Tsunami Was God's Revenge for Your Wicked Ways, Women Told

Marluddin Jalil, a Sharia judge who has ordered the punishment of women for not wearing headscarves, was uncompromising: "The tsunami was because of the sins of the people of Aceh." Thundering into a microphone at a gathering of wives, he made clear where he felt the fault lay: "The Holy Koran says that if women are good, then a country is good."


A Risk of Total Collapse

We would be foolish to take for granted the permanence of our fragile global civilization.

by Dylan Evans,,1671576,00.html

Is it possible that global civilization might collapse within our lifetime or that of our children? Until recently, such an idea was the preserve of lunatics and cults. In the past few years, however, an increasing number of intelligent and credible people have been warning that global collapse is a genuine possibility. And many of these are sober scientists, including Lord May, David King and Jared Diamond - people not usually given to exaggeration or drama.

The new doomsayers all point to the same collection of threats - climate change, resource depletion and population imbalances being the most important. What makes them especially afraid is that many of these dangers are interrelated, with one tending to exacerbate the others. It is necessary to tackle them all at once if we are to have any chance of avoiding global collapse, they warn.

Many societies - from the Maya in Mexico to the Polynesians of Easter Island - have collapsed in the past, often because of the very same dangers that threaten us. As Diamond explains in his recent book, Collapse, the Maya depleted one of their principal resources - trees - and this triggered a series of problems such as soil erosion, decrease of useable farmland and drought. The growing population that drove this overexploitation was thus faced with a diminishing amount of food, which led to increasing migration and bloody civil war. The collapse of the civilization on Easter Island followed a similar pattern, with deforestation leading to other ecological problems and warfare.

Unlike these dead societies, our civilization is global. On the positive side, globalization means that when one part of the world gets into trouble, it can appeal to the rest of the world for help. Neither the Maya nor the inhabitants of Easter Island had this luxury, because they were in effect isolated civilizations. On the negative side, globalization means that when one part of the world gets into trouble, the trouble can quickly be exported. If modern civilization collapses, it will do so everywhere. Everyone now stands or falls together.

Global collapse would probably still follow the same basic pattern as a local collapse but on a greater scale. With the Maya, the trouble began in one region but engulfed the whole civilization. Today, as climate change makes some areas less hospitable than others, increasing numbers of people will move to the more habitable areas. The increasing population will make them less habitable and lead to further migration in a domino effect. Huge movements of people and capital will put the international financial system under strain and may cause it to give way. In his book The Future of Money, the Belgian economist Bernard Lietaer argues that the global monetary system is already very unstable. Financial crises have certainly grown in scale and frequency over the past decade. The South-east Asian crisis of 1997 dwarfed the Mexican crisis of 1994 and was followed by the Russian crash of 1998 and the Brazilian crisis of 1999. This is another example of the way globalization can exacerbate rather than minimize the risk of total collapse.

This would not be the end of the world. The collapse of modern civilization would entail the deaths of billions of people but not the end of the human race. A few Mayans survived by abandoning their cities and retreating into the jungle, where they continue to live to this day. In the same way, some would survive the end of the industrial age by reverting to a pre-industrial lifestyle.

The enormity of such a scenario makes it hard to imagine. It is human nature to assume that the world will carry on much as it has been. But it is worth remembering that in the years preceding the collapse of their civilization, the Mayans too were convinced that their world would last forever.

Dylan Evans is a senior lecturer at the University of the West of England

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

Informant: Teresa Binstock




Nature Fights Back

Elsy Fors

Havana, Oct 26

(Prensa Latina) Tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts and floods have become everyday news together with regional conflicts and, like them, are becoming ever more violent.

Although many people may not connect natural and human disasters, they could not be more related. Abusive consumption of fossil fuels and water resources, high emissions of carbon to the atmosphere and transgression of environmental laws are to blame for kindling wars, but also for the reaction of nature to man´s aggression to the planet.

Hurricanes in the Caribbean are more frequent and intense and even have been occurring in unlikely places like the ones that hit Spain this year and Brazil in 2004.

Rain and wind have traumatized whole regions, and, with the earthquake, the very earth has proven to be untrustworthy. In Pakistan, people are asking, "If the ground underfoot is dangerous, what is safe?"

That is why the recent cluster of tragedies, from nearby and far off, must be the occasion of more than regret and worry, warns an article by James Carroll published this week by the Boston Globe. Neither should "disaster fatigue" be allowed to dull the sense of urgency with which news of catastrophic suffering is normally received, adds Carroll.

The alleviation of such suffering should be of absolute primacy, and when disaster strikes, nothing matters more than the rush to help. If relief efforts after the fact are slow or inept, those responsible must be called to account. Deeper sources of carelessness or corruption are often exposed during disasters, and they must be confronted, says Carroll.

What's going on with this world? asks the author and affirms if something new is happening, it probably has less to do with the tragic occurrences that have befallen the human population this year, from the tsunami to Hurricane Wilma (although the quickened pace and ferocity of

hurricanes seems a special warning), than with our recently acquired knowledge of the universal character of jeopardy.

The British daily The Independent identifies climate change with the failure of the drive to eradicate poverty. Lord May of Oxford says the cost of dealing with the adverse effects of climate change could soak up all the aid to African countries (negligible to say the least).

Lord May, a former chief scientific adviser to the British government, warned there is mounting scientific evidence to show that global warming is the biggest single threat to the world today -especially for developing countries.

The latest study published October 24 in London, reveals that the rise in man-made greenhouse gases may already be responsible for an increase in drought conditions and risk of famine in eastern Africa.

Research by James Verdin of the US Geological Survey found that rainfall has decreased steadily since 1996 in Ethiopia and neighbouring countries which coincides with a corresponding increase in surface water temperatures in the southern Indian Ocean.

Wealthy countries, says the Independent, have a responsibility to do something about climate change by stabilizing their greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States, however, in spite of being at the head of the list of damaging carbon emissions, has publicly rejected the Kyoto Treaty to curb that threat to the environment.

Global warming can also be caused by illegal logging, and the same newspaper recently called attention to a new satellite survey that revealed the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed twice as quickly as previously estimated.

A team of American and Brazilian specialists have for the first time been able to assess from space the damage done by what is called selective logging, when one or two trees are removed leaving surrounding trees intact.

They found that selective logging of mahogany and other valuable hardwood trees, which is often illegal, is destroying an area of the Amazon equal to that razed by conventional logging.

On average, for every tree removed, up to 30 more can be severely damaged by the timber harvesting operation itself.

That is because the vines that connect the selected trunk pull down the neighboring trees, says Gregory Asner, researcher at the Carnegie Institution in Washington and Stanford University in California.

The satellite data was compared with a field study that confirmed their worst suspicions: that conventional satellite photography had missed about half the damage caused by illegal logging.

The report recognizes the effort of the Brazilian government to enforce existing laws against these logging operations, but the enormous geography of the Amazon puts a limit to what they can accomplish.

The violence continues.


Informant: Walter Lippmann






Kommt das Jahrhundert der Jahrhundertkatastrophen?

Teil I

Die sich selbst beschleunigende Katastrophe

Teil II

Wir haben den Heizungsregler gefunden

Teil III

Immer schneller, immer extremer




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