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The moral bankruptcy of Western civilization and the charade of climate action

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The moral bankruptcy of Western civilization and the charade of climate action

As we enter 2024, two new reports confirm 2023 as the hottest year on record (by a significant margin), verifying what for many appears to be our unstoppable march over a climate cliff.  For a large swath of humanity mired in global conflict, poverty and economic insecurity, the ability and resources to fight for anything beyond their day to day survival and needs is non-existent.    Despite the significance of the report, mainstream media coverage was virtually absent.  The little that did briefly appear was devoid of any meaningful insights and/or assessments regarding the role Western economic and geo-political interests play in the deterioration of the planet’s life support systems, along with deliberate attempts to delay the radical and necessary changes required to move quickly towards a socially just and sustainable future  . 

The charade of climate action was on display for all to see at the recent global climate summit, COP 28, which wrapped up with the world no closer, some will say even further away, to achieving the transformation humanity desperately needs to stop our rapid approach towards an unlivable world. 

To describe the issue as existential, one in which leading climate experts warn of the possibility of ‘Global Systemic collapse’, is not hyperbole.  Presided over by Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of U.A.E.’s state oil company and with close to 2500 oil lobbyists attending, the summit was a predictable failure, despite media messaging of historic achievements.  

The story at home is no less disconcerting.  On Dec 7, 2023, Canada’s environment minister, Steven Guilbeault, in response to a question about why Canada remains the only G7 country whose emissions are higher now than in 1990 (Canada is also not on track to meet its 2030 goals), answered “We’ve never met any targets because we never tried.”  Why we didn’t isn’t made clear, but judging by Canada’s COP 28 delegation which included 35 fossil fuel lobbyists, and our continued insistence that the industry is essential in helping solve the climate crisis, there is little to suggest things will be any different going forward.

In a world where warnings by climate experts span decades, Guilbeault’s admission is truly shocking, yet not more so than the absence of media scrutiny on the role rich and powerful actors and nation states have played in bringing us to this point.  It is little wonder the majority of the western public remain passive bystanders, duped by political elites, corporate propaganda and a subservient media who frantically warn us of the dangers of mis and disinformation, but are instead equal opportunity purveyors of it.    

Political expediency

The secret and not so secret support Western democracies have indiscriminately offered to rapacious corporate criminals and abhorrent regimes around the world, along with their disdain for international law and institutions since the end of WWII has been extensively documented, but seldom explored and presented to the public.  Prior to that, the misnomer of Western civilization could easily be dissected in the brutality of a centuries long colonization that left no corner of the world untouched in search of wealth and the subsequent power it would bestow upon them.  One particular example, the support for South Africa’s Apartheid regime, is worth noting.

Established in 1948, the illegal and systemic racism of South Africa was long known and unopposed by the West.  In an era of cold war thinking, support for a government fighting communism on its borders was enough to ignore the atrocities perpetrated by white supremacists.  Ironically, one of South Africa’s largest providers of military equipment was Israel, whom according to secret documents, also offered to sell the Apartheid regime nuclear weapons. 

That South Africa is now taking the lead in attempting to stop the genocide unfolding on the Palestinian people is an intriguing and significant story. Accusing Israel of violating the United Nations Genocide convention, adopted in the same year Apartheid was born in South Africa, should come as no surprise.

As early as Oct 28th, Craig Mokhiber, UN high commissioner for human rights, resigned his post, citing “ …a text book case of genocide” unfolding before our eyes and calling the US and it’s many allies “wholly complicit in the horrific assault”. On Nov 2nd UN experts expressed their concerns about “the grave risk of genocide” for the Palestinian people.  On Nov 16, the Special Procedures  of the Human Rights Council, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, warned of a “genocide in the making” and “increasing genocidal incitement”, while on Dec 21st the UN committee on Elimination of Racial discrimination called for an “immediate and sustained ceasefire”, and “”warned of hate speech and dehumanising discourse targeted at Palestinians, raising severe concerns regarding Israel’s and other State parties’ obligation to prevent crimes against humanity and genocide.”. 

The above observations and concerns of leading human rights experts are bolstered by a long list of Israeli officials’ comments openly calling for the destruction of Gaza and its people.  On January 3rd  a group of prominent Israeli’s accused the Israeli judiciary of ignoring “extensive and blatant”  language of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Gaza by Israeli officials, citing numerous examples of “the discourse of annihilation, expulsion and revenge”, including 1 Likud party MP calling for the use of a nuclear bomb on Gaza. 

The decades long subjugation and dehumanization of Palestinians under Israeli occupation and Apartheid is unmentionable in mainstream and political discourse.  Defenders of Israel like Canada and the majority of Western Nations have steadfastly refused to acknowledge these truths, ignoring likely outcomes such as that stated by former Israeli chief of staff Herzi Halevi in 2016 ;“The humanitarian condition in Gaza is progressively deteriorating, and if it blows up, it’ll be in Israel’s direction.” 

The recruitment of those willing to commit acts of terror and die as martyrs, will always be made easier by the grave injustices suffered by desperate and oppressed people.   To attempt to smear those who point out the obvious as antisemites and/or supporters of Hamas is cynical and dangerous, and serves to silence and deter many from taking action. 

The undisputed and clearly established moral bankruptcy, criminality and hypocrisy of Western democracies, the loudest champions of international law and human rights, are regularly glossed over and dismissed as miscalculations/mistakes/misguided, by a self-serving state-corporate media indoctrinated by the myth of western exceptionalism.

If we are to conceive of a peaceful and liveable world we will have to confront the forces that will stop at nothing to maintain their hold on power.  In these difficult times it is worth quoting Jewish American Historian Howard Zinn who aptly observed “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.”