2015: The Turnaround Year? Part 2: Hopeful Signs

You can almost feel the current flowing

You can almost hear the circuits blowing

It’s a far cry from the world

We thought we’d inherit

—Rush, Far Cry


‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—

That perches in the soul—

And sings the tune without the words—

And never stops—at all—

—Emily Dickinson

So what exactly happened last year? By the spring of 2015 we were at the very nadir of darkness and oppression, the very pit of Hell, and by late fall it was as if a dam had suddenly burst loose. As if the hundredth monkey had just been born and all the momentum of suppressed energy and optimism finally broke loose for all to see. Crawling on our hands and knees, “bloodied but unbowed,” out of a long, dark, dirty decade. The hardest thing to swallow in the years to come will be the fact that we threw away a decade—one that was critical in the climate change crisis. History will not be kind to us for that. Others would say just as rightly that we had the decade stolen from us through draconian policies and a rarely equaled age of corruption.

Justin Trudeau’s surprise election victory proved to be a much-needed ray of hope. Courtesy Wikimedia

In the darkest days of the Harper regime in Canada—which for me hit early in 2015—I was fully prepared to admit defeat, throw in the towel and move on to other pursuits. (As if the social justice impulse in me could ever die.) And now I can honestly say for the first time in ten years that I feel hope—a quality I rarely indulge without good reason. Canadians got a head start on hope with the landslide victory of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party in the October federal election. Prime Minister Trudeau has hit the ground running, reinstating the oil tanker ban on the west coast, commissioning a panel of enquiry on murdered and missing indigenous women, and making a strong showing at the Paris climate talks. Where the rubber meets the road for Trudeau will be whether or not he can stand up to disastrous trade agreements like the TPP. Meanwhile, our optimism is tempered by the run-up to the next American federal election, with dangerous buffoons like Donald Trump (surely the ultimate parody of Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth) and Monsanto shills like Hilary Clinton. If there’s a ray of hope there, it seems to shine from independent candidate Bernie Sanders, but with Big Money running politics in America, it’s hard to know whether he stands a chance. To start off the New Year on a positive note, I wanted to highlight some of the watershed moments of 2015:

March 2015. The suppressed energy of winter erupted in a sudden gust hinting at the winds of change when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified glyphosate (a.k.a. the Monsanto herbicide known as Roundup) as a Class 2A Probable Carcinogen. (See my October blog post.) As reported in The Lancet Oncology journal, 17 experts from 11 countries at the IARC conference in Lyon, France supported this conclusion. The evaluation process was screened to be free of conflicts of interests from industry. The assessment was based on peer-reviewed epidemiological and animal studies as well as government reports. The panel was led by Aaron Blair, an internationally renowned epidemiologist and the author of more than 450 scientific papers, who spent 30 years at the National Cancer Institute. According to a whistleblower report by Andrew Cockburn in the September 2015 Harper’s magazine, Blair felt there were scientific grounds for declaring that glyphosate “definitely causes cancer.” A single study of farmers in Iowa and North Carolina with inconclusive results prevented this rating.

Dr. Séralini’s research on GMOs and glyphosate proved critical in exposing Monsanto’s products as carcinogenic. Courtesy GMOSeralini

Monsanto has a decades-long history of falsifying the scientific data to convince government regulators that genetically engineered products and glyphosate are ‘safe,’ as revealed in a report published by the Organic Consumers Association in September. They also launch concerted campaigns to destroy the careers of any scientist who insists on the conclusions of the data pointing to health dangers, such as European scientist Gilles-Eric Séralini, whose research regarding the toxicity of GMOs paired with Roundup has recently been vindicated. Independent research shows a broad range of damaging effects to health. (SEE SOURCES)

In November 2015 it was announced that a coalition of scientists, lawyers and activists will take Monsanto to task at a tribunal in The Hague in October 2016 for fraud, depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining biodiversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide. (SEE SOURCES) We should all support the Monsanto Tribunal’s efforts—if successful, it could be a watershed moment in history and there are many more corporate criminals who could then be prosecuted for similar crimes, including Exxon (for suppressing decades of climate change research) and Big Pharma (for suppressing data on how pitifully ineffective and damaging their antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs are, leading to a tripling of the disabled mentally ill in America over the past two decades and many deaths due to suicide. See Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker.) The WHO’s 2A classification of glyphosate represents a real turnaround for the international agency, which in the past has been too easily swayed and corrupted by pro-industry lobbyists strategically placed on their assessment panels.

Dr. Olle Johansson: staying true to Nobel’s vision of science benefiting humanity, not exploiting it. Courtesy electromagnetic health.org

May 2015. Continuing this spring’s gifts was another effort of good conscience made by another coalition of scientists, led by the indefatigable Olle Johansson, petitioning the UN and WHO for stricter standards on electromagnetic radiation (EMR) exposure from cell phones, WiFi, ‘smart’ meters, cordless phones, baby monitors and other wireless devices. “The health effects (of electromagnetic exposure) are now inarguable,” said Cindy Sage, co-author of the Bioinitiative Report, fast becoming the gold standard meta-analysis of EMR research. “What we need—now—are biologically-based standards for public health.” The petition was announced on May 18 at a press conference at the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine in Brussels by Dr. Olle Johansson (Sweden), Dr. Magda Havas (Canada), Dr. David Carpenter (US), Dr. Lennart Hardell (Sweden), Dr. Michael Kundi (Austria), Dr. Dominique Belpomme (France), and Cindy Sage (US). (SEE SOURCES.)

EMR between the 100 kHz (kilohertz) and 300 GHz (gigahertz) range is typically classified as microwave frequency radiation, also known as radiofrequency radiation (RFR). On May 31, 2011, the IARC classified EMR as a Class 2B Possible Carcinogen. At a symposium held at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto in September 2014, Dr. Anthony Miller argued the classification should be 2A, a Probable Carcinogen. This has been repeatedly stymied by the efforts of Big Telecom. As I wrote in a blog post in June: “Telecom lobbyists or scientists with direct ties to the industry have infiltrated government safety standards agencies, hearings and safety reviews in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe to ensure that protective standards are so low they can operate with impunity. In fact, the ‘safety’ standards in Canada and the US were written by the industry and adopted wholesale by governments without question. In anticipation of the coming health crisis, they even wrote into the Canadian and American regulatory codes a proviso that does not allow anyone to sue them on health grounds. (Now why would they do that if they didn’t know something the rest of us didn’t?) Health Canada has repeatedly allowed Safety Code 6 inquiry panels to be compromised by such ‘experts’ including the 2013 Royal Society of Canada review panel, which was plagued by numerous conflicts of interest, forcing its original Chair, Dr. Daniel Krewski, to resign.” In February 2013, Health Canada’s chief scientist Dr. Robert McNamee admitted that its Safety Code 6—the go-to exposure standard cited by telecommunications lobbyists and scientists-for-hire—was based strictly on thermal effects, ignoring the numerous studies noting biological effects at non-thermal levels of microwave radiation. (SEE SOURCES)

Smart phones aren't quite so smart when you actually consider the health risks.

Smart phones aren’t quite so smart when you actually consider the health risks.

Johansson has repeatedly stated that we are engaging in the “largest mass experiment in human history,” without our consent of course, and that this contravenes the Nuremberg Code established after World War II. The first of 10 tenets of the Code states that “the voluntary, well-informed, understanding consent of the human subject in a full legal capacity” is required for any medical testing. He has also warned that it will lead to a global health crisis that is only now coming into view with historically unprecedented rates of brain tumours and a soaring cancer rate. It’s now estimated that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will have some form of cancer within their lifetimes. (SEE SOURCES) Meanwhile the mainstream media and medical establishment continues to portray this as the ‘new normal.’ “It’s okay, folks, we’re all living longer.” Uh-huh, sure. This alone could bring civilization to its knees, especially with healthcare systems in Canada and the US being eviscerated by privatization interests.

Sadly, the media has mostly ignored these scientists’ repeated calls for stricter standards. Even more tragic, our largest environmental NGOs—from Greenpeace on down—have chosen to remain ignorant of the topic, even though there are indications that microwave radiation is affecting not just humans but animal and plant life as well. All the more reason for us to support and celebrate scientists like Johansson and his colleagues. As he stated at the May 18 conference: “Since I work at the Karolinska Institute, if I could, I would give all my colleagues here a Nobel Prize…” He meant that their work fulfills the mandate of Alfred Nobel to do scientific work for the benefit of humanity, not its exploitation. We can be thankful such men and women of good conscience are practicing true science on our behalf.


About seanarthurjoyce

I am a poet, journalist and author with a strong commitment to the environment and social justice. If anything, I have too many interests and too little time in a day to pursue them all. Film, poetry, literature, music, mythology, and history probably top the list. My musical interests lie firmly in rock and blues with a smattering of folk and world music. I consider myself lucky to have lived during the great flowering of modern rock music during its Golden Age in the late 1960s/early '70s. In poetry my major inspirations are Dylan Thomas, Rilke, Neruda and the early 20th century British/American poets: Auden, Eliot, Cummings. My preferred cinema includes the great French auteurs, Kirosawa, Orson Welles, and Film Noir. My preferred social causes are too numerous to mention but include banning GMOs, eliminating poverty (ha-ha), and a sane approach to forest conservation and resource extraction. Wish me—wish us all—luck on that one!
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3 Responses to 2015: The Turnaround Year? Part 2: Hopeful Signs

  1. Angele says:

    Not sure which blog to leave the comment.

    I just checked on line .. once I heard it was it was happening on Int world food day… in the hague court. Vandana Shiva and her alliance of organic, food sovereignty and environmental groups made it sound legit but Monsanto will not be there.

    It is more of an attention getter than real fact and many may feel duped, as I too had hoped it was for real as they deserve to be in court, along with their 50 lawyers and that would take more than one day. But keep the thought as Monsanto is being exposed on many levels.

    I also read the A2 classification.. It was more watered down than I had hoped. The word possible is being used, as well as a classification of ‘most likely to get cancer ‘ is for those who use it, not those who eat it.

    2016 is a 9 year and will be a completion of many projects.

  2. Lorna V. says:

    Thanks for these two very well-researched insight-filled blog posts, Art.

    I agree with you about the dangers (the latency period may be decades) of cellular and wireless radiation and that we are engaging in a mass experiment by allowing this radiation everywhere.
    But I wonder if smart-phone “instant gratification” brain stimulation, the dopamine rush, is so strong that we may have to accept that we have simply lost this argument. No one wants to hear it.

    If we said “vehicles are really bad for you. They pollute the air and contribute to climate change and are destroying our planet. They are the number one cause of death so do not own a vehicle” we would be dismissed as crackpots. The benefit and attraction of personal vehicle transportation — to go where I want to go exactly when I want to go — is too strong and even reasonable, socially conscious people become willfully blind and deaf to such messages.

    We may have reached this point with the cell phone debate. They are just too damn handy and rewarding and fun. The “I need it for safety when I’m driving” is the thin edge of the wedge that people use to rationalize their purchase and from there it’s a nonstop dopamine joyride.
    It may be that we have to work at this one from some other angle such as a mandatory 8-hour shut-off at night so our bodies can rest from all the radiation exposure.

    Anyhow, thanks for your thought-provoking articles. – Lorna Visser

  3. Lorna: I’m finding I talk to more people now than five years ago who agree that cellphones are probably dangerous, but as you say, they seem willing to trade safety for the gimmicky benefits. This is one aspect of evolutionary development that has always puzzled me: peoples’ willingness to expose themselves to huge risks even when they know better. It seems counter-intuitive and counter-intelligent in the extreme. Then, when someone takes the trouble to do the work to warn people, that person gets vilified as a looney or doomcryer. Would we do that if we were still camping every night in the forest and the night watchman shouted “Wolf! Wolf!” to warn us?
    And actually, the science is well-established to prove that the latency period for heavy cellphone users is as little as ten years for developing a tumour, not decades like with cigarettes. But you already know this, having lost a sister-in-law to a brain tumour mostly likely caused by heavy cordless phone use. (They emit as much radiation as cellphones.)

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