Monday, October 22, 2007

the Green Revolution


The pendulum is now swinging in the other direction. It seems the political bob reached the end of its anti-environmental swing in 2006 here, when USF nuked the Environmental Science and Policy Dept. (which is now a program in Geography), because, so the university's provost to the department's head, "the environment is not a political priority anymore". That was then. But now, the provost is packing her bags to leave for Texas, an appropriate destination of neocons on the retreat, and the former departmental chair and me are designing a team-taught seminar on climate change for the Honors College, intended as a requirement equal to the humanities seminar and the seminar in natural science. The kids might need the information sooner than thought, according to Rolling Stones.

Meanwhile, drought conditions are spreading through the U.S.; November is predicted to have above-normal temperatures; supply concerns push oil to a new record; Miss Universe rejects fur; China will build a large wind power plant; global warming starts to divide the republicans; world climate science silences the skeptics; the U.S. Senate is going to propose a bill on global warming; Switzerland's conservative politics goes green; only idiots drink bottled water; California is going to sue the Bush administration over a law to limit carbon emissions; even the corporate news channel CNN takes stock of a planet in peril; suddenly ordinary cement is contextualized in terms of carbon emissions; and even the notoriously corporation-friendly Tom Friedman turns over a new, green leaf.

Then again, the empirical context truly sucks, so the speeding up of the green revolution (and the USF provost's retreat to neocon haven) comes as no surprise. Each of the real news is bad. First, the Energy Watch Group issued a report today according to which oil production peaked already in 2006. Second, Mama Gaia's self-regulation is starting to fail -- oceans soak up less CO2 than before, which means that the oceans' ability to work as carbon sinks is shrinking. You're not misreading this. This is as frightening as it sounds, and all the trends to date point in Lovelock's direction. What to do? The logic is ruthless: zero emissions are needed to avoid a catastrophe.

In Philosophy, South Carolina's Clemson University leads by example: here's a call for papers (deadline Nov 30) for a conference on human flourishing & restoration in the age of global warming. More power to you guys! Meanwhile the Florida Philosophical Association is going to meet in Tallahasse Nov 9-11, but the organizers selected only papers on topics they've done in the past -- not a single paper on climate. What a bummer. Despite our conference here in 2006, despite the accelerating green revolution, and despite the lousy climate news, Florida philosophers are not yet willing to reflect on CLIMATE as a notion.

But they will do so sooner than they think.


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