Reflections on 2018, Forecasting 2019

by Robert J. Burrowes

In many ways it is painful to reflect on
the year 2018; a year of vital opportunities lost when so much is at stake.

Whether politically, militarily, socially,
economically, financially or ecologically, humanity took some giant strides
backwards while passing up endless opportunities to make a positive difference
in our world.

Let me, very briefly, identify some of the
more crucial backward steps, starting with the recognition by the Bulletin of
the Atomic Scientists in January that the year had already started badly when
they moved the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, the closest it has
ever been to ‘doomsday’ (and equal to 1953 when the Soviet Union first exploded
a thermonuclear weapon matching the US capacity). See ‘It is now two minutes to

This change reflected the perilous state of
our world, particularly given the renewed threat of nuclear war and the ongoing
climate catastrophe. It didn’t even mention the massive and unrelenting assault
on the biosphere (apart from the climate) nor, of course, the ongoing
monumental atrocities against fellow human beings.

Some Lowlights of 2018

1. The global elite, using key elite fora
such as the Group of 30, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group and
the World Economic Forum, continued to plan, generate and exacerbate the many
ongoing wars, deepening exploitation within the global economy, climate and
environmental destruction, and the refugee crisis, among many other violent
impacts, in pursuit of greater elite power, profit and privilege.

2. International organizations (such as the
United Nations, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund) and national
governments used military forces, legal systems, police forces and prison
systems around the world to serve the global elite by defending its interests
against the bulk of the human population, including those individuals and
organizations audacious enough to challenge elite power, profit and privilege.

3. $US1.7 trillion was officially
spent worldwide on military weapons to kill fellow human beings and other
lifeforms, and to destroy the biosphere. See ‘Global military spending
remains high at $1.7 trillion’

However, so out-of-control is this spending
that the United States has now spent $US21trillion on its military in the past
20 years for which it cannot even account! That’s right, $US1trillion each
year, including 2018, above the official US national budget for killing is
‘lost’. See Army General Fund
Adjustments Not Adequately Documented or Supported
, ‘Has Our Government Spent $21
Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us?’
and ‘The Pentagon Can’t Account
for $21 Trillion (That’s Not a Typo)’

4. War and other military violence
continued to rage across the planet wreaking devastation on many countries and
regions, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. If you missed this, read
what is happening to Yemen, described as ‘ the world’s worst [humanitarian]
crisis in decades’ with ‘three quarters of the entire Yemeni population – 22
million women, children and men – dependent on some form of humanitarian
assistance to survive.’ See ‘Yemen: UN chief hails “signs of hope” in world’s
worst man-made humanitarian disaster’

5. Not content with the nature and extent
of the military violence they are inflicting already, during 2018 elites
continued to plan how to do it more effectively in future with research and
development of artificial intelligence just one manifestation of this: ‘an
“arms race in AI” is now underway, with the U.S., China, Russia, and other
nations (including Britain, Israel, and South Korea) seeking to gain a critical
advantage in the weaponization of artificial intelligence and robotics’ so that
‘artificial intelligence will be applied to every aspect of warfare, from
logistics and surveillance to target identification and battle management’. See
‘“Alexa, Launch Our Nukes!”
Artificial Intelligence and the Future of War’

6. The United States government
unilaterally withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (which
limits the deployment of intermediate range nuclear weapons).

7. Another significant proportion of global
private financial wealth – conservatively estimated by the Tax Justice Network
in 2010 to already total between $US21 and $US32 trillion – has been invested
virtually tax-free through the world’s still-expanding black hole of more than
80 ‘offshore’ tax havens (such as the City of London Corporation, Jersey,
Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Nauru, St.
Kitts, Antigua, Tortola, Switzerland, the Channel Islands, Monaco, Cyprus, Gibraltar
and Liechtenstein). This is just financial wealth. ‘A big share of the real
estate, yachts, racehorses, gold bricks – and many other things that count as
non-financial wealth – are also owned via offshore structures where it is
impossible to identify the owners.’ See Tax Justice Network.

Controlled by the global elite, Wall Street
and other major banks manage this monstrous diversion of wealth under
Government protection. ‘Their business is fraud and grand theft.’ Tax haven
locations offer more than tax avoidance. ‘Almost anything goes on.’ It includes
‘bribery, illegal gambling, money laundering, human and sex trafficking, arms
dealing, toxic waste dumping, conflict diamonds and endangered species trafficking,
bootlegged software, and endless other lawless practices.’ See ‘Trillions Stashed in
Offshore Tax Havens’

8. The world’s major corporations continued
to inflict enormous ongoing violence (in a myriad of ways) in their pursuit of
endless profit at the expense of living beings (human and otherwise) and
Earth’s biosphere by producing and marketing a wide range of life-destroying
products ranging from nuclear weapons and nuclear power to junk food,
pharmaceutical drugs, synthetic poisons and genetically mutilated organisms
(GMOs). These corporations include those involved in the following industries:
weapons manufacturers, major banks and their ‘industry groups’ like the
International Monetary Conference, asset management firms, investment
companies, financial services companies, fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas)
corporations, technology corporations, media corporations, major marketing and
public relations corporations, agrochemical (pesticides, seeds, fertilizers)
giants, pharmaceutical corporations, biotechnology (genetic mutilation)
corporations, mining corporations, nuclear power corporations, food
multinationals and water corporations. You can see a list of the major
corporations in this article: ‘The Global Elite is Insane

9. More than a billion people continued to
live under occupation, dictatorship or threat of genocidal assault. See, for
example, ‘500 Years is Long Enough!
Human Depravity in the Congo’

10. 36,500,000 human beings (mainly in
Africa, Asia and Central/South America) were starved to death.

11. 18,250,000 children were killed by
adults in wars, by starving them to death, and in a large variety of other

12. 8,000,000 children were trafficked into
sexual slavery; executed in sacrificial killings after being kidnapped; bred to
be sold as a ‘cash crop’ for sexual violation, to produce child pornography
(‘kiddie porn’) and ‘snuff’ movies (in which children are killed during the
filming); ritually tortured and murdered as well as raped by dogs trained for
the purpose. See ‘Humanity’s “Dirty Little
Secret”: Starving, Enslaving, Raping, Torturing and Killing our Children’

13. Hundreds of thousands of individuals
were kidnapped or tricked into slavery, which now denies 46,000,000 human
beings the right to live the life of their choice, condemning many individuals
– especially women and children – to lives of sexual slavery, forced labor or
as child soldiers. See The Global Slavery Index’ and 46 million people living as
slaves, latest global index reveals’

14. Well over 100,000 people (particularly
Falun Gong practitioners) in China, where an extensive state-controlled program
is conducted, were subjected to forced organ removal for the trade in human
organs. See Bloody Harvest and The Slaughter.

15. 15,750,000 people were displaced by
war, persecution or famine. There are now 68,500,000 people, more that half of
whom are children and 10,000,000 of whom are stateless, who have been forcibly
displaced worldwide and remain precariously unsettled, usually in adverse circumstances.
One person in the world is forcibly displaced every two seconds. See ‘Figures at a Glance’.

16. Millions of people were made homeless
in their own country as a result of war, persecution, ‘natural’ disasters,
internal conflict, poverty or as a result of elite-driven national economic
policy. The last time a global survey was attempted – by the United Nations
back in 2005 – an estimated 100 million people were homeless worldwide. As many
as 1.6 billion people lack adequate housing (living in slums, for example). See
‘Global Homelessness

17. 73,000 species of life (plants, birds,
animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles) on Earth were driven to
extinction with the worldwide loss of insects, including vital pollinators such
as bees, now between 75% and 90%, depending on the species. See ‘Insect Decimation Upstages
Global Warming’
Have you seen a butterfly recently?

18. Separately from global species extinctions,
Earth continued to experience ‘a huge episode of population declines and
extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem
functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as
a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s
ongoing sixth major extinction event.’ Moreover, local population extinctions
‘are orders of magnitude more frequent than species extinctions. Population
extinctions, however, are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earth’s sixth
mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume.’ See ‘Biological annihilation via
the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and

and ‘Biological Annihilation on
Earth Accelerating’

19. Wildlife trafficking, worth up to $20
billion in 2018, is pushing many endangered species to the brink of extinction.
Illegal wildlife products include jewelry, traditional medicine, clothing,
furniture, and souvenirs, as well as some exotic pets, most of which are sold
to unaware/unconcerned consumers in the West. See, for example, Stop Wildlife Trafficking.

20. 16,000,000 acres of pristine rainforest
were destroyed (with more than 40,000 tropical tree species now threatened with
extinction). See ‘Measuring the Daily
Destruction of the World’s Rainforests’
, ‘Estimating the global
conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species’
and ‘Half of Amazon Tree Species
Face Extinction’

21. Vast quantities of soil were washed
away as we destroyed the rainforests, and enormous quantities of both inorganic
constituents (such as heavy metals like cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury,
nickel and zinc) and organic pollutants (particularly synthetic chemicals in
the form of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides) were dumped into the soil
as well, thus reducing its nutrients and killing the microbes within it. We
also contaminated enormous quantities of soil with radioactive waste. See Soil-net, ‘Glyphosate effects on soil
rhizosphere-associated bacterial communities’
and ‘Disposing of Nuclear Waste
is a Challenge for Humanity’

22. The TEPCO nuclear power plant in
Fukushima, Japan discharged 109,000 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific
Ocean killing an incalculable number of fish and other marine organisms and
indefinitely contaminating expanding areas of that ocean. See ‘Fukushima: A Nuclear War
without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation’

23. Human use of fossil fuels to power
aircraft, shipping and vehicles (among other purposes) released 10 billion
metric tons (gigatons) of carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere, a 2.7%
increase over 2017. See ‘Global Carbon Budget 2018’ and ‘Carbon dioxide emissions
will hit a record high globally in 2018’
. As a measure of their concern elite-controlled
governments and corporations around the world are currently planning or have
under construction 1,380 new coal plants?
That’s right. 1,380 new
coal plants. In 59 countries.
See ‘NGOs Release List of World’s
Top Coal Plant Developers’
and ‘2018 Coal Plant Developers

24. 90 billion land animals and 60 billion
marine animals were killed for human consumption, more than 100 million animals
were killed for laboratory purposes in the United States alone and there were
other animal deaths in shelters, zoos and in blood sports. See ‘How Many Animals Are Killed
Each Year?’

In addition, 40 million animals were killed
for their fur. Approximately 30 million of these animals were raised on fur
farms and killed, about 10 million wild animals were trapped and killed, and
hundreds of thousands of seals were killed for their fur. See ‘How Many Animals are Killed
Each Year?’

25. Farming of animals for human
consumption released 7,100,000,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent into Earth’s
atmosphere. About 44% of livestock emissions were in the form of methane (which
was 44% of anthropogenic CH4 emissions), 29% as Nitrous Oxide (which was 53% of
anthropogenic N2O emissions) and 27% as Carbon Dioxide (which was 5% of
anthropogenic CO2 emissions). See ‘GHG Emissions by Livestock’.

26. Human use of fossil fuels and farming
of animals released 3.2 million metric tons of (CO2 equivalent) nitrous oxide
(N2O) into Earth’s atmosphere. See ‘Nitrous oxide emissions’.

27. As a result of previous greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions and the consequent rise of about one degree celsius in the
global temperature, causing the melting of Arctic permafrost and undersea
methane ice clathrates, an incalculable quantity of methane was uncontrollably
released into the atmosphere during 2018 (with the quantity being released
getting ever closer to ‘exploding’). See ‘7,000 underground gas
bubbles poised to “explode” in Arctic’
and ‘Release of Arctic Methane
“May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns’

28. Ice in the Antarctic is melting at a
record-breaking rate, losing 219 billion tonnes of ice in 2018 at a rate that
has accelerated threefold in the last five years. See ‘Antarctic ice melting faster
than ever, studies show’

29. An incalculable amount of agricultural
poisons, fossil fuels and other wastes was discharged into the ocean, adversely
impacting life at all ocean depths – see ‘Staggering level of toxic
chemicals found in creatures at the bottom of the sea, scientists say’
– and generating ocean ‘dead zones’:
regions that have too little oxygen to support marine organisms. See ‘Our Planet Is Exploding With
Marine “Dead Zones”’

30. At least 8 million metric tons of
plastic, of which 236,000 tons were microplastics, was discharged into the
ocean. See ‘Plastic waste inputs from
land into the ocean’
and ‘Plastics in the Ocean’.

31. Earth’s fresh water and ground water
was further depleted and contaminated. These contaminants included bacteria,
viruses and household chemicals from faulty septic systems; hazardous wastes
from abandoned and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (of which there are over
20,000 in the USA alone); leaks from landfill items such as car battery acid,
paint and household cleaners; the pesticides, herbicides and other poisons used
on farms and home gardens; radioactive waste from nuclear tests; and the
chemical contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in search of
shale gas, for which about 750 chemicals and components, some extremely toxic
and carcinogenic like lead and benzene, have been used. See ‘Groundwater contamination’, ‘Groundwater drunk by
BILLIONS of people may be contaminated by radioactive material spread across
the world by nuclear testing in the 1950s’
and ‘Fracking chemicals’.

32. The longstanding covert military use of
geoengineering – spraying tens of millions of tons of highly toxic metals
(including aluminium, barium and strontium) and toxic coal fly ash
nanoparticulates (containing arsenic, chromium, thallium, chlorine, bromine,
fluorine, iodine, mercury and radioactive elements) into the atmosphere from jet
aircraft to weaponize the atmosphere and weather – in order to enhance elite
control of human populations, continued unchecked. Geoengneering is
systematically destroying Earth’s ozone layer – which blocks the deadly portion
of solar radiation, UV-C and most UV-B, from reaching Earth’s surface – as well
as adversely altering Earth’s weather patterns and polluting its air, water and
soil at incredible cost to the health and well-being of living organisms and
the biosphere. See ‘Geoengineering Watch’.

33. As one outcome of our dysfunctional
parenting model and political systems, fascism continued to rise around the
world. See ‘The Psychology of Fascism’.

34. Despite the belief that we have ‘the
right to privacy’, privacy (in any sense of the word) was ongoingly eroded in
2018 and is now effectively non-existent, particularly thanks to Alphabet
(owner of Google). Taken together, ‘Uber, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Tinder,
Apple, Lyft, Foursquare, Airbnb, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Angry Birds...
have turned our computers and phones into bugs that are plugged in to a vast
corporate-owned surveillance network. Where we go, what we do, what we talk
about, who we talk to, and who we see – everything is recorded and, at some
point, leveraged for value.’ Moreover, given Google’s integrated relationship
with the US government, the US military, the CIA, and major US weapons manufacturers,
there isn’t really anything you can do that isn’t known by those who want to
know it. In essence, Google is ‘a powerful global corporation with its own
political agenda and a mission to maximise profits for shareholders’ and it
partly achieves this by expanding the surveillance programs of the national
security state at the direction of the global elite. See ‘Google’s Earth: How the Tech
Giant Is Helping the State Spy on Us’
and the documentary ‘The Modern Surveillance

35. The right to free speech was ongoingly
eroded in 2018. For just a couple of examples in the United States alone, see ‘Marc Lamont Hill On Getting
Fired From CNN, His Remarks On Palestine + More’
and ‘A Texas Elementary School
Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath, Now Mandatory in Many
States – so She Lost Her Job’

36. Believing that we know better than evolution,
humans created the first gene-edited baby in 2018. See ‘Why we are not ready for
genetically designed babies’
and China’s Golem Babies: There
is Another Agenda’

37. An incalculable amount of junk was
added to the 100 trillion items of junk already in Space. See ‘Space Junk: Tracking &
Removing Orbital Debris’

38. Incalculable amounts of antibiotic
waste, nuclear waste, nanowaste and genetically engineered organisms were
released into Earth’s biosphere. See ‘Junk Planet: Is Earth the
Largest Garbage Dump in the Universe?’

39. Ongoing violence against children – see
Why Violence? and Fearless
Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice
– ensured that more people will grow up
accepting (and quite powerless to challenge) our dysfunctional and violent
world, as described above.

40. The corporate media, education and
entertainment industries continued to distract us from reality ensuring that
most people remain oblivious to our predicament and their own role in it, let
alone what they can do to respond powerfully.

While the above list of the setbacks
humanity and the Earth suffered in 2018 is very incomplete, it still provides
clear evidence that humanity is rapidly entering a dystopian future far more
horrific than the worst novel or film in the genre. The good news is that, at
the current rate, this dystopian world will be shortlived as humans drive
themselves over the edge of extinction. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A
Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’

But so that the picture is clear and
‘balanced’: were there any gains made against this onslaught?

Of course, it goes without saying that the
global elite, international organizations (such as the United Nations),
governments, corporations and other elite agents continued to live in
delusion/denial endlessly blocking any initiative requiring serious action that
would cut into corporate profits, or arguing over tangential issues of
insignificant consequence to humanity’s future.

In short, I could find no record of
official efforts during the year to plan for the development and implementation
of a comprehensive, just and sustainable peace, but perhaps I missed it.

Separately from this, there have been some
minor activist gains: for example, some western banks and insurance companies
are no longer financially supporting the expansion of the western weapons
industry and the western coal industry, some rainforest groups have managed to
save portions of Earth’s rainforest heritage, and activist groups continue to
work on a variety of issues sometimes making modest gains.

In essence however, as you probably
realize, many of the issues above are not even being tackled and, even when
they are, activist efforts have been hampered by inadequate analysis of the
forces driving conflicts and problems, limited vision (particularly unambitious
aims such as those in relation to ending war and the climate catastrophe),
unsophisticated strategy (necessary to have profound impact against a deeply
entrenched, highly organized and well-resourced opponent, with the endless
lobbying of elite institutions, such as governments and corporations, despite
this effort simply absorbing and dissipating our dissent, as is intended – as
Mark Twain once noted: ‘If voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do
it.’) and failure to make the difficult decisions to promote necessary
solutions that are ‘unpopular’.

Fundamentally, these ‘difficult decisions’
include the vital need to campaign for the human population, particularly in
the West, to substantially reduce their consumption – by 80% – involving both
energy and resources of every kind as the central feature of any strategy to
curtail destruction of the environment and climate, to undermine capitalism and
to eliminate the primary driver of war: violent resource acquisition from
Middle Eastern and developing nations for the production of consumer goods and
services for western consumers.

While we live in the delusion that we can
simply substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels and nuclear power (or
believe such delusions that a 1.5 degrees celsius increase above the
preindustrial temperature is acceptable or that we have an ‘end of century’
timeframe to solve the climate crisis), we ignore the fundamental reality that
Earth’s biosphere is under siege on many fronts as a result of our endless
extraction of its natural resources – such as fresh water, minerals, timber
and, again, fossil fuels – for consumer production and the provision of
services that go well beyond energy.

In short, for example, we will not save the
world’s rainforests because we switch to renewable energy. We must reduce
demand for the consumer products that require rainforest inputs. We must stop
mining the Earth for minerals that end up in our mobile phones, computers,
vehicles, ships and aircraft by not using the products and services these
minerals make possible. We must stop eating meat and other animal products. And
so the list goes on.

Forecasting 2019

In many ways it is painful to forecast what
will happen in 2019 mainly because of the absurd simplicity of doing so: It
will be another year when vital opportunities will be lost when so much is at

Given the insanity of the global elite –
see ‘The Global Elite is Insane

which will continue to drive the dynamics producing the lowlights mentioned
above with the active complicity of their agents in governments and
corporations coupled with a human population that is largely terrified,
self-hating and powerless to resist – see ‘In Defense of the Human

– it is a straightforward task to forecast what will happen in 2019.

So let me forecast 40 lowlights for 2019:

  • 1. See list above.
  • 2. See list above.
  • 3. See list above.
  • .
  • .
  • 40. See list above.

So unless you play your part, 2019 and the
few years thereafter will simply be increasingly worse versions of 2018 and it
will all be over by 2026. See ‘Human Extinction by
2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’
which cites a wide range of scientific and
other evidence which you are welcome to consider for yourself if this date
seems premature.

Responding Powerfully

If you already feel able to act powerfully
in response to this multifaceted crisis, in a way that will have strategic
impact, you are invited to consider joining those participating in The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth, which outlines a simple plan for you to
systematically reduce your consumption, by at least 80%, involving both energy
and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals,
meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding your individual and
community self-reliance in 16 areas, so that all environmental and climate
concerns are effectively addressed.

If you are also interested in conducting or
participating in a campaign to systematically address one of the issues
identified above, you are welcome to consider acting strategically in the way
that Mohandas K. Gandhi did. Whether you are engaged in a peace, climate,
environment or social justice campaign, the 12-point strategic framework and
principles are the same. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. And, for example, you can see a basic
list of the strategic goals necessary to end war and halt the climate
catastrophe. See ‘Strategic Aims’.

If you want to know how to nonviolently
defend against a foreign invading power or a political/military coup, to
liberate your country from a dictatorship or a foreign occupation, or to defeat
a genocidal assault, you will learn how to do so in Nonviolent Defense/Liberation

If you are interested in nurturing children
to live by their conscience and to gain the courage necessary to resist elite
violence fearlessly, while living sustainably despite the entreaties of
capitalism to over-consume, then you are welcome to make ‘My Promise to Children’.

To reiterate: capitalism, war and
destruction of the environment and climate are outcomes of our dysfunctional
parenting of children which distorts their intellectual and emotional
capacities, destroys their conscience and courage, and actively teaches them to
over-consume as compensation for having vital emotional needs denied. See
‘Love Denied: The
Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’

If your own intellectual and/or emotional
functionality is the issue and you have the self-awareness to perceive that,
and wish to access the conscience and courage that would enable you to act
powerfully, try ‘Putting Feelings First’.

And if you want to be part of the worldwide
movement committed to ending all of the violence identified above, consider
signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to
Create a Nonviolent World’

In summary: if
we do not rapidly, systematically and substantially reduce our consumption in
several key areas and radically alter our parenting model, while resisting
elite violence strategically on several fronts, homo sapiens will enter Earth’s
fossil record within a few years. Given the fear, self-hatred and powerlessness
that paralyses most humans, your choices in these regards are even more vital
than you realize.

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is and his website is here.


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