Overcoming Grief and Censorship

Journalists have been lying to us. I didn’t really want to believe the BBC is anything but 100% impartial at first, but I have main-stream-media-liesbeen convinced they are nothing but serial liars. What’s more, the only apparent reason for their lying is to make it easier for capitalists to connive you and me out of more money and stop us from questioning our allegiance to capital.

I could see that the Guardian, Independent, and Times, not to mention the tabloid rest, are funded by advertising as much as sales. But what I didn’t realise was that advertisers had quite a lot of control over editors and what they choose to print. It comes down to a matter of “I won’t pay for an advert next to that anti-capitalist piece!” for example.

It isn’t that the media is not talking about war costs in money and comparing it to the amount in the deficit, the cost of austerity, the size of the bankers bonuses, or the size of the bank bail out. They do.

It’s not that there aren’t discussions of how current climate information is getting scary and how about we accept not going on holiday by aeroplane, or stop drilling for more oil. They are.

For example, things are still getting worse: In 2000, Yann Arthus-Bertrand noted: “since the 1970s, Earth’s natural wealth has diminished by one third.” The WWF noted in September 2014 that Earth has now lost half of it’s natural wealth since the 1970’s.

It’s clear we need to act, and drastically, as soon as possible. Journalists seem to be letting us know. And yet nothing is happening. Even if they are producing widely read articles, like the Guardian piece linked above, they being reported next to adverts for cars, holidays and banks.

Accoding to Medialens, a sort of media watchdog that attempts to hold big media to account when they leave things out, this is a message that says “quit worrying and embrace the consumerism that has precisely created the crisis – a message that the crisis isn’t that serious, things aren’t that bad.” Medialens has succinctly put this point together in Drinking Water From The Corporate Well, about two thirds the way down in this article.

Whilst it is certainly true that we are bedazzled by advertising every time we screen or buy a corporate press paper, surely this isn’t enough to engender apathy and inaction on the part of us. We are surely going to suffer terrifically as the ravages of climate change take hold and have effect over the next coming decades. So why aren’t we doing anything, even in light of stark warnings?

Perhaps it is because the situation seems hopeless. Take this stark warning: a 50 billion tonne carbon emission over a ten year period is within the realms of possibility at a global average temperature of 1.5°C above norm according to Arctic Oceanographers. We’re currently at 0.9°C global average above norm and the UN Climate Talks suggest we shoot for no more that 2.0°C above norm!

I found this out on a Facebook support group with 3000 members from all over the world. They offer personal support “for people who have accepted that human extinction is inevitable in the near term due to anthropogenic global warming based on trends determined by scientific research.” It seems sad to me that so many have simply given up hope and are now dealing with a sort of perverse grief for what is only one possible future outcome.

Can we draw links between apathy and advertising?

I feel such apathy must be one of several things, or a combination:

  • They don’t know any possible solutions they can enact themselves.

  • They are uniformed about the potential for political resistance.

  • They don’t want to enter into political action to change the way things are going.

  • They sadly value nothing in their lives.

  • They are childish and apathy is just a cool game.

  • They are lazy.

120403_FUTURE_cubanFarmers.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeI can help offer a good solution, although that group is unfortunately lost. They term what I have to say here ‘hopium’ and delete posts pertaining to this sort of thing..

We can get help with a lot of the scary implications of global warming by strategically planting forest around our settlements and food producing land. What’s more, these forests may alleviate the carbon load in the atmosphere and start to bring it down. BUT, and it’s a big one, we can’t use fossil fuels to do it.

In Cuba, the embargo minimised fuel availability drastically, ditto industrial fertilisers. Over time, the resulting need for food lead the Cuban people to demand access to land so they could figure out the problem themselves. It was very successful and scientists became interested in what they had done. They called it ‘agro-ecology’ because it’s success relied mimicing nature to cycle nutrients through the crop system. See this article and links:

Modern farming turns fields into factories. Inorganic fertilizer adds nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to the soil; pesticides kill anything that crawls; herbicides nuke anything green and unwanted—all to create an assembly line that spits out a single crop. This is modern monoculture.

Agro-ecology uses nature’s far more complex systems to do the same thing more efficiently and without the chemistry set. Nitrogen-fixing beans are grown instead of inorganic fertilizer; flowers are used to attract beneficial insects to manage pests; weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. The result is a sophisticated polyculture—that is, it produces many crops simultaneously, instead of just one.

Fine, but what is stopping us actually getting on with this? Why aren’t these messages getting beyond words on our screens/pages?

We are insidiously trapped by those profiting from the continuation of our current societal arrangements. And they are prepared to play dirty.

Medialens documents how big media corporations like the Guardian will sack anyone who sneaks subversive material past editorial gatekeepers. Nafeez Ahmed was recently fired from the Guardian for writing about Israel’s aim to pump gas in Gaza’s territorial waters:

“Ahmed’s July 9 piece has received a massive 68,000 social media shares and is far and away the most popular Guardian article on the Gaza conflict. In the event, however, it was the last article published by him in the Guardian. The following day, his valuable Earth Insight blog, covering environmental, energy and economic crises, was killed off.”

See full article here.

This is censorship. They don’t want writers who make people angry and prepared to bash bin lids in the street. They want writers who fill peoples minds with fear and the impossibility of the situation, as it breeds apathy. And it is precisely apathy and hopelessness that is allowing things to keep on as they are. We need to get angry if we’re to retake the fields and throw our bodies in the machine.

I’m all for being well informed about what is going on in the world. Particularly when it comes to things like 50 billion ton carbon releases just over the possibility horizon. It makes me more focused. It makes me want to start making positive changes in the world in any way that my insignificant self can.

But what we all hanker for is the sense of empowerment that comes when a community of people work together to take on and overcome their problems together. In some ways I can see the attraction in support groups for my own extinction. I could have the community, overcome the grief problem and I don’t have to do something! But what I’d prefer is a bunch of angry folk dedicated to the fight for change.

I’ve compiled this list of things you might consider and some possible actions, if you are brave enough.

By the way, I need help making the following into a spoof Guardian article that I can print and slip into papers. Can anyone help?

Enjoy:

  • We need to learn to live without electricity completely. We don’t have any more room for burning Coal, oil or gas. And, if nuclear, wind and solar are ramped up to the industrial level required to supply everyone with electricity then they will destroy the Earth just as completely, if a little slower. We need the power plants and producers of these things to be shut down, closed. I hope some will be destroyed by environmental saboteurs. I think people like this should exists on the grounds that they are acting on self defence.

  • I bet I can find 1,000,000 people with ideas that make living without electricity easy.

  • We need to learn to live without money, or learn to make do with a tiny income. This will both starve corporations of their profits and their power. It will also diminish government tax which they can spend on war.

  • We must put more pressure on war mongers to stop.

  • We need to learn to grow most of what we eat on a day to day basis. Perhaps 4 days out of 7 we must be increasing the fertility of soil for the next ten years in order to grow a vast variety of plants, trees and livestock. This will nourish us physically and emotionally as we re-connect with where we live, not to mention provide tastier food than the supermarkets can provide. This will also help topple the agribusinesses and their attempted grab at genetic copyrights and our genetic inheritance represented by seeds. This will help sequester excess carbon dioxide in our soils.

  • In order that we can live without electricity, we must live outside of the major cities and towns in a much simpler manner. We must use horse and animal power to aid us in our lives. Our work will be more human scale and relate to the human individuals around us. This will help to reverse the isolation we feel all the time in the current system.

  • We need to learn to live without industrial scales. We cannot grow food through industrial farming. It is in effect soil mining, encourages deforestation, and relies on replacing diverse ecosystems with one or two species.

  • Modern farming turns fields into factories. Inorganic fertilizer adds nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to the soil; pesticides kill anything that crawls; herbicides nuke anything green and unwanted—all to create an assembly line that spits out a single crop. This is modern monoculture.

  • Agro-ecology uses nature’s far more complex systems to do the same thing more efficiently and without the chemistry set. Nitrogen-fixing beans are grown instead of inorganic fertilizer; flowers are used to attract beneficial insects to manage pests; weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. The result is a sophisticated polyculture—that is, it produces many crops simultaneously, instead of just one.

  • Agro-ecological farms actually resemble forests more than farms. Again, this has benefits for fresh water management in a water constrained and water problematic near future.

These points are all fine but they are not very practical in the here and now. I want to go a step further and actually give readers an idea of how they can personally get on with this stuff, step by step.

  • So, you’ve realised that continuing to indulge in the consumerist world is going to destroy you and everything else. Here’s what you can do:

  • Give yourself a deadline. Say, five years. More, or less, according to your circumstances.

  • Get out of a consumerist lifestyle. Join or start a land project. See www.hartwoodcommunity.coop for ideas and connecting with other people working in similar veins where you live.

  • Work together within your family or friendship group and pool funds and look for bits of land for sale. You must endeavour to attempt to detach yourself from capitalism and provide for yourself with what you need as much as possible. This means you will be trying to grow most of your own food. Realise now that it will take about 10 years before any soil you buy will be fertile enough for you to relax. It will be a struggle but worth it!

  • Do some courses on basket making, wood working, animal husbandry (looking after baby goats, awesome!), wild foods, mushrooms, gardening, agro-forestry and get an idea of the depth of knowledge out there and where to tap into these resources. Remember that courses are good places to meet people, however, you can avoid the costs of these things by volunteering on WWOOF and looking for specific skills available during voluntary placement.

  • Try to free up your time. Quit the job/career. What’s the point supporting corporate masters? What’s the point if you keep your job but don’t have the necessary survival skills to deal with the next couple of decades? Instead, travel a bit and work on farms. Work outside and get fit. Do manual cash in hand harvesting jobs. You can earn good wages doing this in breadbasket regions. France, notably, in western Europe.

  • Sell your stuff. Try to live in a van/yurt or bike/tarp. You are aiming to get onto a homestead as soon as possible. What you have now only weighs you down and probably won’t be suited to a small holding environment. You need to sell up and start learning how to be self sustaining, breath life back into the pillaged soils, work for increases in biodiversity and you will need the biggest float you can get to get you through the first ten years. A float combined with seasonal work requiring you for only a couple of months at a time is best suited for this set up period.

  • You are aiming to live with virtually no money within your deadline. That means you have to save and consolidate what you have now for your transition effort.

  • You should be attempting to do this with no money as well. If we can reach a critical mass, then write Community Declarations allowing the re-appropriation of lands owned by the gentry. This is a harder slog than selling up, but if your position in capitalist society is shitty, then you have all the more reason to fight it in this way. We only have each other. Foster solidarity across class lines. Organise farm squats and plant your seedlings without permission. Write to land owners and ask for their assistance. Look for community buy outs and work with your neighbours for nearby land to grow on. I know a community woodland project that has just won a £1 per year lease on about 30 acres owned by the crown in Roslin Glen, Scotland. We have a right to vote no confidence in the system at large. These actions could be political. If large scale, we can retake the commons.

  • Again, encourage your friends and family to join you. They will call you mad, but you will find many already doing this, particularly if you make it to the stage where you can join WWOOF. This is already an international movement.  Explaining your intentions to family will help you raise support for your plan and raise awareness of the issues you want to tackle. The more people taking these actions and talking about them, the more chance we have of shutting down the destructive economy through non participation.

  • Remember that it is now or never time for humanity. We have already burned too many fossil fuels. If we don’t attempt to reforest and end consumption then we are looking at ever increasing hardship with the death knell for the bulk of people being food supply disruptions. Any progress you can make to feed yourself and encourage non-participation amongst friends, family and the wider community around you will stand you in better stead. We’re not getting out of this alive if we don’t try to live in this way. You will be better skilled to deal with worsening global crisis if you attempt this.

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