Will we be able to live the future?

By Jean Toschi Marazzani Visconti

This article was presented at the Alexander Zinoviev Foundation Conference in Moscow on 29 October2019 and published in the book containing all the Conference essays.


Centuries ago, an old Chinese sage expressed an omen, if not a curse, to one of the first travelers from the West: May you live in an interesting time.

       In this period the world is experiencing an interesting time. We witness, unarmed, a fast technical, energetic, military acceleration that seems to drag us towards a terrifying black hole.

       Albert Einstein was not wrong when he warned: I fear the day when technology will go beyond our humanity, the world will be populated then by a generation of idiots. This acceleration has taken place in less than seventy years.

     Several reasons cause concern for the world populations. There are agitation and a generalized dissatisfaction and historical regurgitations and sovereigntist instances, and financial strain. They tear one another to pieces like mice in a narrow container, because they feel the decrease in living space and the threat of survival. They do not reflect on the risk of extinction; instead they should unite in the common search for a solution.

      The exorbitant increase in the earth’s population is one of the causes of the malaise. In April 2019 we became seven billion seven hundred thousand people and it is expected that in 2100 we will be eleven billion two hundred thousand. We are consuming earth and water at the utmost extremes of possibilities.

    In many African areas desertification and wars oblige thousands to flee to Europe, causing racist excesses and political extremism. Can this humanity be prevented from seeking what they believe to be a better life?

     In the 14th century the black plague decimated the European population. This terrible epidemic might have inspired some levels of international powers, because special laboratories might study manipulated viruses in order to hit specific ethnic groups and not others. Or they could produce a democratic virus that affects everyone. Only those who previously received the vaccination would be saved. They would be few and properly chosen. Is this a horror movie?

   An interesting article by Karl Grossman, cited by Counterpunch, states that Newsweek published an informative article in July 2019 by the title: The Pentagon may have released manipulated ticks for war purposes that contributed to the spread of Lyme disease: An investigation ordered.

(Https // www.counterpunch.org / 2019/08/14 / lymedisease-and-iowarfare )

    The American House of Representatives should have asked the Inspector General of the Department of Defense for an investigation to know if the Pentagon commanded experiments on ticks and other blood-sucking insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.

     The experiments were held in a laboratory on Plum Island, an island near Long Island (New York) and ten miles from the town of Old Lyme (Connecticut) from which, curiously, the disease took its name. On Long Island the disease had quickly spread. The New York Time explained in an article that it was a disease of bacterial origin, very infectious, of rapid spread in the world, only inferior to AIDS. Lyme disease produces severe symptoms until death, attacking humans and animals. Is it a horror film? No, just a reality that applies to all major powers.

     Let’s go back to overpopulation. Serious studies indicate that in the near future, there will be a strong robotics use, consequently factories, services and what we are used to considering human management, will be operated by machines.

What to do with all that useless human labor? Billions of forced pensioners would wander around the globe without a specific purpose. They could be turned into soldiers. Then an enemy would be needed and a war too? Aren’t we already very close to it?

     Otherwise they could be used as settlers destined for stellar conquests.

 The United States is studying the possibility of a lunar base as a support for the colonization of Mars. China seems to be interested in the dark side of the moon, in this case as a support for more ambitious projects also.

     A war would seem the simplest solution to the problem. Obviously there is a risk that in the heat of winning the parties will exaggerate with nuclear power. And then???

The M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Damage), that made US presidents and Russian leaders reconsider the risk of a nuclear war and gave advice to install the historic red telephone for direct communications in times of crisis, lapsed.

It was the first cold war. Like all things in the good olden days, they still observed some rules. Now we are at the beginning of another cold war, more aggressive and ruthless.

           The INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty), signed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Michail Gorbachev, was annulled by the heirs of the first one accusing the successors of the second to have violated the agreement. The Russians obviously withdrew from the agreement.  Therefore, now there is a green light for missiles of all ranges: ground-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, capable of striking a target in 6/10 minutes.

      Europe is once again involved in a cold war and has returned to being the chessboard of US military operations. If it is true that the one who takes the first shot wins today, the Old Continent is in bad shape. Particularly Germany and Italy who host the major US bases and their nuclear bombs, even though the two States signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    On the other hand, European States acquiesced to the US when they agreed to join NATO in 1946, and again, when they confirmed the new status of NATO in 1991 in Rome, just before the birth of the United Europe: they all voted NATO enlargement, no longer a defensive purpose and no longer territorial limits of intervention. European member States will be compelled to follow the winds of war blown from overseas.

     This situation has enormously weakened a promising United Europe that after only twenty years of life seems to be disintegrating, held together by the financial glue of the Euro.

     What a pity!!! Europe could have been the fourth balancing power, even stronger if it had included Russia who belongs to Europe through history, culture and common traditions.

     Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Project and Information with the Federation of American Scientists wrote an article on Nuclear Notebook, published in the Bulletin of atomic scientists. The column of this issue examines the US nuclear arsenal, which remained roughly unchanged in the last year. The Department of Defense maintained an estimated stock of nearly 3,800 warheads, of which about 1,300 were mounted on ballistic missiles, 300 in strategic bases of US bombers, another 150 tactical bombs deployed on European bases.

 If the nuclear potential of Russia, China and other powers were added to these bombs, one has the impression of living on the brink of a catastrophe. 

In effect, the Apocalypse clock, imagined in 1947 by the Federation of Atomic Scientists to mark humanity’s time before total destruction, ticks two minutes before midnight: to Armageddon.

     Obviously the media does not inform the public of this enormous danger that threatens earth and humanity. Better to leave the people to live their normal lives and their small daily quarrels. However, a serious malaise has started to spread, lesser and lesser Europeans believe in a future.

     That’s not all! A new chapter opens in the history of sophisticated weapons, a vision from star wars: the change from kinetic to direct energy weapons. No more old fashion bullets but electromagnetic impulses, heat waves, cyber weapons and other sci-fi fantasies that we only saw in pure science-fiction movies. Today they are a reality! We will have to deal with miniaturized drones with the most diverse uses, other than Plum Island blood-sucking insects, there will be killer on command or nuke miniature transporters, epidemic infectors or spy mosquitos simply. (Manlio Dinucci, Nuclear War, the day before. Zambon Verlag, Frankfurt 2017)

    Incredible is the development of space systems and robotic airplanes created to prevent the installation of weapons in space or to destroy communication satellites of the adversaries. It would be exciting, if it didn’t provide for an even more subjected way of life to a power capable of control from space and cyberspace.

     The climate is another reason for concern. In seventy years we have also managed to ruin nature in this technological uncontainable race. We have polluted the seas. Huge plastic islands float on the oceans. Plastic is found in the belly of whales and fish. We have succeeded in intervening in the biological balance of nature. Many breeds are becoming extinct due to lack of food or water. The Amazon rainforest, the great oxygen lung of the earth, was cut to make way for intensive cultivation or set on fire for economic purposes. Australia is burning from high heat and draught and human stupidity.

     Nature sometimes tries to shake off all these human insects from the surface with earthquakes or hurricanes, even in areas that never knew monsoon climate before.

      Experts are clamoring for something to be done, but, obviously, financial interests are such that their demands are taken into consideration only if they become indispensable.

    In order to fight pollution from CO2, carbon dioxide and above all fossil fuel sources, companies have started to produce electric cars and clean energy on the pressure of the Green Economy, especially in Europe and the United States, where the ecological  demand is greatly growing. Big wind turbines, solar panels, electric motors are starting to conquer the markets. Great news! 

However!!! There is a problem. To make wind turbines work, the batteries of electric motors and more advanced cell phones need a material that is becoming more valuable than oil. It is Neodymium (Nd) one of the 17 components of the Rare-Earth-Elements (REE). This material does not appear in strands or deposits, but mixed with other components of rare-earth-elements. Its extraction cannot be defined as ecological. To obtain industrial quantities, REE are excavated from vast territories, poisoned by the presence of radioactive substances contained in the lands themselves. The soil is treated with acids to separate Nd from the other components dispersed in the soil. In the production process a large quantity of pollutants are discharged into the air. These pollutants are breathed tens of kilometers from the plants, and the inhabitants get sick with physical ailments similar to nuclear poisoning. Tons of water is used to wash the metal producing toxic mud. In Mongolia, near Batou, in the resulting sludge settling basin, ten kilometers wide and three hundred meters deep, about seven million tons of mine waste is pumped in each year, making the toxic lake grow one meter a year.

http // en.wikipedia.org / wiki / File: Balyunebo_ast_2006181.jpg

China holds 36% of world reserves. The United States is second with 13% of Nd reserves and the same rate of pollution in the extraction. Needless to say, the Neodymium is a source of super profits.

   How can we save ourselves? We are in the position of the cat that bites its tail. Each positive solution contains a destructive solution. What can we do to bring the planet and our lives back to a less dangerous reality?

    One day, perhaps there will be the climate to straighten things right with an extraordinary natural catastrophe, which will take us back a hundred years and will give us the opportunity to start again with greater wisdom and respect for nature and human beings.

     From time to time positive information also arrives. On August 20, 2019, the media announced that 181 major US companies decided a drastic change in their managing policy: no more exaggerated profit, but attention to the working conditions of employees, gender equality and above all respect for the climate. This means using non-polluting machinery or work processes. These companies are part of the Business Round Table, names like J.P.Morgan, At-T, Apple are part of it, and all together they employ about fifteen million people. According to these companies the profit maximization would increase through this new company policy. 

This is a good start for a total directive change that finally leads to greater respect for nature and human beings. Let’s hope it will not be only a good image campaign.

     I would like to end this text with a positive thought.

    We live on a beautiful planet, where natural and historical beauty, art, music, literature and philosophical thought are extraordinary, like all the human beings who collaborated over time to create this magnificence.

These men and women left a legacy that was certainly received by their future followers. I hope that the salvation of our planet will come from their heirs.

After all, as Fyodor Dostoievsky wrote in his masterpiece The Idiot

Beauty will save the world