a burning example.
Why doesn’t the system change the process that has emerged as a threat even to its rule? It can’t.
Changing the process is the ultimate threat to the capitalist system as the step will accelerate its downfall – a change in the entire regime. So, the only alternative available to the system is manipulation, a conflict with reality.
Manipulation of facts, science, public opinion and public “mind” are indivisible part of the world capitalist system. The system’s entire publicity and propaganda exposes this. Climate crisis politics and climate crisis diplomacy of the system are part of the manipulation mechanism. But the magnitude of the threat being created by the crisis is compelling the capitalist system to identify the reality, and it’s, the insecurity situation, threatening people everywhere.
Farooque Chowdhury is Dhaka-based freelancer.

IPCC Report Predicts A Dark Future For The Planet By Countercurrents

IPCC Report Predicts A Dark Future For The Planet
By Countercurrents
31 March, 2014
Global temperature change - From IPCC AR5 WGII SPM.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II report published today in Yokohoma, Japan paint a dark future for global humanity and other species on earth. It predicts violent conflicts, food shortages and infrastructure damage in the coming decades, while a growing number of animals and marine species will face increased risk of extinction. The report was compiled by more than 300 authors from 70 different countries with contributions from thousands of global experts.
The report is the first of its kind to examine rising temperatures as a series of comprehensive global risks caused by increasingly perilous levels of carbon dioxide emitted by traffic, power stations and other fossil-fuel burners as well as methane from deforestation and farming.
Launching the report in Yokohama, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said: “Why should the world pay attention to this report? We have assessed impacts as they are happening, impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and oceans.
“I’d like to emphasise that in view of these impacts and those projected in the future, nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.”
Vicente Barros, a leading Argentine-born climate change expert and a co-chair of the report, added: “We live in an era of man-made climate change. In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”
Extreme weather patterns, including a higher risk of flooding, were cited as a growing consequence of rising greenhouse gas emissions, with Europe, Asia and small island states highlighted as being vulnerable, while droughts were also forecast to become more common.
Urban communities would also face “many global risks”, as a result of growing issues related to heatwaves, extreme rainfall, flooding, landslides, air pollution drought and water shortages, it warned.
The growing scarcity of freshwater sources and shrinking crop yields would lead to violent conflict, such as civil wars, the report warns, alongside the displacement of numerous communities, referred to as “climate refugees” by Dr Pachauri.
“We have reasons to believe that if the world doesn’t do anything [...] and the extent of climate change continues to increase, then the very social stability of human systems could be at stake,” he said.
A “large fraction” of animals and marine creatures also faced an increased risk of extinction over the coming decades if global warming continued as projected, according to the report.
Rising carbon dioxide concentrations were forecast to acidify oceans, destroying coral reefs and threatening shelled marine creatures, impacting communities reliant on the sea as a food source.
However, scientists behind the report also stated that by taking immediate steps to reduce carbon emissions over the coming decades, there could be a reduction in potential consequences by the end of the century.
Summary of projected changes in crop yields, due to climate change over the 21st century. Yellow indicates studies that project crop yield decreases, blue indicates studies projecting increases. From IPCC AR5 WGII SPM.
The report discusses the risk associated with food insecurity due to more intense droughts, floods, and heat waves in a warmer world, especially for poorer countries. .
The report also discusses risks associated with water insecurity, due for example to shrinking of glaciers that act as key water resources for various regions around the world, and through changing precipitation patterns. As a result of these types of changes, the IPCC also anticipates that violent conflicts like civil wars will become more common.
The number of people exposed to river floods is projected to increase with the level of warming over the remainder of the century. Sea-level rise will also cause submergence, flooding, and erosion of coastal regions and low-lying areas. And ocean acidification poses significant risk for marine ecosystems; coral reefs in particular.
The general risk of species extinctions rises as the planet warms. More climate change means that suitable climates for species shift. The faster these climate zones shift, the more species will be unable to track and adapt to those changes.

The report also estimates that global surface warming of approximately 2°C above current temperatures may lead to global income losses of 0.2 to 2.0 percent. However,