Friday, December 13, 2019

What followers of the Democratic Socialists of America candidates Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won't learn from the U.K. election



The United States is not the United Kingdom. Donald Trump is not Boris Johnson. Bernie Sanders is not Jeremy Corbyn. The Republican Party is not the Conservative Party. The Democratic Party is not the Labour Party.

Nonetheless, the key issues that shaped yesterday's election in Great Britain were nationalism, racism, and socialism. And the candidate with the platform embracing a nationalist economic policy, racist immigration politics, and anti-socialist rhetoric won, and won by a margin not seen since 1987, 32 years ago.

Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party squashed the Labour Party as explained by The Guardian:

    The biggest loser of 2019 is Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. The party’s 203 seats is its lowest total since 1935. In 18 years, Labour has lost more than 50% of the seats it won in 2001. The Tories swept through constituencies in the Midlands and the north of England that Labour has rarely lost in its history: seats like Bishop Auckland, Great Grimsby and Workington. But the losses were nationwide. In Wales, Wrexham now has its first Conservative MP since the first world war. In Scotland, Labour lost six of its seven seats. In the south, it lost Ipswich and Stroud. After nine years of divisive and troubled Tory rule, Labour could manage only one solitary gain anywhere in the UK.
    This abject performance reflects [a] lack of belief in some of Labour’s manifesto pledges, and divisions over Brexit. But the election was not lost during the campaign. At its roots lie what has become an increasingly unstable alliance of Labour’s left and centre, ... its middle-class and working-class bases. In the 1980s, 80% of Labour voters were manual workers and their families. Today, that figure is around 40%. Mr Corbyn has shown himself unwilling and incapable of unifying that volatile coalition.

If any of this information sounds at all familiar to Democrats, they should also be aware that Johnson is 55 years old, Corbyn is 70.

Finally, with regard to Millennials and Gen Z one should carefully consider this response to the election from 30-year-old Maya Goodfellow, British journalist and author of Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats:

    When the result of an election will mean bad things for so many, there’s no putting a gloss on it. There is no real celebration in loss, but it means resistance is necessary. And it’ll be young people at the forefront of that. The evidence we have suggests there’s a big generational divide. ... The engine of the Labour party campaign was young people, flanked as ever by their older counterparts. They were out in the streets this election, enthusiastically advocating for public ownership, a green new deal, social housing and a fundamental rewiring of how our deeply unequal economy functions. Whatever happens next, one thing is sure: sustaining and building that movement will be essential.
    Brexit has often been talked about as fundamental to the future of this country – how do we want our relationships with the EU to look, and what kind of country do we want to live in. But what has so often been eclipsed is the life-chances of millions of children in the UK that will continue to be made worse in myriad ways by Conservative policies. Minute-by-minute dissections of Brexit will continue even as child poverty continues to rise, inequality grows and the climate crisis worsens. Based on recent history and the sharp rightward turn of the Conservative party under Johnson’s leadership, superficial change and meaningless soundbites are all that is likely in response.
    Still, there are people all around us who will resist the oncoming onslaught. A few months ago, standing in the middle of Westminster, I was surrounded by some of the people who will be part of that change. Thousands upon thousands of 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds led the way protesting against the lack of action to fight the climate crisis. Cutting through the noise of UK politics to pinpoint this is the most pressing issue young people face. That is the future – one that can’t come soon enough.

As Goodfellow notes, the climate crisis is the issue that rises above all others for Millennial generation and Gen Z. The climate crisis threatens the continuation of The Industrial Age still ongoing in the Third World and The Information Age critical to the First World and thereby world's economic future. In that context, Johnson, Trump, and other aging world leaders appear to be on a course to become the Neville Chamberlain's of this time, refusing to face down an obvious threat to the survival of civilization because it would end the status quo requiring sacrifices unacceptable to the general public.

What is frustrating to this old guy is Goodfellow's admiring description of what was the young people's campaign "enthusiastically advocating for public ownership, a green new deal, social housing and a fundamental rewiring of how our deeply unequal economy functions." I'm sorry kids but there will always be relative poverty. No civilization existing today has eliminated it.

And yet  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and friends somehow managed to hijack a nearly two-decade-old climate crisis oriented program for purposes of advocating controversial egalitarian ideals.

The United States is not the United Kingdom. Donald Trump is not Boris Johnson. Bernie Sanders is not Jeremy Corbyn. The Republican Party is not the Conservative Party. The Democratic Party is not the Labour Party. And yet, the American political system seems to a ambling down a road that leads to a similar result.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Climate Change Black Death is inevitable
  It is officially too late to prevent the release of a
  gigaton of methane and 37 gigatons of carbon
  dioxide from an Arctic permafrost thaw by 2100



Certainly it was a true "feel good" story today that TIME offered 16-year-old Swedish climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg as its 2019 Person of the Year cover girl making her at least somewhat more important than
  • Lizzo: TIME's Entertainer of the Year
  • Public Servants: TIME's Guardians of the Year
  • U.S. Women's Soccer: TIME's Athlete of the Year and
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger: TIME's Businessperson of the Year.
Yesterday we read The Arctic may have crossed key threshold, emitting billions of tons of carbon into the air, in a long-dreaded climate feedback letting us know what was in the U.S. Government's 2019 Arctic Report Card.

Some may wonder why this writer chooses to express the climate crisis in an "extreme" way as...


...and this week's juxtaposition of news articles provides an opportunity to explain the situation.

Twenty-five years ago this month, in 1996, six years before Ms. Thunberg was born, Science Magazine published Arctic Tundra Leaking Greenhouse Gases which explained:

    A profound change appears to be sweeping the landscape above the Arctic Circle: Northern Alaska's tundra is warming up, perhaps because of local climate change. And as it warms, it is releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it's soaking up, according to a report at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco this week. The findings suggest that a sustained global warming because of human activity could unleash a flood of carbon dioxide from the arctic tundra, which could alter the region's environment and nudge up global temperatures.
    Scientists are concerned that this trickle of greenhouse gases may represent the first cracks in a dam, as the arctic tundra stores an estimated 180 billion metric tons of carbon--about a third of the total in the Earth's atmosphere, says [University of Michigan biologist George] Kling. "The concern is what will happen in the future as global warming increases and melting permafrost exposes more of this buried carbon to be respired and released into the atmosphere," he says. As it does, this cold place could turn up the heat on the rest of the planet.

So here we are 25-years later. Nothing has been done.

Today at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP25, the 25th United Nations Climate Change conference (yeah, the same 25 years), Thunberg said to the adults in the room: “We are desperate for any sign of hope. I’ve given many speeches and learned that when you talk in public you should start with something personal or emotional to get everyone’s attention, say things like ‘our house is on fire,’ ‘I want you to panic,’ and ‘how dare you.’ But today I will not do that, because then those phrases are all that people focus on. They don’t remember the facts, the very reason why I say those things in the first place.”

During the same meeting 22-year-old Ugandan activist Hilda Flavia Nakabuye noted: “You’ve been negotiating for the last 25 years, even before I was born."

Both Thunberg and Nakabuye, along with Lizzo, are members of the Gen Z generation, who along with the Millennial generation that will experience through their entire lives the environmental changes of Climate Change Black Death.

Bob Iger at age 68 has not had and will not have a similar lifetime experience, as he is a Baby Boomer, among the many that have overseen the huge expansion of a corporation creating demand for content, and creating the content, on the internet for huge profits. Which brings up a related study.

Last month as noted in The Guardian a study commissioned by energy company OVO pointed out that "if every adult in the UK sent one fewer “thank you” email a day we would save more than 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – equivalent to 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road."

An expert explained: “When you are typing, your computer [device] is using electricity. When you press send it goes through the network, and it takes electricity to run the network. And it’s going to end up being stored on the cloud somewhere, and those data centres use a lot of electricity. We don’t think about it because we can’t see the smoke coming out of our computers, but the carbon footprint of IT is huge and growing.”

As has been explored in these posts previously, such things as wind and solar power or electric cars  just reduce the expansion rate of the societal carbon footprint within the first world. The Paris Agreement goal of keeping the global temperature rise well below 2 °C is simply hot air created by the aircraft and vehicles delivering the participants in conferences to various meeting sites. As noted here numerous times, in 2018 in both the U.S. and China formal findings have been made that we have "locked in warming" of 4°± Celsius most likely within 60 years with the Chinese projecting an increase of 4°C as early as 2064.

And for clarity again it must be mentioned that Al Gore began his campaign to stop the climate crisis in 1974 and in 1989, 30 years ago as a U.S. Senator, with a frustration level matching that of Thunberg and Nakabuye, wrote: "How much information is needed by the human mind to recognize a pattern? How much more is needed by the body politic to justify action in response? ...If an individual or a nation is accustomed to looking at the future one year at a time, and the past in terms of a single lifetime, then many large patterns are concealed. But seen in historical perspective, it is clear that dozens of destructive effects have followed the same pattern of unprecedented acceleration in the latter half of the 20th century. ...Yet, the pattern of our politics remains remarkably unchanged. That indifference must end. As a nation and a government, we must see that America's future is inextricably tied to the fate of the globe. In effect, the environment is becoming a matter of national security -- an issue that directly and imminently menaces the interests of the state or the welfare of the people."

Well, Al, Greta gave us a truth today when she said the people "don’t remember the facts, the very reason why I say those things in the first place.” Let me add to it. The people who could do something like Bob Iger don't remember it because they don't want to.


The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.
                                                                                                          If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series:  climate change black death surrounds us 
                                                                                                         

Friday, November 8, 2019

Our dilemma: "Trump", "United States", and "American" are not climate crisis policy brand options and we do need a brand for marketing

This post is about Climate Change, the most important issue facing Californians who believe that the future Earth must support, not wipe out, our descendants.

For Californians, the Climate Change crisis has been the most important issue requiring ongoing significant governmental action since Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 signed Executive Order S-03-05 requiring a reduction in California greenhouse gas emissions, targeting an 80% reduction compared to 1990 levels by 2050. In 2006 Schwarzenegger signed California's Cap and Trade Bill. And in 2007 the California Air Resources Board passed strict greenhouse gas emission standards.

But that history of governmental priority is Californian, not American. And at the level of the United States government, President Trump is undoing all previous efforts. Meanwhile Democratic Presidential candidates are debating healthcare policy.

Oh sure, the funding and organization of our healthcare system needs a lot of work. Nearly 90 years ago, thinkers in FDR's Administration were discussing the options, but Congress moves slowly no matter how important the issue is.

In the case of health care, in lieu of Congressional action individuals, businesses and investors, unions, universities, religious groups, local governments, states, and/or tribal councils filled the health care void with programs of their own in the mid-20th Century. And because those groups could not fill the void of medical care for seniors, President Dwight D. Eisenhower held the first White House Conference on Aging in January 1961, in which creating a health care program for social security beneficiaries was proposed. In July 1965, under the leadership of President Lyndon Johnson, Congress enacted Medicare. Since then all these folks have added and modified it all. Thus we have created our current imperfect healthcare system.

Does tweaking our healthcare systesm (or providing free college tuition) rise to the level of the most important issue of our time deserving Presidential candidate focus above Congressional inaction on Climate Change? If you say yes, then you do not know that there is no time left for inaction on Climate Change and do not understand that health care or a college education will not help the thousands who will be killed by Climate Change during the coming decades.

Still there are many "groups" in addition to Californians who are focused on the Climate Change crisis.

The Los Angeles Times article to the right with the subheadline "Without Trump, how close can groups get to meeting goals?" tells us:

    Despite President Trump‘s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, the United States hasn’t completely abandoned the landmark international agreement.
    More than 400 city leaders have joined the Climate Mayors association, and 17 states and territories have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance. Both organizations have vowed to uphold the country’s Paris pledge.
    Many city, county, state and tribal governments have also signed the We’re Still In declaration, which reiterates support for the accord. So have 2,200 businesses and investors, 350 universities and 200 faith groups.
    Together, these players account for almost 60% of the U.S. economy, half the country’s population, and 37% of its greenhouse gas emissions, according to an assessment by America’s Pledge, an initiative focused on sub-national climate actions led by former California Gov. Jerry Brown and ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
    If this collection of governments and organizations were their own country, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter.
    In a 2018 analysis, Frisch and her colleagues found that existing commitments by sub-national actors could achieve two-thirds of the emissions reductions called for in the U.S.’s Paris pledge. Broader participation and additional measures, like rapid retirement of coal-fired power plants, could bring that number close to 90%.
    Under Obama, the U.S. had promised to get emissions 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The country is already almost halfway there, although emissions rose in 2018 for the first time in three years.
    To tackle the other half, all eyes are now on cities, states and businesses.

We Californians find ourselves in a dilemma. Yes, more than a decade after Schwarzenegger took action, President Obama by executive action ratified the Paris Agreement in September 2016, without the support of the United States Senate - in other words he did not have the full authority of the United States.

Under Article II of the Constitution, the President of the United States must secure the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate before entering into treaties. Nonetheless, Presidents have entered into executive agreements as an alternative to forming treaties for most of the time of the United States legal existence as a Union of states (to understand the "Union" concept see the post here An American 21st Century Kaleidoscope versus a Civil War? Saving the Union is a struggle against pots, bowls,  and mosaics, between individuality, identity, and  assimilation, amid unprecedented wealth disparity).

Depending upon the subject matter, such executive agreements have been treated by the Supreme Court in varying ways. But unlike a Senate-approved treaty, by implication the act of entering into an executive agreement by one President almost conclusively gives a future President the right to withdraw from the agreement.

Obama ratified the Paris Agreement without the support of the United States Senate in September 2016. But that was less two months before the election of his replacement, after the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, stated his opposition to the Agreement.

Contrary to what many might think, after his election and assumption of office as President, Trump did not choose to ignore the terms of the Agreement. Instead he chose to abide by the four-year exit process detailed in the Agreement.  In accordance with Article 28 of the Agreement, on November 4, 2019, the administration gave a formal notice of intention to withdraw. The effective withdrawal date by the United States will be November 4, 2020, one day after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Thus Trump has made the Climate Change crisis a clear issue for the election and he thinks the American voters will prefer his choice.

But, as indicated in the LA Times article quoted above, efforts from within the territorial boundaries of the United States taken by individuals, businesses and investors, universities, religious groups, local governments, states, and tribal councils is on its way to achieving most of the goal established for the Union in the Paris Agreement.

It seems remarkably similar to how health care had to be handled after The Great Depression.

Thus what may be achieved will not be the result of "Trump" policy nor of the laws and regulations of the Union known as the United States. Nor will it be "American" because there is no unified concept labeled "American" - as was explained in the post referenced above:

As noted at the beginning, the American political scene is as divided today as it was in 1860, just before the Civil War.

  • We can divide people into tribes, ethnicities, and races. So we do.
  • We can group people into cultures and religions. So we do.
  • We can divide people into geographic groups such as Mississippians and Californians. So we do.
  • We can consider any person "not of our group" as "the other." So we do. 
  • And when we fail as individuals to achieve happiness, we can blame "the other." And so we do.
For many in the Silent Generation who fought for tolerance and justice, who believe in the "individuality" and "achievement" myths, it is curious how we got to this point.

The reality, the complexity, of fighting Climate Change is reflected in the graphic to the left indicating the state economies involved, but not really reflecting the difficulties. In truth the "other" on the chart represents 160± countries. The European Economic Area (EEA) includes 30 sovereign nations. The United States involves 50 states. In terms of the 50 states, do not assume a commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement arising from the will of the people.

This needs to be placed in the perspective of probabilities which were presented in the 2015 Science article Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change? which offered the following table...


 ...and noted:

    ...None of our scenarios eliminates the possibility that temperature change could exceed 2°C. In the Paris-Continued ambition scenario, the probability of limiting warming to 2°C increases to 8% as opposed to virtually no chance in the two Reference scenarios. If ambition is scaled up after 2030—as in the Paris–Increased ambition scenario—the probability of limiting warming to 2°C increases to about 30%. If we assume even greater post-2030 emissions reductions, the probability of limiting warming to less than 2°C could be 50% or more.
    ...Although the two Paris scenarios provide meaningful benefits relative to the two Reference scenarios, if emissions are not brought swiftly to zero beyond 2100, the chances of extreme temperature change after 2100 could be much higher....

What everyone needs to understand is the complexity of the Paris Agreement. As explained in Wikipedia: "A pair of studies in Nature have said that, as of 2017, none of the major industrialized nations were implementing the policies they had envisioned and have not met their pledged emission reduction targets, and even if they had, the sum of all member pledges (as of 2016) would not keep global temperature rise 'well below 2 °C'."  The same Wikipedia article reflects on the lack of an enforcement mechanism noting that "James Hansen, a former NASA scientist and a climate change expert, voiced anger that most of the agreement consists of "promises" or aims and not firm commitments."

As noted here previously:

    Unfortunately in 2018 in both the U.S. and China formal findings have been made that we have "locked in warming" of 4°± Celsius most likely within 60 years.
   Under the direction of the Trump Administration the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with the cooperation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Year 2021–2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks proposing reduced average fuel economy standards for those vehicles.
   The DEIS has determined that the draft official policy of the United States government will be acceptance of a near worst case scenario, a 4.387°C (7.876°F) global temperature rise since 1880 by 2100. That is because any lesser scenario would require deep cuts in carbon emissions to avoid this drastic warming. A lesser scenario “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels...which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”
   In China, home to the world's second largest (and sooner or later, largest) economy, the same conclusion was reached.
   In May a collaborative research team from China published a new analysis that shows the Earth's climate would increase by 4 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels, most likely by 2084. They found that most of the models projected an increase of 4°C as early as 2064 and as late as 2095, with 2084 appearing as the median year.
   "Our ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive picture of the mean and extreme climate changes associated with higher levels of global warming based on state-of-the art climate models, which is of high interest to the decision-makers and the public," said Dabang Jiang, a senior researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
   Perhaps some would want to dismiss both governments as being too pessimistic. But the reality is much worse, so much worse.
   For Climate Change will not stop "as early as 2064 and as late as 2095." 

And yet, the best chance we have through governments on an international basis is the Paris Agreement

On June 1, 2017, President Trump following up on his campaign pledge to withdraw from the Agreement stated that "The Paris accord will undermine [the U.S.] economy," and "puts (the U.S.) at a permanent disadvantage." Whatever else you may choose to believe about Climate Change and about Trump, those statements are accurate, not only for the U.S. but for the European Union nations.

Each resident and voter in each of the 50 states wishes to assure robust economic growth in their own state over the next decade for personal benefit. Yet within each state the alteration of the economic courses of hundreds, maybe thousands, of businesses necessary to address Climate Change will disrupt the economy in each state in different ways with different overall impacts. That will be in addition to the economic disruptions created by impacts of Climate Change (the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, blizzards) which also will be different in each state.

What Trump has basically said is that he believes the economic disruption from the Paris Agreement is not something a President should demand of the Union within 50 states. In summary, pulling out all the stops to fight Climate Change most certainly is not part of the Trump "brand."

Further, the need to adopt such a Climate Change regulatory approach in the United States Senate on a timely basis most certainly assures that pulling out all the stops to fight Climate Change is not part of the United States "brand."

And the reality is that pulling out all the stops to fight Climate Change most certainly will not become an American "brand" on any timely basis as there is no chance in the next five years that all 50 state legislatures will commit to such an effort. The majority of voters in at least 20 of those states will oppose it.

So the Trump "brand" and the United States "brand" and the American "brand" do not align with the an effort to address the climate crisis. Nonetheless....

Individuals, businesses and investors, universities, religious groups, local governments, states, and tribal councils continue to make that commitment. There is the United States Climate Alliance (see map) led by Governors. A Climate Mayors organization exists. The We Are Still In organization consists of over 3,500 representatives from all 50 states, spanning large and small businesses, mayors and governors, university presidents, faith leaders, tribal leaders, and cultural institutions. And The America's Pledge initiative launched by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown will continue to aggregate and quantify the actions of states, cities and businesses and other non-national actors in the United States to drive down their greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The combined effort of individuals, businesses and investors, universities, religious groups, local governments, states, and tribal councils needs a "brand." Maybe it should reflect the international nature of the Climate Change crisis. Maybe it should reflect that even the Paris Agreement is not enough. But most definitely that brand should be something most Americans could easily recognize and would cause them to reflect on the fact that...


With all of that said, it must be noted that missing from these groups are the American political parties and labor unions. This raises questions.

In terms of the Climate Change crisis, is there any significant difference between
  • Republicans, who either deny climate change or do not believe federal regulation of private economic activity to reduce emissions is an appropriate role for the United States; and
  • Democrats, who believe that climate change is just another issue of comparable importance to health care, college debt, economic equality, and something called "environmental justice"?
In terms of the Climate Change crisis, is there any significant difference between
  • corporations which acknowledge the crisis only from the view of impact on shareholder profits; and
  • labor unions which acknowledge the crisis only from the view of impact on employment and wages of their members?
The depressing truth about the American brand was noted in a previous post:

By 1989, 30 years ago, then U.S. Senator Al Gore, in frustration published an editorial in The Washington Post, in which he argued:
    Humankind has suddenly entered into a brand new relationship with the planet Earth. The world's forests are being destroyed; an enormous hole is opening in the ozone layer. Living species are dying at an unprecedented rate. Chemical wastes, in growing volumes, are seeping downward to poison groundwater while huge quantities of carbon dioxide, methane and chlorofluo-rocarbons are trapping heat in the atmosphere and raising global temperatures.
    How much information is needed by the human mind to recognize a pattern? How much more is needed by the body politic to justify action in response?
    If an individual or a nation is accustomed to looking at the future one year at a time, and the past in terms of a single lifetime, then many large patterns are concealed. But seen in historical perspective, it is clear that dozens of destructive effects have followed the same pattern of unprecedented acceleration in the latter half of the 20th century. It took 10,000 human lifetimes for the population to reach 2 billion. Now in the course of one lifetime, yours and mine, it is rocketing from 2 billion to 10 billion, and is already halfway there.
    Yet, the pattern of our politics remains remarkably unchanged. That indifference must end. As a nation and a government, we must see that America's future is inextricably tied to the fate of the globe. In effect, the environment is becoming a matter of national security -- an issue that directly and imminently menaces the interests of the state or the welfare of the people.
[Greta] Thunberg's words [also]were rather straightforward:
    You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
    For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.
    You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

It is telling that these words presented 30 years apart have had no proportionate impact on the American psyche.  We need a new brand and a marketing strategy that will take Joe and Jane Sixpack's eyes off their grocery bill long enough to register the thought that they are choosing a tragedy for the children and grandchildren they feed.

The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.
                                                                                                          If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series:  climate change black death surrounds us 
                                                                                                         

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Power to be shutoff from Golden Gate Bridge to North Humboldt County; Cities of Windsor and Healdsburg residents and others being evacuated


For our friends and relatives who may be unaware, because of expected unprecedented wind gusts PG&E intends to shut down power from the Golden Gate Bridge to the north end of Humboldt County with a few exceptions (see map at The Press Democrat). That power outage will include friends and relatives in Marin and Humboldt Counties as well as at our home in Mendocino County. And it could be for several days.

We have a generator, but it is likely we will lose our Comcast internet and, at some point, our phone service (cellular companies usually can keep service on for a day or so). We do not have a land line, which we stopped a few years ago as in a similar situation it also went down. We will have Dish satellite TV for Bay Area news though the winds blow the redwoods across the view of the satellites making reception spotty.

(It must be noted that there is a very small likelihood that power in some areas might not be turned off.)

As indicated in The Press Democrat headline above (click on picture to see continuing full coverage of the Kincade Fire), tens of thousands of people are being evacuated from parts of Sonoma and Lake Counties. From Healdsburg south, Highway 101 southbound is packed with cars.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The evolving 21st Century Promethean Calamity: "Implicatory" Climate Crisis Denial and Thunberg's GenZ demand to halt Climate Change Black Death

In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, culture hero, and trickster figure who is credited with the creation of man from clay, and who defies the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity as civilization.


Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, sentenced Prometheus to eternal torment for his transgression of giving fire to humans. The Theft of Fire Myth appears in numerous world mythologies.Why human cultures thought that fire was stolen, an evil act committed essentially to empower mankind, is unclear.

What is clear is that Climate Change would not be happening without combustion - without fire albeit contained, controlled, and enhanced through technological advances over a relatively few centuries.

In the Western classical tradition, Prometheus became a figure who represented human striving, particularly the quest for scientific knowledge, and the risk of overreaching or unintended consequences. In particular, he was regarded in the Romantic era as embodying the lone genius whose efforts to improve human existence could also result in tragedy.

At the beginning of the 21st Century in the Western World the theft of fire clearly is associated with overreaching, unintended consequences, and tragedy. Perhaps it offers the quintessential example of "nature" when we speak of "man against nature." And perhaps the "theft of fire" reflects a belief that the gods knew fire was a malevolent demon in attractive disguise offering power and riches to some men, a demon that would destroy man.

What? Do you think that is so much silliness??? Consider this from an opinion piece:


Of course, that is not true of all men in Western Civilization. We can point to Al Gore. Al Gore's presentation, movie, and book about Global Warming is entitled rather ironically "An Inconvenient Truth" precisely because as noted above "at a deep level, the language of climate denialism is tied up with a form of masculine identity predicated on modern industrial capitalism." The basic truth of the situation is economically very inconvenient and therefore politically very inconvenient.


We need to acknowledge a problem with words.

Al Gore's original words were "Global Warming." The Globe (aka the Earth) has a surface of 196.9 million square miles,  or 790,453,002,240,000,000 square inches.  A year has 1,182,600 minutes. What Gore was referring to is that on average all those square inches in all those minutes of each year consistently have become warmer over many decades beginning in the 20th Century.

He was also explaining that this warming is occurring much faster than in prior warming periods that have occurred in the last few hundred million years, periods in which no human lived.

And he told us that for the most part the cause of the warming is fire (combustion) as contained, controlled, and enhanced by men and their capitalist organizations through industrial and technological advances over a relatively few centuries.

With few exceptions the entire advancement of tWestern Civilization was powered by that contained, controlled, and enhanced fire (combustion). Fire is at the core of our economy. It is at the center of our lives. You are able to read this on a "device" because of 'stored" fire.

To keep the Earth habitable for millions of species endangered by the climate crisis including Homo sapiens, the proposal is to undo all those fire-based industrial and technological advances, replacing them where possible, ending them otherwise, all in a couple of decades.

Very inconvenient indeed!

But here's another inconvenient truth. Al Gore started telling us about this 43 years ago at age 28, after being elected to the United States House of Representatives. By 1989, 30 years ago, then U.S. Senator Al Gore, in frustration published an editorial in The Washington Post, in which he argued:

    Humankind has suddenly entered into a brand new relationship with the planet Earth. The world's forests are being destroyed; an enormous hole is opening in the ozone layer. Living species are dying at an unprecedented rate. Chemical wastes, in growing volumes, are seeping downward to poison groundwater while huge quantities of carbon dioxide, methane and chlorofluo-rocarbons are trapping heat in the atmosphere and raising global temperatures.
    How much information is needed by the human mind to recognize a pattern? How much more is needed by the body politic to justify action in response?
    If an individual or a nation is accustomed to looking at the future one year at a time, and the past in terms of a single lifetime, then many large patterns are concealed. But seen in historical perspective, it is clear that dozens of destructive effects have followed the same pattern of unprecedented acceleration in the latter half of the 20th century. It took 10,000 human lifetimes for the population to reach 2 billion. Now in the course of one lifetime, yours and mine, it is rocketing from 2 billion to 10 billion, and is already halfway there.
    Yet, the pattern of our politics remains remarkably unchanged. That indifference must end. As a nation and a government, we must see that America's future is inextricably tied to the fate of the globe. In effect, the environment is becoming a matter of national security -- an issue that directly and imminently menaces the interests of the state or the welfare of the people.

Just 11 years later, a minority of Americans elected George W. Bush President, despite the fact that Al Gore won the popular vote nationwide. The American political system rejected his call that the indifference to Global Warming must end because of the menace to the interests of the state and the welfare of the people.

Of course as Gore said the people see their future welfare, their future well-being, one year at a time which effectively assures the sacrifice of the well-being of future generations when it comes to Climate Change. Fighting Climate Change means we must act in ways well beyond our abilities, ways totally unacceptable to vast numbers of people around the world.

Major generations of the Western world
Greta Thunberg's accusation is that with regard to preventing a climate catastrophe everyone alive is at best only paying lip service (meaning "an avowal of advocacy expressed in words but not backed by deeds") to what must be done to save her Generation Z and those generations that follow. Except ominously nothing follows "Z"in the alphabet. One must wonder what spell was cast to assure GenX was so named (see chart to the right).

Thunberg's words were rather straightforward:

    You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
    For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.
    You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

Regarding the angry-men response to Thunberg, environmentalist and author Bill McKibben observed:

    Greta has said from the start that people attack her because they can’t attack the science; that seems undeniable.
    The attacks reveal the hollowness — intellectual and moral — of the climate-denying right.

McKibben was referencing another term - "Climate Change Denial" - which appeared  in the United States and other parts of the Western World to describe a basic adult human reaction when confronted with the choice between the corporate explanations and those of Al Gore.

Ironically, the use of the word "climate" came into being because "Global Warming" had to be replaced with the term "Climate Change" because people thought "Global Warming" referred to the daily weather at their house, weather that included snow, sleet, and cold days. It was confusing. So in their minds "Global Warming" didn't make sense, particularly as a supporting argument for undermining their lifestyle and the economy that sustains it.

Of course, "climate" in the context of the whole Earth is not a uniformly understood concept. For the average person, in the winter one might travel from, let's say, icy Chicago to balmy Miami. That travel is because, as we all know, in the Winter the climate in Chicago is cold and in Miami its warm ...well, the weather is warm.

Scientists can try to communicate with the general public and you get the Wikipedia entry on "climate" (feel free to skip on when your eyes glaze over reading this):

    On Earth, interactions between the five parts of the climate system that produce daily weather and long-term averages of weather are called "climate". Some of the meteorological variables that are commonly measured are temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, and precipitation. The climate of a location is affected by its latitude, terrain, and altitude, as well as nearby water bodies and their currents.
    In a broader sense, the "climate" of a region is the general state of the climate system at that location at the current time.
    Climates can be classified according to the average and the typical ranges of different variables, most commonly temperature and precipitation. The most commonly used classification scheme was the K√∂ppen climate classification. The Thornthwaite system, in use since 1948, incorporates evapotranspiration along with temperature and precipitation information and is used in studying biological diversity and how climate change affects it. The Bergeron and Spatial Synoptic Classification systems focus on the origin of air masses that define the climate of a region.

So in the end we have something called "Climate Change Denial." There are different forms of "Climate Change Denial" and most every adult is a "Climate Change Denier". Very few are in "literal denial" - the rejection of the science. Some of us are "interpretive deniers" - meaning those who say yes the facts are true but Climate Change is a natural fluctuation or greenhouse gas accumulation is a consequence of Global Warming, not a cause - but they are not really the problem.

Unfortunately at some level most of us are engaged in the far more dangerous "implicatory denial." In consciously or subconsciously engaging in implicatory denial we minimize the psychological, political and moral implications of the facts as they apply to us. We disassociate the causes from the "I" or "me" (or even the "you" for those who wish to be consistent, so long as "you" aren't some soulless corporate bigwig).

The truth is "we" avoid taking action on the scale required even though the information is clear. "We" refuse to accept responsibility for not responding.

Implicatory denial allows us to use a reusable coffee cup at the airport just before we climb on an airplane.

We feel even somewhat better when we read How Guilty Should You Feel About Flying? in The New York Times because all the rationales are in there for us. The weirdest part of the article is that it talks about "global civil aviation" and passenger miles. Nowhere does it even mention military aviation which is the largest component of aircraft CO2 emission which would give us one more way to rationalize. All of which requires repeating the paragraph from above...

With few exceptions the entire advancement of the United States and Western Civilizations was powered by that contained, controlled, and enhanced fire (combustion). Fire is at the core of our economy. To save the Earth, the proposal is to undo all those fire-based industrial and technological advances, replacing them where possible, ending them otherwise, all in a couple of decades.

What that really says to our civilization is to have all airline corporations ground most aircraft permanently. We know that won't happen that way. We also do know that to effectively achieve that "we" must never again get on an airplane...and never again drive a car with an internal combustion engine...and never again....

"We" are not even thinking like that.

Even when three massive hurricanes in a five-year period displace our retired in-laws living on the Gulf Coast, "we" will not be thinking like that. Even if our sister and family lose their home in the third major wildfire of the year in Southern California, "we" will not be thinking like that. Even when the low-paid janitor in our office loses his grandmother to heat stroke in one of the now annual extreme heat waves, "we" will not be thinking like that

"We" choose to refuse to acknowledge our implicatory climate crisis denial  "We" minimize the psychological, political and moral implications of the facts as they apply to us - a disassociation. "We" refuse to accept responsibility for not responding. "We" avoid taking action on the scale required even though the information is clear.

Greta Thunberg's generation does have a reason to be angry. The members of the international movement Extinction Rebellion explain it: "We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making."

What do we do in response? Two celebrities of my generation, Jane Fonda, 81, and Sam Waterston, 78, got themselves arrested in a Washington, D.C., march advocating action on the Green New Deal. That's  nice. But they didn't walk to D.C. And nothing in the Green New Deal rises to the level of immediately grounding most aircraft permanently or immediately prohibiting the use of non-electric cars.

The Green New Deal as crafted by the Democratic Socialists - you know, AOC and Bernie Sanders - is far more about people having jobs and good pay next year than about immediately grounding all aircraft to save GenZ members from death in 2065. Implicatory denial anyone?

We must begin to use words that reflect the truth. It is a climate emergency, climate crisis or climate breakdown to be discussed in terms of the impacts of environmental collapse and global heating which in inevitably lead to inequality, migration and wars over scarce resources.

Because there was no significant responsive affirmative action from his fellow wealthy American men to Al Gore's plea in 1989, it is too late to prevent many impacts of environmental collapse and global heating, impacts which in the next decade will kill people and create economic stress, impacts that cannot be avoided by action taken in the next 10 months or 10 years.

Young people are facing the 21st Century Promethean Calamity. Action taken in the next 10 months or 10 years will reduce impacts on generations living in the year 2100. That doesn't include members of the generations listed in the chart above, except a few (by then) very old Millennials and Thunberg's GenZ, and their offspring.

Thunberg is telling the rest of us to at least try to wrap our heads around the truth about our choices. It is surprisingly hard for those of us in Jane Fonda's and Sam Waterston's Silent Generation. Given the technological advances that occurred in our lifetimes, it is easy to believe that clever people will invent ways to directly alter factors like the CO2 levels. Of course, that is just an extension of the implicatory climate crisis denial we've engaged in since Gore began holding hearings in 1976....

  
 
  The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.
                                                                                                          If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series:  climate change black death surrounds us