Korean Concentration Camps
The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea estimates that North Korea holds as many as 120,000 people in its system of concentration and detention camps, and that 400,000 people have died in these camps from torture, starvation, disease, and execution.
Some reports indicate that they also practice generational imprisonment:
Many prisoners of the camp were born there under North Korea’s “three generations of punishment”. This means anyone found guilty of committing a crime, which could be as simple as trying to escape North Korea, would be sent to the camp along with that person’s entire family. The subsequent two generations of family members would be born in the camp and must also live their entire lives and die there.
See this Wikipedia article for more details and links.
If you are unlucky enough to be born the grandchild of a person who tried to escape the country, you will serve slave labor for your entire life. Imagine the world-view you would have under those circumstances?
And we, in 2014, allow this to go on, while the baby face dictator gets media coverage.
Bees are Dying
In North America alone, the National Agriculture Statistics Service reported that there were 2.44 million honey-producing hives in the United States in February 2008, down from 4.5 million in 1980, and 5.9 million in 1947. This is also happening in similar proportions in Europe and the rest of the world. We don’t exactly know what is causing it, but we suspect pesticides. Our agriculture depends on bees to a large degree, and entire crops are in peril without sufficient numbers of bees available.
Overfishing the Oceans
Faced with the collapse of large-fish populations, commercial fleets are going deeper in the ocean and father down the food chain for viable catches. This so-called “fishing down” is triggering a chain reaction that is upsetting the ancient and delicate balance of the sea’s biologic system.
A study of catch data published in 2006 in the journal Science grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue apace, all the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.
Anthropogenic Climate Change
97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is causing climate change. We are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at rates that will result in global warming to a degree that the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica will melt, causing a rise of sea levels and overall changed in weather, resulting in droughts and many other climate related disasters, all within the next 100 years.
Most of the educated world agrees with this assessment. In the United States, however, there is a strong movement of “climate deniers” particularly in the conservative population that is well-funded by the oil and coal industries, putting the general consensus in question. Since the U.S. is by far the largest polluter in the world, this strong anti-climate-change sentiment has global implications. One of the arguments of deniers is that since China and India are just starting to pump pollution into the air, whatever we do will not offset that, so we might as well not even try. A significant percentage of the U.S. population seems to have bought into this philosophy.
We didn’t want to face that smoking was dangerous to our health, until the first generations of smokers started dying early in the millions in the 1960s and 1970, so the inevitable evidence eventually came and changed our attitude. This will happen with climate change, but the nature of the problem is much more calamitous in the event that climate scientists are right. We could ruin the planet for centuries or millennia – before it can recover again.
We are playing a big-stakes game of dice. Our conservatives are not even willing to hedge their bets – they’re betting the planet in exchange of jobs and profits.
Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue, one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years, as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species,
and climate change.
Depletion of Fossil Fuels
Oil companies are making record profits, and did so during the hard years of 2007, 2008 and 2009. Right now, the United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest oil producer in the world. Oil companies are raking it in while they can, because they know the gravy train is coming to an end. The International Energy Agency announced in 2006 that the world had hit “Peak Oil” meaning that oil production worldwide had hit the maximum. Going forward from Peak Oil, it will be harder and more expensive to extract and deliver oil, and new supplies will lag behind new demand.
The evidence for is, of course, is the price we are now paying at the pump, which is more than twice what it was just five years ago. The free market speaks the ultimate truth here. Oil is in more demand than can be fulfilled.
There is a lot of controversy about the Peak Oil theory. People argue that the Peak Oil crowd does not know what they are talking about. So, for a moment, let’s put aside all studies and all science, and especially all American politics.
It took about 450 million years to make all the oil in the world. Oil is basically the end-result of millions of years of sunshine (solar energy) being trapped in organic material, mostly plants. The earth is not making any more of the stuff at an appreciable rate. About a hundred years ago we started using it up by burning it and as ingredients for manufacturing, and we have made a measurable dent in our supply. If you trust the doom-sayers, we have about 20 years of oil left at the current consumption. Some say 20 to 50 years. Wild and crazy optimists say 100 years. But it’s limited, very limited, and we will run out.
The question is not if Peak Oil is real. The only question we may ask is if it really happened in 2006, or if it’s still off in the future, perhaps in 2016 or 2026.
I once calculated [see formula here] that roughly every day we are using up as much fuel as it took nature 5,000 years to create.
We. Will. Run. Out. Of. Oil.
When the time finally comes, perhaps centuries hence, our descendants will have figured out how to make do without it. But there are legitimate uses of fossil fuels in reasonable amounts, and they will wish we had not squandered it to make plastic grocery bags or plastic forks for one time use; or for teenagers to drive to the mall. Fossil fuels are a limited resource, and when they are all gone, we’ll have to wait another 450 million years to get more, and haul them here from another planet with life on it.
Our strategy is pretty weird, isn’t it?
There are more people in slavery today than any time in previous history. Slavery has many faces. Keeping people trapped in sweatshops in Bangladesh so we can buy cheap shirts at the mall in the United States is a form of slavery. Holding young girls as sex objects is a form of slavery. Bringing laborers from Pakistan to work in construction in Dubai and taking away their passports is a form of slavery.
We are making it possible and we let it happen by our willingness to consume the products of the various forms of slavery – at Wal-Mart and all the other retail stores in our neighborhoods. Go to the mall and try to find a shirt made in the United States, and you will recognize what I mean.
Wars over Religion
It’s 2014 and we are still bickering and shooting each other over whose god is right and whose is wrong. It’s been going on for thousands of years, and we’re still willing to die for stuff written in books in the bronze age or in medieval times. I know people in and from Israel, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. They are all good human beings, people who only want to make their lives and the lives of their children better. That’s what everybody wants. If we just stopped bringing gods into the picture, we’d all get along just fine.
The gods are propped up by those that get fat off of them. The religious leaders wearing Rolexes and driving Bentleys. The politicians who build palaces. The kings who tax the rest of their countrymen. And the whole religious food chain below them, all the way down to the basket that’s passed down the rows of pews on Sunday morning.
I say we just abolish religion and save humanity in the process. But I am naïve.