The Catalan Integrative Coop

SUBHEAD: A cooperative organization designed to transfer away from capitalism to sustainability.

By Ruby Irene Pratka on 16 November 2017 for Shareable -

Image above: Meeting of CIC participants. From (

An intriguing blueprint for a post-capitalist world is gradually being built in a converted spa in Barcelona, Spain. Founded by the Catalan dissenter Enric Duran, who made headlines in 2008 after “borrowing” thousands of Euros from Spanish banks and donating it to social causes, the Catalan Integral Cooperative  (CIC) is a wide-ranging operation which encompasses diverse services: a financial co-op, a food pantry, a legal-aid desk, an open-source tool workshop, and a bed-and-breakfast for tourists in a medieval watchtower.

It has developed its own local exchange currency — the eco — and launched a cooperative credit mechanism for funding social projects.

A readable and eye-opening new report commissioned by the P2P Foundation and the Robin Hood Coop for Commons Transition summarizes the co-op’s numerous projects and wide-ranging ambitions.

The goal of the Catalan Integral Cooperative (“Integral” is a Spanish word best translated as “holistic”) is to build an anti-capitalist cooperative structure not just for the benefit of its own fee-paying members, but for the Commons as a whole.
“The main objective of the CIC is nothing less than to build an alternative economy in Catalonia capable of satisfying the needs of the local community more effectively than the existing system, thereby creating the conditions for the transition to a post-capitalist mode of organization of social and economic life. …

It is the conviction of the CIC that the goods required for satisfying the basic needs of society should be freely accessible social goods, rather than commodities,” the author George Dafermos writes.
Like many co-ops, the CIC resists hierarchical organization; about a dozen committees manage its day-to-day activities. The co-op itself has more than 2,000 members, whose levels of involvement vary from paid committee members to freelancers (auto-ocupados), to the many subscribers to the CIC’s local product exchange networks.

The product exchanges provide local farmers and other producers with a market and allow the cooperative to fund its operations with a small percentage from each sale.

The cooperative was formed seven years ago and since then has enjoyed rapid growth. Dafermos spent two months in 2016 studying the CIC, its projects and its aspirations.

“It’s an amazing and crazy thing, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” he says. “On paper, it doesn’t really exist, but at the same time, it creates legal entities which allow people, mostly young professionals, to do their own thing. It’s a highly ideological co-op meeting practical needs.”

In other words, the CIC thinks globally and acts locally.

The nerve center of the CIC is AureaSocial, a converted spa in downtown Barcelona which serves as a co-working and workshop space and houses a CIC-run library and food pantry in addition to headquarters.

Its daughter projects, including the bed-and-breakfast (called SOM Pujarnol), a tool lab (maCUS), and a self-managed cooperative community, are spread across Catalonia, attracting the interest of increasing numbers of potential members at a key time in history.

The report describes it as a “network of projects” that has a long-term aim of creating a fairer world.
“Young people are seeing less hope now than in the past…if you do get a job in the corporate structure, it’s not appealing,” Dafermos says. “People want to experiment, and that’s why we’re seeing the re-emergence of co-ops in general, and of this one in particular.”
To learn more about the CIC’s activities, read the report here.

See also:
Coopertiva Integral Catalana (english)
Ea O Ka Aina: To find alternatives to Capitalism 8/15/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Adios autos - Children have legs 8/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Build a local low-tech internet 9/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Chicago Worker Cooperative 10/16/15
Ea O Ka Aina: A Commons Based Economy 6/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Cooperatives, Collectives, Commons 4/7/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Economy under a new management 3/1/13

Abrupt Climate Justice

SUBHEAD: Resistance gives ultimate meaning to life in the Anthropocene.  Let’s embrace it, and each other. 

By John Foran on 16 November 2017 for Resilience -

Image above: Photograph of dawn as Somali woman walks through a camp of people displaced from their homes by the drought in Qardho, Somalia, March 9, 2017. From (

Three of the most intense hurricanes ever recorded just ripped through Puerto Rico and the southern US – within weeks of each other! Ash rained from the sky in Seattle and Portland for weeks. Record monsoons swept through Asia. Parts of Sierra Leone and Niger are underwater. San Francisco recorded its hottest day ever and Europe endured a triple-digit heat wave they called “Diablo.”

The fucking devil is here man, and its name is climate change. – Wendy & Jesse & Hayley & Teresa, “Face Down Climate Change,” Slingshot issue 125 (Autumn 2017)

I recently attended a talk by Guy McPherson, generally acknowledged as the doyen –some consider him the “superhero” – of the abrupt climate change [ACC] thesis [note to readers:  I understand that Guy McPherson can be a “polarizing” figure for some in the Resilience community; I ask only that you read my essay with the usual care, and stay focused on the nuances of my argument!).

I only came across this debate because I met – to my great good fortune – Shanelle LeFage, a millennial expert on it, and have subsequently followed her leads into the literature, discussed below.  As I learned more, I began to realize something that I had always intimated:  the science is grimmer than any of us know…

This has important implications for how those of us in the global climate justice movement approach our work, that it’s high time we tease out and engage with.

The Science of Abrupt Climate Change
The science is new, not widely known, and even less widely accepted.  In shorthand form, it connects these dots:
  • We are on the verge of an “ice-free” Arctic, or a so-called “blue ocean event,” meaning that, at the end of the summer months in the northern hemisphere, ocean waters have warmed to the point where there is nearly no ice left in the Arctic Ocean except in secluded enclaves.

  • This leads to even more warming because of the loss of the reflectivity of the ice, the so-called albedo effect.

  • Now we have the first of many positive feedback loops – less ice, warmer air, warmer water, less ice.

  • As the northern ocean warms further, the risk increases of the release into the atmosphere of both methane clathrates (methane deposits that have been kept on the ocean floor because they have till now been “frozen” in the slush) and of methane on northern lands as permafrost warms and melts.

  • And, of course, this all comes with the attendant feedback loops: more extreme weather events and all the rest – rising seas, changing ocean currents, warmer weather and oceans, ad infinitum, literally and unfortunately.
As Dahr Jamail, one of the few climate journalists reporting on the ACC thesis, noted back in 2013:
Moving beneath the Arctic Ocean where methane hydrates – often described as methane gas surrounded by ice – exist, a March 2010 report in Science indicated that these cumulatively contain the equivalent of 1,000-10,000 gigatons of carbon. Compare this total to the 240 gigatons of carbon humanity has emitted into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution began.

A study published in the prestigious journal Nature this July suggested that a 50-gigaton “burp” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea is “highly possible at any time.” That would be the equivalent of at least 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide.

Even the relatively staid IPCC has warned of such a scenario: “The possibility of abrupt climate change and/or abrupt changes in the earth system triggered by climate change, with potentially catastrophic consequences, cannot be ruled out. Positive feedback from warming may cause the release of carbon or methane from the terrestrial biosphere and oceans.”
Dahr Jamail’s book, The End of Ice, is promised for 2018.

Robert Hunziker, another excellent climate journalist who is covering the story, quotes Oxford University researcher Peter Wadhams, author of the recently released A Farewell to Ice:
Leading researchers, like Peter Wadhams, professor of Ocean Physics and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge for years have repeatedly warned, over and over again, the day will come when the Arctic will be ice-free.

That’s when bright red flashing lights and sirens start going off, as the water will be absorbing all but 6% of sunlight. Whereas with its icy cover, the Arctic reflects up to 90% of sunlight back to space, no harm, no foul.

When Dr. Wadhams was asked in an interview if “civilization could withstand a 50-gigaton release of methane,” he answered: “No, I don’t think it can.”
From here, all bets would be off.  How much methane could be released is the subject of at best a SWAG – “scientific wild-assed guess” – according to methane specialist Ira Leifer, whom Shanelle and I spoke with in Santa Barbara in September.

The scientists in the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, the Russian team of Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semilitev of the University of Alaska-based International Arctic Research Center, along with Leifer and others, are extremely concerned that the amounts could be significant.  And remember, methane’s warming potential as a greenhouse gas is many times greater than carbon dioxide, its better known cousin.

While it’s true that methane’s warming effect wears off in a matter of decades, as opposed to centuries for CO2, the last thing that humanity needs at this point in the twenty-first century – at the very dawn of the Anthropocene and the halting first steps by the international community to come to terms with the climate crisis, however ineffectually – the last thing that humanity needs now is a single to several degree spike in average temperatures, which would accelerate ocean acidification, glacier and ice melt, rising oceans, and the “extreme” (now proven to be a polite word) weather that has started to beset us with alarming regularity.  Oh, wait, that’s already happening, so this would all be intensified.

As Robert Hunziker notes, it may be that:
“The only question going forward is whether climate change rapidly accelerates as an out of control defiant monster or evolves little by little, in which case the gradualists will be correct, meaning future generations can fight the demons of ecosystem collapse.”
The Stakes when We Connect the Dots
We should therefore be asking some “what if” questions.  What if a sudden burst of methane led to a collapse or serious disruption of industrial society?  Apocalypse then?  Dystopia in our lifetimes, anyone?

Since we can’t answer this question, the stakes couldn’t be higher.  Repeat:  the stakes could not be higher.  No one tells the disheartening story of the implications of abrupt climate change better than Guy McPherson, Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, who walked away from his life as a tenured teacher when colleagues and administrators found his message (and his anarchist pedagogy) too disturbing for the undergraduates he so openly and creatively tried to explore this with.

McPherson then spent seven years in the arid landscape of New Mexico, learning the difficult arts of homesteading, self-sufficiency, and community-building with an assortment of like-minded spirits before packing that in and moving to Belize (a rather hot spot for a climate “doomist,” as he is often accused of being), where he now runs workshops for people whose lives have been shattered by their reading of the crisis as a terminal, near-term one for civilization.

As Dahr Jamail, the leading investigative journalist of abrupt climate change puts it:
Not surprisingly, scientists with such views are often not the most popular guys in the global room. McPherson, for instance, has often been labeled “Guy McStinction” – to which he responds, “I’m just reporting the results from other scientists. Nearly all of these results are published in established, esteemed literature.

I don’t think anybody is taking issue with NASA, or Nature, or Science, or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  [Those] and the others I report are reasonably well known and come from legitimate sources, like NOAA [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], for example. I’m not making this information up, I’m just connecting a couple of dots, and it’s something many people have difficulty with.”

McPherson does not hold out much hope for the future, nor for a governmental willingness to make anything close to the radical changes that would be necessary to quickly ease the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; nor does he expect the mainstream media to put much effort into reporting on all of this because, as he says, “There’s not much money in the end of civilization, and even less to be made in human extinction.” The destruction of the planet, on the other hand, is a good bet, he believes, “because there is money in this, and as long as that’s the case, it is going to continue.”
And it is true that McPherson has met with fierce criticism from many well-placed climate scientists, as for example, this broad-ranging dismissal by Scott Johnson at Fractal Planet.

I have no firm position in this debate, other than to take seriously the general line of argument that follows from the ice-free Arctic to the possibility of a severe and sudden disruption of our climate system’s ongoing dysfunction.
Abrupt Climate Justice
Our first responsibility remains, as always, to tell the truth.  The debate that exploded in climate circles this summer over the widely-read essay, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” by David Wallace-Wells in New York magazine, touched a nerve, and it was fascinating to see such eminent climate scientists as Michael Mann react to its harsh thesis, while activists such as Margaret Klein Salamon of the Climate Mobilization and journalists such as Dave Roberts at Vox generally found it worth taking on board.

All Wallace-Wells did was report what leading scientists think will happen in the worst-case scenario of continued business as usual (BAU).

We need to take a similar hard look at the situation now, in light of the possibility of abrupt climate change – however remote, and remember it’s anyone’s SWAG as to the precise likelihood, possibility, or probability, and even more of a SWAG to suggest when (or if) and how much of a temperature spike might hit us.

So please don’t misread my views as anything more than acknowledging the possibility of yet another worst-case (actually a worse case) scenario.  It just turns out that Wallace-Wells may have erred on the optimistic side.  Yikes!

Speaking now as a social scientist and scholar-activist, here are some of the things (I think) we know.
In the global climate justice movement, we know that BAU neoliberal global capitalism is already a slow-fuse death sentence for humanity.  The best science, such as that of Kevin Anderson, established this almost ten years ago.

We know that our only hope is the global climate justice movement.  I can hear friends like Shanelle over my shoulder saying “But there is no hope!”

But with other heroes of mine, from Bill McKibben (in all of his work, including a new novel, Radio Free Vermont) to Naomi Klein (in This Changes Everything and No Is Not Enough) to Rebecca Solnit (in Hope in the Dark and countless exquisite essays), I remain a deeply serious and (fun-) loving “hopist.”

And aren’t referring (or at least I’m not) to a kind of false hope that we can really contain the climate crisis from taking humanity into extremely dangerous climate change.

What we mean is real(istic) hope for deep, radical social transformation as the crisis unfolds.  This is what we are fighting for, and if you don’t think that overthrowing capitalism and the one percent is worth fighting for … then don’t join us.  Except, I suspect that increasing numbers of readers could be on board for this.

We already knew that time is short:  Carbon Brief’s meticulous carbon budgets tell us that we have perhaps four years of current-level GHG emissions left before we pass 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

Geoengineering – risky, untested, capitalist wishful thinking – is about to be (or is already being) foisted on us for effectively allowing two degrees to become a fait accompli, thus dictating that we somehow develop the capacity to remove already released greenhouse gases from the air.

So now, the existential urgency of our politics has just been accelerated by the possibility of abrupt climate change, or at the very least, the knowledge that tipping points, positive feedback loops, and so much more that is not in the IPCC’s climate models and future scenarios is on the cards.

We have to be clear about this:  we probably can’t prevent the climate from deteriorating toward a nearly uninhabitable Earth.

Does this mean have to do things differently? Well, since we aren’t winning at present, that would probably be a good idea. We need new ideas, fresh voices, radical imaginations, and loving hearts, still and always.

To address abrupt climate change as a possibility and extremely dangerous climate change as a certainty, we might want to adjust and re-imagine our work as abrupt climate justice. This is not just for me to do, but here are a few starters that I have been thinking about recently…
  • Emergent Strategy – the title of adrienne maree brown’s 2017 book, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds – is a useful new approach to building stronger movements by attending to process, cultivating relationships, maximizing our diversity, and staying open to learning and deciding in unfolding situations, which are skills much in demand by the many strands of the social movements that need to link up today.

  • Following on directly from this, the breakthroughs of Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock in the practice of intersectionality need to be studied and deepened as we proceed together, for many of us for the first time. Let’s resolve to learn more about the possibilities, pitfalls, and possible new options they open up for doing this work.

  • One idea for us to play with is what I am calling the New Kind of Party (NKoP).
What if we saw the path forward now as some excitingly new and original kind of party that in each country or area comes out of the social movements that would bring it to power and can then be held strictly accountable by them as it turns this ship of fools we’re on around?

Such a “party” (and the name is apt for the convivial connotations it holds) will be the patient, challenging, loving product of the actions of many people, and it will embrace the multiple, richly diverse threads of the new political cultures of opposition and creation that are bubbling up from the recesses of our wildest imaginations.

What if we could harness the people power, radical imagination, and boundless energy of all of these new actors in the present and the future, starting to facilitate discussions among the new social movements, brainstorming how to fashion some new kind of party to take power where that is possible while beginning or continuing to support and enable all the emerging transition initiatives to co-create radical social transformation on every level, from the always available local to the much needed national, not to mention our global arenas of struggle?

What have we got to lose?  We aren’t winning at present.  We need to try something different, something, really, that we haven’t tried before.

As Nathan Thanki, a young Irish climate justice radical has said in his trenchant response to the Wallace-Wells controversy, “Fuck Your Apocalypse”:
[W]hat good is our analysis, what is the point of our writing, if we can’t offer anything else? If we can’t contribute to transforming the world? It speaks to a poverty of the imagination if we cannot even see past our nihilism to ideas about how we might possibly fight and win.

“Ordinary” people are fighting for life all around the world. They always have and they always will. Some have sacrificed everything for this struggle, their deaths like their agency going unnoticed in the annals of any New York publication.

Deniers, you can keep your opinions to yourselves. Doomsayers, you can keep your apocalypse. I’ll keep my belief that another world is possible and worth fighting for.
Yes, I think now, that existence means resistance.  Or we simply won’t exist.  I’m not ready just yet to accept that.  And no one has to.

Resistance gives ultimate meaning to life in the Anthropocene.  Let’s embrace it, and each other.  And let’s move forward now, with urgency, with or without hope!


Fukushima Coverup

SUBHEAD: Doctors keep cancers a secret.  Officials “actively ignoring” reports of illness and death.

By Admin on 14 November 2017 for ENE News -

Image above: Detail of graphic illustration of the "prompt criticality event" at Fukushima Reactor #3 on 3/13/11 when the containment structure was destroyed in a nuclear material chain reaction. From (

Adam Broinowski, visiting research fellow at The Australian National University, 2017 (h/t Fukushima 311 Watchdogs):
  • Faced with the post-3.11 reality of government (and corporate) policy that protects economic and security interests over public health and well-being, the majority of the 2 million inhabitants of Fukushima Prefecture are either unconscious of or have been encouraged to accept living with radioactive contamination…

  • As Fukushima city resident Shiina Chieko observed, the majority of people seem to have adopted denial as a way to excise the present danger from their consciousness. Her sister-in-law, for example, ignored her son’s ‘continuous nosebleeds’, while her mother had decided that the community must endure by pretending that things were no different from pre-3.11 conditions. [Source: Shiina Chieko, interview with the author]…

  • Some, such as Yokota Asami (40 years old), a small business owner and mother from Kōriyama (60 km from FDNPS), demonstrated initiative in voluntarily evacuating her family. She decided to return (wearing goggles and a mask, she joked) in September 2011 when her son’s regular and continuous nosebleeds (in 30-minute spells) subsided. The Yokotas found themselves the victims of bullying when they called attention to radiation dangers… Her son was the only one to put up his hand when he was asked along with 300 fellow junior high school students if he objected to eating locally produced school lunches. He also chose not to participate in outdoor exercise classes and to go on respite trips instead. When it came time to take the high school entrance exam, he was told by the school principal that those who took breaks could not pass. He took the exam and failed. When he asked to see his results he found that he had, in fact, enough points to pass (the cut-off was 156 while he received 198 out of 250 points). [Source: Yokota Asami, interview with the author]…

  • Asami reported that doctors undertook paediatric thyroid operations while denying any correlation (inga kankei) with radiation exposures. They also urged their patients to keep their thyroid cancer a secret… Yokota also indicated she knew of students having sudden heart attacks and developing leukaemia and other illnesses. [Source: Yokota Asami, interview with the author]

  • This seems to be supported by Mr Ōkoshi, a Fukushima city resident, whose two daughters experienced stillbirths after 3.11. While Ōkoshi found that doctors have regularly advised women in the area to abort after 3.11, presumably to avoid miscarriages and defects, they do not discuss direct causes. He also observed regular illnesses experienced by many of his friends, and some sudden deaths. After a friend (62 years old) started saying strange things, he was diagnosed with brain dysfunction. He died quickly. Another friend (53 years old) was advised by a doctor to monitor a polyp in her breast. When she sought second opinions, she discovered she had accumulated an internal dose of 22 mSv and had a rapidly developing liver cancer. She also died quickly. [Source: Mr Ōkoshi, interview with the author]

  • There are many more such stories that are being actively ignored by the authorities. As Shiina put it, ‘we’re getting leukaemia and cataracts and we die suddenly. The TEPCO registrar has been inundated with complaints’. [Source: Shiina Chieko, interview with the author]

Hawaii Hit Hard

SUBHEAD: Over a trillion becquerels of nuclear waste fell on Hawaii - over 200 times more radiation than expected.

By Admin on 13 November 2017 for ENE News -

University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Oct 31, 2017:
  • Fukushima-derived radiocesium fallout in Hawaiian soils… This study estimated the magnitude of cesium deposition in soil, collected in 2015-2016, resulting from atmospheric fallout… Detectable, Fukushima-derived 134Cs inventories ranged from 30 to 630 Bq m-2 and 137Cs inventories ranged from 20 to 2200 Bq m-2… This research confirmed and quantified the presence of Fukushima-derived fallout in the state of Hawai’i in amounts higher than predicted by models and observed in the United States mainland…

  • The Hawaiian Islands were expected to get minimal, below 10 Bq m-2 or lower, of Fukushima-derived fallout…

  • Fukushima-derived soil radiocesium concentrations, were greater than anticipated based on model-predicted Pacific atmospheric dispersion rates…

  • Maximum estimated values of 134Cs fallout on the islands of Hawaii and O’ahu constrained by precipitation and data from sites with less than 70% canopy cover were obtained by linear interpolation of all measured soil cesium concentrations, resulting in 134Cs fallout ranging from < 60 to 1000 Bq m-2 [According to this study, “The Fukushima-derived fallout… 134Cs to 137Cs ratio was 1:1” — therefore 137Cs fallout from Fukushima was also 60 to 1000 Bq m-2, making the total radiocesium 120 to 2000 Bq m-2. Compare this to the study’s previous statement that “The Hawaiian Islands were expected to get minimal, below 10 Bq m-2 or lower, of Fukushima-derived fallout”]…

  • Using the conservative values and integrating over the whole area with rainfall above 200 mm, we estimate that the island of Hawaii received 1.50 x 10^12 Bq [1.5 Trillion Bq] of 134Cs and 137Cs, each isotope contributing 50%, between March 19 and April 4, 2011…

  • Atmospheric dispersion models predicted the majority of the plume to travel a more northern route over the Aleutian Islands… however, suggesting that the Fukushima-derived aerosol plume may have taken an alternative southern path. Our radiocesium fallout inventories are comparatively higher than those estimated and measured in North America. Previous research that used whole-water wet deposition to predict ‘its fallout in North America estimated up to 180 Bq m -2 in Alaska, 46 Bq m -2 in California, and 29 Bq m -2 in Washington State…

  • This is the first study to our knowledge studying Fukushima-derived fallout in the Pacific Islands…
From last week: Fukushima radiation found in Hawaii fish — Almost half contain fallout from Japan nuclear disaster

Radiation in Hawaiian Fish

Fukushima radiation found in Hawaii fish — Almost half contain fallout from Japan nuclear disaster

By Admin on 8 November 2017 for ENE News -

University of Hawaii at Mānoa, 2017:
  • In the Wake of Fukushima: Radiocesium Inventories of Selected North Pacific Fish
  • Thirteen commonly consumed types of fish caught in the North Pacific and locally available in Hawaii were analyzed using gamma spectroscopy to measure Fukushima-derived and historic 134 Cs and 137 Cs isotopes.
  • All fish samples had detectable 137 Cs above 95% Confidence Intervals. Three out of the thirteen samples had 134 Cs, an isotope indicative of Fukushima releases, detected above 95% Confidence Intervals.
  • The highest 134 Cs and 137 Cs concentration in the examined species was in ahi tuna carrying 0.10±0.04 Bq/kg and 0.62±0.05 Bq/kg, respectively. Other samples with 134 Cs activities found above their 2-sigma uncertainty were albacore tuna and swordfish…
  • [W]hile the plume has not necessarily reached the Hawaiian Islands, it did travel within established fishing grounds across major migratory paths northeast of the islands…
  • Five samples showed the Fukushima tracer 134Cs, present above critical levels and at the 68% confidence interval (CI at 1-sigma uncertainty) but only three of those fish exhibited activities above the range of their 2 sigma uncertainty representing 95% CI…
  • Five samples showed evidence of Fukushima-derived 134Cs…
  • This study suggests that about 40% of fish tested here and are consumed on the islands of Hawai’i were recently exposed to the path of the Fukushima-derived radiocesium plume in the North Pacific Gyre…
See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Hot particle update 7/27/17
Ea O Ka Aina: E-Fukushima bosses on trial 6/25/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco plan to dump tainted water 7/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Stop Fukushima as Olympic venue 5/10/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Continuing Fukushima danger 4/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Continuing Fukushima danger 4/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Stop Fukushima as Olympic venue 4/8/17 
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than ever 2/5/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation on West Coast 1/13/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup cost to double 12/9/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Tokyo damaged by nuclear pellet rain 9/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: High radioactivity in Tokyo 8/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
Green Road Jounral: Balls filled with Uranium, Plutonium 2/19/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14
ENE News: Nuclear fuel found 15 miles from Tokyo 8/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima, What me worry? 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11 

The Infinite Suburbs are a joke

SUBHEAD: We must return to a landscape composed with the resource realities of the future.

By James Kunstler on  27 October 2017 for The American Conservative -

Image above: The Jetsons in their flying car. Note Elroy holds leash through the "glass dome" of the family vehicle that is attached the dog Astro's doggy dome. From original article.

The elite graduate schools of urban planning have yet another new vision of the future. Lately, they see a new-and-improved suburbia—based on self-driving electric cars, “drone deliveries at your doorstep,” and “teardrop-shaped one-way roads” (otherwise known as cul-de-sacs)—as the coming sure thing.

It sounds suspiciously like yesterday’s tomorrow, the George Jetson utopia that has been the stock-in-trade of half-baked futurism for decades.

It may be obvious that for some time now we have lived in a reality-optional culture, and it’s vividly on display in the cavalcade of techno-narcissism that passes for thinking these days in academia.

Exhibit A is an essay that appeared last month in The New York Times Magazine titled “The Suburb of the Future is Almost Here,” by Alan M. Berger of the MIT urban design faculty and author of the book Infinite Suburbia—on the face of it a perfectly inane notion.

The subtitle of his Times Magazine piece argued that “Millennials want a different kind of suburban development that is smart, efficient, and sustainable.”

Note the trio of clichés at the end, borrowed from the lexicon of the advertising industry.

“Smart” is a meaningless anodyne that replaces the worn out tropes “deluxe,” “super,” “limited edition,” and so on. It’s simply meant to tweak the reader’s status consciousness. Who wants to be dumb?

“Efficient” and “sustainable” are actually at odds. The combo ought to ring an alarm bell for anyone tasked with designing human habitats. Do you know what “efficient” gets you in terms of ecology?
Monocultures, such as GMO corn grown on sterile soil mediums jacked with petroleum-based fertilizers, herbicides, and fast-depleting fossil aquifer water.

It’s a method that is very efficient for producing corn flakes and Cheez Doodles, but has poor prospects for continuing further into this century—as does conventional suburban sprawl, as we’ve known it.

Efficiency in ecological terms beats a path straight to entropy and death.

Real successful ecologies, on the other hand, are the opposite of efficient.

They are deeply redundant. They are rich in diverse species and functions, many of which overlap and duplicate, so that a problem with one failed part or one function doesn’t defeat the whole system. This redundancy is what makes them resilient and sustainable.

Swamps, prairies, and hardwood forests are rich and sustainable ecologies.

Monocultures, such as agri-biz style corn crops and “big box” retail monopolies are not sustainable and they’re certainly not even ecologies, just temporary artifacts of finance and engineering. What would America do if Walmart went out of business?

And don’t underestimate the possibility as geopolitical tension and conflict undermine global supply lines.

Suburbia of the American type is composed of monocultures: residential, commercial, industrial, connected by the circulatory system of cars. Suburbia is not a sustainable human ecology.

Among other weaknesses, it is fatally prone to Liebig’s “law of the minimum,” which states that the overall health of a system depends on the amount of the scarcest of the essential resources that is available to it. This ought to be self-evident to an urbanist, who must ipso facto be a kind of ecologist.

Yet techno-narcissists such as MIT’s Berger take it as axiomatic that innovation of-and-by itself can overcome all natural limits on a planet with finite resources. They assume the new-and-improved suburbs will continue to run on cars, only now they will be driverless and electric, and everything in their paradigm follows from that.

I don’t think so. Like it or not, the human race has not yet found a replacement for fossil fuels, especially oil, which has been the foundation of techno-industrial economies for a hundred years, and it is getting a little late in the game to imagine an orderly segue to some as-yet-undiscovered energy regime.

By the way, electricity is not an energy source. It is just a carrier of energy generated in power plants. We have produced large quantities of it at the grand scale using fossil fuels, hydropower, and nuclear fission (which is dependent on fossil fuels to operate).

And, by the way, all of our nuclear power plants are nearing the end of their design life, with no plans or prospects for them to be replaced by new ones.

We have maxed out on potential hydroelectric sites and the existing big ones are silting up, which will take them out of service inside of this century.

Electricity can also be produced by solar cells and wind turbines, but at nowhere near the scale necessary, on their own, for running contemporary American life.

The conceit that we can power suburbia, the interstate highway system, truck-based distribution networks, commercial aviation, the U.S. military, and Walt Disney World on anything besides fossil fuels is going to leave a lot of people very disappointed.

The truth is that we have been running all this stuff on an extravagant ramp-up of debt for at least a decade to compensate for the troubles that exist in the oil industry, oil being the primary and indispensable resource for our way of life.

These troubles are often lumped under the rubric peak oil, but the core of the trouble must be seen a little differently: namely, a steep decline in the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) across the oil industry. The phrase might seem abstruse on the face of it.

It means simply that it is becoming uneconomical to extract oil from the ground, even with the so-called miracle of “fracking” shale oil deposits. It doesn’t pay for itself, and the EROI is still headed further down.

In the 1930s, the oil industry could get 100 barrels of oil for every barrel of oil in energy they put into production. Drilling on the Texas prairie was like slipping a straw in a milkshake and the oil gushed out of the ground under its own pressure. Today, those old wells are far into depletion and we’re left with unconventional oil.

Horizontal drilling and fracking into shale is enormously more expensive to carry out, and offshore deepwater drilling that requires a $100 million floating oil platform is nothing like slipping a straw into a milkshake.

They have to go down a mile or more beneath the surface and then another mile into the undersea rock. It’s very expensive and dangerous. (Remember the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout of 2010?)

The aggregate ratio of oil-out-for-energy-in these days is 17 to 1, and for shale oil it’s more like 5 to 1. You cannot run industrial civilizations at those EROI ratios. Thirty to one is probably the minimum.

And you can’t run renewable alternative energy systems without an underlying support platform of fossil fuels. The implacable reality of this dynamic has yet to sink in at the graduate-school fantasy factories.

The world’s major oil companies are cannibalizing themselves to stay in business, with balance sheets cratering, and next-to-zero new oil fields being discovered. The shale oil producers haven’t made a net dime since the project got ramped up around 2005.

Their activities have been financed on junk lending made possible by arbitrages on the near-zero Fed fund rate, itself an historical abnormality.

The shale-oil drillers are producing all out to service their loans, and have thus driven down oil prices, negating their profit. Low oil prices are not the sign of a healthy industry but of a failing industrial economy, the latter currently expressing itself in a sinking middle class and the election of Donald Trump.

All the techno-grandiose wishful thinking in the world does not alter this reality. The intelligent conclusion from all this ought to be obvious: Restructuring the American living arrangement to something other than “infinite” suburban sprawl based on limitless car dependency.

As it happens, the New Urbanist movement recognized this dynamic beginning in the early 1990s and proposed a return to traditional walkable neighborhoods, towns, and cities as the remedy. It has been a fairly successful reform effort, with hundreds of municipal land-use codes rewritten to avert the inevitable suburban sprawl mandates of the old codes.

The movement also produced hundreds of new town projects all over the country to demonstrate that good urbanism was possible in new construction, as well as downtown makeovers in places earlier left for dead like Providence, Rhode Island, and Newburgh, New York.

When the elite graduate schools finally noticed the New Urbanism movement, it provoked extreme jealousy and hostility because they hadn’t thought of it themselves—it was a product of the property-development industry.

Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, in particular, had been lost for decades in raptures of Buck Rogers modernism, concerned solely with “cutting edge” aesthetics—that is, architectural fashion statements aimed at status seeking.

They affected to be offended by the retrograde front porches and picket fences of the New Urbanists, but they were unable to develop any coherent alternative vision of a plausible future urbanism—because there really wasn’t one.

Instead, around 2002 Harvard came up with a loopy program they called “Landscape Urbanism,” which was a half-baked revision of Ian McHarg’s old Design with Nature idea from the 1970s.

Design with Nature had spawned hundreds of PUDs (Planned Unit Developments) of single-family houses nestled in bosky, natural settings and sheathed in environmental-looking cedar, and scores of university housing “complexes” bermed into the terrain (with plenty of free parking).

Mostly, McHarg’s methodology was concerned with managing water runoff. It did not result in holistic towns, neighborhoods, or cities.

The projects of so-called Landscape Urbanism were not about buildings, and especially the relationship between buildings, other buildings, and the street. They viewed suburbia as a nirvana that simply required better storm-water drainage and the magic elixir of “edginess” to improve its long-term prospects.

Apparently MIT, down the street from Harvard, got jealous. They had snootily ignored the New Urbanism movement too, and done next to nothing on their own to rethink the next phase of the urban condition, besides the usual stale fantasies derived from the Radiant City playbook of Le Corbusier, the Swiss modernist who tried to destroy Paris in the 1920s with a skyscrapers-in-a-park scheme (which ended up being appropriated for the notorious American housing projects for the poor of the 1950s).

That’s where MIT’s Berger came in, having previously been at Harvard during the birth pangs of Landscape Urbanism. He brought over to MIT the P-Rex Lab (The Project for Reclamation Excellence) which put a “cutting edge” super high-tech veneer on what was still just environmental mitigation on previously used landscapes—pushing polluted soil around with front-end loaders.

Berger’s P-Rex lab showed absolutely no interest in the particulars of traditional urban design: street-and-block grids, street and building typologies, code-writing for standards and norms in construction, et cetera.

They showed no interest in the human habitat per se. Berger and his gang were simply promoting a fantasy they called the “global suburbia.”

Their fascination with the suburbs rested on three pillars: 
1) the fact that suburbia was already there;

2) the presumption that mass car use would continue to enable that settlement pattern; and

3 ) a religious faith in technological deliverance from the resource and capital limits that boded darkly for the continuation of suburban sprawl.
I will tell you without ceremony what the future actually holds for the inhabited terrain of North America.

The big cities will have to contract severely and the process will be fraught and disorderly.

The action will move to the small cities and small towns, especially the places that have a meaningful relationship with farming, food production, and the continent’s inland waterways. The suburbs have three destinies, none of them mutually exclusive: slums, salvage, and ruins.

The future has mandates of its own. If we want to remain civilized, we will be compelled to return to a landscape composed of relationships between town and country, at a scale that comports with the resource realities of the future.

These days the failure of American imagination, especially at the university level, is epic.


Winter is Coming

SUBHEAD: Change has come, and more is coming. It’s time to pick those herbs and finish my chores.

By Jody Tishmack 7 November 2017 for Animal Soul -

Image above: Late autumn foggy morning in Southern Indiana. From (

Fall has finally arrived. It’s November, well past the time of year when we normally see freezing temperatures. This year was unusually warm, a phrase that is beginning to lose its meaning since most years now are usually warm.

The leaves on the trees are finally turning color. The nights are going to be freezing this week.

I look over the garden and see a few peppers I missed and remind myself to pick them before nightfall.

 I collected masses of dill that reseeded itself from spring plantings. I’ve learned that if I freeze the dill in tomato sauce I canned this summer the flavor in soup is the same as if it’s been picked fresh.

 Good to know these things if you like the taste of fresh dill in winter soup. I look over the garden and see bunches of herbs I need to pick before the frost or they will be lost to the freeze. I worry about wasting them, and then I smile, remembering that the plants will give me another crop next year.

I’m still getting used to this experience of bounty from the perennials in the garden. I’m still conditioned to think of food and herbs as things I purchase from the store, not wanting to waste money by allowing them to go bad. Store bought food is so easily wasted. Gardens are more generous!

Most of my life I’ve been a person who worried about waste; don’t waste electricity, don’t waste your food, “There are starving children in China”. I wonder what was in the news in the 60’s when my mother used this phrase to make us feel guilty for not eating all the food on our plates. Were there stories of people starving in China?

What happened, I wonder, to all the starving children?

 I remember the oil embargo of the 70’s and the impetus not to waste energy. I was old enough to understand about the lines at the gas stations, but ignorant of a thing called “peak oil”. I remember the school placing plastic cards around light switches reminding us to turn off lights and conserve energy.

I understood about turning down thermostats and wearing a sweater. Perhaps growing up in Minnesota we understood wintertime better than people living farther south.

To this day I still hear my mother’s voice complaining if a door is held open too long, worried that I’m ‘letting out the heat’. I remember my father taking the screens off the windows and putting on storm windows.

My grandmother told me stories of living through the Great Depression reminding me not to take resources for granted because there might come a time when we need them. She never wasted a thing.

That was her nature.

 I’ve been conditioned by the times I’ve lived to think about energy, but mainly the cost of it more than the supply of it. I remember the taking of our embassy personnel in Iran. It was my first inkling that the Middle East would impact life in America for decades to come.

Ronald Reagan took office and told us “Today is a new day”, and somehow people believed him. The 80’s led to the 90’s consumption binge as if there was no need to worry about tomorrow. Credit was cheap.

We forgot about the embargo. We forgot about saving money and living frugal. We seemed to forget that bills always come due eventually.

Today it seems we have another Republican led effort to ignore the limits and pretend our actions won’t have consequences. “Climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.” “Coal jobs are coming back.” “There is plenty of oil for us to pump when the arctic ice melts!”

The cognitive dissonance this requires is profound. If the arctic ice is melting how can we not be concerned about climate change?

As the storms, floods, and wildfires raged this year I wondered if a tipping point has been passed, if the rate of climate change is accelerating, if the dark time of climate chaos and weather disasters is upon us.

Winter is coming.

The time when food becomes scarce, when the softness of nature retreats into submission, and storms rage with callous fury. It’s a time when we don’t know who or what will be left when spring arrives.

My ancestors are Scandinavian. I often think their fears of winter starvation still reside in my DNA. Those who lived in the north understood the necessity of putting up food and firewood enough to last through the winter. Winter was the time of harsh choices; when they were forced to choose the strong over the weak.

Scandinavians are often known for their stoicism. My grandmother would fit that category, yet she had a heart big enough to love all of us as if each of us was her most cherished.

She never complained about the past, yet I knew she suffered many things. She lived through hard times during the Great Depression, and yet still maintained the inner fortitude to keep living even when life was as hard.

Will my future be different? I hear in people’s voices their fears of what might come, not knowing the horrors only imagining their likelihood. I want to offer hope, but how?

How can I explain what I learned from my grandmother; that life is worth living even in the worst of times. Family and God were all that she had but they were worth everything to her. She had unshakable faith in the goodness of this world.

Her heart was big enough to endure pain and suffering and live through it…for us. We were her future. I wonder whether people truly realize how much our addiction to oil, to cars, to conveniences is going to affect our children and grandchildren’s future?

Yes, winter is coming. But before it arrives I pause and give thanks for what I’ve received this year. Fall gives us colors, a wild celebration of summer’s growth. The last of this year’s crops are picked and stored away.

The wood piled high and dry under the eaves of the barn; enough to make many a warm cozy fire when the snow lays deep.

I hear the call of the wild geese passing overhead and remember how they sounded in my childhood, high in the sky, the V shape they flew as they winged their way south for the winter. Here in Indiana they stay all year, winter and summer, never flying north.

Change has come, and more is coming. It’s time to pick those herbs and finish my chores. There will be plenty of time later to sit by a fire and ponder our future.


The Charter of the Forest

SUBHEAD: This 800 year old partner to the Magna Carta is vital for managing our future being challenged by eco-collapse.

By Guy Standing on 6 November 2017 for Open Democracy UK -

Image above: An English forest in summer. From (

Eight hundred years ago this month, after the death of a detested king and the defeat of a French invasion in the Battle of Lincoln, one of the foundation stones of the British constitution was laid down.

It was the Charter of the Forest, sealed in St Paul’s on November 6, 1217, alongside a shortened Charter of Liberties from 2 years earlier (which became the Magna Carta).

The Charter of the Forest was the first environmental charter forced on any government. It was the first to assert the rights of the property-less, of the commoners, and of the commons. It also made a modest advance for feminism, as it coincided with recognition of the rights of widows to have access to means of subsistence and to refuse to be remarried.

The Charter has the distinction of having been on the statute books for longer than any other piece of legislation. It was repealed 754 years later, in 1971, by a Tory government.

In 2015, while spending lavishly on celebrating the Magna Carta anniversary, the government was asked in a written question in the House of Lords whether it would be celebrating the Charter this year. A Minister of Justice, Lord Faulks, airily dismissed the idea, stating that it was unimportant, without international significance.

Yet earlier this year the American Bar Association suggested the Charter of the Forest had been a foundation of the American Constitution and that it was more important now than ever before. They were right.

It is scarcely surprising that the political Right want to ignore the Charter. It is about the economic rights of the property-less, limiting private property rights and rolling back the enclosure of land, returning vast expanses to the commons. It was remarkably subversive. Sadly, whereas every school child is taught about the Magna Carta, few hear of the Charter.

Yet for hundreds of years the Charter led the Magna Carta. It had to be read out in every church in England four times a year. It inspired struggles against enclosure and the plunder of the commons by the monarchy, aristocracy and emerging capitalist class, famously influencing the Diggers and Levellers in the 17th century, and protests against enclosure in the 18th and 19th.

At the heart of the Charter, which is hard to understand unless words that have faded from use are interpreted, is the concept of the commons and the need to protect them and to compensate commoners for their loss. It is scarcely surprising that a government that is privatizing and commercializing the remaining commons should wish to ignore it.

In 1066, William the Conqueror not only distributed parts of the commons to his bandits but also turned large tracts of them into ‘royal forests’ – ie, his own hunting grounds. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, there were 25 such forests. William’s successors expanded and turned them into revenue-raising zones to help pay for their wars. By 1217, there were 143 royal forests.

The Charter achieved a reversal, and forced the monarchy to recognize the right of free men and women to pursue their livelihoods in forests. The notion of forest was much broader than it is today, and included villages and areas with few trees, such as Dartmoor and Exmoor. The forest was where commoners lived and worked collaboratively.

The Charter has 17 articles, which assert the eternal right of free men and women to work on their own volition in ways that would yield all elements of subsistence on the commons, including such basics as the right to pick fruit, the right to gather wood for buildings and other purposes, the right to dig and use clay for utensils and housing, the right to pasture animals, the right to fish, the right to take peat for fuel, the right to water, and even the right to take honey.

The Charter should be regarded as one of the most radical in our history, since it asserted the right of commoners to obtain raw materials and the means of production, and gave specific meaning to the right to work.

It also set in train the development of local councils and judiciary, notably through the system of Verderers, which paved the way for magistrate courts. In modern parlance, it extended agency freedom, giving commoners voice in managing the commons, as well as system freedom, by opposing enclosure.

The Charter set the foundation for what is now called the communal stewardship of pooled assets and resources. Its ethos is the antithesis of the Government’s pretentious Natural Capital Committee, which is trying to capitalize the natural commons, to make them ‘profitable’. The commons exist for a way of living, not profits.

Over the centuries, the ethos of the Charter has been under constant attack. The Tudors were the most egregious, with Henry VIII confiscating ten million acres and disbursing them to favorites, the descendants of whom still possess hundreds of thousands of acres. The enclosure act of 1845 was another mass landgrab, mocking the pretensions of private property rights. Between 1760 and 1870, over 4,000 acts of Parliament, instituted by a landowning elite, confiscated seven million acres of commons. It is no exaggeration to say that the land ownership structure of Britain today is the result of organised theft.

Despite having endured centuries of abuse, the ethos of the Charter is still alive. But one feature of the neo-liberal economic paradigm that has shaped recent governments is a disregard for the commons, which the current British government has turned into a plunder under cover of the ‘austerity’ terminology. In the USA, the Trump administration has quietly prepared for the giveaway of millions of acres of federal commons.

For neo-liberals, the commons have no price, and therefore no value. So, they can be sold for windfall gains, or given away to their backers. By asserting the right to subsistence on the commons, the Charter recognized an alternative principle, something our ancestors defended with courage. We must do so now. We must resist the plunder of the commons and revive them.

A group is organizing a series of events to do so. Everybody is free to join. Developing national and localized Charters of the Commons should go alongside the worthy Charter of Trees, Woods and People that will be issued on the anniversary day. Our modest efforts will not only emphasize environmental principles enshrined in the Charter, but also its subversive commitment to the right to subsistence that underpins the basic income movement of today.

The campaign began with an event laden with symbolism, a barge trip on the Thames from Windsor to Runnymede on September 17, where a public event highlighting the need for a Charter of the Commons was held under the awesome 2,500 year old Ankerwycke yew.

The Runnymede meadow symbolises the commons. An earlier Tory government tried to privatise it, but an occupy movement organised by Britain’s first woman barrister succeeded in blocking the auction.

The barge trip’s symbolism does not stop there. Margaret Thatcher privatised our water in 1989. She gave nine corporations regional monopolies and gave them over 400,000 acres from the commons. Today, those corporations, mostly foreign owned, are among the country’s largest 50 landowners.

They mock the principles of the Charter of the Forest. Thames Water, while paying its foreign shareholders £1.6 billion, has been convicted and had its hands slapped for pouring 1.4 billion tonnes of untreated sewage into the Thames, and is also doing too little to fix leaks. The Charter asserted that the commoners had the right to water. It should be a public good, and be renationalised as a matter of high priority.

As well as an event in Sherwood Forest emphasizing fracking, there is an event in Durham, where one of the two originals of the Charter is preserved.

And on November 7, a meeting in the House of Commons will discuss a draft Charter of the Commons. In Lincoln, where the other original Charter is held, the Labour Party is organizing an event on November 11.

Further information can be obtained from . If any organization feels their agenda is relevant and that has not been contacted, let us know. We want all voices to be heard, all commoners to stand up and all of us to remember that reviving the commons is about recovering the future.

Image above: Copy of "The Charter of the Forest" from 1225.  From (


Can airlines be saved?

SUBHEAD: The Seneca Cliff - Alternatives energy sources for commercial aircraft will not replace fossil fuels. 

By Ugo Bardi on  30 October 2017 for Cassandra's Legacy -

Image above: It's easier to paint a plane green and run it on biofuel.  Rainy day for a new Boeing 747 that rests on tarmac ready for testing before certification and an airline paint job. From (

"Can the airlines be run on biofuels?" As it often happens, this simple question doesn't have a simple answer. First of all, it is a question that makes sense only in terms of a "sustainable" plane, that is one that doesn't run on fossil fuels. That's a major technological problem.

Whereas cars can be made to run on battery-powered electric motors, the power/weight ratio of the combination is simply unacceptable for a passenger plane that could provide a performance comparable to that of current jet planes.

Hydrogen planes have been proposed, but they are a nightmare for several reasons and it is unlikely that they could become practical in the short and medium term future.

That would leave only biofuels as a "sustainable" fuel that could power the current fleet of jet planes. Indeed, a small number of tests have been carried out showing that it is possible to fly planes using biofuels. But can it be done on the large scale needed to get rid of fossil fuels?

The first problem is whether biofuels are truly carbon-free. Most likely, the current fuels made from crops are not; in the sense that they involve extensive use of fossil fuels for their manufacturing. In many cases, however, even the current generation ("1st generation") of biofuels can provide a significant saving in the use of fossil fuels for the same amount of energy produced.

This is the case, in particular, for ethanol produced from sugarcane in Brazil. But there is a more fundamental question is: what would be the consequences of ramping up biofuel production to the levels needed to power the current airline fleet?

In a recent paper on Nature, Rulli et al. discuss the effect of the large scale cultivation of 1st generation biofuels on various parameters of the world's economy, including the global food supply.

They don't specifically examine the needs of airlines, but we can use their results for analyzing this sector.

First of all, the total amount of jet fuel consumed in the world is reported to be 6,000,000 barrels per day. It corresponds to about 7% of the total world combustible liquids production, but note that jet fuel is a refinery product, so the actual fraction is larger. But let's stick with 7% for lack of better data.

We may consider this value as approximately the fraction of transportation energy used by airlines since crude oil represents 93% of the total.

Rulli et al. estimate that if we were to arrive at a 10% reliance on biofuels for the world's transport, that would leave food for no more than 6.7 billion people and, since the current world population is about 7.6 billion people, almost one billion people would starve.

Now, since the airlines consume about 7% of the world's transport energy, feeding the airlines with biofuels would move us dangerously close to the threshold that would lead to killing a large number of people for the purpose of keeping planes flying. Maybe that won't happen if we are careful, but it is not impossible.

Of course, these data are for first-generation biofuels. There is much enthusiasm for 2nd and 3rd of second and third generation biofuels from cellulosic plant tissues or algae which, theoretically don't impact on the food supply.

Sure, but today the production of these fuels is non-existent or at best negligible. How long will it take to ramp up their production to the levels we are discussing here? And are we sure that they will work as promised?

The problem, here, is not just a technological one. We are dealing with a complex system, the world's economy coupled with the planetary ecosystem. In these systems, you can't change just one thing and leave all the rest unchanged.

Once we start to produce biofuels on a very large scale, it becomes extremely difficult to stop at a certain threshold. If we have a product and a market for it, both tend to expand and it is nearly impossible to stop the expansion of something that generates a profit.

That would bring big problems, to say the least. Rulli et al. estimate that arriving to supply 1st generation biofuels in an amount corresponding to 20% of the transport energy would leave no more than 4.4 billion people alive in the world.

That is, it would kill some 3 billion people.

Or, if dealing with 2nd or 3rd generation biofuels, it would lead to whatever disaster generated by the appropriation for humankind an even larger fraction of the planetary photosynthetic activity than it is done today. The ecosystem has limits, after all.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that ethical considerations would affect decisions in this field. The system is made in such a way that if producing fuels for the rich is more profitable than producing food for the poor, which is normally the case, the system will produce fuels, even though that implies killing billions of people.

So, we can only hope that biofuels will turn out to be too expensive even for the rich; but that may not be the case.

With so much research and development ongoing, production costs might be lowered enough to turn biofuel into an effective weapon of mass destruction (and I wouldn't be surprised to discover that this is one of the reasons why biofuels are promoted so aggressively in some quarters).

Or, more simply, we may hope that the Seneca Collapse of the world's economy will take care of the "airline problem" once and for all. As I said many times, the Seneca Cliff is not a problem, it is an opportunity.

In this case, it could lead us to develop better transportation technologies; more efficient and more benign for the ecosystem - although probably slower. But that's not a problem, either. It is an opportunity to travel only when you need to, and to enjoy the trip, too!

Some further data on the extent of land needed for the cultivation of biofuels for airlines:

First of all, the total amount of jet fuel consumed in the world is reported to be 6,000,000 barrels per day . It corresponds to about 7% of the total world combustible liquids production. Now, we need to compare the values measured in barrels with the needs of the airlines, measured in liters. A barrel contains 159 liters, so 159*6=1000 makes about 1 billion liters/day, or 3.6x10^11 liters/year.

Let's now consider the most efficient biofuel production: ethanol from Brazil's sugarcane. It can produce 6000 liters/ha per year (

Note that ethanol is not as energy dense as jet fuel. It has only about 70% of the energy density of gasoline Which means that the airlines would consume 3.6*10^11/0.7 = ca. 500 billion liters of ethanol per year.

So, assuming that the whole production of Brazilian ethanol is dedicated to airplanes, we would need more than 80*10^6 hectares (eighty million hectares). The total arable land in Brazil is reported to be: 75 Million ha. (
It means that the whole agriculture of Brazil should be dedicated only to produce fuel for the airlines.

That is, of course, absurd, but it is also true that the world's total arable land is = 1,407 x10^6 ha (, about 20 times the area available in Brazil.

So, the airlines would need only about 5% of the total which is, by the way, just slightly larger than the global arable area used for biofuel production today (about 4%) (

But note also that not all the arable land has the same good productivity as the land used for sugarcane production in Brazil, so the real fraction needed would have to be considerably larger than 5%, probably still less than 10%. How many people would starve if we were to arrive to that, it is impossible to say.