Wars and climate change: national interests versus global emergency

Editor’s note: Abdul Basit is an Indian expatriate living in Kuwait. In this essay he calls on the leaders at the Bali climate talks to put aside the tendency to emphasize narrow national interests, to serve instead the greater needs of humanity as we face a climate change crisis which could threaten our very future. In that context, he observes that wars fought over national interests impede our progress in addressing larger environmental issues such as climate change. We must realize we humans share one earth and that “peace is the most important component in the fight against climate change.”

I regret that I was unable to post this piece earlier in the Bali talks, but it’s message must live on long after these talks and into those to come. Many thanks to Abdul for submitting this important essay. — JF

________________________________________________________
By Abdul Basit:

This is an appeal to world leaders and the scientific community gathered in Bali, Indonesia for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

While the global community in general and certain scientists in particular are greatly concerned about the consequences of global warming and climate change in relation to the existence of humanity and habitability of earth, a few nations, like the USA, Israel and some other countries are pursuing the war agenda and preparing for a new round of encounters.Humanity before politics

As the world nations and the UN are seriously considering new regulations and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are preparing comprehensive measures to counter climate change in the UN Climate Change Summit being held in Bali, the world’s sole superpower and its allies are pondering about enforcing new sanctions against Iran and are openly discussing the prospects of World War III.

What we see in the international arena are the two extremes. On the one hand, we see the ever-increasing signs of climate change like floods, hurricanes, forest fires, inundation of coastal areas due to rising sea-levels, melting glaciers, growing poverty due to mounting climate refugees and reduced agricultural output, threat to extinction of species and biodiversity — all of which are proving a serious challenge to existence. On the other hand, as if these problems and crises are not enough, the major discussions in the international forums and among the media are about the methods to counter the threats of Iran from attaining nuclear expertise.

These countries consider Iran’s nuclear crises a priority over the serious existential crises which mankind as a whole is facing. This lack of priority and confusion is prevalent in all international venues. The UN General Assembly, held last September, was where most of the media attention focused on Ahmadinejad’s address to Colombia University rather than the conference on Climate Change. This proves that too much attention is focused on war and not enough on climate matters.

As such, the basic dilemma we have to address concerns the extent that the earth has the capacity to face another war that will involve nuclear weapons and how will it impact this planet and the future of its inhabitants.

Wars And Global Warming

When we try to address the above matter and try to make sense of this confusion evident in the International forums, we have to address certain fundamental issues. Although the history of wars and battles between nations dates back to the origins of humankind, the effects of earlier wars were confined to the immediate vicinity of the regions of confrontation. But due to the advancement in the technology of weaponry (especially on account of the invention of nuclear weapons and WMDs), most wars fought during the 20th and 21st centuries (especially the First and the Second World Wars), not only caused unimaginable casualties to the countries involved, but also caused irreparable damage to humanity as a whole and the environment for generations to come.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War, the chemical weapons used in the Vietnam War, and the depleted uranium and WMD’s used in Gulf Wars are some of the examples that caused havoc and utter misery. These wars and the pursuit of dominance by nation states through attaining the latest weapons of mass destruction played a major role in damaging the environment, which in turn became one of the factors instigating climate change.

Nation States Verses Global Emergency

For centuries, the earth has been bearing the brunt of conflicts between nation states, whether these situations were based on racial, ideological, cultural, geographical, nationalistic or religious foundations. The boundaries of these nation states were drawn and redrawn depending on the course of these wars and conflicts. The earth was able to sustain these scribbling of borders and coped with the impact of these nation states to conquer and dominate other nations throughout many centuries, which along with humanitarian and psychological consequences, severely damaged the environment and negatively affected its habitability. Shortsighted leaders and dictators played a major role in igniting these unwarranted wars and the results of these wars was devastation for not only conquerors and the conquered, but for humanity as a whole.

At the same time, we have to realize these nation states have also played a major role in the welfare and well being of their citizens, as well as in the social and economic development of the societies within their boundaries. However, at the same time, the main reason for these disastrous wars was the dominance of interests of the nation states over the well being of humanity as a whole, including humanitarian, environmental and existential interests.

So, now we have reached a situation were the existence of humanity is at stake and it’s destiny and that of nations are tied together. If we have to overcome this crisis of climate change, we have to think beyond the confines of man-made boundaries of nation states. So along with being patriotic to our respective nations, which have sometimes supported their citizens generously, we also have to give due consideration to the protection and safety of the earth and the environment, which has been supporting all these nation states.

The world leaders and policy makers have to ensure that national interests do not in any way become detrimental to the environment and negatively affect habitability of earth. In other words, we have to overcome the “We” and “They” mentality since the challenges faced by humankind requires unity above all confines. Here we only have “WE” as mankind in a fight for survival and existence. So along with maintaining our national identity, we also have to emphasize that we are inhabitants of the planet earth (or “Earthies”) and consider it as our absolute moral obligation to rescue this planet from the devastation created by our lifestyle and other excesses, including war.

Fragmentation and Materialism

In fact, these wars and their repercussions are only part of the wider malady, which has infected the global community. As in the case of nation states, the fragmentation and egocentricity are prevalent in individual, family and social relationships. The consumerist culture, extravagant lifestyles and unwarranted materialistic competition have caused fragmentation in family and social relationships. They also provide some of the reasons for over-exploitation of natural resources and the pollution of the environment. The career oriented education system has also played a major role in creating this way of life by conditioning the younger generations towards consumerism and materialism.

In this age of climate change, we have to make some fundamental transformation about the concepts of life in order to overcome the challenges to our very survival. We have to replace the fragmentation, selfishness, competition and antagonism that are prevalent nowadays with noble values of unity, cooperation, compassion and mutual understanding.

Peace and Climate Change

While the world leaders and scientists thrash it all out at the United Nations Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia, discussing new measures to counter Global warming and climate change, they should realize that peace is the most important component in the fight against climate change. In the year when Nobel peace prize has been conferred on Mr. Al Gore and the IPCC as recognition for their positive role in bringing awareness about the man made Climate Change, we have to emphasize that, without peace, all the measures and policies to counter climate change will prove futile.

Hence, before we draw plans to reduce carbon emissions, search for alternative sources of energy, and change lifestyles, we have to ensure that our attempts to prevent climate change do not go in vain, by ascertaining that we take necessary steps to prevent future wars that will nullify all the prospective measures.

So for ensuring world peace and justice, I propose the following steps to the governmental, business and scientific leaders who have gathered in Bali for the United Nations Climate Conference:

  1. World leaders must prepare a policy framework to prevent future wars including the upcoming Iran war for the benefit of the humanity as whole. This should be based on the realization that there will be no clear winners or losers in future wars and humanity, as whole, will have to face the consequences of any future and current wars since these assaults will further aggravate the already complicated climate change situation.
  2. We must establish a framework in which all the pending issues between nations, including the long-standing Palestinian crises, can be settled peacefully through dialogues and involvement of all concerned parties. To ensure the success of these negotiations, unlike the Annapolis summit where some parties were not included; we have to guarantee that all parties (including the so-called extremists from both sides of political spectrum) participate in this process.
  3. Since injustice and subjugation breed wars, we have to prepare a framework to ensure that justice, security and fundamental rights of all nations, including the vulnerable countries, are guaranteed.
  4. The war on terrorism has already cost millions of lives around the world, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, enormous damage to the environment in these countries has transpired and the amount of damage is still inconclusive due to further perpetuation of war in this region.

    Meanwhile, we have to realize that, during these years of war on terrorism, many nations and societies have been greatly affected by natural disasters and weather related problems. Hurricane Katrina, assorted tsunamis, forest fires in Europe and the US, cyclones in Bangladesh, floods in quite a few nations (including Mexico, Nicaragua and Africa), and earthquakes in different parts of the world have all caused havoc and suffering.

    The reality is that the greatest danger humanity is facing is from natural disasters rather than terrorism. Moreover, the war on terrorism has only complicated matters and diverted our attention from dealing with the burning issue of climate change and natural disasters. All considered, it’s about time humanity as a whole joined hands and gathered all our resources to jointly prepare for a “Battle For Survival .” This battle is not only for defending the continued existence of humankind, but also for preserving all the cultures and contributions that humanity has offered throughout its thousands of years of history in its existence on this planet.

  5. As the most organized force created by nation states, the military and armed forces can play positive role in the “Battle for Survival”. At the same time, the role of the military will be contrary to that for which it was originally created. Instead of the destruction in which they have hitherto been involved, they will have to play an innovative, fresh role in this new battle for survival. Leaders and the scientific community must also tackle the issue of vast amounts of dangerous weapons at the disposal of various countries and no longer needed in this age of volatile climate alteration.
  6. As members of the human community, we have to encourage understanding and cooperation between nations and religions by stressing the human unity essential for our survival.

To conclude, I remind the world leaders and researchers, who are attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, that they have a huge responsibility on their shoulders. The decisions of this conference will not only decide the future of the existence of humankind, but also bear on preserving all the past cultures and contributions humanity has offered throughout its thousands of years history of existence on this beautiful planet.

So, on behalf of the human race, I appeal to the world leaders to set aside their narrow national interests and play a historical and highly moral role in saving this planet and its inhabitants. The very future for all of life, human and otherwise, depends on their meeting this obligation with nothing short of total resolve!
_______
Image source: musigny’s photostream, flickr.com, Creative Commons license


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25 responses to “Wars and climate change: national interests versus global emergency

  1. A truly, heartfelt, intelligent appeal. I especially liked, “We have to replace the fragmentation, selfishness, competition and antagonism that are prevalent nowadays with noble values of unity, cooperation, compassion and mutual understanding.”

  2. Abdul Basit: “We have to replace the fragmentation, selfishness, competition and antagonism that are prevalent nowadays with noble values of unity, cooperation, compassion and mutual understanding.”

    This is absolutely correct, and I’ve been making the same request for many, many years already; both here and on other internet forums, as well as in a number of manuscripts (essays, novels and plays) which unfortunately — because this is my destiny — never made it to the marketplace. Noe, I’m not going to be too heartbroken about this simple fact of a mad social scientist’s ill fate, as it’s been two years since I quit writing essays, novels, and plays. To the very least, the internet is open for publication of my personal points of view, and for this I’m grateful.

    The obvious question is: How can we to go about the creation of social/cultural climates that might facilitate our urgent need for unity, cooperation, compassion and mutual understanding? The obstacles are so many. Nations and states stand against nations and states. Religions stand against religions; cultures aginst cultures. The upper classes of all modern human societies stand against all other classes, above and beyond, and are, at the same time, the living causes of envy and hate which is, directed at the happy few, both by the lower and middle classes of the population.

    The brutally depressing fact is: the urgent need for unity, cooperation, compassion and mutual understanding will take a miracle to achieve. But it’s worth dreaming of.

    — –

    Abdul Basit: “The career oriented education system has also played a major role in creating this way of life by conditioning the younger generations towards consumerism and materialism.”

    That is also correct. It’s a damn pity, really, but the generation of children and youths that grow up in the westernized world takes huge shopping malls and big parking lots for granted. This is where they go for a bit of fun, this is where they go to hang out, and this is where they spend their weekly allowances to be entertained. And do not forget about this beautiful slogan: “I go shopping because it makes me feel better.”

    I have said this many times before: the remedy for global warming must involve a reduction of consumption. It would be a very wise move, as it would effectuate a reduction of factory/industry production, too. Which is really, really needed! We all know that! But westernized humanity is abjectly unable to tell the difference between “a lot” and “enough.”

    – —

    Abdul Basit: “we have to emphasize that, without peace, all the measures and policies to counter climate change will prove futile.”

    Again: you’re absolutely correct. We’re looking at a future of climate change refugees. Extreme weather events, extreme draught, giant floods, and rampant desertification, coupled up with this “other problem” of exponential population growth/population explosion are all very likely to produce a social/cultural climate of strictly brutal border controls. It is not what anybody wants, of course, but it is, logically, the crux of the age old nation-state civilization.

    I’m all for individual climate quotas, digitally issued to each and every one of us in the form of a plastic card. I’m also dreaming of an internet-based (r)evolution that should eventually lead to the down fall of the nation-state system.

    Never mind. I’m just that crazy Norwegian guy. A comedian. 😉

  3. Abdul Basit: “To conclude, I remind the world leaders and researchers, who are attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, that they have a huge responsibility on their shoulders.”

    – —

    “Anything is possible, when everything’s uncertain.”

    – Norwegian proverb/saying

  4. “Lebanon’s rubbish mountain”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/7142812.stm

    In pictures as it rises up out of the Mediterranean Sea, and as seen from under water. You will see there every shiny empirical invention known to mankind.

    ——-

    As anyone who has read my posts before should be aware, I DO NOT support any bureaucratic solutions. Bureaucratic solutions, and a common misplaced faith in them are much more than a significant part of the whole problem, which is NOT just the environment.

    Both pollution and global warming are dated expressions for failed exercises in enlightening humanity about the course of human disasterously imperiling events that can only be observed first hand by the immortal, were they to exist.

    In again reaffirming the RIGHT of immortal bureaucracies to fail, when in fact bureaucracies have no rights, and neither are they even conscious entities, we lend credibility to the incredulous. We will not find any solutions.

    Right now new kinds of more potently dangerous pollution are being invented, and licensed by default by bureauicracies all over the world. And there is a solution in any of this?

    No.

    The greatest pollution in the world today is the scientific pollution of what humanity is led to believe is reality and truth.

    There is no scientific reality other than in the heads of the scientific, who are all immoral frauds, P.T. Barnum types off to sell the world salvation out of the end of a squeeze-tubed invention or, the whopping crack of a newly invention bio-bomb.

    No.

    Our problems are all scientifically perfected.

    By giving the lead to the scientifically inclined who wish to blame it on their handling bureaucracies, we are sure of getting one thing, more exuses for a continued degradation of the human experience, if not its final dissolution.

    Science is witchcraft. Teach that. Live that. And always treat science as such, for that is the unmitigated truth about science.

    It will kill you, and everyone else too. Science is the stupidity of most of the Greek philosophers still haunting us.

    More science will be our Hemlock, Socrates.

    Don Robertson, The American Philosopher

  5. Hey Crazy Norwegian — I had a hunch you’d like this article! :mrgreen:

    Don — do you draw a distinction between science and scientism?

  6. Don,

    When you say things like,

    There is no scientific reality other than in the heads of the scientific, who are all immoral frauds, P.T. Barnum types off to sell the world salvation out of the end of a squeeze-tubed invention or, the whopping crack of a newly invention bio-bomb.

    … all I hear is a great cry of pain. We all hurt from time to time. I wonder if you can set the pain aside for a bit and communicate in plain English. What is the point you are trying so hard to make? It must be something other than we should just quit trying to do anything useful and sit on our hands. Or is it?

  7. John: “Hey Crazy Norwegian — I had a hunch you’d like this article!”

    – —

    I sure do. As mentioned on this forum sometime in June, I have for a long time been hoping that global warming/climate change awareness would quite naturally lead to a massive insistence on finally — and for the first time in history — giving peace a chance.

    So long as nation-states can allow themselves to go to war against each other (and against terror and terrorists, which are abstract objects and subjects), it is becoming logically impossible to think that humanity can fix the global warming threat. Anyway: this is my kind of commonsense and not that of a society (country, nation) which is currently waging war in Afghanistan. I do not support our soldiers.

    Below, I’m providing a link to Harold Pinter’s 2005 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, in which he speaks out on the politics of war, in no uncertain ways. By doing so as bluntly as he did it, Pinter instantly became a hero of mine.

    – —

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2005/pinter-lecture.html

    “How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they’re interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.

    Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the Iraq insurgency began. These people are of no moment. Their deaths don’t exist. They are blank. They are not even recorded as being dead. ‘We don’t do body counts,’ said the American general Tommy Franks.”

    – Harold Pinter

  8. http://nobelpeaceprize.org/eng_lau_list.html

    — –

    Let’s look at what “kinds” of Nobel Peace Prizes that’s been awarded in the past few years. In my opinion the list of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates is becoming ever more interesting as the years go by. And especially so since 2004, when Wangari Maathai was awarded the prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” — This was the first time in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize the link between peace and environmental/ecological causes had been explored by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.

    In 2005, the prize was was divided equally between International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. It was about time, I think, the nuclear threat was brought on the table.

    In 2006, The Norwegian Nobel Institute linked peace with poverty when Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank was awarded the prize for “their efforts through microcredit to create economic and social development from below.” — That’s what I’d call a very interesting move.

    Now, in 2007, the prize was divided equally between IPCC and Al Gore, for “their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” — Here it is again, the link between ecology and peace. A forceful link, I’d say. And very welcome.

  9. John-

    “Scientism” is an interesting meme, if a halfway measure that serves to debase the language and exonerate the guilty by a contumely and obfuscate injection of yet another notion when one notion well understood will suffice.

    The scientific are immoral devils. Too simple! They are simply mistaken, immoral devils then.

    This is what I fervently believe. Francis Bacon stated loosely and in Latin if I recall correctly, “Knowledge is power.”

    Bacon then went on to call forth a 17th Century dedicated to scientific pursuit to expand that power. Bacon’s scientific pursuit can only be loosely correlated to the seemingly immortal bureaucratized scientific pursuit of today that lords over the whole world and might at any minute exterminate all of us without a single cogent thought. Science is not animate, it cannot have a thought. And it doesn’t either.

    Bacon’s was an era when it was common to burn, douse and execute witches. And yet the consumate royal insider, Bacon, when tossed out of his sinecure for simple corruption, sought solace in “philosophy” extolling the powerful virtue of empirical science.

    Bacon’s was a time when the use of the word, “empirical,” was equivalent in commonality to the use of that now similarly ethereal word, “quantum,” today. It grew to mean something in the vernacular, but nothing like what it started out meaning. Such are all words, especially scientific words. This notion does not verify a relative knowledge however, it diminishes the veritability of any knowledge instead. Hold that thought.

    This 17th Centiry man, Bacon, is better likened to being a witch than a philosopher. I certainly don’t want him.

    Bacon’s call for conjuring with powerful science was surely his call for revenge upon humanity for his dismissal, if and even likely subconscious, because he probably had not the philosophic insight to know there is infinite science, and a very limited ability of humanity to understand any of it except in small disconnected bits and pieces, mere slices of an infinitely more complex whole that is effected by every scientific endeavor in ways wholly unanticipated. This unanticipated problem-notion then declares for us as categorical that every scientific pursuit is immoral because of the unknown consequences that surely will and have always reared an ugly head every time science takes a step forward in Bacon’s declared empirical assault on our reality, what is our human reality, our only human reality, as it turns out, for we can know no other.

    If knowledge is power, it is only the power to destroy or confuse.

    To believe some or any unchosen path provides some measure of human truth is equivalent to a religious belief in a greater being, an animism, that supernaturally guides the hand of the collective of humans and their societies of humanity, especially here as they might at any time be fatally reckless for all humanity with empirical science.

    This notion there is a collective instinct capable of preventing massive and calamitous truth-mistakes from being made, based upon so many meager and mistaken individual samplings of reality, scientific or otherwise, somehow correlated by an unseen, non-conscious, collective guiding-entity capable of sorting through the psychosomatic machinations of large numbers of individually perceived worlds, the impossible composite of which, we presume makes a culture that will, could or even might ferret a path for a commonality of veritable human truth, is simply an absurd and philosophically vulgar impossibility.

    To paraphrase the previous paragraph, no one is in control of this sky-bus, and of those who would all too gladly take the controls, like so many millions of monkeys each with straight razors, they are all blind, deaf and feeble, and not a one of them has ever even driven a tricycle let alone a 747 with one engine out and, the other aflame.

    (I apologize here for my humorous phraseologies, but I thought it necessary for another poster accused me of being in dire pain. No. My own pain talerance is fairly remarkable.)

    Everyone talks a great story of truth spewing knowledge like it means something without any moral map or compass. This is the history of humanity, so many convincing arguments, handsome faces, willing young maidens, and so many willing Rube Goldbergian pilots continually killing so many feeble followers.

    The sky-bus ran fine before all these scientists climbed on board. Yes, it ran slower. Yes, there were still some fatalities. And, no, very few raved of its latest technological innovation. But it wasn’t then capable of destroying everything and shutting the door forever upon all future humanity.

    So, take a look around. Do you see anything anyone should be proud of, or that we might agree, ah yes, this is human truth applied well here, or there, or anywhere?

    So rthen, all the power Bacon has summoned forth out of his hideous scientific caldren then, what has it been worth?

    I would suggest in answer to your question, let us not burn the books. Let us get rid of the words.

    We can start with “scientism”. We don’t need that obfuscation! We can continue on with “science”. We don’t need that either!

    We can call it all, “witchcraft” and do the world a simplifying favor, and surely not oversimplifying either.

    Don Robertson, The American Philosopher

  10. Here is an article that exemplifies exactly what I am talking about, entitled “Hold back the geo-engineering tide” :

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7133619.stm

    This Kristina Gjerde, the author, in her “viewpoint”, doesn’t have a clue.

    She seems to think there is some sort of debate occurring, a flip of some coin, or the call and judgment of some drunken judge as to whether her iterated view, or the view of all the other monkeys with straight razors will apply.

    Well, Kristina Gjerde, the other monkeys with the straight razors just got a huge boost from your obfuscation of the question. In fact, you have joined them.

    Kristina Gjerde never once even mentions morality, that it is categorically immoral to take such a risk imperiling the future. She never once pledges any need to act within the bounds of Categorical Knowledge, that knowledge that is true without any exception. Her view is wholly relative. Her morality is wholly relative. Her logic is wholly obfuscate and academically asinine.

    Kristina Gjerde in her certification as an obfuscate academic intellectual busying herself toiling to create an empirical knowledge set in the environmental sciences has never once even heard of The Moral Imperatiove of Life.

    She got her education at some university in NYC!

    Well, woo hoo, Kristina. Don’t bother telling us what else did you do there in your just barely post pubescent years, please.

    The moral imperative of life is to live a life that detracts not at all from the lives available to those who will follow us into this world.

    The Moral Imperative of Life is Categorical Knowledge, Kristina and everyone else reading here who is willing to learn something without having to pay four or five hundred dollars a course credit. That knowledge will not make of you some certified, empirical academic priest, but it will make you much more cogent.

    Categorical Knowledge is knowledge that is true in every instance without ANY exception. PAY ATTENTION, Kristina. This will not be on the exam, but it may save your life some day.

    If Kristina Gjerde had ever heard of The Moral Imperative of Life, or Categorical Knowledge, she would know her relative approach to these questions, however cleverly obfuscate in an academic sort of way, is simply immoral tripe.

    Her efforts do nothing but build up the destructive tools and the acceptance of the possibility of exactly what she is purportedly working against.

    Kristina Gjerde in her academic way is like so many of the other many millions of academic monkeys with their straight razors looking to seize control by obfuscation of the question.

    It is immoral, Kristina Gjerde. Tell it like it is. Do not confuse the issue. It is immoral.

    It is gambling the future with the risk of a detriment to the future the failure for which will cumulatively toll against all humanity coming into the future after we all leave.

    Every scientific trick is immoral in this way.

    Don Robertson,. The American Philosopher

  11. US leadership in Bali appears to have been full of ideological intensity as well as devoid of humanitarian values and honorable conviction.

    These intransigent leaders at the Climate Change Conference evidently became so isolated from the family of humanity at the end of the last day of meetings that their unilateral, morally offensive “rear-guard action” in defense of selfish, irresponsible national aims crumbled, as is common with such unsavory efforts.

  12. Steve,

    I’m more jaded. I think the US delegation went into Bali with the intention of playing the obstructionist role right up to this point, then stepped aside just a bit (and only a bit) to allow the passage of a very weak action plan.

    2008 is the year during which the next step after Kyoto will be decided. During that time GWB will still be in power and his negotiators will do their level best to make the new protocol as weak as possible. The next US president will take office only after the major work has been done — and I have little hope a Democratic administration will be too much better in this regard. They will still be beholden to Big Business. Maybe Edwards less so than Clinton or Obama, but I don’t think there will be a serious advance until there is more of a grassroots outcry for change.

  13. First of let me thank all of you for providing your feedback about this article.

    The discussions are very interesting and in-depth.

    However, I wanted to include some of my comments for the response I received for this piece from others.

    There is justifiably huge sense of frustration and distrust with the present world leadership and the ruling class including corporates. And this frustration and disappointment seems to be influencing our response and actions to counter the social ills that are widespread.

    Since in this essay, I have appealed to the very powers which have made a mess of this earth, some of my readers were upset and I could feel the enormity of the disillusionment from their responses. Irrespective of our feelings, we have to acknowledge the fact that the decisions of these very ruling class and corporates have affected and influenced our lives and society.

    Moreover, I want to emphasize that, humankind have reached a juncture were we have to face too many grave problems simultaneously. We have face at the same time arrogance and oppression of ruling class and some of powerful nation states, the exploitation of the corporate and along with that the challenges to the existence of humankind due climate change and global warming. Due to these overwhelming issues, its time the world community give due priority to the serious existential crises over other social issues.

    And I strongly believe that peace and unity above all confines are some of the important weapons for tackling the threat to existence to humankind due to climate change..

    The recent Bali conference has proved how the interests of some nation states can hold the future of humanity to ransom.

    Regards
    Basit

  14. Basit, you put it very eloquently especially here:

    And I strongly believe that peace and unity above all confines are some of the important weapons for tackling the threat to existence to humankind due to climate change.

    We all have to contribute for sure, and Al Gore and a Peace Prize is a tiny step in the right direction. What I’d love to see is a flock of Gandhis and dozens of Salt-March-equivalents. What I mean is we need to encourage a grassroots movement on that scale (bigger actually) and with that depth of commitment and awareness. I can think of no other way to get the attention of the “the present world leadership and the ruling class including corporates.”

  15. A TRAIN AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?

    Does how “I feel” or how “we feel” or how anybody else “feels” about the predicament involving the human-induced global challenges that are already visible on the far horizon have any meaning at all or value? So what?

    There is a light at the end of a tunnel covering the “primrose path” we have set out for our children to march along to reach their future. I think magically and also remain somehow wishful for the children’s long-term wellbeing, for environmental protection and preserving Earth’s body; however, please understand that deep within me is a keen sense of foreboding for the children because the light at the end of the tunnel appears, at this very moment, to be moving toward all of us…………..fast.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population
    http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/

  16. Abdul Basit-

    Thank you for the opportunity to address you and your learned thoughts here. You have provided quite a long littany of thoughts with which we can tug at your sleeve,and say, Hey, wait a minute, Abdul. Wait a minute.

    Let me first address the nature of and what cultivates your belief systems, from whence they originate, and the idols you seem to cling to, likely hoping not to lose your balance, teeeter and fall embarrassingly before this esteemed crowd of wayward Western thinkers who cluster here like so many dung flies…

    Having hailed from India and having moved to Kuwait for likely social mobility reasons, one has to look at India first, and then discover the likely appeal of Kuwait, which is no bastion of environmentalism in mindset or impact upon the world.

    When I was a kid, long, long ago, I learned (no doubt in an awkward and socio-centric sort of way) that India had 600 million people and massive poverty, made impassable because of this large population that kept it from getting up and walking on its own out of the poverty in which most everyone lived.

    At that time (again, when I was a kid) the U.S., where I live, had just over 100 million people on a continent that had not been but only recently ravaged by more than a stone age culture. (We have 300 million today, the increase coming in the span of but my one lifetime that persists still.)

    The North American Continent had every advantage India seemed to lack, other than a massive population of peoples, some of whom (in India) were willing to work long hours, days, weeks and years to rise to a top by mastering the dung heap of human knowledge in the Western scheme of things, as some few inhabitants of India proved themselves quite capable of achieving some mastery of the mechanics of these what can only be described as empirical knowledge sets, even demonstrating a savant-like mastery of these knowledge sets perhaps seeking to emulate the many ill-perceived successes of the West.

    Such successes of course only exist in the eye of the beholder, which will always be relative to their own socio-economic background, because this is how the mind works.

    Such a kalaidascopic view of the world is perhaps best shifted for anyone who has not had my upbringing by stepping into my shoes, and by beginning to do so with the following anecdote:

    I can remember when I was about ten or perhaps eleven, (I was born in January of 1950 so as a consequence of the neatness of deciphering my past ages, I know I am fairly accurate here). A popular news tidbit TV broadcast came on showing kids in Hong Kong singing and rocking their hips like Elvis Presley with their hair combed back in that fashion. I think they weren’t nothing but hound dogs, or some such other.

    I was shocked, embarrassed, appalled, and further more resolved then to never go to either Hong Kong or any part of China, which had been forever ruined for my appreciation (as a ten or eleven year old) of the wonderful places I had learned of them to be through my own early education.

    I relate this anecdote for your reflection upon different perceptions about what is commonly referred to as progress, but which in any analysis is a likely vastly misleading misnomer bordering upon sheer, mean deviltry.

    Impersonation is an immense compliment, but certainly no less than it also is a mirror that both distorts and magnifies ones’ own common faults, often to hideous proportions.

    Were any of us immortal, we would have a far different picture than that which is conjured by our nearly impossible to break belief in progress. It is a religious belief, but I’ll not touch on that religion here just now.

    What I have started and have as thus far come not to delivering for you is another notion about progress that relates directly to my experience and your own too, in Kuwait.

    At one time in my life I casually assessed the value of my North American Continent. First, I assessed its value in 1492.

    I then comparatively assessed the value of the North American Continent today.

    What I discovered is this: The value in constant equity worth, of the North American Continent in 1492, were it possible to transport it here today, would be far and away greater than the value of the North American Continent as it exists today PLUS the gross continental product of the Continent for every single year since 1492 added to the original value I assessed for the Continent today.

    In other words, Abdul, when Westerners wiled and murdered their way ashore here, they began a process of destruction that relatively has added absolutely nothing to what was here before the blood began to spill, the trees began to be felled, and the indigenous population was put on a path toward extermination.

    You probably have witnessed a similar fate for the small Kuwaiti region as you might assess it since the British originally withdrew the province of Kuwait from Iraq and set up such a separate oil fiefdom as exists today.

    No doubt the Kuwaitis too will be pushed to near extinction when the oil runs out, if not before for expedience sake. In this sense the embrace they permitted to be made by the West has presaged their own defeat in a war they were unaware is even transpiring.

    Abdul and everyone else reading here would do well to look at the history of Japan, and what happened when American Gun Boat Diplomacy opened up feudal Japan to the West.

    Look at population levels and how they rose exponentially from the influence of Western empirical invention.

    Look at the war stance Japan took during that hisory.

    And then look at the eventual culmination of the mistake in letting in the West with the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan at the close of the Second World War.

    When we assess wars and their causes, just as when we assess poverty and its cause, we need only look to population rises which cause both.

    If environmental stresses cause war, it will only because that will be an easy place to draw a line in the sand.

    Just like every other war in the history of humanity, any such war as might be seen to have met its catalyst by environmental stress, will always require a population upon which the bombs will be dropped.

    And Abdul, no amount of environmental remediation will limit population increases, so you’re still missing a large piece of the puzzle concerning what causes war.

    Adequate philosophers know, in order to know anything, we must know everything. Knowing this is impossible, philosophers are better equipped to note how very little we might know.

    Adequate philosophers are also willing to settle for knowing less when knowing more will only increase the severity of the repercussions of the mistakes we will invariably make from our ill kept knowledge.

    Don Robertson, The American Philosopher

  17. Magne Karlsen

    http://www.robincmiller.com/ir-legal.htm

    “Links to Opinions on Legality of War Against Iraq.”

    —————–

    The funny part of being a Norwegian citizen, is that all of us are — as a matter of good and proper social conduct — supposed to disagree with the US government’s decision to wage war in Iraq. But, at the very same time, we Norwegians are not supposed to even think about what might be the current situation on the various battlefields of Afghanistan.

    Needless to say, the Norwegian government has chosen to take part in the war in Afghanistan. We don’t talk about that. At the same time, we’re all supposed — as patriots and champions of peace — to hate George W. Bush.

    It’s a funny thing, really.

  18. Magne Karlsen

    Abdul Basit: “What we see in the international arena are the two extremes. On the one hand, we see the ever-increasing signs of climate change like floods, hurricanes, forest fires, inundation of coastal areas due to rising sea-levels, melting glaciers, growing poverty due to mounting climate refugees and reduced agricultural output, threat to extinction of species and biodiversity — all of which are proving a serious challenge to existence. On the other hand, as if these problems and crises are not enough, the major discussions in the international forums and among the media are about the methods to counter the threats of Iran from attaining nuclear expertise.”

    — –

    It’s a paradox. As a matter of fact, it’s a parody. And fact is fact: Iran has never attact or tried to invade another country, not since 1980, when the country responded to attacks from Iraq, and those were the glory days, when Saddam Hussein was a friend of the USA, and the USA supported and sponsored him gladly.

    It may seem as if the ruling classes of this world are all stuck inside what might (metaphorically) be presented as a black hole; one that is marked by old-fashioned logics of friends and foe, where you trade goods with your friends, and wage war against your foes. If you do not wage war against your foes at the moment, a war will always be in preparation. And the possibility of a future war against some foe, will always be discussed among friends.

    http://www.greeknewsonline.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=94

    War is profitable. There’s no way around that one. This is utterly Greek to me, but hey: what do I know about the comings and goings of the multinational corporations and other financial powerhouses who profit from war? Not much, I’m afraid. Very little.

    What seems to remain a fact that prevails, is that there’s no getting out of his black hole of war and trade. This is an aspect of the political-economic world system of our times, which is impossible to reverse. It’s become part and parcel of a political world culture that may be old-fashioned, but still works to preserve itself.

    At the same time — paradoxically and parodically — humanity is up against natural or environmental challenges that no war can ever solve. I believe the first thing that is needed in order to start cleaning up our mess and green up just a little, on a national and international scale, is peace. Square and simple. Peace, that’s all. In order for humanity to start preparing itself for a future marked by climate change and all sorts of natural havoc.

    Wishful thinking.

  19. I thank Trinifar, Magne Karlsen, Steven and Don for their comments and I totally agree with views expressed by Magne.

    As mentioned, it’s important to note that we are living in a new reality of climate change and we have to look into the future in order to counter the threat to existence.

    If the past continues to haunt us and the ruling class, politicians and multinational corporations continue to pursue the old policy of settling scores and profiting through wars and industrialization, then we are on the verge of extinction.

    The new reality of climate change has integrated the destiny of humanity together. Either we live together or perish together.

    The report recently published by the Washingtonـbased Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), (headed by Anthony H. Cordesman, formerly an analyst for the US Department of Defense) about the looming attack against Iran, claims that around 16 Million Iranians and 8 hundred thousand Israelis will perish (for details click the below link). But, they have not addressed the condition of the societies that will survive the war. The situation of the survivors will be worse than the dead and they will have to live in an world where the environment is further deteriorated by radioactivity and unpredictably hostile climate change caused by war.

    As far as climate change and global warming awareness was concerned, 2007 was a very successful year. The climate change issues came to the center stage and there was a growing awareness about the need for immediate action and change in lifestyle.

    Let us hope that year 2008 will be year for peace, disarmament and further realization about the dangers of war and industrialization on the future of humanity and the habitability of earth.

    http://www.alwatan.com.kw/Default.aspx?MgDid=581720&pageId=282

  20. Magne Karlsen

    Basit,

    I want to do something extremely stupid, and I want to do that right now. I’m not a communist, and I’m certainly not a muslim. I can tell you that I have a clear understanding of the value systems of both these long-standing “enemies of the USA, the EU and the Rest of the West.” You see: I’m one of those white guys who have read bits and pieces both of the Holy Qu’ran, and the not-so-holy works of Marx, Engels, Gramsci, Lenin, Luthuli, Nyerere, Neruda, Eduardo Galeano (whose complete collection of essays and works of political prose I adore most of all), Mikhail Gorbachew (whom I still admire, at least to a certain extent), and Mao Zedong (whom I despise). I know, very well, that unity and co-operation are key elements of what might be called Marxism or Leninism. But I also know that communism has nothing what-so-ever to do with mutual understanding between “the people” and the ruling class (which isn’t even supposed to exist within the realms of true communism); the same thing can be said about political Islam. It’s all about the subjogation of the masses. But then, as a matter of fact, I’m something as rare as a westerner who’s read and understood the love messages of this world religion; and I can assure you of one thing: the vast majority of very loud, very drunk, and very talkative pubcrawlers of the western world has just one thing to say about Islam; and the word is: “Jihad.” — That’s all they need to know in order to hate all Arabs, Persians, Pakistanis and Indians, for that matter: as there’s no social trait in existence that is more rewarding than blind and indiscriminate hate.

    Now, it’s about time I did something terribly, yes horribly stupid. It’s stupid, very stupid, because my name is not John Pilger, George Monbiot, or Michael Moore. I’m only Magne K.

    I want to discuss Iran’s nuclear energy program, and reach the conclusion that nuclear energy is a green form of energy, through and through; it is only a question of very short time until we have developed the technology to store the nuclear waste in a safe manner. I understand that Finnish scientists made a breakthrough in this respect a couple of years ago. I want to say that, if Iran can become the first Middle East country to become fossil-fuels independent because of the country’s nuclear program, I’d like to say: “Good for them, and good for all of us, just make sure that you’re not producing any nuclear warheads, as any such military advancement will inevitably lead to war, bloody war, hellish war, and infinite suffering for the people of Iran.”

    As a side note, I’d also recommend for the ruling class of Iran to stop executing people with such swiftness as they — just as well as the U.S.A., and The People’s Republic of China — are doing these days. It’s not fair. 8)

    Now, unfortunately, I have come to believe that a global social revolution is not going to come to our rescue all of a sudden. Yes, I believe such an event would be needed, but hey: let’s be realists here, just like “they” are. They’ve got the police, the army, the navy, the airforce and the marines, and the full support of the stock exchanges, the banks and the insurance companies, their multi-billion-dollar corporations, and the mass media (especially the commercial television channels) is making sure, on a daily basis, that the minds of the fully regimented population remain as good as blank. So, consequently, we are not going to see a social revolution taking place around here, on ground level; which means that we can all stop dreaming of a future of nuclear abandonment. It is technology that is here to stay, and here to act as a safe-guarding of political equilibrium; well to a certain degree at least.

    Nuclear power may even be one of the keys for a better future for all. That kind of energy, as well as solar, wind, and wave energy. And the various security groups are going to stay with us, too. — They will protect the nuclear power installations, not with their teeth, … but with a semi-automatic submachine gun in hand.

    – —

    Basit: “There is justifiably huge sense of frustration and distrust with the present world leadership and the ruling class including corporates. And this frustration and disappointment seems to be influencing our response and actions to counter the social ills that are widespread.

    Correct. The vast majority of almost all peoples and nationalities around the world has, over the past seven years, started to express themselves ever louder, and what they are saying is: “These politicians, oh dear: an incompetent lot, now isn’t it?”

    – —

    Basit: “Since in this essay, I have appealed to the very powers which have made a mess of this earth, some of my readers were upset and I could feel the enormity of the disillusionment from their responses. Irrespective of our feelings, we have to acknowledge the fact that the decisions of these very ruling class and corporates have affected and influenced our lives and society.”

    Very good. You see, I’ve also received the kind of feedback as you are reporting about here. But I mean: to which address do you send a letter (or direct an essay or article) of appeal for a peaceful resolution to many of our common problems, if not to some member of the ruling class which is directing this show of guns and ammo, tanks, destroyers, bombers and jets, anti-personnel mines, and nuclear warheads? If not to the public offices and adresses of ruling class members themselves, … where on Earth?! To Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, perhaps; but hey: who’s kidding whom here? Do they have a say?

    No. You’ve got to appeal to people who are in the position to adress the problems that worry you. And that is the ruling classes of our countries and societies. Like it or not. It’s a fact.

    – —

    Basit: “Let us hope that year 2008 will be year for peace, disarmament and further realization about the dangers of war and industrialization on the future of humanity and the habitability of earth.”

    Of course. But you won’t have to bet on it. John! What are the odds like? Long or short? 😉

  21. Magne Karlsen

    April 5, 2002: http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=359

    “AS THE crisis in Israeli-occupied Palestine deepens, Tony Blair will meet George W Bush today to plan an attack on another country, Iraq.

    Their decision may condemn to death more than 10,000 civilians. That is the “medium case scenario” drawn up by the Pentagon. If the Americans implement their current strategy of “total war” and target Iraq’s electricity and water, the consequences will be even more horrific.

    There is no mandate in any United Nations resolution for this invasion. It will be as lawless as Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, which triggered the Second World War. Indeed, it may well trigger a Third World War, drawing in nations of the region and beyond.”

    – John Pilger

    – —

    2003: http://www.nswpeace.org/features/1048494516_21327.html

    “Well, cheer up — there IS good news. If you do go through with this war, more than likely it will be over soon because I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of Iraqis willing to lay down their lives to protect Saddam Hussein. After you “win” the war, you will enjoy a huge bump in the popularity polls as everyone loves a winner — and who doesn’t like to see a good ass-whoopin’ every now and then (especially when it ‘s some third world ass!). So try your best to ride this victory all the way to next year’s election. Of course, that’s still a long ways away, so we’ll all get to have a good hardy-har-har while we watch the economy sink even further down the toilet!

    But, hey, who knows — maybe you’ll find Osama a few days before the election! See, start thinking like THAT! Keep hope alive! Kill Iraqis — they got our oil!!”

    – Michael Moore

    – —

    August 24, 2006: http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2006/08/24/peace-is-for-wimps/

    “CAAT [Campaign Against the Arms Trade] lists the government committees stuffed with arms executives, the donations, the lobbyists, the Labour peers taking the corporate shilling, and I am sure all this plays an important role. But it seems to me that there is also something else at work. There appears to be a sense among some of those at the core of government that peace, human rights and democracy are for wimps, while the serious business, for real players, is war and the means by which it is enacted.”

    – — 💡

  22. Magne Karlsen

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/11/20/ban-the-bomb-but-only-in-iran/

    “George Bush and Gordon Brown are right: there should be no nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The risk of a nuclear conflagration could be greater there than anywhere else. Any nation developing them should expect a firm diplomatic response. So when will they impose sanctions on Israel?

    (…)

    So when will our governments speak up? When will they acknowledge that there is already a nuclear power in the Middle East, and that it presents an existential threat to its neighbours? When will they admit that Iran is not starting a nuclear arms race, but joining one? When will they demand that the rules they impose on Iran should also apply to Israel?”

    – George Monbiot

  23. Magne Karlsen

    Now, from a more philosophical point of view — one that borders on international politics and a rather warlike form of policy making (that right: a topic which is too touchy for little people like myself to start musing with on a frequent basis) — I’d like to say something about the problematic sides of nuclear power plants.

    Provided that nuclear waste can be taken care of and stored in a proper way, there can hardly be any doubt over the greenness of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy doesn’t affect the atmosphere of the planet. It’s usage is, in that respect, perfectly clean.

    However, the very existence of nuclear power plants comes together with several dark sides.

    Everybody knows about the nuclear bomb. And the posibility of producing such bombs, under a guise of clean energy production.

    Another dark side, which environmentalists are not typically too worried about, is the fact that the existence of nuclear power plants implicates a whole lot of security measures; it’s perfectly fair to say that nuclear power plants legitimates the existence of armed forces and armies. Now, I’m a utopist, of course; and as such I am dead against the existence of armed forces. All these military people could equally move into forests in V-formation searching for mushrooms, for all I care. I just don’t feel comfortable around them.

    Yet here I am, making the statement that nuclear energy is green energy, and that Iran should be allowed to produce clean energy like this; even though it legitimizes the existence of the thing I hate the most, namely armies and armed forces: people who kill for a living, how cruel? — Simply cting on order; not to worry.

    So what does this post make of me? — Doesn’t it go to prove that I’m out of my mind and utterly insane? I think so.

    I do no longer believe that the brilliant thought that environment protection and conservation could lead us all on track to a social revolution. I believe in the visions of George Orwell. “Animal Farm” and “1984”. We are going to experience a militarizing of the politics of nation states, of that I’m absolutely convinced. The future is looking grim enough for me to become a nuclear energy propagandist, as a matter of commonsense. It’s a green solution anyway. — Military green, if you may. But still green.

  24. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/davos-question.html

    “Every year, many of the world’s top leaders from politics, business and the global community — including some of our own — attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss how to make the world a better place. This year, we wanted to give people around the world the chance to join them, and help them, by submitting their own answers to “the Davos Question,” which is: “What one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008?”

    So that’s the question, but we all agree that it’s finding the answer which will be tough.”

    – —

    Nothing is tougher than giving peace a chance. I think we can all take that for granted. 🙂

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