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Earth Over the Brink

Glacier National Park is drip, drip, dripping into a puddle.

People and companies and governments are cutting down trees to burn them to save the planet from global warming, mixing the sacrificial trees with oh-so-clean coal, and in Detroit with tires, and in North Carolina with chicken shit.

Others are hacking down old forests to grow marijuana where it’s least likely to be found: another great benefit of drug prohibition.

Over 95 percent of California’s wild game was mercilessly slaughtered between 1865 and 1890. Ted Turner is liberating the remnants of the bison in the American West on the model of the liberation of Baghdad: they end up $18 a plate. Ranchers are luring wolves with sheep carcasses and tracking wolves’ radio collars like a Saudi hit squad tracking a journalist, before playing American Sniper. Endangered species are being hunted just as viciously by lobbyists.

Pine beetles, not planted by the nefarious Chinese but by the warming temperature understood by the national jackass in chief to be a Chinese lie, are costing such magnificent creatures as the grizzly bears the pine nuts they need. Nuts.

Giant grizzly bears need little nuts, while puny humans devastate the planet raising livestock to feed their appetite for bloody flesh. Water is rapidly being drained away from the ground and from the rivers to produce the bloody-flesh junk-food.

People are putting their bodies in the tops of trees, facing chain saws and sleep-deprivation that lead to plummeting. People are swinging from the rafters of auditoriums and clinging to the outsides of buildings to break through the corporate-speak.

Trees and boats and houses are being sent flying in vicious storms; city blocks are being obliterated with only indirect assistance from the Pentagon. Actual human beings are knowingly spraying the wreckage of Hurricane Harvey with pesticides, and then rebuilding in the path of the next storms as well as of the self-poisoning.

Years’ worth of rain is being dumped quickly on one part of the United States, and not a drop for years on other parts.

Forests out west are burning like 
Japanese cities, while logging companies are beginning immediately to rip out more trees on the basis of the claim that what has created the crisis will alleviate it.

An explosion of oil gushed like Niagara 
Falls being put through a garden hose out into the Gulf of Mexico for months on end, repaired with basically air freshener consisting of deadly poison.

Dolphins are lured into a bay in Japan and massacred by the hundreds, turning the sea to blood. Oceans are running out of fish, and mega-fish-processing operations are going bigger, not smaller, seeking for their owners and the rest of us the same fate visible in the sea mammals clinging to the softening ice.

A nuclear bomb was used in the Bering 
Sea, collapsing half an island—hundreds of dead puffins found with their legs driven through their chests, sea lions miles away with their eye balls blown out. Why? It is not for us to wonder.

Las Vegas is sucking its water dry with greater waste in proportion to diminishing supply, as if it will survive on the model of Monticello, where Jefferson drank the well dry but then forced enslaved people to haul water from streams.

Petro-chemical and nuclear plants are ravaged by storms. Oil tanks rupture. Refineries flood. Water sources are ruined for eternity. The absolute height of all human incompetence, recklessness, and corruption is intensely concentrated around the industries of nuclear power (and waste) and nuclear weapons by a species doing its best imitation of Mr. Magoo on crack.

Whole cities are poisoning themselves with lead while investing their tax dollars in waging wars on distant lands their citizens cannot name. Military bases pockmark the “Land of the Free” that they supposedly “serve” with disaster sites and carcinogenic chemical zones.

Cancer epidemics not seen before all this progress now rage across the “civilized” world. A ranch outside Los Angeles is filling the atmosphere with methane.

Actual wars bring hell to North Africa and Western and Central Asia, killing the planet, not just the local populations, much less just the no-longer-wanted dictator against whom each war is typically launched.

Ammunition dumps, open-air burns, cluster bombs, land mines, and depleted uranium do their part in each sociocide that builds toward the terracide.

The tops of mountains are being hacked off and removed for good to get at a bit of coal to help destroy the atmosphere. A majority of the sixth-graders in a school nearby a deceased mountain in the One Indispensable Nation are ill and clearly deemed dispensable.

Nuclear waste is eternally stirred, like a memorial flame eternally burned, albeit eternally stirred in cracking and leaking pots the size of human arrogance.

People are standing up to water cannons and chainsaws, dangling 150-feet up in a swirling storm to save a tree, chaining themselves to machinery, jumping into the ocean with knives in their teeth to save sea creatures from nets, throwing themselves in front of police-soldiers, and otherwise distinguishing themselves from the vast majority of people who are watching sports on television.

This apocalyptic hell is real and now; the soothing tranquility on the TV news is imaginary. The video of Barack Obama bragging to a crowd in Texas of his great increases in fossil fuel production is part of a grand fictional enterprise in which eliminating humanity is praised by portions of humanity. Academia is a drug-induced dream. Bob Dylan is a journalist:

I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Other journalists are Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank whose book The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink brought to my mind most of the images above.

Read this book. It examines the environmental collapse in a deeply informed and entertaining manner, naming names without political favor, and providing no typical environmentalist waiver or immunity to militarism.

If the book has any fault, it’s in the occasional cries for revenge against the corporate polluters, but given how much time we have left, perhaps it’s just not realistic to imagine our society fully outgrowing that deepest of evil tendencies.

Published in the January / February 2019 Humanist

More articles by:

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org  His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.

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