Society is driven, in vain, to overshadow pressure cooker of global warming
by Jan Lundberg
We are not quite getting the message, certainly not from the mass media or government officials: The pressure cooker of global warming is underway with no let up. More greenhouse-gas emissions within the planet's closed system traps us with a lid over the biosphere, and new findings indicate it may be too late to turn down the heat.
Meanwhile, despite more evidence of human-caused climate change, the mantra of the global warmers is "Jobs (and profits) First! (at all cost)" Ironically, the group "Earth First!" has sometimes been treated as terroristic. But Earth Jobs First (e.g., ecological restoration) might satisfy everyone except the mega-profiteers running the economy.
If we beleaguered mainstream citizens do not replace our form of economics and way of life as profligate energy consumers, we will someday witness or be a part of a backlash by the masses of people reacting to devastating climate change. Just because our "leaders" and the corporate news media are able to skirt the issue and keep the present economy burning along does not mean the wrath of the people will not rear up. Consider Iraq: the U.S. and other invaders have been in denial. The population of that abused nation would not stand by while its civilian casualties mount and their oil is coveted and controlled. Now, the general uprising is like an exploding pressure cooker.
We can blame the government and the corporate news media for distracting us, but there are several critical stories getting our attention now. Global warming isn't one of them, despite the new finding that it is spiraling out of control (read on).
Upsetting/interesting news developments, besides Iraq in rebellion, include higher oil prices and the Bush/9-11 case. These events minimize people's ability to concentrate on their long-term survival and that of the biosphere. The effect is to maintain the global economy and U.S. foreign policy as the major engines of global warming. The strategy of the major global-warming interests would logically be to focus people on any number of other major crises, so that profit making and expansion can continue unimpeded. It seems to be working.
Two major stories in the Washington Post on April 8, 2004 were "Rate of the Amazon's Deforestation Rises" and "Protection Lacking for Rare Species." But these alarming developments rated mere blurbs on page A-8 under a small heading called "Findings." Meanwhile, whole square-yardage of print space of the Post is constantly devoted to articles like, for example, what some suburban politician thinks about public services. A regular section or two in the Post is solely on cars page after page to really suppress global-warming awareness and related issues. This is typical of all capitalistic newspapers today. The free press is thus barely alive, and is certainly not in the realm of mass media.
To make matters much worse, news developments grabbing headlines all over the U.S. often reflect values counter to curbing global warming. The most obvious statistic that disturbs an ecologist is the joyous 4% jump in U.S. car sales in March.
Less clear as a global warmer is the recent growth in nonfarm- payroll employment, which increased by 308,000 in March. The fact is, more people running machines, commuting to work, and being able to buy their consumer items (which were trucked via petroleum) mean more global warming gases emitted. (This is not the column for making the case that the unemployment rate of 5.7 percent is too low. For the "Right to Be Poor and to Thrive," see Culture Change Letter #57.)
A sideshow to the ecological concern about employment numbers is whether the "right jobs" are being generated or exported. According to the Washington Times of April 9, the U.S. has a growing deficit in advanced technology goods and services, and jobs are not being created in manufacturing. Jobs are still being lost in the U.S. transportation equipment and electrical equipment appliances.
As to the "rebounding" economy, in which more overwork is available (oh, goody!), the statistics don't yet reflect the higher price of oil that, if sustained, can monkeywrench the entire global economy.
Whatever excites the news media and makes the talking heads happy is often very bad for the Earth. We are being killed, possibly driven extinct, by a murderous economic system that knows no limits. The culture pervades well: you may know someone with five cars. Guess if the person recycles. However, there are limits: Nature Bats Last.
The Independent (London) reported new CO2 levels from the Mauna Loa, Hawaii US Observatory (pictured), on March 28, 2004:
Lest anyone believe that people only appear to be apathetic and spineless because of the media censorship of "the real stories," consider this April 7 story in the New York Times: "White House staff members deleted or modified information on the toxic effects of mercury when writing regulations for coal-fired power plants..." People don't want to believe mercury is as dangerous as it really is, or that their government/industry "leaders" would betray them as surely as a knife in the back. But such information is out there to be had and acted upon.
Global warming is real too, and it appears to need to explode in people's faces for there to be action. The action then may not be patient and rational, but vengeful and devastating. U.S. policy has historically pushed people past the breaking point, and then reacted with even more violence: Examples include native American genocide and today's rebellion in Iraq. Regarding global warming, it will most certainly have its "fifteen minutes of fame" and will then remain uppermost in people's minds. U.S. policy, from local pro-business pollution that changes the climate all the way to U.S. bombs releasing carbon dioxide into the air, is about force and profits. Legislators and other officials are not dealing with global warming because they are players in the business elite.
What would be a global warming revolution? What started out as a jocular greeting may be evolving into a prophesy of sorts:
"Have a global warming day," goes a song by the Depavers, heard on NPR and CNN International during the Kyoto climate change conference. Now, after seven years of no action, "Have a global warming revolution" might reflect what is to come. People want to live and know that their grandchildren will live. People want nature to stay, not disappear or become hopelessly distorted. Just because people are trapped making a living today, and consuming resources in such a way to fry the planet, does not mean they will take kindly to learning that the atmosphere is spiraling into a Venus syndrome of the ultimate greenhouse effect.
It's up to you. Damn the distractions, Have a Global Warming Revolution! Make it nonviolent, as Gandhi would have.
Join the cause. If you say it's impossible to slash gluttonous energy consumption, do the impossible. Isn't life worth doing so? To place hope in politicians present and future is a cop-out. In the case of global warming, citizen action has to mean a revolution starting with the individual's own self.
April 8, 2004
the U.S. occupation of Iraq and read background on war
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