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  • 10 Things We Had To Unlearn That Our Children Won't

    Submitted by The Dissident Dad, via Mike Krieger's Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

    This list could grow to 1,000 ideas, but I’ve kept it down to ten. In the future, I might update it and add some more.

    There are a lot of bad ideas that dominate the world we live in today, most of which are uncritically accepted as the norm and fully embraced by society.

    As a millennial myself, I’ve noticed my peers seem to accept most of these as conventional wisdom. Hook, line, and sinker.

    Here are some ideas I was propagandized with that I hope my children will never have to “unlearn.”

    1. Violence is normal.

    Presidential candidates today are fighting over who can kill better by using drones or boots on the ground. By constantly threatening the use of violence against other countries, statists have conditioned the population into thinking that killing tens of thousands of people is normal behavior, instead of the immoral, dangerous provocation it is. Rather than being charged with murder, politicians and others that help support this behavior are often paid $250,000 or more a speech after they leave office, and referred to as Mr. President or former Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

    Video games, movies, television shows, and even toys all have a common theme: death and destruction. For example, there’s nothing like teaching your child about policing in 2015 America via these Playmobil toys:

     

    Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 4.34.43 PM

    This isn’t normal; this is psychotic. And the sociopaths that rule over us are murdering and imprisoning people every day because “we the people” are not only allowing it, but often times, cheering it on.

    Outside of self-defense, respecting other peoples’ property should become the new norm.

     

    2. Political parties govern differently. 

    As a former Republican, I used to hate the Democrats. Now I see these two parties as just two wings on the same beast.

    It’s true that they run with different themes and talking points, but in the end, they govern the same. They share the top donors, vote yes on the same wars, and never roll back a single thing the other does once in power.

    Bush picked Bernanke to run the Fed, and Obama re-nominated him. Republicans like Nixon ran on an anti-war platform during the Vietnam era, until Reagan/Bush took over in the 80’s. Then the Democrats were anti-war in the 2000s, until Obama took over in 2008. Clinton, Bush, Obama… looking back at the last 25 years, I don’t see how anything has changed in the U.S. with regard to foreign policy, spending, or lying about U.S. economic data.

    The oligarchs have us all fooled. Political parties are nothing more than spectator sport for a dumbed down public.

     

    3. Patriotism is a virtue. 

    Why? It was an accident that I was born here. Am I grateful to be living in the U.S., surrounded by family and friends? Yes. All the same, I owe the U.S. government nothing. I am a sovereign man, and shouldn’t have to subscribe to any group or nation just because I happened to be born in a part of the world called North America.

    I love everyone in this world, and I am not going to express loyalty for a specific region like a sports fan who loves his team only because it’s in the same city he resides in.

    Governments are dangerous, and the U.S. is the most dangerous one at the moment. My love for the U.S. is no more than my love for the Bahamas or Europe.

     

    4. Illegal aliens are evil criminals who desire to collect welfare from taxpayers.

    For a long time, I couldn’t stand these people. Nevertheless, if I wasn’t randomly born in Los Angeles and was instead born just 144 miles south, in Tijuana, I would be doing the exact same thing the illegal aliens are doing. I would be attempting to better my life and my children’s lives by migrating north. Humans moving to different regions is a natural event; the only unnatural thing is the imaginary lines we call borders.

    As far as the welfare, that’s a symptom of the disease we call government. It’s like me taking a tax deduction. While I don’t support the income tax, I’m not stupid, and I’m going to do everything I can to game the system and benefit myself.

     

    5. Taxes are justified at gunpoint.

    Taxes with the threat of jail or violence is wrong. I’m sorry, but I don’t owe you or anybody else a portion of the fruits of my labor – especially not under the threat of violence.

     

    6. War is good for the economy.

    I was told at a very young age, and even in high school, that war helped the economy boom. When you think about it, it makes no sense. Using production lines to create products that blow up into nothing is a tremendous waste of resources. Looking back, after WWII the U.S. cut spending by 50% and reduced the military from 12 million to 1.5 million. The evidence from the late 40’s and 50’s is that the economy boomed when we had less war.

     

    7. Terrorists hate our freedom and culture. 

    Are there extremists? Absolutely. But the fact is the U.S. has troops in so many countries (see: The Golden Age of Black Ops – In Fiscal 2015 U.S. Special Forces Have Already Deployed to 105 Nations), and has a horrible track record of toppling democratically elected governments, supporting sociopaths, and arming rebels who later become “terrorists.” It’s no wonder than these policies occasionally come home to roost.

    For one second, imagine that a nation bombed your neighbor and killed your son. What would your reaction be? These are the situations thousands across the world face on a consistent basis.

    What if Iran had troops in Mexico and Canada, ships off our coasts, and drones over our air space? Would we want a nuclear bomb for defense?

    George Washington was a terrorist in the eyes of Great Britain. If you want to know who’s dishing out much of the tyranny and chaos in the Middle East, as an American, you don’t have to look far from home.

     

    8. The U.S. has a free market economy.

    This is seriously stupid, but college professors and politicians repeat this mantra every day. In reality, the economy is so centrally planned that if the Fed alters one sentence in their statement, the Dow Jones could rally or fall by 200 points in an hour.

    Here’s another fact. Nearly 50% of America’s EBT program in Oklahoma went straight to the coffers of one company: Walmart.

    Meanwhile, regulations in some industries have forced business to have an entire division dedicated just to compliance. Even worse, many of these regulations are pushed by the larger corporations in order to drown out the competition with bureaucracy they can’t possibly afford.

    There is no free market in the U.S. – only crony capitalism, manipulation, and a centrally planned system manned by busybodies.

     

    9. U.S. troops are dying for my freedom.

    This is a tough one, because you want to naturally love and respect anyone who does something for you, especially if it’s to protect you from harm. The only reason I even bring this up is because many of the troops are honest, decent young men looking to serve their country or be a part of something greater than themselves. Nevertheless, these men and women are merely being used and abused in a Game of Thrones-esque battle for global wealth and power. They are often just collateral damage for large corporations looking to expand their businesses into territories and countries that, without U.S. military intervention, would likely be thrown out by the locals.

    I genuinely think the troops are willing to die for my freedom, but the corrupt American Empire poses a much greater threat to my freedom than any outside enemy we are constantly taught to fear.

     

    10. My vote matters. 

    Remember in 2006 when the Democrats were going to get our fiscal house in order? Or was that in 2010, when the Republicans were going to do the same? I don’t know, but your vote doesn’t matter. The populace is easily manipulated and/or asleep when it comes to matters of importance, so why bother.

    The vote counters and the media have already decided who’s acceptable and, of course, at the end of those strings are the oligarchs who run the world. See my post from last year: Election 2014 – Why I Opt Out of Voting.

    Edward Snowden sacrificed his freedom to alert voters of high crimes in the U.S government, and many Americans have no idea who he is. Meanwhile, most politicians want to try him for treason.

    *  *  *

    Summary: The good news is that because of the communications revolution we are in right now, I truly feel like there is a great awakening happening. We see it in the alternative media boom, blogs like Liberty Blitzkrieg, ZeroHedge, and others are currently challenging conventional wisdom with ferocity and success.

    We need to keep fighting.








  • How FIFA Makes (And Spends) Its Money

    Following today's "successful" vote confirming Sepp Blatter's 5th term running the farce called FIFA, and amid soccer's governing body being investigated by US and Swiss authorities over claims of corruption, we thought a summary of just where the money comes from and (apart from the $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to 14 executives) where it goes for the Swiss-based entity...

     

    How does the Zurich-based multi-million-pound organisation make its money and what does it spend it on?

    The US-led part of the twin investigations is looking at corruption among members of the Concacaf and Conmebol, the confederations that represent national associations across the Americas and the Caribbean, but the entire structure is considerably more broad...

    Any uncertainty around the World Cup is a major concern to the organisation. Fifa's own financial reports give a clear indication of how reliant the organisation is on the income each tournament generates.

    The World Cup is the most lucrative sporting event in the world, eclipsing even the Olympics. The 2014 qualifying rounds and final tournament brought in $4.8bn (£3.1bn) over four years and, after costs are taken into account, Fifa made a profit of more than $2bn.

    Profit from the 2014 World Cup

    How much money does Fifa hold on to?

    Fifa re-invests the majority of its revenue but it does hold on to a proportion of any profit to create a cash reserve. Fifa says that the reserve is important as it is extremely difficult to find insurance to cover the possible last-minute cancellation of a World Cup.

    The value of this reserve has grown sharply in the last decade from $350m (£228.6m) in 2005 to more than $1.5bn (£1bn) in 2014.

    The US indictment alleges over $150m (£97m) in corruption during a period of over 20 years. That currently equates to around 10% of the money Fifa has on hand for emergencies.

    A further worry for FIFA is that its sponsors and "partners" (extra-privileged sponsors) seem displeased by the latest bout of scandals. Coca-Cola are concerned that such accusations have “tarnished” the World Cup. Visa has warned that it may reassess its FIFA sponsorship unless the organisation can come to grips with its internal problems.

    That is money FIFA will not want to lose. Marketing is a cornerstone of FIFA’s swelling balance sheet, accounting for about a third of its $2 billion in yearly revenues.

     

    Increased interest in football from Asia and Africa has swelled the flow of money from television-broadcasting rights. A favourable tax status in Switzerland helps too: FIFA only pays around 1% of its income to state coffers. With cash rolling in, the organisation has built up healthy reserves of $1.5 billion, ostensibly for a rainy day.

    At long last the storm clouds appear to be gathering.

    Source: The BBC and The Economist

    *  *  *

    However, the most importantchart for FIFA is the following... Spot The Odd One Out...

     








  • How US And China Can Avoid A War (Spoiler Alert: The US Won't Like It)

    Authored by John Glaser, originally posted at The Guardian,

    To avoid a violent militaristic clash with China, or another cold war rivalry, the United States should pursue a simple solution: give up its empire.

    Americans fear that China’s rapid economic growth will slowly translate into a more expansive and assertive foreign policy that will inevitably result in a war with the US. Harvard Professor Graham Allison has found: “in 12 of 16 cases in the past 500 years when a rising power challenged a ruling power, the outcome was war.” Chicago University scholar John Mearsheimer has bluntly argued: “China cannot rise peacefully.”

    But the apparently looming conflict between the US and China is not because of China’s rise per se, but rather because the US insists on maintaining military and economic dominance among China’s neighbors. Although Americans like to think of their massive overseas military presence as a benign force that’s inherently stabilizing, Beijing certainly doesn’t see it that way.

    According to political scientists Andrew Nathan and Andrew Scobell, Beijing sees America as “the most intrusive outside actor in China’s internal affairs, the guarantor of the status quo in Taiwan, the largest naval presence in the East China and South China seas, [and] the formal or informal military ally of many of China’s neighbors.” (All of which is true.) They think that the US “seeks to curtail China’s political influence and harm China’s interests” with a “militaristic, offense-minded, expansionist, and selfish” foreign policy.

    China’s regional ambitions are not uniquely pernicious or aggressive, but they do overlap with America’s ambition to be the dominant power in its own region, and in every region of the world.

    Leaving aside caricatured debates about which nation should get to wave the big “Number 1” foam finger, it’s worth asking whether having 50,000 US troops permanently stationed in Japan actually serves US interests and what benefits we derive from keeping almost 30,000 US troops in South Korea and whether Americans will be any safer if the Obama administration manages to reestablish a US military presence in the Philippines to counter China’s maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea.

    Many commentators say yes. Robert Kagan argues not only that US hegemony makes us safer and richer, but also that it bestows peace and prosperity on everybody else. If America doesn’t rule, goes his argument, the world becomes less free, less stable and less safe.

    But a good chunk of the scholarly literature disputes these claims. “There are good theoretical and empirical reasons”, wrote political scientist Christopher Fettweis in his book Pathologies of Power, “to doubt that US hegemony is the primary cause of the current stability.” The international system, rather than cowering in obedience to American demands for peace, is far more “self-policing”, says Fettweis. A combination of economic development and the destructive power of modern militaries serves as a much more satisfying answer for why states increasingly see war as detrimental to their interests.

    International relations theorist Robert Jervis has written that “the pursuit of primacy was what great power politics was all about in the past” but that, in a world of nuclear weapons with “low security threats and great common interests among the developed countries”, primacy does not have the strategic or economic benefits it once had.

    Nor does US dominance reap much in the way of tangible rewards for most Americans: international relations theorist Daniel Drezner contends that “the economic benefits from military predominance alone seem, at a minimum, to have been exaggerated”; that “There is little evidence that military primacy yields appreciable geoeconomic gains”; and that, therefore, “an overreliance on military preponderance is badly misguided.”

    The struggle for military and economic primacy in Asia is not really about our core national security interests; rather, it’s about preserving status, prestige and America’s neurotic image of itself. Those are pretty dumb reasons to risk war.

    There are a host of reasons why the dire predictions of a coming US-China conflict may be wrong, of course. Maybe China’s economy will slow or even suffer crashes. Even if it continues to grow, the US’s economic and military advantage may remain intact for a few more decades, making China’s rise gradual and thus less dangerous.

    Moreover, both countries are armed with nuclear weapons. And there’s little reason to think the mutually assured destruction paradigm that characterized the Cold War between the US and the USSR wouldn’t dominate this shift in power as well.

    But why take the risk, when maintaining US primacy just isn’t that important to the safety or prosperity of Americans? Knowing that should at least make the idea of giving up empire a little easier.

     








  • Europe Has A Solution For The Unemployment Problem: Fake Jobs

    The jobs gap that has characterized the global economy since the crisis has cost some $1.2 trillion in lost wages and nearly $4 trillion in GDP. Employment growth worldwide has been just 1.4% since 2001, well below the 1.7% pace that prevailed prior to 2008. The result: there are 61 million fewer people employed globally than there would have been if pre-crisis trends had prevailed. 

    In the eurozone, where unemployment stands at 11.3% and where some countries — Spain being a prime example — are struggling under unemployment rates that approximate what the US experienced during the Great Depression, the ECB has been forced to effectively abandon its “single mandate” of promoting price stability in favor of a stance that’s more in-line with the Fed’s dual mandate that encompasses both price stability and maximum employment.

    Against this backdrop, many Europeans are struggling to find work, but have no fear, Europe has a solution: fake jobs. The New York Times has more:

    At 9:30 a.m. on a sunny weekday, the phones at Candelia, a purveyor of sleek office furniture in Lille, France, rang steadily with orders from customers across the country and from Switzerland and Germany. A photocopier clacked rhythmically while more than a dozen workers processed sales, dealt with suppliers and arranged for desks and chairs to be shipped.

     

    Sabine de Buyzer, working in the accounting department, leaned into her computer and scanned a row of numbers. Candelia was doing well. Its revenue that week was outpacing expenses, even counting taxes and salaries. “We have to be profitable,” Ms. de Buyzer said. “Everyone’s working all out to make sure we succeed.”

     

    This was a sentiment any boss would like to hear, but in this case the entire business is fake. So are Candelia’s customers and suppliers, from the companies ordering the furniture to the trucking operators that make deliveries. Even the bank where Candelia gets its loans is not real.

    Candelia is one of a number of so-called “Potemkin” companies operating in France. Everything about these entities is imaginary from the customers, to the supply chain, to the banks, to the “wages” employees receive and while the idea used to be that the creation of a “parallel economic universe” would help to train the jobless and prepare them for real employment sometime in the future, these “occupations” are now serving simply as way for the out-of-work to suspend reality for eight hours a day. Here’s The Times again:

    These companies are all part of an elaborate training network that effectively operates as a parallel economic universe. For years, the aim was to train students and unemployed workers looking to make a transition to different industries. Now they are being used to combat the alarming rise in long-term unemployment, one of the most pressing problems to emerge from Europe’s long economic crisis.

     

    Ms. de Buyzer did not care that Candelia was a phantom operation. She lost her job as a secretary two years ago and has been unable to find steady work. Since January, though, she had woken up early every weekday, put on makeup and gotten ready to go the office. By 9 a.m. she arrives at the small office in a low-income neighborhood of Lille, where joblessness is among the highest in the country.

     

    While she doesn’t earn a paycheck, Ms. de Buyzer, 41, welcomes the regular routine. She hopes Candelia will lead to a real job, after countless searches and interviews that have gone nowhere.

     

    “It’s been very difficult to find a job,” said Ms. de Buyzer, who like most of the trainees has been collecting unemployment benefits. “When you look for a long time and don’t find anything, it’s so hard. You can get depressed,” she said. “You question your abilities. After a while, you no longer see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

    This comes as Europe's long-term employment problem deepens and triggers what we have described as a sell-fulfilling prophecy wherein unemployment leads to lower aggregate wages which in turn spells lower consumer spending, crippling the economy and discouraging companies from hiring:

    Yet long-term unemployment — the kind that Ms. de Buyzer and nearly 10 million others in the eurozone are experiencing — has become a defining reality.

     

    Last year, a staggering 52.6 percent of unemployed people in the eurozone were without work for a year or more, the highest on record, according to Eurostat, and many of those have been jobless more than two years.

     

    “If you have a significant part of the population that’s not integrated, they won’t increase their spending, which dampens a possible recovery,” said Paul de Grauwe, a professor of European political economy at the London School of Economics. When a large number of people go jobless for long stretches, “you also subdue optimism, which will weigh on an economic turnaround"...

     

    "It’s worrisome because we’re talking about many people who have been out of work for a very long time,” said Stefano Scarpetta, the director of employment, labor and social affairs at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “Their skills can become obsolete. They get stigmatized. They risk being disconnected from the workplace and society, with negative implications for them, their families and the economy.”

    Of course, in today's global economy, it's difficult to propser even if you're a make-believe company which is why it shouldn't surprise you to learn that "Animal Kingdom", a fake pet store, is on the verge of fake bankruptcy:

    She looked at a stack of invoices, including some orders from virtual companies that had not been paid. “If this keeps up we’ll go out of business,” Mrs. Banuelos said, handing the papers to two women with instructions to follow up. “What’s our strategy to improve profitability?” she asked the group.

    But never fear Potemkin companies, because you are not alone. There are other entities out there who are going bankrupt on paper while making things up as they go along in a "parallel" universe — those entities are called "central banks."








  • In Denial: We Pursue Endless Growth At Our Peril

    Submitted by Chris Martenson via PeakProsperity.com,

    As we've been discussing of late here at PeakProsperity.com, humans desperately need a new story to live by. The old one is increasingly dysfunctional and rather obviously headed for either a quite dismal or possibly disastrous future. One of the chief impediments to recognizing the dysfunction of the old story and adopting a new one is the most powerful of all human emotional states: Denial.

    I used to think that Desire was the most powerful human emotion because people are prone to risking everything in their lives – careers, marriages, relationships with their family and close friends - pursuing lust or accumulating 10,000 times more money and possessions than they need in their desire for “more.”

    Perhaps it was my own blind spot(s) that prevented me from really appreciating just how powerful human denial really is. But here we are, 40 years after the Club of Rome and 7 years after the Great Financial Accident of 2008, collectively pretending that neither was a sign warning of the dangers we face -- as a global society -- if we continue our unsustainable policies and practices that assume perpetual growth.

    Economic Denial

    In the realm of economics, the level of collective denial gripping the earth’s power centers is extraordinary. Perhaps that should be of little surprise, as we're now at the height of the largest set of nested financial bubbles ever blown in world history.

    The bigger the bubble(s) the bigger the levels of denial required to sustain their expansion. These bubbles are doozies, and that explains the massive and ongoing efforts to prevent any sort of reality from creeping into the national and global dialog.

    To understand this pattern of avoidance of unpleasant realities, consider the behavior of cities -- even entire nations -- which cannot bring themselves to talk openly about their state of insolvency, let alone do something about it.

    Chicago has amassed debt and underfunded liabilities totaling $63 billion, or more than $61,000 per household. Illinois already ‘enjoys’ the second highest property tax rate in the nation at 2.28 percent of a property’s value, which means the average property tax bill for the median home is $5,200 per year. On top of that, Illinois' income tax is a flat 5% and brings in a total of $18 billion from 4.7 million households, or $3,800 per household. Combined, that's $9,000 in taxes per year per average household (which earns $38,625).

    Here's the brutal math: the current city deficit is 675% of current tax receipts. How exactly does Chicago plan to scrape another $61,000 out of each household on top of the existing tax bills? 

    It doesn’t. It has no plan. The plan is to simply remain in denial and ignore everything until it all breaks down. Which it has indeed started to do, with the ever-late, after-the-horse-has-already-left-the-barn downgrade of the city’s debt to junk status by Moodys.

    Or perhaps we could note that of the six mayoral candidates seeking election to run the city of Philadelphia, not one has even talked about its massive $5.7 billion pension shortfall during the campaign, even as they promise expanded pre-kindergarten programs and tax cuts. Not one. Do you think that any of them has an actual plan to address that budget gap's dream-crushing burden?

    They don’t. The only ‘plan’ they have is to remain in denial and ignore everything until it all breaks down. And then, we might guess, blame the prior administrations.

    Japan has the most debt per person of any nation in the world, standing at nearly $100,000 per resident. And that burden is growing every year. Yet in 2005, Japan passed an important milestone as its population peaked at 128 million. It's been declining ever since. Japan lost 244,000 net residents in 2013, and is now trundling on a downwards population trajectory for the next 50-60 years. And at the same time, it is growing older -- Japan has the second highest median age in the world.

    Clearly that demographic profile is a recipe for economic shrinkage, not growth. And yet the Japanese central bankers and politicians are hell-bent on creating rapid economic growth via the twin cattle prods of reckless money printing and excessive government borrowing. How is it that the leaders of Japan have convinced themselves that rapid economic growth is what they need (instead of the more rational and opposite case of managed economic shrinkage)? What’s their plan, exactly?

    They have no plan. The plan is to simply remain in denial and ignore everything until it all breaks down.

    The same story is written everywhere, with every example sharing the same common element of presumed perpetual growth. Everybody plans on growing steadily, forever into the future, amen.

    The United States is no different. It's own entitlement shortfalls, pegged at anywhere from $60 trillion to $220 trillion, are themselves still derived with the assumption of future growth.

    Here’s the ‘plan’ for the US according to the CBO:

    Yes, the ‘plan’ is for the US to someday have an economy equal to the entire current world GDP as it stands here in 2015. Does that make any sense to anybody at all? Who thinks that’s a realistic plan?

    By 2080 when this is supposed to take place, the entire world will be past the peak of all known sources of energy. And Phosphate. And soil. And fresh water. And oceanic fish biomass. And who knows what else. And yet the CBO blithely assumes that US, all on its own, will be producing and consuming 100% of what the entire world does today.

    The above chart helps us visualize one of the largest and most potentially destructive forms of denial on display. Our collective denial of limits.  It's also good to remember that all of the entitlement shortfalls are 'only' as bad as they because of the assumption of uninterrupted US economic growth.  Should economic growth fall short of that spectacular run that will take the US to a worldly level of consumption and production, then the entitlement programs will prove to be just that much more underfunded.

    Ecological Denial

    Sadly, it's on the natural fronts that human denial seems to be at its most extreme. Hollywood visions and SciFi fantasies aside (where humans live in sealed capsules and subsist entirely on man-made foods), humans are 100% utterly dependent on the natural world for their survival. Food, water, oxygen, and predictable temperatures and rainfall patterns provide the basics of life.

    To focus on just one part, which I also detail in The Crash Course book, humans are rapidly degrading our soils upon which everything depends.

    Not only are we obviously losing topsoil to erosion and generally turning soil into lifeless dirt by stripping out its biological diversity, we are mining these soils for their micro and macro nutrients yet have no coordinated plan for replacing them.

    Obviously if you take minerals like calcium and magnesium out of the soils in the form of harvested grains and vegetables, they'll need to be replaced. Right now they are mainly flushed out to sea, never to be economically recovered.

    The situation is pretty grim as I recently outlined in a recent report on our nation's poor soil management practices. Here’s some more context for that view:

    Britain has only 100 harvests left in its farm soil as scientists warn of growing 'agricultural crisis'

    Oct 20, 2014

     

    Intense over-farming means there are only 100 harvests left in the soil of the UK’s countryside, a study has found.

     

    With a growing population and the declining standard of British farmland, scientists warned that we are on course for an “agricultural crisis” unless dramatic action is taken.

     

    Despite the traditional perception that there is a green and pleasant land outside the grey, barren landscape of our cities, researchers from the University of Sheffield found that on average urban plots of soil were richer in nutrients than many farms.

     

    “With a growing population to feed, and the nutrients in our soil in sharp decline, we may soon see an agricultural crisis,” Professor Dunnett said.

     

    “Meanwhile we are also seeing a sharp decrease in bio-diversity in the UK which has a disastrous knock-on effect on our wildlife Lack of pollinators means reduction in food.

    (Source)

    Scientists in the UK are being matched by scientists elsewhere, noting that humanity’s general approach towards soils and farming are obviously destructive and exceptionally unsustainable. It should be setting off alarm bells that urban plots are found to be more nutrient-dense than many farms.

    The loss of biodiversity is something that we just cannot yet fully comprehend, as all of nature is an enormously intertwined set of complex relationships. Of course, our failure to understand and appreciate the true role(s) of biodiversity will not protect us from the consequences of destroying it.

    Any culture that ruins its soils cannot claim any sort of sophistication at all. That just flunks the basic IQ test. It’s not unlike watching a brilliant piano prodigy starve to death because he can't manage the details of making his own meals despite a well-stocked kitchen. No matter how beautifully he can play, he simply lacks the necessary skills to sustain himself.

    Human security at risk as depletion of soil accelerates, scientists warn

    May 7, 2015

    Steadily and alarmingly, humans have been depleting Earth's soil resources faster than the nutrients can be replenished. If this trajectory does not change, soil erosion, combined with the effects of climate change, will present a huge risk to global food security over the next century, warns a review paper authored by some of the top soil scientists in the country.

     

    The paper singles out farming, which accelerates erosion and nutrient removal, as the primary game changer in soil health.

     

    "Ever since humans developed agriculture, we've been transforming the planet and throwing the soil's nutrient cycle out of balance," said the paper's lead author, Ronald Amundson, a professor of environmental science, policy and management at the University of California, Berkeley. "Because the changes happen slowly, often taking two to three generations to be noticed, people are not cognizant of the geological transformation taking place."

    (Source)

    Notice the shifting baselines phenomenon happening here. Because the changes have taken place over three generations, our culture is incapable of recognizing the threat, let alone properly responding to it.

    Instead of a bucolic pastime, farming has become just another mirror reflecting our destructive ways. Rather than carefully working within natural cycles, the average farming practice seeks to dominate and override nature.

    Just spray and you’re done! Easy-peasy. Of course, this has the chance of knocking out your birds and your bees as well as the butterflies and who knows what other essential and beneficial insects as I recently laid out in the report: Suicide By Pesticide.

    Pesticides kill the bugs we don’t want and many more besides. Herbicides knock out weeds, but also lots of other life-forms we do need and want kept alive. Fungicides knock out bad funguses and good ones alike.

    This lazy approach to farming, although chemically sophisticated, lacks any real connection to the cycles of nature the most obvious one being the strip-mining of the macro and micro nutrients.

    There was a reason that the herbivores roamed over the same grounds for hundreds of thousands and even millions of years. That worked to keep everything in balance and led to the creation of the thickest and healthiest soils imaginable when the American West was first plowed not all that long ago (by historical standards).

    Horribly bleak study sees ‘empty landscape’ as large herbivores vanish at startling rate

    May 4, 2015

     

    They never ateanybody — but now, some of planet Earth’s innocentvegetarians face end times.Large herbivores — elephants, hippos, rhinos and gorillas among them — are vanishing from the globe at a startling rate, with some 60 percent threatened with extinction, a team of scientists reports.

     

    The situation is so dire, according toa new study, that it threatens an “empty landscape” in some ecosystems “across much of the planet Earth.”

     

    The authors were clear: This is a big problem — and it’s a problem with us, not them.

     

    This slaughterand its consequences are not modest, the article said. In fact, the rate of decline is such that “ever-larger swaths of the world will soon lack many of the vital ecological services these animals provide, resulting in enormous ecological and social costs.”

     

    Herbivores, it turns out, don’t just idle about munching on various green things. They play a vital role as “ecosystem engineers,” the paper said — expanding grasslands for plant species, dispersing seeds in manure, and, in the ultimate sacrifice, providing food for predators.

    (Source)

    It’s the last paragraph that’s essential to understand.

    Nature is so subtle and complex, that we have only recently learned that wolves shape rivers. Or perhaps the Native Americans knew that and it is our ‘modern’ culture that is only re-figuring all this out. I was confused by the thought of wolves shaping rivers the first time I heard it too, but it’s all laid out in this handy 4 minute video:

    The loss of large herbivores will re-shape the landscape in ways that we do not yet understand and therefore cannot appreciate. But they are certainly ‘ecosystem engineers’ and the loss of those services, to put it in transactional terms that economists might relate to, will lead to a whole host of as-yet-undefined changes some of which we will regret.

    We're Not At The Tipping Point; We've Already Past It

    The roles of eating, digesting and spreading seeds and manure seem like things we can make do without, here at the apex of the petroleum age, but in a few short decades we will understand just how much energy was necessary and how much value was created by the actions of these herbivores.

    In Part 2: Life Beyond The Tipping Point we look at the looming net energy crisis is mathematically certain to place increasing limits on the modern way of life, in our lifetime -- likely much sooner than we want or are prepared for. In sum, despite the intent of world leaders to blindly deny the economic, ecological and energetic cliffs we are hurdling towards, society has already long past the point where painful ramifications can be avoided. At this stage, destiny will be determined at the individual level, depending on what steps each of takes now, before those ramifications arrive in force. 

    Click here to read Part 2 of this report(free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

     








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