By Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam
02 January 2019
In many ways it is painful to reflect on the year
2018; a year of vital opportunities lost when so much is at stake, whether
politically, militarily, socially, economically, financially or ecologically,
humanity took some giant strides backwards while passing up endless
opportunities to make a positive difference in our world.
Let me, very briefly, identify some of the more
crucial backward steps, starting with the recognition by the Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists in January that the year had already started badly when they
moved the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, the closest it has ever
been to ‘doomsday’ (and equal to 1953 when the Soviet Union first exploded a
thermonuclear weapon matching the US capacity). See ‘It is now two minutes to midnight’.
This change reflected the perilous state of our world,
particularly given the renewed threat of nuclear war and the ongoing climate
catastrophe. It didn’t even mention the massive and unrelenting assault on the
biosphere (apart from the climate) nor, of course, the ongoing monumental
atrocities against fellow human beings.
Some Lowlights of 2018
1. The global elite, using key elite fora such as the
Group of 30, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group and the World
Economic Forum, continued to plan, generate and exacerbate the many ongoing
wars, deepening exploitation within the global economy, climate and
environmental destruction, and the refugee crisis, among many other violent
impacts, in pursuit of greater elite power, profit and privilege.
2. International organizations (such as the United
Nations, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund) and national
governments used military forces, legal systems, police forces and prison
systems around the world to serve the global elite by defending its interests
against the bulk of the human population, including those individuals and
organizations audacious enough to challenge elite power, profit and privilege.
3. $US1.7 trillion was officially spent
worldwide on military weapons to kill fellow human beings and other lifeforms,
and to destroy the biosphere. See ‘Global military spending remains high at $1.7
However, so out-of-control is this spending that the
United States has now spent $US21trillion on its military in the past 20 years
for which it cannot even account! That’s right, $US1trillion each year,
including 2018, above the official US national budget for killing is ‘lost’.
See Army General Fund
Adjustments Not Adequately Documented or Supported, ‘Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money
Without Telling Us?’ and ‘The Pentagon Can’t Account for $21 Trillion (That’s
Not a Typo)’.
4. War and other military violence continued to rage
across the planet wreaking devastation on many countries and regions,
particularly in the Middle East and Africa. If you missed this, read what is
happening to Yemen, described as ‘ the world’s worst [humanitarian] crisis in
decades’ with ‘three quarters of the entire Yemeni population – 22 million
women, children and men – dependent on some form of humanitarian assistance to
survive.’ See ‘Yemen: UN chief hails “signs of hope” in world’s
worst man-made humanitarian disaster’.
5. Not content with the nature and extent of the
military violence they are inflicting already, during 2018 elites continued to
plan how to do it more effectively in future with research and development of
artificial intelligence just one manifestation of this: ‘an “arms race in AI”
is now underway, with the U.S., China, Russia, and other nations (including
Britain, Israel, and South Korea) seeking to gain a critical advantage in the
weaponization of artificial intelligence and robotics’ so that ‘artificial
intelligence will be applied to every aspect of warfare, from logistics and
surveillance to target identification and battle management’. See ‘“Alexa, Launch Our Nukes!” Artificial Intelligence
and the Future of War’.
6. The United States government unilaterally withdrew
from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (which limits the deployment
of intermediate range nuclear weapons).
7. Another significant proportion of global private
financial wealth – conservatively estimated by the Tax Justice Network in 2010
to already total between $US21 and $US32 trillion – has been invested virtually
tax-free through the world’s still-expanding black hole of more than 80
‘offshore’ tax havens (such as the City of London Corporation, Jersey,
Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Nauru, St.
Kitts, Antigua, Tortola, Switzerland, the Channel Islands, Monaco, Cyprus,
Gibraltar and Liechtenstein). This is just financial wealth. ‘A big share of
the real estate, yachts, racehorses, gold bricks – and many other things that
count as non-financial wealth – are also owned via offshore structures where it
is impossible to identify the owners.’ See Tax Justice Network.
Controlled by the global elite, Wall Street and other
major banks manage this monstrous diversion of wealth under Government
protection. ‘Their business is fraud and grand theft.’ Tax haven locations
offer more than tax avoidance. ‘Almost anything goes on.’ It includes ‘bribery,
illegal gambling, money laundering, human and sex trafficking, arms dealing,
toxic waste dumping, conflict diamonds and endangered species trafficking,
bootlegged software, and endless other lawless practices.’ See ‘Trillions Stashed in Offshore Tax Havens’.
8. The world’s major corporations continued to inflict
enormous ongoing violence (in a myriad of ways) in their pursuit of endless
profit at the expense of living beings (human and otherwise) and Earth’s
biosphere by producing and marketing a wide range of life-destroying products
ranging from nuclear weapons and nuclear power to junk food, pharmaceutical
drugs, synthetic poisons and genetically mutilated organisms (GMOs). These
corporations include those involved in the following industries: weapons
manufacturers, major banks and their ‘industry groups’ like the International
Monetary Conference, asset management firms, investment companies, financial
services companies, fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas) corporations, technology corporations,
media corporations, major marketing and public relations corporations,
agrochemical (pesticides, seeds, fertilizers) giants, pharmaceutical
corporations, biotechnology (genetic mutilation) corporations, mining
corporations, nuclear power corporations, food multinationals and water
corporations. You can see a list of the major corporations in this article: ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.
9. More than a billion people continued to live under
occupation, dictatorship or threat of genocidal assault. See, for example, ‘500 Years is Long Enough! Human Depravity in the
10. 36,500,000 human beings (mainly in Africa, Asia
and Central/South America) were starved to death.
11. 18,250,000 children were killed by adults in wars,
by starving them to death, and in a large variety of other ways.
12. 8,000,000 children were trafficked into sexual
slavery; executed in sacrificial killings after being kidnapped; bred to be
sold as a ‘cash crop’ for sexual violation, to produce child pornography
(‘kiddie porn’) and ‘snuff’ movies (in which children are killed during the
filming); ritually tortured and murdered as well as raped by dogs trained for
the purpose. See ‘Humanity’s “Dirty Little Secret”: Starving, Enslaving,
Raping, Torturing and Killing our Children’.
13. Hundreds of thousands of individuals were
kidnapped or tricked into slavery, which now denies 46,000,000 human beings the
right to live the life of their choice, condemning many individuals – especially
women and children – to lives of sexual slavery, forced labor or as child
soldiers. See ‘The Global Slavery Index’ and ‘46 million people living as slaves, latest global
14. Well over 100,000 people (particularly Falun Gong
practitioners) in China, where an extensive state-controlled program is
conducted, were subjected to forced organ removal for the trade in human
organs. See Bloody Harvest and The Slaughter.
15. 15,750,000 people were displaced by war,
persecution or famine. There are now 68,500,000 people, more that half of whom
are children and 10,000,000 of whom are stateless, who have been forcibly
displaced worldwide and remain precariously unsettled, usually in adverse
circumstances. One person in the world is forcibly displaced every two seconds.
See ‘Figures at a Glance’.
16. Millions of people were made homeless in their own
country as a result of war, persecution, ‘natural’ disasters, internal
conflict, poverty or as a result of elite-driven national economic policy. The
last time a global survey was attempted – by the United Nations back in 2005 –
an estimated 100 million people were homeless worldwide. As many as 1.6 billion
people lack adequate housing (living in slums, for example). See ‘Global Homelessness Statistics’.
17. 73,000 species of life (plants, birds, animals,
fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles) on Earth were driven to extinction with
the worldwide loss of insects, including vital pollinators such as bees, now
between 75% and 90%, depending on the species. See ‘Insect Decimation Upstages Global Warming’. Have you seen a butterfly recently?
18. Separately from global species extinctions, Earth
continued to experience ‘a huge episode of population declines and
extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem
functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as
a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s
ongoing sixth major extinction event.’ Moreover, local population extinctions
‘are orders of magnitude more frequent than species extinctions. Population
extinctions, however, are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earth’s sixth
mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume.’ See ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass
extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines’ and ‘Biological Annihilation on Earth Accelerating’.
19. Wildlife trafficking, worth up to $20 billion in
2018, is pushing many endangered species to the brink of extinction. Illegal
wildlife products include jewelry, traditional medicine, clothing, furniture,
and souvenirs, as well as some exotic pets, most of which are sold to
unaware/unconcerned consumers in the West. See, for example, Stop Wildlife Trafficking.
20. 16,000,000 acres of pristine rainforest were
destroyed (with more than 40,000 tropical tree species now threatened with
extinction). See ‘Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s
Rainforests’, ‘Estimating the global conservation status of more
than 15,000 Amazonian tree species’ and ‘Half of Amazon Tree Species Face Extinction’.
21. Vast quantities of soil were washed away as we
destroyed the rainforests, and enormous quantities of both inorganic
constituents (such as heavy metals like cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury,
nickel and zinc) and organic pollutants (particularly synthetic chemicals in
the form of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides) were dumped into the soil
as well, thus reducing its nutrients and killing the microbes within it. We
also contaminated enormous quantities of soil with radioactive waste. See Soil-net, ‘Glyphosate effects on soil rhizosphere-associated
bacterial communities’ and ‘Disposing of Nuclear Waste is a Challenge for
22. The TEPCO nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan
discharged 109,000 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean killing an
incalculable number of fish and other marine organisms and indefinitely
contaminating expanding areas of that ocean. See ‘Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken
Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation’.
23. Human use of fossil fuels to power aircraft,
shipping and vehicles (among other purposes) released 10 billion metric tons
(gigatons) of carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere, a 2.7% increase over
2017. See ‘Global Carbon Budget 2018’ and ‘Carbon dioxide emissions will hit a record high
globally in 2018’. As a measure
of their concern elite-controlled governments and corporations around the
world are currently planning or have under construction 1,380 new coal plants?
That’s right. 1,380 new coal plants. In 59 countries. See ‘NGOs Release List of World’s Top Coal Plant
Developers’ and ‘2018 Coal Plant Developers List’.
24. 90 billion land animals and 60 billion marine
animals were killed for human consumption, more than 100 million animals were
killed for laboratory purposes in the United States alone and there were other
animal deaths in shelters, zoos and in blood sports. See ‘How Many Animals Are Killed Each Year?’
In addition, 40 million animals were killed for their
fur. Approximately 30 million of these animals were raised on fur farms and
killed, about 10 million wild animals were trapped and killed, and hundreds of
thousands of seals were killed for their fur. See ‘How Many Animals are Killed Each Year?’
25. Farming of animals for human consumption released
7,100,000,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent into Earth’s atmosphere. About 44% of
livestock emissions were in the form of methane (which was 44% of anthropogenic
CH4 emissions), 29% as Nitrous Oxide (which was 53% of anthropogenic N2O
emissions) and 27% as Carbon Dioxide (which was 5% of anthropogenic CO2
emissions). See ‘GHG Emissions by Livestock’.
26. Human use of fossil fuels and farming of animals
released 3.2 million metric tons of (CO2 equivalent) nitrous oxide (N2O) into
Earth’s atmosphere. See ‘Nitrous oxide emissions’.
27. As a result of previous greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions and the consequent rise of about one degree celsius in the global
temperature, causing the melting of Arctic permafrost and undersea methane ice
clathrates, an incalculable quantity of methane was uncontrollably released
into the atmosphere during 2018 (with the quantity being released getting ever
closer to ‘exploding’). See ‘7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to “explode” in
Arctic’ and ‘Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study
28. Ice in the Antarctic is melting at a
record-breaking rate, losing 219 billion tonnes of ice in 2018 at a rate that
has accelerated threefold in the last five years. See ‘Antarctic ice melting faster than ever, studies show’.
29. An incalculable amount of agricultural poisons,
fossil fuels and other wastes was discharged into the ocean, adversely
impacting life at all ocean depths – see ‘Staggering level of toxic chemicals found in
creatures at the bottom of the sea, scientists say’ – and generating ocean ‘dead zones’: regions that
have too little oxygen to support marine organisms. See ‘Our Planet Is Exploding With Marine “Dead Zones”’.
30. At least 8 million metric tons of plastic, of
which 236,000 tons were microplastics, was discharged into the ocean. See ‘Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean’ and ‘Plastics in the Ocean’.
31. Earth’s fresh water and ground water was further
depleted and contaminated. These contaminants included bacteria, viruses and
household chemicals from faulty septic systems; hazardous wastes from abandoned
and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (of which there are over 20,000 in the
USA alone); leaks from landfill items such as car battery acid, paint and
household cleaners; the pesticides, herbicides and other poisons used on farms
and home gardens; radioactive waste from nuclear tests; and the chemical
contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in search of shale gas,
for which about 750 chemicals and components, some extremely toxic and
carcinogenic like lead and benzene, have been used. See ‘Groundwater contamination’, ‘Groundwater drunk by BILLIONS of people may be
contaminated by radioactive material spread across the world by nuclear testing
in the 1950s’ and ‘Fracking chemicals’.
32. The longstanding covert military use of
geoengineering – spraying tens of millions of tons of highly toxic metals
(including aluminum, barium and strontium) and toxic coal fly ash
nanoparticulates (containing arsenic, chromium, thallium, chlorine, bromine,
fluorine, iodine, mercury and radioactive elements) into the atmosphere from
jet aircraft to weaponize the atmosphere and weather – in order to enhance
elite control of human populations, continued unchecked. Geoengneering is
systematically destroying Earth’s ozone layer – which blocks the deadly portion
of solar radiation, UV-C and most UV-B, from reaching Earth’s surface – as well
as adversely altering Earth’s weather patterns and polluting its air, water and
soil at incredible cost to the health and well-being of living organisms and
the biosphere. See ‘Geoengineering Watch’.
33. As one outcome of our dysfunctional parenting
model and political systems, fascism continued to rise around the world. See ‘The Psychology of Fascism’.
34. Despite the belief that we have ‘the right to
privacy’, privacy (in any sense of the word) was ongoingly eroded in 2018 and
is now effectively non-existent, particularly thanks to Alphabet (owner of
Google). Taken together, ‘Uber, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Tinder, Apple, Lyft,
Foursquare, Airbnb, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Angry Birds... have turned our
computers and phones into bugs that are plugged in to a vast corporate-owned
surveillance network. Where we go, what we do, what we talk about, who we talk
to, and who we see – everything is recorded and, at some point, leveraged for
value.’ Moreover, given Google’s integrated relationship with the US
government, the US military, the CIA, and major US weapons manufacturers, there
isn’t really anything you can do that isn’t known by those who want to know it.
In essence, Google is ‘a powerful global corporation with its own political agenda
and a mission to maximise profits for shareholders’ and it partly achieves this
by expanding the surveillance programs of the national security state at the
direction of the global elite. See ‘Google’s Earth: How the Tech Giant Is Helping the
State Spy on Us’ and the
documentary ‘The Modern Surveillance State’.
35. The right to free speech was ongoingly eroded in
2018. For just a couple of examples in the United States alone, see ‘Marc Lamont Hill On Getting Fired From CNN, His Remarks
On Palestine + More’ and ‘A Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Refused
to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath, Now Mandatory in Many States – so She Lost Her Job’.
36. Believing that we know better than evolution,
humans created the first gene-edited baby in 2018. See ‘Why we are not ready for genetically designed babies’ and ‘China’s Golem Babies: There is Another Agenda’.
37. An incalculable amount of junk was added to the
100 trillion items of junk already in Space. See ‘Space Junk: Tracking & Removing Orbital Debris’.
38. Incalculable amounts of antibiotic waste, nuclear
waste, nanowaste and genetically engineered organisms were released into
Earth’s biosphere. See ‘Junk Planet: Is Earth the Largest Garbage Dump in the
39. Ongoing violence against children – see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and
Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’– ensured that more people will grow up accepting (and
quite powerless to challenge) our dysfunctional and violent world, as described
40. The corporate media, education and entertainment
industries continued to distract us from reality ensuring that most people
remain oblivious to our predicament and their own role in it, let alone what
they can do to respond powerfully.
While the above list of the setbacks humanity and the
Earth suffered in 2018 is very incomplete, it still provides clear evidence
that humanity is rapidly entering a dystopian future far more horrific than the
worst novel or film in the genre. The good news is that, at the current rate,
this dystopian world will be shortlived as humans drive themselves over the
edge of extinction. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to
Fight for Human Survival’.
But so that the picture is clear and ‘balanced’: were
there any gains made against this onslaught?
Of course, it goes without saying that the global
elite, international organizations (such as the United Nations), governments,
corporations and other elite agents continued to live in delusion/denial
endlessly blocking any initiative requiring serious action that would cut into
corporate profits, or arguing over tangential issues of insignificant
consequence to humanity’s future.
In short, I could find no record of official efforts
during the year to plan for the development and implementation of a
comprehensive, just and sustainable peace, but perhaps I missed it.
Separately from this, there have been some minor
activist gains: for example, some western banks and insurance companies are no
longer financially supporting the expansion of the western weapons industry and
the western coal industry, some rainforest groups have managed to save portions
of Earth’s rainforest heritage, and activist groups continue to work on a
variety of issues sometimes making modest gains.
In essence however, as you probably realize, many of
the issues above are not even being tackled and, even when they are, activist
efforts have been hampered by inadequate analysis of the forces driving
conflicts and problems, limited vision (particularly unambitious aims such as
those in relation to ending war and the climate catastrophe), unsophisticated
strategy (necessary to have profound impact against a deeply entrenched, highly
organized and well-resourced opponent, with the endless lobbying of elite
institutions, such as governments and corporations, despite this effort simply
absorbing and dissipating our dissent, as is intended – as Mark Twain once
noted: ‘If voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.’) and failure
to make the difficult decisions to promote necessary solutions that are
Fundamentally, these ‘difficult decisions’ include the
vital need to campaign for the human population, particularly in the West, to
substantially reduce their consumption – by 80% – involving both energy and
resources of every kind as the central feature of any strategy to curtail
destruction of the environment and climate, to undermine capitalism and to
eliminate the primary driver of war: violent resource acquisition from Middle
Eastern and developing nations for the production of consumer goods and
services for western consumers.
While we live in the delusion that we can simply
substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels and nuclear power (or believe such
delusions that a 1.5 degrees celsius increase above the preindustrial
temperature is acceptable or that we have an ‘end of century’ timeframe to
solve the climate crisis), we ignore the fundamental reality that Earth’s
biosphere is under siege on many fronts as a result of our endless extraction
of its natural resources – such as fresh water, minerals, timber and, again,
fossil fuels – for consumer production and the provision of services that go
well beyond energy.
In short, for example, we will not save the world’s
rainforests because we switch to renewable energy. We must reduce demand for
the consumer products that require rainforest inputs. We must stop mining the
Earth for minerals that end up in our mobile phones, computers, vehicles, ships
and aircraft by not using the products and services these minerals make
possible. We must stop eating meat and other animal products. And so the list
In many ways it is painful to forecast what will
happen in 2019 mainly because of the absurd simplicity of doing so: It will be
another year when vital opportunities will be lost when so much is at stake.
Given the insanity of the global elite – see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’ – which will continue to drive the dynamics producing
the lowlights mentioned above with the active complicity of their agents in
governments and corporations coupled with a human population that is largely
terrified, self-hating and powerless to resist – see ‘In Defense of the Human Individual’ – it is a straightforward task to forecast what will
happen in 2019.
So let me forecast 40 lowlights for 2019:
1. See list above.
2. See list above.
3. See list above.
40. See list above.
So unless you play your part, 2019 and the few years
thereafter will simply be increasingly worse versions of 2018 and it will all
be over by 2026. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026?
A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’ which cites a wide range of scientific and other
evidence which you are welcome to consider for yourself if this date seems
If you already feel able to act powerfully in response
to this multifaceted crisis, in a way that will have strategic impact, you are
invited to consider joining those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’, which outlines a simple
plan for you to systematically reduce your consumption, by at least 80%,
involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy,
transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding
your individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas, so that all
environmental and climate concerns are effectively addressed.
If you are also interested in conducting or
participating in a campaign to systematically address one of the issues
identified above, you are welcome to consider acting strategically in the way
that Mohandas K. Gandhi did. Whether you are engaged in a peace, climate,
environment or social justice campaign, the 12-point strategic framework and
principles are the same. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. And, for example, you can see a basic list of the
strategic goals necessary to end war and halt the climate catastrophe. See ‘Strategic Aims’.
If you want to know how to nonviolently defend against
a foreign invading power or a political/military coup, to liberate your country
from a dictatorship or a foreign occupation, or to defeat a genocidal assault,
you will learn how to do so in ‘Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy’.
If you are interested in nurturing children to live by
their conscience and to gain the courage necessary to resist elite violence
fearlessly, while living sustainably despite the entreaties of capitalism to
over-consume, then you are welcome to make ‘My Promise to Children’.
To reiterate: capitalism, war and destruction of the
environment and climate are outcomes of our dysfunctional parenting of children
which distorts their intellectual and emotional capacities, destroys their
conscience and courage, and actively teaches them to over-consume as
compensation for having vital emotional needs denied. See ‘Love Denied: The
Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.
If your own intellectual and/or emotional
functionality is the issue and you have the self-awareness to perceive that,
and wish to access the conscience and courage that would enable you to act
powerfully, try ‘Putting Feelings First’.
And if you want to be part of the worldwide movement
committed to ending all of the violence identified above, consider signing the
online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.
In summary: if we do not rapidly,
systematically and substantially reduce our consumption in several key areas
and radically alter our parenting model, while resisting elite violence
strategically on several fronts, homo sapiens will enter Earth’s fossil record
within a few years. Given the fear, self-hatred and powerlessness that
paralyses most humans, your choices in these regards are even more vital than
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to
understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since
1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a
nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is email@example.com and his website is here.
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