Monday, 13 September 2010


The word “we” falls easily from the tongue, effortlessly encompassing each individual person on the Earth. We, the whole of humanity, are destroying the environment. We are creating greenhouse gases. We must cut CO2 emissions. And so on.

Yet, aside from an abstract sense of belonging to the same species, it used to be that “we” didn’t speak for the whole human collective. Difference was too great. There were people in remote places who still lived apart, outside of the globalizing forces that originated in the West, which is to say, Europe. But the en-globement is now complete. The hydrocarbon economy, vehicle for globalization, is total. No one can truly be said to exist outside of it.

But if you ask who can resolve the problems of the bio-sphere. Ask who can actually instigate and carry through the changes we need to make to the way we live. Then the composition of this “we” looks different. Because, out of the entire  population of the planet, only 5% at most and probably less, are actually in a position to be able to initiate change on the kind of scale that is going to work. 

The rest of us 95% are locked into daily life, concentrating to greater or lesser extents on getting through the day, or the week or, in more extreme cases, just surviving. Within the pattern of work – eat – rest/watch TV – sleep – work, who has the time to think? Even events  that are close to home such as chronic pollution, dying trees, floods and droughts, all sail by in the news cloud, barely registering as  thoughts in the socially engineered mentality of methodological individualism – this being the predominant mind form of the age.

In other words, no one can step outside of life. And we can only use what is available for us to live it. We have to get up in the morning and cook our breakfast on a cooker fuelled by natural gas in a house heated by natural gas or oil or electricity generated from coal, natural gas or oil. We have to get to work, or anywhere at all, by car or plane or train, powered in one way or another by oil, coal or natural gas. You have to buy food that is sprayed with petroleum based pesticides and herbicides, and then wrapped up in toxic plastics that are also made from oil. And so on.

This isn’t meant to be a litany, the point is to illustrate how, as individual people, “we” are absolutely unable do anything much at all to alter anything. If we drop out and stop using hydrocarbons at any of the moments and stages in our lives, we cannot exist. To labour the obvious, we would have no job, no money, no food, no heating and no clothes and no life. So even if the majority of us understood very well what is happening to the planet, and might feel like jumping up and shouting, if not screaming– hey, stop the train! I want to get off – you can’t. And this is doubly true because the driver, if in fact there is one, can’t hear you, and isn’t interested in what you think anyway.

The 5% of course, are driving the train. Or they think they are. What they can’t see is that the train is a runaway and that when it comes off the rails they are going to be on it too. Their lack of future sight (no kind of clairvoyance here, just looking to see what’s coming)  is caused by the fact that all their attention is focused on the carriages, and on making sure the passengers behave, so that the status quo, and their position as drivers, is preserved. A lot of resources, both in the way of money and people, are devoted to maintaining this situation.  So if you do get past the ticket collectors and guards and you get the will and energy together to do something, you won’t get anywhere because there is no where to go.

All that is left to us is such meaningless tokenism as not using plastic bags, walking to the corner store, keeping a blog, or contributing to all the NGOs and protest and pressure groups that still think draping banners across buildings, hanging from oil rigs, staging street demos and handcuffing themselves to the railings are going to make some kind of difference.

The moral of the story is that everything that is being done now to reduce our use of hydrocarbons, is a total failure. Strategy and tactics need to change – and fast. 

Question is, who is going to rescue the train?

Monday, 6 September 2010

Global Warming, Pleomorphism and the Unlifing of Planet Earth

Global Warming. Climate Change. How we came to give these names to the destruction of the bio-sphere is irrelevant. What matters are their effects. Not of the actual phenomena but of the words themselves.

They are un-threatening, almost benign. They give the idea that all that is going on is a mere adjustment in temperature. As if what we are doing to the Earth is just turning up the heating by a few degrees, with the greenhouse gases making a pleasantly warm and humid atmosphere, taking us back perhaps, to a time of lush growth and giant hot-house plants.

But Global Warming and Climate Change are only parts of a chain. Essentially, they are effects. Despite this, they have acquired a dynamic of self-creation. As if they were happening all by themselves - being both cause and effect. Vaguely situated within their dynamic are carbon and greenhouse gas. Carbon is an orphaned, bastard word, clinically dissected from anything meaningful. Greenhouse gas, a scented term devoid of any sense of the seriousness or urgency facing us, is wholly one-dimensional. It denies possibility for the other processes currently underway. Processes which are possibly worse than either warming or a changing climate – as if this were possible.

Global Warming and Climate Change are then disconnected terms. They are disassociated from the cause. Their disassociation creates distance. The distance between us and the cause allows us the space to deny and ignore, to pretend we have nothing to do with anything even as we switch on the power, board airplanes and start up our cars and put our food in poisonous plastic packaging. The distance separating big business and corporations from the cause is even greater. It allows them to maintain a blurred space between themselves and what they are doing to the biosphere. It invites them to obfuscate, and deny and point the finger elsewhere.

Global Warming and Climate Change are red herrings. They mislead and distract  from the one and only cause which is our use of  oil, coal and gas. They take our attention away from the many other, potentially more serious, effects that are generated by these hydrocarbons and their products and by-products - the devastatingly poisonous chemicals being released into the biosphere, the toxins that are sickening and killing the trees and plants and us and all life; all of them come from hydrocarbons.

After billions of years of terra-forming, of making the Earth, - as that which is the ground for everything living to be – creating the perfect conditions for life as we know it, we, humanity, have put the Earth-making into reverse. By changing the chemical composition of the biosphere and creating chemicals which unmake life, we have begun an unlifing.

There are obviously many aspects to Earth-making – to the creation and maintenance of the biosphere which contains the life of the planet. One absolutely critical element amongst them is the pH level. pH of the organism, of the organs within the body, and of the environment in which the organism exists. The full gravity of this isn’t felt unless the workings of pleomorphism are understood (see the ultra empiricist work of “new” biology, which lifts the burden under which we have been made to labour since Pasteur). Put simply, pleomorphism says that the microbes within an organism change form and function in response to the internal environment of the body– in particular, the pH.

The acidity or alkalinity of an organism is determined by its environment – the organism is what it eats. The pH values of an organism have very little margin before it malfunctions. When they become too acid, the ability to take up and absorb and produce all the things the organism needs to live and create energy - minerals and vitamins and enzymes and so on - becomes severely inhibited. The organs cease to function properly, growth and cell maintenance are affected, and the microbes inside change and become “disease” - the viruses, bacteria and fungi whose purpose is to de-compose the organism, breaking it down so that it goes back to the earth.

The great extinction of the end-Permian, when around 90% of marine creatures and 75% of land creatures died, coincided with the release of huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The logic of pleomorphism says that the resulting acidity would have triggered a mass de-composition of plant life. Recent research has discovered that there was at that time, a rapid change to what has been called a slime world, composed of a thick layer of bacteria in the sea, and an explosion of fungi on land - indicating that this may have happened. The big rise in C02 that occurred during the during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, also saw a rise in acidity. There are suggestions of a fungal spike, and all complex life forms suffered from dwarfism, losing body mass of up to 50%. This is consistent with an acid compromised organism being unable to absorb and produce what it needs to grow. This same event is being repeated now. Our fish and birds, and mammals and insects are rapidly growing smaller. Microbial infections are increasing. Plant life is sickening and rotting from within. But now, with the presence of many more acid creating gases and particles, acidification and its effects, can only be greater.

Complacent scientists are already spouting their empty words about selection and adaptation and responses to warming. But we do not need to be scientists to see. The soils and waters and clouds of the biosphere are acidifying. Their chemical composition is changing. Life is being depleted of that which it needs to live. Life forming microbes are reshaping, un-making, becoming de-composers.

The Unlifing has begun.