"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Obama’s Dirty Secret: The Fossil Fuel Mega Projects The U.S. Has Littered Around The World

In Uncategorized on December 7, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Oldspeak: “As Non-Profit Industrial Complex funded environmentalists cheer and claim “victory” at Standing rock, as the Obama administration paused construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline while allowing the development of other pipelines, this news makes it clear that the development and expansion of toxic energy and its infrastructure continues apace around the globe, using U.S. taxpayer money to boot. Yes, “The president has called global warming “terrifying” and helped broker the world’s first proper agreement to tackle it, yet his administration has poured money into developments that will push the planet even closer to climate disaster.”  Money that amounts to 34 billion dollars. And as usual, the environmental costs of these mega projects are being paid by the poor bastards unfortunate enough to live near them. Sigh. America’s dirty energy addiction is not being treated and cured. It’s being exacerbated.”-OSJ

Written By Sonali Prasad, , and @ The U.K. Guardian

Seemingly little connects a community in India plagued by toxic water, a looming air pollution crisis in South Africa and a new fracking boom that is pockmarking Australia. And yet there is a common thread: American taxpayer money.

Through the US Export-Import Bank, Barack Obama’s administration has spent nearly $34bn supporting 70 fossil fuel projects around the world, work by Columbia Journalism School’s Energy and Environment Reporting Project and the Guardian has revealed.

This unprecedented backing of oil, coal and gas projects is an unexpected footnote to Obama’s own climate change legacy. The president has called global warming “terrifying” and helped broker the world’s first proper agreement to tackle it, yet his administration has poured money into developments that will push the planet even closer to climate disaster.

For people living next to US-funded mines and power stations the impacts are even more starkly immediate.

Guardian and Columbia reporters have spent time at American-backed projects in India, South Africa and Australia to document the sickness, upheavals and environmental harm that come with huge dirty fuel developments.

In India, we heard complaints about coal ash blowing into villages, contaminated water and respiratory and stomach problems, all linked to a project that has had more than $650m in backing from the Obama administration.

In South Africa, another huge project is set to exacerbate existing air pollution problems, deforestation and water shortages. And in Australia, an enormous US-backed gas development is linked to a glut of fracking activity that has divided communities and brought a new wave of industrialization next to the cherished Great Barrier Reef.

While Obama can claim the US is the world’s leader on climate change – at least until Donald Trump enters the White House – it is also clear that it has become a major funder of fossil fuels that are having a serious impact upon people’s lives. This is the unexpected story of how Obama’s legacy is playing out overseas.

Sasan ultra mega power project, Madhya Pradesh, India

by Sonali Prasad

A hulking thermal power plant funded by American money shimmers in orange when night settles in India’s coal-rich district of Singrauli. A heavy blanket of smog wraps around the industrial district and its residents.

Sasan, an ambitious project by Indian energy utility Reliance Power, consumes coal incessantly from a nearby mine in the promise of lighting the homes of almost 300 million people in the country. But since it began operating in 2012, the project has been caught in a storm of health and safety violations, environmental concerns and land disputes.

In 2010, Sasan was handed a $650m export finance loan by the US Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), a taxpayer-funded branch of the federal government that ostensibly exists to support American jobs and contribute to the US Treasury.

The Sasan project was initially rejected by the bank for financing because of the extremely high carbon emissions from the coal-powered plant. However, Reliance reapplied for the loan under tighter emission guidelines, promising to “offset” 26.4m tonnes of annual carbon dioxide emissions produced by the plant through renewable power projects.

Ex-Im Bank approved the loan to facilitate exports of goods and services from the US, insisting on environmental and safety guidelines for the plant’s sustainable development. However, over the course of five years, residents and activists in Singrauli concerns about the project have grown.

Ramakali, 30, dressed in a vibrant sari with a thick smear of vermillion on her forehead, bent over a murky green well that was brimming to the top. The towers of Reliance Power stood tall behind her, the lettering on the chimneys within sight of her mud-and-brick home in the village of Harrahawa. Flies and insects flitted in the well water. “The water has started to taste funny,” she said. “I have been struggling with strong pains in my stomach ever since they started dumping their trash into our groundwater.”

She pointed to the residual ash dumpsite of the Sasan plant, which is only a couple of metres from her doorstep. On a hot day, one can see ash dust blowing up from the ash pond in the direction of nearby villages surrounding the plant.

The locals complain that ash from the enclosed reservoir is settling into the surface water of nearby regions, causing the wells to fill up to the top with impure water. “We put in a request for a handpump to the company but we never heard back,” Ramakali said, shaking her head. “They do nothing. We have complained countless number of times.”

The national green tribunal, a court that hears environmental cases in India, released a report by a committee of environmental experts in August 2015, stating that the groundwater in Harrahawa next to the plant had high levels of mercury in it. Excess mercury in drinking water has been medically linked to severe nervous disorders and birth defects.

Sasan was not exclusively identified as a source of contamination in the report, but the experts are certain that it’s linked to Sasan and the other big thermal plants in the region.

Two other government agencies determined Sasan’s mining waste was illegally overflowing into surrounding forest and farmlands, and that the company had failed to restore the green space lost due to the plant’s construction. Toxic coal dust was also found to have settled in the fields located next to the mines.

The Singrauli industrial cluster has been dotted with several giant thermal plants and coalmines since the 1980s, Sasan being the most recent addition to the country’s coal hub. In January 2010, the Indian ministry of environment and forests declared Singrauli a critically polluted area.

“When Reliance was planning to set up a plant in Singrauli, they knew that area already had severe poisoning and massive industrial pollution issues,” said Ashwani Kumar Dubey, a lawyer who has repeatedly taken on the coal industry. “Yet, they went ahead and set up their plant. They are adding to the damage, and not doing anything to control it.”

Reliance’s coalmine at Moher and its dumpsite are only a short distance away from the thermal power plant. The coal is transported into the power plant through a 14km long, blue, snake-like conveyor belt, saving Reliance Power the overhead costs of railroad transportation.

Devnarayan Sahu, 40, lives with his family and a herd of cattle in a village cluster called Amlohri, within 50 metres of Sasan’s overflowing dumpsite. The thud of mine blasting echoes in the background and Narayan’s house quivers a little. “We’ve become used to the tremors,” he said.

The 14km-long blue conveyor belt that transports coal to the power plant.
The 14km-long blue conveyor belt that transports coal to the power plant. Photograph: Sidharth M Vhavle for the Guardian

Narayan walked over to his backyard, and pointed to the bulldozers dropping boulders from atop the mounds of toxic mining waste. “Look at how those stones are rolling into my farm and home,” he said. “When it rained a couple of days ago, we were flooded with their rubble.”

A layer of grey coal dust has settled on his impoverished eggplant and tomato farm, his main source of livelihood. “If I don’t water them continuously to get rid of the toxic dust, the crop will not flower,” he said, wiping off dust from a pod with his fingers.

The industrial pollution is taking a toll on Narayan and his family. Difficulties in breathing, stomach aches and joint pains are common. “When we cough in the morning, we see dust in our sputum,” he said. “The little that we earn is now going into medical treatments.”

“Asthma, allergies and bronchitis are prevalent here because of the air pollution, especially in children belonging to clusters around the ash dams, mines and thermal power plants,” said Dr Kalpana Ravi, a paediatrician at the local district hospital in Waidhan.

Narayan has been pleading with Reliance to remedy the situation for years, but nothing has happened. “Many officials have come and inspected the place,” he said. “They come and go, but do nothing. Reliance says they don’t need our land as of yet. We can see the big boulders falling. Like many others who have abandoned their homes for the fear of their lives, they want us also to eventually get scared and move away on our own.”

Families settled almost directly underneath the noisy conveyor belt that brings coal to the plant have a similar tale to tell.

“I don’t know what will happen sooner: will we go deaf first due to the constant and unbearable rattling over our rooftops, or will we choke on the coal dust falling from the belt,” said Sukhlal Panika, who lives under a section of the conveyor belt with his aged mother. Reliance only acquired a part of his farmland for the belt, leaving his house and well exposed to the pollution caused by coal transportation.

Sasan has also been hit by reports of accidents, harassment, fatalities and injuries. In February 2015, Ex-Im’s chairman, Fred Hochberg, criticized the “poor” safety practices at the Sasan project in a letter to Reliance.

Hochberg stated: “the number of all fatalities at the integrated Project is now 19 – which is both tragic and absolutely unacceptable.” The chairman’s letter said “the alarming number of injuries and fatalities must come to an end” and that “rather than improving, the situation appears to be deteriorating”.

The police confirmed that 16 cases relating to the Sasan plant and coalmine have been investigated since 2012, resulting from vehicle accidents, beam and tower deaths and electric shocks.

Activist Awadhesh Kumar, who has been speaking to workers in Sasan and surrounding villages, believes the real number is larger. “It’s harder to account for the migrant workers who have no family here, and they form a huge chunk of Sasan’s labour population. When something happens or someone goes missing, there is no one to question the company for a report or explanation.”

In response to Ex-Im’s letter regarding the incidents, Sasan provided the bank with information on a taskforce comprising middle managers for the purpose of improving safety and training.

But the steps taken by Ex-Im to regulate Sasan are too little too late, according to people living around the thermal power plant and the coalmine. “Ex-Im’s ground inspection should have been done a long time back, and that too on a regular basis,” said Kumar.

“A federal agency of the United States of America should hold their financed projects to better and more neutral standards. Development is good, but not at the cost of the environment and the people who give away their everything to make way for such projects.”

All points in the story have been raised with Reliance officials. They are yet to comment.

Liquified natural gas plants, Queensland, Australia

by Michael Slezak

Alan and Ailsa Smith say setting foot on Curtis Island is like stepping back in history. The world-heritage-listed tropical island where they live sits just off the coast of Gladstone in Queensland, Australia, right under the Tropic of Capricorn.

“It’s a quiet little community here. You slip back 25 years in time,” said Alan.

The couple own a small grocery store and bed-and-breakfast. It’s the only business in the only village on the island, which is home to just 30 permanent residents.

But South End has a new neighbour that makes itself known at night, illuminating the clouds with its startlingly bright lights, and occasionally sending flames into the sky.

Since 2010, amid a storm of controversy that extended from Australia to the US, Curtis Island’s 30 residents have been joined by three giant gas liquefaction plants, with a fourth on the way.

Ailsa and Alan Smith the owners of Capricorn Lodge, the only business on Curtis Island apart from the LNG plants.
Ailsa and Alan Smith the owners of Capricorn Lodge, the only business on Curtis Island apart from the LNG plants. Photograph: Matthew Abbott for the Guardian

When complete, they will propel Australia to become the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), overtaking Qatar. Their development has allowed a controversial fracking boom in Queensland, where about 6,000 coal seam gas wells have been drilled to deliver gas to be liquefied at the plants.

Two of the three plants – APLNG and QCLNG – have been backed by a $4.7bn loan from the US Export-Import Bank. Once operational, these developments will produce about 11.3m tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – and this figure will be much higher if methane emissions that leak from the wells aren’t controlled.

Those estimates ignore the carbon emissions that will be produced when the gas exported from Curtis Island is burned. The two US-funded plants will produce up to 17.5m tonnes of liquid natural gas each year. When burned, that will pump about 50m tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – roughly equivalent to the annual output of Sweden.

Sitting and having a beer at Capricorn Lodge, another of the island’s residents, Michael Radcliffe, says he isn’t bothered by the LNG plants, but expressed some concern about smoke produced when the plants burn some of their gases in large flares.

“There’s a lot of black stuff that comes out,” Radcliffe said. A week earlier there were a lot of flares that produced a lot of black smoke, he said. “I thought there was a bushfire or something going on.”

Glimpses of the GB-Group’s and Santos LNG Plants can be seen through the dense bush. Locals from South End community occasionally hold ‘Flare Parties’, sitting on their four wheel drives, watching the LNG plants burnoff excess gas.
Glimpses of the LNG Plants can be seen through the dense bush. Locals from South End community occasionally hold ‘Flare Parties’, sitting on their four wheel drives, watching the plants burn off excess gas. Photograph: Matthew Abbott for the Guardian

From the top of Ship Hill, it’s clear why the locals are interested to see the plants at sundown. As the sun sets, thousands of lights on the gas plants light up. The bushland between the hill and the plants is thick, but through the trees the sight of the huge plants – and the contrast they make with the rest of the island – is astounding.

The plants produce a loud hum, a bit like the sound of a giant refrigerator – which is almost exactly what an LNG plant is.

To allow ships to dock to collect the liquified gas, the Queensland government conducted a huge dredging operation in the harbour.

Around 25m cubic metres of earth have been scooped up from the harbour floor, with the Australian government giving approval for a further 19m cubic meters to be dug up. Some was simply dumped in the Coral Sea and the rest was put behind an 8km “bund wall” and used to reclaim land right opposite Curtis Island – a measure intended to stop the dredge spoil from smothering the delicate ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef.

The wall failed, the dredge spoil leaked through it, and spread through the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area.

Satellite analysis showed the plumes of mud that spread through the water stretched for 35km into the Coral Sea, which would have degraded seagrass meadows that support endangered dugongs.

As the dredging started, fishermen reported an outbreak of disease among marine life, which scientists said could have been caused by metals on the seafloor that were released into the water.

In an unusually forthright step, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which advises the UN’s world heritage committee on scientific matters, called for the LNG developments to be halted.

Trevor Falzon used to catch fish in Gladstone Harbour, home to one of the largest ports in the world. He was the lead plaintiff in an unsuccessful case brought by 51 fishermen against the Gladstone Ports Corporation over the dredging.

The development meant they lost an area that they used to fish in. And the dredging meant the nets they used in shallow water weren’t suitable in the new deep water, but the case was thrown out.

“Now I have to sell everything – my house is on the market,” Falzon said, sitting among packing boxes in his house on the outskirts of Gladstone.

Kusile power station, Mpumalanga, South Africa

by Jason Burke

As the sun dips across the rolling hills of South Africa’s eastern Mpumalanga province the lights come on high above the valley’s wetlands, soaring columns and cranes, black against the reddening sky.

The vast structure on the ridge is clearly visible from the small settlement of Arbor, a huddle of shacks and huts on a narrow strip of land between a coalmine and railway sidings 10 kilometres from Kusile.

“I watch it growing and I wonder what it will bring. It might mean jobs and development, or maybe sickness and drought. I don’t know. So I hope and pray it will make things better, not worse,” said Sibongile Sibeko, 41, a mother of five children in Arbor.

The structure Sibeko can see is what has so far been built of Kusile, which will be among the 10 biggest coal-fired power stations in the world, and is already one of the most controversial.

The project is part-funded by the US government, having received a loan of $805m from the US Export-Import Bank in 2011 after Eskom chose a US company to play a key engineering role, creating hundreds of jobs for American specialists. The money was crucial to the $8.4bn project, say campaigners.

A man drives cattle near the Kendal power station in Mpumalanga province, South Africa.
A man drives cattle near the Kendal power station in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. Photograph: James Oatway for the Guardian

“Kusile would have been very challenging to proceed with if the money from the Export-Import Bank had not come through,” said Melita Steele of Greenpeace.

Delayed by decades and wildly over budget, Kusile is emblematic of a development model increasingly seen as outdated. The days of vast mega-projects with enormous financial, social and environmental costs, as well as the potential to transform economies, are over, some experts say. Instead, smaller and cheaper projects can bring change as effectively, supplying energy and other needs with minimal impact.

“The only hope for us is renewable energy. That would mean less destruction, less landgrabbing or none at all and no need for coal and water,” said Matthews Hlabane, of the South African Green Revolutionary Council, a local NGO.

But the loan was also very expensive. As local currency has lost value against the dollar the cost of repayments has soared.

The project is immense. When completed Kusile will consist of six units with the ability to generate 4,800MW, making it significantly bigger than any power station in the US except the hydroelectric Grand Coulee dam in Washington.

Defenders say Kusile has been designed with advanced technology that will minimise its environmental impact, such as scrubbers to control sulphur dioxide and filters to reduce emissions of dangerous particulates. The plant will use an air cooling system to help conserve water and is designed so equipment to capture carbon emissions can be fitted in the future.

The plan to build Kusile, and its twin Medupi, in Limpopo province, dates back to the immediate aftermath of the repressive racist apartheid regime. Conceived as energy providers for a growing and free nation, they were seen as powerful statements of a new commitment to a modern economy that would improve the lives of all South Africa’s citizens. Kusile means “New Dawn” in Zulu, a local language.

In recent years, South Africa has been hit by severe power shortages, leading to rolling outages. Though these have now eased, in part due to renewable energy sources supplementing supply, local officials say that Kusile is still essential to ensure the developing nation’s energy security for decades to come.

Sibongile Sibeko with her children Linda, four, left, and Jabulile, eight, right. The Sibeko family live on the edge of the coal mine in Arbor.
Sibongile Sibeko with her children Linda, four, left, and Jabulile, eight, right. The Sibeko family live on the edge of the coal mine in Arbor. Photograph: James Oatway for the Guardian

But circumstances – and attitudes – have changed since the original decision was taken to build the vast plants.

“Medupi and Kusile are examples of large-scale mega infrastructure projects that countries see as the basis of a development model that started after World War II. Projects this large are seen as transformational. They cost a lot. They employ a lot of people. Their effects are meant to be big. But it’s a model that doesn’t make much sense now,” Janet Redman, director of the climate programme at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC said earlier this year.

“Using coal for energy is hugely expensive, outdated, against international trends and is financially and environmental irresponsible,” said Robyn Hugo of the Centre for Environmental Rights, a local NGO.

According to one estimate the total cost of the twin projects of Kusile and Medupi could eventually top $32bn. Medupi relies in part on a $500m loan from the African Development Bank and also $3bn from the World Bank, approved in 2010. Both projects have been plagued by allegations of corruption. All concerned deny any wrongdoing.

Kusile alone is projected to emit an estimated 36.8m tonnes of CO2-equivalent, according to Eskom’s own estimates. With Medupi, it will add 16% to South Africa’s current CO2 emission levels.

The impact on local towns and villages will be immense. It is not simply the power station itself, and the air pollution and traffic it will generate, but the vast coalmining operations needed to provide the estimated 17m tonnes of coal Kusile will require each year.

Farmland and wetlands will disappear as new open-cast and underground mines are opened or, in some cases, reopened. Tens of thousands of impoverished labourers will swell some settlements. Others will have to be entirely shifted to new locations. Roads will be built, bringing access and jobs for some, but exacerbating environmental consequences.

This is far from pristine farmland or wilderness, however. Central Mpumalanga is the site of a dozen power stations and a huge mining industry.

Eleriza Van Rooyen and her daughter Thandeka, aged nine months, can see Kusile power station from their new house. The family was relocated to make way for Kusile.
Eleriza Van Rooyen and her daughter Thandeka, aged nine months, can see Kusile power station from their new house. The family was relocated to make way for Kusile. Photograph: James Oatway for the Guardian

One of the major complaints of local communities is that local men are rarely hired by companies for anything but casual labour because already acute air pollution has, they claim, damaged their lungs.

Mpumalanga is already designated as a zone of acute air pollution in South Africa. Locals complain of sinus infections, headaches and coughing children.

Sibongile Sibeko, who has lived in the community of Arbor all her life said her three daughters and two sons had all suffered respiratory illnesses which local doctors blamed on “dust”.

She lives in a small three-roomed hut only a few metres from waste spoil marking the boundary of a major mine, operational for around five years. The Kendal power station, Africa’s biggest, is close by. It has been operational since the early 1980s, is coal-fired and has a capacity of more than 4,000MW.

“The doctor saw my little one – my four-year-old – recently. He said his chest was closing because of the dust,” Sibeko said.

Then there is water. Among the impacts of Kusile will be the destruction of important wetlands around the plant. Massive infrastructure including pipelines and canals has been constructed to bring water for cooling to Kusile, but the plans were conceived in a period when water was more plentiful. South Africa is currently experiencing its worst drought for 50 years, which some blame on climate change.

In all villages around Kusile, there are complaints of lack of water, deforestation and other environmental and social problems, ranging from higher crime levels to overcrowded schools, linked to the influx of workers.

“Before the mine came we had wood from forests and water from boreholes, and we grew vegetables in small gardens. We had goats, cows and chickens and there was a white farmer and people here worked on his land. But there are no jobs in farming now and there is no forest and the boreholes are dry or the water is bad, and there is no space for livestock or even our gardens because of all the people who have come,” Sibeko said.

Another nearby village, cut off from the main highway by a strip of dry grass strewn with cider bottles and rusting cans, is often shaken by the blasting at the nearby mine.

“There is a lot of dust here, especially when they are blasting,” said Patricia Mabaso, 30. “The old people and the children get diseases from it. Once it was all green round here, now it’s a desert.”

The Energy and Environmental Reporting Project is supported by the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund, Energy Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund, Lorana Sullivan Foundation and the Tellus Mater Foundation. The funders have no involvement in or influence over the articles produced by project fellows in collaboration with The Guardian. (Yeah fuckin right.)

Scientist: “It’s fair to say we have passed the point of no return on global warming and we can’t reverse the effects…”- Multiple Amplifying Carbon Feedbacks Kicking In Now

In Uncategorized on December 7, 2016 at 5:51 pm

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Oldspeak: “Behold! The toxic and bitter fruits of industrial civilization! So, while the attention of the populace is focused on the cabinet appointments of Trump, his twitter diarrea, who he called, and the drought-fueled civil/proxy war in Syria, shit is poppin off in Earth’s rapidly deteriorating climate control systems. The point of no return has been reached. Accepting the high probability that human carbon emissions are not stopping, going neutral or being sequestered any time soon, we can expect with a high degree of certainty that “the pace of global warming of the oceans, ice sheets, and atmosphere is set to accelerate in a runaway warming event over the next 85 years.” Anywhere one cares to look, abrupt climate change is in progress and shows no signs of slowing down. Multiple non-linear irreversible positive feedbacks have initiated and they cannot be stopped. These are the greatest threats to continued life on earth, not Trump. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick tick, tick….” -OSJ

Written By Robert Scribbler @ Robertscribbler.com:

“It’s fair to say we have passed the point of no return on global warming and we can’t reverse the effects, but certainly we can dampen them,” said biodiversity expert Dr. Thomas Crowther.

“I’m an optimist and still believe that it is not too late, but we urgently need to develop a global economy driven by sustainable energy sources and start using CO2, as a substrate, instead of a waste product.” — Prof Ivan Janssens, recognized as a godfather of the global ecology field.

“…we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it… we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.” — Professor Stephen Hawking yesterday in The Guardian.

*****

The pathway for preventing catastrophic climate change just got a whole hell of a lot narrower.

For according to new, conservative estimates in a scientific study led by Dr. Thomas Crowther, increasing soil respiration alone is about to add between 0.45 and 0.71 parts per million of CO2 to the atmosphere every year between now and 2050.

(Thomas Crowther explains why rapidly reducing human greenhouse gas emissions is so important. Namely, you want to do everything you can to avoid a runaway into a hothouse environment that essentially occurs over just one Century. Video source: Netherlands Institute of Ecology.)

What this means is that even if all of human fossil fuel emissions stop, the Earth environment, from this single source, will generate about the same carbon emission as all of the world’s fossil fuel industry did during the middle of the 20th Century. And that, if human emissions do not stop, then the pace of global warming of the oceans, ice sheets, and atmosphere is set to accelerate in a runaway warming event over the next 85 years.

Global Warming Activates Soil Respiration Which Produces More CO2

This happens because as the world warms, carbon is baked out of previously inactive soils through a process known as respiration. As a basic explanation, micro-organisms called heterotrophs consume carbon in the soil and produce carbon dioxide as a bi-product. Warmth is required to fuel this process. And large sections of the world that were previously too cold to support large scale respiration and CO2 production by heterotrophs and other organisms are now warming up. The result is that places like Siberian Russia, Northern Europe, Canada, and Alaska are about to contribute a whole hell of a lot more CO2 (and methane) to the atmosphere than they did during the 20th Century.

When initial warming caused by fossil fuel burning pumps more carbon out of the global environment, we call this an amplifying feedback. It’s a critical climate tipping point when the global carbon system in the natural environment starts to run away from us.

Sadly, soil respiration is just one potential feedback mechanism that can produce added greenhouse gasses as the Earth warms. Warming oceans take in less carbon and are capable of producing their own carbon sources as they acidify and as methane seeps proliferate. Forests that burn due to heat and drought produce their own carbon sources. But increasing soil respiration, which has also been called the compost bomb, represents what is probably one of the most immediate and likely large sources of carbon feedback.

increase-in-carbon-dioxide-from-soils

(A new study finds that warming of 1 to 2 C by 2050 will increase soil respiration. The result is that between 30 and 55 billion tons of additional CO2 is likely to hit the Earth’s atmosphere over the next 35 years. Image source: Nature.)

And it is also worth noting that the study categorizes its own findings as conservative estimates. That the world could, as an outside risk, see as much as four times the amount of carbon feedback (or as much as 2.7 ppm of CO2 per year) coming from soil if respiration is more efficient and wide-ranging than expected. If a larger portion of the surface soil carbon in newly warmed regions becomes a part of the climate system as microbes activate.

Amplifying Feedbacks Starting to Happen Now

The study notes that it is most likely that about 0.45 parts per million of CO2 per year will be leached from mostly northern soils from the period of 2016 to 2050 under 1 C worth of global warming during the period. To this point, it’s worth noting that the world has already warmed by more than 1 C above preindustrial levels. So this amount of carbon feedback can already be considered locked in. The study finds that if the world continues to warm to 2 C by 2050 — which is likely to happen — then an average of around 0.71 parts per million of CO2 will be leached out of soils by respiration every year through 2050.

rates-of-soil-carbon-loss

(When soils lose carbon, it ends up in the atmosphere. According to a new study, soils around the world are starting to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is caused by increased soil respiration as the Earth warms. Over the next 35 years, the amount of carbon dioxide being pumped out by the world’s soils is expected to dramatically increase. How much is determined by how warm the world becomes over the next 35 years. Image source: Nature.)

The upshot of this study is that amplifying carbon feedbacks from the Earth environment are probably starting to happen on a large scale now. And we may be seeing some evidence for this effect during 2016 as rates of atmospheric carbon dioxide accumulation are hitting above 3 parts per million per year for the second year in a row even as global rates of human emissions plateaued.

Beyond the Point of No Return

What this means is that the stakes for cutting human carbon emissions to zero as swiftly as possible just got a whole hell of a lot higher. If we fail to do this, we will easily be on track for 5-7 C or worse warming by the end of this Century. And this level of warming happening so soon and over so short a timeframe is an event that few, if any, current human civilizations are likely to survive. Furthermore, if we are to avoid terribly harmful warming over longer periods, we must not only rapidly transition to renewable energy sources. We must also somehow learn to pull carbon, on net, out of the atmosphere in rather high volumes.

Today, Professor Ivan Janssens of the University of Antwerp noted:

“This study is very important, because the response of soil carbon stocks to the ongoing warming, is one of the largest sources of uncertainty in our climate models. I’m an optimist and still believe that it is not too late, but we urgently need to develop a global economy driven by sustainable energy sources and start using CO2, as a substrate, instead of a waste product. If this happens by 2050, then we can avoid warming above 2C. If not, we will reach a point of no return and will probably exceed 5C.”

In other words, even the optimists at this time think that we are on the cusp of runaway catastrophic global warming. That the time to urgently act is now.

Links:

Quantifying Soil Carbon Losses in Response to Warming

Netherlands Institute of Ecology

Earth Warming to Climate Tipping Point

This is the Most Dangerous Time for Our Planet

Climate Change Escalating So Fast it is Beyond the Point of No Return

NOAA ESRL

Soil Respiration

No More Genocidal American Thanksgivings

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2016 at 1:44 pm
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This 1890 watercolor by Charles Reinhart depicts Lieutenant Lion Gardiner and his forces clashing with Pequot warriors at Saybrook Fort.

Oldspeak: “On the occasion of yet another day set aside for gleefully gluttonous hyperconsumption, I thought it important that the true origins of this “holiday” be illuminated. Thanksgiving was originally meant to be a day upon which genocidal European colonizers commemorated the savage and merciless massacre of the Pequot Indians’ Tribe, most of them women, children and elders. In 1637, this Happened:

William Bradford, the former Governor of Plymouth and one of the chroniclers of the 1621 feast, was also on hand for the great massacre of 1637:

“Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire…horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.”

The rest of the white folks thought so, too. “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots,” read Governor John Winthrop’s proclamation. The authentic Thanksgiving Day was born.” –Glen Ford

Seriously. FUCK THANKSGIVING. Say a solemn prayer for the water protectors at Standing Rock and the countless other Native Nations resisting imperialist colonial violence all across Turtle Island, right now, 500 hundred years after America’s truly deplorable original sins, on what should be a national day of mourning. Not celebration.” -OSJ

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Native American Historian On Thanksgiving: “It’s never been about celebrating Native Americans

 

Written By Glen Ford @ Black Agenda Report

This article originally appeared in the November 27, 2003, issue of The Black Commentator, which Glen Ford co-founded and edited.

Nobody but Americans celebrates Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity.

We at  are thankful that the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy. Then we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for the blessings of humanity’s deliverance from the rule of evil men.

Thanksgiving is much more than a lie – if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the “flaw” in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events – subsequently revised – were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England. The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise – Act One of the American Dream. African Slavery commenced contemporaneously – an overlapping and ultimately inseparable Act Two.

The last Act in the American drama must be the “root and branch” eradication of all vestiges of Act One and Two – America’s seminal crimes and formative projects. Thanksgiving as presently celebrated – that is, as a national political event – is an affront to civilization.

Celebrating the unspeakable

White America embraced Thanksgiving because a majority of that population glories in the fruits, if not the unpleasant details, of genocide and slavery and feels, on the whole, good about their heritage: a cornucopia of privilege and national power. Children are taught to identify with the good fortune of the Pilgrims. It does not much matter that the Native American and African holocausts that flowed from the feast at Plymouth are hidden from the children’s version of the story – kids learn soon enough that Indians were made scarce and Africans became enslaved. But they will also never forget the core message of the holiday: that the Pilgrims were good people, who could not have purposely set such evil in motion. Just as the first Thanksgivings marked the consolidation of the English toehold in what became the United States, the core ideological content of the holiday serves to validate all that has since occurred on these shores – a national consecration of the unspeakable, a balm and benediction for the victors, a blessing of the fruits of murder and kidnapping, and an implicit obligation to continue the seamless historical project in the present day.

The Thanksgiving story is an absolution of the Pilgrims, whose brutal quest for absolute power in the New World is made to seem both religiously motivated and eminently human. Most importantly, the Pilgrims are depicted as victims – of harsh weather and their own naïve yet wholesome visions of a new beginning. In light of this carefully nurtured fable, whatever happened to the Indians, from Plymouth to California and beyond, in the aftermath of the 1621 dinner must be considered a mistake, the result of misunderstandings – at worst, a series of lamentable tragedies. The story provides the essential first frame of the American saga. It is unalloyed racist propaganda, a tale that endures because it served the purposes of a succession of the Pilgrims’ political heirs, in much the same way that Nazi-enhanced mythology of a glorious Aryan/German past advanced another murderous, expansionist mission.

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Thanksgiving is quite dangerous – as were the Pilgrims.

Rejoicing in a cemetery

The English settlers, their ostensibly religious venture backed by a trading company, were glad to discover that they had landed in a virtual cemetery in 1620. Corn still sprouted in the abandoned fields of the Wampanoags, but only a remnant of the local population remained around the fabled Rock. In a letter to England, Massachusetts Bay colony founder John Winthrop wrote, “But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by smallpox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not 50, have put themselves under our protection.”

Ever diligent to claim their own advantages as God’s will, the Pilgrims thanked their deity for having “pursued” the Indians to mass death. However, it was not divine intervention that wiped out most of the natives around the village of Patuxet but, most likely, smallpox-embedded blankets planted during an English visit or slave raid. Six years before the Pilgrim landing, a ship sailed into Patuxet’s harbor, captained by none other than the famous seaman and mercenary soldier John Smith, former leader of the first successful English colony in the New World, at Jamestown, Virginia. Epidemic and slavery followed in his wake, as Debra Glidden described in IMDiversity.com:

In 1614 the Plymouth Company of England, a joint stock company, hired Captain John Smith to explore land in its behalf. Along what is now the coast of Massachusetts in the territory of the Wampanoag, Smith visited the town of Patuxet according to “The Colonial Horizon,” a 1969 book edited by William Goetzinan. Smith renamed the town Plymouth in honor of his employers, but the Wampanoag who inhabited the town continued to call it Patuxet.

The following year Captain Hunt, an English slave trader, arrived at Patuxet. It was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them into slavery for 220 shillings apiece. That practice was described in a 1622 account of happenings entitled “A Declaration of the State of the Colony and Affairs in Virginia,” written by Edward Waterhouse. True to the explorer tradition, Hunt kidnapped a number of Wampanoags to sell into slavery.

Another common practice among European explorers was to give “smallpox blankets” to the Indians. Since smallpox was unknown on this continent prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans did not have any natural immunity to the disease so smallpox would effectively wipe out entire villages with very little effort required by the Europeans. William Fenton describes how Europeans decimated Native American villages in his 1957 work “American Indian and White relations to 1830.” From 1615 to 1619 smallpox ran rampant among the Wampanoags and their neighbors to the north. The Wampanoag lost 70 percent of their population to the epidemic and the Massachusetts lost 90 percent.

Most of the Wampanoag had died from the smallpox epidemic so when the Pilgrims arrived they found well-cleared fields which they claimed for their own. A Puritan colonist, quoted by Harvard University’s Perry Miller, praised the plague that had wiped out the Indians for it was “the wonderful preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ, by his providence for his people’s abode in the Western world.”

Historians have since speculated endlessly on why the woods in the region resembled a park to the disembarking Pilgrims in 1620. The reason should have been obvious: hundreds, if not thousands, of people had lived there just five years before.

In less than three generations the settlers would turn all of New England into a charnel house for Native Americans, and fire the economic engines of slavery throughout English-speaking America. Plymouth Rock is the place where the nightmare truly began.

The uninvited?

It is not at all clear what happened at the first – and only –  “integrated” Thanksgiving feast. Only two written accounts of the three-day event exist, and one of them, by Governor William Bradford, was written 20 years after the fact. Was Chief Massasoit invited to bring 90 Indians with him to dine with 52 colonists, most of them women and children? This seems unlikely. A good harvest had provided the settlers with plenty of food, according to their accounts, so the whites didn’t really need the Wampanoag’s offering of five deer. What we do know is that there had been lots of tension between the two groups that fall.  John Two-Hawks, who runs the Native Circle web site, gives a sketch of the facts:

“Thanksgiving’ did not begin as a great loving relationship between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people.  In fact, in October of 1621 when the pilgrim survivors of their first winter in Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial ‘Thanksgiving’ meal, the Indians who were there were not even invited!  There was no turkey, squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie.  A few days before this alleged feast took place, a company of ‘pilgrims’ led by Miles Standish actively sought the head of a local Indian chief, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out!”

It is much more likely that Chief Massasoit either crashed the party, or brought enough men to ensure that he was not kidnapped or harmed by the Pilgrims. Dr. Tingba Apidta, in his “Black Folks’ Guide to Understanding Thanksgiving,” surmises that the settlers “brandished their weaponry” early and got drunk soon thereafter. He notes that “each Pilgrim drank at least a half gallon of beer a day, which they preferred even to water. This daily inebriation led their governor, William Bradford, to comment on his people’s ‘notorious sin,’ which included their ‘drunkenness and uncleanliness’ and rampant ‘sodomy.’”

Soon after the feast the brutish Miles Standish “got his bloody prize,” Dr. Apidta writes:

“He went to the Indians, pretended to be a trader, then beheaded an Indian man named Wituwamat. He brought the head to Plymouth, where it was displayed on a wooden spike for many years, according to Gary B. Nash, ‘as a symbol of white power.’ Standish had the Indian man’s young brother hanged from the rafters for good measure. From that time on, the whites were known to the Indians of Massachusetts by the name ‘Wotowquenange,’ which in their tongue meant cutthroats and stabbers.”

What is certain is that the first feast was not called a “Thanksgiving” at the time; no further integrated dining occasions were scheduled; and the first, official all-Pilgrim “Thanksgiving” had to wait until 1637, when the whites of New England celebrated the massacre of the Wampanoag’s southern neighbors, the Pequots.

The real Thanksgiving Day Massacre

The Pequots today own the Foxwood Casino and Hotel, in Ledyard, Connecticut, with gross gaming revenues of over $9 billion in 2000. This is truly a (very belated) miracle, since the real first Pilgrim Thanksgiving was intended as the Pequot’s epitaph. Sixteen years after the problematical Plymouth feast, the English tried mightily to erase the Pequots from the face of the Earth, and thanked God for the blessing.

Having subdued, intimidated or made mercenaries of most of the tribes of Massachusetts, the English turned their growing force southward, toward the rich Connecticut valley, the Pequot’s sphere of influence. At the point where the Mystic River meets the sea, the combined force of English and allied Indians bypassed the Pequot fort to attack and set ablaze a town full of women, children and old people.

William Bradford, the former Governor of Plymouth and one of the chroniclers of the 1621 feast, was also on hand for the great massacre of 1637:

“Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire…horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.”

The rest of the white folks thought so, too. “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots,” read Governor John Winthrop’s proclamation. The authentic Thanksgiving Day was born.

Most historians believe about 700 Pequots were slaughtered at Mystic. Many prisoners were executed, and surviving women and children sold into slavery in the West Indies. Pequot prisoners that escaped execution were parceled out to Indian tribes allied with the English. The Pequot were thought to have been extinguished as a people. According to IndyMedia, “The Pequot tribe numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had brought their numbers down to 1,500 by 1637. The Pequot ‘War’ killed all but a handful of remaining members of the tribe.”

But there were still too many Indians around to suit the whites of New England, who bided their time while their own numbers increased to critical, murderous mass.

Guest’s head on a pole

By the 1670s the colonists, with 8,000 men under arms, felt strong enough to demand that the Pilgrims’ former dinner guests the Wampanoags disarm and submit to the authority of the Crown. After a series of settler provocations in 1675, the Wampanoag struck back, under the leadership of Chief Metacomet, son of Massasoit, called King Philip by the English. Metacomet/Philip, whose wife and son were captured and sold into West Indian slavery, wiped out 13 settlements and killed 600 adult white men before the tide of battle turned. A 1996 issue of the Revolutionary Worker provides an excellent narrative.

In their victory, the settlers launched an all-out genocide against the remaining Native people. The Massachusetts government offered 20 shillings bounty for every Indian scalp, and 40 shillings for every prisoner who could be sold into slavery. Soldiers were allowed to enslave any Indian woman or child under 14 they could capture. The “Praying Indians” who had converted to Christianity and fought on the side of the European troops were accused of shooting into the treetops during battles with “hostiles.” They were enslaved or killed. Other “peaceful” Indians of Dartmouth and Dover were invited to negotiate or seek refuge at trading posts – and were sold onto slave ships.

It is not known how many Indians were sold into slavery, but in this campaign, 500 enslaved Indians were shipped from Plymouth alone. Of the 12,000 Indians in the surrounding tribes, probably about half died from battle, massacre and starvation.

After King Philip’s War, there were almost no Indians left free in the northern British colonies. A colonist wrote from Manhattan’s New York colony: “There is now but few Indians upon the island and those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts.” In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a “day of public thanksgiving” in 1676, saying, “there now scarce remains a name or family of them [the Indians] but are either slain, captivated or fled.”

Fifty-five years after the original Thanksgiving Day, the Puritans had destroyed the generous Wampanoag and all other neighboring tribes. The Wampanoag chief King Philip was beheaded. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull still hung on display 24 years later.

This is not thought to be a fit Thanksgiving tale for the children of today, but it’s the real story, well-known to the settler children of New England at the time – the white kids who saw the Wampanoag head on the pole year after year and knew for certain that God loved them best of all, and that every atrocity they might ever commit against a heathen, non-white was blessed.

There’s a good term for the process thus set in motion: nation-building.

Roots of the slave trade

The British North American colonists’ practice of enslaving Indians for labor or direct sale to the West Indies preceded the appearance of the first chained Africans at the dock in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. The Jamestown colonists’ human transaction with the Dutch vessel was an unscheduled occurrence. However, once the African slave trade became commercially established, the fates of Indians and Africans in the colonies became inextricably entwined. New England, born of up-close-and-personal, burn-them-in-the-fires-of-hell genocide, led the political and commercial development of the English colonies. The region also led the nascent nation’s descent into a slavery-based society and economy.

Ironically, an apologist for Virginian slavery made one of the best, early cases for the indictment of New England as the engine of the American slave trade. Unreconstructed secessionist Lewis Dabney’s 1867 book “A Defense of Virginia” traced the slave trade’s origins all the way back to Plymouth Rock:

The planting of the commercial States of North America began with the colony of Puritan Independents at Plymouth, in 1620, which was subsequently enlarged into the State of Massachusetts. The other trading colonies, Rhode Island and Connecticut, as well as New Hampshire (which never had an extensive shipping interest), were offshoots of Massachusetts. They partook of the same characteristics and pursuits; and hence, the example of the parent colony is taken here as a fair representation of them.

The first ship from America, which embarked in the African slave trade, was the Desire, Captain Pierce, of Salem; and this was among the first vessels ever built in the colony. The promptitude with which the “Puritan Fathers” embarked in this business may be comprehended, when it is stated that the Desire sailed upon her voyage in June, 1637. [Note: the year they massacred the Pequots.] The first feeble and dubious foothold was gained by the white man at Plymouth less than seventeen years before; and as is well known, many years were expended by the struggle of the handful of settlers for existence. So that it may be correctly said, that the commerce of New England was born of the slave trade; as its subsequent prosperity was largely founded upon it. The Desire, proceeding to the Bahamas, with a cargo of “dry fish and strong liquors, the only commodities for those parts,” obtained the negroes from two British men-of-war, which had captured them from a Spanish slaver.

Thus, the trade of which the good ship Desire, of Salem, was the harbinger, grew into grand proportions; and for nearly two centuries poured a flood of wealth into New England, as well as no inconsiderable number of slaves. Meanwhile, the other maritime colonies of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and Connecticut, followed the example of their elder sister emulously; and their commercial history is but a repetition of that of Massachusetts. The towns of Providence, Newport, and New Haven became famous slave trading ports. The magnificent harbor of the second, especially, was the favorite starting-place of the slave ships; and its commerce rivaled, or even exceeded, that of the present commercial metropolis, New York. All the four original States, of course, became slaveholding.

The Revolution that exploded in 1770s New England was undertaken by men thoroughly imbued with the worldview of the Indian-killer and slave-holder. How could they not be? The “country” they claimed as their own was fathered by genocide and mothered by slavery – its true distinction among the commercial nations of the world. And these men were not ashamed, but proud, with vast ambition to spread their exceptional characteristics West and South and wherever their so-far successful project in nation-building might take them – and by the same bloody, savage methods that had served them so well in the past.

At the moment of deepest national crisis following the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln invoked the national fable that is far more central to the white American personality than Lincoln’s battlefield “Address.” Lincoln seized upon the 1621 feast as the historic “Thanksgiving” – bypassing the official and authentic 1637 precedent – and assigned the dateless, murky event the fourth Thursday in November.

Lincoln surveyed a broken nation, and attempted nation-rebuilding, based on the purest white myth. The same year that he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he renewed the national commitment to a white manifest destiny that began at Plymouth Rock. Lincoln sought to rekindle a shared national mission that former Confederates and Unionists and white immigrants from Europe could collectively embrace. It was and remains a barbaric and racist national unifier, by definition. Only the most fantastic lies can sanitize the history of the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts.

”Like a rock”

The Thanksgiving holiday fable is at once a window on the way that many, if not most, white Americans view the world and their place in it, and a pollutant that leaches barbarism into the modern era. The fable attempts to glorify the indefensible, to enshrine an era and mission that represent the nation’s lowest moral denominators. Thanksgiving as framed in the mythology is, consequently, a drag on that which is potentially civilizing in the national character, a crippling, atavistic deformity. Defenders of the holiday will claim that the politically-corrected children’s version promotes brotherhood, but that is an impossibility – a bald excuse to prolong the worship of colonial “forefathers” and to erase the crimes they committed. Those bastards burned the Pequot women and children, and ushered in the multinational business of slavery. These are facts. The myth is an insidious diversion – and worse.

Humanity cannot tolerate a 21st Century superpower, much of whose population perceives the world through the eyes of 17th Century land and flesh bandits. Yet that is the trick that fate has played on the globe. We described the roots of the planetary dilemma in our March 13 commentary, “Racism & War, Perfect Together.

The English arrived with criminal intent – and brought wives and children to form new societies predicated on successful plunder. To justify the murderous enterprise, Indians who had initially cooperated with the squatters were transmogrified into “savages” deserving displacement and death. The relentlessly refreshed lie of Indian savagery became a truth in the minds of white Americans, a fact to be acted upon by every succeeding generation of whites. The settlers became a singular people confronting the great “frontier” – a euphemism for centuries of genocidal campaigns against a darker, “savage” people marked for extinction.

The necessity of genocide was the operative, working assumption of the expanding American nation. “Manifest Destiny” was born at Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, later to fall (to paraphrase Malcolm) like a rock on Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, etc. Little children were taught that the American project was inherently good, Godly, and that those who got in the way were “evil-doers” or just plain subhuman, to be gloriously eliminated. The lie is central to white American identity, embraced by waves of European settlers who never saw a red person.

Only a century ago, American soldiers caused the deaths of possibly a million Filipinos whom they had been sent to “liberate” from Spanish rule. They didn’t even know who they were killing, and so rationalized their behavior by substituting the usual American victims. Colonel Funston, of the Twentieth Kansas Volunteers, explained what got him motivated in the Philippines:

“Our fighting blood was up and we all wanted to kill ‘niggers.’ This shooting human beings is a ‘hot game,’ and beats rabbit hunting all to pieces.” Another wrote that “the boys go for the enemy as if they were chasing jack-rabbits …. I, for one, hope that Uncle Sam will apply the chastening rod, good, hard, and plenty, and lay it on until they come into the reservation and promise to be good ‘Injuns.'”

Last week in northern Iraq another American colonel, Joe Anderson of the 101st Airborne (Assault) Division, revealed that he is incapable of perceiving Arabs as human beings. Colonel Anderson, who doubles as a commander and host of a radio call-in program and a TV show designed to win the hearts and minds of the people of Mosul, had learned that someone was out to assassinate him. In the wild mood swing common to racists, Anderson decided that Iraqis are all alike – and of a different breed. He said as much to the Los Angeles Times.

“They don’t understand being nice,” said Anderson, who helps oversee the military zone that includes Mosul and environs. He doesn’t hide his irritation after months dedicated to restoring the city: “We spent so long here working with kid gloves, but the average Iraqi guy will tell you, ‘The only thing people respect here is violence…. They only understand being shot at, being killed. That’s the culture.’ … Nice guys do finish last here.”

Col. Anderson personifies the unfitness of Americans to play a major role in the world, much less rule it. “We poured a lot of our heart and soul into trying to help the people,” he bitched, as if Americans were God’s gift to the planet. “But it can be frustrating when you hear stupid people still saying, ‘You’re occupiers. You want our oil. You’re turning our country over to Israel.’” He cannot fathom that other people – non-whites –  aspire to run their own affairs, and will kill and die to achieve that basic right.

What does this have to do with the Mayflower? Everything. Although possibly against their wishes, the Pilgrims hosted the Wampanoag for three no doubt anxious days. The same men killed and enslaved Wampanoags immediately before and after the feast. They, their newly arrived English comrades and their children roasted hundreds of neighboring Indians alive just 16 years later, and two generations afterwards cleared nearly the whole of New England of its indigenous “savages,” while enthusiastically enriching themselves through the invention of transoceanic, sophisticated means of enslaving millions. The Mayflower’s cultural heirs are programmed to find glory in their own depravity, and savagery in their most helpless victims, who can only redeem themselves by accepting the inherent goodness of white Americans.

Thanksgiving encourages these cognitive cripples in their madness, just as it is designed to do.