The economy, says billionaire Warren Buffet, has fallen off a cliff.
"The economy, ever since we talked in September, we talked about it being an economic Pearl Harbor, and how, what was happening in the financial world would move over to the real world very quickly. It's fallen off a cliff.
And, not only has the economy slowed down a lot, people have really changed their behavior, like nothing I've ever seen. Luxury goods, and that sort of thing, have just sort of stopped. And that's why Wal-Mart is doing well, and I won't name the ones that are doing poorly, but there's been a re-set in people's minds."
Well, finally. As the Earth is being poisoned and devoured by billions of humans, as people shopped the planet to death, there has been a re-set in people's minds. We all know that needed to happen. We just didn't know the banksters would loot the economy, like Baghdad after the invasion, at the multinational sunset.
The sudden crash has already cause riots in several European cities, including normally quiet Iceland. Are big riots inevitable in the United States? Will the kicked out and cheated suffer quietly without justice?
You are listening to Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith. We'll talk to Peace and Securities expert Professor Michael Klare. He says America should expect widespread unrest. I'll also interview Jason Bradford, the radio journalist and pioneer of relocalization. We'll talk about alternatives, including the possibility of a food-based currency. In beans we trust.
All that plus uppity women from Britain, a quick shot at the me generation, and yet another dose of horrible climate news.
Before we go further, here are some links from this week’s show.
Our first guest, Michael T. Klare
Radio interviews by our second guest, Jason Bradford
Here you’ll find the best guests Jason mentioned, including people like Bill McKibben, and Richard Heinberg. Jason also recommended the blog Casaubon’s Book with Sharon Astyk
Are there riots in our future? Read More.
Gaming the Apocalypse from theonion.com
Our featured artist is Joel Plaskett at
This Canadian artist just released a 3 CD special called, what else, “3”. We hear “Through and through and through.”
Are there riots in our future?
This crisis is making some strange radicals. Remember that old cold warrior, Zbigniew Brezezinski? He's worried the public will rise up in anger, unless the new rich voluntarily give back some of their bonus money, to help save the country. The taxpayer is supposed to pony up trillions, but Dr. Brezezinski indelicately mentioned on MSNBC the hundreds of billions of dollars siphoned away in various mortgage repackaging scams, not to mention the fees from the crazy corporate take over game. Why don't the rich give it up, before a real class war flares up in America, says Brezezinski.
Otherwise ..."there's going to be growing conflict between the classes - and if people are unemployed and really hurting, Hell! there could be even riots!"
Billionaire investor Jim Rogers agrees. "I expect to see social unrest, civil unrest in the United States in a couple of years from now."
King of the prophets of violent doom may be the Oxford educated Scot, Niall Ferguson. Now operating out of Harvard, Ferguson is pushing his best-selling book "The Ascent of Money." The Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper was flooded with web hits with Ferguson's prediction of civil wars, and blood in the streets, as this Depression unwinds. Title of the article: "There Will Be Blood."
Of course media hacks are already staking out their claim on the rubble. CNN's Glenn Beck has already set up his fake "War Room". Stephen Colbert, blessed be he, lets some air out of all the gloom, with his "Doom Bunker".
[19 second Doom Bunker clip]
Check that out on Youtube or Comedy Central.
We will see something like a gray revolution. All the baby boomers who made money, and saved money, are seeing their pension money shrink, or even disappear. Some are moving from mansions to tent city. Benefits are clawed back by bankrupt companies like the auto makers. Billionaire scamsters still living in the penthouse. Think upset grandpa and granny with guns.
The young have less to lose, unless you mean their future of tax slavery to pay off the early century gamblers. Unless you count the flooded cities and forced migration. A harvest of repudiation and anger. If they come unglued, who can blame them?
We'll explore the ugly possibilities with author and professor Michael T. Klare. Then you and I will hear from the alternative future, experiments in life without oil or central authority.
Let's get started.
[Michael T. Klare interview]
Gaming the Apocalypse - that's from America's Finest News Source, Onion News. From their early start as an anti-news sheet, these people have gone on to sweet video and a pro-looking web site at theonion.com.
There is nothing wrong with the street full of people. Mass protests can be peaceful, as were the candlelit gatherings in all the squares and plazas of the dying Soviet empire in Eastern Europe. Nobody tried to fight the tanks. They stood there, and disbelieved, and an empire crumbled.
If you want an education on non-violent action, rent the movie "Gandhi". Watch how long lines of patient people lined up to be clubbed, for the simple possession of salt. How consumer boycotts defeated the biggest empire in the world.
Greenpeace gets into the news with their brave stunts, which hurt no one. How about Leila Deen, a campaigner protesting the expansion of British airports, by a government that promises to reduce greenhouse gases. We all know the airline industry is sticking megatons of greenhouse gases directly into the upper atmosphere. Building new airline facilities is building a dead planet. That's the old economy, mate.
Last week, a well-dressed Leila stepped up to the government honcho pushing the Heathrow airport expansion - and tossed a cup of good green custard into his well-manicured face. The BBC reporter gave her Hell, but listen to these sample from what this lucid woman has to tell us all:
"There isn't any other way. I don't want to get up early in the morning and go and custard over Peter Mandelson. But quite honestly, nobody is doing anything about the fact that this unelected individual is putting the interests of business before people and the planet - before millions of people who are going to lose their homes as sea levels rise, being displaced because of desertification.
This is very serious. It's a very pressing issue. And yet everybody's standing around applauding people as they make political capital out of pretending they care about climate change.
Well I have to live in a climate changed future. My children will have to live in a climate changed future. I'm not going to stand around and applaud, while people let our last chance go to waste. It's direct action, and direct action historically has been a major way we've got change. I mean, look back historically through the Suffragettes, through the miners' strikes, through all of the major changes.
Yes, some if it is about putting yourself in the way, as we have done with Plane Stupid. We've been putting ourselves on runways, directly reducing carbon emissions. And some of it is about debunking the lies and spin that some people have the opportunity to put across to the rest of the world. So, I ask you, what else are we supposed to do? Democracy is failing people in this country. You have to resort to any means necessary, as long as it's peaceful, and as long as it doesn't harm other human beings, as this [protest] hasn't."
- Leila Deen, Plane Stupid protestor to the BBC.
All the while, Leila Deen stared into the BBC camera with clear sane eyes unwavering. Yes!
That leads us to....THE HORRIBLE CLIMATE NEWS
So much to choose from this week - too much. As scientists add up their measurements and analyze the reports from satellites to sea buoys, their mounting alarm about climate shift is overwhelming the official scientific publications. In fact, this is a growing problem. Important discoveries that need quick action are being held back for months as the peer review system overloads. The journals can't publish it all. We obviously need a new system for communicating science to save the planet in time.
I'll stick with just a few of the top stories as I see it. The really big blast comes from scientists studying sea level rise. Just two years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change downplayed and low-balled the amount of sea level rise we can expect in this century. Noting they lacked enough information about glacial melting, the Panelists predicted a maximum rise of 59 centimeters, or about 2 feet. That's enough to flood the Pacific Islands and most of Bangladesh.
Professor Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado has been studying Arctic ice for the last 35 years. He now expects sea level to rise at least a meter - 39 inches - and maybe as much as 1.2 meters, - almost two feet! That is just a global average. Ocean water piles up in some places. And storm surges added to extreme tides can more than double the reach of high seas. If we fail to control greenhouse gases, the New York Subway system would have to be abandoned, and the maps of Florida re-drawn. All that expensive waterfront property will be cheap underwater.
Overseas, it's much worse. Yes the Pacific Islanders will have to give up their homes, and migrate. And over a billion Asians living on the sea coast will have to move inland, where resources are already overstretched. It's a disaster, Hollywood style, right here on our home planet.
A whole chorus of other world scientists have added their research. Greenland and Antarctica are adding more melt water than we thought.
Things aren't much better on land. A team of biologists, geographers and climatologists have been studying the drought developing in the Amazon. That's right, the rain forests are drying up. Their results are being published in the latest journal "Science." Oliver Philips of the University of Leeds is part of the team, which included 67 co-authors from 40 institutions.
In a Bloomberg report by Jeremy van Loon on March 6th, we find the Amazon forest may be turning from a carbon grabber to a net source of new greenhouse gases. The rainforest normally takes in 500 million tons of CO2 every year. In a single dry year, the forest released 900 million tons of carbon dioxide instead. The change in rainfall, and emissions, is caused by a warmer Atlantic Ocean. That's the new untold story folks: ocean warming. Expect to hear more about that on Radio Ecoshock.
The last horrible climate news this week comes from China. First of all, we know that pollution has reduced the amount of sun power reaching the surface of China by about 9 percent. Check out the work of V. Ramanathan for more about that. Obviously, this is reducing agricultural production in the world's most populous country.
But the government sees a more serious threat in global heating, which will impact crop production. As I've told you in previous Ecoshock Shows, the northern wheat lands of China are suffering from an awful drought. And the Southern rice area can be hurt by strong storms. According to Lester Brown, even one degree of extra heat can greatly reduce rice production.
The Chinese authorities are reacting by announcing 20 percent more spending on agriculture in this year's budget, as announced in the budget speech in the Great Hall of the People.
As reported by Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent for the Guardian newspaper on March 5th, the Chinese government is trying to plan for the impacts of climate change - and that's one of the drivers for their increase spending this year.
At the very same time, the government seem helpless to stop vast new electrification schemes using coal. In the March 6th edition of Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, journalist Volker Mrasek finds predictions that China's Greenhouse gases will double in the next 20 years, no matter what Western countries do.
You can find a study on China's energy future in the academic journal Geophysical Research Letters. One of the scientists involved is Dabo Guan of the Electricity Policy Research Group at England's University of Cambridge.
Mrasek says, quote: "China opened 47 new airports between 1990 and 2002, and its highway network grew by 800,000 kilometers (500,000 miles) from 1981 to 2002. By 2030, China's population is expected to have grown from 1.3 to 1.5 billion people. More and more urban households will adopt a Western lifestyle by then, complete with air-conditioning, refrigerators, television sets, computers and other appliances...
This will steeply drive up energy demand in China. The IEA and NBS predict that to satisfy this demand, the country's power plants will have to supply more than 8,600 terawatts of electricity in 2030 -- about three times as much as in 2006."
That's a quote from Der Spiegel magazine.
Even if the Chinese miraculously add carbon capture and control to every new coal plant from now on, their emissions will still double. They can't increase solar and wind power enough to stop this big wave of new carbon from hitting the atmosphere, these analysts say.
Don't forget that Western consumers account for about 26 percent of Chinese emissions. We moved all our polluting plants overseas to their much more polluting plants. The widgets at Wal-mart don't include the carbon price used to produce them in China and ship them to you.
Maybe the economic crash will cut the staggering figures a bit. Oil writer Jan Lundberg comments the Chinese economic machine still depends on oil, which is running out. Lundberg writes, quote: "China can't keep puffing along forever because exports would drop precipitously (financial reasons from high cost oil and from ships not having enough oil). There you have it, petrocollapse saves the day. If there's any day left."
Find more of Jan Lundberg at his blog culurechange.org. Check out his latest article titled "To Feel Lucky As Collapse Progresses." dated March 9th. He writes:
" Slow collapse is what we need, if possible. As bad as this seems, "So far so good." The kind of fast collapse from a massive interruption in oil supplies is much harder to handle....Are we really so unlucky if the cars go away, and we get back to local community living? That's the direction we're heading in. When we hear so-called leaders' messages to the contrary, their business-as-usual programming threatens to delay the people from waking up from passivity."
Even New York Times columnist Tom Friedman seems ready to accept this "slowdown" is really a historic transition. His column March 7th is titled "The Inflection Is Near?" Friedman asks,
"Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”
We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese ...
We can’t do this anymore. "
That was a quote from Tom Friedman, the famous author and New York Times columnist. And if America can re-set into a sustainable life-style, maybe at least some of the news isn't so horrible after all.
I'm Alex Smith, reporting for Radio Ecoshock.
[Jason Bradford interview "In Beans We Trust"]
Will there be more crime, even riots? Probably. People don't like being kicked out of their homes for tents in hobo camps. Charity food lines and Chef Ramsey may not co-exist happily.
You can always try a little passive resistance for your home, if you still have one. Add a dead bolt and longer hinge screws to your door. A security bar for that patio slider. Window locks. A good set of drapes for privacy. For middle class paranoia, there is always security glass. It's not as expensive as you think, and it's safer for Earth Quakes too. This glass breaks into beads, like a car windshield, if it ever breaks at all.
The real security system is in your mind. It's tough to remain open to the new future, even if it's bound to hurt. You want to keep on learning, and still maintain an inner core that is not broken by the whirlwind.
Now and then, I like to leave you with a personal tip. Last week I mentioned the importance of humor, and the ever-present right to enjoy life, no matter what.
This week: something harder. Letting yourself feel and express gratitude for living. Here is how it evolved in me. Like many, I'm unsettled when it comes to religion. The old books clash with our present knowledge of the world. Too many crimes have been committed in the name of somebody's God.
Still... whether there is a God or not, I still have a deep inner need to say "thank you." To express gratitude for all the life I have experienced. I'm weaker if I can't let that out.
At least once every 24 hours, often at the end of the day, I bow down as low and as small as I can get. Like the Muslim in prayer. I say my thanks - is it to God, Gaia, or just the voice of my better self? I don't know. It doesn't matter who hears, so much as my acknowledgement, my thanking.
Then I rise up, putting my hands over my head, and stay thankful.
Of course, that's all hidden away, late at night or in a bedroom. It's my secret. Can you imagine if people just raised their hands in thanks, right out in public? In crowds in the street?
Anyway, that's just another way I make it through the darkness of the present days. It is yours, if you want it.
Let's enjoy some music together. Lately, for the program opener, I've been ripping off a neat horn piece from Joel Plaskett. He's a Canadian artist currently overflowing with creativity. His newest CD is actually a set of three CD's packed with new songs. The album is titled "3" and each song title uses a word three times. This is Joel Plaskett, with "Through and Through and Through."