Wednesday, May 10, 2006

calling Kyoto


"Our President has declared a perpetual borderless war as a consequence of a single unforeseen attack; even a much saner administration may become unhinged when nothing, least of all the weather from year to the next, can be relied on. Skirmishes or worse will flare as resources dwindle. Our isolation will grow as millions of fellow species become extinct. The suppressed nightmare of nuclear war will recur during daylight hours.

These are not worst-case scenarios. The worst-case scenarios are much worse.

...Like Oedipus, we've been warned...The Nation devotes as much space to the dangers of global warming as anyone, but it also publishes "A 'Top Ten' List of Bold Ideas," which aims at "positive, aggresive post-Bush (and post-New Democrat) near- and long-term change"...the words global warming are nowhere to be found, and the weakly worded "investing in conservation and renewable energy" rates only an honorable mention.  This is as perverse as it is typical.  Imagine a historian in the year 2080, reading such lists as she researches the vexing question of how even educated, "progressive" people could have refused to face what was the case of global warming, our collective imagination has failed us utterly."

A prediction:  this is all about to change.  (For mighty TV, she hath caught the meme.)

"There seems to be a persistent if unstated resistance on the part of the left to the precepts of ecology...The most powerful and cogent critique that can currently be leveled against our mode of capitalism is that markets fail to account for ecological costs."

A conjecture:  given an optimistic projected income for a newly minted PhD'd white male, living in the United States (discounting any student debts), it will be safe to assume that, were one to decide to start a family, one's theoretical grandchildren would not be likely to face premature extinction within the next 80 or so years.  That is, they might live into their 50's, provided one starts having children now (and assuming said children progenerate in turn, efficiently, around age 30).

Of course, with neither a PhD (yet, or just for example) nor an income, nor any real desire to have children for another decade or so, at the least, one is unlikely at this moment to have grandchildren who survive past age 30.  Hence, great-grandchildren of any sort, for the current author's generation and general demographic are – as of now – highly unlikely.  And spoiled Europeans – should the Gulf Stream shut down, as the Pentagon openly speculates – are simply screwed.  Or rather, "deeply chilled:"
"...The authors go on to conclude that, while superior wealth and resources would allow the US to adapt moderately well to such a scenario, we would find ourselves in a world "where Europe will be struggling internally, large numbers of refugees are washing up on [US] shores, and Asia is in serious crisis over food and water.  Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life." Such conclusions force us to consider the most cynical of all possible interpretations of our [i.e. the US's] indifference to global warming: on some level, we believe not only that we'll be fine, but that our relative advantage over other countries will actually increase.  Instead of yielding aspects of our dominance to bigger nations like China and India, we'll maintain our hold over a troubled world – an idea as unethical as it is dubious.


Maybe, as the Pentagon report suggests, the same privileged caste of people who engineered the coming disasters will live in fifty years much as they do now, buffered from harm by money and medicine and force of arms.  The weather will be an erratic and dangerous spectacle, economies and ecosystems will collapse, millions will die elsewhere in the world, but we'll seal our borders, abandon our ideas of nature, buy Canada ("the Saudi Arabia of freshwater"), and adapt.

Fifty years after that?  We won't be around.  Those who will be can fend for themselves, and call us what they like."

–Chad Harbach

Such is The Bush Legacy.

nb.  Following on from here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

time for a new a new Silent Spring!