Global Warming, unMelting Glaciers and Greed

From the “Is This Really News?” Department:

Himalayan global warming claim ‘based on dated, obscure source’ in the New Zealand Herald, reveals that reports of the demise of Himalayan glaciers were premature. This rumor, as it turns out, was one of the core positions of the IPCC, buttressing their claim that the Earth is spinning into catastrophic global warming, predicting all manner of dire effects from loss of water sources to the spread of malaria.

Furthermore, governments have used these rumors to spread fear among the populace, claiming that the only answer to global warming is to deal in carbon trading schemes.

“Almost all governments accept the findings of a UN report,” the article states, “which concluded in 2007 that warming of the climate was ‘unequivocal’ and it was more than 90 per cent likely it was being caused by human actions.”

Of course, it’s not governments that profit from carbon trading schemes, is it? It’s those same corporations that are producing the CO2, and a raft of other real pollutants fouling our air, water and land.

Odd it is that the chief proponent of global warming and its prime economic response, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, has used his platform as chair of the IPCC to advocate for economic and technolocratic climate policy.

In an article in today’s Telegraph, Christopher Booker and Richard North write: “The head of the UN’s climate change panel – Dr Rajendra Pachauri – is accused of making a fortune from his links with ‘carbon trading’ companies.”

According to the authors, “Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations.”

The question is: Does this normal turn of capitalist events discount the science of climate variability and does it mean we can all relax and go blithely about our polluting, consumerist ways?

The answer, of course, is no. With a world population of 6 billion humans and counting, we have clearly exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth for profligate human societies bent on consuming every last ounce of raw materials on the Earth and shitting it out in every conceivable corner of the planet.

The prevailing economic attitude of unlimited human growth is, quite literally, insane. No one who has ever raised pet mice would doubt the Malthusian concept of limits to human growth and consumption. It’s common sense. In a closed system, there is only so much room, so many resources and only so much time until mouths overcome plates and the whole thing collapses into chaos.

Two things must be changed very soon:

1) Our cultural unwillingness to consider controlling our own population, and,

2) our economic and political inability to forget the whole idea of continuous growth as a bad idea that will never get any better.

Of course, population and growth control mean we also have to get over the idea of capitalism as the only possible economy. Capitalism requires continuous economic and population growth to provide new consumers and new products to consume. It’s a treadmill to extinction. The sooner we cast the whole sorry scene onto the dustbin of history, the sooner we’ll be able to get on with the job of building real, sustainable economies.

And, as it turns out, we’ll lower CO2 production as an accessory detail, so we really won’t have to worry about it any longer!

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Congress postpones sanity!

In an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, Senate to Put Off Climate Bill Until Spring, we learn:

“Momentum for a climate bill has been undermined by fears that capping
carbon-dioxide emissions — the inevitable product of burning oil and coal
— would slow economic growth, raise energy costs and compel changes in the
way Americans live.”

This is encouraging, despite the fact that the Senate postponed consideration of this climate bill due to political expediency (if Democrats don’t get re-elected, they won’t be around to support the bill). It’s good to hear that capping carbon emissions will have such good social effects as well as reducing greenhouse gases.

It’s a win-win situation! Less economic growth will reduce greenhouse gases. Higher energy costs will encourage transportation alternatives. Americans (some of them at least) will finally wake up to the effects of their profligate lifestyles.

Everything really is hitched to everything else.

Anarchy, whatever you call it

Today I visited a new on-line dictionary called Wordnik. As is my habit, I tested it with my favorite word, “anarchy.” Here are the results:

American Heritage Dictionary (3)
noun Absence of any form of political authority.
noun Political disorder and confusion.
noun Absence of any cohesive principle, such as a common standard or purpose.

Century Dictionary (1)
Absence or insufficiency of government; a state of society in which there is no capable supreme power, and in which the several functions of the state are performed badly or not at all; social and political confusion.

Webster’s Unabridged (1913) (1)
Absence of government; the state of society where there is no law or supreme power; a state of lawlessness; political confusion.

WordNet (1)
a state of lawlessness and disorder (usually resulting from a failure of government)

thus is demonstrated the depths to which the English language, and popular thought, have plunged.

Anarchy, of course, means no ruler, not no rules. The confusion of anarchy with chaos came about as a result of decades of government propaganda against those who agitated against the status quo of centralized, authoritarian, coercive government. Anarchy is characterized by self-reliance, self-discipline, democracy and mutual aid, supposedly the goals of society in the united States, but in reality the antithesis of the ruling ideals of those who control government in this country, which is to keep its citizens in thrall to consumerism, debt, fear, and hierarchical authority.

Interestingly enough, recent “crises” in energy and economy are paving the way for a new resurgence of anarchy. Call it localism, sustainability, Democracy, ethnic identity, or what have you, the thrust nevertheless is to bring control of our lives back home from the central authority that has demonstrated a complete inability to plan and control the lives of the people across this vast continent.

We will, of necessity, return to a focus on local economies, local food production and distribution, local social support systems, local health care, local education, as the economics of global and even national economies crumbles in the face of rapidly increasing energy costs brought about by Peak Oil and climate change.

The politicians will keep arguing about the source of global warming and what to do about it, while the corporate toadies continue to line their pockets with filthy lucre. Meanwhile, here at home, the people are turning more and more to local gardens, farmers markets, and local economies. We are beginning to deal with the realities of transportation in a world of increasingly expensive oil, and increasing evidence of environmental damage as a result of burning that oil in our burgeoning fleets of private automobiles. The culture of the private automobile is beginning to erode, slowly of course, yet the sanctity of the private automobile is beginning to show a trace of tarnish.

I see this as a healthy step toward anarchy, self-rule, government by the people and for the people. Call it what you will, it’s time to throw the authoritarian monkeys off our backs and take control of our lives.

It’s Nature’s Way.

Choices

As we contemplate the real world of finite resources, it’s important to consider the opportunity costs of decisions we make each and every day.

In R. Crumbs Epilogue to “A Short History of America,” we see three possible outcomes: environmental collapse, the technocratic imaginarium and the ecotopian solution.

There is insufficient energy and “natural resources” to achieve and sustain the Technocratic Imaginarium, leading inevitably to environmental collapse, pitiful metal hulks in the streets, crumbling facades, sturdy plants growing through the pavement. While this vision strikes horror into the hearts and minds of most humans, the birds and flowers smile at the prospect.

The Ecotopian Solution, however, makes room for humans among the birds and flowers, as one of them, not as rulers over them.

The decisions we make every day will determine the outcome. If we invest today in the Technocratic Imaginarium, we set our course irresolutely toward environmental collapse. The opportunity cost of the Technocratic Imaginarium is a sustainable future for the human species.

Which will it be, my Pretties? PRT and the technocratic graveyard, or Mr. Natural and a thriving world for all life?

Goals, Hope and Motivation

We learn, in this Truthout interview, Representative Jay Inslee (Politician – Washington) “believes that if the people of the United States are given a goal, the hope and the motivation, they, not just government, will lead the way in solving one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time: global warming.”

Guess what?

We don’t need politicians to “give us” goals, hope and motivation. We’ve had them for decades! And not only the people of the united States of America, but people everywhere.

It has always been our goal to live in a world where we have unfettered access to clean air, clean water, nutritious food, meaningful work. We don’t need motivation to achieve these goals. We need leaving alone.

This interview with Inslee smacks of “I’m from the government. I’m here to help you.”

If you want to help us, Mr. Politician, stop getting in the way of our hopes and motivation so we can achieve our own goals. Stop polluting our water and air. Stop killing people in far-off places to line your pockets and those of your corporate buddies.

We don’t need your motivation to produce solar energy. We don’t need your goals to support our neighbors and families. We don’t need your hopes to live a decent, satisfying life.

We have our own goals, hopes and motivation.

Just let us be and get on with protecting us from corporate toadies and government sycophants, Homeland Security and the burgeoning Police State. We’ll take care of the rest, thank you very much.

Changing the way we are

I share David Orr’s optimism about the future, but mine comes from a different direction.

David says “we” must reduce our carbon footprints, individually and collectively, we must stop buying unnecessary stuff, stop traveling so much, stop buying huge vehicles for personal transportation, stop leaving the lights on when we leave the room, stop eating meat, stop being so destructive in our personal and societal choices.

Good idea.

The problem is “we” will never stop until forced to do so. I put the “we” in quotes, because my wife and I already live a frugal lifestyle that is ten times less productive of atmospheric carbon than most everyone else. We do it because we enjoy living this way, not to “save the environment.” The other 90% of the people in the uS live so extravagantly, they consume far more than most of the rest of the world combined.

And they won’t stop until they are physically forced to change.

Fortunately, force, in the guise of climate change and Peak Oil, is on the way. These two forces will bring about the collapse of Western Civilization, if that’s what it is, and will cause the abrupt decline of American consumerism, if not wipe it out entirely. Less fortunately, it will cause untold misery elsewhere around the world where people are starting off with less material resources that we have in the United States, or more accurately, that the United States government has stolen from others.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq is just the beginning of the global insanity. Iran is obviously next, no matter who is “elected” as Resident in the next spasm of our perverted brand of “democracy,” if that’s what it is. (It’s not.)

A hundred years from now, the uS will be in severe material decline, following hard on the heals of its present ideological and spiritual decline. “The Great Depression” will be a mild historical memory compared to the inevitable world depression on the horizon.

However, many will survive and thrive through the coming changes, especially those who learned from the few living who now practice a sane, modest and frugal life style. The Irish monks among us will keep the flame alive for our descendants, assuming we have any. Some one’s descendants at least. Time to drag out “Canticle for Leibowitz” for a view of the future.

Good luck to you all. Best to start winding down now and avoid the rush. My wife and I lowered our standard of living and raised our quality of life. It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s the wave of the future.