IBI Watch 4/17/11

17 04 2011

IBI Watch 4/17/11

Extreme Climate, Extreme Energy, Extreme (Purposeful ) Ignorance

“Ya cannot change the laws of physics, Captain.”

Scotty was right, even if he wasn’t talking about our real-world  climate chaos ‘debate.’  Things really are getting more extreme out there – heat waves, droughts, severe storms,  torrential rains, floods.  To expect climate patterns to stay the same while we massively change the chemical makeup of the atmosphere and oceans with our carbon emissions would be to expect the laws of physics to bend to our will.  Not gonna happen.

Right now, the budget crisis that weighs on the federal and most state governments is simply the latest excuse the Republican Party is using to roll back environmental protection.  We can’t afford it, they say.  In truth, in the long run, we can’t afford the sort of purposeful ignorance they are pushing.  Why call it ‘purposeful?’  It pushes what is essentially the core Republican agenda – reduce government and its ‘onerous’ regulations down to virtual nothingness, so wealthy industrialists can maximize profits.  In other words, drill, baby drill, and burn, baby, burn.

First link – you don’t have to read and believe all of James Lovelock’s writings on Gaia (though he is definitely worth reading!) to understand the world as a complex, self-regulating system.  We are throwing it off balance as we drive atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to heights not seen since long before humanity evolved to dominate the place.  Naturally, there are effects and consequences.  In other words, rough sailing immediately ahead. .  . and for the future, both foreseeable and unforeseeable.

Fortunately, responsible journalists are working to counter the ExxonMobil spin machine.  Sarah Laskow’s Media Consortium piece details what the current round of budget-cutting will do to environmental programs.  Then, Democracy Now interviews with authors Mark Hertsgaard (‘Hot’) and Naomi Klein (‘The Shock Doctrine’) provide depth on the purposeful ignorance campaign that is making incredible inroads in this country.  The Hertsgaard interview includes a clip of his face-to-face with the godfather of purposeful ignorance, Senator James Inhofe.  Klein fears that manmade climate chaos ( a better name for the phenomenon, I think) may be the ‘best’ crisis to come along yet for putting in place draconian, anti-democratic policies.  Watch for her next book – no title listed here – which will cover this issue.

Finally, a little purposeful fun.  A one-minute cartoon accompanying the Austin Lounge Lizards’ ‘Toast the Earth with ExxonMobil.’  ‘Match to the gas tank, boom boom!’






Parks Burn

No, it’s not wildfires in the news.  NPR ran a story about problems with bears attacking people in Yellowstone National Park.  And the villain, amazingly, appears to be none other than global warming, or as I call it, manmade climate chaos.  Scientists are finding that disturbances in climate patterns are making it harder for bears in the West to feed themselves. Results are predictable, and tragic.

This story reminded me of a personal experience.  I visited Glacier National Park in 2008 and talked at some length with a couple of the park rangers.  They were giving detailed presentations on the devastating climate chaos effects already being felt in the park.  The steadily melting glaciers were wreaking havoc with the park ecosystem, and leading to predictions that iconic wildlife could disappear within a few years.  And here is the most interesting part.  The rangers were only permitted to do these presentations a few months before my July 2008 visit. Prior to that, the oil-soaked Bush administration had issued orders to keep mum.

Below the Yellowstone link, I am posting the piece I wrote after returning from Glacier.


Puddles National Park – the Preview (August ’08)

I recently visited Glacier National Park for the first time.  My wife and I timed this trip well.  We managed to see all the majestic beauty in much the way park visitors have, or had, for many decades.  According to the park rangers we talked to, this spring and summer have been more like what the park is used to  = temperatures near average, and a huge snow accumulation that was actually above average.  In mid-July, we saw huge snowfields melting into streams and waterfalls as they cascade down the mountains and maintain complex ecosystems.  We slogged though ankle-deep snow to climb to high viewing points on trails.  But big changes are afoot in the park.  Recent years have seen long stretches of temperatures 30 and more degrees above long-term averages, and accompanying disruptions of precipitation patterns.   Global warming is melting the glaciers at an increasing rate.  When the glaciers are gone – the latest updated prediction is 2020 – a large number of plants and animals – from  the glacier lily to the mountain goat to the grizzly bear – will be in danger of disappearance from the park.  A footnote – we were able to learn a lot from the rangers only because they have been unmuzzled.  Until 2007, the federal government (under the all-seeing Bush administration’s misguidance) forbade them from discussing global warming unless it was a one-one conversation and a park visitor specifically asked about it.  Now there is enforced ideologically driven ignorance for you!  This year, rangers are giving frequent, detailed presentations on the important topic.  A bit late, you might say.  And of course Glacier’s tragic transformation-in-progress is only part of what is happening in the American West.  This Huffington Post article broadens the context.


Ryan has Seen the Enemy – It is Us – the Working Stiffs and the Poor

With Republicans controlling the House, we are seeing the long-term agenda of the modern Republican Party front and center – enable the rich, worship and further enrich the billionaires (so that they from on high may deign to create employment for us lowly serfs), and of course gut government regulations.  Despite the props Congressman Paul Ryan is getting in some circles for his ‘adult’ budget proposal, the agenda is right there.  Look at the program and regulatory cuts, while he perpetuates and even deepens Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthy.  A little Mother Jones perspective from David Corn.  Also, a view of what a budget that supports the COMMON good rather than the Corporate greed might look like.



Don’t Know Much about the Economy

OK, time for some quiz questions:

  • Which recent presidents have been best/worst on the deficit?
  • How are wealth and income distributed in America?

And some thought questions:

  • To have the best and fairest country, what should the wealth and income distribution look like?
  • What country should ours most resemble?
  • How do views on these issues differ between Republicans and Democrats?

I guarantee that some of the answers at these two links will surprise you.  Much to learn about, ponder, and do something about here.



Leave no Billionaire Behind

You saw the headline recently – General Electric pays no income tax.  Turns out this is no anomaly.  The first story points out that fully two thirds of US corporations do the same.  This is very curious, when we hear so frequently the complaints about how high corporate income taxes are.  This also makes it no surprise at all that CEO pay continues to grow, while wages for virtually everyone else stagnate.  Yea, verily, it be good to be king!

In times like these, tricksters can really point out absurdity.  The Yes Men are at it again – this time they punked the Associated Press with a fable about how GE would volunteer a massive tax payment.  Hilarious.




Protect Factory Farms?

Stories like this speak volumes.  We all know the right-wing corporatist creed – cut taxes, strip regulations, cut government.  That is, unless their corporate owners see a need for regulation.  Our Minnesota legislature is trying to protect factory farms from those pesky whistleblowers.  So you see, regulation is bad, unless it protects our friends and benefactors.  This story reminded me of other recent books and documentaries that have gotten the word out about the way we do food here in America.







Did He Really Say That?

Fortunately, Jon Stewart was paying close attention when Senator Jon Kyl had a bit of a problem with the truth about Planned Parenthood.  Facts?  Who needs ‘em?!



Making Good Things Happen

It’s easy to be discouraged.  That’s why it’s good to celebrate those working for progress . . . and figure out ways to get involved.



“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”

– Frank Lloyd Wright

Contributed  links to this posting – Jeff Carlson,  Allyson Harper, Mike Kuehn




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