Friday, November 09, 2007

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

cloud from
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The Daily Babble

Following up on the Power Shift conference on the Climate Crisis this past weekend, there's this report: Some 5500 mostly young delegates met outside Washington, which the environmental online magazine Grist calls "huge -- consider, by way of contrast, that this year's much publicized YearlyKos convention attracted just 1,400 attendees."

Further evidence of intense youth interest in their Climate Crisis future comes from the children of Republicans. Al Gore often says it should not be a partisan political issue, but it may be turning out to be a generational issue.

Meanwhile, after making brave noises against Bushite support for torture and the attorney general nominee's refusal to condemn the practice of induced temporary drowning, the elders of Congress shamefully approved his appointment. Why? I guess because Bush is so popular, and because America believes he's taking the country in the right direction, he has political power to overwhelm the opposition.

Meanwhile, Bushite plans to bomb Iran for Rudy go forward--ostensibly to prevent that nation from acquiring a nuclear weapon in years to come, while supporting the increasingly dictatorial regime in Pakistan, which has working nuclear weapons. And Rudy? Well, Mr. Law & Order's favorite police chief is being indicted. Maybe our big mistake was learning to trust anyone over 30.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

"Fire, Water, Air, Land" by Joseph
Wilson (Coast Salish) at
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Climate Crisis: The Republican Solution

Yes, I believe the Republicans do have their own plan for addressing the Climate Crisis, or at least as represented by the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld ruling class.

After promising to abide by the Kyoto Accords during his 2000 campaign, G.W. Bush did exactly the opposite in office, and suffered no immediate political damage (it was the other guy in 2004 who got labelled a flip-flopper.) Years of energetic climate crisis denial followed, which increasingly involved suppressing data and conclusions from other parts of the government, and ignoring recommendations of scientific organizations.

The policy of suppression and censorship continues--most recently in slicing off about half the prepared testimony of the director of the Centers for Disease Control on the health effects of climate change, concentrating on eliminating the substantive findings. But like some medieval Pope moving slowly towards acknowledging that the earth revolves around the sun, Bush began gingerly mentioning global climate change, and even convened an international meeting on the subject in September.

His solutions continue to be woefully inadequate, but there are probably also strategic. He emphasizes research and technology, which essentially mean government money going to corporations, or universities whose research will eventually enrich corporations, without the inconvenience of paying for their own R& D.

The obvious Bushite strategy is to postpone action on reducing greenhouse gases, which would inconvenience the oil and coal companies and related technology corporations that were and will be run by Bushites and their cronies. But I suspect this is only part of the strategy.

I've written before about the two different elements of the Climate Crisis: the near-term effects and the effects further in the future. The near-term effects are by now unavoidable--the only actions that can be taken is to try to fix the problems that climate change create. I've called this the "fix it" element.

Those sounding the alarm about the Climate Crisis, including Democrats, are concentrating on the effects further in the future, because they are potentially catastrophic. Yet only by acting now, or very soon, can we avoid those consequences 20 or 50 or 100 years from now. And by the time those consequences start becoming obvious, it may well be too late to prevent ultimate catastrophe, which very well could be the end of human civilization and life as we know it on earth. That's why action is needed now on severely reducing greenhouse gases. I've called this the "stop it" element.

I believe the Bushite Republican strategy is or will be to concentrate on the "fix it" element, and ignore the "stop it" element. That is, they will refuse real action on stopping greenhouse gases, until the near-term effects of the Climate Crisis become overwhelming. And then they will say that we can afford only to fix these problems, and if we need fossil fuel energy to do it, that's the price we have to pay. The future will have to take care of itself.

Politically, this is a realistic strategy, especially given the Bushite record. It is realistic because they will not be asking people to address a crisis they can't yet see, or transform society in order to avoid a greater catastrophe that hasn't yet happened.

Effects happening in the present can be used to focus fear, and fear is the great motivator--the easy push-button they've used very effectively. Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine, exposes this general strategy: use shocks to create fear, use fear to create dependence on the strong leader's solutions, and use that dependence to create more centralized control, and use that control to funnel taxpayer dollars to crony corporations.

Each shock is a profit-making opportunity for the few. The rest become victims of "disaster apartheid."

So what near-term effects am I talking about? Because of a drought that the Southeast couldn't see because it was so bizarre, Atlanta has 90 days of water left and no plan to deal with it--except maybe to cut off water to Mobile. The rest of the Southeast is also in a grim drought situation. And this is just the beginning--some 36 states are likely to have water problems in the next five years--in the Southeast, Southwest, Northeast, Great Lakes--almost everywhere.

Drought in the West will eventually have an impact on food supplies and prices. Then the Midwest. But drought isn't the only effect--there are floods as hit in Texas and most recently in Mexico, where a million people were affected.

Then there are the health effects, that the Bushites want to suppress for now: as the "edited" parts of the CDC testimony enumerates them: Direct effects of heat, health effects related to extreme weather events, air pollution-related health effects, allergic diseases, water- and food-borne infectious diseases, vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, food and water scarcity, at least for some populations; mental health problems, and long-term impacts of chronic diseases and other health effects.

Fires, hurricanes and other storms--sooner or later, someone is going to connect the dots. If that someone is a Republican, he is going to say that these are the effects of climate change--we aren't sure why the climate is changing, we just know it is. So we must confront these effects now with all our resources. The Republican President will take over, and the war on terror will be the template: civil liberties will disappear, militarization of the society will ensue.

The information on health effects will stay suppressed until something big happens--mosquito-borne disease epidemics in areas where they hadn't happened before, or any large-scale epidemic or effect. Something big enough to cause a giant shock--one which the American people will be unprepared for, partly because this sort of information is being suppressed. Shock is important: it clouds judgment, calls out for immediate solution, and it is easy to exploit.

This Republican President (or presidential candidate) will promise to solve the problems now, not the problems of fifty or a hundred years in the future. If the recent past is a guide, the people will respond. They will regress into the status of scared children, and the Republicans will issue their no-bid contracts to enrich each other, and make sure they are protected.

That's consistent with Naomi Klein's vision, and I think she's right:

"Looking ahead to coming disasters, ecological and political, we often assume that we are all going to face them together, that what's needed are leaders who recognize the destructive course we are on. But I'm not so sure. Perhaps part of the reason why so many of our elites, both political and corporate, are so sanguine about climate change is that they are confident that they will be able to buy their way out of the worst of it."

Next time: the Democratic Solution, which has its own problems.