Solar panel against blue sky

This article was first published in the August/September 2015 issue of North Simcoe Life.

The International Energy Agency predicts that if industry and governments do their part, solar will be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050. For this to happen, they stress “the need for clear, credible and consistent signals from policy makers.”

What signals are we getting in Canada? In 2014, Canada was a world leader in fossil fuel subsidies, pegged at $34 billion a year, according to the International Monetary Fund. And, according to a UN sponsored report, 2014 Canadian renewable energy investments were $8 billion. No wonder we are lagging.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. and Europe, innovations are paving the way to cost parity with fossil fuels.

A New Way to Make Solar Panels

Traditional solar cells are made with crystalline silicon. Production is very energy intensive, making it the most expensive material in solar panels.

Rayton Solar of California has figured out how to use 50 to 100 times less silicon per panel. Using a new high tech process, they cut silicon in much thinner layers (only 4 micrometers thick) without any waste.  They say that their panels can be manufactured in the U.S. at a cost of 60% less than solar panels made in China, where most are made.

Rayton 1

Rayton particle accelerator cuts silicon in thin layers without any waste.

Solar for the North

Solar power generation no longer requires lots of sunlight. Researchers at Finland’s Aalto University have created a black solar cell with record-breaking 22.1% efficiency (versus the industry standard of 15%). And the best part: It works really well on cloudy days and with low sun angles.

Transparent Solar Cells

Transparent cell

Ubiquitous Energy, an MIT startup, has done the impossible: They have created a transparent solar cell that can be used as a window or display for an electronic device.

A transparent surface does not typically absorb light. In these cells, organic salts are used to absorb non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light. The light is then transferred to traditional solar cells that convert it into electricity.

The prototype currently has an efficiency of 1%, although the researchers think that 10% is possible. That may not sound impressive, but with widespread use, the numbers would add up.

Capturing More Energy From the Sun

A team of scientists from MIT and Stanford University are working on solar cells that have proven to boost efficiency by 50%. Their “tandem” photovoltaics use both silicon and perovskite as semiconductor materials, thereby absorbing more of the solar energy spectrum. Silicon absorbs photons at the top of the spectrum, while perovskite captures photons in the lower infrared range.

Solar Panels That Retain Energy

Today’s solar panels can only store energy for a few microseconds. Inspired by how plants generate energy through photosynthesis with extremely high efficiency, chemists at UCLA have found a way to organize inexpensive plastic photovoltaic materials to greatly improve their ability to retain energy from sunlight. The key is to separate positive and negative charges by arranging the elements precisely, like plants do, to prevent electrons from freely hopping about.

Concentrating PV Panels

How do you concentrate the power of sunlight in a solar panel while minimizing the use of silicon? Use lenses, the way you would light a fire with a magnifying glass. A number of American companies such as Sunrgi, Emcore and Solaria are racing to bring concentrating PV panels to market in the next year or two. Prototypes are breaking records with efficiencies of up to 45% to date.

Heliotropism: Tracking the Sun Naturally

Current electronic based systems that rotate solar panels to track the sun are costly to buy, install, maintain, and operate. Their complexity also leads to breakdowns.

Sulas of Colorado has created a simple, inexpensive, reliable and powerful tracking technology that uses the power of the sun to rotate a collection of solar panels. They call it the HelioDrive. (Heliotropism is the ability of flowers to follow the sun.)

Sulas HelioDrive

The HelioDrive relies on three components: a parabolic solar concentrator, a receiver filled with a small amount of engineered paraffin wax (that acts as a hydraulic motor), and a single moving component that translates linear movement into rotational motion. The system can lift over 3,000 pounds and operate in a wide range of environmental conditions.

The HelioDrive parabolic concentrator

World leaders are meeting in Paris this November to finalize legally binding carbon reduction plans for every nation. We need a National Clean Energy Strategy and an end to fossil fuel subsidies. The transition to a carbon free economy is the greatest economic opportunity of all time (source: Jeremy Rifkin, political advisor and author of the Third Industrial Revolution). Let’s get in the game.


This article was first published in the June/July 2015 issue of North Simcoe Life.

Tesla Powerwall

The Powerwall Tesla Home Battery

Democracy is knocking on the door. Huge capitally intensive industries barricade the entrance. We are their captives with nowhere else to turn for the energy we need to power our lives. They use their money and influence to mold public policy without regard for social justice or ecological wisdom. The result: we fail to act on climate change. And we’re told we have no choice but to fund multi-billion dollar nuclear power, although no one has a clear idea about what to do with the radioactive waste.

There is a key that will unlock the door: new efficient ways to capture and store renewable energy.

On April 30, 2015 Tesla Energy launched Powerwall, its lithium-ion battery for home use. (Systems for businesses and utilities are also available.) Suddenly, energy sustainability and self-reliance have arrived on our doorstep. The Tesla Powerwall comes at a fraction of the price of previous systems. For $3,000 US (plus installation and the purchase of a DC-AC inverter), you can mount the system on your garage wall, store energy produced by your solar panels or produced by the grid at off-peak prices, run your home on battery power during peak evening hours, and power up your plug-in car. The system also automatically switches your home to battery power during power outages, making noisy, dirty, cumbersome generators a relic of the past. If you want to disconnect completely from the grid, you can link up to 9 units together.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SolarCity, claims that he and his competition will sell 2 billion battery packs. His vision, no less, is to reshape the power grid with millions of small power plants made of solar panels on roofs and batteries in garages. Is he crazy? Consider his quote about the sun.

“The sun, that highly convenient and free fusion reactor in the sky, radiates more energy to the Earth in a few hours than the entire human population consumes from all sources in a year.”

If you think Tesla’s Powerwall is exciting, wait to you hear about the revolutionary flow battery of Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The team, led by Professor Michael J. Aziz, has developed a battery that can easily be scaled down for home use or scaled up to store surplus energy from a whole wind farm. It is fueled through an electrochemical process by an abundant, safe, low-cost organic chemical dissolved in water. It charges about 1000 times faster than former systems that used expensive and toxic fuel sources. And it has near unlimited longevity. In short, it promises massive electrical storage at greatly reduced cost. Harvard’s business partner, Sustainable Innovations is currently working on a prototype. It won’t be long before we get our hands on it. They project the development of a multi-billion dollar industry by 2020.

Yes, the behemoths that block the door should be scared. With abundant renewable energy captured and stored economically, we won’t need them anymore. It’s time we all join forces, take control of our destiny, and shove them out of the way. Democracy has arrived. Are you ready to participate?


Today I finally got around to my annual garlic mustard pull in the woods behind my house. Some years it lasts for hours a day and for weeks on end. In other years, I get the job done in a couple of days. Last year, I recruited students and a teacher from a Grade 6 class that was doing research on invasive species. The teacher and one student showed up on time – the rest showed up late, but in time for pop and hotdogs. Good help is hard to find.

You might say that pulling garlic mustard is an obsessive compulsion of mine. Why else would I sacrifice my valuable time that I could have spent in countless fun ways. The compulsion arises from knowledge about what garlic mustard does to those precious trees. That forest, by the way, is a key reason why I live here.

The story of garlic mustard and the trees has everything to do with a mysterious and benevolent organism in the soil: mycorrhizal fungus. Hardwood trees and the fungus have a vital symbiotic relationship. The trees pump liquid carbon into the soil, which feeds the fungus. The fungus breaks down the minerals and nutrients in the soil and provides them to the trees. Without the  fungus, the trees starve.

Garlic mustard kills the fungus and starves the hardwood trees, like the maple and ash in the forest behind my home. “Maples, ashes and other hardwood trees are being harmed by an invasive weed that indirectly slows their growth to about one-tenth the normal speed, scientists say.”

So, whose job is it to battle destructive garlic mustard? If you are like me, you feel responsible for protecting the natural environment. You feel empowered when you make a positive impact. You even find ways to use the results of your labor. Did I mention that garlic mustard is delicious?

Sustainability, ecological wisdom, participatory democracy, frugality… if all of these values hit a chord with you, you just might be Green.

This is the second article in a series about the Third Industrial Revolution, the new economic paradigm that is transforming our lives. This article appeared in the April/May 2015 issue of North Simcoe Life.

Minto flywheel - a mechanical battery that stores energy as kinetic motion.

The Minto flywheel – a mechanical battery that stores electricity as kinetic motion.

Our world is undergoing a metamorphosis. Quietly, changes are happening. Smart meters record our electricity use. Solar panels and wind turbines are popping up everywhere. New smart devices are arriving every day. We don’t feel the impact on our lives, yet. But the smart grid is revolutionizing our relationship with energy, and it will change everything.

How we run our homes is being transformed. Not only do we have access to information from the grid to make better choices about our electricity use, but our gadgets will too. Imagine a fridge that will automatically defer its defrost cycle to off-peak hours, for instance. The grid itself, with our permission, will be able to make adjustments to the operation of our appliances during peak hours (using demand response technology). In essence, with smart information technologies, we will effortlessly be able to do much more with less demand on the grid (and more money in our pockets).

In some jurisdictions, demand response technology is already a reality. Homeowners can join the peaksaver PLUS program. Installation of a small device allows your electric utility to turn down your central AC system and electric hot water heater slightly during peak hours.

Appliances will also interface with an energy management system (EMS). With your EMS, you will program appliances (even to respond automatically to inputs from the grid), operate them remotely with a smart phone or computer, and get energy saving suggestions based on usage patterns. For instance, by showering at set times, you can program your water heater to turn down most of the day.

On the supply side, the smart grid allows renewables to become a first-tier energy source. Renewable energy poses new problems for the grid: Production is intermittent, widely distributed and of inconsistent voltage.

Ontario’s smart grid is developing ways to store excess energy. In July 2014, a flywheel, the first of its kind in Canada, was connected to the grid in Minto. (A flywheel is a mechanical battery that stores electricity as kinetic motion.) In August 2014, a lithium battery was installed in Central Strathroy. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), tasked with balancing supply and demand, is in the process of securing a total of 50 MW of energy storage services. Other options being investigated include: compressed air and vacuumed air, thermal energy, fuel production, magnetic fields, pumped storage (hydro power) and electric vehicles.

Renewable power requires flexible transmission and distribution networks. They will need to reroute power when necessary, accept power from many locations and be able to monitor and improve the quality of the power.

Ontario’s high voltage transmission networks already enable two-way flow and remote control, and use embedded monitoring sensors, controls, and automation in case of emergency. Large renewable energy companies connect directly to these networks.

Low voltage distribution networks, owned by private distribution utilities, originally just delivered electricity to consumers in a one-way flow. Now, small renewable power installations, like the solar panels on your home, connect to distribution networks (thus the term distribution generation), so the utilities are starting to smarten up. As more distribution generation comes on stream, less power will be brought in from high-voltage transmission networks and the demands on distribution utilities to manage the supply and quality of power will grow.

Most power outages are due to distribution network faults. With smart grid technology, power outages will be shorter and fewer in number. Sensors on the line and smart meters will locate problems for quick service. Power will be rerouted and restored to most customers automatically and without delay. Some problems will be picked up by sensors before any outages result and addressed proactively.

Development of the smart grid in Ontario has had some big bungles, to be sure. A small number of specialized meters for seasonal properties were replaced due to a possible fire hazard. Some customers were hit with huge “catch-up” bills after receiving no invoices or underestimated charges for up to two years. Others continued to receive bills after their homes burned down. And, the cost of installing the meters ran way over budget.

As disconcerting as these problems were, it’s important to keep things in perspective. It’s early days, but as the infrastructure is put in place and the kinks are worked out, the full potential of the smart grid will come to light. We have relied on fossil fuels for two and a half centuries, and in that time we have used up the easily accessible sources and put the Earth’s biosphere in jeopardy. Now we have a viable chance of ending the fossil fuel era. Ontario has been a leader in pursuing this transition. That’s something worth getting behind.

There is no way to re-enchant our lives in a disenchanted culture except by becoming renegades from that culture and planting the seeds for a new one. – Thomas Moore


I am disenchanted with our current way of life, as I’m sure many of you are too. Writing is my therapy for a waning spirit. I’ve explored capitalism, war, agriculture, modern finance, neoliberal government policies and the muzzling of truth – all of which have contributed to the creation of an unsustainable and inequitable world. Alternatively, I’ve showcased wonderful projects and theories that run counter to this culture: earth-friendly architecture, restoring carbon to soil, steady-state economics, and alternate uses of plastic and organic waste. Try as I might, I was still unable to convince even myself that we could halt our march to catastrophe.

But now I face the future with a re-enchanted heart. Not only is a transformation of our way of life possible, it is happening now! I am referring to the Third Industrial Revolution.

The leading renegade behind this revolution is Jeremy Rifkin. His global consulting team, the largest of its kind in the world, works with cities, regions, and national governments to create game plans for transitioning to post-carbon infrastructures. In May 2007, the European Union itself formally endorsed the Third Industrial Revolution as the long-term economic vision and road map for the European Union. The goal:  transform to a sustainable, low-carbon emission society and become the world’s most vibrant economy.

Rifkin’s book, The Third Industrial Revolution, How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World, opened my eyes to what a post-carbon world will look like, and shared fascinating stories about the people and places that are stepping up to the plate. I am excited to tell you the stories from places like Rome, San Antonio, Monaco, and the Netherlands, but that will have to wait for another time. First we need to understand what a great economic revolution is.

All great economic revolutions require new energy systems coupled with new communications technologies, which trigger vast changes in all aspects of life, from architecture to transportation, education, civic engagement, work and recreation. The First Industrial Revolution, ruled by coal fired steam engines and the printing press, birthed railroads, industrial capitalism, dense vertical cities and public education. The Second Industrial Revolution, empowered by oil fired internal combustion engines, electricity and telecommunications, gave rise to production lines, automobiles, modern finance, suburbia and industrial parks. Both revolutions took about fifty years to establish. The Third Industrial Revolution will prove to be no less transformative, and will require about the same timeframe.

What differentiates it from previous ones is the necessity for change on the one hand, and the scale of resistance on the other. Rifkin states that the Second Industrial Revolution has been in decline since the late 1980s. “But,” you say, “we’ve seen periods of economic growth since then!” True, but they were financed by using up savings and racking up record levels of personal and government debt. (US federal government debt is now greater than GDP!) After decades of living off of extended credit to keep the economy revved, the party is over. We’re running out of plentiful and cheap fossil fuels, purchasing power is evaporating, and industrial capitalism has replaced jobs with technology, kept wages from rising, and concentrated wealth in the hands of the industrial elite. So, without even mentioning the looming climate crisis from carbon dioxide emissions, the rationale for extending the Second Industrial Revolution is moot. But fossil fuel companies are massive, unbelievably wealthy and influential, and the entire structure of our civilization is based on fossil fuels. What we need is a narrative to rally behind.

So here is the bare bones version. There are five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution. Each pillar can only operate fully when all are in place. In Rifkin’s words, “When all five pillars of the TIR are interconnected, they create a new nervous system for the economy, spurring a leap in energy efficiency and untold new business opportunities and jobs.” Simultaneously, we will:

  1. Shift to renewable energy.
  2. Transform buildings into micro-power plants.
  3. Install hydrogen and other storage technologies in every building to store intermittent energies.
  4. Use Internet technology to create continent-wide smart grids (super highways for electrons) that allow peer-to-peer sharing of surplus electricity.
  5. Transition the transportation fleet to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles.

Imagine a vibrant sustainable way of life – one which gives power and opportunity back to the people. Centralized hierarchical organizations give way to boutique service and manufacturing businesses. Industrial thinking is overtaken by creativity and collaboration. The needs of severely disadvantaged people around the world are finally addressed, and interference with foreign countries over access to elite energy resources is eliminated, marshalling in a great era of peace. That is what the Third Industrial Revolution makes possible. Throughout this year, I’ll explore how the revolution is progressing throughout the world and how it will impact our lives. Wishing you an enchanting New Era ahead!

capitalism vs climate

I believe that the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” – Rachel Carson, 1954

Our world is changing. You know the signs:  extreme weather events on the rise, widening inequality, growing social and political unrest, less good jobs especially for young people, militarization of police forces, more wars, increasing surveillance.

Naomi Klein, Canadian author, journalist and activist tells us in her new breathtaking book, This Changes Everything (winner of the 2014 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction) that the world as we know it will soon transform, whether we like it or not. And it’s up to us what form it will take.

Can we agree that the climate is changing, humans have caused it, and that it poses an existential threat?

Countries have agreed to keep global average temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius (anything higher is suicide). So far we’ve experienced an increase of 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past century (more than half of which occurred since 1979), and already we are seeing significantly more extreme weather events. No longer are we solely worried about the effects climate change will have on our grandchildren; suddenly it’s about how climate change will wreak havoc on our own lives.

Can we agree that global attempts to curb carbon dioxide emissions have failed?

With all the dithering, we (predominantly the developed countries) have used up most of the atmospheric allowance for carbon dioxide emissions. In the November 2014 Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), over 800 scientists collaborated to say that the countries of the world now need to drop emissions by 40 to 70 percent between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero by 2100. That means we need to start now, and that most of the fossil fuel reserves on the books must stay in the ground. Meanwhile, Canada’s carbon emissions will balloon 38% by 2030, mainly due to tar sands projects, according to Environment Canada’s own projections. Clearly, we’re not getting the job done.

Why are we are locked into a destructive path, guaranteed to make Earth unlivable for all but a scant few?

Naomi Klein puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of capitalism.

Above and beyond any other responsibilities, corporate boards have a fiduciary duty to maximize profit for their shareholders, at any cost. You don’t have to look far to find stories of people who have been seriously harmed or killed by corporate activities with little or no recourse for redress (take the people in Fort Chipewyan downstream from the Alberta tar sands, for instance). Profit over life.

The corporate elite have bought and infiltrated politics. Their undue influence ensures that public policy is friendly to their cause. Marc Eliesen, a senior energy executive, publicly resigned on November 2 from the National Energy Board, tasked with reviewing the proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project in BC, stating, “Continued involvement in the process endorses this sham and is not in the public interest.”  Profit over justice and equality.

Corporations control the message. They successfully co-opt big green organizations to greenwash their images and promote “climate solutions that adhere to market logic.” In other words, use the climate crisis as a public relations and marketing opportunity. And corporate control of media leaves it vulnerable to bias. Profit over truth.

You can’t blame corporations for being bad. Morality has nothing to do with it. They are doing exactly what they were designed to do, and doing it extremely well.

So let’s get real. Big business will not save us. Politicians will not save us. It’s up to us, the people, to force the change we need. For, either we change, or the climate does.

Naomi Klein has clear instructions for what we must do. Right now, first and foremost, we must delegitimize the burning of fossil fuels. That is the purpose behind the worldwide divestment campaign that urges social organizations like schools, churches, and municipalities, as well as pension funds and insurance companies to sell off their holdings in fossil fuels. Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is an active divestment promoter. Let’s face it – if most of the reserves on the books must be left in the ground, then the stocks are over-inflated.

Can we change public opinion about the legitimacy of fossil fuels? The only comparable social movement was the abolition of slavery. Historian Eric Foner reveals that at the start of the Civil War, “slaves as property were worth more than all the banks, factories and railroads in the country put together.” They were considered the backbone of American wealth. Yet, abolitionists found the remarkable strength and courage to challenge this predominant world view. So, yes, it can be done.

Secondly, we must hit the streets in what Klein calls “extraordinary levels of social mobilization.We must find our moral voice and ensure that it is heard. On September 21, four hundred thousand people turned out for the People’s Climate March in New York City, the largest climate march in history, to demand action from public leaders. It was huge, although it garnered only minimal mainstream media attention. Still, it’s a sign of how willing people now are to take to the streets.

Taking the stuffing out of capitalism is our only chance to rein in run-away climate change. And if done right, could also bring about a more humane and equitable world. The time has come for the mother of all social justice movements. I hope to see you in the streets.

 “There is very good reason to believe that, in a generation or so, capitalism itself will no longer exist…” – David Graeber, American anthropologist, author, activist and Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics

We all “know” why Canada participates in international conflicts: To protect freedom from the forces of evil. Gwynne Dyer, military historian, challenges this widely accepted narrative in his book, Canada in the Great Power Game 1914-2014.

war 2

To understand why countries go to war, he posits, you need to understand the “Great Power Game”. Since the 17th century, Europe has been ruled by powerful centralized governments vying for supremacy. Every fifty years or so, once the current peace treaty was no longer enforceable, there would be a new “world” war that involved all great powers joined in alliances. European borders eased back and forth but, in the grand scheme of things, little changed.

Then came the First World War, which was actually the fifth. It came a full century after the last, and so to many it seemed an aberration. But the powers in Europe saw it coming a long way off.

This European conflict posed no threat to Canada’s vital interests. So why did we get involved? The answer lies in trickery, emotional attachment and ambition.

Setting a Precedent through Fear In a clever ruse, Britain used the Boer War to set a precedent for the Commonwealth to come to its aid.  The world’s richest goldfields were discovered in the Boer republic of the Transvaal in South Africa and powerful British interests wanted control of it. French Canadians sympathized with the Boers who were trying to preserve their language and way of life, but English Canadians were keen to go and fight “for the homeland” (in actuality, it was for Rhodes, Beit and Co. and the speculators of the Rand). To get Canada’s support, Britain exploited Canadian fears of an American invasion. Also, we were in dispute with the US over the Alaska boundary. Fighting for Britain in the Boer War, we were told, would secure the backing of the empire. (Later Britain confessed that they would not interfere in an American attack, and they supported the US in the boundary dispute. They knew who their most powerful ally would be.)

Political Expediency French Canadians were passionate in their opposition to Canadian participation in the Boer War, as well as in the following world wars. But English Canadians were just as forceful in their support, and this latter group was the one that would get a candidate elected. Moreover, “instinctive British loyalty” was strong in the business and professional elite, and they would destroy any government that stayed out of Britain’s wars.

Opportunities for Social Advancement By supporting British interests, influential Canadian businessmen and politicians received rewards like British knighthoods, which were powerful tools for social advancement in Canada and introduction to British high society.

The First World War was unlike any other: “the great powers had acquired the vast resources and the technological and organizational capabilities of fully industrialized states.” The result was mass slaughter. Even civilians on both sides were legitimate military targets since “everyone was at least theoretically involved in the war effort.”

The outcome was a big shock to military strategists, who expected the war to be short and relatively painless. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. Polish financier, Jan Bloch, anticipated it all: the long, drawn-out trench warfare, the scale of slaughter and the massive mobilization of industrial resources. His famous book, Is War Now Impossible?, was inspiration for a peace conference at The Hague in 1899, “but military officers dismissed it as the ravings of an amateur.”

The Great War changed everything. The psychological effects of such massive slaughter “elevated the war to the status of a moral crusade or a struggle for sheer national survival.” Canada was never under direct threat, yet it too used this justification for its contribution of a quarter million dead and wounded.

The 1918 Treaty of Versailles was especially harsh (one might even say unfair) to Germany. The League of Nations was the world’s attempt to halt further hostilities in its tracks. For many countries like Germany, this meant “the indefinite perpetuation of injustice”.

The League’s “collective security” (all nations joining to repel an aggressor) proved too onerous for the US, which refused to join, and for Canada, which found a way to back out of participating against Turkish and Italian aggressions, leading to other nations following suit. Without one great alliance to repel an aggressor, the stage was set for world war. Two decades later, World War II began.

The extreme right-wing Nazi regime that grew out of the Treaty of Versailles was profoundly evil. There is no denying that fact. But did Britain, or Canada for that matter, have to fight Germany again? Neither country was threatened. “Hitler’s expressed goals were recovery of German-populated territories in the east. “ In the longer term, Germany would have also attacked the Soviet Union for what it saw as “the Jewish-controlled plot against civilization.”

The real reason that Britain and its allies went to war against the Nazis was not to stamp out evil but to prevent Germany from becoming the strongest power in Europe. It was yet another cycle in the Great Power Game.

It seems to me, that if we want a chance at peace, we the public need to ask more questions. Does war repel or foster evil? Might terrorism be exacerbated by the War on Terrorism? The creation of nuclear weapons ended World War II, but has it put the world in greater peril?

Who benefits from war? Banks manipulate the balance of power in ways that keep nations borrowing money to prepare for and fight wars (a.k.a. the Rothschild Formula). Military organizations use war to justify their existence and expand their influence. Corporations win lucrative contracts and access to resources. And for elites, war can be an effective means of realizing ambitions.

I have more questions than answers. I would argue, though, that war unleashes the monster in all of us, and must not be entered without full consideration of all the facts we can gather. An informed, open minded and skeptical public just might be what is needed to resist unnecessary wars and build a better world for all.