Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

‘Severe… Pervasive… Irreversible”: IPCC’s Devastating Climate Change Conclusions

August 28, 2014
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A draft of the UN panel’s synthesis report on the global scientific community’s assessment of human-caused global warming offers the starkest and most strongly-worded warning yet of the dangers ahead

(Image: flickr / cc / Kevin Gill)

Climate change is here. Climate change is now. Climate change will be significantly more dangerous, deadly, and expensive if nothing is done to correct humanity’s course, but aspects of future shifts are probably already irreversible.

That’s the assessment of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has sent world governments a draft of its final “Synthesis Report” which seeks to tie together previous reports the panel has released over the last year and offers a stark assessment of the perilous future the planet and humanity face due to global warming and climate change.

Based on a clear and overwhelming consensus among the world’s leading scientists, the draft says that failure to adequately acknowledge and act on previous warnings has put the planet on a path where “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” of human-caused climate change will surely be felt in the decades to come.

“The report tells us once again what we know with a greater degree of certainty: that climate change is real, it is caused by us, and it is already causing substantial damage to us and our environment. If there is one take home point of this report it is this: We have to act now.”
—climate scientist Michael Mann
In a clear statement regarding the dangers of continued inaction, the draft report declares: “The risk of abrupt and irreversible change increases as the magnitude of the warming increases.”

Obtained by several media outlets—including the Associated Press, the New York Times, and Bloomberg—the draft includes not new information per se, but employs stronger language and contains a more urgent warning than the previous reports from the IPCC which it attempts to synthesize and summarize.

Asked for his reaction to the draft, Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann wrote this to the AP in an email: “The report tells us once again what we know with a greater degree of certainty: that climate change is real, it is caused by us, and it is already causing substantial damage to us and our environment. If there is one take home point of this report it is this: We have to act now.”

As IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri explained in a statement, the last report—which still faces a final review, editing, and approval process—is designed to integrate “the findings of the three working group contributions to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and two special reports” and “provide policymakers with a scientific foundation to tackle the challenge of climate change.” Taken together, the IPCC reports and their recommendations are designed to help governments and other stakeholders work together at various levels, including a new international agreement to limit climate change, he said.

According to the Associated Press, which reviewed the 127-page document, the IPCC draft

paints a harsh warning of what’s causing global warming and what it will do to humans and the environment. It also describes what can be done about it.

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report says. The final report will be issued after governments and scientists go over the draft line by line in an October conference in Copenhagen.

Depending on circumstances and values, “currently observed impacts might already be considered dangerous,” the report says. It mentions extreme weather and rising sea levels, such as heat waves, flooding and droughts. It even raises, as an earlier report did, the idea that climate change will worsen violent conflicts and refugee problems and could hinder efforts to grow more food. And ocean acidification, which comes from the added carbon absorbed by oceans, will harm marine life, it says.

Without changes in greenhouse gas emissions, “climate change risks are likely to be high or very high by the end of the 21st century,” the report says.

And the New York Times noted:

“Politicians have come together too many times with nothing more than rhetoric and empty promises in tow. Next month, thousands of true leaders will be marching on the streets of New York demanding real action. The question is, will our elected leaders follow.”
—David Turnbull, Oil Change International
Using blunter, more forceful language than the reports that underpin it, the new draft highlights the urgency of the risks that are likely to be intensified by continued emissions of heat-trapping gases, primarily carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.

The report found that companies and governments had identified reserves of these fuels at least four times larger than could safely be burned if global warming is to be kept to a tolerable level.

That means if society wants to limit the risks to future generations, it must find the discipline to leave a vast majority of these valuable fuels in the ground, the report said.

It cited rising political efforts around the world on climate change, including efforts to limit emissions as well as to adapt to changes that have become inevitable. But the report found that these efforts were being overwhelmed byconstruction of facilities like new coal-burning power plants that will lock in high emissions for decades.

From 1970 to 2000, global emissions of greenhouse gases grew at 1.3 percent a year. But from 2000 to 2010, that rate jumped to 2.2 percent a year, the report found, and the pace seems to be accelerating further in this decade.

The IPCC draft will not be finalized until after governments have a chance to weigh in on the report and following a meeting in Copenhagen slated for late October.

In September, the United Nations is hosting its next international climate summit in New York City and climate campaigners are hoping to capitalize on the meeting by planning what they are calling the “People’s Climate March” during the same week as a way to apply pressure on world governments to finally act on the issue.

If nothing else, the leaked IPCC draft report will serve to galvanize and add weight to the climate justice movement, which has consistently demanded that world leaders respond to the crisis with action—not words.

As David Turnbull, director of campaigns for the group Oil Change International, which is signed-on to support the New York march, said recently: “Politicians have come together too many times with nothing more than rhetoric and empty promises in tow. Next month, thousands of true leaders will be marching on the streets of New York demanding real action. The question is, will our elected leaders follow.”

Watch:

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People’s Climate Mobilisation: A Global Invitation

August 23, 2014
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As heads of state from around the world head to New York City in September, the People’s Climate March and Mobilization will assemble to challenge the status quo and give voice to the vision of a better future. (Image: 350.org)

To change everything, we need everyone.

This September, world leaders are coming to New York City to talk about how to address the climate crisis. This is a crucial moment; we’re at a crossroads. We can and must change course by building a new economy through efforts to reconceive corporations and redefine economic progress. We need to do this in order to address the greatest crisis in the history of mankind.

Put simply: we need to break free from the shackles of the fossil fuel industry in order to address the climate crisis. We’re already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change around the world, with the poorest and most vulnerable being the hardest hit.

There can be no climate justice without economic justice, but there won’t be any economic justice without facing up to our climate reality.

“Together, we can create a world with cleaner air, healthier communities, and more economic opportunities. This is what we mean when we talk about climate justice. We know this world is within reach, but we’re going have to fight for it.”

Scientists tell us we’re running out of time to avoid planetary catastrophe. If we can’t get our politicians and leaders to act soon, it’s going to be too late.

Let’s get real about implementing the solutions we need to solve this crisis. We can power the world with 100% renewable energy and make our economy more sustainable. The transition to this clean energy future will create millions of new, good jobs around the world.

Together, we can create energy that’s democratically controlled by our communities, instead of major corporations. But we need real investment in this future and disinvestment from the fossil fuel industry.

Tackling the climate crisis is good for our communities, good for the planet, and good for the economy. But right now, the fossil fuel industry is standing in the way of progress.

Fossil fuel companies have made it clear that their business plan is to wreck the planet. They don’t care about our communities or our children’s future, they just care about making a profit. Even worse, they’re spending millions of dollars every year to spread denial and block solutions.

The fight against climate change is also a fight against inequality. It’s time to end their stranglehold over our economy and our democracy.

We need to come together to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and fight for our common future. No one is immune to the impacts of climate change. But everyone can benefit from the solutions.

Together, we can create a world with cleaner air, healthier communities, and more economic opportunities. This is what we mean when we talk about climate justice. We know this world is within reach, but we’re going have to fight for it.

That starts with taking to the streets this September to show our politicians that they need to choose a side. It’s either the people or the polluters.

As heads of state from around the world head to New York City in September, there will be an unprecedented climate mobilisation – in size, beauty, and impact. Both in New York and globally.

The demand is for Action, Not Words: taking the necessary action to create a world with an economy that works for people and the planet – now. In short, we want a world safe from the ravages of climate change.

It’s either leaders stand with the fossil fuel industry or stand with our communities, our children, and our future.

We’re fighting to save the entire planet from destruction. It’s time to choose sides.

Register your event or join scheduled events throughout the world here.

Hoda Baraka is the global communications manager for 350.org.

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One Month Countdown Until Major Climate Marches in NYC and Around the World

August 22, 2014

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Jamie Henn, jamie@350.org, 415.890.3350

Nell Greenberg, nell@avaaz.org, 510.847.9777

One-month out from what’s expected to be the largest march on climate change in history, groups launch massive recruitment push

 

NEW YORK – With just one month to go until the People’s Climate March in New York City this September 21, more than 100 organizations are taking part in an online recruitment drive to sign people up for the demonstration. In the first hours of the push, thousands of new signups have already begun to flow in.

The People’s Climate March is expected to be the largest demonstration for climate action in history. The march takes place just two days before President Obama and world leaders gather for an emergency Climate Summit at the United Nations. Marchers are demanding leaders go beyond rhetoric and commit to bold action at the summit.

More than 750 organizations around the world are supporting the People’s Climate March, from the largest transit workers union in New York City to a coalition of buddhist monks. In total, the groups represent roughly 100 million people worldwide.

The scale of organizing for the march now rivals that of a major electoral campaign, with thousands of volunteers, daily phone-banks and canvasses in NYC, and a major online operation to turn out marchers. Updates from the field include:

  • Trains and hundreds of buses will be bringing people from across the country for the march. Including a dedicated train from San Francisco to New York, a dedicated train from D.C. to New York, and buses from multiple points outside of New York.
  • More than 45 labor unions have signed onto the march, pledging to turn out members in New York City and from surrounding areas.
  • Connecticut alone has over 40 different groups confirmed to attend.
  • Renowned artist Shepard Fairey, whose Obama Hope poster has become world famous,  has donated a poster design for the march
  • At a warehouse in Bushwick, artists are creating giant sculptures, floats, and banners for the march.
  • The global campaigning group Avaaz has secured 10% of the subway ads in NYC for the month before the march. The ads were chosen after a poster design contest that netted over 400 entries worldwide.
  • Groups are planning a major student recruitment push for college campuses as classes resume in September.

The People’s Climate March has also gone global, with other major marches and solidarity events being planned worldwide:

  • In New Delhi, thousands will take over the streets on September 20 to demand a renewable energy revolution.
  • In Australia, organizers are expecting hundreds of individual events to take place across the country, including a major march in Melbourne.
  • In London environment organisations and faith groups are combining forces to create a historic march through the city to the steps of Parliament.
  • In Berlin three parallel marches will combine forces in a colourful festival.
  • Events are already being planned in Ghana, Kenya, DRC, Nigeria, and Guinea, along with a major march in Johannesburg.
  • In Paris, local groups will create the “Paris Marche pour le Climat,” with parades, marches, and bicycle rides planned across the bridges of the Seinne.
  • Reports are also coming in of large mobilizations planned in: Kathmandu, Rio, Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Dublin, Manila, Seoul, Mumbai and Istanbul.

Organizers are confident that the sheer scale and diversity of the People’s Climate March events, from the headline demonstration in New York City to the simultaneous events worldwide, will show politicians that there is a massive, energized movement demanding immediate action to address the climate crisis.

In New York City, the message will be difficult to ignore: marchers have come to an agreement with the NYPD for the march to flow directly through the middle of Manhattan. The march will begin at Columbus Circle at 11:30am on Sunday, proceed over on 59th Street to 6th Avenue, down 6th Avenue to 42nd Street, then right on 42nd Street to 11th Avenue. The route passes by some of New York City’s most famous landmarks, from Rockefeller Center to Times Square.

The march and the Climate Summit in New York mark the beginning of a busy 18 months of crucial international negotiations. Climate negotiators will head to Lima, Peru, in December 2014 to make progress towards a global climate deal. Then, in September 2015 world leaders will meet back in New York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, the global post-2015 development agenda. Three months later, the world will gather in Paris to try and sign a new international climate treaty.

For more information on The Peoples Climate March and participating groups, please see here: http://peoplesclimate.org/about/

###

350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.

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People’s Climate Mobilisation: A Global Invitation

August 21, 2014
Published on
by

As heads of state from around the world head to New York City in September, the People’s Climate March and Mobilization will assemble to challenge the status quo and give voice to the vision of a better future. (Image: 350.org)

To change everything, we need everyone.

This September, world leaders are coming to New York City to talk about how to address the climate crisis. This is a crucial moment; we’re at a crossroads. We can and must change course by building a new economy through efforts to reconceive corporations and redefine economic progress. We need to do this in order to address the greatest crisis in the history of mankind.

Put simply: we need to break free from the shackles of the fossil fuel industry in order to address the climate crisis. We’re already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change around the world, with the poorest and most vulnerable being the hardest hit.

There can be no climate justice without economic justice, but there won’t be any economic justice without facing up to our climate reality.

“Together, we can create a world with cleaner air, healthier communities, and more economic opportunities. This is what we mean when we talk about climate justice. We know this world is within reach, but we’re going have to fight for it.”

Scientists tell us we’re running out of time to avoid planetary catastrophe. If we can’t get our politicians and leaders to act soon, it’s going to be too late.

Let’s get real about implementing the solutions we need to solve this crisis. We can power the world with 100% renewable energy and make our economy more sustainable. The transition to this clean energy future will create millions of new, good jobs around the world.

Together, we can create energy that’s democratically controlled by our communities, instead of major corporations. But we need real investment in this future and disinvestment from the fossil fuel industry.

Tackling the climate crisis is good for our communities, good for the planet, and good for the economy. But right now, the fossil fuel industry is standing in the way of progress.

Fossil fuel companies have made it clear that their business plan is to wreck the planet. They don’t care about our communities or our children’s future, they just care about making a profit. Even worse, they’re spending millions of dollars every year to spread denial and block solutions.

The fight against climate change is also a fight against inequality. It’s time to end their stranglehold over our economy and our democracy.

We need to come together to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and fight for our common future. No one is immune to the impacts of climate change. But everyone can benefit from the solutions.

Together, we can create a world with cleaner air, healthier communities, and more economic opportunities. This is what we mean when we talk about climate justice. We know this world is within reach, but we’re going have to fight for it.

That starts with taking to the streets this September to show our politicians that they need to choose a side. It’s either the people or the polluters.

As heads of state from around the world head to New York City in September, there will be an unprecedented climate mobilisation – in size, beauty, and impact. Both in New York and globally.

The demand is for Action, Not Words: taking the necessary action to create a world with an economy that works for people and the planet – now. In short, we want a world safe from the ravages of climate change.

It’s either leaders stand with the fossil fuel industry or stand with our communities, our children, and our future.

We’re fighting to save the entire planet from destruction. It’s time to choose sides.

Register your event or join scheduled events throughout the world here.

Hoda Baraka is the global communications manager for 350.org.

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We Can’t Wait: The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change

August 4, 2014
John Podesta Headshot

Posted: 07/29/2014 9:03 am EDT Updated: 07/29/2014 1:59 pm EDT

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COLORADO WILDFIRE

From severe storms to sea level rise, the United States is alreadyexperiencing the impacts of climate change, prompting more policymakers to realize the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But some are still claiming uncertainty about the underlying science of climate change, saying it would be better to wait for more data, analysis and time to act. Many of these climate skeptics ground their arguments in pseudo-science, contradicting the fact that at this point there is no doubt that climate change is real, that it is being caused by our activities, and that it is harming the planet and threatening our livelihoods.

But we do face significant uncertainty about the timing, magnitude, and full consequences of the enormously complex phenomenon of climate change. That uncertainty, however, is an argument for doing more and doing it sooner, not for delaying action further.

Acting now to put in place policies that reduce carbon emissions is like taking out an insurance policy — you pay less today to insure against the possibility of incurring larger costs in the future, either in terms of the increasing expense of dealing with climate change or in terms of even larger, less anticipated tail risks associated with climate change.

This week, the Council of Economic Advisers released a report detailing the costs of delaying action to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change. Our report finds that the costs of achieving a fixed climate change goal would be 40 percent larger if we waited a decade to take action. And those costs could grow exponentially with a longer wait. That’s because, if we delay action in achieving a fixed set of climate goals, then we have to incur greater upfront costs to make up for the years in which additional carbon pollution was released into the atmosphere. Perhaps even more importantly, delay means losing years of research in effective carbon-reducing technologies, along with bigger investments in older, carbon-intensive technologies, meaning that we would have to adopt more stringent and therefore more costly measures in the future to make up for lost time.

Even worse, the climate targets that are within reach today may become unrealistic if we delay. Instead of higher mitigation costs, the next generation will pay the price through persistent additional economic damages caused by higher temperatures, more acidic oceans, and increasingly severe storms, droughts, and wildfires all resulting from higher greenhouse gas emissions. The report finds that if delay led to stabilizing global temperatures at 3° Celsius above pre-industrial levels instead of 2° Celsius, global output would decline by nearly 1 percent. This is analogous to the United States losing approximately $150 billion of economic output each year.

Even these estimated additional costs are based on best guesses. There is uncertainty and the ultimate costs of inaction could be higher or lower. But this uncertainty should be seen as additional motivation for action, just as when you buy insurance, especially since the costs in the worst-case scenario are enormous.

Higher temperatures increase our risk of hitting climatological “tipping points,” like the potential thawing of Arctic permafrost and the subsequent release of huge amounts of methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, which would accelerate global warming. The very worst climatological consequences include the possible melting of the Western Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, large rises in sea levels, extinction events, and widespread disruption of food and water supplies that could spur a global refugee crisis.

The United States is already acting to reduce carbon emissions. While many thought that emissions would inexorably rise, since 2006 they have fallen in the energy sector by nearly 9 percent. Moreover, while the recession played a role, our analysis at the Council of Economic Advisers finds that half of these emissions reductions were the result of increased efficiency. As economic growth resumed from 2010 to 2013, emissions kept falling by 4.3 percent over those years as a result of phenomenal growth in alternative energy sources. Clean energy research and investment in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act totaling $90 billion and the President’s vehicle fuel economy standards have also played an important role in this trend. And the President’s Clean Power Plan will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels and improve air quality in our communities.

All of these actions have substantial net benefits based on our best understanding of the economics and science of climate change. And rather than waiting to address these challenges in the future, taking action today will also save us substantial sums. The United States cannot solve climate change alone. But we are well-positioned to lead the way — and the sooner we act, the sooner the world will join us.

___________

Jason Furman is the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and John Podesta is Counselor to the President.

We Can Reverse Climate Change by the Way We Grow Food

August 2, 2014

Can we farm our way out of climate change? (photo: Jason Johnson/USDA)
Can we farm our way out of climate change? (photo: Jason Johnson/USDA)

By Elizabeth Kucinich, Center for Food Safety Blog

02 August 14

 

esterday the White House and USDA hosted a meeting with food, agriculture and data industry officials in an attempt to encourage innovation to stem the effects of climate change on agriculture and food production

Beyond “stemming” the effects of climate change on agriculture however, the way we produce food has the potential to substantially address and even reverse many of the root causes driving climate change.

Here’s how:

The overall global food system — including land-use changes, feed, fertilizer, transportation, refrigeration, processing and waste — is estimated to be responsible for 30 to 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Over the last decade, agricultural emissions have increased by approximately 1 percent per year.

Researchers at the World Bank Group estimated intensive livestock production alone is the largest single contributing factor to climate change. Industrial animal agriculture is also one of the largest polluter of air, water and land, and the largest consumers of fossil fuels and water and yet feed only a relatively small percentage of the world’s population, compared with those fed by small-scale farmers who continue to be the major producers of the world.

While the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts global food production to fall by 2 percent per decade for the rest of the century, there is an increasing body of research that shows how agro-ecological, or organic, regenerative agricultural practices can actually feed a growing population while repairing our damaged ecosystem.

Take soil, for example. Some may think that soil is just “dirt,” brown stuff that holds plants in the ground. But soil is an organism in itself, and healthy soil is rich in microorganisms,which under optimal circumstances live in symbiotic relationships with the plants. Healthy soils store vast quantities of atmospheric carbon. Improving soil health is therefore an integral part of reversing CO2 levels.

According to cutting edge agricultural research, including that outlined in the Rodale Institute’s white paper, Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change, “recent data from farming systems and pasture trials around the globe show that we could sequester more than 100 percent of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term “regenerative organic agriculture.”

As well as sequestering carbon, regenerative organic and agro-ecological systems can mitigate the chaotic effects brought about by climate change, such as flooding. Healthy soils have structure that allows them to retain large quantities of water. This structure not only holds soil in place preventing erosion, it also allows plants to be more tolerant of weather extremes. Regenerative systems increase the amount of carbon in soil while maintaining yields. In fact, research shows that yields under organic systems are more resilient to the extreme weather which accompanies climate change.

Conventional agricultural practices have resulted in a loss of 30-75 percent of original organic soil carbon, as well as being heavily reliant upon synthetic fossil fuel-based nitrogen fertilizer, mono cropping and toxic pesticides. Regenerative, organic agriculture on the other hand refrains from using fossil-fuel based inputs and instead utilizes cover crops, integrated pest management systems, residue mulching, composting, and crop rotation, and conservation tillage. Organic agriculture also uses 30-50 percent less fossil fuel energy than industrial farms.

The path ahead:

What can the federal government do?

    1. Eliminate subsidies which incentivize the most destructive industrial, chemical intensive monoculture crop and animal factory practices
    1. Increase funding for research that studies the carbon sequestration potential of regenerative agriculture practices
    1. Protect American cropland from development, monocultures and destruction of biodiverse wildlife habitat
  1. Implement organic regenerative stewardship practices on federal lands

What can you do to help mitigate climate change?

    1. Grow or buy local
    1. Buy organic
    1. Reduce food waste – 50 percent of food produced in America is wasted
    1. Eliminate industrial meat, dairy and eggs from your diet and reduce overall consumption of animal products and if choosing to eat meat, seek out 100 percent grassfed products.
    1. Work with your local authorities to particularly from animals raised in animal factories
  1. protect local agricultural land from land grabs and wasteful development

What will this do for you?

    1. Reduce your consumption of and exposure to chemicals
    1. Reduce your carbon footprint
    1. Increase your health — a diet rich in plant-based foods can help reverse diseases can reduce the risk of health problems such as Type II diabetes, heart disease,and high cholesterol whereas meat and dairy can increase these risks
  1. Increase your food security by supporting your regional foodshed.

 

Chris Hedges Interviews Noam Chomsky: The System Is Radically Anti-Democratic

July 24, 2014

Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: The Real News Network)
Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: The Real News Network)

By Chris Hedges, The Real News Network

24 July 14

 

A fascinating, wide-ranging interview on major issues facing the public.

et’s begin with a classic paradigm which is throughout the Industrial Revolution, which has been cited by theorists from Marx to Kropotkin to Proudhon and to yourself, that you build a consciousness among workers within the manufacturing class, and eventually you lead to a kind of autonomous position where workers can control their own production.

We now live in a system, a globalized system, where most of the working class in industrial countries like the United States are service workers. We have reverted to a Dickensian system where those who actually produced live in conditions that begin to replicate almost slave labor–and, I think, as you have written, in places like southern China in fact are slave [labor]. What’s the new paradigm for resistance? You know, how do we learn from the old and confront the new?

NOAM CHOMSKY, LINGUIST AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think we can draw many very good lessons from the early period of the Industrial Revolution. It was, of course, earlier in England, but let’s take here in the United States. The Industrial Revolution took off right around here, eastern Massachusetts, mid 19th century. This was a period when independent farmers were being driven into the industrial system–men and women, incidentally, women from the farms, so-called factory girls–and they bitterly resented it. It was a period of a very free press, the most in the history of the country. There was a wide variety of journals, ethnic, labor, or others. And when you read them, they’re pretty fascinating.

The people driven into the industrial system regarded it as an attack on their personal dignity, on their rights as human beings. They were free human beings who were being forced into what they called wage slavery, which they regarded as not very different from chattel slavery. In fact, this was such a popular view that it was actually a slogan of the Republican Party, that the only difference between working for a wage and being a slave is that working for a wage is supposedly temporary–pretty soon you’ll be free. Other than that, they’re not different.

And they bitterly resented the fact that the industrial system was even taking away their rich cultural life. And the cultural life was rich. You know, there are by now studies of the British working class and the American working class, and they were part of high culture of the day. Actually, I remembered this as late as the 1930s with my own family, you know, sort of unemployed working-class, and they said, this is being taken away from us, we’re being forced to be something like slaves. They argued that if you’re, say, a journeyman, a craftsman, and you sell your product, you’re selling what you produced. If you’re a wage earner, you’re selling yourself, which is deeply offensive. They condemned what they called the new spirit of the age: gain wealth, forgetting all but self. Sounds familiar.

And it was extremely radical. It was combined with the most radical democratic movement in American history, the early populist movement–radical farmers. It began in Texas, spread into the Midwest–enormous movement of farmers who wanted to free themselves from the domination by the Northeastern bankers and capitalists, guys that ran the markets, you know, sort of forced them to sell what they produced on credit and squeeze them with credit and so on. They went on to develop their own banks, their own cooperatives. They started to link up with the Knights of Labor–major labor movement which held that, as they put it, those who work in the mills ought to own them, that it should be a free, democratic society.

These were very powerful movements. By the 1890s, you know, workers were taking over towns and running them in Western Pennsylvania. Homestead was a famous case. Well, they were crushed by force. It took some time. Sort of the final blow was Woodrow Wilson’s red scare right after the First World War, which virtually crushed the labor movement.

At the same time, in the early 19th century, the business world recognized, both in England and the United States, that sufficient freedom had been won so that they could no longer control people just by violence. They had to turn to new means of control. The obvious ones were control of opinions and attitudes. That’s the origins of the massive public relations industry, which is explicitly dedicated to controlling minds and attitudes.

The first–it partly was government. The first government commission was the British Ministry of Information. This is long before Orwell–he didn’t have to invent it. So the Ministry of Information had as its goal to control the minds of the people of the world, but particularly the minds of American intellectuals, for a very good reason: they knew that if they can delude American intellectuals into supporting British policy, they could be very effective in imposing that on the population of the United States. The British, of course, were desperate to get the Americans into the war with a pacifist population. Woodrow Wilson won the 1916 election with the slogan “Peace without Victory”. And they had to drive a pacifist population into a population that bitterly hated all things German, wanted to tear the Germans apart. The Boston Symphony Orchestra couldn’t play Beethoven. You know. And they succeeded.

Wilson set up a counterpart to the Ministry of Information called the Committee on Public Information. You know, again, you can guess what it was. And they’ve at least felt, probably correctly, that they had succeeded in carrying out this massive change of opinion on the part of the population and driving the pacifist population into, you know, warmongering fanatics.

And the people on the commission learned a lesson. One of them was Edward Bernays, who went on to found–the main guru of the public relations industry. Another one was Walter Lippman, who was the leading progressive intellectual of the 20th century. And they both drew the same lessons, and said so.

The lessons were that we have what Lippmann called a “new art” in democracy, “manufacturing consent”. That’s where Ed Herman and I took the phrase from. For Bernays it was “engineering of consent”. The conception was that the intelligent minority, who of course is us, have to make sure that we can run the affairs of public affairs, affairs of state, the economy, and so on. We’re the only ones capable of doing it, of course. And we have to be–I’m quoting–“free of the trampling and the roar of the bewildered herd”, the “ignorant and meddlesome outsiders”–the general public. They have a role. Their role is to be “spectators”, not participants. And every couple of years they’re permitted to choose among one of the “responsible men”, us.

And the John Dewey circle took the same view. Dewey changed his mind a couple of years later, to his credit, but at that time, Dewey and his circle were writing that–speaking of the First World War, that this was the first war in history that was not organized and manipulated by the military and the political figures and so on, but rather it was carefully planned by rational calculation of “the intelligent men of the community”, namely us, and we thought it through carefully and decided that this is the reasonable thing to do, for all kind of benevolent reasons.

And they were very proud of themselves.

There were people who disagreed. Like, Randolph Bourne disagreed. He was kicked out. He couldn’t write in the Deweyite journals. He wasn’t killed, you know, but he was just excluded.

And if you take a look around the world, it was pretty much the same. The intellectuals on all sides were passionately dedicated to the national cause–all sides, Germans, British, everywhere.

There were a few, a fringe of dissenters, like Bertrand Russell, who was in jail; Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, in jail; Randolph Bourne, marginalized; Eugene Debs, in jail for daring to question the magnificence of the war. In fact, Wilson hated him with such passion that when he finally declared an amnesty, Debs was left out, you know, had to wait for Warren Harding to release him. And he was the leading labor figure in the country. He was a candidate for president, Socialist Party, and so on.

But the lesson that came out is we believe you can and of course ought to control the public, and if we can’t do it by force, we’ll do it by manufacturing consent, by engineering of consent. Out of that comes the huge public relations industry, massive industry dedicated to this.

Incidentally, it’s also dedicated to undermining markets, a fact that’s rarely noticed but is quite obvious. Business hates markets. They don’t want to–and you can see it very clearly. Markets, if you take an economics course, are based on rational, informed consumers making rational choices. Turn on the television set and look at the first ad you see. It’s trying to create uninformed consumers making irrational choices. That’s the whole point of the huge advertising industry. But also to try to control and manipulate thought. And it takes various forms in different institutions. The media do it one way, the academic institutions do it another way, and the educational system is a crucial part of it.

This is not a new observation. There’s actually an interesting essay by–Orwell’s, which is not very well known because it wasn’t published. It’s the introduction to Animal Farm. In the introduction, he addresses himself to the people of England and he says, you shouldn’t feel too self-righteous reading this satire of the totalitarian enemy, because in free England, ideas can be suppressed without the use of force. And he doesn’t say much about it. He actually has two sentences. He says one reason is the press “is owned by wealthy men” who have every reason not to want certain ideas to be expressed.

But the second reason, and the more important one in my view, is a good education, so that if you’ve gone to all the good schools, you know, Oxford, Cambridge, and so on, you have instilled into you the understanding that there are certain things it wouldn’t do to say–and I don’t think he went far enough: wouldn’t do to think. And that’s very broad among the educated classes. That’s why overwhelmingly they tend to support state power and state violence, and maybe with some qualifications, like, say, Obama is regarded as a critic of the invasion of Iraq. Why? Because he thought it was a strategic blunder. That puts him on the same moral level as some Nazi general who thought that the second front was a strategic blunder–you should knock off England first. That’s called criticism.

And sometimes it’s kind of outlandish. For example, there was just a review in The New York Times Book Review of Glenn Greenwald’s new book by Michael Kinsley, and which bitterly condemned him as–mostly character assassination. Didn’t say anything substantive. But Kinsley did say that it’s ridiculous to think that there’s any repression in the media in the United States, ’cause we can write quite clearly and criticize anything. And he can, but then you have to look at what he says, and it’s quite interesting.

In the 1980s, when the major local news story was the massive U.S. atrocities in Central America–they were horrendous; I mean, it wasn’t presented that way, but that’s what was happening–Kinsley was the voice of the left on television. And there were interesting incidents. At one point, the U.S. Southern Command, which ran–you know, it was the overseer of these actions–gave instructions to the terrorist force that they were running in Nicaragua, called the Contras–and they were a terrorist force–they gave them orders to–they said “not to (…) duke it out with the Sandinistas”, meaning avoid the Nicaraguan army, and attack undefended targets like agricultural cooperatives and, you know, health clinics and so on. And they could do it, because they were the first guerrillas in history to have high-level communications equipment, you know, computers and so on. The U.S., the CIA, just controlled the air totally, so they could send instructions to the terrorist forces telling them how to avoid the Nicaraguan army detachments and attack undefended civilian targets.

Well, this was mentioned; you know, it wasn’t publicized, but it was mentioned. And Americas Watch, which later became part of Human Rights Watch, made some protests. And Michael Kinsley responded. He condemned Americas Watch for their emotionalism. He said, we have to recognize that we have to accept a pragmatic criterion. We have to ask–something like this–he said, we have to compare the amount of blood and misery poured in with the success of the outcome in producing democracy–what we’ll call democracy. And if it meets the pragmatic criterion, then terrorist attacks against civilian targets are perfectly legitimate–which is not a surprising view in his case. He’s the editor of The New Republic. The New Republic, supposedly a liberal journal, was arguing that we should support Latin American fascists because there are more important things than human rights in El Salvador, where they were murdering tens of thousands of people.

That’s the liberals. And, yeah, they can get in the media no problem. And they’re praised for it, regarded with praise. All of this is part of the massive system of–you know, it’s not that anybody sits at the top and plans at all; it’s just exactly as Orwell said: it’s instilled into you. It’s part of a deep indoctrination system which leads to a certain way of looking at the world and looking at authority, which says, yes, we have to be subordinate to authority, we have to believe we’re very independent and free and proud of it. As long as we keep within the limits, we are. Try to go beyond those limits, you’re out.

HEDGES: But that system, of course, is constant. But what’s changed is that we don’t produce anything anymore. So what we define as our working class is a service sector class working in places like Walmart. And the effective forms of resistance–the sitdown strikes, you know, going back even further in the middle of the 19th century with the women in Lowell–I think that was–the Wobblies were behind those textile strikes. What are the mechanisms now? And I know you have written, as many anarchists have done, about the importance of the working class controlling the means of production, taking control, and you have a great quote about how, you know, Lenin and the Bolsheviks are right-wing deviants, I think, was the–which is, of course, exactly right, because it was centralized control, destroying the Soviets. Given the fact that production has moved to places like Bangladesh or southern China, what is going to be the paradigm now? And given, as you point out, the powerful forces of propaganda–and you touched upon now the security and surveillance state. We are the most monitored, watched, photographed, eavesdropped population in human history. And you cannot even use the world liberty when you eviscerate privacy. That’s whattotalitarian is. What is the road we take now, given the paradigm that we have, which is somewhat different from, you know, what this country was, certainly, in the first half of the 20th century?

NOAM CHOMSKY, LINGUIST AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it’s pretty much the same, frankly. The idea still should be that of the Knights of Labor: those who work in the mills should own them. And there’s plenty of manufacturing going on in the country, and probably there will be more, for unpleasant reasons. One thing that’s happening right now which is quite interesting is that energy prices are going down in the United States because of the massive exploitation of fossil fuels, which is going to destroy our grandchildren, but under the, you know, capitalist morality, the calculus is that profits tomorrow outweigh the existence of your grandchildren. It’s institutionally-based, so, yes, we’re getting lower energy prices. And if you look at the business press, they’re, you know, very enthusiastic about the fact that we can undercut manufacturing in Europe because we’ll have lower energy prices, and therefore manufacturing will come back here, and we can even undermine European efforts at developing sustainable energy because we’ll have this advantage.

Britain is saying the same thing. I was just in England recently. As I left the airport, I readThe Daily Telegraph, you know, I mean, newspaper. Big headline: England is going to begin fracking all of the country, even fracking under people’s homes without their permission. And that’ll allow us to destroy the environment even more quickly and will bring manufacturing back here.

The same is true with Asia. Manufacturing is moving back, to an extent, to Mexico, and even here, as wages increase in China, partly because of labor struggles. There’s massive labor struggles in China, huge, all over the place, and since we’re integrated with them, we can be supportive of them.

But manufacturing is coming back here. And both manufacturing and the service industries can move towards having those who do the work take over the management and ownership and control. In fact, it’s happening. In the old Rust Belt–you know, Indiana, Ohio, and so on–there’s a significant–not huge, but significant growth of worker-owned enterprises. They’re not huge, but they’re substantial around Cleveland and other places.

The background is interesting. In 1977, U.S. Steel, the, you know, multinational, decided to close down their mills in Youngstown, Ohio. Youngstown is a steel town, sort of built by the steelworkers, one of the main steel-producing areas. Well, the union tried to buy the plants from U.S. Steel. They objected–in my view, mostly on class lines. They might have even profited from it. But the idea of worker-owned industry doesn’t have much appeal to corporate leaders, which means bankers and so on. It went to the courts. Finally, the union lost in the courts. But with enough popular support, they could have won.

Well, the working class and the community did not give up. They couldn’t get the steel mills, but they began to develop small worker-owned enterprises. They’ve now spread throughout the region. They’re substantial. And it can happen more and more.

And the same thing happened in Walmarts. I mean, there’s massive efforts right now, significant ones, to organize the service workers–what they call associates–in the service industries. And these industries, remember, depend very heavily on taxpayer largess in all kinds of ways. I mean, for example, let’s take, say, Walmarts. They import goods produced in China, which are brought here on container ships which were designed and developed by the U.S. Navy. And point after point where you look, you find that the way the system–the system that we now have is one which is radically anticapitalist, radically so.

I mean, I mentioned one thing, the powerful effort to try to undermine markets for consumers, but there’s something much more striking. I mean, in a capitalist system, the basic principle is that, say, if you invest in something and, say, it’s a risky investment, so you put money into it for a long time, maybe decades, and finally after a long time something comes out that’s marketable for a profit, it’s supposed to go back to you. That’s not the way it works here. Take, say, computers, internet, lasers, microelectronics, containers, GPS, in fact the whole IT revolution. There was taxpayer investment in that for decades, literally decades, doing all the hard, creative, risky work. Does the taxpayer get any of the profit? None, because that’s not the way our system works. It’s radically anti-capitalist, just as it’s radically anti-democratic, opposed to markets, in favor of concentrating wealth and power.

But that doesn’t have to be accepted by the population. These are–all kinds of forms of resistance to this can be developed if people become aware of it.

HEDGES: Well, you could argue that in the election of 2008, Obama wasn’t accepted by the population. But what we see repeatedly is that once elected officials achieve power through, of course, corporate financing, the consent of the governed is a kind of cruel joke. It doesn’t, poll after poll. I mean, I sued Obama over the National Defense Authorization Act, in which you were coplaintiff, and the polling was 97 percent against this section of the NDAA. And yet the courts, which have become wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate state, the elected officials, the executive branch, and the press, which largely ignored it–the only organ that responsibly covered the case was, ironically, The New York Times. We don’t have–it doesn’t matter what we want. It doesn’t–I mean, and I think, you know, that’s the question: how do we effect change when we have reached a point where we can no longer appeal to the traditional liberal institutions that, as Karl Popper said once, made incremental or piecemeal reform possible, to adjust the system–of course, to save capitalism? But now it can’t even adjust the system. You know, we see cutting welfare.

CHOMSKY: Yeah. I mean, it’s perfectly true that the population is mostly disenfranchised. In fact, that’s a leading theme even of academic political science. You take a look at the mainstream political science, so, for example, a recent paper that was just published out of Princeton by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, two of the leading analysts of these topics, what they point out is they went through a couple of thousand policy decisions and found what has long been known, that there was almost no–that the public attitudes had almost no effect. Public organizations that are–nonprofit organizations that are publicly based, no effect. The outcomes were determined by concentrated private power.

There’s a long record of that going way back. Thomas Ferguson, a political scientist near here, has shown very convincingly that something as simple as campaign spending is a very good predictor of policy. That goes back into the late 19th century, right through the New Deal, you know, right up till the present. And that’s only one element of it. And you take a look at the literature, about 70 percent of the population, what they believe has no effect on policy at all. You get a little more influence as you go up. When you get to the top, which is probably, like, a tenth of one percent, they basically write the legislation.

I mean, you see this all over. I mean, take these huge so-called trade agreements that are being negotiated, Trans-Pacific and Transatlantic–enormous agreements, kind of NAFTA-style agreements. They’re secret–almost. They’re not secret from the hundreds of corporate lawyers and lobbyists who are writing them. They know about it, which means that their bosses know about it. And the Obama administration and the press says, look, this has to be secret, otherwise we can’t defend our interests. Yeah, our interests means the interests of the corporate lawyers and lobbyists who are writing the legislation. Take the few pieces that have been leaked and you see that’s exactly what it is. Same with the others.

But it doesn’t mean you have to accept it. And there have been changes. So take, say–in the 1920s, the labor movement had been practically destroyed. There’s a famous book. One of the leading labor historians, David Montgomery, has a major book called something like The Fall of the House of Labor. He’s talking about the 1920s. It was done. There had been a very militant labor movement, very effective, farmers movement as well. Crushed in the 1920s. Almost nothing left. Well, in the 1930s it changed, and it changed because of popular activism.

HEDGES: But it also changed because of the breakdown of capitalism.

CHOMSKY: There was a circumstance that led to the opportunity to do something, but we’re living with that constantly. I mean, take the last 30 years. For the majority of the population it’s been stagnation or worse. That’s–it’s not exactly the deep Depression, but it’s kind of a permanent semi-depression for most of the population. That’s–there’s plenty of kindling out there which can be lighted.

And what happened in the ’30s is primarily CIO organizing, the militant actions like sit-down strikes. A sit-down strike’s very frightening. It’s a step before taking over the institution and saying, we don’t need the bosses. And that–there was a cooperative administration, Roosevelt administration, so there was some interaction. And significant legislation was passed–not radical, but significant, underestimated. And it happened again in the ’60s. It can happen again today. So I don’t think that one should abandon hope in chipping away at the more oppressive aspects of the society within the electoral system. But it’s only going to happen if there’s massive popular organization, which doesn’t have to stop at that. It can also be building the institutions of the future within the present society.

HEDGES: Would you say that the–you spoke about propaganda earlier and the Creel Commission and the rise of the public relations industry. The capacity to disseminate propaganda is something that now you virtually can’t escape it. I mean, it’s there in some electronic form, even in a hand-held device. Does that make that propaganda more effective?

CHOMSKY: Well, and it’s kind of an interesting question. Like a lot of people, I’ve written a lot about media and intellectual propaganda, but there’s another question which isn’t studied much: how effective is it? And that’s–when you brought up the polls, it’s a striking illustration. The propaganda is–you can see from the poll results that the propaganda has only limited effectiveness. I mean, it can drive a population into terror and fear and war hysteria, like before the Iraq invasion or 1917 and so on, but over time, public attitudes remain quite different. In fact, studies even of what’s called the right-wing, you know, people who say, get the government off my back, that kind of sector, they turn out to be kind of social democratic. They want more spending on health, more spending on education, more spending on, say, women with dependent children, but not welfare, no spending on welfare, because Reagan, who was an extreme racist, succeeded in demonizing the notion of welfare. So in people’s minds welfare means a rich black woman driving in her limousine to the welfare office to steal your money. Well, nobody wants that. But they want what welfare does.

Foreign aid is an interesting case. There’s an enormous propaganda against foreign aid, ’cause we’re giving everything to the undeserving people out there. You take a look at public attitudes. A lot of opposition to foreign aid. Very high. On the other hand, when you ask people, how much do we give in foreign aid? Way beyond what we give. When you ask what we should give in foreign aid, far above what we give.

And this runs across the board. Take, say taxes. There’ve been studies of attitudes towards taxes for 40 years. Overwhelmingly the population says taxes are much too low for the rich and the corporate sector. You’ve got to raise it. What happens? Well, the opposite.

It’s just exactly as Orwell said: it’s instilled into you. It’s part of a deep indoctrination system which leads to a certain way of looking at the world and looking at authority, which says, yes, we have to be subordinate to authority, we have to believe we’re very independent and free and proud of it. As long as we keep within the limits, we are. Try to go beyond those limits, you’re out.

HEDGES: Well, what was fascinating about–I mean, the point, just to buttress this point: when you took the major issues of the Occupy movement, they were a majoritarian movement. When you look back on the Occupy movement, what do you think its failings were, its importance were?

CHOMSKY: Well, I think it’s a little misleading to call it a movement. Occupy was a tactic, in fact a brilliant tactic. I mean, if I’d been asked a couple of months earlier whether they should take over public places, I would have said it’s crazy. But it worked extremely well, and it lit a spark which went all over the place. Hundreds and hundreds of places in the country, there were Occupy events. It was all over the world. I mean, I gave talks in Sydney, Australia, to the Occupy movement there. But it was a tactic, a very effective tactic. Changed public discourse, not policy. It brought issues to the forefront.

I think my own feeling is its most important contribution was just to break through the atomization of the society. I mean, it’s a very atomized society. There’s all sorts of efforts to separate people from one another, as if the ideal social unit is, you know, you and your TV set.

HEDGES: You know, Hannah Arendt raises atomization as one of the key components of totalitarianism.

CHOMSKY: Exactly. And the Occupy actions broke that down for a large part of the population. People could recognize that we can get together and do things for ourselves, we can have a common kitchen, we can have a place for public discourse, we can form our ideas and do something. Now, that’s an important attack on the core of the means by which the public is controlled. So you’re not just an individual trying to maximize your consumption, but there are other concerns in life, and you can do something about them. If those attitudes and associations and bonds can be sustained and move in other directions, that’ll be important.

But going back to Occupy, it’s a tactic. Tactics have a kind of a half-life. You can’t keep doing them, and certainly you can’t keep occupying public places for very long. And was very successful, but it was not in itself a movement. The question is: what happens to the people who were involved in it? Do they go on and develop, do they move into communities, pick up community issues? Do they organize?

Take, say, this business of, say, worker-owned industry. Right here in Massachusetts, not far from here, there was something similar. One of the multinationals decided to close down a fairly profitable small plant, which was producing aerospace equipment. High-skilled workers and so on, but it wasn’t profitable enough, so they were going to close it down. The union wanted to buy it. Company refused–usual class reasons, I think. If the Occupy efforts had been available at the time, they could have provided the public support for it.

This happened when Obama virtually nationalized the auto industry. There were choices. One choice was what he took, of course, was to rescue it, return it to essentially the same owners–different faces, but the same class basis–and send them back to doing what they had been doing in the past–producing automobiles. There were other choices, and if something like the Occupy movement had been around and sufficient, it could have driven the government into other choices, like, for example, turning the auto plants over to the working class and have them produce what the country needs.

I mean, we don’t need more cars. We need mass public transportation. The United States is an absolute scandal in this regard. I just came back from Europe–so you can see it dramatically. You get on a European train, you can go where you want to go in no time. Well, the train from Boston to New York, it may be, I don’t know, 20 minutes faster than when I took it 60 years ago. You go along the Connecticut Turnpike and the trucks are going faster than the train. Recently Japan offered the United States a low-interest loan to build high-speed rail from Washington to New York. It was turned down, of course. But what they were offering was to build the kind of train that I took in Japan 50 years ago. And this was a scandal all over the country.

Well, you know, a reconstituted auto industry could have turned in that direction under worker and community control. I don’t think these things are out of sight. And, incidentally, they even have so-called conservative support, because they’re within a broader what’s called capitalist framework (it’s not really capitalist). And those are directions that should be pressed.

Right now, for example, the Steelworkers union is trying to establish some kind of relations with Mondragon, the huge worker-owned conglomerate in the Basque country in Spain, which is very successful, in fact, and includes industry, manufacturing, banks, hospitals, living quarters. It’s very broad. It’s not impossible that that can be brought here, and it’s potentially radical. It’s creating the basis for quite a different society.

And I think with things like, say, Occupy, the timing wasn’t quite right. But if the timing had been a little better (and this goes on all the time, so it’s always possible), it could have provided a kind of an impetus to move significant parts of the socioeconomic system in a different direction. And once those things begin to take off and people can see the advantages of them, it can become quite significant.

There are kind of islands like that around the country. So take Chattanooga, Tennessee. It happens to have a publicly organized internet system. It’s by far the best in the country. Rapid internet access for broad parts of the population. I suspect the roots of it probably go back to the TVA and the New Deal initiatives. Well, if that can spread throughout the country (why not? it’s very efficient, very cheap, works very well), it could undermine the telecommunications industry and its oligopoly, which would be a very good thing. There are lots of possibilities like this.

HEDGES: I want to ask just two last questions. First, the fact that we have become a militarized society, something all of the predictions of the Anti-Imperialist League at the end of the 19th century, including Carnegie and Jane Addams–hard to think of them both in the same room. But you go back and read what they wrote, and they were right how militarized society has deformed us economically–Seymour Melman wrote about this quite well–and politically. And that is a hurdle that as we attempt to reform or reconfigure our society we have to cope with. And I wondered if you could address this military monstrosity that you have written about quite a bit.

CHOMSKY: Well, for one thing, the public doesn’t like it. What’s called isolationism or one or another bad word, as, you know, pacifism was, is just the public recognition that there’s something deeply wrong with our dedication to military force all over the world.

Now, of course, at the same time, the public is frightened into believing that we have to defend ourselves. And it’s not entirely false. Part of the military system is generating forces which will be harmful to us, say, Obama’s terrorist campaign, drone campaign, the biggest terrorist campaign in history. It’s generating potential terrorists faster than it’s killing suspects.

You can see it. It’s very striking what’s happening right now in Iraq. And the truth of the matter is very evident. Go back to the Nuremberg judgments. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but in Nuremberg aggression was defined as “the supreme international crime,” differing from other war crimes in that it includes, it encompasses all of the evil that follows. Well, the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq is a textbook case of aggression. By the standards of Nuremberg, they’d all be hanged. And one of the things it did, one of the crimes was to ignite a Sunni-Shiite conflict which hadn’t been going on. I mean, there was, you know, various kinds of tensions, but Iraqis didn’t believe there could ever be a conflict. They were intermarried, they lived in the same places, and so on. But the invasion set it off. Took off on its own. By now it’s inflaming the whole region. Now we’re at the point where Sunni jihadi forces are actually marching on Baghdad.

HEDGES: And the Iraqi army is collapsing.

CHOMSKY: The Iraqi army’s just giving away their arms. There obviously is a lot of collaboration going on.

And all of this is a U.S. crime if we believe in the validity of the judgments against the Nazis.

And it’s kind of interesting. Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor, a U.S. justice, at the tribunal, addressed the tribunal, and he pointed out, as he put it, that we’re giving these defendants a “poisoned chalice”, and if we ever sip from it, we have to be treated the same way, or else the whole thing is a farce and we should recognize this as just victor’s justice.

HEDGES: But it’s not accidental that our security and surveillance apparatus is militarized. And you’re right, of course, that there is no broad popular support for this expanding military adventurism. And yet the question is if there is a serious effort to curtail their power and their budgets. They have mechanisms. And we even heard Nancy Pelosi echo this in terms of how they play dirty. I mean, they are monitoring all the elected officials as well.

CHOMSKY: Monitoring. But despite everything, it’s still a pretty free society, and the recognition by U.S. and British business back 100 years ago that they can no longer control the population by violence is correct. And control of attitude and opinion is pretty fragile, as is surveillance. It’s very different than sending in the storm troopers. You know, so there’s a lot of latitude, for people of relative privilege, at least, to do all sorts of things. I mean, it’s different if you’re a black kid in the ghetto. Yeah, then you’re subjected to state violence. But for a large part of the population, there’s plenty of opportunities which have not been available in the past.

HEDGES: But those people are essentially passive, virtually.

CHOMSKY: But they don’t have to be.

HEDGES: They don’t have to be, but Hannah Arendt, when she writes about the omnipotent policing were directed against the stateless, including ourself and France, said the problem of building omnipotent policing, which we have done in our marginal neighborhoods in targeting people of color–we can have their doors kicked in and stopped at random and thrown in jail for decades for crimes they didn’t commit–is that when you have a societal upheaval, you already have both a legal and a physical mechanism by which that omnipotent policing can be quickly inflicted.

CHOMSKY: I don’t think that’s true here. I think the time has passed when that can be done for increasing parts of the population, those who have almost any degree of privilege. The state may want to do it, but they don’t have the power to do it. They can carry out extensive surveillance, monitoring, they can be violent against parts of the population that can’t defend themselves–undocumented immigrants, black kids in the ghetto, and so on–but even that can be undercut. For example, one of the major scandals in the United States since Reagan is the huge incarceration program, which is a weapon against–it’s a race war. But it’s based on drugs. And there is finally cutting away at the source of this and the criminalization and the radical distortion of the way criminalization of drug use has worked. That can have an effect.

I mean, I think–look, there’s no doubt that the population is passive. There are lots of ways of keeping them passive. There’s lots of ways of marginalizing and atomizing them. But that’s different from storm troopers. It’s quite different. And it can be overcome, has been overcome in the past. And I think there are lots of initiatives, some of them being undertaken, others developing, which can be used to break down this system. I think it’s a very fragile system, including the militarism.

HEDGES: Let’s just close with climate change. Like, I read climate change reports, which–.

CHOMSKY: Well, unfortunately, that’s–may doom us all, and not in the long-distance future. That just overwhelms everything. It is the first time in human history when we not only–we have the capacity to destroy the conditions for a decent survival. And it’s already happening. I mean, just take a look at species destruction. Species destruction now is estimated to be at about the level of 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the earth and ended the period of the dinosaurs, wiped out huge numbers of species. Same level today, and we’re the asteroid. And you take a look at what’s happening in the world, I mean, anybody looking at this from outer space would be astonished.

I mean, there are sectors of the global population that are trying to impede the catastrophe. There are other sectors that are trying to accelerate it. And you take a look at who they are. Those who are trying to impede it are the ones we call backward: indigenous populations, the First Nations in Canada, you know, aboriginals from Australia, the tribal people in India, you know, all over the world, are trying to impede it. Who’s accelerating it? The most privileged, advanced–so-called advanced–educated populations in the world, U.S. and Canada right in the lead. And we know why.

There are also–. Here’s an interesting case of manufacture of consent and does it work?You take a look at international polls on global warming, Americans, who are the most propagandized on this–I mean, there’s huge propaganda efforts to make it believe it’s not happening–they’re a little below the norm, so there’s some effect of the propaganda. It’s stratified. If you take a look at Republicans, they’re way below the norm. But what’s happening in the Republican Party all across the spectrum is a very striking. So, for example, about two-thirds of Republicans believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and all sorts of other things. You know. So it’s stratified. But there’s some impact of the propaganda, but not overwhelming. Most of the population still regards it as a serious problem.

There’s actually an interesting article about this in the Columbia Journalism Reviewwhich just appeared, current issue, the lead critical review of journalism. They attribute this to what they call the doctrine of fairness in the media. Doctrine of fairness says that if you have an opinion piece by 95, 97 percent of the scientists, you have to pair it with an opinion piece by the energy corporations, ’cause that’d be fair and balanced. There isn’t any such doctrine. Like, if you have an opinion piece denouncing Putin as the new Hitler for annexing Crimea, you don’t have to balance it with an opinion piece saying that 100 years ago the United States took over southeastern Cuba at the point of a gun and is still holding it, though it has absolutely no justification other than to try to undermine Cuban development, whereas in contrast, whatever you think of Putin, there’s reasons. You don’t have to have that. And you have to have fair and balanced when it affects the concerns of private power, period. But try to get an article in the Columbia Journalism Review pointing that out, although it’s transparent.

So all those things are there, but they can be overcome, and they’d better be. This isn’t–you know, unless there’s a sharp reversal in policy, unless we here in the so-called advanced societies can gain the consciousness of the indigenous people of the world, we’re in deep trouble. Our grandchildren are going to suffer from it.

HEDGES: And I think you would agree that’s not going to come from the power elite.

CHOMSKY: It’s certainly not.

HEDGES: It’s up to us.

CHOMSKY: Absolutely. And it’s urgent.

HEDGES: It is. Thank you very much.



 

Last Hours

July 24, 2014
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Published on Sep 28, 2013

About

“Last Hours” is the first in a series of short films that explore the perils of climate change and the solutions to avert climate disaster. Each subsequent film will highlight fact-based challenges facing the human race, and offer solutions to ameliorate these crises. The initial short film series will culminate in a feature film to be presented prior to COP21, the 2015 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris. An asset for the climate change movement, “Last Hours” will be disseminated globally to awaken modern culture worldwide about the various dangers associated with climate change. “Last Hours” describes a science-based climate scenario where a tipping point to runaway climate change is triggered by massive releases of frozen methane. Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, has already started to percolate into the open seas and atmosphere from methane hydrate deposits beneath melting arctic ice, from the warming northern-hemisphere tundra, and from worldwide continental-shelf undersea methane clathrate pools. Burning fossil fuels release carbon that, principally through greenhouse effect, heat the atmosphere and the seas. This is happening most rapidly at the polar extremes, and this heating has already begun the process of releasing methane. If we do not begin to significantly curtail the use of carbon-based fossil fuels, this freed methane threatens to radically accelerate the speed of global warming, potentially producing a disaster beyond the ability of the human species to adapt. This first video is designed to awaken people to the fact that the earth has experienced five major extinctions in the deep geologic past — times when more than half of all life on earth vanished — and that we are now entering a sixth extinction. Industrial civilization with its production of greenhouse gases has the ability to trigger a mass extinction; in the extreme, it could threaten not just human civilization, but the very existence of human life on this planet. The world community and global citizens urgently need to chart a path forward that greatly reduces green house gas emissions. To take action and follow the pathway to solutions to the climate crisis, you can explore this website and you can also sign-up for future updates. Thank you. “Last Hours” is presented and narrated by Thom Hartmann and directed by Leila Conners. Executive Producers are George DiCaprio and Earl Katz. Last Hours is produced by Mathew Schmid of Tree Media Foundation, and was written by Thom Hartmann, Sam Sacks, and Leila Conners. Music is composed and performed by Francesco Lupica.

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    5 Ways to Have a Climate-Friendly Fourth of July

    July 4, 2014

    We can lesson our carbon footprint on the 4th of July. (photo: Shutterstock)
    We can lesson our carbon footprint on the 4th of July. (photo: Shutterstock)

    By Emily Atkin, ThinkProgress

    04 July 14

     

    t’s July 4. It’s a Friday. It’s a Holiday. The last thing anyone wants is to be pestered about their carbon footprint and their contribution to global warming.

    The fact is, though, that Fourth of July barbecues across the country cause a considerable amount of carbon to be pumped into the air. It’s by no means a huge amount compared to how much carbon the United States emits collectively in one year — in fact, it’s relatively insignificant in comparison. But if you’re a conscientious person who cares about the environment, you deserve to know the impacts: It’s the number one most popular holiday for outdoor cooking, and more than two-thirds of Americans turn on their grills. The emissions from all those grills add up — at least 225,000 metric tons of carbon is released into the atmosphere on the Fourth alone, the annual emissions equivalent of 47,368 cars.

    Don’t worry about ditching the grill. But there are a few things you could do to reduce your emissions on that day — and the best part is, they’re all pretty simple. No pestering necessary.

    1. Use a propane grill instead of charcoal

    It’s no secret that propane grilling has a much lower carbon footprint than grilling with charcoal. According to a 2009 study published in Elsevier’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review, charcoal grilling produces three times more greenhouse gases than propane grilling on average, with each charcoal cookout having twice the carbon footprint of a propane cookout. Using propane also reduces how many times you have to drive to the store to buy fuel for your grill, cutting emissions from your car.

    The Department of Energy has estimated that, if all the charcoal grills in America were replaced with propane grills, carbon dioxide emissions on the Fourth of July could be reduced by about 26 percent, or about 59,000 metric tons. That’s the equivalent of taking 12,421 cars off the road for an entire year.

    2. If you do use charcoal, don’t use lighter fluid

    If you really can’t do without the flavor of using charcoal for grilling, or if you don’t have a propane grill, never fear. There is a more climate-friendly way to use charcoal — not using lighter fluid.

    Lighter fluid, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, is comprised entirely of volatile organic compounds (VOC) — dangerous air pollutants which form ozone gas. The EPA estimates that Americans release more than 14,000 tons of VOCs into the atmosphere every year from burning lighter fluid. When combusted, the VOCs in lighter fluid also form carbon dioxide and water vapor, both of which are emitted into the atmosphere.

    Instead, the EPA recommends using a chimney starter, or an electric charcoal starter.

    3. Put a lot of food on the grill at once

    The more time you have food cooking on the grill, the more time your propane or charcoal is burning. The more time your propane or charcoal is burning, the more carbon is emitted into the air. What to do?

    One solution could be to cook less food, thereby reducing time on the grill. But what sounds just a little bit better is just making sure every bit of space on the grill is being used for cooking — really pushing those hot dogs against those kabobs. Efficiency is the name of the game.

    4. Eat a little more veggies, and a little less beef

    Not to say that burgers and all-beef hot dogs should be thrown out of the equation here, but out of all meats, beef has the second-highest carbon emissions, generating nearly of 60 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilo consumed, according to a study by theEnvironmental Working Group. That’s more than twice the emissions of pork, approximately four times the emissions of chicken, and more than 13 times those of beans, lentils and tofu.

    So instead of buying enough beef burgers for all 20 of the guests at your Fourth of July cookout, consider replacing some with alternatives — turkey burgers, chicken breasts, or pork sausages — all which contribute less greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. And maybe make some veggie and tofu kabobs, too, while you’re at it.

    5. Buy local food where possible

    This is a good rule to follow in general, but it also applies to the Fourth of July, a day when you’re probably using a good deal of tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and meats. Because locally-grown and raised foods take less time to get to your table, that means less fuel has been used to transport them, meaning less greenhouse gases have been emitted.

    There has been some debate about the importance of this. After all, only 11 percent of carbon emissions caused by food production comes from transportation. The majority of food’s emissions — 86 percent — comes from actual production of the food, meaning it’s important to look at the farm’s whole operation to really understand its energy consumption.

    But for the purposes of a carefree Fourth of July, buying locally really never hurts.

     

    Here’s What Climate Change Will Do To The American Economy In 7 Charts

    July 1, 2014

    BY JEFF SPROSS JUNE 27, 2014 AT 12:19 PM UPDATED: JUNE 27, 2014 AT 12:25 PM

    Here’s What Climate Change Will Do To The American Economy In 7 Charts

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    power-plant-carbon-emissions

    CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

    So just how hard will climate change hit the American economy?

    A big step toward answering that question happened Tuesday, with the release of “Risky Business.” Put together by a research team headed up by the likes of former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, “Risky Business” is a sweeping analysis of climate change’s economic impacts on the United States, broken down by region and sector. The report came with some dramatic numbers, including hundreds of billions of dollars in possible coastal damage, looming drops of 50 percent or more to crop production, and a quadrupling of extreme heat days by the end of the century.

    risky-business-pathwaysprospectus was also released, digging into the report’s methodology in much greater detail. It built the overall model of economic damage by looking at six major categories: coastal damage, agriculture, labor productivity, increased deaths, crime, and energy costs. The study also looked at multiple paths climate change could take as laid out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Called “Representative Concentration Pathways” (RCPs) they run the gamut from business-as-usual carbon emissions (RCP 8.5) to moderate cuts to carbon emissions (RCP 4.5) to really steep reductions (RCP 2.6). Basically the more the less carbon emitted, the lower the number. The differences in economic damage between the paths are all significant, particularly by 2100 — which shows that even if we failto keep global warming below 2°C there’s still a lot of damage we can avoid.

    Here are the best charts from the “Risky Business’ prospectus that show all the different body blows climate change will likely deliver to the U.S. economy:

    Agriculture

    As climate change increases drought and heat waves and shifts precipitation patterns, it threatens to upend agricultural production in much of the country. According to the study, “likely” outcomes — which it defines as a two-thirds chance — go as high as 40 percent drops in crop production under business-as-usual by 2100. The kind of crop failures we currently see only once every 20 years would start occurring more than once every two years by the end of the century.

    Significantly, the poorest ten percent of the nation’s counties would be hit much harder than the other 90 percent — by mid-century alone, likely costs in the poorest counties go as high as $900 per person each year.

    risky-business-crops-alt

    CREDIT: RISKY BUSINESS

    Energy Costs

    Increased heat puts more demand on the electrical grid to keep buildings cool, so global warming will tend to drive up energy costs. With the exceptions of the Northeast and Northwest, those hikes would occur across the country, driving the likely national increase in energy expenditures as high as 25 percent by 2100. The likely per person costs of increased strain on the energy system could go as high as $287 each year — and could go over twice as high for poorest 10 percent of counties.

    demandmap

    CREDIT: RISKY BUSINESS

    Labor Productivity

    By increasing heat waves and humidity, which increase risk of exhaustion, heat stroke, and even death, climate change threatens to cut down significantly on the amount of productive work Americans can do outdoors. By 2100 under business-as-usual, the study projects likely losses to labor productivity of more than two percent (the colored rectangles) and one-chance-in-twenty losses of over three percent (the T-shaped bars). For comparison, the economic crisis in Greece since the 2008 recession involved a labor productivity drop of less than one percent.

    The average annual costs of declining labor productivity could reach $504 per person. And as with agriculture, the poorest 10 percent of counties see the worst hits, while the hardest-hit states are in the Southeast and the Great Plains.

    risky-business-labor

    CREDIT: RISKY BUSINESS

    Violent Crime

    “A growing body of rigorous quantitative research across multiple disciplines has found that weather, and in particular temperature, affects the incidence of most types of violent and non-violent crime in American cities and rural areas alike” according to the study. The effect gets pronounced at days over 95°F — the frequency of which is likely to increase by as much as four times by the end of the century. Overall, crime is one of the lesser impacts, with likely per person costs only rising as high as $35 by 2100. And the increases in crime tend to be peppered across the entire country. But it’s an example of the subtle ways climate change’s effects can ripple through literally every conceivable aspect of human society.

    risky-business-crime-alt

    CREDIT: RISKY BUSINESS

    Mortality

    To put it bluntly, heat waves kill. Citing the study’s data, Dr. Alfred Sommer, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Epidemiology and International Health at John Hopkins, said, “There will be 10 to 20 times as many incremental deaths because of excess heat and humidity 100 years from now.” In pure economic terms, never mind the emotional and moral toll, the likely costs of those deaths could reach as high as $710 per person each year by the close of the century — or $1,736 according to the VSL methodology. The states in the southeast corner of the country suffer the worst.

    risky-business-mortality

    CREDIT: RISKY BUSINESS

    Coastal Damage

    Rising seas threaten to inundate developed areas along the coast while making flooding from storms more likely, and increased heat content in the oceans from global warming will make storms stronger as well. As a result, climate change threatens major economic damage to coastal areas around the world. Here in America, that mainly means the states in the Southeast and the Northeast. Thanks to the concentrated nature of the damage, the likely average per person costs of flooding and storm damage nationally will only go as high as $138 each year by 2100. But costs for those specific coastal areas will likely be many hundreds of dollars higher.

    risky-business-coasts-alt

    CREDIT: RISKY BUSINESS

    The Economy

    Ultimately, combining the costs of coastal damage, lost agriculture, lost labor, higher mortality, more crime, and higher energy prices is complex. The “Risky Business” team ran several models using both direct costs and a more complex macroeconomic approach (which lowered the projected damage). They also used two different measures of mortality: “market” costs and “value of a statistical life” (VSL) costs. The first simply tallies up the wealth production the economy loses whenever someone dies prematurely, while the second judges how people actually value life by how much their willing to spend to mitigate the risk of death in other circumstances. Each approach has its strength and weaknesses, so the differences mainly amount to a “conceptual exercise” in the study’s words.

    However, relying on the direct costs model and the VSL value of mortality yielded a total likely hit to the economy of something between 1.5 to 5.9 percent by 2100 — but with a one-in-twenty chance that damage could reach nearly 10 percent.

    risky-business-gdp-alt

    CREDIT: RISKY BUSINESS

    Another thing worth noting: two important concepts in the analysis are “risk aversion” and “inequality aversion.” What matters in risk management is not just the possible future costs of a risk, but how much you’re willing to pay to avoid those costs, which adds to the total future costs in weighing whether alternative sacrifices in the here-and-now are worth.

    risky-business-aversion-alt

    CREDIT: RISKY BUSINESS

    “Risk aversion” and “inequality aversion” refer to the added amounts we’re willing to pay to avoid general risk and the risk of economically unjust outcomes, respectively.

    Using standard methodologies, the study concluded that combining risk and inequality aversion could add significantly to calculations of climate change’s damage to the economy. Combing the two added roughly 25 percent to the costs of the agricultural impacts at mid-range aversion, and 42 percent at the high-range. For the costs of increased deaths, those two aversions added around 100 percent at the mid-range and 200 percent at the high-range.

     

    * * * 

    The Risky Business analysis admittedly leaves out a good deal. Future technological innovations and adaptations that could reduce the damage are inherently hard-to-impossible to anticipate, for instance. The “Risky Business” team attempted a few limited thought experiments to account for that, though they only modestly reduced the economic damage projected in the models.

    The modeling also doesn’t include future economic damage fromwater scarcity, hits to labor productivity from increased disease, aggravations of international instability, or the impacts of ocean acidification on marine food supplies and industry — just to name a few caveats. The ways that different impacts can interact and strengthen one another also couldn’t be included in the modeling. And finally, there’s just the fact that GDP is an inherently poor measure of what we’re really interested in when it comes to the welfare of any society in concrete human terms.

    “For a parent,” the study notes, in a moment of massive understatement, “the welfare impact of losing a child to heat-related mortality is much greater than the net present value of that child’s expected future earnings.”

    Tom Steyer is a member of the Board of Directors at the Center for American Progress.


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