The Cult of the Professional Class

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

— Albert Einstein

In a recent interview on about his book Listen Liberal, author Thomas Frank spoke of the professional class that rules the Democratic Party and the orthodoxy instilled in them by their Ivy League institutions. Indeed, every president since 1988 attended an Ivy League university. Not only does this perspective from the professional class cross party lines, their orthodox worldview extends far beyond politics. It is based on an ideology that has served elites well – (semi) free-market capitalism and continuous economic growth. It is an orthodoxy that values corporate interests and personal gain over public good. It permeates all fields of society and American culture.

In their book Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky laid out the media propaganda model of journalism, in which they describe the small parameters of discourse allowable in mainstream media, due to factors such as advertising, corporate ownership, and the dominant elite mindset. The media propaganda model they describe is akin to the Ivy League orthodoxy of which Frank speaks. Disciplines cater to a small span of acceptable dialogue and thought based upon shared assumptions. Within that realm, diversity exists, but that diversity does not usually breach understood boundaries. Some voices reach the periphery of the border, but retract from crossing the line through caveats. Those who traverse boundaries tend to be marginalized, regardless of the substance, depth, and validity of their arguments and ideas. This orthodoxy is maintained chiefly through tacit self-censorship and is internalized by those who practice it.

The professional, upper-class orthodoxy infiltrates more than just Ivy League institutions because all others revere and aspire to it, and therefore tend to mimic it. My educational background is fairly privileged. My secondary school and undergraduate university were filled with students whose families possessed tremendous wealth, power, and advantage. My perspectives, experiences, and way of life from my modest, middle-class background were quite different from the majority of the rich students around me. People like me are subtly urged to fit in because we see that doing so would better enable us to garner the successes of the elite. But students far more disadvantaged than me have a great deal of trouble assimilating, not because they lack the intellectual ability but because they feel isolated. Thus, most who persist and whose backgrounds are anomalous – like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – adopt the mindset of the privileged. They deny or ignore their own histories and the voices they used to hear, voices that may call into question the veracity of the elite orthodoxy.

This elite-generated social control maintains the status-quo because the status quo benefits and validates those who created and sit atop it. People rise to prominence when they parrot the orthodoxy rather than critically analyze it. Intellectual regurgitation is prized over independent thought. Voices of the dispossessed, different, and un(formally)educated are neglected regardless of their morality, import, and validity. Real change in politics or society cannot occur under the orthodoxy because if it did, it would threaten the legitimacy of the professional class and all of the systems that helped them achieve their status.

The orthodoxy is why issues such as poverty, hunger, homelessness, and deterioration of public health and the environment continue unabated. They are eminently solvable, but cannot be solved under the implicit and often defective assumptions accepted by the orthodoxy.

We see examples of orthodox rules that benefit the capitalistic elite, versus independent alternatives which are discounted or overlooked, in all aspects of modern life:

In public education:

Most privileged members of society have never set foot in a public school or taught under the mandates therein. They have little appreciation for the teaching profession, which is filled with intelligent, overworked, over-stressed, caring and devoted individuals who are crippled by lack of resources, lack of time, lack of money, and lack of autonomy. The elite create their unsound educational policies without practical knowledge and evidence – policies which (one could only assume at this point) exist to crumble the public education system and pave the way for privatization. Charter schools, common core, endless standardized testing, and erroneous teacher evaluations do not support the needs of students. The acolytes of the professional class have no clue about what is best for students, particularly students with socioeconomic hardships they cannot and do not fathom. Social support systems for students outside of the classroom, equivalent funding for all students in all public schools, teacher independence, administrative support for teachers, higher teacher pay, and smaller class sizes would do well to tackle some of the fundamental problems in public education, but these out-of-the-box solutions undermine elite authority and corporate prospects. In a similar vein, technological devices – computers, tablets, etc. – have been pushed relentlessly into classrooms, even though their enhancement of learning, according to studies, is questionable or nonexistent.

In economics:

Even Alan Greenspan admits that neoclassical economics has flaws in theory and practice, yet it continues to be the dominant model at universities and in society. The faulty belief in the uber-rational, self-interested homo economicus probably persists mainly because it is a projection of the people who inhabit the privileged class. Corporate externalization of costs are absorbed by society and forgotten when heralding the successes of industrialists and capitalists. Resource extraction and environmental degradation, which are part and parcel of production, consumption, and consequently, economic growth, are downplayed or ignored. Talk of a basic income, a maximum income or maximum wage, and wealth distribution (except flowing to the top) are left out of practical discourse. This, despite that way back in the oft-mentioned halcyon days of the 1950’s under Eisenhower, the top marginal income tax rate was over 90% and the rich did not seem to suffer a bit from it. That tax rate, effectively a maximum income, could support needed social programs and infrastructure and redistribute wealth to those who have spend the past three decades (at least) earning far less than their rightfully owed compensation given their abundant productivity. But such ideas are considered ludicrous according to the orthodoxy.

In health care and medicine:

The orthodoxy of medicine is to emphasize treatment over prevention. Though increasingly stressed during the past several decades, preventative techniques focus on personal lifestyle factors and rarely account for systemic issues. American medicine tends to deal in proximal causes of diseases, such as changes in physiology, versus distal causes, such as extrinsic factors responsible for the changes in the physiology. For instance, you go to the doctor for newly acquired migraine headaches and receive medicine to lessen the pain. Medicine is a helpful immediate remedy, but you may never get to the real cause, which is the fact that you have new carpeting in your home that is outgassing toxic substances resulting in your having headaches. Industrial causes of disease like pollution and toxic exposure are not commonly accounted for under the dominant orthodoxy. In psychology, social factors are discounted, so depression and anxiety are treated as individual mental health issues rather than stemming from an unjust and untenable society. If you are not on prescription medications for something, you are quite atypical, because health care is a business and always needs new markets under the orthodoxy. In medicine, there is also the disregard for unnecessary and questionable interventions. For example, use of CT scans proliferated before enough adequate research as to their safety and efficacy. Consequently, studies have found that excessive use of CT scans may now result in preventable cancers in at least 1 out of 2000 people undergoing CT. But rather than further understanding the body’s innate ability to heal itself in many situations and rather than utilizing the comprehensive knowledge of well-learned critical diagnosticians, medicine now over-uses technological and pharmaceutical diagnostic and treatment methods. Though these sometimes harm patients more than they help, they serve to enhance capitalism and expand economic markets.

In fiction:

Writers such as George Orwell, John Steinbeck, Sinclair Lewis and Upton Sinclair, who shed light on the ills of society and the reality of the human condition, would probably not be published today. While dystopian fiction – especially science fiction and fantasy – is quite popular, look more closely and you will find that these novels, while characterizing some of the unpleasant realities of modern society, almost always end on a bright note with hope for the future. The benefits of technology are triumphed and the negative consequences minimized. Positivity is mandated. Narratives are about escape and denial. Protagonists are heroes who almost always save the day. I recently finished the popular Ready Player One, and while it demonstrates some societal issues, each time the protagonist faces an immediate, dire situation, he manages to overcome the obstacle, often because of simple coincidence or blind providence. The tragic heroes in Shakespeare and other classic works, who are doomed to die in the end but are always better for the knowledge and experience gained, are no more. What message is sent when heroes magically overcome obstacles instead of learning lessons about themselves and their world? This narrative orthodoxy of novels also pertains to most fictional films and television series. (Though some cable shows like The Wire, Breaking Bad, and Mr. Robot seem to be puzzling exceptions.)

capitalism poverty

In environment:

Market-driven, corporate-friendly, and technological solutions to environmental issues dominate the discourse in environmental programs, in the largest environmental advocacy organizations, and in governmental policies. On the topics of climate change, toxic contamination, and pollution, questioning the necessity or sustainability of ever-increasing production and consumption is forbidden in polite company. In a panel conversation I attended about sustainability in agriculture, the discussion turned to ways of feeding a growing world population. Everyone agreed that the problem is not caused by a scarcity of food but by unequal distribution, but no one on the panel seemed to think that fact merited practical consideration. Furthermore, since at least 1/3 of food produced in the world is wasted, addressing the waste stream might mark a point at which to intervene in the problem, but the idea was scoffed at. Pragmatic discussion and research on the issue of food usually assumes the current industrial farming model. Ideas about small, independent, localized, organic systems of food growth and distribution, though favored more and more by consumers and shown in studies to be the sole sustainable method for the future, are not recognized as policy solutions by the orthodoxy. Home gardens, as anyone who tends one knows, could sustain many families fairly easily, but those require land and land is not given away for free under capitalist orthodoxy. Also, they require time, which overworked and underpaid citizens (who are even able to find work) are not allowed to have. So a system of universal gardening is not even considered. As far as toxic substances, one cannot suggest banning an unnecessary and potentially hazardous product or technology. The controversial endocrine disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) probably does not need to exist at all, as its applications are mostly superfluous to our lives, but not only are policymakers reluctant to regulate it, if they do, they will only apply the mandate of “safe levels” of exposure, even if there is no way to truly determine or evaluate a safe level for human health or the environment. Though there is no credible evidence to support the notion that limiting exposures to hazardous substances, that techno-fixes, or that “win-win” market driven solutions to environmental problems can be at all sustainable in the long-term, these are the only acceptable answers to pollution, climate change, and environmental degradation available within the orthodoxy.

Much is taken as a given under the orthodoxy; instead we might consider:

Why can’t all trade be fair trade?

Why can’t all crops be organic? Two corollaries: why do we call pesticide-laden crops “conventional” rather than “poisoned”? Why not call “organic” food just “food,” as it was prior to the petro-chemical revolution?

Why is single-payer universal healthcare, the model in most countries throughout the world, not discussed in U.S. congressional hearings on healthcare reform?

Why do we automatically denigrate poverty? Why do we not heed stories from the poor themselves?

Why is democracy celebrated as a political structure while only hierarchy is allowed in the workplace?

Why can we not question the ethical implications of wealth and excess with regard to economic inequality or environmental sustainability? Why does our dominant Judeo-Christian society value wealth and excess despite scripture clearly stating its immorality?

Why can we not factually declare the immorality of Wall Street and the general obscenity of commodifying basic necessities of life, such as food, water, and homes (real estate)?

Why is the work ethic venerated, even when that hard work may be only self-serving, or worse, may be generating tremendous harm? What’s the use of being constantly “busy” if your busyness is not useful (and may be destructive)?

Why do we not consider the direct and indirect ways our occupations – and the organizations from which we earn money and power – exploit other species, other humans, and the environment as a whole? What might happen if we were all to do so?

Why do we equate wealth – rather than empathy or altruism – with intelligence and success?

Why can we not fundamentally question capitalism?

The Ivy League-derived orthodoxy of the professional, educated class saturates all areas of American society. Alternative voices and viewpoints are ostracized through a number of means. If you do not possess the expertise and stamp of approval as authorized by the academic infrastructure, your ideas are often dismissed out of hand, however profound and substantive. If you posses the authorization to speak, but step outside of the boundaries of permissible thought (and action), your voice will remain virtually meaningless, or worse, maligned. While scholarship, research, writing, and practices outside of orthodox parameters exist at universities and in other professions, the work of these professionals does not generally penetrate the paradigms of larger society, nor does it affect large-scale public policies. Some academics suffer job loss for their unorthodox views. Steven Salita, Norman Finkelstein, and Ward Churchill are emblematic of the consequences to those who exceed the limits. Whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, John Kirakou, and Thomas Drake who began within the parameters, for moral and ethical reasons violated the border of orthodoxy and paid a price. Environmental, social justice, peace and animal rights advocates like Tim DeChristopher and Jessica Reznicek also know the penalties for defying the orthodoxy.

Our biosphere is in a global death spiral. The sources of life support, for those who can still afford them, are diminishing in quality and quantity. None of the orthodoxy coming from the Ivies and the professional class is effecting change in this trajectory. We need other voices – voices of the disposed, disenfranchised, maligned, harmed, victimized, and powerless – to help find answers. We need to value voices of the indigenous, who have lived as close to sustainably on this planet as we have ever witnessed and whose traditions and knowledge may well be fading into oblivion. We need to respect the voices of those whose knowledge comes from experience, rather than just from books. We need to consider the voices of those whose main purpose is not professional advancement, but public good. We need to consider information from others based on the merits of their arguments and evidence, rather than the letters that follow their names.

Perhaps the worst aspect of the orthodoxy is that we cannot truly speak to that fact that humanity is no longer facing the downfall of a single nation or the destruction of a single empire, but the decimation of an entire planetary ecosystem. If we do not challenge the cabal of political and social power in America and around the world, it will likely be the death knell for us all.


Leonardo DiCaprio Devotes Oscars Speech to Climate Change

Leonardo DiCaprio at the Oscars in 2016. (photo: EcoWatch)

Leonardo DiCaprio at the Oscars in 2016. (photo: EcoWatch)

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch, 29 February 16
Source: Readers Supported News

After six nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar for Best Actor for his role in The Revenant at last night’s Academy Awards. The noted environmental activist devoted half of his acceptance speech to call for urgent collective action to fight climate change, calling it “the most urgent threat facing our species.”

The 41-year-old actor, who was favored to win the Oscar and had swept the Best Actor category in every major award show leading up to the Academy Awards, first thanked the cast and crew in his speech and then shined a spotlight on a his passion project.

Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history,” he said, describing how the entire production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet in Argentina just to be able to find snow.

“Climate change is real, it is happening right now,” DiCaprio continued. “It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”

He also spoke about the need to support leaders who fight the biggest polluters, as well as the need to stand up for the rights of indigenous people and for the “billions and billions of underprivileged people” affected by a warming planet.

“For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much,” he concluded.

DiCaprio’s speech was given a standing ovation by the star-studded audience at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

The Revenant, which was nominated for 12 Oscars—more than any other film this year—took home two other awards at Sunday’s ceremony, including one for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. The entire cast and crew braved the elements and faced extreme weather conditions in locations such as Mexico, Argentina, British Columbia and Alberta.

DiCaprio, who played fur trapper and legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass in the film, made similar comments at previous awards ceremonies about the The Revenant‘s grisly filming conditions.

“We shot at high altitudes in Calgary, and weather conditions were unprecedented,” DiCaprio said backstage after taking home a Screen Actors Guild Award last month.

DiCaprio, who is working on a documentary about climate change, told reporters at the SAG awards, “We are in the process of changing our climate for tens of thousands if not millions of years at this very moment, so this is a very significant turning point for me to witness it first-hand while doing this movie and simultaneously doing the documentary, and it’s absolutely, absolutely terrifying.”

As EcoWatch reported, DiCaprio saw the impacts of climate change first hand while traveling to film the documentary. He was “astonished to see that ancient glaciers” in Greenland and the Arctic are “rapidly disappearing well ahead of scientific models.” In India, he saw farmers’ fields devastated by unprecedented flooding. He said we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, urged business leaders to divest from fossil fuels and pushed for a rapid transition to renewables.

DiCaprio is so passionate about environmental issues, that he recently told The Sunday Times (via the Mirror) that he once considered saying bye-bye to Hollywood to focus on environmental issues full-time instead.

“I had a friend say, ‘Well, if you’re really this passionate about environmentalism, quit acting,’” he said. “But you soon realize that one hand shakes the other, and being an artist gives you a platform. Not that necessarily people will take anything that I say seriously, but it gives you a voice.”

The longtime environmental advocate formed his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998 to protect biodiversity and threatened ecosystems. DiCaprio—who urges a “transition to a clean energy economy that does not rely on fossil fuels”—is a United Nations Messenger of Peace and played an active role at the Paris climate talks, urging mayors and governors to “commit to no less than 100 percent renewable energy as soon as possible.”

Last month, DiCaprio and Pope Francis met at Vatican City to have a conversation focused on how they can work together to address the immediate need for major action to stop the devastating impacts of climate change.

Watch and read DiCaprio’s full Oscars speech below.

“Thank you all so very much. Thank you to the Academy, thank you to all of you in this room. I have to congratulate the other incredible nominees this year. The Revenant was the product of the tireless efforts of an unbelievable cast and crew. First off, to my brother in this endeavor, Mr. Tom Hardy. Tom, your talent on screen can only be surpassed by your friendship off screen… thank you for creating a transcendent cinematic experience. Thank you to everybody at Fox and New Regency … my entire team. I have to thank everyone from the very onset of my career … To my parents, none of this would be possible without you. And to my friends, I love you dearly, you know who you are.

“And lastly I just want to say this: Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much.”

Environmental Terrorists Meet In Paris


Activists of global anti-poverty charity Oxfam, wearing masks depicting some of the world leaders, stage a protest ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, known as the COP21 summit, in Paris, France, November 28, 2015. (photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

Activists of global anti-poverty charity Oxfam, wearing masks depicting some of the world leaders, stage a protest ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, known as the COP21 summit, in Paris, France, November 28, 2015. (photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News – 03 December 15


World “leaders” hold world hostage, no release seen soon


Maybe that sub-head is too bleak, maybe it’s unjustified, maybe there is an invisible political will to survive more than the next fiscal quarter or election. If COP21, the UN climate conference that began November 30, actually manages to provide some reason to believe the world will not continue to stumble deliberately toward self-incineration, that would beat present expectations. But even that unlikely result would be far short of the profound changes needed to prevent the world from heating more than the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) already considered inevitable – and calamitous.

COP21 stands for the 21st session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty established in 1992 (at the Rio Earth Summit) “to consider what they could do to limit global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with its impacts.” Like the UN, UNFCCC is dominated by the richest and most powerful countries, whose perceived interests give little weight to the needs of the poorest or most vulnerable countries. 

That underlying structural problem of power imbalance is amplified at COP21 by sheer numbers. COP 21 has at least 36,276 registered individual participants. Of these, 23,161 people represent 198 countries (two of which are only observers). There are another 1,236 observer organizations, including 36 units of the UN, 71 intergovernmental organizations, and 1,109 non-governmental organizations, altogether represented by 9,411 people. And there are 1,366 media organizations with 3,704 registered participants. All of them (and all of us) will have to slog through jargon and Orwellian language which have the effect of obscuring meaning, not exposing it. 

The official goal of this gathering of world leaders is: “COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.”

COP21 is theatre of the absurd, diverting the frogs as the water boils

What passes for global “leadership” has already pissed away more than three decades since climate change was identified as a clear and present danger to life on earth. Even now the world’s leaders appear content to lounge in their comfortable bubbles of denial of reality and conflicts of interest that reinforce that useful denial. We live in a time when shameful leaders almost everywhere appear to lack the capacity for shame, much less the capacity to change their shameful behavior.

They aim to achieve a legally binding agreement on climate? If they wanted a legally binding agreement, or even an agreement that worked, they would have had one long since. 

They aim to achieve a universal agreement on climate? They don’t need a universal agreement on climate, they need only to agree among the powerful few and the agreement would then be universal.  

Those making a globe-saving agreement unlikely, if not impossible, are the ones who brought the globe to the climate brink in the first place. These are the governments that have for decades subsidized their oil and coal companies, whose social conscience is exemplified by Exxon. Almost 40 years ago, in 1977, Exxon learned that carbon dioxide produced by burning oil and gas was warming the planet and could threaten humanity. Exxon immediately blew the whistle – on sharing that information. Continuing to accept government subsidies, Exxon poured millions of dollars into a decades-long disinformation campaign debunking the climate change it knew to be real. In effect, even after the government knew through other sources about global warming, government continued to subsidize Exxon’s possibly criminal lies to the government and the public. Forbes magazine defends Exxon, arguing that Exxon was right because global warming has increased more slowly than predicted by some.

Corporate polluters embedded in UNFCCC (go ahead, pronounce it)

Exxon and its ilk have long had a heavy hand in UN activities to address climate change and they are well-represented at COP21. It is not in their interest to have the conference reach an enforceable and universal agreement, because most of their corporate assets are oil and coal in the ground and they can’t cash in on the value of those assets without burning them, no matter what they do to the planet. 

When a society, in this case a global society, sets out to confront criminal behavior, if they’re serious, they don’t convene a conference of criminals. Assuming that planetary destruction is at least a crime against humanity (this is controversial in some circles) what earthly sense does it make to have the world’s global plunderers, governmental and corporate, choose themselves to figure out how to reduce their plunder without reducing their profits and power?

Having absolute authority to take ameliorative steps on their own initiative, the plunderers swamp the credulous media with claims that an unwieldy conference with a track record of 23 years of failure is the only possible way to find a solution to the dangers of climate change. To emphasize that opinion, the plunderers exclude the most articulate voices against plunder from their conference. Those are the lucky ones. The less lucky are deposed by military coup and jailed, while the US is quick to recognize the coup government of the Maldives as it promptly issues offshore oil leases, showing their willingness to see their own people drown sooner or later. Like the Marshall Islands (under US “protection”), the Maldives are a looming test case of whether the world prefers long term humanity over short term profit. 

The Marshall Islands were the subject of a long, lavishly illustrated page one piece in the December 2 New York Times fatalistically headlined “Pacific Island Nation Struggles Against Relentless Rising Sea (and worse online: “The Marshall Islands Are Disappearing”). The story is strangely disconnected from COP21, as if assuming there’s nothing that can be done to save the Marshall Islands. The Times even characterizes foreign minister Tony A. deBrum as somewhat unconcerned with saving his country:  

Mr. deBrum’s focus is squarely on the West’s wallets – recouping “loss and damage,” in negotiators’ parlance, for the destruction wrought by the rich nations’ industrial might on the global environment. Many other low-lying nations are just as threatened by rising seas.… But the Marshall Islands holds an important card: Under a 1986 compact, the roughly 70,000 residents of the Marshalls, because of their long military ties to Washington, are free to emigrate to the United States, a pass that will become more enticing as the water rises on the islands’ shores.

Speaking, as it typically does, in the voice of the plundering class, the Times frames the destruction of a sovereign nation in terms of issues that matter to the plunderers: they want our money, and they want to come here – the horror. But the full moral squalor of the Times as plunderer mouthpiece comes later. The Times describes neighborhoods in the Marshall Islands that already suffer periodic flooding with salt water and raw sewage, followed by sickness and disease, fever and dysentery, in a cycle that will only repeat more quickly as warming continues. Such health conditions would be forbidden in the US. The Times, sounding like Marie Antoinette with the monstrous detachment of the rich and unaffected, worries only that Marshall Islanders “could see their homes unfit for human habitation within the coming decades.”

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu”

The plunderers also ban peaceful protest against plundering, using the “terrorism” threat as an excuse to prevent protest against the eco-terrorism of the plunderers. When the plunderers’ gag on free speech is met with non-violent protest, the plunderers’ police respond with a violent put down and 200 arrests. This is Paris now. The local police state also used the “terrorism” smear to raid the homes of climate change activists, putting them in house arrest without charges. French President François Hollande, a head of a leading plunderer state, lied about the police actions this way:

This is why these protests are not authorized. We knew there would be troublemakers, who by the way have nothing to do with climate activists, or those who want the conference to succeed, and who are there only to create problems. That’s why they were put under house arrest. And it’s doubly unfortunate, I’d even say scandalous, Place de la Republique, where there are all these flowers and also candles placed in memory of those who were killed by the bullets of terrorists.

While Hollande’s first remarks are commonly dishonest, unprovable smears of unnamed and uncharged citizens, his last remark is a callous, demagogic lie. Video of the police attack shows that the memorial at the Place de la Republique was protected by the protesters and trashed by the police.

As with past UN climate meetings, peaceful protesters have been kept away from the eyes and ears of registered participants. What does it say about the participants’ arguments about climate change to see that they need police to protect them from counter-arguments? As one protester said, commenting on their exclusion from any meaningful part in the process: “If you’re not at the table, you are on the menu. So, we want to be at the table.”

Do the people at the table care what happens after they’re dead?

If the people at the table actually thought and felt in global terms, if they actually thought and felt in generational terms, they could not possibly act as they do, fecklessly, ineffectively, self-servingly and soullessly. Their terrorism is magnitudes larger than the “terrorism” they pretend to “protect” us against with their creeping totalitarian controls. If it were otherwise, there would not be so many casualties among climate change action advocates. Another such excluded expert is Pablo Solon, a former chief negotiator for Bolivia, now denied a seat at the table. He went to Paris to protest against the scripted charade of COP21, where there is no negotiation of unenforceable national promises to reduce emissions. Perhaps the conference would be better named COP-OUT21, if Solon is right:  

There is an official document from the UNFCCC that says,… we are going to be increasing the temperature between 2.7 to 3.9 degrees Celsius…. And now to be speaking about [global warming of] four degrees or five degrees Celsius is, to put it in other terms, to burn the planet. So the Paris agreement is an agreement that will see the planet burn.

For that prediction to be wrong, our global “leaders” need to change their behavior in radical ways that they have so far shown every intention of resisting. More likely Paris is another sham. It’s as if a ship captain with a vessel taking on water demands that the crew bail faster, and viciously punishes anyone trying to plug the hole. Faced with the need to reverse course to avoid calamity, the captains of our ships of state have gathered to discuss only the possibility of slowing down, while maintaining the same course.

    • 50% of the world’s population, the poorer half, cause only 10% of greenhouse gas emissions.


  • 10% of the world’s population, the richest 10%, cause almost 50% of greenhouse gas emissions.   

The plunderers show little interest in sacrificing their wealth to save the poor, or the planet. Among US presidential candidates so far, only Bernie Sanders has acknowledged that climate change is the most serious national security issue this (or any other) country faces. His campaign is predicated on the possibility of a political revolution from below, which might allow the possibility of US actions consistent with protecting the planet. It’s not that the ways to protect the planet are unknown or unachievable. But the best ways to protect the planet – especially keeping fossil fuels in the ground – are fundamentally unacceptable to those whose present interests are in conflict with efforts to keep the planet from burning. And the plunderers still control the game at the top.

Climate Change Poised to Push 100 Million Into “Extreme Poverty” by 2030

Already, global warming is sparking higher agricultural prices; increasing 'natural hazards' such as heat waves, droughts and floods; and exacerbating public health issues. (photo: World Bank/Flickr)

Already, global warming is sparking higher agricultural prices; increasing ‘natural hazards’ such as heat waves, droughts and floods; and exacerbating public health issues. (photo: World Bank/Flickr)

By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams-10 November 15

Source: Reader Supported News

Adding urgency to the call for bold emissions cuts and a radical rethinking of the global economy, a new report from the World Bank warns that human-caused climate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty within just 15 years.

Entitled “Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty,” the World Bank’s study differs from previous efforts by looking at the poverty impacts of climate change at the household level, rather than at the level of national economies.

Already, global warming is sparking higher agricultural prices; increasing “natural hazards” such as heat waves, droughts and floods; and exacerbating public health issues, the report states. Without “immediate” adoption of mitigation, adaptation and emission-reduction policies, the World Bank cautions that rising greenhouse gases—and temperatures—will continue to ravage vulnerable populations, dragging them further into poverty.

The bank’s most recent estimate puts the number of people currently living in extreme poverty at 702 million or 9.6 percent of the world’s population.

“Poor people and poor countries are exposed and vulnerable to all types of climate-related shocks—natural disasters that destroy assets and livelihoods; waterborne diseases and pests that become more prevalent during heat waves, floods or droughts; crop failure from reduced rainfall; and spikes in food prices that follow extreme weather events,” it reads. “Climate-related shocks also affect those who are not poor but remain vulnerable and can drag them into poverty—for example, when a flood destroys a micro-enterprise, a drought decimates a herd or contaminated water makes a child sick.”

For example, the report states that by 2030, crop yield losses could mean that food prices would be 12 percent higher on average in Sub-Saharan Africa. “The strain on poor households, who spend as much as 60 percent of their income on food, could be acute,” the World Bank declares. Meanwhile, in India alone, an additional 45 million people could be pushed over the poverty line by 2030, primarily due to agricultural shocks and increased incidence of disease.

To combat these devastating impacts, Shock Waves recommends implementing a combination of:

    • rapid, inclusive and climate-informed development and targeted adaptation interventions to cope with the short-term impacts of climate change; and


  • pro-poor mitigation policies to limit long-term impacts and create an environment that allows for global prosperity and the sustainable eradication of poverty.

“The report demonstrates that ending poverty and fighting climate change cannot be done in isolation—the two will be much more easily achieved if they are addressed together,” said Stephane Hallegatte, a senior economist at the World Bank who led the team that prepared the report.

Among the report’s specific recommendations are to improve health care systems and access; help households at all income levels gain access to financial instruments for risk management; and provide social protections to help support poor people affected by disasters or environmental and economic shocks.

Noting that “there is still too often a disconnect between bank research and its own practices,” the head of Oxfam International’s Washington office, Nicolas Mombrial, on Monday urged the global financial institution “to heed its own warnings and support equitable, low carbon development” and “promote community resilience to climate change through its policies and programs.”

Furthermore, he said, the report adds further credence to the call for an ambitious agreement to come out of the upcoming COP21 climate talks in Paris. “Any climate deal must commit countries to making their greenhouse gas cuts more aggressive and help vulnerable countries to adapt to climate impacts,” Mombrial said. “It must also promote clean growth by dramatically increasing public finance, building on the yearly $100 billion already promised by 2020.”

“This report further highlights what Oxfam has been warning for many years: climate change is exacerbating inequality and hurting poor people first and worst,” Mombrial concluded. “To effectively solve the climate crisis we must simultaneously tackle the root causes of poverty and hunger globally.”

Hot Takes: The Top Climate Change Reporting of the Past Year

An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland near the arctic circle. (John McConnico/AP)

An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland near the arctic circle. (John McConnico/AP)

A compilation of some of the best journalism in the months leading up to Barack Obama’s historic action to address climate change.

Last week, President Obama unveiled the Clean Power Plan, a pillar of his legacy project and his most ambitious exercise of executive authority to combat climate change. The proposed regulations are designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by almost a third from 2005 levels within the next 15 years. The potential for the biggest climate change victory in years follows a banner year for climate change journalism. We’ve compiled some of the best stories:

How Climate Change Will End Wine As We Know It

BuzzFeed, November 2014

Harvest of Change

Des Moines Register, September 2014

Iowa farmers are facing pressures from all sides to do something about climate change, and even those who don’t believe in it are being forced to respond. The federal government wants to prevent fertilizers used on Midwestern farms from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. Big box retailers want protection against price shocks. Meanwhile, Iowa farmers seek to protect their land from increased rain, which causes erosion and strips nutrients from the soil. Acting on all these pressures can be costly and, sometimes, detrimental to production.

Inside the War on Coal

Politico, May 2015

An army of Sierra Club lawyers who appear at obscure state and local hearings in the Midwest – where small commissions debate the future of individual coal plants – has managed to shut down one coal plant every 10 days for the past 5 years thanks to the unlikely funding of large corporations. The spirit of the funders, however, has little to do with environmental concern and a lot to do with the escalating costs of producing coal, a result of the government’s ever-tougher environmental regulations.

Coal Crash: How Pension Funds Face Huge Risk From Climate Change

The Guardian, June 2015

Some of the world’s largest pension funds – including those of organizations like the United Nations, which advocate for urgent action to prevent climate change – have historically invested generously in coal companies. But now those investments, which used to produce handsome returns, could collapse.

The Making of a Climate Change Refugee

Foreign Policy, January 2015

After Ioane Teitiota, a native from the sinking island nation of Kiribati in the South Pacific, sought a work visa extension in New Zealand, his lawyer argued that Teitoiota was a victim of climate change in need of permanent refugee status. The campaign was ultimately unsuccessful but drew significant international attention to the reality and potential effects of rising ocean levels.

Exxon’s Gamble: 25 Years of Rejecting Shareholder Concerns on Climate Change

Inside Climate News, June 2015

Oil companies have long fought against anyone who demands change based on apocalyptic predictions of climate change, including their own investors. In fact, over the past 25 years, top executives at Exxon, Chevron and ConocoPhillips battled a combined 113 proposals from activist investors that ranged from adding board members with climate change expertise to establishing ceilings for greenhouse emissions. Not a single proposal passed.

Protect Your Home The Earth

House Climate change
Problems caused by climate change are now well known and affect the lives of all people around the world.

Yes, even less “vulnerable” Europe and of course Greece, during the last years face more and more intense climatic changes which threaten our environment and therefore our way of living as we know it, while they have cost of human lives.

These deaths and disasters could be compared to those of regional wars which, traditionally, are tightly connected to oil reserves.

We face double human losses, with ultimate goal of course, unimaginable profits.

Apart from circles that profit from fossil fuels, many ordinary people remain skeptics about the truth and any interests would a mass hysteria on climate change, serve.

Elimination of use of fossil fuels, if possible, will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) in atmosphere and that would be by no means negative.

The independence from fossil fuels, as much as utopia it might seem under the shadow of huge interests and profits, it is only positive for the future.

In any case, all kinds of fights, protests and participation in any way in favor of saving the planet, are not futile -no exercise of pressure from ordinary people on governments, is futile.

A recent campaign of Avaaz, in which we can all participate concerns organizing mobilisations in many countries all around the world (see here and get inspired on ways of action here).

Mobilisations will culminate during Climate Summit of UN, which for 2015 will take place at the end of November in Paris (COP 21). It is considered decisive, crucial and critical about agreements of major polluters such as USA and China, towards clean energy.

Citizens, humans, people, can defend their own lives and the lives of next generations, by defending the Earth.

Three scientists investigating melting Arctic ice may have been assassinated, professor claims


By , Chief Reporter – 25 Jul 2015
Source: The Telegraph

Professor Peter Wadhams said he feared being labelled a “looney” over his suspicion that the deaths of the scientists were more than just an ‘extraordinary’ coincidence.

But he insisted the trio could have been murdered and hinted that the oil industry or else sinister government forces might be implicated.

The three scientists he identified – Seymour Laxon and Katherine Giles, both climate change scientists at University College London, and Tim Boyd of the Scottish Association for marine Science – all died within the space of a few months in early 2013.

Professor laxon fell down a flight of stairs at a New year’s Eve party at a house in Essex while Dr Giles died when she was in collision with a lorry when cycling to work in London. Dr Boyd is thought to have been struck by lightning while walking in Scotland.

Prof Wadhams said that in the weeks after Prof Laxon’s death he believed he was targeted by a lorry which tried to force him off the road. He reported the incident to the police.

Asked if he thought hitmen might have been behind the deaths, Prof Wadhams, who is Professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, told The Telegraph: “Yes. I do believe assassins possibly murdered them but I can see that I would be thought of as a looney for believing this.

“But it’s just very odd coincidence that something like that should happen in such a brief period of time.”

He added: “They [the deaths] were accidents as far as anybody was able to tell but the fact they were clustered like that looked so weird.”

Asked who might have wanted them out the way, he replied: “I can only think of the oil lobby but I don’t think the oil lobby goes around killing people.”

He admitted it would have been “stupid” to go to the police with his concerns over the three deaths, not least because he was “suspicious” of the authorities – he cited the example of the death of the government’s weapons expert Dr David Kelly.

Prof Wadhams added: “I thought if it was somebody assassinating them could it be one of our people doing it and that would be even more frightening. I thought it would be better not to touch this with a barge pole.”

His suspicions drew outrage on Saturday from Prof Laxon’s partner, who was also a close friend of Dr Giles. When told what Prof Wadhams had said, Fiona Strawbridge, head of e-Learning at UCL, replied: “Good god. All of this is completely outrageous and very distressing.”

The couple had been staying in a friends’ converted mill in the Essex countryside when her partner fell down the stairs in the early hours of New Year’s Day. He died the next day from head injuries.

“It was very steep stairs and I heard Seymour fall,” said Ms Strawbridge, “It is just completely bonkers [to suggest murder].

“I am sure there are some climate scientists who do get trolled and pursued but Seymour wasn’t one of them. I would have known if anybody had been pursuing him.

“Sometimes there are tragic coincidences and you have to accept that.”