Shifting Gears for the Future

Should the reader look forward to see future progress that will knock out extinction – do not look backward for a measure of speed. The reader will be disappointed.

Media news filled additional air time in Charlotte by going down the street to the State Capitol where the Confederate war flag is displayed. Now, all the republican candidates for President can say, “Not my problem,” save two: one who ran last time, Romney, and Jeb somebody. The mariner will not join the fray; it is covered nonstop on 24-hour news stations. There must be some usable information once in a while.

What the mariner finds important is the fact that racism is still a large and unresolved stigma in the American culture and what that means about the speed with which we will take steps to avoid extinction. Consider the following speed:

  • Twenty slaves were the first to arrive on US soil at Jamestown, Virginia on August 20, 1619.
  • In 1641, Massachusetts was the first state to legalize slavery.
  • In 1705, Virginia passes legislation that slaves are real estate.
  • In 1787, it was a better than usual year, relatively speaking. The Northwest Ordinance forbids slavery, except as criminal punishment, in the Northwest Territory (later Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin). Residents of the territory are required to return fugitive slaves. Also in 1787, states (including South Carolina) began putting tariffs on interstate and international slave trade; a few ban trading slaves altogether.
  • In 1788, the newly ratified US Constitution claims that each slave is 3/5 of a person – but only for tax purposes.
  • In 1819, Virginia outlaws the education of slaves and, with North Carolina, removes restraints on interstate trading of slaves.
  • The decade of the 1850’s was not good for slaves. Many states rescinded earlier trade limitations, new laws providing the right to be a free African American were rescinded, and finally, in 1857, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott case by denying citizenship to all slaves, ex-slaves, and descendants of slaves and denies Congress the right to prohibit slavery in the territories.
  • In 1861, South Carolina secedes from the Union, followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina also secede. It is the beginning of the Civil War.
  • In 1862, Lincoln signs several acts that, more or less, allow slaves and free African Americans to participate in the Civil War and, indirectly, though no one said so, the 3/5 person law became dysfunctional even if it was still is a part of the Constitution.
  • In 1863, Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • In 1869, Tennessee passes legislation to create an all white government that opposes racial equality. Many states follow.
  • In 2015, the Confederate War Flag still flies at the Capitol of South Carolina and requires the heinous murder of nine religious African Americans in a hallmark African American church to request that the flag be removed. There is reticence by republicans across the board.
    • The mariner interjects for a moment to point out that it has been 244 years since the first slave arrived, a terrible civil war has transpired, the economic culture of slavery still persisted not through ownership but through outright abuse and tyranny. Any freed slave is fortunate to receive a salary other than a shack without utilities. In 244 years, how has the US culture changed? Virtually not at all; Tennessee’s idea in 1869 for all white government persists to this day. African American voting in government is gerrymandered against quite intensely. While legislation may have shifted a little, the American culture still does not include the African American as an equal citizen with equal rights.
    • In the future, even greater incursions into corporate American power and the consumer culture will be necessary to slow the clock of the sixth extinction. Beyond that, not only is extinction civil war, it is global war. Extinction includes Putin, ISIL, China and its allies, suppressed Africa. Even more troublesome, the United States itself, long a leader in creating the sixth extinction.

The mariner pursued the history of the African American experience as a model that depicts how difficult it is to alter large social, economic and political behavior that has been deeply ingrained for hundreds of years. The African American’s historical plight has become the plight of all mankind. The US has not made much progress with racism. Regarding extinction, is this to be expected for the next 244 years?

Ancient Mariner


On Friday, Stanford University released a study by internationally prestigious scientists that declared planet Earth is well into the sixth mass extinction (Holocene). The report has charts and other references that indicate the fabric of the planet’s ecosystem is collapsing at an ever increasing rate. The report predicted the collapse would occur in about three human lifetimes (315 years+or-). The report further suggested that humans will be one of the earlier extinctions because of human dependence on so many environmental and specie services, e.g., naturally cleaned water, pollination by bees, and stable weather patterns for vegetation.

The mariner is befuddled that no television outlet grabbed this issue. If the reader hadn’t come across an article on a few websites, the reader would never know that extinction of Homo sapiens has become a statistical reality – near enough that today’s elementary school children will have their lives disrupted in significant if not fatal ways. Despite what the Bible says about Armageddon, it will not occur in one day. It will occur faster and faster over time. For the most part, symptoms will involve starvation, disease, economic collapse, vandalism and true anarchy as governments will not have the resources to quell the collapse of rule by law.

There is a book on this subject published recently by Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate. (The mariner’s town library has a copy as well as a copy of The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert). Klein has written several books on the subject of economic greed destroying the planet. Following is an excerpt from the New York Times book review for This Changes Everything:

“Klein diagnoses impressively what hasn’t worked. No more claptrap about fracked gas as a bridge to renewables. Enough already of the international summit meetings that produce sirocco-quality hot air, and nonbinding agreements that bind us all to more emissions. Klein dismantles the boondoggle that is cap and trade. She skewers grandiose command-and-control schemes to re-engineer the planet’s climate. No point, when a hubristic mind-set has gotten us into this mess, to pile on further hubris. She reserves a special scorn for the partnerships between Big Green organizations and Immense Carbon, peddled as win-win for everyone, but which haven’t slowed emissions. Such partnerships remind us that when the lamb and the lion lie down together, only one of them gets eaten.

In democracies driven by lobbyists, donors and plutocrats, the giant polluters are going to win while the rest of us, in various degrees of passivity and complicity, will watch the planet die. “Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews,” Klein writes. “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.”

The point is, there is a mountain of resistance to change – especially on capitalist philosophy and the ingrained demand for ever increasing profits. How long will it take Earth’s humans to break the most successful profit engine in history? The Mass Extinction report implies that everything must be corrected in two lifetimes to prevent full collapse of the environment.

The mariner includes one chart from the report that ties the development of the mass extinction, or conversely, the destruction of the global environment, back to the beginning of the industrial age.

extinct animals

An easy to read article is available at the following link:

As Naomi Klein pointed out (and Pogo), our own perceptions of what is good, better and best for each human, each of all species, and the planet environment itself, is a myth. We do not have a model of human behavior that matches the reality around us – nor will reality accept it. Yet, humans are delinquent and tardy in how they manage their own place on the planet.

How many years will it take for humans to eliminate arrogance and hubris and recognize that we are not the reason for the Earth to exist?

How many years will it take for core cultural values to recognize that Homo sapiens is not, by a high count, the superior species. We are more dependent on many other species than they are on us.

How many years will it take to dismantle capitalism and nationalism? If history serves correctly, once a nation has cured its unstable situation of war and abuse, it won’t be until the third generation thereafter before that nation will have leaders unscarred and unbiased in their decisions about national policy and culture.

The mariner will have more on the Holocene as matters develop. He presents only high level concepts and ideas in this post; he depends on the reader to pursue links and news sources that will add more substance to this issue.

Ancient Mariner

Having a Hog for Dinner

Or maybe a chicken, or leg of lamb or a steak tenderloin. It is the ritual of the farming life. Most of us remember the family farm. It was a good way of life. Farm operation was self-sustained. There was a balance between investment, byproducts (including environmental contamination), and lifestyle.

Those were the good old days. Farmers took pride in their individual efforts and products. The County Fair was big time and winners could boast of best livestock, best crop, and even best harness race horse. Children were encouraged to compete in future farmer contests that required intense engagement with animals, their health and even their happiness.

It isn’t that way anymore. The reader remembers it that way, but that farm is long gone. Even organic farms are run for profit, not for lifestyle. Largely, what exist today are corporate farms. Corporate farms disregard the environmental impact; corporate farms waste water in immense volumes; corporate farms physically torture livestock to increase profit.

And Iowa is the worst state in the United States.

The mariner mentioned once before that he is a member of Food and Water Watch (FWW), which concerns itself with abusive treatment of resources, livestock, pollution, or misrepresentation to the customer. Below is a website that will lead you to a map that shows the concentration of corporate farms in the US. Look at Iowa. The Koch brothers participate in more corporate farms than any other Iowa corporation. They are opposed across the board to humane treatment of livestock and disregard the gross impact of their waste on the environment.

 Screw the world, give me my dollars. Does this describe the American dream?

Ancient Mariner



The mariner is a member of Food and Water Watch, an advocate for clean, fresh water around the world, making water available to all human beings, and opposed to privatized management of food and water policy, that is, food and water should be managed by governments, not corporations. Food and Water Watch (FWW) is a watchdog for all sorts of wasteful food and water practices, especially the pollution of the fresh water that is available and the unnecessary cost of  ‘bottled’ water. Corporate advertizing contends than bottled water is better for you than tap water – which is not true, and also has a high profit margin.

Last night he watched C-SPAN coverage of a FWW conference. The main speaker was Maude Barlow, who was instrumental in forming FWW in 2005. Ms Barlow is Chair of the Board of Directors. She has a remarkable reputation. Ms Barlow has a standing in food and water issues similar to that of Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights movement or Ralph Nader in auto safety.

The mission statement for FWW is:

“Food and Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profit before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.”

An environmental phrase often heard is climate change. Food and water issues are intertwined with climate change. For example, the excessive amount of carbon dioxide settles into the world’s oceans. This causes acidification of ocean waters that in turn kills just about everything that lives in the oceans. In her book, The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert points out that ocean acidification is the cause of the Permian extinction (third great extinction). 95% of all marine species went extinct. Coral reefs did not return for 10 million years.

Very much in the news is the debate over fracking (hydraulic fracturing) – the process of forcing natural gas to the surface by sending water underground at high pressure. Similar to the damage caused by strip mining for coal, the water doesn’t stay where it’s put and turns up in all the wrong places. Even the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world, are not immune to fracking pollution. Many of us may have seen the news clip where a man could set his kitchen tap water on fire.

FWW looks into many food situations. In her presentation, Ms Barlow said everyone should stop eating meat because it is not an efficient use of water, given the amount of meat per unit of water the animals require.

FWW is an advocate of home grown organic vegetables. Have you planted your bell peppers yet?

The mariner could go on but everything you want to know – or in some cases would rather not know, is on the FWW website. The material is presented well and if the reader has never thought about the big issues in food and water, it will be enlightening.

He ends with one statistic: Not counting the ‘permanent’ ice at the poles, only 1% of Earth’s water is drinkable.

Ancient Mariner

Economic Warming

The mariner has been posting www.iowa-mariner for a couple of years. If you are a regular reader, you know he sees impending chaos on all sides. The mariner will follow in the footsteps of his favorite prophet Amos (a country fellow who raised sheep and had fleas) and the prophet’s fictional counterpart, Chicken Little.

The storm clouds are visible on the horizon and bad economic weather is predicted by conservatives and liberals alike. When the solution from each side is redundant, that in itself suggests chaos.

The mariner has read books by two expert authors each of whom starts from a different premise and arrives at similar conclusions.

The first book, The Colder War by Marin Katusa, (John Wiley and Sons, 2015) follows along the line of economic prophets who fear the Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRIC) alliance and the use of non-US dollars in world trade. Katusa predicts a slow demise for the US because of its seventeen trillion dollars in bond debt and, more importantly, because BRIC production of fossil fuels easily will dominate the US Petrodollar market. What will happen slowly (Katusa uses the decline of the British pound over thirty short years, finally yielding to the American dollar at the end of the Second World War) is that holders of US treasury notes will cash them and buy rubles, reals, yuán or some worldwide derivative based on BRIC dominance. In simple terms, this means the US is headed for at least 15% inflation of the dollar and will lose the float advantage of using US dollars around the world.

Katusa spends a lot of his book on Vladimir Putin’s plans to encompass the entire Euro-Asian land mass in a “Common Economic Space.” In other words, replace the US dollar-supported euro, the oil-rich something-stan countries, the Middle East, Asia and most of Africa into a giant free trade zone – all without using US dollars.

Katusa suggests the following remedies – which he doesn’t guarantee will be successful:

  • “Stop runaway government spending. If the growth in government debt is held below the growth rate of the economy, the dollar’s ability to withstand attack will strengthen mightily.
  • Stop accepting everyone’s invitation to participate in everyone’s conflict.
  • Stop everything – especially tax rules and handouts.
  • Stop allowing superstition-based regulation to interfere with the development of domestic energy resources.”

For each of us, Matusa suggests:

  • “Trade some of your dollars for gold and silver and don’t store it in a bank.
  • Open an account with a non-US bank to make it easier to obtain cash in foreign currencies.”

Obviously, Marin Katusa is a fiscal conservative. His underlying strategy does not include economic transition away from fossil fuels but rather suggests ways to put sandbags around the US economy. His perspective can’t be totally faulted; he is one of the world’s top fossil fuel negotiators.

 Now on to the second book, This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein (Simon and Shuster, 2014). As prolific a writer and advocate as Katusa, Klein challenges the fossil fuel profit model. She suggests the greedy pursuit of oil-based economies will collapse under the hidden costs of global warming, costs related to health, fragility of depending on one economic resource, and the profound shift of weather patterns that will impact most temperate zone nations dependent on crops – the northerly ones like Canada and Russia will have improved crop opportunity while those in lower latitudes like the US and Southern Europe will have more extreme weather conditions, frequent droughts and flooding.

Similar to Matusa’s book, Klein spends the first third of her book identifying the antagonist: not Putin but the conservatives who deny global warming. The following quotes set the tone for the entire book, which is heavily footnoted:

“And for many conservatives, particularly religious ones, the challenge goes deeper still, threatening not just faith in [capital] markets but core cultural narratives about what humans are doing here on Earth. Are we masters, here to subdue and dominate, or are we one species among many, at the mercy of [geophysical] powers more complex and unpredictable than even our most powerful computers can model?”

The author cited a statement from Yale’s Cultural Cognition Project:

“The Yale researchers explain that people with strong egalitarian and communitarian worldviews (marked by an inclination toward collective action and social justice, concern about inequality and suspicion of corporate power) overwhelmingly accept scientific consensus on climate change. Conversely, those with strong hierarchical and individualistic worldviews (marked by opposition to government assistance for the poor, strong support for industry, and a belief that we all get pretty much what we deserve) overwhelmingly reject the scientific consensus.”

Klein then moves her focus to the disastrous liaisons between “environmental” organizations and corporate partnerships. Many examples are cited not only in the United States but in virtually every country including the United Nations Environment Program. One example involved the Nature Conservancy (NC), the largest and richest environmental organization in the world and 2,303 acres along Galveston Bay in Texas. The acreage was donated to the NC by ExxonMobil in 1995.

This acreage was important to environmentalists because it was the last habitat for the Attwater Prairie Chicken. The bird population, estimated at over one million before the twentieth century, due to oil exploration had dropped to threatened extinction by 1965. The Nature Conservancy proclaimed recovery of the Attwater Prairie Chicken as its highest priority. Four years later the NC drilled its own oil well in an area that would have direct consequences on critical habitat. When this oil well was discovered by NC members, it attracted national press coverage. NC said they could drill without hurting the bird population.

By 2003 only sixteen birds remained. Still, when the first well ran dry, the NC drilled a second well. In 2012, the Attwater Prairie Chicken was extinct.

The Nature Conservancy had succumbed to the desire to make millions of dollars to be used in behalf of worldwide conservancy. Klein’s point is that the NC had good motives but capitalist solutions do not solve a global problem. In fact, capitalism accelerates climate change.

Klein makes this point across several similar examples. In every case, capitalist solutions failed. Cultures are so bound to profit as a solution for everything that global issues like carbon emission are a distant second and have no chance to transition to non-fossil fuel. Global warming is caused by fossil fuel profit. Any progress must be collective in nature and further must reduce the petro economy to a scant size of what it is today. In the US, petrodollars keep the wealthy growing wealthier and allow the US government to borrow 46% against its gross domestic product.

Benevolent billionaires offer little hope for a genuine shift in economic culture. Among others mentioned by Klein are Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson and T. Boone Pickens. In every case, these billionaires advocate solutions that will benefit their corporate investment in alternative solutions. Again, these endorsements use a capitalist model as a solution – first, there must be profit.

Global issues like carbon emissions and warming oceans are not part of any profit model. The expense must be covered but not by opportunistic means. This is a new phenomenon in economics: profit is not part of the financial model. Global warming is neither a national issue nor a GDP issue nor a profit versus loss corporate issue. It is pure overhead that must be dealt with collectively by 7 billion humans in 196 countries.

It is this very kind of solution, fraught with corporate restraint, government regulation and spending, and suppression of the largest profit sector in the world that frightens capitalists and advocates of individual freedom.

In the mariner’s opinion, Klein’s book roars like a lion until the part where solutions are offered. Klein cites a growing number of blockades where the local people literally stood in the way of fossil fuel operations. The author feels that growing civil interference will continue to have more influence with those who must deal with the overhead of fossil fuel extraction. An example to watch is the Keystone XL pipeline intending to move sand tar oil from Alberta to Texas. There have been several protests along the path of that pipeline; Obama does not support it. We will see how much influence blockading will affect a republican congress.

Naomi Klein is not an economist. Unlike Matusa, she does not provide financial detail about the impending crisis. Still, one can image what will happen to corporate profit and national GDP if the petrodollar is greatly diminished. On this point – the tremendous shift in priorities as well as economic models – Matusa and Klein agree: financial instability is something everyone will face in this century.

Finally, Klein cites a truism:

“It is often said that Mother Nature bats last, and this has been poignantly the case for some men who were most possessed by the ambition of conquering her.”

 Did someone mention that the sky is falling?

Ancient Mariner

Survival of the Single Soul in a Turbulent World

The mariner has been tossed about by the trying times of our culture, our economy, our information invasion, our ignorance of science, and the prevalence of greed in all life’s endeavors. The mariner has languished in the knowledge that there is little in our lives that is as it was yesterday or how it will be tomorrow.

Some of the languish stems from his age. He no longer is mainstream in his interaction with commerce, raising families or sporting events. Still, the mariner feels there is something amiss – something that can improve the life experience of each of us individually even in the midst of a massive paradigm shift moving toward macro-marketing, cultural dependency beyond nationalism, and instantaneous awareness of every event occurring around the entire planet.

Fatalism is not the answer, of course. One eventually lashes out at the confusion; retreat from the conflagration is necessary but only temporary. Each of us lives on this planet and must therefore be part of the planet’s history, ecology, and future.

The mariner will retreat to his study and keyboard to discern how you and he, meager single souls in a sea of thrashing whales, tsunamis, rogue waves, hurricanes and monsoons, will keep our ship seaworthy even without a charted course.

It seems, at first thought, that seaworthiness is how individual souls interact rather than being part of a larger organism swept by the tides. Consider the Cesium atom that keeps our time so accurately that only one second of error occurs every billion years. Cesium ignores corporate piracy and suppression of the masses. It abides only by the rules of Cesium atoms. We must search within rather than attempt to race ahead to divert the storms.

Ancient Mariner