WW3?

By Enrique Lescure, Relations Director of EOS.

The recent developments in Syria are very troubling for the prospects of world peace. Both Iran and Russia have signalled that they will respond directly by an US strike, while the USA has stated that retaliation will be taken as a reason to expand the conflict.

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While the recent gas attack in Ghouta was a horrific atrocity, the proposed US intervention is even officially resting on several reasons, one of which is “US national interest”. One could only recall the horrendous Central African wars of the 1990s, which did neither engage a foreign intervention or even much attention from western media and governments.

It is estimated that 10 million people have been killed in these separate wars. Yet they produced no international intervention. It is probably necessary that we in the future find a way to allow a neutral and general way of conducting interventions, without affecting the “precious balance of power”.

Given that, the Syrian Civil War is probably the most intensive conflict in the world today, and there is an acute humanitarian crisis.

The main issue for the involved parties can be said to be “The Great Game”, an underlying conflict between the Anglo-Saxon powers and the Russian Empire, which can be said to be over two centuries old.

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The Great Game is basically a centuries old conflict of interests regarding Central Asia and the Middle East. In its modern incarnation, it is basically an issue of oil and gas reserves.

On one side, there is Russia, which is heavily dependent on its virtual monopoly on Central Asian oil and gas, which it exports to Europe. This has come to fund Putin’s military and security apparatus, and anything which would upset this monopoly would harm Russia’s economy – perhaps leading to an economic crisis and the collapse of the Russian Federation.

On the other hand, there is America, a heavily indebted superpower which is suffering from sluggish growth prospects, a crumbling infrastructure, a social security system which would be bankcrupted in a few decades if not years. If the United States would get an inroad into the Central Asian oil and gas market, it could theoretically be used both to bolster the United States’ fading superpower status and serve to cripple their Russian rivals.

This is probably why Russia consider the prospects for a US intervention in Syria as a mortal threat, and show readiness to use military force in order to try to intimidate the United States. During these last two months, it stands evidently clear that we all are living in the middle of a Second Cold War.

This is a very dangerous situation.

Syria is an ally of Iran, and Iran is an Anti-American power that blocks western access to Central Asia from the south. Since 2003, the geopolitical situation of Iran has steadily improved, due to both the toppling of the Sunni Minority regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel War and the increasing participation in the Putin-led “multipolar bloc”.

Syria allows both Iran and Russia access to the Mediterranean Sea.

In the same time, Saudi Arabia and Qatar both desire to contain Iran and if possible weaken it, as they both fear the prospects of Iranian hegemony over the Middle East, and both have desired to shoulder the leadership of the muslim nations of the Middle East.

Many analysts believe that the toppling of the Assad regime in Syria and the subsequent weakening of the Hezbollah militia that must follow would pave the road for a war with Iran, aiming at destabilising it so a pro-western regime could take power. This would then (according to Russian analysts) probably lead to increased western influence over Central Asia.

This “new great game” is a very dangerous game, since it touches the core interests of two great powers and several regional powers. The question is whether we collectively as a species are willing to risk a great war, possibly a global conflict with nukes involved, for the issue of Syria.

The solution must be to openly discuss the great game, and for all the great and regional powers to take a step back and realise that others don’t want to the exposed to what they themselves don’t want to be exposed to. “Do not do unto others, what you don’t what others to do to you.”

The impeding resource crisis is a serious challenge for all powers. We should not primarily think of how to hurt Russia, America, China, Africa or the EU, but how to help everyone adjust to the future.

If we can separate the Syrian Civil War from the corporate and political interests to gain geo-strategic footholds and hurt competitors, we can solve it tomorrow. And the only way forward is if all assorted parties sacrifice their offensive interests visavi one another, and realise that sometimes we might need to allow odd to be even.

I also suggest that you all who read this are signing this petition. It would not mean much, but the more of us that are signing this, the clearer it would be that the peoples of the world do not desire a war.

The EOS alternative (Proposed article)

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The human civilization is a very complex series of emergent systems, connected by the multi-level activities of all participants in the process of shaping the future of things to come. Many attempts have been made to devise schemes to describe, envision and realise societies which – only if implemented, and if human beings behaved exactly as expected by the philosopher kings – would certainly solve all of humanity’s woes.

 

Of course, such an outlook would be rubbish. Forget “human nature” as an argument. It is enough to think there are 7 billion people on the planet, as well as thousands of cultures, religions, communities and conditions which adjust their choices according to differing social environments.

 

Hardly surprising, the realisation that it is very difficult to change the entire way the human civilization is organised makes it a seemingly far more attractive route to change aspects of our current society with the aim of strengthening it so it would better be able to face the challenges of tomorrow. Moreover, swearing in church would create enmity and perhaps even fear by groups who can expect that they must make sacrifices for the common good of the planet and of humanity.

 

Isn’t that, for example, what the term “green growth” has come to mean?

 

EOS is arguing that a few core tenets of this current dominant socio-economic system are the main culprits behind the global degradation of the biosphere. We will explore these core tenets and how they relate to the system later more thoroughly, but this article is a brief outline over our alternative.

 

Firstly, we do believe that the current socio-economic system employed on a global scale by the human race is short-sighted, self-destructive, destructive, growth-dependent and virtually forced by its own constraints to consume the biosphere in a frenzy. While reforms can bring us closer to a more harmonious relationship with the planet, no reform which doesn’t aim to shift out this system in return for something else will accomplish any sustainable objectives.

 

This current socio-economic system will die during this century. The only question is if it will collapse to a more primitive form, or if it will be replaced by a more enlightened system. EOS aims to actively contribute towards a shift to a higher evolutionary stage.

 

As we see it, the system of the future must ultimately serve the progress of Life, without trying to control it.

 

As we have previously stated, the existence of life is what we must treat as the most valuable thing in the universe. Without life, there would not be experiences, emotions, thoughts, dreams or aspirations, or the opportunity of them. The preservation and elevation of life is a prime imperative.

 

Thus follows that both the survival of the biosphere and the dreams and aspirations of an individual human being are intimately connected to what EOS aims to achieve. The biosphere should be able to thrive, and all humans should be able to aspire to their highest possible potential within their interests, dreams and skills.

 

Therefore, we are proposing two conditions with which to decide what goals the new socio-economic system should strive to fulfil.

 

One: The new socio-economic system should keep the usage of the Earth’s resources below 100% of the Earth’s annual renewal capacity.

 

Two: The new socio-economic system should see that no human being goes without access to basic income, housing, education, water, food and a social network.

 

That means that the new system must have both ecological and social aspects.

The 6th of January Conference

For being a small movement, EOS is characterised by a determination to move where most other organisations don’t, and to engage in a very broad variety of projects that aim to shape the future. On behalf of EOS, I want to express gratitude towards everyone who have decided to partake in the struggle to build a sustainable future for coming generations. The Biodome Project in Umea represents but the beginning of many projects which would be undertaken on the local, regional and global level to help to shift humanity towards a more sustainable future. eos_2013_1

To achieve this, we are dependent on the public. We are dependent on you.

But we are also keen to listen to your concerns and interests, and therefore invite you to partake in our forums, our facebook group, or our various meetings. If you have ideas which you want to realise in terms of sustainability and a transformation of the way in which we humans on a grand scale are dealing with our planet and our society, you are welcome to join EOS. We are not the kind of organisation where everyone is obliged to do the same thing, or where talented young people are wasted away to carry litter boxes, standing outside windy days and gather petitions or similar. We want to gather the brightest minds and most active hearts to make a qualitative change which would resonate through society.

You are very welcome to join in on our Teamviewer conference on the 6th of January 2013!

With kind regards

/Enrique

How the European project could save itself

The current Nobel Peace Prize award in Oslo is an attempt to verify the European Union as a “peace project”, comparable with Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Bono. This decision has been met with criticism both due to the fact that the EU has not always contributed positively to global peace, and as an obvious attempt to try to redefine the EU brand from being associated with a limping economy, an Euro on the verge of collapse, austerity, national governments that are radar-controlled from the ECB in Frankfurt, political ineptitude, xenophobia and the rise of poverty and far right groups.

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The enlightened, managerial establishment of Europe (of which the Norwegian Nobel Committee is a part) is using this prize as a form of therapy bear, and hopes that it would make those “unwashed rabble” who are threatened by unemployment, homelessness, a plummeting quality of life and perpetual debt to forget about their plight and come miming together to Beethoven’s Ninth. Not gonna happen. The prize does not elevate its possessor, but the possessor can elevate or denigrate the prize. Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama are inspiring human beings who have paid for their convictions by tremendous personal sacrifices. They also are likeable people who are charismatic and photogenic.

For the echo chamber, for the liberal media (of which many newspapers became either irritated at the EU peace prize reward, or stayed indifferent to the whole debacle) and for those who are invested in the EU, they thought it would increase the status of the Union. Instead, it sunk the value of the prize – again, and comes of as a desperate, Soviet-esque attempt to award oneself medals. To a very great extent, the EU has been the darling project for the managerial-bureaucratic classes in the European countries, no matter if these countries are a part of the EU or not. Norway is not a member of the EU, and only 18% of the Norwegians want to join the EU.

It remains a mystery what concrete, tangible things the European Union has done for peace. KFOR? SFOR? Peace-keeping missions? On that ground, the peace prize could have been awarded to every country or organisation that holds peace-keeping troops in other countries. What we should discuss is not so much peace-keeping as peace-building. And what we should discuss in this post is whether the EU brand forever is soiled.

I don’t think its necessarily that way.

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But “building a Pan-European identity” is so quaint today. It was perhaps progressive back in the 1930’s, when most of the world consisted of European colonies. It is true that there are a lot of youths who attach their identity to  something larger than their nation – but these youths are not very fond of the European Union and they don’t want to be Europeans. They want to be Earthlings. Earth inhabitants. Tellusians.

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They travel to Ghana to help with ecological farming projects, are travelling to the Arctic to canoe with Polar Bears, are going down to Palestine, to Sudan, to Chiapas, to Ecuador, to Uganda and to Nepal. They certainly don’t identify themselves with Barroso, Van Rompuy or Ashton. They don’t want to build a “glorious United States of Europe”, because that dream of the interwar era has since long been superceded by a vision of a planet which knows no borders, of a sustainable planet, of a planet where humanity is unified, in the pursuit of life, of human dignity and of ecological sustainability. They are struggling for fair trade, women’s rights and indigenous rights.

If the European Union should ever become a successful project, it must engage itself whole-heartedly in the process for global justice, human well-being and sustainability, instead of being a conduit for corporate and bureaucratic interests. Otherwise, it will continue to suffer from shrinking approval rates, until the only logical conclusion is reached.

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The European Union will never succeed if it cannot evoke love and passion. And passion can only be evoked by passion.

In the 21st century, it should be passion for the Earth.

Doha

Sometimes, you hold on to a faint hope, that human beings and especially those who by all logic should have the highest wisdom and responsibility, should be able to finally reach a consensus like the responsible adults they presumably are. Evidently, they are not capable of that. This despite that the increase in world temperature seems to be greater than anticipated. There might still be hope for an – as usual – watered down agreement which would aim to unify “economic growth” with “sustainability”, which at the current conditions feels like mixing fresh water with gasoline and throwing a burning match on it all.

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I do not believe that the current world leaders are fools, but I believe that they are prisoners of an emergent system which has established itself during the last 200 years. A system characterised by financial, industrial, social and economic emergence that gradually decreases the manoeuvre space for those caught inside the system. We might – figuratively – be standing on the deck of Titanic. Given that an analogy could be made between Titanic and the world. And now the climate change issue is not the only debilitating environmental crisis in the world.

Another analogy would be that the Doha conference is a rehab meeting where everyone are addicts. But that would be too cheap. To a great extent, the climate change adjustment meetings are reminiscent of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Everybody has a motive to cheat, an agreement would lead to a loss in economic growth figures, but a disagreement would basically mean a major loss. The only difference is that it is the children’s children of the current world leaders who would live with the end result.

For a moment, imagine the relocation of the population of the Nile Valley Delta, or Bangladesh. We will be talking of over a quarter of a billion people. Most of them poor and more or less innocent to the destruction of the environment undertaken by a shortsighted and irrational system. Instead of only talking reduction of emissions, we should also discuss how to begin to relocate people, because some of the world’s most populated regions will be less habitable by 50 years.

Enrique Lescure, Relations Director, The Earth Organisation for Sustainability (EOS)

Overpopulation vs Overproduction

The reasoning for this post is an interesting topic which we discussed in the EOS Facebook Group recently. indian_family_22_oct_2003

When you put a dozen greens in a room, you generally get 60 differing opinions on various topics. One topic which usually makes the room go silent is the topic of population growth. There are three different reasons for population growth being a hot topic in green circles.

Firstly, this issue, when formulated as a problem, begs for political solutions – which often means intrusive measures carried out into the personal lives of people. This creates a natural cringe reaction, especially as many greens are young parents. It also leads to natural associations with various authoritarian governments, like Nazi Germany’s eugenics laws and the People’s Republic of China’s one-child policies. Even if the person claiming to want population control doesn’t specify how – or maybe exactly because of that – people’s thoughts are led to the nightmares of forced sterilisation, adoption clinics, police state measures and sex regulations. And nothing scare people as much as the thought of the state scrutinising their personal lives.

Secondly, harking from this, a lot of greens are aspiring politicians – even in smaller “deep green” parties. They are aware that if you talk about population control, people will flee your party like the cat is fleeing a cold bath. Population control is a kiss of death in western politics. The reasons for this are not irrational. Nobody (or at least a miniscule minority) are wanting intrusive measures into their own lives by the government.

For me, the most important argument against population control as the main source for combatting the ecological crisis is scientific and moral. I will discuss the scientific reasoning first, and that would make the third reason why the subject is cringe-worthy, and the reason which personally makes me tick.

The claim is that we have too little resources to sustain the current population of Earth, and that the population will constantly rise due to the “arithmetic factors” of growth. Professor Al Bartlett of the University of Colorado is claiming this in a lecture which has found its way into Youtube. He is contested by mainstream science, represented by professor Hans Rosling. While EOS has many criticisms against Rosling, it is worth noting that Malthusians like Al Bartlett are doing sustainability advocacy a huge misservice. Having listened to Bartlett’s lecture and read about his resumé, I cannot find any information which shows that he is an expert on population growth curves and trends.

Human beings are not bacteria, and do not reproduce mindlessly. The first warning sign was when he claimed there is no correlation between a “population growth reduction” and education and healthcare, but instead took wars and diseases as positive examples. All research examples are showing that when life expectancy and education are going up, population growth is dropping and eventually stabilising. While a peak of 9 billion might be a little optimistic, it stands clear that if current trends continue, human population growth will stagnate. PopulationGrowth

The main question then is if it is stabilising on a level which represents an acute threat to the planetary eco-systems. Proponents of expansion of agricultural production are usually claiming that we need to increase global production in order to sustain for all people who are starving. This is a misconception. We can feed more than ten billion people today more than adequately. The famines around the world would not exist if the system was designed to accommodate all human needs. Currently, the demand in supply’n’demand is very much designated by the demand of money, which means that if you lack money, you lack demand (and don’t presumably have any needs). The food scarcity is rather a monetary scarcity than a real scarcity at the moment.

Then what is the real problem?

If you look at the graph above, it shows that the global population was almost at  2 billion in the year 1900. Today, the world population is slightly above 7 billion. That represents around a 3,5 times increase since 1900, which is indeed something worth thinking about. That is dwarfed however, by the growth of the economy since year 1900. According to J. Bradford de Long of UC Berkeley, the global economy (GWP) has grown from 1 to 41 trillion USD (1990) between year 1900 and 2000, representing a 40 time increase, or 4000%. Economic growth is not de-attached from the physical resource economy, and the physical resource economy is co-existing in the same environment that constitutes the global biosphere.

That can explain why we are using more resources than the Earth can renew on an annual basis, the annual eco-deficit (a gradual reduction of the Earth’s bio-diversity visible in statistics). This continuous destruction of the Earth’s habitats is driven by the need of the current system to maximise growth figures, and not by people in the third world gaining access to education and healthcare. Those who claim that overpopulation is the main reason behind the ecological malaise are doing a very great disservice to the planet and to future generations. By misdiagnosing the disease, they are advocating faulty remedies which would not cure the problem.

I won’t claim that the overpopulation advocates are driven by any ulterior motives or malevolence, but the idea that overpopulation is the main road towards an ecological collapse in the latter half of the 21st century is looking very much like a shift of the blame from the wealthy parts of the world, where 80% of the world trade is traditionally conducted and where most flashy new products are made, to the poorest and least developed parts of the world, those parts which incidentally have the lowest global footprint. It is also a very real return to the discourse of the 1970s.

Saying that, I won’t omit to mention that we need to engineer social and institutional policies which are leading to a responsible human procreation and family planning. Ultimately however, according to The Design, this should be an issue determined democratically, not scientifically. Human beings must be encouraged to grow up into responsible citizens who can act as stewards of their planet. The purpose of the technate is not to babysit the population, but to ensure that the planetary resources are used in a wise manner.

Needless to say, the Facebook discussion pretty much ended with the population control advocates in disarray.

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Enrique Lescure, EOS Sequence of Relations Director, the Earth Organisation for Sustainability