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Degeneration Nation 2018: The Darkest Hour

Which is more frightening? The destruction of the environment and the climate that sustain human civilization as we have known it? Or the collapse of democracy and the rise of endless war and fascism?

"The rise of authoritarian and fascist regimes, and the weakening of a common sense of purpose, cooperation and solidarity have brought us to a dangerous precipice." (Photo: Flickr/Dan Cook/cc)

"The rise of authoritarian and fascist regimes, and the weakening of a common sense of purpose, cooperation and solidarity have brought us to a dangerous precipice." (Photo: Flickr/Dan Cook/cc)

Welcome to Degeneration Nation 2018. The frightening truth is that our “profit-at-any-cost” economy and global empire, run by and for the one percent and multi-national corporations, aided and abetted by an out-of-control Congress and White House, is threatening our very survival. 

Our system of democracy, global co-existence, our physical and mental health, and the health of the living Earth—our climate, soils, forests, wetlands, watersheds, and oceans—is rapidly degenerating. The rhythms of nature—the atmosphere, the soil carbon cycle, the water cycle and the climate—are unraveling.

Which is more frightening? The destruction of the environment and the climate that sustain human civilization as we have known it? Or the collapse of democracy and the rise of endless war and fascism?

Even though many are still either in denial or preoccupied by the daily struggle for survival, the most serious threat that humans have ever encountered in our 150,000-year evolution is global warming and severe climate change.

A growing corps of climate experts have warned us repeatedly that we must stop burning fossil fuels. We must eliminate destructive food, farming and land-use practices. And we must draw down enough carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Earth's atmosphere through enhanced natural photosynthesis (regenerative food, farming, and land use), to return us to 350 parts-per-million (ppm), or better yet to pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm.

According to the majority of climate scientists we are fast approaching the point of no return, whereby global warming and climate change will morph into runaway global warming, melting of the polar ice-caps, catastrophic sea rise, evermore deadly forest fires, climate chaos, global crop failures, famine, and societal disintegration. This point of no return could arrive as soon as 25 years from now—that is if we don’t stop releasing greenhouse gases and start drawing down “legacy” CO2 from the atmosphere into our soils through regenerative food, farming and land use.

As world-renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen wrote:

“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current levels to at most 350 ppm…”

Global warming you ask? But what about the threat of nuclear war with North Korea or Iran? What about Trump’s recently reported statement that a strategic terrorist attack in the U.S would likely enable the Republicans to maintain control of Congress in 2018?

What about the fact that 62 million Americans actually voted for Donald Trump in November 2016 (65 million voted for Hillary and 92 million were too disgusted or demoralized to vote at all), and that most of these 62 million people still support him?

Or how about the Harvard-University of Melbourne study that found “the share of Americans who think that rule by the armed forces would be a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ thing rose from one in 16 in 1995 to one in six in 2014?”

What about increasing police brutality, misogyny, homophobia, racism, threats against immigrants, mass deportations, drug addiction, a crumbling infrastructure, and rampant unemployment and poverty?

And what about public health? A recent Rand Corporation study that found that 60 percent of Americans suffer from at least one chronic health condition such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis; 42 percent have two or more of these illnesses; and that these chronic diseases now account for more than 40 percent of the $3.5 trillion that people are handing over to Big Pharma and the medical industrial complex?

What about the U.S.’s endless, now trillion-dollar wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and a dozen other countries?

It’s not just the U.S. and North America that have degenerated to unprecedented levels.

Up until now most of global civil society, rather than united in a common global campaign to reverse climate change, deteriorating public health, poverty, forced migration and war, remains divided by national borders, ethnic identities, single- or limited-issue organizing, and class and gender divisions.

The rise of authoritarian and fascist regimes, and the weakening of a common sense of purpose, cooperation and solidarity have brought us to a dangerous precipice.

Will global civil society wake up in time, break down the walls and issue silos that divide us, connect the dots between all of our burning issues, and unite across borders in a common global campaign for survival and regeneration?

Beyond the darkest hour: regeneration

The good news is that there are a number of positive signs that people in the Americas, and all over the world, especially the youth, are waking up. These signs include:

  • An emerging world view or ideology is replacing the traditional paradigms of “unlimited growth” or “sustainability.” It’s called "Regeneration." This new paradigm, unlike the outdated ideologies of corporate capitalism or state socialism, has the power to unite the global grassroots—farmers, consumers, businesses and policymakers—in a joint campaign to reverse climate change and restore the environment. Regenerative food, farming and land use, coupled with 100-percent renewable energy, scaled up globally on the Earth’s 22 billion acres of farmland, rangeland, wetlands and forests, has the potential to not only mitigate, but to actually reverse global warming. Regenerative farming and land use can do this by drawing down through enhanced photosynthesis the 200 billion tons of excess carbon lodged in the atmosphere and sequestering it in our living soils and biota.  At the same time, this global regeneration can dramatically reduce conflict and rural poverty among the world’s 3.5 billion small farmers and rural villagers. Regenerative food and farming, focused on revitalizing soil and plant health, and on improving the economic situation of the world’s small farmers and rural villagers, also has the power to clean up the environment and qualitatively improve the nutritional density and quality of our foods, thereby eliminating the major causes of malnutrition, chronic disease and toxic exposure.
  • Every nation in the world, except for the Trump administration in Washington, D.C., has signed onto the Paris Climate Treaty to move to zero fossil fuel emissions by 2050. Many nations have also signed on to the “4 for 1000: Soils for Food Security and Climate Initiative, a bold international policy initiative to draw down enough excess atmospheric carbon through regenerative food, farming and land-use practices to not only mitigate, but actually reverse, global warming.
  • Renewable energy has begun to replace fossil fuels. It is now cheaper to invest in wind and solar than to build new coal plants. Soon it will be more profitable to install solar and wind power than to keep existing fossil fuel plants running. Electric cars and trucks will likely replace gas-powered vehicles within the next few decades. Investors and public institutions are starting to divest billions, and eventually trillions, of dollars from the fossil fuel industry.
  • A critical mass of the global grassroots is starting to wake up and resist—North, South, East, and West—organizing politically, slowly but surely developing climate-friendly and equitable solutions to our most pressing problems: climate, poverty, war, deteriorating public health, forced migration, unemployment and political corruption. In the U.S., progressive and radical forces, led by youth, women and minorities, will likely soon sweep the majority of corrupt politicians from office, not only in the nation’s 40,000 cities, towns and counties, but at the federal level as well. Similar trends are emerging in dozens of other countries as well, even in repressive dictatorships such as China, Russia and Iran. The bottom line is that people all over the world are fed up with corrupt politicians and greedy businessmen. There is no future for the youth, nor for any of us without fundamental change and regeneration.
  • Polls now indicate that the most popular national politician in the U.S. today is democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, who will likely run and be elected President of the U.S. in 2020. Similarly polls indicate that Lopez Obrador, with politics similar to Sanders, will be elected President of Mexico in July 2018. Similar progressive leaders are emerging in many countries, many of them youth, women, and minorities.

The darkest hour is indeed before the dawn. We’ve hit bottom here in the U.S., and in most of the countries of the world. The situation is dire. Time is short. But there’s still time to turn things around. For information on the emerging Regeneration International movement click here.

Join the growing U.S. network of citizen lobbyists pushing for regenerative policies—Citizens Regeneration Lobby.

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Ronnie Cummins

Ronnie Cummins

Ronnie Cummins is a veteran activist, author, and organizer. He is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica.

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