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Calling All Future-Eaters

Posted on Jul 19, 2010
AP / Maya Hitij

“Melting Men,” a series of art installations created by Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo, has been adopted by environmentalists around the world to raise awareness of global warming.

Q & A - Live Chat with Chris Hedges

A live Q & A session related to this column took place on July 21, 2010 at 11:00 am PT.

Click here to view the transcript.

By Chris Hedges

The human species during its brief time on Earth has exhibited a remarkable capacity to kill itself off. The Cro-Magnons dispatched the gentler Neanderthals. The conquistadors, with the help of smallpox, decimated the native populations in the Americas. Modern industrial warfare in the 20th century took at least 100 million lives, most of them civilians. And now we sit passive and dumb as corporations and the leaders of industrialized nations ensure that climate change will accelerate to levels that could mean the extinction of our species. Homo sapiens, as the biologist Tim Flannery points out, are the “future-eaters.”

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In the past when civilizations went belly up through greed, mismanagement and the exhaustion of natural resources, human beings migrated somewhere else to pillage anew. But this time the game is over. There is nowhere else to go. The industrialized nations spent the last century seizing half the planet and dominating most of the other half. We giddily exhausted our natural capital, especially fossil fuel, to engage in an orgy of consumption and waste that poisoned the Earth and attacked the ecosystem on which human life depends. It was quite a party if you were a member of the industrialized elite. But it was pretty stupid.

Collapse this time around will be global. We will disintegrate together. And there is no way out. The 10,000-year experiment of settled life is about to come to a crashing halt. And humankind, which thought it was given dominion over the Earth and all living things, will be taught a painful lesson in the necessity of balance, restraint and humility. There is no human monument or city ruin that is more than 5,000 years old. Civilization, Ronald Wright notes in “A Short History of Progress,” “occupies a mere 0.2 percent of the two and a half million years since our first ancestor sharpened a stone.” Bye-bye, Paris. Bye-bye, New York. Bye-bye, Tokyo. Welcome to the new experience of human existence, in which rooting around for grubs on islands in northern latitudes is the prerequisite for survival.

We view ourselves as rational creatures. But is it rational to wait like sheep in a pen as oil and natural gas companies, coal companies, chemical industries, plastics manufacturers, the automotive industry, arms manufacturers and the leaders of the industrial world, as they did in Copenhagen, take us to mass extinction? It is too late to prevent profound climate change. But why add fuel to the fire? Why allow our ruling elite, driven by the lust for profits, to accelerate the death spiral? Why continue to obey the laws and dictates of our executioners?

The news is grim. The accelerating disintegration of Arctic Sea ice means that summer ice will probably disappear within the next decade. The open water will absorb more solar radiation, significantly increasing the rate of global warming. The Siberian permafrost will disappear, sending up plumes of methane gas from underground. The Greenland ice sheet and the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers will melt. Jay Zwally, a NASA climate scientist, declared in December 2007: “The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming. Now, as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines.”


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But reality is rarely an impediment to human folly. The world’s greenhouse gases have continued to grow since Zwally’s statement. Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels since 2000 have increased by 3 per cent a year. At that rate annual emissions will double every 25 years. James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s foremost climate experts, has warned that if we keep warming the planet it will be “a recipe for global disaster.” The safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere, Hansen estimates, is no more than 350 parts per million (ppm). The current level of CO2  is 385 ppm and climbing. This already guarantees terrible consequences even if we act immediately to cut carbon emissions.

The natural carbon cycle for 3 million years has ensured that the atmosphere contained less than 300 ppm of CO2, which sustained the wide variety of life on the planet. The idea now championed by our corporate elite, at least those in contact with the reality of global warming, is that we will intentionally overshoot 350 ppm and then return to a safer climate through rapid and dramatic emission cuts. This, of course, is a theory designed to absolve the elite from doing anything now. But as Clive Hamilton in his book “Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change” writes, even “if carbon dioxide concentrations reach 550 ppm, after which emissions fell to zero, the global temperatures would continue to rise for at least another century.”

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By SGater, July 20, 2010 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

This is a bit of a bleak post. lol confused

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By SemiFrost, July 20, 2010 at 6:46 am Link to this comment


Nicely put.

But while you enjoy your garden, and I take refuge on an island in the Andaman Sea, there is South Central, Hunter’s Point, Flint, Liberty City, Newark, Cleavland, Buffalo, and take your pick of the intellectually and fiscally under-served in the Bible Belt…

These places are largely populated by people well beyond trust, hope, and the concept of grasping *why.*  They are already in survival mode.

And that is fine with the ruling class.  When required, those culled from those very ranks, those who had no choice but to sign on to infantry, will return as enforcer suppressors.

Likely not back to their neighborhoods.  It will be played as it was in Tiananmen Square - Bring in troops from other provinces - in this case other states - to quash the “slimy civilians.”  (Term not mine; USMC OCS indoctrination.)

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By balkas, July 20, 2010 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

Yes, none of us have revealed anything that is not already known—but known over 10 k yrs only by few observers.
So, it is ok to keep describing what is going on.

However, it wld nice if people wld start positing or postulating the FIRST CAUSE for most of our ills!

To me, the FIRST CAUSE is division of people, broadly speaking, into a master class and slave-serf class.

In modern times,a multilayered structure of society arose; with each layer having different econo-politico-military power;each layer below the top class having less and less power.

If this structure remains, i educe that we can expect even worsening for lower classes.

The top class has not for ca 15 k yrs treated the lower class humanely.
And in modern times, with division of people into several classes, ruling by top class is assured for all time. tnx

Yes to people being hell on earth—but not all people appear to behave hellish.
Potentially, most people cld become quite human if the wld become enlightened.
So, talk, talk and talk some more! That`s all we got, methinks!

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By richard, July 20, 2010 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The only thing that has changed since the 18th century is the stakes. The old European royalty, all related and intermarried, ordered the world to suit themselves and their fortunes. Their subjects were fodder. They would war against each other, but it was family spats, except to the little people who actually fought and died and lost everything in the process.
It is the same now, except everything is EVERYTHING.
Doesn’t matter to the ruling class. But do they assume that their riches will protect them from the fall of civilization? Are they that crazy? Yes.
The tribes of the northwest coast of the US gained status by generosity. Much better status system, you might say. But it eventually reached such a frenzy that entire cultures impoverished themselves in orgiastic giveaways.
The Dutch tulip crasiness, where tulips were worth more than gold, is another example.
People do crazy things for status. The current ruling class will take us down with them without a thought. I think Chris agrees with me that they already have.

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By bogi666, July 20, 2010 at 2:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ANNA NOMAD, recent science claim that it wasn’t until the developement of agriculture that human females started having regular female cycles because food was stable and assured for their offspring. This is borne out in nature where many females species can control or end fetal development depending on the environmental conditions. Some known species are;wolverines, badgers,bears,elephants are able to terminate the development by not attaching the fetus to the wall and/or not going into estus. It is argued that female humans had these abilities until agricultural development. The so called pro lifers want the animal kingdom to have more control over the reproductive process than animals do, thereby making human females a lesser species than female animal.

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By bogi666, July 20, 2010 at 1:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Writer on the Storm. Plato’s teaching have a significant influence on official Christian doctrine which disdains reason. The neo Platoists were opposed to science which ushered in the Dark ages of 2000 years. The Minoan’s were using scientific methods and had concocted a theory of the atom and were condemned because it didn’t concur with Plato’s doctrine. Hence the dark ages.  JAYCEE, your community gardens is opposed by a Republican congressman who wants legislation to prohibit the growing of flowers, vegatables and other commodities by person.

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By REDHORSE, July 20, 2010 at 12:50 am Link to this comment

There is, some undefined, worldwide disconnect, in human reason and morality, whose definition and experience, continues to elude us all. On this, and other threads, posters here, voice legitimate intelligent concern, about real issues, that cross the entire spectrum, of national, political, global and financial reality. Yet, something holds us in hopeless thrall, powerless to act. Mr. Hedges article, and its’ palpable sense of doom, tells us nothing, we don’t already know. Is there, an absence, of cultural and spiritual meaning in the world psyche, too big for our best hope and human aspiration to fill?

      I work in my garden each day (only one Diamond Back so far this year—it’s the Prarie Rattlers you have to watch out for—they’ll strike at anything), I spend a little time w/you guys, and at night, I sit in the dark, try to be aware that I’m in a living Universe, and struggle for emotional, mental and spiritual balance. I’m very gratefull for my small life, but, I’ve got to say, that I am often afraid. It seems that blessing has been stolen from all our lives, each face I see seems to be etched with worry and rage. A sense of betrayal overwhelms every attempt at good action, and, it is clear, that our children, face a catastrophic future. From whence does this evil and horror spring?

      The comedian Joe Rogan once ask’d: “If I sent you into the forest with nothing but an ax, how long, before you could send me an E-Mail?”.

      Ours, is a manufactured, insane reality, imposed at gunpoint by moral cripples. It offers material comfort but denies humanity. Technological advance, communication and world conciousness have outstripped financial models of control. That’s the world war we’re in.  New vision, demands a world dialogue on population, and realignment of technology, to support natural ecological systems and resources. This must begin, with personal redefinition of common human values, by honoring of community, family, self and others. Our American Constitution, is the paradigm for this consciousness. That’s why it, and we, are under attack.

      Americans are, despite the propaganda, if compared, to any other industrialized nation, prisoners. Denied every reasonable benefit of modern civilization, held at gunpoint, and robbed at will, the hardest working people in the world, are told they’re lazy, and their Social Security should be removed.

      Every action I mentioned above, if taken by the willing individual, will ensure unity with other individuals of like mind. Forget the dying thugs, they offer only slavery and apocalypse. The light of a new age is fighting for consciousness within us. Let it shine.

      May the ever evolving, eternal, universal consciousness, that informs the fact of our best human desire for a united people, preserve and defend, the Constitution, of the United States of America.

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By Dan Pride, July 20, 2010 at 12:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is inevitable. Scientist say that given the right chemicals and a bolt of
lightning that ipso presto you have life. 10,000 planets within radio distance fit
the bill. Why do we hear nothing? Its because every planet’s evolution follows a
similar path. Evolution is an imperfect process and leaves behind surplus calories.
Evolution is An extended fight for calories until the mother load of finds, the
mining of the eons of surplus left behind. Life is thereafter like a teenager on a
motorcycle, roaaaar…. bang ! right into the wall. The mathematics of the silence of
the heavens makes sense when you include time. Given our experience and
impending destruction, the big ride takes about 100 years. Signals may well have
hit earth when George Washington was crossing the Delaware, problem is he
didn’t hear them. The same will probably be true of the evidence of our existence.
Dissipated on some distant planet before a receiver is available. The wisdom of the
Ancients was wise indeed. Ready for Revelations everybody ?

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By sharloch, July 19, 2010 at 11:51 pm Link to this comment


you oppose violent means of social change, but to a degree you agreed with Derrik Jensen, who thinks it may be inevitable. I agree with you, because violence will cause turmoil like we have in Afghanistan. On the other hand there is another way, more peaceful: It would be a hybrid between what green party proposes (localize government, decentralization that gives corporations limited local influence-see what they achieved in Arcadia, where local residents barred corporate big grocery stores and walmarts alike) and what the survivalists do (become self sufficient to a large degree practically possible, stop using corporate products and services, so to speak “starve the beast”). Of course the key ingredient would be to first educate citizenry and overcome the corporate propaganda. Given the gullibility of the average American, this may not work well, but still probably a solution with the least unpleasant consequences.

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By EM, July 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To G.Anderson, thank you for the wonderful post.  In order to have any future
worth living in, we must become responsible, rational, whole human beings again.

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By gold, July 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anna Nomad,

Our sole moral obligation is to shut up and sit down until our species is annihilated.

So, please let me know when you’ve done your part (eg topped yourself).

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By keepyourheaddown, July 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s kill them all NOW!!!

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By frank1569, July 19, 2010 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Rebellion is impossible - ‘our’ CorpoGovernment is the most heavily armed in the known universe, and, as we’ve seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, ‘our’ CorpoGovernment has no problem whacking a few million humans here and there. And seriously rebellion by what Big Media would instantly label anti-God-and-America terrorists would be squashed without prejudice.

The only real rebellion possible is this: use it all up as fast as possible. Waste waste waste - get that Climate Change cooking at red zone levels. The sooner we get our collective attempted suicide attempt over with, the sooner the survivors can get to giving life another shot.

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By gritona, July 19, 2010 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment

good one Chris- I think this pretty much says everything anyone needs to know about both capital and climate. I like the way he tied them up so neatly together

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By SemiFrost, July 19, 2010 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, pretty lame head.  Otherwise, a good piece.  Could be he left it up to staff.

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By Egomet Bonmot, July 19, 2010 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment

Chris you gotta work on your lead-ins, spice em up a little.

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By SemiFrost, July 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment

OB is easily the biggest political disappointment of this century – maybe in the history of the US presidency.  After the relief - believing that the eight-year-long age of darkness might be coming to a close, dodging the McCain / Palin off-the-rails caboose and overcoming compromised election systems, after seeing the crying-with-joy crowds in Chicago and the cheering masses in Europe … we watched and waited for The Change –
The Movement.

We watched as *he changed.*  And we watched as he *moved on* past all that *stuff;* those best-forgotten pesky matters of torture, prosecuting treason, fraudulent wars and incompetent war profiteering.  We watched in August of 2009 as he teed off (literally) with UBS, and the sinking feeling began.  Perhaps it was during a pause on the ninth hole when it was explained to him; how it was *really* going to be. Or maybe he was handed the memo along with one of his Wall Street campaign allowances.

The guy had the chance to change the course of human history, actually lead the world in a better direction.  Starting with the US, riding HIS wave of momentum he could have smothered the fire of corporatism in a deluge of riotous words and action - while he was at it winning over more of the grassroots. Instead he tinkled around the edges with the occasional polite reprimand and wasted legislation - and now we enjoy our “tea parties.”  And so the fire is raging beyond the barn and headed for the homestead, baby.

He knows it. You can see it in his face and hear in his increasing banal, nearly always discarded and increasingly grating-on-the-ears declarations.  Be blew it.  The Gulf pretty much wrapped it up on this guy.  Ineffectual and obedient, the Executive, along with Congress and SCOTUS, remains a subsidiary and subordinate branch of Wall Street and the military industrial / intelligence complex.

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By Scipio Africanus, July 19, 2010 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

“Who will provide the grand design?
“What is yours and what is mine?
“‘Cause there is no more new frontier
“We have got to make it here

“We satisfy our endless needs and
“justify our bloody deeds, and
“in the name of destiny and the name of God”

—The Last Resort (Eagles, Hotel California album)

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By Dickinseattle, July 19, 2010 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris is right about one thing, the climate change crisis is political.  Whether it’s scientific is much harder to decern.  Keep in mind that this weak greenhouse gas you are so concerned about is plant food.  It is not a causative agent so much as a consequence of heat as the 1998 Vostok ice core samples prove.  The geologic histories prove that there is another agenda at play here than the truth or science.  Since much of this alledged science has been dumped into our super computers there may not be much left of real Climatology.  Take the computer modeling out of the equations and there is little left for the climate alarmists to promote.  If you actually look at the record and the Earth and Sun cycles you will see that the glaciation alarmists of the ‘70’s (when it was colder) were probably closer to the truth, but they were only talking about the climate.  Apparently anybody can be fooled with enough peer group influence and insufficient data.  Look at the FOX consumers of blatant propaganda.  Strangely (for corp. profits?) they seem to have called this one right.  Maybe a case for more, rather than less, different viewpoints, unlike what we find at the E. Anglia station.

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By Spooky-43, July 19, 2010 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

The global ruling class has regular secret meetings to discuss, among other things, how to reduce the world’s population to about 1/2 billion.  It is no easy task to exterminate 90% of the people on the face of the earth and make it look like an accident.

After all, what would be the reaction if it was reported that this was in fact the case, and it was reported accurately about the awesome technology which has been developed by the limitless wealth of this group?

Beyond that there are dozens of potential and imminent near-extinction events hanging over our heads.  Do I need to list them all?  Just read all of Chris Hedges columns. 

Even the Deepwater Horizon news today has that developing into a potential massive extinction event.  Yellowstone can’t hold on much longer, and the madmen in the middle east are determined to start WWIII as they develop their nuclear capabilities.  The Mexican drug cartels have more weapons than the Mexican government, and they murder wedding parties just for the sport of it just below our southern border.  The virus that is going to wipe us out is just around the corner.  First AIDS, then Bird Flu and H1N1, so when will the really, really big one hit?  This is just scratching the surface of the potential catastrophes which are out there. 

So two things come to mind immediately. 

First, is global warming gonna get me before all the rest of that stuff?  Probably not.

Second, since it seems something is going to get me very soon anyway, why do I have to invest my meager savings in cleaner energy?  I would rather spend my money on a vacation and a new car.  I mean, when the doctor tells you that you have advanced lung cancer and have one month to live, that is not the time to start worrying about your triglyceride levels.

So, in spite of some of the posts here which lament that fact that the average person does not seem to be motivated to do much about the global warming threat, I believe, rather, that it is possibly just a case of total overload. 

Many of us just have to take care of finding a decent job to support our family, so spending a lot of money today on something which may have a serious impact decades from now is not registering as a realistic thing to do.  We have become even more short term thinking than we have historically been, if that is possible.

For my part, I am most threatened by the global ruling class.  These people are devious, and I believe they are behind most of the world’s problems as they engineer the future to benefit themselves with no regard for the masses. 

The biggest building boom of the past few decades has been in underground luxury survival cities, where the upper class expect to be able to retire to for the purpose of surviving the events they themselves will probably bring upon the world.

On another point, cap and trade legislation appears to be a potential windfall for those who have placed themselves in a position to trade carbon credits.  How come we don’t hear more about the money behind the Chicago Climate Exchange, or whatever it is calling itself these days.  I think this is going to be some big money for those folks who invested in that, and Goldman Sachs is apparently one of them, along with Al Gore.  Global warming seems to be setting up a huge transfer of money.  I would like to know more about who is going to benefit, and I do know it is not me, or anyone like me.

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By morongobill, July 19, 2010 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment

Most people are too busy trying to ensure their own economic survival to really drop everything and focus on this or any other issue.

That’s where leadership comes in. That’s where a president can call to the people from the bully pulpit.

It is the job of a leader to lead, to lead by example, to call out to the people to rise above themselves and their problems, at that moment and to keep the people focused on the problem at hand.

And sometimes a leader has to get angry, and to channel that anger, yes, even through the people. It
works for dictators and thugs, it can work for our president. Sometimes,striking fear into your opponents heart, is a good thing.

And you sure as hell don’t keep extending the hand of friendship and compromise, to people who will take that hand up, and then bitch slap you in the face.

I have thought for a long time that instead of a righteous warrior, what we elected was a “teacher-in-chief.” Time for lessons is over and school is over for the day.

The bully is out back behind the gym waiting. Do you keep talking, hoping you can talk him out of a fight, or do you reach inside yourself for that courage and go beat his ass once and for all?

In a nutshell, that’s where we progressives are today. We had the repub’s on the ropes, swaying and almost down for the count. This president, this administration, this congress, this democratic party let them back up, we even gave them a “long count” and now we’re getting our asses kicked.

Sometimes getting your ass kicked is a good thing. It gets you focused, and ready to even the score next time.

We’re getting clocked, but it isn’t over yet.

Who knows, maybe our “teacher-in-chief” will suddenly grow a pair, and become meaner and feistier and start over, before it’s too late.


If he can’t or won’t, his ass will be grass the next election and WE WILL BE THE LAWNMOWER. I mean that, we progressives will show him the door.

The average person doesn’t know what to think, doesn’t know who to believe, and for sure, will not fight to stop the global warming, as long as the corporate media continues to call it a job killer.

J-O-B-S! That’s all people care about right now. So somehow, we need to tell this narrative in a way that it spells out J-O-B C-R-E-A-T-I-O-N. It’s the only way it will sell. Period.

I don’t have the answer, but I can sure as hell see the problem. If we can see it out here in the boondocks, why can’t our “public servants” see it?

The two most powerful motivators are money and pure,
physical fear. If we could figure out how to get that one-two going, we could solve this climate issue and our governance issues.

Keeping it simple and stupid works for the repub’s, let’s make it work for us.

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By omygodnotagain, July 19, 2010 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment

WriterOn The Storm, a well argued post. I agree about population, but if one looks at why population is increasing there is only one culprit, modern medicine. Its not that there are more children being born, its that people are living longer, and the longer they live the more services they require.
If we were to apply reason the following steps would be taken.
Stop all research in diseases like AIDS,Malaria, TB etc
Stop treating old people when they get sick just to keep them alive
Stop transfering our technologies to developing countries, let nature takes it course.

There is more but nobody wants to champion this, so the alternative is to stop capitalism, that needs to keep growing and expanding in an endless quest for profits. Maybe the Chinese will figured out a way to do that, but laissez-faire capitalism will not.
This 19th Century economic model is way past its sales date.

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By ofersince72, July 19, 2010 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment

It appears that most everyone understands the severity
of the situation,  that is always a good starting point.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, July 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment

Having given old meaning to the phrase “hiking the Appalachian trail”, Hedges
now pops in to see what condition our condition is in. As usual he comes off
like the head fear-leader for Derrick Jensen’s “team technophobe”. Well our
condition is in a lamentable condition, Chris, and according to you, the main
culprits are 1)corporatism, 2) science, and in a more metastasized sense, 3)

I get the beef with corporations. They are conceived of and operated as amoral
profit machines. They are not structured to serve anything but the bottom line.
Any individual who gets in the way, no matter how honorably motivated, or
high up the food chain, will quickly find his/her ass making friends with the
pavement. Since corporations survive the deaths of the human fodder servicing
them, they can be said to have a life of their own. And like any other “living”
entity, they will have their own Darwinian survival strategies. Approaching
corporations as living behemoths that want to “live” at any cost is the first step
to fighting them. But to say that they are the reason us humans are on the
existential chopping block is like claiming that strip malls are the reason there
are so many cars.

Chris’ relationship to science seems to be like Ted Haggard’s relationship with
homosexuality. He just hates himself every time he gives in. But for every
example of death by “technological hubris” he could name, including the
dramatic ones like the Titanic, there are many more lives saved or made
possible by technology. If technology is part of the problem, it is so not
because it’s a bad thing, but because it is too much of a good thing.

What Chris has against reason is a mystery, unless it’s the trace of magical
thinking still left from his school daze, or perhaps it’s bitterness toward
reason’s TKO over god in the boxing ring of ideas.  There’s aboslutely nothing
wrong with reason that a better reason won’t fix. Those who use reason to
serve their purposes, or who have pretensions to absolute certainty are in fact
being unreasonable. Reason is probably our greatest possession. Plato,
Aristotle, Descartes—all believed that reason was only way to truly
understand the world. Remember, no matter how much we trash the planet,
and no matter how badly Chris feels about that, the sum of the 3 angles of a
triangle are still going to be 180 degrees.

More than scientism, more than rationalism, more than capitalism or any other
ism, we have a population problem. There’s just too many of us, or too little of
whatever it is that sustains us. Does anyone seriously believe that if we un-
tamed ourselves and sent 12 billion people back out into “ma natch” to seek
heat around campfires and live off the land, that the biosphere would be any
less polluted, or wildlife any less endangered?

Any “dire predicament” discussion that does not begin with the population
problem can’t be taken as anything other than political stumping. There simply
is no known social system, no undiscovered natural resource, no undeveloped
alternative energy that can support our numbers without causing a great deal
of collateral damage consequence-wise. We can buy some time by swapping
out one for another, but sooner or later, “we is gonna git our co-llective asses

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By secretchief, July 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

I agree that our culture of compromise is not the way to go if we want a fundamental change. The people will need to escalate the means they use until they can have a real impact.

***fact check***
Oldest human constructions are way older than 5000 years old.

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By radson, July 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm Link to this comment

I don’t particularly like repeating myself ,but within the context of Mr. Hedges latest article ,I do believe that it still has some merits .
ps: Liecatcher I hope that you have no objection with the inclusion of one of your posts .

By liecatcher, February 13 at 4:22 pm #

America’s Confused Approach to Afghanistan

TO: radson, February 12 at 7:43 pm

Hey radson:
I saved one of your blogs from last year because IMO,
it’s one of
the best ever written, & because your prediction came
And, apropos of your statement:
“The path of Perdition is where we are all heading if
we don’t take care of our Planet.”, Bush3
is making an all out push on behalf of GE (one of the
predatory companies that was given $billions
because it was well connected enough to share the
plunder) to have we the sheeple spend $trillion
to create nuclear reactors to , get this, “free us
from dependence on foreign oil”. Ralph Nader’s
Friday newsletter covered in great detail what a
disaster nuclear reactors would be for the Planet.

By radson, June 30 at 6:42 pm #

The heroes are bemedalled

the saints are few

the fools are many

the blue-blooded rule regardless of the cost

for chaos is the definition of progress

where profit is prime

regardless of crime

for crime it is when innocence is robbed of time

the cries go unheeded

for the children of the damned have no voice

or is it no choice

when capitalist greed spreads a seed is born

though at first it is unbeknown to most

yet after time it requires an insatiable thirst

that rapes the land and also the hand

the hand which toils until it falters

yet there are few alters

for progress needs none

still progress needs the son

to blind the one’s who die for naught

as we witness what is wrought before our eyes

and innocence dies

we laugh and drink as societies sink

into the quagmire of ruin

where history is lost or rewritten with poisonous

to what end will this lead us

perhaps to the path of perdition.

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By nemesis2010, July 19, 2010 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

Where’s the evidence for Neanderthals being gentler than Cro-Magnon?

Is this all going to happen before or after Jeebus returns?

The one thing we should all be concerned with is how will our corporate masters see fit to sustain us… and I do believe they have already let us know what they are planning…

Long live the Omega men!

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By Steve E, July 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

Yes, the only hope I have is that finally ” aliens will land ” and read out the riot act
to us humans before we kill off the planet. Mind you, they could be waiting for us
to kill ourselves and then declare the human experiment a done deal. If I was an
alien I would be spreading an incurable plague that kills instantaneously as soon
as possible to prevent any further destruction to the planet. The creation of the
human species with it’s greed factor is the worst thing that happened to this
beautiful planet paradise. Palin in 2012, you betcha.

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By tommy_slothrop, July 19, 2010 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

Is there hope?

Where there’s life, there’s hope.

Is it realistic?

I don’t know and I don’t trust people who say they know.

I do know that I’m not going to resign mself to human extinction.  I’m not going to support the powers that are driving us there.  I’m not going to participate in the economic system that sustains them.  If enough people do that we may have a chance.

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By omygodnotagain, July 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

I have stopped blaming corporations and started blaming people, for being so crass, selfish and materialistic.
The idea of individual freedom is one of the worst ideas of the Enlightenment. It is the root cause of all our problems, it means you can drive the car you want no matter the size, live in towns and cities that are not planned for mass transportation, one man can make as much money as he can scam, while another starves. Individual freedom sucks, and this country is the biggest exponent of this revolting concept. Communities matter.

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By jaycee, July 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

prole said -
” The unfortunate fact of the matter is that corporate elites no matter how
warped their values are in accumulating wealth are not the ones clogging the
freeways with all those polluting autos and plugging all those extraneous
appliances into electrical outlets. The amount of consumption by the tiny
number of elites is relatively small”

That analysis is a bit skewed. Fact is: consumer consumption is dwarfed by
industrial requirements. Industrial requirements remain high on the insistence
of the elites who own them.

It could be argued that elites have not only anticipated the dire results of global
warming, but have been actively preparing for these eventualities by rapidly
concentrating wealth and power to ensure they and their families are the ones
left standing.

For the rest of us, what has happened is liberal democratic political structures
have collapsed. People need to stop pretending or hoping that everything will
return to the way it was. New co-operative political structures devolved right
down to neighborhood levels are necessary. Some of the work towards these
new forms have been underway for some time. Seek out like-minded people.
Something as simple as a community garden is a great place to start.

It is no time for mere despair. Don’t let the investment bankers and people like
the Bush family dance on your graves.

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By cmandelbaum, July 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

Have Global Corporations assumed a Godlike role?

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By Tom Weidermeijer, July 19, 2010 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The human race is a greedy, greedy group of people.  Maybe we deserve what we get.

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By steve, July 19, 2010 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We are dead!!!!!  Dead dead dead!!!!!!  Time has run out!!!!!!

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By anomar, July 19, 2010 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

I think Lovelock and the other climate scientists are right: there is nothing we can now do to avert climate catastrophe.  Those of you calling for a reduction in personal consumption as meaningful are whistling in the wind.

Lovelock believes the majority of humans will die, and I now agree with him.  Unfortunately, we will take a lot of innocent and beautiful life with us.

The humans who survive, may, and I really mean may, create a more rational and humane civilization. We could very well just start all over again with our stupidity and venality.

If I am allied with any life forms, it would have to be the non-human ones.  If I am allied with anything human, it would have to be the best of what we have produced in art and culture and not in preserving human life just because it exists.

Am I now a traitor?

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By prole, July 19, 2010 at 11:44 am Link to this comment

“And now we sit passive and dumb as corporations and the leaders of industrialized nations ensure that climate change will accelerate to levels that could mean the extinction of our species”’d have to be pretty dumb to sit passively – but you could stop sitting passively in your polluting cars and in front of your energy-gobbling computers and electronic pacifiers and over-eating out of your bulging refrigerators, if you made an effort. “Corporations and the leaders of industrialized nations”…sadly, are probably only giving the people what they want. If the demand dried up the corporations wouldn’t exist. There is a simmering rebellion in feeling but not in practice.
  A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey last week finds that 68% believe the nation’s Political Class doesn’t “care what most Americans think.” Only 15% believe the Political Class is interested in the views of those they are supposed to serve. The other 17% are not sure.
  The unfortunate fact of the matter is that corporate elites no matter how warped their values are in accumulating wealth are not the ones clogging the freeways with all those polluting autos and plugging all those extraneous appliances into electrical outlets. The amount of consumption by the tiny number of elites is relatively small; the earth could easily absorb their personal usage. But mass consumption at such levels is impossible to sustain.
  “China’s transformation into totalitarian capitalism, done so world markets can be flooded with cheap consumer goods, is contributing to a dramatic rise in carbon dioxide emissions”…and a dramatic rise in consumer culture and its endless desires and voracity. “This degradation of the planet by corporations is accompanied by a degradation of human beings” consumer culture. Equality as a political goal embraced by much of the Left has come to mean rising incomes and ever greater consumption levels. “As climate change advances, we will face a choice between obeying the rules put in place by corporations or rebellion”…but for the comfortable middle class it won’t be such an easy choice to give up their relative prosperity for unselfish reasons. “Those who work human beings to death in overcrowded factories in China and turn the Gulf of Mexico into a dead zone are the enemy. They serve systems of death”…and they deserve the same fate themselves. But those who consume their fatal products are in the loop, too. “The climate crisis is a political crisis”…is a consumer crisis. The middle class is split down the middle doubly. It’s likely that they will remain passive as long as they are pacified with cheap consumerism. In fact, there is probably a greater chance of rebellion if the sinister elites did NOT rape the environment and ruthlessly exploit foreign factory serfs to produce cheap junk products for our wasteful way of slow death. It would be the height of grim irony then to see ourselves consumed by our own consumption. And a final coup-de-grace of poetic justice unrivaled in 5,000 years of “civilization”.

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By MarthaA, July 19, 2010 at 10:48 am Link to this comment

Agitating for change of the U.S. Economic System to Social Capital and Socialized Capitalism is the solution, as this will take government authority out of private for profit hands and put government authority into the interests of the nation as a whole, making everyone a capitalist;  instead of a few greedy capitalists at the top of the pyramid.

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By John, July 19, 2010 at 10:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great article.

But is there any hope? Are things going to be so bad that future generations wont survive?

And if there is hope, then that means we have to fight back. We cant kid ourselves that we can consume our way out of this crisis, or that we can ever solve things when the worlds wealth and resources are controlled by a tiny minority, it’s all or nothing.

So when do we start?

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By markie, July 19, 2010 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i agree with semifrost,there is only a very small fraction of the planet that is living a sustainable life,the rest of us are getting it while we can,even the great mr hedges i would wager a bet eats meat drives a car and uses comercial airlines,but hey he’s a great preacher and so are the rest of us.i want rebelion so badly and i hate the coorperate elite,but when i think seriously about things i realize most of the world is living in a lethargic dream they dont have minds of there own anymore,we’re surounded by idiots and sadly theres nothing that can be done until its way too late,in the words of the late george carlin; “its just one big f——n club,and you aint in it”!

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By Norman Harman, July 19, 2010 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hedges writes: “The leaders of these corporations now determine our fate.
They are not endowed with human decency or compassion. Yet their lobbyists
make the laws. Their public relations firms craft the propaganda and trivia
pumped out through systems of mass communication. Their money determines
elections. Their greed turns workers into global serfs and our planet into a

American society - and large segments of the rest of the world as well - is
immersed in this corporate propaganda, subjected to its unceasing din 24/7
and, judging from what we see all around us every day, highly susceptible to
the desire/anxiety syndrome it’s designed to produce.

Excessive want coupled with an inability to ever experience satisfaction are the
hallmarks of modern consumerist civilization.

What’s the antidote? A first step is to learn the art of gaining satisfaction from
the simplest of things. Plant a seed and watch it grow into a flower, knowing
throughout the process that such beauty is a transient thing. Learning to
appreciate and understand that all beauty and good is transient - along with all
non-beauty and non-good.

Accepting the transitory nature of experience and the fundamental uncertainty
of life (even embracing it) is the first step in the process of learning
satisfaction. With an ability to experience satisfaction comes a lessening of the
desire/anxiety syndrome the corporations are so adept at exploiting.

When we are able to be satisfied we buy less, we eat less, we own less, we want
less. This is the antithesis of consumerism.

Let’s face it, we are not going to be able to influence the corporate elite - who
live in mirrored halls and never see, hear or speak to anyone or anything but
themselves and run this world and are so divorced from normal reality they
imagine themselves separate from the world at large - in any other way but
through our own personal behavior. We can’t call them, we can’t just walk into
their offices, we can’t drag them down to the Gulf and rub their noses in the
balls of tar on the beach. They are, for the most part, unreachable and

And we’ve already learned that our “elected representatives” work solely for
them. If it wasn’t widely evident before, this most recent American
administration of President Barak Obama - the group of self-described
reformers who ran the “campaign of change” - must surely exemplify the
betrayal of decency and sense by the political classes.

Altering our personal lives by wanting less, using less, buying less can have a
profound effect on the direction we are going. And it is something we
personally, have control over.

First step: Buy nothing today.

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By dcrimso, July 19, 2010 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

Good riddance Homo Sapiens.  The sooner the better.  Maybe if there are a few left, they can figure out how to live.

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By mrfreeze, July 19, 2010 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

You know the game is essentially over when you hear the nut-jobs on talk radio (here in Seattle of all places) complaining that it’s a liberal “conspiracy” that we are building new public transportation and putting in bike lanes. “It’s an attempt to get us out of our cars, damn it!”

Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s was an interesting time. If you go back and look at night time photographs taken by Astronauts in 1970 you’ll see Earth essentially dark with a few modern cities lit up. Now the whole world looks like a Christmas tree at night. In the 70’s we worried about population growth, starvation and those pesky commies. Unfortunately, we quit worrying and allowed ourselves to go ahead and breed like rabbits by producing too much food while at the same time allowing venal and nihilistic powers to take control of the world’s governments and corporations.

There are almost 7 billion of us (2x’s the number when I was in high school). My friends, there are some terrible times coming for the vast majority of our fellow men and women. Thankfully I have no children.

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By cmarcusparr, July 19, 2010 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

I have yet to disagree with most of what Chris Hedges writes and says publicly, and in the case of this particular article, I don’t disagree.
That said, there is the matter of the Gulf of Mexico disaster that goes far beyond its environmental damage and which might bring our concern, alarm and discussion of it to a sudden, violent end.
Scientific evidence, at least what little is available, suggests that BP has popped the “bubble.” The “leak” could (emphasize “could”) trigger a catastrophic methane blast and cause a mass extinction event not unlike the Permian extinction event. What evidence is there for this?
Matt Simmons (of Peak Oil fame) and others have warned that (1) the sea floor around Deepwater Horizon has risen over 30 feet; (2) methane is rushing out of the relief well bore hole [methane pressures have reached 40,000 PSI]; (3)New Orleans air surveys have measured benzene at increasingly toxic levels, in addition to other warning signs.
The NOAA research ship Thomas Jefferson reported (before they were excluded from the site) a jagged crack in the seabed that extends hundreds of feet.
Chris is right to elaborate our choices but Deepwater Horizon may make all of this moot, a tempest in a teapot, should the worst case occur in the next six months. In any and all cases, our species must stop killing that which supports life. What we will die from is our own greed. As a wise man once said, “The ultimate predator kills itself.”

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By balkas, July 19, 2010 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

Chris needed to say this. I wld add that since, say, 10k yrs ago or even 15k yrs ago,a layered society emerged.
And once that happened;later buttressed by ‘laws’ [read please diktats]we were on the road to disasters of all kind and not just overuse,overwaste, overcarelessness, warfare, murder, oppression, torture, slavery; possibly even wife beatings.

So, paesanos and villagers or selyaks, being misled and recently also bombarded by lies in schools, became also a sybaritic class of life, but of lower order.

I’v been there. I now know or have known for at least 20 yrs that nearly everything i ‘knew’ turned out to be not true.

Looking at some ethnoses, we can see that many have contributed very little to waste or overuse.
Lands like iran haven’t waged a war of aggression for centuries.

I do not know when vietnamese, laotians, burmese, apaches, zunis had their last or first war.

Hedges leaves out mafia-like orgs, called religions, as a salient cause for our ill-behavior.
Such orgs command us to multiply, which, perforce, acts as a cause even for warfare.

By leaving out causation of ills that befall us, one cannot elucidate the situation. A piece to be of full value must contain all the salient facts that pertain; followed by conclusion, and only thereafter a suggestion what to do.

Unfortunately, as long we have layered societies, causes for our miseries wld continue. tnx

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By Future Is Bright, July 19, 2010 at 8:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am much more enthusiastic in the future of the human race. Man is very close to understanding geoengineering and there are already dozens of alternatives to lowering the planet’s temperature. The great news is that it is much easier for man to manipulate a warming planet than it is to manipulate a cooling planet because man can reduce incoming radiation from the sun whereas man can’t increase incoming radiation from the sun. The other great news is that the initial tipping point estimates were way off base and better knowledge has led to understand that we have much more time to work on a solution than we first thought.

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By MeHere, July 19, 2010 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

The only worthwhile subjects left to explore and discuss at this point are those
related to why we continue to put up with this in our own country. That’s the kind
of enlightenment we need.  Please, stop the bashing of other countries. It only
serves to remove some of our guilt, reinforce stereotypes, and endanger peace.
Let’s try to be responsible grown-ups for once.

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By Shift, July 19, 2010 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

The pain is not yet great enough for the public to seriously react.  The elites recognize this and continue turning the screw.  If we are too dumb to react we are also too dumb to live.  Soon we will be nothing more than cliff droppings.

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By kerryrose, July 19, 2010 at 8:06 am Link to this comment

Water wars.  The corporations are planning for the inevitability already. Right now, water is being denied to the poorest and most vulnerable.  In many areas resistance has been successful with government kicking out the private corporations.  In Peru, 94% of the people voted to end water privatization, but the government renewed the contract anyway. 

As water becomes more scarce it will be metered out to the middle class.  When the middle class is finally denied, or can’t afford the exhorbitant rates—that’s when resistance will begin.

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By Devon Noll, July 19, 2010 at 8:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As I read some of these comments and the article itself, I found myself thinking about whether it is impossible to come back from the edge of disaster, or whether the best we can hope for is that those who might survive can learn from the loss of the rest of us - a question of interest because I have grandchildren who are still young enough that they could help rebuild a better world if it is possible.

I did not come up with a definitive answer, but I did come up with a sense that all is not completely lost if people who genuinely care and who are knowledgeable act.  Not on a national level - that is a lost cause, but rather on a small scale, among friends and families and neighborhoods.  People who create small pockets of survival - teaching the old skills, growing their own food, incorporating modern technologies that are Earth-friendly.  Some communities are already doing this (Transition Initiatives), some cities are regressing to find a balance (Detroit, for example), and some small rural communities are finding new ways to create new town models that work with the Earth.  Some companies, like mine (Cassandra Projects)for example, are willing to work with small businesses and communities to help them develop plans to create sustainable, resiliency plans that act on the premise that there a better ways to get things done, while protecting our environment and our children’s futures without national or state government inclusion or regulation, and to do so without violence - a kind of passive revolution.

Nature offers us a great wealth of information and opportunity, and that is what corporations cannot stand - our ability to work within nature, to recognize its limits, and be willing to accept those limits.  More is NOT BETTER - IT IS DESTRUCTIVE! This is something most corporations cannot and will not accept - just look at the Gulf of Mexico if you have any doubts or the farm lands of India or our own Midwest. 

Our community garden in the RV park where I live at the moment is 8000 sf.  It did not use chemicals to produce, and it was thriving, looking lush and green and healthy.  Then the park managers who did not want to work in the garden and who have been systematically turning this lush Pacific Northwest park into the barren Southwest no-maintenance landscape ordered the Assistant Manager to spray industrial strength Round-Up along the fence line of the garden to kill the natural barrier that was keeping mice and rabbits in check, as well as being a food source and habit for quail and other birds.  They stood there and watched him spray until they were sure that they had completed their task - killing a four food swath of garden (including part of a children’s garden)before they retreated into their home, and the Assistant Manager could stop! When companies like Monsanto have devotees like these managers, you must fight back with everything in your arsenal of words, actions, and community action to stop them. 

When President Obama was elected, he promised change, but he also said he could not do it alone.  He was right, and we abandoned him when he did not do it alone and instantaneously.  It is up to us to create change - either with a garden continuing on despite attacks against it or a nation under assault by corporate interests.  WE ARE THE CHANGE - AND WE MUST NOW ACT TO CREATE CHANGE!  Copenhagen failed, and failed miserably, so now it is up to us to take up the challenge and to take responsibility for our role in climate change.  WE CAN WAIT FOR CORPORATIONS OR GOVERNMENTS TO ACT - OR WE CAN ACT!  IF WE WAIT, WE LOSE.  IF WE ACT, WE CAN WIN THROUGH HARD WORK AND DILIGENCE. IT IS, AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN, OUR CHOICE!  What is yours?  Mine is teaching, and replacing the damaged plants and soil.  A small act, but one of resistance and determination to create a better world.  What will be your small act today?

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By G.Anderson, July 19, 2010 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

As Mr. Hedges points out in so many words, the plutocracy is not willing to do much of anything to prevent the end of earths habitation by mankind, because they don’t want to give up their political power.

So, change is not possible from the top down, it has to be from the people. People who need to stop consuming, the poison produced by the plutocracy, and eating it’s lies.

When you get cancer, heart disease, degenerative disease, or some sort of mysterious lung disease, it’s much easier to understand how the plutocracy is killing this world. When your own internal biology, is burned, cut or poisoned, your pain and suffering will drive you toward more of an understanding of whats happening to this world,  your biology is just a micrcosm of whats happening globally.

At this point you understand, that your personal survival depends on making choices that reject, the poison produced by the plutocracy, whether it’s GMO’s, HFCS, faulty prescription meds, over the counter poison, SUV’s, etc.

Poison is their only product.

There is also a mental component to this, a poisoning of the mind and emotion, with daily propaganda, delusive commericals, mentally derranged T.V. shows, and radio programs, designed to poison rational thought, just as GMO’s poison what you eat.

If we turn our back on the plutocracy, we can destroy it before it destroys us, not with a bang but a whimper. We can shed our poisoned thinking process, and all the faux psychotropic mental cures, and we need to in order to survive. 

By helping and supporting each other, reaching out a hand, and learning to live simply again.

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By SemiFrost, July 19, 2010 at 7:30 am Link to this comment

I had big hopes for H5N1 and H1N1, especially for the former.  That whole *skipping the immigration checkpoints via winged carriers thing* was brilliant, on nature’s part.  Too bad it didn’t work out.

Right, TobysGirl, the One Percenters will eventually suffer, and figure it out, to some minor extent, way too late.  (After long observance of the way these A-holes operate, however, I figure most will still be blaming it on the blameless).

As to Earth: I only hope some of the more innocent of the planet’s inhabitants will outlive its most destructive species.  But, I fear, once the water wars come - and look for that to first occur in the already more volatile and desperate regions - they’ll start lobbing nukes.

Unfortunately, now that the US is with each passing day more viewed by the nations in the bad game (Pakistan, India, Israel, Russia, China, etc ...) as a deluded, in-hock, dysfunctional and corrupt retard (no offense to mentally impaired and see Congress), rather than an essentially decent global policeman (never actually the case, but image counts), looks like we can bet on that.

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By purrsun, July 19, 2010 at 7:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Look over your heads!

Can’t believe concern for environment has any legitimacy when we have been soaked with chemtrails for the last 15 years. Anybody out there seriously pressing for an explanation? Anybody out there who rationally believes it’s benevolent??

As long as we’re willing to tolerate almost constant poisoning from the skies, why bother to complain about anything else??

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By alyceobvious, July 19, 2010 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

passive and dumb? speak for yourself. offering doomsday scenarios that do more to frighten and DISEMPOWER people is basically the same tactic the right used to get us into this mess.

what follows is an excerpt from my article at entitled SPACESHIP EARTH: NAVIGATORS WANTED. please see the full article here:

“Right this very moment, scientists and citizens who recognize that we are quite a ways down the path that leads to failure – failure of our society to find common ground, and to care for that ground – are in the midst of a teachable moment. And we are bungling it…

Unless we change course…

Scientists, you need to know that when you say “climate change”, many cannot hear you. Demanding that your data is real and that those who doubt are ignorant is only serving to further alienate those you’d hoped to convince. But that’s not to say the situation is hopeless. The issue simply needs to be examined from a different angle…Cut straight to the bottom line: it is pollution that is the problem, not global warming. Pollution may be the cause of global warming, but it is the harmful effect of pollution that we can all see and feel and understand with our own bodies, hearts, and minds….There’s no more time to waste trying to convince us that our actions are responsible for destroying the planet at some arguable rate when it would be so much more efficient to make the case that our actions are very quickly destroying ourselves…Instead of reiterating the problems, assuage peoples’ fears by offering solutions – most importantly, that we can and must build a new foundation for our economy based on that which benefits society as a whole, and not based solely on what’s best for corporations.


1. Not give up. James Lovelock, famed progenitor of the “Gaia Hypotheis” which described planet Earth’s biosphere as one enormous, organism-like system that stayed in delicate balance via an infinite number of intricately connected feedback loops, claims that we are past the point of no return – planet Earth will not be able to support human life for much longer. By giving up hope, we also relinquish any modicum of contentment and peace that may come from striving for that which we know is right. When hope is gone, humanity is lost.

2. Understand the true cost of resources and be willing to pay for them. A few simple shifts would go a long way towards encouraging an overall reduction in resource consumption. Imagine a system (common in many European countries) whereby the less one uses, the less one pays, rather than the other way around. Our current model encourages waste and instills a false sense of value by rewarding the biggest consumers with a discounted price per kilowatt or gallon and by penalizing those who use the least with higher cost per unit.

3. Take it personally. We are all complicit in environmental catastrophe until each and every one of us takes responsibility for our actions. We can’t wait for the perfect legislation or the cheapest, most efficient “green” technology. We must strive everyday to be conscious of how our actions impact our own health and that of our communities and society.

4. Work together. The problems of our society and our environment do not belong solely to the government or to the corporations - we are the government and the corporations. By taking matters into our own hands and pooling our knowledge and expertise, enormous change is possible. Every child and teacher in every classroom across America, every engineer, plumber, doctor, artist, cook, cashier, carpenter – even those out of work – it’s time for us all to unleash our “comprehensive propensities” (as Buckminster Fuller called the human inclination toward creative innovation). We’re going to need all hands on deck to get our little Spaceship Earth back on course.”

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By Dave, July 19, 2010 at 7:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think this is a bit alarmist.

While I agree with the devastating effect of climate change, and the detriment that free market capitalism presents, a lot of evidence contradicts Mr. Hedges’ passionate opinions.

Firstly, with respect to humanity’s “remarkable capacity to kill itself off”, there is much to suggest that the opposite is true. One of the more subtle examples comes from the work of anthropologist Lawrence Keeley who shows that as societies become more industrialized, the rate of death decreases.  More obviously, global population growth directly contradicts the notion that we’re going to extinguish our own species.  Any extrapolation from current climate change to a future extinction event is unfounded: crystal ball gazing is never that accurate.

Secondly, global capitalism - as managed by the “corporate masters” - can only function if there is a large enough base of free (or near free) labour.  The cheap socks you bought at Walmart aren’t the product of some benevolent sock maker that recognizes the need for affordable footwear.  Labourers, such as the ones described in this article, are themselves a kind of capital that companies can’t afford to exterminate.  No matter how avaricious, no company is going to exhaust their supply of cheap labour which, by the way, only increases as population explodes in the poorest parts of the world.  To live the way the extremely wealthy do, or even the way that most of us do in North America for that matter, requires a labour base ten times as large.  Any threat to that base, in so much as it affects our way of life, will be addressed with the utmost gravitas by capitalists the world over - don’t worry.

Overall, the whole “the world is going to end” attitude that’s been on parade in this article, and subsequently in the comments, stems more from a sense of despair (one that I share) than an objective reflection on the facts at hand.  Humanity has survived much in it’s long evolutionary history, including many periods of extreme climate change far worse than anything in the foreseeable future (take the Last Glacial Maximum as an example). The real question of interest is not WILL we emerge from this looming socio-ecological crisis, but rather HOW will we emerge from this looming socio-ecological crisis. 

I’m of the opinion that while most humans will sacrifice other humans in the pursuit of their own goals, humanity itself is wonderfully apt at self-preservation in even the most harsh of circumstances. The next leap for humanity will be to abandon the former in the service of the latter.

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By Ed Lytwak, July 19, 2010 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

The extinction of humans would be a great thing - the best thing that ever happened to this planet - if it were not for the fact that “we” will takes so many (most) other higher life forms with us.  A number of the other comments miss the point, resistance to corporate totalitarianism is a moral duty.  The question is not whether we can save the planet and ourselves but whether we will passively allow our self-destruction to suck the life out of the planet or take the only moral action left to us - resistance.  As Ramzy Baroud has said, “True resistance is a culture.  It is a collective retort to oppression.”  It is time to reclaim what little of our genuine culture remains, to reclaim what humanity remains in us and resist.

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By Anna Nomad, July 19, 2010 at 6:29 am Link to this comment

So the disastrous 10,000-year “experiment” of settled life is about to come to a crashing halt.  So what?  Humankind (with or without the alleged belief in its dominion) has inflicted nothing but horrendous distress and destruction upon the world since the development of agriculture (yes, about 10,000 years).  But why deplore humankind’s imminently cataclysmic fate?  What could possibly be a more appropriate and satisfying outcome?

Our moral obligation is not to life.  Life is not asking us for assistance.  Life is indifferent to the notion of continuity.  Plants and animals and rocks and microbes and glaciers aren’t pleading to exist in perpetuity.  Only we humans, in our anthropocentric frenzy, are demanding that immediate corrective action be taken — for the benefit of us humans, of course.  Smirk.

Our sole moral obligation is to shut up and sit down until our species is annihilated. 

P.S. Keep your ugly fat fingers off the grubs while you’re waiting.

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By Old Man Turtle, July 19, 2010 at 6:20 am Link to this comment
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For all his talent when it comes to describing “the situation,” Mr. Hedges still shies-away (as do the vast majority of the “individual”-ized members of the sub-species homo domesticus) from acknowledging their common condition as nothing but a form of disease.  Sure, it is a particularly awful one, not just threatening but delivering daily on its guaranteed promise of massive suffering and early death, but it’s still just a kind of sickness, and hardly anything “glorious” or even “tragic” in its actual character.  Real Life is happening here, Sisters and Brothers, and not some mere dramatic invention by some disembodied (but paradoxically anal-retentive) “author.”

Another “truth” untouchable here even with a virtual ten-foot-pole is that of our Mother Earth as a sentient Being who can and does act effectively to address imbalances and dis-harmonies in Her Natural Living Arrangement, and who has no interest whatsoever in the conceits and delusions of either ‘gods’ or men who pretend to’ve risen ‘above’ such ‘primitive’ limitations on their behavior and designs.  From Her viewpoint, the current ill-advised assault on Her organic integrity, by ‘alien’ entities employing the blood-soaked ‘hands’ of their bio-engineered domesticated Human slaves, has no “political” or “moral” dimensions at-all, contrary to what well-meaning observers like Mr. Hedges have been taught (and perhaps prefer) to believe.

Neither do many wish to face the natural fact that our Mother is not alone in this.  She has the support of Her own immediate Family (which the institutionally ignorant call “the solar system”), all the Star Nations of The Nourishing Way “galaxy,” and indeed the Whole Living Universe, in Her healing response to what has long been a kind of plague loose in these parts.  Yes, I do mean “civilization” and its tormenting (and tormented) carriers.

In-fact, Earth Herownself, along with us surviving free wild Human Beings and All Our Relations, is the specific Medicine put together by All-Concerned to remedy this illness.  Even our captive Human relations, co-opted and corrupted as they’ve been, like-it-or-lump-it, can’t help but be a part of this therapeutic process.  Humanity is by-nature a component in Her natural immune system. 

Even so, there’s not much use urging those frantically trying to ‘think’ or shoot or buy their way out of the “crisis” (that doesn’t actually exist anyhow except in their own fevered imaginations) to just quit all that foolishness.  All any of ‘em really need (or can) do is to take care of each other and the place where they live-and-breathe every Day.  Of course that’s beyond both the ken and the capability of those so desperately trying (in-vain) to take care of their “selfs.”

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By Tobysgirl, July 19, 2010 at 6:14 am Link to this comment

SemiFrost, I, too, am thankful I did not have children. But I don’t believe the rich and powerful are going to be able to avoid the consequences of their rapaciousness in gated communities; I think they, too, will go the way of all flesh.

If we think for a moment about how we evolved, and how we lived for tens of thousands of years, we can see that “civilization” was never a way of life that served human beings or the planet. I feel most people simply cannot comprehend what is happening to our world; it takes deep intelligence AND emotional maturity to come to grips with what is so complex and horrifying. So while castigating people for their petty concerns, also try to pity them, understanding they would have functioned much better in a community that was Earth- and human-centered rather than hierarchical and exploitative.

I also do not believe we can “kill” the planet. This is once again succumbing to the illusion that we are all-powerful. We can make the planet uninhabitable for ourselves and most other life, over time the planet will heal, and new life forms will explode. We’re just a species that ate OUR future, we’re nothing special, and life goes on.

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By oldhip, July 19, 2010 at 5:49 am Link to this comment

Only those with the funds will be allowed within the domes.

What a nice future we “allowed” ourselves.

Allowed.  Without courage, without protest, without revolt.

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By diman, July 19, 2010 at 5:44 am Link to this comment

To C.CurtisDillon

Unfortunately this state of mind is similar in all of the former republics of the USSR, destroying the Soviet State gave birth to a new generation of consumers, the Russian kind, the most perverted kind. And they don’t give a shit about the climate change, it has been nearly 20 years since the destruction of the Soviet State and these people are still more concerned about the way they look, about the car they drive and whether they can finally move to the “elite” neighborhood.

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By SemiFrost, July 19, 2010 at 4:57 am Link to this comment

As usual, Hedges (or as I like to call him: *The Prince of Doom*)  has got it right.  And, as usual, you come away from his column with further affirmation that we are screwed, in a universally existential way.

The only movement occurrence that would stand even the remotest chance of slowing (forget heading off entirely) what we are now in for would be a major domestic upheaval in the US and China (read riots in the streets).

But that ain’t gonna happen.

The environmental apocalypse in the Gulf, and all the evil corporate / government malfeasance that produced it, is not even registering with, my guess, 90 percent of the US public.  Yeah, they think it’s a *bad thing,* but most are too ignorant and/or too preoccupied with just trying to survive, or they are fat and happy in Wall Street dreamland.

As for China:  I lived there 4.5 years, and know how the government and citizens think / react / operate.  Forget it.  It is now a totalitarian corporatist state, and the middle class has not a clue – just looking to buy their first or next car, head to dinner, leave most of the food to waste, berate the hapless migrant worker waitress, earning maybe US$2.00 for her shift, just for a good time.

No positive move will be coming from that side of the world.

We’re going down the tubes.  No stopping it now.

Protect yourself and those who matter to you.  Not sure how that can be accomplished.  If you are in New Zealand, or a similarly fertile and mainly agricultural land, you may have a good shot.

New York?  Chicago? ... Even San Francisco, when the shelves and produce sections of the supermarkets start going barren, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

The pisser is: The top 1 percent will be setup and ready.  Fenced off and protected from the rabble they created, food supply secured.  And they’ll still be happy with themselves.

Very glad I do not have children.

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By ThaddeusStevens, July 19, 2010 at 4:39 am Link to this comment

Planning is the key here; until governments admit that they are the only ones with the legitimate duty to plan we are stuck as a society with the chaotic decision making that our Congress displays. However, the average person makes daily decisions too. Those decisions add up and contribute to the outcome of a society’s actions. I live in the Detroit, Michigan area.

1. What if hundreds or thousands of folks turned to the local transit system one morning for a ride to work instead of getting in their cars?
2. What if hundreds or thousands of people turned to their neighbors and asked for a ride, instead of getting in their car?
3. What if thousands of people in other cities across North America did this?

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By kerryrose, July 19, 2010 at 4:32 am Link to this comment

Corporations have seen the writing on the wall, even if they don’t admit it in public.

Maude Barlow says, ‘It is evident that the world is moving toward a corporate-controlled freshwater cartel, backed by governments and global institutions, making fundamental decisions about who has access to water and under what conditions.’

There has been successful resistance in the water justice movement; the indigenous people of Cochabamba, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile.

It has taken the organization and resistance of civil society groups, however, and in this country no one has the stomach for resistance… just denial.

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By Fat Freddy, July 19, 2010 at 4:26 am Link to this comment

The human race is doomed. We will all burn in the fires of Hell.

Save the planet, my ass. Just more arrogant, self righteous bullshit. We can’t even take care of the poor and less fortunate, and now we’re supposed to save the planet? Save the planet for whom, the bourgeois, liberal, middle class who are only looking for a clean place to drive their Volvos and surf the net on their iPads, and worry that someday, they may be personally inconvenienced? What’s worse, is they want to use the power of government to protect us from ourselves. The same way that the government protects us from terrorists, illegal immigrants, communists, drugs, Rock-and-Roll music, trans fat, salt, and fish pedicures. Meanwhile, all of the companies that manufacture and provide these renewable energies, will become just as big, and powerful as the evil oil, natural gas, and coal companies.

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By SoTexGuy, July 19, 2010 at 3:38 am Link to this comment

Hedges is spot on.. Unfortunately, so probably is Mr. Dillon!

There’s a terrific suite of articles up on MJ that adds a lot of info and insight into our problems, from a different perspective than just emissions and so-on. And the author is a splendid writer.

Check it out:


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By Samson, July 19, 2010 at 3:36 am Link to this comment

Most people do not realize how advanced ‘climate change’ is already.

Think about it this way.  Its the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere that causes global warming.  People act like if we cut emissions today, we’d stop or slow down global warming.  This is not true.  We already have sufficient greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere to cause global warming.

There is some rate at which greenhouse gasses are removed naturally from the atmosphere.  Way, way back, we crossed that line and started emitting more gasses than this, thus causing the concentration of such gasses in the atmosphere to begin to rise.

To stop climate change, we would need to lower our emissions to LOWER than this loss rate, and thus start to lower the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. 

Groups like show charts of one greenhouse gas, CO2, and its concentration in the atmosphere.  Look at such a graph, then find the point, a very long time ago, when this concentration began to rise.  To stop or even slow down global warming, we need to reduce our level of emissions of greenhouse gasses to below what we used to way back when this graph line started to rise.  Or maybe even lower than that, since we’ve destroyed many, many CO2 absorbing forests since those very old days.

The greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere trap heat in the atmosphere.  This is heat that used to escape back into space.  As long as the concentration continues at this level, then the heating of the earth continues at this same rate.  And, as we continue to emit more gh gasses than can be absorbed, what we are doing is continuing to increase the rate at which the temperature rises.

Survival of the human race requires planning, forethought and cooperation.  Today’s mass competitive world where every person tries to look out for only themselves will lead to a hell on earth.  A hell on a hot earth with too many people and not nearly enough energy.  Unless we work together, this is where we are headed.

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By bogi666, July 19, 2010 at 2:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anyone who thinks that Americans will forsake being narcissistic,consumerist, gluttons of mindlessness is a fool or smoking something. With government, business[ads]and pretend christain churches with false doctrines all preaching mindlessness to a citizenry of ignorant, gullible, illiterate and intellectually lazy fools. A Republican Party that broadcast that the unemployed are lazy while demanding their vote, political donations all in the same breath and/or the preachers calling their congregations of fool foul names while begging for donations at the same time and the fools give them money. A politician calling those whom pay taxes lazy pay not only their salaries but also fund the graft and corruption that they announce with glee publicly telling the public they can’t do anything about it. Expecting Americans to do anything that would interfere with their god given rights of narcissism, consumerism and gluttony better face reality, it’s just not going to happen.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, July 19, 2010 at 1:52 am Link to this comment

It’s a nice article, Chris, but you are screaming into the wind.  Most people are just not interested in making the changes needed.  Everyone here in Ukraine wants a car more than almost anything else.  They will go to extreme lengths to get one, even using their flats as collateral for the loan.  The same applies throughout the world.  The car is the ultimate symbol of freedom.  No one is prepared to deflate their expectations and to reduce their footprint.  If they get money, they immediately start buying more toys and wasting more energy.  It is, unfortunately, human nature to destroy ourselves through our greed and stupidity.  They will not change until it is too late.

As Derrick Jensen says, we will all be reduced to living in a cave and beating each other with rocks pretty soon as that is the only sustainable way for humans to live.  And you are right ... many will die in the coming climate catastrophe and collapse of the fossil fuel economy.  Without all the cheap energy, we will be unable to provide even the basics of life.  Think how dependent the world’s food supply is on oil and gas.  When they disappear, many will starve for lack of access to food which will be very expensive and scarce.

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