Mayan Collapse Simulation

SUBHEAD: Population control, reduced deforesting and soil conservation is the only way collapse is mitigated.

By S. Heckbert, R. Costanza, L. Parrot on 23 October 2014 for Solutions Journal -

[IB Publisher's note: This long article is not reproduced in full here. See original full article for charts on Baseline Scenario 1 other diagrams, illustrations and details.]

Image above: A Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan in Caracól, Belize. From original article.

The ancient Maya provide an example of a complex social-ecological system which developed impressively before facing catastrophic reorganization. In order for our contemporary globally-connected society to avoid a similar fate, we aim to learn how the ancient Maya system functioned, and whether it might have been possible to maintain resilience and avoid collapse.

The MayaSim computer model was constructed to test hypotheses on whether system-level interventions might have resulted in a different outcome for the simulated society. We find that neither collapse nor sustainability are inevitable, and the fate of social-ecological systems relates to feedbacks between the human and biophysical world, which interact as fast and slow variables and across spatial and temporal scales.

In the case of the ancient Maya, what is considered the ‘peak’ of their social development might have also been the ‘nadir’ of overall social-ecological resilience. Nevertheless, modelling results suggest that resilience can be achieved and long-term sustainability possible, but changes in sub-systems need to be maintained within safe operating boundaries.

  • The MayaSim model represents the development and reorganization of an integrated social-ecological system. Perturbing the system, we can test what parameter combinations result in either sustainability or collapse.
  • The complex nature of social-ecological systems means there is no single-cause explanation of sustainability or collapse. Interacting human and biophysical sub-systems regulate the magnitude of reorganizations.
  • The capacity of the system to avoid undesirable outcomes is related to rates of change in these interacting sub-systems, the interaction of fast and slow-changing variables, and the effect of cross-scale dynamics.

Mayan History
The archaeological record reveals diverse societies that flourished in their time and place and succeeded in achieving impressive works of architecture, novel technological advancement, complex economies, and other measures of human achievement.

The archaeological record also shows complex societies having declined, some gradually, others precipitously, with common explanations including changing environmental conditions, greedy rulers, wars and conquest, resource depletion, pathogens, and overpopulation. However, single-cause explanations, or even a string of single-cause explanations do not do justice to past peoples, who like us, must have known their vulnerabilities and must have sought to adapt.

In this article, we explore whether the concept of resilience, as represented within a simulation model, can help explain the collapse of a civilization. We use the ancient Maya as an example to explore how that society might have avoided collapse, and provide insight into the resilience of our current global civilization.

he political and economic history of the ancient Maya (specifically the lowland Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula) suggests a pattern of regional and sub-regional growth, decline, and reorganization during the Preclassic (1000 BCE –250 CE), Classic (250–900 CE), and Postclassic periods (900–1500 CE). Classic Maya culture reached its height around 700 CE before a rapid and fundamental transformation altered its political, social, economic, and demographic organization, commonly referred to as the "Classic Maya Collapse".1,2,3

This significant reorganization defines the transition from the Classic to Postclassic period at a time when Maya society was growing at its fastest rate, building many of its most impressive monuments, and increasing in its socioeconomic connectivity. For example, Temple IV at Tikal in present-day Guatemala is the tallest building in the pre-Columbian Americas, and was constructed in 747 CE.4

The majority of Tikal’s population was lost soon after, during the period from 830 to 950 CE.5 The largest building in present-day Belize is still the main Maya architectural complex at Caracol, abandoned around 900 CE. At the end of the Classic period the population of the Maya lowlands had reached an ople.6

Following their Late Classic peak, there was a political, social, and economic crisis, and many cities, some supporting up to 100,000 people, were abandoned.7,8,9

This narrative should be balanced with a perspective of the entire Maya historical timeline given the Maya are today a populous, diverse and resilient people, speaking 29 Mayan languages.

Simulating the ancient Maya
The Integrated History and future of People on Earth (IHOPE) initiative (,11,12,13 developed a simulation model of the ancient Maya civilization.14 This model can be used to test hypotheses of societal development, resilience and social-ecological vulnerabilities. The MayaSim model is presented as one possible set of assumptions about how the ancient Maya social-ecological system might have functioned. The model is a simplified representation of the Maya system.

MayaSim represents individual settlements as 'agents' located in a landscape represented as a grid of cells. Settlement agents manage agriculture and forest harvestingover a set of local cells, and establish trade with neighbours, allowing trade networks to emerge.

Agents, cells, and networks are programmed to represent elements of the historical Maya civilization, including demographics, trade, agriculture, soil degradation, provision of ecosystem services, climate variability, hydrology, primary productivity, and forest succession. Simulating these in combination allows patterns to emerge at the p landscape level, effectively growing the social-ecological system from the bottom up.

The MayaSim model is able to reproduce spatial patterns and timelines that mimic relatively well some elements of what we know about ancient Maya history, such as the general location of important capital cities, and the maximum overall population.

The baseline case best represents the historical 'life cycle' as we understand it for the ancient Maya, with model parameters generating results that mimic the transition between the Maya Preclassic, Classic and Postclassic periods. This baseline scenario shows spatial outcomes for four indicators of:
a) population density;
b) forest condition,
c) settlement 'trade strength'; and
d) soil degradation. 
Each indicator contains a narrative describing the development and reorganization of the simulated social-ecological system. 

By simulated year 250 BCE, settlements have expanded into all regions, first occupying areas with greater ecosystem services, and progressively growing with agricultural development. Population densities are higher in areas where settlements have clustered and formed local trade connections.

By simulated year 500 CE, the value of trade increases, extending local trade connections to 'global' connectivity. The centre of the trade network is approximately located in the region where the ancient Maya capitals of Tikal and Caracol existed. The condition of the forest is markedly changed, with only small patches of climax forest remaining in agriculturally unsuitable areas, forming ecological refugia within the near-completely settled landscape.

By simulated 1500 CE, the trade network has disintegrated, the centre of the most densely populated areas is nearly entirely abandoned, leaving only a small number of locally connected settlements in what was once the fringe. Abandoned cropland and decreased fuelwood harvesting allows broad-scale secondary regrowth, and climax forest eventually expands out from refugia to an extent similar to pre-population expansion levels.

Can loss of resilience predict collapse?
Resilience has been defined in different ways15,16 and here we use a working definition as the capacity of the system to handle whatever the future brings without being altered in undesirable ways.17

Resilience is thus a necessary condition for system sustainability. A resilient system must have 'room to manoeuvre', i.e., it must be able to adapt in response to changing conditions. A social-ecological system’s room to manoeuvre is positively correlated with social and natural capital, and when either is scarce (social networks are broken down or ecosystem services are degraded), a system loses resilience and becomes more vulnerable to perturbations.

As an analogy to vulnerability and collapse, consider the idea of societal resilience as 'slack in the system'. If society is near the 'edge of the cliff' so to speak, a small push will force it over the edge, whereas if that cliff is further off, the system can adjust and recover. The distance to the cliff is a moving target that moves forward and back depending on the current state of system vulnerabilities. With a computer model, we can determine the location of the resilience 'cliff edge'.

Different candidate statistics can be proposed to estimate how vulnerable the system is, and we can evaluate which of the statistics perform best as estimators of sustainability or collapse. The 'cliff edge' is multidimensional, so resilience metrics will, by definition, be complex functions.

Modelling a social-ecological system, as shown here using the Classic Maya as an example, represents a computational laboratory that can be used to test hypotheses around how the system will perform under different sets of assumptions. We can test different candidate resilience indicators with the aim of defining conditions under which a society is able to develop, achieve sustainability, and avoid collapse.

Just as an indicator of patient health would entail several metrics such as heart rate, BMI, blood pressure, and caloric intake, an indicator for resilience will combine several different metrics, such as those presented in Figure 2. We can attempt to observe patterns in (and importantly between) the metrics in order to generate an indicator of resilience.

The resilience indicator might ideally tell us how vulnerable a social-ecological system might be to disturbance. The indicator would be most useful if it could consider the direction and magnitude of changes in sub-systems, correlations with other indicators, the points where thresholds exist and under which of these conditions the integrated system shuts down.

Once we know the predictor and thresholds of collapse, we can then identify ways to increase the chances of avoiding that outcome. The MayaSim model identifies that resilience indicators must consider cross-scale interactions, such as how the global trade system is related to local food security, and how rates of change in fast and slow variables contribute to vulnerabilities, such as rapid change in forest cover and gradual change in soil productivity.

Could the Maya have avoided collapse?
Was the collapse of the Maya social-ecological system inevitable, or did it become inevitable after a certain point in their history? Given sufficient foresight, could the Maya have avoided collapse and achieved a sustainable outcome?

To answer these questions we can perform sensitivity analyses on the model and search for combinations of interventions that may have helped the Maya avoid collapse. Input parameters can be altered to show which combinations lead to different development pathways, achieve sustainability, or result in collapse. Some configurations do not lead to development of what we might recognise as a 'peak' in human civilization.

Some configurations maintain large populations without collapse. This suggests that neither growth nor collapse is inevitable, and that win-win solutions at least exist, even if we do not yet fully know what the ranges might be for critical variables in this simulated social-ecological system.

Video above: Demonstration of a fantasy simulation game, "The Mims - Beginning", depicts an alien civilization of another planet.  From (

The MayaSim model was tested to see what variables affect overall sustainability.Nine experiments were performed along with the baseline collapse scenario.

The experiments involved various combinations of the following interventions: a) limiting loss of soil productivity due to agricultural production; b) limiting forest harvesting above rates of natural disturbance regardless of local population density; c) limiting the trade network or value of trade; and d) high and low reduction of birth rates.

Scenario 1 Baseline
Representing the historical record through MaySim.

Scenario 2, 3, 4 - Extreme Variables
There are three 'extreme' scenarios—2, 3, and 4 which test boundary conditions. Scenario 2, with no trade value, does not result in any significant development. This scenario might be analogous to a broad scale form of swidden agriculture. Scenarios 3 and 4 are somewhat unrealistic in that they assume human impacts on forests and soils are reduced to zero. Nevertheless, the zero soil productivity loss scenario produces the most - overall real income and stabilises without collapse. It also generates, by far, the most people, and overall results in a large number of poor - settlements ubiquitously covering the landscape. Scenario 3, with no forest harvesting, actually causes the collapse to be magnified because there is no prior limiting signal from degraded forests, and the system significantly overshoots.

Scenario 5, 6, 7 - Moderate Variables 
Scenarios 5, 6, and 7 control the human population in some way. Scenario 5 limits the value of trade to not exceed the value of agriculture for any given city. This causes a lower level of development because major trade nodes are not able to develop and the critical links in the skeleton of the trade network do not fully form. Scenarios 6 and 7 institute population control in larger cities. Low population control slightly mitigates the collapse and high levels of population control shows an only slightly declining trend in population, but again, development does not reach 'peak' levels due to critical nodes in the network not achieving their largest size and wealth.

Scenario 8, 9, 10 - Conservative Variables
Scenarios 8, 9, and 10 combine these different interventions in some way and depict the most sustainable outcomes. Combining population control and soil conservation at different rates can allow for the 'peak' to occur, and also to somewhat mitigate the severity of the collapse. With high population control and soil conservation, a 'near sustainable' outcome is possible, and still allows for a peak.

However, of all scenarios examined, once the system begins decline it is irreversible.

The exception is Scenario 10, in which all 3 forms of intervention examined are implemented, including high population control, and both soil degradation and forest harvesting are reduced by half from their baseline rates. In this case, the socio-ecological system develops, peaks, and declines, but the reorganization is not severe and the system begins to again fluoresce as it recovers into another (albeit muted) Classical age.

The archaeological record is encoded with societies' interactions with their environments. Our computer model of the ancient Maya is a simplification of a real-world social-ecological system, which allows us to propose alternative assumptions, and to test hypotheses about system resilience. We present the model as a tool to broaden our understanding of how social-ecological systems function across temporal and spatial scales.

We find that developing and maintaining a sustainable and desirable society requires that interactions between different system components be maintained within some bounds. The bounds are not hard and fast absolute numbers, but are described in relationships between variables. Managing for sustainability, therefore, requires a holistic system-level perspective with an understanding of how change in one sub-system can be manifested in other sub-systems, and across scales.

Some historical pathways lead to growth and reorganization, with the possibility of either sustainability or collapse. Through the exploration of scenarios, we can identify key interventions that might lead to a resilient and sustainable society. The baseline scenario shows a pattern of development and collapse, and although natural capital can recover to some extent as forests regrow, the loss of soil productivity limits future re-settlement opportunities, and the trade network structure is gone, no longer providing high trade value. As a result, trade connectivity and population numbers do not recover.

Scenarios 2 through 7 test one-shot interventions, such as trade reduction or population control. Overall, these scenarios provide the worst outcomes in terms of either population numbers or real income, teaching us that no one intervention can do it all. In addition, the modelled society in these one-shot intervention scenarios rarely develops an advanced trading network with large population centres, and arguably never flourishes.

Using population control in combination with soil conservation (Scenario 8) mitigates the steepness and severity of the collapse, however, most indicators continue to decline in the following centuries. Implementing three interventions in parallel can level off the slope of the early development curve, and avoid overshoot to some degree.

The scenario in which three interventions are implemented (Scenario10: population control, reduced forest harvesting and reduced soil productivity loss) is the only outcome where the collapse is mitigated, and the trade network, real income levels, and population all begin to recover. Notably, a significantly higher real income is achieved in this scenario, suggesting that multiple interventions can yield win-win solutions, and the more points of intervention available, the more degrees of freedom exist for managing towards a sustainable and desirable society.

What does this mean for our modern society? We might interpret our achievements in global development as analogous to the Classic Maya, building their most impressive cities and monuments immediately before a precipitous reorganization. Although considered to be the 'height' of that impressive civilization, our model suggests that despite the grandeur, the social-ecological system as a whole may have been fundamentally undermined.

Like the ancient Maya, the world today is highly interconnected, and is pushing production into ever more marginal areas, potentially moving us closer to the edge of reorganization. In order to know how close we are to this system-level edge, we need to consider the relationships between components of our system, such as how global trade, agricultural production, and demographics interact. Have we lost resilience and are we standing at the precipice of reorganization like the Classic Maya?

 Can we implement strategies like population control, ecosystem protection and restoration, and trade regulation that could have altered the course of history for the Maya? Modelling complex social-ecological systems can help to answer these questions, provide guidance for resilient policies, and assist in avoiding unintended consequences.

Viewing civilization as a complex system highlights that feedbacks and interactions across scales are the nuts and bolts of a resilient system. A reductionist view of resilience and vulnerability cannot be used to identify a single cause (or a linear progression of single causes) of the unravelling of the social-ecological system.

A novel finding of the MayaSim model is that collapse does not require an 'instigating shock.' In the baseline scenario the dynamics of collapse are embedded in the system, and it does not require an invader, meteorite, volcano, or any other human-wrought or natural calamity to push it off the edge. Reorganization is simply a property of complex systems, and the magnitude of the reorganization depends on system resilience.

The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Christian Isendahl, Joel Gunn, Simon Brewer, Vernon Scarborough, Arlen Chase, Diane Chase, Nicholas Dunning, Carsten Lemmen, Timothy Beach, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, David Lentz, Paul Sinclair, Carole Crumley, and Sander van der Leeuw.

  1. Culbert, TP. The Classic Maya Collapse (University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque 1973).
  2. Webster, DL. The Fall of the Ancient Maya: Solving the Mystery of the Maya Collapse (Thames & Hudson, New York, 2002).
  3. Diamond, J. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (Viking Press, New York, 2005).
  4. Harrison, PD. The Lords of Tikal: Rulers of an Ancient Maya City (Thames and Hudson, London, 1999).
  5. Webster, DL. The Fall of the Ancient Maya: Solving the Mystery of the Maya Collapse (Thames & Hudson, New York, 2002).
  6. Rice, DS. & Culbert, TP. Historical Contexts for Population Reconstruction in the Maya Lowlands. In Precolumbian Population History in the Maya Lowlands (University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1990), 1-36.
  7. Prufer, K, et al. IHOPE Maya: Resilience and Rigidity in the Development and Disintegration of Complex Societies in the Tropical Lowlands of Mesoamerica. Presented at Resilience 2011, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ (March 2011).
  8. Guderjan, T, Beach, T, Luzzadder-Beach, S & Bozarth, S. Understanding the Causes of Abandonment in the Maya Lowlands. Archaeological Review from Cambridge Vol. 24(2): 99-121 (2009).
  9. Turner, BL. II, & Sabloff, JA. The Classic Maya Collapse in the Central Lowlands: Insights about Human-environment Complexity for Sustainability Science. PNAS 109(35), 13908-13914 (2012).
  10. Costanza, RL, et al. Sustainability or Collapse: What Can We Learn from Integrating the History of Humans and the Rest of Nature? AMBIO 36:522-527 (2007a).
  11. Costanza, RL, Graumlich, J, & Steffen, W (eds.). Sustainability or Collapse? An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth. Dahlem Workshop Report 96 (MIT Press. Cambridge, MA, 2007b).
  12. Van der Leeuw, S, et al. Toward an Integrated History to Guide the Future. Ecology and Society. (16)4 (2011).
  13. Costanza, R, et al. Developing an Integrated History and Future of People on Earth (IHOPE). Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 4:106–114 (2012).
  14. Heckbert, S, et al. Growing the Ancient Maya Social-ecological System from the Bottom Up. Isendahl, C, & Stump, D (eds.). Applied Archaeology, Historical Ecology and the Useable Past. Oxford University Press (in press).
  15. Folke, C. Resilience: The Emergence of a Perspective for Social-ecological Systems Analyses. Global Environmental Change 16(3), 253–267 (2006).
  16. Walker, B, Holling, CS, Carpenter, SR, & Kinzig, A. Resilience, Adaptability and Transformability in Social–ecological Systems. Ecology and Society 9(2) (2004).
  17. Glaser, M, Ratter, BMW. Krause, G & Welp, M. New Approaches to the Analysis of Human-nature Relations. Human-Nature Interactions in the Anthropocene (Glaser, M, Ratter, BMW, Krause, G & Welp, M (Eds.) (Routledge, New York, NY. 2012), 3-12.


A new colinization of the Pacific

 SOURCE: Wendy Raebeck (
 SUBHEAD: How U.S. Marine National Monuments protect environmentally harmful military bases throughout the Pacific.

By Craig Santos Perez on 26 June 2104 for Hawaii Independent -
Image above: Detail of map of Marine Monuments and US Military Range Complexes and major bases in the Pacific by Juan Wilson produced for Koohan Paik. Click to see entire map. From (

President Obama recently announced plans to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles. Despite the media framing this move as a victory for ocean conservation, the truth is that these monuments will further colonize, militarize and privatize the Pacific.

Many mistakenly refer to marine “monuments” as “sanctuaries” because they are both “marine protected areas.” However, an official sanctuary is designated by the Secretary of Commerce under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, which requires “extensive public process, local community engagement, stakeholder involvement, and citizen participation, both prior to and following designation.”

On the other hand, the President unilaterally designates marine monuments through the Antiquities Act of 1906. No public process is required.

The first and largest Marine National Monument was established in 2006: The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (140,000 square miles).

Three more marine monuments were established in 2009: The Marianas Trench Marine National Monument (95,000 square miles); The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (87,000 square miles); and The Rose Atoll Marine National Monument (13,000 square miles).

The total “protected” area, with Obama’s expansion, would be more than a million square miles of “small islands, atolls, coral reefs, submerged lands, and deep blue waters.”

Why has this antiquited, unilateral process suddenly become so popular? Why are U.S. presidents from both sides of the political divide side-stepping Congressional approval and—more importantly—public participation and scrutiny?

It’s important to understand that establishing a marine national monument, reserve, or refuge places our coastal and open ocean waters under federal control. The marine monuments are administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (under the Department of Commerce) or by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (under the Department of the Interior). This ocean and submerged land grab by the federal government severely limits public access and trust.

Additionally, these monuments violate the rights of indigenous peoples by separating us from our sacred spaces. Traditional fishing grounds or ritual spaces may no longer be accessible. If there are exceptions for indigenous rites, we will need to apply for a permit and receive federal approval.

How Do Marine Reserves Militarize the Ocean?

As I wrote about in a previous editorial, the U.S. military removed the original landowners of Litekyan (Ritidian), an area in northern Guam, under eminent domain in 1963, and the Navy used the area as a communications station during the Cold War. Thirty years later, 1,000 acres of the land was deemed “excess.” Instead of that land being returned to the families, it was transferred to the U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service and designated a “National Wildlife Refuge.” Today, four thousand acres of Litekyan is now being considered for a live firing range complex.

You see, designating land and water as a monument, refuge, reserve, or even sanctuary keeps the land under federal control as opposed to public (and indigenous) trust. So if the military ever wants to use the land in the future, it can simply be converted (or re-converted in the case of Litekyan) from the Department of the Interior or Commerce to the Department of Defense. This is the “logic of military conservation.”

Many marine monuments house strategic military bases. For example, the marine monuments of the Pacific are home to U.S. bases on Guam, Tinian, Saipan, Rota, Farallon de Medinilla, Wake Island and Johnston Island, to name a few. The reason why military bases can be within marine monuments is because “nothing in the proclamations impairs or otherwise affects the activities of the Department of Defense.

Among other things, the DoD is ensured full freedom of navigation in accordance with the law of the sea, and the U.S. Navy can continue effective training to maintain its antisubmarine warfare and other capabilities.” In other words, the military is exempt from most environmental regulations and prohibitions.

Ironically, the public may no longer be allowed to fish in these “protected” areas because it might affect the fragile ocean ecosystem, yet the military can conduct weapons training and testing. Remember, marine monuments are not designed to protect the ocean from the U.S. military, one of the worst polluters in the world.

In fact the opposite is true: they are designed to allow easier military access. As activists in Hawai’i know, these national monuments could become “watery graves” for endangered species when military training occurs.

Besides providing more federally controlled space for the U.S. military to train, marine monuments give military bases another layer of secrecy from the public. This buffer strategy is spreading to other nations. During the meeting of the U.S. State Department sponsored Our Ocean conference last week in Washington DC, other countries announced similar plans to federalize massive ocean areas, including Palau, Kiribati, the Cook Islands and the Bahamas.

These new marine reserves will become military sanctuaries, buffer zones and watery bases for the U.S. military as it forcefully positions itself in the Asia-Pacific region (and uses “illegal fishing” as justification to militarize these marine reserves).

We need to be critical of these efforts. Read about what happened to the Cayos Cochinos, an island group in the Carribean off Honduras, during the twenty years after they were declared a “protected area.” The Afro-Indigenous Garifuna peoples have been displaced from their lands and fishing grounds. Tourism developers and other private industries have invested in and exploited the islands.

And, you guessed it, the U.S. military is using the area for basing and training, providing millions of dollars of aid to the Honduras government. This is what will happen to countries that ally with the U.S. in this colonial conservation scheme.

In 2009, Britian designated a marine protected area around the Chagos islands. However, the waters around the island of Diego Garcia, which is the site of one of the most secretive overseas U.S. military bases, was exempted. How bizarre: a secretive U.S. military base in the Indian Ocean surrounded by a 200-mile marine preserve controlled by the British government.

Peter Sand, in “The Chagos Archipelago: Footprint of Empire, or World Heritage?”, pointedly asks whether these new marine reserves are “an anachronistic example of ‘environmental imperialism’, or evidence of an equally outdated variant of ‘fortress conservation’ that disregards human rights under the noble guise of nature protection.” Either way, the Chagossians who were removed from their islands may never be able to return.

How do Private Corporations Benefit from Marine Monuments?

As I mentioned before, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is under the Department of Commerce (DOC). Does that seem strange to you? It certainly seems strange to Obama, when he joked during his 2011 State of the Union address: “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater.” Obama wants to move NOAA to the Department of the Interior.

Joking aside, it actually makes perfect (or perverse) sense that NOAA remains in DOC, which promotes trade and economic development. A few years ago, then Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton dubbed the 21st century: “America’s Pacific Century.” This strategic turn aims to expand trade, investment, and militarization throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The cornerstone of America’s Pacific Century is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement that has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.” As Clinton stated, the continued economic growth of the region depends on the “security and stability that has long been guaranteed by the U.S. military.”

It is not surprising that TPP negotiations, as well as militarization proposals in the Pacific, intensified around the same time that President Bush designated the first marine monument in 2006.

So what are these economic opportunities, and what does the TPP have to do with the surge of marine national monuments and reserves designated by the U.S. federal government and its allies?

First, the more military sanctuaries the U.S. has around the world, the more federal tax money will be spent to secure these areas for investment, which means more profit for the military industrial complex and private defense firms.

Second, does something smell fishy? The justification for many of these marine reserves is to prevent illegal fishing and fish fraud, especially from China. With a massive fleet of 2,000 distant-water, state-subsidized fishing vessels, China catches nearly five tons of fish a year, worth more than $10 billion—some legally and some illegally. In contrast, nearly 90 percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported.

By establishing marine monuments, and encouraging its allies in the Pacific to do the same, the U.S. could effectively shut out China from Pacific tuna waters. In turn, private U.S. tuna corporations could negotiate contracts with Pacific allied nations to develop Pacific fisheries or to obtain exclusive fishing rights within the marine reserves (as well as access to cheap labor and canneries).

This comes at a time when foreign-owned and American-owned canned-tuna companies are battling for control over our kids’ school lunches. Billions of dollars of tuna are on the plate.

Third, wherever you find a national monument, you will find a tourism industry. The Cayos Cochinos is a prime example. The government that controls the marine monument can permit private companies to operate tourism centers, hotels, eco-adventures—all in the name of development and jobs.

The concessions throughout the U.S. National Park Service are owned and operated by private companies, which gross over $1 billion annually. There are more than 500 companies, from food to lodging to adventure sports to retail, that have contracts with the National Parks. Of course, the entire National Park system was one way of displacing Native American presence on these lands.

Fourth, the Pacific has long been a “laboratory” for Western science and technology. Since another justification for marine reserves is scientific research, then we will see many more unprecedented grants for oceanography research.

This research can be transformed into profit by private industries, such as deep-sea mining, geo-thermal energy, open-ocean (genetically modified) aquaculture, and pharmaceutical drugs derived from ocean microbial bacteria.

New Zealand established a Marine Mammal Sanctuary in 2008 to protect engangered dolphins, yet it is now considering opening the area up for oil drilling. This is not a contradiction; this is exactly what these conservation schemes are designed for.

Lastly, do you want to see Avatar 2 with me when it comes out? In 2012, James Cameron dived in a submarine to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on earth, which is protected by the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

He lit up the trench with an eight-foot tower of LED lighting to film 3D footage. In another celebrity sighting, Leonardo DiCaprio made a cameo at the State Department’s Our Ocean conference, donating $7 milllion towards marine reserves. Apparently, he’s a diving enthusiast.

What is Blue-Washing?

In the 21st century, national marine momunents, marine parks, marine preserves, marine refuges, marine sanctuaries and their other iterations are instruments that empower the federal government to take land and water away from indigenous and public access, scrutiny, and trust. The “marine monuments” are especially dangerous because they do not require—nor are they accountable to—legislative or public comment, engagement, or approval.

As David Vine, in “Environmental Protection of Bases,” notes: “For all the benefits that marine protection areas might bring, governments are using environmentalism as a cover to protect the long-term life of environmentally harmful bases.

The designation also helps governments hold onto strategic territories.” Furthermore, these designations give the governments of the U.S. and its neoliberal allies the power to create contracts with private corporations to exploit the resources of our ocean for profit and not for the public good. Let’s call this a form of “Blue-washing.”

The word “monument” comes from the Latin, monumentum, meaning “grave” or “memorial.” If our oceans continue to become national marine monuments, our blue ocean will indeed become a watery grave, a memorial to the beauty, richness, and biodiversity that once was.


RIMPAC Impact Postmortem

SUBHEAD: Our congresswoman Tulsi Gabbarb seeking information from Navy on their methods of protecting Hawaii's environment.

By Chris D'Angelo on 22 October 2014 for the Garden Island -

Image above: Marines test military robot in Hawaii during RIMPAC 2014. From (

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is requesting information from the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor about the Navy’s efforts to monitor the effects of the Rim of the Pacific military exercise and Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on the ocean and marine ecosystems.

“Several constituents have raised concerns about RIMPAC, as well as the exercises conducted at PMRF, causing serious damage to marine life, including injuring sea turtles, cetaceans and corals,” Gabbard wrote in an Oct. 2 letter to USPF Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.

Held every two years and hosted by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, is the world’s largest international maritime war exercise. In total, 22 nations, 49 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in this year’s event, which lasted from June 26 to August 1 and included live fire target practice and the sinking of the decommissioned USS Tuscaloosa 57 nautical miles northwest of Kauai.

The drills take place in the Hawaii Operating Area and several off-shore ranges, including Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility. About 500 PMRF employees were actively engaged in supporting this summer’s event.

In her letter, Gabbard inquires about specific actions the Navy took during RIMPAC 2014 to prevent adverse impact to the marine environment, including sea life.

“Additionally, has the Navy, or any other entity, conducted other research to show that RIMPAC and other training exercises are not adversely impacting the environment?” she asked Adm. Harris.

If not, Gabbard requested the Navy examine such a course of action.

“As the Navy conducts training and testing in the ocean, we all must keep in mind that the ocean is an integral part of Hawaii, our economy, and our culture, and we all must continue the work to ensure that our ecosystems are not irreversibly damaged,” she wrote.

As of Tuesday, Harris had not yet responded to Gabbard’s request for information, according to PMRF spokesman Stefan Alford,who said he would provide a copy once one has been sent.

“Until that happens, I do not know of a timeline,” he wrote in an email. “It is being worked, however, so shouldn’t be too long.”

Every two years, the month-long RIMPAC exercise brings with it concerns from individuals and environmental groups who say it negatively impacts marine life, including endangered species.

One of those citizens on Kauai is Hanalei resident Terry Lilley, who has copied Gabbard on dozens of emails and photos over the last year documenting what he says shows the serious damage being caused to Kauai’s nearshore marine environment, including turtles and corals, by the Navy’s activities.

Lilley applauded Gabbard and said he doubts she would put her neck out on the line the way she did without serious concerns of her own.

“I do think something tipped the hat on this,” he said. “The bottom line, one way or another, she’s standing up after listing to the complaints of her constituency.”

Attempts to reach Gabbard’s press secretary Tuesday were not successful.

In late July, a 16-foot sub adult pilot whale washed ashore and died in Hanalei Bay. While some suspected the death may have been a result of naval activities, a Navy spokesman said at the time there was nothing to indicate that and it would be premature to speculate.

A team of scientists conducted a necropsy on the whale on July 26, but the examination did not produce results indicative of a cause of death. Tissue analysis intended to help determine the cause of death have been started and will take several weeks to months to produce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a release.

PMRF Commander Capt. Bruce Hay previously said he was pleased with the cooperative efforts during RIMPAC in the successful use of protective protocols for marine life.

“Our Navy has committed approximately $160 million over the past five years to marine mammal and sound in water research,” he said. “We are proud to be at the forefront to improve understanding of the behavior and abundance of marine mammals within and in near proximity to our water ranges.”

See also:

Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 in Full March 7/17/14
Even if RIMPAC didn't harm wildlife or the environment these war games are pointless.

Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 - another whale death 7/26/14
It's not like this has not happened here before. The Navy washes off the blood and wears white.

Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War on the Ocean 7/3/14
The unseen wars on the Pacific Ocean lead by the United States Navy is cranking up this summer.

Ea O Ka Aina: The Pacific Pivot  6/26/14

RIMPAC is only a small piece of a huge, systemized federal project of destruction in the Pacific.

Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC IMPACT 6/8/14
If you think that RIMPAC 2014 will be anything but harmful to Hawaii you are delusional.

Ea O Ka Aina: Operation Dominic & Hawaii  6/3/14
US nuclear tests on Johnson Island tell us that this year's RIMPAC will be more of the same destruction to the Pacific Ocean.

Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC Now and Then 5/16/14
The history of RIMPAC exercises tells us that this year will be more of the same. Destruction to life in the Pacific Ocean.

Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14

Excuse us while we turn the Pacific Ocean into a radioactive ashtray.

Ea  O Ka Aina: An Ugly Dance  - The Asian Pivot 12/5/13
It's a feeble attempt by USA to outplay Asia in the game of who can destroy the planet the fastest.

Ea O Ka Aina: End RIMPAC destruction of Pacific 11/1/13
Pacific Rim countries led by the US Navy take part in exercises in death and destruction in our ocean.

Ea O Ka Aina: Sleepwalking through destruction 7/16/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Military schmoozes Guam & Hawaii 3/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Shift in Pacific Power Balance 8/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC to Return in 2010 5/2/10 
Ea O Ka Aina: Living at the Tip of the Spear 4/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam Land Grab 11/30/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam as a modern Bikini Atoll 12/25/09
Ea O Ka Aina: GUAM - Another Strategic Island 11/8/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Diego Garcia - Another stolen island 11/6/09
Ea O Ka Aina: DARPA & Super-Cavitation on Kauai 3/24/09
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 - Navy fired up in Hawaii 7/2/08
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 uses destructive sonar 4/22/08
Island Breath: Navy Plans for the Pacific 9/3/07
Island Breath: Judge restricts sonar off California 08/07/07
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar use feared 5/23/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar compromise 7/9/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2004 Strands whales in Hanlei 09/02/04 
Island Breath: PMRF Land Grab 6/5/04 


"Discovery" of US Indigenous People

SUBHEAD: The "Doctrine of Discovery" makes our whole country is a crime scene that should be marked with yellow tape.

By Mickey Zezima on 11 October 2014 for World News Trust -

Image above: “The Landing of Columbus” by American neoclassicist painter John Vanderlyn (1775–1852). Note the crosses and swords in the hands of Europeans and the naked cowering "natives". This travesty was commissioned by Congress and hangs in the Capitol Rotunda. From (

“The whole country is a crime scene and should be marked with yellow tape.”
- Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

As I type these words, we are two days away from “honoring” Columbus and exactly a month has passed since the cries of “never forget” echoed on the 9/11 anniversary.

When it comes to honoring and remembering, however, it’s clearly slipped our minds how -- upon encountering the Arawak people in 1492 -- the venerated Mr. Columbus noted that they “would make fine servants,” adding, “with 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

Fortunately, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is making certain we “never forget” the realities of Manifest Destiny. Born in rural Oklahoma to a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother, Dunbar-Ortiz has committed her life’s work to education and activism. Her path will inspire you and her latest book,  An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (Beacon Press) will enlighten you. And anger you. And, best of all, educate and motivate you.

I recently had a conversation with Roxanne and it went a little something like this:

Mickey Z.: Is it safe to assume that many readers are approaching your book with heads filled with preconceptions and misconceptions on this general topic?

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: Yes, U.S. people either think they know a lot about Native Americans, or have little interest or curiosity. The latter especially applies to leftists and progressives, who think Native Americans are irrelevant to politics and strategies for change; they will nod their head in paternalistic sympathy, and that’s it.

Those who “know Indians,” as Richard Slotkin emphasizes in his work, often men who have been Cub and Boy Scouts and/or in the military, particularly the Marine Corps, or non-Native people (not only Euroamericans) who live near reservations. In each case, the knowledge and analytical base is wrong, and even the assumptions.

Most U.S. Americans will go a whole lifetime without meeting a Native American (even many of those who will tell you they themselves had a Native ancestor). And in the presentations of U.S. history, in schools as well as popular culture, Native Americans are largely absent.

Then, when they are present, it’s often worse than absence; it’s misinformation or distortions. That’s why I present Native American history as United States history. Nothing about the founding and development of the United States can be understood except in relation to the Indigenous Peoples of the continent (and of Hawaii and Alaska).

MZ: As you articulate in your book, a big part of that awakening may start with the acceptance of the official U.S. war on indigenous peoples as a war against foreign nations.

RDO: This is a key factor of U.S. history, the fact that some 500 Native nations existed when Europeans began their colonizing projects. Throughout the British colonial period in constructing the 13 North American Atlantic colonies, the colonizing authorities approached the Indigenous nations as nations, not that they respected them as equals as they did not, but they also didn’t respect Turkey, Russia, and other nations they regarded as nations.

The independent Anglo-American state continued the same nation-to-nation colonial practices as the British. But, in all European colonial projects, including the United States, they invoked the Doctrine of Discovery.

From the mid-15th century to the mid-20th century, most of the non-European world was colonized under the Doctrine of Discovery, one of the first principles of international law Christian European monarchies promulgated to legitimize investigating, mapping, and claiming lands belonging to peoples outside Europe. It originated in a papal bull issued in 1455 that permitted the Portuguese monarchy to seize West Africa.

Following Columbus’s infamous exploratory voyage in 1492, sponsored by the king and queen of the infant Spanish state, another papal bull extended similar permission to Spain.

Disputes between the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies led to the papal-initiated Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), which, besides dividing the globe equally between the two Iberian empires, clarified that only non-Christian lands fell under the discovery doctrine.

This doctrine on which all European states relied thus originated with the arbitrary and unilateral establishment of the Iberian monarchies’ exclusive rights under Christian canon law to colonize foreign peoples, and this right was later seized by other European monarchical colonizing projects. The French Republic used this legalistic instrument for its nineteenth- and twentieth- century settler colonialist projects, as did the newly independent United States when it continued the colonization of North America begun by the British.

MZ: How was this doctrine exploited and expanded by the United States?

RDO: In 1792, not long after the U.S. founding, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson claimed that the Doctrine of Discovery developed by European states was international law applicable to the new U.S. government as well. In 1823 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Johnson v. McIntosh, brought by the Cherokee Nation.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Marshall held that the Doctrine of Discovery had been an established principle of European law and of English law in effect in Britain’s North American colonies and was also the law of the United States.

The Court defined the exclusive property rights that a European country acquired by dint of discovery: “Discovery gave title to the government, by whose subjects, or by whose authority, it was made, against all other European governments, which title might be consummated by possession.”

Therefore, European and Euro-American “discoverers” had gained real-property rights in the lands of Indigenous peoples by merely planting a flag. Indigenous rights were, in the Court’s words, “in no instance, entirely disregarded; but were necessarily, to a considerable extent, impaired.”

The Court further held that Indigenous “rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations, were necessarily diminished.” Indigenous people could continue to live on the land, but title resided with the discovering power, the United States. The decision concluded that Native nations were “domestic, dependent nations.” This remains the fundamental law that rules the U.S. government’s relationship with Native Nations, a living colonial institution.

MZ: Please talk about how your book connects to larger issues of white supremacy/privilege.

RDO: In Chapter 2, “The Culture of Conquest,” I trace the rise of white supremacy to the Christian Crusades, and particularly the centuries long Castillian crusade against the Moorish Caliphate in the Iberian peninsula. In this process, Christian canon law introduced the concept of limpieza de sangre, cleanliness of blood, and established the Inquisition to investigate the purity of Christians, that they had no trace of Muslim or Jewish religious practices.

Then in 1492, began mass deportations of Muslims and Jews. The Doctrine of Discovery itself was inherently white supremacist in that it mandated that Christian monarchies (all European/white) had the right to occupy and dominate any non-Christian/non-white society.

The expropriation of Native land, turning it into private property/a commodity, as well as the savagizing of Native people, and the enslavement of human bodies, African bodies, as private property/commodities as well as a labor supply form the core of white supremacy in the founding, development, and present of the United States. I’ve always thought that the term “privilege” is such a weak word to describe the mindset that possessed European settlers.

MZ: I very much concur. It’s a word designed to be polite and non-confrontational. Yet another reason why it’d be so powerful to see your book become integrated into U.S. history education classes.

RDO: I think this book will be useful to teachers in developing a framework for presenting U.S. history to students at every level. The actual text books will be the last to change, due to the composition of most school boards in the country and the educational industrial complex. I want to see educators turn from thinking they have to “understand” Indians and instead start trying to understand the United States. When they do that, they will understand Native Americans.

MZ: With that in mind, as we descend into the era of ecocide, I feel it’d be useful to have you explain and expand on this passage that appears near the end of your book: “Indigenous peoples offer possibilities for life after empire, possibilities that neither erase the crimes of colonialism nor require the disappearance of the original peoples colonized under the guise of including them as individuals.”
RDO: As the first chapter in the book, “Follow the Corn,” lays out, the multiple forms of democratic governance and social relations developed by Indigenous peoples in North America are breathtaking. For one thing, they are all rooted in matriarchy. Matriarchy is not the opposite of patriarchy, nor simply substituting female people for male people. Rather it is a profound comprehension of the biological factors that can lead to domination and authoritarianism.

Training the male to be part of a community requires extensive ritual and discipline; it is not “natural,” rather socially constructed. It doesn’t happen automatically. And the concept of the earth as the source of sustenance, “mother,” that must be respected and managed.

Some of the experiments and results of social developments in North America (and the hemisphere) are adaptable to modern society, perhaps especially in cities. Native peoples built cities, towns, federations of towns, based on the common good. Indigenous socialism, as Evo Morales calls the phenomena, can provide both a goal and a practice, for survival and for defeating empire and structures of domination.

MZ: I’d love to see that concept shared widely as a template for environmental survival. Okay, as we wrap up, I know you’ve been doing plenty of talks and interviews lately but: Is there a question you've been hoping someone would ask you about this book but so far no one has? If so, please share that question and your answer with us.

RDO: The question: Why is Oklahoma unique, and what does its historical experience and present social movements have to offer for the rest of the society?

The answer: The whole country is a crime scene and should be marked with yellow tape, but Oklahoma was the place of distillation of the crimes against humanity created by the Andrew Jackson administration.

Click here to order An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States.

• Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz can be found on the Web here.

• Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.


Mauna Kea telescope protest

SUBHEAD: Native Hawaiians stop groundbreaking ceremony with protest closing of access road on Big Island. 

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher on 8 October 2014 for Huffington Post -

Image above: Protesters block vehicles from getting to the Thirty Meter Telescope groundbreaking ceremony site at Mauna Kea, Hawaii on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. From ABC-TV News.

A groundbreaking and Hawaiian blessing ceremony came to an abrupt end before it could really get underway Tuesday because of protesters who oppose plans to build one of the world's largest telescopes near the summit of a mountain held sacred by Native Hawaiians.

More than an hour after the event was scheduled to begin near the top of the Big Island's Mauna Kea, the host of the ceremony's live webcast said the caravan carrying attendees up the mountain "hit a snag" and would be delayed. He later said the delay was due to a group of people blocking access to the site.

The groundbreaking for the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope was being shown via webcast because of limited access to the construction site, which is at an elevation of 14,000 feet with arctic-like conditions.

Stephanie Nagata, director of the Office of Mauna Kea Management, said several dozen protesters standing, sitting and chanting on the road prevented the caravan of vans from reaching the summit, but some passengers were able to walk the rest of the way to the ceremony.

The webcast later showed protesters yelling during attempts to start the blessing.

"We do hope we'll be able to find a common ground and proceed with this in the future," the webcast's host said before the broadcast was shut down.

The ceremony was interrupted by protesters holding signs and yelling, said Sandra Dawson, a spokeswoman for the telescope project.

"It was a ceremonial thing, and I don't know whether that will be repeated," she said. "We listened to the views of the people who were there. Everybody's in good spirits."

The disruption doesn't affect construction from moving forward, Dawson said.

Kealoha Pisciotta said her group, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, planned to protest nonviolently by holding prayer ceremonies on the road at the bottom of the mountain. She said there were no plans to be disruptive or block people from attending the event.

Some in her group headed up the mountain to make an offering but encountered police blocking the road, Pisciotta said.

"They laid down on the road right there. That's what stopped the caravan," she said. "They were reacting to the police blocking the road."

Nagata said authorities did not block the road. A police spokeswoman didn't immediately return a call seeking information.

The groundbreaking was to culminate years of permit applications and approvals from the University of Hawaii and the state land board. The university leases land from the state where the telescope will be built. The Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the sublease in June and then later denied requests to contest the approval.

Image above: A computer model of the Thirty Meter Telescope, which just began construction after more than a decade of planning. From (

Opponents raised questions about whether land appraisals were done appropriately and whether Native Hawaiians were properly consulted.

Some protesters who yelled during the blessing attempt later apologized to event organizers and helped put away chairs, Pisciotta said. "We said aloha to each other and we hugged."

She said her group's leaders didn't intend to stop the ceremony.

"That wasn't anyone's goal," she said. "The organizers were very clear that we weren't trying to do that."

But, Pisciotta added, "We can't control everybody." She said no one was arrested.

The project was initiated by the University of California, California Institute of Technology and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy. Universities and institutions in China, India and Japan later signed on as partners.

The telescope should help scientists see some 13 billion light years away for a glimpse into the early years of the universe. Mauna Kea is the ideal location for observing the most distant and difficult to understand mysteries of the universe, astronomers said.

Its primary mirror promises to be 100 feet, or 30 meters, in diameter, made up of 492 smaller mirrors.

Go Nuclear or Go Native

SUBHEAD: Being indigenous isn't really so bad, considering the alternative. It's just means being in a community in a place in the world.

By Juan Wilson on 20 OCtober 2014 for Island Breath -

Image above: Ceremony of the lighting of the Indigenous Sacred Fire in Cuiaba November 8, 2013. Forty-eight Brazilian tribes presented their cultural rituals and competed in traditional sports such as archery, running with logs and canoeing during the XII Games of Indigenous People.
From (

There are several movers and shakers in the world that I have had respect for who have come to realize the desperate situation that modern mankind faces. This group senses that Peak Energy and Climate Change (due to the burning of the afore mentioned energy) are conspiring to put Modern Civilization off the road and in the ditch.

As mentioned before on this blog the group includes:
  • James Hansen -  NASA atmospheric physicist; climatologist; Climate Change activist.
  • James Lovelock - proponent of the Gaia Hypotheses; author "The Vanishing Face of Gaia".
  • Steven Hawking - cosmologist of Black Holes; author of "A Brief History of Time".
  • Stewart Brand - founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and The Long Now Foundation.
  • Bill Gates - software engineer, founder of Microsoft, philanthropist, author of "The Road Ahead".
These guys perceive, quite rightly, that there aren't many ways to stay on the road and keep the wheels turning. The universities, the industries, the technology hubs, medical research facilities, the information/entertainment networks all require a level of refinement and continuous clean energy that does not appear possible with our current means.
    This group has concluded that there is no way forward but a crash course of building nuclear power plants to support the power grid and information systems and organizations that sustain Modern Civilization throughout the world. This would require the construction of several hundred nuclear power plants to replace virtually all the oil, coal and natural gas power generating stations in the world.

    There is plenty of Main Stream Media techno-porn about "New" and "Improved" nuclear power technology:

    Popular Science: Compact Fusion Reactor  10/17/14
    As they look to the sun Lockheed is working to develop a source of infinite energy... Suuuure.

    The Telegaph: Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors 9/24/14
    A revolution in nuclear power could slash costs of energy below cost of coal... Suuuure.

    Forbes Magazine: Small Modular Reactors  5/13/14
    Safe as a nuclear sub. These units be installed anywhere to supply needed power... Suuuure.

    The facts are that the infrastructure to support a nuclear powered future does not exist and the resources to create and sustain that infrastructure do not exist.

    As one example: We simply will not be able to repair and maintain the US Interstate Highway System necessary to provide the support for building, operating, and decommissioning of those nuclear power plants we want to build.

    Just need for concrete, steel, and paving that is required for the bridges, over/under passes, culverts and roadways is monumental. As it is, our highway systems are crumbling and we do not seem to have the ability to keep up with its decay. Just imagine the lack of highway repair if we get to the point that interstate trucking is an unprofitable undertaking due to the cost of diesel fuel.

    Although they won't yet admit it, Japan has demonstrated that nuclear power is a dead-end. The continuing massive release of radioactive material into the Pacific Ocean and the contamination of a large section of the middle third of Honshu Island (including greater Tokyo) is a permanent testament to the folly of nuclear power.

    Japan's economy has been destroyed. The fact is hat they cannot afford to keep the Toyota, Nissan, Hitachi, and Mistubishi industries running on oil and they do not dare restart their 50 nuclear plants. This will be much clearer when the thyroid cancers emerge and other debilitating consequences of the Fukushima nuclear plant failure can no longer be hidden.


    However, there is an alternative to nuclear already in hand. As early as late 2011 James Howard Kunsler precicted (
    Turning to Japan....That sore beset kingdom is suffering all the blowback of modern times at once: the Godzilla syndrome up in Fukushima; a demographic collapse; an imminent bond crisis; the collapse of export market partners; and a long, agonizing death spiral of its banks. I stick by a prediction I tendered back in March, after the deadly tsunami: Japan will decisively opt for a return to pre-industrial civilization. Why not? The rest of the world will be dragged kicking and screaming to the same place. Let Japan get there first and enjoy the advantage of the early adapter - back to an economy of local, hand-made stuff, rigid social hierarchy, folkloric hijinks in whispering bamboo groves, silk robes, and frequent time outs for the tea ceremony.
    I wholeheartedly agree with Kunstler on this point and see that there is really no alternative to climbing down off our high horse and dealing with reality.

    It seems the cost of keeping Western Civilization running is too expensive for the planet Earth to handle. As a result we will soon be forced to close that franchise or face the consequences - which likely will include several ramifications that could be called Extinction Level Events (ELE). Those would include among other things:
      • Worldwide economic collapse due loss of non-renewable resources - Peak Everything.
      • Massive desertification and/or soil loss in food producing areas of the world; 
      • Wars fought with WMDs for diminishing resources - especially water, food and fuel.
      • Multiple breaches of nuclear containment facilities due to industrialization's failures;
      • Extinguishing of world's coastal urban centers due to global warming ocean level rise;
      • Loss of knowledge and technological skill resulting from failure of information systems.
      What will be needed as a base to work from is being able to conduct our lives with the energy and renewable resources immediately around us. That means sun, water, animals, plants and soil where we live.

      For some places and peoples that may mean being hunter/gatherers with no fixed settlements; for others that may mean small rural gardening communities. The point is that the hunters and gardeners will be the rule not the exception. We will be indigenous, finally again.

      This does not mean we will have no education or culture. But the subject matter and art forms however will be your own responsibility.

      There will be repositories of knowledge - likely in the country monastery or manor library. There may even be villages with a school and the occasional town with a university, but they will be the exception not the rule.

      Being indigenous isn't really so bad, considering the alternative. It's just means being in a community in a place in the world... and not somewhere else. It also means embracing that arrangement.

      Forget the airports, the strip malls, the office cubicle and the cul-de-sac. You won't have to go there anymore. In fact you won't be able to. But you will have to get together to make dinner then make some music.

      Go Nuclear or Go Native. There won't be much in between.


      Two Maui streams reach the sea

      SUBHEAD: The flow returns to two streams on Maui that have been diverted for more than 150 years.

      By Isaac Moriwake on 13 October 2014 for Earth Justice -

      Image above: A Maui resident enjoys the flow of ʻĪao Stream for the first time in his life. From original article.

      Today, flow will return to two streams on Maui that have been diverted for more than 150 years.

      This restoration of Wailuku River (also known as ʻĪao Stream) and Waikapū Stream is a result of an ongoing Earthjustice campaign on behalf of Maui community groups Hui o Nā Wai ʻEhā and Maui Tomorrow Foundation to restore instream flows to Nā Wai ʻEhā—“The Four Great Waters” of Waiheʻe, Waiehu, Wailuku, and Waikapū.

      It was here in Wailuku and Waikapū that the first sugar plantations on Maui began draining the streams more than 150 years ago. In a sense, today’s restoration of flow brings us full circle to where the private diversions of stream flows and deprivation of Native Hawaiian communities and stream, wetland, and nearshore ecosystems began.

      Wailuku River, the second largest river on Maui (Waiheʻe River is the largest) and one of the ten largest in the state, flows through ʻĪao Valley and the Wailuku region, a cultural and historical epicenter of the island. Waikapū Stream flows through the neighboring Waikapū region and is the primary freshwater source for the Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge and Māʻalaea Bay.

      We began this legal action over 10 years ago, in June 2004. Together with our long-time ally, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, we took the case all the way to the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court, which ruled in our favor in August 2012.

      Under a settlement approved by the state Commission on Water Resources Management in April 2014, the two companies diverting these waters, Wailuku Water Company and Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, agreed to restore up to 10 million gallons per day (mgd) to Wailuku River and 2.9 mgd to Waikapū Stream. The settlement also maintained the restoration of 10 mgd and 2.5 mgd to Waiheʻe River and Waiehu Stream, respectively, which the Commission initially ordered in 2010.

      Our work to rectify 150 years of injustice is far from over. In addition to releasing water, the diverters still must modify their diversion structures to ensure passage of native stream life. We are also engaged in ongoing proceedings to regulate uses of Nā Wai ʻEhā stream water via permitting, which will further increase accountability over stream diversions.

      Nonetheless, today we can take a moment to celebrate this hard-won and long-awaited victory. All four waters of Nā Wai ʻEhā are now flowing for the first time since the 19th century.

      Over years of dedicated effort, many people helped to make this moment a reality. This moment is a tribute to them and their commitment and belief in justice, which turned the tide of history for Maui’s Four Great Waters.

      Video above: After 150 Years - Water Returns to Maui Streams. From (


      EPA approves 2-4-D for GMOs

      SUBHEAD: Dow Chemical's new line of GMO seeds will drastically increase the use of 2,4-D, a toxic pesticide.

      By Linda Wells on 16 October 2014 for Earth Island -

      Image above: Dow Agro-Science main facility entrance lies between Waimea and Hanapepe along the Kaumualii Highway on Kauai, Hawaii. This is where the 2-4-D will be tested on humans residents; particularly those (many of whom are employees) living in nearby Makaweli and Kaumakani. Photo by Ian Umeda. From (

      It's official. Yesterday, the US Environmental Protection Agency approved Dow AgroSciences’ new pesticide product Enlist Duo, a combination of the herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate. Given that the US Department of Agriculture has already cleared the way for Dow’s new genetically engineered corn and soybean crops, this pesticide and seed combination can now be sold commercially.

      The move is bound to drastically increase the use of 2,4-D, a harmful and volatile chemical linked to reproductive harms and cancer.

      This is a turning point, not just for grain production but also for food production in the US and across the world. The introduction of Enlist corn and soybeans, and the widespread adoption of this new seed line, will have pervasive impacts on farmer livelihoods, public health and control of our food system.

      This is a decision that our regulators should not have taken lightly. And yet, it seems they did. Both USDA and EPA set up an intentionally narrow scope for evaluating the potential harms posed by 2,4-D resistant crops – one that ignored the biggest problems and held up irrelevant factors as evidence of safety.

      As small farmers brace for the impact of pesticide drift that will hit their farms once the Enlist crops are introduced, it is time for us to look forward. It's time to demand a regulatory system that takes a rigorous approach to pesticides and genetically engineered crops, one that values small farmers as much as industrial agriculture – and public health as much as corporate profit.

      It's a set up
      Dow Chemical's Enlist seeds and pesticides passed this approval process with relative ease, despite extended public outcry from farmers, health professionals and communities across the country.
      Dow, and the other "Big 6" global pesticide corporations, would have us believe that this was a drawn-out, rigorous approval process that once again proves the safety and necessity of genetically engineered crops. The reality is that the whole process was a tricky sleight-of-hand: Enlist passed the test because the test itself was set up to be a cakewalk.

      From the beginning, opponents of 2,4-D-resistant crops have focused on three main objections:
      1. Enlist crops will mean a massive increase in the use of the toxic and volatile chemical 2,4-D. Neighboring farms, especially those that grow fruits and vegetables, will be put at risk for increased crop damage. Their livelihoods will be threatened, and fruit and vegetable production will become an even riskier venture for US farmers.
      2. Rural exposure to 2,4-D will also increase to unprecedented levels. 2,4-D is linked to cancer and reproductive harm, among other negative impacts. USDA itself predicts 2,4-D use in corn and soybean production to increase between 500 and 1,400 percent over the course of nine years.
      3. Dow is presenting Enlist as the answer to farmer's prayers about "superweeds," an economic must-have that outweighs any side effects. But the truth is that superweeds developed because of Monsanto's RoundUp Ready seed line, the current king of pesticide-resistant crops — and there's nothing to stop weeds from developing resistance to 2,4-D just as they have to glyphosate, RoundUp's active ingredient. USDA needs to invest in real solutions for weed management, not allow this false solution to exacerbate the problem.
      And of these major points, how many were accounted for in the approval process run by USDA and EPA? Not a single one.

      Agency hot potato
      What happened? Well, to Administrators Tom Vilsack (USDA) and Gina McCarthy (EPA), when it comes to evaluating the safety of new GE crops, apparently the buck stops  somewhere else. Each agency accepted the narrowest possible interpretation of its responsibilities to safeguard our fields and families.

      USDA essentially decided to only look at the damage that GE seeds themselves would cause, ignoring the threat of pesticide drift entirely — and passing the onus of evaluating pesticide-related issues to EPA.

      Meanwhile, EPA did a rather shoddy job of addressing the health impacts of this dramatic increase in 2,4-D use. McCarthy didn't consider tthe cumulative damage that will result from repeated 2,4-D exposures, and instead insisted that 2,4-D health impacts in general had already been evaluated by a previous process. As for crop damage from pesticides, well, crop damage is USDA's domain. So EPA didn't consider that issue at all.

      And neither Vilsack nor McCarthy tackled the one of the biggest questions: Why would we put a product on the market that's going to make superweeds even more out of control? As stated in a recent LA Times editorial:
      “No agency looks at the bigger policy question of whether the nation is embarking on a potentially dangerous path toward creating ever-more resistant weeds and spraying them and crops with larger and larger doses of stronger herbicides. That question should be answered before the country escalates the war out in the fields.”
      Hear, hear!

      Do better.
      It's time to intercept this game of agency hot-potato with clearly defined directives for protecting farmers and rural families. PAN is joining allies in demanding that USDA and EPA produce a new, more robust process for the approval of new GE crops and pesticides – one that considers the full implications of these new products before they hit the market, from pesticide drift to cumulative impacts.

      No distractions, no loopholes. Let's take our food and farming system seriously, and make decisions based on all of the facts.

      Take action
       Join PAN and partners in calling on President Obama to step in and keep 2,4-D crops from hitting the market. He has the authority to direct USDA and EPA to take a closer look at on-the-ground impacts and better protect community health and farmer livelihoods.


      DOI and OHA End Run

      SOURCE: Gypsie Me (
      SUBHEAD: Obama administration will use an executive policy statement to recognizing the Native Hawaiian roll, or instruct the DOI to do so.

      By Ehu Kekahu Cardwell on 17 Friday 2014 for Free Hawaii -

      Image above: Modified image with no credit "We are not Indians. No thanks Kana'iolowalu". 

      Highly reliable sources have informed us that the US Department of Interior has arrived at their decision regarding new rule making and federal recognition of Hawaiians.

      Because of the overwhelming numbers of testifiers throughout Hawai`i as well as the US that stated they were against the DOI proposed plans, both in person at the hearings and online, the US Department of Interior itself has decided not to issue any new rules or re-recognition.

      However, because those few who would stand to benefit directly from such a move have lobbied the White House intensely, the Obama administration will instead either issue an executive policy statement (as was done in Alaska) federally recognizing the Native Hawaiian roll, or they will instruct the DOI to issue an administrative policy that the Obama administration will then support.

      Either of these actions are actually worse than any DOI rule making.

      This yet to be announced policy statement will empower OHA and the Roll Commission to form a governing entity that will be rubber stamped with no oversight or advance public input whatsoever.

      It is the “payoff” the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Council For Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), the Sovereign Councils Of Hawaiian Homelands Assembly (SCHHA) and the Danners have been seeking for so long.

      It also explains two recent developments -

      First, the recent creation by OHA of itʻs “consortium,” of which the CNHA, the SCHHA and even the Association Of Hawaiian Civic Clubs (AOHCC) are said to become key controlling players.

      This consortium would be the entity that administers and runs the creation of this federally recognized Native Hawaiian tribe. They would also be able to tightly control who gets admitted as members.

      Second, the recent announcement postponing the Native Hawaiian convention and election of officers until sometime next year. This is to time the staging of the convention after the Obama administration publicly reveals its plans.

      Since the public announcement regarding the Obama administration policy statement is not planned for some time, now is the time to let the Obama administration know that you are opposed to this scheme.

      Contact the White House and DOI Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia`aina today and say NO! to their “proposed policy statement” or any US federal policy that would recognize the Native Hawaiian roll.

      Email the White House -
      Or call the White House (202) 456-1111.

      Email DOI Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia`aina -

      Let them know that after all the public testimony overwhelmingly against federal recognition you wonʻt stand for any end-run scheme that would in fact create a tribe to benefit a small group of kanaka maoli Americans.

      Video above: Ehu Kekahu Cardwell presents possible DOI policy on native Hawaiians. From (


      The Tao of the Apocalypse

      SUBHEAD:  It is the story of the Tao and a life lived in accordance with nature that I want to play a role in.

      By Andy Russell on 12 October 2014 for Auton0my Acres-
      Image above: Which future will we choose? Both? Painting "New Pioneers" by Mark Henson, 2009, oil on canvas. From ( From original article. Note: If this image looks familiar it is because  a detail of this painting was used in a previous IB post Ea O Ka AIna: The Trouble With Permaculture.

      A few nights ago I had a dream that would fall under the category of post apocalyptic. It took place in the present day, at my house, on what appeared to be a bright sunny summer day. My son and I were out back by the garage getting trailers hooked up to our bikes, collecting baseball bats and machetes, cans of food, and other supplies that have now left my memory. What the cause of our hasty retreat was I also can’t recall, but I knew we had to get going fast.

      Throughout the dream I was also worried as to where my wife and daughter were. Maybe we were off to meet them, or worse yet to rescue them from some unseen and unknown antagonist. Either way, I missed the rest of my family very much, and I knew it was my job to keep my son safe.

      Before awakening, the last thing I remember doing in the dream was getting the two dogs into the trailers, tying down the rest of our supplies, and then having to say goodbye to our two cats Charlie and Brown. It broke my heart to have to leave these two little guys behind. But even in the dreamtime, I realized that they would be fine without us and could fend for themselves living the rest of their days happily eating songbirds and mice.

      I love dreams, but I usually cannot recall them as well as I can this one. And most of the time they are not nearly as involved or as intense. I have plenty of anxiety work dreams, and random fantastical ones with a rotating cast of familiar characters, but rarely do I have a dream that is so realistic and that is set in a familiar, yet somehow mystical and alternative apocalyptic world.

      I couldn’t help but tell my son about this dream, and from that a great conversation was sparked. He was curious as to what a post apocalyptic world meant. Having just recently watched Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome for the first time with him, I told him to think back to that movie, but try to imagine it not quite so barren or destroyed. I think he understood what I was getting at and then proceeded to say something along the lines of “like what happens to you after war comes to your country”. I was amazed by the depth of his understanding and realized he had a good grasp of the idea. I responded with a “yeah, something like that…”

      It was then that he asked me what else we would take with us. He automatically assumed I would take my Chromebook with us. And in hindsight I probably would take it if I knew it could be recharged and could access the internet! But I said “no, we wouldn’t take the Chromebook because what good would it do us if there were no power.” We could agree on this.

      The conversation stayed on books. I took a quick look at our bookshelf, and pulled down an old, tattered copy of the Tao Te Ching that I have had for well over 20 years. I showed it to him, and he wondered why I would take a book like that, and not one of our foraging field guides or a wilderness survival book. The question was a good one, and now I had something else to explain to an inquisitive 8 year old.

      While I am not an overly mystical person, the Tao has been one of those books that I found fairly early on in my journey. It has always been there for me, ready to be picked up, dusted off, and reread over and over again throughout the years. The 81 passages contained within the Tao Te Ching are a manual of sorts that has helped me to walk lightly upon this Good Earth. It is not a book filled with answers, or a God, or a map to a final destination. But more of a signpost. A compass. A star chart to the infinite. The book of the way.

      So that is why I would grab that book if I found myself living in my recent dream. To help keep me centered and focused, but also fluid like water. But my son had a good point. If we were fleeing, not knowing when we would find safety, I would also pack my favorite field guides and survival manuals. I can identify many plants and fungi, but I don’t know a whole lot when it comes to cleaning an animal or making a splint for a broken leg.

      In reality though, I try very hard to keep the post apocalyptic narrative from playing too big of a role in my day to day life. If I let it dominate my thoughts, it is hard to be productive or a positive role model. While it is a possible outcome for our world, especially if we stay our present course, I find it more helpful to focus on the present and how we can create a more fulfilling future for ourselves.

      So even though post apocalyptic stories are my favorite ones to read and watch, it is the story of the Tao and a life lived in accordance with nature that I want to play a role in. When we take the time to observe our surroundings, draw our conclusions based on evidence, and implement solutions that are balanced and inspired by nature, that is when we can move forward and create a truly wonderful, and self sustaining world.

      Tao #80
      If a country is governed wisely,
      its inhabitants will be content.
      They enjoy the labor of their hands
      and don’t waste time inventing labor saving machines.
      Since they dearly love their homes,
      they aren’t interested in travel.
      There may be a few wagons and boats,
      but these don’t go anywhere.
      There may be an arsenal of weapons,
      but nobody ever uses them.
      People enjoy their food,
      take pleasure in being with their families,
      spend weekends working in their gardens,
      delight in the doings of the neighborhood.
      And even though the next country is so close
      that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,
      they are content to die of old age
      without ever having gone to see it.

      Note: Here is a link to a variant translation of the Tao by Derik Lin in 2006