Timeline of a World-Killing Paradigm Shift

Column by Glen Allport.

Exclusive to STR


Part 3 of "Could the Non-Aggression Principle Stop the Sixth Great Extinction?"
Part One of this series discussed the Non-Aggression principle, calling it "the libertarian half of the Golden Rule" (compassion being the other half) and describing the function of aggression in creating not only tyranny and war but also massive environmental degradation.
Part Two described the statist Left/Right paradigm and how it has been used to destroy civil society and to nearly erase even the understanding of the ways in which compassion and non-aggression (or love and freedom, if you prefer) support and require each other. I summarized by pointing out that "The Left/Right political paradigm inevitably leads to tyranny because both sides embrace aggression in service of their goals, and because each side over-emphasizes one half of the Love and Freedom duality – always a dangerous path."
Here in Part Three, I present an outline of the events which have led us to where we are now. The growing momentum of this train of events is, I believe, moving us toward a global, civilization-killing catastrophe. Avoiding this disaster may still be possible, but I am not optimistic.
This outline is organized around major events, much of it told in present tense and with what I consider the most important events highlighted as tipping points.
Tipping Point #1: The early United States adopts a seedling tyranny of exactly the wrong size and scope. This mistake is the founding event of our national and global problems, as I will outline below. The end of the world starts here.
Our Constitutional Convention produces a document describing a powerful central government with almost no restraints; in particular, no penalties for specific misuses of power. As time goes on, various clauses in the document are used to expand the government's powers far beyond those enumerated in Article One, Section Eight, and with increasing disregard for the limitations imposed in Article One, Section Nine. Eventually, even the weak restraints written into the document are simply ignored.
Even so, the initial size and power of this government are almost invisibly small; most citizens never come into contact with the federal government except at the post office. Relatively strict adherence to both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, combined with the requirement that the States use nothing but gold and silver as legal tender (in Article One, Section Ten) and Section Nine's prohibition against an income tax, keep the federal government very small (compared to those of most industrial nations) for generations – well into the 20th Century.
This allows for the new nation to become by far the wealthiest on Earth, and thus when the government (by then, commanded largely by a corporatist oligarchy) gradually appropriates basically all of the wealth created by citizens and more (via an income tax, overprinting of fiat currency, and clever forms of debt), the United States becomes the wealthiest and most powerful tyranny the world has ever known. (For comparison, the Roman and British empires each ruled the world – or a goodly part of it – with thirty-five to forty foreign military bases. Today, the United States has perhaps seven hundred and fifty military bases on foreign soil in over one hundred nations – perhaps many more, since an unknown number are apparently secret).
In short, and as I will describe in more detail below, ratification of the Constitution makes the death of liberty and destruction of the Earth's biosphere almost inevitable – which is to say, among other things, that the US Constitution sets the Sixth Great Extinction in motion, or (depending on when you want to peg the start of this Extinction) ensures that the problems begun by SciTech, first really visible in the 1700s, would continue to their ultimate negative conclusion rather than being diminished and eventually solved (at least in a practical sense), as might have happened otherwise.
RIP, human civilization. Thanks a lot, Alexander Hamilton and the rest of you big-government Federalists in particular.
Among the more notable later events (the general thread of which was inevitable once the document was ratified) along the way to Armageddon:
Those in power almost immediately overstep their authority; i.e., they break the highest law of the land, and get away with it. Even when staying within the bounds of the law, they often violate the spirit of both the Constitution's Bill of Rights and of the Declaration of Independence. Two early examples:
Civil War / War of Northern Aggression
Slaves finally freed, but Jim Crow lives on.
States and individuals relegated to slave status, owned and controlled by the central government.
Military-Industrial-Media complex assaults the Philippines
It could have been almost any other foreign nation – and see Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq for plenty of other examples after this one (Hawaii's takeover was actually earlier, but far smaller in propaganda and military terms) – but as it happens, the smooth integration of media propaganda, self-interested corporate influence over Congress, and the already-far-larger-than-necessary military was first used in such a massive overseas assault by US forces in the Philippine-American War, 1899-1902. From the Wikipedia article linked in the heading above: "In light of the massive casualties suffered by the civilian population, Filipino historian E. San Juan, Jr., alleges that the death of 1.4 million Filipinos [from an original population of only 9 million] constitutes an act of genocide on the part of the United States." Three hundred thousand villagers are forced into concentration camps and treated horribly; over 8,000 die in the camps, with some camps seeing a death rate as high as 20%.
The power elite, pleased with the results and appalled only at the U.S. taxpayers’ miserly refusal to fund a larger military that could bring the blessings of liberty to more foreign lands, make plans to solve that problem for good.
Tipping Point #2: The two most effective restraints against tyranny in the United States are removed when a national income tax and a central bank are approved in 1913. Growth of government, and of corporate influence and power, accelerates dramatically soon after. The people's wealth is systematically drained and put in the hands of bankers, bureaucrats, government-connected corporations and special interests of all kinds, and of the "power elite" generally.
World War I
Having presided over the twin evils of the income tax and the Federal Reserve, President Wilson takes advantage of these new sources of income to needlessly involve American troops in World War I, which at that point was nearly over, with Germany on the ropes and unlikely to recover enough to win. Germany likely WOULD, however, have been able to negotiate better terms for surrender had the United States not waded in. We do, though, and Germany is forced to agree to massive reparations, far beyond anything it can actually pay.
Hyperinflation is the eventual result, with the complete and fairly sudden loss of life savings for hard-working Germans, destruction of the middle class, and enough anger and chaos to help catapult the National Socialists and Adolph Hitler into power. Other notable events associated with our entry into WWI:
Sedition Act of 1918 builds upon the rights-shredding original from 100+ years ago.
"War is a Racket" – Still among the best short indictments of the power elite's war for profit scam, written by Smedley Butler, America's most highly-decorated Marine, after a career that included the Philippine-American War and World War I.
Roaring Twenties: first major Fed bubble; sets stage for Roosevelt's crimes and ensures the Great Depression.
Great Depression
Huge government programs and market interference turn what could have been a short, sharp downturn (like the one of 1921) into a long-running agony.
Centralized, socialist "help" becomes acceptable and then expected.
The power elite learn just how far they can get in America by pretending to be running everything for "compassion."
World War II
Begins era of military overgrowth and aspirations for global dominance.
Sets up the Cold War against our strongest former ally, which follows almost immediately.
Nuclear bombs developed and used twice, on civilian populations, in a nation that was already defeated and actually trying to surrender.
Tipping Point #3: Nuclear arsenals and the entire nuclear power industry as we see it today.
I don't mean that nuclear power could never be used with reasonable safety (although perhaps that's the case); only that the path of destruction begun with the U.S. Constitution has, in fact, brought the United States and the world as a whole to a place where profits and, especially, the desire for huge nuclear arsenals has created a global nuclear power industry that is already in the process of killing the Earth, and which probably could never have led anywhere else.
In particular, the foolish and unnecessary use of power plants that create weapons-grade material (including depleted uranium, used in place of lead in heavy-caliber bullets, tank-busting shells, and much more) has doomed us, not only because of the thousands of nuclear warheads we've produced (although yes: those warheads alone could end most life on Earth), but because the power plants themselves and the fuel they use are insanely, bizarrely dangerous.
No safe disposal method exists for the waste of these plants (and for other nuclear waste); the dangers are so severe and obvious that insurance companies won't insure, leading to the Price-Anderson act, which limits the liability of the nuclear industry, ensuring the stunning lack of safety we see today. Nuclear accidents of many types become inevitable at this point, and the eventual near-death of the biosphere seems assured.
The serious radiological contamination of the Earth's surface begins with massive nuclear weapons testing by the United States, the Soviet Union, and other nations, along with mining, refining, transporting, and utilizing the uranium and other elements necessary for nuclear bombs and power stations. Much of this contamination will remain deadly for longer than the Earth has currently existed; each new atom of the long-lived radioactive metals such as plutonium and DU are added permanently to the already existing load in the waters, the air, on the land, and inside every living thing.
Almost none of this can be cleaned up, removed, or neutralized.
Per capita thyroid doses (in rads) in the continental United States resulting from all exposure routes from all atmospheric nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site from 1951–1962 (Courtesy Wikipedia). 11,000 to 212,000 cases of thyroid cancer (a wide spread, yes) are thought to have been caused just from atmospheric testing in Nevada; unknown numbers of other forms of cancer were also caused, with some still gestating.
Once President Kennedy is out of the way, the Vietnam War ramps up, bringing smiles, bonuses, and career advancement to many in the military-industrial complex and huge profits to those at the top of the food chain. Minor side-effects include severe inflation, the deaths of 58,000 Americans and of more than a million (perhaps as many as 2,000,000) Vietnamese, plus an even larger number of victims who are only maimed, blinded, orphaned, wounded, emotionally damaged, or born with birth defects from Agent Orange – which is still causing birth defects and other health problems in Southeast Asia.
1960's pro-freedom, anti-war radicalism becomes co-opted and crushed.
Tipping Point #4: Post-Vietnam inflation leads to ending all pretense that the dollar is backed by gold; Nixon "closes the gold window" in '71, thus defaulting on our obligations to redeem dollars for a specified amount of gold. Pure fiat era begins and the pace of destruction accelerates.
Fiat-vomiting central banks have by this point existed for decades in almost every nation, and all of them race the Federal Reserve to the bottom, printing money constantly – while continuing to use the depreciating dollar as their primary reserve currency. This ensures that collapse will be global in scope, not just an American affair, meaning, among other things, that nations around the globe will be even more helpless than they'd otherwise be when the real ecological crisis (no, not the one Al Gore keeps trying to sell you on) flares into an inferno.
Chernobyl, biggest nuke accident to date (1986). Other nuclear accidents were hidden for decades (some perhaps still are), such as the 1957 horror at a secret, unnamed Soviet plant near the Techa river; the Seattle Times reported in 2004 that "environmental experts have called the Techa district the most polluted place on earth." Regarding Chernobyl, a recent report published by the New York Academy of Sciences (thousands of studies and documents were translated into English for the first time for this project) found that roughly a million people have died from the effects of Chernobyl's fallout – far above previous estimates. Radiation is still a problem throughout Europe 25 years later (see also this talk by Dr. Helen Caldicott; video, 9 min 54 sec). Staggering levels of cancer (Caldicott says that 20,000 people have had their thyroids removed due to cancer from Chernobyl's radioactive iodine), birth defects, and other health problems in those (and their offspring) who were near enough to the reactor to get concentrated amounts of the fallout – including, at lesser levels, in places outside the Soviet Union, such as Turkey.
The modern U.S. military-industrial complex's excuse for existence – the Soviet Union – goes bankrupt and falls apart; US responds by making its military even larger, eventually launches war against a tactic (terrorism) in an inspired move to ensure that peace can never again be declared.
Tipping Point #5: Genetically modified organisms – food crops, bacteria, cotton, farm animals, and more, in ever-increasing numbers – along with other, non-biological forms of nano-tech, are created and set loose into the environment.
Some GMOs are beneficial and without presently-known negative side effects, but few are well tested for safety and many studies, especially those performed outside the US, show troubling if not terrifying long-term and even short-term effects for some GMOs, including general poor health and high rates of infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects in animals exposed to certain GMO foods that millions of humans are now consuming. Some GMO varieties (of corn, for example) actually produce insecticide; these and many other GMO varieties have shown enough harm in animal and other testing that much of the world, including the European Union, strongly restrict or even prohibit the sale and use of GMOs.
In the U.S., however, the corporate/regulatory/legislative monolith protects and pushes for the use of GMOs at home and overseas; a particularly stunning example is Paul Bremer's Order 81 (of the infamous "100 Orders" imposed on Iraq before the so-called "transfer of sovereignty" back to the Iraqi people), which imposes severe restrictions and requirements on Iraqi farmers designed to coerce them into perpetual use of Monsanto and other GMO crops.
On the safety issue, see GM Crops – Just the Science, a plain-English overview with nearly 150 citations and a focus on the peer-reviewed science and research on GMOs [PDF].
Despite such concerns, Monsanto and other industry heavyweights succeed in preventing US consumers from being "confused" by accurate labeling of GMO food. Unlike most industrial pollution, it is unclear whether GMO bio-pollution can ever be cleaned up or even controlled; living organisms proliferate and cross-pollinate (outcrossing, for example). The history of real-life invasive species (fire ants, for one nasty example) make clear that humans delude themselves when they assume they can contain the spread of life forms introduced into new environments. 
Other forms of nano-tech also proliferate before scientists have the slightest idea whether some or all of this tech will cause problems, and if so, what those problems might be or how serious they might become – and that's without even considering the horrific potential of nanotech weapons. Even upbeat futurist Ray Kurzweil eventually expresses concern over this and other forms of hyper-tech. Don't even ask about Bill Joy (cofounder and, at the time, Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems); his famous Why The Future Doesn't Need Us (Wired Magazine, April 2000) remains a terrifying summary of the potential for catastrophic harm from modern technology – actually, only from some modern technology. Among his more sobering observations:
"Thus we have the possibility not just of weapons of mass destruction but of knowledge-enabled mass destruction (KMD), this destructiveness hugely amplified by the power of self-replication.
I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil, an evil whose possibility spreads well beyond that which weapons of mass destruction bequeathed to the nation-states, on to a surprising and terrible empowerment of extreme individuals."
The attacks of 9/11/2001: Speaking of extreme evil, the "new Pearl Harbor" that neocons had openly pined for initiates a full-court press for a police state in the United States. In the following decade, Americans lose ALL of their rights, but don't really believe it until the FEMA camps, foreign troops, and other horrors begin full-scale operations during martial law. I would have made this a highlighted tipping point – it will certainly be a major and tragic event for those who suffer through it – but in the larger scheme of things (of the world-killing events mentioned in the title of this column), this localized end-point of American tyranny is more an unfortunate footnote than a key event. The biosphere dies either way.
The BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill contaminates the Gulf, kills enormous quantity of sea life, poisons the food chain even outside the Gulf (many species migrate annually), contaminates seafood sold for human consumption, causes never-before-seen levels of deformity in sea life, and causes poison to cover Southern states via rain, resulting in widespread health problems that are, of course, officially ignored. The EPA allows massive use of Corexit to hide the oil (thus saving BP millions in fines) although Corexit itself is significantly more toxic than oil and the combination is synergistic in its toxicity. Journalists and others who report actual news about the damage are often intimidated or worse. Even before this disaster, many scientists had expressed concern about the serious levels of contamination by hundreds of toxins in the oceans, lakes, and rivers around the world. (Relevant details and links are in my Had Enough Government Regulation Yet?, about halfway down).
Tipping Point #6: Fukushima nuclear disaster kills the Pacific Ocean, kills the largest metro area in the world, Tokyo (which is eventually evacuated), kills the Japanese economy, kills Japan itself (nearly the entire country is eventually too contaminated to inhabit), and eventually kills the Earth.
Here we enter new territory, straddling the line between historical events and future possibilities. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is real; it began on March 11, 2011, with a massive earthquake and tidal wave that together ripped the multi-reactor power plant complex apart and began the ongoing release, from multiple sources around the site, of staggering levels of several types of radioactive materials.
Radiation has already been reported in parts of Tokyo at levels well beyond those which triggered evacuation from areas around Chernobyl – something even the NYTimes has reported. Lower levels of radioactive cesium and other radioactive substances from the disaster have been detected in the United States, in Europe, and thousands of miles from Japan in the oceans.
Gundersen: "We’re getting studies out of the Cascades, all the way down into Southern California, where we’re seeing cesium in pine needles, cesium in the ground up in Oregon and up in Vancouver. Not a lot. I guess my biggest concern is bioaccumulation, it works its way up the food chain."
“There is no longer any such thing as clean and safe food” after radiation from Fukushima spread around planet.
Kyoto nuclear professor (link includes video)
"But nuclear waste experts say the Japanese are literally playing with fire in the way nuclear spent fuel continues to be stored onsite, especially in reactor 4, which contains the most irradiated fuel – 10 times the deadly cesium-137 released during the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. These experts also charge that the NRC is letting this threat fester because acknowledging it would call into question safety at dozens of identically designed nuclear power plants around the U.S., which contain exceedingly higher volumes of spent fuel in similar elevated pools outside of reinforced containment." [Emphasis added]
Based on what we've seen in areas and among populations where radiation exposure has been notably higher than the global norm – within hundreds of square miles around Chernobyl, for instance, and in areas with heavy DU contamination inside Iraq and elsewhere, for another – I consider the following scenario not merely possible but perhaps likely.
How likely? Good question. It will depend on how quickly and how severely the Fukushima disaster progresses – Fukushima is still pumping radiation into the environment and will almost surely continue doing so for our lifetimes and beyond – and whether other such massive nuclear catastrophes arrive in the next few decades (they certainly will begin to arrive, many of them, at some point). Here's what might be coming in our lifetimes, or – should those of us now alive be lucky enough to miss it – in the lifetimes of our children or grandchildren:
Infertility, miscarriages, horrific birth defects, heart disease (radiation poisoning damages the heart and blood vessels), diabetes and other conditions caused by organ failure or malfunction, and of course cancer of all types – all of this rapidly begins to increase, soon skyrocketing beyond anything that can be hidden by governments and the media and eventually beyond what most people would have previously thought possible. The young are especially vulnerable. Having one's thyroid removed becomes as common among children as having one's tonsils out was for children in the 1950s. Big Pharma rejoices; without a working thyroid gland, you take thyroid pills daily or die.
With depleted uranium nano-dust continually being added to the environment by U.S. and foreign military forces, and with earlier fallout from bomb testing, from Chernobyl and other accidents, and from many other sources already impacting life across the planet, the ongoing and ever-worsening Fukushima disaster becomes, sooner or later, the straw that breaks the camel's back. In Japan itself, the results are horrific; the nationwide evacuation comes too late for many, especially the young.
Worldwide, and especially in the Northern Hemisphere, children born in the 2020s and even the late 2010s (even assuming no further nuke-plant disasters for now) are so likely to succumb to cancer or other radiation- or toxin-induced disease by their early twenties that this generation is decimated; 30% or more die before reaching their third decade. Half of those who do survive have serious health problems or (increasingly, among those born further into the crisis) birth defects of varying severity. Fertility levels fall in humans and in wildlife and farm animals of all kinds. General health in humans, animals, and plants takes a nosedive; the world becomes a more sickly place. Worldwide contamination of the food supply by genetically modified organisms (including via cross-pollination and other methods) as well as by radioactive poisons makes people, plants, and animals even less able to withstand the onslaught of chemical, industrial, and other pollution in the environment.
Unit 4 [not one of the three units that have been releasing radioactive material in large amounts so far] is leaning and could topple if hit with another earthquake or tsunami, resulting in a deadly high-level radioactive waste fire. The ability for the unit to withstand another seismic event is rated at zero.
. . .
“If the cooling water supply is lost to the high-level radioactive waste storage pool in Unit 4, it could be just a matter of hours before the irradiated nuclear fuel is on fire,” warned Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear. “A fire in the Unit 4 high-level radioactive waste storage pool could release up to eight times more hazardous cesium-137 than the Chernobyl reactor explosion. That in turn would mean the site would have to be evacuated, risking the potential for all seven high-level radioactive waste storage pools at the site to ignite. If that happened, Fukushima Daiichi would release 85 times the levels of cesium released by Chernobyl, potentially forcing an evacuation, and permanent condemnation, of hundreds to thousands of square miles,” Kamps added.
Cesium-137 fallout from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe has already been measured by the US Geological Survey across the US, although the agency has downplayed the risks, despite the position long held by the National Academy of Sciences that there is no safe dose of radiation. [Emphasis added]
Other nuclear plants, including some in the United States (link includes video interview with physicist Michio Kaku), are already having their own problems and are in any case no better-designed than those at Fukushima. For one example, the San Onofre reactor midway between Los Angeles and San Diego was recently shut down indefinitely (Wikipedia reports that "Plant officials have pledged not to restart the units until the cause of the tube leak and tube degradation are understood"). Whether it ever reopens, San Onofre, like the reactors at Fukushima, is in an active earthquake zone (and only designed to handle quakes of up to 7.0 – far below what might occur), is close to the ocean, and is situated near huge metro areas with tens of millions of people. This type of insanity is typical of the industry, worldwide.
Decontaminating the world's forests, oceans, lakes, cities, and farmland proves impossible, but as the horrifying potential for near-total devastation becomes clear, desperate attempts at decontamination are made anyway. These further bankrupt many nations and reduce the resources available to handle the other disasters (peak oil, peak metals, mass starvation, the exploding health crisis, wars to claim resources and to appropriate less-contaminated land, safely dismantling the hundreds of aging nuclear power plants as they all move beyond their expiration dates, etc.) occurring at the same time. Because psychopaths are almost completely in charge of nearly all governments, government response is for the most part corrupt – thinly veiled thefts of money, land, power, and anything else to be had, always "in the people's interest" but never achieving any positive result – at least, not for "the people."
As the 21st Century draws to a close, most major species (especially vertebrates of all types) are extinct or endangered. Some life remains on Earth, but given the level of permanent devastation to DNA worldwide, to fertility levels, and all our other contributions to the Sixth Great Extinction, it is fair to say that Mankind has, roughly speaking, killed the biosphere.
Despite the plans and fantasies of today's power elite, modern civilization vanishes as economies shatter and the division of labor falls apart; human survivors, if any, are soon at Stone Age level. Plutonium, depleted uranium, and a number of other radioactive elements remain deadly for millions or even billions of years – forever in human terms. Even the decay products are often deadly – sometimes more deadly than the original material. At some point, the contamination becomes too much to ignore; at some later point, it becomes too much to survive. The chances seem uncomfortably high that this point will be reached by the end of this century.
In case the ongoing, ever-worsening Fukushima disaster isn't enough (on top of everything else) to ensure the end of human civilization, those hundreds of other nuclear plants* scattered around the world eventually fall apart from earthquake, flooding, or other natural disaster – or from terrorist attack or, eventually, through simple decay (no one has the money to decommission them safely, and the technology to do the job has not been created in any case). Each reactor in its own time becomes a serious new vector of contamination; ditto for nuclear laboratories, bomb factories, waste dumps, rusting containers and cooling pools leaking into the water tables of the Earth, abandoned and corroding nuclear vessels (Navy cruisers, aircraft carriers, destroyers, and submarines, for instance) on and beneath the sea, intensely-radioactive individual pieces and parts of the plants that do get dismantled, and other sources of concentrated, radioactive death.
* "As of 30 March 2012 in 31 countries 436 nuclear power plant units with an installed electric net capacity of about 370 GW are in operation and 63 plants with an installed capacity of 60 GW are in 15 countries under construction." [emphasis added]- - source: European Nuclear Society, euronuclear.org; link includes chart showing the number of plants in each of dozens of nations around the world. Note of minor irony (NoMI): Among the stated aims of the ENS is to "foster public acceptance" [of nuclear power].
The Fukushima disaster, by itself, has already contaminated much of the Earth and impacted the health of people, plants, and wildlife across much of the globe. With over 430 nuclear plants operating now, many near earthquake faults or otherwise in some obvious path of potential danger, and 63 more under construction, I see no way that anything approaching civilization, a healthy environment, or probably even the human race can survive. Neither the pristine new fuel rods nor the highly irradiated spent fuel is safe for humans or other life. Despite claims to the contrary, there is no method proven safe for disposing of this nightmarish avalanche of radioactive waste; certainly no method for removing the nano particles of DU and radioactive cesium and plutonium and all the other radioactive elements and isotopes from the forests and rivers and lakes and cities and farmland and water tables and oceans and atmosphere of this once green and lovely Earth. Instead, more of this waste and fallout and accidental discharge and leakage is being added to the environment every day, every hour. A single hot particle, inhaled into one's lungs, can cause cancer (link includes video of Columbia medical professor Andy Kanter describing the effects of chronic low-dose radiation, including vastly-more-serious low-dose internal radiation).
You do the math. The power elite apparently wasn't able to, or somehow managed to convince themselves that the numbers didn't really matter, at least if enough money and power were involved. But then, humans have a long and striking history of overlooking uncomfortable truths.
No true market system or genuine free society would allow such horror; who would insure the power plant operators? How would they not have been sued into oblivion decades ago? Without government-granted utility monopolies, without billions of dollars forced from the taxpayers and other forms of aggression relentlessly pushing for nuclear power, why would any corporation even begin such a costly, dangerous, and uninsurable business?
Our flawed Statist system has caused this world-killing nuclear nightmare to emerge. Beginning with the smoldering ember of a seemingly benign "Constitutionally-restrained government" and then with the ascendance of the toxic Left/Right paradigm, which limits and channels all political action into aggression, we have gradually abandoned civil society, replacing compassion and liberty with coercive (thus psychopathic) governance – that is, with Power as Tolkien described it.
– – – – –
If nothing is done to stop and at least partially reverse the damage we have caused, this Earth will, sooner or later, become and remain a radioactive wasteland. Recent events, such as the uptick in major earthquakes, especially in the heavily-populated Ring of Fire region, make "sooner" appear ever-more likely. In any case, the growing understanding that Fukushima and earlier, often ongoing sources of radiological contamination have already compromised the environment and to some unknown extent the health of all life on the planet, make such apocalyptic predictions hard to dismiss.
If the non-aggression principle and an awakening sense of compassion are going to save us (nothing else will, although many things in addition will be needed), they had better get to work quickly. Even love and freedom can only do so much: prevention of evil, yes. Restoring civil society after a merely political nightmare, yes. But restoring a healthy world after a long series of tipping points in the wrong direction, leading to our current situation? That will severely tax the power of good to recover from evil. If we want to see such a recovery, we need to start work in earnest, now.


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Glen Allport's picture
Columns on STR: 104

Glen Allport co-authored The User's Guide to OS/2 from Compute! Books and is the author of The Paradise Paradigm: On Creating a World of Compassion, Freedom, and Prosperity. He maintains paradise-paradigm.net. This is one in a series of columns on the human condition.


Steve's picture

That's awfully pessimistic. Is the glass really always half empty?
With hindsight we can see that the US Constitution was flawed, but it still was a leap beyond anything of the time, and still beats most any other constitution today.
Human knowledge is doubling ever more rapidly--are there no solutions on the horizon?
You sound like a leftist--extrapolating current trends without accounting for feedback loops.
As Steven Pinker recounts in his recent "The Better Angels of Our Nature", violence has declined nonstop over the past 10K years, right through to the present. There is great cause for optimism.

Glen Allport's picture

I agree with you Steve: It IS awfully pessimistic. But not because "the glass is always half empty" -- It's because things really are in such dire shape.

Here's what Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer and former nuclear company executive, has to say about Fukushima in a radio interview with KGO Radio’s Pat Thurston
April 15, 2012 --

"There’s more cesium in that [Unit 4] fuel pool than in all 800 nuclear bombs exploded above ground…
"But of course it would happen all at once.
"It would certainly destroy Japan as a functioning country…
"Move south of the equator if that ever happened, I think that’s probably the lesson there."

And again: that's just one of these poorly-designed monsters. (Actually, it's just one of the 7 or 8 fuel pools at that one site; the others are a big concern also, although they aren't currently listing as Unit 4's is). Spent fuel is being kept above-ground at hundreds of power plants and other places all over the world. When this gets taken care of, I'll stop being pessimistic about it, but for now, more of this stuff (including DU and many other radioactive materials) is being added to the environment every day from a thousand sources. That's the fact of the matter, whether we like it or not.

I'm a fan of Ray Kurzweil; I've read "The Singularity is Near" and his other books. I understand his "law of accelerating returns" and the part of me that loved reading Popular Science as an eight-year-old is very optimistic about where we're headed. Yes, many things have gotten a LOT better over the past century or so, but still -- about 272 million people were murdered by (mostly their own) governments in the same period, per R. J. Rummel, and the global economic crash (which I predicted in another pessimistic column in 2007, "Destruction by Paradigm"), the growth of a stunning police state in the US after 9.11, and other realities indicate that we aren't necessarily on a one-way trip to nirvana. And we won't solve these problems unless we first accept them as real and see them clearly.

Glock27's picture

Good point. I'm a prepper and having read this it makes one wonder if it is now worth the effort.
Having read a lot of history, I believe the founding fathers were trying to do the best they could for the new Nation. Certainly the Constitution has flaws, but it is better than anything else so far, even South Africa.
I shall try to maintain a more positive outlook than this exposition.