Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA recently reported on drones equipped with facial recognition technology that could some day be used to monitor the population and scan for behavior or individuals deemed suspicious by authorities. Almost as disturbing as the implications of the technology is the scripted presentation in which the news anchors do nothing to raise the alarm of surveillance abuses in the midst of Snowden's NSA revelations, and instead normalize the "freakiness" of having one's face captured and being put "in the system." In the end the anchors conclude that the development of this surveillance state technology is "fascinating" and "really cool stuff." Clearly the interests that are working through this station are attempting to downplay any legitimate fears one might have from witnessing these kinds of capabilities in order to get the populace to accept constant monitoring by the State. The only question that remains is will this technology come into full implementation before the environmental and economic meltdown get into full swing? Indeed, the mantra, it's okay to have my privacy shredded because I haven't done anything wrong, will be meaningless when the true purpose of the control grid becomes apparent in the midst of an inevitable backlash from a corporate government led destabilization of the systems we have come to depend on for our lives.
Author and talk show host Thom Hartmann discusses the coming economic collapse and touches on catastrophic climate change.
Remember DARPA's Big Dog? Well the WildCat is finally here. Judging by the video, it's advantage over Big Dog is its speed and agility. Rest assured that in the in the not too distant future, America's wired future warriors will be accompanied by robotic pack animals, giving support to our tax funded killers whether they are stationed in Africa, further destabilizing the Middle East, or patrolling the city streets of a post collapse urban center just a few blocks from home.
When it comes to discussing the ethical implications of geo-engineering, an issue that comes up is that of prior informed consent. Can the act of injecting sulfur aerosols into the atmosphere or dumping iron into the ocean to mitigate some of the effects of climate change be an ethical action if the people it will be effecting are not consulted before the process is initiated? Before tackling that question, I want to first make a few points. When it comes to this radical approach to addressing humanity’s vast footprint on the biosphere by actually increasing the size of that footprint, there should be some obvious red flags. Firstly, the earth is a complex living system, and some scientists have concluded there are real reasons to believe that geo-engineering will unintentionally further the catastrophic shifts in the functioning of the climate. The potential for this situation will be exacerbated by a lack of meaningful emission cuts that occur not simply as a result of Western governmental abdication of responsibility within the global community, but also at the level of individual lifestyle choices which reflect a continuing worldview of materialism and exploitation. Professor Marion Hourdequin at a recent panel discussion at the University of Montana pointed out that there is the strong possibility that geo-engineering will create the perception that a solution has been found, and thus limit needed funding toward programs that could provide a more fundamental change in the nature of our energy consumption. In so doing, Hourdequin explained, geo-engineering could act as a “mask” for the underlying and unaddressed causes of the transforming climate, which through their continued atmospheric inundation, could result in a catastrophic backlash.
But with accelerating sea ice melting trends and the release of plumes of methane in the Arctic, it is becoming increasingly clear that humans are already on the path to a potential Permian-like extinction level event. This leads many to conclude that attempts at mitigation have failed and geo-engineering is the only way to save humanity. This conclusion, in its narrow approach to the admittedly dire problems we are facing, fails to provide a meaningful context or a real solution. Yet in the midst of a rapid decline in both environmental and social stability, absent a profound grass roots mobilization transforming our fundamental relationship with each other and the earth, we will likely witness the radical implementation of geo-engineering techniques with superficial, if any, regard to the notion of prior informed consent. At the university discussion, Professor Kyle Powys Whyte raised the point that this presents not only an ethical problem, but a legal one in relation to sovereign indigenous tribes who have been traditional guardians and stewards of the land, and who are largely being ignored in this conversation around geo-engineering.
Setting aside the unknown potential harms of releasing massive quantities of geo-engineering substances into the environment, presentations on the practice, such as the one that occurred at the University of Montana, represent a fragment of the overall failed dialogue about climate change and technological interventionism. The so-called failure of attempts at mitigation in reality reflects a failure at the hands of political expediency, corporate greed and dishonesty, media bias, conditioned popular disinterest, and aloofness in much of the academic community. In short, it is core behavioral patterns within society, and not an earnest attempt at mitigation (which never occurred), which has plunged us into this unworkable situation.
While climate scientists like James Hansen regularly make the news, the headline that most of the public remembers in regards to climate change is that of the so called Climate Gate. What this indicates is not a failure of mitigation, but a failure in public discourse, and a proper discourse is the very essence of what is needed to obtain prior informed consent in the case of geo-engineering . The failure of the scientific community to engage in a more urgent, activist role outside of the corporate imperialism colored context of congressional hearings and climate negotiations, meant that less qualified individuals and organizations have to serve as the marginalized mouthpiece for what should have been a transformative, scientifically engaged social movement.
While hard at work compiling needed data, those who were best informed about the problems at hand none the less did not invest adequate resources, time, energy, creativity, risk, and social networking leverage, to create a ubiquitous and readily understandable public face to establish an ongoing discourse, (relying instead on a politically polarizing individual like Al Gore, and climate pundits who can't hold their own on the national television arena). Today the few who are paying attention perceive the continuation of what appears to be, rightly or wrongly, the same shadowy approach to climate science, embodied now in the below the radar discussions around geo-engineering “solutions.” The point in all of this is that building any sense of trust, solidarity, or informed consent has been relegated to barely noticed online chat groups, small university gatherings, or has been abandoned altogether by societies that have not even engaged in sustained dialogue around climate change to begin with. Fault can be found at all levels of society, and such a dysfunctional society largely will not know what geo-engineering is until it is on the verge of its implementation. Indeed, while it seems feasible that a significant segment of climate denialists alongside the general population will demand such a technological approach in an attempt to avert or reverse total crop failure and social breakdown, the choice will be a hollow one given the gun-pointing-at-our-head way in which it is being allowed to manifest. Such was the elite modus operandi at the outset of the 2008 the financial collapse, in which known problems were left to fester until a crisis was reached. The "solution" was brokered by the centers of power who had benefited both before and after the crisis they had created, leaving much of the rest of the world out to dry.
The push for geo-engineering, therefore, is not a break from business as usual. Rather, it is an intensification of the same paradigm that has created climate change, along with other global crises, in the first place. At the root of climate catastrophe is a society, completely disconnected from the natural world, that is unwilling to properly educate its youth or engage in sustained and urgent public conversation about the severity of the problem, thus rendering nearly impossible the potential for a decentralized, broad based shift in social consciousness, empowerment, and activity. Instead, the closed door climate negotiations and institutionally elite geo-engineering discussions mimic the very top down structure which seeks to protect an entrenched, ultra-competitive, crisis producing, and technologically driven worldview that has brought us to this point. If we are to recognize the link between materialism, hyper competition, military interventionism, predatory commercial media propaganda, and climate change, then we would understand that geo-engineering, in reality, is merely treating a symptom of a deeper cultural malaise, and like a strong dose of chemotherapy used on an industrial chemically induced cancer, the treatment may very well kill the patient.
The United States is seen as a place of technological innovation and marketplace dominance. It is also one of the leading contributors to climate change. Further, it is engaged in full spectrum dominance military expansionism and continued human rights abuses of an often covert nature, which, like climate change, remains outside of the general public discourse. The United States has also been a stalwart climate obstructionist in international talks. We are witnessing, therefore, not a failure of climate mitigation, but the inevitable crisis point of Western Imperialism, globalization, and American exceptionalism, all of which will likely be unable to muster environmental solutions that will benefit more than a select few. Meanwhile, the US populace is distracted by affordable consumer goods produced in sweatshops in places like China, who increasingly are burning coal to fuel energy demand. Divorced from the landscape, the lives of Westerners have literally come to depend on a system that is destroying life and enslaving our fellow man. Under such conditions, geo-engineering becomes the logical, plug-and-play convenient gateway into proposed climate solutions in what in reality represents a larger paradigm that imperils the entire living system.
If we look into the lack of informed consent surrounding issues like the implementation of NAFTA, the ongoing negotiations of the Trans Pacific Partnership, the sale of unlabeled genetically modified foods, the widespread use of warrantless wiretapping, the unprecedented incarceration of whistleblowers under Obama, the implementation of wildly unpopular banker bailouts and lack of prosecutions or meaningful reform, the undeclared and unpopular wars abroad, and the roll out of drone surveillance at home, we see clearly a pattern of elite interests working feverishly to obfuscate the reality that they are exploiting the living system in order to consolidate wealth and power above the interests of humanity and the wider ecosystem.
Lack of prior informed consent is the norm in this pathological culture, which in spite of shifting technological remedies, will continue to manifest a wholly corrupt, unstable, and destructive way of being. In 2009, UN drug tzar Antonio Costa stated that laundered drug money was the only liquid capital available to prop up faltering banks. Former inspector general of TARP, Neil Barovsky, among others, has discussed that the financial system is poised for another collapse in the face of anemic regulations and wild, unethical speculation. In 2012, one of the world's largest banks, HSBC, admitted it was responsible for laundering drug and terrorism funds, yet rather than individuals having to face criminal prosecution, the bank was merely required to pay relatively small fines compared to their monthly profits. As the climate deteriorates, resource wars heat up, a push for violent conflict with Iran continues to simmer, and oil companies jockey for fossil fuels now accessible in the warming Arctic. With a fitting twist of late Empire pathology, liberals are touting the emergence of a new Green Military, as if war could be anything but the most wasteful and destructive use of resources known to man. Ecosystems across the globe are in decline, yet unlimited economic growth under a criminally engendered system is still the dominant working model. The social and institutional system we find ourselves operating in is behaving in a fundamentally diseased manner. It is only by recognizing this, not just abstractly but through our daily engagements and responses, that we can collectively move toward creating a world in which a decent future for a wide swathe of living beings, rather than a privileged few, might be possible.
The Department of Homeland Security funded, militarized police state which is emerging represents the sort of violence which has secured land, resources, and intellectual space to develop the very destabilizing technologies which create and necessitate the further implementation of such violence, both through direct and proxy forces, and both abroad and in the streets of the United States. In other words, we are only afforded the relative and fundamentally unstable peace we currently enjoy to discuss the problems we create because the land and resources we have stolen have been used to establish a walled physical and intellectual reality guarded by the most powerful security apparatus in the world. But because this systemic injustice has never been adequately addressed, the violence we have ignored and enabled will undoubtedly arc back upon Western civilization, amplified by a destabilizing ecology and a frantic call for technological solutions. In the absence of a deep critique of society that galvanizes a civil rights era level of resistance and reform, the security apparatus is being prepared to handle an unleashed humanity under a financial and ecological breakdown within a geo-engineered future. As some climate policy makers begin to claim geo-engineering is the only viable solution while remaining largely absent from the realm of climate activism, and activists are labeled domestic terrorists by a State which depends on death and dirty power, the Obama administration is fast-tracking the use of hydraulic fracking, deceitfully billed as part of the solution to the climate crisis, a notion completely discredited by a recent study on low greenhouse gas energies. This is the context from which geo-engineering arises. In the midst of unchallenged, ongoing, cultural devolution and insane contests between corrupt, economically unstable, nuclear armed nation states that openly deceive their societies and pursue drone warfare over porous borders, geo-engineering is at best a weak and temporary substitute for real, informed transformation whose absence will result in global die off in another form. At worst, geo-engineering is a hastening along this unbroken path of system wide pathology and self destruction we embarked upon since the very real genocide and enslavement of indigenous people centuries ago, and which has continued up through the exploitation of people and natural resources today, fueling the current spin on an ongoing imperialistic nightmare.
In a a recent DHS Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Impact Assessment
regarding border searches of electronic devices, the so-called Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties concluded that anyone can have their electronic devices searched at the border, for any reason whatsoever. Warrants or suspicion of wrongdoing, according to this flouting of the fourth amendment of the US Constitution, (which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures), are not required. A so-called Constitution Free Zone now extends one hundred miles from all US borders, both land based and maritime, which means, according to the ACLU, nearly 2/3 of US citizens are now living in areas where the Constitution no longer applies.
Yet a 2012 article from Popular Science revealed the disturbing surveillance related ambitions of
deputy executive director of national air-security operations for the Office of Air and Marine (OAM), Kenneth Knight, whose position within US Customs and Border Protection (CBP, organizationally nested within the Department of Homeland Security) afforded him the ability to begin putting into place some big dreams. Knight was helping to lay the groundwork for what in 2005 had come to be known as the Big Pipe, a gestating total surveillance grid that will move far beyond watching the borders by linking together networks of stationary cameras and aerial surveillance, and stream the footage to "fusion centers," creating the ability to seamlessly pass targets between camera networks, and closing gaps in covert monitoring capabilities. According to the article,
[Knight ] was targeting a much larger domain: the national air radar picture and the coastal marine surface radar picture, not just the surveillance cameras in the ports and along the border but also the surveillance cameras in metropolitan areas—airports, train stations, on the side of buildings, anywhere—such that the theater of operations was expanded to the widest possible extent. This broad spectrum of surveillance was really what Knight had in mind when he told me about total domain awareness, an operating picture that encompassed pretty much the entire country. Total domain awareness meant the ability to apply these tools, at will and as needed, anywhere in the U.S.
Then in January 2013, PBS aired a documentary, Rise of the Drones, widely criticized on the blogosphere for its propagandistic slant and its Lockheed Martin underwriting. The documentary revealed that the new 1.8 gigapixel Argus surveillance video camera, when mounted on a Predator drone from 20,000 feet in the air, can broadly monitor at least a fifteen square mile area, and then zoom in and film movements like waving hands or birds in flight. It's "persistent stare" will potentially be lengthened in the future, with plans for drones that can stay aloft for years at a time. Argus developer and British based BAE Systems engineer Yiannis Antoniades seems to relish his access to privileged information surrounding Argus, a fitting disposition for the creator of a flying surveillance machine arrogantly named for the Greek hundred eyed god. Although its deployment remains classified, such an invention would fit well into an evolving "Big Pipe" system, within a governmental apparatus that flouts rules or invents new ones to circumvent laws like Posse-Commitatus and so-called Constitutional protections.
In 2011 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Director of the Northern Region Office of Air and Marine, (OAM) John S. Beutlich, talked about one of the Operational Integration Centers (fusion centers) being set up in the country in order to better streamline surveillance and intelligence sharing capabilities at varying levels of law enforcement.
CBP has also established the Operational Integration Center (OIC) located at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, Michigan. The OIC is a demonstration project, involving the application of personnel and technology to enhance border security and situational awareness for CBP and its mission partners in the Detroit region, a critical area of the northern border. In terms of personnel, the OIC allows for a collaborative work area and communications capabilities for all components of CBP, USCG, other DHS organizations, federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement, the RCMP and CBSA.
Beutlich then fleshed out in a little more detail, just how the"Big Pipe" is coming together, and how it might make the data collected through mass surveillance more accessible to law enforcement.
In 2005, CBP created a robust information sharing environment known as “BigPipe,” which links equipped CBP aviation assets and information sharing protocols to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and public safety agencies to provide near-real time video and sensor data—enhancing situational awareness for officers and rescue personnel across the public safety community. BigPipe is also used by numerous federal, state, local and tribal agencies during warrant presentations, controlled deliveries, search and rescue and surveillance operations. Earlier this year, live video information streamed via Big Pipe was used to enable FEMA Rapid Needs Analysis (RNA) teams to quickly determine the condition of levees during the flooding that occurred in the Mississippi River Valley.
People often react to the increasingly pervasive surveillance state with the notion that if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. As I have said before, and will continue to say, these systems of extreme tracking and intrusion, down to the level of traffic cameras, will serve as a means to control large uprisings, when the deterioration of the economy and the environment accelerates under the weight of high level, government enabled, criminal activities. It's interesting to note that the term blue force tracking is actually military parlance for GPS systems that keep tabs on friendly forces, which are pictured in blue (and enemy forces, pictured in red). With 1.8 gigapixel clarity, we see again the way in which the NORTHCOM operational United States is increasingly being viewed through the lens of a tightly surveilled war zone.
As someone who saw the Occupy Missoula movement flower and then fade, I would ask, how can transformational local movements, like Idle No More and beyond, appeal to and support a larger number of the surrounding community (however community is defined, whether it be exclusively Natives, Natives and Non-Natives, the 99%, etc). While certainly everyone need not join the movement, it is vitally important to strengthen solidarity in order to build momentum, without watering down or losing a central message or getting flat-lined by fear, disagreements, and personality conflicts. Clearly developed goals vis-a-vis strategically selected elements of the power structure is one means of communicating purpose. Another possibility is helping others in the community with their struggles, potentially under a banner of inclusivity and an orientation of sustainability, to create relevance, legitimacy, and recognition within a larger population while providing real benefits to those who need them.
Regardless, it will be necessary for people who take part in these sorts of movements today to understand the direness of the situation humanity faces, so as not to become unwitting apologists for the utterly failed status-quo. That sort of urgency needs to be communicated strongly and effectively to those who don't see the writing on the wall. Specific data points, like the projection of scientists that the Arctic sea ice is predicted to be totally gone during the summer months in four years, can be leveraged in speeches to stoke the fires of transformation. This kind of tenor could help create not simply needed empowerment, but also a wise relationship with the Earth, rather than, for example, turning a blind eye to individual patterns or selling off resources to environmentally destructive elements of Empire for short term financial gain. Another approach might be building a growing, self sufficient, self supporting community that rejects the "norms" of a destructive, materialistic, physically unhealthy, and spiritually destitute society and, by growing this community, making the current destructive system increasingly less necessary or relevant.
Whatever the vision, and however it manifests, in Idle No More and the wider social consciousness, I hope people understand that anger and unflinching determination are not only justified in the face of literal rape, murder, and environmental devastation, they are needed emotional components in a full spectrum of transformative energies. Occupying a building, shutting down a street, humiliating a politician, are not radical actions when one considers the truly radical actions of the US government and corporations. The problem is that most people in the society are unwitting (or witting) dependents on a violent, imperialist US agenda. The few who see through the lies and propaganda and who attempt to do something about it are labeled "radicals," but they are not the ones firing depleted uranium rounds in Fallujah, giving rise to the birth of horribly malformed babies. The so called "radicals" are not the ones criminally disrupting the economy through fraudulent derivatives manipulations and then going unpunished. The so called "radicals" are not the ones unleashing devastating technologies, like tar sands pipelines and hydrofracking, on a planet on the verge of ecological free fall. The "radicals" are not the ones who have set up a system of violence that marginalizes and brutalizes those who disagree with violent subjugation.
If American society had deeply contemplated the theft of land and genocide of indigenous peoples upon which this nation was built, atrocities like the Vietnam War, and the continuing wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as growing US military intervention in places like Pakistan, Iran, Mali, Syria, and others, would not be taking place. The wiping out of indigenous peoples is not "old news" from which we should "move on." The lack of care people feel toward the destruction of indigenous people of the past and the plight of indigenous people today is directly linked to the complacency society at large exhibits towards the unchecked violence the nation is committing at home and abroad, as well as the exploitation of the natural world. Everything is connected, and it is my hope that a healthy connection to the earth and across the spectrum of humanity, rather than division and usurpation, will characterize the way forward. One way or another, the tide must turn. If it does not, we will all be swept under.