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Trump, China, Extinction Rebellion & All That Jazz Trump, China, Extinction Rebellion & All That Jazz
by Nikos Laios
2019-11-15 10:25:10
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I.
POLITICS, TRUMP & CHINA

I have refrained from commenting thus far, but feel that an observation needs to be made here.

A poet should on the one hand be universal, yet on the other hand also be part of the time they live in and comment on the zeitgeist of the moment , of the present era, where this contributes to the observation of the universality of the human condition.

Firstly, let’s comment on politics, now here as a poet I make a point never to mix politics with poetry.

There have been many poets both of the left, right and centre throughout the Twentieth Century whose works have been coloured by their politics, and many other apolitical poets whose work solely focuses on the human condition.

lai02_400So where do I stand? I tend to be apolitical here, but would describe myself as an existential humanist.

On the one hand I believe in the power for good of the free markets and capitalism and that this is the only imperfect system we have that has worked thus far to lift humanity out of poverty since the industrial revolution. Yet on the other hand firmly believe that healthcare and education should be universal and free for all, and that society should have safety nets to help the less fortunate people in our societies.

The brutal capitalism of the US should be avoided at all costs, and I hate and detest both communism and fascism with a passion, and feel that anarchism is a wasted juvenile force of destruction, and also detest the superficial shallow materialism and consumerism of this vacuous instagram millennial age of social media influencers, and mourn the world of belief, spirit and mysticism that has been lost.

Firstly on the subject of Trump - and here I have no personal feelings one way or the other for the man - for he is the business of the American people; they voted for him, and they have to live with him. But what a disaster he has been; the most juvenile leader on the world stage that I can remember.

A businessman trying to run a nation like he does one of his companies; wheeling and dealing to make a buck! For a nation is not a company, where a fellow citizen is selected amongst fellow citizens to represent all of their interests in governing a nation. Trump lacks any political sophistication, is completely emotive, lacks a knowledge and sophistication of history and foreign policy, while we all watch agog at his foreign policy disasters: Russia, Korea, Syria, Europe, and the Turkish invasion of Syria and current tragic imperialistic operations against the Kurdish people. The only thing I think that Trump has got right is his China policy on trade.

China is a brutal authoritarian dictatorship that uses capitalism only where it serves its needs, that wants to be part of the global community on the one hand, but on the other hand is sensitive to any outside criticisms of its human rights abuses. It uses state sponsored and funded enterprises to compete unfairly on the world markets and flouts the rules to gain trading advantages against other nations. Where this has been widely known since the 70’s, yet Trump here I have to admit is the only world leader that has the guts and determination to pull China into line to behave and conduct themselves within the trading norms and regulations expected of them. Yet the silence on the other hand in criticising China’s human rights abuses is deafening. Communism is a failed ideology, and what is happening in China at the moment certainly is not communism!

So what is the answer in respect to Trump? There can be no doubt that under Trump the US economy is powering along, but as I’ve stated before that whilst I have no personal feelings about Trump whatsoever, the best outcome for both the American people and for world politics is for the impeachment of Trump to be successful and for him to be kicked out of office. But with Republicans holding the balance of power in the senate, the chances are slim. If Trump is impeached and with an election looming in 2020, the Democrats have nil chance of winning government being that they have veered off to the far looney left-green of ‘progressive’ politics and abandoned the centre, the golden era of Obama is over, Clinton is toxic, the American people left with a bad taste of impeachment in their mouths, and where they have no credible career politician candidates that represents the centre. The Republicans most likely will win office again, but under whom? If Trump is Impeached, either Mike Pence or a sensible centre Republican candidate with politics and foreign policy skills in their blood; and this frankly is the best case scenario in my opinion.

On the environment, the environmental causes espoused at the moment are all very fashionable social causes that are trendy to follow, just like socialism and communism were the fads for European writers and intellectuals in the 40’s and 50’s, until they found out about Stalin’s mass crimes after his death that is. Yes, the world has a finite supply of resources and the population is growing and taxing these resources. There is evidence to support that human activity is contributing to global warming but to what degree? The other question here, is there an extinction crisis? Is there an environmentalist crisis? The issues of global warming and mass extinctions here need to be reviewed together I think to come to a more complete understanding.

II

EXTINCTION & GLOBAL WARMING

At the moment across the world, a radical environmentalist group calling themselves ‘Extinction Rebellion’ is causing mass disruptions by protests in the streets of major cities through glueing or chaining themselves to roads and blocking traffic. Then we have an entitled white well-fed teenage girl called Greta Thunberg from a western affluent European nation sailing a carbon neutral yacht of the wealthy to the US to get up on a podium with a screwed up little angry face telling adults that they have ruined her life and that she has no future.

In respect to mass extinctions, let’s review the history of the earth and the timeline of mass extinctions to get to the facts, which will show a long term fluctuation between global warming and cooling . Let us consider firstly that 99% of all organisms that have ever lived on Earth are extinct, older species have faded away and new species evolved to fill the changing ecology. In a few a instances in the last 500 million years, 75 to more than 90 % of all species on earth have disappeared in catastrophes which are called mass extinctions.

The biggest driver of mass extinctions were major changes in the Earth’s carbon cycles due to large igneous eruptions, where volcanoes flooded hundreds of thousands of square miles with lava. Global warming was triggered when massive amounts of carbon dioxide were ejected into the atmosphere, which caused ocean acidification and anoxia, and a loss of dissolved oxygen in the water.

The first mass extinction occurred over a 30-million-year stretch during the Ordovician-Silurian extinction (444 million years ago) during which species diversity increased, when the first known mass extinction struck at the end of this period. Huge amounts of water were locked up in glaciation, sea levels fell by hundreds of feet dealing a blow to creatures living in shallow waters. Once ocean levels rose again, marine oxygen levels fell which caused ocean waters to hold in dissolved toxic metals, and an estimated 85 % of all species were killed off by this event

The next extinction event occurred during the late Devonian period of 383 million to 349 million years ago, where 75 % of all species on Earth over a span of 20 million years were eliminated. Oxygen levels dropped and the main event during this period was the Kellwasser event, where rocks dated to that period found in Germany showed that when oxygen levels fell, many reef-building creatures died out. Scientists have concluded that volcanism was a possible trigger, where a large igneous province called the Viluy Traps erupted 240,000 cubic miles of lava in Siberia. The eruption ejected greenhouse gases and sulphur dioxide, which caused acid rain. The adaptation of plants allowed plants to get bigger and their roots to dig deeper which increased rock weathering, where an excess of nutrients flowed into the oceans. This triggered algae growth, and when the algae died the decay removed oxygen from the oceans to form dead zones, and where the spread of trees sucked CO2 out of the atmosphere, triggering a global cooling.

During the Permian-Triassic extinction 252 million years ago, three of every four species on land and 96% of all marine species died out over a 60,000 year period. Forests were wiped out and didn’t come back until 10 million years later, and also during this period large number of insect species were also wiped out. The trigger here was the Siberian Traps, a huge volcanic complex that erupted 720,000 cubic miles of lava across Siberia, 14.5 trillion tons of carbon was released which caused global warming. One million years after this event soil and seawater temperatures rose, and the surface temperature of the sea at the equator at one stage was as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit ). The oceans lost an estimated 76% of their oxygen inventory, which accounted for most of species loss of this period. To put into context the amount of carbon that was released into the atmosphere during this period, if we were to dig up all the fossil fuel that exists presently in the world and burn it up, the amount of carbon released during the Permian-Triassic period was two and a half times this.

In the extinction during the Triassic-Jurassic period 201 million years ago, 80% of all land and marine species were lost , and the quadrupling of atmospheric CO2 levels further pushed up warming of the earth and it was during this period that the earliest dinosaurs rapidly diversified. In the most recent mass extinction during the Cretaceous-Palaeogene period 66 million years ago - the only event connected to a major asteroid impact - 76% of all species on the planet including all non-avian dinosaurs became extinct. The earth today is currently experiencing a biodiversity challenge, which threatens a large number of species of plants and animals due to human activity, but we haven’t yet crossed the 75% threshold of a mass extinction.

In respect of climate change, this a long term threat, but not a crisis.

At present in respect of global warming while the science supports human activity contributing to global warming, the global warming changes are well within the tolerance of the fluctuations of the past 500 million years. Do we humans need to amend our behaviour? Off course we do, but it will not be done by entitled well fed teenagers in affluent western countries protesting facts they know nothing of, due to their suffering from Eco-Anxiety, or well fed radical Vegans from affluent western nations attempting to dictate to others what they should eat, or a bunch of hippies in the Extinction Rebellion telling us that there is an extinction crisis where there is none.

The hypocrisy of these activists is profound, for they create a carbon footprint every time they buy new clothes which are made in sweatshops in China or India powered by energy from coal powered stations, or when the use their smartphones or iPads made in China, catch planes, trains or buses, turn the lights on, cook, buy books and magazines which have come from dead trees processed by energy from coal powered stations, or the vegan food they eat which has been processed by the same energy.

So what is that answer? I’m not sure there is one to be frank with you, for we humans - though we might have a soul (if you believe in a soul) or are self conscious of our own existence, are still instinctual tribal animals ruled by the force of our passions, emotions and ego; and why we will never be able to agree through consensus. Where the UN has been a failure due to this, and where their latest statement on climate action is nothing more than a communist manifesto on the redistribution of resources. It will fail because it goes against our human nature and where as I’ve stated before, communism has been proven multiple times to have failed in the Twentieth Century. The technology we have at present is too expensive to adopt to assist in the fight against global warming, but in the future the time might hopefully come when the technology is cheap enough to be adopted on a mass scale. But the population unfortunately is ever growing and will continue to do so, and how do we combat human nature, ego and the instinct of survival through competition?

I think that in a few hundred million years we humans will become another of the extinct species due to another mass extinction event and it is arrogant of us to think that we can change this, that Mother Earth has a way of correcting the balance as it always has, and that once our species has long gone from the planet, the plants will grow over our forgotten cities and civilisations and new species will grow and thrive in our place.

I feel as though we are like the band that played on the Titanic as it started to slowly sink; stoic, dignified and determined to forge ahead till the last moment. For that’s all we can do at the end of the day is try and continue as best we can. In the meantime, I will pour myself a glass of red wine, write some new poetry, love and engage with the world as it is and put some jazz on, and here a quote by the late American scientist Carl Sagan comes to mind; “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

********************************

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