Sunday, October 29, 2006

Climate change and global consumption

Been far too long since I put up a post regarding the impending doom that is climate change. Actually, impending is the wrong word because that implies that it has yet to arrive. No, it's already here. Climate change and its effects are right now, not the future. Of course climate change is a direct result of our rapid over consumption of natural resources. We'll start with the BBC which reports on Global ecosystems collapse:
Current global consumption levels could result in a large-scale ecosystem collapse by the middle of the century, environmental group WWF has warned.

The group's biannual Living Planet Report said the natural world was being degraded "at a rate unprecedented in human history".

Terrestrial species had declined by 31% between 1970-2003, the findings showed.

It warned that if demand continued at the current rate, two planets would be needed to meet global demand by 2050.

The biodiversity loss was a result of resources being consumed faster than the planet could replace them, the authors said.
The Guardian reports on NASA scientests warning that Earth's temperature is dangerously high:
Earth's temperature could be reaching its highest level in a million years, American scientists said yesterday.

Researchers at Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies said a further one degree celsius rise in the global temperature could be critical to the planet, and there was already a threat of extreme weather resulting from El Niño.

The scientists said that in the 30 years to the end of 2005, temperatures increased at the rate of 0. 2 degrees per decade, a rate they described as "remarkably rapid".

Comparison of the current global temperature with estimates of historical temperatures - based on a study of ocean sediment - showed the current temperature was now within 1C of the maximum temperature of the past million years.

Dr James Hansen, who led the study, said further global warming of just 1C could lead to big changes to the planet.

"If warming is kept less than that, effects of global warming may be relatively manageable," he said.

"But if further global warming reaches two or three degrees celsius, we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet [to] the one we know.

"The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about 3m years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today."
Also from NASA, we have only a decade left to act in time:
‘We have a very brief window of opportunity,’ NASA scientist says

A leading U.S. climate researcher says the world has a 10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert catastrophe.

NASA scientist James Hansen, widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers, said governments must adopt an alternative scenario to keep carbon dioxide emission growth in check and limit the increase in global temperatures to 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

“I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most,” Hansen said Wednesday at the Climate Change Research Conference in California’s state capital.

If the world continues with a “business as usual” scenario, Hansen said temperatures will rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 7.2 degrees F) and “we will be producing a different planet.”

On that warmer planet, ice sheets would melt quickly, causing a rise in sea levels that would put most of Manhattan under water. The world would see more prolonged droughts and heat waves, powerful hurricanes in new areas and the likely extinction of 50 percent of species.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

You think there will be an election in 2008? How quaint.

I've been saying now for 3 or 4 years that there would be no presidential election in 2008. The theft of the 2004 elections just affirmed it for me. Now, for any Republicans that may stumble upon this post, let me be very clear about something from the very get go. I'm not a Democrat and I don't like the Democratic Party any more than the Republican Party. I think they are both deeply flawed elements of a very broken system. In fact that brings me directly to my first point.

The two party system is a false set of choices and always has been. America is not, in any way, a democracy. Never has been. The democracy of this republic has never been anything more than a facade created to give the appearance of democracy. Another way to describe it would be to say that it is a carefully designed cage that is large enough and fine enough to give the appearance of freedom and a sense of mobility and choice.

As a facade "our" democracy has functioned fairly well in terms of its real purpose. But even its performance as a facade is now beginning to break down. I think that's because the real structure underneath is strained and it's flaws, fundamental and deep, are beginning to weaken. The real engine has run into social, political, and ecological realities that it is unable to adapt to and may not have planned for. The result is that the foundation is now out of balance and is shifting quite a bit and that energy carries over into the facade.

Seems to me that the facade only really works as long as a middle and moderate path is taken because the whole point is to sustain the illusion of freedom and democracy. It has to keep the majority happy by giving them a sense of control in its periodic swings to the left and then the right and that's not just for it's own citizens but also its image in the larger community of nations. In the past few years, really the past few decades, we've taken such a significant swing to the right that the sense of balance is gone. This current group in the White House is, in many ways, a logical and predictable result... at least certain aspects of it are. Other aspects of it are, in a strange way, the contradiction to what was really needed.

The contradiction is that this swing too far to the right is detrimental to the existence of the core machine, often called the "State". The State is something that exists in the background, it is the real power center. Of course global capitalism also plays a role and there are relationships between the two. But the entities that make up the State and Capital, powerful as they may be, must still deal with the reality of billions of people on a planet of finite resources and this is perhaps the fundamental problem at the moment. Peak oil and peak energy will become a major issue in the short term and I believe that the effects of climate change will only complicate the matter. Add to this scenario the many variables and complications of expanding war in the Middle East and the situation begins to seem dire.

In an article describing the well developed pattern of lies by Bush and his fellow Republicans, Juan Cole has this to say about the one-party state:
The United States has a one-party state. The presidency, the vice presidency, the cabinet, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court-- are all and have for some time been in the hands of the same party. Not only that, but the most extreme factions within the Republican Party: the theocrats, the Neoconservative ex-Trotskiyites, the John Yoo Torture Apologists, the Grover Norquist advocates of Mr. Scrooge plutocracy, the corrupt Abramoffist lobbyists and Delayist horse thieves--they are ascendant. Parties don't investigate themselves. They are about power, interests, and money. They are about winning. They aren't a charity.

The American public has been unwise to allow this one party state to grow up, which is chipping away at our liberties as Americans and creating a new monarchy and a new aristocracy. It works by lies and cover-ups.

Another four years of the one-party state, and the Republic will be finished, if it is not already.

I would add to this that the two-party state is not much better. I'd also add that the Republic is already finished. There are very dark times ahead but in truth, I think they've been a long time coming and are probably a necessary development. Americans have been living in fantasy land for the past 50+ years. We took the bribe of suburbia, gadgets, and cheap entertainment, we traded in our role of citizen for that of consumer. The simple truth is that freedom and democracy, if they are to be meaningful and real, must be a part of everyday life. Which brings me back to the original point of this post: the 2008 elections.

Over at Another Day in the Empire Kurt discusses Keith Olbermann's July interview with former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean. He writes that Dean "comes within a hair’s breadth of declaring the neocons have specifically created terrorism in order to run roughshod over our former republic. Of course, as ample documentation reveals, this is precisely what the neocons have done."

I agree with that and also his assessment that last week's approval of HR 6166, S 3930 was the next step and that a clamp-down will soon follow. This is the New America:
Dean’s interview is interesting as well because he describes the neocons as dangerous authoritarians who will do anything to remain in power and aggressively foist their agenda on the nation, even if it ultimately destroys the nation.

As the so-called “detainee bill,” more accurately characterized as the Habeas Corpus Murder bill, reveals, the neocons will sacrifice our republic without a second thought in order to realize their forever war agenda.

The Habeas Corpus Murder Bill is an obvious attempt to remove all constitutional restraint prior to the coming authoritarian clamp-down, as dissent will not be tolerated after the neocons shock and awe (with nukes) Iran in the anticipated kick-off of World War Four, a catastrophe that will demand the sort of imperious society Straussian neocons have dreamed of implementing for decades.

Elections in 2008? I don't think so.


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