Thursday, September 20, 2007

blood, oil, & climate


Mama Gaia is laughing at us. She's just thrown yet another feedback loop our way. Step on the carousel and hold on tight. Record Arctic heating equals thawing Tundra soil, which, regrettably, equals melting Mammoth goo. This equals massive Methane output, which equals, well, record Arctic heating. And round we go. The deposits of frozen elephant dung had been sequestered but the melt puts the glop back into the cycle. Word has it that there is a lot of CH4-releasing excrement, so much that it'll join forces with the darkening polar albedo to speed things up even faster. Call it the poop loop.

Somehow September is good for the soul -- it's confession time! But first the records. The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, after the three climate records jointly held by Dean and Felix (thanks to Henrietta in the Pacific), sprung a fourth climate record on us with Humberto, which evolved in 16 hours from tropical depression to full-scale hurricane landfall. The AP newsblurb notes that this evolution "was faster than any storm on record" and says "meteorologists were at a loss to explain" this. O really? It's still a big mystery, eh?

How about this: after the record-breaking 2007 drought in California, and LA without a drop of rain since April, the Angelenos are now battening down for a winter storm and temperatures 15 degrees below normal when it's barely fall yet. In Colorado, the bears are freaking out. In Montana, Glacier National Park, with 150 glaciers in 1850, has now 26 left.

Or this: South Asia is experiencing a monsoon that is the worst in decades, and that has by now cost more than 3,000 lives.

Or this: Australia, after suffering through an unprecedented drought, passed new regulations that made some water cuts permanent.

Or this: Africa suffers record rains; Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Uganda, and the Sudan have declared emergencies because they are hit by unusual weather patterns.

Or this: the Arctic tipping point of the last post is no hallucination--ESA satellites "witness the lowest Arctic ice coverage in history"; the melt is happening so rapidly that it triggers earthquakes in Greenland; the Northwest Passage is completely ice-free, and Greenland eskimos have started farming potato and broccoli.

The new reckoning is that while the US republicans, their media serfs, and the gringo consumers were off in lala land, not even the United Nations got it right, because the UN IPCC predictions had been too conservative. Already in March, the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel (PhD physics), called the situation five minutes past midnight. Today, a University of Melbourne researcher, the "Australian of the Year", declared that climate change is worse than feared. A researcher with the UK Met Office and co-chair of the IPCC working group dealing with the necessary corrections states that destructive changes in temperature, rainfall, and agriculture were now forecast to occur several decades earlier than thought. The IPCC report states that the outlook is grim.

Shell concedes that peak oil is around the corner. The corporate press admits that Dick Cheney vehicles were not such a good idea after all. The alternative press admits that the suburban lifestyle, favored by many self-described liberals, wasn't such a great idea either. Nor is eating meat, by the way; bad news for Atkins-diet loving Americans. And the U.S. Federal Reserve acknowledges that Iraq was a blood-for-oil gamble. With oil money draining from Bagdhad and flowing toward Kurdistan, even the corporate confession is in: the gamble is lost.

To the chagrin of the postmodern presidency, for which truth is spin, Greenspan fessed up: true to his principles as an ethical egoist, he had been the one who advised the White House that the removal of Saddam was "essential" to secure oil supplies. Greenspan published the admission noted throughout the world: "I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows -- the Iraq war was largely about oil."

Right now, the price of oil stands at $83 a barrel, at 2,000,000 refugees, at 1,200,000 civilian deaths, and at 3,800 military deaths, and wrenching, brutal personal costs, such as this and this.

Meanwhile the Brits call the climate-changer-in-chief a jihadist and reveal that a journalist appears to be dying in the concentration camp offshore Florida; the French are blowing the whistle on US concentration camps in Poland and Romania ; and the Germans report that calling for impeachment gets you tasered in Florida. Amnesty International calls out the Senate for not restoring habeas corpus. The blood-for-oil traders Bush, Cheney, and Altair Voyager are not in jail, but at least the Pope refuses to meet with thugs. And thanks to the climate-changer in chief, his snarling Nazi sidekick, and the oil tanker lady, the dollar is in free fall.

And the worst thing about all this is that it's so unnecessary. My battered old copy of the Field Guide to Florida, by the National Audobon Society, has an entry on global warming effects on page 19 that says it all. That copy was published in 1998. We could have decided to evolve to a higher IQ then, and many nations gave it a try. But the US neocons didn't want to; they flamed Kyoto and shot down the Bonn meeting. The ideas of climate dynamics, human-nature interplays, and deep ecology just don't compute. They don't fit the protestant work ethic and the postmodern relativism of the consumer society.

So now the species lost ten years, with the USA jerking off the Global Village.

Mama Gaia is laughing at us.

Call it the poop loop.


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