Some disturbing signs of diversity loss on Earth and among human institutions include:
According to DNA, the ancestors of all people on Earth today were black Africans. Indeed, it may be impossible as of 2001 to determine the race of any given human DNA sample from anywhere in the world, as we are all so virtually identical at the genetic level. All people everywhere are 99.9+% identical in their genetic make up.
-- Door opens on deeper mysteries by Tim Radford, February 12, 2001, The Guardian
One of the very first and most potent resources of early human civilization-- as well as a vital component of contemporary human welfare and productivity-- was and is domesticated animal and plant species.
As of late 2000 the world was losing two such animal species per week, to extinction. Around 1000 such species have already been lost since 1900. Domesticated farm animals are the source of 30-40% of the economic value of farming worldwide.
-- World Loses Two Animal Breeds a Week, Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, December 5, 2000
51 of the 100 biggest economic bodies in the world are now corporations rather than nations. Over 25% of the global economy is based upon only 200 corporations, which altogether employ under one percent of the world's labor force.
From 1983 to 1999 profits of the 200 companies described above increased by over 360% while their employment rolls grew by only 14%.
-- Study Reinforces Public Distrust of Corporations, the Institute for Policy Studies, found on or about 12-14-2000
Modern human populations are disproportionately clustered along coastlines and waterways-- thereby making them very vulnerable to sea level rises due to global warming, as well as tsunamis from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cosmic impacts, or undersea landslides and nuclear detonations.
About 33.5% (1.88 billion) of the world's population lives less than 100 vertical meters above sea level, on the mere 15.6% of the Earth's inhabited land which falls into this altitude range. 37% live within 100 horizontal kilometers of a coastline. Please note the difference in units given here (meters versus km).
-- Populations Taken at the Flood by Robert Irion, 30 November 1998, INSCiGHT/APNet, The American Association for the Advancement of Science
In late 2000 certain governments and corporations were attempting to seize control of future world food supplies from international seed banks, via the World Trade Organization. One result may be the banks and associated labs would be forced to auction off their assets into private hands, setting the stage for higher food costs world-wide, and more starvation-- as well as higher profits for mega-corporations. It might increase risks regarding future food availability even for rich nations as well, since effectively destroying the previous open research and development efforts regarding food plants could leave humanity more vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters-- because overall food plant diversity would likely decline, and there'd be fewer potential alternatives to replace species which fall prey to disease or pests or climate variations.
Even prior to this development it was estimated that the world was losing some 2% of such plant varieties per year.
Corporate desires to turn up-to-now free plant varieties into patented cash crops is a major factor in current events. Governments of nations possessing resources like rainforests are also shutting out public seed banks in hopes of generating enormous profits by selling to business.
-- Sold to the highest bidder by Fred Pearce, From New Scientist magazine, 16 December 2000
-- Plant diversity threatened by climate change and buildup of greenhouse gas, study reveals
Perhaps as much as half of modern humanity is suffering a decline in intelligence due to environmental pollution and other problems. Even worse, we often cannot detect our own losses in mental ability, requiring the notice of others to alert us. Half of all cancer cases also seem to stem from mounting toxins in the environment
Man-made poisons in the environment, as well as the loss of certain critical micro-nutrients in the soils producing the world's food, may be reducing the intelligence of millions (or even billions) around the globe. Worse still, our lack of an integrated research effort into these areas leaves us with almost no means to accurately gauge the damage.
-- Pollution 'makes you stupid' By Alex Kirby, 22 April, 2000, BBC News Sci/Tech
The major causes of cancer (well over 50%) stem from exposure to harmful elements of the environment-- not from genetic causes.
-- Nurture Not Nature Main Cause of Cancer - Report By Gene Emery, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories, July 13, 2000
Studies show people can lose some intellectual skills without even realizing it. This means for some things we are dependent upon others to note changes in our capabilities which might require medical attention or other elements to remedy or avoid a further decline in same.
This may apply to people of all ages.
-- Declining mental skills can catch you unaware, 14 FEBRUARY 2001, EurekAlert!, US Contact: Barbara Hale, email@example.com, 814-865-9481, Penn State
There existed around 6000 different human languages in 1999. Only half were being taught in schools in 2000. The other 3000 or so languages look certain to disappear soon, due to each possessing less than 10,000 speakers worldwide
50% of the 6000 different human languages in use on Earth in 1999 were spoken by less than 10,000 people-- 25% by less than 1000.
-- How many active languages are there in the world? from The Learning Kingdom's Cool Fact of the Day for November 30, 1999, http://www.LearningKingdom.com
Less than half of the 6000 languages are being taught in schools as of 2000-- which may help to kill off the rest.
-- Explorers-in-Residence See Gloom and Gleam in the Future By David Braun, http://www.ngnews.com/, 4-11-2000
The unprecedented loss of human languages underway in 2001 is taking with it much potentially valuable knowledge and as yet unrecorded human history-- as well as possibly allowing mega-corporations more power than ever over our futures
At this time even the foremost experts remain woefully unaware of the vast majority of humanity's history and prehistory, as well as the bulk of its accumulated knowledge and wisdom.
And, of course, humanity-at-large knows virtually nothing at all of these matters. Why?
Because of the fact that modern human civilization has come to be dominated by only a handful of relative infant languages such as English, Spanish, French, etc., etc., while virtually all its elder languages and their attendent knowledge languish in obscurity, little-noted, and vanishing completely at a rate of one every two weeks.
Most people's attention today is focused squarely on 'new' knowledge being generated in laboratories and universities. However, much of this apparently consists of redundant efforts searching for knowledge already present in many dying human languages and peoples-- especially in fields like medicine and biology. The possible waste of financial resources in these fields alone is staggering.
Plus, are we actually gaining useful knowledge in these areas faster than we are losing it? No one knows. Few are even attempting to measure or define what's being lost, much less capture it for posterity.
Part of the reason for all this may be that discovering medical knowledge in proprietary settings offer corporations much stronger legal grounds for profiteering from such knowledge, as well as allows them to more easily concoct a
laborious and complex process of manufacturing for a product-- after all, medicines which can simply be grown in one's backyard for free don't make for huge profit windfalls.
-- Vanishing tongues By Gareth Cook, page A01, the Boston Globe, 11/5/2000, Globe Newspaper Company
Perhaps more than half of all children and teenagers circa 2000 (especially in the developed nations) are being shaped intellectually and psychologically by a lifelong saturation in a media environment which often gives the same weight to pure opinion as it does to scientific or historic fact, and encourages self-gratification, obsession, addiction, violence, exclusivity, division, greed, paranoia, and acting on impulse
In developed nations like the USA, many corporations are exploiting the way TV, radio, videos, games, and the internet have become defacto babysitters of many children due to the frequent absence or inattention of parents stemming from both often working and being otherwise time-pressed, to use the latest child psychology information available in state-of-the-art multimedia to seduce children via violence, addictive mental hooks, and gaudy sensuality into shrill harassment of parents for the purchase of various products/services the corporations are pushing. This is leading to more than 50% of parents admittedly buying items for their children which they themselves disapprove of, but feel compelled to buy to avoid disappointing their children.
This ongoing virtual child abuse appears to be desensitizing children to violence and its results in general, perhaps leading to some of them later on inflicting great tragedies upon themselves and others as teens or adults. In short, this corporate abuse of children today may be leading, at worst, to a new 'lost' generation of violent criminals tomorrow. Or, at best, to a future generation of adults who themselves may become poor excuses for individual human beings-- and even worse parents.
The Center for a New American Dream is one group formed to combat this phenomena.
-- The nanny by Ralph Nader, Oct. 27, 1999, Ralph Nader/In the Public Interest, San Francisco Bay Guardian, sfbg.com
Over a matter of decades USAmerican audiences have become more and more entranced by violence in entertainment media, resulting in the production of ever more violent TV shows, films, and other media, in an ever-reinforcing spiral. This desensitization to violence has also affected children.
-- Original purpose of escalating violence in movies backfired, Virginia Tech film critic says, EurekAlert!, 25 OCTOBER 1999, Contact: Stephen R. Prince
-- Halloween horror movies may sabotage your social life, EurekAlert!, 25 OCTOBER 1999, Contact: James Weaver
2001: Perhaps the last significant governmental impediment to Microsoft's global monopolies in the computer and internet industries is cleared away-- maybe setting the stage for an eventual global economic depression ten years down the road
Microsoft's stunning win in its settlement with the US government seems to have stemmed from a convergence of factors. First off, the Bush Administration all along had a different perspective on the case than previous Administrations. Microsoft also put up a fierce lobbying campaign. Then there was the weakening economy, the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and the judge wishing for a speedy settlement. This set the stage for Microsoft to negotiate some sweet terms for itself.
Many observers believe the Department of Justice simply didn't understand the technical details of the issues under negotiation, and so Microsoft got the best of them.
-- Circumstance Had Role in U.S.-Microsoft Deal (washingtonpost.com) By Jonathan Krim; Washington Post; November 3, 2001; Page A21
Microsoft has made a deal with the US government giving it (Microsoft) effective control over the internet. What did the government get in return for handing over such power to Microsoft? Will Microsoft become effectively another branch of government, performing surveillance on users, censoring or shutting down web sites the government dislikes, or helping collect internet taxes down the road? It appears Windows XP is the final lock on Microsoft's absolute control of the internet.
-- You're free to think by Dave Winer; Nov 6, 2001
Preventing excessive concentrations of power over the public in either government or corporate entities has been a hallmark of the American way for much of our history. Now however, such prevention is becoming more difficult to do, as advances in computer and telecommunications technologies are allowing the creation of new global organizations and the reshaping of old ones in ways which defy the previous constraints any one government could exercise upon them.
A current example of such concentration of power is Microsoft's present course of extending its computer monopoly to the internet via .NET.
Microsoft's monopoly in PCs has reduced innovation and competition in the industry. Now via .NET it is trying to do the same with the internet industry. If it works, soon Microsoft could become a gating force in the online world, effectively controlling who may participate there.
But even if Microsoft acts responsibly with all this power, there would still remain the enormous security vulnerability such dependence upon a single standard would mean for any nation so enthralled. For within such a system, a single flaw could lead to the entire nation being compromised. Its citizenry, its businesses, its utilities, its government, its military-- everything. Maybe all simultaneously. We're talking not of the crash of a single computer, or even thousands here, but of an entire nation crashing, and being unable to get back up and running again. Maybe as the result of an accident, or bug. Maybe from a terrorist attack. Maybe from a military attack.
The past history of Microsoft product security provides plenty of reasons for concern here.
-- The Threat Of Microsoft's .Net BY WHITFIELD DIFFIE AND SUSAN LANDAU; found on or about 10-25-01, and other sources
-- 'If we not only used Windows and Office but also Microsoft security products, it means we have a single point of failure'
Some economists who've studied economic depressions believe the clearest causes of depressions are too little business competition, especially when government itself contributes to such reductions. Also, when governments prop up inefficient businesses rather than letting them fail, that too can help bring on depression.
The USA itself may still be vulnerable to experiencing economic depressions in the present or future. There's no clear way to guarantee they won't occur. All we have available are clues from past experience about how we might minimize the frequency and severity of economic downturns.
-- Could We Face Another Depression? By Christopher Farrell; BusinessWeek; The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. ; OCTOBER 19, 2001
The Republican political party of USAmerica controlled both houses of Congress for the whole decade preceding the Great Depression of the 20th century. They also held the Presidency during those years. They pushed tariffs to an all time high, often looked the other way as big business commited violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and market competition within the USA waned, and made tax cuts which benefited the wealthy.
It was after all this that the Great Depression took place, lasting for many years. Republicans lost their popular support with this event.
-- Encyclopedia Americana: Republican Party possibly by George H. Mayer,
University of South Florida, Grolier Incorporated
When nations are at war or in economic trouble they tend to reduce their tolerance of free and open markets, and open borders. If this happens in 2002 and after in USAmerica, it could lead to economic and technological stagnation. Increases in defense-related research and development will also reduce the engineering and scientific talent available for commercial developments, further slowing overall progress. Increased security concerns make for more secrecy too, which slows information flow through the economy, making business responses to markets more sluggish.
Note that according to USAmerican leadership in late 2001, America is both at war and in economic recession, simultaneously.
-- RETHINKING THE ECONOMY By Michael J. Mandel, Peter Coy and William Symonds; OCTOBER 1, 2001; BusinessWeek Online; The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.
-- Extending its tentacles; The Economist Newspaper/The Economist Group; Oct 20th 2001
Microsoft is steadily squeezing customers harder and harder for more revenues-- i.e., the real costs of being a Microsoft customer are growing by the day. Microsoft is also using its legal clout to gag sources which might publish information about Microsoft's software performance or quality compared to competitors. The company's latest software also leaves users with little or no privacy left at all on their machines, as personal info is routinely sent to the Microsoft mothership. Info, which among other things, allows Microsoft to keep tabs on competing software applications a user might install. With its new system Microsoft now could also decide to make your PC stop working entirely if you install too many new items on it-- unless you cough up more money for the company. The UCITA (Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act) theoretically gives them the power to shut down the entire world and demand new payments before allowing everyone to continue.
Oh yes-- and Microsoft is thumbing its nose at free speech rights in nations like the USA as well, by imposing censorship clauses in its software licenses. For example, users of FrontPage 2002 are not allowed to criticize the company or its products using the package.
-- A punitive puppeteer? The Gripe Line by
Ed Foster; INFOWORLD; InfoWorld Media Group, Inc., October 04, 2001
The entertainment industry hopes to seize control of all digital devices with the SSSCA (Security Systems Standards and Certification Act). The SSSCA would effectively build copy protection into every new electronic device on the planet, making certain the industry could squeeze every last penny out of consumers, even for extra copies they have always had legal rights to for free in years past.
The previously passed 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act gave the industry such control in principle, but the SSSCA would give it to them in cold hard physicality.
Add to these items the huge new surveillance and control powers the US government wants over US citizens, plus Microsoft's own new user control systems added to Windows XP, and you get a possible convergence of corporate and government interests which could spell real trouble for civil liberties in all sorts of arenas.
At this point the entertainment industry may not realize they're stepping onto a slippery slope. Because the same weakening of individual rights they're presently pushing out of their own greed could eventually allow political extremists in government to turn around and start dictating what the industry itself can publish or air.
-- Entertainment control freaks have an ally in Microsoft (10-23-2001)
-- Ashcroft: 'Unlawful conduct' is over November 2, 2001; Cable News Network; CNN.com