Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Trickster's Tale

"Everyone has some wisdom, but no one has all of it."

 Come gather 'round my children and I will tell you the great story; the story that existed before all other stories came into the world.

There was once a time when the only stories that existed were in a locked box held by the Sky Demon, Winklevoss. A spider named Zuck, seeing that the world was a rather boring place without these stories, set about a plan to steal the box from Winkelvoss and release the stories to the world.

He rose into the sky on a silken thread that he spun, and asked Winklevoss if he could give the box to the people so that they could enjoy the stories and learn from their wisdom. Winklevoss was impressed that Zuck had even found a way to approach him, so even though he did not want to release the stories, he offered them to Zuck if he could complete what he thought was an impossible task. Winklevoss told Zuck that if he could bring four creatures to him, he would trade Zuck the stories for them. The creatures were the most fearsome in creation; Brexonini, a huge python, Donangelo, a proud leopard, the deadly Koch Hornets, and the invisible warlock MitchMcConnellnastia who was famous for his ruthlessness, avarice, and quick temper.

As Zuck left, declaring that he would do these tasks, Winklevoss laughed to himself thinking that each was impossible, and all four combined would be insurmountable.

Zuck himself wondered how he could do this, but he was determined. Soon he realized that in order to beat the best traits of the four creatures, he would have to use his best trait – his trickery. He devised plans to defeat each of the four beasts and quickly put them into motion.

First, he sat outside of Brexonini’s lair and pretended to argue with himself. First, he would say, “Is not!” and then follow it with “Is so!” Soon the python’s curiosity was aroused, and he asked Zuck what he was doing. Zuck had been waiting for this moment, had spun a vast spiderweb around the world, and had enlisted the help of his friends at Cambridge Analytics to predict the exact moment when the serpent would be most receptive to being tricked. Zuck told Brexonini that his friends the Koch Hornets had said the branch of the tree he was hanging from was longer than the snake, while he thought the snake was longer. Brexonini said that there was an easy way to sort it out. He would unravel and separate himself from the tree, stretch himself out next to the branch and see which was bigger. Zuck suggested that since it was difficult for the snake to stretch his curves to the full length of the branch, they should tie him to it to measure. Brexonini agreed, and this is how his vanity allowed Zuck to capture him. Try though he might, and although he shouted “No deal!” when he found himself ensnared, Brexonini could not exit from the branch.

Next was the loudmouthed Donangelo, with orange hair, whose vanity was legendary. Zuck observed that Donangelo’s vanity demanded he show he was superior to his rival, the lady hawk Hillarbama, so Zuck dug a deep pit in a place the Koch Hornets told him Hillarbama would be walking. The next morning, he found Hillarbama had fallen and become trapped in the hole. Offering to help, he spun a rope from his webs. I will throw you this rope, Zuck told Hillarbama, but you must first agree to tell fake news stories about Vladimir Putin and Julian Assange that have been carefully developed by the Koch Hornets to help you position to the right of Donangelo. After consulting with Cambridge Analytics, Hillarbama was happy to use this strategy to best Donangelo and to climb out of the pit. When Hillarbama began climbing, the sticky web became entangled in Hillarbama’s legs. Zuck spun a larger web to display to the world how “Crooked Hillarbama” had become trapped by her own lies. When Zuck showed Donangelo how he had used Hillarbama’s own strength to capture the hawk, Donangelo offered Zuck a position in government and a free round at his golf course. This is how Zuck used Donangelo’s pride to tame him and do his bidding.

For the Koch Hornets, Zuck cut a small hole in a gourd and made a plug for the hole. He then gathered water on a huge leaf. He poured half over his head, and half on the Republican Party, ruining it. When the Koch hornets angrily flew out to see what had happened to their party, Zuck exclaimed that the rains had come early, but that the hornets could hide in the gourd where the Tea Party was gathered and Donangelo had agreed to protect them. The first of the Kochs flew in, and then the other, along with everything that was left of the Tea Party and the Republican Party. This is how Zuck used hive-mind to trap the hornets and their minions in the gourd and then to use his servant Donangelo to destroy them all.

Finally, he had to trap the crafty fairy MitchMcConnellnastia. He knew this final task would be the most difficult, but he also knew of the creature's weakness for yam paste. Zuck crafted a gum baby, attached a web line to its head, and set a bowl of yam paste. Soon MitchMcConnellnastia came along and saw the yam paste. He could not resist and asked the gum baby for permission to have some. Zuck pulled the web, making the gum baby’s head nod.

MitchMcConnellnastia dug in, eating all the paste. When he was finished, he thanked the gum baby. Now, Zuck did not pull the web. MitchMcConnellnastia was annoyed, and thanked the gum baby again, who remained silent. This caused MitchMcConnellnastia to become angry, and slap the gum baby. His hand became entangled in the gum, so he attacked with her other arm, which also became entangled. As his rage grew, he attacked with his legs, until he was finally fully trapped. Zuck had used MitchMcConnellnastia's greed and anger against him.

Taking all these creatures to Winklevoss, the Sky Devil presented Zuck the box containing all the stories of the world.

Zuck was troubled. He had a box containing all the wisdom of the world, and every day Zuck would look in the box and learn some new and wondrous thing. He wanted to keep it safe, and for himself, even though Winklevoss had instructed him to share it. He began looking for a hiding place.
At the base of a tree lived the worm, Ntikuma, who was very curious, and when he saw Zuck skulking about, he decided to follow him.

Zuck looked far and wide for the perfect hiding place. Finally, he came upon a very tall tree and decided that he would tie the box to the top of it where nobody but he would know it was. Then he could choose which stories to tell to whom, and when. In this way, he could control the world. He fashioned a long rope of vines and began to climb the tree while holding the box.

No matter how he tried, though, the box made it impossible for him to climb very high. He kept falling, endangering the box each time. Finally, Ntikuma could not keep his silence. He revealed himself and said, “Zuck, why do you not use some of your vines to tie the box to your back. That way you can carry it up without it bumping your belly or requiring your grasp!”

Zuck did this and was able to quickly climb to the top. Then Ntikuma said to him, "Zuck, if you share the stories that Winklevoss gave you with the world freely, without using them to ensnare your enemies, they will make many more stories, which you will enjoy much more."

As Zuck sat there in the top of the tree, clutching his box, he realized that even with the box of wisdom it is best when it is shared. He threw the box from the top of the tree and when it struck the ground and shattered, the wisdom was dispersed in the water and the winds to anyone that wanted a little of it. This is why everyone has some wisdom, but nobody has all of it.

And ever since then, Zuck has remained in the top of that tree, spinning his web and catching his flies, and listening, and looking down, and enjoying the many more stories that people continuously come up with to entertain and enlighten. Zuck learned that by letting the people tell their own stories, and not be told the stories that come from a single box, the world is a much better place.

You encourage me to do more and then tell you about it. Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger subscriptions are needed and welcomed. Those are how we make this happen. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Nothing Again - Naomi Klein Renews Her Climate Prescription

"By now we should all be well aware by now of the havoc being caused by climate change."

In about 2 weeks, Simon and Schuster and Penguin Books drop Canadian author Naomi Klein’s latest contribution to the climate crisis into bookstalls in airports all over the English world. The title is On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, although the cover just uses an emoji rather than spelling fire out for you. I sort of wish the interior would follow that same convention. We should all be well aware by now of the havoc being caused by climate change.

My co-author of Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth, Kathleen Draper, who is here with me in Finland touring state-of-the-art negative emissions facilities with more than 100 other professionals, and I have been kidding about how copying is the highest form of respect and how maybe people looking for Klein’’s book in the stores or on-line might just discover ours, too.

I doubt Klein’s book is as serious a search for real solutions as is ours, though I am happy to have that assumption disproved. Because this tour, and the biochar masterclass I am giving in Estonia right after, are consuming all my time right now, I’ve gone back to the archives and pulled up my October 5, 2014 review of Ms. Klein’s last book. That review has held up pretty well after 5 years, I would suggest.

Go ahead and get Klein's new book, as I will, but rather than wallowing in despair or foraging for false hope from half-measures, I would suggest readers take a look at the actual text of the Green New Deal. It really has no need for Canadian authors to champion it, just voters. The 2020 election will be its first referendum.

This Changes Nothing — Naomi Klein’s Climate Prescription

"A post-capitalist world would not be one of dense cities and jet travel, but it would have a chance of averting climate change if it could rediscover a balance with nature akin to that previous noncapitalist societies maintained for millennia primarily through gift economies and perennial agronomies."

We eagerly picked up a copy of Naomi Klein’s latest book, This Changes Everything — Capitalism and Climate Change, the day it was released because we were mesmerized by the word “capitalism.” Of course we were interested primarily in climate change, but we already have whole shelves of books devoted to that topic, going back more than 60 years. What we are looking for now are not retread problem statements, no matter how elegantly posed, but viable solutions to the urgent, existential dilemma. When someone mentions as a pivot point something as grand as capitalism, we are immediately drawn, because at last, we think, they are getting to the root of the matter.
“There is no way this can be done without fundamentally changing the American way of life, choking off economic development, and putting large segments of our economy out of business.”
- Thomas J. Donahue, President of the US Chamber of Commerce, on ambitious carbon reductions, quoted in This Changes Everything.
Klein’s book disappoints. She delves into capitalism only very superficially. She does not undertake the more arduous task that her title suggests — dissecting linkages between exponential-growth driven culture and macroclimate — and then illuminating a transition pathway to a better future, some style of money game antithetical to Monopoly.  
Make no mistake — understanding capitalism is key to understanding and reversing climate change. Klein provides neither the understanding of how that has happened nor any practical and promising way to post-modernize the process, such as by a smartphone linked to MazaCoin (trading at $0.000078 as of Sept. 10). For her, “capitalism” just seems to be synonymous with “corporatism” or “greed.” We might have still purchased the book if either of those words had been substituted in the title, but we would have held fewer expectations.
She refers to the books she reads to her child and creates a similar narrative here: good guys (First Nations women leaders, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Henry Red Cloud’s Solar Warriors, the Rainforest Action Network,, whose activities are “mesmerizing,” “heroic,” “determined;” while bad guys (Richard Branson, frackers, Fred Krupp, carbon traders, UN negotiators, Nature Conservancy) are “entrenched,” “sly,” or “rich and powerful.” There is even a cliffhanger finish — will our heroes transition to clean energy in time?
Missing are any grasp of civilization itself ascending the steps of the guillotine; the inextricable fossil energy embodied in industrial-scaled renewables; or the Ponzi tsunami in sovereign debt and its implication for globalized supply chains. The dumbing down process Al Gore described in The Assault on Reason seems to have struck the left with the same casual brutality as it lobotomized the right. 
What Naomi Klein dispenses best is harangue. Because she is a very gifted writer working with a large research budget, the book sits well on its shelf beside works of similarly gifted writers performing similar harangues. Her prescription is protest — “Blockadia” is the term she coins — and while that may indeed produce results sometimes, especially when resonating with cultural shifts reflected in contemporary music and prose, it may also be catastrophically naïve if the “ask” is too far a reach for mass acceptance, or if the advocates’ own lifestyles betray a secret lust for role reversal.

Jean Laherrere predicts a very rapid drop in energy after 2017
Martin Luther King's grasp of the use and limits of protest provides a modern example of successful "swerve" (in contemporary climate tactician lingo). As described in his famous Letter from A Birmingham Jail, there are a number of essential preconditions for moral protest. Although King does not make the attribution, his checklist is drawn from the voluminous lifetime writings of Mohandas K. Gandhi.

First, purify yourself.

For Gandhi and King, self-purification means, besides purging racial prejudice from your own heart, harboring no anger, while at the same time being prepared to suffer the anger of your opponent. For King, this meant the ability to forgive but not forget; to bounce back again and again, still holding love in your heart. For Gandhi it meant a willingness to take sides with your oppressor — "If anyone attempts to insult or assault your opponent, defend your opponent (non-violently) with your life." (“Some Rules of Satyagraha” Young India (Navajivan) 23 February 1930 (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi vol. 48, p. 340).

Second, negotiate.

King and Gandhi always sought civil remedies through normal channels, and when these failed for illegal and unconscionable reasons, they could then proceed to a final tet-a-tet. They informed authorities in advance of their intentions to resist. They offered themselves for arrest. No protest could proceed before every possible avenue for redress had been followed but inexplicably blocked by the intransigence of authority. This tedious process provided the clear moral high ground in each confrontation.

Klein writes,

"'You have been negotiating all my life.' So said Canadian college student Anjali Appadurai, as she stared down at the assembled government negotiators at the 2011 United Nations climate conference in Durban, South Africa. She was not exaggerating. The world's governments have been negotiating for more than two decades; they began negotiating the year that Anjali, then twenty-one years old, was born. And yet as she pointed out in her memorable speech on the convention floor, delivered on behalf of all assembled young people: 'In that time you've failed to meet pledges, you've missed targets, and you've broken promises.'"

Does this gain sufficient moral high ground to justify laying down one's life to tasers, tanks and microbeams directed from aerial platforms? Not yet.

The UN climate treaty process (UNFCCC), informed by the slowly consensed scientific authority of the IPCC, is not being thwarted so much by covert action in the West Wing and 10 Downing Street or the corporate headquarters of Koch Industries as by the sluggish response of elected or inherited governments to the slow-dawning reality of the scope of this particular problem. As successive governments over 30 years come to grasp its dimensions and what that implies for the fate of business as usual, there is a kind of institutional learning that takes place -- the kind of progress by baby steps that was foreseen by Eleanor Roosevelt when the United Nations was founded. It may seem glacially slow to people from the generations of Klein and Appadurai, raised in the Twitterverse, but slow is not "no." 

Harvard Students at September Climate March in New York
In the tortoise-like process of the UNFCCC, the next major deadline is COP-21 in Paris, December 2015. The recent high level meeting in New York and this December's COP-20 in Lima are intended to set the stage for a treaty. That legally binding treaty should be seen as a Rubicon for the UN process. If it arrests emissions by firm and timely process, "alea iacta est" – the die is cast.  If the river is not crossed, or it does not go far enough fast enough, or the UN farms the crisis out to mercenary corporations, mass civil disobedience is fully justified.

Klein writes:

"By posing climate change as a battle between capitalism and the planet I am not saying anything we don't already know. The battle is already underway but right now capitalism is winning hands down. It wins every time the need for economic growth is used for the excuse for putting off climate action yet again, or for breaking emission reduction commitments already made.…

"Right now the triumph of market logic, with its ethos of domination and fierce competition, is paralyzing almost all serious efforts to respond to climate change…. For any of this to change, a worldview will need to arise to the fore that sees nature, other nations and our own neighbors not as adversaries, but rather as partners in a grand project of mutual reinvention.

"That is a big ask, but it gets bigger. Because of our endless delays, we also have to pull off this massive transformation without delay. The International Energy Agency warns that if we do not get our emissions under control by a rather terrifying 2017, our fossil fuel economy will 'lock in' extremely dangerous warming."

Giving your negotiating partner (in this case the UNFCCC) a deadline is something both King and Gandhi did. If the partner asked for an extension of time for reasonable cause that would be granted. Again and again. The process of negotiation is not complete until the last legal stone has been turned and the final responses are bereft of moral reason.

The third step in preparing successful protest is surrender. For King, this involved bearing Christian witness, as in the case of sending waves of children to face billy clubs, firehoses and attack dogs in order to fill Birmingham's jails to overcapacity.

For Gandhi, surrender meant to "never retaliate to assaults or punishment; but do not submit, out of fear of punishment or assault, to an order given in anger."

As a prisoner, Gandhi observed the same rules of self-discipline as in the outside world. He obeyed prison regulations except those contrary to his own self-respect. He fasted only when his own self-dignity demanded it. Once begun, he expected no respite from a fast. Each was a fast to the death.

Parenthetically, these same rules have been scrupulously followed by the victims of daily ritual of torture ordered by President Barack H. Obama in the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. These striking prisoners, whose numbers are estimated at between 45 and 160 but whose actual numbers are unknown owing to the gag order issued by the Department of Defense and the refusal to allow in UN human rights inspectors, are innocent men. They were innocent when they were abducted from their homes and farm fields in 2002. They were even found innocent in 2009 by the Military Review Panels ordered by federal courts in 2006. And these were kangaroo courts designed to find them guilty. Their court review came partly in response to the 26-day hunger strike in 2005 that ended only when Navy medics joined in a sympathy strike and refused to provide medical assistance to the daily torture feedings. Only then did prison authorities agree to bring the camp into compliance with the Geneva Conventions, something we all still await.

Today's tortured Guantanamo strikers are waterboarded three times per day at the orders of President Obama. It is not as though he gets up in the morning and before he sees Malia and Sasha off to school he says to a military attaché, "Oh, go ahead and torture another 100 or so prisoners at Gitmo, and throw in some women and children prisoners at the black sites in Afghanistan too, just to let them know we mean business." Rather, as a Commander who could simply order their judicially-ordained release with a few words, he remains mute, kisses his daughters' foreheads, and then prepares daily remarks to, say, praise his outgoing Attorney General for his record on civil rights, or condemn some oil-rich Middle Eastern dictator as cruel and anti-democratic.

From whence does moral authority derive?

Every day since early February 2013, each of Obama's victims is given the option of ending their fast and avoiding being waterboarded yet again — more than 1700 times for some, so far — and each day they choose dignity over the orders of their oppressors. They choose to go under the hose rather than sacrifice their regard for what it means to be a human being.

If the Gitmo hunger strike experience tells us anything, it is that protest does not always succeed. Sometimes it only worsens the conditions being protested. As Malcolm Gladwell describes in David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, the Birmingham civil disobedience campaign was going badly for King until a wire photo of a firehosed teen being attacked by a police dog made front-page news. Suddenly, nationwide, public wrath was aroused.

The fourth rule for any protest is to have a goal. For Gandhi, it was Indian independence from British rule. For King, it was ending segregation. Both men, of course, wanted much more. These simple goals, while grand enough to be assumed unachievable by most observers at the outset of the protests, were nonetheless below the mark. Among his goals, King wanted to end the War in Vietnam, and wars generally. Gandhi wanted to end religious and ethnic intolerance. They got what they could, and that was quite enough for the time.

Naomi Klein also has large ambitions. Her vision of the future is bright — "the climate movement does not have the option of saying 'no' without also saying 'yes'" to the many forms of solar development. Already solar power in many of its emerging systems is cheaper and quicker for industrial use than fossil and nuclear options, but that finesses the larger point. Is the goal to save industrial civilization? Is the goal to save the religion of consumerism, of growth economics, and thus, capitalism?

The title of the book seems to suggest that capitalism is the problem. Her analysis, however, lacks the thoughtful deliberation of critics like Noam Chomsky, Steve Keen, Chris Hedges or David Korowicz. Capitalism to Klein is a foil; a target for her sharp political invective. To fight this evil scourge she urges us to storm the parapets, take the streets, stand up to the tanks. Capitalism is just her shorthand for evil greedy bastards.

She writes:

"This book is about those radical changes on the social side, as well as on the political, economic and cultural sides. What concerns me is less the mechanics of the transition — the shift from sole rider cars to mass transit, from sprawling exurbs to dense, walkable cities — than the powerful and ideological roadblocks that have so far prevented any of these long understood solutions from taking hold on anything close to the scale required."

That statement deserves some unpacking. Klein is not very concerned about transition modalities other than street protest. She gives short shrift to Transition Towns, Holistic Management or permaculture and makes no mention of ecovillages, complimentary currencies, gift economies or bioregionalism. She sees the connection between capitalism's profit imperative and the disequilibrium of exponential growth (long a standard of permaculture training) but has scant grasp of the carbon cycle civilizational embed since the dawn of agriculture, energy return on invested energy (EROIE), or the abbreviated future-discount factor as a function of human neurobiology. 

Granted, she pays token lip service to Holistic Management and soil carbon, but calls biochar “problematic at scale” and lumps much of regrarianism with geoengineering. She seriously needs to attend the Biodiversity for a Livable Climate conference in Massachusetts next month. 

Consider her failure to grasp the exponential function as applied to human population. After describing her own difficulties in trying to bear a child, she says simply, "Anyone who wants to have a child should be able to." Really? What about a second, or a fifth? Is this a right that humans had before we emerged from the Paleolithic or is it dependent on some modern scheme of ordered liberty, not to mention bioscience? 

Is it not a right that must first, perforce, be grounded in resource availability, on the penalty of starvation for the whole? Would she confer that right on every reindeer on St. Matthew Island, or are we just talking about women's' reproductive rights here?

Self-purification requires we examine our own needs and determine which of them is actually required and which is merely more comfortable. Faced with the discomfort of say, 140-degree summer months, and the discomfort of limiting family size to one-half child, as we described in our Post-Petroleum Survival Guide, which is preferable? For how long?

Klein's "mechanics of the transition" are mere Disney models of New Urbanism — dense, walkable cities presumed able to accommodate 12 billion or more people with ample power from renewable energy to carry packs of contented residents up and down 100 floors in air-conditioned elevators with happy, seasonal background music. Exactly how are those cities to be built and maintained after we dispense with profit motive, not to mention the fossil fuels to turn iron into steel and limestone into concrete?

Self-purification as a pre-protest ritual might reveal to Klein that the powerful and ideological roadblocks she attributes to a Goldman Sachs boardroom are affixed firmly within her own worldview. They are entrenched in the premises of cornucopian solar power advocates as deeply as in the Carlyle Group. If she is to exorcise the Kochs and Saudi princes from control of Earth's climate, she will have to first exorcise mechanistic utopian fantasies from her own thinking. Her admiration for indigenous peoples is good, but she needs to be reminded that their sustainability as peoples comes from their diverse cultures' awareness of natural limits and willingness to forego lifestyle choices that did not adhere to those limits.
A post-capitalist world would not be one of dense cities and jet travel, but it would have a chance of averting climate change if it could rediscover a balance with nature akin to that previous noncapitalist societies maintained for millennia primarily through gift economies and perennial agronomies.

In her new book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert's epiphany, which comes to her in closing chapters, is that the only way we will ever stop the advent of the Anthropocene is to eliminate the anthros, ie: near term human extinction ("NTE"). She delivers this message with an appropriate sense of grief, but after 300 pages of hard evidence it is difficult to rebut her conclusion. We can really only fall back on unreasoning hope, no matter how fantastical, because the indictment is irrefutable.

Kolbert says that the reason we have the climate threat is not because of human follies and foibles but precisely because of our genius. Our undoing is borne of our strongest attributes — all those parts of ourselves we regard as venerable. It is our human ingenuity, creative spark, versatile skills, and power to project the future from past experience that is killing every other lifeform on the planet, and finally, with the unregistered loss of some tiny, unnoticed but critical link in the web of life that supports us, ourselves as well. As long as we, tool-making homo, remain, Earth's fate is sealed and the climate will continue in the general direction of Venus. Once we are gone, recovery may yet be possible for other life forms. Archaelogists may come to know us only as that mysterious, millimeter-thin layer of radioactive plastic in Earth's outer crust.

If this message is disturbing, there may be comfort to be found by turning back to a part of This Changes Everything. In lionizing First Nations, Naomi Klein reminds us that before the Colombian Encounter there were on Turtle Island a race of people who, by and large, had learned to live in harmony with the natural world, not as dominators but as members. Not to be too simplistic, there were also indigenous nations that over-exploited, behaved with cruelty and avarice, and caused extinctions of megafauna. Klein's heroes are the former, the stewards of nature's bounty, who built verdant soils and abundant forests and lived in peace. If there is any hope for us all, it lies there, in that model. Pray we can rediscover it in time.

You encourage me to do more and then tell you about it. Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger subscriptions are needed and welcomed. Those are how we make this happen. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Leaves of Seagrass

"Seawater is the circulatory system of Gaia"

In 1855, Walt Whitman penned the free verse, 

“I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. 
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same….”

 Later in Leaves of Grass, he extols the miraculous process by which the Earth is cleansed as we each return to her some day. But in those opening stanzas, he omitted mention of the sea, which, before there was even land, had written the recipe for our blood.
Our blood is saline like the sea for good reason. Andrew Schafer, past president of the American Society of Hematology, explains,
Blood can also be thought of as a private ocean, a recapitulation of what life was like for all the years we spent drifting as microscopic, single-celled organisms, taking up nutrients from sea water and then eliminating waste products back into sea water. Not only is blood mostly water, but the watery portion of blood, the plasma, has a concentration of salt and other ions that is remarkably similar to sea water.
Seawater is the circulatory system of Gaia. When Earth gets a fever, her blood runs hot and she responds by perspiring (casting off more heat to space and making more rain), taking deep breaths (more trees and fiercer winds), and drinking more water (melting ice, floods, and super typhoons).

There is a certain irony in that throughout the Caribbean and in parts of Southeast Asia, beaches are being fouled by massive tides of seaweed. The irony is that until very recently a branch of the scientific community had been advocating a form of geoengineering that would have seeded the ocean with iron in order to produce large plankton blooms, thereby withdrawing significant amounts of carbon dioxide and replacing it with oxygen. Mother Nature already had that, in the form of seaweed and algae, and according to the geoengineers, all she needed was a bit more fertilizer to really scale up.

Enter Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and a CIA-style right-wing coup, cleverly directed by AI bots engineered by David Koch and Steve Bannon, with the naive assistance of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. They dumped the deeply unpopular President Michel Temer whose job it had been to cast lefty-green President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva into prison on fraudulent charges and squash Brazil’s labor movement. Bolsonaro is now delivering on his side of the bargain with the devilishly dystopian Cambridge Analytica and Americans for Prosperity by gifting them a tree-free Amazon Basin with the assistance of the cattle ranchers and miners that comprise the Bolsonaro popular base. And as it burns, extinguishing uncontacted native peoples and uncharted biodiversity along the way, the forest gives up its topsoil to the river, that silt nourishes the sargassum blooms at the river’s mouth, and those blooms now extend across the seas in previously unimaginable volume. It is the geoengineers’ wet dream.

Bolsonaro is doing God’s work.

Last month, one plume of that Brazillian sargassum 550 kilometers long — an island of seaweed about the size of Jamaica — began washing ashore at Tulum, in the Mayan Riviera, causing not just a stink and an eyesore that drove away tourists but damaging turtle nesting grounds, coral reefs, and marine ecosystems. Turquoise bays turned to rust.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s new president, called out the marines to trap it offshore or rake it from the beaches. All told, the government threw $2.7 million at that effort, with at least an equal amount contributed by hotels, and still tourism plummeted by 15%. Tourism is nearly 9 percent of the country’s GDP and half of that comes from the Mayan Riviera.
The amounts of sargassum in Puerto Morelos on the beaches grow exponentially. In September 2015, researchers from the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology (ICML) accounted for 2,500 cubic meters of sargassum per kilometer of beach, a figure that in 2018 increased to 275,000 cubic meters in six kilometers of beach.–Mexicanist
That 550 km plume? Just a taste of what is coming. A Dutch research vessel has been accompanying an 8000 km island that regurgitated from the mouth of the Amazon in July and could reach Tulum this winter. That plume contains 20 million metric tons of sargassum and it is still expanding in the warming waters of the Caribbean. The most sargassum removed from the Mayan Riviera in one year, 2018, was less than 1 million tons. Can the marines hope to remove 20 times that? And if they can’t, what becomes of Mexico’s $23 billion tourism industry?

Biochar to the Rescue

Here is where questions of right and wrong start to get fuzzy. As environmental activists, we all struggle with ethical dilemmas. Is it right to solve hunger or energy challenges if, by doing so, you spur human population to new heights, with all the ecological consequences that result portends for other species and eventually our own?

Is it right to view seaweed as manna from heaven, if by pyrolyzing it at a profit we save a tourism industry that lives and breathes by cruise ships and international air travel, jetting us toward climate Armageddon?

I have come to think it is likely to do more good than harm to close the deforestation-to-seaweed cycle by reforming that decaying biomass in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, and Seychelles that, left alone, would waft vast new quantities of methane and carbon dioxide skyward. As an Emergency Planetary Technician, I am attempting to stabilize the patient in situ. We can worry about their insurance later.

By enlisting the financial clout of the hotel owners, tour operators, and governments, reversing climate change becomes just a little more possible. If we can transform that stinking red tide into terra preta’d forests, water filters, or new coral reefs, we can store megatons of carbon for thousands of years. That would be something. Might even be as big as, say, replanting the Amazon rainforest (which is not to say we shouldn’t do that, too, and while we are at it, replace the Ohio Valley and Californian forests before we criticize Brazil).

In Leaves of Grass, Whitman frets about our inventions, social rituals, fashions, compassion for others, our unjust money system. He says grass just keeps on going, unworried, while people do not have that luxury. People just have to carry on and create and work and feel productive, and do the things they are accustomed to doing, despite challenges; “…the book-keeper counts at his desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread,…” But we also need a survival plan, like Gaia and her sargassum. Maybe the sea is tossing us a lifeline. We are her blood, after all.

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Treeplanting Olympics

"Withdrawing 700 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere could be accomplished by as early as mid-century, assuming we stop adding more."

While switching from fossil to renewables is needed for ecological, economic, and health reasons, it is no longer sufficient to stabilize the global climate, as our best scientists have repeatedly been telling us. What is required now is a direct, rapid, massive, effective, timely, verifiable and sustained carbon dioxide removal (“CDR”). Whether that is viewed as economically beneficial or detrimental depends largely on whether you are still using the economics of an earlier century or the New Climate Math.

Composing a power-point en route to the GEN-Europe meeting in Italy last month, I fashioned a slide that went something like, “Pakistan held the record for most trees planted in a single day—847,275—set in 2013 until India planted 49.3 million in one day in 2016.” India then raised their own record to 66 million in 2017. “Isn’t it time that record was broken again?” I asked.

But, by the time I got to Italy, Ethiopia had smashed India’s record with 353,633,660 tree seedlings transplanted in 12 hours. Their national pride at stake, one million Indians turned out on August 11 and put 220 million trees in the ground, a personal best, but not a new world record.

Ethiopia's goal is one billion trees and they are on track to reach that. Ethiopians don’t just produce great marathon runners. They also sprint.

I proposed to my audiences in Europe that there be a new tree planting Olympics. Wouldn’t it be great if on one day each year, or one week every four years, all nations vied to set a new world record?

But it is not that simple. First, they have to stop deforestation and land degradation. Second, they have to reconsider the types of industrial plantations many of these countries are planting. Designed for biomass electricity or steam, they are no more real forests than marches are music. Real forests sequester 40 times more greenhouse gas than faux forests do.

Jahr Bolsonaro was installed by the late David Koch and Cambridge Analytics CEO Steve Bannon using the same Dark Cloud methods as worked for BREXIT and the US 2016 election.

In 2017, Frank Michael and I prepared a presentation at the 7th World Congress of the Society for Ecological Restoration in Foz do Iguassu, Brazil, that we called Climate Ecoforestry, in which we examined some of the main questions that come up around tree planting. Frank passed away before the conference and the trip was canceled, but here are some of our results, in Q&A format:

How many trees need to be planted to restore the atmosphere to safe concentrations of greenhouse gases?

Several trillion. The precise number will vary by region because of seasonal variation, growing conditions, and rotation potentials. Please keep in mind that most of the long-lived greenhouse gases sent skyward during the industrial era have been absorbed by the ocean, which remains in approximate equilibrium with concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Any attempt to thin the atmosphere of carbon dioxide will be met by ocean off-gassing, so it is necessary to approximately double the number of trees planted to achieve a specific desired drawdown. If we wish to remove all the legacy fossil-origin carbon in the atmosphere (approximately 350 gigatons), we would need to withdraw 700 gigatons.

How much land would that require?

There is no shortage of area for planting. After the last Ice Age, there were 6 trillion trees on Earth. Now there are 3 trillion. Putting those lost forests back into the landscape will be difficult in some areas that have since become degraded or desertified. Nonetheless, there are at least 1.5 billion hectares, about two Canadas or one Russia, that are already available, with suitable fertility and water, without impinging on existing farms or neighborhoods. Another 1.5 billion hectares can be added by carbon farming, integrated agroforestry, silvopasture, and greening the desert, and likely more than that could come from marine permaculture—harvesting seaweed and algae.

How quickly could that be done?

Withdrawing 700 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere could be accomplished by as early as mid-century, assuming we stop adding more. It does no good to try to remove carbon with one hand if the other hand keeps adding it (at a steadily accelerating rate).

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines "climate-smart agriculture" as "agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes greenhouse gases (mitigation), and enhances the achievement of national food security and development goals." Our prescriptive model shows that if Climate Ecoforestry were implemented at the rates of 200-300 Mha/yr (five Spains per year) over an eventual area of 4.8 Gha (5 Brazils), it could store all current anthropogenic emissions, and achieve the goal of restoring pre-industrial CO2 atmospheric levels, while supplying many other benefits to humanity and the natural environment. It would operate over a long enough period to allow an orderly shift of financial assets to renewable energy generation, storage, and new carbon economy infrastructure development.

By addressing the social inertia component of the problem we can enter upon a virtuous cycle of solutioneering that might enable us to go beyond mere survival. Stabilizing the climate and regreening the planet could redirect the role of humans from top polluters and predators to instead become protectors, partners, and stewards.

What would need to be done after the planting to assure the result is as we want?

Frank Michael
Carbon drawdown by photosynthesis occurs at different rates in different regimes. Ranked from lowest to highest rates of drawdown are grasslands, low brush, plantations, temperate forests, and old-growth rainforest. However, even rainforests reach a point where they are nearly carbon-neutral because whenever they drop leaves or the old trees and vines die, the biomass is biologically decomposed and carbon returns to the atmosphere.

It is in the establishment phase, dominated by young plants, that plant ecosystems sequester the most carbon. This is one reason some, like the Savory Institute, argue for rotationally grazed grasslands—they essentially remain juvenile and continue along at peak sequestration. But the same can be accomplished, to greater effect, with managed forests, in a pattern Frank termed “step-harvest,” a part of our Climate Ecoforestry strategy. That strategy also recommends:
  1. Use naturally-charged biochar soil plugs to grow mixed-species seedlings. Add biochar to the soil at the root level when planting saplings in the field.
  2. Include sun-loving, fast-growing, and water-pump taproot pioneer species saplings, spaced to shade and protect other saplings.
  3. Patch harvests will consist of non-surviving saplings first, and poorly-thriving trees next.
  4. Trees clustered in beneficial microbiomes will be identified and protected, and the mother trees will be preserved.
  5. Biochar manufacture will take no more than 50% of the harvested biomass.
  6. Forest products will have limits that depend on a) the biome's productivity; b) the climate requirements; c) the health of the stand; d) the amount of disturbance that logging would inflict on the ecology; and e) a 100-year embodied carbon standard for lumber use or furniture design. 
What is Climate Ecoforestry?

At its essence, ecoforestry envisions a systemic blending of humans with natural systems that can include forest product biorefineries, biochar production and use, ecovillages, and fulfillment of most of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. But let me go back to the point about step harvest first because it not only keeps the largest sequestration engine—mixed-age, mixed species forest ecosystems—running at top speed, it also provides the financial underpinning to make the whole system attractive enough to get buy-in at the grassroots.

A step-harvest system functions much in the same way the traditional milpa system developed by indigenous peoples does: a patch of forest is cleared and widely diverse new growth springs up or is densely planted. In a natural system it may be birds and wandering mammals doing the planting or in a cultivated area it may be farmers, but the result is similar. As the canopy begins to close, layers of dappled light form and some individual plants may be thinned out to benefit others. These thinnings, if left on the forest floor, would release greenhouse gases. Instead, humans can intervene and use those thinnings to produce value-added products—leaf protein; bio-oils; roundwood; lumber; and biochar, for instance (the number of products is limited only by the imagination). Making biochar also co-produces energy and oils and the carbon takes on a hard, almost mineral form that will not decompose quickly—on the order of centuries to millennia. Having biochar as part of the cycle preserves your gains, like cashing in after you have just won a large poker pot and thereafter hazarding only a small portion of your winnings.

The tree-planting cycle can in principle be repeated indefinitely by beginning again on the same land, harvesting the oldest trees, and densely replanting saplings in the same forest cells with biochar-amended soil. Also, relatively marginal land can be restored, allowing mixed-use forest expansion into previously unsuitable territories.

Because these step-harvest/biorefinery systems benefit rural communities, essentially creating microenterprise hubs, it is thought that large numbers of people will mobilize and allow more parts of their landholdings and more populated areas to host trees. The city of Stockholm, Sweden is a good example of this. By mid-century we could reach the required 4.8 billion hectares (6 times the area of Brazil) needed by our estimate to restore pre-industrial equilibrium.

What are the big unknowns?

After a few more decades of business-as-usual, extreme climate volatility could make forestry and agriculture difficult and no longer cost-effective over large regions of the world [Solomon et al. 2011]. Furthermore, at the current atmospheric CO2 concentration of over 415 ppm, the planet has passed a threshold into a region in which a methane-emissions-driven runaway climate is more likely, and where even more severe amplifying climate feedbacks are possible. One example is the giant seaweed bloom now forming off of Africa and Brazil, which, as that material decays, will send massive plumes of methane and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Another example is the gigantic release of methane from melting permafrost, now running decades ahead of schedule.
Trees and the natural understory form microbiomes of mutual support and reciprocity. In desert or mountainous regions, the more severe the environment, the smaller the microbiomes, but these tree and plant communities have shown much greater resilience to all kinds of stresses.

It should also be noted that while we now have four centuries of experience warming the planet, we have almost no experience cooling it (although two historic examples have been described here before). Large unknowns are lurking in our best calculations.

The model is unable to predict uncertainties that may propagate through global resource depletion, financial collapses, wars, and human population expansions, especially in vulnerable regions. Climate Ecoforestry's benefits could be nullified, for instance, if the world's population continues to grow at present rates. More people require more food and more land, adding to the burden.

How would all of this be paid for?

Financial returns for planters, managers, and landholders are obtained by selective harvest in regularized steps. Forests are managed by holistic, regenerative design. The periodicity of step-harvests is a function of growth rates of the various species, local conditions, and climate. So, for instance, fast-growing Bambuseae such as Phyllostachys aureasulcata will double in biomass annually in both temperate and tropical climates within a range of known latitudes and elevations [Hidalgo 2003]. Plantations can take 3 to 5 years to establish before harvest commences, and then harvest is regulated to neither harm the grove nor hinder grove expansion if expansion is desired. A harvest of, for instance, 30 percent of the grove — the oldest culms — would be sustainable if soil fertility is replenished as the method contemplates.

A second example would be a hardwood temperate forest, seeded with diverse species, including those that favor ground cover and understory. Depending on seeding density, the canopy may take 1- 20 years to close, but in the interim, poorly developing, thickly sown, and less desirable varieties can be removed at regular intervals, opening space and increasing nutrient flows for the more desired varieties and diversities. The biomass being removed annually is approximately the same each year following establishment. At full maturity, the forest can either be left alone to continue its somewhat slower sequestration work, or it can be “patch harvested” and reseeded to recover its high juvenile growth rate.

Agroforestry provides many useful products and services to modern economies but is often outcompeted in the marketplace by other methods of production. It can financially succeed or fail based on site selection, local markets, and other factors that raise or lower risks. [Haugh 2006] To reach the global scale of response required by the pace of climate change may require added entrepreneurial incentives. Biochar can supply many of these.

Biochar can be used as a carbon fertilizer; a compensatory fertilizer for trace elements; a compost accelerator; a substitute for peat or vermiculite in potting soil; a silage moderator; a feed additive/digestive supplement; a robiotic/nutriceutical; a litter additive; a slurry treatment; for manure composting; for water treatment in fish farming; as insulation; for air decontamination; for decontamination of earth; as humidity regulation; as dust and pollen scrubber; as electromagnetic radiation screen; as a barrier preventing pesticides getting into surface water; for oil spill remediation; for biogas slurry treatment; as active carbon filter for smoke and exhaust; as pre-rinse additive; as a media for composting toilets; for carbon fiber; for electronic semiconductors; for batteries; for metal reduction; for alloys; for cosmetics; for soaps; for skin-cream; for therapeutic bath additives; for paints and stains; for food colorants; for energy pellets; for poisoning control; for detoxification; as a carrier for active biopharmaceuticals; for functional deodorant underwear, socks, shoes and fabrics; for thermal insulation for clothing; for filling for mattresses and pillows; in cement, concrete, asphalt and steel; and as an avenue for greenhouse gas mitigation. [Schmidt 2014]

In each of these transformations of forest products reside opportunities for microenterprise. Merely managing a forest for carbon sequestration would not provide adequate returns to attract investment of capital or labor. By cascading forest products, the system can finance itself without the imposition of regulatory incentives and disincentives or by the diversion of funds from other sources.

The startup phase of tree-planting requires that a modest quantity of biochar (~5 ton/ha) be made available for the initial plantings. After the first three step-harvests in years 1-4, the projects generate their own biochar for forestry, plus a considerable surplus for agricultural use.

What odds do you give that we will actually do this?

About one percent.

And if we don’t?

We will all die.
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Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Dark Cloud

"Skynet needs to send a terminator back to 1984 and take out Mark Zuckerberg’s mom before he can grow up and steal the Facebook idea from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. "

In Superman the Movie (1978), Chris Reeves in red and blue cape and tights gets into a green-screened wind tunnel and hangs by wires to simulate Superman flying around the world so fast that he reverses its spin and moves time backward in order to save Lois Lane.

Sadly, we don’t have that kind of power. If we did, I would be tempted to start by reversing BREXIT and TRUMPXIT but would  quickly realize that I’d have to be more like Arnold Schwarzenegger going back to 1984 to kill Linda Hamilton before she can give birth to the leader  of the resistance movement against Skynet and its army of machines ten years from now, in 2029. I’d need to go back to 1984 and take out Mark Zuckerberg’s mom before he can grow up and steal the Facebook idea from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.

In The Great Hack, a film currently streaming on Netflix that every voter should watch, it is revealed that we have not had a fair election in many years and that in all likelihood—absent a thorough overhaul of every electoral system in the world—we never will again.

The Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim documentary examines BREXIT and TRUMPXIT through the lens of Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix, Parsons School of Design social media professor David Carroll who sued CA to see his own gathered data, CA whistleblowers Chris Wylie and Brittany Kaiser, and Guardian reporter Carole Cadwalladr.

Cambridge Analytica, it is revealed, used the data they mined off Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg’s blessings to create psychological profiles of every UK and US voter. They then bought a broad sweep of social media ads to seed manipulative videos, fake news, and influencer memes into the daily news feeds of swing voters deemed by the algorithms to be most susceptible. In the case of TRUMPXIT, it only required a few swing voters in 3 states to win the election.

Trump’s 77,000 margin, giving him the electoral college, was acquired by filling the social media diet of “influenceables” in those three states with hefty doses of “Crooked Hillary” stories and videos, some concocted by astroturf non-profits made up for just that purpose. It was the power of the Big Lie. Influenceables read the same fake news over again so many times they came to think it is true, and vote accordingly. Millennials are a herd of sheep.

All this traces back to a time even before Zuckerburg got to Harvard and started conning the Winklevoss twins. White House plumbers Donald Segretti, Tim Elbourne, Ronald Louis Ziegler, H. R. Haldeman, and Dwight Chapin had co-developed ratfucking—creative tricks and underhanded tactics at fraternities, sororities, and underground fraternal coordinating organizations—to swing student elections at the University of Southern California during the Reagan governorship. That attracted the attention of USC Trustee and Director of Central Intelligence John McCone and also of future Presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon. As President, Nixon installed the ratfuckers in the basement of the West Wing, but long before that, McCone used some of their tactics in the Dominican Republic to take out President Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina; in Laos to lure the Hmong (then known by the derogatory name Meo) to fight a counterinsurgency which backfired into a complicated three-way civil war that hit the Hmong hard; in Ecuador, to overthrow President José Velasco Ibarra and subsequently his replacement; in British Guiana, using the labor unions to take down the democratically elected Cheddi Jagan; in the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état; and in Mongoose, a secret campaign to assassinate Castro.

Zuckerburg's platform has made all that so much easier.

Amer and Noujaim lay out a chilling case, using Carroll as the representative of an everyday person who just wants to know what info the Dark Cloud state has on him, and Kaiser, who went from handling Obama’s social media image to join with Nix to help the “Leave” party win in the Brexit election, and then had no problem working with Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, in the process buying herself a lifestyle of yacht parties in the Bahamas, massages beside infinity pools in Thailand, and power lunches with A-list celebrities. Despite showing how weaponized social media is now right-wing-shifting governments on six continents, Amer and Noujaim don’t completely connect the dots between CIA ratfucking, Steve Bannon, and Charles Koch.

" Kochland is a dazzling feat of investigative reporting and epic narrative writing, a tour de force that takes the… #5 in Professional Investment in Commodities on Amazon

In a new biography of the Koch Brothers, Kochland, Christopher Leonard explains how Charles and David Koch acquired huge businesses, insulated their liability, created a vast political influence network to remake the Republican Party, and thwarted climate change legislation by being the smartest guys in the room, if not particularly wise.

Speaking with Terry Gross on the Fresh Air podcast, Leonard explained that rather than use their vast holdings in oil and gas pipelines to earn transport revenues, they used them to mine data. With supercomputers in their Texas headquarters, they tracked every exchange, marking quantities, prices, and trends. They fed in weather data to predict shifts in supply and demand. Then they made tens of billions of dollars on shorts, puts, and derivative instruments in futures markets. When they got into politics, they used Big Data with equally great effect, quickly establishing the Tea Party to undermine Clinton and Obama and bludgeoning pro-climate Congressmen into towing their climate denier line.
After defeating cap and trade legislation supported by both parties, the Kochs bought up leases in the Permian Basin and became the world’s number one atmospheric methane pump. James Howard Kunstler writes:
The Permian Basin in Texas is very large, but the best plays are developed in the so-called “sweet spots” and there’s a limited amount of them. They are the places that the producers developed first, and when they are played out, the next round of plays will be in spots not-so-sweet (or productive) — possibly not worth drilling. The character of the shale oil wells is also way different from the old conventional classic oil wells. The old wells cost about $400,000 (in current dollars). It involved just sinking a pipe into the permeable source rock. The oil came out under its own pressure at the rate of thousands of barrels a day.  Eventually, you put a simple pump-jack on the well (the “nodding donkey”) and it produced for decades, like running a cash register. Shale oil wells cost between $6- 12 million. They require technically demanding horizontal drilling and fracking, with additional costs in highly technical labor, water for fracking, sand to hold open the fracks, chemicals to aid the process, and a gazillion truck trips to deliver all the water and sand (and take the oil away). Shale wells produce maybe a few hundred barrels a day for one year, after which they typically deplete by over 60 percent. After four years, they’re done. The oil is also different. Shale oil is typically ultra-light. It contains little-to-none of the heavier diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, and heating oil distillates, making it less valuable.
Trouble in the credit markets could shut down shale production for a period of time and create dire problems for the American economy. That could happen in 2019 as poorer-performing companies fail to get new financing. As mighty as it seems to be, the industry is fraught with fragility. Meanwhile, discovery of new, producible oil has fallen to the lowest level since the 1940s, after three recent previous record low years. Current low oil prices at around $45-a-barrel may give Americans a false sense of security. Low prices are mostly indicative of the collapse of the demand for oil at the global margins and among the large US demographic that cannot afford it anymore — that is, the impoverished former middle class. As the damage becomes more obvious, we could hear calls to nationalize the oil industry. The attempt to do that would collide with the aforementioned trend for government to become more strapped  for revenue, more impotent, and more incompetent.
The Kochs made their move early, when the sweet spots could be optioned for pennies because everyone assumed a carbon tax was coming. As Leonard told Gross:
Within months of the defeat of cap and trade, Koch Industries started making a series of large investments in South Texas where the fracking revolution was opening up all these sources of crude oil. The investment went pouring into that. Koch created a crude oil superhighway in South Texas that went directly to its refinery in Corpus Christi.
From 2012 to 2015, Steve Bannon was recruited to be Vice President and co-owner of Cambridge Analytica by the Mercer family that co-owned Bannon’s alt-right Breitbart News. Bannon and the Koch Brothers had been supporting the campaign of Ted Cruz, but when Donald Trump upset Cruz to gain the Republican nomination in 2016, the entire Big Data, big money, ratfucking operation shifted to Trump Tower. While Rachel Maddow may rant about some Russian troll farm and Wikileaks stealing the 2016 election, the hacking of the DNC server—snaring Clinton and Podesta in email hell— the FBI later learned, was an inside job involving a confidant’s data dump to a thumb drive. That was not Russia. That was ratfucking plumbers. Kaiser describes to Amer how the “Crooked Hillary” handcuff logo with the cuffs appearing in the two ‘o’s in “crooked” was dropped onto the Facebook timeline, Pinterest, Linked-In, Snapchat, and Twitter feeds of thousands of Facebook data-derived “influenceables” in battleground states. The expenditure, possibly employing Koch backing and server farm crunching, was hundreds of times that which Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment attributed to the Russian Troll Farm.

Skynet needs to send a terminator back to 1984 and take out Mark Zuckerberg’s mom before he can grow up and steal the Facebook idea.

After a short stint in the White House following his slam-dunk victory, Bannon announced his intention to become "the infrastructure, globally, for the global populist movement," and took his brand of Big Data savvy and Big Finance backers to national populist conservative political movements around the world.
These include France's National Front (now the National Rally), Hungary's Fidesz, the Italian League, the Five Star Movement, the Brothers of Italy, Alternative for Germany, the Polish Law and Justice, the Sweden Democrats, the Dutch Party for Freedom, the Freedom Party of Austria, the Swiss People's Party, the UK Independence Party,  the Flemish Vlaams Belang, the Belgian People's Party, Spain's Vox, the Finns Party,  the pan-European identitarian movement,[ Republika Srpska's Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, the Brazilian 2018 Jair Bolsonaro presidential campaign, and the Israeli Likud. Bannon believes that these movements – along with Japan's Shinzo Abe, India's Narendra Modi, Russia's Vladimir Putin, Saudi Arabia's Mohammad bin Salman, China's Xi Jinping, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and America's Donald Trump, as well as similar leaders in Egypt, the Philippines, Poland, and South Korea – are part of a global shift towards nationalism.

Is there a way back from this precipice? You can bet that any law banning political advertising on social media would be struck down by the Koch-built Supreme Court. It may already be too late to put the cork back in the bottle. The trickster is out. Artificial intelligence, if not yet sentient, is in control. Call it Segretti’s Revenge.


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