2017-05-26

The limits to reason


How did humans get to the idea that they could domesticate plants and animals for food prdoduction? How did they do it, and what were the implications? What has changed over the millennia and how did this affect people, plants, animals and the land?
Many among us may think they know the story, but what we actually heard was the narration of the agricultural perpetrators. The picture they paint gives rationales and justifications for modern industrial agriculture, based on utilitarian materialistic notions of bottom lines and benefits. What is missing from their picture is the suffering caused by rapist practises that sprang from rapist minds. While this may sound like a harsh judgment, consider that the rapist is separating himself from his victim, and he objectifies it so he can use it for his own benefit. The victim's “bottom line” does play no role in his calculations. In his mind, there is no soul, no heartache, no dignity, no connectedness, no oneness, no sacredness.
In various publications Daniel Quinn pointed out that this rapist totalitarian agriculture is but one way of growing food. Other ways are not about production in the first place; they help embed humans into the web of life. Experience from organic gardening and farming does support this notion, but the case may also be made historically and etymologically.
The morpheme agri- is derived from a Latin word and means “field”. -culture, again from the Latin, means “to till, to inhabit, to protect, to nurture, to worship, to honour.” The relationship expressed in the word Agriculture is therefore a close, nurturing, loving one, originally.
What we commonly understand, today by the word agriculture, because its practices have become so ubiquitous, is a subduing of the Earth, forcing our will upon soil, plants, and animals so they deliver what we demand of them. Totalitarian agriculture is the starting point and main driver of the physical destruction of the biosphere as well as the emotional and spiritual destruction of human beings.


TENDING OUR LAND. A new story. By M. G. Jackson & Nyla Coelho
By NASA Langley Research Center, public domain
Focussing on the history of Indian farming and agriculture practices since the dawn of civilization, Jackson and Coelho give a new account of the succession of ideas and notions around tending the land. This is at the same time a history of modern science and its failures to grasp what almost every culture on Earth understood: that humans are an integral part of the world, not separate from it, and that the way we relate to it has consequences on a material level; that in fact relationships are the actual substance of reality.

"17th century specialists assumed that they were impartial observers of the objects and events they study. Such findings are thus objective, free from personal bias, and thus reveal the true nature of the phenomena studied. This assumption is based on the concept of a duality of body and mind formulated by Rene Descartes." (p73f)

But the duality between free mind and causally-determined matter makes no sense, says Whitehead (quoted after Tending our land):
"Western peoples exhibit ... two attitudes [that] are really inconsistent ... A scientific realism, based upon mechanism, is conjoined with an unwavering belief in the world of man and higher animals as being composed of self-determining organisms. The radical inconsistency at the base of modern thought accounts for much that is half-hearted and wavering in our civilization." [A. N. Whitehead, Science and the modern world, 1925, p76]

Jackson and Coelho express that there is no clear separation between the observer and the observed, so,
"In view of this assumption about the process of observation -- who observes, what is observed and how -- it would only be prudent to doubt the entire edifice of 17th century science. It seems likely that the specialists, in fact, see what they expect to see based on their assumptions about the nature of the world. Since they are unaware of the assumptions they hold they think they are seeing 'the' world as it 'really' is." (p73)

In other words, the world of clearly separate entities, entities which consist of lifeless inert mass, entities which can be used and manipulated as humans please, is basically a delusion. The case can be made for things the size of galaxies, as well as for atoms, and everything inbetween.

"Size, volume, shape, density, position and velocity are not attributes of the atoms themselves, but refer to the relationships among them [...] abstracted from this reference frame, an atom cannot be described; it cannot even be said to exist." (p69)

"Another way of describing the unreality of physical entities is to say that in the world we construct from our experiences there are no spatial boundaries. If there are no boundaries there cannot be any independently-existing entities", (p70f)
because it requires a defined area or volume for them to exist.
And really, particle physicists have been unable to discover such entities. The same goes for the macroscopic level. Can soil exist or be seen without the organisms living in it, of it, and creating it? Can a human being exist without the myriads of microspecies living on our skin, off our hair, in our bowels? Can a planet exist in and of itself, without its gravity field and the gravity fields of its neighbouring celestial bodies? With everything so tightly interlinked as to be inseparable the scientific description of relational dynamics becomes utterly ridiculous.

by MLWatts, public domain
"It is not possible to describe the simultaneous interactions of three or more bodies in one equation; say for example, the sun, planet, and the planet's moon, or the entire solar configuration, or a human body or a landscape" (p73)

Though we can point at “things” and though we can roughly or with relative precision predict those things' near-term development, truly exact forecasts are simply impossible. But,
"If we assume that what we observe are relationships and not objects, the appropriate research protocol is to describe these relationships. It is a process of synthesis rather than of analysis." (p72)

So if we described the world in terms of relationships like some Eastern, and almost all indigenous, cultures used to rather than in terms of forces and masses, the outcome might be quite different. It certainly makes a difference regarding our behaviour, and our relationship to the living planet. And that in turn might mean all the difference in view of the future course of the global crisis we are currently undergoing. If what happens, eg. to the climate, is the outcome of humanity's impoverished, disrespecting and abusive relationship towards basically everything -- and how could we deny that the uglification, the exploitation, the pollution etc of the planet are just that -- then re-establishing a loving relationship with the universe might result in a 'miraculous' healing.

"Everything in the universe we [Indians] are told is not only living, but is also sacred. What does it mean to say that life is sacred? Sacredness is a feeling, not a concept. How, or from where, does it arise? We can only say: from a sense of mystery. It will not do to say that the ancients lacked our present particular knowledge and so fell back on superstitious belief. Rather we must admit, as they did, that there is a limit to human reason. Admitting this humbles us and gives rise to a sense of awe in the face of the universal mystery of manifestation; awe and reverence are the very essence of the sacred." (p61f)

A miracle is not something we can hope for. Similarly, sacredness is not something we can work for. Both would arise from a change in our deepest understanding, therefore today's science would be unable to explain it. From a rational point of view, reducing emissions or cleaning up pollution would have done the job (though we know already that it's too late for this to have any significant effect), but what would have actually happened is the mending of broken ties through re-establishing the sacred dimension of things.
Our actions are the result of inner -- mental, emotional, spiritual -- states and processes. Whether physical actions are effective elements in a cause-and-effect mechanism, or if they are merely symptoms of inner processes is one of the great differences in worldview between East and West, and it might be the difference between a living and a dead planet.

See also:
Towards an ethics of permanenceNyla Coelho & Dr. M.G. Jackson, Ecologise, 20170510.
An essay made from excerpts from the book Tending Our Land: A New Story, Earthcare books, Kolkata, 2016

2017-05-12

The Empire Express, 12 May 2017


Editorial

 

A lot of the material presented here may seem unpleasant to the unprepared eye. If you think so, there are two points to keep in mind.
First of all, that something looks unpleasant doesn't mean we should look the other way. It is just one facet of things as they are. Yet those are some facets mainsteam media chooses to avoid or to make them appear less serious than they are. To achieve a more accurate picture of the world at large, though, these aspects need to come to one's awareness. Those who prefer to consume standard news from abundant corporate or government sources – be free to switch programs.
Secondly, you may ask yourself why I chose to focus on those unpleasant aspects of reality. The answer is, that I prefer truth over propaganda, and that, by having a more accurate picture of the situation, I may respond more aptly. When we view information as merely 'interesting', 'entertaining', or 'thrilling', it becomes meaningless. Every event carries a lesson. It has something to tell about how well our actions are aligned with what-is. When our path is littered with suffering, conflict, catastrophe, and other unpleasant debris, it suggests that something doesn't work in the way we see and handle things. This has collective aspects to it, but also carries lessons for the individual. When it seems like we are just little cogs in a giant machine who cannot change much, that is true, regarding the machine, yes; at the same time it is not true regarding the impact we can have on the origins of suffering, both materially and spiritually.
Those links which lead to the less unpleasant stories may help with understanding how that works.

Ongoing Assault

Recent news

Towards an ethics of permanenceNyla Coelho & Dr. M.G. Jackson, Ecologise, 20170510
The authors are “calling for a fundamental transformation of our perceptions of reality, and a befitting code of conduct to govern our relations with one another and with every other entity on earth.”

As we are today, we should consider ourselves to be ill; in dire need of healing. Our illness has been brought about by our many failures to act in accordance with the ethical imperatives of the core pattern of relationships underlying manifest phenomena. These failures are due to ignorance or inadvertence. Healing can occur if we endeavour to be mindful of the imperatives of the active causal agency that shapes and governs all beings and their activities, and act in accordance with it. This applies to our personal emotional and physical health, as well as to that of our families, our communities, our nations and the larger global community of which all these are parts. The cumulative effect of all our individual illnesses is an ailing planet.”

[The article is a collection of excerpts from the book Tending Our Land: A New Story, Earthcare books, Kolkata, 2016]

Science presents to us another positive feedback loop that drives global warming without human intervention:
Measurements of carbon dioxide levels taken from aircraft, satellites and on the ground show that the amount of CO2 emitted from Alaska’s frigid northern tundra increased by 70% between 1975 and 2015, in the period between October and December each year. [...]
Whereas soils 40 years ago took about a month to completely freeze over, the process can now take three months or longer. In some places in the state, the soil is not freezing until January, particularly if there is a layer of insulating snow. The result is a huge and continuing expulsion of CO2 [not to talk of methane].
A lot of models were predicting this thawing would happen, but not for another 50 to 100 years.”

Big polluters are headed for Germany for UN climate talks – Nathalie Baptiste, Mother Jones, 20170504
How the latest United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) comes into existence. It's ok to feel a little bit disgusted.

Stark warning on health of oceans – Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 20170504
As the oceans heat up they take in more carbon dioxide, which means they become more acidic and less oxygenized – a threat to the marine food chain.

Crop failures in USA as a result of extreme weather events – Robin Westenra, Seemorerocks, 20170503
No one seems to be alarmed by the heat wave in India, not even the government of India. No one seems to be alarmed by the famines in Africa, except for the Africans. No one seems to be alarmed by crop failures in the US, except for the stock markets. It's all just freakish events... yes?

The science of this article is based on the flawed IPCC/Paris figures (see my essay, 2°C to Midnight), but the message it carries is absolutely correct: “It’s a species-level emergency, but almost no one is acting like it is.” And,“If we mean what we say, no more new fossil fuels, anywhere.”
Though that won't be enough, as the already-developed resources carry us to 2,2°C (IPCC), or rather 6.5°C (Wasdell). Seriously.

The crazy scale of human carbon emission – Caleb A. Scharf, Scientific American, 20170426
Want some perspective on how much carbon dioxide human activity produces? Here it is.”
Careful, it's getting graphic ;)

We can save life on Earth: study reveals how to stop mass extinction – Morgan Erickson-Davis, Truthout, 20170426
The deal is, to conserve around 50% of the planet's land areas for proper functioning ecosystems – currently there are 15% under protection. ”Increasing protections and restoring degraded land would cost somewhere between $8 billion and $80 billion per year”, which is a joke compared to what is being spent on war. But then again, it is this greedy mindset of ours which drives us into war time and again that will keep us from doing it.
The deal reminds me a bit of historical divisions, say in Korea, where the opponents fear defeat and hastily agree to an armistice before it's too late. Only that, this time, it might actually be so. It doesn't ever work out, anyway. Look at Ethiopia/Eretria, or Israel/Palestine, or India/Pakistan, or Germany, or...
We will insist on fully transforming “our” part into the Anthroposphere, and we will have wars against the other part, for all the stupid reasons we have wars among human nations. First and foremost the capitalistic juggernaut is not going to stop the plundering of the world before it has felled and monetized the last tree on Earth. Meanwhile, experts are going to discuss which areas are worth protecting, or how this is going to effect the economy.
I don't believe we see more than an ultra-shortterm result from such an endeavor. Humanity and nature are one. The insistence on a separation that has no reality anywhere else but in the mind can only lead to further crippling of both parts. Let's get it over with separation!

The upshot of the judges' opinion? Monsanto has engaged in practices that have violated the basic human right to a healthy environment, the right to food, the right to health, and the right of scientists to freely conduct indispensable research.
The judges also called on international lawmakers to hold corporations like Monsanto accountable, to place human rights above the rights of corporations, and to 'clearly assert the protection of the environment and establish the crime of ecocide'.”

A conversation with Helena Norberg-Hodge – Charles Eisenstein, A new and ancient story, 20170417
The author of 'Sacred Economics' and the author of 'Distant Futures: Learning from Ladakh' have a dialogue on the reductionist assumptions regarding climate change and how to "attack" it, on localization as a means of healing wounds of all kinds, and how huddling together in ever larger numbers is a main driver to the convergence of crises this civilization faces today. They talk about cities, their functioning and the ramifications of their growth. What impresses me time and again about Charles is his ability to connect dots from very different areas in order to show the larger picture.

In the present day, the biomass of the entire human race is approximately equal to 300 million tonnes. This is more than double that of all large terrestrial vertebrates that lived on Earth prior to human civilization, and an entire order of magnitude greater than that of all vertebrates currently living in the wild. At 30.11 trillion tonnes, the size of the technosphere is five orders of magnitude greater than even that. It is the equivalent of every single square metre of Earth’s surface being covered with nearly 50kg of matter.”
According to Aspen, the total Mass of carbon in the whole biosphere is about 1 to 4 trillion tons. The comparison to our own collective weight shows that humanity is literally eating up the living planet as it develops its realm and grows in numbers.

I disagree with every single point made in this video, as far as those points are meant to discredit the ability of self-acclaimed and alleged 'doomers' in general and a certain professor emeritus in special. With his kitchen psychoanalysis Paul, who has made himself a name as a climate system scientist and proponent of geo-engineering, falls into the same traps he believes others have become victims of. Rather than refuting point by point, however, may I emphasize that Paul touches on something that is of relevance to every activist: the danger of getting hysterical about the news, of overrating single events, and of identifying with a specific interpretation of the facts. We need to be aware of the larger picture, and we need to check our facts in the light of new information and different opinions. Because we might be wrong. In the end, all predictions of the future are inaccurate projections. So... pass on the popcorn and relax :)

Pearls Before Swine

A collection of older articles that - obviously - didn't change the world.

The only way I can honor Earth Day is to grieve all that has been lost, and to refuse to participate in the ongoing destruction.”

8 widespread but deadly eco-myths – Michael Thomas, Exposing the Truth, 20140821
Nice to have all this pointed out in a tidy fashion. People, in their human bubble, too easily forget that money, science, or ingenuity cannot bring back lost lives.

Recommended article, both as an introduction into the madness of our culture, and as a call for resistance. Hedges shows how the story of Captain Ahab, the main character of Moby Dick, is emblematic of what our culture is doing to the planet today. “The novel is the chronicle of the last days of any civilization,” he writes, because “Complex civilizations have a bad habit of ultimately destroying themselves [...]
The difference this time is that when we go down the whole planet will go with us. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new civilizations to conquer, no new peoples to subjugate. The long struggle between the human species and the earth will conclude with the remnants of the human species learning a painful lesson about unrestrained greed, hubris and idolatry.”

Ronald Wright once pointed out that our neolithic ancestors, as well, have been facing a fundamental change that required major changes in how people lived. Mankind, after having hunted every large species into extinction, parted into two directions; those who turned into tribal caretakers of the land, and those who continued as farmers and civilization founders; those who got the lesson and those who didn't. It remains doubtful whether the latter will get it this time around, because “We believe, because we have externalized evil, that we can purify the earth. And we are blind to the evil within us.” Hedges.

On the positive side, he says, “we only need 1 to 5 percent of the population actively working for the overthrow of a system, history has shown, to bring down even the most ruthless totalitarian structures.”
Yet the stakes are high, especially for those bound to the machine who see clearer than others. In the face of a conflict of interest, “moral cowardice turns us into hostages.”

To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth—intellectually and emotionally—and rise up to resist the forces that are destroying us.”

AMEN!

Human extinction without a squeak? – Michael Thomas, Exposing the Truth, 20130407
The question why “no one” is taking the impending collapse of global ecosystems serious is being asked again and again. This article provides an answer from an emergency helper's point of view.

The paper discusses the techniques of how alternate ways of acquiring knowledge are systematically getting eradicated through scientific discourse. See also my previous article, Cognitive Justice: Science and the Sacred.

A short history of progress – Ronald Wright, 2004
Wright argues that civilizations usually end up in a development trap. Technological items that seem beneficial in the beginning become staples before a society slips into addiction. What looks like a stairway to heaven is actually a highway to hell. The author describes the demise of some historical civilizations, analyzing which of their cornerstones gave way and made it collapse. For example,

We might think that in such a limited place [Easter Island], where, from the height of Terevaka, islanders could survey their whole world at a glance, steps would have been taken to halt the cutting, to protect the saplings, to replant. We might think that as trees became scarce, the erection of statues would have been curtailed, and timber reserved for essential purposes such as boatbuilding and roofing. But that is not what happened. The people who felled the last tree could see it was the last, could know with complete certainty that there would never be another. And they felled it anyway.”

There must be reasons why we do not react appropriately. One of them might be that,

We are running 21st-century software on hardware last upgraded 50,000 years ago or more. This may explain quite a lot of what we see in the news.”

Wright also describes the fall of Sumer and Rome, and briefly compares them to the cases of China, Greece, and Egypt. All this does of course have a meaning for our own situation in which we have reached the peak production of our main energy source at a time when environmental breakdown is well underway. When a civilization reaches the limits to growth it needs to acknowledge them or perish. It's not like there were no precedences like the Maya, whom we can learn from. And what did the Maya do?

As the crisis gathered, the response of the [Maya] rulers was not to seek a new course, to cut back on royal and military expenditures, to put effort into land reclamation ..., or to encourage birth control... No, they dug in their heels and carried on doing what they had always done, only more so. Their solution was higher pyramids, more power to the kings, harder work for the masses, more foreign wars ... the Maya elite [was] squeezing the last drops of profit from nature and humanity.”

Doesn't it sound awfully familiar to you? Does it make you feel like you want to smash the pathetic system and start all over again? Beware!

There is no going back without catastrophe. Those who don't like civilization, and can't wait for it to fall on its arrogant face, should keep in mind that there is no other way to support humanity in anything like our present numbers or estate.”

And maybe there is no other way left to go but to reduce the numbers and estate. Population and property were the main physical drivers of all civilizations – and their eventual unraveling. I know that our Empire, just like the Maya kings, is not willing to go slower, not to speak of decreasing its size. It should have taken steps four decades ago at latest. The end of the road has been reached. The current generation may experience the expected outcome of our civilization's project of conquering the world.

The lesson I read in the past is this: that the health of land and water -- and of woods, which are the keepers of water -- can be the only lasting basis for any civilization's survival and success.”

[The above link leads to a file containing the introduction to his 200p book.]

The train of civilization


"Are we going to arrive in time?" - "I think so. Emergency services are pretty quick these days."

Famous Last Words

"Don't worry. We can fix this."

2017-05-05

2°C to Midnight, or, In Paris We Trust

Just a few months ago, in November 2016, the world celebrated the coming-into-effect of the 2015 Paris Agreement on limiting anthropogenic global warming – only to get disappointed shortly after by the announcement of the POTUS-elect that he intended to cancel the treaty. The leader of one of the planet's most polluting nations who is at the same time commander-in-chief of the US army, the single biggest polluter worldwide, has already started to dismantle mechanisms of environmental protection both at home and abroad. One could sing a very sad song about that, but I want to talk about something else here. As we will see by the end of this essay, the United States' adherence or non-adherence to the Paris Agreement might be of marginal significance to the unfolding of climate change, if at all.

The Paris Agreement which has been signed by numerous nations on the 21st UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) has actually been a breakthrough, somehow, because, for the first time, a majority of the world's countries, including the US, have committed to far-reaching specific goals for environmental protection, in order to prevent catastrophic climate change. But that victory's value is only of symbolic nature; it will not achieve what it is supposedly meant to do. Quite the opposite. Various scientists have pointed out that the treaty is simply misleading public opinion. The action to be taken will not only be insufficient, it is coming too late – by decades – and will result in inappropriate handling of this truly existential crisis of our planet. Therefore it is suitable for leading to great damage.

The Paris Agreement is mainly based on data collected, reviewed, evaluated, and presented by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its main goals – curbing global warming at 2°C above pre-industrial levels, ideally stopping it at 1.5°C, through national carbon budgets – derive from reports issued by the IPCC. Certainly it'd be unfair to demand infallability of those good folks, but criticism of the IPCC has been getting louder and louder over the years, and point is adding to serious point. Those who believe that the tide is turning, climate-wise, should definitely have a look at what the general public is being served as a major breakthrough. Let's dive into matters from here on.

Composition
As its name suggests, the IPCC consists of government representatives of the world's nations. Founded in 1988, its purpose has been to inform decision makers of the state of global climate. The IPCC appoints scientists which are to provide assessment reports. The last word on content and way of publication are with the IPCC, i.e. the governments, not with the scientists. The latest report has been issued in 2013 (AR5).

Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), of 2013
It is the scientist's duty to come to an assessment of the future development of the global climate system. Their appraisal has to be based on solid data. Well, we all heard about climate change denial, and we would like to have a clear picture of what is going on, rather than having to rely on anybody's best guesses. There is just one problem with solid data: it is old data. For scientific research to receive wider acknowledgement, the reports have to go through a lengthy process of checks and appraisals by fellow scientists, the so-called peer review. This usually takes two to three years before relevant journals are willing to print the report. Only then does the scientific community regard the data as solid. The assessment by the IPCC takes several years more, e.g. it is currently in its sixth cycle of assessment, the report of which is not to be expected before 2022. So the data grows old and older.

Climate, in the meantime, continues to change, and quickly. The current state of affairs is documented 'merely' through unreviewed measurements. Instead of working with those, the IPCC used computer models. There is much to criticise about that.
Models can provide only rough calculations of climatic mechanisms. Small causes below the resolution of the model can amplify into surprisingly huge effects. One example of this is the localised melt of the Greenland ice sheet through darker particles and its large-scale destabilisation through the resulting melt water.
Quite a few fundamental climate factors have been missing from the IPCC's models, such as the greenhouse gases methane and water vapor, and the multiple effects of melting polar icecaps. Those factors are not merely adding up, they interact with each other. That means, instead of the expected (by IPCC) relatively steady increase we see a sudden escalation in figures, such as with global average temperatures and polar ice melt. Already more than seventy natural feedback processes have been identified which reinforce themselves and each other and drive the heating of the atmosphere without needing further human intervention. The IPCC does not acknowledge any of these feedback loops.
That's why the IPCC has come to false predictions regarding polar ice melting, atmospheric temperature development and greenhouse gas concentrations, all of which are skyrocketing at unprecedented speed. No wonder – the models were completely inaccurate, as illustrated by the following chart.

measured data (red) as compared to modeled Arctic sea ice extent (blue).
[public domain / source: Wikimedia]

It is easy to see how inaccurate models prevent people from getting aware of the obvious emergency. Instead of an ice-free Arctic starting from somewhen between 2017 and 2025, IPCC predicts this so-called Blue-Ocean Event from 2100 on, when today's decision makers will no longer be alive. Blue Ocean leads to significantly higher intake of solar radiation energy, resulting in higher water temperatures, and those will probably trigger massive outbursts of methane from the seabed; a sudden leap in atmospheric temperatures will be the consequence – exactly how the 'Great Dying' some 250 Million years ago came about, when more than 90% of all life forms went extinct.

Scientists tend to give conservative figures. That's not new. Valuing the models with their systematic large-scale deviation higher than the real figures is. The intervention of governments in the interest of fossil fuel industries has played a major role in this, some scientists reported. Further window-dressing has been achieved by shifting the baseline. In the 80s, the UN held that a 1°C temperature rise above a pre-industrial baseline (1750) was beyond safe. Today, the IPCC is talking about 2°C as compared to a pre-industrial baseline, meaning 1880 (!) In those intermitting 120 years, global average temperature has risen by at least 0.3°C due to human activity. Recently we see more and more publications that use an even later baseline, thus playing down the level of warming the planet has already reached. Ordinary people watching the news usually won't become aware of it; they will falsely believe that there is plenty of time for countermeasures while there isn't.

David Wasdell, director of the Apollo-Gaia Project, previously coordinator of the Meridian Programme, comes to similar results. Years of climate research enabled him to draw a corrected version of the IPCC's chart depicting the relation between industrial CO2 emissions, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, and expected global atmospheric temperature rise.


[source: Wasdell]


We can read the atmospheric concentration of CO2 equivalents, i.e. all greenhouse gases in total, in parts per million (ppm) on the upper edge of the chart. This translates into a total amount of CO2 equivalents measured in petagrams (PgC), shown on the lower edge.
The vertical axis shows the temperature increase which a certain amount of greenhouse gases may result in. This depends on the models used.
The blue line shows the steady increase the IPCC models project. This does not acknowledge greenhouse gases other than CO2, and it does not account for changes related to the melting of the polar ice caps. It doesn't acknowledge the dynamics of natural processes.
The curved red line calculated by Wasdell does include all these factors and is matching paleoclimatic precedence.

Wasdell's analysis of AR5, in short:
„Avoiding dangerous climate change is no longer possible.“ The IPCC has delivered a systematically false report that does not describe the reality of climate change. Its proposals are misleading and allow for too much time to pass. „On these grounds the AR5 should be rejected as not fit for the purpose of policy-making.“ The specifics are frightening:

  • The temperature response to the 2014 set of emission-reduction pledges is about 10°C, not 4°C . This is where we are most likely headed as many states seem to have a hard time implementing the Paris Agreement.
  • If we actually performed as proposed by the AR5/Paris Agreement, we'd end up at 5.4°C, not 2°C.
  • The atmospheric CO2 concentration in 2014 already leads us to 3.9°C, not 1.5°C. The effect of other greenhouse gases which have been disregarded by IPCC needs to be added. The temperature increase locked in actually amounts to min. 6°C and will probably lead to a sea level rise of 23 meters, following precedents in Earth's history, according to Guy McPherson. We don't need to worry about wet feet, though, because a temperature rise by 3.9°C equals the extinction of the human race, following the demise of our crop plants.
  • The so-called CO2 budget of 300 gigatons which could supposedly get emitted before breaking the 2°C limit is wholly illusory. In reality the account was already overdrawn by 388 gigatons, with 10 gigatons of industrial carbon pollution being added every year. There is no budget to distribute. We have missed that exit decades ago, around 1970.

Those who do not shy away from climate technical vocabulary should have a look at Wasdell's critical evaluation of the AR5.
If, for some reason, you find it wanting, there still remain a few inconvenient facts:
2°C are not a goal based in science. The limit has been set by the neoliberal economist William Nordhaus who tried to define conditions under which economic activity makes sense.
2°C are not a safe goal. This shows clearly from the increasingly numerous, increasingly massive natural disasters over the last few decades. Epic droughts, larger storms, rainbombs, quickly changing weather, extreme heat and cold – and all of these clearly more often today than in the past. It already devastates crops throughout the world, from Spanish lettuce to Californian almonds, from Australian sugar to Indian grains.
2°C are not a realistic goal, even by the assessment of the IPCC. AR5 states that it requires geo-engineering to achieve its 2°C goal (which is really 5.4°C), yet it fails to mention any specific technology that can accomplish this. Such a technology which could manipulate climatic factors in the short-term and on a global scale does not exist yet!

Summary:
The Paris Agreement of 2015 whose goals and policies mirror the fifth assessment report of 2013 of the IPCC exposes the community of life on Earth to dangerous climatic changes, says David Wasdell in his critical evaluation. Others – Sam Carana, Michael Mann, James Hansen, or Paul Beckwith – do call for immediate action. They propose a shift to renewable energy sources and demand geo-engineering of various kinds. In the absence of suitable geo-engineering technologies, and factoring in that the so-called renewables are not carbon-neutral at all, Professor Guy McPherson came to the conclusion that the train of civilization has jumped tracks and is heading for the bottom of the cliff.
Global warming might not be catastrophic, but rather apocalyptic in extent, as human activity has triggered a sixth mass extinction already which may only get worse on this quickly heating planet. It's literally 2.5°C to Midnight.
I would have liked to end this essay with the words, „If that is so, who cares what America is doing or not doing?“ Yet the one thing America still may – and possibly will – do is to throw the planet into a nuclear winter, either deliberately to stop the warming, or as a byproduct of their pursuit of securing the remaining resources it needs for feeding its war machine.
You may think that all this is far out and that things could be worse than what you see outside your window. And that's true. Yes they can.

Further links:

2017-04-21

Cognitive Justice: Science and the Sacred


Let's take a step back and forget about climate change and the planetary catastrophe called global industrial civilization for a moment. Some of the deeper roots of our predicament have been discussed here repeatedly. (see some of the articles under the label 'collapse of civilization') I have also touched into the epistemological dimension of it, what I'd call 'nature of truth and reality'.

Today, I'd like to have my - much more learned - colleagues elaborate on how the dominant worldview, i.e. our most basic assumptions on the nature of truth and reality, not only started the cycle of destruction but perpetuate and aggravate it through a self-reinforcing mechanism called scientific discourse.

This is in no way meant to diminish the epistemological achievements of science (see below, Nagler), or to strike a blow for the deliberate distortion of facts that runs by the name of 'alt-truth'. Yet for us to get a more accurate picture of what is going on we need to be aware that there are actually truths alternate to our own understanding and that those truths are just as valid as what is scientifically believed to be real (see below, Wilber).

Drone magic, by Mike Licht (CC)
Alternatives exist abundantly, yet they initially are - very - hard to discover. The dominant culture is fighting an epistemicidal war against 'the other', a war that is unseen by most because the enemy is not supposed to even exist. Why?

Empire is not merely territory covered, not just populations made into subjects. Empire rules not only through political, economic, and military force but through the very culture that gave birth to Empire. In other words, Empire rules the minds of its subjects, and it does so by defining what they can know -- what is real. This may sound overstated to some, likely most, but the cognitive injustice created by scientific discourse is actually key to the question why social injustice does not spawn the kind of movements that would overthrow Empire. Marx had it wrong because we are not simply victims, we are co-creators of oppression. Awareness has never been enough; it takes an awakening.
The totalitarian exclusion of 'the other' from our view has turned it from a simple alternative into the deadliest enemy of the dominant culture, because once you start seeing it, awakening to it, you can no longer buy into the common dogmas around separateness, competition, materialism, utilitarianism, or scientism.

If you are still with me let's foster cognitive justice now, by exploring an example where it becomes obvious: the relationship between science and the Sacred.

A discourse provides a set of possible statements about a given area, and organizes and gives structure to the manner in which a particular topic, object, process is to be talked about. In that it provides descriptions, rules, permissions and prohibitions of social and individual actions.”
– Günther Kress – Linguistic Processes in Sociocultural Practice, 1988

Epistemology (literally, the logical discourse on knowledge) is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge. Epistemology studies the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. Much of the debate in epistemology centers on four areas: (1) the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to such concepts as truth, belief, and justification, (2) various problems of skepticism, (3) the sources and scope of knowledge and justified belief, and (4) the criteria for knowledge and justification.”
– Wikipedia

“The whole notion of 'discourse' and 'discourse community' is a circular one - the community is defined as those that share certain discourse habits and functions, while skill in the prescribed discourse is a prerequisite for being taken seriously by the discourse community. Hence, academic discourse is thus revealed, from the outset, to be a self-referential self-justificatory practice that determines what may legitimately beconsidered as knowledge.”
– Karen Bennett – Epistemicide! The Tale of a Predatory Discourse. 2007

In this era of increased knowledge the essence of religious phenomena eludes the psychologists, sociologists, linguists, and other specialists because they do not study it as religious. According to Mircea Eliade, they miss the one irreducible element in religious phenomena—the element of the sacred.“
– 1996 introduction to Mircea Eliade's book „Patterns in comparative Religion“ (1958)

The dark side of modern science, and unfortunately it has one, does not arise from science itself, still less from any of the facts of nature. It arises from the impression we allow science to give us: the impression that we are merely biological machines in a meaningless material universe.
Science has every right to confine its attention to the physical, i.e. the outside world. It has no right to say, when it has done so, that it has given us the whole story.”
– Michael N. Nagler – Is there no other way?, 2001

Cognitive injustice, the failure to recognize the different ways of knowing by which people across the globe run their lives and provide meaning to their existence.”
– Boaventura de Sousa Santos – Epistemologies of the South: justice against epistemicide. 2014

Epistemicide: the war on, and the destruction of existing knowledge and the subsequent abortion of the possibility of acquiring new knowledge within a certain system of thought.


The way that a particular culture formulates its knowledge is intricately bound up with the very identity of its people, their way of making sense of the world and the value system that holds that worldview in place. Epistemicide, as the systematic destruction of rival forms of knowledge, is at its worst nothing less than symbolic genocide [...]
There are others […] that view the encroachment of the scientific paradigm as a form of cultural imperialism […] They often experience the rationalization and objectivization of reality as a kind of reductionism that is inadequate to explain the complexities of human experience.”
– Karen Bennett – Epistemicide! The Tale of a Predatory Discourse. 2007


The modern age has forgotten that facts and information, for all their usefulness, are not the same as wisdom—and certainly not the same as the direct experience of Reality. We have lost touch with the intuitive wisdom born of silence and stillness, and we are left stranded in a sea of information that cannot deliver on its promise of ever-increasing happiness and fulfillment.”
– Adyashanti – The way of liberation: a practical guide to spiritual enlightenment, 2012

The Way of Liberation is not a belief system; it is something to be put into practice. In this sense it is entirely practical.”
– Adyashanti – The way of Liberation: a practical guide to spiritual enlightenment, 2012

"When we find those types of statements in Plotinus or Asanga or Garab Dorje or Abhinavigupta or Shankara, rest assured that they are not simply theoretical hunches or metaphysical postulates. Those are direct experimental disclosures issuing directly from te subtle dimension of reality, interpreted according to the backgrounds of those individuals, but issuing from this profound ontological reality, this subtle worldspace.
And if you want to know what these men and women are actually talking about, then you must take up the contemplative practice or injunction or paradigm, and perform the experiment yourself […]
So this experiment will disclose the archetypal data, and then you can help interpret what they mean. And by far the most commonly accepted interpretation is, you are looking at the basic forms and foundations of the entire manifest world. You are looking directly into the face of the Divine."
– Ken Wilber – A brief history of everything, 1996

2017-04-15

The Empire Express, 15 April 2017


Some of the more 'interesting' articles regarding systems in collapse, especially climate, global civilization, food & farming, human consciousness and ecology. I recommend them for either their illustrative information on the state of affairs, or their profound insight into what said information might mean.

Ongoing Assault

Recent news

A long catalogue of crimes committed against the ocean makes sure that the near-term collapse of Indian society due to food crises becomes inevitable.

Exiting the Anthropocene – Roger Boyd, Resilience.org, 20170410
Seems like the Anthropocene is over before it really started. The author writes up a realistic description of the factors that will bring the curtain down. Too bad we cannot read such essays on the front pages of our favourite newspapers and magazines, because,While the evidence that the door to the end of the Anthropocene is opening wide mounts, our society seems unable to grasp the scale and urgency of the danger.”

Is this the start of runaway global warming? – William P. Hall, PhD, Kororoit Inst., 2017,0408
“This essay focuses on observations of what appears to be the start of runaway warming in the Arctic that may have profound effects on global climates over the next few years;”
A fine introduction and comprehensive overview on the climate situation and the outlook for the near-term future.

The end of ice – Dahr Jamail in an interview with Jennifer Hynes, Extinction Radio, 20170405
Independent journalist Dahr Jamail talks about the research for his upcoming book on climate change. Both the state of affairs and his personal outlook on the future are discussed.

What's scarier than the Permian Extinction? – Robert Scribbler, 20170405
Burn all the fossil fuels to find out...”

America's farmers face uncertain future – Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 20170405
Worldwide, scientists have repeatedly warned that climate change driven by human dependence on fossil fuels presents serious problems for farmers: many crops are vulnerable to extremes of heat, and climate change presents a hazard for harvests in Africa, Asia and Europe.
America in particular could face substantial losses, and, at the most basic level, the grasses – almost all the world’s staple foods are provided by the grass family – may not be able to adapt to rapidly changing climates.”

Not to forget Yemen and Nigeria, along with several countries that are standing at the edge. "Ethiopia has learned from previous droughts and took adequate precautions. Yet the scale of the current drought is too great for Ethiopia, and indeed the entire region, to cope with,” says German development minister Gerd Müller.

Extreme heat threat rises for megacities – Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 20170403
If global warming is contained at 1.5°C – the ideal target identified at the 2015 climate summit in Paris − the researchers say the number of megacities, with populations over 10 million, in the danger zone will double from today’s figure [...] Other scientists had already established that if global temperatures rise by 4°C this century − in the notorious business-as-usual scenario in which humans go on burning fossil fuels and depositing ever more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere − then some parts of the globe could become intolerably hot for at least part of the day, and potentially uninhabitable.”

Vital groundwater depleted faster than ever – Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, 20170402
The study’s authors say excessive abstraction of groundwater for irrigation – part of the wider virtual water trade – is leading to rapid depletion of aquifers in key food-producing regions, including north-western India, the North China Plain, central US, and California.”

Despite international efforts to address food insecurity, around 108 million people in the world were severely food insecure in 2016, a dramatic increase compared with 80 million in 2015, according to a new global report on food crises released in Brussels on 31 March 2017 [...]
The dramatic increase reflects the trouble people have in producing and accessing food due to conflict, record-high food prices in local markets and extreme weather conditions such drought and erratic rainfall caused by El Niño.”

Pumped dry: India's accelerating and invisible groundwater crisis – Asit K. Biswas et al., Ecologise, 20170326
India is now facing a water situation that is significantly worse than any that previous generations have had to face. All Indian water bodies within and near population centres are now grossly polluted with organic and hazardous pollutants. Interstate disputes over river waters are becoming increasingly intense and widespread. Not a single Indian city can provide clean water that can be consumed from the tap on a 24×7 basis. Surface water conditions are bad. However, the groundwater situation is even worse.”
This includes natural and anthropogenic pollution, sea-water intrusion, explosive growth of tube-wells, and farmers pumping like there is no tomorrow.
Nearly half of India’s jobs are now in the agricultural sector. If the current trends continue, by 2030 nearly 60% of Indian aquifers will be in a critical condition. This means that some 25% of the agriculture production will be at risk. This would aggravate India’s employment situation.”
Well, let's not worry about jobs. As stated elsewhere, in 2030 there will likely be no one to get laid off. In the meantime, climate change is unfolding, developing from rapidly to abruptly, and the Indian subcontinent, together with the heart of Africa, might evolve into one of the first regions to become uninhabitable for humans.

The Russian-American writer on his new book about our physical and psychological dependence on global infrastructure and hi-tech for daily survival, and about needing to return to pre-fossil-fuel driven lifestyles and technologies. Both book and podcast

Pearls Before Swine

Discoveries of older articles that - obviously - didn't change the world.

Seeing Wetiko: On capitalism, mind viruses, and antidotes for a world in transition – Alnoor Ladha & Martin Kirk, Kosmos, 20160511
This is not an anti-European rant. This is the description of a disease whose vector was determined by deep patterns of history,” it says in the essay. The Wetiko, or Wendigo, is a native American concept of an infectious and self-replicating mindset that acts like a virus. It is responsible for the Western culture's hunger for more, its destructiveness and its denial of it all.  
“This approach of viewing the transmission of ideas as a key determinant of the emergent reality is increasingly validated by various branches of science, including evolutionary theory, quantum physics, cognitive linguistics, and epigenetics.” 
Highly recommended for reading.

False solutions? 3 ways to evaluate grand climate proposals – Jeremy Lent, Patterns of Meaning, 20160322
We need a way to distinguish authentic pathways to a sustainable civilization from false solutions. I suggest three ways to consider any proposal you might come across:
  1. Does it push political power up or down the pyramid?
  2. How does it treat the Earth?
  3. What are its cascading effects?”
'Civilization' and 'sustainable' in one sentence makes me cringe. Apart from that, when we are pursuing right action, these three questions might make sense. The text contains several good points like,
Geoengineering proposals are based on the notion of the earth as a massive piece of machinery to be engineered for human benefit. Not only are these approaches morally repugnant for anyone who sees Nature as having intrinsic worth, they are also fraught with massive risk, since the earth’s systems are in fact not machine-like, but the result of complex, nonlinear relationships that are inherently unpredictable.”
I elaborated on that, not so long ago, in my article Doom-dee-doom.

Only sixty years of farming left if soil degradation continues – Chris Arsenault, Scientific American, 20141205
58 years to go. Plenty of time to make some money and to think of how to create soil in industrial labs...

Cartoon

The train of civilization

"What if we used bio-char instead of coal?"


2017-04-11

Messing with habitat


The founder of our settlement provided a general idea of how the future city was supposed to look like. An architect came up with a few models one of which imitated the shape of a galaxy. Based on that, a layout for the city, the so-called masterplan has been drawn by our town planning group. Population development in the surrounding villages and land speculation are now massively interfering with said plan, but also an increasingly bold environmental movement within our community itself is making the realization of infrastructure according to the masterplan more difficult. Currently under discussion is, imposing a government-approved land use plan through the application of authority, but --
"There's an issue which almost nobody writes about or talks about, and yet it's perhaps more fundamental than any other issue at all, which is soil. Soil is the basis of human civilization. Soil is the basis of human existence. We do not exist without soil. Everything we eat, everything which contributes to our body mass comes from soil. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation we have 60 years of harvest left at current rates of soil loss and degradation. And this is a marginal issue. It doesn't feature in politics, it doesn't feature in debate, it's not on the news. No one is talking about this, yet it's the most fundamental issue of all [...] the biggest bias is the bias against relevance. Those things that are objectively most relevant to our lives are marginalised while trivia is put in their space, is put front and center as the thing we ought to obsess about." -- George Monbiot, author of "How did we get into this mess? Politics, equality, nature" in an interview with Verso

A few days ago I had the privilege of getting a glimpse of the discussion around the NTDA* for our township here. The mail exchange I saw - I hope the authors are going to share it with a wider audience as well - left absolutely no doubt that forcing the masterplan into practice is a pretty bad idea.

Without going into the details of their convincing arguments I would like to point out that our physical bodies require physical habitat for their survival, habitat which allows for the growth of food, collection of water, and regulation of body temperature. Habitat is not the supermarket shelves most of us refer to for food, not the money we possess, not the technology we use, not the good books we read, nor the inspiring ideas and visions we derive from them. Habitat consists of the landbase with its shape, its hydrology, its soil, and its living organisms and their larger cultures and communities (what we call ecosystems). Habitat is what provides us with food, water, oxygen, shelter and literally everything else that is absolutely essential for our survival. The elements herein are not interchangeable, none of them dispensible, and one cannot manipulate any of the variables without affecting the whole habitat. You mess with it -- you don't eat, period.

Much of the future city's area still looks like this.
Our founder centered the city around a banyan tree on top of a hill, and that led to massive reforestation of the local watershed, as the first settlers needed shade urgently. I don't know whether the founder was aware of it -- most pioneers certainly weren't, and the advocates of the masterplan still aren't -- but the new ecosystem came into existence in exactly the right spot for most of our basic needs to get met -- provided we respect what has developed over the last 50 years on this once barren plateau. Tremendous effort by thousands of people contributing countless hours of hard physical work went not only into the re-creation of this forest of several million wooden souls with its diverse fauna; the same is true for many of our farms as well, where committed people enabled natural processes to heal the wounds human 'development' had cut. Thanks to half a century of organic farming some places have built up not just inches but a foot and more of healthy, carbon-rich top soil.

To sacrifice these achievements in order to build paved roads, offices, factories, and houses in their place is not merely disrespecting of the creative energy of humans and non-humans alike -- what kind of spirituality is this supposed to be? -- it is highly destructive when it comes to habitat. As long as we dismiss the information and understandings painfully gained through the history of civilization we better dare not speak of higher consciousness. We cannot impose abstract visions on a real landscape and expect to have a habitat tomorrow. Global environmental degradation forbids us to trade habitat for development any longer without immediately endangering our very existence up here. The city on the hill would become home to the fool on the hill... a dead fool, for that matter.

It is our duty to act according to our best knowledge and our highest consciousness as a species. Knowing what we know about watersheds, climate change, aquifers, ecosystems and their degradation, and so forth, a new vision for our township is urgently needed, a vision that does not speak of imposition of structure -- dead geometrical objects -- upon a living ecosystem with its human and non-human community. What we need is the (re-) enactment of an understanding how to (re-) integrate the human sphere into the community of life. The brackets point out that historical precedence for non-separation does exist.

The galaxy model was never meant to constitute the ultimate word on the settlement's shape. Our founder did not say, Repeat after me. Instead, we have been called to take advantage of new developments and pieces of knowledge as we proceed. We are supposed to work out the functioning of our society as we are walking forward -- on the go, so to speak -- and that certainly includes the physical manifestation of "the city at the service of truth". Barring a direct lie, you cannot strive farther from truth than dwelling in architectural dreams that are denying the significance of habitat and that have no connection with what-is: ground reality, empirical reality, the reality of the land.

2017-04-07

V for Violence

Not so long ago an Ecuadorian told me that he appreciated one thing about the dictatorship that once ruled his home country -- things got done; instead of chaos there was order, instead of dispute there was 'peace'. My grandparents and other members of their generation used to say that not everything had been bad about Hitler's Germany; there had been full employment for everyone, the riots in the streets that were so common during the Weimar time would have stopped, and there had been the Autobahns, of course, of which everybody was proud. This perception overlooks that comfort came at a high price -- the misery and death of thousands, even millions of perceived enemies of the regime. Yes, you could live quite comfortably at that time, have a family, a job, a home while your freedoms were stripped from you and you were lied to at a grand scale which of course you knew and accepted as necessary. Others, though, had to pay for your wellbeing. Full employment came through the remilitarization of the country, in preparation for a war that cost sixty million lives, the highways were built by political prisoners, and the riots went away because they happened only in order to destabilize the state, to pave the way for tyranny.

Germans today say, Thank God we are living in a democracy, we have everything we need, and there hasn't been a war in decades. Now, like then, it is others that pay the price for our wellbeing -- other humans as well as non-humans. Now, like back then, or even more so, the perceived benefits of the regime sugarcoat the tremendous violence and fear that constitute everybody's lives. And now, like in the not-so-good old times, we simply deny the fact that this is so. Every German, back then, helped perpetuate the tyranny through their thoughts and deeds, by just doing their jobs, by obeying immoral orders, by repeating the propaganda in their conversations, by shopping politically correct, by voting for the right guy, and by keeping their mouths shut in the face of injustice, and that has not changed the slightest bit since.
What has changed, though, is the scale at which these things happen -- now globally -- and the lengths at which both governments and subjects go to cover up the violence their comfort is based upon and comes along with. As violence has become omnipresent, this can only succeed through its normalization. Both those who say they cannot see any violence in their environment, and those who have a dislike for their situation but don't know what to do -- listen, read. I got something for you.

made by Banksy
Violence is not just wars and molotov cocktails and truncheons. It is not just the blood and guts and gore you see, either.
Violence is built into the fabric of our daily lives, as structural violence. And even that is not the whole story.
Violence is in the food you eat, not only the obviously murderous meat, but the greens as well which get beaten out of the ground with the help of pesticides and poisonous fertilizers that kill the soil; Daniel Quinn calls it totalitarian agriculture. Yet food violence does not stop there; day by day we ingest up to one hundred thousand different chemicals that 'accidentally' have entered the 'products' and we never get told about it. Those in power think you don't need to know because it's not all that bad. Maybe it ain't, if we ignore the ever rising number of cancer cases. Food violence continues in the notion that you must not eat if you do not pay, or you will go to prison. But who cares after all the violence dished out right from the start.
Violence is in our drinking water, treated with chemicals, often bottled in plastics made of oil. Violence is having to pay for a sip of water.
Violence is in our politics that divides us into left and right and reduces us to fanboys and fangirls of cardboard characters who verbally beat each other up. Politics is the science of dehumanizing the 'other' so they can justify ripping them off, exploiting them, and, in case they resist, killing them in the name of national security.
Violence is in our relationships which for most of us are nothing else but contracts. Give me what I want, then I give you what you want. If you don't agree I'll take it away from you anyway; unless I can't, then just go to hell.
Violence is in the law and its thousands of paragraphs that rule into your life. You don't agree, you go to jail.
Violence is in the constitution that makes you a subject of the state, thus takes away your freedom so it can pretend to generously providing it to you in the first place.
Violence is in the mass media that tell you lies about what is going on in the world and keep you hynotized with manufactured information and entertainment that have no relevance to you.
Violence is in education, the schools you must attend, sitting still for hours that pile up to years, the useless curriculum you must learn while at the same time you don't know how to take a shit outside the million-dollars sewage treatment systems. Violence is the marks you get and the detention you receive. Does getting pressed into a standard mold for the sake of making a good wage slave of you violate your well-being? Hmmm.
Violence is in the books you read which normalize everyday violence and banalize it to pointless stories. The same goes for films and music.
Our whole culture in all its aspects is violent. We are all sick with it.
Violence is the deprivation of the ability to create and repair items by our own hands.
Violence is the right denied to copy and modify pieces of art or technology.
Violence is in the polluted air of our cities.
Make no mistakes, violence is everywhere.
This daily struggle for money, the rat race and the competitive dog-eat-dog life are getting us depressed, enraged, hateful, aggressive, narcissistic, drug-addicted, obsessive, split-minded, and/or we suffer from attention deficit. Who do you turn to for help?
The shrink and the loony bin who tell you that it's your own fault that you are mad, when all you ever wanted was to better adapt to this violently insane society. Come get your detention spell in a sanitarium, with lots of colourful pills that knock you out, kill every coherent thought and make a good student / worker / consumer / tax payer / citizen of you again.
And our hospitals are no better, with their suppression of symptoms and their war against germs, led with chemical weapons that make you sicker than you have ever been before. Medical science is guaranteeing as much.
Violence is in science when it claims there is no other truth than scientific fact, that there is no sacred dimension, no meaning in life, no soul, and that love is just a bunch of chemicals and neurons in your brain. Most scientists claim that they were not responsible for the violent use of the outcome of their research through technology. I don't know if this can be called violence but it sure is a sign of cowardice, and it is outright wrong.
So violence is in technology; the machine guns and bombs, yes, and also the vending machines, the cell phones, and the tv sets which disconnect us from each other and thus destroy our every relationship;
Violence is at your workplace to which you are a human resource only; remember the many times when you wouldn't go to work in the morning, but you did anyway, for fear of getting laid off. Remember the many times when you didn't dare to tell the truth, for the same reason.
Violence is in the economy to which you are a consumer only, and to which the whole world is just a pile of stuff to be extracted for profit. Think of the many jobs that do not get done because there is no money in it, and the many destructive things done just for the sake of profit.
Talking about money, that's violence in the form of paper bills and computer digits, the debt of somebody in a Ponzi scheme who will never be able to pay back and thus will lose everything to the bank.

Last not least, violence is in the state that treats you as a subject and a tax payer.
The German word for violence, Gewalt, is contained in the word for the state's authority, Staatsgewalt, and in the word for checks and balances, Gewaltenteilung. Language establishes a connection between governance and violence and sort of justifies the structural and also the physical brutality from above that runs by the name of 'monopoly of legitimate use of force'. In its German translation, Gewaltmonopol, we have yet another phrase which includes violence. You can't get more explicit about it.

As the state is not a person but simply a supersized group that consists of individuals, it is not far-fetched to say that the violence of the state is an amplification of the violence in all of us. I believe this has ramifications for how to go about it.