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Perfect Distractions and Fantastical Mitigation Plans

Perfect Distractions and Fantastical Mitigation Plans

October 19, 2019

By Michael Swifte

 

 

 

The recent UN Climate Action Summit in New York delivered both spectacle and much ignored signifiers of political will. I would say it was a failure in terms of any meaningful or effective action to deliver anything like a fossil fuel phase out. At the centre of the spectacle was Greta Thunberg, the perfect distraction, urging us to honour Paris targets, recognise ‘the science’ and act on climate. Greta laments inaction from world leaders like most of us do – this is a continuing theme. And like most of us, Greta sees inaction as a result of the political will failing to deliver on decades of rhetoric. Sadly though, the mitigation plans of the powerful, the key signifiers of political will for continued relentless extractivism never enter the public conversation.

Perfect distractions come with talking points and bring framing to the issue they come to embody. Like the Extinction Rebellion leaders, and Green New Deal proponents, Greta, under advice from a range of experts, leaves the fantastical assumptions in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) mitigation plans well alone. Kevin Anderson, who has given Greta advice in the past, despairs at the “technical utopias”, unfathomable quantities of biomass burning, and as-yet-not-invented air capture machines that fill three of the four IPCC mitigation ‘pathways’. I’m astonished that even the one pathway commissioned by the IPCC that could be called a ‘degrowth’ pathway is also rarely discussed.

While the IPCC present fantastical mitigation plans supposedly representing the global consensus but with little basis in reality; the statements, networking activities, and research & development investments of fossil fuel giants tell another story. Events held, messages provided, and statements released during the UN Climate Action Summit show that the oil and gas industry are getting exactly what they want. Relentless extractivism in service of the consumer economy was the big winner around which climate action plans will be built.

Political will and the UN Climate Action Summit

On September 22, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) met for a dinner at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Emily Atkin reported on this event in her ‘Heated’ newsletter providing a transcript of a message presented by the Special Adviser to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The transcript of Guterres’ message is the primary source for a significant moment. It wasn’t till the next day, the same day Greta was giving her “how dare you” speech that the substance of the OGCI mitigation plans was revealed.

Chris Lang from Redd-Monitor laid out how the summit failed saying “Obviously, none of the “action plans” involved leaving any fossil fuel in the ground.”, and noting that the OGCI also support the #NaturalClimateSolutions (NCS) campaign promoted by George Monbiot and Greta Thunberg.

The International Energy Agency’s Clean Energy Ministerial made public an embargoed media release from the OGCI at 12.01am on September 23 announcing their “Kickstarter” initiative in partnership with the OGCI to “unlock large scale investment” in CCUS with an emphasis on “low carbon industrial hubs” for CO2 export. [SOURCE]

Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

 

On September 19, just in time for the summit George Monbiot and Greta Thunberg became spokesfaces for #NaturalClimateSolutions on the Guardian News, YouTube channel.

Stephen Corry from Survival International responded to the new video in worthy style pointing to the corporate relationships and big philanthropy behind the hashtag. In a September 20 Twitter thread, Corry takes Monbiot to task pointing to corporations that partner with the Big Conservation NGOs behind the NCS campaign.

On September 21, International Day of Struggle Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, Gary Graham Hughes from Biofuelwatch and Souparna Lahiri from Global Forest Coalition sounded a warning to Greta and those who would meet under the banner of #NatureBasedSolutions at the summit. They made their position, a challenge to Greta and summit attendees very clear saying “Acres of monoculture plantations, bioenergy, and offsets are false solutions – bad for climate, undermining real solutions and bad for humanity.”

On September 26, Cory Morningstar published her detailed write up of the the extensive networks behind #NaturalClimateSolutions. The networks explicated demonstrate the deep connections between the corporate world, big conservation, environmental NGOs, media, governments and the global consensus apparatus of the United Nations.

Any well resourced emissions wonk at the summit would have known what the fossil fools want to do. Our global corporate energy leaders reveal certain details of their plans and they have to spruik their plans to particular people in particular ways. I suspect they’re grateful for the lack of scrutiny from the mainstream media and the NGO aligned press who routinely fail to report or unpack the political will.

When the Atlantic Council hosted the 2019 Global Energy Forum in January, it was made very plain that CCS was necessary for any future energy plans. A panel discussion included representatives of the International Energy Agency, OGCI, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, The Institute of Energy Economics-Japan, and Saudi Aramco. Saudi Aramco’s Chief Technology Officer, Ahmad Al Khowaiter, made a statement at this panel discussion that really stuck out for me. “CO2 is a valuable feedstock, we should not forget that”. It’s a statement that acknowledges a barely understood reality: the oil industry has retained latent demand for liquefied CO2 for decades. [SOURCE]

It stands to reason that the oil industry would fight to access liquefied CO2 as the best means to do enhanced oil recovery to get the last remaining drops of oil from depleted oil fields and get paid a subsidy to sequester CO2 in the process. The global consumer market demands throughput of oil for the full range of products derived from oil, not merely the transport fuel products.

National Defense Authorization Act

On April 10, I watched the C-SPAN live stream of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) as it met to discuss and vote on the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act (USE IT Act). The USE IT Act is crucial to the expansion of the 45Q tax credit which is an effective subsidy for CO2 enhanced oil recovery and the full gamut of carbon capture and storage projects including ‘clean coal’ and ‘clean hydrogen’.

The meeting began with chair John Barrasso outlining the purpose of the meeting before offering an opportunity for members to comment on the bills before the committee. Ranking member Tom Carper spoke to the bills before John Barrasso called a recess so that Democrat members could make quorum at which point Tom Carper said “I’ve asked my staff to reach out far and wide to get as many  Democrats here as quickly as we can so thank you for your patience.”

While C-SPAN may provide livestreamed content, the archive of video, audio and transcripts available on the their website is subject to the discretion of the individual committee chairs. The EPW committee did not provide video to the C-SPAN archive preferring to post an edited video to their YouTube channel and archived webcast on their website. They did however provide audio of the complete proceedings of the April 10 meeting. [C-SPAN audio] [Archived webcast]

In April, a WKOG member called the EPW Committee office to check the attendance records for both the February 27 and April 10 meetings. They discovered that on February 27, three of the Green New Deal cosponsors were in attendance, but Bernie Sanders was absent. None of the three Green New Deal cosponsors spoke to the USE IT Act on February 27. On April 10, all four Green New Deal cosponsors were absent. This means that Bernie Sanders was absent for both meetings. Was the absence of the four Green New Deal cosponsors the cause of the recess called by John Barrasso at the April 10 meeting? Were the four Green New Deal Resolution cosponsors absent to manufacture the eventual unanimous vote for the USE IT Act?

On June 27, the USE IT Act passed the Senate 86 votes to 8 as part of S. 1790 National Defense Authorization Act 2020. The four Green New Deal cosponsors, Ed Markey, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders voted against the bill.

In an amendment to S. 1790 before it was voted up in the House of Representatives on September 17, Sec. 6001 which contained the USE IT Act provisions was removed.

[SOURCE]

On August 30, the Carbon Capture Coalition sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Armed Services asking that USE IT Act provisions be included as an amendment to HR. 2500. National Defense Authorization Act 2020.

It is time to pass this important and widely-supported climate and energy legislation, and the NDAA provides an appropriate opportunity to do so.

[SOURCE][SOURCE]

The vote on the House of Representatives NDAA will likely take place on November 20 or 21.

If the USE IT Act provisions pass then it will unleash an unstoppable wave of CCUS projects including fossil hydrogen projects and CO2 enhanced oil recovery projects. The success of the USE IT Act provisions will ensure the success of the 9+ bipartisan bills designed to deliver R&D, new pipelines and a raft of bureaucratic measures to support the implementation of 45Q tax credits. Cory Morningstar outlines most of these bills in her detailed investigation into the ‘Design to Win’ philanthropies.

Mitigation plans and technology

The truth about the mitigation plans of the powerful is masked in the public discourse by language, conflated logics and expansive silence. The political will that has been demonstrated for carbon capture and storage for fossil fuel extraction and refining should be held in contrast to the ‘pathways’ developed through the global consensus building processes of the IPCC.

Three of the four IPCC pathways rely heavily on what are called ‘negative emissions technologies’ (NETs). The ‘technology’ on which the IPCC rely most heavily is called BECCS, or biomass with CCS applied. Biomass is currently being used in Europe in place of coal, and is regarded by some as a ‘renewable energy’. Biomass is used as an offset against emissions created when it is burned in place of coal as it is regarded to have sequestered carbon when it was part of a plant. When you read articles about renewable energy beating out fossil fuel energy in the UK or Germany, you can be sure biomass offsets helped. The implementation of BECCS will require access to geological storage of CO2, the preserve of fossil fuel extraction companies like Equinor, Chevron, Woodside and Shell.

A ‘negative emissions technology’ is not a technology as such, but rather it is a collection of processes that upon the application of certain accounting can be said to have produced zero emissions. Geological storage of CO2 is a crucial process in transforming biomass burning into a negative emissions technology. If any implementation of the IPCC pathways were to take place any time soon then access to geological storage of CO2 would be absolutely necessary for BECCS to be effective.

On September 5, the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Kjell-Borge Freiburgh called for “international support” to amend the London Protocol to allow for under sea geological storage and export infrastructure to support the implementation of CCS. The full title of the London Protocol is the ‘London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter’. It is an international agreement to assist in making regional agreements. Amendments to the London Protocol have long been seen as the last regulatory hurdle to large scale under sea storage of CO2. [SOURCE]

The IPCC has three working groups covering three key areas: science and carbon budgets, social and ecological impacts, and mitigation. As observed by Kevin Anderson on Twitter, Greta Thunberg does not speak about the mitigation pathways presented by Working Group 3 on mitigation, rather she focusses on Working Group 1 on “physical science”. Having followed the discourse on mitigation pathways following Thelma Krug’s unheralded presentation at last year’s GHGT-14 conference in Melbourne, I can say with certainty that none of the four pathways have ever been discussed by XR leaders, Greta Thunberg or Green New Deal proponents. Indeed, the climate justice friendly media mouthpieces have rarely if ever examined the IPCC pathways.

[SOURCE: Thelma Krug]

Kevin Anderson is Professor of Energy and Climate Change, holding a joint chair in the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester and in Centre for Sustainability and the Environment at Uppsala University

Kevin Anderson is Professor of Energy and Climate Change, holding a joint chair in the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester and in the Centre for Sustainability and the Environment at Uppsala University

 

One of the unexamined pathways presented by the IPCC Working Group 3 is called P.1. or Grubler et al ‘Low Energy Demand’ scenario, which is the only degrowth scenario they provide. Grubler LED is also the only scenario/pathway not reliant on BECCS. Jason Hickel writing in Real-World Economics Review outlines degrowth as a radical and positive strategy for tackling climate targets. It is highly significant that so very little has been said about the Grubler LED pathway as it is the only pathway that provides any opportunity to deliver a fossil fuel phase out, which is, at least through suggestion, a principle objective of all climate justice groups including XR leaders and Green New Deal proponents.

People should study what Kevin Anderson has to say about IPCC scenarios. He is very concerned about the abundance of negative emissions technologies. He can’t see how the three BECCS and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) ‘technologies’ can deliver enough mitigation in time. In a video entitled ‘Delivering on 2 degrees,’ he notes that the IPCC scenario data base is loaded with NETs reliant scenarios.

In his response to the UK government’s “net zero” proposal following its declaration of a ‘climate emergency,’ makes it very clear that the fantastical quantities of BECCS and reliance on undeveloped air capture machines were already damaging the possibility of decisive action.   

Already the tentative potential of NETs is being used to undermine the requirement for immediate and widespread decarbonisation, passing further unacceptable burdens and risks onto the next generation.

[SOURCE]

Shortly after announcing a ‘climate emergency’ the UK’s Committee on Climate Change indicated that they would much prefer to produce ‘clean’ hydrogen from steam reforming LNG than through renewable energy and electrolysis with water. Steam reforming is a process where fossil gas is coverted into hydrogen and other gases producing a stream of pure liquefied CO2 for enhanced oil and gas recovery, geological storage or other commercial applications. Clearly the renewable option was being discarded by the Committee on Climate Change, but this was not a concern for the XR leaders who don’t appear to be doing what it takes to keep fossil fuels in the ground.  

Our scenarios assume that hydrogen production at scale is done via gas-reforming with CCS rather than electrolysis

[SOURCE]

Here is a remarkable interview with the Coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 4 (on mitigation) of the IPCC AR6 Special Report, Heleen de Coninck. It is remarkable because it reveals how the language and framing of technologies and extractive processes has shifted around carbon capture and storage over several IPCC reports. The interviewer was compelled to ask a rather absurd sounding question that highlights how IPCC reports have framed and reframed technologies and extractive processes in producing mitigation scenarios.

Ah, so you’re saying in AR3, CCS was still weird?

[SOURCE]

Rob Urie is one of the few writers to take an honest look at the technologies that the IPCC modelling requires. I think this is one of the most important pieces of writing that any informed person can read to understand where we are right now and where we are likely to be heading in the near future.

Three of the four scenarios to keep the rise in global temperatures at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius presented by the IPCC in their 2018 paper require ‘negative emissions’ technologies—methods of actively removing carbon from the atmosphere. Some of these, like reforestation, are superficially attractive to the environmentally inclined. The problems come both through the fine print and the focus on climate rather than the environment.

 

 

[Michael Swifte is an Australian activist and a member of the Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective.]

 

 

 

 

 

The Paris Agreement is a Suicide Pact – This is Why

The Paris Agreement is a Suicide Pact – This is Why

September 19, 2019

“The Paris Agreement is a Suicide Pact – This is Why”

 

The following is an excerpt from the paper This Changes Nothing: The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality authored by Clive L. Spash, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria

 

“The Paris Agreement signifies commitment to sustained industrial growth, risk management over disaster prevention, and future inventions and technology as saviour. The primary commitment of the international community is to maintain the current social and economic system. The result is denial that tackling GHG emissions is incompatible with sustained economic growth. The reality is that Nation States and international corporations are engaged in an unremitting and ongoing expansion of fossil fuel energy exploration, extraction and combustion, and the construction of related infrastructure for production and consumption. The targets and promises of the Paris Agreement bear no relationship to biophysical or social and economic reality.”

Globalizations, 2016
Vol. 13, No. 6, 928–933,

The Paris Agreement follows suit and claims that: ‘Accelerating, encouraging and enabling innovation is critical for an effective, long-term global response to climate change and promoting change does not require new technology which, even when successful, takes decades to move from invention to innovation to implementation. That time frame is a luxury that has already been squandered by decades of inaction and fossil fuel expansion. The reduction of GHGs is necessary immediately using existing appropriate (not high) technology, changing infrastructure, systemic transformation and control of demand.

Therein lies the problem with the Paris Agreement; it is a fantasy which lacks any actual plan of how to achieve the targets for emissions reductions. There are no mentions of GHG sources, not a single comment on fossil fuel use, nothing about how to stop the expansion of fracking, shale oil or explorations for oil and gas in the Arctic and Antarctic. Similarly, there are no means for enforcement. Article 15 on implementation and compliance establishes an expert committee that will be ‘non-adversarial and non-punitive’, which means that it has no teeth and can do nothing about non-compliance. Then, there is Article 28, which offers the withdrawal option without any sanctions. Everyone seems to have already conveniently forgotten how Canada backed out of the Kyoto Protocol in order to frack on a massive and environmentally catastrophic industrial scale.

What is the point of trusting the governments who sign up to this agreement with one hand while investing ever more in fossil fuel extraction, combustion and consumption with the other? These are the same governments who know the world already has proven fossil fuel reserves that exceed the amount that can be combusted by at least three times,[3] for an even chance of achieving 2C, but continue exploring for more. They are the same governments promoting 7 per cent growth rates and the proliferation of industrialisation and modern energy infrastructure including advanced fossil fuel technology (UN Resolution A/RES/70/1). So, they give us promises of 1.5C while constructing infrastructure and supporting production processes requiring massive fossil fuel expansion in an economic system built on mass conspicuous consumption and a throwaway fashion culture.

The divorce of economic and energy policy from the targets of Article 2 can only be seen as either total cynicism or total delusion on the part of the negotiators applauding in Paris. Perhaps they are all highly trained in the Orwellian art of doublethink. In any case, the aspirational targets bear no relationship at all to the reality of what governments, and their business partners, are actually doing today,[4] or the other treaties the same governments are simultaneously signing. The economic system is already committed to continue exploiting resources as fast as possible in the race for ever-increasing material and energy throughput. Just look at the European Community’s Horizon 20:20 goals and their promotion of growth and competition and the ongoing push for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Apparently, economic growth is the priority to be protected and promoted above all else.

The contradiction at the heart of the Paris Agreement is actually unsurprising because the powerful lobbying for growth as the solution to climate change has for some time been orchestrated by corporate business and financiers using the rhetoric of a green economy. As I have noted elsewhere (Spash, 2014), this has involved the combination of arguments for growth alleviating poverty with the necessity of environmental risk management, and ‘green’ technology promoted through trillions of dollars being directed towards ‘entrepreneurs’ (i.e. multinational corporations), to create a ‘new economy’. Technology and innovation are key to this position with its neo-Austrian economics and ‘free market’ rhetoric. Climate change policy must be crafted accordingly to serve the capital accumulating growth economy, and so the latter becomes the solution to (not the cause of) the former.

litovsky_pes

Unfortunately, many environmental non-governmental organisations have bought into this illogical reasoning and justify their support as being pragmatic. Neoliberal language is rife across their reports and policy recommendations and their adoption of natural capital, ecosystems services, offsetting and market trading. These new environmental pragmatists believe, without justification, that the financialisation of Nature will help prevent its destruction. Thus, environmentalists promote carbon emissions trading but pay little attention to its dangers and failures (Spash, 2010). For example, Nat Keohane of the Environmental Defence Fund has noted on their website how they pushed in the corridors of Paris for ‘an opening for markets’. The right-wing government of New Zealand, leading an 18-country lobby, also had its negotiators pushing for the same international carbon markets. However, you will not find emissions trading, markets, cap and trade or offsets, mentioned in the doublespeak of the Agreement, but rather the term ‘internationally transferred mitigation outcomes’ (clause 108 and Article 6), something Keohane applauds.

Doublespeak and wording that is strategically ambiguous is the high point of international diplomacy in the Paris Agreement. This is what made the Agreement possible and why it is so meaningless. Do not look for the words oil, natural gas, coal or fracking because they do not merit even one single mention. Nor indeed is there anything about addressing the sources of human GHG emissions, or the structures that promote them. Consider something as fundamental as energy use. The one sentence that mentions energy appears in the preamble and merely acknowledges the need to promote ‘sustainable energy in developing countries, in particular in Africa’.

What the Paris Agreement tells is a bizarrely unreal story. Apparently, the cause of climate change is not fossil fuel combustion or energy sources but inadequate technology and the solution is sustainable development (i.e. economic growth and industrialisation) and poverty alleviation. As far as the current production and consumption systems are concerned, little needs to change. There are no elites consuming the vast majority of the world’s resources, no multinational corporations or fossil fuel industry needing to be controlled, no capital accumulating competitive systems promoting trade and fighting over resources and emitting vast amounts of GHGs through military expenditure and wars, and no governments expanding fossil fuel use and dependency.

The unreality of this document is only matched by the unreality of the praise given to it by the media and others. This is a sign of how much strategic ambiguity and doublespeak have now become an accepted way for international politics to be conducted and reported. People can even applaud stating that the whole UNFCCC has failed for over 20 years and the planet is headed well beyond 2C. The rhetorical flourish of successful agreement is meant to hide a total lack of substance. The Paris Agreement is at heart a document that consists of independent unilateral unenforceable targets but is being sold as a multi-lateral consensus with firm commitments.

In the final analysis, a simple test of the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement would have been a dramatic drop in the share price of the fossil fuel industry, which is loaded with toxic assets.

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That is, a serious agreement would have written-off all the fossil fuel reserves that cannot be burnt without heading way beyond the already exceed 2C target. This would have revealed the financial balance sheets that are bankrupt. Nothing happened to the stock market because the Paris Agreement is perceived by the fossil fuel industry, and financial markets, as no threat to business as usual, and possibly it is even a great opportunity for new financial instruments and ongoing economic exploitation of the planet, with trillions to come to the energy industry in subsidies for innovation and technology development.

In reality, the Paris Agreement is a compilation of nationally determined intended contradictions. The UNFCCC Secretariat advanced no plan of action and its latest Agreement is totally divorced from the operations of the current economic and political systems. Human-induced climate change can now conveniently slip off the political and media agenda until the time comes for the next major cop-out due in 2023 when a ‘stock-taking’ exercise is scheduled. By then few, if any, of the politicians responsible for this farce are likely to be in office, and neither they nor the bureaucrats and negotiators who have celebrated this great success will ever be held accountable. An acceleration of climate change impacts seems to be the only thing that will now alter the complacency of the global community.

 

Download the full paper: 2016-Spash-This-Changes-Nothing

 

[3] The excess of three times is based upon large conservative estimates of the available remaining budget, namely 1400 Gt of CO2, under a 50% chance of achieving 28C (Raupach et al., 2014, p. 874). IPCC (2013) calculations are much lower, but even these have been criticised as neither up-to-date (referencing 2011) nor adequately taking into account non-energy emissions which reduce the amount left for fossil fuels. Doing so leads Anderson (2015) to estimate the remaining budget for energy emissions over the period 2015–2100, at about 650 Gt of CO2 for a ‘likely’ (66%) chance of staying below 28C. On this basis, the excess of reserves is over 6 times the available budget. Going down to 1.58C and/or increasing the chance of achieving the target increase(s) the excess even further.
[4] The commitments already made to exploiting new fossil fuel sources by 2012 were estimated as leading to the release of 300 Gt CO2 equivalent between 2012 and 2050 (Meindertsma & Blok, 2012). This is being added to the existing excess of unburnable stocks for the 28C target (McGlade & Ekins, 2015); see also previous note.

 

[Professor Clive L. Spash holds the Chair of Public Policy & Governance at WU in Vienna and is Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Values. He has conducted research on climate change economics and policy for over 25 years and his work in the area includes the book Greenhouse economics: Value and ethics as well as numerous articles. His critique of carbon trading was the subject of attempted censorship while he was a senior civil servant at the CSIRO in Australia. More information can be found at www.clivespash.org.]

New Dark Age

New Dark Age

Center for World Indigenous Studies

September 3, 2019

By Jay Taber

“New Dark Age”

 

 

As we watch UN member states flail around dealing with climate change impacts and The Globalization of Poverty, it is perhaps worth revisiting a paper by my colleague Phil Williams from 2008. In From The New Middle Ages To A New Dark Age: The Decline Of The State And U.S. Strategy, Dr. Williams examines the spread of disorder and discusses the need for a more holistic approach and a more coherent organizational structure. Rather than continue to focus on defeating enemies, notes Professor Williams, the US and other states will soon need to learn to manage chaos.

In his 2011 post Climate Change Ghost Dance: Duck and Cover, Rudolph C. Ryser likened the climate change talks in Durban to a ghost dance. As a glaring example of the failure of modern states to meet the needs of humanity, the death of the Kyoto protocols signals the beginning of a new dark age. As we come to terms with the ravaging of Earth and every living being in order to satisfy the insatiable appetite of Wall Street, we will need new tools and ancient wisdom to see us through. Abandoning faith in institutions and markets is a good first step.

Descending into a New Dark Age—an era ruled by transnational criminal networks—total chaos is becoming our new social reality. Due to the corroding influence of Agents of Chaos, we are already in a permanent state of war worldwide. The embedded nihilism in the U.S. State Department–after 50 years of intentional fraud–is astounding.

Escalating instability—caused by state-imposed austerity, internally displaced persons, war refugees, climate change, and a skyrocketing membership in religious fundamentalism—means our ability to mentally cope is diminishing. And the agents of chaos are in the driver’s seat. Indeed, the United States—with a Christian fundamentalist Vice President– is one heartbeat away from a theocracy.

As spiritual warriors like Sarah Palin battle to create a theocracy in the United States, American Indians are caught between tribal sovereignty and white rage. With the Tea Party on a rampage to reassert Christian white supremacy in American public institutions, it behooves us to understand the Puritan roots of this holy war.

Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria–-a documentary about antibiotics misuse that has promulgated untreatable lethal disease—suggests consumerism, and its attendant climate change impacts, might not be a future problem. As the age of antibiotics comes to an end, uncontrollable outbreaks of deadly bacteria threaten global public health. Likewise, the untreatable lethal disease of Puritanical conservatism–now attacking socialism and the Indigenous Peoples Movement–threatens democracy.

In Bron Taylor’s 2011 Religion Dispatches essay Debate Over Mother Earth’s Rights Stirs Fears of Pagan Socialism, he notes that, “Religious and political conservatives have long feared the global march of paganism and socialism. In their view,” says Taylor, “it was bad enough when Earth Day emerged in 1972, promoting a socialist agenda. But now, under the auspices of the United Nations, the notion has evolved into the overtly pagan, and thus doubly dangerous, International Mother Earth Day.”

With all 192 member states of the UN General Assembly supporting a 2009 resolution proclaiming International Mother Earth Day as proposed by the socialist Bolivian President Evo Morales, American conservatives hostile to environmentalism responded with their usual religious hysteria.

In Paul de Armond’s 1996 essay A Not So Distant Mirror, he observes that, “I never expected to find parallels between the militant heretics of the Middle Ages and the current convulsions on the far right. The realization thrust itself upon me while I was trying to understand what I was witnessing as I attended meetings of the ‘property rights’ groups which began promoting militia organizing in early 1994.

Everyone seemed instinctively to know what part they played; the endless rants by a variety of characters full of not only themselves, but also full of a sense of a divine mission in struggling against unholy forces. The typical far right meeting is very similar to a service in a lay Christian fellowship of the more militant fundamentalist evangelicals.”

Palin’s followers, who believe she has been anointed for this task by God, in 2008 were already discussing the necessity of assassinating her GOP running mate McCain if he interfered with Palin’s plan. According to religious scholars, the October 2008 anti-Muslim hate campaign in the US Midwest was a warm-up exercise for adherents of Palin’s religion and her domestic terrorism support base in the Militia Movement.