Monday, February 28, 2011

split over civil evolution

Yet another climate events entry is at the data bank; I'll add more info the next few days, but the data posted already jell into a gestalt worth writing about. I would have liked to post earlier, but this has been a tight and busy month. The editorial work on the climate ethics issue of Journal of Global Ethics is nearly done on my part. The Nietzsche essay is sent off. The tract on the climatic fate of religions is at the publisher.

On the climate front this has been an eventful month, too. The climate-food link sparked the heroic Arab uprisings. The climate-clothing link is startling but not unexpected, since freak weather means crappy harvests, and cotton is a crop.

On the policy front, US disenlightenment deepened a notch. Republican fanatics are working to sabotage all civil evolution. They succeeded in Washington by forcing the government to soften emissions rules. They succeeded in Tallahassee by rejecting rail money. Most unsettling are the events in Madison. In a functioning democracy, the taped evidence that the Wisconsin governor welcomes bribes from the Koch brothers would have led to his instant resignation. But here it was just part of the normal news cycle, and no one, not even the hapless Obama, calls for the corrupt state governor to step down. Dimitry Orlov is right: we're now on our way towards a Soviet-style collapse; the domestic emergence of outlaw oligarchs strengthens the Russian analogy. Meanwhile, as NYT reported, 743 out of 100,000 US citizens are now in jail--a proportion ten times higher than in any other democracy in the world.

Elsewhere, civil evolution is accelerating. Wind energy is big in Scotland; solar energy is big in Spain; geothermal energy is big in Iceland. Bicycling is big in Copenhagen, and new bullet trains are coming online in England, France, and China. Climate mitigation may find a new effective tool in black carbon reduction. The ten most livable cities on the planet are now all outside the USA.

Seventy months left.

Friday, February 04, 2011

eddies and swirls

A new climate events post is at the data bank.

Most shocking: temps at Baffin Island near the magnetic Pole were thirty-nine (39) degrees Fahrenheit above "normal" for more than a month.

Most troubling: last year's drought (second or third this decade) killed one billion (1,000,000,000) trees in the Amazon. The predicted biome flip of jungle to savannah may now have begun.

Most breath-taking: while it took years of scholarly wrangling plus a 2010 public statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before anthropogenic climate change was identified as main driver of the Darfur genocide, this time around it took no time whatsoever to identify climate change as indirect culprit of the revolutions in Tunesia and Egypt. Shrinking world harvests and extreme global food prices are the causal links in between.

Most dispiriting: in the context of discussing Confucius' insights on how societies succeed or fail, forty hard-thinking students needed half an hour to make the climate-food-revolution connection -- even though they're highly intelligent, dedicated, and attentive. Misinformation by corporate media works.

Most encouraging: Asuncion Lera St Clair (Sociology, University of Bergen, Norway), a Turner-student and USF Ph.D., gave a great lecture to the Philosophy Graduate Student Organization on "tasks for philosophy and social sciences in a changing climate." Asun is a lead author of AR 5 at the IPCC, appointed to working group II, and has done pioneering work in climate ethics, most recent with Climate Change, Ethics, and Human Security (Cambridge 2010). Her campus visit highlights the new career paths for professional Philosophers after the paradigm change.

The era of science fiction weather has begun. The palm trees in front of Cooper Hall are frozen, brown, and brittle.

Seventy months left.