www.citizenthought.net



 

CLIMATE SCIENCE, DENIALISM, POLITICS, GRETA THUNBERG

Heaven and Hell

 

CONTENTS KEY

Foreword

1.      Denialists of Climate Science

2.      Koch Industries

3.      Drastic Heating of the Oceans, Greenland, and Antarctica

4.      Potsdam Institute, Stefan Rahmstorf, Johan Rockstrom     

5.      Global Heating and Parliamentarians

6.      Alberta Tar Sands

7.      Greta Thunberg Issues

8.      Heatwaves in 2018-2019

9.      Hurricanes and Devastation

10.    Climate Crisis in Australia

11.    The Bank of England Gives Warning to Investors

12.    Ecological Problems and Social Turmoil in Iran

13.    Heat, Floods, Drought, and Suicide in India

14.    Brazil and Deforestation Issues

15.    The Chinese Drive for Global Resources and Human Organs

16.    Russian Climate Dangers

17.    Cobalt Mining, Smartphones, Electric Cars

18.    Irreversible Trends and Prospects for Survivors

 

Foreword

This webpage is not addressed to any movement or political faction. The contents here represent my independent findings and format. I am not aligned with any of the various well known organisations promoting the drawbacks of climate change, including Extinction Rebellion (associated with civil disobedience). The data involved in climate science is still only very partially comprehended.   Many people still do not understand the issue of denialism, while hindering political factors are frequently submerged by convenient agendas.

1. Denialists of Climate Science

Continuing ice melt on a vast scale

For many years, the public have been fed with the novelism launched by climate science denialists. The contrarian slogans were tragically influential. "The human impact is very small" on the climate; this catchphrase proved convenient for obscured economic interests. "No current harm," the apologists for industrialism said beguilingly. "Future warming will be modest," was a superficial claim now shattered by scientific data. "Natural variation" was a preferred substitute motto for ecological damage. Huge bank balances were at stake, plus other forms of investment.

In 2013, an attack on climate scientists was posted at an American right wing gun promotion website. This revealing hate message stated: "It's time to demote our climate masters to our humble servants. We won't kill them. But we should sentence them to prison - or Siberia, where they'll wish the climate was warming" (Michael Mann, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, Columbia University Press 2012, new edition 2014, page 262). The quote comes from a revealing book by one of the most well known climate scientists. Professor Michael Mann and others were ultimately able to triumph over persecution and misrepresentation. The "climate wars" signify an aversion to professionals with the most reliable knowledge of climate change. Many of the public are still suffering from distortions created by denialists.

A typical miscalculation emphasised: the globe has cooled since 1998, so global warming is a fiction. Denialism has wanted the public to believe that power stations are benevolent in pumping out vast quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2). In reality, the last twenty years were a toxic phase of record temperatures caused by carbon emissions. The World Meteorological Association has stated that fifteen of the sixteen warmest years on record occurred this century.

Bjorn Lomborg, a professed economist, is regarded by critics as a circus act for the fossil fuel lobby. He does not deny climate change, but does his best to minimise any due incentive, for instance, expressing a preference for fracking instead of renewables. A popular denialist work by Rupert Darwall, in the idiom of opposing “green tyranny,” was “sparked by a lecture from climate denier Lord Lawson.” Darwall’s book was endorsed at Chicago by the Heartland Institute, a major American centre of climate science denial, notorious for serving the interest of oil company dividends. According to the DeSmog UK site: "The Heartland Institute and its conference sponsors have collectively received millions of dollars in funding from the fossil fuel industry." ExxonMobil and Koch Industries are here referred to (plus the very conservative Scaife). A funding total from these donors is stated at 67 million dollars over three decades.

The Heartland conference on climate change, in 2012, was "an event clouded by the group's incredibly offensive billboard campaign that flamed out within hours but is causing lasting damage to the group's fading financial support from corporations, defections by staff and board directors" (Easterbrook). Offensive language is not a scientific speciality, but a resort of more questionable nature.

In 2012, leaked documents conveyed details of a Heartland campaign against climate science. This organisation cultivates a libertarian image. The leak mentioned a contribution from Koch Charitable Foundation. "The documents suggest that Heartland has spent several million dollars in the past five years in its efforts to undermine climate science" (Leak offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science).

The Heartland documents revealed the plan to create "a curriculum for public schools intended to cast doubt on mainstream climate science." This curriculum would claim that "whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy." The contention here was very misleading. The New York Times reiterated that the "vast majority of climate scientists" are in agreement about climate change being caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide.

The Heartland supporter Don Easterbrook (a geologist) stated in 2014: "I am continuing to predict global cooling for the next couple of decades at least." He completely ignored climate science. The previous year, Easterbrook asserted: "The Antarctic ice sheet is not melting... the main ice sheet is in fact growing." This represents a serious delusion. Easterbrook also denied ocean acidification, a factor confirmed by far more reliable scientists like Stefan Rahmstorf.

The British journalist James Delingpole asserted in 2016: "Climate change is the biggest scam in the history of the world." Delingpole has also supported a denialist contention worded as: "no global warming since 1998." In 2013, Delingpole wrote a newspaper article entitled The crazy climate obsession that made the Met Office a menace.

Delingpole read English Literature at Oxford. One would expect courtesies. However, his idiom is described by some academics as hate speech. He composed a Breitbart article dated 17/11/2016, entitled President Trump is going to Hit Some Very Nasty Greenies where it really Hurts. Delingpole here employs contemptuous phrases that are in dispute. He was exhorting Trump to attack environmentalists. "Smite them, salt them, and crush them underfoot." The climate scientists and other ecologists were described as "scum-sucking slime creatures." The same opponents of Delingpole were also "crooks, liars, troughers, and scumbags."

The denialist bias is reflected in policies of President Donald Trump, whose withdrawal from the Paris Agreement signifies, for instance, that controversial fracking activity is imposed upon extensive public lands.  “Due to the fracking boom, the United States is now on track to account for 60 per cent of the world’s projected growth in oil and gas production” (Trump's Deadly Attack on California, 2019). The vast scope for carbon emissions in this policy has flaunted UN warnings. Already, the coal-fired Scherer power plant in Juliette, Georgia, annually pumps over 25 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Most smaller countries have no hope of counteracting the effects of such damage, whatever precautions they undertake on their own territory. Add Russia, China, Brazil, and many other high emitters (Climate Action Tracker).  The total mix means global eco-hell. The Disunited Nations demonstrate greed, miseducation, and misconduct.

The Scherer Plant at Juliette is described by critics as an ash pond teeming with toxic waste, contaminating groundwater, while maintaining a cobalt problem causing lung issues and cancer. "Groundwater at this site contains unsafe levels of cobalt, boron, sulfate, selenium and arsenic" (Ashtracker).

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) was founded by the British denialist Sir Nigel Lawson. In 2015, a GWPF report claimed: "Policies to 'stop climate change' are based on climate models that completely failed to predict the lack of warming for the past two decades." This glaring climate blindness is one of many GWPF "cooler" failings. Dangerous global heating is widely obvious to millions of people, not merely scientists.

In 2011, the GWPF celebrated, on their website, a "Popular Technology" array of 900 papers mustered in support of denialism. These papers were critically received at the Carbon Brief website, whose vigilant team discerned that the top ten authors in favour were linked to organisations funded by the oil giant ExxonMobil, an insidious opponent of the scientific consensus on climate change. For instance, Ross McKitrick was a senior fellow of the Exxon funded Fraser Institute; he was also prominent on the advisory board of the GWPF. Patrick Michaels likewise ranked high in the top ten; he explicitly revealed that about 40 percent of his funding came from the oil industry.

Another GWPF "top ten" denialist is Richard Lindzen, a reputed expert of the Heartland Institute who preached the benefits of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Like Michaels, he became closely linked to the Cato Institute, funded by Exxon since 1998 (a significant date in denialist lore). In 2018, Lindzen stated to the GWPF: "Warming of any significance ceased about twenty years ago."

The Cato Institute (Washington) is strongly associated with Koch Industries and a "free market" manifesto. Cato has opted for a leisurely theme that there is ample time to develop technologies for reducing carbon emissions. The reason supplied here is that the pace of global warming is very slow. Denialist tunnel vision should not be applauded.

Exxon (like Shell) deviously suppressed a 1980s internal document charting the environmental disaster caused by their oil distribution. That significant document was leaked in 2015. The implications are slow to dawn in some directions. Denialism has long been fully aware of damages achieved by opposition to scientific consensus. Exxon paid an army of denialists to declare that global heating is a hoax.

Encouraged by denialism, internet trolls have desecrated online videos of scientific research. Even the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has met with dismissive responses such as: “Don’t make this into a warning. The global ice melt is perfectly normal, and happens regularly through time.”

A revealing episode occurred, in 2019, when climate scientists confronted a document signed by more than 500 denialists who challenged scientific consensus. The signatories were promoting a theme of: "There is no climate emergency." A number of the contenders (like Richard Lindzen) had doctoral credentials; however, most of these people "have no or little experience within climate research." Critics were able to demonstrate the superficiality and inaccuracy of denialist assertions. This expose led to the phrase: more than 500 people misunderstand climate change.

The climate scientists pointed out that many of the signatories "are well known climate deniers and are not actively involved in direct research on climate change." The 2019 document stated, for instance, that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, adding: "More carbon dioxide is beneficial for nature, greening the Earth." Carbon emissions here gained the status of a green transformation; the fossil fuel kings and patrons were doubtless delighted. One critic of this misleading document reflected: "Every single sentence is either wrong, insignificant or irrelevant for the question whether climate change is a serious problem."

Many of the signatories were "engineers or professionals in non-technical fields; only ten identified themselves as climate scientists." A fair number of these people were geologists and engineers, roles associated with fossil energy extraction. A conclusion is that many were fossil fuel employees. Some were business executives. They all presented themselves as "knowledgeable and experienced scientists and professionals."

The real experts had contributed a United Nations (UN) special report on climate change, dating to October 2018. This was entitled Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, also known as SR15. The report was authored by 91 scientists from nearly 40 countries, employing over six thousand scientific studies. SR15 was issued by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Denialists tried to contradict this important document; their refutations read like gibberish to anyone who understands the content.

A record high was reported for atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide in 2016. The World Meteorological Organization concluded that this development posed a risk for achieving UN global temperature targets. An accompanying concern is a continuing rise of methane levels in the atmosphere, now explained as a climate change feedback in relation to very serious events at the Arctic polar regions.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has reflected: "The point of no return is no longer over the horizon; it is in sight and hurtling towards us" (Our Future Depends on the Arctic, 2019).

The overall picture is grim. The World Bank has warned that problems like water scarcity, crop failure, sea level rise, and storm surges will cause substantial migrations by 2050 within India, Latin America, and Africa. The migrants are here estimated at over 140 million. The provisional figure of 200 million has also been accepted. By 2050, one in every 45 people in the world will have been displaced by climate change. See Migration and Climate Change (International Organisation for Migration, Geneva 2008). Much higher estimates have also been suggested.

A related concern is the number of migrants moving outside their own country, as in Central American regions afflicted by climate change and social problems such as governmental oppression and gangs. Storms, floods, and droughts are increasing in territories like Guatemala and Honduras. Other areas of the globe are also experiencing the same disruptive pattern.

Refugee problems, as is well known, have been caused by wars. Conflicts in Syria, Iraq, the Yemen, the Congo, and South Sudan are notorious for causing upheavals. Increasing millions are also leaving home because of natural disasters, mainly "extreme weather" events such as hurricanes and floods. This problem of climate change is now in process of superseding the affliction of wars. For instance, Cyclone Idai caused havoc in southern areas of Africa, causing many deaths and uprooting millions in Mozambique and Malawi (with further damage in Zimbabwe).

Refugee flight to cities is no longer a solution, because 84 of the 100 fastest growing cities in the world face climate change hazards. Megacities like Lagos in Nigeria, and Kinshasa in the Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo), are now classified as being subject to a substantial risk. A recent UN report refers to over 40 million people displaced in their own countries, while 26 million have fled across national borders. "More than 35,000 people were forced to flee their homes every day in 2018 - nearly one every two seconds- taking the world's displaced population to a record 71 million" (BBC, Displaced People, 2019).

The fracking boom in America was cheered by denialists. Vast numbers of new shale oil and gas wells appeared. "The US shale oil and gas industry has lost more than a quarter trillion dollars since 2007, while being sold to investors as an economic boom" (J. Mikulka, Fracking Boom, 2020). A related discrepancy is that of "Wall Street bankers finding innovative ways to finance a money-losing endeavour" (ibid).

Fracking generated atmospheric pollutants (including methylene chloride). This concealed crisis created groundwater contamination, threatening drinking water. In homes near fracking sites, water became so contaminated with methane that an inflammable liquid was in process. Methane leaks from the fracking industry are now a notorious subject. Fracking companies suffered huge debts. Billions of dollars were lost, to the disillusionment of greedy investors. The denialist project created 861 billion gallons of wastewater (a polite term for toxic waste). This industrial waste is not only toxic, but can also prove radioactive. As a consequence of fracking pollution, climate change was aggravated (A Decade of Fracking). Meanwhile, state officials in Florida were forbidden to use the phrase "climate change." This may be described as dangerous obscurantism on the part of an incompetent bureaucracy whose damages will be long-lasting.

The fracking activity in the Permian Basin (Texas) created a spike in flaring and venting practices. Venting means "the release of unburned gas, largely methane, directly into the atmosphere," amounting to 810 million cubic feet per day in 2019. In addition to carbon and methane, this activity spreads nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide pollution, the sulphur content contributing to respiratory problems. The pollution crimes are attended by an Exxon strategy amounting to hypocrisy:

The oil giant's long history of funding climate science denial has given way to a craftier position of pledging support for climate goals while leaving an aggressive drilling and [industrial] growth strategy mostly unchanged. (N. Cunningham, Future of Exxon, 2020)

2. Koch Industries

Koch Industries Inc. Courtesy AP

The most influential of the climate science denialists are stated to be the Koch Brothers, primarily meaning Charles Koch (born 1935), the American oil billionaire. He cultivated anarchic capitalism, associated with an extremist libertarian disposition. Koch represents the so-called "free market" resisting all control and authority. The mode is deregulation with an anti-environmental edge. Charles Koch is described by ecologists as the primary facilitator and funder to wealthy elites who block progress on climate change. The diverse organisational ramifications are dubbed by critics the "Kochtopus." Some actions are difficult to trace because of the secrecy attendant, including the use of dark money.

Koch Industries are a major oil refiner. These companies "are serious polluters, too - generating 24 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year" (US Oil Billionaire Charles Koch Funds UK Anti-Environment Spiked Network, 2018). The purpose of the underlying independent industrialist programme is to prevent all interference with a lucrative pollution achieved by the companies involved. In 2016, Charles Koch conveniently and misleadingly stated: "In the last 30 or 40 years, there's been no real increase in storms or bad weather."

The Koch project is strongly associated with the political far right. Some documents are revealing. This "libertarian" phenomenon is very influential in America, also having penetrated Britain, a fact only discovered by careful investigation. In America, the consequences include a disconcerting process:

The Koch network has helped secure massive tax cuts, the smashing of trade unions and the dismantling of environmental legislation. (George Monbiot, How US billionaires are fuelling the hard-right cause in Britain, 2018)

The wealthy brother of Charles was David Koch (d.2019). At his death, an environmentalist critic wrote: "He (David) deployed his stupendous fortune funding climate denial in the years when the science was clear and there was still time to avert catastrophic warming. He died as fires raged from the Amazon to the Arctic" (David Koch, billionaire industrialist).

3. Drastic Heating of the Oceans, Greenland, and Antarctica

Antarctic melting

The ocean heat content is now formidable. The year 2018 saw a new record high for the total amount of heat stored in the seas as a consequence of global heating. Human-emitted greenhouse gases trap extra heat in the atmosphere. Ninety per cent and more of this heat is absorbed by the oceans. The substantial heat mostly accumulates in the top seven hundred metres of seawater, but some of the heat is also mixed into the deep ocean waters. This process decodes to a very serious drawback of unpredictable scope, including a dramatic driving force for hurricanes.

The top layer of ocean (about 200 feet) is now warming up about 24 percent faster than a few decades ago. This will increase storm strength to category 4 or 5, with relentless rainfall. Thermal expansion of the oceans has resulted in sea level rise, worse than ice melt. However, thermal expansion will very probably be overtaken by ice melt in the pending drastic increase of sea level for which politicians are totally unprepared (Ocean warming, 2019). The new IPCC report (2019) on oceans and the cryosphere (frozen water and ground) is very sobering. The revealing document was authored by more than a hundred scientists from over thirty countries. The Greenpeace verdict on this report states:

The impacts of human-made carbon emissions on our oceans are on a much larger scale and happening way faster than predicted. It will require unprecedented political action to prevent the most severe consequences to our planet. (New IPCC Report shows critical need for climate action)

Another pressing subject is glaciology. Greenland's ice sheet is substantial, being over three kilometres thick in some regions. Over the past twenty years, the rate of melting was 33 percent higher than the twentieth century average (Greenland is losing ice, Nature 05/12/2018). Those are grave statistics. An American glaciologist informs: "We're watching an ice sheet rapidly transform its state in front of our eyes, which is terrifying." The melt run-off into the sea has so far been minimal, but new developments could cause that process to increase dramatically. "We have never observed an ice sheet behaving this way before" (Something strange is happening to Greenland's ice sheet, 2019). Dr. Jason Box of Denmark, likewise active on the ice sheet, urges that coastal planners need to assimilate the changes. One glacier in southern Greenland has thinned by as much as 100 metres since 2004. The acceleration has astonished and alarmed experts. During the summer of 2019, a very short period, that glacier lost about nine metres (Greenland's ice faces melting death sentence).

Many new lakes are appearing on the Greenland ice sheet, involving ice events not formerly anticipated until 2050. The stability of the ice sheet is in jeopardy. Standard predictions of melt rate could be shattered, as in other ecological directions. If the entire Greenland ice sheet melted, global sea level would rise about twenty feet (Newly spotted lakes on Greenland ice sheet speeding up Demise, 2019).

On the other side of the globe, the Antarctic is also now causing consternation to expert glaciologists. Former conservative estimates of ice melt are rendered ridiculous by very recent discoveries that the rate of ice loss from five glaciers has more than doubled in six years. Up to a quarter of the West Antarctic ice sheet is now thinning, with losses of up to 100 metres thickness in some areas. The adjoining sea water is too hot, causing the ice to melt from the underside of glaciers. Even the formidable East Antarctic ice sheet is starting to melt (Glacial melting in Antarctica may become irreversible, 2019). The East Antarctic holds enough ice to deluge the planet.

Using radar, NASA scientists discovered a “massive cavity” in the base of Thwaites glacier, part of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Thwaites covers an area the size of Britain. The very disconcerting cavity was caused by ice melt in only three years. That cavity is 300 metres high, and two-thirds the size of Manhattan (Glacier is melting so quickly, 2019). Thwaites contains enough ice to raise sea levels by more than two feet. Thwaites is accompanied by other glaciers with far more ice, enough to raise sea levels by more than two metres. The giant cavity is being investigated by the British Antarctic Survey, who have launched an expedition to conduct a long term assessment of the remote Thwaites ice sheet. Less than a hundred people have ever set foot on Thwaites glacier.

Meanwhile, new research on sea level rise has provided a bombshell verdict. The climate change danger to coastal cities is chronic. By 2050, the problems could affect three times more people than was previously thought. In this scenario, no less than 150 million people are now living in territory facing submergence. South Vietnam could virtually disappear. Another disaster zone is Bangkok in Thailand. In China, Shanghai and many adjoining cities are on the emergency list. Basra, the second largest city in Iraq, could be mostly underwater by 2050. Mumbai, the financial capital of India, "is at risk of being wiped out" (Rising Seas will Erase More Cities, 2019).

4. Potsdam Institute, Stefan Rahmstorf, Johan Rockstrom

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; Professor Stefan Rahmstorf

The Potsdam Institute, in Germany, is a major research centre for climate studies. Strongly associated with that science centre is Professor Stefan Rahmstorf (University of Potsdam), an expert in oceanography. Amongst many other contributions, Rahmstorf co-authored Stronger Evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning (Nature, 11/04/2018). Very briefly, the data means a weakening of the Gulf Stream in response to anthropogenic global warming. Increased rainfall, and meltwater from Arctic sea ice and Greenland, is “reducing” the Northern Atlantic salinity. There is an issue of whether this drawback could provide a “tipping element” in the global warming process as a whole. If warming is not stopped quickly, “we must expect a further long-term slowdown of the Atlantic overturning,” which could be very disruptive.

A slowdown “exacerbates sea-level rise on the US coast for cities like New York and Boston.” The change in Atlantic sea surface temperatures can also affect weather patterns over Europe. This is a phenomenon of extremes that is still coming into focus. The European heat wave of summer 2015 has been linked to the record cold that same year in the Northern Atlantic.

A related article by Professor Rahmstorf, dated 11/04/2018, can be found at realclimate.org. This refers to attacks by climate sceptics, who dismiss the new findings by claiming to find contradictions in previous studies. Rahmstorf comments that the sceptics “are not interested in an understanding of science, but in confusing the public with misleading claims.” See also counterpunch.

Professor Johan Rockstrom

Professor Johan Rockstrom is Director of the Potsdam Institute. As co-author, he presented an easy to read guide for the Madrid climate summit in December 2019. The title is Must Knows for Climate Negotiators. A few extracts are gratefully included here:

Earth observations show that big systems with known tipping points are already now, at 1 degree C warming, on the move toward potentially irreversible change, such as accelerated melting of Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, drying of rainforests, and thawing of Arctic permafrost.

Despite increasing drivers of reduced emissions, such as growth in green energy, institutions divesting from fossil fuels, and some countries phasing out coal power, the fossil industry is still growing.... We are not on track to reach the Paris Agreement.

The pace of contemporary rise in greenhouse gas concentrations is unprecedented in climate history over the past 66 million years, and methane concentrations are now at a record high of 257 percent of preindustrial levels.

The world's forests are a major carbon dioxide sink, absorbing about a third of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Yet human-driven forest fires have been reducing these sinks, and climate change globally amplifies wild forest fires. Increases in fires are observed in Western U.S. and Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Australia as a result of prolonged drought. Huge emissions have been observed from land changes in western Ethiopia and western tropical Africa. Loss of forests affects both the local and global climate.

Climate change is forcing us to reconsider the notion of an extreme event. What was once considered unlikely or rare - both in terms of the intensity and frequency - is becoming part of a 'new normal.' Record-breaking extreme weather and climate events have continued to dominate the headlines in 2019.

Undernutrition will be the greatest health risk of climate change with declining agricultural productivity, particularly in dry lands in Africa and high mountain regions of Asia and South America. In addition, increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide will reduce the nutritional quality of most cereal crops. Climate change is already affecting food production by reducing agricultural yields, especially in the tropics, and will increase loss and damage throughout the food system. Global fish stocks are set to further decline with climate change.

The Madrid climate summit ended without the concensus on reducing carbon emissions, a UN priority required amongst nearly 200 member countries. The withdrawal of America from the Paris climate accord is a catastrophe. Brazil and Australia were salient amongst the governments too obviously avoiding emissions reduction. "While Sydney burned [via the bushfires], Australia used an 'accounting loophole' to cover for its poor climate record" (A. Chandrasekhar, UN Climate Talks ended in Deadlock). China and India likewise did not emerge as ecological saviours. The European Union (EU) were resolved to achieve "net zero by 2050." Unfortunately, this theme amounts to an excuse for careless carbon emitters. By that date, many of the evasive politicians will be dead, while "mega-cities such as Mumbai will be under water" (ibid). Even the conveniently discarded former deadline of 2030 is too late in the day for realistic appraisal.

The Madrid summit amounted overall to a farce, dominated by wealthy countries ignoring poor countries and desperate people on disappearing islands. The abortive final text "included enormous loopholes for polluters but not even a lukewarm nod to the need for 'enhanced ambitions' " (B. Ehrenreich, Facing Climate Catastrophe). Mining and drilling are zealously cherished activities at the expense of ecology. Climate science, as distinct from technological overkill, is meaningless in commercial politics. The fossil fuel industry still dominates international mentality and behaviour. The notorious "disconnect," from environmental priorities, was overwhelmingly victorious at Madrid.

5. Global Heating and Parliamentarians

The missing ice will not go back to the Arctic. Greenland is now losing ice at a disastrous rate. The Antarctic is recently proving enormous ice loss, for which there will be consequences. The oceans are suffering from carbon overdose (quite apart from the invasion of plastics and diverse pollutants).

Thirty years ago, responsible climate scientists warned of severe heatwaves, increasingly heavy rainfall, dangerous cyclones, and unpredictable tornadoes. This forecast was treated as idle fancy, as sheer alarmism, by denialists. The warners have been proven correct. Now one can say that certain fatal trends are irreversible. The climate heating will not decrease; far too many industrial countries are now failing to cooperate with the United Nations schedule. Ice melt and hurricanes will continue.

Two centuries after the Industrial Revolution in Britain, the House of Lords discussed the issue of climate change and health. The date was December 2017. Amongst other things, this Parliament programme revealed that, unless due action is taken, UK deaths from climate overheating are estimated to rise by a massive 250 per cent by the 2050s.

l to r: Lord Bernard Donoughue, Lord Nigel Lawson

In the same session, on a more discordant note, the Labour MP Lord Bernard Donoughue asserted that the debate on climate change “suffers from exaggeration, scaremongering, and a lack of proper candour.” He conceded the increase in climate warming by 1 degree, while adding: “That is not a very dramatic and alarming increase.” This denialist attitude is extremely misleading.

During the Parliament session, Lord Donoughue at first used the expression 1 percent in relation to the degree of warming. Lord Krebs corrected him. The resort to percentage reflects a fairly widespread tendency to view the single degree of warming in terms of a mere fraction having no substantial import. In reality, that one degree is symptomatic of a severe imbalance. The extra half a degree rise to 1.5 is currently a pressing issue to the UN (United Nations) ecology experts. 

Lord Donoughe was a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), founded in 2009 by Lord Nigel Lawson of Blaby, a former finance minister and climate sceptic believing that man-made global warming has little or no impact. The GWPF was apparently established as a rival to the Copenhagen Climate Summit, which represented many scientists acting in concert with the UN. Lord Lawson even "claimed that global warming had stopped, in the years following the last major El Nino in 1998."

The low digits involved in graph climate warming are superficially interpreted as proof of a negligible phenomenon. I-2-3, cannot mean anything serious, ha ha, useless alarmism. Look closer. Those low digits encompass chronic seasonal temperature increase and environmental havoc.

In January 2019, Lord Donoughue became the new leader of the GWPF. He is revealed as having "investments in a number of fossil fuel companies, including those building controversial oil and gas pipelines in Canada" (R. Collett-White, Lord Donoughue, 2019). His shareholdings include BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil. The Canadian pipelines in question carry oil from the Alberta tar sands, a climate disaster zone to be underlined in red. Canada is currently celebrated in the uninhibited new age for the legalisation of cannabis, a romanticised substance which will not solve the extensive industrial degradation in Alberta.

Lord Donoughue has called the climate protest movement "evangelical," seeking to retard economic growth. He has supported fracking. In 2010 he described the opponents of denialism as "Stalinist," equivalent to a "fanciful 'moral leadership' of the world." This political rhetoric flourishes in the absence of due perception and assimilation of climate science data. The superficial associations serve high salary officials who prefer ExxonMobil duplicity to a scientific consensus. Stalin favoured industrialisation, just like the denialists; he censored all those who disagreed with his policies. The current attempts of the Putin government to glorify Stalin are attended by artificial winter snow in Moscow. The real snow is evaporating, adversely affected by global heating, which is stimulated by lunacies of industrial elites, including the tar sands project.

6.   Alberta Tar Sands

At the Paris Climate Summit in 2015, Canada agreed with the UN ruling to limit emissions to 1.5C increase. Protesters accordingly blocked new schemes attending the Trans Mountain oil pipeline in 2018. The Trudeau government then purchased the pipeline from Texas owners. Canada now commenced to spend billions on what is described as "the world's most destructive oil operation." By 2030, oil and gas emissions in this operation are anticipated to reach 100 million metric tons a year. This distraction from the Paris Climate Accord comes under strong criticism.

Alberta Tar Sands. Image credit: geoissues.com

The tar sands project in Alberta is effectively owned by oil companies like Exxon and the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). The latter, based in Beijing, comprises one of the largest national oil companies in China. The CNOOC operation is attended by controversies, including the abuse of human rights in Burma. The same operation also stands accused of assisting the persecution of Falun Gong affiliates by the Chinese Communist Party. The CNOOC has consigned employees to labour camps of a very oppressive (and deadly) kind.

The oil output at this location is 2.6 million barrels daily, being shipped to American refineries. The Alberta tar sands are the world's largest industrial project, a trillion dollar investment underlined by 500 miles of industrial landscape (S. Leahy, This is the world's most destructive oil operation - and it's growing). The toxic tailings pools are attended by a bitumen residue that causes the sheen visible on photographs. Acid rain is a substantial problem.

The massive cost of cleaning the toxic pools is unwelcome. The oil industry dominates the Canadian government. Complaints from indigenous communities have been ignored. Cancer is one of the deadly symptoms arising. More pipelines are planned; there is no end to greed. "Greenwashing" is one of the ruses to allay criticism.

A significant new Canadian report has warned that the climate of Canada is warming more rapidly than the global average, a problem which cannot now be altered. The retreat of glaciers and disappearing sea ice is fatal. Deadly heatwaves and heavy rainstorms are predicted as a consequence. The risk factor is tenfold. Droughts and forest fires are inevitable. Cities will be severely flooded.

Forty-three scientists and academics authored the commendable peer-reviewed report (2019) released by Environment and Climate Change Canada. In the worst case scenario, an incease of 7-9 degrees Celsius is probable. The victimised Arctic would then face the lethal prospect of 11C increase. The acute danger of melting permafrost will accelerate (Canada Warming at Twice the Global Rate).

All Canadians will eventually curse the tar sands. Canada is wrecking the Arctic and can cause serious problems elsewhere.

7.  Greta Thunberg Issues

Greta Thunberg in protest at Stockholm, 2018

In 2018, the Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg (born 2003) undertook an independent protest against ecological neglect. Some call the deficit an ecocide. Until the debut of Thunberg, there was comparatively little serious interest in climate change amongst young people (I have been studying the subject for forty years). Even a few years ago, climate denialists were successful in creating widespread blanket confusion, facilitating international inertia and incredulity. They still create bizarre stories about "disinformation." However, many young people are at last assimilating the truth. In a speech given at Stockholm in September 2018, Thunberg commented:

Last summer, climate scientist Johan Rockstrom and some other people wrote that we have at most three years to reverse growth in greenhouse-gas emissions if we're going to reach the goals set in the Paris Agreement. Over a year and two months have now passed, and in that time many other scientists have said the same thing and a lot of things have got worse and greenhouse-gas emissions continue to rise. So maybe we have even less time than the one year and ten months Johan Rockstrom said we had left. (Greta Thunberg, No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, Penguin 2019, p. 1)

The sense of immediacy is justified. The more leisurely concept, of 2050 as the dateline, does not convince realists. The obstructions to pressing requirements may eventually meet with zero tolerance, even if too late to stop irreversible trends.

I commenced to seriously study ecology in 1980. Analysts of the situation forty years ago could already predict climate events of today, however approximately. Ecologists then knew that global heating would cause serious problems. In contrast, during the 1980s, some of the adult public (in Britain) did not even know what the word ecology signified. To them, climate change did not exist. Education in this field was a pioneer effort against overwhelming odds created by the fossil fuel supporter faction today known as denialists. The Club of Rome and similar ventures were relegated by politicians and news agencies to the status of fantasy, at best improbable theory exaggerated by alarmists. Nothing was wrong with industrialisation, the perfect means for a perfect lifestyle. The message was "Carbon is good for the world."

In the 1980s, many of the people interested in ecology did not read the scientific literature. They tended to familiarity with popular versions of the "Gaia" concept associated with James Lovelock. This aptitude led to a confusion of ecology with alternative therapy. I am known for criticism of the notoriously high charges made for commercial spirituality "workshops" claiming the umbrella of ecological prowess. This angle was represented in my Letter to BBC Radio. The indifferent Radio 4 never answered that epistle, instead favouring therapy lore (which today, e.g., leads some women into rape problems via the craze for ayahuasca). BBC television had earlier glorified the same therapy bandwagon, scrupulously avoiding any apology for eclipsing a major protester in their camera strategy. The therapy entrepreneurs supposedly exemplified spiritual "transformation," a propaganda cliche conferring a sense of importance, while justifying their predatory commercial instincts.

In the 1980s and 1990s (also later), the prospect for realistic ecology was frequently diminished. Therapy enthusiasts and "new spirituality" salesmen were celebrated as ecologists in the "new age." I avoided the fiasco by identifying as a citizen philosopher, making references to ecology outside the commercial morass.

Ecology may become a virtually autonomous factor if considerations are neglected for long enough. Beyond the point of no return there will be no civilisation, or perhaps a sub-civilisation only, but the primary factor of causation here is the orientation of mind predominant in the minority repertory or repertories influencing the aggregate mentality. (Shepherd, Meaning in Anthropos, 1991:110)

An elementary detail is that the climate problem effectively commenced in Britain via the industrial revolution. I am referring to the era when greedy Georgian lords and gentry resorted to the enclosure of common land. Between circa 1750 and circa 1850, numerous Parliamentary land enclosures occurred. This appropriation of common land amounted to "downright theft" of about seven million acres (Simon Fairlie, A Short History of Enclosure in Britain). Many people were displaced from the land, finding themselves in urban factories.

Britain led the Industrial Revolution in such features as coalmining, steampower, railways, iron production, mechanised spinning, and shipbuilding. Many technological innovations were of British origin. The first industrial city was Manchester. Carbon emission was a significant feature of output. Factories and other avenues of production were assisted by child labour. Slavery of other races was another pursuit of the wealthy, a disease transmitted to America, where this affliction proved even more difficult to eradicate.

Generations later, the unemployed of Britain were undertaking hunger marches to London. My grandfather was a participant. Neither the factory system, nor the political system, had solved problems of the working class (and also some middle class) people.

Greta Thunberg, Madrid 2019

Climate change denialists are noted for attacks on Greta Thunberg, revealing their underlying agenda. The hate and derision directed at Thunberg from some quarters is symptomatic of the deficiency in a vaunted technological society. Some French politicians are in question. The British nationalist Brexit Party are not everywhere admired for their slanders.

The Thunberg criticism of aviation is ecologically relevant. The media has recently been referring enthusiastically to "carbon neutral airports" pledging to slash carbon output by 2050. The aviation industry is clearly aware of problems. A substantial drawback is that the declared target only includes airport infrastructure, not aircraft. The discrepancy is glaring. Infrastructure comprises only about five percent of the total aviation carbon footprint (Neutrality by 2050, planes not included, 2019). The conveniently futurist dateline for minor changes will do very little to solve immediate emergencies. Some informed analysts say that 2020 is the last feasible dateline, in ecological reality, to avoid drastic mishaps.

In April 2019, Greta Thunberg criticised the British government for supporting fossil fuels, fracking, and airport expansion. She here deferred to the 2030 dateline favoured by the IPCC. In her speech addressed to Parliament (entitled Can You Hear Me?), she referred to the future of her generation being sold out to the wrong cause:

sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money.... you lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it's too late.... this reduction [of UK emissions) is not a consequence of climate policies, but rather a 2001 EU directive on air quality that essentially forced the UK to close down its very old and extremely dirty coal power plants and replace them with less dirty gas power stations.... The UK's active, current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels - for example, the UK shale-gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports as well as the planning permission for a brand new coal mine - is beyond absurd. (Thunberg, No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, 2019:58-64)

These remarks were not in favour with all recipients. Thunberg was welcomed by the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. The Conservatives were not enthusiastic. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, was charitable; he personally encountered Thunberg, afterwards speaking of their meeting in glowing terms. However, his brother Piers Corbyn attacked Greta on Twitter, describing her as an "ignorant brainwashed child." He said that she was wrong, while describing himself as a scientist. Piers Corbyn is indeed a scientist; however, he has the reputation of a denialist in relation to climate science. An astrophysicist, he has regularly lectured at climate science denial gatherings. "He claims the sun is the main driver behind changes in global temperature, rather than human activities and the burning of fossil fuels" (Piers Corbyn, DeSmog UK).

The perspective of Piers Corbyn is considered very eccentric by other scientists. For instance, in 2018, he described the latest IPCC report as "a pack of lies." This urgent UN mandated report, from many worldwide climate experts, was believed by Corbyn to be "anti-scientific nonsense based on fraud which is intended to regiment people into paying more in carbon taxes and help the oil companies increase profits by increasing prices" (Piers Corbyn). Elsewhere, it is common knowledge that IPCC scientists are in friction with oil companies who contribute so very strongly to global heating; the gulf between these two contingents is pronounced.

Greta Thunberg on her zerocarbon voyage, 2019

In August 2019, Caroline Lucas tweeted: "Bon voyage to Greta Thunberg for her 2-week zero-carbon trip by sail across the North Atlantic. She's carrying the vital message to the UN that time is running out to address the Climate Emergency." A dour response to this message came from multi-millionaire Arron Banks, who tweeted: "Freak yachting accidents do happen in August." There were strong reactions to this interposition. Lucas replied: "Arron Banks' vile tweet about Greta Thunberg makes me sick to the stomach." Banks afterwards said that he had been joking.

Another response to Arron Banks can be found in The Guardian: "What's funny about the idea of a teenage girl sinking to the bottom of the sea?" (Gaby Hinsliff, "Brexit Culture War," 2018). A more pointed riposte came from Professor Tanja Bueltmann, founder of the EU Citizen's Champion, who accused Banks of having "invoked the drowning of a child" for his own amusement (Arron Banks jokes about Greta). The actress Amanda Abbington responded strongly to Banks, including the forthright accusation: "You are incredibly cruel, vicious and ignorant."

A large subsection of the commentariat driving the abuse of Greta is part of an established network of radical free-marketeer lobby groups - a network that has firm ties to the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science denial.... Many other critics of Greta in the U.S. are tied to another of Heartland's founders, the Koch family, owners of the U.S.'s largest private energy company. (Attacks on Thunberg)

Today, the "free market" is a huge bloodsucker. Some sectors wish to support the lucrative fossil fuel industry. In contrast to marketing strategies, "thousands of scientists are backing the kids striking for climate change" (M. Warren, Nature, 14/03/2019). The new development now extended to a "climate strike" walk-out plan for students and schoolchildren at 1,700 cities in more than 100 countries. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, more than 12,000 scientists signed a document in support of school strikes. In New Zealand, more than 1,500 academics released a similar statement. Over 200 academics followed suit in Britain.

Greta Thunberg is now more famous than any of the climate scientists. Her image is generally recognisable to millions, whereas the scientists are, by comparison, difficult to distinguish for public audiences.

Two famous persons. Courtesy Reuters

Some prominent celebrities were critical of Thunberg. Aspersions from President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin are not the slightest proof that she is wrong. Putin alleged that Thunberg does not understand the complex global issues such as barriers to clean energy in developing countries. He suggested that she was being manipulated by others, in a way "that could destroy a personality." There is no evidence that Thunberg was manipulated by others, or that she has suffered personality destruction. The lethal military destruction achieved by Russian political tactics is well attested.

"The Syrian military, with the support of Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, has systematically attacked [Syrian] civilians and civilian institutions such as hospitals in areas held by  anti-government forces" (Kenneth Roth, UN Silence on Human Rights, 2019). This matter is a separate issue to resistance against ISIS, the terrorist organisation active in the same country, who boasted of the deaths and destruction they caused. The Yazidis of Iraq were one of the ISIS targets.

Syrian rescue worker with child saved from rubble at Arihah district, Idlib, after Russian airstrikes, 2019. Courtesy Muhammad Said/Getty Images

The KGB-influenced Putin has the repute of a war criminal, saturated in the blood of Syrian civilians, including many children. He located over 60,000 Russian military personnel in Syria. His aircraft bombed hospitals and rescue workers. The UN reported that the Assad-Putin airstrikes killed and maimed "significant numbers of civilians several times a week." The devastation of Idlib in 2019 was the last straw for reasoning observers, unlike the docile supporters in China and elsewhere. Experts state that the Syrian War killed half a million, displacing more than ten million people, while featuring numerous war crimes, including chemical weapon atrocities. A UN official stated: "Intentional attacks against civilians are war crimes" (Slaughter of the Innocents, 2019).

Between April and December 2019, seventy-one hospitals and clinics were hit by the Assad-Putin coalition. Unicef reported that children were bearing the brunt of intensified violence. Tragically, more than 235,000 civilians fled from Idlib province in December 2019, desperate to avoid further onslaught from the deadly coalition of Russia, Syria, and Iran. There were three million people in Idlib, many of them already having fled from the coalition violence elsewhere.

In 2015, Putin chose to support Bashar al-Assad, whose detention centres (many in Damascus) have a comparable repute to those of Chinese Communist barbarism. In 2011, the Assad regime provoked a strong rebellion demanding reforms. The repressive regime starved, tortured, and executed thousands of victims. The Assad prisons produced large numbers of brutalised corpses recorded in many thousands of well known photographs. Those images have caused shock and outrage. Numerous corpses were those of young men.

Putin's military preference. Courtesy humanpains.com

Putin blocked the UN Security Council efforts to punish the crimes (Remarks of Kenneth Roth, 2017). Some corpses "had deep cuts, some had their eyes gouged out, their teeth broken, you could see traces of lashes with those [electric] cables you use to start cars. There were wounds full of pus.... sometimes the bodies were covered with blood" (They were Torturing to Kill, 2015). Putin preferred collaboration with this torture sector, which he endorsed, instead criticising Thunberg. However, Greta is infinitely preferable to the political bloodletting and heavy death toll, accompanied by extensive carbon emissions sufficient to amplify the severe flooding of southern Iraq predicted by climate science.

In a world supposedly committed to scientific objectivity, the depression of climate science is a strong contradiction. A legion of internet trolls, plus stolen passwords sold on the dark web, are not convincing as indices to cultural progress. A plethora of commercial adverts, the bloodsucking Facebook surveillance giant, cookie gridlock, pornography, the screen glorification of violence, are some of the distractions sustained by the free marketing virus. Politicians preside over slow motion progress and substantial regress. Complaints are relevant:

We know that most politicians don't want to talk to us. Good, we don't want to talk to them either. We want them to talk to the scientists instead. Listen to them, because we are just repeating what they are saying and have been saying for decades.... They [denialists] make up all sorts of conspiracies and call us puppets who cannot think for themselves. They are desperately trying to remove the focus from the climate crisis and change the subject.... The political system that you have created is all about competition. You cheat when you can, because all that matters is to win, to get power. (Thunberg, No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, 2019:35-36)

The young climate activists are even more entitled to their urgent protest in view of a very edged conclusion from some informed senior quarters. This spells: Now too late for the climate change fiasco to be stopped. Fifty years (and more) of neglect is far too much interference for any dramatic remedy to occur. The eco-backslide is stupendously proportional to the ignorance and indifference of high salaried politicians and economists. From now on, only marginal mitigations can be expected from global chaos, even while big money, big mouth, and deadly technology reign supreme. The conveniently delayed deadline of 2050 means forty years too late. Good luck young people from those who came before you, likewise trying to warn the deaf, blind, and reckless elders desiring investments in mega-damage.

At the World Economic Forum, Davos, January 2020. Courtesy Getty/AP

About 3,000 political and business leaders, academics, and others assembled at Davos in January 2020. The world recognised that Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg were the most significant participants. Trump celebrated his claim to an economic boom. He also pledged to commit America to a one trillion tree planting project. In a reference to ecological scruple, this denialist stated: "To embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of apocalypse."

Thunberg responded: "Planting trees is good, of course, but it's nowhere near enough." Her basic message at the WEF was: "Our house is still on fire." The New York Times gave prominence to her contribution at this event:

The activist [Greta] punched a hole in promises emerging from the meeting of political and business leaders, telling them to stop investing in fossil fuels now. (NYT, 21/01/2020)

The Davos confrontation has unenviable dimensions for the American population. Their water problem has been discussed by ecologists for many years. More recently, this issue has intensified. The contamination of US drinking water, with very numerous toxic manmade fluorinated chemicals (PFAS), means that increased risk of cancer and liver damage are only two of the negative consequences. The discovery, in 2018, that the water supplies of 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, is now regarded as an understatement.

In January 2020, a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) amounted to a shock insight. The laboratory testing of tap water samples from 44 sites, in 31 American States, revealed that only one location had no detectable PFAS. For the first time, PFAS was found in the drinking water of dozens of American cities. Overall, the EWG have mapped contamination at almost 1,400 sites in 49 States. A related conclusion is that the blood of "nearly all Americans" is contaminated. The toxic intake of PFAS chemicals is not the ideal liquid diet, no matter what the rhetorical economist claims for a progressive society. PFAS decodes to thousands of synthetic chemicals in commercial production since the 1940s; these substances do not break down. Disruption of the immune system is a strongly implicated result of this invasion. Chemistry is a danger to humanity.

At many American sites sampled, contamination had not been publicly reported by the EPA or state environmental agencies. This neglect tallies with the detail that the White House and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) attempted to prevent a pressing document being published in 2018 by the US Department of Health. The toxic content in water supply, at one site investigated by EWG, was so many times in negation of health standard, that nobody sane would want to live in the dire vicinity.

The Trump administration has stripped pollution safeguards from drinking water sources. This afflicting policy potentially affects about a third of all Americans, who are in peril from Trump-supporting landowners (including golf course operators). Former EPA staff members have been horrified, one of them stating: “The new rule is scientifically indefensible.” There is no science in unbridled commerce and corrupt economist activity. The Trump administration promised demise of the water rule to polluting industry lobbies.

At Davos, Trump told the WEF that America has “the cleanest air and drinking water on Earth.” He made no reference to PFAS chemicals, nor neurotoxins such as lead, which permeate American water. His administration dismantled about a hundred environmental rules in a short period, including the reversal of a ban on mining companies dumping their waste into rivers. The real cost may exceed all the calculating economist gains from industrial exploitation. 

Dozens of Trump tweets have suggested that cold weather disproves climate change. His own party evidently do not regard these confusions too seriously. About two-thirds of Republicans are now said to believe in climate change, an increase not sufficient to prevent serious dangers. The delay in comprehension is now fatal.

A few light breezes, in denialist lore, amounted to lethal tornadoes of 165 mph hitting Nashville, Tennessee, in early March 2020. Widespread damage included the deaths of 24 people. According to a BBC report, the scene was "like a war zone." Those Nashville tornadoes will not be the last relentless winds.

8.  Heatwaves in 2018-2019

Wildfire at Kineta, near Athens, July 2018

In 2018, the Far East was hit by soaring temperatures, with some deaths resulting. In Tokyo, temperatures over 40C (104F) were recorded for the first time. Over 35,000 people were hospitalised in Japan with symptoms of heatstroke. Many of these victims were elderly. Japan declared a state of national emergency. In 2019, the same country was hit by Typhoon Hagibis, with wind speeds up to 140 mph, causing extensive destruction. Nearly eight million people were told to evacuate their homes.

China was no exception to afflictions. Temperature increase and humidity in the North China Plain is now a major concern of scientists worldwide. This territory, including Beijing and Shanghai, has a dense population of 400 million, many of them farmers. This is the most important food-producing zone in China. If climate change is not curbed, some areas of the North China Plain will become uninhabitable. The farmers will not be able to work outside in the dangerous heat. The huge carbon emissions of China are not conducive to a reduction in global heating. Scientists are now referring to extreme heatwaves capable of killing even healthy people within hours.

In Europe during 2018, heatwaves caused raging fires that destroyed homes in Sweden, Norway, Latvia, and Greece. Forest fires are now a grim warning of what to expect as climate change intensifies. Wildfires also occurred in Britain, where the temperature reached 35C (95F). The extreme heat followed the extreme cold afflicting many countries during the winter. Temperatures in the warming Arctic were about 20C (68F) above normal, a situation pushing colder air towards Europe. Summer heatwaves were "made twice as likely due to climate change," according to the World Weather Attribution network.

The scientific journal Nature Climate Change (NCC) has many relevant articles. One of these highlights the factor of risks posed by climate change in the Mediterranean Sea. Those risks were formerly understated, because each was only examined in isolation from the others. In reality, those risks are interconnected and can dangerously interact with social and economic problems. The risks can impact water resources, ecosystems, food safety, health, and human security. See Wolfgang Cramer et al, “Climate change and interconnected risks to sustainable development in the Mediterranean" (NCC, 2018), covered in ScienceDaily.

During 2018, climate change assisted extreme weather events in many countries. The mythically “cooling” America suffered heatwave and wildfires in the summer of 2018. In July, California experienced the hottest month on record for that territory. In November, three major wildfires occurred in California, one of these burning 70,000 acres in 24 hours. That inferno destroyed the town of Paradise. Over 80,000 homes were evacuated near Los Angeles. More than 50,000 people were displaced. The smoke moved thousands of miles across the country to cause a haze in New York and Washington.

President Trump visited California, "refusing to acknowledge climate change as a major factor, getting the name of the incinerated town of Paradise wrong, once again blaming forest management, and arguing for leaf-raking as a key factor in prevention" (California wildfire smoke). Trump aroused criticism for this evasive tactic. In contrast, the bioclimatologist A. Park Williams discovered that rising temperatures have "doubled the area affected by forest fires in the western United States over the last 30 years" (Climate change making wildfires worse). Professor Williams warned that the fires would get bigger, being driven by climate change.

The following year of 2019, further wildfires in California caused damage estimated at over 25 billion dollars. The area of California burned each year has increased fivefold since 1972; most of this destruction is the consequence of high temperatures drying out the forests (Counting the Cost 2019: A Year of Climate Breakdown).

In 2019, Moscow experienced the warmest December in 140 years. To maintain a Christmas setting, tons of substitute snow were obtained from ice rinks. Permafrost is slowly melting in the Russian far north, releasing methane. Estranged from the increasingly warm Arctic, over fifty polar bears moved south to the Russian town of Balushya Guba. President Putin has candidly stated that Russia is warming two and a half times faster than the global average. Putin nevertheless cast doubt on climate science because Russian industry lobbies against emission cuts (Moscow resorts to Fake Snow). Further truth is revealed: "More and more species, along with people, are being driven from their homes by climate disruption" (Jonathan Watts, What Polar Bears in a Russian Apartment Block Reveal about the Climate Crisis, 2019).

Adaptation to climate change is essential, but ignored by many countries. In Britain, after the heatwave in 2018, an enquiry was duly conducted by a Parliamentary committee. This probe found that climate adaptation was not coordinated, nor even existent, in Britain. The required response somehow fell through the different departments, all highly paid with salaries that sound astronomical to most citizens. The British government had actually ignored warnings from their official climate change adviser, meaning the Committee on Climate Change. The sloth induced by many years of climate scepticism is still placing the public in peril.

In 2018, Members of Parliament found that one in five British homes dangerously overheats during a heatwave. Two years before, on the hottest day in 2016, almost 400 heat-related deaths occurred. Some MPs now grasped that severe heatwaves will become common by the 2040s, perhaps occurring every other year, and with a tripling of heat deaths to 7,000 a year (or more). There were no building regulations to prevent overheating. Hospitals are also at risk. Fifteen years earlier, in 2003, at the peak of denialist “cooling” fashion, a heatwave in Britain reached 38C, causing more than 2,000 heat-related deaths in 10 days.

The MP commotion in Britain was occurring fifty years after the initial warnings about climate change, warnings ignored by affluent “coolers” obsessed with their idea of a society moving toward perfection. That society is based on economics and technology; neither of those standards are able to meet the requirements of adaptation. The British government continued their industrial schedule, despite the investigation. Find out what has gone wrong, and then do nothing. The following year, the temperature reached a peak of 38.7C (101.7F), the hottest day ever recorded in Britain.

Concerns about heatwave impacts extend to other prospects such as coastal flooding in Europe, which may transpire to be very expensive on an annual basis by 2100 (or probably well before). Britain could be very badly hit in this increasingly likely scenario, with over a million people potentially being exposed to coastal flooding.

In 2019, the temperature was again searing in many countries. Accompanying global damages were very grave, both in terms of human (and animal) harm and financial cost. Serious wildfires, droughts, heatwaves, floods, and hurricanes occurred from California to Japan. The politically despised "one percent only" of increased global heating can now be seen for what that increase really signifies. Too late after so many listened for soporific decades to complacent denialists.

2019 was the second hottest year on record (meaning slightly less hot than 2016). Both the past five years and the past decade were the hottest on record (meaning the years 2009-2019). Catastrophically, 2019 was the warmest year yet recorded for the oceans, a fact declared as "dire news" by American scientists.

9.  Hurricanes and Devastation

The question has often been asked: Is climate change making hurricanes worse? The answer is not difficult to seek. Warming ocean waters "will lead to hurricanes that dump more intense and deadly rainfall." The increasingly warm ocean waters boost the strength of hurricanes, which tail off inland while bringing heavy rain.

New York City was severely affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Suburbs were quickly flooded when rivers overflowed. Thousands of homes were destroyed, the subway system was afflicted. Over 8 million inhabitants lost power facilities. Long Island and other areas were also victims. The damage from Hurricane Sandy amounted to at least 70 billion dollars. New York did not have any sufficient resort to deal with this emergency. To many New Yorkers, the deniers of climate change no longer sounded convincing.

Flood Victims in the Carolinas, September 2018

In September 2018, Hurricane Florence hit North and South Carolina, creating severe flooding. “You better pray” was a Reuters theme in coverage of those events. In parts of North Carolina, 30 inches of rain fell, a state record. National Geographic informed that the catastrophic rainfall along the East Coast  “can be blamed squarely on climate change.” The attendant rainfall was projected (by scientists) to be more than 50 per cent worse because of global warming. For the same reason, the hurricane size was predicted to be about fifty miles (80 kilometres) wider than would otherwise occur.

The following month, the more ferocious Hurricane Michael hit Florida and Georgia. “This storm could kill you” was a Republican warning for inhabitants. Wind gusts of over 150 mph brought havoc, deriving impetus from warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This tree-breaking and roof-ripping phenomenon destroyed the township of Mexico Beach. Panama City was badly damaged. The hurricane caused extensive tree destruction in Florida, plus some four million acres of tree damage in Georgia. Timber costs alone were in the billions for both states. The agricultural disaster included heavy cotton losses in Georgia. The political background also gained attention (Victims of Hurricane Michael voted for Climate Deniers). Florida voters elected a climate science denialist as governor of their state.

Mexico Beach township devastated by Hurricane Michael, October 2018

The media informed how, in relation to Hurricane Michael, the US National Guard chief stated: “I believe the climate is changing. I don’t know why.” The answer can easily be found in the extensive scientific literature available in libraries and online. For years, the Pentagon soberly conceded that climate change is a security threat. In contrast, President Donald Trump expressed uncertainty that climate change is man-made, suggesting that the phenomenon could “change back.”  He had formerly tweeted that climate science is a hoax invented by the Chinese.

More responsible parties are referring to severe category 5 hurricanes in the American future of climate change. The oceans are now storing a vast amount of excess heat produced by anthropogenic (man-made) global warming. That heat is anticipated to drive many hurricanes over the next decade, with more to follow. Storm Eberhard hit Europe in March 2019, a phenomenon described as an extratropical cyclone. Climate science predicts that such afflictions will increase in Europe proportional to the heating effect (Counting the Cost 2019, PDF page 8).

Professor Michael Mann has authored The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars (2012). Initially, he contributed a 1998 paper on global temperatures across the centuries. This was attacked by denialists, whose persecution tactic became acute. Many American climate scientists were thereafter subject to political interference by 2007. A decade later, when the hurricanes became more severe, Mann was able to inform: "We predicted this long ago, and we are seeing it play out now before our very eyes."

The twelve months prior to June 2019 were the wettest in US history (Counting the Cost, PDF page 10). Heavy flooding also occurred in China, India, Iran, Spain, and elsewhere. Floods in Argentina and Uruguay caused 11,000 victims to leave their homes. Too much heat, too much water.

In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian became a Category 5 disaster, battering the Bahamas with winds of 185 mph and a storm tide of 20-25 feet (Jeff Masters, Review of the Atlantic Hurricane Season of 2019). Residents lamented "total devastation," with some areas receiving up to three feet of rain. The same storm afflicted the American East Coast and Canada. The official total of deaths is 673. Dorian caused damages worth at least eleven billion dollars.

Climate change is hitting coasts of America very hard. More than ninety coastal communities in that country are struggling with severe flooding (mostly in Louisiana and Maryland). The number is set to increase; the geographical zone will expand dramatically. The Union of Concerned Scientists (based in Cambridge, Mass.) have, for the first time, mapped the rate of sea level rise for hundreds of coastal communities in America. They predict an eventual flood calamity for nearly 700 of these communities, including four of the five boroughs of New York City. Texas will not escape. Cities in the San Francisco Bay area will flood by 2060, according to these calculations.

The factor of flooding tends to conceal the water shortage problem in many countries, not just South Africa and India. The risk of water shortage is extremely high for seventeen countries. These include Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan. This means a quarter of the global population. Parts of some countries have a related problem, including the United States and even Britain. There is not much effective room for complacency.

10.  Climate Crisis in Australia

Australian bushfire, 2019. Courtesy AFP/Kelly-Ann Oosterbeek

Nine of Australia's ten hottest years on record have occurred since 2005. In 2018, Australia was afflicted by high temperatures up to 47C (116F). In 2019, the record peak was 49.9C (122F) in South Australia. The commitment to coal-mining in Australia was accompanied by lip service to climate problems. The perennial bushfires took a very dangerous turn in 2019, when the arid climate was helpless against fires throughout the country. A large number of volunteer firefighters faced the hazards, and also exhaustion from overwork. Citizen discontent was aggravated by the perception that this disaster was unprecedented; the scope and intensity of the fires was accompanied by a notorious official evasion of climate change. "Sheer ferocity" was one description of the inferno.

Veteran firefighters were stunned at the force of this new outbreak, which placed them at serious risk. Tens of thousands of people were stranded while in flight from terrifying fires. Four thousand people were trapped on Mallacoota beach. Fires devastated electricity infrastructure and telephone lines. Towns ran out of fuel and food, with no open roads for access. "Armageddon" was one lament expressed. Canberra was shrouded in smoke, suffering severe air pollution as a consequence. Health warnings were accordingly issued.

In 2019, the Australian police arrested climate protesters in Queensland. One of the climate protest complaints was coal-mining sponsored by the government, who now furthered new laws to penalise protesters against fossil fuels. A few months later, scores of bushfires were occurring across Australia. The cause was a record heatwave in every state. The sky changed colour to blanket orange and red of a type rarely seen. The sky was often black; even black rain fell. The severe predicament was aggravated in Victoria and New South Wales, where thousands of visitors and residents were told to evacuate from extreme heat and damaging winds. In this life-threatening situation, the bushfires burned millions of hectares. Over a billion animals were estimated as killed. Many homes were destroyed. Dust storms and giant hailstones added to the drama. Plumes of harmful "black carbon" extended for seven thousand miles to South America.

Homeless Melinda Plesman with a message for Scott Morrison, Canberra 2019. Courtesy Mick Tsikas/AAP

One of the victims was Melinda Plesman, whose home in New South Wales was destroyed by fire. She transported the remains of her home to a spot outside Parliament House in Canberra. The homeless victim wrote a provocative corrugated message in red for the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was in receipt of many other complaints. "Morrison, your climate crisis destroyed my home." Plesman complained that the people had no effective leadership. She urged the cessation of native forest logging, a shift to renewables, and the termination of coal production. The Australian government had failed to tackle climate change.

The [Australian] people are frightened about whether this [bushfire situation] is what spring and summer in Australia now looks like as droughts lengthen and deepen, and the fire season extends and intensifies because of climate change - which is what scientists have been trying to tell us all these years, so many times, in so many different ways, experts maligned and mangled in a culture war, pleading to be understood. (Katherine Murphy, Australia is Burning like a Tinderbox, 2019)

The deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack aroused anger when he dismissed climate change as the concern of "raving inner city leftists." The government had commenced fresh commitment to the coal industry only a few months before. Fossil fuel giants made donations to the Australian government for a new onslaught of carbon emissions. Scientists say that climate change has provided the conditions of drought and heat for bushfires to erupt. (Is Climate Change to Blame?)

An unpredictable menace is the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), a climate phenomenon strongly affected by global heating. A more technical read is Indian Ocean Dipole Properties (Scientific Reports, 10/09/2018). A record IOD occurred in 2019. This dangerous factor threatens to appear more regularly, and more extremely, as sea surface temperatures rise. The IOD complexity has caused heavy rainfall and flooding in East Africa, afflicting over 2.5 million people in 2019. Whereas the same process impacted Australia with a drought never to be forgotten.

The German engineering giant Siemens has ignored protests, pledging to fulfill a deal to develop a huge and controversial coalmine in Australia, owned by the Adani group of India. Some Australian supporters of this project insist that economic benefits will result. The final nail in the coffin may prove expensive.

According to NASA, the smoke from Australian bushfires changed the colour of skies in South America, while dramatically afflicting New Zealand with inferior air quality. British scientists say that the Australian fires are a taste of what is to come as temperatures rise. Desperate denialist rumours in Australia spread online; the fires were alleged to be caused by Muslim terrorists and climate science arsonists. Denialism was still out of control in Australia. The Morrison government was realistically responsible for a plume of dense smoke, projecting miles high into the atmosphere, spreading to other countries.

The wealthy climate sceptic Rupert Murdoch remained impervious to science. The Murdoch outlets, News Corp and Fox, spread doubt about any link between climate change and bushfires. The affiliated anti-scientific denialist Andrew Bolt asserted: "You'd have to be a child like Greta Thunberg to believe that fairytale." The so-called fairytale means the necessity for reducing carbon emissions. There are many adults able to perceive the acute errors in denialist argument, which is annually blasted by science and the weather. Bolt has since acknowledged that climate change is real, while mistakenly portraying this factor as an advantage for humanity. The ongoing and searing damage to Australia is one of the many proofs that he is wrong.

According to Transparency International, Australia is one of 21 countries where perceived corruption has worsened over eight years, exhibiting the influence of money greed. Canada and Britain here emerge as being worse than Australia in terms of corruption level. The most exemplary countries on that list are Denmark and New Zealand. Two thirds of countries across the world are here assessed as stagnating in terms of resistance to corruption. So much for the "greatest civilisation ever known," according to the vaunted age of technology.

11.  The Bank of England Gives Warning to Investors

Mark Carney

Since the Paris climate accord in 2015, over thirty prominent global investment banks have directed many billions to fossil fuel companies. Figures quoted vary from 700 billion dollars to 2 trillion dollars. One of these banks is Credit Suisse, reported to have made available 57 billion dollars in the same carbon concentrated direction. Chase Bank diverted over 190 billion dollars into fossil fuels by 2020. Such institutions play a large part in eco-destruction. The degree of culpability is not forgivable. This development attests the dismally unscientific nature of modern society and corporate interests. Protesters say that such institutions should be closed down.

The Bank of England has moved away from climate denialism. The Bank Governor Mark Carney has conveyed relevant information. He acknowledges a climate crisis, stating that action must be taken. In conformity with UN discoveries, he emphasises that irreversible heating will occur unless companies soon change their priorities. Carney discloses that the financial sector has begun to curb investment in fossil fuels, but much too slowly.

Governor Carney reminds of the climate science concern that an increase of 4 Celsius portends a nine metre rise in sea levels, searing heatwaves, droughts, and drastic food supply problems. The 1.5 Celsius threshold will very quickly be transgressed, leading to a stabilisation of the climate at a much higher temperature. Carney warns that unless business firms become more cognisant of the climate crisis, "many of their assets" will become worthless. "Up to 80% of coal assets will be stranded, [and] up to half of developed oil reserves."

In this unfamiliar territory, many people have to register basic factors. "Four to five years ago, only leading institutions had begun to think about these issues and could report on them. Now 120 trillion dollars worth of balance sheets, of banks and asset managers, are wanting this disclosure [of investments in fossil fuels]." Fossils fuels are now in line for penalty points.

Carney observes that the new process is "not moving fast enough." However, radical new trends are emerging. For instance, the investment bank Goldman Sachs has ruled out future finance for oil drilling or exploration in the Arctic. The same bank has stated refusal to invest in new thermal coal mines, for power stations, anywhere on the globe. Weather-related catastrophe bonds are another innovation. The Goldman Sachs Group are now saying that more efficient wind turbines and solar panels "push renewable energy costs below those of fossil fuels."

Carney also points to the insurance giant AXA, who have decided to stop insuring any new coal construction projects. Furthermore, AXA will totally phase out existing insurance and investments in coal, in the EU, by 2030.

Environmentalists welcome these new trends, while emphasising the stark reality. Climate science firmly states that diverse countries must reduce carbon emissions five-fold to avoid a global temperature increase of over 1.5 Celsius. The political obstructions are very substantial, to the extent of being potentially catastrophic in the very near future. Some experts say that the year 2020 represents the last opportunity to make due redress. Only the highest arc of optimism can remain buoyant once the relevant details are duly assimilated.

12.  Ecological Problems and Social Turmoil in Iran

Air pollution at Tehran reached new extremes in 2016, aggravated by millions of motor cars in the streets and smog from petroleum plants. The Iranian government declared a state of emergency. Air pollution now kills millions of people every year around the globe.

In 2017, Iran contracted a formidable 53.7C (128.7F) at the city of Ahwaz. The high level of humidity was assessed in terms of the "real heat" being 142F. This oppressive heat continued in some parts of Iran during the summer of 2018, contributing to a lack of water, also danger to the electricity network because of resort to air conditioning. The heatwave also hit Caucasian territories. Iran is experiencing climate change more acutely than many other countries, with extreme droughts being a major affliction.

Substantial problems in this country are droughts, floods, and land subsidence. Lake Urmia, near Tabriz (in Azarbaijan), has dramatically shrunk over forty years. This famous salt lake has been afflicted by heat, numerous illegal wells, and many dams diverting water from tributary rivers to grow apples and wheat. This lake may run completely dry. Other lakes in Iran are also at risk because of "mismanagement and climate change." Groundwater resources are "extremely critical." Much of Iran comprises arid and semi-arid territories. The combination of very hot temperatures and increased flooding "may create an uninhabitable living condition" in the three desert climate zones of Iran (S. A. Vaghefi et al, "The future of extreme climate in Iran," Scientific Reports, 2019).

Lut Desert, Iran

In Kuwait, the temperature hit 54C (129F) in 2016. However, the hottest place on earth seems to be the Lut Desert (Dasht-e Lut) in south-east Iran. In 2005, the highest ever satellite recording of ground temperature occurred in the Lut, disclosing a stunning 70C (159F). In 2014, a ground team in the same desert measured 61C, still far too hot for humans to endure.

Climate change models predict a spread of uninhabitable regions in the Middle East (meaning those areas in which humans cannot survive without air conditioning). Those uninhabitable regions may come to resemble the arid transition zone between settlements on the edge of the Lut and the "supremely hostile core" of that formidable desert.

In south-east Iran, the temperature routinely reaches 43C (110F). The regions of Sistan and Baluchistan are afflicted by a prolonged dust storm in the summer, accompanied by a fierce wind. The Hamun wetlands are evaporating. Zabul is now described as the most polluted city on the planet. Agriculture is dying in the drought. Many residents have migrated. The region could easily become uninhabitable. Indeed, much of the Persian Gulf might soon be too hot for humans, according to a MIT study of 2015. In this fiasco, the Iranian government has anomalously jailed prominent environmentalists. Due research is proportionately discouraged (P. Schwartzstein, "Drought turns part of Iran into a dust bowl," 2019).

The clerical regime are accused of wasting water resources for military purposes. Destructive dam projects are another unpopular affliction. Critics say that more than 90 percent of water reserves in Iran have been lost.

Protesting students at Isfahan and Tehran chanting slogans like "Clerics get lost," in danger from riot police, January 2020. Courtesy Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

A complaint was lodged by human rights assessors against the unjust trial and imprisonment of environmental activists in Iran. The Iranian government afflicted conservation experts who were members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. The victims were coerced into making false confessions by the courts, a manipulation assisted by the attendant military gridlock. In 2018, one of the victims died in detention, in very suspicious circumstances. In 2019, the victims were sentenced as spies. "The authorities are announcing this court verdict during a government internet shutdown designed to hide a vicious crackdown against Iranian protestors" (Iran: Environmentalists Sentenced).

In 2018, the Iranian government arrested more than 7,000 peaceful dissidents in a crackdown that led to hundreds being jailed or flogged. The violent soldiers beat unarmed protesters and used live ammunition. At least 26 victims were killed. Amnesty International reported that nine victims died during custody in suspicious circumstances. The victims included journalists, lawyers, and human rights activists. Amongst the latter were women objecting to compulsory veiling. Shaparak Shajarizadeh claimed that she was placed in solitary confinement and tortured during a custodial sentence that could have lasted up to twenty years. She was released on bail and fled from Iran.

The clerical powers were also intensifying a crackdown against religious and ethnic minorities. Mustafa Abdi, who reported on human rights abuses against the Gunabadi dervish religious minority, was sentenced to 26 years in jail and 148 lashes of the whip. The medieval dimension of punishment reflects the mood of Shi'ite orthodoxy.

Protests against rising fuel prices occurred at many Iranian cities during November 2019. "Authorities are brutally repressing Iranians who are frustrated with an autocratic, abusive government" (Security Forces Violently Crack Down on Protesters). Early figures given were misleading. More realistic sources state that 1,500 unarmed Iranian citizens were killed, in circumstances obscured and manipulated by the government. About 400 women were included in the death toll. The numerous arrests continued in December. Many protesters have since claimed that their country is misled by clerics and afflicted by the Revolutionary Guard who shoot to kill. Protests continued in January 2020 (Iranian Protests).

Amnesty International reported that thousands of citizens were beaten and flogged during the November 2019 uprising. At least seven thousand victims were consigned to prisons with a terrible record for violence and torture. A corrupt legal system was part of the official machinery of savage repression and cover up tactic. Some Iranians say that the major murderer was the wealthy Supreme Ruler Ali Khamenei, who personally ordered the slaughter of protesters. His words are reported as: "Do whatever it takes to stop them. You have my order." Khameini referred to the Iranian dissidents as thugs, a discrepancy which is unlikely to be forgotten. He is regarded by objectors as a tyrant.

13. Heat, Floods, Drought, and Suicide in India


In India, “extreme heat is devastating the health and livelihoods of tens of millions” (Indian heatwave). Scorching cities are getting hotter. Outdoor workers can collapse from heatstroke during the summer. In 2016, the town of Phalodi in Rajasthan was hit with a temperature of 51C (124F), the same peak subsequently recorded for the Sahara desert. In 2018, a heatwave even caused a road to melt in Western India, with people losing their shoes that stuck to the tarmac. A grim prediction is that some Indian cities will no longer be habitable in the future.

India has a number of cities afflicted by the worst air pollution in the world. The Indian government has relied heavily on coal for energy, including the dirtiest types of coal. The resultant climate change creates drought. The Himalayan glaciers are melting, with the consequence that rivers are drying up.

A 2017 study in Science Advances emphasised that severe heatwaves are anticipated in densely populated agricultural regions of South Asia (meaning India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka), a zone accomodating about one-fifth of the global population.  A survival threshold of 35C is here mentioned. Increasing temperatures have widely occurred since 2000. In 2015, the fifth deadliest heatwave in recorded history affected large parts of India and Pakistan, killing about 3,500 people.

The Modi government did not prevent the increasingly notorious Delhi smog. That city is attended by 13 coal-fired plants within a 300 kilometre radius. The industrial affliction is furthered by hundreds of cement plants and other factories. Increasing construction is accompanied by more cars on the roads. Crop burning by farmers is not the only culprit. "While big polluters can fund political parties using electoral bonds, which are effectively anonymous, organisations such as Greenpeace have been crippled by Modi-imposed funding restrictions" (A. Chandrasekhar, Delhi's toxic politicians). The word corruption is often used. A government solution is smog masks, falling far short of drastic requirements. The health minister prescribed an unconvincing remedy of eating carrots. The sacred Yamuna river is covered in thick toxic foam created by industry.

Delhi is only one of the cities affected by severe air pollution. Varanasi, Patna, and Kanpur are some of the disaster areas. This drawback is creating shortened life expectancies. Rising emissions are linked with increasing fog. Mounting ozone pollution is destroying millions of tons of crops in North India. The burning of crop residues and garbage are additional hazards to industrial and vehicular emissions.

According to a UN report, 14 out of 15 of the world's most polluted cities are in India. Pollution has reduced life expectancy by up to seven years in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, and West Bengal. In 2019, pollution at Delhi was almost 400 times over safety level, affecting visibility and public wellbeing (Flights diverted in Delhi). Politicians have blamed each other for the ongoing problems. They plan to urbanise almost fifty percent of India by 2050, a policy of disaster. The interminable concrete cannot absorb rainwater.

The major cities of India are slowly sinking. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata are in peril. Land subsidence is increased by dams. The drainage system at Mumbai cannot deal with heavy rainfall (Flooding Mumbai). Bengaluru (Bangalore) and Kochi (Cochin) are also the subject of complaint, plus many smaller cities. A major cause of sinking is depletion of groundwater. India is the largest consumer of groundwater in the world. Delhi faces a potentially serious water shortage in only a decade, according to some estimates. Water quality is another problem. Deep-level groundwater is contaminated by sewage, fluoride, arsenic, and uranium. Urban groundwater is threatened by untreated industrial effluent. The UN estimates that India will become the most densely populated country in the world by 2024; groundwater is already overdrawn in some regions. The underground crisis is ignored by comparison with air pollution.

Bangalore, the centre of high tech industries, is subject to dust pollution and hazardous waste disposal. About two thirds of the lakes here are sewage-fed. Flooding is facilitated in this city by poor road maintenance and malfunctioning drains (in which solid waste is dumped).

"Many lakes and canals in Kolkata today are just muck" (M. Dutta, India's Sinking Cities, 2018 online). The Bay of Bengal is fast rising. The rapid extraction of groundwater is causing the landscape to sink. To the south, at Chennai (Madras), the Pullikarni marshland formerly served as a floodsink. Mismanagement has made this zone a waste disposal site and a commercial adventure in residential projects.

The Ganges and Indus River basins will be subject to intense heat hazard during this century. The heat will become more severe in many urban areas of India during the pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons. “Disruption of the body’s ability to regulate temperature can immediately impair physical and cognitive functions.”

Increasingly intense heatwaves are badly hitting rural Indian farmers, who in some regions, have become desperate migrants from drought and monsoon floods. Precarious agriculture supports more than half of the 1.3 billion population of India. Many farmers have ingested toxic pesticides to escape debt. Numerous farmer suicides occur during May-June, in conditions of high humidity.

The mass movement of agricultural people into urban areas has been unwelcome. Their lot can be miserable, especially when the Indian government effectively outlaws the victims; forms of persecution are on record. One complaint is that technological bureaucracy in India is too often indifferent to the common fate, favouring instead the affluent business sector. Some academics say that India has been slow to recognise the social impacts of climate migration, lacking policies to deal with such emergencies. The Indian government has claimed success in reducing the number of deaths caused by heatwave, adopting such precautions as painting roofs white. This development is urban based, as distinct from rural suicides. 

Protesting Tamil farmer with skulls of countrymen who committed suicide

Four states have been badly hit by drought, namely Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and the southern state of Tamil Nadu. In 2017, hundreds of Tamil farmers conducted a lengthy protest in New Delhi, demanding higher rates for crops. Some of these men carried skulls, which they reported to be those of dead farmers who committed suicide.

Climate change has been interpreted as the cause of over 59,000 farmer suicides in India, relating to the period 1980-2013 (Crop-damaging temperatures increase suicide rates). Those suicides increased substantially from 1980 onwards. The suicide-temperature link is strongly argued. The wife of one farmer in Tamil Nadu described his suicide through resort to drinking pesticide, after leaving his family in an unsurmountable debt. These people could only obtain drinking water once every ten days. The general situation creates child labour. These trends are driven by climate change, which causes both excessive rainfall and frequent drought (Children grapple with the Aftermath).

Many farmers have ingested toxic pesticides to escape debt. In some cases, the government has guaranteed monetary aid to survivors in the family. This trend has been viewed as providing a perverse incentive for suicide, “rewarding people who end their lives by paying family compensation, but only if they die.”

A much higher estimate is: more than 250,000 Indian farmers committed suicide during the years 1997-2012. Limitations in assessment of farmer suicides is acknowledged. There is a difficulty in establishing the exact number of rural suicides, because the crime records bureau only began to classify farmer suicides in 1995, as distinct from urban suicides. One view is that high temperatures are the cause of farmer suicide rather than drought. Some analysts have suggested that the real number of suicides may be well above the figure available in crime records.

The Indian government stated that over 11,000 farmer suicides occurred in 2016, the lowest number in two decades. That was a year of normal monsoon rains. The figure in 2015 was 12,600. Fifty-eight percent of these deaths were caused by bankruptcy, debt, and related issues. Most of the victims were marginal cultivators with less than five acres of land. In Maharashtra state alone, more than 12,000 farmers committed suicide during the period 2015-2018.

G. D. Agrawal, alias Swami Sanand. Courtesy Dhruv Rathee

Another issue is more well known. Pollution of the Ganges river is chronic. This pollution is not caused by climate change. However, the problem is substantially furthered by the industrialisation which creates global heating.

The Hindu monk known as Swami Sanand was originally G. D. Agrawal (1932-2018), a professor of environmental engineering at the celebrated Institute of Technology in Kanpur. He opposed industrialist tendencies of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Agrawal fasted to death in an attempt to save the Ganges. At the end, he remarked to a supporter: "I have lost, but maybe you can fight."

Agrawal was complaining at the neglect of ecological priorities. The Ganges had been afflicted by over a thousand irrigation dams, weakened by a reckless extraction of groundwater. The sacred river is extensively poisoned by toxic industrial effluent and household sewage. The example of Agrawal will not be forgotten by environmentalists, who include sannyasins (Holy men fasting to death).

India has joined the manic Western satellite game. In 2019, Prime Minister Modi stated: “The best is yet to come in our space programme.” Millions of dollars are wasted by the Indian government in space probes. Anything but stop pollution, hunger, suicides, rape, and religious discrimination. Delhi is now known as the "rape capital of the world." Universities are no longer safe from violence. The police are ogres. Nationalism and aggression have replaced the example of Mahatma Gandhi.

14. Brazil and Deforestation Issues

The Amazon Rainforest

Trees release water vapour into the atmosphere through pores in foliage. Billions of trees create “giant rivers of water in the air,” a graphic expression to remember. That process creates rainfall.

Deforestation is anticipated to dry up the Nile, cripple the Asian monsoon, and “dessicate fields from Argentina to America.” The respective threats come from the Congo basin in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Amazon.

Vanished forests are often replaced by agriculture (or agribusiness), contributing carbon emissions. The Indonesian island of Sumatra has lost forests to palm oil cultivation, leading to increased temperatures in non-forest land at that location. A misconception is that the Amazon is an inevitable zone of rainfall. Climate science states that, in places like the Congo and the Amazon, forests cause the rainfall. In the absence of forests, those areas would be desert. More than a fifth of the Amazon rainforests are lost to money greed moving in the opposite direction to global wellbeing.

Geographical factors are ecologically interconnected. The Amazon rainforests are thought to provide crucial moisture as far north as the US Midwest. In Mumbai, “patterns of declining rainfall during the Indian monsoon season [recently] matched changing forest cover.” Cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires could be seriously hit by the consequences of deforestation occurring elsewhere (Rivers in the Sky).

Amazon Rainforest casualty. Courtesy Getty Images

Nearly two thirds of the crucial Amazon rainforests are located in Brazil, where cattle ranching has comprised a major cause of deforestation. Colombia and Bolivia are other rainforest countries. The cutting down of trees declined from 2004, but increased in 2015, with major concerns now arising that the Bolsonaro regime will ruin the environment. That regime is dismantling environmental protections and substantially permitting deforestation (Brazil's deforestation is exploding - and 2020 will be worse). The tragedy of rainforest fires has increased substantially since the predatory regime opened up the Amazon to mining and agribusiness.

A major factor in the deforestation is landgrabbing property speculation. Tycoons from the cities hire agents to invade and clear the forest, afterwards bribing corrupt officials to gain ownership rights. Hydroelectric dams and mining are other forms of predatory greed. Tens of thousands of illegal miners clear forest and poison rivers while searching for gold. More damage is achieved by corporate mining. Soy cultivation is another molester; this commodity is sold to China, Europe, and other markets (Amazon rainforest protest).

Children from Huni Kuin tribe after Amazon fire, 2019. Courtesy David Tesinsky/Mediadrumimages

The forest heritage, preserved for thousands of years by the Brazilian natives, is now trashed by urban industrialism and agribusiness. The "lungs of the world" are being damaged by vandals. President Jair Bolsonaro is accused of encouraging genocide against the indigenous people of Brazil, in the light of widespread systematic attacks and aggressive exhortations. Reference to the International Criminal Court is involved. A recent 29 percent increase, relating to annual deforestation, is now a causative factor in the climate change that will stop for no oppressive government. A world without lungs will die, killing the tyrants and everyone else.

President Bolsonaro became known for a commitment to making gold prospectors (garimpeiros) legal, despite their destruction of nature, posing a threat to indigenous communities (Like a Bomb Going Off). Bolsonaro has significantly derided the danger posed by COVID-19 virus, proving his ignorance of hazard.

A very serious setback is now in prospect. A significant article is Asynchronous carbon sink saturation in African and Amazonian tropical forests (Nature, 04/03/20). Here many scientists inform that the changing Amazon rainforest, by the 2030s, could become a harmful source of carbon in the atmosphere. This development may cause climate breakdown to grow substantially more severe. During the past thirty years, the amount of carbon absorbed by tropical forests has decreased. The crucial rate of absorption has fallen by a third since the 1990s. The fall-off is a consequence of global heating, droughts, and deforestation (Tropical forests losing ability to absorb carbon).

15. The Chinese Drive for Global Resources and Human Organs

Protest against chemical plant at Jinshan, suburb of Shanghai, 2015. Courtesy Getty Images

China is notorious for the most dangerous air pollution in the world. Over one and a half million Chinese are estimated to die every year from this setback. The massive Chinese urbanisation drive of the last thirty years is not ecologically sustainable. The heavy industry, at numerous Chinese cities, includes coal-fired power plants and cement factories. Environmental protests are dispersed by police. The government has also suppressed sources referring to official corruption and collusion with fossil fuel companies. "The foul air of dozens of fast-expanding cities across China contains cocktails of toxic contaminants unprecedented in the range of pollutants they contain at high concentrations" (Fred Pearce, Health Risk in Chinese Cities).

The people of China, in every province, in both urban and rural areas, strongly contest the pollution. The number of environmental protests, between 1995 and 2015, rose by an annual average of 29 percent. These protests often target air and water pollution; a perception of official corruption is strong. Polluting factories leak chemical wastewater, poisoning rivers and farms. After years of keeping soil pollution a closely guarded state secret, the Ministry of Environmental Protection admitted, in 2014, that almost 20 percent of Chinese farmland is polluted, mostly with toxic heavy metals from industry and petrochemicals from intensive agriculture. Nearly 60 percent of groundwater in China is polluted. The air pollution causes asthma, lung cancer, and heart attack.

Chromium discharge in rivers is one industrial setback, turning water red. Industrial waste flows into major rivers. Hazardous chemicals have been found close to residential areas, violating national safety standards. The government has reduced industrial activity in the biggest cities, moving factories to many other large cities facing a horror scenario.

The Beijing government regard environmental protest as a threat. They are stated to have spent more on internal security than on the military. The heavy-handed security includes managing and suppressing public protests. Organisers of protest are detained by police. The government can cut mobile phone communications and delete internet information. They are said to fear a national movement emerging from the numerous local protests (Jennifer Duggan, Green China, 2015).

In China, the construction industry demand for sand is insatiable, more than anywhere else in the world. The cause is rapid and increasing urbanisation. During the years 2013-2017, China used more cement than America did during the entire twentieth century. Sand dredging lowers the level of rivers. Further problems arise that are well known to environmentalists in China and other countries.

China is a major international player in hydropower. The new dams have displaced millions of people, seriously affecting local environments. Within China, this activity stimulated polluting industrialism, causing extensive damage to rivers. Hydropower is a substitute for fossil fuels. However, the entrepreneurs have maintained use of coal power.

Close analysts express concern at Chinese technology. Professor William Laurance, of the James Cook University in Australia, is a conservation expert. He refers to the dark legacy of China’s drive for global resources. China pursues a startling array of energy, mining, logging, agricultural, and infrastructure programmes on virtually every continent. This activity is causing an unprecedented environmental impact on the planet (Dark Legacy).

The international project decodes to: “wreaking unprecedented damage to ecosystems and biodiversity.” China is discrepantly noted for green activities. The ecological mandate is “in many ways being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of environmental degradation” exercised by Chinese policies and corporations at the global level (Dark Legacy). China is now the world’s biggest financier, furthering the expensive activity of building controversial hydroelectric dams.

En route from source: Chinese logging activity kills rainforests in Africa

Every year Africa loses approximately 17 billion dollars to illegal logging. The demand for timber has become unprecedented, "exacerbated by an international smuggling racket with China at the heart of their trade" (Bob Koigi, Illegal Chinese Timber Business, 2018). China is the major global importer of logs, satisfying a demand for luxury furniture amongst the expanding Chinese middle class (some of the output also goes to Europe and North America). Up to 75 percent of African timber exports go annually to China. An illegal trade is assisted by corrupt African government officials. Excessive logging is facilitated by Chinese merchants ruthlessly finding holes in legal protection of forests. The devastation is particularly evident in Nigeria, the Congo Basin, Cameroon, and Mozambique.

In 2017, Nigerian officials received Chinese bribes of a million dollars to permit 1.4 million illegally cut trees with a market value of 300 million dollars. In West Africa, Chinese traders had already felled every single rosewood tree in Benin and Gambia. This criminal project flaunted CITES conventions relating to endangered tree species. Forests are reduced to deserts in some areas by Chinese greed. The Congo Basin, sometimes defined as spanning six countries including Cameroon, has suffered vast amounts of timber being transported to China. The Congo rainforest is the second "lungs of the earth," the largest after the Amazon. This ecologically crucial preserve is being decimated by Chinese mercantile ambition. Africa is the continent that will perhaps be most affected by climate change. Essential natural resistance to this severe fate is being removed by the Oriental corporations.

Destination for rosewood logs: Timber market, Dongyang, China, a centre of illegal trade. Courtesy Sandy Ong

 

A four year project, of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), traced illegally sourced timber from the Congo and Gabon. EIA discovered "extensive holdings by a Chinese firm linked to bribery, corruption, tax evasion and ecosystem destruction" (Chinese firms and illegal logging, 2019). An in-depth report by the Global Canopy Program, a UK scientific group, concluded that Chinese companies and financial organisations are among the worst enterprises worldwide in terms of driving tropical deforestation.

Greenpeace has reported that Cameroon took a loan from a Chinese bank, an event contributing to large areas of forest being cut down. Sinochem International cleared more than 10,000 hectares of dense forest to facilitate their giant commercial rubber plantation (Rainforest cut down). This company are powered by the Exim Bank of China, a giant predator in Africa. Large numbers of indigenous people were displaced without compensation or adequate resettlement plan, in violation of UN rules. China preys on Africa via loans, subsequently taking over in countries like Zambia. When Chinese banks and corporations build factories, they transport their own people from China to these new locations. Critics claim that Chinese investment in Africa creates suffering and destruction, contrary to roseate theories of industrial improvement preferred by partisans.

In 2012, China became the largest importer of logs from the Congo Basin. Twenty Chinese companies accounted for seventy percent of all logs exported. Eight of those companies are state-owned (Greenpeace). Madagascar is also a scene of dispute, where the government has prosecuted activists trying to stop the illegal trade. Many politicians here are timber merchants. When illegal logs enter China, they become legal when Chinese merchants bribe customs officials to produce endorsing certification (Illicit Trail from Forest to Furniture, 2019).

Rosewood logs from Africa and Madagascar become expensive showroom Chinese furniture

Imported rosewood logs in China become hongmu (red wood) furniture, a commodity in strong demand amongst an expanding middle class of opulent Communists. Demand for rosewood increased by three hundred per cent during the first decade of this century. This boom was partly a result of the construction industry growth accompanying extensive urbanisation. The luxury market kills forests in Africa and Madagascar. A bed made from Madagascar rosewood can cost a million dollars. The hongmu output copies designs from the Ming and Ching dynasties. A snob value attaches to this reproduction merchandise. People who lack hongmu decor are considered "low class" by the proud Communist high class possessors. The imperial fashion now assists climate change problems for both snobs and those who lack assets.

By 2017, more than 10,000 Chinese-owned firms existed in Africa, inspiring a theme that Chinese traders are turning this new field of exploitation into another Chinese continent. Huge loans lead to construction projects and urbanisation, with grand plans for highways, railways, and airports. This is anything but a sensitive ecological project. Instead, the technological scenario is attended by increased carbon emissions and intensive population growth topping a billion.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a corrupt local court acquitted a Chinese logging company from strong charges of extensive illegal logging and criminal conspiracy. That was in May 2019.

The commitment of China to new wind and solar enterprises is evidently compromised. That is because the Chinese strategy “is plowing far more cash into big hydropower, coal, and nuclear energy projects.” The international transport plan of China is viewed by critics as an avenue of ecological transgression. This plan occurs under the auspices of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), based in Beijing (Why Scientists fear the AIIB).

Professor Laurance informs that the Chinese government readily concedes a poor compliance with guidelines in their green papers “outlining lofty environmental and social guidelines for China’s overseas ventures and corporations.” Nevertheless, China “accepts no blame for this,” instead finding the excuse that little control can be exerted over Chinese corporations. The blame is instead placed upon “the host nations themselves for not controlling Chinese corporations more carefully.”

China is now the leading carbon polluter, producing “twice the greenhouse gas emissions of the U.S., as well as larger amounts of dangerous air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.” This Far Eastern country has an ambiguous reputation in forestry. Extensive areas of Western China have been planted with trees. In South China however, “large expanses of biologically rich rainforests have been cleared for exotic rubber plantations.”

The Chinese government has given attention to the severe air, water, and soil pollution existing in scores of Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The problem has not been eliminated. “Progress has been limited and large expanses of eastern and central China have become unhealthy places for people and biodiversity alike.”

The international scope of Chinese industry furthers ecological damage. “Even in the remote interior of the Congo Basin, Chinese companies are heavily involved in road-construction, mining, and logging projects.” The celebrated hydropower dams mean major avenues for adjacent exploitation, including Ethiopia and the Congo. On the home front, new hydropower dams on the Mekong River “could have serious impacts on biodiversity, fisheries, and water users in downstream nations, such as Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.” This is anything but an ecolological paradise.

In Western Africa, important rosewood forests are being illegally denuded, almost exclusively to feed superfluous consumer demand in China. The impacts are even heavier across the Asia-Pacific region, where native forests from Siberia to the Solomon Islands are being overexploited to feed Chinese timber markets. A European forester is reported to have objected that Chinese corporations in Africa lavishly bribe top officials, with the consequence that “corruption is out of control” (Dark Legacy).

Half of China's tropical log imports come from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Logging roads in the Solomon Islands stretch for more than 23,000 kilometres, a distance twice the length of the Yangtze River. There will soon be no forests left in these islands (Illegal Logging).

About two-thirds of Russian timber exports go to China, where factories process the logs into furniture and flooring. The Russian boreal forest, or taiga, is the largest forested region in the world at 12 million square kilometres. In contrast, the Amazon forest has 5.5 million square kilometres. The survival of both forests is crucial to global wellbeing. Both giants are being reduced by illegal logging and commercial greed.

The Chinese Communist tactic has included theft of human organs from diverse victims in barbaric detention centres. The China Tribunal has provided a strong verdict of Chinese Communist Crimes against Humanity. China here emerges as a criminal state. This verdict is ignored by widespread Western strategies of economic acquisition. The Chinese Communist Holocaust is not so easily forgotten in more responsible sectors. An earlier report is also relevant.

The China Tribunal has described this activity in terms of "unmatched wickedness." The same body of experts has estimated that 90,000 organ transplants occur in China every year, sustaining an industry worth a billion US dollars annually (Worst Fears Confirmed). The Chinese government claims to have stopped using organs from executed prisoners. Most of the Chinese government data is revealed as "absolutely fraud." Some analysts say that the dire situation is getting worse (Forced Organ Harvesting).

For many years since 1999, Falun Gong victims were herded into hospitals, where some of them suffered being cut open alive for commercial profit. This means they were cut open before clinical death. Others died before organ harvesting. The victims have also apparently included Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, and Uighur Muslims. The full suppressed details can deeply shock. People whose views conflicted with Communist Party ideology were murdered for their organs in the sadistic medical scenario. The Beijing government substantially minimised the annual number of organ transplants at 10,000. Western investigators found a massive discrepancy in official Chinese figures for transplants, proving that a deception was at work.

This was state-sponsored murder for the harvesting and sale of human organs. According to some reports, no anaesthetic was administered to living victims. The corpses were afterwards incinerated in boiler ovens to remove all evidence of the crimes. The purpose of this criminal surgery was to obtain live organs for wealthy clients. The surgeons are reported to have paralysed live victims so they could more easily extract organs. The death of victims was caused by organ removal (China still harvesting organs from prisoners at a massive scale, 2016). Some victims were already dead from execution or abuse in detention centres. Corrupt doctors and hospitals benefited financially from the crimes.

For decades, Chinese officials denied that they took organs from prisoners, describing accusations as "vicious slander." The deceivers finally admitted the ghastly practice in 2005. There are more annual executions in China than all other countries put together. The crimes are ongoing.

Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC was a major participant in the China Tribunal. He described the crimes in terms of mass atrocities, details first appearing since at least 2002, but very widely ignored at the convenience of numerous parties. The international accomplices to crime have included politicians, governments, businesses, airlines, medical organisations, universities, and tourists. None of these accomplices merit any respect for their neglect of priorities. Sir Geoffrey Nice declared that all such parties are "interacting with a criminal state." Even the United Nations has proved too lenient. The same lawyer concluded that "very many people have died indescribably hideous deaths" in the Chinese Communist situation of forced organ harvesting.

Cutting open the bodies of live victims is a Chinese Communist crime for profit

The Chinese Communist attitude to Tibet, together with detention centres in Xinjiang, are likewise notorious for giant dimensions of oppression. The China Tribunal was obliged to state that Britain ignored the issue of criminal extraction of organs, the truth being politically inconvenient. The Chinese Communist feats equalled those of medieval torturers and executioners. The Tribunal has described China as a criminal state. The sale of stolen kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, and other anatomical parts is a standing reflection upon the British Conservative government colluding with the predator.

In 2019, Chancellor Philip Hammond chose to implement the London-Shanghai Stock Connect service, urging an economic dialogue between Britain and China. Hammond emphasised the relevance of China in terms of a "vitally important investment market." Hammond even attended a conference in Beijing to promote the Chinese ecological disaster known as the Belt and Road Initiative, intended to spread throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa. In June 2019, these gestures assisted the event of British based companies starting to sell shares in China. The British government even gave money from British aid funds to assist fracking in China. At the same time, they penalised and jailed British objectors to fracking. The Conservative departures from due ethical behaviour proved which government is not progressive.

The British government, furthering their free market strategy, opted to support President Xi Jinping instead of Tibetan protest or Chinese human rights lawyers like Gao Zhisheng. Jinping took office in 2012, intensifying central control under his personal leadership; he implemented unyielding crackdown against dissent. He is noted for creating a "cyber-army" to monitor and censor the Chinese internet. In 2015, he inaugurated the infamous 709 Crackdown, detaining more than 200 human rights lawyers and activists, categories who were now subject to ongoing abuse and suppression. He launched a severe and systematic persecution of Chinese Christians. Jinping personally ordered a massive security crackdown in Xinjiang against Uighur Muslims. His intolerance sanctioned violence and torture that was kept a state secret. Some critics call him the Communist Emperor. A pet project of Jinping is the Belt and Road Initiative, intending to link China with Europe and Africa by 2049. This ambitious undertaking, calculated to increase the wealth and influence of China, might easily dwarf the EU and small countries. Belt refers to overland routes, while Road means sea routes.

Gao Zhisheng in 2005 and 2017. Courtesy Getty Images and Chinese supporters

In contrast, the prominent lawyer Gao Zhisheng courageously wrote three open letters to Chinese leaders in 2005, exposing the systematic torture of Falun Gong adherents. Gao travelled throughout China to interview Falun Gong people, and to defend their rights against oppression. In response, the government closed his law firm in Beijing, while restricting his freedom. A group of about twenty police followed him everywhere. He was charged with incitement to subvert state power. In 2006, Gao was kidnapped by a group of police. He was beaten with electric shock batons. "My begging them to to stop only led to laughing and more unbearable torture in return." One of them urinated on his face. These agents of injustice know they can do anything they want, empowered by a corrupt government totally insensitive to pain.

Thereafter, Gao Zhisheng was either missing, in jail, or under house arrest. Despite all the hideous torture, he refused to surrender his right to freedom of speech and belief. The American Bar Association callously refused to publish a relevant book. Gao "wrote an article to criticise them and to condemn any organisation that pandered or surrendered to China's authoritarian power" (Teng Biao, Bravest Lawyer in China, 2019). The British government, and British universities, are only some of the fawning organisations with no conscience.

In 2017, Gao went missing once again. He is reported to have disappeared. There are grave concerns about his plight in a milieu of unbridled power and sadism, where humanitarian obligations are nil. His wife Geng He and others report that he was tortured in the same manner reserved for the Falun Gong, involving sleep deprivation, brutal beatings, and shocks with high power electric batons. Like many other victims, Gao lost his teeth. The Communist Party refused to allow him to see a dentist for urgent attention, after many years of intermittent torture and malnutrition. In 2014, Gao had lost almost three stone in weight after being kept in solitary confinement without light (Benedict Rogers, China's escalating human rights disaster, 2018).

Smashing teeth was a minor amusement of savage police who were capable of torturing victims to death. One Falung Gong woman, who survived harassment three times, reported how she was taken to an office with an iron-barred window, where six or seven police officers beat her. Some of her teeth were knocked loose, to the extent that her mouth was "eventually filled with missing tooth roots." Her crime was that of concealing religious scriptures beneath her bed (Persecuted for 18 years). She was fortunate by comparison with many others.

The vicious use of electric batons by Chinese police is quite sufficient to kill or disable men, let alone women. One of the numerous cases on record is that of Chu Hui, aged 32, an illegally imprisoned Falun Gong seaport worker who was tortured at Dalian Forced Labour Camp in 2001. He was hit with electric batons for eleven hours. A report states:

There was not one spot on his body that was not burned from the electric shocks and his buttocks had been pulverised; he passed out many times.... Officer Qiao Wei was laughing and shouting while he brutally beat Chu Hui, "I have not felt so satisfied in many years" [said the police officer]. The torture resulted in Chu Hui becoming paralysed and thus, handicapped for the rest of his life. (Detailed Account of Horrific Acts)

Lawyer Gao Zhisheng was horrified at the scale of brutality in the persecution of Falung Gong (Falun Dafa). Among the wide variety of torture methods employed by police, sexual torture of both women and men was routine and widespread. Gao was himself sexually tortured for more than fifty days in 2007.

In a well known instance at the Masanjia Forced Labour Camp, the guards consigned 18 Falun Gong women to the cells for men, encouraging the inmates to rape them. This ordeal led to "the deaths, disability, or mental instability of the victims" (No Limits to the Perversion). Sexual torture was also extended to Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang. Women can suffer their nipples being pulled off, also the forcible administration of drugs that cause menstruation to cease, forced abortion, and other abnormal afflictions. Amnesty International has reported that Tibetan Buddhist women have also been sexually tortured, including "a group of nuns who were stripped, brutally beaten, and sexually assaulted with electric batons" (last source linked). Gang rape is another speciality in this horrific milieu.

Nine Falung Gong women were taken to a "black jail" to be raped by the inmates. Yin Liping later reported her fate. "She was locked in a room with four men who beat her until she passed out and then gang-raped her. She realised when she regained consciousness that the assault had been videotaped, further adding to her distress and humiliation" (No Limits to the Perversion). The victim later escaped to America, where in 2016, she recounted how she was "tortured to the verge of death" several times at Masanjia Forced Labour Camp.

Torture is widespread and systematic, ordered by top [Communist] Party officials to help wipe out the [Falun Gong] practice. Police and CCP [Chinese Communist Party] officials at all levels routinely extort huge sums from those they threaten and arrest, and their families. (Death Cases)

Chinese instruments of torture include the "tiger chair" and the spiked baton. The notorious restraint chair was regularly used to extract confessions. Amnesty International interviewed many human rights lawyers, some of whom had themselves been tortured. Tibetan Buddhists have long suffered the affliction of Chinese Communist torture. A Chinese court banned torture in 2013, amounting to an excuse for politicians, because torture practices are still widespread according to human rights experts.

In 2015, a total of 248 Chinese human rights lawyers and activists were detained and interrogated. Their cause, of supporting abused minorities, was crushed by the Jinping regime. Their fate was surveillance, character assassination, intimidation, loss of lawyer licence, and worse. Some of them disappeared. Chinese state media aggressively described them as a "major criminal gang." The crackdown was ongoing.

Xie Yanyi

The prospect of no end in sight for torture was confirmed by a report from lawyer Xie Yanyi, who suffered eighteen months of cruel detention. He was kept in a stress position for 16 hours daily, at times being denied food, while subject to interrogation for "dozens of hours" on end. He was beaten while in solitary confinement. For six months he did not see sunlight (Chinese Lawyer Recounts Torture). Meanwhile, the Beijing leaders were growing increasingly super-rich, while accustomed to squashing the slightest criticism of their role. Despite the extremely unethical methods of the Jinping government, backward British (and other) politicians slavishly deferred to Communist industrial wealth, desiring increased trade with China at the expense of all scruple.

In 2008, Xie Yanyi had boldly complained about government attempts to install surveillance equipment on all computers sold in China. After his release from torture, he was forced by police to leave his rented accommodation in Beijing. The government wished to make him homeless. According to the Harun Report (Shanghai), the net worth of the 153 members of China's Parliament and advisory body amounts to 650 billion dollars. This trend is described as a "growing billionaires' club." These people do not live in huts or homeless spaces. In 2019, China had 285 billionaires, a total second only to America.

Yu Wensheng

The Chinese intimidation and suppression expanded to more victims, including Yu Wensheng, a human rights lawyer of Beijing who resisted the "war on law." In 2016, he was one of a small group of lawyers attempting to sue the government over failure to improve air pollution in China. He was detained, in January 2018, on the false charge of "disrupting public service." Three months later, he was officially arrested. The Jinping regime engineered a "secret trial" for Wensheng in May 2019, after he had been indicted on a charge of "inciting subversion of state power" (Wensheng detained and charged).

Simon Cheng

More recently came the testimony of Simon Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen. In 2019, he was tortured by police for two weeks while on a trip to mainland China. Cheng was put in a "tiger chair," handcuffed, hung by his wrists, and beaten. He was forced to give a false confession of involvement in pro-democracy protests. When he failed to do what his guards ordered, his knees were hit with painful spiked batons. The overbearing guards yelled abuse at him throughout his ordeal. Simon Cheng was wrongly accused of being a British spy, and of soliciting prostitutes. An accusation against him appeared on Chinese television. He reported that other people from Hong Kong were also in police detention, a potentially deadly fate.

Chinese bureaucratic oppression is infiltrating British universities in a manner acknowledged by some official channels. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee stated in 2019: "There is clear evidence that autocracies are seeking to shape the research agenda or curriculum of UK universities." This Committee found alarming evidence of Chinese interference on British campuses. Some of this interference, seeking to restrict academic freedom of speech, was apparently coordinated by the Chinese Embassy in London (Chinese Meddling at UK Universities Exposed). This situation is underlined by the fact that the number of Chinese students at British universities has risen by a third over five years. "The 120,000 Chinese students are an important source of income for universities" (Boom in Chinese Students). The Chinese pay higher fees than British students. The Chinese Embassy represents a draconian police state of an oppressive nature for Chinese lawyers with conscience.

In October 2019, a revealing conflict occurred amongst students in Sheffield, here meaning Hong Kong supporters of pro-democracy who faced intimidation from Chinese mainlaind supporters of the Chinese Communist government (Sheffield Hong Kong Protest). Many of the 200 people involved were members of the 7,000 strong Chinese and Hong Kong student community at the two universities in Sheffield. Glass bottles were thrown from Chinese ranks, a gesture necessitating police intervention, resulting in one arrest (Sheffield student arrested). Labour Councillor Ben Miskell complained at the pro-Beijing violence: "This sort of behaviour is never acceptable and a real threat to our democratic freedoms."

In more general terms, British universities have gained spotlight in terms of a bullying psychology, extending to aggressive behaviour and career sabotage. Oxford emerges as a particular focus of accusation (Hundreds of academics at top UK universities accused of bullying, 2018). These institutions customarily ignore any complaint, on any subject whatever, from British citizens. The aloof academic ultra-superiority complex, combined with Communist biases and attendant financial gains, may yet produce detention centres for citizen torture and theft of citizen human organs. Oxford and Cambridge versions of Josef Mengele might triumph over due restraint. There are some things even worse than climate change.

In 2019, Oxford University declined an agreement with Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecom giant. The reason was concern about security issues, including espionage. Huawei desired to allocate £6 million to British universities, including Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, and York. Some University circles fear to annoy China, not wishing to forfeit business opportunities. The Confucius Institutes are "Chinese government funded centres attached to British universities." These tentacles are "by and large an offshoot of the propaganda department of the Communist Party" (National Security Risks). This is doubtless why so many books are published on Chinese subjects by Western university presses. China desires to be the world leader in education. Dissent is punishable, as many victims have found.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in January 2020, became controversial for a plan to continue incorporating Huawei in a project of 5G mobile phone network. Some Conservatives strongly contested this development because of a security risk. In a more ethical dimension, a complaint was made to BT (British Telecom) about the Huawei 5G issue of Uighurs recruited from Xinjiang to factories across China. Over 80,000 Uighurs are forced to work in the factories by Chinese Communism, while being subject to constant surveillance, indoctrination via the Mandarin language of Han Chinese, and threats of detention. The Chinese national anthem is also imposed. Twenty-seven factories, in nine provinces, have been identified. The discrepant situation, glossed by Chinese Communism, is described by critics in terms of modern slavery.

These factories exist in the supply chain of Huawei and many other global brands. Over eighty foreign and Chinese companies, directly or indirectly, are benefiting from the forced labour of Uighur workers. Those companies include Apple, Samsung, Sony, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Amazon, Bosch, Dell, Siemens, and Volkswagen. For instance, the American company Nike has been represented at a Chinese factory equipped with watchtowers and barbed wire fences. This predatory situation, of cultural genocide in a police state, should never be endorsed (Uyghurs for Sale, 01/03/20).

Mobile phone networks are questionable authorities for human welfare. The desire for high speed internet crushes any ethical consideration. Some people desire to have films (movies) downloaded more quickly. There is a lot more to the world landscape than such consumer appetites imply. Tech-driven growth is already a major disaster area, furthered by industries contributing to confusion and calamity. A recent British trend, believing that 5G is the cause of COVID-19, illustrates the extent of confusion in a society supposedly possessing advanced information facility. The victims of social networking are more confused than ever, not more enlightened. The 5G-COVID fallacy was spread via the distracting media known as Facebook Inc. and WhatsApp, being associated with an origin in alternative medicine. You Tube and Twitter were further channels of misinformation. Social networking can subvert due analysis, conveying fake news to many populations (Fake News is Spreading).

Popular theories can obscure relevant data. There may well be risks of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF EMF) from mobile phones. A number of risks are scientifically identified, often said to require further research. For instance, dangers have been discussed in relation to child usage of mobile phones, more specifically, addictive behaviour "associated with emotional and behavioural disorders" (Risks to Health and Well-Being from Radio-Frequency Radiation Emitted by Cell Phones (2019). There is no scientific data for any connection with COVID-19. An irony is that the attackers of British Telecom 5G installations in Britain generally appear to be mobile phone users; they have not thought out their position with any clarity. These campaigners should be using landline phones if they feel strongly about hazards. They are instead contributing to smartphone sales drive.

In March 2020, scientists reportedly warned Boris Johnson that the Chinese government covered up the number of COVID-19 cases in China. The true figure may be many times higher than declared statistics. "The only certainty about the numbers it [the Chinese government] releases is that they are the numbers it wants you to believe" (Ma Jian, Xi Jinping has buried the truth about Coronavirus). The Chinese Communist Party was "actively promoting the massive proliferation of dangerous viral host species for human consumption" (Coronavirus Consumption). A critical view is that China has attempted to expand economic power via an offer of assistance to countries struggling with COVID-19. Some fear that Britain may effectively become a Chinese Communist colony if the Belt and Road Initiative is successful.

Xu Zhangrun

Chinese medical professionals and journalists were placed in detention for objecting to government tactics that regulated COVID-19 virus. The Chinese government had bungled. Chinese online demands for freedom of speech were quickly censored by the notorious cyber police. Any criticism of President Xi Jinping is treated as a criminal offence.

The most intellectual objector was Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Tsinghua University (Beijing). In 2018, Xu posted a radical online critique of the Chinese Communist government. This contribution is distinguished by a high degree of literacy. Entitled Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes, the petition is also known as Beijing Jeremiad. As a consequence of his daring, Xu was suspended from his role as university lecturer, being banned from teaching and publishing.

In February 2020, Xu Zhangrun released online his essay When Fury Overcomes Fear. This bold attack confronts the political suppression created by Xi Jinping and his circle. The author here states: “The coronavirus epidemic has revealed the rotten core of Chinese governance” (translation G. R. Barme, Viral Alarm). Xu accuses the Jinping government of being the worst political regime in China since 1978. He calls for an end to the ban on independent media and publishing, and an end to “the secret police surveillance of the internet.” He also refers to the “internet terrorism” in terms of killing meaningful public discussion.

Xu Zhangrun was now placed under house arrest and barred from social media. This was one more casualty for Chinese liberalism. “Under Xi’s crackdown on speech and academic freedoms, a number of prominent liberal intellectuals, journalists, rights lawyers and NGO workers have either been silenced, jailed or escaped abroad” (Prominent Xi Critic has internet cut).

What dissident women can expect from the Belt and Road Initiative via sexual torture. Courtesy Minghui.org

A worst case scenario can be associated with the Belt and Road Initiative, if this ever reaches Britain. Oxford dons will be chanting a Chinese national anthem while dissidents have their private parts mercilessly tortured with high-powered electric batons wielded by police and jailers. Objectors to the Chinese educational system might be sent to the neo-Mengele "hospitals" for sadistic exercises in commerce. Chinese police and organ theft medics are merciless. After cutting open British bodies, they will want to sell the fresh organs for a high price to wealthy persons desiring transplants. None of this will be advertised. The abused corpses will be clandestinely incinerated. The Chinese government, via Huawei Technologies, will eliminate any online complaints from Britain or elsewhere, while spreading the message that Communism is a highly benevolent form of education reigning supreme by virtue of good intentions. The Confucius Institutes will be unassailably victorious in any contingency imaginable, imposing a savagely painful death upon those who disagree.

Female dissidents can easily be gang-raped in the Chinese Communist detention zone governed by super-rich technologists and bureaucrats. To stop the screams during torture, wads of dirty socks or other materials are wedged into the mouths of victims as an additional proof of cultural and educational expertise. Women have been chained to doors or beds and smashed by police punches and kicks, plus other violent methods of brutal jailers given free rein by the ruthless Beijing government, who welcome wealthy tourists ignorant of facts or immune to ethical considerations.

Tragically common in the sources are tortures like the following. Fu Shuying was a sixty year old woman subjected to having her limbs pulled with "extreme force in four directions simultaneously." Afterwards, "the hired thug forcibly inserted a long rod into her vagina causing severe inflammation," and a resulting infection (Detailed Account of Horrific Acts). Her associate Sun Yan, a younger woman, "suffered from uncontrollable vaginal bleeding after being subjected to the horrific 'stretching punishment' and the blood ran down her legs. Even the hired men [thugs] said it was too cruel" (ibid). Such details were ignored by those British politicians and wealthy companies wishing to sell shares in China and to support the Belt and Road Initiative.

The British government now emphasises prowess in the dateline of 2050 for "carbon zero." They will be thirty years too late. They have been welcoming the Belt and Road Initiative, an ecological disaster of massive proportions set to finish in 2049. The juxtaposition in timing is not auspicious. By that year, all the trees in Africa will have been destroyed by the Chinese logging corporations. Europe may look forward to the ordeal of exploitive commerce. Britain might then be an easy prey for the giant industrial machine which has already extracted vast quantities of manganese, caltan, and cobalt from Africa. Citizens must think for themselves in the absence of due responsibility on the part of politicians and universities.

16. Russian Climate Dangers

President Vladimir Putin and Exxon Mobil official Rex Tillerson, 2013. Courtesy Getty Images

In 2011, President Putin made a 500 billion dollar deal with Exxon Mobil executive Rex Tillerson. This move was designed to enable Exxon access to the huge oil resources in the Russian Arctic and the Black Sea, while also giving the giant Russian state owned oil company Rosnoft an opportunity to invest in the fossil fuel resources of Exxon. The ambitious deal stalled when the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia in the political situation attending Ukraine.

Exxon Mobil, an economic enterprise bigger than many countries, has the repute of being "a culture of intimidation." In 2016, Tillerson asserted: “The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not.”  The Trump administration nominated Tillerson as the American Secretary of State during 2017-18.

Russia was the world’s second largest exporter of oil in 2015, second only to Saudi Arabia. Russia was also the major exporter of natural gas. By 2016, many senior Russian government officials became concerned, wishing to cut emissions. They were opposed by large Russian corporations in the sector of coal, steel, oil, and gas. This is the familiar scenario of science and scruple versus big business.

In 2018, the Russian Environment Ministry published a lengthy 900 page report warning of dangers posed by climate change. This report decoded to epidemics, drought, severe flooding, and starvation. The report stated a 95 percent confidence that human activity contributed to climate change. Temperatures in Russia had increased alarmingly. Deaths from environmental disasters in Russia increased elevenfold between the years 2016 and 2017. Some regions in Russia could become hotbeds of disease as a consequence of contaminated water and insects. Forest fires in Siberia and other areas were now becoming too common, causing more dangerous emissions. Melting permafrost in, and adjoining, the Russian Arctic, could lead to dangerous chemical, biological, and radioactive substances impinging upon humans (Russian Ministry warns of coming environmental apocalypse). Russia remains a major gas-producing nation.

In December 2019, Putin cast doubts on man-made climate change, stating that "nobody knows" what causes the climate phenomenon. The cause is obvious to numerous scientists worldwide. The fact that Putin and many other politicians are a primary cause of climate dangers is no excuse for their evasive approach. Russia is the fourth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Forest fire in Siberia, 2019

In the summer of 2019, over 8 million hectares were devastated by severe forest fires in Siberia. The dense smog spread across the border to helpless Mongolia, and south to other Russian zones. Putin had to send the Russian army to assist in stopping the fires. In general, the “burnt and broken heart of Siberia” meant nothing to industrial pollution causing global problems. Fires also seared Alaska. The smoke from Siberian fires spread to the west coast of Canada. These fires were releasing toxic substances into the atmosphere as part of the ongoing deficit. Carbon dioxide, plus the even more dangerous methane, were in process of emission.

A thousand residents at the Siberian city of Kranoyarsk called for the resignation of Alexander Uss, the local governor who stated that resistance to the forest fire was not economically profitable. This attitude is viewed as reflecting the basic attitude in Russia and other affluent countries. Only economic profit is relevant for the creators of climate change.

During the same year of 2019, protests were occurring across Russia, demanding that officials solve the garbage crisis. Landfill sites were now overflowing and emitting toxic fumes. Despite the grave nature of events, Russian television was now mocking Greta Thunberg, “relentlessly, even cruelly" (Climate Strikes). The urban agents of global heating were typically complacent. Moscow is not regarded by all Russians as the last word in civilisation. The affluent Russian idea of economic growth is described in terms of “having two massive shopping malls instead of one, building monolithic apartment blocks in place of Soviet-era housing and making sure that every pothole on the street is matched with an SUV that is parked nearby” (Kirill Martynov, Russia will warm up to Greta).

Arshak Makichyan protesting at Moscow, 2019

Inspired by Thunberg, 24 year old Arshak Makichyan stood alone in Pushkin Square, Moscow, as a protester. His “climate strike” lasted for thirty Fridays in succession. In December 2019, Makichyan was awarded a jail sentence of six days by the Moscow court. The basically oppressive atmosphere in Russia is not justified by the degree of environmental damage.

More than fifty percent of Russia is in the permafrost zone. In 2019, an expedition of eighty scientists from Russia, China, and Sweden studied methane emissions in the eastern Arctic. They found concentrations of methane up to nine times the global average. This scenario includes methane discharge from bottom sediments of the ocean. The sea water can boil with methane bubbles, a phenomenon demonstrated by an Arctic methane fountain. The expedition concluded: “Degradation of the underwater and coastal permafrost that surrounds the Arctic Ocean will lead to massive emissions of methane and carbon dioxide” (Russian Scientists).

In January 2020, the Kremlin published a plan of adaptation to climate change. The heavily compromised agenda included a significant acknowledgment that climate change is exerting an adverse effect upon both the population and industry. The drawbacks cited extend to natural disasters, infections, and permafrost. Russia is warming 2.5 times faster than the planet as a whole. Russia is acutely vulnerable to certain aspects of climate change. The close proximity of North Russian towns to permafrost is an x factor currently causing much alarm.

Office building in Norilsk damaged by melting permafrost in 2009. Courtesy Alec Luhn

Over half of Russia (perhaps two-thirds) is a permafrost zone (similar to Canada). Permafrost exists in the top layer of soil underneath the cities and towns of North Russia, including Norilsk. Buildings have cracked and collapsed as a consequence of thawing permafrost, which can be several feet thick. Foundations of buildings are liable to disintegrate. Repairs and alterations can be very expensive. In 2016, news emerged that almost 60 percent of all buildings in Norilsk were damaged by permafrost. A sudden shift in the ground can be fatal to occupants (Alec Luhn, Slow Motion Wrecks, 2016).

Norilsk has the unenviable repute of being the most polluted city in Russia, being an industrial centre with controversial factories (Luhn, Where the River runs Red, 2016). This daunting factor is not negated by the Russian policy of installing an oil-drilling infrastructure across the Arctic. Greenpeace has warned that permafrost thawing is causing thousands of breakages to oil and gas pipelines.

The total scenario includes some very dangerous symptoms. At least seven giant craters have appeared in Siberia, caused by thawing permafrost, a process which frees methane gas to explode out of the ground. This dramatic thawing can also release dangerous bacteria. The same phenomenon is the cause of damaged roads and buckling railway lines. Another casualty is the disappearance of coastline and Arctic islands. Internet trolls have made derisive comments evidencing a complete ignorance of what is occurring.

17. Cobalt Mining, Smartphones, Electric Cars

Children working in cobalt mines at the Democratic Republic of Congo. Courtesy Gwenn Dubourthoumieu, Amnesty International

The current commercial society is dominated by sales drive. For instance, the mobile phone and the computer have become standard domestic and business accessories. For some years, the origin of a key component was completely and conveniently obscured by commercial processes. In the European Union alone, about 211 million smartphones are sold every year. Analysis of this market can be revealing. Fairphone is very much in the minority.

Many consumers still pay no heed to the issue of "ethical smartphones." There are many millions of non-ethical smartphones in usage. Amnesty International exposed the racket of electronic firms making billions out of misery (Cobalt Child Labour, 2016). "Conflict minerals," associated with human rights abuses, are assets to hard sell commerce. The cobalt component "is smeared in misery and blood" according to a modern slavery expert (Siddharth Kara, "Is your phone tainted by the misery?"). The country of origin is here the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Unfortunate children in DRC mines, effectively manipulated by Chinese middlemen, are part of the huge predatory market cultivated by high profile international corporations. Cobalt is used in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. That means laptop computers and tablets, like smartphones, are also contaminated by misery. A desktop computer is preferable, not requiring a battery. Lithium-ion batteries are not environmentally friendly, posing an additional problem in disposal.

According to Amnesty, children as young as seven were working in the cobalt mines (other reports give the age as low as four). They had no gloves or other protective clothing in a very dangerous environment. Local traders purchased cobalt from mines featuring underage child labour. This mineral was sold on to Huayou Cobalt, a Chinese mining company operating in the DRC. The refined product was sold to battery component manufacturers in China, who in turn supplied companies like Apple and Microsoft. Samsung and Sony were also implicated in this activity, as were electric car manufacturers like Daimler and Volkswagen.

Carrying a sack of cobalt

Amnesty discovered that children were known to work in the mines for up to 24 hours per day. Numerous health risks attend such activity. In 2016, a feasible claim was made that 16.9 percent of Congolese children, aged between 5 and 14, were working in the mines. Children work for a trifling amount that frequently arouses incredulity in Western countries. Unable to stand, they dig for rocks with primitive tools in dark and narrow tunnels which can too easily collapse. Victims can suffer disfigurement and missing limbs. "Every minute is suffused with dread, because many tunnels have collapsed in Kasulo, burying alive everyone inside" (Kara, Congo Mines).

Heavy sacks of cobalt are taken to rivers, where the contents are washed. The sacks can weigh over a hundred pounds. Contact with cobalt causes frequent lung problems for both men and women, via inhaling cobalt dust particles. The boys and others work without necessary face masks, work clothing, and gloves. Cobalt mining also causes water pollution (Cobalt mining industry). Siddharth Kara relays that the payment for a sackload of cobalt was just over half a dollar. To fill a sack can take a whole day. "Toxicity assaults at every turn; earth and water are contaminated with industrial runoff, and the air is brown with noxious haze" (Kara, Congo Mines).

Nobody should imagine that American tech giants are the only culprits in the international panorama of profits and injuries. The economy of DRC declined during the 1980s. A United Nations report, dating to 2001, described American technology companies, purchasing minerals and diamonds, as being responsible for aggravating the conflicts between Congolese armed forces and rebels. Underage children, working in the mines, were a means to obtain desired minerals and stones for the Western companies. The sales to those companies were used to buy weapons. The continuing violence and massacre in DRC includes the savage torture and rape of women by African soldiers, a trend which some analysts bracket with the situation facilitated by tech companies. Rape is here a very wide issue, unfortunately extending far outside armies (Resources and Rape). In DRC, the exemplary Dr. Denis Mukwege and his capable staff have cared for more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence. Rape as a weapon of war is a standing indictment of too many men in various countries.

DRC is a very poor country, formerly exploited by the colonial French. More recently, Chinese corporations have been eager to accomplish deforestation and mining activities in DRC. These agents are often described as the dominant channel for cobalt production. China is the world's leading battery manufacturer, controlling over sixty percent of the global cobalt supply. Any suffering through child labour is meaningless to the Chinese government, who further a national network of detention centres in China specialising in torture and extremist medical crimes. The Chinese Communist theft of human organs, charted by the China Tribunal, is conveniently overlooked by Western economic opportunists. The specified "crimes against humanity" have no economic grading. The oppressive treatment of Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong, and Chinese Muslim Uighurs is ignored by Western academic and political conveniences. Only money counts in vaunted subcivilisation, whose guiding principle is: Sell whatever you can, while you can, to whoever you can.

Amnesty have updated their reporting to include a pledge of DRC that child labour will end in the mines by 2025. Some critics are sceptical, observing that government promises around the world too frequently fail to materialise. A misgiving is also expressed that the demand for cobalt is booming insatiably, not only for smartphones, but also for electric cars, a supposed answer to the climate change ordeal. The intensive exploitation of cobalt by the "free market" continues. Almost three quarters of the global supply of cobalt comes from DRC.

Using a pickaxe in a cobalt mine

Much cobalt is found in large scale industrial mines in the southern Katanga region of DRC. However, the complement of "artisanal" mines is significant, many of these operating illegally and without any regulations. These have proved attractive to Chinese traders buying very cheaply from the victims. In 2014, UNICEF estimated that 40,000 children worked in the afflicting mines. Human rights abuses occur in both types of mining enterprise. Reports from Sky News, in 2017, assisted to expose what happened to children in those mines, where parents pleaded poverty as the rationale.

In December 2019, five American tech companies were the target of a lawsuit filed in Washington DC. The International Rights Advocates, representing fourteen Congolese families, were making the charge of complicity in deaths and injuries of children working 12 hour days, while digging for and carrying cobalt rocks in heavy sacks. The five companies are Apple, Alphabet Inc (Google), Tesla, Dell, and Microsoft. An expert witness in these proceedings was Siddharth Kara, a noted researcher in modern day slavery. Kara referred to the charges in terms of "perhaps the worst injustice of slavery and child exploitation that I've seen in my two decades research" (US tech giants sued).

Some of the children referred to, in the Washington lawsuit, worked at mines owned by a major Chinese cobalt firm, namely Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt. Others worked in mines owned by the British and Swiss company Glencore, whose cobalt was sold to a corporation in Belgium (which passed on the refined product to American tech companies in dispute). Some of the children were only six years old. Smashed limbs and broken spines were suffered while crawling through tunnels or carrying heavy loads. One victim was paralysed from the chest down, never to walk again; he had fallen into a tunnel. Six of the fourteen children listed were killed in tunnel collapses. A central allegation is that the tech companies knew of the child labour involved in their products.

The defensive company tactics did not impress prosecuting lawyers, one of whom stated: "These companies - the richest companies in the world, these fancy gadget-making companies - have allowed children to be maimed and killed to get their cheap cobalt."

The prosecution was effectively against smartphones, tablets, laptops, and electric cars. The complaint emphasised: "Put simply, the hundreds of billions of dollars generated by the defendants each year would not be possible without cobalt mined in the DRC."

Dell stated that they would be investigating the allegations, declaring they had never knowingly sourced operations using child labour. Prosecuting lawyers made the widely reproduced accusation: "Rather than step up to help these children with a negligible portion of their vast wealth and power, these companies do nothing but continue to benefit from cheap cobalt mined by kids robbed of their childhoods, their health, and for far too many, their lives."

Green is another free market game. Expensive electric cars are a new form of exploitation. Demand for lithium-ion batteries is soaring. The same discrepancy emerges here. Car batteries are cobalt-oriented. Manufacturers do not reveal the problematic nature of their cobalt investment. Cobalt is a toxic and hazardous mineral used by so many battery manufacturers. Amnesty informed that 26 electric car companies failed to disclose details of suppliers. The bad practice extended to Sony, Lenovo, Daimler, Microsoft, Renault, and Vodafone (Industry Giants Fail, 2017). An "ethical battery" is stated to be elusive in the synthetic green landscape (Amnesty Challenges Industry Leaders, 2019). Bicycles are the most harmless conveyances.

Most electric car batteries use cobalt. The value of this metal has increased substantially since 2015. The demand for cobalt, in electric car batteries, is anticipated to increase seven or eight times by 2026. The potential human damage achieved during that time is too substantial to endorse.

18. Irreversible Trends and Prospects for Survivors

Electric cars will not solve the severe problems of a technological society hindered by political complications. The subject of “tipping points” has for long been discussed. A sober conclusion is that many of those dangerous climate factors have arrived, or are in the immediate process of occurrence. This means high temperatures, droughts, fires, flooding, and other unwelcome events cannot be reversed. These trends are unlikely even to be slightly mitigated, given the current international response. At least half of the vast amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will last for centuries; about twenty percent may persist for many thousands of years. Methane is a completely unpredictable factor in the dangerous quantities now being released.

Irreversible trends are a shocking subject when closely analysed. To big business, and many investment banks, that subject does not exist. Some prevailing and superficial beliefs are heavily influenced by the “emission shut-off” deadlines of 2030 or 2050. These theories afford a widespread excuse for politicians. The celebrated deadlines have no substance in reality. The 2030 dateline was created by conservative tendencies of the IPCC, who perhaps did not wish to sound too “alarmist” in their findings. The IPCC "has a track record of significantly underestimating the pace of change, which has been more accurately predicted over past decades by eminent climate scientists" (Deep Adaptation, 2018). For instance, the linear IPCC calculations are superseded by unexpected factors such as an ice-free Arctic, which during the next few years may increase global heating by fifty percent.

Other scientists deduce that the artificial dateline of 2030 is already too late in 2020. The even more convenient facesaver of 2050 is a contrivance amounting to a lunatic scenario, selecting a juncture when the hazards will be far greater than they are now, and far too late to solve, resolve, or escape.

Meanwhile, instead of facing reality, escapism is rampant. The expense involved in travel to the moon, and fantasies about travel to Mars, are only one example of total irresponsibility. India has joined the manic Western satellite game while the poor go hungry. Space suits alone can cost millions of dollars. The governments who provide funding for these novelties have already ruined one planet. They are unlikely to make a positive move on any other planet, which would not be safe in their hands.

In Britain, the police are stated to have lost control of online fraud. Mobile phones are a major target of scammers. Once they have purchased expensive smartphones, many of the British public are conned by scammers. Passwords and other personal data are sold on the dark web to the highest bidder. The issue of fake news is inseparable from Facebook. Fashionable tweets will not save victims from scammers, trolls, social media manipulators, or deceptive politicians. The current internet inventory favours pornography, a free market investment symptomatic of the stunning rise in sex crimes. In more general terms, the infinitely expanding commercial adverts on the internet testify to the power of suggestion. An increasing difficulty exists in finding websites without predatory ads or cookie traps.

Societal decay is extensive, undermining critical intellect. The current teen popularity of pornography is boosted by the mobile phone market, substantially pooled in child labour. Watch out for four letter words in blogs and books, an overflow from the Dirty Speech Movement created by American psychedelic hippies half a century ago. Atrophying brain cells spell educational deficit. The international fashion for gang rape has clear inspiration in online gangrene. Pornography entrepreneurs have exploited coronavirus lockdowns in Europe. There is more than one killer virus, assisted by free market commerce comprising the boundaries of modern "civilisation." A British complaint is:

MPs and campaigners are calling for urgent action to stop videos of rape, revenge porn and child abuse being posted on Pornhub as traffic to the site booms. (Harriet Grant, Porn site traffic raises abuse fears)

Methane bubbles emerging from sediments at the bottom of a frozen lake in Alaska. Courtesy Josh Haner/The New York Times/Redux/Eyevine

In the far less popular field of atmospheric chemistry, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide during the first twenty years after release. Methane is a hydrocarbon. About 25 percent of man-made global heating is caused by methane emissions. These are trifling details to the industrialist tycoons scheming to make more billions out of untapped gas and oil in the warming Arctic. The realistic situation is not constructive, whatever the denialist fantasies:

Higher methane concentrations in the atmosphere will accelerate global warming and hasten local changes in the Arctic, speeding up sea-ice retreat, reducing the reflection of solar energy and accelerating the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The ramifications will be felt far from the poles. (G. Whiteman et al, Vast Costs of Arctic Change, Nature, 24/07/13)

Not until 2016 did the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) finalise the first national rule (in America) to directly limit methane emissions from oil and gas operations (Important Greenhouse Gas). Such restraints came under attack from the poison-friendly Trump administration.

Extensive research led by EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) from 2012 to 2018 shows methane leaks in the U.S. are a far greater threat than the government's estimate suggests. (Methane Studies)

EDF states that the oil and gas industry in America emits at least thirteen million metric tons of methane a year, nearly sixty percent more than government estimates. Research has found a similar situation of under-estimate in the Netherlands.

EDF resorted to a helicoptor using unfrared technology, tracking 8,000 oil and gas wells in seven American states, including Texas (Oil and Gas Wells). This operation detected widespread methane pollution, pouring out from these sites (Aerial Surveys). The dark plumes of ascending methane are symptomatic of the major ingredient in natural gas. Leak detection is crucial. President Obama pledged to cut methane emissions. In contrast, Trump moved to relax curbs in 2019.

The increasing European demand for imported gas also contributed to methane emissions, threatening to undermine any progress towards climate stabilisation. Methane has been called Europe's chronic climate blindspot. While some officials in many parts of the world are starting to take action in this respect, much more effort is needed. A provisional ideal is mentioned, of reducing global oil and gas methane emissions, to at least 45 percent by 2025. "Methane has such a profound impact on the rate of warming that failure to cut methane emissions now will only push the climate faster toward dangerous tipping points" (last article linked).

Thawing subsea permafrost is another massive headache for persons still able to think in the face of innumerable online adverts, scammers, and political sci-fi. Over two hundred plumes of methane hydrates are escaping from the Arctic seabed. Melting ice destabilises permafrost, a repository of extensive quantities of methane both on land and under water. Trapped methane gas can be released in unpredictable quantities. The process of retention occurred over hundreds of millenia, the result now being discharged so devastatingly quickly by heedless emitters.

Batagaika Crater, East Russia. Courtesy Yuri Kozyrev/NOOR/eyevine

Permafrost is thawing much more rapidly than former models predicted. Permafrost is "perennially frozen ground; it is composed of soil, rock or sediment, often with large chunks of ice mixed in" (Permafrost collapse is accelerating carbon release, Nature, 30/04/2019). Thawing permafrost has caused dozens of craters in Siberia. The biggest of these phenomena is the Batagaika Crater (in Eastern Russia). This crater has been growing substantially over the last three decades. In places, the cliff faces of this crater are more than 85 metres high. The alarming Batagaika becomes ever deeper, wider, and longer (Batagaika Expands).

Sinking land in the permafrost zone can be inundated by lakes and wetlands, after several metres of soil are destabilised. Forests can be flooded, killing trees. One million square kilometres of Siberia, Canada, and Alaska contain pockets of Yedoma, a term for thick deposits of permafrost from the last ice age. These deposits are frequently composed of 90 percent ice, which is vulnerable to warming. Organic carbon is a major ingredient of the permafrost layer, a factor requiring careful research instead of denialism. About twice as much carbon exists in permafrost layers as there is in the atmosphere. Permafrost can also release diseases like anthrax.

The emission of just a fraction of permafrost carbon would strongly amplify the ongoing warming of the planet. Despite this worrying possibility, we presently lack the ability to detect changes in carbon emissions across the Arctic and boreal region. (Source or a Sink)

Even if carbon emissions were to be completely stopped, one half to three-quarters of the current carbon dioxide concentration will still be present in the global atmosphere after five centuries. Extravagant emitters have created a long-term problem of virtually ungauged consequences.

Only one degree of global heating, say confused denialists. That single degree has already caused numerous glaciers, lakes, and rivers to vanish or recede, while the predicament of oceans is chronic. Some experts believe that by 2100, the increase in temperature could be 10C. Most people could never survive such increase, nor perhaps even half that. Living in the Lut Desert is for mythological heroes. The ice melt at both Greenland and the Antarctic is now stated to be unstoppable. New York is only one of the targets.

Canada is now at 1.7C, the Arctic is at 2.3C. Those figures could increase very quickly, sparking a chain reaction. 3C could be very close. Australia is becoming very warm. Reckless emitters will not like cyclones of 200 miles per hour. They will not like incessant heavy rain, nor searing desert temperatures. "A leaked draft report from US scientists across 13 federal agencies warned of a worst-case scenario of 18F warming over the Arctic between 2071 and 2100" (Dahr Jamail, When the Ice Melts, 2019). "The October temperature at Utqiagvik increased by a staggering 7.2C between 1979 and 2012" (ibid).

We are already facing mass extinction. There is no removing the heat we have introduced into the oceans, nor the 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere every single year. (Jamail, When the Ice Melts)

The IPCC reports, commissioned by the United Nations, are too long for many people to read, I have been told. Denialists do not always read closely, accusing the scientists of exaggeration and alarmism. In fact, the IPCC reports have understated. Climate scientists reflect that factors like water vapour, collapse of permafrost, loss of polar ice, and the migration of tropical clouds to the poles, are major indices to potential calamity. The Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development has warned:

The IPCC report fails to focus on the weakest link in the climate chain: the self-reinforcing feedbacks which, if allowed to continue, will acclerate warming and risk cascading climate tipping points and runaway warming. (Fiona Harvey, Tipping Points, 2018)

In particular, the Greenland and West Antarctic icemelt is a phenomenon ignored by most governments. Some scientists acknowledge that the "tipping points" in those directions may already have occurred, or be in the process of occurring. The process of man-made cause and effect will simply happen. Or is happening. The British Antarctic Survey has called the polar ice sheets "sleeping giants." Prodded by reckless technology, the giants are stirring from slumber. They can kill many big cities.

Professor Timothy Lenton, plus eminent co-authors of a scientific article (Nature, 27/11/2019), emphasise that a "cascade" of tipping points may be in process. In contrast, politicians and economists have tended to assume that tipping points are of low probability. These phenomena are not within the range of economic theory.

Biosphere tipping points can trigger abrupt carbon release back to the atmosphere.... Estimates of where an Amazon tipping point could lie range from 40% deforestation to just 20% forest-cover loss. About 17% [of the Amazon rainforest] has been lost since 1970.... Warming has triggered large-scale insect disturbances and an increase in fires that have led to dieback of North American boreal forests, potentially turning some regions from a carbon sink to a carbon source.... If damaging tipping cascades can occur and a global tipping point cannot be ruled out, then this is an existential threat to civilisation. No amount of economic cost-benefit analysis is going to help us. We need to change our approach to the climate problem. (Climate Tipping Points)

Professor Jem Bendell urges:

The West's response to environmental issues has been restricted by the dominance of neoliberal economics since the 1970s.... This ideology has now influenced the workloads and priorities of academics in most universities, which restricts how we can respond to the climate tragedy. (Deep Adaptation)

Going further, Professor Martin Parker has boldly called for business schools to be shut down.

One of the features of today's universities is just how much money they now spend on marketing. Websites are slick and use contemporary typefaces, billboards show laughing diverse customers and strap lines promise success. "Achieve your dreams!" "Find the real you!" "The knowledge to succeed!" Apart from the word "university," it's hard to tell whether they are selling mobile phones, a yoga retreat, or a degree. Nowhere is this more evident than in the publicity for business schools.... The marketing of the business school.... sells thrilling careers in high finance, global logistics and marketing. Lots of jumping on planes and making customers happy.... There is virtually no consideration of the damage that business is doing to us and the planet. (Shut Down Business Schools)

The commercial university too closely resembles the opportunist "new age" associated with alternative therapy. "Find the real you" is a well known new age invite to "transformation." That means the "real self" exemplars are infallible and can sell any "workshop" or "module" for high fees, while zealously excluding dissidents. The workshops often sell environmental themes (or what critics call ecobiz), along with sexuality and anything else deemed enticingly saleable.

Between the business schools and ecobiz is the real world of what happens to the consumer. Sold out to climate change by denialists for half a century. Eclipsed by the elite fantasy of economic and technological "progress." The fate of helpless citizens is generally ignored.

From increased risk of asthma and respiratory illnesses to the spread of vector-borne disease, the unfolding climate crisis comes with significant health hazards, and children are particularly vulnerable. (Public Health Experts)

The very recent intrusion of COVID-19 respiratory virus has spotlighted the initial indifference of politicians, and their subsequent acceptance of facts when these are unavoidably confronted. The prospect of other infectious diseases, assisted by climate change in many countries, is a vista scarcely cognised by politicians. Flesh-eating bacteria, in warming seawater, comprise only one of the denialist consequences for humanity.

A number of researchers are inclined to believe that human destruction of biodiversity creates the conditions for new viruses such as COVID-19. In this perspective, major contributors to disease include deforestation, road building, mining, and hunting. The disruption of ecosystems is a consequence of rapid urbanisation. The transmission of virus from wildlife to humans is facilitated by such activities as animal captivity in urban locales. COVID-19 is viewed as the tip of the iceberg in this reckless situation.

Response to the climate tragedy varies substantially. Many citizens in Britain apparently believe that we face extinction in the very short term of five years or so. Three ingredients of this projected calamity are mass starvation, societal collapse, and nuclear meltdown. Inevitable Near Term Human Extinction is a contemporary phrase. In my own opinion, that prospect is realistically too abrupt. Unless the global temperature reaches Lut Desert intensity, there will probably be enough survivors to curse the memory of politicians and denialists who obstructed relevant decision-making. The survivors will know that therapy "transformation" did not work, that business school publicity was a detour into economist make-believe.

Survivors will be fully entitled to lament the age of technological insanity, which currently boasts over 400 nuclear power plants in thirty countries, with over sixty others under construction (more than twenty of these in China). The valid reasons to oppose nuclear energy are resisted by beliefs in "economics and progress." Consumed fuel rods at these sites comprise a big hazard in terms of radioactive waste. The situation is ludicrous, involving "hundreds of radioactive waste sites in many countries that must be maintained and funded for at least 200,000 years, far beyond the lifetimes of any nuclear power plant" (Mark Z. Jacobson, Nuclear Energy is not the Answer). A radioactive leak can meanwhile damage water supply, crops, animals, and humans.

Kevin R. D. Shepherd

March 2020. Slightly amplified April 2020.