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Blog by Dave McArthur 30 April 2009                                                           

Have you ever asked what we are really commemorating in New Zealand and Australia on ANZAC Day? I recently did and the answer I found has a shocking message for us. 

People from other lands should know from

“Anzac is by turn an acronym, a place, a day of commemoration, and a cultural force. During the preparations for the Gallipoli landings the term was coined as ‘telegraphese’ to describe the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps commanded by Birdwood. The stretch of Turkish coastline where the Australians and New Zealanders had gone ashore quickly became known as Anzac Cove, and the whole of their position as ‘Anzac’, while the men themselves were known as ‘Anzacs’; this was underpinned with the subsequent issue of a small letter ‘A’, sown on the colour patch, worn by all survivors of the campaign. Anzac Day, 25 April, was first observed in Egypt, London, and Australia in 1916 and has evolved into Australia's true (though unofficial) national day. It is marked by solemn services at dawn and a march of veterans later in the morning and continues at the end of the 20th century to draw increasingly large crowds in attendance. 

The article goes on to point out that the ANZAC experience helped define Australia as a nation. Here in New Zealand it has been described as the birth of our nation. Indeed over my lifetime I have read and heard many hundreds of accounts of the misery, the slaughter and the bravery of “our boys” at Gallipoli. Clearly they lived and died in a hellhole. The image of the bodies a young Turkish man and “one of our boys” propped up in death against each other, riveted in upright position by the bayoneted guns they had rammed through each other’s hearts is ever a reminder to me that Turkey too experienced great losses at the hands of the invaders. 

Every year of my life there have been the analyses of the military strategies, and the defining role ANZAC plays in our culture. However though I have asked many people I have never had an adequate explanation of why our young men would leave their families, farmlets and manawa (heartland) to travel 10,600.miles,(17,100 kilometers) across the face of the planet to fling themselves in suicidal fashion at cliffs bristling with high power machine guns in an attempt to invade a country that few knew anything about. 

I knew these were literate men driven by ideals of defending the British Empire and freedom. Indeed US observers, noting how these men could be motivated to fight against formidable odds, realised it was their literacy that enabled them to be inculcated with the motivating ideals. The ANZACs fought where lesser-educated men would have fled. Thus literacy became a prime requirement of the US armed forces. 

When I dig below the superficial reasons for wars given in popular histories I almost invariably find the cause is the demented ambitions of a few individuals and or the fatal failures to respect the ecological balances that sustain us. So exactly what were the ANZACs really fighting for when we attempted to invade Turkey?  

I knew the Suez Canal had strategic value in the British-New Zealand trade but the opening of the Panama Canal reduced its importance and many ships still preferred the Cape Horn route. Though I knew Homo sapiens are quite capable of engaging in slaughter just for the sake of it I figured there had to be something of even greater strategic value. 

This week, for the first time in my 60 years, I found out a more revealing truth. 

Now readers of my blogs will know I believe that if our current abuse of our carbon potential continues then a catastrophic global war will occur, perhaps as soon as 2013. The abuse is summed up in this fatally flawed equation that our culture has embraced: 

“Energy = fossil fuels (including mineral oil/gas) and Bulk-generated electricity”.  

As a result we use mineral oil as though it is as bounteous as energy and thus place a negligible price on it. Our vast undervaluation of this extraordinary resource is manifest as a price of $US50 a 42 gallon barrel. Indeed most of our credit, health, food, transport, housing and other systems are based on a valuation of $US25 a barrel, which equates to about 0.1 cent a manhour labour of the energy equivalent of the resource. This calculation assumes each barrel contains the energy equivalent of about 25000 man-hours of labour. 

In the past generation we have flared off about a trillion barrels of this extraordinary resource, much of it in deliberately wasteful devices like cars, trucks, jets, poorly insulated dwellings etc. Now the enormous wealth inherent in that 25000 trillion manhours of labour is now simply air pollution. Worse -our population has exploded four fold in as many generations on the basis of this abuse of our carbon potential. Its a giant Ponzi scheme because everlasting mineral oil at even S10,000 a barrel never existed.

I knew our addictive use of mineral oil has been a key driver of almost every recent war, including World War 11. So I did a search on the web asking these key words: 

“oil cause world war one WW1 turkey”  

 I did a mental bet $2 (an icecream for me) to $30 (a donation to a charity) that addictive uses of mineral oil was a root cause.

Top of the list is this article

Oil and the origins of the
to make the world safe for Democracy’

By F. William Engdahl, 22 June, 2007

I relish a fine icecream but I will not really enjoy my next one  because I really did not want my surmise about the role of mineral oil/gas in the Gallipoli slaughter to be correct. It only supports my general hypothesis that I alluded to earlier: if we continue to flare off remaining reserves of easily extracted mineral oil/per capita over the next couple of years at the current rate then our current systems will further implode with a very high risk of global warfare.  

F William Engdahl’s article can teach us a lot and I recommend it.

The power of combusted mineral oil is made apparent. From 1882

 “.. Britain's Admiral Lord Fisher… argued the qualitative superiority of petroleum over coal as a fuel. A battleship powered by diesel motor burning petroleum issued no tell-tale smoke, while a coal ship's emission was visible up to 10 kilometers away. It required 4 to 9 hours for a coal-fired ship's motor to reach full power, an oil motor required a mere 30 minutes and could reach peak power within 5 minutes. To provide oil fuel for a battle ship required the work of 12 men for 12 hours. The same equivalent of energy for a coal ship required the work of 500 men and 5 days. For equal horsepower propulsion, the oil -fired ship required 1/3 the engine weight, and almost one-quarter the daily tonnage of fuel, a critical factor for a fleet whether commercial or military. The radius of action of an oil-powered fleet was up to four times as great as that of the comprable coal ship.[13] “

William argues

“ By the first decade of the 20th Century securing long-term foreign petroleum security had become an essential factor for British grand strategy and its geopolitics. By 1909, a British company, Anglo-Persian Oil Company held rights to oil exploration in a 60-year concession from the Persian Shah at Maidan-i-Naphtun near the border to Mesopotamia. That decision to secure its oil led England into a fatal quagmire of war which in the end finished the British Empire as the world hegemon by Versailles in 1918, though it would take a second World War and several decades before that reality was clear to all.”

“…The Sultan, Abdul Hamid II, on November 27, 1899, awarded Deutsche Bank, headed by Georg von Siemens, a concession for a railway from Konia to Baghdad and to the Persian Gulf. In 1888 and again in 1893, the Sultan had assured the Anatolian Railway Company that it should have priority in the construction of any railway to Baghdad. On the strength of that assurance, the Anatolian Company had conducted expensive surveys of the proposed line. As part of the railway concession, the shrewd negotiators of the Deutsche Bank, led by Karl Helfferich, negotiated subsurface mineral rights twenty kilometers to either side of the proposed Baghdad Railway line.[22] Deutsche Bank and the German government backing them made certain that included the sole rights to any petroleum which might be found. The Germans had scored a strategic coup over the British, or so it seemed. Mesopotamian oil secured through completion of the Berlin-Baghdad Railway was to be Germany’s secure source to enter the emerging era of oil-driven transport.”

William makes clear that the British response was elaborate

“Britain and British intelligence was active in the Balkans stirring revolt and opposition to Constantinople’s rule. The Entente Powers—France, England and Russia-- knew that despite all her efforts, Germany did not have strong cards in the Balkans. And the Balkans constituted a strategic link between Berlin and Baghdad as a glance at a good typographical map reveals.”

He quotes Major R.G.D. Laffan who was in charge of a British military training mission in Serbia (senior British military adviser attached to the Serbian Army) just before the war.  

"A glance at the map of the world will show how the chain of States stretched from Berlin to Baghdad. The German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria, Turkey. One little strip of territory alone blocked the way and prevented the two ends of the chain from being linked together. That little strip was Serbia. Serbia stood small but defiant between Germany and the great ports of Constantinople and Salonika, holding the Gate of the East...Serbia was really the first line of defense of our eastern possessions. If she were crushed or enticed into the 'Berlin-Baghdad' system, then our vast but slightly defended empire would soon have felt the shock of Germany's eastward thrust. 

William observes: 

“Ironically, just on the eve of the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke and heir to the Habsburg throne in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a member of a Serbian Black Hand secret society with reported French Masonic ties, agreements were finally reached between the Germans, the British and the Turkish parties over oil rights in Mesopotamia.” 

I fail to understand the irony that William alludes to. The overwhelming evidence of the geopolitics of our abuse of mineral oil points to the assassination being a planned event. It certainly did not occur in a vacuum. 

Similarly I was taught all my life that the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour happened “out of the blue”. Again a search on “oil Japan Pearl Harbour” reveals that five months before the bombing the US, Britain and Holland had imposed an embargo on Japan, reducing its mineral oil imports by 90%. 

My point is that we allow the power of mineral oil/gas to dement us, to demind us and destroy our sense of the potential in life. For example, if you drive cars and trucks and fly in jets there is a high probability you believe it is your God-given right to destroy remaining mineral oil reserves in these devices that are designed to maximise the wasteful use of this fantastic and very finite resource. It never occurs to you that you are destroying a fantastic resource that may have occurred once in one small unique epoch of this planet and may no exist anywhere else in our galaxy. In that unquestioned belief of your absolute right to destroy mineral oil in most wasteful ways is the seeds of the inevitable catastrophic destruction of the current global human civilisation. 

On ANZAC day there is much talk of honouring those who made the supreme sacrifice and ensuring that they did not die in vain. And yet no one talks of the real reasons why they died. 

One of those reasons was to enable our generation to remain “free” to sit in highly inefficient devices call cars in traffic jams that often exist along side barely used railway lines. (And remember we were fighting at ANZAC to stop a railway line being constructed.) 

Another reason  was so that we remain “free” to flare off remaining mineral oil reserves on scale blasting through the atmosphere in jets so we can sit on a beach for a few days or trade some ephemera or visit some shrine or relatives or “save the world”.

The acid test is to ask, “Would I still do these activities if I had to spend my personal time travelling around the globe by the far more efficient ship mode? The honest answer is that many of us would rather save a month of our time even if it means destroying lifetimes of possibilities for our children. 

While we deny these reasons we cannot begin to ensure “our boys” did not die in vain for their more noble ideals. We cannot begin to contemplate how we can avoid future global slaughter as our access to easily extracted mineral oil/gas reserves diminishes. 

There is a truth in the notion that ANZAC day celebrates the birth of our modern nations. It is not as most perceive it – the time when New Zealand and Australia provided army corps that fought and died as equals with the Motherland (Britain) and it thus signalled we were now independent Dominions. Rather ANZAC Day signals the advent of new economies founded in profoundly wasteful uses of mineral oil in all our systems – agriculture, trade, transport, education, health, manufacturing etc. 

And ANZAC Day 2009 will come to be seen as the year that these unsustainable economies embarked on a desperate borrowing binge to stave off the inevitable implosion that will occur for those nations that make addictive use of mineral oil/gas. Of course, just as our schools, media, economists and politicians never taught us the real reasons behind the Gallipoli tragedy so it is now they are not telling us the real reason for the economic implosion that is occurring. 

I remain hopeful that those men, who have been described as “the flower of our youth”, will not have died in vain for their finer aspirations. Many died fighting for lofty ideals such as freedom, caring and protecting our young and our elderly and for love of their country. I am not denying the beauty of their aspirations when I suggest that they were really fighting and dying so their nations could flare off mineral oil on scale. I am simply saying even the noblest of intentions can be subverted by evil power players if we are not alert.  

My respect for them is very difficult to communicate, especially in a culture that uses and abuses our carbon potential as ours does. It so happens that the following email arrived on ANZAC Day. 

Dear Dave,
Thank you for writing in, we appreciate your ideas and feedback. I understand your concern and frustration at the state of the world. My hope is that, bit by bit, all the projects and initiatives being worked on by millions of people around the world from every nation, will redirect our future. A bit like the "butterfly effect": if enough of us work together, anything is possible.

I have pasted a link to some of WWF's success stories, which I hope
you find inspiring:

Wishing you all the best,

Mim Osterberg
WWF-International Online Team

I had sent WWF-International a note with a link to my last blog. 

Click to view blog and photos

The blog includes photos of my cottage lit up like a beacon during the Earth Hour Blackout and I explained why I believed the WWF campaign was unhelpful, if not dangerous. 

As I perused the "success story" pages of the WWF my mind was simultaneously filled with images of our young men on the beaches and cliffs of Gallipoli, gallantly, even heroically, giving their all in defence of freedom and all that is good. At the same time these images were interspersed with visions of the well-intentioned folk in WWF striving valiantly and generously to save endangered species and conserve vital resources such as our air, water and soils. Indeed their activities are inspiring and each is as a beautiful butterfly.  

However just as the ideals and endeavours of our young men at Gallipolli were harnessed to serve the terrible greed of a few mineral oil/gas merchants so too have these merchants colonised the wonderful ideals of the WWF folk. The “butterfly effect” of the WWF has been framed and channeled to serve the short-term interests of a callous elite of individuals who care nought for the balances and flows of the air, waters and soils that sustain humanity. 

I remain keenly aware that I cannot know what good comes from bad and what bad comes from good. I am constantly confronting the painful reality that my well-intentioned actions may well have had unhelpful consequences. This is the dance of science. This is the compassionate spirit with which I observed and reflected on the WWF “Blackout = stewardship” campaign. Their kind letter leaves me wondering how carefully the WWF read my blog and if they followed the links to, for instance, The Sustainability Principle of Energy

If they did, I suspect the response would be different. The Sustainability Principle suggests some of their key campaigns such as PowerSwitch and their equation of stewardship with “black outs” put us all at greater risk and work directly against the stated objectives of the organization. All their fine intention is framed and levered off by the psychopathic agencies. The good WWF folk are courageously fighting battles in a war in which they may well be their own worst enemy. 

Talking wars, fifteen people died on our motorways this ANZAC weekend and many times that number lie burned, broken and torn apart in our hospitals. New Zealand’s top road policing officer described our motorways as “killing fields” and I heard people like Jim Mora on Radio NZ National radio suggest this use of the symbol is being a bit extreme. Jim is a good and thoughtful person. However even he seems to fail to grasp the basic physics of our plight. 

The physics of the situation is that if we abuse our carbon potential, as we do with mineral oil, then we pay the price. War is inherent in that abuse.  For instance we undervalue mineral oil at our peril. 

We can learn of the social impacts when petrol is valued at even $2 a litre. Last year when the global price was over $US100 a barrel the slaughter on New Zealand motorways was literally halved to 20 fatalities a month.  

Or, for the benefit of Government officials searching to slash Government spending, the nation saved over $NZ60 million a month, using a valuation of $NZ3.35 million per life. That could fund a lot of nurses at a time when we are at risk of a so-called swine or agricorp flu pandemic and when graduate nurses are so stressed in our hospitals that they giving up before they have barely started their careers. So imagine what could happen if we removed the vast subsidies off our wasteful uses of mineral oil and used the funds instead to insulate homes and make them more self sustaining, to develop intelligent uses of our electrical potential, to build safe, fast and reliable mass transit systems and to make other life enhancing investments. 

Similarly, to the extent our ANZAC boys died so we may live then they died in vain while we refuse to use mass transit system and persist with brutal speed regimes on our motorways. We see the safety campaigns and refuse to accept and live their wise insights. For instance:

"A 1km/h decrease in average speed results typically in a 3% decrease in road crash frequency. (Source: European Transport Safety Council)

The higher the impact speed, the greater the likelihood of serious and fatal injury. For car occupants in a collision with an impact speed of 80km/h (50mph), the likelihood of death is about 20 times that at an impact speed of 30km/h (20mph).

  • A 50 km/h (30mph) impact is equivalent to dropping a car from the top of a 2-storey building
  • A 100 km/h (60mph) impact is equivalent to dropping 11 storeys
  • A 150 km/h (80mph) crash to almost 30 storeys"

About 30 years I looked at the psychology of car use and observed in a letter to my local Christchurch broadsheet that the media’s use of the “accident” symbol suggested car crashes happen without human cause – we denied our role in them by describing them as simply “accidents” of fate. To my surprise the letter generated some national debate and the use of the “accident” symbol was dropped in favour of the “crash” symbol. 

Perhaps it is time now to acknowledge that our motorway deaths are a national war policy in the same way that it is national policy when we send our young people in our Armed Forces to fight and die so we can access cheaply extracted mineral oil/gas from foreign lands. Headlines will read, “ 500 deaths from national Motorway Wars policy this year”, “10 die for National 100 Kph Policy” and “Carnage from our Addictive Use of Mineral Oil Continues –10,000 deaths since 1990.” 

The latter headline may help us begin to face the reality that the death rate from our addictive use of mineral oil is about to become truly calamitous if we do not acknowledge and ameliorate our behaviour. We either break the behaviour pattern or we self-destruct in an exponentially vicious war over remaining mineral reserves. 

Visit any small town in New Zealand and you will find a prominent structure is a “war memorial” commemorating those who “died fighting for their country”. Often there are multiple names from one family. However nowhere do we find memorials commemorating those who died for our mineral oil addict economy and the few who are the prime beneficiaries of the wastage and carnage. The stats are revealing:

..” new research by Hamilton author Richard Stowers suggests that 19.8 per cent of New Zealanders who served on the Anzac escarpment lost their lives.

He said 2779 died (58 more than previously thought) but there were 13,977 New Zealand troops altogether (5421 more than earlier estimates).
Stowers said theoretically 18,000 New Zealanders could have served in Gallipoli and his figures were "quite conservative"… If wounded soldiers (5212) are included, Stowers said the casualty rate is 57.2 per cent…”

By comparison the injury rate on the New Zealand motorway killing fields each year is about 15000 people.  And the social costs of all these injuries over the last decade?  The Ministry of Transport puts that at about $NZ36 billion. I suggest we declare a national holiday dedicated to all those who gave so much on our motorways and the day be dedicated to reviewing how we can transition beyond this insane Cheap Mineral Oil/Gas era in which lives are accorded a price but little or no value.

The cartoon strip accompanying this blog was first published about 5 years ago. Now it is 2009 and still our educators and self-styled “scientists” persist with their belief with the flawed symbolisation of “the atmosphere is a greenhouse”. This Victorian notion has enabled the insane “Industrial Revolution” that is now probably destroying the vital flows and balances of the atmosphere that sustains humanity. Bonus Joules steps outside the psychotic image of planet Earth in a greenhouse into the reality of our atmosphere and discovers it is an organic and highly dynamic structure, constantly evolving in response to the flux and flow of the river of radiation that flows from our sun and beyond.

Enjoy kindness.



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