Missing The Point, Again. Why?

I am featuring today a great article by Samuel Alexander, author and a research fellow of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at University of Melbourne and a founder of the Simplicity Institute.  You can read this very informative article here: If everyone lived in an ‘ecovillage’, the Earth would still be in trouble.  Believe me, pretty much everything it says is worth reading.

It outlines what are called “the defining questions of our time”.  Unfortunately, like so many other informed voices in the arena of humanity’s present and future predicament for avoiding a messy and unpleasant extermination of our species, it does not even mention the real problem or issue, the proverbial elephant in the room, that towers in an over-shadowing way above and beyond every other consideration.

Let me say the dirty word that ‘nice’ people, even concerned academics, never mention (I haven’t mentioned it either recently, but it is never very far from my mind)  –


There.  Now, it is out of the bag and you can either switch off like everyone else does, or you can think about what that means for a while.  Everything else, every other possible ‘solution’, every other ‘plan’, ‘scheme’ or ‘practice’, pales into insignificance in comparison to the impact of this single, one, unitary, thing.

Why can’t the world see that?  Why can’t even those who expend so much time and effort to try to get us to change our ways, see that?

“There Are Just Too Fucking Many Of Us Living On The One Planet”

I give up.  It’s hopeless.  Nothing else matters.  May as well drop everything else (I won’t, of course).

Magna Carta: 800 Years of Human Rights

So, tomorrow June 15 2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta Libertatum (the Great Charter of the Liberties), the document which forms the basis of law around which democratic rights have been understood since the middle ages.

Magna_Carta_(small)Note: A readable version of this image (6Mb, by zooming) can be found in the Wikipedia link in the above paragraph.

I am proud of the fact that one of only four known original copies (if that’s not an oxymoron) of this important document lays protected within the ancient castle walls of my home town of Lincoln, UK (a place of once far greater importance than it currently enjoys).  I was privileged to show this document, on display within the castle, to my daughter Naomi when she accompanied me on what I subsequently determined to be my last trip overseas from Australia in 2010.

Sadly, the rights embodied in that document have all but been forgotten and trodden underfoot by modern so-called democratic governments which more resemble tyrannical states these days.  I want to draw attention to this article by Paul Craig Roberts which has some interesting and controversial things to say about the subject.  Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

I want to highlight some of what I consider to be important point that Dr. Roberts makes:

“Beginning with the Clinton Administration and rapidly accelerating with the George W. Bush and Obama regimes and Tony Blair in England, the US and UK governments have run roughshod over their accountability to law.”

Both the US and UK in the 21st century have gone to numerous wars illegally under the Nuremberg Standard established by the US and UK following Germany’s defeat in WWII and used to execute Germans for war crimes. The US and UK claim that unlike Germany they are immune to the very international law that they themselves established in order to punish the defeated Germans. Washington and London can bomb and murder at will, but not Germany.”

Western capitalism is a looting mechanism. It loots labor. It loots the environment, and with the transpacific and transatlantic “partnerships” it will loot the sovereign law of countries. For example, France’s laws against GMOs become “restraints on trade” and subjects France to punitive law suits by Monsanto. If France doesn’t pay Monsanto the damages Monsanto claims, France is subject to punitive sanctions like Washington applies to Russia when Russia doesn’t do what Washington wants.”

“Eight hundred years of reform is being overturned as Washington and its vassals invade, bomb, and overthrow governments that are out of step with Washington’s agenda. Formerly self-sufficient agricultural communities are becoming wage slaves for international agribusiness corporations. Everywhere privilege is rising above law and justice is being lost.”

The demise of the rule of law has stripped ordinary people of security and dignity. Peoples of the world must protect themselves by acting in defense of the Great Charter’s principle that governments are accountable to law. Governments unaccountable to law are tyrannies whatever they might call themselves, no matter how exceptional and indispensable they declare themselves to be.”

“Monday in Westminster in London, the International Tribunal for Natural Justice is forming. If my understanding of this work of Humanitad is correct, we have a cause for hope. Perhaps the Tribunal will try the criminals of our time, almost all of which are “leaders” of Western governments, on the Internet with juries and prosecutors so that populations everywhere can witness the evil that every Western government represents.

Once the West is perceived as the evil force that it is, it will have to reform and again embrace Edward Coke’s vision of the Great Charter or become an unimportant backwater while the rest of the world goes on to better things. The world is saved once the world ceases to bow down to the American Caesar.”  (emphasis is mine)

I should add that although this article speaks specifically of the US and UK, it could just as easily have included all of the english speaking nations, the exclusive so-called ‘five-eyes’ club including US lapdog Australia and the belatedly rejoined New Zealand, in its justifiable condemnations.

This period of our history will itself go down in history (if in fact there is anyone left to write and subsequently read it) as a second Dark Age in the annals of mankind.  I fervently hope that it is soon brought to an early end and that we may rebuild on the ashes of our present civilisation a restored era of liberty, equality and global fraternity.  I further hope that we are given the opportunity or chance to make that happen, but I also know that there are further and even darker times for us to endure before that can take place, if in fact it does.

Our Choice

I expect that the contents of a previous Facebook post I made today: https://www.facebook.com/bernie.edwards.58173/posts/796016553852058:0 repeated in the quote below, (if anybody actually read it) would have elicited a number of ‘shock horrors’ from people.  It is a mark of the state of the world and our endemic preoccupation with ourselves rather than with what is going on around us, that that would be the usual reaction.

Only two days now until June 5.  Only two more days until the bubble potentially bursts and chaos breaks out.

June 5 is the date for the next 300 million euros payment by Greece to the IMF.  I can’t see it happening.  I don’t really want it to happen.  I want to see what happens next.

Greece’s major creditors, especially the IMF are becoming increasingly worried about the consequences, and the IMF has offered to have the payment delayed until the end of the month. Greece has not responded to that offer.  I hope they stand firm.

Let me make my position absolutely clear on this, in case my past ramblings have not done that.  I want to see the devastating power of the financial world broken.  I want to see markets crumble.  I want to see banks fail.  I want to see the end of globalisation.  I want to see our global civilisation collapse into ruins.  I want, somehow (doesn’t really matter much exactly how),  for the lives of billions of humans to be ended, and fairly quickly.


Because that is the only way that some of us may survive to begin life again on this beautiful planet.  There is no other way for that (our survival, that is) to happen.

This global societal collapse will come about one way or another.  Whether the Greece thing gives it a kick-start or not is really immaterial, but interesting enough to watch the situation closely.  Some thing, some where, some how, some time soon, will be the catalyst for the collapse to begin.  Empires come and empires go.  For the first time in our history we have achieved a global empire where every nation is interwoven with every other nation.  That empire, the final empire of this age, is about to fall.

I linked that Facebook post to this article from CNBC:  Greek crisis: 2,400 hours of brinkmanship

Any thinking person would know that things cannot go on the way they are for long and that at the base of the problem is the fact that there are just too many people living on this planet, both for their own good and for the good of all other planetary lifeforms.

If that statement of position is not universally accepted, that is one thing, and we can just go on living our lives just as we are, until one day we can’t, whether we accept that or not. On the other hand, if we do accept the premise I laid out, then again the rational person would inevitably want to do something about the situation, even if they felt that alone they could do nothing.

I doubt that the situation I have outlined will ever be accepted either by people generally or by the world’s power-brokers who have lots at stake in keeping the current scenario alive and kicking their own goals …but let’s just assume that there were at some stage soon a global realisation that something has to be done about world population.  What could we do?

I said in my earlier post that it didn’t really matter how we did it as long as something happened to reduce population levels, but there are (with global assent) better ways and worse ways of acting.  There is of course the ISIS method. Line people up and chop off their heads.  I’m sure that they would be very happy to assist.  Then there is the do nothing method of allowing nature to take its course in starvation, disease, drowning and dying of thirst.  We could also put the world’s nuclear stockpiles to good use to obtain a quick result.  These and many other possibilities are unthinkable as acceptable solutions and not at all what I was thinking about when I made the statement.

So, what does that leave us with that might be acceptable to all or most?  A moratorium on babies?  Hurry the old folk on their way out the door?  Put that way seems to be offensive but I think that a clearly laid out plan covering births and deaths would be the only humane way to approach this dilemma.  Bear with me for a while while I present a few facts.

World population is growing at about 1.14% a year.  That doesn’t sound like much but any growth rate at all is exponential over sufficient time and we have reached the time when even if that rate held steady for a number of years the actual number of increase in the population every year will grow dramatically.

Currently, the world birth rate is 18.7 per 1000 people or around 136.5 million new births annually.  The current death rate is 7.89 per 1000 people or around 57.6 million deaths annually.  The difference is a positive population increase of some 78.9 million people every year.

Clearly, even if we killed off all the oldies and the weak to get a death rate of near zero, that would not solve anything for long.  So how about reducing the birth rate?  Well, even if we got rid of the oldies and weak and halved the birth rate we would still be growing at about the same rate we are right now, since current births are at more than double current deaths.

The only solution that I can see involves tackling both statistics but much more robustly that previously mentioned.  How about this?   > > > > > > >

First, a moratorium on births.  All births.  Not for long.  Just long enough to achieve a more managable situation, and I don’t mean terminating any current pregnancies.  Say, an immediate global announcement that no more births are allowed from around April 2016.  Any new births discovered after then, to be euthanised.  How long would this need to be in force for?  Are we going to lose generations?  No, only one generation. In conjunction with the death measures I will explain next, it would take only 42 years to reduce population from its current 7.3 billion level to around 1 billion, which is our natural, pre-industrial, sustainable, population level.  We could of course stop the project at any point, say 2 or 3 billion, if the need arose or situations demanded.

So, how do we tackle deaths to achieve a satisfactory population reduction in conjunction with a zero birth rate for a while?

As I said earlier, the current death rate is 7.89 per 1000 people or about 57.6 million people a year.  This has not always been the case.  In fact the death rate has been falling over the years such that back when I was about to enter my teens in 1955, only some 60 years ago, the rate was around 19.5 deaths per 1000 people.  The difference has, I would say, been almost entirely down to improved medical intervention for sustaining life beyond natural conditions.  The higher death rate back then doesn’t mean that more people passed on each year, in fact the actual number of deaths has remained fairly steady in the high 50 millions.  It is just that there were far fewer people around then and in the in-between years.  There were only about 3 billion of us alive in 1960.

Here is my proposition.  We globally stop medically prolonging life beyond its natural term, for everyone not just the oldies, and thus return the annual death rate to its natural level of around 20 per 1000 people.  It just means that we would see fewer people over 70 years old, and I am not advocating the termination of life, other than voluntarily, just withholding life support either pharmaceutically or mechanically, which we are going to have to do anyway soon due to resource restraints among other things.

A death rate of 20 per 1000 today would result in over 142 million annual deaths, allowing, together with a zero birth rate, population reduction to acceptable levels for species survival possibly in sufficient time to be effective.

Personally, I do not see any other way.  Also personally, I do not think any thing like what I have outlined here will ever happen.  Instead we will opt, and by doing nothing we are already making that choice, for the default position of one or more of: starving to death, dying of thirst, cooking or freezing ourselves to death in climate chaos, or beating each other to death in an orgy of self-destruction over diminishing stores of whatever is left to allow us to continue as we are, until there are insufficient others left standing with the capacity to beat anyone else to death.

The choice is ours.  I have outlined an alternative but I think we have already made our choice.

Added after publication:

I just wanted to add an afterthought which should really go without saying.

Were we to achieve a successful population reduction following a plan similar to what I have proposed here, it would be a permanent feature (all other things being equal, of course), a more or less steady, no growth, stasis situation, much as it has been for most of our history on this planet.  We would never again have the means to disrupt living conditions for ourselves or our fellow creatures nor inflict the kind of suffering that they have endured, mostly in silence, throughout our rampaging rape of the planet for the last 2-3 hundred years.

We have had our moment of madness.  We have used up all of the resources that once laid beneath our feet.  Oh, we have been very clever from a particular point of view.  There is no doubt about that.  But at the same time we have been incredibly stupid, thoughtless and heartless in the blind pursuit of our goals for knowledge, wealth and comfort for ourselves.

I just hope that we have learned something about ourselves in the process.