“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” W.H. Auden

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“ON JULY 28, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted an historic resolution recognizing the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as “essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.” For those of us in the balcony of the General Assembly that day, the air was tense. A number of powerful countries had lined up to oppose it, so it had to be put to a vote. The Bolivian ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solón, introduced the resolution by reminding the assembly that humans are composed of about two-thirds water and that our blood flows like a network of rivers to transport nutrients and energy through our bodies. “Water is life,” he said.

Then he laid out the story of the number of people around the world who were dying from lack of access to clean water and quoted a new World Health Organization study on diarrhea showing that, every three and a half seconds in the developing world, a child dies of waterborne disease. Ambassador Solón then quietly snapped his fingers three times and held his small finger up for a half-second. The General Assembly of the United Nations fell silent. Moments later, it voted overwhelmingly to recognize the human rights to water and sanitation. The floor erupted in cheers.

The recognition by the General Assembly of these rights represented a breakthrough in the struggle for water justice in the world. It followed years of hard work and was a key platform of our global water justice movement for at least two decades. For me personally, it was the culmination of many years of work, and I was proud and grateful to all who had helped make it happen.

But our work is far from over. Recognizing a right is simply the first step in making it a reality for the millions who are living in the shadow of the greatest crisis of our era. With our insatiable demand for water, we are creating the perfect storm for an unprecedented world water crisis: a rising population and an unrelenting demand for water by industry, agriculture, and the developed world; over-extraction of water from the world’s finite water stock; climate change, spreading drought; and income disparity between and within countries, with the greatest burden of the race for water falling on the poor.

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“Suddenly it is so clear: the world is running out of fresh water.” These were the opening words of my 2002 book, Blue Gold: The Battle Against Corporate Theft of the World’s Water (co-written with Tony Clarke), which warned of a mighty contest brewing over the world’s dwindling freshwater supplies. As water became the oil of the twenty-first century, we predicted, a water cartel would emerge to lay claim to the planet’s freshwater resources. This has come true. But so has our prediction that a global water justice movement would emerge to challenge the “lords of water.”

Barlow 2In my 2007 book, Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water, I described the growing water cartel and its relentless drive to find ways to take control of the world’s water supplies. I also reported on the amazing work of the environmentalists, human rights activists, indigenous and women’s groups, small farmers, peasants, and thousands of grassroots communities that make up the global water justice movement fighting for the right to water and to keep water under public and democratic control. In the six years since Blue Covenant was published, much has been accomplished. Reports on the crisis are commonplace in mainstream media and the classroom. Books, films, and music move millions to action. The United Nations, other global institutions, and many universities are also sounding the alarm. A movement has coalesced to provide water and sanitation to the urban and rural poor, with mixed, but hopeful, results.

Yet in those same years the water crisis dramatically deepened. It is now accepted that, with the unexpected growth in both population and new consumer classes in almost every country, global demand for water in 2030 will outstrip supply by 40 percent. A report from the U.S. global intelligence agencies warns that one-third of the world’s people will live in basins where the deficit is more than 50 percent. Five hundred scientists from around the world met in Bonn in May 2013 at the invitation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and sent out a warning that our abuse of water has caused the planet to enter a “new geologic age.” They likened this “planetary transformation” to the retreat of the glaciers more than 11,000 years ago. Within the space of two generations, the majority of people on the planet will face serious water shortages and the world’s water systems will reach a tipping point that could trigger irreversible change, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Already, the world-renowned scientists said, a majority of the world’s people live within 50 kilometres of an impaired water source — one that is running dry or polluted.

The stage is being set for drought on an unprecedented scale, for mass starvation and the migration of millions of water refugees leaving parched lands to look for water. All the justice and awareness in the world cannot stave off this future if the water is not there.

Open any textbook on water and you will see the numbers: how many children die every day; where the water tables have dried up; how aquifers are being depleted. Yet we continue to extract from our precious rivers and lakes and pump our groundwater, using the last of a finite supply of water that will be needed if future generations and other species are to survive.

Amazingly, most of our political leaders ignore the water crisis and create policy. decisions as if there were no end to water supplies. They continue to be captives of an economic framework that promotes unlimited growth, unregulated trade, and bigger and more powerful (and increasingly self-governing) transnational corporations, all of which hasten the destruction of our supplies of fresh water. Somewhere between the hard truths about the world’s water crisis and this perplexing denial on the part of political and corporate leaders, millions — soon to be billions — struggle to deal with disappearing watersheds.

The story does not need to end in tragedy. There are solutions to our water crisis and a path to a just and water-secure world. To get to this place, however, we must establish principles to guide us and help us create policies, laws, and international agreements to protect water and water justice, now and forever. This book puts forward four principles for a water-secure future. Principle one, “Water Is a Human Right,” addresses the current reality of water inequality and lays out a road map to fixing the problem. Principle two, “Water Is a Common Heritage,” argues that water is not like running shoes or cars and must not be allowed to become a commodity to be bought and sold on the open market. Principle three, “Water Has Rights Too,” makes the case for protection of source water and watershed governance and the need to make our human laws compatible with those of nature if we are to survive. The fourth principle, “Water Can Teach Us How to Live Together,” is a cry from the heart to come together around a common threat — the end of clean water — and find a way to live more lightly on this planet.

The grab for the planet’s dwindling resources is the defining issue of our time. Water is not a resource put here solely for our convenience, pleasure, and profit; it is the source of all life. It is urgent that we clarify the values and principles needed to protect the planet’s fresh water. I offer this book as a guide.”

MAUDE BARLOW, Blue Planet. Introduction.
DOWNLOAD E-BOOK: http://bit.ly/1wPQJc

Maude_Barlow-2013-Photo-by-Wolfgang-Schmidt


“The World of Buckminster Fuller” [Documentary By Robert Snyder]

Buckminster FULLER before his geode dome at Montreal World Fair.

Buckminster Fuller before his geo-dome at Montreal’s World Fair, 1976.

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“The Leonardo da Vinci of our time.” – Marshall McLuhan

Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was an architect, engineer, geometrician, philosopher, futurist, inventor of the famous geodesic dome, and one of the most brilliant thinkers of his time. His legacy becomes ever more relevant, providing us a road map to steer our planet away from oblivion – and toward a sustainable future for all of humanity.

This film by Oscar-winning filmmaker Robert Snyder, like his other documentarieson “the greats” (Michelangelo, Henry Miller, Willem De Kooning, Pablo Casals, among others), transports the viewer into Fuller’s mind and soul. Told entirely in his own words, the film is an intimate, personal and inspiring message from Fuller to our fragile world.

“God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse” (Slavoj Zizek & Boris Gunjevic)

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God in Pain: Inversions of the Apocalypse

Slavoj Žižek and Boris Gunjević

A brilliant dissection and reconstruction of the three major faith-based systems of belief in the world today, from one of the world’s most articulate intellectuals, Slavoj Zizek, in conversation with Croatian philosopher Boris Gunjevic. In six chapters that describe Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in fresh ways using the tools of Hegelian and Lacanian analysis, God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse shows how each faith understands humanity and divinity – and how the differences between the faiths may be far stranger than they may at first seem.

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SEVEN STORIES PRESS:

In God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse, pyrotechnic Marxist theorist Slavoj Žižek and radical theologian Boris Gunjević offer us not a religious text but a critical inquiry, a work of faith not in God but in the human intellect. With his contagious zeal and his genius for unlikely connections, Žižek calls the bluff on the West’s alleged atheism and contemplates the bewildering idea of an Almighty that both suffers and prays. Taking on Žižek’s gambits and proposing his own, Gunjević issues a revolutionary clarion call for theology that can break the back of capitalism’s cunning “enslavement of desire.” With gripping examples and razor-sharp logic, Žižek and Gunjević invoke thinkers from Augustine to Lacan and topics ranging from Christian versus “pagan” ethics to the “class struggle” implied in reading the Qur’an and the role of gender in Islam. Together, they confirm and dissect faith in the twenty-first century, shaking the foundations of the Abrahamic traditions.

REVIEWS

“The most dangerous philosopher in the West.” —Adam Kirsch, New Review

“Zizek has only to clap eyes on a received truth to feel the intolerable itch to deface it … Zizek is that rare breed of writer—one who is both lucid and esoteric. If he is sometimes hard to understand, it is because of the intricacy of his ideas, not because of a self-preening style.” —Terry Eagleton

About Slavoj Žižek and Boris Gunjević

Philosopher and cultural critic SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK is internationally recognized for his work on psychoanalysis. He teaches at the European Graduate School and has been a visiting professor at Université de Paris VIII, Columbia, and Princeton, among other institutions. He is founder and president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and is the author of many books on topics ranging from Christianity to the films of David Lynch.

BORIS GUNJEVIĆ is a theologian, priest, and professor of history of philosophy and liturgy. He has taught in several schools and theological colleges on systematic theology, radical theology, and the history of philosophy, among other subjects. His forthcoming books include A Handbook for Militant Research and The Carpentry of John Milbank. He lives in Zagreb.

Chapters include:

By Zizek:

(1) “Christianity Against Sacred,”
(2) “Glance into the Archives of Islam,”
(3) “Only Suffering God Can Save Us,”
(4) “Animal Gaze,”
(5) “For the Theologico-Political Suspension of the Ethical,”

By Gunjevic:

(1) “Mistagogy of Revolution,”
(2) “Virtues of Empire,”
(3) “Every Book Is Like Fortress,”
(4) “Radical Orthodoxy,”
(5) “Prayer and Wake.”

Who knows not about Wanderlust in search of Wonderment?

science + art

The Eyes and the Abyss of Galaxies… “voilà un beau precipice.”

“À mesure que l’on sait mieux voir, un spectacle quelconque enferme des joies inépuisables. Et puis, de partout, on peut voir le ciel étoilé; voilà un beau précipice.”

Alain (Émile-Auguste Chartier, 1858-1951)
Propos Sur Le Bonheur. Gallimard, 1928, p. 136.

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P.S. – I’ve recently written about this book in an article for my Brazilian blog A Casa de Vidro (The Glasshouse). For those among you who can read Portuguese and want to check it out, here it is.

The Dirty Little Secrets of Climate Change Denial – by George Monbiot, Naomi Klein, Noam Chosmky, Bill Maher, David Suzuki, Naomi Oreskes etc.

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George Monbiot in Heat – How To Stop The Planet From Burning:

“The effort to tackle climate change suffers from the problem of split incentives: those who are least responsible for it are the most likely to suffer its effects. Bangladesh and Ethiopia are two of the countries which will be hit hardest. A sea level rise of 1 metre could permanently flood 21% of Bangladesh, including its best agricultural land, pushing some 15 million people out of their homes. Storm surges of the kind the country experienced in 1998 are likely to become more common: in that instance, 65% of Bangladesh was temporarily drowned, and its farming and infrastructure ruined. Ethiopia has already been suffering a series of droughts linked to climate change. Spring rains have steadily diminished since 1996. In 2005, partly as a result of the droughts caused by the failure of these rains, between 8 and 10 million Ethiopians were at risk of starvation.

Most of the rich countries, being located in temperate latitudes, will, in the initial stages at least, suffer lesser ecological effects. They will also have more money with which to protect their citizens from floods, droughts and extremes of temperature. Within these countries, the richest people, who can buy their way out of trouble, will be harmed last. The blame, as the following data suggests, is inversely proportional to the impacts.

COUNTRY / CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS (TONNES PER CAPITA)

Luxembourg – 24.3
United States – 20.0
United Kingdom – 9.5
Bangladesh – 0.24
Ethiopia – 0.06

Source: US Energy Information Administration

 Asking wealthy people in rich nations to act to prevent climate change means asking them to give up many of the things they value – their high-performance cars, their flights to Tuscany and Thailand and Florida – for the benefit of other people. The problem is compounded by the fact that the connection between cause and effect seems so improbable. By turning on the lights, filling the kettle, taking the children to school, driving to the shops, we are condemning other people to death. We never chose to do this. We do not see ourselves as killers. We perform these acts without passion or intent.

To make this even more difficult, the early effects of climate change, for those of us who live in the temperate countries of the rich world, are generally pleasant. Our winters are milder, our springs come sooner. We have suffered the occasional flood and drought and heatwave. But the overwhelming sensation, just when we need to act with the greatest urgency, is that of being blessed by our pollution.”

READ MORE FROM MONBIOT’S BOOK HEAT

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BILL MAHER LAYS WASTE TO GLOBAL WARMING DENIERS

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Merchants of doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming

Author(s): Naomi Oreskes, Erik M. Conway

Dowload ebook: http://bit.ly/UBI3Kb (PDF, 36 mb)

Synopsis: The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers. Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly—some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it. Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, historians of science, roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how ideology and corporate interests, aided by a too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.

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RT’S “DEBUNKING THE DENIAL”

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Naomi3“Our problem is that the climate crisis hatched in our laps at a moment in history when political and social conditions were uniquely hostile to a problem of this nature and magnitude – that moment being the tail end of the go-go 80s, the blast-off point for the crusade to spread deregulated capitalism around the world. Climate change is a collective problem demanding collective action the likes of which humanity has never actually accomplished. Yet it entered mainstream consciousness in the midst of an ideological war being waged on the very idea of the collective sphere.”

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“This deeply unfortunate mistiming has created all sorts of barriers to our ability to respond effectively to this crisis. It has meant that corporate power was ascendant at the very moment when we needed to exert unprecedented controls over corporate behaviour in order to protect life on Earth. It has meant that regulation was a dirty word just when we needed those powers most. It has meant that we are ruled by a class of politicians who know only how to dismantle and starve public institutions just when they most need to be fortified and reimagined. And it has meant that we are saddled with an apparatus of “free trade” deals that tie the hands of policymakers just when they need maximum flexibility to achieve a massive energy transition.”

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“We also have to confront how the mismatch between climate change and market domination has created barriers within our very selves, making it harder to look at this most pressing of humanitarian crises with anything more than furtive, terrified glances. Because of the way our daily lives have been altered by both market and technological triumphalism, we lack many of the observational tools necessary to convince ourselves that climate change is real – let alone the confidence to believe that a different way of living is possible.

And little wonder: just when we needed to gather, our public sphere was disintegrating; just when we needed to consume less, consumerism took over virtually every aspect of our lives; just when we needed to slow down and notice, we sped up; and just when we needed longer time horizons, we were able to see only the immediate present.

This is our climate change mismatch, and it affects not just our species but potentially every other species on the planet as well.”

— Naomi Klein,
“Climate change is the fight of our lives – yet we can hardly bear to look at it” 

You might also enjoy:

N. Klein interviewed by Bill Moyers in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

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SOME U.S. CARTOONS:

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June 8, 2014 Toxic Emissions Where were you dad? tumblr_n6nihsZNG41r55d2io1_500
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Neil deGrasse Tyson:

NEIL

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Noam Chomsky;

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David Suzuki:

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TO BE CONTINUED…

On The Verge Of Climate Collapse // George Monbiot’s book “Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning”

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A FAUSTIAN PACT

In Christopher Marlowe’s play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, written in 1590 (and that would later inspire Goethe’s Faust), he tells the story of a brilliant scholar, “glutted with learning’s golden gifts”, who reaches the limits of human knowledge. Bored by terrestrial scholarship, he plots, by means of necromancy, to break into

…a world of profit and delight
Of power, honor, of omnipotence.

When, he believes, he has acquired his demonic powers, spirits will fetch him everything he wants:

I’ll have them fly to India for gold,
Ransack the ocean for orient pearl,
And search all corners of the new-found world
For pleasant fruits and princely delicates.

So Faustus draws a circle and summons the Devil’s servant, Mephistopheles. He offers him a deal: if the Devil will grant him 24 years in which to “live in all voluptuousness”, Faustus will, at the end of that period , surrender his soul to hell. Mephistopheles explains the consequences, but the doctor refuses to believe him.

Think’st thou that Faustus is so fond to imagine
That, after this life, there is any pain?
Tush, these are trifles and mere old wives’ tales.

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So the bargain is struck and signed in blood, and Faustus acquires his magical powers, With the help of a flying “chariot burning bright”, he takes a sightseeing tour around Europe. He performs miracles. He summons fresh grapes from the southern hemisphere in the dead of winter.  After 24 years, the devils come for him.  He begs for mercy, but it is too late. They drag him down to hell.

If you did not know any better, you could mistake this story for a metaphor of climate change.

Faust is humankind, restless, curious, unsated. Mephistopheles, who appears in the original English text as a “fiery man”, is fossil fuel. Faust’s miraculous abilities are the activities fossil fuel permits. 24 years is the period – about half the true span – in which they have enabled us to live in all voluptuousness. And the flames of hell – well, I think you’ve probably worked that out for yourself… Our use of fossil fuels is a Faustian pact.

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To doubt, today, that manmade climate change is happening, you must abandon science and revert to some other means of understanding the world: alchemy perhaps, or magic.

Ice cores extracted from the Antarctic show that the levels in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and methane (these are the two principal greenhouse gases) are now higher than they have been for 650.000 years.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have been rising over the 20th century faster than at any time over the past 20.000 years. The only means by which greenhouse gases could have accumulated so swiftly is human action: carbon dioxide is produced by burning oil, coal and gas and by clearing forests, while methane is released from farms and coal mines and landfill sites.

As CO2 and methane levels in the atmosphere increase, the temperature rises. The concentration of carbon dioxide, the more important of the two, has risen from 280 parts per million parts of air (ppm) in Marlowe’s time to 380 ppm today. Most of the growth has taken place in the last 50 years. The average global temperature over the past century has climbed, as a result, by 0.6º Centigrade. According to the World Metereological Organization, “the increase in temperature in the 20th century is likely to have been the largest in any century during the past 1.000 years.

Already sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk to the smallest area ever recorded. In the Antarctic, scientists watched stupefied in 2002 as the Larsen B ice shelf collapsed into the sea (see The Guardian’s Antarctica Sends 500 Million Tonne Warning of the Effects of Global Warming, 20 March 2006, by John Vidal).  A paper published in Science magazine concluded that is disintegration was the result of melting caused by a warming ocean.

Almost all the world’s glaciers are now retreating. Permafrost in Alaska and Siberia, which has remained frozen since the last Ice Age, has started to melt. Parts of the Amazon rainforest are turning to savannah as the temperatures there exceed the point at which trees can survive… The World Health Organization estimates that 150.000 people a year are now dying as a result of climate change… All this is happening with just 0.6 ºC of warming.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a committee of climate specialists which assesses and summarizes the science, estimated in 2001 that global temperatures will rise between 1.4 and 5.8º C this century. (…) Professor Martin Parry of the UK’s Metereological Office estimates that a rise of just 2.1º C will expose between 2.3 and 3 billion people to the risk of water shortages. The disappearance of glaciers in the Andes and the Himalayas will imperil the people who depend on their meltwater, particularly in Pakistan, western China, Central Asia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization warns that “in some 40 poor, developing countries, with a combined population of 2 billion, crop production losses due to climate change may drastically increase the number of undernourished people, severely hindering progress in combating poverty and food insecurity.”

HEATGEORGE MONBIOT
Heat – How to Stop the Planet From Burning
(Doubleday Canada, 2006, 277 pgs. Buy at Amazon.)
Read on at http://www.monbiot.com