Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Neo-Con Attempt …

… to Rewrite the History of World War Two

by Wayne Madsen

Strategic Culture Foundation (March 23 2015)

After the fall of the Soviet Union, former US president and one-time Cold Warrior Richard Nixon devoted the last few remaining years of his life to ensuring that Russia found its proper place in the international community. Nixon advised then-president Bill Clinton on the proper way to deal with the Russian Federation, the internationally-recognized successor state to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. One thing that Nixon would have never tolerated was the current neo-conservative penchant to deny Russia’s major role in World War Two’s – known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War – victory of the Allies over Nazi Germany. Today’s leaders of the United States and their fellow-travelers in Britain, eastern Europe, and other countries would, therefore, find themselves being berated by Nixon over their failure to participate in the annual May 9 Victory Day ceremony held in Moscow.

Nixon, who criticized the George H W Bush administration for providing “pathetically inadequate” assistance to Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, would have had little time for those in American policymaking circles who now want to financially emaciate Russia and bring it to its knees.

Among those who are pushing for increased sanctions on Russia and ignoring its significant role in winning World War Two are the sons and daughters of fascist and Nazi Eastern European emigres who arrived in the United States in the years following the war, mostly via the Central Intelligence Agency’s “Operation Paperclip”, to escape trials for supporting the Nazi cause in their homelands. These emigres helped form various right-wing groups that orbited around the “Captive Nations” supra-organization that was enabled by those in the Eisenhower and succeeding administrations. Out of this constellation of fascist organizations arose the Ukrainian-American Zionist Lev Dobriansky and his daughter, former George W Bush State Department official, Paula Dobriansky, along with the one-time supporter of the German Gestapo in Hungary, Gyorgy Schwartz, who later called himself “George Soros”. Their ideological progeny can today be found in governments throughout eastern and central Europe.

Groups centered around the emigre circles in the United States, for example, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and the Brookings Institution, as well as the Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, are pushing for a re-writing of postwar history. It appears that many of these neocon and historical revisionist groups would rather mark the defeat of Nazi puppet regimes in the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Belarussia, and Bessarabia in sorrow than recognize the Soviet victory over Nazism in celebration.

Puppets of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) in various central and eastern European countries are involved in a propaganda war against Russia aimed at ensuring that the May 9 celebration in Moscow has little official international participation. The effects of this propaganda war can be seen in the recent statement by Czech General Andor Sandor, the head of Czech military intelligence who retired in 2002, bemoaning large-scale Russian “spying” in Prague. This story was leaked in order to apply further political pressure on Czech President Milos Zeman, who has said he will bolt from a purported Nato “consensus” on avoiding the May 9 celebration, and fly to Moscow. The Czech opposition has already announced that it will try to de-fund in parliament Zeman’s trip to Moscow. Prague is, by nature, a flash point in Russia’s relations with the West. The Czech Republic still refuses to allow Nato troops to be based on its soil, even though Prague continues to host such anti-Russian activities as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and various Soros-backed nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Soros interlocutors in the European Parliament are also pressuring Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic to cancel plans to go to Moscow or risk Serbian membership in the EU.

Three former US ambassadors to Ukraine, Steven Pifer, John Herbst, and William Taylor, have outrageously urged Western leaders like Britain’s Prime Minster David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (who will reportedly fly to Moscow on May 10 for a wreath laying ceremony), who have announced their decision to boycott the May 9 ceremony and military parade in Moscow, to attend a Victory in Europe Day ceremony in Kiev. These “three stooges” of American “diplomacy” wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times that “even though Presidents Clinton and George W Bush traveled to Moscow in 1995 and 2005 for other V-E Day anniversaries”, President Barack Obama should celebrate the event not in Moscow but in Kiev. The ambassadors refuse to recognize that were Western leaders to observe such an event in Kiev, they would be standing alongside neo-Nazis and paleo-Nazis of every stripe, including supporters of Adolf Hitler and the Ukrainian Nazi leader and German SS enabler, Stepan Bandera.

Pifer, Herbst, and Taylor are hardly alone in calling for the sacrifice of 27 million Soviet citizens in World War Two to be marked in a city where neo-Nazis and skinhead mercenaries from around Europe enjoy political and military power. Pifer works for the Brookings Institution, a major center of current anti-Russian agitprop, while Herbst was a chief facilitator of US Agency for International Development/CIA support for the Orange Revolution in Kiev and the development of pro-Western mass media in Ukraine. Taylor, as the chief coordinator of US government assistance to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, worked closely with the Soros organization and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to channel funds to pro-US right-wing groups in the region.

While Obama and his friends in Nato will not be in Moscow, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has demanded war reparations from Germany for his country, will buck the Nato boycott and join Zeman in attending the ceremony on Red Square. The leaders of Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Slovakia, and Hungary may also bolt Nato ranks and fly to Moscow for the May 9 ceremony.

In what can only be considered a diplomatic slap at the Kiev regime and its Western supporters, the leaders of the eastern Ukrainian people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine will be in the same Red Square viewing stand as the leaders from some thirty other countries, including China, India, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Egypt, and South Africa, a fact that will confer a semblance of de facto international recognition of their status. In addition, the leaders of the republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia will also reportedly be present, constituting a diplomatic defeat for the authorities in Georgia who view the republics as integral parts of their state.

Meanwhile, while calling for a boycott of Moscow’s May 9 VE Day event, the leaders of the Baltic nations play host to various Nazi commemorations in their capitals. Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė, a graduate of the Georgetown University Foreign Service School in Washington, a favorite CIA recruiting ground, does nothing to prevent annual observances at the gravesite of Lithuanian Nazi puppet leader and concentration camp builder Juozas Ambrazevicius Brazaitis, whose body was repatriated a few years ago from Putnam, Connecticut to Lithuania and reburied in Kaunas with full military honors. Estonia’s President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a former head of the Estonian desk for the CIA-financed Radio Free Europe, was supportive of the Estonian government’s decision in 2007 to remove a Soviet victory statue Tallinn to a military base on the city’s outskirts where it now sits quite close to Nato’s cyber-warfare center. As Latvia’s leaders were joining their Baltic counterparts in championing a Nato boycott of the Moscow event, veterans and supporters of the Latvia Legion, commanded by the German Waffen SS Division during the war, recently paraded proudly through the streets of Riga in an event staged annually since 1991. Latvian President Andris Berzins has done nothing to thwart the Nazi ceremony in Latvia although he finds it abhorrent that any Western leader would join Russia’s leadership in Moscow to mark VE Day over Hitler. Berzins has long been associated with the “Stockholms Enskilda Bank”, owned by the Swedish Wallenberg family and accused of collaborating during the war with Nazi Germany, earning it a spot on a blockade list of the US government.

Poland’s European Council president Donald Tusk and Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski have joined their Baltic friends in trying to write Russia from the history of World War Two. Polish foreign minister Grzegorz Schetyna attempted to re-write history by claiming Ukrainians, not Russians, liberated Auschwitz. Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded to Schetyna by stating, “It’s common knowledge that Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army, in which all nationalities heroically served”, adding that Poland was making a “mockery” of history.

Making a mockery of history is exactly what Nato leaders are doing by pressuring leaders of countries from South Korea and Japan to Bulgaria and Austria not to send official representatives to Moscow. The action is very reminiscent of the US-led and diplomatically-immature boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, a move deemed to have done more long-term harm to the Olympic movement than short-term damage to the USSR.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Rage of the Cultural Elites

2015/03/24 2 comments

by Yu Shan, Club Orlov’s special Kiev correspondent

Club Orlov (March 17 2015)

A certain unhappy incident happened to my aunt in the summer of 1966. The Cultural Revolution – a political movement initiated by Mao Zedong – was beginning to engulf the country. That same year many American college students were protesting against the Vietnam War and Leonid Brezhnev was keeping his seat warm as the General Secretary of CPSU, having replaced the somewhat volatile Nikita Khrushchev two years earlier. My aunt was then a freshman studying literature at Fudan University in Shanghai.

It so happened that my aunt, then a sensitive and somewhat dreamy young woman, had stubbornly and haplessly clung to certain musical tastes which at that time in China came to be regarded as politically incorrect, being said, in the trendy ideological jargon of that time, to reflect “decadent bourgeois revisionist aesthetics”. To wit, my aunt had kept in her record collection a rendition of “The Urals Mountain-Ash” (Уральская Рябинушка), a Russian folk song in which a young girl meets two nice boys under a mountain-ash tree and must choose between them, performed by the National Choir of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. It was an old-style LP spinning at 78 RPM. It had a red emblem in the middle emblazoned with “CCCP”.

One of my aunt’s roommates, who probably had always resented her for one reason or another, found out about it and reported her to the authorities. For this rather serious infraction, student members of the Red Guard made my aunt publicly smash her beloved record, then kneel upon the fragments and recite an apology to Chairman Mao while fellow-students threw trash at her face shouting “Down with Soviet revisionists!” This generation of Chinese young people, who once donned Red Guard uniforms, beat people up around the country and smashed various cultural artifacts, is now mostly living on government pensions or earning meagre profits from home businesses, but some have prospered and can be found among the upper crust of contemporary China’s business, cultural, and political elites.

This episode came to my mind when in the summer of 2014 I came upon video clips of Ukrainian student activists storming university classrooms in mid-lecture and ordering everyone to stand up and sing the Ukrainian national anthem, then forcing the professor to apologize for the lecture not being adequately patriotic. There were also ghastly spectacles of “Enemies of the People” (guilty only of having served under the overthrown president Yanukovich) being paraded around in trash bins. In Ukrainian schools, children were made to jump up and down, and told that “Whoever doesn’t jump is a Moscal” (a derogatory term for “Russian”).

Add to this the destruction of public monuments to World War Two and the ridiculous rewriting of history (turns out that, during World War Two, Germany liberated Ukraine, but then Russia invaded and occupied Germany!) and a complete picture emerges: the Ukrainian Maidan movement is one of a species of “cultural revolution”. The new, fashionable term being thrown around is “civilizational pivot”, but it and the old “cultural revolution” can be understood as approximate synonyms, sharing the need for frenzied spectacles of mass humiliation and destruction.

In 1971 the Vietnam War began to draw toward an agonizing and, from the American government’s point of view, highly unfulfilling conclusion. That same year Dr Henry Kissinger made a secret trip to Beijing, flying in from a military airport in Pakistan. This was followed by the joint Nixon-Kissinger summit in 1972, which culminated in Nixon’s historic handshake with Mao Zedong, completing China’s civilizational pivot away from the USSR and toward the west. In hindsight, this dramatic opening could only be properly characterized as a swift dagger-in-the-back against the USSR, in both geopolitical and ideological senses. The decrepitating, inflexible body of the USSR never recovered from this stab wound, leading to its final collapse, from a multitude of internal and external causes, two decades later.

In late February 2014, just as Ukraine was attempting its civilizational pivot away from Russia and toward the west, I interviewed a senior captain of the Right Sector, a radical Ukrainian nationalist group with neo-Nazi stylings. The burly man looked aggressive in his paramilitary garb, and arrived with bodyguards, but turned out to be rather amiable. He was particularly glad to see me because I look Chinese. He spoke Russian, reluctantly, after announcing that he was ashamed of it. (This is typical; Ukrainians use Ukrainian to spout nationalist nonsense, but when they need to make sense they lapse into Russian.) He said that he had served in the Red Army and had been stationed in the Far East, on the Chinese border. He expressed hope that China would soon do something big in Siberia.

That was my only meeting with the man from the Right Sector. It’s safe to guess that the recent Russian-Chinese embrace has dashed his hopes concerning Siberia. The Chinese government’s unambiguous expressions of solidarity with Russia starting in March of 2014 have been noted by all. But he would have been far less disconcerted, and the many international supporters of Russia far more discouraged, had they been able to read the comments on various popular Chinese social sites, which abounded with slogans such as “Crimea to Putin, Siberia to China!” or “Putler will hang on lamppost!” or “Glory to Ukraine! China sides with the Civilized World!”

To explain what is behind this phenomenon, which affects certain Chinese internet users, young and old, we need to introduce a Chinese neologism: “Gong Zhi” (公知). The literal meaning of the term is “public intellectual”, but it is used sarcastically and sometimes even derogatorily. It denotes a cute, successful, popular, trendy individual, who is often involved in the mass media, and who, for various reasons, has millions of virtual followers via Tweeter and various social networking sites. Such individuals make daily, sometimes hourly, witty and biting public remarks on a vast range of social and political subjects, and, to add human interest, on their own kaleidoscopic emotional states.

In a Russian/Ukrainian setting, more or less analogous figures are to be found in the public personae of Ksenya Sobchak, Irina Khakamada, Masha Gessen, Lesha Navalny, and the late Boris Nemtsov. The base audience for such people consists of what in Russia and the Ukraine came to be known as the “creative class”, or “creacl” (креакл) for short. In China such a term does not yet exist, but the reality of a very similar social group definitely does and, by an overwhelming margin, they are inclined to follow and worship the “Gong Zhi”. Many of these, in spite of carefully maintained youthful appearances, are in their late fifties or early sixties – in other words, they are former Red Guards who did well financially by becoming informal spokespersons for what they regard as a hip and new ideology and attempting a new, technologically enhanced “civilizational pivot”.

The trendiness of said ideology comes from the use of a kit of parts that includes canonical words and phrases from which cliched narratives can be generated effortlessly. It includes: institutional building, civil society, rule of law, enhance democracy, raise transparency, economic growth, entrepreneurship, innovation, privatization, good guidance, western expertise, human values, human rights, women’s rights, minority rights. There is also a mantra; instead of “OMing”, they “west”: the west, the west, the west, western values, western civilization, west west west west. Never mind that this kit of parts fails in application; these are articles of faith, not reason.

And the opposite of all this western goodness is the horrible, unspeakable easternness of Russia. Here we have another kit of parts, from which one can fashion any number of Russophobic rants: Putin/Stalin, tyranny, gulag, low birth rate, alcoholism, mafia, corruption, stagnation, aggression, invasion, nuclear threat, political repression, “the dying nation”. Never mind that this kit of parts does not reflect reality; again, these are articles of faith, not reason. And the reason Russia is so horrible is, of course, the Russian people. When will the Russian people wake up? Will they ever rise up and overthrow their dictator, their tyrant? Will they ever become civilized, cool, happy, normal, WESTERN people … like we already are, or at least, like we will be … someday … if western people pick us up, take us home and make love to us …

The overall goal of this civilizational cross-dressing is one of personal transformation, personal rebranding:

If we look western and we quack western, then we will BECOME western, we will become cool, accepted, rich and prosperous and civilized. And what’s holding us back is ‘this country’, and ‘these people’, who are so uncool, so un-trendy, so un-western. Ugh! There is nothing to be done about them, so let’s just accept funds from western donors who want to destabilize Russia, and spend this money organizing virtual opposition parties like little girls organizing tea parties for their dolls. But we are getting lots of sympathetic western press coverage, so whatever we are doing must be working!

The above-mentioned events, trends and movements arose in very different historical periods and in distant, non-contiguous parts of the world, but they share a singular emotional overtone and an orientation towards a singular goal: to cut Russia down, in word, if not in deed.

And then there is what is real.

It is really hard tell Ukrainians apart from Russians. About ninety percent of the conversation one overhears in the Kiev metro is and probably will remain in Russian, some speaking it with an accent, some with hardly any accent at all. A man or a woman from Yaroslavl (where the late Boris Nemtsov held on to a seat in the regional legislature) could without the slightest effort blend into the crowd surging through the Kiev metro. But should a Russian or a Ukrainian be traveling through the Beijing metro, it will be rather simple to tell them apart from everyone else.

It would also be quite easy to tell an American tourist, reporter, NGO-representative, or Ukrainian wife-hunter apart from the rest of the people in the Kiev metro. The signals would be unmistakable: the demeanor, the style of speech and the facial expression, regardless of ethnic or racial traits. But most of the young Ukrainian students who were shouting and jumping up and down on the Maidan would also take great pride in showing off their English language skills, good or not, and in being seen hanging out with Americans. Why would Ukrainians want to jump out of their Russian skins and try to impersonate Americans?

And are Americans, by some quirk of mystical collective nature, spontaneously anti-Russian? Are ‘we’ – the Americans I have lived and studied and worked with for years – anti-Russian? Now, come on, of course not! But we certainly are anti-something else! Take a couple of minutes to gaze at the face of Victoria Nuland, or Jan Psaki, or Samantha Power, or Hillary Clinton. Don’t they all remind everyone – that is, us regular American guys of whatever ethnic origin – of that quintessential “cool crowd” we had to contend with during our student days? Aren’t they all a bunch of uppity up-tight feminist radical liberal bitches who once made a living hell out of our fresh, green and naive college days? Well, now that we are not so horny and stupid any more, and they are all wrinkly and saggy (or worked on and Botoxed to hell) don’t we all want to metaphorically get down on our knees and thank Jesus or Yahweh or Allah or whoever that we didn’t end up marrying one of these specimens?

But our country, the former land of the free and home of the brave – it has sunk. We all know this, deep in our hearts, don’t we? The Victoria Nuland clone army, like a cruel, evil, insidious high school rumor, like the reflection of a witch’s face in a polluted river, spread and flew into every crevice and corner of this land, high and low, far and wide. We encounter her avatars and lookalikes everywhere – in Hollywood, in the publishing houses, universities, school boards, kindergartens, in elevators on the way to our offices, and of course, on the pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times.

The questioning, seeking, original, fearless, rebellious, fractious and individualist American soul is expiring on its air-conditioned deathbed. America is not an interesting place any more. When was the last time we heard a new singer who could be compared to Tom Waits, or Suzanne Vega? Which one of you loose-pants hip-hoppers ever heard of Robert Altman, Wim Wenders, Gore Vidal, John Cassavetes? All of them are fading away, dying away, withering away, and this started to occur during roughly the same time period when the lookalikes and talkalikes of Victoria Nuland started to make their appearances around American universities, en masse.

Thirty years was the portion of my lifetime which fate had allocated to America. As a non-philosopher, non-psychologist, non-cultural historian, I attest with my own irretrievably lost youth that America’s unprecedented and unexplained spiritual, intellectual, cultural, romantic, literary, linguistic and political decline did mysteriously and biblically occur during this same period.

Within these same thirty years the world also witnessed the miraculous rise of China’s economy, whose windfalls and overnight profits I had largely missed out on. But observing America’s bitter and terminal illness had taught me something. For example, when people talk about China being the next America, one thing I’ve got to ask myself is: will the 1.4 billion Chinese people make good neighbors and interesting company? Will they be liked and likable, or will many of them likewise come to be regarded as impudent louts and aggressive, greedy, egotistic, crafty pricks and bitches?

Regarding my own original motherland and my own people I have mixed feelings. The initial signals aren’t promising. The drastic and depressing contrasts in personal manners between your typical Chinese tourist and the meek and quiet locals of Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taiwan, Singapore, indeed all of East Asia, is a dreadful omen. In 2014, the outbursts of hysterical and ludicrous hostility towards Russia from the clueless Chinese Creative Class and the internet mobs who follow them has to be another big sign. Those who have bright hopes for Russia-China geopolitical alliance would be well-advised to keep them in mind.

Keep what in mind, exactly? What we need to keep in mind is the normally hidden collective psycho-mental pathology of populations, which is often embodied in erratic and destructive intellectual trends, and is upheld by their self-doubting and neurotic cultural elites. This pathology has everything to do with self-identity.

For the Chinese and the Russian/Ukrainian “creative classes”, America represents the Ultimate Cool Place, the Olympus of Coolness, to be strived towards intellectually, culturally and emotionally, if not always physically. Because America represents to them not only a theory or a line of argument, but a profound source of emotional self-identification, there arise within them ferocious flames of fury and rage whenever someone is perceived as preventing them from basking within the aura of this self-identification. They become like adolescents who put on the cool clothes and want to go and dance to the cool music, but are told that they can’t wear these clothes and can’t dance to this music. Why? Because they are not as cool as they think, and because those cool kids don’t care about you, and don’t really want you as their friends.

Actual political, economic and social problems are of secondary importance. What is of upmost importance is that they – the cultural elite, “the creative class”, the cool kids who consider themselves so much cooler than the rest – feel insulted and denied their self-respect. They are angry that real life in Russia/Ukraine or China does not back up a certain concept of their own aspired coolness. Russia gets a special designation in such a line of discourse, or cultural narrative: it gets to be the ultimate spoiler of coolness. Even before the February 2014 putsch, Eastern Ukraine was always referred to as ground zero of “Sovok”, the land of Soviet-era retrogrades – backward, dim-witted slaves who held cool, cute Ukraine back from its well-deserved western coolness.

I will never forget the sight of the torn limbs of a five-year-old Donbass girl, or the bits of blood-soaked shawl and the mangled grandmother’s aged body scattered about on the ground. What have they done – and tens of thousands like them – to deserve this end? On the Kiev metro, most people appear modest, polite, humble, gentle, and, occasionally, very kind. Over the last year many of them have also looked weary, worried, numb and exhausted. But I could not detect one iota of disparity in features, skin tone, bone structure, and the modest yet lively style of clothing between these riders on the metro in Kiev and the dead girl or the dead grandmother in the Donbass. Is it all because of someone wanting to be cool, and throwing a tantrum, because they didn’t get to feel cool like they wanted?

Returning to America, the supposed Olympus of Cool, trudging through trash-strewn sidewalks of Queens, tramping along the endless alleys of Brooklyn, stepping into a dimly lit Manhattan office elevator and there encountering yet another Victoria Nuland lookalike, I began to understand. The year 2014 was the fatal year when it was suddenly revealed who is who and what is what, like a sharp knife slashing through an old, moldy, dusty curtain. Think not of conspiracies and dark, complex, sinister geopolitical plots. These went with a different generation, when people might have been greedy and cruel, but they also had the ability to distinguish reality from fiction. That was the era of western imperialism, which is long dead. Churchill and Roosevelt and Nixon are all dead; Kissinger is a nonagenarian. Their replacements do not think in terms of Realpolitik; they think in terms of optics, and dwell in a mirrored hall devised to generate an optical illusion of their hallucinated greatness.

Don’t think of reality; instead, think of neurosis, obsession, delusion, perpetual psychic adolescence (real adolescence long gone and even menopause unacknowledged). From the midst of these there arises a white-hot fire of rage so fierce and so random that Nietzsche or Sartre, in their most diabolical existential revelations, could never have foreseen them. Thus is the new Zeitgeist, in this advanced stage of decay of the collective consciousness of America’s cultural/political elite and their overseas groupies. It explains their reckless and maniacal love affair with the Ukrainian Maidan, their rekindled but now impotent rage against Russia, and their despicable, narcissistic indifference to the tragedy suffered by the population of the Ukraine.

Categories: Uncategorized

None of the World’s Top Industries …

2015/03/24 1 comment

… would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use

by David Roberts

Grist (April 17 2013)

The notion of “externalities” has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs.

While the notion is incredibly useful, especially in folding ecological concerns into economics, I’ve always had my reservations about it. Environmentalists these days love speaking in the language of economics –  it makes them sound Serious –  but I worry that wrapping this notion in a bloodless technical term tends to have a narcotizing effect. It brings to mind incrementalism: boost a few taxes here, tighten a regulation there, and the industrial juggernaut can keep right on chugging. However, if we take the idea seriously, not just as an accounting phenomenon but as a deep description of current human practices, its implications are positively revolutionary.

To see what I mean, check out a recent report {1} done by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors. (“Natural capital” refers to ecological materials and services like, say, clean water or a stable atmosphere; “unpriced” means that businesses don’t pay to consume them.)

It’s a huge task; obviously, doing it required a specific methodology that built in a series of assumptions. (Plenty of details in the report.) But it serves as an important signpost pointing the way to the truth about externalities.

Here’s how those costs break down: The majority of unpriced natural capital costs are from greenhouse gas emissions (38%), followed by water use (25%), land use (24%), air pollution (7%), land and water pollution (5%), and waste (1%).

So how much is that costing us? Trucost’s headline results are fairly stunning.

First, the total unpriced natural capital consumed by the more than 1,000 “global primary production and primary processing region-sectors” amounts to $7.3 trillion a year –  thirteen percent of 2009 global GDP.

(A “region-sector” is a particular industry in a particular region –  say, wheat farming in East Asia.)

Second, surprising no one, coal is the enemy of the human race. Trucost compiled rankings, both of the top environmental impacts and of the top industrial culprits.

Here are the top five biggest environmental impacts and the region-sectors responsible for them:

The biggest single environmental cost? Greenhouse gases from coal burning in China. The fifth biggest? Greenhouse gases from coal burning in North America. (This also shows what an unholy nightmare deforestation in South America is.)

Now, here are the top five industrial sectors ranked by total ecological damages imposed:

It’s coal again! This time North American coal is up at number three.

Trucost’s third big finding is the coup de grace. Of the top twenty region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated. Ponder that for a moment: None of the world’s top industrial sectors would be profitable if they were paying their full freight. Zero.

That amounts to an global industrial system built on sleight of hand. As Paul Hawken likes to put it, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.

This gets back to what I was saying at the top. The notion of “externalities” is so technical, such an economist’s term. Got a few unfortunate side effects, so just move some numbers from Column A to Column B, right?

But the UNEP report makes clear that what’s going on today is more than a few accounting oversights here and there. The distance between today’s industrial systems and truly sustainable industrial systems –  systems that do not spend down stored natural capital but instead integrate into current energy and material flows –  is not one of degree, but one of kind. What’s needed is not just better accounting but a new global industrial system, a new way of providing for human wellbeing, and fast {2}. That means a revolution.




Categories: Uncategorized

Real Unemployment …

… is Double the ‘Official’ Unemployment Rate

by Systemic Disorder (March 18 2015)

How many people are really out of work? The answer is surprisingly difficult to ascertain. For reasons that are likely ideological at least in part, official unemployment figures greatly under-report the true number of people lacking necessary full-time work.

That the “reserve army of labor” is quite large goes a long way toward explaining the persistence of stagnant wages in an era of increasing productivity.

How large? Across North America, Europe and Australia, the real unemployment rate is approximately double the “official” unemployment rate.

The “official” unemployment rate in the United States, for example, was 5.5 percent for February 2015. That is the figure that is widely reported. But the US Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of various other unemployment rates, the most pertinent being its “U-6″ figure. The U-6 unemployment rate includes all who are counted as unemployed in the “official” rate, plus discouraged workers, the total of those employed part time but not able to secure full-time work and all persons marginally attached to the labor force (those who wish to work but have given up). The actual US unemployment rate for February 2015, therefore, is eleven percent.

Canada makes it much more difficult to know its real unemployment rate. The official Canadian unemployment rate for February was 6.8 percent, a slight increase from January that Statistics Canada attributes to “more people search[ing] for work”. The official measurement in Canada, as in the US, European Union and Australia, mirrors the official standard for measuring employment defined by the International Labour Organization –  those not working at all and who are “actively looking for work”. (The ILO is an agency of the United Nations.)

Statistics Canada’s closest measure toward counting full unemployment is its R8 statistic, but the R8 counts people in part-time work, including those wanting full-time work, as “full-time equivalents”, thus underestimating the number of under-employed by hundreds of thousands, according to an analysis by The Globe and Mail. There are further hundreds of thousands not counted because they do not meet the criteria for “looking for work”. Thus The Globe and Mail analysis estimates Canada’s real unemployment rate for 2012 was 14.2 percent rather than the official 7.2 percent. Thus Canada’s true current unemployment rate today is likely about fourteen percent.

Everywhere You Look, More Are Out of Work

The gap is nearly as large in Europe as in North America. The official European Union unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in January 2015. The European Union’s Eurostat service requires some digging to find out the actual unemployment rate, requiring adding up different parameters. Under-employed workers and discouraged workers comprise four percent of the EU workforce each, and if we add the one percent of those seeking work but not immediately available, that pushes the actual unemployment rate to about nineteen percent.

The same pattern holds for Australia. The Australia Bureau of Statistics revealed that its measure of “extended labour force under-utilisation” –  this includes “discouraged” jobseekers, the “underemployed” and those who want to start work within a month, but cannot begin immediately –  was 13.1 percent in August 2012 (the latest for which I can find), in contrast to the “official”, and far more widely reported, unemployment rate of five percent at the time.

Concomitant with these sobering statistics is the length of time people are out of work. In the European Union, for example, the long-term unemployment rate –  defined as the number of people out of work for at least twelve months –  doubled from 2008 to 2013. The number of US workers unemployed for six months or longer more than tripled from 2007 to 2013.

Thanks to the specter of chronic high unemployment, and capitalists’ ability to transfer jobs overseas as “free trade” rules become more draconian, it comes as little surprise that the share of gross domestic income going to wages has declined steadily. In the US, the share has declined from 51.5 percent in 1970 to about 42 percent. But even that decline likely understates the amount of compensation going to working people because almost all gains in recent decades has gone to the top one percent.

Around the world, worker productivity has risen over the past four decades while wages have been nearly flat. Simply put, we’d all be making much more money if wages had merely kept pace with increased productivity.

Insecure Work is the Global Norm

The increased ability of capital to move at will around the world has done much to exacerbate these trends. The desire of capitalists to depress wages to buoy profitability is a driving force behind their push for governments to adopt “free trade” deals that accelerate the movement of production to low-wage, regulation-free countries. On a global basis, those with steady employment are actually a minority of the world’s workers.

Using International Labour Organization figures as a starting point, professors John Bellamy Foster and Robert McChesney calculate that the “global reserve army of labor” –  workers who are underemployed, unemployed or “vulnerably employed” (including informal workers) –  totals 2.4 billion. In contrast, the world’s wage workers total 1.4 billion –  far less! Writing in their book, The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China (2012), they write:

It is the existence of a reserve army that in its maximum extent is more than seventy percent larger than the active labor army that serves to restrain wages globally, and particularly in poorer countries. Indeed, most of this reserve army is located in the underdeveloped countries of the world, though its growth can be seen today in the rich countries as well. [page 145]

The earliest countries that adopted capitalism could “export” their “excess” population though mass emigration. From 1820 to 1915, Professors Foster and McChesney write, more than fifty million people left Europe for the “new world”. But there are no longer such places for developing countries to send the people for whom capitalism at home can not supply employment. Not even a seven percent growth rate for fifty years across the entire global South could absorb more than a third of the peasantry leaving the countryside for cities, they write. Such a sustained growth rate is extremely unlikely.

As with the growing environmental crisis, these mounting economic problems are functions of the need for ceaseless growth. Once again, infinite growth is not possible on a finite planet, especially one that is approaching its limits. Worse, to keep the system functioning at all, the planned obsolescence of consumer products necessary to continually stimulate household spending accelerates the exploitation of natural resources at unsustainable rates and all this unnecessary consumption produces pollution increasingly stressing the environment.

Humanity is currently consuming the equivalent of one and a half earths, according to the non-profit group Global Footprint Network. A separate report by WWF-World Wide Fund For Nature in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and Global Footprint Network, calculates that the Middle East/Central Asia, Asia-Pacific, North America and European Union regions are each consuming about double their regional biocapacity.

We have only one Earth. And that one Earth is in the grips of a system that takes at a pace that, unless reversed, will leave it a wrecked hulk while throwing ever more people into poverty and immiseration. That this can go on indefinitely is the biggest fantasy.

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Europe Tilts East Towards China

Part One of Two Parts

Britain, German, France and Italy among those who joined Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, it is an expression of discontent over World Bank polices that force developing countries to depend on the US.

The Real News Network (March 20 2015)

SHARMINI PERIES, Executive Producer, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

The Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, an Asian rival to the World Bank, was launched by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, last year. Initially it was an Asian initiative, but last week, the UK was the first European country to join the bank causing some friction between the US and Britain.

Now a few more European countries have joined the ranks, among them Italy, Germany, and France; and Australia is waiting in the wings.

Now joining me to discuss all of this is Michael Hudson. And as you know, Michael Hudson is a regular guest on The Real News Network. Michael is a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Given the subject matter we’re dealing with today, you may be interested in his book called Super Imperialism (1972, 2003), specifically the chapter on the World Bank.

Thank you so much for joining me.

MICHAEL HUDSON, Professor of Economics, University of Missouri, Kansas City: It’s good to be here.

PERIES: And given the subject that we’re dealing with today, Michael, you’re going to be talking about perhaps the book you had published very early on, called Super Imperialism. And there’s a particular chapter I wanted to reference here on the World Bank.

So, if you are more interested in what Michael is about to say today, you should look that book up.

Thanks for joining us, Michael.

HUDSON: It’s good to be here, Sharmini.

PERIES: So, Michael, let’s begin with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The Chinese have established this bank with a $50 billion investment. Now, is this then a serious challenge to the World Bank?

HUDSON: Well, the idea is to make an alternative development philosophy to the World Bank. From the very beginning, the World Bank has been basically an extension of the US Defense Department, from the first president, John J McCloy, who was assistant secretary of defense, down through Robert McNamara, 1968 to 1981, and then by the neocon cold warrior Paul Wolfowitz, 2005 to 2007, and Larry Summers, the chief economist, along with Bob Zoellick.

So you have the purpose of the World Bank lending essentially for plantation export crops, for export crops to make countries avoid producing anything that might compete with American exports, above all grain. Although every single mission of the World Bank, country mission, has recommended that countries undertake land reform and agricultural extension to help promote family farming and countries to feed themselves, the World Bank has not made loans for this.

The World Bank, under US congressional pressure, has said, look, we’re not going to finance countries becoming independent of the United States; our function is to make them export more to the United States and to buy from the United States. So the funding of the World Bank has mainly been to fund infrastructure developments, vastly overpriced, to Third World countries to create money for American engineering firms; also to lend out dollars and to indebt countries to it; and worst of all, to promote privatization. And that’s really the big difference between the Chinese Development Bank’s philosophy and the World Bank.

The World Bank has pressured everywhere for privatization of public utilities, of basic infrastructure, and then it will make loans to the governments to develop this infrastructure or the roads and the external economies, and then sell them cheap to American buyers, who essentially will create monopolies and turn infrastructure into a rent extraction to squeeze out interest, dividends, management fees that are all going to be paid to the Americans. And this has been raising the price of basic utilities – communications, transportation, water, and other things throughout the Third World. And this has made these economies uncompetitive with the United States that has a mixed economy where the government subsidizes infrastructure. So the Chinese Development Bank is to help make other countries get independent of this sort of neocon, neoliberal, right-wing economic philosophy and work government-to-government, help governments develop infrastructure, so that they can provide basic services at a lower cost or a subsidized cost, or even freely to the populations. That’s how the European countries and the American economy got rich. And the only way to help repeat this process is to make a clean break from the United States and the World Bank.

PERIES: Now, I know that Secretary of State Kerry has stated that they have some concerns about the standards of this new bank. Now, how do we know that the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will not follow the same model as the World Bank because the president of China, Xi Jinping, had already said they will borrow policy and standards of the World Bank in making sure that they are – they address the secretary of state’s concern.

HUDSON: I think he’s being very polite. The Chinese are always very polite. In my visits to Beijing, when they said they would learn the lessons of the World Bank, that means they learned lessons of what to avoid.

The good standards that Kerry talked about is Orwellian rhetoric for the standards that are thoroughly corrupt, thoroughly insider dealing. They’re the standards that led the IMF to make the military loan to Ukraine last week. They’re the standards that have made the World Bank support dictatorships and arm governments throughout the world, and to isolate any government that is not part of the US diplomatic orbit, to isolate Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and not to make loans to governments to try to have a mixed economy.

So when China learns from these standards, it’s learned what to avoid and to do exactly the opposite, to make, to create an independent trading and financial system and development system that does not dovetail into the US economy.

About thirty or forty years ago, the World Bank produced a document called Partners in Progress. And my review of it in Super Imperialism was called “Partners in Backwardness”. In the discussions I’ve had in China, in Russia, they’re very clear that the World Bank has tried to underdevelop them.

In the case of Russia, for instance, many colleagues of mine who are land assessors met with leaders in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, including Vladimir Putin, as early as 1991, and outlined how Russia could maintain its tax base by taxing the land, taxing the natural resources. As soon as they’d left, the World Bank came in and went to the various Russia cities that had agreed to try to use land and natural resource rents and said, we will give you huge amounts of money if you don’t tax the land. We want to untax it so you can privatize it. And indeed it was privatized to the kleptocrats. And the only way the kleptocrats and the other owners who privatized these natural resources in Russia could cash out was by selling them to American and foreign investors in oil, gas, iron ore, diamonds, nickel, and other raw materials Russia had.

So Russia realizes that when the World Bank and the International Development Association came in with the Harvard boys, and with Larry Summers playing a key role, that they were totally screwed by this.

So they’ve learned to take a different development tack, to be independent in food and other manufactures, and independent of the kind of warped development strategy that the United States has. And especially this is designed to finance two things. It’s to finance Chinese and other infrastructure development. Rather than having the US expensive firms come in and build roads and airports and things, the Chinese will do it.

But there’s another reason for this, that the United States has already started a financial Cold War against China, Russia, and the BRICS. And it’s been going to country after country. In Ukraine, for instance, it said, try not to pay the debt that you owe to Russia. It’s gone to Sri Lanka and said, let’s back a right-wing dictatorship or a right-wing group that doesn’t pay China. So China has had great trouble collecting on the vast infrastructure investment that it’s made and is supposed to be paid for by these countries. And the US is trying to stiff it in trying to have countries default on loans that are to the BRICS and default to any country that is not in the US military Cold War orbit.

And so China thinks, well, if we have an international bank on the same stature as the World Bank and the IMF, then when countries owe foreign debts, just as they don’t write down the foreign debts to multinational institutions like the World Bank or IMF, so they won’t write down their debts to the China Development Bank, because we have France, Italy, England, and other Asian countries all in it together. So this protects China’s investment abroad and China’s loans to government to help develop the infrastructure, whereas under the United States, when countries can’t pay to dollars, then the IMF comes in and imposes austerity. There’s no indication that China’s going to come in and impose the same kind of crippling austerity that the World Bank and the IMF have been imposing on countries.

PERIES: How do we know that?

HUDSON: Well, in the discussions I’ve had with Chinese and Russian officials, that’s what we talk about. The first book of mine, as I said, that was translated into Chinese and Russian was Super Imperialism, and that led to many years of discussion with them.

PERIES: Now, I have actually seen and witnessed what China’s impact has been in some of the Latin American countries where they have huge investments in infrastructure development projects, which often isn’t in the best interests of those countries. For example, China brings in a number of their labor, thousands of Chinese workers, to those sites to work, and they’re basically importing labor, not hiring the local labor for these projects. Now, that’s what I witnessed. How do we know that China is really going to be different, apart from the discussions they’re having with you? Is that reflected in any policy? Or are they trying to have these conversations in a more collaborative way with the southern countries?

HUDSON: Well, for almost any countries for the last few hundred years that has been putting it in infrastructure, it’s pretty much used its own labor and management. Certainly the World Bank has always promoted very expensive American management and American workers for this. Britain did in its countries. I think China wants to make sure that it has control. And, after all, it’s trying to do – it’s already trained its labor specifically for these projects. And the World Bank and the IMF have been very careful to prevent other countries from developing the kind of labor and developing the skills that would lead them to create this infrastructure, precisely in order to make them dependent on World Bank and US leadership. And of course China is going to be using its own labor, but in principle, obviously, these countries need to develop the skills so that they can say, look, we have to have our own labor work here too.

PERIES: So, Michael, in our next segment let’s take up what this means in terms of the Europeans joining this bank and the impact that’s going to have in terms of the relationship – at least the financial relationships – between the United States and these European countries.


PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.



Michael Hudson is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His two newest books are The Bubble and Beyond (2012) and Finance Capitalism and its Discontents (2012). His upcoming book is titled Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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US Soldier Admits Killing Unarmed Afghans for Sport

Jeremy Morlock, 23, tells US military court he was part of a ‘kill team’ that faked combat situations to murder Afghan civilians

by Paul Harris

The Guardian (March 23 2011)

An American soldier has pleaded guilty to being part of a “kill team” who deliberately murdered Afghan civilians for sport last year.

Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, 23, told a military court he had helped to kill three unarmed Afghans. “The plan was to kill people, sir”, he told an army judge in Fort Lea, near Seattle, after his plea.

The case has caused outraged headlines around the world. In a series of videotaped confessions to investigators, some of which have been broadcast on American television, Morlock detailed how he and other members of his Stryker brigade set up and faked combat situations so that they could kill civilians who posed no threat to them. Four other soldiers are still to come to trial over the incidents.

The case is a PR disaster for America’s military and has been compared to the notorious incidents of torture that emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. This week the German magazine Der Spiegel published three pictures that showed American soldiers, including Morlock, posing with the corpse of a young Afghan boy as if it were a hunting trophy.

Some soldiers apparently kept body parts of their victims, including a skull, as souvenirs. In a statement issued in response to the publication of the photos the US army apologised to the families of the dead. “[The photos are] repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States army”, the statement said.

Morlock has told investigators that the murders took place between January and May last year and were instigated by an officer in his unit, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs. He described how elaborate plans were made to pick out civilian targets, kill them and then make their deaths look like they were insurgents. In his confession Morlock described shooting a victim as Gibbs tossed a grenade at him. “We identify a guy. Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, you guys wanna wax this guy or not”, Morlock said in the confession.

Morlock now stands to be sentenced to at least 24 years in jail but with eligibility for parole after seven years. That has come about because Morlock struck a plea bargain that will see a lighter sentence in return for testifying against his fellow soldiers.


Paul Harris is a US correspondent for the Guardian and Observer

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Limits to Growth Was Right

New Research Shows We’re Nearing Collapse

Four decades after the book was published, Limit to Growth’s forecasts have been vindicated by new Australian research. Expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon.

by Graham Turner and Cathy Alexander

The Guardian (September 02 2014)

The 1972 book Limits to Growth, which predicted our civilisation would probably collapse some time this century, has been criticised as doomsday fantasy since it was published. Back in 2002, self-styled environmental expert Bjorn Lomborg consigned it to the “dustbin of history” {1}.

It doesn’t belong there. Research from the University of Melbourne {2} has found the book’s forecasts are accurate, forty years on. If we continue to track in line with the book’s scenario, expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon.

Limits to Growth was commissioned by a think tank called the Club of Rome {3}. Researchers working out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including husband-and-wife team Donella and Dennis Meadows, built a computer model to track the world’s economy and environment. Called World3, this computer model was cutting edge.

The task was very ambitious. The team tracked industrialisation, population, food, use of resources, and pollution. They modelled data up to 1970, then developed a range of scenarios out to 2100, depending on whether humanity took serious action on environmental and resource issues. If that didn’t happen, the model predicted “overshoot and collapse”  –  in the economy, environment and population  –  before 2070. This was called the “business-as-usual” scenario.

The book’s central point, much criticised since, is that “the earth is finite” and the quest for unlimited growth in population, material goods, et cetera would eventually lead to a crash.

So were they right? We decided to check in with those scenarios after forty years. Dr Graham Turner gathered data from the UN (its department of economic and social affairs, Unesco, the food and agriculture organisation, and the UN statistics yearbook). He also checked in with the US national oceanic and atmospheric administration, the BP statistical review, and elsewhere. That data was plotted alongside the Limits to Growth scenarios.

The results show that the world is tracking pretty closely to the Limits to Growth “business-as-usual” scenario. The data doesn’t match up with other scenarios.

These graphs show real-world data (first from the MIT work, then from our research), plotted in a solid line. The dotted line shows the Limits to Growth “business-as-usual” scenario out to 2100. Up to 2010, the data is strikingly similar to the book’s forecasts.

Solid line: MIT, with new research in bold. Dotted line: Limits to Growth ‘business-as-usual’ scenario.

Solid line: MIT, with new research in bold. Dotted line: Limits to Growth ‘business-as-usual’ scenario.

Solid line: MIT, and research in bold. Dotted line: Limits to Growth ‘business-as-usual’ scenario.

As the MIT researchers explained in 1972, under the scenario, growing population and demands for material wealth would lead to more industrial output and pollution. The graphs show this is indeed happening. Resources are being used up at a rapid rate, pollution is rising, industrial output and food per capita is rising. The population is rising quickly.

So far, Limits to Growth checks out with reality. So what happens next?

According to the book, to feed the continued growth in industrial output there must be ever-increasing use of resources. But resources become more expensive to obtain as they are used up. As more and more capital goes towards resource extraction, industrial output per capita starts to fall  –  in the book, from about 2015.

As pollution mounts and industrial input into agriculture falls, food production per capita falls. Health and education services are cut back, and that combines to bring about a rise in the death rate from about 2020. Global population begins to fall from about 2030, by about half a billion people per decade. Living conditions fall to levels similar to the early 1900s.

It’s essentially resource constraints that bring about global collapse in the book. However, Limits to Growth does factor in the fallout from increasing pollution, including climate change. The book warned carbon dioxide emissions would have a “climatological effect” via “warming the atmosphere”.

As the graphs show, the University of Melbourne research has not found proof of collapse as of 2010 (although growth has already stalled in some areas). But in Limits to Growth those effects only start to bite around 2015 to 2030.

The first stages of decline may already have started. The Global Financial Crisis of 2007 & 2008 and ongoing economic malaise may be a harbinger of the fallout from resource constraints. The pursuit of material wealth contributed to unsustainable levels of debt, with suddenly higher prices for food and oil contributing to defaults – and the Global Financial Crisis.

The issue of peak oil is critical. Many independent researchers conclude that “easy” conventional oil production has already peaked. Even the conservative International Energy Agency has warned about peak oil {5}.

Peak oil could be the catalyst for global collapse. Some see new fossil fuel sources like shale oil, tar sands and coal seam gas as saviours, but the issue is how fast these resources can be extracted, for how long, and at what cost. If they soak up too much capital to extract the fallout would be widespread.

Our research does not indicate that collapse of the world economy, environment and population is a certainty. Nor do we claim the future will unfold exactly as the MIT researchers predicted back in 1972. Wars could break out; so could genuine global environmental leadership. Either could dramatically affect the trajectory.

But our findings should sound an alarm bell. It seems unlikely that the quest for ever-increasing growth can continue unchecked to 2100 without causing serious negative effects  –  and those effects might come sooner than we think.

It may be too late to convince the world’s politicians and wealthy elites to chart a different course. So to the rest of us, maybe it’s time to think about how we protect ourselves as we head into an uncertain future.

As Limits to Growth concluded in 1972:



If the present growth trends in world population, industrialisation, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.



So far, there’s little to indicate they got that wrong.







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