On October 7, 2018, "the United Nations released a damning report. The short version: We have about 12 years to actually do something to prevent the worst aspects of climate change. That is, not to prevent climate change—we're well past that point—but to prevent the worst, most catastrophic elements of it from wreaking havoc on the world's population. To do that, the governments of Earth need to look seriously at the forces driving it. And an honest assessment of how we got here lays the blame squarely at the feet of the 1 percent.

"Contrary to a lot of guilt-tripping pleas for us all to take the bus more often to save the world, your individual choices are probably doing very little to the world's climate. The real impact comes on the industrial level, as more than 70 percent of global emissions come from just 100 companies. So you, a random American consumer, exert very little pressure here. The people who are actively cranking up the global thermostat and threatening to drown 20 percent of the global population are the billionaires in the boardrooms of these companies.

"There are probably no individuals who have had a more toxic impact on public and political attitudes about climate change than the Koch brothers..."  --Luke Darby, GQ

Under a Facebook post which described US House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s efforts towards more social democracy and less billionaires with unlimited political influence, it was pointed out by a wealthy man who despises her that the founding fathers were billionaires with a privileged background. Yes, most of them consisted of individuals who had some degrees more privilege and education -- or worked hard like Benjamin Franklin towards it -- than the average, deeply and royally suppressed Joe & Jane of the mid 18th century colony.  But by no means were any of them remotely close to a billionaire status, converting 1776 wealth to today's currency. That status belonged solely to the European nobility, monarchs, and within the Vatican. And that relative *privilege* may have offered something interestingly unique to how the neurosynaptic architecture of a few good brains developed the conscious capacity for critical thinking through their curiosity-empowered upbringing. One important thing to keep in mind is that the people in the 18th century did not think the way you and I do today. The cultural and physical environments that feedback-interacted with the developing brains of children at that time were entirely different. If you were to travel back in time to 1776, you would instantly be hit by cultural shock  You'd think, especially if you are a woman, that you were on a different planet, no matter how much you may have studied history.  And unless comatose through this millennium, none of us think like we did even two decades ago. Each thought we have, each sensory experience, physically changes the brain.

In other words, to get remarkable brains as we perceive of the Founding Fathers in today's world, the best chances would most likely be through kids being raised by parents who nurture and safely empower them into the world as it is, so they best can manage and adapt to its pressures and changes, no bullshit myths about anything, within an environment that is as stress-free and caring as possible, and then seamlessly socialize and educate the children until the cognitive learning and decision-making areas of the brain have matured into lifetime adaptive plasticity. The neuroscientific evidence indicates this takes almost 25 years. That's why it is incumbent upon any decent nation of We the People, any successful civilization, to ensure equal access to all its citizen to childcare, healthcare, education, child and mother protections... basically, ensure and protect their welfare at any cost.

There exists in this world no true democratic or even social-democratic state. And there exists no government on this planet that is free from the near absolute power of a small handful of billionaires and their corporations. There currently exist about 26 individuals who own as much wealth as the total wealth of 3.75 billion people, the poorest and most disenfranchised half of the world population. And just beneath this set of apex predators, exists about 2000 lesser billionaires, most of whom competively seek ever more wealth. Not all are like that, but most are... simply due to conditioned emotion-driven behavioral patterns -- you have, I want, for example -- wrought by evolutionary biology, lack of facts to demystify the world, or narcissistically choosing not to consider evidence which challenges desires and beliefs. 

In fact, "[w]hile billionaires and the companies they run have spent years insisting that climate change either doesn't exist or is overblown, they've known the reality of the situation for a long time. PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, for example, used to donate to the Seasteading Institute, which aimed to build floating cities in order to counteract rising sea levels. And Exxon Mobil allegedly knew about climate change in 1977, back when it was still just Exxon and about 11 years before climate change became widely talked about. Instead of acting on it, they started a decades-long misinformation campaign. According to Scientific American, Exxon helped create the Global Climate Coalition, which questioned the scientific basis for concern over climate change from the late '80s until 2002, and successfully worked to keep the U.S. from signing the Kyoto Protocol, a move that helped cause India and China, two other massive sources of greenhouse gas, to avoid signing." --GQ

The true political power on the planet rests with these billionaires, who can loan-shark billions and have infinitely deep pockets for politicians to look the other way at best, whether you live in Russia, America, Cuba, Haiti, Denmark, Afghanistan, the DRC, China, Japan etc., and however a nation’s government and debt is defined locally... representative democracy, communist, dictatorial, military, theocratic, fascist and even the so-called true democracy of Switzerland etc. Whether you are a horrific ISIS leader seeking weapons of mass destruction, or a dictator seeking more power, or a president seeking absolute power (to wit, Trump and Putin), or whatever and whomever, in this geopolitical world you are still under the power of the wealthy ruling elite. Pure and simple, an oligarchy. An oligarchy that grew very empowered and politically influential in western democracies during the Thatcher and Reagan years, and exponentially more powerful and concentrated among ever fewer after the financial crisis of 2007-09. Back at his farewell speech in 1961, about to give the keys of the White House to JFK, Republican President Eisenhower warned of its influence.

And it is this fistful of billionaires and their multinational retinue who control enough wealth to bankrupt a nation like Greece, and even France, according to billionaire and former banker, Rainer Voss, who states that it "all began in the 1980s and the heady days of Thatcher and Reagan, when deregulation spawned a wave of suspendered, striped-shirt-wearing American financial analysts preaching to their more staid European colleagues about the wonders of unhitched capitalism. Voss [explains how he] heeded the call and quickly became one of those cowboy-like gurus riding bareback on the golden calf, trying whatever worked for a hefty profit."

In my opinion, it is ultimate greed at a global scale, occurring just as the evidence of greed to a lesser but accelerating scale over recent human history has led to anthropogenic climate change, which currently is most impacting huge population groups of the world's historically most marginalized people.

Foreign and domestic intelligence agencies, sent afield or via cyberattacks by governments in deep pockets, have their manipulating fingers in every hot spot on the planet where there are resources* to supply an often well-designed, top-down and malevolent demand by titillating all our senses into becoming recklessly addicted consumers.  Fossil fuels, precious minerals for iPhones, and now even water are examples*, but also the human resource of near-slave labor. Exploiting unstable or weaker nations and groups of people, often where there is deep conflict among often ethnically polarized groups, has been the mainstay of ancient history to today. The Eurocentric voyages to distant lands, some under the Crusades banner, and Columbus also, and colonizing through horrors unimaginable aren’t any different than the history of Russia’s empire building, going east in its own manifest destiny, so to speak. China’s dynasty history of empire building is no different. Mongolia, Japan, Rome, Persia... It just tastes different, in a culturally relativistic way, and the stories written by the conquerors, including Mao and Stalin, have always glorified in romantic ways the true horrors of what occurred. Down south in Dixie, people still yearn for the glory of their slave-owning heroes of the Confederacy, and again, it is and was only about the economics of a resource, human slaves from Africa.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And the reason this adage holds so true is quite simple. It’s theoretically due to evolutionary biology’s interaction with deep culture and conditioning, and that the predator-prey, stimulus-response neural networks of the brain, where reward/addiction systems can also be found, were laid down long before the more recent evolution of the cerebrum’s critical thinking and executive decision-making areas, which can theoretically best functionally inhibit those primitive impulses that amount to narcissistic greed if appropriately nurtured, socialized and educated to the real world in the 1st 25 years of life.  To best achieve this requires societies where child care, laws that protect the rights of women and children, public education as far as one can go, healthcare etc to rise to a human right for the sake of a well functioning and successful civilization.  Not sorry for repeating myself.

This is an oversimplification of the most complex biological system yet discovered, much of it still a puzzle waiting to be further demystified.  It is a dynamic biological architecture that works as a whole in its feedback interactions with one's body and its sociocultural and physical environment.

As an adult, the brain's natural plasticity also allows most anyone to change deep-seated, perhaps childhood-conditioned, dysfunctional to the real world thinking and behavioral patterns by choosing to persistently work hard like an athlete against any walls of emotional pain, as you manage cognitive issues like confirmation bias, especially if it is feedback group reinforced, such as by one’s ivory tower peer... or those countless demographics who worship or adulate it like some almighty god. As the 2nd video below also points out, advances in neuroscience are pointing to the future probability that we can medically enhance brain plasticity. But the most important issue in my mind is one’s moral compass.

Studies indicate a “neuromoral” network for responding to moral dilemmas centered in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and its connections, particularly on the right. The neurobiological evidence indicates the existence of automatic “prosocial” mechanisms for identification with others that are part of the moral brain... The presence of a moral sense is consistent with a focus of human evolution on mechanisms of individual behavior that maximize survival in social groups. Evolution has promoted social cooperation through emotions against harming others, a need for fairness and the enforcement of moral rules, empathy and “Theory of Mind” (ToM), as well as other behaviors that feed into the concept of morality.  
--The Neurobiology of Moral Behavior 

In my mind, the important point to understand there is ...survival in social groups.  If one's social group consists only of billionaires in their ivory towers and those cultural, religious, and political etc. demographics that willingly serve such illusions, then you are contributing to a fatalistic delusion. In prehistoric dog-eat-dog jungle times, it was theoretically important for survival to base one’s moral code only as far as it applied to the tribal group to which you belonged.  Except for some isolated tribes deep in the Amazon, the planet is no longer in that epoch.  We are now in the Anthropocene.  In today’s globalized socioeconomic system, much of it based on the same insanity as explained in the previous sentence -- and where we are now defining our own evolution -- with a physical environment, the biosphere, critically under threat due to billionaires leading us unto death like a Pied Piper, and on the heels of an endless history of countless groups and then nations fighting and competing among themselves for resources domination, our empathies and cooperations must stretch out to the entire Pale Blue Dot hanging in the vast blackness of space. We must tear down all walls. We must ensure the welfare of every child on the planet.

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

"The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
--Carl Sagan, 1994

Bent Lorentzen

Bent Lorentzen

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