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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Climate and Energy for Dummies and Fascists

Writing for The Nation, Mark Hertsgaard assures us that "the United States is finally going to have a President who takes climate change seriously enough to do something about it." Does he have the inside scoop on who's going to win?

No. His argument is that both Obama and McCain have said that climate issues will be a top priority for their administrations. Hertsgaard points out that McCain's environmentalism is much weaker than Obama's -- pointing, as I have, to McCain's ludicrous misrepresentation of "cap and trade." But a weak enviro president is better than what we have. Bush seems to actually hate the environment. He's certainly doing what he can to punish it.

Things that absolutely must be done -- like a global end to coal burning -- seem completely beyond McCain, who's environmentalism is restricted by his position in the corporate pocket.

Of course, a new report may change the Republican outlook on environmental issues. The police state party can now look at global warming as a security issue.

Washington Post:

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that global climate change will worsen food shortages and disease exposure in sub-Saharan Africa over the next two decades, creating operational problems for the Pentagon's newest overseas military command.

"Without food aid, the region will likely face higher levels of instability, particularly violent ethnic clashes over land ownership," probably creating "extensive and novel operational requirements," for the fledgling U.S. Africa Command, according to a National Intelligence Assessment on the security implications of climate change by the National Intelligence Council.


There you go then, the "safety above liberty" folks -- who include John McCain -- have one more security threat to freak out about. That should make them happy, but probably won't. They're too deeply entrenched in their Bushian enmity with the planet -- the Earth is a threat to the American Way and must be eliminated.

Of course, the threat to international stability is obvious. So obvious that this isn't the first time it's been brought up. Over a year ago, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon warned us about it, using Darfur as an example.

It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought. Until then, Arab nomadic herders had lived amicably with settled farmers. A recent Atlantic Monthly article by Stephan Faris describes how black farmers would welcome herders as they crisscrossed the land, grazing their camels and sharing wells. But once the rains stopped, farmers fenced their land for fear it would be ruined by the passing herds. For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out. By 2003, it evolved into the full-fledged tragedy we witness today.


As I say, this should be obvious. As resources become rarer, more people fight over them. You can look at a drought -- or a famine or any kind of shortage -- one of two ways; not enough water for all the people or plenty of water and too many people. The second viewpoint leads to a much more obvious solution than the first -- get rid of some of those people.

When Secretary Ban wrote this op-ed last year, I had this to say:

It's not hard to come up with a reason to commit genocide. The reasons for the genocide committed in Kosovo can be traced back to a battle the Serbians lost in the 1300s. Hate has a long, long memory. If you need something to spur people to support ethnic cleansing, you'll be able to find it. Any historic insult or humiliation will do. And, if the people are already in crisis, then it's just that much easier.

If climate change continues unchecked, the entire world will be in crisis. Darfur won't be an oddity, it'll be the norm. As resources become scarce, people will begin to think in terms of who "deserves" what. Those who took the wrong side in the middle ages, who sold out to colonial powers, who practice that heathen religion, or who fought that civil war long, long ago won't deserve food and water as much as the true citizens. They'll be portrayed as taking food from the mouths of children. The monsters who brought the drought and famine will be erased. The thieves will see their victims as thieves and their genocide as justice.


I repeat it now because I really don't think I can put it any better. Given what's happened in Darfur, it's pretty safe to assume that things are going to get pretty bad globally unless we get a handle on this thing now.

It's a good thing that the next president's going to be a environmentalist. But it probably pays to remember which candidate's environmentalism is stronger. John McCain's big plan for the future hinges on a battery that doesn't exist. Of course, you'd have to charge this non-existent battery somehow, so it's really not a solution. And McCain wants to buy this hypothetical battery with a $300 million prize.

Remember how we won WWII by offering a prize to anyone who could beat the Nazis for us? Remember how a big cash prize got us a man on the moon? Remember how running a big national contest ended the Civil War? We've been dumping $12 billion down that rathole in Iraq every month, but we've only got $300 million to deal with climate change? Of course, McCain's big security idea is to keep pouring all that money down that rathole, so I guess he figures things are going to be pretty tight.

What we need is an Apollo project to get us off burning stuff to generate power. That's pretty much the problem in a nutshell -- we discovered fire and our energy technology hasn't really gone much farther than that. We live on a planet where we're bathed in more energy than we could possibly ever use (the sun generates 386 billion gigawatts) and here we are, wondering where we're going to get all our energy. Seems a little silly, doesn't it?

But that's where we are. And it's going to get worse -- unless we do something and start taking our climate seriously. If we need to put it as a security threat to get the police state Republicans on board, then it's a security threat. We've got proof of that.

-Wisco

Technorati tags: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; If and are the only things you worry about, the means war and terrorism

3 comments:

Eric Lester said...

Another fine editorial, sir. Secretary Ban is a wise man; I wish we could get some people like him in our government. Oh, yeah ...

I have bookmarked this blog so that I can find you in case you become weary of the "other" place.

Keep up the good work.

Wisco said...

Thanks.

I just got done spiffing up the template. I've still got to test it IE, though.

Hope you like it.

Eric Lester said...

It looks good from here. I'm using Ubuntu Linux and Firefox. I do have some PCs with Windows and IE7, if I remember when I'm on one I'll check it out.

My very smart niece pointed me to a really neat tool for testing web sites in various browsers, however. It's called "Browsershots," and may be found at http://browsershots.org/. Take a look.