Friday, December 30, 2005

The disappearance of ice

The real story of our life times may not be that we stood idly by while our country quietly became a fascist-like state ruled by the fabulously wealthy corporate and media elites, while privileged Democrats sold their souls for a seat in the plutocracy. The real story may be that we all stood idly by while global warming became irreversible, natural ice disappeared, Katrina sized storms became the norm and it became clear that Earth would soon be uninhabitable.

It is on us, all Americans, that we tolerate the Bush regime and do not throw them into the street. We allow them to torture, wage criminal war, and abet the destruction of the habitability of the planet essentially unchallenged. It is not that we don’t know. We do. We all do.

Here’s a few paragraphs from “The Coming Meltdown” in the current New York Review of Books. The article is available in its entirety on line.

Climate change somehow seems unable to emerge on the world stage for what it really is: the single biggest challenge facing the planet, the equal in every way to the nuclear threat that transfixed us during the past half-century and a threat we haven't even begun to deal with. The coverage of Katrina's aftermath, for instance, was scathing in depicting the Bush administration's incompetence and cronyism; but the President —and his predecessors—were spared criticism for their far bigger sin of omission, the failure to do anything at all to stanch the flood of carbon that America, above all other nations, pours into the atmosphere and that is the prime cause of the great heating now underway. Though Bush has been egregious in his ignorance about climate change, the failure to do anything about it has been bipartisan; Bill Clinton and Al Gore were grandly rhetorical about the issue, but nonetheless presided over a 13 percent increase in America's carbon emissions….

… “Scientists are by training and nature conservative and...have probably underestimated our impact. Fifty years from now—I hope I'm wrong—I think you may be living in a world where you don't go outside between one and four in the afternoon.”…

…Every time she corners a scientist —the veteran Oxford environmental researcher Norman Meyers, the great diver and marine biologist Sylvia Earle, the eminent conservationist Russell Mittermeier—she asks, "Are humans a suicidal species?" They mostly dismiss her question with some reassuring words to the effect that we can still make up our minds to do better. But in fact it's a question that in some way or another needs to be near the center of our public debates. It rose for the first time in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; for a while, many people seemed to expect an Armageddon-like nuclear exchange, and then they seemed to discount the possibility. The attacks on New York and Washington at the beginning of this millennium have raised the question of our being a suicidal species again. …

The last paragraph:

…It is hard not to approach this year's oncoming winter in an elegiac mood, with the testimony of Thompson's ice cores and the Arctic sea ice data and Ehrlich's account making the season's natural and lovely darkness seem suddenly somber. We are forced to face the fact that a century's carelessness is now melting away the world's storehouses of ice, a melting whose momentum may be nearing the irreversible. It's as if we were stripping the spectrum of a color, or eradicating one note from every octave. There are almost no words for such a change: it's no wonder that scientists have to struggle to get across the enormity of what is happening.

It's now or never. For another angle on the mysterious bubble of complacency we live in, check out Roshi Bob.

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