Apocalypse Now (or never)!
Indigenous Resistance & Survival into the 21st Century
by Zig Zag, March 2011, WarriorPublications.wordpress.com
Today, the global system is in decline, if not outright crisis. It is suffering from industrial pollution, resource depletion, war, and increasing social conflict. The greatest potential danger, however, lies in the damage done to the earth’s ecosystem.
In 1999, a UN report entitled Global Environmental Outlook, warned:
“Earth will face more & bigger hurricanes, floods & tornadoes, caused by a warming climate in the century to come… Natural disasters appear to be becoming more frequent and their effects more severe… Rising global temperatures are likely to raise the incidence of extreme weather events, including storms & heavy rainfall, cyclones & drought. “
According to the World Watch Institute annual report in 2000,
“What becomes clear from our research is that the economic model that evolved in the industrial West & which is now spreading throughout the entire world is slowly undermining itself. As now structured, it will not take us very far into the next century. The question, then, is whether we can find another path that can be sustained” (State of the World, Year 2000 edition).
Now, over a decade into the 21st century, we can reflect on these warnings and the waves of extreme weather events we have witnessed during this time period.
1995-2006 saw eleven of the 12 warmest years in recorded global temperatures (since 1850, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). In August 2003, a record heat wave in Europe led to some 40,000 deaths. The 2008 cyclone in Burma/Myanmar killed some 146,000, far eclipsing the death toll from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In 2010, a heat wave in Russia killed some 15,000 people. In early 2011, China and Argentina both experienced severe droughts, negatively affecting global food supplies.
Linked to global warming is the increasing severity of flooding from heavy rains. In 1996, the Saguenay region of Quebec was the site of the most costly flood in Canadian history, at $1.5 billion worth of damages. An intense rainstorm coupled with the insufficient storage capacity of local dams caused the catastrophe. In 1997, the Red River in Manitoba flooded, the worst since 1826. In 2005, Alberta also experienced severe flooding.
In 2000, Britain was hit with flooding after torrential rains, causing some £3.5 billion in damages. Almost every year since, the country has seen regions flooded, with one of the worst on record occurring in 2007 (again causing over £3 billion in damages).
More recently, in 2010, Pakistan was hit with what has been described as the most destructive floods in history, displacing over 20 million people. In early 2011, Australia and Brazil both experienced some of the worst flooding in those country’s histories (also adding to the global food crisis as crops were destroyed).
Around the world, warming weather trends have also led to ever-greater and highly destructive wildfires, as well as insect infestations and the spread of disease (i.e., mosquitos and ticks).
Then there’s the massive earthquakes of the last few years, including the 2004 Asian Tsunami which caused some 230,000 fatalities, the 2005 Pakistan quake that killed over 80,000, China’s 2008 quake with over 87,000 deaths, Haiti in 2010 with over 222,000 deaths, and the March 2011 quake in Japan that caused massive economic damages.
Back in 2004, NASA and the US Geological Survey were already studying the effects of glacier retreat and increases in earthquakes.
Jeanne Sauber of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Bruce Molnia, a research geologist at USGS, used NASA satellite and global positioning system receivers, as well as computer models, to study movements of Earth’s plates and shrinking glaciers in Alaska.
“Historically, when big ice masses started to retreat, the number of earthquakes increased,” Sauber said. “More than 10,000 years ago, at the end of the great ice age, big earthquakes occurred in Scandinavia as the large glaciers began to melt. In Canada, many more moderate earthquakes
occurred as ice sheets melted there,” she added (see “Retreating Glaciers Spur Alaskan Earthquakes,” NASA website, http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2004/0715glacierquakes.html, another article on this theme appeared in 2007 entitled “Global Warming Might Spur Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which can be accessed at:
Their analysis, and that of others, has indicated that retreating glaciers caused by warming temperatures relieves pressure on tectonic plates, causing greater seismic activity resulting in greater volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
And this is just the weather.
Today, there is another crisis, caused by both environmental and economic conditions, that should serve as (yet another) wake up call: the food crisis of 2011.
Global Food Crisis 2011
The droughts and flooding of the past few years, along with continual decreases in agricultural land (from pollution, depletion, desertification, toxins, urbanization, etc.), as well as rising fuel prices, have all contributed to a global food crisis. In the past year, prices for wheat, grain, and corn have reached record levels. This crisis is compounded by the increasing diversion of food crops to bio-fuels, now an estimated 6% of global agricultural production.
While now overshadowing the food crisis, the Arab Revolts of early 2011 were initially reported as food riots, starting first in Algeria then spreading to neighbouring Tunisia (then Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, etc.). In fact, as rioting began in Algeria in early January, it was at the time added to the growing list of countries facing protests and public disorder, including Cameroon, China, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Mozambique, and Peru. While the Arab Revolt became a potent political movement aimed at ousting long-term dictators in the region, there is no doubt that the food crisis contributed to the rebellions.
The Arab Revolt has caused the price of oil to rise steadily on world markets. This in turn leads to higher food prices, further deepening the food crisis but also negatively affecting all aspects of production and transportation, on a global level. The rising cost of oil will place greater emphasis on bio-fuels.
Back in October 2010, Addison Wiggin wrote “The Food Shock of 2011,” predicting a global food crisis in 2011 and advising readers to invest in those agricultural stocks whose prices were sure to rise as the crisis set in. Considering the duration of the crisis, Wiggins stated:
“It may go away in a few weeks or a few months. But it won’t go away for good. It’ll keep coming back…for decades” ( Addison Wiggin, “The Food Shock of 2011,” Daily Reckoning/Forbes blog, October 27, 2010).
More recently, Agustino Fontevecchia, also writing in Forbes blogs, warned:
“The world is treading on dangerous ground. Market forces are in place for another global food crisis, and, as the wheels keep turning, it will become harder for these to be put in reverse” (“On The Verge Of A Global Food Crisis,” By Agustino Fontevecchia, Forbes blogs, Jan. 13 2011).
As a resistance movement, we make note of all these developments. Each crisis & catastrophe that strikes weakens our opponent and contains within it opportunities for liberation. A convergence of economic, environmental, military & social factors led to the downfall of the Roman Empire. World War 2 weakened the European states and enabled anti-colonial movements to kick many out of Asia & Africa. More recently, a convergence of economic, military, political, and ecological factors led to the downfall of the Soviet Union.
If we are not prepared, however, any crisis that occurs could also leave us vulnerable. At the same time, we cannot base our strategy solely on the likelihood of a crisis. Instead, we must continue to organize within the present social conditions while being prepared for an uncertain future.
Survival is the art of staying alive. As Indigenous peoples, we are experts at survival. Our ancestors learned to survive & live in their environments, developing skills & knowledge over thousands of years. Recent generations have survived European colonization & genocide that nearly destroyed our cultures & which erased large amounts of traditional knowledge.
When we consider the growing potential for the entire industrial system to collapse (or self-destruct), it becomes apparent that our survival will depend on how much traditional knowledge & skills we have retained. It will also depend on how much of our traditional territories & ecosystems have been maintained, including fresh water, animal and plant life. Ultimately, our survival will depend on clean land & water, as it always has. Our strategy into the 21st Century, then, is based on our ancient duties as Warriors: to Defend Our People, Territory & Way of Life.
Learn from the Past,
Prepare in the Present,
To Defend the Future!