A More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible: A Book Review

by Carolyn Baker at Speaking Truth to Power

More Beautiful WorldOne can live in some aspects of the old and some of the new simultaneously, and in each of these aspects experience the same dynamic of crisis, collapse, the space in between, and birth into the new.

~Charles Eisenstein, A More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible~

Truly, to be an effective activist requires an equivalent inner activism.

~Charles Eisenstein, A More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible~

For nearly a year before the publication of my book Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths For Turbulent Times, I was aware that it was going to be part of Andrew Harvey’s Sacred Activism Series to be published by North Atlantic Books. I was also aware that Charles Eisenstein’s book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible would be included in the series, being published at approximately the same time as my book. As a colleague and friend of Andrew Harvey, I was more than excited about the series, having followed his passion for the concept of Sacred Activism since the publication of his first book addressing the topic in 2009.

For decades I had realized the necessity of integrating activism and the sacred, but no one had yet articulated the deeper meaning of both concepts or demonstrated why one cannot flourish without the other. As a huge fan of Eisenstein’s work and Andrew’s mission, I was thrilled to be included in the book series, and the burgeoning of that enthusiasm compels me these many months after publication to review The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. And at the same time, I must note a few discrepancies in my perspective as I journey alongside Charles and his phenomenal body of work with which I deeply resonate.

Not only do I resonate with Charles’s frame of reference, but like him, I have frequently been accused of being naïve and idealistic. Some responses to A More Beautiful World have reverberated with this indictment which is likely to be leveled at any body of writing that invites us to “feel good.” After all, the title is charged with three volatile words: Beautiful, hearts, possible. These are likely to draw cynical critiques like a magnet draws iron filings. However, I personally do not believe that feel-good writing is entirely suspect—as long as the author is capable of taking a cold, hard look at the inescapable realities of our predicament, and of course, from my perspective, Charles is adept in doing just that. Moreover, he repeatedly empathizes with how challenged both we and he are in embracing a new paradigm as a result of the old story embedded in our psyches, products that we are of industrial civilization. As I read his incisive commentary on our predicament, naïve is not a word that leaps to mind, yet all of us, including myself, navigate a dying planet with myriad blind spots only because we are fallible humans.

Hospitality toward divergent opinions is a skill that must be cultivated in a binary culture that insists on “this” or “that,” “right” or “wrong” as a result of the legacy of Cartesian dualism. Perhaps the most onerous challenge for any of us is consciously forging a perspective sufficiently humble so that we can utter what in this culture are possibly the most difficult words: “I don’t know with certainty, and I could be wrong.”

I note this because A More Beautiful World posits in a number of places that if we can’t imagine a more beautiful world, it is due to our wounding. On the one hand, this may be valid, yet conversely, the plethora of research that is now coming to the fore on mass extinction and catastrophic climate change reinforces the possibility that in addition to our wounding, we may be reaping the terminal consequences of having created the ugliest of worlds which will result in the extermination of most of life on earth. Certainly, our wounding as inhabitants of industrial civilization has created human beings that have a great deal of difficulty imagining a more beautiful world and many of whom hold all things visionary with contempt. This is the reality of our inner world, but the external one we have participated in shaping may imminently silence forever our banter about “wounding.” I do not say this lightly, but rather as a student of the wonder and wounding of the human psyche for my entire adult life. We stand on exceedingly precarious ground, I believe, when we essentially declare that if others resist our perspective, it is due to their wounding.

Correspondingly, A More Beautiful World asserts that we are at a transition between stories. On the one hand, this may be so, yet I must also wonder if we are only at the end of a particular age. The anthropocene in which we may now abide may or may not ultimately include humans. I certainly do not believe that all life on earth will become extinct, but rather that most human life will within the next century. I can only wonder how any surviving humans might respond to the notion of A More Beautiful World That Our Hearts Know Is Possible. Will the horror they have endured make them terminally cynical, or will they long for and imagine a new story?

Eisenstein writes: “Many speak of ‘hospicing a dying civilization.’ This book argues that their despair arises from the same source as the crises themselves, and that as we transition to a new Story of the World, things become possible that had seemed miraculous before.” (257) Again, we are told that this kind of perception results from our wounding. But more debatable is the implication that despair serves no useful purpose when in fact, one could argue that despair serves us exquisitely in a number of ways. I have never met anyone who is awake to the collapse of industrial civilization and the collapse of ecosystems who has not experienced some form of despair over long or short periods of time. Despair is often a lightning rod that quickly transports us out of the old and into the new. Moreover, despair is an antidote to hubris and the illusion that business as usual can continue. Thoroughly metabolizing the trite statement “You can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet without consequences” is an utterance filled with despair—and yet, it is inexorably true, and the level of despair it evokes is a necessary midwife of our awakened rebirthing.

It appears that Charles is polarizing an attitude of emotionally and spiritually admitting oneself to hospice willingly, with creating a more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible. On the one hand, these perspectives may be inimical, but on yet another level, they are absolutely congruous. I can do everything in my power to create a more beautiful world even as I accept that I am probably in the process of exiting this planet. In fact, that may be the supreme purpose of adopting a hospice perspective. In summary, despair may lead to acceptance of the full extent of our predicament which may inspire us to become radically compassionate, creative, connected Interbeings. Those indeed are the ingredients necessary for creating a more beautiful world.

In order for this to happen, we must, as Charles asserts, “get to the bottom of the ecological crisis” which catapults us to the fundamental issues of our existence.

“And what, exactly, is at the bottom?” he asks….“At the bottom of our civilization lies a story, a mythology…a matrix of narratives, agreements, and symbolic systems that comprises the answers our culture offers to life’s most basic questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Who do things happen?
  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is human nature?
  • What is sacred?
  • Who are we as a people?
  • Where did we come from and where are we going?” (4)

From my perspective, whether we are in hospice or merely transitioning to a new story or both, these questions constitute our overarching assignment in the time we have left, and they form the crux of my work in the wake of our predicament. The pivotal task, I believe is an invitation offered on Page 66: “Imagine yourself on your deathbed, looking back on your life. What moments seem the most precious? What choices will you be the most grateful for?” This is hard-core hospice work.

Throughout the book we are asked to consider, as we are in all of Eisenstein’s work, that we are not separate from the natural world, not separate from each other, not separate from other species, not separate from anything or anyone in the universe, but rather that we are part of “Interbeing,” to which he devotes an entire chapter. He specifically names the characteristics of Interbeing in this chapter and summarizes the fundamental precept which is: “…that we are inseparable from the universe, and our being partakes in the being of everyone and everything else. Why should we believe this? Let’s start with the obvious: This Interbeing is something we can feel. Why does it hurt when we hear of another person coming to harm? Why, when we read of mass die-offs of the coral reefs and see their bleached skeletons, do we feel like we’ve sustained a blow?…The reason it hurts is it is literally happening to ourselves.” (16-17)

As with the bullet points enumerating what is at the bottom of the ecological crisis, Charles continues to illumine the spiritual nature of our predicament:

Cut off from nature, cut off from community, financially insecure, alienated from our own bodies, immersed in scarcity, trapped in a tiny, separate self that hungers constantly for its lost beingness, we can do no other than perpetuate the behavior and systems that cause climate change. Our response to the problem must touch on this fundamental level that we might call spirituality. (46-47)

Thus, according to Charles, the primary technology of Interbeing, in my opinion whether in hospice or elsewhere, is service—service to something greater than oneself.

This is what we must emulate if we are to cocreate the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. It is also a way to transcend the separate self, since to bow into service is to merge with something greater, something whose power to precipitate change extends beyond our understanding of causality. (218)

In addition to metabolizing Interbeing and expressing it through service, we are also invited to pay very close attention to what hurts us. In other words, to work consciously with the emotions—a cornerstone of my work for several decades. At the beginning of a chapter entitled “Attention,” we find a quote by Dan Emmons: “What most needs attention is the part of us that we seek to avoid feeling. When we have tended to that, we are changed, and the world changes with us.”

We cannot pretend to prepare for societal and ecological collapse while ignoring the emotions that surface as we do so. In fact, according to Eisenstein:

Just as attention, by itself, has a power to heal beyond any remedial action one might take, so also does telling the truth about what is happening on Earth have a power to alter the course of events. Again, it is not that no action will result. It is that when we digest the information, who we are changes, and therefore what we do. (150)

As I have argued throughout the course of my work regarding the need for joy, pleasure, creativity, humor, and the celebration of beauty, Charles describes the more beautiful world his heart knows is possible which is a far cry from the permissible forms of “happiness” this culture offers by way of consuming, escaping, and mindlessly ignoring the death of our planet.

The more beautiful world my heart knows is possible is a world with a lot more pleasure: a lot more touch, a lot more lovemaking, a lot more hugging, a lot more deep gazing into each other’s eyes, a lot more fresh-ground tortillas and just-harvested tomatoes still warm from the sun, a lot more singing, a lot more dancing, a lot more timelessness, a lot more beauty in the built environment, a lot more pristine views, a lot more water fresh from the spring. (154)

As you read this, pay attention to what you feel in your body. Nice, right? And so it is and should be. Personally, I love it, and at every point on this journey of collapse, transition, Great Turning, or hospice living—whatever we may prefer to name it, I discover the urgency of holding in my heart and my body two things that feel at times almost impossible to contain there, namely the more beautiful world my heart knows is possible and a planet that is barely on life-support.

Nowhere in the book does Eisenstein mention the human shadow—a part of us that is unconscious and the opposite of all that we claim to value as decent, compassionate, caring, and just. He argues consistently for the inherent goodness of humans and vigorously against anything resembling inherent evil. For me, this is a precarious position which underestimates the complexity of the human psyche and sets the stage for enormous sabotage of a more beautiful world. Perhaps Charles would argue that my insistence on including the shadow in any vision of what is possible is a result of my own wounding. And so it may be, but in fact, Carl Jung declared that 80% of the shadow is pure gold. That is to say that if one is willing to own it and work consciously with it, the shadow has the power to transform as well as destroy because the shadow is a strategic energetic apparatus in the human psyche which has the capacity to both destroy and sustain as the poet Czeslaw Milosz asserted: “What has no shadow has no strength to live.”

Declaring that humans are inherently good or inherently evil confines us to an untenable polarity—a polarity mirrored on the one hand by purveyors of New Age thinking and a “Bright-Sided” world as Barbara Ehrenreich names it, or on the other hand, the world of fundamentalist Christianity marinated in “original sin.” As with most polarities, wholeheartedly embracing either side is astonishingly effortless. No tension, no conflict, no problem. But what remains is yet another binary story. Much more agonizingly difficult is holding the maddening tension of the opposites: the possibility of realizing a more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible alongside the possibility that we are inhabiting the last hours of life on Earth. No one I know is able to hold that tension consistently without alternating from one side to the other. We incessantly waver: The optimist succumbs to the doldrums while the pessimist insists that despair and cynicism have eliminated from them any vision of possibility. Ah yes, but they are still breathing air, and as long as they do so, some vision lives in the psyche and body.

The complexity of the human psyche must be honored, and the shadow must be made conscious. I believe this is an essential part of the change that Charles asserts must happen when he states that “something has to happen in us in order to initiate us into our full power as changemakers.” In other words, changemakers can’t make radical and lasting change unless they are changed themselves, and for me, this involves tending the shadow.

Perhaps you are asking how I could defend Eisenstein’s vision of a more beautiful world when I invite humans to embrace a hospice perspective. Isn’t such a vision a waste of time and energy for beings on the brink of extinction? In fact, I would argue that it is precisely because our condition is terminal that we must imagine a more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible. We take this vision with us into hospice, not because there is any guarantee or even possibility that it will come to fruition, but we embrace it because it will instruct and fortify us as we navigate our demise. On the one hand, we do everything humanly possible to manifest the vision, acting as if we have all the time in the world, and on the other hand, we savor every new day as sacred because it may be our very last. The vision, you see, is for the world, yes, but it is also for each of us. It may be an integral aspect of the dying process, and one must ask oneself: How do I want to die? What image(s) do I wish to hold in consciousness as I breathe my last breath?

A More Beautiful World That Our Hearts Know Is Possible offers the most urgent question we must ask in this moment—whether it is a hospice moment or a visionary moment. That question is: Who am I? When we deeply, heartfully, mindfully devote our lives to answering that question, it will be easier to hold both hospice and heaven in the same body. In fact, it will be impossible not to.


Raw, unedited livestream conversation between McPherson and Paul Beckwith is embedded below in three parts. All parts are included on this page.


East-coast tour (detailed information to come, including exact locations and times; follow on Facebook here):

Wednesday, 9 April 2014, 6:00 p.m., Steelworker’s Hall, 66 Brady Street, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, “Climate Chaos” (Facebook announcement and invitation)

Thursday, 10 April 2014, 12:00 noon, Meeting Room 1, Greater Sudbury Public Library, 74 Mackenzie Street, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, “Responding to Climate Chaos” (Facebook announcement and invitation)

Saturday, 12 April 2014, 6:30 p.m., East Hall, 2 Lippitt Road, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, “Climate Chaos” (description here)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014, 8:00 p.m., Casa Puebla 2710 Broadway, New York, New York, sponsored by Deep Green Resistance, “Climate Chaos”


Going Dark is available from the publisher here, from Amazon here, from Amazon on Kindle here, from Barnes & Noble on Nook here, and as a Google e-book here. Going Dark was reviewed by Carolyn Baker at Speaking Truth to Power and by more than two dozen readers at Amazon.

Comments 46

  • • The Divine is not lumpy. It is equally present everywhere. So there no accumulations of sacredness. Either everything is equally sacred, or nothing is sacred.

    • The Self of all selves has no parts: the One without a second. (Sefer Yetzirah 1:7 in the Judaic tradition; and many places in Vedic tradition.) There is no “other”.

    The Ocean is not a composite of transient waves, the Self is not a composite of transient selves. There is no difference between the subtlest being of the self and the Self. Buddhism bypasses any hint of duality by denying the self (Atman) and recognising only the equivalent of the Self (Sunyata – Emptiness).

    • The only spiritual stuff comes in bottles. There is neither spiritual nor secular in the division of spiritual and secular.

    • There is no wounding of the self/Self. It has nothing to wound. It has no characteristics or descriptors (notwithstanding the limitations of language which apply these negative descriptors). Hence it is referred to as the Void/Emptiness (Buddhism) and the Limitless Void/Emptiness (Judaism).

    • Contentment is the absence of unfulfilled desire. Fulfilled desire brings along with contentment, elation, happiness, joy, etc. In a finite world these will necessarily be finite in time and extent. The self/Self is not within space – time – causation and has not these constraints. With nothing being external or internal to it, no contentment is needed or left out. Seeking the finite and seeking the boundless are mutually incompatible.

  • ” As with most polarities, wholeheartedly embracing either side is astonishingly effortless. No tension, no conflict, no problem. But what remains is yet another binary story. Much more agonizingly difficult is holding the maddening tension of the opposites: the possibility of realizing a more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible alongside the possibility that we are inhabiting the last hours of life on Earth. No one I know is able to hold that tension consistently without alternating from one side to the other. ”

    Thanks, Carolyn. I really appreciated the article, which has come at the right time. But I wonder if Buddhist teaching, for the most part, doesn’t involve non-attachment to outcomes like the polarized ones you describe? If so, where would the conflict lie?

  • Just after the headlines–around quarter way through–the remaining story about India and capitalism will leave little room for optimism.


  • Car Pewling – burning ammonia only gives off nitrogen-2 and water – hurray – so how many humans peeing will it take to get to work and back? Build processing-holding tanks in the common areas.

  • Wow! That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a massive die-back of humanity framed as a climatic negative feedback loop. Interesting.

  • Natural Selection Accelerates NTE

    The Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, launched in September 2011, is an interdisciplinary horizontal Programme within the Oxford Martin School in collaboration with the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University. Professor Nick Bostrom
    Nick Bostrom is Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy and Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University.

    Dr Bostrom believes the primary risk from future technology is loss of control. He likens it to a dangerous weapon in the hands of a child, and says the advance of technology has overtaken our capacity to control the possible consequences.

    Thus, Professor Bostrom concludes there is a *plausible threat of human extinction* in the next century! Risks arise from experiments in areas such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology and machine intelligence which are ‘hurtling forward’ into the territory of the unintended and unpredictable consequences.

    As for Natural Selection, Time is on its side…If we survive climate chaos, and if we survive the sociopath politicians, and if we survive peak energy, and if we survive over population, and if we survive our technology, can we survive the singularity?


  • So, what would Massa Charles think of Anne,the retired British Art teacher who decided she’d had enough.

    At one point I thought Charles was on to something. Sadly now I view Charles as captain of the good ship lollypop. Wacky views while he flies around the world burning carbon and breeding those little buggers (his fourth I believe). Perhaps had he decided to have a little snip snip here, snip snip there down below and helped to keep the population down I’d be willing to hear, read and contemplate the “wisdom” of this guru.

    Charles isn’t working fast enough sadly for these people:First “Official Climate Change Refugees Evacuate Their Island Homes for Good” according to Earth First Newswire.


    If you’re referring to the comment made by Beckworth last night. I’m trying real hard to believe it was a joke, although I think it cut pretty close to some dark stuff he’s thinking. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes it’s not.

    Personally I don’t believe the decrease of population should be looked at as a negative feedback loop. By the time all those bodies add up to compost what’s baked in the caked will be beyond the 40 year emissions we’ve yet to see take effect.

    I think Beckworth (the physicist – engineer) is willing to try anything to keep IC going. He’s not an “evi” person, but he is invested in this system and has a wide blind spot.

  • I watched/listened to the entire Guy/Paul video — love those guys — time is limited — living with NTE everyday as a backdrop to everything I do or choose not to do, what a trip. I feel crazy enough, and so I “seek refuge in the Sangha” of fellow students.

    Sorry to comment without reading all of Carolyn — skimmed but not complete — generally agree with her sentiments, but so many words to get there. Mea culpa, as well, at times.

    Posting mostly to express my anxiety here (the only place I post) among this unique group of Denial-avoiders that every additional instance I hear (Kerry, Obama) or read (NYTimes editorial) or hear (even Jon Stewart) toeing the party line against Putin/Russia as if coups aimed at conquest wasn’t happening rather from the opposite direction.

    My instinct for reading decades of Power moves says the PNAC types and their OIL/GAS/AGRO corporate backers have finally and unanimously (warnings out to all dissenters) begun an all out attempt to grab access to Russia’s resources in the near future.

    We may get our “Fukushima” in a different form, and much closer to home, a lot sooner than we’ve feared from the projections written here in recent years.

    That’s all.

  • You can’t piss on the future because it’s not here yet.
    Makes you want more public wash rooms near transit points.
    Urhine is the answer you don’t want blowing in the wind.

  • @ Henry

    My take on it too. I’m slow to catch on. So if I can see through Kerry/Obama et al, I strongly believe that a large section of the public do as well. Maybe K/O won’t get away with it this time. Optimistic, perhaps, since my own partner was not quite there yet…

  • staying off topic:

    Garden Variety Economy
    American commercial banks = $15 trillion in size in 100 years
    American economic output = $15 trillion in size in 100 years
    China bank growth = $15 trillion in size in 5 years
    Biggest bubble in history to explode ever just after
    the Paris 2015 climate talks,
    they already gave us 911
    their goal is to thwart any agreement until after
    the crash of debt and light tight fracked oil
    when all the jobs disappear, they win
    after that, agreement is impossible.
    Their last bullet is food.

    The only way to beat them is to piss on it.
    Urine begets ammonia which begets
    Nitrogen and water emissions if burnt in you car.
    Super clean and cheap.
    We can run the economy we got on it,
    and not the economy we wish we had,
    and build beer gardens around transit stops
    so that everybody can git home after last call.
    Forget family values and bullets
    Make the world friendly and safe again,

    Garden Variety Beer Garden by Transit Stop
    If the family stays home and drinks the
    machines will work when we go.
    We will have pay for this beer with international
    carbon e-dividend credits. Since carbon dividends will
    price beef beyond mere mortals, we can drink beer.
    Even the non-alcoholic kind.
    The danger is that beer will begat transit which
    will begat more beer etc.
    We could build processing-holding tanks in the
    common rooms of your condo beside café-aux-lattes.
    You can have auto fuel filling stations where ever we pee.
    Look Ma! No Pipelines!


  • the kidney matrix

  • Looked like a great talk; I’ve been waiting for more from Beckwith…
    Streaming was buggered, and now the hosts don’t work very well either.
    Can’t download without breaking, and loosing most of it. Should be uploaded to youtube, or somewhere with more bandwidth. I’d do that myself, but can’t because it keeps breaking in download and won’t resume. Very frustrating.

  • To bad we didn’t get into a Natural Law Resource Based Economy 40 years ago we would have been done with fossil fuels long ago.

  • And what about the co2 output coming from the decomposition of those who consisting the declining part of the population dieing peacefully .No ! actually laying down and dieing just so others can live . You know all those left over driving supercars powered by urine ..I will try this later this must be an upgrade slipped my attention maybe it is working already

  • A More Beautiful World

    Once I’m dead, my life will be great
    Inside of the pearly gate:
    Flying high through the sky,
    I won’t ever die—
    Oh boy! I can’t hardly wait.

  • For all the aficionados of alternate energy powered infinite growth on a finite planet:

    “No matter what the technology, a sustained 2.3% energy growth rate would require us to produce as much energy as the entire sun within 1400 years.”

    Tom Murphy in Galactic-Scale Energy

    (A National Aeronautics and Space Administration astrophysicist who is also a Professor at University of California, San Diego)

  • With only 16 million people, but with all the range of climates and landscapes.
    My country, Chile.

  • https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25370-harsh-world-makes-kids-chromosomes-look-middleaged.html?utm_source=NSNS&utm_medium=SOC&utm_campaign=twitter&cmpid=SOC|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL-twitter#.U0fGQdDD_cv

    Harsh world makes kids’ chromosomes look middle-aged


    Children growing up in severely disadvantaged circumstances can experience drastic chromosome ageing. By the time they are 9 years old their telomeres – the caps on the ends of chromosomes that shrink each time cells divide – can be as short as those of someone decades older. And a particular combination of genes seems to make children flourish in nurturing environments but suffer in harsh environments.

    Daniel Notterman from Penn State University in University Park and colleagues found the effect in a group of 40 9-year-old boys, half of whom were from extremely harsh backgrounds and half from privileged ones.

    Telomeres protect chromosomes from damage, so their shortening over time is thought to be responsible for some of the negative effects of ageing.

    Children whose mothers had changed partners more than once by the time they were 9 had telomeres 40 per cent shorter than those whose mothers didn’t change relationships. And those with mothers who’d gone to college had 35 per cent longer telomeres than those who didn’t, on average. They also found shorter telomeres were associated with harsh parenting and younger mothers.



    Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev

    f the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland had not said “Fuck the EU,” few outsiders at the time would have heard of Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, the man on the other end of her famously bugged telephone call. But now Washington’s man in Kiev is gaining fame as the face of the CIA-style “destabilization campaign” that brought down Ukraine’s monumentally corrupt but legitimately elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

    “Geoffrey Pyatt is one of these State Department high officials who does what he’s told and fancies himself as a kind of a CIA operator,” laughs Ray McGovern, who worked for 27 years as an intelligence analyst for the agency. “It used to be the CIA doing these things,” he tells Democracy Now. “I know that for a fact.” Now it’s the State Department, with its coat-and-tie diplomats, twitter and facebook accounts, and a trick bag of goodies to build support for American policy.

    A retired apparatchik, the now repentant McGovern was debating Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a self-described left-winger and the author of two recent essays in The New York Review of Books – “The Haze of Propaganda” and “Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine.” Both men speak Russian, but they come from different planets.

    On Planet McGovern – or my personal take on it – realpolitik rules. The State Department controls the prime funding sources for non-military intervention, including the controversial National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which Washington created to fund covert and clandestine action after Ramparts magazine and others exposed how the CIA channeled money through private foundations, including the Ford Foundation. State also controls the far-better-funded Agency for International Development (USAID), along with a growing network of front groups, cut-outs, and private contractors. State coordinates with like-minded governments and their parallel institutions, mostly in Canada and Western Europe. State’s “democracy bureaucracy” oversees nominally private but largely government funded groups like Freedom House. And through Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, State had Geoff Pyatt coordinate the coup in Kiev.

    The CIA, NSA, and Pentagon likely provided their specialized services, while some of the private contractors exhibited shadowy skill sets. But if McGovern knows the score, as he should, diplomats ran the campaign to destabilize Ukraine and did the hands-on dirty work.

    Harder for some people to grasp, Ambassador Pyatt and his team did not create the foreign policy, which was – and is – only minimally about overthrowing Ukraine’s duly elected government to “promote democracy.” Ever since Bill Clinton sat in the Oval Office, Washington and its European allies have worked openly and covertly to extend NATO to the Russian border and Black Sea Fleet, provoking a badly wounded Russian bear. They have also worked to bring Ukraine and its Eastern European neighbors into the neoliberal economy of the West, isolating the Russians rather than trying to bring them into the fold. Except for sporadic resets, anti-Russian has become the new anti-Soviet, and “strategic containment” has been the wonky word for encircling Russia with our military and economic power.

    Nor did neoconservatives create the policy, no matter how many progressive pundits blame them for it. NED provides cushy jobs for old social democrats born again as neocons. Pyatt’s boss, Victoria Nuland, is the wife and fellow-traveler of historian Robert Kagan, one of the movement’s leading lights. And neocons are currently beating the war drums against Russia, as much to scupper any agreements on Syria and Iran as to encourage more Pentagon contracts for their friends and financial backers. But, encircling Russia has never been just a neocon thing. The policy has bi-partisan and trans-Atlantic support, including the backing of America’s old-school nationalists, Cold War liberals, Hillary hawks, and much of Obama’s national security team.

    No matter that the policy doesn’t pass the giggle test. Extending NATO and Western economic institutions into all of a very divided Ukraine had less chance of working than did hopes in 2008 of bringing Georgia into NATO, which could have given the gung-ho Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvilli the treaty right to drag us all into World War III. To me, that seemed like giving a ten-year-old the keys to the family Humvee.

    Western provocations in Ukraine proved more immediately counterproductive. They gave Vladimir Putin the perfect opportunity for a pro-Russian putsch in Crimea, which he had certainly thought of before, but never as a priority. The provocations encouraged him to stand up as a true Russian nationalist, which will only make him more difficult to deal with. And they gave him cover to get away with that age-old tool of tyrants, a quickie plebiscite with an unnecessary return to Joseph Stalin’s old dictum once popular in my homestate of Florida: “It’s not the votes that count, but who counts the votes.”

    Small “d” democrats should shun such pretense. Still, most journalists and pollsters on the scene report that – with the exception of the historic Tatar community – the majority of Crimeans want to join the Russian Federation, where they seem likely to stay.
    [read the rest]



    Students could be paying loans into their 50s – report

    Most students will still be paying back loans from their university days in their 40s and 50s, and many will never clear the debt, research finds.

    Almost three-quarters of graduates from England will have at least some of their loan written off, the study, commissioned by the Sutton Trust, says.

    The trust says the 2012 student finance regime will leave people vulnerable at a time when family costs are at a peak.

    Ministers said more students from less advantaged homes were taking up places.

    The study, written by researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), assessed the impact of the new student loan system for fees and maintenance, introduced in England from September 2012 to coincide with higher tuition costs of up to £9,000 a year.

    The study – entitled Payback Time? – found that a typical student would now leave university with “much higher debts than before”, averaging more than £44,000.
    [there’s more]



    Tamiflu: Millions wasted on flu drug, claims major report

    Professor Carl Heneghan said side effects included serious “psychiatric adverse events, renal adverse events and metabolic adverse events”
    Continue reading the main story
    Related Stories
    Some ‘psychiatric adverse events’ Watch
    ‘Tamiflu is a very useful medicine’ Watch
    Analysis: How do we know if drugs work?

    Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said.

    The UK has spent £473m on Tamiflu, which is stockpiled by governments globally to prepare for flu pandemics.

    The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms.

    The manufacturers Roche and other experts say the analysis is flawed.
    [continue reading]



    Edward Snowden: US government spied on human rights workers

    Whistleblower tells Council of Europe NSA deliberately snooped on groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International

    [read it]




    Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say

    Claire Handscombe has a commitment problem online. Like a lot of Web surfers, she clicks on links posted on social networks, reads a few sentences, looks for exciting words, and then grows restless, scampering off to the next page she probably won’t commit to.

    “I give it a few seconds — not even minutes — and then I’m moving again,” says Handscombe, a 35-year-old graduate student in creative writing at American University.

    But it’s not just online anymore. She finds herself behaving the same way with a novel.

    “It’s like your eyes are passing over the words but you’re not taking in what they say,” she confessed. “When I realize what’s happening, I have to go back and read again and again.”

    To cognitive neuroscientists, Handscombe’s experience is the subject of great fascination and growing alarm. Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia.

    “I worry that the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing,” said Maryanne Wolf, a Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist and the author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.”

    If the rise of nonstop cable TV news gave the world a culture of sound bites, the Internet, Wolf said, is bringing about an eye byte culture. Time spent online — on desktop and mobile devices — was expected to top five hours per day in 2013 for U.S. adults, according to eMarketer, which tracks digital behavior. That’s up from three hours in 2010. [check it out]

  • Dennis,

    I watched a bit of that video toward the end. The presenters were “convincing,” although the slickness of the “generic”(?) parts–like the crowds facing off the goons at the end–was unnerving.

    So I wonder how long social security-type, retirement-type payments in the developed world will continue? Those are the source of rent/mortgage and food payments under the current system. How are they projected to disappear? What will be the immediate warning signs? What will be the baby steps (before they become large strides) toward this end? (Not the general, vague prediction about zombies at some point sooner or later.)

  • Since there has been no further information regarding the Westchester evening scheduled for April 14, 2014 can I assume one of the following:

    1) A location was never found for it and it was cancelled
    2) The location is secret and the evening is only for “A” list people

    I’ve checked facebook and seen other inquiries with no response

  • Thanks for following up, PMB. The event scheduled 14 April 2014 has been canceled.

  • @Tom & everyone.

    Regarding distractions during internet reading. I use this free app. It basically makes whatever page your reading look like a Kindle with one click. You can tweak the fonts and background.


  • Discovery of a novel methanogen prevalent in thawing permafrost


  • @D, I think massive human die-off would only be a negative contributor on the abating-deforestation front (since there are other factors creating deforestation, though it would not be as big an impact as in the past).

    We still have the global dimming issue out there.

  • Apneaman: thank you for that.

    ulvfugl: first song on the radio I heard this morning was New Speedway Boogie by the Grateful Dead, with the concluding verse

    One way or another, one way or another,
    One way or another, this darkness got to give.

  • @Guy,

    Thanks for getting back. That means I can go to another event on Monday at the Explorer’s Club and make a nuisance of myself with my questions. I’ll be at Wednesday’s event.

    I’m not sure what your plans were prior to the event; I’d like to extend an offer of taking you to dinner on Wednesday prior to the event in that general area of the city. If you are interested let me know if you are interested and we can email the details.

    For anyone interested the event at the Explorer’s Club is the following:

    Full Fathom Five: Global Warming and a Father’s Legacy

    This is a story about returning to your childhood after 50 years, and quantifying the changes. Seven years ago Gordon Chaplin was invited by scientists at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia — his father’s old institution — to take part in a 50 year retrospective study of Bahamian coral reef fishes using his uniquely extensive archives as a baseline. These archives led to his classic text Fishes of the Bahamas and Adjacent Tropical Waters. The text was his sibling — he grew up with it and knew the reefs as well as rooms in their childhood home.

    From 2004-2010, Chaplin and Academy scientists made five expeditions to the Bahamas, returning to a sample of his father’s collecting sites and replicating his collections, using exactly the same methods. They discovered that species diversity remained exactly the same, at first glance wonderful news, but the proportions of the community were changing as the sites, now mostly dead instead of living coral, crumbled away. Coral in the area changed from 80 percent living to 80 percent dead following the severe El Nino current of 1997-1998 which raised water temperature more than 1 degree Centigrade. Severe El Ninos like this, normally 1 in 1000 year occurrences, are predicted to come more and more frequently as global warming progresses, though so far it hasn’t happened again and some coral is gradually regenerating.

    A silent film shot and screened by Chaplin’s father in 1952 and featuring him as a child diving among living coral and plentiful fishes (now mostly dead and gone) will be shown as a backdrop to the talk. It is one of the first underwater films ever made.

    Reservations are required.


  • Tom,

    a lot of references and text in your second last post.
    I just skimmed them.


  • From Gail the Actuary. Seems that “money” people are usually scientifically illiterate. They remind me of football commentators.


  • Hey Ozman – good to hear from you. Yeah, it’s a work-around to the two-post rule (there’s so much going on it’s hard to pick just one or two from the dozens of items that are important and indicative of our slide down). i’ll try harder to keep it simple.

    dairymandave: did you see this (from April 1st)?


    Humans Wake Up Dazed And Confused After Overnight Clue Miracle

    ulvfugl: good stuff as usual, thanks.

    Here’s my first for the day:

    #1 http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/foodpricesindex/en/

    World Food Situation

    FAO Food Price Index

    The FAO Food Price Index is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities. It consists of the average of five commodity group price indices, weighted with the average export shares of each of the groups for 2002-2004.

    FAO Food Price Index rose sharply for a second consecutive month

    The FAO Food Price Index averaged 212.8 points in March 2014, up 4.8 points, or 2.3 percent, from February and the highest level since May 2013. Last month’s increase was largely driven by unfavourable weather conditions affecting some crops and geopolitical tensions in the Black Sea region. Overall, except for the FAO Dairy Price Index, which fell for the first time in four months, all the other commodity price indices registered gains, with sugar and cereals increasing the most. [read the breakdown]

    #2 https://robertscribbler.com/2014/04/11/world-co2-averages-touch-402-2-ppm-daily-values-in-early-april-102-ppm-higher-than-at-any-time-in-last-800000-years/

    World CO2 Averages Touch 402.2 PPM Daily Values in Early April, 102 PPM Higher Than at Any Time in Last 800,000 Years

    There’s a tale in the ice. A record of past atmospheres locked away as snowfall trapped air bubbles and then compressed them into thin layers age after age over tens of thousands of years. Over the last few decades, scientists have been drilling holes in the great ice packs of Greenland and Antarctica. Their quest? To unlock this tale and reveal a direct record of global greenhouse gas levels through the deep past.

    What their drilling uncovered was both quite informative and rather chilling. First, it showed that, for more than 800,000 years, global CO2 levels had been relatively stable in a range of 180 to 300 parts per million. As the levels of heat trapping CO2 rose, temperatures peaked during brief interglacials. And as levels fell, temperatures plunged back into ice age conditions.

    Global temperature flux during these swings from ice age to interglacial were just 4 degrees Celsius. A 100 ppm CO2 rise correlated roughly to a 250 foot rise in sea level and much warmer average conditions globally. A corresponding fall of about the same amount brought temperatures back down and piled ice two miles high over today’s temperate regions such as New York.

    What the ice cores also revealed was that human CO2 emissions had pushed global levels of this potent greenhouse gas far out of any climate reckoning comparable to the context of human beings, who have only existed in current form for about 200,000 years.

    In fact, what scientists found was that atmospheric CO2 levels were pushing more than 100 parts per million higher than at any time during this vast epochal span: [see graph and continue reading]

    #3 There’s a TON of articles on the global economic situation over at seemorerocks that you should read, but i’ll link to one that sets the stage, leaving the particulars for you.


    Saturday, 12 April 2014

    Peak Everything

    Now That U.S. & China Have Picked The Low-Hanging Fruit, Peak Everything Looms

    Charles Hugh-Smith

    With no plan to manage an economy in which expanding credit no longer generates growth, the two nations are rapidly reaching Peak Everything.

    Let’s call the strategy of picking all the low-hanging fruit in an economy Plan A: you know, expanding credit, lowering interest rates, building infrastructure, fueling speculative frenzies, all the good stuff that fans the flames of “growth.”

    Now that the central banks and political leadership of the U.S. and China have plucked all the low-hanging fruit, they have no Plan B. With no plan to manage an economy in which expanding credit no longer generates growth, the two nations are rapidly reaching Peak Everything:

    •Peak Leverage

    •Peak Phantom Collateral

    •Peak Mal-Investment

    •Peak Ghost Malls

    •Peak Doing More of What’s Failed Spectacularly

    •Peak Propaganda

    •Peak Smog

    •Peak Housing Bubble

    •Peak Keynesian Cargo Cult

    •Peak Clueless Leadership

    •Peak Central Bank Manipulation

    •Peak Phony Statistics

    •Peak Debt-Serfdom

    •Peak Crony-Capitalism

    •Peak Group-Think

    You get the idea.

    [read the details]

  • Tom

    “dairymandave: did you see this (from April 1st)?


    Funny in a way, but mostly sad that it isn’t true.

    Thanks for keeping us informed. Then there was IMF head Christine Lagarde, so cool and sexy, talking to Charlie Rose two nights ago about growth and how well the recovery is going…

  • I woke up a week ago and figured that I didn’t have enough haylage to last until the new crop is harvested. It took me about 1/2 minute to decide what to do: get rid of the useless eaters.

    Last year’s jet stream caused trouble all summer long and we have been paying for it ever since. We need a succession of fronts to make things work. So this is just the beginning of the end. At least I’m not getting bored.

    Please note; farmers are tiny little TPTB in that we control our tiny little empires called farms. Likewise, the world is being farmed.

  • I’ve posted anew. The media-filled post is here.

  • Hi guys,
    Something like this…
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/04/direct-evidence-of-earths-greenhouse-effect/#comment-75584 then this…..
    Has probably lead to this….
    For Paul Beckworth’s edification the incoming solar is a yearly global average which should be regarded as non-directional and covering the whole globe at the TOA. The “missing” about 1020w/sq.m. (1360 minus 340w/sq.m.)would be attenuated in that place of physical paradox called the THERMOSPHERE. The climatologists, weathermen and other learned folk concocting the quack “greenhouse” theory tend to think no further than the clouds.

  • If we do nothing else than offer those who do survive some sort of unimaginable apocalypse what turns out to be a viable path to the future, a sustainable way to fare forward by doing things differently from the way we are doing them now, that would be a good thing. But we cannot achieve such a goal unless we can agree to rely on the best available science, not preternatural pseudoscience such as we see displayed ubiquitously in our time by economists and demographers. Science needs to be distinguished from what is not science. The fact that massive confusion is allowed to exist with regard to what is science and what is not science cannot be correct or allowed to stand unchallenged. Scientists could choose to stop colluding in silence and instead speak out loudly, clearly and often about distinctions between science and preternatural pseudoscience. The human community is presented with the global predicament that looms before us at least in part because scientists have remained silent.

  • Dennis,

    I looked at some more of your video. IMO, the resource and systems based economy (as portrayed) is cold and blinkered. I think it would have more chance at success if it could find a way of listening to the range of global stories. As portrayed here, it’s simply one story. Which is maybe why few will accept and act on it.

    As I see it, all the quaint, hard-to-define, “highly textured” ways of living on Earth (like third world ghettoes, etc.) must comprise the lion’s share of what a viable world would look like, while a holistic systems based intervention would pull all that democratically and coherently together without being itself visible. The deluded people in the video think of it in just the opposite way.

  • A friend sent this to me. It’s not something I pursued by myself. But t does seem to fit on NBL.

    25 Samuel Beckett Quotes That Sum Up the Hilarious Tragedy of Human Existence

    By Alison Nastasi on Apr 13, 2014 2:01pm

    We’d like to wish avant-garde icon Samuel Beckett a happy birthday, but something tells us he’d take issue with that. Beckett’s words are tender blows to the heart — superbly morose, always acerbic, and unrelentingly pessimistic. The novelist and playwright had a lot to say about the absurdities of modern life and the tragicomic nature of human existence. Taking quotes from his prolific oeuvre and other sources, celebrate Beckett’s birthday by revisiting his thoughts on the boredom and suffering of being.

    Samuel Beckett

    “The only sin is the sin of being born.”

    “You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.”

    “The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”

    “I grow gnomic. It is the last phase.”

    “I do not feel like spending the rest of my life writing books that no one will read. It is not as though I wanted to write them.”


    “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that. Yes, yes, it’s the most comical thing in the world.”

    “Birth was the death of him.”

    “We are all born mad. Some remain so.”

    “No, I regret nothing, all I regret is having been born, dying is such a long tiresome business I always found.”

    “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

    Samuel Beckett2

    “Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.”

    “My mistakes are my life.”

    “The earth makes a sound as of sighs and the last drops fall from the emptied cloudless sky. A small boy, stretching out his hands and looking up at the blue sky, asked his mother how such a thing was possible. Fuck off, she said.”

    “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.”

    “I have my faults, but changing my tune is not one of them.”

    Samuel Beckett3

    “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful.”

    “Probably nothing in the world arouses more false hopes than the first four hours of a diet.”

    “Let me go to hell, that’s all I ask, and go on cursing them there, and them look down and hear me, that might take some of the shine off their bliss.”

    “To be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail, that failure is his world and the shrink from desertion, art and craft, good housekeeping, living.”

    “Christ, what a planet!”


    “Gain time to lose.”

    “Two in distress… make sorrow less.”

    “Unmoreable unlessable unworsable evermost almost void.”

    “God is a witness that cannot be sworn.”

    “It sometimes happens and will sometimes happen again that I forget who I am and strut before my eyes, like a stranger.”

  • Our deafening silence about what is happening and why it is happening with regard to the unbridled growth of the human population on our watch serves to give consent to preternatural pseudoscience of economists and demographers that is broadcast in the mainstream media without objection. By not speaking truth to the powerful, according to the best available science and ‘lights’ we possess, we become accomplices to their ubiquitous abuses.

    Extant scientific research regarding the population dynamics of Homo sapiens has to be openly acknowledged, objectively examined and honestly reported. Population scientists and ecologists have been shown to be as vulnerable to denial of apparently unforeseen and unfortunately unwelcome scientific evidence as well as to capitulation to the entreaties of all who choose favorable unscientific research to be spread by the mass media without meaningful objection from many too many members of the scientific community. It is a deliberate breach of responsibility to science and humanity for population scientists and ecologists not to object to the spreading of false knowledge and thereby, to fail in the performance of the fundamental duty of disclosing what could somehow be real and true about Homo sapiens and the workings of the existential world we inhabit, according to the best available scientific research.

    Let us recognize the willful denial of the ecological science of human population dynamics. Where are the population scientists and ecologists who are ready, willing and able to attest to or refute empirical evidence that human population dynamics is essentially similar to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species; that human population numbers appear as a function of food supply; that more food for human consumption equals more people, less available food to consume equals less people and no food equals no people? No exceptions! Are these scientists blind, deaf and electively mute in the face of new scientific knowledge. Most reprehensibly, their refusal to accept responsibilities and perform duties as scientists has made it possible for pseudoscientists to fill the mainstream media with false knowledge about the way the world we inhabit works as well as about the placement of the human species within the natural order of living things.

    Is it not science, and science alone, that most accurately allows us to confirm our perceptions as objective correlates of reality and truth? Without science, thought leaders and power brokers in cultures everywhere are free to widely transmit attractive ideas at will, regardless of the extent to which the ideas bear a meaningful relationship to what could be real and true. For example, a preternatural factoid like “food must be produced in order to meet the needs of a growing population” is deceitfully given credence as a scientific idea although it reflects the opposite of the actual relationship between food supply and human numbers. Findings from science indicate population numbers are the dependent variable and food the independent variable, just like the population dynamics of other species. By increasing the food supply, we are in fact growing the human population, are we not?

    The idea that human exceptionalism applies to the population dynamics of Homo sapiens, that human population dynamics is different from (not essentially similar to) the population dynamics of other species, is a pseudoscientific factoid, bereft of an adequate foundation in science. Overwhelming scientific research regarding the human population indicates that human population numbers appear as a function of food supply. For many this scientific idea is on the one hand irrefutable and on the other hand unbelievable. So completely are many too many professionals enthralled by the notion of human exceptionalism. Exploding human numbers in the past 200 years are the natural result of the dramatically increasing production and distribution capabilities of food for human consumption that occurred with the onset of the Industrial Revolution and later on during the Green Revolution.

    Please consider that demographers and economists are not scientists. They are presenting false knowledge that is appealing because it presents what all of us wish to believe about the way the world in which we live works as well as about the exceptional nature of the human species. Human beings are mistakenly believed to be outside (not within) the natural order of living things. The false knowledge regarding human species’ exceptionalism with regard to its population dynamics is determined de facto by whatsoever is politically convenient, economically expedient, socially desirable, religiously acceptable and culturally syntonic. Such de facto determinations of what is real about human nature and the existential world are based primarily upon ideology, not science.

    Refuse to be duped by clever, absurdly enriched vendors of words and highly educated sycophants. These ‘talking heads’ duplicitously claim they are scientists and then promulgate preternatural ideas and pseudoscientific theories that are passed off as well-established results of scientific research without objection from scientists.

    Let us examine the false knowledge from conventional, Neoclassical Cornucopian Economics and the Demographic Transition Theory. These theoretical perspectives are not connected to the foundation of science. The speciousness of what is presented by demographers and economists and then broadcast ubiquitously by the mainstream media is in need of correction by scientists. Ideas of endless resources availability in a finite world and an indestructible ecology that is in fact frangible are fabricated. Automatic population stabilization; a benign end to population growth soon; a glorious world by 2050 when the entire human community will reap the benefits you and I enjoy now because everyone in the human community will have entered the fourth and last stage of the demographic transition, all of these notions are fanciful and ideologically-driven. Such false knowledge as we find in the pseudoscientific disciplines of economics and demography needs to be eschewed. The best available scientific evidence must to be our guide because science stands alone as the best method by far for apprehending what could be real and true. Science needs to be categorically distinguished from all that is not science. Then, perhaps, we will be able to see more clearly how the existential world we inhabit actually works and more accurately perceive the placement of Homo sapiens within the natural order of all living things.

    The imprimatur of science has been not so surreptitiously usurped by pseudoscientific disciplines in which professional research is primarily underwritten by wealthy power brokers and corporations. Economic and demographic research is designed and the findings presented so as to comport with the transparent self interests of the rich and powerful. Where are the scientists who will speak out to correct such widespread misunderstanding and reckless wrongdoing? The conscious silence of scientists serves to give consent to ubiquitous unethical professional behavior that cannot be tolerated any longer because of the confusion it engenders among those in the human community who are rightly seeking an intellectually honest understanding of the global predicament we face and a path to a sustainable future that can only be derived from the best available scientific research. The disciplines of demography and economics are prime examples of what science is not. Perhaps the findings of demographic and economics research will soon be widely recognized and consensually validated as preternatural pseudoscience.

    “Speak out as if you were a million voices. It is silence that kills the world.” — St. Catherine of Siena, 1347-1380