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Geopolitics of Quantum Buddhism: Our Pre-Hydrocarbon Tao Future

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From Rio to Rio with Kyoto, Copenhagen and Durban in between, the conclusion remains the same: There is fundamental disagreement on the realities of this planet and the ways we can address them.

A decisive breakthrough would necessitate both wider contexts and a larger participatory base to identify problems, to formulate policies, to broaden and to synchronize our actions. Luminaries from the world of science, philosophy, religion, culture and sports have been invited to each of these major gatherings. But, they – as usual – have served as side-events panelists, while only the politicians make decisions. Who in politics is sincerely motivated for the long-range and far reaching policies? This does not pay off politically as such policies are often too complex and too time-consuming to survive the frequency and span of national elections as well as the taste or comprehension of the median voter.

Our global crisis is not environmental, financial or politico-economic. Deep and structural, this is a crisis of thought, a recession of courage, of our ideas, all which leads us into a deep, moral abyss. Small wonder, there was very little headway made at the 2012 Rio Summit.

Between the fear that the inevitable will happen and the lame hope that it still wouldn’t, we have lived… That what can be and doesn’t have to be, at the end, surrenders to something that was meant to be…[1]

Is Greece (or Spain) lagging 20 years behind the rest of the EU or is Greece today well ahead of the rest of the continent, which will face a similar fate two decades from now?[2] Beyond the usual political rhetoric, this is the question that many circles in Europe and elsewhere are discreetly, but thoroughly discussing. In a larger context, the intriguing intellectual debates are heating up. Issues are fundamental: Why has science converted into religion? (Practiced economy is based on the over 200-years old liberal theory of Adam Smith and the over 300-years old philosophy of Hobbes and Locke– basically, frozen and rigidly canonized into a strict exegesis. Scientific debate has been replaced by a blind obedience to old dogmas.) Why has religion been transformed into confrontational political doctrine (holy scripts are misinter-preted and ideologically misused in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the Americas and Africa)? Why have (secular or theological) ethics been turned from bio-centric comprehension into anthropocentric environmental egotism and ignorance (treating nature as property, rather than a coherent system that contextualizes our very life)? Why – despite all our research studies, institutions and instruments – are our inequalities and exclusions widening? Why has freedom been reduced to a lame here-us-now choice to consume? Why does the achieved degree of our economic development and stage of our technological advancement not enable society for self-realization?[3] To the contrary, our democracies are in retreat, our visions are exhausted and self-confidence depleted, while the socio-cultural and political participatory base is thinning. After all, is Rio ahead of itself 20 years later?

The resonance of these vital debates is gradually reaching the public. No one can yet predict the range and scope of their responses, internally and externally. One thing is certain though: The simple mechanical transmission of global economic (and regional monetary) integration cannot be a substitute for any viable post-industrial, knowledge-based development strategy, scientific advancement or cultural endorsement. Even less so, it can substitute for any social cohesion and the cross-generational contract, environmental needs (including the biocapacity and biodiversity), or maintaining general public mental and physical health.

 

(Tao)[4] Creek, not only Greek

By roughly summing up the data provided by the World Bank and OECD, the world’s gross annual output is somewhere between €85 and 95 trillions (thousand billions). Servicing of different loans and related interest rates to public and private debts, per annum, cumulatively costs this planet some € 195 to 210 trillions. In simple terms, it means we produce 1, but owe 2 to the different credit institutions.[5] How can it be that year after year we work harder and harder, but are still becoming socio-economically poorer and culturally pauperized, while generational accounting gives us a worrying future prospect? Is our environmental situation any better? By applying the same data’s ecological footprint ratios, mankind annually extracts from the ecosystem the biomatter and minerals for 1, out of which only 10% end up as a final product, but at the same time we pollute waters, land, air and near outer space with non-degradable and/or toxic, solid or aerosol, particles and noise for 2. Despite all the purifiers, cleaners, separators, distillations, silencers and filters, our surroundings are becoming filthier and filthier. Does this earn the right to be called ‘development’ at all? Over centuries, especially in the last decades, we indeed intensified, rationalized and optimized our economic activities as well as related technologies and information flows, but could it be that despite our push with the right intensity, the overall direction of that push is wrong?[6]

To answer these simply-worded but questions of sensitive and complex (selfhood) meaning, we definitely have to enlarge the context. For that sake, let’s return to Greece.

First, a few words about a term in frequent common use: cosmos. The expression cosmos itself is of Greek origins (κόσμος) and means: a harmony, perfect order,[7] and is opposite to the Greek word khaos/chaos (χάος), which means: confusion, disorder, asynchrony (also an unordered and formless primordial mass or even nothingness). The fascinating classic-Greek mythology thoroughly describes the creation of the world, as an event marked by the final victory of the forces of cosmos over the forces of chaos. It is a thrilling ancient text, marvelous in its beauty and symbolism.

 

“You Are the Sunshine of My Life…”[8]

In the modern scientific and philosophical (or astronomic, esoteric and theological) sense, the word cosmos should describe (a dependent origination of) everything (of the manifested, comprehensible and visible universe as well as the non-comprehensible potentiality and invisible universes/multiverse) that nature and/or God has created.[9] As everything that has been, is and will ever be conceived as a time–space, matter–energy (with all the properties and all their conceivable aggregate states/stages, elevations and degrees), particle – wave-function (consciousness-information), cosmos is nature and/or God itself. It isall that ever begins (from), lasts (with/in) and ends in (returns to) the quantum field.

Contemporary astrophysics claims that the known or comprehensible universe is expanding, still being powered by the quantum event generally referred to in literature as the big-bang (or perhaps the Higgs Boson particle recently reviled by CERN). Up to now, there is no general consensus of the scientific community on what is the property (nature) of the invisible, inter-stellar and inter-galactic space (dark matter). However, it is certain that the visible stellar universe is mainly composed of two elements only: helium and hydrogen. Thus, stars – this backbone of the universe – are predominantly (to 99%) made of these two elements. Tantalizingly enough, the colony of progressing biped primates, while evenly spreading over this planet, has developed a strong technological, civilizational and physiological culture of addiction to a completely other element: carbon.

Earth is practically bathing in immense spectrums of sun-rays. This solar radiation that our star supplies above us is essentially an infinite source of energy.[10] The core of our mother planet is still kinetically and thermally very active, meaning that humans in fact sit atop a source of inexhaustible energy provided by the gravitational, magnetic and seismic events and enormous residual geothermal heat of the Earth.

How did we – advanced civilization – miss this? Residing between two infinite energy aggregators, how did we end up with hydrocarbons – with the carbonized remains of passed life? How did we end up tapping just a thin upper lithosphere and keep obsessively digging and drilling for fossil fuels? How did we develop this necrophilic obsession?[11] How did we manage to focus our human and economic development on carbons, and steadily develop the so-called ‘technologies’ that apparently take us right into a collision course with the universe and with everything that surrounds our biosphere? Why do we keep mankind enveloped in an exhausting competition and dangerous confrontation over a tiny, finite portion of fossilized carbons situated beneath the surface of our habitat? Finally, do we live cosmos or chaos?!

How did things go wrong in the first place? Evolutionarily, our 2-million-year history as hunters-gatherers – exposed to stark scarcities, rival gangs of humans and other predators, permanent seasonal oscillations, harsh climatic and topographic conditions, constituting an integral part of the natural food-chain[12] – has taught us to observe things sequentially, horizontally, territorially, and linearly. Not cognitively. That’s how we (through the primor-dial mechanical solidarity of an endangered, insecure herd) learned to prolong our existence at the expense of other living creatures, even turning their fossilized remains into fuel.

“Get your kicks on Route 66…”[13]

Admittedly, the way we are developing and deploying the anthropotechniques indicates that we did not manage to depart significantly from the central pre-cognitive challenge which we humans share with all other planetary forms of life – survival.[14] Our central cognitive question, a quest that should largely distinguish us from all other living forms: What am I doing here?, or How can I bridge my past, my presence, with my future? – remains largely unanswered. Our ‘developmental’ palliatives are corrosive, autistic, particularized, aggressive, reactive, incoherent and harming for this planet and its life. Rigid in a dynamic environment, we are still captivated by the horizontalities of our insecure existence, all which conditioned our lower laying brain foundations throughout our 2-million-year long hominid history.[15]  

Anthropology usually differentiates homo sapiens (as an early, primitive hominine/homo) from homo sapiens sapiens (advanced, modern man). By relating our species to its ability to extract and consume calories with the help of different anthropotechniques[16] (presently called technologies), we may roughly divide the hominid’s evolution in the following way:

  1. 2 million years/100.000/50.000 – 10.000 years ago: a low-energy-consumption (conservative-solar techniques) driven human race;
  2. 10.000 – 200 years ago: a medium-energy-consumption (hydraulic-agrarian, advanced-solar techniques) driven human race;
  3. 200 years ago (the event of the so-called industrial revolution) – nowadays: high-energy-consumption (hydrocarbon techniques) driven human race.[17]

Nevertheless, by observing the dynamics within the human culture and ability of such a civilization to maintain a natural equilibrium with the organic and inorganic surroundings, we can make the following classification of history of our race:

  1. barbarians without technology (early humans) – no-to-moderate disturbance of the animalistic civilization, and then;
  2. ‘mobilized/progressed’ barbarians with interfering ‘technology’ (the so-called modern men) – excessive disturbance of the acultural civilization.[18]

The irreversible extraction of crude that we falsely call ‘production’ of ‘black gold’ is simply a fallacy of myopic, lethal addiction. The anthropotechnique which is exclusively fixated on tapping a tiny portion of the lithosphere in search of fossil remains – and then combusting those remains to convert them into our prime energy source (with loads of collateral waste), is a barbarism per se, and can only be marked as ‘technology’.

Yet, the scope, depth and endurance of our anti-intellectual limbic ignorance and reptilian greed is so fascinating, as it is our fixation with the locality, with the territorial animal inside of us. Homo lupus ergo sum. Our cerebral cortex (big, upper brain) is still a hostage of the reptilian (lower part of our) complex, which keeps us in a disastrous and obsessive captivity of the lower brain-determined, linear, instinctive reflex to acquire ever large possessions of resources on the given territory. This here-us-now matrix deprives us of any ability to enlarge the perspective and to grant it relief of the coherent, consciousness-based, cognitive time-space dimension.[19]  

Hence, no wonder that we are paying a heavy endpoint price while still singing the self-assuring lullaby: save the environment! It is simply a misstatement: the environment will survive, we will be eliminated.

“Oh, Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz…”[20] – the Tao wisdom lost

That is how and where we set our obscure priorities: Ever perpetuated competition that keeps us in barbaric, reptilian confrontation over scarce resources, with the ‘technology’ which unstoppably emits greenhouse gasses, turning our earth into a planetary gas-chamber,[21] on the way to a self-prepared global holocaust. Technology is not a state of arts (or science); technology is a state of mind![22]It is not a linear progression in mastering the natural science disciplines (alienating conservation), but rather acquiring a coherent cognitive and emphatic critical insight (liberating exploration). This ‘technology’ will turn into actual technology when –or better say– if our conscious, a self-actualizing, nonlinear, multidimensional and cluster-thinking capacitated upper brain finally takes a firm command over the reptilian, insecure, territorial, assertive, an eat-multiply-survive reflex/instinct-induced lower brain.[23]

Following the outbreak of the still unsettled financial crisis, there is a growing anti-neoliberal sentiment. But, do not blame economy or (the dogmatic exegesis of) the credit institutions. It is yet another anthropotechnique enveloped in the human conscripts, in the codes of conducts devised on our long, indecisive and inconclusive evolutionary march.[24] What is wrong is our perception, or better say the observer’s consideration spot, our cognitive departure point.

Why are we persistently projecting the circumstances that environmentally conditioned us two mil. years ago? Finite and depletable resources are something that our reptilian complex has gotten accustomed to in the lasting course of evolution. All our subsequent socio-economic fabrics, customs and normative orders, and politico-military constructs have been emotionally charged. Architectured around an emotional attachment, they have been the creation of a deep psychologization based on a fearful dependency over the horizontal and finite. We are the fear of scarcity– obsessed culture.[25] Adequate social cohesion and mobilization as well as our overall comprehension of the infinite, renewable and inexhaustible, would require cognition. This –in turn– would mark an end of domination to the reptilian brain’s binary-mechanical and instinctively- imposed and maintained securitization and control.

So far, control itself remained the central solidifier of our civilizational vertical in managing the unpredictable and instable human (group or individual) dynamics. Fixation on finite resources and their consummation in controlled space and controlled time are the ties that bind the human culture – a social construct of psychologized securitization we conceive as comprehensible and permissible, therefore possible.[26] Infinity eliminates the premium of control, and of mechanically-imposed and externally-induced coercive cohesion based on ever perpetuated competition and confrontation. An antidote to anxieties and seeds of fear, infinity eventually de-psychologizes and demonopolizes the reptilian command over our cognitivity.[27]  

Ergo, the grand mistake of our evolution is not an emergence of the cerebral cortex, our cent-ral problem is that the upper brain has developed to service and aid the reptilian complex with anthropotechniques (to be enslaved by it), not vice versa. For such a new evolutionary arrival, admittedly our species developed fast– as (limbic drive is possessive and) the reptilian binary-instinctive brain is highly efficient. Though efficient, it is not as far-reaching! Thus, today in Rio, as 20 years ago at the same place, we do face similar unsolvable dilemmas and grave, ever mounting, problems. Nowadays, we seemingly understand the obstacle– limits to growth. However, our limit is not (solely) territorial or linear, it is substantively cognitive.[28] Living in a limbo of our unfinished evolution and our own denial of it: We overused all life-contents around us that we plainly borrowed from the future past, while we overlook all the time what we do have (with us) in our past future. Simply, there is far more to learn about ourselves from our long unrecorded chapters of history then from the times we started to keep records.

 

“Tomorrow Never Dies”[29]

In his famous speech of 1944, Max Planck spelled out something that philosophy, religion, astronomy and physics were indicating ever since the classic Greeks (or to be precise, since the ancient Vedic Sanskrit texts).[30] It laid down the foundation, not only of quantum physics[31] but also, of the so-called Unified Theory of Everything (TOE) as well as the (Coherent key to) Secrets of Creation. Moreover, it rejuvenated and reaffirmed many of the Buddhist Tantric perspectives, especially the metaphysical visions contained within the Yogacara,[32] as well as one of paticcasamuppada[33] – the so-called dependent non-directional origination.

Hence, if one of the newest TOEs postulated by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow is correct – that the quantum universe, as a self-excited circuit, tends to create meaning and that the observers are part of the system – than the cosmos self-actualizes itself.[34] It concludes that, as the universe evolves, enabling organization to emerge, our consciousness creates the universe/multiverse.[35] If so, it leads to a self-actualization of us in cosmos too, as then the fundamental nature of reality should be a comprehensive and coherent self-perception.[36]

This TOE would then suppose our constant mastering of arts, which is not a ‘technology’ that preserves status quo, but is a technology that opens, liberates and expands. How can the carbon–addicted culture of fragile and insecure, but here-us-now assertive and corrosive bipeds, whose overall dynamics are largely determined by the binary (fight-flight, consume-abandon) actions of the reptilian complex consciously project an intelligent universe predominantly composed of helium and hydrogen in all its immensity?[37]

The answer is easier than it seems at first glance. It goes back to one of the most intriguing questions of both philosophy and astronomy: Is there any life out there?

Neither the very peripheral position of our solar system within the stellar cluster of the Milky Way, nor a remote place of our galaxy in the known cosmos would indicate any centrality, any exclusivity of and monopoly over conscious life to us. Ergo, if such a periphery can sustain a variety (constancy) of life forms and development of cognitive brains, then the rest of the universe must simply flourish in intelligent life[38] – this is the only logical explanation.

Proof?

While being everyone and having everything, all the rest of the immense cosmic intelligence self-actualizes and projects the solar equilibrium, a coherent helium-hydrogen-manifested and as such illuminated universe. It is simply waiting for us – to succeed or fail in departing from the self-imposed asymmetries, scarcities, convulsions, disharmonies and imbalances created by having fossilized fuel – in our attempt to return back to our pre-carbon, solar Tao future.[39]

We’ll either combust ourselves to death or finally comprehend the inevitability of the obvious – of our cosmic being, as there is no having without being, and there is no being without or against universe. After all, there is no world of things without or on expenses of cosmos of life. This requires a resolute departure from the primordial hunter-gatherer attitude, and decisive deployment of our cognitivity. Chaos or cosmos – a simple choice.

Epilogue, not far away from Rio[40]

“…Deep in the rainforests of the Amazon, the Achuar and the Huaorani Indians are assembled for their daily ritual. Every morning, each member of the tribe awakens before dawn, and once gathered together in that twilight hour, as the world explodes into light, they share their dreams. This is not simply an interesting pastime, an opportunity for storytelling: to the Achuar and the Huaorani, the dream is owned not by the dreamer alone, but collectively by the group, and the individual dreamer is simply the vessel the dream decided to borrow to have a conversation with the whole tribe.

The tribes view the dream as a map for their wakening hours. It is a forecaster of what is to come for all of them. In dreams they connect with their ancestors and the rest of the universe. The dream is what is real. It is their waking life that is a falsehood…”[41]

This article is an integral version of the key-note speech to be presented at the 11th International E – Forum (Int. Innovation and Entrepreneurship Exposition), 03–06 September 2012, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

References:

 

  1. Andric, I. (1982), Bosnian Chronicle, Harvill Press London (Travnicka Hronika, originally published 1945)
  2. The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992), UN CED – Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, 1992
  3. The UN CSD/Rio+20 Prep Documents Set including the UNEP and UN Sec-G. consolidated Reports (2011-12)
  4. Sileitsch, H. (2012), In zwanzig Jahren sind wir alle Griechen, Wiener Zeitung – Austria (page: 1, 3 and 25-26)
  5. Veenhoven, R. (2009) World Database of Happiness, Studies in Social and Cultural Transformation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands
  6. World Bank (2012), World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development, WB Publications
  7. OECD (2012), OECD Economic Outlook (Preliminary Version, May 2012), OECD Publications
  8. IEA (2012), World Energy Outlook 2012 – Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas, OECD – IEA Publications
  9. WWF, GFp, IoZ and ESA (2012), Living Planet: Biodiversity, biocapacity and better choices, Report 2012
  10. Sagan, C. (1980), Cosmos Random House, NY /Carl Sagan Productions Inc.
  11. Bajrektarevic, A. (2002), Environmental Ethics /Anthropo-techniques/, Lectures/Students Reader, Vienna (IMC University Krems), Austria
  12. Mumford, L. (1970), The Myth of the Machine – Pentagon of Power (Technics and Human Development Vol.2), Mariner Books (Ed. 1974)
  13. Ibn Khaldûn (1398), Muqddimah – al-Kitābu l-ʻibār (the Prolegomenon – An Introduction to History), Princeton University Press (Ed. 1967)
  14. Engels, F. (1972), The Origin of The Family, Private Property and the State, Penguin Classics (Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats, fist published in 1884, Hottingen–Zürich)
  15. Spencer, H. (1855), A System of Synthetic Philosophy (Principles of Biology, Psychology and Sociology), Brighton (6th Edition, 1900), Obscure Press
  16. Campanella T. (1623), Civitas Solis (The City of the Sun), SBF Genoa (1919) La città del Sole: Utopia alla ricerca della felicità o incubo totalitario?, Nabu Edizioni
  17. Bryson, B. (2004), A Short History of Nearly Everything, Broadway Books
  18. Hunter, M. (2011), Opportunity, Strategy and Entrepreneurshi – A Meta Theory (Vol. II), Nova Science Publishers
  19. Kulic, S. (2004), Neoliberalism as Social-Darwinism, Prometej Zagreb
  20. Fleming, G. (2011), Quantum–coherent energy transfer: Implications for biology and new energy technologies, Conference proceedings, University of California, Berkeley
  21. EBBS (2011), European Brain and Behavior Societ – Cognitive Neuroscience Lectures (2008–2012) EBBS Leiden
  22. Bajrektarevic, A. (2012), Geopolitics of Technology and the Hydrocarbon Status Quo (Why Kyoto Will Fail Again), Geopolitics of Energy, 34 (1), CERI Canada 2012
  23. Flisar, A. (2007), Concept Paper: Quantum Mind – Launching the Oxford Academy of Total Intelligence, Oxford
  24. Acemoglu, D. and Robinson, J.A. (2012), Why Nations Fail – The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, Crown Publishing New York
  25. Bajrektarevic, A. (2012), Climate Change – Humans Remain the Same, Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice 4 (1): 2012, Addleton Publishers
  26. Tesla, N. (1915), How Cosmic Forces Shape our Destines, New York American (February 07th, 1915, Page: 9)
  27. Planck, M. (1944), Das Wesen der Materie (The Nature of Matter), speech at Florence, Italy, 1944 (retrieved from: Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)
  28. Hawking, S. & Mlodinow, L. (2010), The Grand Design: New Answers to the Ultimate Question of Life, Bantam Books
  29. Talbot, D. and Thornhill, W. (2007), The Electric Universe, Mikamar Publishing
  30. Smetham, G. (2011), Quantum Buddhism: Dancing in Emptiness – Reality Revealed at the Interface of Quantum Physics and Buddhist Philosophy, Graham Smetham–Shunyata Press
  31. Stapp, H.P. (2009), Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics, Springer (3rd Edition)
  32. Vedral, V. (2010), Decoding Reality – The Universe as Quantum Information, Oxford University Press



Taken from Bosnian Chronicle by Ivo Andric, the 1961 winner of the Nobel Prize in literature.

For example, one of the eldest world dailies, Wiener Zeitung published since 1703, brings a cover page with the following title “In zwanzig Jahren sind wir alle Griechen” (In 20 years we will all be Greeks). WZ, 10 March 2012.

The innovative, pioneer work of prof. Veenhoven (from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam) on the World Database of Happiness is chronically underfunded ever since established in 1998, although representing an extraordinary and indispensible research of its kind. In his unique narrative of 1972, the 4th King of Bhutan (Jigme Singye Wangchuck) reaffirmed the centuries old national code of conduct: “if the government cannot create happiness (dekid) for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist”. Thus, the concept of the GNH (Gross National Happiness) is even embedded in the Bhutan’s constitution (Article 9) as an alternative to the generally practiced GDP. This fact is largely ignored by practitioners and academia. Seems, as if nobody in today’s world is interested in pursuit of happiness.

Tao (Chinese ; pinyin) literary means ‘The Path’. In the larger context of ancient Chinese thought, it catalyzed the LaoTze-an foundation of the later philosophical and religious/esoteric conscripts.  

Some 20 years ago, the value of overall global financial transactions was 12 times the entire world’s gross annual product. By the end of 2011, it was nearly 70 times as big.

E.g. There is not a single peer-reviewed international journal that has published even one scientific article in the last 30 years which reports on factual evidences that any organic (marine and continental biota) or inorganic (soil, glaciers, water, polar caps, etc) system is doing better on this planet. There has not been a single RE or UN report in the last 30 years that credibly denies a worrying increase in severity and frequency of “natural” catastrophes worldwide. Finally, there is not a single internationally recognized medical journal that has not been constantly reporting on an alarming increase in skin-cancers, respiratory and allergy related diseases for the past 30 years. (To put aside the alarming studies on the severe impact of the so-called video media entertainment on the early neurological development of children and the overall mental and physical health of youth – as none of these games is either evolutionary or bio-neurologically justified for a proper development of the child’s cerebral cortex.) Hence, all the planetary systems are in retreat; drifting, decomposing, malfunc-tioning, rarifying, and vanishing. Instead of a resolute action to change our dangerous patterns, the only self-assuring comfort comes from our ignorance and anti-intellectual urge to escapism (by waiting for a while and then offering more of the same).

Ancient Chinese Mandarin translates the word ‘cosmos’ as yuzhou (宇宙). Astonishingly precise, even for Einstein’s relativity, this literally means space–time (yuspace & zhoutime). Indeed, observing skies above us is always both a space and a time travel. While the most of modern European languages use either Greek (cosmos) or Latin (universe) word, Southern Slavs have nearly esoteric term svemir (Russian вселенная): ‘omnipresent tranquility’ (sve – overall/total, mir – peace, harmony).  

Taken from Stevie Wonder’s song: ‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ (1973).

Or as Sagan writes: ‘The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.’ /Carl Sagan, Cosmos (page, nr.4)/.

According to the WMO (World Meteorological Organization), the solar energy reaching the earth surface by far exceeds the global energy production of mankind – over 20,000 times. That means that our PEM (primary energy mix) has to provide us with the current amounts for 20,000 consecutive years to reach the scale of what solar radiation supplies us with annually, all for free!!

We falsely believed, throughout the 20th century, that the nuclear holocaust will put an end to the entire human race. No! It will be a slow, nearly-unnoticed, gradual but steady construction of the global gas chamber – of the troposphere filled by the green-house gas emissions. Certainly, no other species on this planet are both biotrophic and necrotrophic, at the same time highly corrosive. Hence, the way we extract, produce, transport, distribute and consume, the way we keep all this running on a blind obedience to fossil hydrocarbons, and finally the way how we do reflect, contemplate and study on all that, inevitably takes us right into the environmental holocaust.  

It seems that the latest discoveries on the dynamics of property are indicating that the photosynthesis (a fundamental process of biology that creates life on the bottom of the food-chain. By capturing carbon dioxide, it supplies the upper echelons of this chain with a released oxygen and provides a carbon-hydrate caloric food) is powered by the quantum event. Consequently, a new discipline – quantum biology by words of Graham Fleming, a physical/biodynamics chemist – suggests ‘that the quantum mechanical effect might be the key to the ability of green plants, through photosynthesis, to almost instantly transfer stellar/solar energy from molecules in light harvesting complexes to molecules in electrochemical reaction centers.’ This simply means that electrons quantumly test out all available paths and ‘choose’ the most efficient one. It represents an almost conscious decision in which a quantum mechanical exploration is conducted, and then also quantum mechanically the most accurate pathway is selected to do the instant and highly efficient transfer.

Taken from Nat Kings Cole’s song: ‘Route 66’(1946), written by Bobby Troup.

In such a constellation the cerebral cortex is reduced to only service the territoriality of reptilian (lower) brains. Evolution-wise, humans are – like other mammals – social animals, but also territorial: An areal presence on certain territory, humans are historically linking to its very survival. Traditionally, it was not much of the cognitively-induced transcendent dimension – morality, but far more simply an instinctive fear of conflicting territorial claim of rivals, which kept humans from uncontrolled maximization of territorial (and any other) claim. These are the origins of our everlasting grand-fascinations with fences, borders, demarcation lines, exclusion zones, buffer belts, frontiers, boundaries and related sorts of divisions, particularizations, differentiations, sectarianism, gaps, cleavages and separations.  

The eldest layer of our brains structure, the so-called reptilian complex is a center of our instincts – reproduction and survival (something we share with most other animals). The limbic system – the second evolutionary arrival, according to neuroscience – is a center of emotions. The last to emerge, the upper brain – neocortex/cerebral cortex, by far the largest segment of our brains, is a center of our cognitivity, of reason. While emotions and reason are complex (therefore slow and sometimes inaccurate), the instincts are highly efficient, fast and accurate as they operate on the binary-code fight-or-flight principle without thinking and feeling or recalling previous experiences. It is therefore characterized as: cold and rigid, calculative and insecure, territorial and assertive, greedy and ignorant, hierarchical and opportunistic. Environmentally conditioned from its first formation days on, the Reptilian brain is efficient, but is not far-reaching! Driven by the grab-consume-run (fear-anger complex), it strikingly opposes cognitivity (exploration complex) – human autonomy, self-actualization, empathic solidarity, coherence, mastery, virtue and purpose – all of which are centered in cerebral cortex. (Put into the language of state organs: lower brain would be the armed forces – capacitated with the rapid response, and the upper brains would be a parliament – with the time consuming and tedious, consensual and multilayer procedures, but of far-reaching deliberations).

As anthropotechniques, we should assume the (precognitive and) conscious clustering of different experiences, knowledges, discoveries, patents and the like; its practical application in any human activity (including all modes of horizontal and vertical transmission) aimed at acquiring resources for consumption in space and time by variety of tools and weaponry. As the only compensation for the biological and neurological limitations of humans (inferior to other forms of life on the planet), the anthropotechniques were answering the central pre-cognitive concern of humans: Survival! This is a self-coined definition that for years I use in my lectures on the Institutions and Instruments of Sustainable Development (chapter: Environmental ethics). As such, the definition is extensive enough to describe the event of first usage of the sharp stone/broken bone by early homo faber all the evolutionary way to the development and deployment of the nuclear bomb.

If we observe the exponential growth in hydrocarbon consumption over the last 150 years, the very amplitude of the demographic growth will follow it with astonishing complementarity over the same period. The conclusion is interesting: past the industrial age, humans have become ‘grand alchemists’ (to use the expression of thinkers like David Suzuki and Wes Jackson), turning fossilized hydrocarbons into human biomass.

The life of plants and animals converted by the geomorphologic action of earth (forces that are enabled by the cosmos, in general and the sun of our mono-stellar system, in particular) into oil-gas-coal has been possible ONLY due to a hydrogen-helium generated solar energy. Our fossil-carbon originated energy is only the carbon-sequestrated stellar energy stored in the past! Tapped, released and combusted today, it punishes its colony of advanced bipeds – us, as parasites – with a lot of smoke. It is actually a message from our solar past sent to our solar future: if we eliminate the pre-Cambrian caloric intermediary between us and energy in our anti-solar presence, clear radiant skies full of sun will (re-) appear right above us. Maybe above said sounds esoteric, yet it is not a less accurate and authentic finding.

Annotated from my recent writings, it states as following: “…the main problem with Green/Renewable (de-carbonized) energy is not the complexity, expense, or the lengthy time-line for fundamental technological breakthrough; the central issue is that it calls for a major geopolitical breakthrough. Oil and gas are convenient for monopolization (of extraction location and deployed machinery, as well as of international flows, of pricing and consumption modes) – it is a physical commodity of specific locality. Any green technology (not necessarily of particular location or currency) sooner or later will be de-monopolized, and thereby made available to most, if not to all… Ergo, oil (and gas) represents far more than energy. Petroleum…is a socio-economic, psychological, cultural, financial, security and politico-military construct, a phenomenon of civilization that architectures the world of controllable horizontalities which is currently known to, possible and permitted, therefore acceptable for us.(Geopolitics of Technology and the Hydrocarbon Status Quo /Why Kyoto Will Fail Again/, Geopolitics of Energy, 34 (1), CERI Canada 2012)

Taken from Janis Joplin’s song: ‘Mercedes Benz’(1970).

We are even celebrating this gas-chamber: note the title of the recently released annual energy report of the IEA (International Energy Agency): Golden Rules for a Golden Age of GasGolden Age of Gas! (For our global Auschwitz!) Seriously?

Something that accelerates our disconnection with both oneself and the rest (be it via diverting banalities of ads, ‘entertainment’, social media, ‘infotainment’ or other sorts of enormous noise), making us ever more alienated, insecure and self-destructive cannot be referred as a technology that serves the enhancement of mankind.

Contextualizing a well-known argument of ‘defensive modernization’ of Fukuyama along with Kissinger’s ‘confrontational nostalgia’, it is to state that throughout the entire human history a technological drive was aimed to satisfy the security (and control) objective; and it was rarely (if at all) driven by a desire to ease human existence or to enhance human emancipation and liberation of societies at large. Thus, unless operationalized by the system, both intellectualism (human autonomy, mastery and purpose), and technological breakthroughs were traditionally felt and perceived as a threat.

No surprise that we are cannibalizing our future by sacrificing our youth (with massive unemployment, pollutions and other extended debts) to please the shadowy but omnipotent Credit Rating Agencies, while we have never contemplated creation of the Moral Rating Agency.      

Thus, self-imprisoned in fallacy of such a cosmic disharmony, we must look so pathetic by standing alone against the immensity of this omnipotent and ultrarich universe.  

The highly intriguing theory (supported by the extensive geological evidences including the bacteriological analysis of deep-laying hydrocarbons) about the abiotic nature of oil and its practically infinite recreation in the lower geological formations of earth was presented some 20 years ago. These findings were quickly dismissed, and the theory itself largely ignored and forgotten. The same happened with the highly elaborate plans of Nikola Tesla to exploit a natural geo-electrical phenomenon for the wireless transfers of high energy for free. Why? Infinity eliminates the premium of deeper psychologisation, as it does not necessitate any emotional attachment – something abundantly residing in nature cannot efficiently mobilize our present societies.  

Or, in the words of Prof. Murray Hunter: “…And this is the other fallacy that we have been deceived by. In our wonderment of this great technology that elevated humankind to the level of god, we missed the major ingredient that technology requires. Technology without “knowing” is useless, if not dangerous. Like little boys with new toys we have played with fireworks without thinking of the consequences. And yes we burnt our hands – so stupidly, without even ‘knowing’ it… Science and technology is really about making us see and we have failed to understand that. We have blindly used it along the singular paradigm that we think we understand…We need to admit that some things are beyond our instinctive and limbic capability.” (Opportunity, Strategy and Entrepreneurship–A Meta Theory, M.H. 2011)

Consequently, the Euro-crisis or any other financial/debt crisis – for that matter – is only a construct of our mental projection as it is not founded anywhere in the deeper layers of reality. Linear insecurity- and uncertainty-focused as a solely horizontally perceiving, conflicting and interfering, scarcity securitization and control-obsessed, dependency-fixated culture cannot simply evolve into a liberating society or anything else coherent and harmonious. On the contrary, it will tend to deepen the existing and extend the projected confrontational horizontalities as it will maximize the psychologization of dependences. Cognitive mind (equilibrium/cosmos) vs. reptilian complex (balance of fear/chaos)! The very epilogue of the financial crisis seems to be only the redistribution of dependencies and enhanced control, not at all steering up the nations to a well-being, to a self-realization. If the elected democratic governments are reluctant to be instrumented to this end, Politbureau of the non-elected apparatchiks will eagerly finalize the unfinished. Therefore, we even interpret the very word ‘crisis’ falsely. This term has a dual meaning: ‘hardship’ (fear-anger) as well as ‘opportunity’ (exploration-liberation). Opportunity per definition will always challenge the established status quo, but that thought usually disfranchises, discourages and disengages us. Example? Since the reporting on the Greek/Euro sovereign debt crisis has started, how many words related to a change or opportunity have you heard (e.g. solidarity, creativity, initiative, job creation, action, broader consensus, vision, rethinking, bravery, dignity, self-respect, trust, virtue), and how many words related to a paralyzing status-quo (e.g. monetization, toxic assets, fiscal discipline, austerity measures, monetary control, budgetary straitjacket, debt instruments, general savings, conditionality strengthening, concerns intensified, budget cuts, downgrading, social haircut, withheld guaranties, massive default, tightening the financial screws, consumer confidence, record low, collapse prevention)? For a cognitive mind, a period of crisis is not the time to seed fear, to save, back off and wait, but to spend, to grant a freedom of initiative, to fully mobilize and largely engage fresh ideas and all other human resources. After all, one entity is in a decline when it reacts to the risks, far more than it acts on opportunities. This simple wisdom has nothing to do with the so-called economy; it is merely a question of perception. Finally, freedom will only surface when/ if the cognitive (coherent) mind retrieves it from the fundamental level of reality. That is why Q-physics (Buddhist or Tao wisdom) matters.

Paraphrasing the title of the James Bond action movie of 1997, written by B.J. Feirstein and directed by R. Spottiswoode.

“All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force…We must assume behind this force existence of a consciousness and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.” Max Planck, Das Wesen der Materie (The Nature of Matter), Florence, 1944. At about the same time our joy for the ‘defensive modernization’ peaked with the mastering of the atomic bomb: the nuclear (weapon) age. Deeper implications and meanings of the quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, bioelectric medicine or neurocybernetics’ research of ganzfeld, for our understanding of and our engagement with the process of reality (and selfhood), were disregarded, marginalized and nearly forgotten.

One of the fundamental laws of quantum physics says that an event in the subatomic world exists in all possible states until the act of observing or measuring it “freezes” that, or pins it down, to a single state. This process is technically known as the collapse of the wave function, where wave function means the state of all possibilities. Hence, the subatomic world can behave either as particles (precise things with a set location in space) or waves (diffuse and unbounded regions of influence which can flow through and interfere with other waves).

E.g. an electron is not a precise entity, but exists as a potential, a superposition, or sum, of all probabilities until we observe or measure it, at which point the electron freezes into a particular state. Once we are through looking or measuring, the electron dissolves back into the either of all possibilities. That means that reality must results from some elaborate interaction of consciousness with its environment.

It’s absolutely astonishing that the ancient Sanskrit texts describe quantum vacuum and zero-point of the quantum field – by term sunya. This word should be interpreted as describing a cosmic seed of nothingness, which (hanging in a limbo of non-experience) is swollen by potentiality – an egg of infinite potentiality or shunyata on a brink to burst into a deep infinite-dimensional sea of manifestation/s. No wonder that the arithmetic sign for zero (that the rest of us took from Hindus) is actually an egg-shape, the same one called ‘origin’ in geometry to mark the center or beginning of a coordinate plane.

Esoteric teachings of paticcasamuppada are considered a core of Buddhism. Applying the extensive philosophical interpretation to this teaching, it remarkably fits to the astrophysical theory of the so-called dependent origination, as it well supports basic laws of both quantum mechanics and evolutionary biology (a self-organizing system in an ever self-expanding dynamic, non-directional but dialectic, equilibrium).

Sharing this anthropic viewpoint that the quantum wavefunction of the primordial meaningless universe stands on the very edge of time-space and meaning, and that the collapse of the wavefunction (an inception of cosmos) marks materialization of previously shapeless, non-experienced potentiality (that becomes possibility, an experienced classical event, by action of consciousness), Henry Stapp describes potentiality-consciousness as: ‘the two-way quantum psycho-physical bridge’. Conclusively, if we are to identify the meeting ground for the comprehensive and lasting reconciliation between science and religion, we must further investigate ‘Stapp’s bridge’.

It would correspond to the Buddhist expression karma (usually misinterpreted in the West by reducing it to a lame moral conscript). The word karma has far more extensive meaning in Buddhism and should be understood as an (intractable) action which leaves an informational imprint in all deeper levels of realities which can be activated at some future point in time. Hence, this self-synthesizing universe paradigm of quantum physics fully corresponds with the Buddhist Yogacara assumption that all perceptions do leave traces which make future similar perceptions more probable/plausible – origins of the potentialities within the quantum realm. This is why mankind kept practicing a prayer.

Vedas describes it as siddhis – psychic event (comes after profound meditative states) when the meditator experiences a feeling of omni-scient knowing – a sense of seeing everywhere at once (a state of illuminating darkness, of superrich nothingness); or when the subject enters a state of unity with the single object being focused upon (sometimes followed by a psychokinetic effect: levitation or moving objects at a distance). In nearly every instance, the recipient eliminates the sensory bombardment of everyday and taps into a deep well of alert receptivity. Could it be that this art is like any other form of communication, but the noise of our everyday McFB life prevents us hearing it?

Just one illustration that for our civilizational and/or developmental dead-ends, we do need cognitive mind to recognize it, not the ‘technology’ to ‘fix it’. Let us use an example of the so called locomotoric engines (for transportation, as well as for energy conversion/transfer). There is absolutely no need for any engine fuels or combustion efficiency improvements. What is required is a new approach, new philosophy, as to depart from the 150-years-in-use very harming explosive systems (unclosed circuits), and their replacement with a nature-coherent and nature-complimenting technology of implosive systems. Explosion sets chemo-electric, electro-magnetic and thermo-kinetic energy by the hydrocarbon’s combustion and the subsequent exhaustion of emission pressure, temperature and shock-waves to outside, while implosion just tackles available ionosphere’s energy charge (which is always a non-carbonic) into motion, or transmits it without losing any or releasing harmful substances. (No wonder that even today, the aborted development of e.g. anti-gravitational ship, flying disk, etc., we attribute to Aliens or classify as the UFOs.)

It reads that the universe performs as the (mindful) intentional servomechanism of an omnipresent instant transfers of force/information, which is immensely unified, yet at the same time infinitely diverse. Stepping closer to the Eastern philosophies of wholistic comprehension, it strikingly opposes the scientific (Newtown-Descartes-Darwin ‘Clockwork universe’) and the religious (dualistic, binary-code-like) picture that the West embedded in its institutions and determined actions in its long standing quest for global domination.

Consciousness – at its most basic level – is coherent light. That is why stellar illumination, not only the solar energy, so much matters.

Those interested in numerology would come to an interesting numerical interpretation of the Summit Rio+20. Tentatively, it may follow: this time in Rio, it will be +20; 2 (dualism, binary-code, either-or) faces 0 (wholeness, an omnipotent egg-shape field of all potentialities).

Quoted from Schlitz, M. (1998) On consciousness, causation, and evolution, Alternative Therapies 1998, Vol.4, No.6

Modern Diplomacy Advisory Board, Chairman Geopolitics of Energy Editorial Member Professor and Chairperson for Intl. Law & Global Pol. Studies contact: anis@bajrektarevic.eu

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Green Planet

Sri Lanka’s Awful Agronomic Romance: Is it consequential to say no more organic agriculture?

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Officially known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, it is a South Asian country possesses GDP of about $ 85 billion according to the statistics of world bank. Over the past few years, the contribution of agriculture sector in Sri Lana’s GDP has experienced a rising trend. According to the latest report of statista, agriculture sector accounts for approximately 9 percent of Sri Lanka’s total GDP. Major crops are rice, tea, coconut, rubber, maize, wheat, potatoes, chili and beans. 52 percent of the total exports are based on garments and textile products. Tea accounts for 17 percent of total exports and 53.3 percent of agricultural exports. It contributed annually about $ 1.3 billion to country’s exports before the arrival of economic crises in Sri Lanka. Rest of the exports volume is distributed among fish, rubber, gems and spices etc. However, the decision to go for organic agriculture has stalled the production of multiple agricultural crops which has further exacerbated the economic difficulties for Sri Lanka. Therefore, the purpose of this case study is to examine whether organic agriculture itself is a technique that leads to adverse economic consequences on a country or there is something wrong with the planning and strategies which made organic agriculture ineffective for Sri Lanka so that it can be determined that organic agriculture is still useful or not in today’s living habits after what it has done to Sri Lanka.

            In June 2022, the then prime minister of Sri Lanka acknowledged the collapse of country’s economy before the Parliament leaving it insufficient to afford for the essentials. Later on after investigation of this economic catastrophe, various reasons were identified for pushing the country in to economic turmoil. One of the main reasons was organic agriculture. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had an ambitious goal of transforming Sri Lanka into first country having 100 percent organic agriculture. He used this motto in his election campaign of 2019. Few months after he became the president of Sri Lanka in November 2019, he imposed a complete ban on the imports of pesticides and synthetic fertilizer on April 26, 2021. An year later, country was facing the crises of supply shortage. The production of rice dropped to 20 percent which compelled Sri Lanka to import rice by spending $ 450 million to meet the demand. Moreover, the prices of rice rose up to 50 percent. Tea industry being the major source of Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange suffered the financial loss of $ 450 million. Government had to pay significant amount to farmers and in subsidies to compensate the loss of low productivity. According to a report of foreign policy, about half million Sri Lankans had to sunken below the line of poverty after COVID-19 and Sri Lanka’s economic crises which was intensified by agricultural crisis. Moreover, according to WFP (World Food Programme) report of July 2022, on average three out of ten persons in Sri Lanka are  insecure to food which cruises to a total of approximately 6.26 million people of total population.

            Many commentators blame organic agriculture for economic crises in Sri Lanka, however there are number of underlying reasons including mismanagement by government, tourism, interference of China, economic crimes, violation of human rights and scarcity of foreign reserves behind this economic default.

          The President Gotabaya Rajapaksa banned the import of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on April 26, 2021. He decided it overnight in a hurried manner without listening to the concerns of farmers. During his election campaign, Gotabaya kept highlighting his pure intentions to go for organic agriculture but he would argue that such a transition from conventional to organic agriculture would take place under a steady period of ten years so that all the farmers can have enough amount of time to adjust into organic agriculture. Moreover, he believed that agricultural chemicals and pesticides were steering the country towards the challenges of health and environment. There was a perception that a kidney disease named as Konketiyawa killing 20,000 farmers in Sri Lanka during last two decades was chiefly because of  impure chemical based availability of agricultural food products. Gotabaya argued that industrially manufactured agrochemicals were against the Sri Lanka’s legacy  of having sustained systems of food. Gotabaya wanted to save $ 400 million which country used to spend on the imports of agricultural chemicals and pesticides. Therefore, he considered it appropriate to take the overnight decision of shifting towards organic agriculture. So, millions of farmers had no choice but to opt for organic means for cultivation. The production of natural fertilizers at domestic level was not sufficient to compensate all the farmers. The matter did not finish there. Government did not import extra nutrients to meet the requirements of farmers for organic transition and it also put complete ban on the imports of fertilizers. Consequently, farmers were confronting the scarcity of fertilizers and pesticides in growing crops and the results were immediately witnessed in shape of serious ruination of crops productivity. Therefore, the root cause behind agricultural collapse was not organic agriculture itself, indeed it was due to the improper implementation techniques including insufficient arrangements for organic agriculture.

              Being sustainable form of cultivation, organic agriculture finds its importance owing to the economic and ecological reasons. Notable surge in organic cultivation has been witnessed  during the last decade across the world. 20% food market of USA and Canada, and 7.8% food market of Europe is based upon organic food. IFOAM (International federation of organic agriculture movement) issues guiding principles for the countries to opt organic agriculture. Organic agriculture is useful in reducing erosion of soil, requires lesser use of pesticides, reduces the leaching of nitrate into groundwater, and endorses recycling of animal waste for the nutrients purposes to the crops. It contributes in improving health of soil and biodiversity.

             Besides number of benefits of organic agriculture, it is argued that organic agriculture decreases the productivity of crops. Dalhousie University of Canada’s  research demonstrates that output productivity gap between conventional and organic agriculture is rapidly closing. In some cases, output productivity of organic agriculture exceeds the productivity of conventional agriculture. 40 years of research conducted by Rodale Institute, America’s largest side by side comparison between conventional and organic agriculture, unveils the fact that after five years of transition, yields through organic agriculture equalizes conventional agriculture. Because of its low production costs, it yields 3 to 6 times greater profit for farmers as compared to conventional agriculture. 45% less energy is consumed and it leaches no toxic chemicals to waterways. Therefore, organic agriculture if implemented properly, leads to sustainable, sufficient and profitable means of production.

             The world is confronting severe environmental effects in form of melting glaciers, changing raining patterns, scorching summers, floods, forest fires, storms and tornadoes. Shifting towards sustainable means of production and consumption is one of the major weapons that can be utilized in order to address these dilemmas. As organic agriculture is one of the sustainable means of production, therefore it should be experimented at first in those regions having lesser population and are economically developed so that in case of low productivity, states may not have to face food crises. Secondly, It should be adopted in phases after analyzing the outcomes in a certain area instead of immediately forcing entire country into rapid transition as in case of Sri Lanka. In areas of drought, organic agriculture should be given priority over conventional agriculture because of its high productivity. So, due to Sri Lanka’s terrible experience with organic agriculture, the significance of organic agriculture has not minimized in modern world. Therefore, pertaining to all these significantly affirmative aspects of organic agriculture, it is not wise to say no more organic agriculture in modern living habits. In fact, organic agriculture is need of the modern world for environmental friendly and healthy lifestyle.

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Women and Climate Change in South Asia

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Over the past decade, climate change has emerged as a major non-traditional security threat that demands an urgent response. South Asia has been identified as particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change according to the sixth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report predicts that the region will experience more extreme weather conditions in the coming decades, which will have serious consequences for vulnerable and marginalized populations, including increased heatwaves and flash floods.

Women are vulnerable to climate-related dangers in a variety of ways. Informal settlements or urban slums are one such setting, which are ecologically, socioeconomically, and sometimes politically fragile, and are rapidly spreading across South Asia. Poor infrastructure, energy strain, ecological damage, impoverishment, climatic risks, social alienation and stigma, livelihood vulnerability, health hazards, and other instabilities (such as political, ethnic, or religious) all contribute to the fragility concerns in these situations. Women and other underprivileged populations are disproportionately harmed due to their lack of authority. According to Urban Institute research (conducted in Delhi, Dhaka, Islamabad, and Lahore slums), “climate change impacts every element of their lives: their economic security, marital relationships, and physical well-being.”

Despite South Asia’s diversity of cultures, faiths, and ideals, its cultural standards remain backward and male-dominated. Women in most South Asian nations have very little access to education and basic healthcare than their male counterparts, and they are more likely to be poor. Women do not have the means, skills and knowledge, or authority to articulate their concerns and fight for their rights since they are subjected to rigid gender limits and restrictions. Unfortunately, climate change and related risks have exacerbated existing gender disparities, rendering women less robust and disabled in the face of current and future difficulties.

Because women’s movement is often limited, social norms have a key impact in how they react to calamities. In several  states in India, women spend up to four hours each day walking, often over dangerous distances, to get water for their families. In other circumstances, women and young girls sacrifice their education and jeopardize their mental and physical well-being in order to complete domestic responsibilities. Women need access to clean water not only for cleaning, cooking, and consuming, but also for health and cleanliness. Rapid salt-water infiltration has rendered groundwater and water from ponds and wells exceedingly unsuitable for drinking in Bangladesh’s coastal regions. Pregnant women in these coastal regions are said to have increased incidences of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension related of the use of saline water.

Climate-induced migration of men has had such an influence that in the case of a disaster in Bangladesh, women do not travel to evacuation centers since they do not have men with them. Women also make up the majority of individuals who have been relocated or uprooted as a result of climate change. After the floods in Pakistan in 2010, women and children constituted more than 70% of those relocated. Gender-based violence, human trafficking, and prostitution are forced on these vulnerable women and children in refugee camps and informal settlements.

Women in Pakistan are disproportionately impacted by catastrophes since their mobility beyond the community is constrained and they become reliant on men for survival. During the recovery period, wife beating becomes widespread. Poor rural women in Afghanistan face barriers to accessing financial services, limiting their ability to pursue career opportunities or adapt to the effects of climate change.

South Asia is experiencing socioeconomic consequences as a result of climate change. South Asian livelihoods rely on natural resources and are hence climate susceptible. Agriculture and aquaculture are expected to be impacted by sea-level rise, floods, heat and water strain. In the case of a rainfall failure, rain-fed agriculture, which seems to be the primary source of employment in most nations, will have an impact on those do not own lands and the impoverished who rely on this sector and other related industries. Agriculture and aquaculture are expected to be impacted by sea-level rise, floods, heat and water stress. Climate change has had a negative impact on South Asia and is quickly rising as one of the leading causes of migration. People’s money, livelihoods, and houses are frequently destroyed by natural catastrophes, leaving them with little choice but to relocate in search of work.

Looking at the timeline of gender in the intergovernmental approach of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it is clear that the process of involving women into different parts of climate change negotiations and climate policy procedures is moving at a snail’s pace. Despite the need for a Gender Action Plan, which aims to incorporate a gender perspective in all aspects of climate action, this objective is often neglected. In most situations, a gender viewpoint or element is added as an afterthought rather than incorporated from the start. The pace of involving women in various aspects of climate change negotiations and policies is slow.

There is a virtual isolation of women from conflict management processes due to institutionalised implementation process of roles that men and women ‘needs’ to perform in society – while men are attributed with power, economic, policy, and related interactions, women are seen in terms of their ‘function’ in society. The conservative nature of most main regional religions, which are frequently motivated by patriarchal ideas that place women in a secondary position, contributes to even greater gender discrepancies. As a result, it is not odd that regional climate talks have failed to surpass barriers. Climate change’s far-reaching consequences necessitate an immediate revamp of the system. To that purpose, integrating women in the climate dialogue and taking into account their linked socioeconomic vulnerabilities should be policymakers’ first steps.

Climate change adaptation techniques have been used by various governments in South Asian nations, which can be valuable for other nations in the region, and the knowledge can be applied appropriately by other countries. The Pakistan government’s National Climate Change Policy recognizes women’s contributions and preservation of natural resources and attempts to develop climate change adaption strategies based on indigenous knowledge of women. Health coverage in Afghanistan has increased owing to the 2002 Basic Package of Health Services and the 2005 Essential Package of Hospital Services, and more women now have access to prenatal care and experienced delivery attendants. Rural women from 17 states in India and 15 countries in Africa, South America, and South Asia could establish a solar power system for their communities with the aid of solar energy installation and maintenance training obtained at Barefoot College in Tilonia, India.  This has helped homes save money on kerosene and electricity.

To achieve gender equality in climate change, governments, development agencies, and regional organizations must use a combination of bottom-up and top-down methods. Climate change presents itself in several ways: quick catastrophes can devastate homes, lives, and livelihoods in a single day, but gradual events progressively alter the terrain for existence over time. Gender-disaggregated data, especially on how men and women contribute to and are impacted by climate change, must be collected, organized, and analyzed.

Because women confront several obstacles in obtaining resources and benefits from government resources, widows and women-headed households must be recognized in order to guarantee that women receive their rights and are not denied because registration is completed in their husband’s name. Additional changes and actions are required to guarantee that women have equitable access to resources. Gender sensitization programs for disaster management officials/workers are required.

Shelters must provide adequate security to safeguard women from violence and sexual harassment during natural disasters. Women must be included in local-level initiatives for addressing the consequences of severe events since they typically have indigenous knowledge of managing the environment and responding to climate change and climate-induced extreme events.

Women’s roles in our society, as well as their vital contributions, must be recognized. The deterioration of South Asia’s climatic predicament necessitates a greater acknowledgement of women as change agents who must be given a seat at the policymaking table. Gender-balanced climate policies that elevate and empower women will contribute to a more robust, harmonious, and sustainable regional future.

South Asian countries have mainly taken a reactive approach to climate change adaptation, focusing on improving disaster risk management systems. However, this has led to increased casualties and economic losses. To address this, South Asian nations must adopt a proactive approach to climate change and related hazards, updating their policies and incorporating gender and climate risk management into their conservation and construction efforts. This includes both structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Countries such as India, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Pakistan need to improve access to sanitation and safe drinking water to reduce the risks of climate-sensitive illnesses. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan must also prioritize reducing rates of maternal mortality, anemia, and climate-sensitive illnesses by increasing access to education and health services for women and addressing societal norms that place women at a disadvantage.

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Staring an Ecological and Humanitarian Disaster in the Face

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Image source: UN Photo

Authors: Meena Miriam Yust and Arshad M. Khan  

The Red Sea is a rich marine haven, diverse and home to hundreds of species of fish and coral colonies.  At its southern mouth, it also harbors an almost half-century old static oil tanker.  

If one were to recount the history of Safer, this fuel storage and off-loading (FSO) vessel, most would find it impossible to believe.  Thirty years ago, it was grounded about five miles off the west coast of Yemen; it is still there!  To make matters worse, it is also loaded with almost all of its original cargo.  This amounts to 1.1 million barrels of oil or four times what was on the Exxon Valdez, which caused the worst environmental disaster in US history.  

Maintenance of the ship stopped in 2015 when the Yemen civil war began, presumably because the operation was based in Yemen.  Built 45 years ago, the rusting vessel is now in danger of breaking up.  

In April 2022, the UN unveiled a plan which had been largely funded by the summer to follow.  It had also secured the backing of the official Yemeni government and the de facto controlling authorities.  

The plan calls for installing a replacement for the FSO Safer within an 18-month period and then an emergency operation over four months to transfer the oil to a safe temporary vessel and void the immediate threat.  But the plan has gone nowhere.

As reported by Inter Press Service (IPS), Paul Horsman of Greenpeace International is convinced of the seriousness of the problem and states, “We are staring a major disaster in the face.”  He holds the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) fully responsible, accusing it of jeopardizing an agreement that took years to negotiate.  

A breakup of the vessel would be a monumental disaster for it would destroy the livelihood of Yemeni fishermen and put at peril the ecology of the Red Sea.  

The Red Sea’s varied ecological environment is home to several hundred species of fish and a striking 600-year-old coral colony.  The sea serves as habitat for many endangered species including the hawksbill sea turtle and the halavi guitarfish.  Several species of sharks and dolphins live in these waters, and the sea has the third largest population of dugong in the world.  A large marine mammal, the dugong is cousin to the manatee and listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as a species vulnerable to extinction.  If endangered, scientists believe recovery would be hampered by its slow reproduction rate.  

“If the Safer leaks, or worse explodes, it is the UNDP that will carry the blame,” says Horsman adding, “The technology and expertise are available … they [UNDP] should just get out of the way. …”

But the UNDP has its own internal bureaucracy.  According to Russell Geekie who is a UN Senior Communications Advisor on site, the UNDP is required to work with other UN agencies and partners.  Complicating the issue is the political crisis in Yemen.

Also another major challenge now is the limited availability of suitable storage vessels to off-load the oil, mostly due to the war in Ukraine which has substantially increased their price.

In September 2022, $77 million was pledged at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, although another $38 million for a double-hulled storage vessel to hold the oil is still lacking.  As an update, donors have now deposited $73.4 million and pledged another $10 million.

So the blame game continues and the numbers in millions of dollars plod through the UNDP bureaucracy.  Small potatoes, when one realizes the cost of an oil-spill clean-up there, should it happen, is estimated at $20 billion.  This excludes the humanitarian catastrophe it would cause in an already war-torn Yemen as well as the parts of Somalia that depend on the fisheries in the area.

Human folly, tragedy and irony go hand-in-hand as all of the above is transpiring during Achim Steiner’s tenure as head of UNDP.  A Brazilian of German descent, he has also served as Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  

President Biden professes to be an environmentalist, although he has supported oil on occasion for energy security.  Surely he could do something to avert a terrible disaster.  But then the Red Sea is far away and the Yemenis and Somalis don’t vote in the US elections.  

Authors’ Note: This piece first appeared in CommonDreams.org.

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NATO sources tell ‘Haaretz’ some of the intel is on the Iranian drones in Ukraine, writes Yossi Melman at Israeli...

Defense18 hours ago

Why the Indo-Pacific turned out the US center of strategic gravity?

As a dominant power, the US keeps grave concerns about its hegemonic position at all times. Because the decline of...

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