Against the Death Cult: We Must Not Let Ruthless Ideologues Destroy the Climate and Kill Us All

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Agriculture

The Niger delta is burning. The oil companies plumbing the river basin of its black gold have found an ingenious way of dealing with the natural gas they consider a waste by-product of the extraction process. Capturing the gas would be costly, inefficient – so instead, they flare it off. Across the delta, towers of flame burn day and night, some of them stretching ten storeys into the sky.

Gas flaring was officially banned in Nigeria in 1984 – but still, two million people live within four kilometres of a flare site, at risk of the cancers, neurological, reproductive and respiratory problems linked to the pollutants released into the air. The soil is hotter, and crop yields have dwindled; “You plant, and before you know it, everything is dead”. When the rains come, they are black. Oil spills spew from the pipelines of Shell and ENI, the biggest operators in the area. Shell has reported 17.5 million litres lost since 2011; Amnesty International say that’s likely a hefty underestimate. The spills have poisoned drinking water, and destroyed the livelihoods of the fishermen who once combed the delta. 

We are over the brink. People have already lost their lives to hurricanes and bush fires and flooding, to toxins and crop failures – all disasters rooted in fossil-fuel dependent extractive capitalism, bankrolled by a deregulated financial sector. People continue to lose their lives. Global temperatures soar, and a monstrous future slouches towards us from the ecocidal imaginations of the handful of humans directly invested in a doctrine of global annihilation. Now, the death drive built into the heart of our economy reveals itself in ever more undeniable terms; the skull is showing through the skin. 

Scientists at ExxonMobil confirmed the truth of climate change in the 1980s, at the very latest. Since then, Exxon and its fellow fossil fuel companies have spent decades sponsoring climate change denial and blocking efforts to legislate against apocalypse. Under their auspices, newspapers and broadcasters and politicians revelled in a vicious subterfuge disguised as pious gnosticism; asking how we can know for sure that climate change is caused by human activity. In recent years, this strategy has buckled under the weight of public outrage and scientific proof.

The science is clear: only an ambitious, rapid overhaul of the fundaments of our economy gives us hope of survival. And that hope is tantalisingly within our grasp. We have the technology, and we have the financial capacity; all that’s missing is the political will to give those solutions heft, muscle and cold hard cash.

Now, culprit companies are suddenly flouting their green credentials to shore up their position as custodians of the future. Shell Oil has made a big song and dance about its investments in green technology. Goldman Sachs has funded research into how to make cities “resilient to climate change”. These are little more than attempts to seduce and cajole worried publics and skittish investors. Still these companies hoard over-valued assets, continue ploughing resources into carbon-heavy industries, show no signs of leaving enough fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the breakdown of the climate, the potential collapse of civilisation and the extinction of life on earth. Negotiators were banned from mentioning climate change in recent UK-US trade talks. the UK government has subsidised the fossil fuel industry to the tune of 10bn in a decade, and its legislators continue to take its lobby money in return. They defend their right to starve out and flood and burn chunks of human existence – and make money doing it. 

We are being held hostage by a cabal of ruthless ideologues whose only loyalty is to a doctrine of global death. Their success thrives on silence, isolation, manipulation, denial. They are united in their opposition to reality, in their determination to hunt down or hound out real alternatives that threaten their mortal stranglehold on power. All other doctrines are heresy, and their preachers envoys of a sinister delusion. They are unique guardians of a dark and dazzling reality.

If this took place among a handful of hippies beckoning oblivion from the heat haze of a california desert we would call it is: a death cult. Instead, it is orchestrated from sumptuous glass towers, from the velvet inner chambers of parliament – so we call it business as usual. 

To these science-backed suggestions that economic alternatives are possible – even urgent, necessary, beautiful – they react with vitriol and incredulity. Saving the world may sound appealing, but it clashes intolerably with the cultish diktat: ‘There Is No Alternative”. Partisans of the Green New Deal like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez are dismissed at best as well-meaning dreamers or childish hysterics, and, at worst, nightmarish envoys of backdoor totalitarianism. Indeed, grassroots activists have been murdered for organising against big polluters. The political allegiances are clear: Defending life is foolish. Annihilation is inevitable. We have only to accept it graciously, to walk into its arms.

Rightwing politicians barter casually about the difference between a decarbonisation target of 2030, 2045, 2050, 2060 as a matter of messaging and electoral success. As though that difference were not cashed out in millions of deaths. Such differences slide off the sunny, addled mind of the cultist, for whom life and death are indistinguishable. 

A chosen few will be spared; the golden ones who walk in the light. As the asset-stripping and plundering continues apace, so the market for luxury disaster insurance packages has grown, with companies offering high-tech flood defences, private firefighters, private security to guard against mobs of looters. Theirs is a gilded world where disaster can never truly happen to them – because it never truly has. That no insurance policy in the world will provide them with breathable air or sustainable agriculture is a matter for the others, the ghosts, the un-living, those whose existence never really registered. Us.   

Broadcasters tried to haul Boris Johnson before the court of the living on Thursday night for the climate change debate, to account for Conservative policy proposals which present a 50% risk of tipping the world into irreversible, runaway climate breakdown, to account for his fossil fuel backers. He responded by threatening them with censure and legal action. Cult leaders can tolerate no scrutiny of their fragile world picture, no challenge to their power. 

We can break the stranglehold, and commit the death cultists to the bleak annals of history where they belong. It is time to choose only those who have chosen life.   

Eleanor Penny is a writer and a regular contributor to Novara Media. 

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Malema in Twitter row with ‘bloody cowards’ over Nigerian artist Burna Boy: ‘We will protect him’

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EFF leader Julius Malema has proclaimed his support for Burna Boy following major public outrage against having the Nigerian artist perform shortly after his announcement to boycott the country.

“There’s no mascot that can stop him from performing, he’s one of our own and we will protect him,” Malema tweeted on Friday.

“South Africa is a home for all Africans, kill me for defending an African brother, bloody Cowards.”

Looking forward to receiving and being entertained by my brother @burnaboy here at his home called South Africa. There’s no mascot that can stop him from performing, he’s one of our own and we will protect him. We must resolutely oppose regionalism led by political illiterates.

— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema)

I won’t be intimidated or blackmailed by bed wetting boys, welcome home @burnaboy. South Africa is a home for all Africans, kill me for defending an African brother, bloody Cowards.

— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema)

The arrival of the Nigerian singer and songwriter, Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, has been met with controversy after he tweeted his refusal to enter South Africa during a period of heightened xenophobic attacks.

The artist, who previously collaborated with South African rapper AKA, in September made it known on Twitter that he will “not ever go to South Africa again” until government takes a stand against the xenophobic attacks which saw more than 300 Nigerians evacuating and at least 12 people dead in one week.

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“I have not set foot in SA since 2017. And I will NOT EVER go to South Africa again for any reason until the SOUTH AFRICAN government wakes the fuck up and really performs [a] miracle, because I don’t know how they can even possibly fix this,” he tweeted.

I have not set foot in SA since 2017. And I will NOT EVER go to South Africa again for any reason until the SOUTH AFRICAN government wakes the fuck up and really performs A miracle because I don’t know how they can even possibly fix this.

— Burna Boy (@burnaboy)

Malema came to the African Giant hitmaker’s defence, saying that he looks forward to his arrival in the country a week before the artist is set to perform on stage at the Africans Unite concert.

However, Twitter came out headstrong against Malema, having seemingly loyal EFF supporters majorly questioning whether or not to vote for the party during the next election.

I have been voting @EFFSouthAfrica ever since it was formed. Lately my thinking is parallel to their thinking, maybe I have changed or maybe they have changed or they are stagnant. What’s scary is that if there were elections tomorrow,I wouldn’t vote at all.

— African Monarch (@justeazy7)

Lol I’m EFF yes but Yhoo u can spit nonsense my leader sometimes you don’t even advise this nonsense of a boy to apologize first for ill language he used on us, you just straight away impose him to us

Khuzeka juju we love you but ay ubuye ubhede mani eish

— zwelihle (@UWelizwe)

You bashing the SpringBoks for winning us the world cup. Now you standing up for a gimmick who insulted our country. You never loved this nation, gimmick. pic.twitter.com/I97tUdUcWN

— De Black Prince ?? (@BlackPrince_L)

According to Webtickets, the event will be hosted in aid of the spate of xenophobic attacks and gender-based violence plaguing the country, in an attempt to “unify all Africans and speak out against femicide”.

The concert is set to take place on November 23 and 24 in Cape Town and Pretoria, respectively.

Burna Boy also promoted the concert on his Twitter page, calling it “the first of many!”. 

The first of many! Part of the proceeds will be donated to the victims of Xenophobic attacks by me! I really hope we can all keep contributing in our own way to make the world a better and safer place for each other. #Africansunite , it’s bigger than all of us ?? pic.twitter.com/fpBrk4O1VG

— Burna Boy (@burnaboy)

– Compiled by Lauren Klaasen

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Thai Election Gets Messy Start Overseas, Voters Complain

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At left, Thais in Malaysia use cardboard boxes to vote Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Muhammad Sasu / Facebook. At right, long lines outside the embassy on the same day.
At left, Thais in Malaysia use cardboard boxes to vote Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Muhammad Sasu / Facebook. At right, long lines outside the embassy on the same day.

BANGKOK — Election officials are on the defensive after overseas voters complained angrily about a raft of problems including missing ballots, incorrect candidate information and poor voting facilities.

Two weeks before polls open at home, #OverseasVoting was trending atop Thai Twitter on Monday with many comments slamming the Election Commission and diplomatic missions for mismanaging early voting.

“Student body elections at school look more organized than this election,” Twitter user @Litentoyou wrote.

Criticism blew up after a student in China tweeted Saturday about the obstacles to voting, including a ballot that didn’t come until nearly a week after voting began. The student said more than 500 voters registered to vote in Shanghai hadn’t received them at all.

“This election is the most transparent ever,” @TheKopfer wrote, sarcastically.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said the problems reported in China were due to missing voter contact information, adding that all but five voters in Shanghai had received their ballots by Sunday.

“I [dislike] this commission the most. Salaries so high, but they work sloppily, like children,” @Newthinkkn wrote. “They spent 12 million to study elections in other countries and look what happened.”

Dissatisfaction over widespread reported mishaps fed existing concerns about the commission’s ability to stage a credible election at home in just two weeks. It comes days after it invited scorn by canceling important meetings because six members were traveling abroad at a cost of about 12 million baht.

Muangphum Hansiriphet, who heads a Thai student association in Nanjing, called online for an investigation into problems there. He said that while helping the consulate locate voters, he learned information entered by voters in online registration forms had gone missing or become unreadable when the commission submitted it to the diplomatic mission.

The Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur was forced to open Sunday for additional voting because it couldn’t accommodate the thousands who turned up the prior day. Many voters complained of waiting for hours and questioned why the commission couldn’t do better despite knowing how many people would vote.

Officials were shown using cardboard boxes to set up makeshift voting booths in photos posted online, reportedly because they didn’t receive enough from the commission, further stoking public outrage.

Without commenting on the cause of the problem, head commissioner Jarungvith Phumma said using a cardboard box was not illegal. He said it just didn’t “look very pleasant.”

He also said the commission was looking into several complaints regarding confusing documents listing candidates and their numbers for voters in London and New York.

Photos of the documents show some of the candidates names and photos did not appear next to their party names. For example, Parit “Itim” Wacharasindhu, who heads the Democrat Party’s youth wing, did not appear next to his party’s name. Instead it appeared above a candidate for the pro-establishment People Progressive Party.

Parit called for the commission to fix the issue because it might confuse voters.

“This error isn’t limited only to me but other candidates from other parties,” he said. “Every vote is valuable. … I hope the Election Commission and other related agencies take responsibility for this case.”

Nearly 82,000 people have registered to vote overseas, according to the commission. The vote is closing on March 16.

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