Part II

By George Shears

(This is a continuation from Part I of this two-part series.)

Some Specific Ecocidal Effects of Palm Oil Production

Palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia has generated many disastrous ecological side effects that food manufacturers and governments have generally downplayed or ignored and about which most of its end consumers have had little or no awareness. Here are some of the major examples:

• Loss of rainforest – The tropical rainforests in Indonesia have been destroyed at an astonishing rate, diminishing from densely covering 85 to 90 percent of the total land mass a century ago to around 50% in 1997. At the current accelerated rate of depletion—mainly for palm oil production–nearly all of the lowland tropical forests will be completely gone by 2010. Since these forests originally provided habitat for one of the richest populations of diverse plant and animal species in the world, this is a staggering loss.

• Endangered species–As a result of this deforestation in Indonesia, 15 of the more than 400 land mammals in Indonesia are now critically endangered and 125 more are threatened. Similarly, of the nearly 300 mammalian species in Malaysia, 6 are critically endangered, and 41 are threatened. This does not include the many species of reptiles, amphibians and birds that are also at high risk of becoming extinct.

All of these endangered mammals flourished specifically in areas where monoculture palm oil plantations have now replaced the original rainforests. They include the Sumatran tiger, the Asian Elephant, the Sumatran rhinoceros, as well as the Bornean and Sumatran orangutans.

• Extensive pollution of soil, water and air- This negative impact on wildlife has been markedly exacerbated through the contamination of soil and water by pesticides used in the plantations and by untreated effluent from palm-oil extraction mills. Clear cutting of the rainforests has also given rise to marked soil erosion with consequent sedimentation in rivers; and forest fires have caused severe air pollution and massive release of greenhouse gases.

The Driving Forces Behind This Catastrophe

A careful analysis of the collective causes for this catastrophe once again clearly reveals the operation of the perennial Pogo Principle. Although a number of greedy corporate conglomerates are the immediate perpetrators of the horrible eco-atrocities described above, that is only part of the story.
They have been strongly aided and abetted in these nefarious actions by many major world-class policy-makers and institutions, such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, which have encouraged the short-term economic returns from monoculture palm plantations, instead of from sustainable natural forests.
The other key players, however, are the hundreds of millions of people (such as you and me) who regularly consume the nearly endless products containing palm oil and who, for the most part, have had minimal or no awareness of the terrible effects of such consumption. (The main purpose of this article, incidentally, is to help raise the awareness of consumers in order, hopefully, to diminish or eliminate this key driving force.)
The urgency of this awareness-raising process is underscored by the grim forecast issued a few years ago that the demand for palm oil will double by 2020. In order to achieve the level of production that will be needed to meet this huge demand, 1,160 square miles of additional plantations will have to be planted annually, resulting in the added destruction of around 30,000 square miles of rainforest in Indonesia and Malaysia. It is highly likely that this will kill off the remaining orangutans, rhinos and tigers on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
Again, since words are so woefully inadequate in conveying the crucial importance of ACTING NOW in order to help stop this madness, I invite you to watch this moving video that I earnestly hope will effectively convey this wake-up call directly to your heart.


I also strongly recommend that you read the excellent PDF document entitled Cruel Oil, which fully documents the massive eco-catastrophe that has been briefly summarized here.


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Part I

By George Shears


Walt Kelly (8/25/13 – 10/18/73), one of the world’s greatest cartoonists, summed up a key truth about humankind in the now famous sardonic quote of his key character, Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Very fittingly, the finalized version of this slogan appeared in an anti-pollution poster for Earth Day in 1970. It also served as the title of an environmentally-themed animated short that Kelly had started to work on shortly before his death, but was unable to finish due to ill health.

As we now confront the horrendous eco-catastrophe that humankind has perpetrated upon Mother Earth and which seriously threatens the very future of civilization, the wisdom of this simple aphorism has become more blatantly and tragically self-evident.

It is equally clear that this strong propensity to self-destructiveness in our species arises lawfully from our three core afflictions that the Buddha summed up 25 centuries ago, as “the three poisons:” Greed, Hatred, and Ignorance.

He offered an equally simple, yet profound, three-part antidote to these intrinsic poisons: Generosity; Compassion; and Awareness.

Never before in our human history have the destructive effects of the three poisons been more clearly evident than through the pervasive destruction of our planetary environment and its myriad life forms; and, correspondingly, never before have the three antidotes been more urgently needed in order to avert complete eco-catastrophe.

Human Greed, Hatred, and Ignorance in Relation to Nature

Although ignorance is traditionally listed as the third of these three basic human afflictions, it is clearly the most basic. In its usage here, it is defined simply as an absence of full awareness or correct understanding.

Historically, profound lack of eco-awareness has been a specific key factor in how we humans have collectively destroyed our environment. That is, we have not adequately recognized the basic fact that all life forms on this planet are seamlessly interconnected and interdependent and that all of our actions therefore have a crucially important impact on all of them; conversely, we have not seen clearly that our well-being is crucially dependent on theirs.

Even more fundamentally, we have not been fully aware that we ARE NATURE and, therefore, whatever we do in the world, we inevitably do to ourselves. This more basic non-dualistic awareness has been defined by Arnie Naess, Joanna Macy, John Seed, et al. as “deep ecology.”

In conjunction with this lack of adequate eco-awareness, our basic propensity toward greed has also contributed immensely to the destruction of our planetary environment and other species. Very simply, we have collectively and addictively over-indulged in consuming the earth’s resources without paying heed to the negative consequences of doing so.

Finally, our collective attitude toward the environment and toward other species has commonly been characterized explicitly or implicitly by hatred—i.e., by arrogantly assuming our inherent superiority over all other life forms and wantonly disregarding their rights and needs.

Whatever else might be said about human behavior that is based on these three core human dispositions, it’s indisputably unskillful; that is, quite apart from any value judgments, it reliably gives rise to long-term results that are painful and unwanted. In keeping with the original ancient Greek definition of “sin,” or hamartia, it “misses the mark” and is “an injury committed in ignorance.”

The Non-Sustainable Production of Palm Oil as a Specific Illustration

One of the clearest and most tragic examples of such collective unskillful human behavior in relation to the environment has been unfolding progressively over the past several years through the non-sustainable production of palm oil in Indonesia—specifically, in Sumatra and Borneo.

Words fall far short in adequately describing the massive and horrendous devastation to the natural environment and to the indigenous human tribes and animals that live there through systematically and violently replacing the ancient rain forests with monoculture fruit palm plantations.

The following video, however, is one of many that portrays some of the incredible magnitude of this destruction. I invite you to watch it as an initial and potentially powerful application of the antidote of AWARENESS that the Buddha originally offered for the affliction of basic Ignorance.

Further documentation of this ecocidal tragedy will be provided in Part II of this article.


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By George Shears 

The America Clean Energy and Security (ACES) bill was recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a very narrow margin and now faces what is likely to be an even more challenging uphill battle for passage in the U.S. Senate.

One major concern voiced by those who are opposed to the passage of this bill is that it will roll back oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and bio-fuels, resulting in less energy and, therefore, continued dependence on foreign oil.

Two other major objections are that it will markedly increase energy and utility costs and that it will send manufacturing jobs overseas, contributing to even higher unemployment than exists now.

The following video, however, lays out a highly compelling and diametrically opposite interpretation.  It shows, in fact, how this landmark legislation offers an elegant and relatively rapid way to switch to clean energy while simultaneously creating around 2 million new jobs. As a means of ushering in the new “Industrial Green Revolution,” this highly innovative plan has many other important benefits as well.

The main presenter in this video, Van Jones, is the founder of Green for All and is currently the Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

He is also a TIME Magazine 2008 Environmental Hero, and NY Times Bestselling author of The Green Collar Economy:  How One Solution Can Solve Our Two Biggest Problems (Harper One 2008).  This book has been endorsed by Al Gore, Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi.

The simple new paradigm that Van Jones presents in this video is very down to earth and realistic.  At the same time, it is truly transformative in its scope and offers some much needed hope for our collective future.

By George Shears 


For most of human history, our ancestors strongly identified themselves as an intrinsic part of nature. The basic thesis of this article is that the environmental catastrophe that is now rapidly occurring is a direct result of a large subgroup of our species becoming disconnected from this deep love of nature and an equally deep sense of unity with it.

As I view the environmental destruction that humans have perpetrated upon our planet from the vantage point of my 35-year career as a psychotherapist, I’m impressed with how it strongly parallels the pathological self-destructive behavior of many of my past clients who suffered from dissociative identity disorder.

People subject to this personality disorder display two or more distinct identities, personalities, or ego states each of which entails uniquely different patterns of perceiving and interacting with their environment and which alternately take control of their behavior.  These alternative personalities are generally completely dissociated from each other—that is, have no awareness of each other’s existence.

When these individuals shift into an ego state that is dissociated from their pre-morbid, dominant personality structure, they commonly behave in ways that are sharply out of character and often highly self-destructive.  Typically, after returning to their prevailing personality organization, they show no conscious awareness of what they’ve done while in a dissociated state.

How Humans Have Become Profoundly Dissociated from Nature

So how is this related to our current environmental and climate change crisis?  Let me try to spell it out as simply as possible.

For nearly 200,000 years before the advent of the agricultural revolution about 10,000 years ago, our hunting and gathering ancestors had a strong, collective identification with all of nature.  Constantly surrounded as they were by nature and interacting with it on a daily basis, they became intimately aware of the intricate interdependence of all plants and animals.

Moreover, since their very survival depended on living in harmony with the rest of nature, it is not at all surprising that they developed and maintained a deep intuitive sense of oneness with the natural web of life and that they adapted themselves to it accordingly.

Given this dominant collective identity or “personality,” so to speak, inflicting unnecessary harm on other parts of nature was seen as senseless, repugnant and self-destructive.

This prevailing identity and attitude toward nature has been documented in  anthropological research over the past 150 years with many indigenous groups of hunters and gatherers before they fell under the domination of western civilization.

Among Native Americans, for example, it is strongly exemplified in their strong core philosophy about “the sacred hoop of life.”  This is expressed elegantly in the simple Lakota Sioux prayer, “Mitakuye Oyasin,” that is commonly offered as a blessing to “all of my relations.”

This deep affinity and respect for all life forms has been postulated by Dr. Edward O. Wilson, a highly respected entomologist and professor Emeritus at Harvard University, to be intrinsically coded into the human genotype.  He refers to it as biophilia, literally “love of life.”

This intrinsic love of nature, including all of its  the myriad life forms, is present almost universally in young children and in a large proportion of adults as well—at least in relation to their pets and gardens.  It is also expressed in a strong propensity in many of us to seek solace and personal renewal in natural settings.   Clearly, many of us continue to be ardent “nature lovers” throughout our lives.

By and large, however, as we have become progressively “civilized” over the past 10,000 years—and, especially, since the start of the Industrial Revolution— a significantly large segment of our species has become increasingly dissociated from its original strong identification with nature. 

This progressive alienation from nature has been strongly associated with the prevailing patriarchic organization of modern “civilized” societies with its strong emphasis on controlling and dominating nature.  A basic, unquestioned (and highly arrogant) assumption in this worldview is that humans are inherently superior to all other species and, thus, have an equally inherent right to use and control them however they choose.

With the relatively recent rise of feminism, this view—along with its patriarchic underpinnings—has been strongly challenged; it continues, however, to be a strongly dominant paradigm in the world today.  One of its most cardinal characteristics is that it is profoundly dissociated from our original strong identification with all of nature

 I submit, then, that the relatively recent development of this dominant social paradigm can be understood as a collective dissociative identity disorder.  Just as the individual form of this disorder tends to be personally self-destructive, the collective form has likewise brought about profound destructive consequences for our entire planet and all of its life forms.  It has, in fact, brought us to the very brink of unprecedented disaster.


Unless, as a species, we quickly find effective ways to become re-integrated with our original strong identification with nature, our collective future looks very bleak indeed.

In closing, I’d like to offer one striking and tragic illustration of this dissociative identity disorder in action.  It’s a video that documents the aerial killing of wolves in Alaska.  Disturbing as it is in its own right, it provides in a much larger sense a strong metaphor for the much larger wanton killing and generalized destructiveness that humans have inflicted on the earth.



On our original Independence Day in 1776, by taking a strong, courageous stand against tyranny, our forefathers set a clear direction for the future of our great nation.

Since then, whenever we have been confronted with a similar tyranny that has clearly threatened us, we have consistently and successfully risen to the challenge and have been victorious in overcoming it.

Now, 233 years after achieving our original independence, we are faced with an entirely new, and even more challenging form of tyranny that threatens to destroy not only our nation, but our entire civilization as we know it.

The following video brings this overwhelming challenge into sharp focus and issues a passionate appeal to the citizens of our country to unite once again in order to achieve independence from two basic forms of tyranny that have been massively oppressing us and undermining our future largely outside of our conscious awareness.


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By George Shears

Ross Gelbspan, former reporter and editor for The Boston Globe, as well as a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, has been a tireless leader in spreading the word about global climate change for over a decade. A highly articulate and knowledgeable spokesman on this urgently important topic, he has authored two outstanding books.

The first of these, The Heat Is On: The Climate Crisis, The Cover-Up, The Prescription, was published in 1998.

His second book, published in 2005, is entitled, Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Have Fueled a Climate Crisis—And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster.
The respective titles of these two books accurately summarize their major themes, which he has also addressed vigorously and repeatedly in numerous live presentations. He has also updated this information continuously on his highly informative website.

A large number of his presentations are also available as online videos. Unfortunately, given the dire importance of this information for all of us, many of them have received only a small fraction of the attention that they rightfully deserve.

This is consonant with the fact that a large segment of the world’s population (especially in the U.S.) continues to be oblivious to, unbelieving, or in denial about, the impending climate catastrophe, which is by far the greatest emergency that humanity has ever faced. This is somewhat like hundreds of millions of people continuing to lounge on the beach in spite of repeated warnings that a huge tsumami is rapidly approaching.

The following highly informative video by Ross Gelbspan offers a quick overview of the major facts about this crisis. Although a great deal of additional evidence of global climate change has been adduced since this video was made, sadly many of the impediments to implementing effective solutions remain largely unchanged.

Unless you’re already fully aware of the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change—including the very destruction of civilization as we know it—and also have a clear understanding of what actions you can take to help avert it, I strongly urge you to take about 10 minutes of your precious time to hear the urgent message and call to action that Ross Gelbspan imparts masterfully in this video.

As he emphasizes strongly toward the end of this video, only an extremely strong grassroots movement will suffice to induce legislators and institutional bodies to implement the bold actions that are necessary to shift from carbon-based to renewable energy sources. 


Fortunately, since early 2007 when this video was produced, a number of excellent citizen action organizations have sprung up.  They provide one very effective means for ordinary people to contribute to the rapid and, hopefully, massive expansion of the support that will be needed to move forward with this crucially-important agenda.


Here are the websites of four outstanding examples of these organizations:

http://www.climateprotect.org/  (The Alliance for Climate Protection, whose main mission is to “persuade the American people—and people elsewhere in the world—of the importance and urgency of adopting and implementing effective and comprehensive solutions for the climate crisis.”) 

http://www.repoweramerica.org/ (Repower America – This group, created by The Alliance for Climate Protection, “is the bold clean energy plan to ‘repower’ our country with 100% clean electricity within 10 years.”)

http://www.350.org  (This global group aims specifically to mobilize people to stop the climate crisis by organizing local rallies on October 24, 2009 to call for a fair climate treaty when the nations of the world meet in Copenhagen in December of this year.)


http://www.1sky.org  (This political action group “unites scores of groups and individuals in a collaborative campaign with a single purpose:  Shifting federal policy in the United States towards the prosperity of a sustainable low-carbon economy.”)

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By George Shears 

The global warming debate has been raging now for many years.  Overall, it seems to have generated much more heat than light and continues to be largely at a stalemate.

Many of the arguments and counter-arguments set forth by the opponents in this debate are intrinsically highly technical.  This fact, along with massive lobbying and advertising by special interest groups, makes it difficult or impossible for laypeople to sort through all of the conflicting information.  

On one side of this monumental controversy are the 2,000+ eminent scientists who have contributed their peer-reviewed research findings to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

They have reached a strong consensus that the average global temperature has increased by one degree Centigrade since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and that this is mainly due to increased greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity. 

Further, in their consensual view, this warming has already caused marked environmental changes.  To name just a few, these include the marked retreat of glaciers all over the world, the melting of the Arctic icecap, unusually severe hurricanes, chronic droughts, massive flooding, and unusually high temperatures around the world.

They also agree that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is continuing to rise and has either reached, or is rapidly approaching a “tipping point,” that will inevitably cause major future environmental disasters regardless of whether CO2 levels are reduced in the future.

On the other side of the climate change debate, Big Oil and Big Coal have invested millions of dollars in advertising and in lobbying legislators to preserve the energy status quo. In addition, they have recruited scientists who disagree with the prevailing consensus of IPCC scientists.

As a bottom line, this tangled mass of conflicting information leaves average people highly confused and not knowing what to believe. 

This confusion, in conjunction with a high degree of denial and rationalization, has eroded the strong grassroots support that is an absolutely necessary condition for legislators to enact the kinds of bold legislation that is required to implement effective solutions–e.g. subsidizing clean energy, instead of coal and oil.

Fortunately, a high school science teacher named Greg Craven (aka wondermind42) has found an ingeniously simple way to cut through all of the personal beliefs, ad hominen attacks, and technical mumbo-jumbo that has prevailed in this debate and has prevented implementation of effective solutions.

In the following video, the first of several that he has created, he presents his novel method for helping you quickly decide where you stand on this highly important issue.


I will offer some of his supplementary videos in this series in future articles.

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