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2013 New Year’s Resolutions

Democracy & PlanetHelp save Democracy & Planet

Our World is rapidly running out of time and these desperate times mean serious New Year’s Resolutions. The World is acutely threatened by Nuclear Weapons, Poverty and Climate Change. Many of the 99 percent feel helpless to act against the remorseless One Percenters but we can and must win. Our key New Year’s Resolutions must be to do our bit to save Humanity and the Biosphere and to help restore Democracy to our Western Murdochracies, Lobbyocracies and Corporatocracies. It can be achieved by billions of small victories through the individual voting, advocacy and purchase decisions of the billions of Ninety-nine Percenters and one such possible small victory is outlined below by way of example.

Back in 2007 when he was President of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the present senior advisor to President Barack Obama on science and technology issues, Professor John Holdren, identified nuclear weapons, poverty and climate change as 3 key threats to humanity. As reported by AAAS: “Challenges such as poverty, climate change and nuclear proliferation pose global risks that require scientists and engineers to join with political and business leaders in a concerted search for solutions, AAAS President John P. Holdren said Thursday. In his Presidential Address at the AAAS Annual Meeting, Holdren described a world poised at an unprecedented moment of decision: Without swift and urgent action, he said, the problems could spiral toward disastrous, permanent changes for all of life on Earth”  (see “AAAS President John P. Holdren urges swift action to build a sustainable future”,  AAAS News, 16 February 2007).
Unfortunately it is simply not happening as outlined below.

1. Nuclear Weapons. While imposing deadly Sanctions on Iran (zero nuclear weapons) that repeatedly states that it does not want nuclear weapons and wants a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, the US (7,700 nuclear weapons) is boosting its nuclear and conventional forces in Asia and Australia and continues to pour billions of dollars of military aid into the war criminal, genocidal racist, ethnic cleansing and nuclear terrorist rogue state of Apartheid Israel that reportedly has 200 nuclear weapons (see “List of states with nuclear weapons”, Wikipedia).

2. Poverty. UN Population Division data indicate that about 18 million people die avoidably each year in Developing Countries (minus China) on a Spaceship Earth with Neocon American and Zionist Imperialist One Percenters in charge of the flight deck. 9 years ago global avoidable deaths totaled 16 million per year (see Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, now available for free perusal on the Web). In Iran alone about 100,000 Iranians die avoidably each year under cruel US-imposed Sanctions. The Sanctions applied to Iraq from 1990 to 2003 killed an estimated 1.7 million people, 1.1 million being under-5 year old infants (Google “Iraqi Holocaust, Iraqi Genocide”).

3. Climate Change.  In 2009 the WBGU, which advises the German Government on climate change, estimated that for a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature rise, the world must emit no more than 600 billion tonnes carbon dioxide (CO2) before zero emissions in 2050. Unfortunately the global greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is so high that the World will exceed this terminal budget in 5 years. US methane emissions are so high that these alone will exceed the World’s terminal GHG pollution budget of 600 billion tonnes CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) in a mere 8 years (see “Doha climate change inaction. Only 5 years left to act”, MWC News, 9 December 2012).

The key reason for this inaction on climate change is Corporate Lobbying that has transformed former Democracy America into a Murdochracy (according to John Pilger), a Lobbyocracy (according to many Americans) and a Corporatocracy (according to Professor Brian Ellis in his book “Social Humanism. A new metaphysics”, MWC News, 18 August 2012).  Thus following Hurricane Sandy, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore sharply criticized fellow Democrat President Barack Obama for failing to tackle global warming: “I deeply respect our president and I am grateful for the steps that he has taken, but we cannot have four more years of mentioning this occasionally and saying it's too bad that the Congress can't act… Our democracy has been hacked and when the large part of polluters and their ideological allies tell the members of Congress to jump, they do say, 'how high?' And we need leadership in the executive branch as well” (see “Gore raps Obama in post-Sandy speech”, Reuters, 6 December 2012).

Professor Jeffrey Sachs from 82-Nobel-Laureate Columbia University in his book “The Price of Civilization” says that the US economy is caught in a feedback loop: ''Corporate wealth translates into political power through campaign financing, corporate lobbying and the revolving door of jobs between government and industry; and political power translates into further wealth through tax cuts, deregulation and sweetheart contracts between government and industry. Wealth begets power, and power begets wealth.'' Professor Sachs identifies 4 key sectors that dominate Corporatocracy America:
1. the Military-Industrial Complex: “The linkage of the military and private industry created a political power so pervasive that America has been condemned to militarization, useless wars and fiscal waste on a scale of many tens of trillions of dollars since then”;
2. Wall Street: “[Wall Street- Washington ties] paved the way for the 2008 financial crisis and the mega-bailouts that followed, through reckless deregulation followed by an almost complete lack of oversight by government'';

3. Big Oil-Transport-Military: “'Since the days of John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Trust a century ago, Big Oil has loomed large in American politics and foreign policy. Big Oil teamed up with the automobile industry to steer America away from mass transit and towards gas-guzzling vehicles driving on a nationally financed highway system... Big Oil has played a notorious role in the fight to keep climate change off the US agenda. Exxon-Mobil, Koch Industries and others in the sector have underwritten a generation of anti-scientific propaganda to confuse the American people''; and

4. Healthcare: “The key to understanding this sector is to note that the government partners with industry to reimburse costs with little systematic oversight and control. Pharmaceutical firms set sky-high prices protected by patent rights; Medicare and Medicaid and private insurers reimburse doctors and hospitals on a cost-plus basis; and the American Medical Association restricts the supply of new doctors through the control of placements at medical schools. The result of this pseudo-market system is sky-high costs, large profits for the private healthcare sector, and no political will to reform'' (see Ross Gittins. “The four business gangs that run America”, The Age, 31 December 2012).
What can ordinary people do? Ordinary people, Ninety-nine Percenters, must act by (a) informing others and (b) urging and taking personal action as consumers and voters. Below is just one example of what an individual can do.

The following letter was sent by me to Australia’s Special (multicultural) Broadcasting Service, SBS, to other media and to Australian MPs in response to misleading advertizing by a major fossil fuel company being broadcast nationwide on SBS TV:

LETTER: Dear etc,
SBS is running an advertisement in which Shell makes 2 misleading assertions: (1) that burning natural gas produces 50% less  greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than burning coal (whereas in reality, depending upon the rate of systemic gas leakage, burning gas can be much dirtier than coal burning GHG-wise because methane, the major constituent of natural gas, leaks and has 105 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide on a 20 year time frame and including atmospheric aerosol impacts), and (2) that it is producing  fuel from Brazilian renewable sources (whereas sugar cane as a source of fermentation-derived ethanol is not a renewable source and is associated with a large GHG pollution and net carbon debt from land use change). 
Shell has access to vast technical resources enabling it to quickly assess reality and should pull the advertisement and broadcast retractions. Ditto SBS (vastly better than all the commercial networks combined but wrong in this instance). The World’s annual GHG pollution is now so high that in FIVE (5) years it will exceed the world’s terminal GHG pollution budget that must not be exceeded if we are to avoid a catastrophic 2C temperature rise (Google “Doha climate change inaction”).
Yours sincerely, Dr Gideon Polya (contact details).

PS. A more detailed analysis.
1. Methane (CH4) is the major component of natural gas, leaks (3.3% average in the US and up to 7.9% with fracking-derived gas), and has 105 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2) on a 20 year time frame and taking aerosol impacts into account. At 2.6% CH4 leakage the GHG pollution from the leaked CH4 is the same as the GHG pollution from burning the remaining 97.4% of CH4. While burning 1 tonne CH4 (molecular weight, MW 16) yields 44/16 = 2.8 tonnes CO2 (MW 44) and burning 1 tonne coal (carbon, C, atomic weight 12) yields 44/12 = 3.7 tonnes CO2, one must also consider CH4 leakage.
Thus In Victoria, Australia, gas-fired power stations (0.60 – 0.90 tonnes CO2-e/MWh, average 0.75 tonnes CO2-e/MWh) are roughly twice as efficient GHG-wise in producing energy as brown coal-burning power stations (1.21-1.53 tonnes CO2-e/MWh) according to a report by Green Energy Markets commissioned by Environment Victoria (EV). Accordingly, at a systemic leakage of 2.6% the GHG pollution would roughly double to about 1.5 tonnes CO2-e/MWh, equivalent to that of Hazelwood, the dirtiest coal-fired power station in Victoria.  However a leakage of 3.3% would make gas-fired power 1.2 times as dirty as Hazelwood and a leakage of 7.9% would make it roughly 2.1 times as dirty as Hazelwood (for details and documentation see "Gas is dirty energy").
2. As set out in the following papers published in the top scientific journal Science, land clearing and use of croplands for biofuel increases GHGs through emissions from land-use change.
Dr Timothy Searchinger and colleagues (“Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuel Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change”, Science 29 February 2008, Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1238 – 1240): “Most prior studies have found that substituting biofuel for gasoline will reduce greenhouse gases because biofuel sequester carbon through the growth of the feedstock. These analyses have failed to count the carbon emissions that occur as farmers worldwide respond to higher prices and convert forest and grassland to new cropland to replace the grain (or cropland) diverted to biofuel. By using a worldwide agricultural model to estimate emissions from land-use change, we found that corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly double greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years. Biofuel from switch grass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%. This result raises concerns about large biofuel mandates and highlights the value of using waste products.”
Dr Joseph Fargione and colleagues (“Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt”, Science 29 February 2008, Vol. 319. no. 5867, pp. 1235 – 1238): “Increasing energy use, climate change, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels make switching to low-carbon fuels a high priority. Biofuel are a potential low-carbon energy source, but whether biofuel offer carbon savings depends on how they are produced. Converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce food crop–based biofuel in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and the United States creates a "biofuel carbon debt" by releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions that these biofuel would provide by displacing fossil fuels. In contrast, biofuel made from waste biomass or from biomass grown on degraded and abandoned agricultural lands planted with perennials incur little or no carbon debt and can offer immediate and sustained GHG advantages.” END LETTER.
I would like to believe that the subsequent cessation of the misleading corporate advertisement was not a coincidence and was due to my letter.
Ordinary Ninety-nine Percenters can and must act before it is too late by (a) informing everyone they can and (b) by urging and applying direct, democratic pressure as voters and consumers. Our key New Year’s Resolution must be to do our bit to save Humanity and the Biosphere and to help restore Democracy to our Western Murdochracies, Lobbyocracies and Corporatocracies before it is too late.
The simplest thing one could do immediately is to “bear witness” by wearing a big badge summarizing the moral crisis (e.g. “STOP WAR”) or the climate crisis (e.g. “CLIMATE EMERGENCY”). I wear a big badge saying “300 ppm CO2” and respond to numerous stranger inquiries by explaining that the atmospheric concentration of the global warming greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) is now nearly 400 parts per million (ppm) but that top climate scientists and biologists say that it must be urgently returned to about 300 ppm CO2 as soon as possible for a safe planet for all peoples and all species.  Being altruistic and doing good make people happy. Speak out, wear a badge and thus ensure that you have a happy New Year!

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