Food Crisis in Germany: a POP is the Weasel

Chicken feed? Diesel fuel? At Harles und Jentzsch we make them in the same tank. Have a little dioxin with your bacon and eggs?

Another major food scare in another part of the world demonstrates anew the boundless greed and clueless lethality of industrial agriculture. Nearly 5,000 farms in Germany were ordered closed late last week because animal feeds for pigs and chickens had been contaminated with dioxin, a toxic and carcinogenic chemical. As always in such cases, the moment the crisis erupted it became apparent that 1) it had been going on for a very long time, perhaps since last March; and 2) that criminal activity may well have been involved. Yet two vital considerations are absent from the media coverage thus far. Continue reading

Aflockalypse Now: Shock and Awe or Cheap Thrills?

No, it's not a canary, but it's trying to tell us something. (Photo by Dave Gingrich/Flickr)

Birds falling from the sky! Fish washing up on the beach! In the same week! In the same place (if you think of North America as one place)! Run! It’s here! Thus do the stewards of the fabulous technology of the Information Age ensure that our brains continue to atrophy. (To listen to the audio version, click here: 0108 Aflockalypse Now) Continue reading

Iran, etc: When the Gas Bills Come Due

Iran Protest

What Ahmadinejad dreams, now that he cannot afford to buy the acquiesence of his people with 38-cent gasoline, as he could when the Green Revolution wilted a year ago,

Governments that buy the affection of their people, like people who submit to extortion, find that the deal is not sustainable because the demand for money just keeps going up while the supply dwindles. This is the lesson being learned right now by every state government in America, and that will be driven home shortly to the federal government: you cannot buy people off — in this case by refusing to tax them — forever. For one thing, the cost prevents you from doing the things that government is supposed to do. And for another, the cost just keeps on going up until it breaks you. For a crystal clear illustration of where this road leads, consider the plight of Iran. (For the audio version click here: 0106 Iran etc: When the Gas Bills Come Due) Continue reading

The People, Sir, are a Great Beast

The Prince and the Princess discover what royalty has oft learned before: if people are miserable enough, they will intrude on your life of privilege. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Modern political leaders focussed on polling, partisan doctrine and the next election forget at their peril that there is an ancient and non-revokable contract between leaders and followers: give us followers good times and security and we will allow you leaders your power and wealth; fail to protect us from grievous harm and we will erase you. Retribution for mass suffering has fallen brutally on high priests, pharoahs, kings, czars and presidents throughout history. And the laws of history have in no way and in no place been revoked. (To listen to the audio version, click here:  0104 The People are a Beast) Continue reading

A Solar Powered Blackout

A solar flare recorded Dec. 5, 2006, by the X-ray Imager onboard NOAA's GOES-13 satellite. The flare was so intense, it actually damaged the instrument that took the picture.

Blind faith in the power of industrial technology to provide everyone with cheap luxury requires turning a blind eye to the deferred costs of industrialization. And the longer we ignore the consequences, the worse they are. For example, the longer we tolerate industrial agriculture’s loss of topsoil, pollution of water and destruction of diversity, the more difficult will be any recovery to sustainable practices. Our society remains stubbornly oblivious to even the obvious rising threats; but here’s one that, real as it is, is truly obscure: the possibility that the sun could turn off our lights. (To listen to the audio version, click here: 0103 Solar Powered Blackout) Continue reading

Chinese Self-Destruction II

Typical Chinese farm

Small, diverse, productive, successful: these are the farms China is replacing, and the results are not good.

While the world watches with a mixture of envy and awe, China rises. Its political, economic and military power grows at dizzying speed, its leaders seem unfettered by any restraints. Yet it is the very restraints that bedevil other countries’ leaders — political opposition, free investigative journalism, special-interest activism, and public, protracted, messy debate — that slow industry’s rush to self-destruction. China started its industrialization well after the West, and may well crash and burn long before the West because the only lesson it has taken from our experience is how to commit suicide faster.

As we have reported here before, China is running chronically short of coal, oil, and electricity. And soon, according to a United Nations investigator, it will be running short of food. Continue reading

Peak Oil: Is Today the Day?

Gas lines in Louisiana in 2005. Are they coming soon, to stay? (Photo by Jaseman/Flickr)

What if it were today? What if today were the day that the realization dawned somewhere and spread virus-like across the web and the world: peak oil is here, it’s real, and it’s not going away? How many things would we wish, on the evening of that first day, that we had done before it came? Continue reading

China: World Leader in Self Destruction

air pollution over Suzhou, China

The Chinese may not be able to keep the lights on over a wide section of the country, but they sure can snuff out the sun. This air is over Suzhou, in Jiangsu Province, in 2008. (Photo by orangeandmilk/Flickr)

There is something in our nature that draws comfort from the knowledge that there are people like us who are much worse off. It’s not a pretty attribute, but it’s there, especially when the people are a lot like us, and are worse off for the same reasons that make us fear our own future. So let us take a moment’s respite from our knowledge of the impending consequences of squandering our natural resources, as we contemplate the same fate, bearing down on our supposed enemies. Even faster. (Admit it. You feel better already. Happy Holidays.) Continue reading

New Book: Peak Oil is Now, Global Collapse Imminent

Cover photo from Tariel Mórrígan's book Peak Energy, Climate Change, and the Collapse of Global Civilization: The Current Peak Oil Crisis.

An explosive new book from a University of California environmental scholar takes a scalpel to the blandishments of global politicians and their corporate paymasters to lay bare the hard facts they are trying — with increasing desperation and decreasing effectiuveness — to conceal. The facts are: peak oil is here, no one is ready, and a worlwide descent into chaos has already begun. Continue reading

New York Bans Fracking for Natural Gas

That's a natural gas fracking well. You'd be well advised not to drink the water. (Photo by Daniel Foster/Flickr)

The contrast could not have been clearer. A lame-duck state governor who has little chance of holding public office again puts the safety of his people above the profits of the oil and gas industry; while the increasingly lame Obama administration waffles.

On Saturday, Governor David Paterson of New York — who did not run for a second term in the 2010 election — ordered a stop to all drilling for natural gas that involves hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Continue reading