Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A denier becomes an agreer!

For several years now I have been waving the flag trying to catch activists and citizens attention about the serious connection between peak oil, global warming and war making, especially nuclear war. Well, a significant development by a conservative source has now underlined this message. In its 2009 report the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has joined ranks with peak oil folks in its "International Energy Outlook." The report is a radical turnaround, one issuing "gloom and doom" according to one analyst.

In 2007 the EIA report projected the projection of conventional oil to be 107.2 million barrels per day by world sources by 2030. Now, in 2009, the projection for 2030 is 93.1 MB/D, a drop of 14%. The EIA has gone from rosy to cloudy, dark clouds due to compounding factors. The first compounding factor is the surging increase in Asian oil demand expected to resume with the economic turn about in 2010. The second compounding factor are the technical, environmental, and energy demands to produce unconventional liquid fuels. These changes will have huge effects on economic, military, and human issues affecting all nations, beginning with the United States and China.

In 1990 Asia and the Middle East consumed 17% of the world's oil. They are projected to consume 41% by 2030. China is expected to pass the US consumption in the next five years. How will this competition between the US and China play out?

At present, unconventional fuels (syn fuels) account for 4% of liquid fuel production. The report estimates that this will be 13% by 2030. Don't look now but demand is racing ahead of supply with these slippery projections. Canada's oil sands, Venezuela's extra heavy oil, Brazil's deep off shore oil and biofuels, Arctic oil and natural gas, Colorado's oil shale, every body's coal to liquids (CTL) offer some relief from conventional oil limitations, but at the costs to the environment and energy demands. Think about the changes in international relations implied here. Think about the billions of poor living, existing, fading implied here.

Then, there is global climate change.

You can obtain Michael Klare's full analysis by going to Truthout.com: "It's Official - The Era of Cheap Oil is Over -- Energy Department Changes Its Tune on Peak Oil."

Yesterday, I read an insightful piece by Chris Hedges, who said we need to resurrect our emotion and put it behind our rational understanding. Amen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The United States has been found guilty of war crimes.

The following article was submitted for the summer Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action newsletter.

The War That Refuses To Go Away

By Bernie Meyer

June 3, 2009

What weapon of war causes widespread destruction to the environment?
What weapon of war causes massive and horrendous death to all in its path?
What weapon of war marks its victims with a lethal dose for future generations?
Is the use of the above weapon forbidden by International Law?

Of course, nuclear weapons are a correct answer. But, it is not the only one. Agent Orange with dioxin is another.

Agent Orange with dioxin was used in Vietnam between 1961 and 1971. The United States used it to defoliate wide areas of South Vietnam, thus creating the most extensive use of chemical weapons in history. The environmental effects remain in the land, in agricultural soils, where forests were, in waters, in fish and animals for the foreseeable future. Estimates of human deaths run into the three to four million range in 2009, abstracting from the past loss of life, and ignoring the ravages to the “monsters’ born from the womb. Internalized dioxins are claiming the third and fourth generations in Vietnam. Not only in Vietnam. But United States, Korea, New Zealand, and Australia also claim victims who were troops during the war or are children of troops. The Geneva Conventions outlaw targeting civilians.

Catherine Sagan and I visited the victims of Agent Orange and their caregivers from December 23rd until January 10th 2009 in Vietnam to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the DC Nine action of 1969. We were part of the group that went into the Dow Chemical lobbying office in Washington DC to protest the profiting from weapons in an unjust war. Napalmed children and adults were our focus with photos, blood, smashed office equipment, and files thrown out the 4th story windows. Catherine and I pleaded “no contest,” when these photos were not allowed to be shown to the jury and when Vietnam was not permitted to be mentioned, sending us to prison with a felony in 1970.

We were aware of napalm and defoliants, but not of the dioxin component. A post action speaking tour led me to be “educated” by Vietnam students in Boston about the effects of the defoliation with dioxin. I still have the written story which they shared with me. It is only with the last few years that I have been made aware of the extent of the suffering. It is only recently that I have learned about the fact that Dow and other chemical companies, along with certain military personnel knew about the effects of dioxin in the late 1960’s. Only when the Environmental Protection Agency limited the defoliants in the United States did the military end the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam in 1971. (Of course, it still was used by troops when other agents were short in supply.)

When one of the Nine suggested a 40th reunion, I said, “We should do it in Vietnam.” Catherine and I visited The Friendship Village outside Ha Noi where veterans from the North Vietnam Army and the U.S. Army joined together with an international coalition to treat veterans and children suffering from Agent Orange/dioxin in a beautiful community. The Friendship Village witnesses a heart warming reconciliation, highlighted by the story of US Vet, George Mizo, and the General who were opponents during the Tet Offensive. George’s platoon was totally wiped out. George had been evacuated due to wounding. He died in 2002 as a result of Agent Orange effects upon him.

We visited facilities of Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) in Ha Noi, Hue, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City. Through these and other sites we saw the many victims and their families. Can you imagine yourself caring for one, two, three, four children with any number of effects? Some are bedridden from birth to death. Most are among the poorest. Most are receiving a minimal assistance, if any. “They live with missing and malformed limbs, mental retardation, without eyes, two sets of elbows and knees, cerebral palsy, spinal bifida and internal organs growing on the outside of their bodies. … This book is a tribute to their fortitude.” (my emphasis) Philip Jones Griffiths, AGENT ORANGE, “COLLATERAL DAMAGE” IN VIET NAM. Also, each hospital has a closed room of the “monsters” in formaldehyde bottles. Would that this article was long enough to share Catherine’s and my welcoming experiences!

“So, while Operation Ranch Hand provided no one or short-term military benefits, it also provided neither long nor short-term psychological benefits. If anything, it embittered the civilian population of Viet Nam and drove it closer to the Viet Cong and NVA. And no one yet was sure what eventually would be the effect on the health of those exposed to the chemicals. Operation Ranch Hand was shown by late 1968 to be a bankrupt strategy, one devoid of good sense, good planning or good military strategy.” (Griffiths, 168)

The US Government has not acknowledged the “mistake.” Nor, has the government offered to assist the victims. It took decades before the government made assistance available to US veterans. In March of this year the US Supreme Court rejected VAVA’a suit against 29chemical companies on behalf of the victims after a New York District Court and Appeals Court denied the law suit.

It was an interesting coincidence that The International People’s Tribunal of Conscience in Paris concluded “that the use of dioxin by the US military in Viet Nam from 1961 to 1971 was a war crime against humanity,” on March 18th, the same date as the DC Nine reunion. (I was unable to attend due to eye surgery. But, I was present through my Vietnam power point about the trip and about the causes of human victimization and through my book!) According to the Viet Nam News, the Tribunal conducted this process:

“After examining evidence and the testimonies of 27 victims and experts, the tribunal found that the US Government and chemical manufacturers were well aware of the fact that dioxin is one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man, capable of causing prolonged serious consequences not only to humans and the environment but also to the Vietnamese economy.

“The tribunal concluded that the US Government was guilty of using dioxin and damaging the environment, defined as ‘ecocide’. The chemical companies were also found guilty of colluding with the US Government’s actions.

“The tribunal asked the US Government and the chemical companies who manufactured and supplied Agent Orange, to fully compensate victims and their families. The tribunal also demanded they rehabilitate the environment and eradicate any dioxin from Viet Nam and its waters, especially hot spots around former US bases.”

The story goes on: Every US resident has dioxin within their bodies causing lethal effects. This should be the topic for another article for action. Peace.

My Vietnam Power Point: “Paradigm of War” can be accessed on my web site, www.oly-wa.us/berniemeyer/ or have me over to share it.

Bernie Meyer has been active with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action since 1978.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Friends and readers, I've been through a disconnect with this blog due to a disconnect in my eye, a detached retina, which occurred at the end of April. I had surgery on April 28Th and am still under the surgeon's care. It's been an amazing experience, though threatening to vision. Detached retinas can lead to blindness. The surgery places a bubble of nitrous oxide in the eye to assist the retina which covers the back of the eye ball. After five weeks I still have the bubble in my eye which is gradually being replaced with natural fluid by the eye. In four or five weeks I hope to have my full vision returned with disappearance of the gas bubble. It will be a miracle for which I am deeply thankful.
During the initial 17 days I was required to keep my head facing the floor 24/7. With my good eye I was able tor read a broad spectrum of books and articles, about the most abusive violence today to the most sublime insights about life and existence. This is a forced retreat, again which I have come to appreciate. Vision is a wonder. The April issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN presents an article about the evolution of color vision in primates which our eyes reflect. The retina is a layer of nerve cells at the rear of the eye, which transmits visual information to the brain via the optic nerve. Color vision depends on cones, tapered sensory cells containing light-activated pigments. Along with rods, which together are called photoreceptor's, the cones tailor the color vision. Most mammals have two pigments to transfer color information, humans and some primates have three. These determine the color that the brain "sees."
As I reflect upon my reading about the human condition from the sublime to the tragic and ridiculous, I think about the information that the brain receives as the culture and/or self selection transmits information. I think of Jesus' comments about the 'blind leading the blind." I think too about his appeals about his being the "light of the world."