The Monsters of Growth Shock Rise: Conflict in the Ukraine, Global Food Crisis, and Spending 500 Billion Dollars to Permanently Wreck the World’s Climate

nasa_p1089035

(Immense Russian wildfires burning through the thawing tundra’s carbon pool during summer of 2012. The bar on the lower left denotes 50 kilometers. From end to end, the burning zone seen is about 500 miles in length. Image credit: NASA. Image source: Smoke From Massive Siberian Fires Seen in Canada.)

The radio and television today blares with the news but never the causes:

US meat, coffee, almond and milk prices to sky-rocket. Ukraine invaded by the Russian petro-state. Exxon Mobile to partner with Russian Rosneft and invest 500 billion dollars in extracting oil and gas from the increasingly ice-free Arctic.

What has caused all this? In a term — Growth Shock.

What is Growth Shock?

It’s what happens when any system grows outside of the boundaries of its sustainable limits. In the current, human case, its primary elements are overpopulation, renewable and nonrenewable resource depletion, climate change, poisoning the biosphere and wasting livable habitats, and a vicious system of inequality in which an amoral elite loots and pillages the lion’s share of planetary resources while driving increasing numbers of persons into poverty, hunger, and vulnerability to environmental/ecological collapse.

In the more immediate sense, human burning of fossil fuels is now intensifying droughts and extreme weather around the world. This is negatively impacting agricultural production. In addition, military aggression on the part of Russia has destabilized one of the world’s largest food producers — Ukraine. But these causes and effects are all a part of the larger structure of an ongoing Growth Shock crisis. The most recent and more intense iteration of a series of events that began in the 1970s and continues today.

In my own writing, I have described the forces of Growth Shock as four monsters (overpopulation, resource depletion, climate change, institutionalized human greed) and, like the Diakiaju of Pacific Rim, they continue to grow stronger and to devour increasingly large chunks of our world.

In the context of our intensifying Growth Shock, conflicts can rapidly escalate as resources grow scarce and various nations, powerful individuals and corporate entities jockey for dominance in the context of increasing limitation and peril. But it is important to note that unless the underlying condition that caused the crisis — what is now likely the most terrible manifestation of Growth Shock ever witnessed by humans — is addressed, then there are no winners. No dominators that survive to flourish in the end. No remnant that sees a prosperous future. Only an ongoing string of worsening conflicts, disasters and temporary victories leading to a terrible and bitter ultimate defeat.

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The Special Interests of a Corporate Petro-State, its Dictator and its Oligarchs

So many of you are probably wondering why Russia suddenly invaded Ukraine? Why the West is taking an increasing stake in this country that, until recently, rarely showed on the international stage?

The reasons currently given by US officials certainly appear noble. We should not allow one country to simply invade, bully and rig the electoral process for another. We should not allow a single nation to flaunt international law and behave in a manner that better fits an age of anarchy and brutality. We should not permit these things from the member of the international community with broad responsibilities and obligations that is Russia.

These are moral and, indeed, appropriate frames for the current conflict. As they are appropriate rhetorical responses to international bullying. But we would also be wise not to ignore the underlying drivers — food crisis and overwhelming political power of fossil fuel special interests.

If anything Russia is now little more than a dictatorial, nuclear-armed petro-state, run by corporate oligarchs and a brutish strong man in the form of Vladimir Putin. A man who has ruled this country for a period now going on two decades through a combination of bullying, trickery, and poll fixing. The kind of character many conservatives these days seem to appreciate…

At 2.2 trillion dollars in GDP each year, its economy is comparable to that of the UK — sizable, but not an equal to economic powerhouses US, China, Germany or Japan. But what the Russian petro-state lacks in economic girth, it more than compensates for in two very destructive and destabilizing items — nuclear weapons and fossil fuels. It also retains a rather sizable and effective military — one whose forces are capable of projecting power and toppling governments throughout both Europe and Asia. One that retains its ability to rain nuclear Armageddon on any nation of peoples around the globe.

And this set of powers is increasingly being used to advance the special interests of the corporate, dictatorial state that is today’s Russia.

But it is Russia’s vast oil and natural gas wealth, the single-minded and narrow interests of its rulers, and the dark impetus that is global climate change that have likely combined to spur Russian’s current aggression.

Food, Fossil Fuels and the Compost Bomb

Burning Rings of Fire

(The tundra compost bomb explodes into burning rings of fire that illuminate the Russian night during 2012. The fire rings seen here are each between 10 and 100 kilometers across. Image credit: NASA. Image source: Burning Rings of Fire.)

For the very natural gas, oil and coal that Russia uses as a mainstay for its economy are now in the process of wrecking its future prospects and propelling it to ever more desperate and violent action.

To understand why, one simply has to think a little bit about permafrost and frozen ground.

A majority of Russia’s land mass sits on a pile of permafrost ranging from 1 to more than 10 meters in depth. In the past, this frozen substrata underlay many of Russia’s fields, cities and towns, forming a kind of frozen bedrock. But over the past few decades, the permafrost began to rapidly thaw under the radical and violent force that is human-caused warming. At first, this event was thought to weigh in Russia’s favor. The newly thawed permafrost would become more productive farmland, many assumed, and the added warmth would extend Russia’s growing season.

But few apparently accounted for the speed and violence of human-caused climate change. What happened instead was literally a firestorm. For the thawing peat retained a combustibility roughly equivalent to brown coal. Even worse, it contained pockets of highly flammable liquified organic carbon and methane. Over top this volatile layer were the great boreal forests and the vast grasslands of the Russian land mass. During the periods of summer drought that emerged as human caused climate change amplified at the end of the 2000s, these forests and grasses were, increasingly, simply piles of kindling growing atop a meters thick layer of volatile fuel.

By 2010, climate change brought on a series of record droughts and heatwaves extending far into the Arctic that set both permafrost thaw and lower latitude regions ablaze. As a result, Russia suffered agricultural losses unlike anything seen in its past. Fields and towns burned. The productive regions burned. Russia was forced to close its agricultural market for exports. World food prices hit all time record highs and the food riots that followed were enough to topple regimes and alight civil wars throughout the world’s most vulnerable states.

Through the summers of 2013, Russia suffered amazing fires in its thawing tundra lands. These blazes were, at times, intense enough to require the calling up of its military and the mobilization of up to 200,000 people simply to fight the fires. Heat and moisture from the thawing tundra spilled out into the Jet Stream and amplified the storm track. By 2013, record drying and burning in the tundra lands turned to record floods in the Amur region of both China and Russia. A tragic song of flood and fire.

Song of Flood and Fire

(Massive wildfires burn over Yakutia as an immense rainstorm begins to form over the Amur region of Russia and China. The fires and deluge would together ruin millions of acres of crops during 2014. Image credit: Lance-Modis. Image source: A Song of Flood and Fire.)

It was a string of climate change induced disasters that produced blow after telling blow to Russian agricultural production.

Meanwhile, around the world, similar droughts, floods and severe wind storms were ripping through the world’s croplands. By early 2014, the world food price index was again on the rise. By February, the index had climbed to 208, a very high level that would put those countries and populations at the margins at risk of increasing poverty and hunger all while potentially destabilizing any number of nations.

Ukraine — The Breadbasket of Europe

Perhaps the irony is lost on Russia that the very fuels — oil, gas and coal — that it views as an economic strength are also the source of its increasingly marginal food security and the ongoing and growing devastation of its lands. But Russia, its strongman, and its corporate oligarchs likely haven’t overlooked the fact that Ukraine is one of the world’s largest food producers. In a world where food is becoming increasingly costly and scarce, this particular commodity may well be more important than even oil, gas, or coal.

Ukraine possesses 30% of the world’s remaining richest black soil. It regularly ranks within the top ten producers of both wheat and corn. It is the world’s top producer of sunflower oil. The reach of its agricultural exports extends to the UK, Europe, Japan, China and into Russia itself. If Russia has a food crisis, it will be to the Ukraine that it turns to first. Moreover, the current Russian dictator must see an imperative not to rely overmuch on the US or its other economic rivals for food.

So it is in this context — a one in which climate change is causing Russia to flood and burn, in which climate change is now beginning to take down global agricultural productivity, and in which the Ukraine could well be seen as the Iraq of world food production (one of the only countries with the ability to radically increase production) — that we must also view both the Ukrainian revolution for independence and the Russian armed invasion as a response.

Russia Already Taking Hold of Some of Ukraine’s Most Productive Farmland

Centuries ago, during the dark ages, bad winters drove waves of tribes out of the frigid northern lands and into the then fertile fields of Rome and Europe. History, it seems, is not without its rhymes. For now, a fiery human-driven thaw and climate change appears to be having a similar impact on the Russia and Ukraine of today.

For the lands already under Russian occupation and threat of invasion (Eastern Ukraine primarily) are also some of Ukraine’s most productive wheat and corn growing zones. These lands under threat of additional Russian incursion, if added to the already occupied and planned to be annexed Crimea would compose the bulk of Ukraine’s agriculture.

Russia’s invasion, thus, must be seen as a direct looting of Ukraine’s lands and productive capacity for Russian and, by extension, Putin’s self interest. A set of interests likely inflamed by Russia’s own declining state of food security.

Climate Change and Why This Fight Must Be Against Fossil Energy, Not for It

Unfortunately, this conflict, like so many others, falls under the ominous shadow of the global fossil fuel trade. A shadow that grows ever darker as the crises imposed by human-caused climate change become more and more dire.

In the context of what could cynically be termed American interests, the fossil fuel giant Exxon recently partnered with Rosneft, an oil corporation Putin and his oligarchs essentially looted from a political rival, to invest 500 billion dollars in drilling and exploration in the Russian Arctic. The zones included in the deal involve the highly unstable clathrate and natural gas stores of the Arctic Ocean. And considering the massive sum invested, one cannot overlook the likelihood that the ESAS’s store of up to 1400 gigatons of natural gas clathrate have now been targeted by global fossil fuel interests for burning. Such an exploitation would result in the near tripling of the current human atmospheric carbon loading — all by itself and without the added inputs from coal, tar sands, or other oil and gas reserves. In other words — corporate insanity in the mad pursuit of profits for a few supremely wealthy and powerful individuals. In this case, a breed of greed-driven insanity that falls under the specter of an increasingly violent and expansionist Russia. One driven to hunger for resources by the land and crops destroying influences of the fossil fuels it continues to seek to exploit.

Here is Growth Shock in its most brazen form when wealthy oligarchs, dictators and corporations collude to profit while ruining the productivity of the lands upon which even they rely. And it is this terrible state that cannot be allowed to continue.

The US, therefore, could strike a blow against both Russian aggression and climate change game over by sanctioning Russian-backed Rosneft, disallowing any American corporation from conducting business with them or any other Russian petroleum entity and going further to say that they will sanction any other global corporation with ties to Rosneft. Use of the power of the dollar and of the global monetary system, in this way, could strike a blow against both the greed that underlies the current Growth Shock crisis and against the maniacal continued and expanding exploitation of extraordinarily destructive fuels.

If the US wishes to continue to bring Russia to heel, it will also use the carrot of access to US grain and food shipments as well as providing partnership arrangements with US alternative energy and sustainability-based corporations in exchange for a peaceful withdrawal from the Ukraine. To help Russia save face, it could provide these offers in a less public fashion or in a way that is not personally insulting to Putin.

Little to No Time Left, But the Crisis Presents a Fleeting Opportunity

In broader context, the deteriorating global food situation, the deteriorating global climate situation and the maniacal quest by fossil fuel companies to access and burn an ever-growing volume of oil, coal and natural gas has reached a critical stage that simply cannot continue for much longer without entirely ruining the prospects for human civilization and, likely, much of life on Earth. The Russia and Ukraine conflict is an opportunity to begin a full attempt to change course and to bring the, now very large and growing, forces of our Growth Shock crisis to bay. If we do not, the window of opportunity may well be closed and we may well have consigned ourselves to ever-worsening conflict under a situation of ongoing resource destruction, destruction of modern civilization’s food base, a situation where the powerful are ever more enabled to take from the weak, and a situation in which a hothouse extinction eventually snuffs out most or all of those that survive the ensuing collapse.

Links:

Growth Shock

Smoke From Massive Siberian Fires Seen in Canada

Burning Rings of Fire

Climate and Frozen Ground

Lance-Modis

A Song of Flood and Fire.

World Food Security in the Cross-hairs of Human-caused Climate Change

Climate Change Pushes FAO Food Price Index to 208 in February

The Economy of the Ukraine

Rosneft Warns West over Crimean Sanctions Woos Japan

Rosneft

Putin — the New Global Shah of Oil

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81 Comments

  1. Hmm, are you trying to argue Russia is directly motivated by climate change for wanting to make ground into the Ukraine? Or just as accurately – to recover land it used to control there (that region is FAR more complex than the vast majority of people commenting in the western nations seem to appreciate). I think it’s worth stating again that there is genuinely popular support in both Russia proper and some areas of the Ukraine to be part of Russia again.

    I’ve been to Russia – indeed am relatively familiar with it compared to most westerners – and I can assure you people there are every bit as dismissive of climate change and rooted in denial as in America (which is to say extremely so – the European nations seem an awful lot better informed on these matters).

    I’m not at all convinced that you need to consider any climate change or forwards looking analysis to explain Putin’s behaviour and would argue for the application of Occam’s razor. One can give him plenty of direct and more obvious and strategic motivations for doing what he is doing that make a lot more sense in my opinion in his context (a relic of the cold war really – but countered only by western idiocy and ineptness now).

    But that doesn’t mean the Ukraine isn’t highly significant as I think I tried to allude to in a comment before the Russians had moved in.

    It is the Ukrainians themselves who hold the cards now – they can blow up the pipelines and they can burn that cropland – and war will destroy the harvest.

    By fighting over precious constrained resources humanity will accelerate its collapse beyond the expectations of most commentators – that is my expectation and a key part of my predictions (such as they are).

    Of course, the conflict multiplier is not to my knowledge captured in any of the models (nor is extreme weather and in both cases we probably don’t know enough to model it properly).

    I don’t think we have long left – but because the final stages of failure depend upon specific events and cascading feedbacks, it’s impossible to really narrow it down any more than that. I guess I’d be pretty confident saying I don’t think we have a decade before the stresses overwhelm modern civilisation and quite possibly substantially less.

    Reply
    • Russia, a large food producer in its own right, has struggled to meet needs and export obligations since the fires of 2010. The context for them is one of resource constraint. Though they, in broad brush, are likely unaware that climate change is one of the primary drivers of this conflict. It is. Ukraine represents food security for Russia as much as much than any of the other things it represents.

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      • As a significant net food exporter (regardless of “obligations” they were fast enough to put an embargo on exports in 2010 which of course amplified the problem for other nations) – they are far more food secure than a lot of other places (the UK, Egypt, etc) that regularly rely upon food imports. Doesn’t mean food isn’t a tactical resource – but I think that’s a bonus – Russia needs to keep countering US indirect attacks – just as they did in Syria (where the naval base at Tartus was no doubt the US objective).

        If you want a nation driven more and more by food security in their foreign policy – I would tip China an awful lot more strongly than Russia.

        Non meat food in Russia is an awful lot cheaper than in the west incidentally (at least an order of magnitude in the season, and probably more for some things).

        Anyway, all they need to do for now to secure their own food is stop exporting food again. The rest of the world will condemn their action as it will spike the prices and trigger unrest (as last time) – but for their own security it makes sense.

        Incidentally I think the power of the dollar is overestimated now – while I don’t think China is quite ready to get rid of it yet (better to spend as many as they can acquiring real resources first) – it’s days as a reserve currency (of anything like the current value) must surely be numbered now.

        Reply
        • In looting Ukraine’s resources, Russia ensures a much stronger position RE global food security. Currently, its position as exporter is fading. So its related influence as a commodities exporter also fades. If the global fossil fuel trade continues to erode, Russia’s position will be even worse.

          In any case, the fires they’ve seen are nothing compared to what’s coming.

        • Maybe – if – and only if – they can secure those resources. The Crimea is easy enough – but if they were going to take more, surely it was easier to do it in one move? There are other regions in eastern Ukraine where the people would on average want to be part of Russia again – where the rest of the resource base is. The Crimea is surely principally about the military base (Russia really struggles for naval bases…).

          As for fires, I think the fires anyone has seen are nothing compared to what’s coming.

          California and other US states in that area are starting to look interesting… (as no doubt you already appreciate!)

        • Crimea alone represents a high portion of Ukraine production. Plus it’s the only export terminal to the sea. Holding Crimea pretty much assures high dominance of Ukraine food exports. In any case, special forces and military massing at the border indicate Putin’s intent to push deeper, should the need arise.

          Russia sits on a pile of fuel unlike anywhere else on Earth. That pile is thawing out. The fires there will overshadow those seen anywhere else. There are simply mountains and mountains of fuel.

        • Good point about the export terminal (although overland is no doubt an option into the EU – ships are of course easier/cheaper). I think we can forget Ukraine food exports anyway soon though – I don’t see how the country can avoid spiraling into chaos from this position? (whether or not the Russian’s invaded, that seems a distinct possibility)

          The pile of fuel in Russia is a global problem every bit as much as a Russian problem. It will release massive amounts of additional greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. And if I’m being honest I haven’t spent a lot of time in the Russian north – mostly I’m familiar with the Krasnodar region on the east coast of the Black sea (where they produce wine – and most of the fruit and vegetables for the domestic market if memory serves).

        • Oh absolutely true. It’s a global problem. But consider this — we have about 25 megatons being emitted from all of Russia right now. About half of that emission is from burning. What happens when the yearly emission doubles or more? The local impact will be extraordinary should such an event emerge. If the Russian tundra begins to approach what it’s capable of in the worst case, 200+ megaton emissions, it will look like the flood basalts re-erupted.

          I think Ukraine can still be pulled back from chaos. But we need strong action and, ironically, strong cooperation with Russia. They need to pull out militarily. But they should have a role re stabilizing Ukraine. We need to get them to act responsibly. If either power chooses to keep using Ukraine as a set piece, the place does destabilize and the worst case happens. Outside stabilization + internal self determination seems the best route.

        • Russia wise I think we’re not that far apart, as per other longer response.

          The tundra is an interesting point. I may need to learn more about it – what are the local effects from widespread burning? By local – I really mean adjacent to the fire zone rather than absolutely inside it. Do you know the mixing time for carbon dioxide to spread evenly through the atmosphere globally? (the longer it is, the stronger I imagine local effects would be as concentrations would be relatively higher)

          Also you’ve just made me wonder – do the same questions apply to the high Arctic in Canada (and Alaska) and possibly Greenland?

          If such destabilisation became sufficiently abrupt and catastrophic I think I’d have to amend my view about the high latitudes being the place to be – to something like “they’re the place to be after they finished burning and there’s no good place until then”…

        • 60 percent of the Russian land mass is permafrost. The local effect is huge. The impact is due to increased direct burning of the land. CO2 mixes well and is not the issue. The issue is fire and its related effects on weather.

        • 60% is a lot – but:
          http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/topten/countriesbysize.html

          You can take away 60% of their land area and the population density is still less than the USA? Russia is a colossal country with relatively modest population for the size (though Canada even moreso).

          What specific impacts are you thinking the fire would have weather wise? I do recall something about unusually intense Australian fires being thought to loft materials higher up into the atmosphere meaning the particulates came down in other (unhelpful for albedo) places. But do we really class this as weather per se? What weather effects do we link to the fires?

          I would have thought the main fire risk to Russian crops was the same as in 2010 – the burning of the crops themselves due to drought? And that risk occurs in plenty of other places too – not to mention that drought is a problem even without fire.

        • Nearly the entire country is at risk of wildfires during summer time. The 60% over permafrost is especially susceptible as time moves forward.

          In other news… Russia now massing thousands of troops on the border of Eastern Ukraine.

          We need stronger sanctions now. My view is they hit the oil companies.

  2. A few minor points (some a little contentious):

    1. Putin and Russia are (my view) responding in old behavioural patterns (as is the West). This is unhelpful in the context of new problems (even ultimately for their own selfish interests).
    2. While a lot of Russia is frozen tundra, there is plenty of land that is not, and the vast majority of the population and the productive resources are not on frozen tundra. It is a vast continent and people in the west often seem to fail to understand that it is not all frozen wasteland.
    3. However bad Putin is (and certainly he is no good guy), I feel as though I’m in some ridiculous parody to see Western nations/leaders/people pretending to be the good guys. Let’s take America – illegal rendition, detention and torture without trial or due process of (apparently mostly innocent!) people from other nations, extra-judicial killings using drones in nations without even a formal declaration of war, massive state surveillance and intrusion into the private lives of a massive chunk of the world (including so called friends and allies), er – how long a list do we need? (we can include my nation, the UK, as part of the US for these purposes)

    There are good reasons why a recent international poll found that America was considered the biggest threat to world peace by a very significant margin compared to any other nation.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/gallup-poll-biggest-threat-world-peace-america-1525008

    Reply
  3. Justification for Russia’s invasion?

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    • Well, 2 wrongs never make a right, so not really. But if one was religious one might say “he without sin cast the first stone” or “first remove the plank from your own eye before the splinter from your brothers”. If one wants justification – it is surely stronger than the second invasion of Iraq under the pretext of WMD – but no, still not exactly “justified”. Invasion seldom can be!

      Reply
      • Who’s casting stones? Did I advocate for the US invasion of Iraq and detention facilities? No. Now I advocate for appropriate international and US response to a land grab that is entirely outside of international law and precedent.

        Even that ill-founded US Iraq invasion wasn’t an annexation.

        In context, yes, this is worse than what the US did. Does it make what the US did right? No. Does it mean we should sit by idly and whinge about how everyone is terrible and apathetically claim — ‘nothing can be done?’

        Nonsense. Russia needs to go.

        Reply
        • I have a feeling the Iraq invasion was a badly managed resource play? I can’t comprehend what else it was meant to be.

          Anyway, I’m not saying Russia is right – but I don’t think the US is the right party to oppose them. It needs to be the UN (and some idea of common responsibility shared between multiple nations), just as it needed to be the UN stopping the US when they went after various other countries.

          Putin saw an opportunity and he grabbed it – in a difficult strategic context.

          Trying to fix that with anything resembling brute force (particularly from a nation widely perceived as an aggressive bully) not only cannot succeed but can only make the situation worse (rapidly escalating tit for tat behaviour returning us to nuclear missiles targeted on each other).

          The only way I can see a sensible solution with any chance of success is for it to be a multi-lateral action under the auspices of a body such as the UN. Unfortunately, the UN has gone exactly the same way as the League of Nations…

          Even supposing one could economically destabilise Russia by using the dollar (which I think is a dangerous play even for the US), would you really want to shuffle the deck in terms of who might replace Putin in Russia if they had a revolution (and by implication inherit the arsenal). I think Putin is smart enough not to rush into a nuclear war – but anti-American (and western to some extent) sentiment is rising rapidly over the last decade and one seldom improves a regime in the short term by changing it.

          Given the failure of any global peace keeping agency and the polarising effect of US involvement, I think the collection of countries that need to step up and pressure Russia is Europe. They buy an awful lot of oil and gas from Russia and while they basically depend on Russia for energy – it is in the interests of neither party to disrupt the arrangement right now (incidentally by the same token, if the US attacked Russia via the dollar – they are also hurting Europe and by proxy themselves via the same route).

          As to what a sensible outcome is though, a little trickier. Personally – I think the Russians need to withdraw and a fair referendum needs held to let people cast an internationally recognised vote as to their options.

          It remains the right of peoples to self-determine who they are, does it not? So why shouldn’t the ethnic Russian areas in Ukraine get that vote, if it were administered by a reputable and neutral third party? (I’m pretty sure that the results wouldn’t be as improbably consistent as those the Russians announced, but also sure that big chunks of the Ukraine would still vote to be Russian – including the Crimea).

          Of course all we can do is argue the toss and see what pans out in practice.

          It remains the right of the Ukrainians to attack Russian forces in their nation – and if I’m not mistaken there is a treaty guaranteeing Ukranian security in return for their returning their nuclear arsenal to Russia when they broke away?

          Therefore surely the only strong and valid response is to roll NATO troops into the Ukraine and stare down the barrels of each others tanks and hope the Ukrainians themselves don’t use the chance to escalate things into a shooting war? That would at least stop further Russian incursion (Putin isn’t that stupid). It’s still cold war v2 though.

          I’m not actually sure our opinions are miles apart on this anyway – I just don’t think the US is the right entity to do what needs to be done.

          I’ll shut up about it now!🙂

        • The UN will never oppose Russia due to the fact that it has security counsel veto power. Besides, I’m not advocating direct armed opposition, just strong sanctions that end up pushing for a potential better future for all and give the push to halt fossil fuels use a good kick in the butt.

    • Dear Robert,

      I have been reading your amazing research into our planet’s human caused warming and look forward to each new post. I would like to bring to this discussion a little more information about Ukraine and who is really pulling those strings.

      The Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland has stated that the US spent $5 Billion dollars assisting in the overthrow of the democratically elected Ukrainian government. She has also said in a recorded conversation with the US Ukrainian ambassador that if the EU did not like who the US was pushing to run Ukraine after the [democratically elected] government fell, then “f*%$ the EU”. Google searches will verify these topics as well as interviews with former Senator Ron Paul and numerous interviews and articles from former Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts. (rt.com is also another news source that offers information that is not filtered through the less than handful of US corporate new sources.)

      The wars in Syria, Ukraine and South Sudan can be explained in one word – fuel.

      Both Syria and Ukraine are major routes for gas and oil to Europe from the Middle East or Russia. In both cases, it is the US vs. Russia. In Syria, the US supports the Syrian rebels because the US and Saudi Arabia want to sell natural gas to Europe. In Ukraine, the US and European Union want to keep Russia from running the show with their corporation GasProm.

      In Sudan, it is the US vs. China, as China has a stake in the oil in Sudan.

      The next world war will be fought over petroleum based fuels.

      Ukraine
      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-20/ukraine-situation-explained-one-map

      Syria
      http://www.globalresearch.ca/oil-and-pipeline-geopolitics-the-us-nato-race-for-syrias-black-gold/5330216

      Sudan
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/with-oil-at-stake-the-war-in-south-sudan-matters-to-its-customers/2014/01/20/dcca9432-7d25-11e3-97d3-b9925ce2c57b_story.html

      Just a little different way to look at who is really the evil power here.

      Respectfully,
      Gregg

      Reply
      • There is no good or evil power. We all simply need to stop playing this game. The US needs to get out of Ukraine and so does Russia. Fin.

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      • grochef

         /  March 22, 2014

        I certainly agree the the US needs to keep its imperial nose out of Ukraine, but 90% of the Russians living in southern and eastern Ukraine voted to go back to Russia. They asked for Russia’s protection.

        As Jim Kunstler says, “Kerry is a haircut in search of a brain.”

        Reply
  4. Steve

     /  March 19, 2014

    I enjoy your insight Robert, so I have to ask: Why do you think the US went into Iraq and stay so long? Why do the US go into Afghanistan and stay for so long? Why do drone bombing missions continue overseas and drone surveilance either starting or getting ready to start in this country? And in the process of doing all this, they add an unbearable amount of debt to the country.
    I see the US leaders (Dem or Rep) much like you describe Russia. I unfortunately believe that the US leaders just try to disguise things a bit better, while Putin doesn’t care!

    Reply
    • Iraq was a resource war run by corporate cronies. But at least the Bush administration is now gone. Afghanistan was a hunt for terrorists as much as it was damaging to human rights and liberties at home and abroad. Neither war was worthwhile.

      In any case, how is my support of US sanctions against Russia a justification for either of these two wars? One is not related to the other.

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    • In any case, I take issue with your characterization of Republicans and Democrats as one and the same. We’re far, far better off than we would have been under another 8 years of Republican rule.

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    • Lastly, as for the drone question… I don’t think it should be legal in this country or under international law. But, again, what does any of this have to do with my post or my support of US foreign policy to address the issue of Russian invasion and annexation of foreign lands or the overwhelming and egregious influence of fossil fuel companies?

      This is the problem that must be addressed swiftly if we are to have much hope of solving the climate crisis.

      Reply
  5. james cole

     /  March 19, 2014

    In case nobody has noticed, civilian populations across the globe are getting very restive. I suspect many reasons, but one trigger has been the steady rise in food prices. Syria, Egypt, Venezuela and others. Ukraine ranks 80th economically behind Iraq and any number of world basket cases. Bankrupt and in debt with no hope but more IMF loans and asset sales. Farmland has already been suggested as an item for sale, China having already made a bid for black earth lands there. As a long time student of Russian history and Ukrainian history, I would suggest ignoring the Main Stream Media totally. Their narrative is not worthy of comment. In fact, it is laughable in it’s ignorance and lies. The real story is not something that will please the ears of anyone, least of all those steeped in Western Media. Ukraine is about to implode in violence and murder. Crimea is now safe from that storm, by their own choice. When a population is Russian, they will want to be Russian. Ukraine has never been a united nation, what you see today, I can take you back in history for centuries and show you the same thing.
    So politics aside, I agree that food and fresh water are going to be the stress point that blow up civil society in many nations soon. I watched a program called “Crowed Britain” showing the mass immigration and stress that society is now under. Solution for the Tory government is to frack the country for gas! Losing ground water and rivers resources to chemical pollution going forward. What madness makes Britain’s rulers believe they can escalate to 75 million population in future and continue the rise? In fact, they are losing control of some cities as I write. Hong Kong on the Thames?

    Reply
  6. Steve

     /  March 19, 2014

    But the US is greatly influenced by the same fossil fuel companies that you feel are at the core of Russia’s corruption. I don’t see any basis for optimism in action that the US might take. I also fail to see why Russia’s recent actions merit a strong US response when what China & N. Korea are doing to their own people is far, far, worse.
    After the trillions of dollars that the US spent to “fix” Iraq, it has quickly slid back to what it was prior to the US getting involved. The involvement of the US in the middle east has been nothing short of a debacle.
    There are pretty sufficient reasons why only 7% of the people in the US feel their politicians are doing a good job. I don’t see any basis for corruption to fix corruption. You are pretty analytical and I don’t see any basis for trust or optimism with the US leaders to fix anything at this point.
    What’s going to happen to the US when Chicago goes bankrupt? Portions of California don’t have water? And the list could go on and on. The government can’t even come to an agreement on assault weapons & high capacity ammunition clips despite the absurd number of gun deaths each year. Like every other country, the US leadership has shown itself to be corrupted by power & greed and is broken.

    Reply
    • Steve —

      Russia is invading and annexing territory from a country we promised to defend. Yet you don’t think this action requires any kind of response?

      As for oil companies… Yes, US oil companies influence US politics. But there is no case I’ve seen where the US owns the oil company in question. Rosneft is a state sponsored oil company. So sanctions against it are effective means against Russia.

      In any case, I don’t see the Obama administration as particularly favorable to big oil. And this is an opportunity for them to make a good first strike against oil interests. Whether they do it or not is certainly up in the air. But that’s what I support.

      Reply
  7. Rosneft is now the largest corporation in the world. Exxon/Mobile is #2. What could possibly go wrong? (/sarc)

    Reply
    • As an aside, Bob, I must have struck a nerve with this article. You wouldn’t believe the number of anti-semite trolls clamoring to post, but I just won’t let them in!

      Many of the oil majors are now more powerful, economically, than many countries. Rosneft is the corporate side of the Russian petrol-state. If we want to reduce the ability of Russia to pursue agressive policy, we need to reduce the importance of oil as a fuel. So we need large investments, at least matching the 500 billion Rosneft and Exxon put forward for Arctic exploitation, in both renewables (wind, solar, storage, experimental) and sustainability.

      That’s a strategic option that also helps deal with climate change. And we should be taking it now.

      Reply
      • Good for you, Rob. Fortunately, WP allows bloggers to moderate their own posts. This is not the case on most other social media sites.

        If we could find a way to make that sort of investment in renewables, it would make wrongheaded ventures such as this Rosneft/Exxon plan untenable due to a restricted ROI (return on investment, or profit incentive). But, the ubiquitous problem of money in politics stands in the way like an immoveable object.

        Reply
        • How true! They are very deeply embedded. But the pillars are shaking.

          A 500 billion dollar investment in alternative energy would go a long way toward removing much of the need for fossil fuels in the first place. Price per unit of things like solar panels would fall dramatically, wind energy would out-compete nuclear, gas and coal even more than they already do and without further increasing the wealth and prosperity destroying element that is climate change.

  8. The Ukrainian conflict is complicated. No doubt the rather silly play Putin has been doing with the land grab is quite terrible. I mean why use soldiers with no markers and wearing masks? Surely Putin couldn’t have thought that people in the west would believe them to be local groups suddenly spawning everywhere with army clothing and weapons. This charade is however not very surprising.

    However its important to know that the majority of people in Crimea are ethnic Russians and believe it was a big mistake that they were given to Ukraine. The majority of Russians believe so as well. Furthermore the majority believe in strong leadership and Putin through the Georgian conflict proved that he would do anything to protect ethnic Russians no matter which neighboring country they lived in. So in some essence, neither of the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Belarus and others are really “free” of what Russia believes are part of their old nation. Many even miss Soviet times with socialism and the lifestyle they had back then as being more “secure”. No doubt we know that it also meant any dissidents were locked away just like any totalitarian regime – but its like, if you are “good citizen” you have nothing to fear – and a lot of Russians are “good citizens”. Hence there is no big uprising about gay people rights and such – as the leaders still dictate whats accepted norms.

    Ukraine has been in a conflict for a long time, native Ukranians and Russians have had problems cooperating – and neither do they mingle well. Many Russians prefer to live close to the border, just like all the Baltic countries – and they frequently travel across the borders to buy goods in Russia. I think if they haven’t solved this problem over all these past decades then I think there is no hope for solving that any time soon – a whole new generation with mixed marriages is needed to form the basis of a real individual country. This certainly haven’t happened in Ukraine and hence Russia has done everything it can to control that country by placing people like Yanukovych in power so that they can be more pro-russian than pro-EU. People need to recall why Ukranians started demonstrating in the first place – the whole move away from EU was the main reason. I doubt Putin though about the Russians in Ukraine as his motives for offering Ukraine a new deal that Yanukovych took – I believe its all about control of resources and markets which Putin desperately need. So I agree with Robert here, that there is more economic reasons for this whole struggle, and really has nothing to do with “protecting Russians” (who supposedly were going to be ethnically cleansed by the Ukranians according to some spokesperson of Putin – another silly propaganda thing) – and the land grab of Crimea is more a strategic one as they need an arrowhead towards the south and the new government in Ukraine would be hard to deal with as they think Putin is a very corrupt person.

    So where to go from here? It’s really hard, and a new cold war could be the result if the EU tries to harm the economy of Russia. No doubt Putin will have a hard time dealing whether he should turn off the gas (remember he has done that before) and make a living hell for many people in the EU countries. And lets not forget that this would be in the US interest too as the market of LNG from USA would grow immensely. So that’s why I feel the US shouldn’t be too active in this conflict and leave this to EU as we are the ones who needs to take the brunt of the problems if things go into high gear.

    But I agree with Robert here that we need to scale down on fossil fuel use to lessen the market for energy, no matter which country it comes from – at the moment this monkey trap is one of the reasons why we get into all these global conflicts. Just like Iraq no doubt was about securing the flow of oil.

    Reply
    • ” I mean why use soldiers with no markers and wearing masks?”

      This is Russian special forces tactics. It’s how they toppled Afghanistan during the 1980s.

      And it’s the economic reasons that make strong sanctions a viable tool against Russia at this time. We need some form of action and deterrence. My opinion is that we counter by protecting NATO (putting forces in Poland and the Balkans, add a battle group to the Med, but leave Ukraine alone except for economic assistance. Then, ratchet up some serious sanctions on their corps, especially their petroleum corps, and to anyone who does business with them.

      Why should we counter/deter? Well, history is replete with land grabs that went on and on and on to new territories without deterrence and a serious escalation. It’s not pretty but the alternative is open war.

      As for what some are saying about US involvement in Syria… Well, that’s the Russian line again. And, in any case, our involvement against Assad is primarily low level (due to Russian non-agreement on the international stage). In this case, it is Russia who is the bad actor and we should do everything to counter. Consider what would happen if the tables turned and we were to invade and Annex Cuba, say, or part of Northern Mexico. In my opinion, the world would be entirely correct to sanction and deter us. But we haven’t. This is Russia involved in a land grab with no justification other than a few things its propaganda machine made up.

      Reply
  9. Tom

     /  March 20, 2014

    linked to over at xraymike’s Collapse of Civilization blog

    thanks Robert – I think a lot of people missed the agricultural part while worrying that oil was the main driver (and it might be, right now – wait til the summer heat hits. . . . )

    great comments, everyone. I have nothing to add at this time.

    Reply
  10. Mark Archambault

     /  March 20, 2014

    Great thread going here. I’m not going to wade into the Ukraine – Russia conundrum, as I’m not as knowledgeable as I’d like to be on all the factors, though I’ve learned a lot here.

    I’m just shaking my head to think that all these geo-political machinations, resource wars, mass surveillance, the rise of Corporate Authoritarianism around the world, especially in the US and the UK – and the background of extreme weather, fires, droughts and floods – are occurring with a world population of about 7 billion and only about 1 C of global ave. warming so far.

    What’s it going to be like when global warming really gets warmed up, say 30 – 40 years from now when there’s no more summer arctic sea ice, and we’ve had a 2 – 3 C ave. increase in global temperatures, not to mention a foot or two of sea level rise?

    When I see those babies and their parents now, I shudder to think what those poor kids may witness in their lifetimes. And most parents are thinking we’ll just keep on going as we are now, only college may cost $100K a year!

    Mankind is about to enter the bottleneck again.

    Reply
    • I think we need to view corporate authoritarianism, an excellent use of terminology, by the way, as a global pheonomena. As such, nations can be effectively used to counter that trend so long as policy aims to limit corporate power. In Russia, we can use policy to make a strike against corporate dominance, oil company dominance, and what appears to me to be a resource grab in a potential age of resource wars.

      This is an issue we need to counter both at home and abroad and government policy is a powerful tool if we can set it free to act. I’d also support strong policy measures to remove corporate surveillance and its links to various government entities. But that is another matter entirely.

      Reply
  11. Andy

     /  March 20, 2014

    The resource race between nations has been underway for some time now. China leasing land in Ukraine, Africa, Brazil, Uruguay for food. Saudi leasing land in Ethiopia, Sudan to grow food. China buying companies in the US for targeted foods (pork). China buying resource rights in Kenya and other African nations. Countries are positioning food security as well as social inputs (metals, concrete, fuels) globally.

    All the good deals have been done. Now we enter the next phase, taking resources where one can.

    The Antarctic Treaty is coming up for renewal, and is in danger of being reduced or lapsing due to resources.

    http://www.livescience.com/44181-is-there-about-to-be-a-dash-for-antarcticas-resources.html

    No place is safe from exploitation on the planet now.

    http://www.livescience.com/44181-is-there-about-to-be-a-dash-for-antarcticas-resources.html

    The “history” or other aspects of the Ukraine are noise. Just like the longest armed conflict border in the world. There the Chinese & Indians stand on the Himalayas, armed jockeying for glaciers, not for today but for tomorrow.

    Anything that is tough to gain by conflict due to supply lines or global etiquette has been purchased. The countries have done the math, they don’t have enough to feed their populations, they want to stay in power and ensure that their country wins.

    We may be entering the next phase gradually, global etiquette begins to carry less weight.
    Look for the nations who have significant military capabilities, less concern for what the UN thinks of them, and are net importers to make the first moves.

    Sometimes the signal is buried in the noise.

    “Depending on the region, prices of basic products such as bread, milk, and meat have risen between 7 and 22 percent so far this year, moving inflation to the top of the list of Russia’s national concerns.”

    http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1117497.html

    Reply
    • Andy

       /  March 20, 2014

      My apologies, second link is:

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/02/underwater-gold-rush-marine-mining-fears-ocean-threat

      It is early, and I have not had my 2nd coffee.

      Reply
    • Jockeying for glaciers that will be gone soon…

      It is my view that climate change has entered the phase of starting to seriously impact global resources. Conflict rises in such a situation. In my view, taking the food issue out of the Ukraine conflict would be at least as foolish as taking the fossil fuel issue out of the Ukraine conflict.

      Excellent, excellent comment, btw!

      Reply
    • mikkel

       /  March 20, 2014

      Yes, I view Ukraine as the first major case of the return of realpolitik in a post-peak world. Neoliberalism is about conquest through contracts using the mantra of “markets” but now all the good stuff has been bought like Andy points out. Things are going to rapidly move back to overt geopolitics.

      I hate to say it, but democracies are very bad at dealing with existential changes and autocracies will be seen as much more “competent” for the general populace if they decide to be. I think it’s embarrassing how tepid the Western elites are. They are just flailing around flustered that someone is breaking the rules designed for their own benefit. I am more embarrassed for us as the citizenry since we are tepid against the tepid elite.

      Considering that the Ukraine is being carved up by China and Western Energy companies to do fracking/farming for export, the narrative is not about intervention vs. non-intervention, but colonialism through markets vs. force.

      Reply
      • mikkel

         /  March 20, 2014

        Actually I should say internal vs. external force. Markets create internal force by using governing mechanisms to justify looting, only bringing out weapons when required. The external force that Russia used is the opposite.

        Reply
      • I think the market based elites are, as they always end up at the end of periods of decadence, in for a rude awakening. The states they fought to undermine will prove to be their only possible source of protection. The reason there is a tepid attitude for appropriate response is that the market elites are, yet again, in denial.

        They should call this the age of market denial and rude awakenings.

        Reply
  12. eugene

     /  March 20, 2014

    ++So much fun to demonize Putin/Russia. I’m with those that has long since tired of American arrogance, blaming and acting the innocent. There are many who believe, with some evidence, that the US was a.. deep in the Ukraine and still is. Americans simply refuse to acknowledge our own extremely aggressive nature. But then we’ve believed we are a beacon for all humanity since our very beginning while we have millions of own living in utter poverty. Before ranting about Putin, one needs to take a road trip through the reservations or the ghettos of all our cities. We played, and still do, a major role in humanities walk into hell. Get used to it.

    Reply
    • Alright, let’s separate issues here…

      1. Putin invaded and annexed Crimea under false pretense, trickery and a rigged election.
      2. America did little or nothing on the international stage thus far.
      3. America is seen as arrogant by many around the world for good reason, but this view is inflated by confusing issues like…
      4. “America is deep in the Ukraine…” Now there is some evidence that CIA is active in the Ukraine just as Russian special forces are also active in the Ukraine. America does not have a military presence there. In my view, both Russia and the US should remove any operatives as they make a destabilized situation worse. That’s my opinion. Will any of the powers listen? Hopefully, but probably not.
      5. Deterrence is needed to prevent further aggression and land grabs that’s why I support response (sanctions etc).
      6. American poverty… I couldn’t agree more!

      All these are complex issues. Some of these are related to the situation and some are not. But the notion is to work to solve problems and prevent the worst case. Russia rolling over Ukraine and Eastern Europe and grabbing resources for what is, essentially, a corporate state would do little to help poor people in the US. And, in addition, if we strike against the root causes of expanding poverty — climate change, greedy mega-corps (including corporate states), and reliance on an easy to manipulate, inflate, and profit from resource base that further damages the climate (fossil fuels) then we have helped poor people in the US too.

      Reply
    • Andy

       /  March 20, 2014

      Eugene,

      I certainly agree with your point, however the same can be said about any nation which has wielded some degree of power. We are simply one of many countries, all behaving the same way.

      We see ourselves on t.v. as being the torch bearer of human rights and what is right.

      Flip on the t.v. in Beijing, Moscow, London, Berlin, Tehran, Pyongyang, Mumbai or any other capital city and you will see the same claims.

      We think we are more self deprecating and self critical and see through the fog. And yes, a percentage of our population can do so (you certainly see past the spin). Spin a globe and stop it at any country, you will have a similar mix.

      We have poor that we ignore, every country does. Some more, some less, but no where do we have a nation with no poverty and perfect safety net, as well as a 100% social conscience in the population. It is not that we are evil, it is that we are pack animals and behave as such.

      If you view a nation as a wolf pack analogy you will see the strong hunt, eat first and allow the weak to gnaw on the left overs in the summer. In the winter, the strong eat the weak. When the weak have been consumed, we look for a weaker pack to eat.

      It is not America, Russia, China or Zimbabwe that is the source of this behavior. It is human nature.

      I agree with your criticism, I find it difficult to localize what I perceive as a base human behavior and by impulse I cast the net further.

      Reply
  13. It is my understanding that Crimea does not have good agricultural land. It’s revenues are from tourism from its beaches and it is a net taker in Ukraine – it’s tax contributions are less than its receipts from central treasury. In economic terms Ukraine may begetter off without Crimea.

    Reply
    • It’s not as significant as Eastern Ukraine, that’s certain. If Russian aggression can be limited to Crimea, then we have less chance of short-term destabilization in the food markets. If the fires hit Russia hard this year, I’m afraid they may be again turning eyes to those farmlands in Ukraine.

      But it’s a mixed bag for Ukraine food production as well. We have drought on the radar there and with what appears to be an El Nino brewing this drought could hammer both Ukraine and Russian food production.

      Reply
  14. Mark Archambault

     /  March 20, 2014

    Speaking of going in the exact wrong direction, imagine if Senator James Inofe becomes Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Department. I guess I should renew with the League of Conservation Voters…

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/03/19/3416539/inhofe-senate-epw-committee/

    I’m having increasing doubts that our ‘democratic’ systems of govt. has the ability to address the global warming crisis in time to avert a disaster later in this century. Especially now when the highest bidders (like the Koch Brothers and their Petro-buddy allies) can spend unlimited funds on demonizing those who would lead the change we need. Look at ALEC, etc.

    “This darkness got to give”, as the song goes (New Speedway Boogie).

    Reply
    • Mark Archambault

       /  March 20, 2014

      From the article: Inhofe has also said that humans lack the ability to affect the climate because control is limited to divine powers: “The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what [God] is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”

      In 2006, Inhofe compared environmental advocates to the Third Reich. More recently, Inhofe claimed that cold weather disproved his substantial opposition and that fewer Senators are supportive of efforts to address climate change.

      Yikes.

      Reply
      • Inhofe, the new leader of the modern day Spanish Inquisition. If this ignoramus had his way, he’d probably be burning scientists at the stake.

        Reply
      • Andy

         /  March 20, 2014

        The behavior of some of these leaders is so illogical that I almost question if the obfuscation is deliberate. A panicked populace is an uncontrollable populace.

        But in the end, I simply believe that they disrespect and disregard the laws of physics.

        Reply
        • How to increase panic? Misinform and create cognitive dissonance — just as Inhofe is doing.

          The terrifying thing is the obfuscation is directly linked to personal and corporate short-term self interest. There is no broader understanding here. Just brutish greed and stupidity.

          In any case, the corporate proxy powers here do not have a unified agenda other than to reduce government powers to inform and enforce regulation or to loot public resources for their self-interested benefit. They’re just a loud, whiny, misinformed set of big and dangerously hungry mouths to feed. In Growth Shock and Dickens, they are Want.

      • Andy

         /  March 20, 2014

        That is what we receive with the best government that money can buy. Unfortunately the genie is out of the bottle in that the nation bows to the corporations, as they decide the representatives by funding the battleground of votes on the t.v. (and the t.v. never lies (*sic*)).

        In the end, I wonder if a Prada handbag, when soaked in hot water with a handful of dried grass will made a better soup then a cheap handbag.

        Reply
        • I don’t think the genie was ever entirely backed into the bottle. But, yes, it’s out a bit more now than in some past ages. Some precedent for getting it cornered, though. I, for one, will never vote for a republican again and am looking for more Bernie Sanders types to support.

    • Remove the corporation from the democracy and you end up with a real democratic system. Include the corporation and you end up will oligarchy. The problem is systemic and there are both reasons to hope and doubt that it will respond effectively. That’s why clearly understanding the context is so, so important…

      And I couldn’t agree with you more on ALEC. Moral legislators should be going after that agency like gangbusters. In any case, if you want to empower the Kochs further, just go ahead and approve Keystone, bringing us one step closer to corporate dictatorship USA…

      Reply
  15. Bill

     /  March 20, 2014

    Fear is all this a prelude to significant population reduction.

    Reply
    • If the reduction is due to population restraint by responsible and consenting adults, then all the better. If the reduction is due to nature taking hold then, yes, there’s reason to be rather concerned.

      Most models show we can limp along to between 8 and 10 billion before the crunch hits. Those may be optimistic, be we don’t really know. The way we use resources has a huge impact. And, in my view, we should voluntarily limit our birth rate so as to start bringing populations down long term.

      Eating more veggies and less meat also helps with both land use, resource use, and overall global food concerns in general.

      Reply
  16. Bill

     /  March 20, 2014

    To me the answer for the elite is to get rid of everyone except the elite. The return of the superpower era followed by massive casualties would do the job from the elite’s perspective.

    Reply
    • You wouldn’t be the first to bring up the ugly specter of genocide perpetrated by a small group of self-interested monsters.

      Reply
    • Mark Archambault

       /  March 20, 2014

      But then who will do the lowly manual labor and agriculture that even the elites need? I guess they’ll have to keep some people alive to do forced labor.

      Reply
      • It’s key to remember that these so-called ‘they’ aren’t entirely in control. Our leaders are leaders because we allow them to be. There isn’t enough technology or armed might in the world to keep 7 billion people from running out an amoral set of leaders should those people chose. A few things can prevent people from making that choice — fear, participation, comfort, and a promise of a better tomorrow.

        If you remove the last three and all you have left is fear, the system that supports elite rule is standing on one leg. In essence, it cannot stand.

        Taking the so-called nuclear option as described by Bill, which isn’t really a valid option at all because it ruins the prospects for everyone, is more a narcissistic suicide pact than anything else.

        Reply
      • Just one point to consider that is a bit OT to the current line of conversation. Putin is rather well known for poll rigging. Apparently there’s widespread reports of just such happenings in Crimea (not really surprising…)

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/amid-vote-preparations-in-ukraines-crimea-allegations-of-poll-rigging-intimidation/2014/03/15/1d8b4c54-ac7f-11e3-b8ca-197ef3568958_story.html

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/saletan/2014/03/17/crimea_referendum_2014_russia_s_margin_of_victory_shows_the_election_was.html

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/12/us-ukraine-crisis-russia-aksyonov-insigh-idUSBREA2B13M20140312

        I don’t think the referendum could be viewed as anything but a farce in a militarily occupied territory in which gunmen planted the Russian flag over the parliament building a full week before the so-called elections.

        With results ranging between 93 and 96 percent in favor of a return to Russia, I suppose Putin can take comfort in the fact that the vote wasn’t so obviously rigged as recent elections in North Korea (100 percent for you know who). But one does have to take into account that 37 percent of the mostly ethnically Russian populace is Tartar or Ukrainian. So such results are highly suspect even without numerous allegations of intimidation and poll fraud.

        IF the Crimeans had wanted to secede and join Russia, they could have held their own referendum. It’s not like Ukraine is a military powerhouse. At that point, Russia and the UN could have provided peace keepers to stabilize the situation.

        But this only happened in Russian fantasy. What really happened was invasion, bullying of the non-ethnic Russian population, and then a rather obviously rigged vote.

        Reply
  17. Andy

     /  March 20, 2014

    Well now!

    That didn’t take long at all for the next target to get into Putins cross hairs.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/19/us-russia-estonia-idUSBREA2I1J620140319

    Should we set up a pool for who’s next after Estonia?

    Reply
    • Watch out. They will try to use this as justification for another invasion.

      Sadly, I think we need a build up of NATO forces in the Eastern European countries to deter Putin from further aggression. It’s sad to see that the Cold War is being revived. But it’s better than a hot war in which Putin rolls up half of Europe.

      Reply
      • Andy

         /  March 20, 2014

        We could simply block all IP address traffic between Russia and the west. The effect on their economy and all social aspects would be instant. Not a shot fired.

        Instead, if things get very testy we may discover how much of our IP infrastructure they have permeated over the past few years.

        Reply
        • Sharp idea. And I wouldn’t be too surprised. You go out onto the web and it’s a wild world of pretty much anything goes. The whole world with all its beauty and nastiness mashed together.

          Given the ‘new posters’ I’m seeing trying to spread pro Russian messages in comments, it’s pretty clear to me that the Russian Europe offensive is also ongoing on the web. I wonder if they got the software/servers/centers for that from Exxon Mobile or if it’s just an internal job.

          I’m being somewhat facetious. Somewhat…

      • Andy

         /  March 20, 2014

        2 weeks of no Internet access, then switch it back on. Let them know that they need reverse some decisions or no more internet for another 2 weeks.

        Reply
  18. Vardarac

     /  March 21, 2014

    I’ve brushed over articles covering this tech (http://waterfx.co/aqua4/) fairly recently. Do you think this is good enough/can get rolled out quickly enough to offset serious worldwide water shortages?

    Maybe with enough of this kind of desal in the right places drought could be sufficiently combated to ease the risk of food/water wars, but I can only hope it comes soon enough. I could be wrong on this, but I would think it’d be cheaper to build and move a bunch of solar stills and brackish water rather than spending men, ammo, and energy trying to dominate other countries.

    I was also curious of anyone’s thoughts or notes concerning renewable energy completely driving its own manufacture (and transportation, with any luck) sans any fossil fuels/GHG emissions.

    Reply
    • Much more feasible than resource wars. There is some environmental impact, but far less than either warfare or if the desal is fossil fuel based. I hope for rapid deployment. One serious concern is sea level rise…

      Reply
  19. Jeff

     /  March 21, 2014

    I go with Ralph on most things.
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/03/21-6

    Reply
  20. Another feedback which comes with ice melt…

    Global Warming Speeds Up Methane Emissions From Freshwater http://climatestate.com/2014/03/21/global-warming-speeds-up-methane-emissions-from-freshwater/

    Reply
  1. The Monsters of Growth Shock Rise: Conflict in the Ukraine, Global Food Crisis, and Spending 500 Billion Dollars to Permanently Wreck the World’s Climate | GarryRogers Nature Conservation
  2. Another Week of Global Warming News, March 23, 2014 [A Few Things Ill Considered] | Gaia Gazette
  3. Monster El Nino Emerging From the Depths: Nose of Massive Kelvin Wave Breaks Surface in Eastern Pacific | robertscribbler

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