SUMMARY: Deep thinker Frank Rotering introduces his desperate new strategy to split the rich and plunge the world economy into steep contraction. Then Gail Zawacki savages what’s left, while she campaigns against the unknown threat of ozone smog. It’s a panorama of inner conversations in twisted times.
The weather has gone sideways. Emissions are up. Climate talks are useless. Protests are polite.
Revolution? Not likely. So…
Author Frank Rotering from British Columbia, Canada hosts contractionism.org He called for the usual progressive bottom-up revolution against the consumer society. Now it’s too late for that, Frank says. We need to push a schism in the wealthy capitalists who control the game. Some billionaires are beginning to see they will be wiped out along with the rest of us in ecocide.
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FRANK ROTERING: SPLIT THE RICH
Politicians, bankers and businessmen religiously tell you the economy needs to keep on growing, with more products and profits for all. Any sane person can see there are limits to growth on a single planet. As wildlife goes extinct, food chains break, and the climate spins out, we have already surpassed those limits. Even a steady state economy, steady as we are now, would crush the biosphere we depend on.
The only and obvious answer is contraction until we reach a sustainable plateau. That’s the territory of Frank Rotering. He’s the independent thinker from British Columbia, Canada, and lord of the web site contractionism.org. Frank has two books out, including “The Economics of Needs and Limits“. Prepare to have your basic ideas challenged.
Where to start… Let’s say Frank thinks the analysis of capitalism by Karl Marx is still useful, while his solutions are not. Until relatively recently, and in his two previous books, Rotering yearned for the same bottom-up revolution many progressive people want. Stimulated by leadership by indigenous people, greens, and activists for social justice, the masses would wake up and demand change.
Now, and especially after reading Naomi Klein’s new book “This Changes Everything”, Rotering realizes (a) people in the developed countries are not going to revolt and (b) there isn’t time left to educate the populace about the true state of affairs. Climate change is just one of several forces that indicate we have less than a decade left, if that, to make radical changes to avoid catastrophe.
While Frank has been a progressive person all is life, the cold facts drive him to a desperate conclusion. Our best and only hope is that enough capitalists will wake up to the dangers, and force changes themselves. That’s not an impossible strategy. As you’ve heard on Radio Ecoshock in the past few weeks, former and current Secretaries of the U.S. Treasury warn climate change can sink our economy (read the wealth accumulated by the capitalist class). Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is on board the same train, worried about climate. Even the oil-rich Rockefellers say they are getting out of fossil fuel investments.
Rotering says as activists we can help speed up a split in the capitalist class. One party realizes we are engaged in the business of ecocide; the other are intent on making more profits while nature goes down into the sixth great mass extinction event. It will be a battle of the titans.
In the interview, I object that it may be a fantasy to depend on the “hero theory” – that the powerful will act to save us. That also relieves each of us from our own responsibility to make the millions of small changes needed to preserve a liveable planet. Frank points out that Naomi Klein also says a small group of billionaires (like Stayer and Branson) are not going to save us. He is not talking about a group of “heroes”, but rather a division in a large class of people around the world – the people who have accumulated all the wealth. Their sea-side estates, their businesses, will be hit by climate change, not to mention other high risks faced by their kids.
It’s possible, but I’m still not entirely convinced. You can take part in this discussion. Frank Rotering invites all Radio Ecoshock listeners to write him about this strategy. Pour out your objections to test the theory, ask your pointed questions, or make suggestions of how we can push this historic change. All this will be incorporated in Frank’s new book, due out in 2015. Beta test social theory! Contact Frank through his web site at contractionism.org.
You can also watch a 2011 video interview with Frank Rotering here.
GAIL ZAWAKI AT WIT’S END
New England’s Gail Zawacki is fed up. The Flood Wall Street protest never delivered on it’s plan for civil disobedience arrests. It gave up and ate pizzas without ever reaching Wall Street. Zawacki covers a lot of ground in these times of despair and failure.
She’s also been on a one-woman campaign against the almost unknown threat posed by low-level ozone smog.
From Georgia to New England, leaves are blotchy, trees are dying. It’s a sign of the same polluted air that puts up to 20% of our kids with inhalers in the classroom. Low-level ozone is a plague around the world. It weakens plants for a deluge of fungi, insects, and diseases. Yet hardly anyone knows about it. Gail does, and she tells all.
The blog is called Wit’s End. So far, it’s been read over 11 million times. The author – I want to say artist – is Gail Zawacki. She’s edgy. She’s on a campaign to save trees from air pollution. But mostly Gail’s in a battle against the never-ending conceits humans use to pretend
LINKS FOR THE GAIL ZAWAKI INTERVIEW
We begin by talking about the Flood Wall Street protest. Gail’s description of the way this degenerated into a happy pizza party is funny and sad. Revolution? Not!
Read that here.
I just love the photo Gail contributed this week. Gail’s dog knows where Wall Street is on a map, why don’t the protesters?
Gail talks about the book An Appalachian Tragedy. It detailed the on-going impacts of ozone pollution on America’s forests, from Georgia to New England. Nobody in the EPA was interested, and in fact, one person Gail wrote snapped the only “tragedy” was that the book was written at all!
We also discussed the Jack Fishman lecture to celebrate scientist Paul Creutzen’s 80th birthday. Fishman realized the threat of low-level ozone back in the early 1990’s. View that presentation here.
After a few formalities for Creutzen, Fishman launches into a powerful case indicting ozone. The video is described as: “Tropospheric Ozone in the Anthropocene: Are We Creating a Toxic Atmosphere? Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie Published on Feb 19, 2014
“Talk of Jack Fishman Saint Louis University, USA at the Anthropocene Symposium, Mainz, 2 December 2013. The scientific symposium has been organized by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in celebration of the 80th birthday of Paul Crutzen, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995.”
Get this. This scientist asks if we are “creating a toxic atmosphere”. How many people are interested. When I checked, there were 238 views on You tube. Yawn. Toxic atmosphere… who cares?
You can find out about Jack Fishman’s “Ozone Gardens” in St. Louis in a .pdf here. School kids get to learn which plants die fastest from our air pollution.
Excerpts from Jack Fishman’s 1990 book “Global Alert” are reprinted in this Zawaki blog post (scroll down past the gory photos of plants and trees blighted by ozone…)
Gail talks about the BBC “Global Dimming” documentary (which shows how our dusty pollution is shading Earth enough to hide up to 1 degree C of the greenhouse gases we’ve actually put into the atmosphere.
Find a transcript of that program here.
Watch the documentary here.
The Radio Ecoshock special on global dimming (20 minutes, 18 MB) is available as a free .mp3 here.
A transcript of Radio Ecoshock special on global dimming, (broadcast Sept 8, 2006) is here.
We also talk about what can happen if the smog on the air stops suddenly, say due to an economic crash, a solar storm knocking out electric grids, or whatever. Will the Earth experience a sudden burst of warming? Probably.
Gail mentions Mark Jacobson, a Professor at Stanford who published a plan to switch the world to renewable energy by 2030. Dr. Mark Jacobson will be my guest on Radio Ecoshock soon.
Gails’ Wit’s End blog often features paintings by the Medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch. Find out more in this Wiki entry.
You can view the complete works of Hieronymus Bosch here.
Gail mentioned the World Bank applauding China’s effort to impose a carbon tax. Find that news article here.
The New York Time article by Justin Gillis about ozone damage to crops is here.
Gail says pollution-damaged crops produce less at harest time, but also have less nutrition. Find the Article in the journal Nature “Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition” reference here. (Only the Abstract is available for free.)
Find the “Apocalypsi Libary at The End of the World” here.
For the Dead Trees – Dying Forests website, click here.
Find Gail’s book “Pillage, Plunder & Pollute, LLC” as a free .pdf download on this page.
Or order the print version of the book here on Amazon. It’s Gail’s terrific summary of her almost one-woman campaign to wake us all up to the on-going damage caused by invisible ground-level ozone pollution. I recommend it.
And of course, don’t miss her witty blog, here.
Gail sailed through a lot of cutting edge material. All of it is backed up by recent papers and articles you will want. Follow the links for yourself.
COMING UP ON RADIO ECOSHOCK
Frank Rotering talked about Naomi Klein‘s new book “This Changes Everything”. Naomi will be my guest on Radio Ecoshock two weeks from now. Gail Zawacki mentioned Stanford’s Mark Jacobson, who worked out a path to a world powered by renewables by 2030. Mark will join us soon on the show.
But next week I want to dive into a great gaping sink-hole of mainstream media news coverage. No doubt you’ve seen fast clips about the two typhoons flooding Japan lately. They don’t tell you what is happening at the Fukushima nuclear disaster site, where tons of radioactive water flow straight into the Pacific Ocean on a good day. It’s time for a Fukushima update, with our best guide, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen. Plus, Arnie has been sending reports to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about California’s most dangerous reactor, Diablo Canyon. As we found out from Fukushima, a blow reactor anywhere in the world quickly becomes everybody’s
problem, no matter where you live. Stay tuned to Radio Ecoshock.
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