Wednesday, January 23, 2008

survival = hippie evolution


Thoughts on Climate 2007--Making Sense of the Year of Records:

OldBadgertoo muses, "America has always put its own national interest before that of everything else."

Jonno interjects, "Psst, hate to tell you this but the USA don’t put its own interests first; it always puts Israel’s first."

Not in climate policy! Israeli politicians know that global heating isn't in their national interest(source). Israel is the 118. member of the UN FCCC (source); it signed on to Kyoto 1998 and has ratified the protocol since 2004.

Everyone is held by Gaia's web; there are no free riders.

Ullern comments on my "the USA is responsible for the planet’s fever" with "not only in emissions, but also through the exploitative consumerist lifestyles it promotes in the rest of the world."

The Stern Report, p. 24, identifies climate change as market failure.

It seems Marx died with Gorbachev's rule in the 20th century.

It appears Adam Smith is dying under Bush's watch.

mrpickwick notes, "All of us are in for a cataclysmic downhill ride to an unthinkable climatic future."

chilijan adds, "At some point someone will decide we need to be stopped."

To which I'd like to suggest that the someone is the planetary biosphere, and the point in time is now. If we don't stop koyaanisqatsi, Gaia will.

thewonderingyou gets down to brass tacks and states, "Real conservation must begin or nothing else will make a difference."

Real conservation means no consumerism. How this is even conceivable, you ask?

Simple--just stop buying stuff. Opt out. Live small.

If you wonder how, just remember the Hippies.

Just as Garrison Keillor got it right, when he named the Republican agenda, in anessay worth re-reading, "the Great Crusade against the Sixties".

And there you have it.

Survival = Conservation = Opting Out = the Sixties;

Survival (and I mean happy, pleasant, fun survival) means:
distilling Hippie Culture to its essence, and
using it to evolve from the dumb today to a wise tomorrow.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Kudos to tmkowal for "Essay on Global Heating" (comment 17; scroll).

I join in Siouxrose's praise.

Fred Pearce, in With Speed and Violence,p. xiii, wrote that 1998 was the warmest year on record probably for thousands of years.

NASA announced two years ago that 2005 was the warmest year on record, relegating 1998 to place two.

A few days ago NASA declared that 2007 was tied with 1998.

And the Independent (UK) reports 1/22/08 that the U.S. censors Arctic scientists' findings as it prepares for oil and gas auction.

Echoing nspire I bid you Namaste.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

differentiation must be earned


I was happy that commondreams published the last post on 1/7/08. The editors put my blistered-orblet in great company -- just a day earlier, they had posted G. McGovern's Why I believe Bush must go. Thank you, Common Dreams.

Thanks also go to the commentators on the site. I was moved by the grace, intelligence, and wit that pervaded the comments. I expected to be flamed by some warmongering, nature-hating, big-ass-car-driving, flag-waving Republicans ... and was pleasantly disappointed.

mwildfire offers critique:

But there is a related problem exemplified in this article and so many others, the error of conflating the collective with a person. Throughout the piece, we are told of the statements and actions of “the US” or “Canada” or “Russia.” But how do we know what “Canada thinks” or “America wants”? What does this mean, anyway?

Yes, we're different, and yes, we're told not to generalize, but no, a generalization of the sort used is called for.
Germans after 1945 had a word for this; Kollektivschuld -- collective guilt.
They had ways of resisting Hitler.
They didn't resist.
And to the extent they did, it was too little too late.
Afterwards, they realized, collectively, that they had screwed up, collectively, and felt guilty, collectively.
That's why it is fair to refer to Germans in WW2 with a generalized "they". And that's why 1933-1945 has left us with the expression of the "Good German".

For the past eight years we've seen the rise of the Good American.

Americans know that the Florida election 2000 was a lie.
They know that Bush's rejection of Kyoto on grounds of scientific 'uncertainty' in 2001 was a lie. They know that the Iraq oil-war in 2003 was a lie.
They know that the Ohio election 2004 was a lie.
They know that New Orleans' flooding could've been avoided and yet they bought into Karl Rove's deceitful call "not to play the blame game" 2005.
They know that the editors of Harper's called for a general strike at the election day anniversary 2007.
They know that at Bali the world spoke in one voice to the USA, imploring Americans to stop their near-unilateral perpetration of cimate change -- and they know that Bush blocked emission caps at Bali in December 2007.

And what happened?

In 2000, the Americans didn't arrest Bush for stealing the vote.
In 2001, they didn't impeach him for blocking Kyoto.
In 2003, they didn't impeach him for raiding Iraqi oil.
In 2004, they didn't arrest him for stealing the vote a second time.
In 2005, they didn't impeach him for engineering the New Orleans catastrophe (money allocated by Clinton to Louisiana for levee restoration was used for Iraq by Bush).
In 2006, they didn't impeach him for special rendition, torture, and Guantamo Bay.
In 2007, they didn't impeach Bush, and they didn't strike either.

Eight years of Good Americans.

You differentiate between rulers and people when people fight rulers.

And if a mass of ballsy people stood up, anyone despising the US rulers would admire Americans.

Then no one could talk about "the" Americans, or about what "America" wants -- no one could equate U.S. policy with Americans.

But as long as Americans fall in line behind their leader, their conduct will give reason to generalize.
My apologies to mwildfire, but --

Differentiation has to be earned.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

climate 2007 -- year of records


At the beginning of 2008, we're chugging out more CO2 emissions than ever; the world climate system has started to tip over; and it is on record that the USA torpedoed Bali -- a policy decision with historic consequences, which isolates America, and which means that U.S. citizens are now bearing a huge burden of guilt.

Americans were outed at Bali as the planetary perpetrators of climate change. Some commentators, such as Jeffrey Sachs, want to look at the bright side: it could be worse, they say; at least the U.S. is now talking. But the price paid for talking is a delay of action. And since the fourth assessment report of the IPCC suggests a rapidly shrinking window of opportunity for change, Sachs' optimism is not persuasive. As the editors of NYT put it, "from the United States the delegates got nothing, except a promise to participate in the forthcoming negotiations." "Forthcoming negotiations" was supposed to refer not only to Copenhagen 2009 but also to Honolulu 2008. But the internationally reported invitation by the Climate-Changer in Chief is not on government sites anymore and appears to have been quietly withdrawn. The corporate media piously respect the federal silence. Isn't it interesting that the cancellation of a summit slated for 1/30-31/08 hasn't made news? There never was Honolulu 2008.

Other commentators, such as Paul Krugman, stress that "China is already, by some estimates, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases". To the extent this can be construed as an attempt at shifting blame, it doesn't cut it. World population is close to 6.7 billion; 1.4 billion or 1/5th live in China; 300 million or 1/23rd live in the USA. China's emissions are approaching those of America, but they're produced by 20 percent of the planet's people, as compared to a similar amount produced by 4.4 percent. The average American produces five times the emissions of the average Chinese. Far more than any other nation in the world, the USA is responsible for the planet's fever. U.S. resistance to change will be America's shame. Federal policy imperils the wellbeing and existence of peoples worldwide. These are perfectly avoidable and completely unnecessary liabilities -- and they're crimes against humanity in the making. Thus we're running the moral risk that future generations will look back at the republican USA 2001-2008 with the same disdain and revulsion felt by normal people who look back at Nazi Germany 1933-1945. Am I exaggerating? Lets wait and see. Meanwhile in Florida, in Tampa, on the USF campus, nothing is being done. Commuters commute. SUVs abound. More parking lots are under construction. Light rail transit remains a pipe dream. There are no wind farms at the coast; there's no solar energy in the Sunshine State; it's all coal, gas, oil. This is really amazing. The clock's ticking, and the ownership society doesn't know that its time is pretty much up.

AP 12/29 summed up the year of weather records:

January was the warmest first month on record worldwide--1.53 degrees above normal. It was also the first time ... that the globe's average temperature has been so far above the norm for any month of the year. And as 2007 drew to a close, it was also shaping up to be the hottest year on record in the Northern Hemisphere. U.S. weather stations broke or tied 263 all-time high temperature records. (...) Worst of all ... the Arctic ... dramatically warmed in 2007, shattering records for the amount of melting ice. (...) Through the first 10 months, it was the hottest year recorded on land and the third hottest when ocean temperatures are included. ... At U.S. weather stations, more than 8,000 new yeat records were set or tied for specific August [2007] dates ... more than 100 all-time temperature records were tied or broken--regardless of the date--either for the highest reading or the warmest low temperature at night. (...) Sea ice melted not just to record levels, but far beyond the previous melt record. (...) Meteorologists have chronicled strange weather years for more than a decade, but nothing like 2007.

Here are the monthly records archived by NOAA. Here's the list of records about 2007's Arctic tipping point by NSIDC. The World Meteorological Organization states that 2007 was the warmest year on record in Russia (posted 1/2/08) and issued a news release that the decade 1998-2007 is the warmest on record (# 805, 12/13/07). Munich Re counted more natural catastrophes in 2007 than ever before. The biggest casualty of climate change is expected to be agricultural productivity, as is becoming visible now. 2007 was a bad weather year; food costs are soaring; world food stocks are dwindling, and the predictions are now playing out.

Last month, Canada and Russia made news at Bali for briefly balking at mandatory emissions reductions. Their reluctance was somewhat understandable, since these are countries that may benefit from climate change at least a bit (or so their politicians think, happily ignoring the fact that collapsing structures at their southern borders are going to be bad news all around). But that the United States sabotaged Bali and thus worsened its own national prospects at long-term prosperity -- that's just plain weird. You'd think that individual self-interest would motivate social evolution. But in America, the South, and in Florida, it doesn't. These are places that have everything to lose and nothing to gain from climate change, and it really doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this. You'd think that Florida, the South, and the U.S. would not just rise to the occasion, but jump at the chance to lead the transformation toward a post-carbon, post-consumerist, and deep-ecological world.
But no. The Enlightenment may have informed the foundation of the Republic, but in today's world, enlightenment doesn't seem to be an American concept anymore. This is so stupid, it's frightening. On this note, we slide into the New Year, with crazier weather to come.