Sunday, May 26, 2013

Climate Death Throes

An indispensable new This American Life episode, "Hot in My Backyard" contains riveting stories from a genuine political balance of perspectives, suggesting together something that is all-too-rare in today's media hellscape:  a proper and informed 'pathos of indignation.'   

Personally I think it is long past time to risk offending so-sensitive conservatives.

Did you know that if ExxonMobile *alone* simply extracts what is already in their reserves (as indeed the market, including your 401K, currently counts on them to do), the planet tanks (and not in an "engineering problem" sort of way, but irreversibly and horribly)?  We have no stable models (and likely never will) to predict just how climate change will effect weather patterns, other than the obvious consensus that destructive extremes will get much, much worse, and in this fundamentally unpredictable fashion climate change is by any reasonable measure the true "Terror" of our time.

The terrifying reality is that todays climate catastrophes will *very* soon come to be seen as mild, indeed less than average in only 14 years when we reach the universally, world-dreaded two degrees.  And we're currently on track for five degrees. 

In short, unless the market can be made to believe that those reserves will never be tapped, and adapt accordingly, we're screwed.  Global warming will be so unimaginably horrible in just a few short decades; by the time Exxon executives rouse themselves on their delusional perches to the floodwaters at their ankles, most of the planet will be underwater.

Thank God, the divestment campaign is growing faster than anti-Apartheid did at first, but thanks to fossil fuel industry-purchased Republicans (many of whom are politically afraid to speak what they objectively know to be true) nearly half of all Americans *still* don't grasp what 98.4% of scientists (and even ExxonMobile itself) unambiguously do: that climate change is manmade, very real, and sooner-than-each-previous-study-anticipated irreversible, if not irreversible already. 

Contrary to what ExxonMobile would have you believe, an alternative future is not only imaginable but reasonably possible (and it does not involve the quack science nightmare of geoengineering).  Just as one example, there's enough wind power on government-owned land in the mid-western US alone to supply 1/3 of all US energy needs.  Imagine what the world's most profitable company ever to exist, ExxonMobile, could do with its annual $46M, were it forced to pursue energy technology that did not lead straight to Biblical-scale, inevitable mass misery and suffering.  Is their bottom line that precious? 

There really is no other news story of our time than this one.

Update:  Ok, maybe also this one.

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