IBI Watch 11/25/12

25 11 2012

 

Pick Your Metaphor  /

What’s your preference? Nero fiddling amid fire? Rearranging the Titanic’s deck chairs? Maybe it is David Suzuki’s image of a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone arguing over where they’re going to sit. Comparing the massively accumulating climate crisis evidence with the general level of knowledge, let alone commitment, any one of those metaphors could fit.

For some time, projections of warming have offered a range of possibilities, sort of like those hurricane path forecast cones.  According to newly updated predictions, the upper end of the projections looks more and more likely. If that one is not extreme enough for you, here is an even gloomier prospect – 7 degrees C. by 2060. Now consider – all the chaotic changes in Arctic ice that melts, hurricanes that develop late in the season, supercharge and then and turn in unexpected directions, monsoons that fail and droughts that won’t quit – have needed only one degree increase for startup. This piece from the Boomer Warrior site has it about right – we are entering the “non-linearity zone.” So what are we doing about it? Incredibly, planning to build many, many more coal plants. And as for conversation about fixes, this short animation about tells it all.

 

For those of us who have been following this issue for a long time – in my case back to the late 80s – the lack of alarm and political will is by turns disappointing and shocking. Of course, powerful interests have bent public opinion to their do-nothing will.  But even some who should (and possibly do) know better continue to pooh-pooh the forecasts, and ridicule activists as chicken littles.  Just read this recent treatise by Bjorn Lomborg, who at least has a scientific credential and certainly can’t be consigned to the ignominious club of the Inhofes, Tillersons and Limbaughs. But his sin, in my book, is to argue that because reducing carbon emissions has thus far been pretty much a futile endeavor. The only chance we have of averting catastrophe over the next several decades is ‘all of the above.’ In other words, invest in clean energy, protect and harden infrastructure, and figure out a way to reduce those carbon emissions.

What is needed is commitment on the part of citizens and government to do all those right things.  Meanwhile, we are making it harder on ourselves. Look at this Heidi Cullen article from a few months back, detailing problems with the satellite system essential to gathering timely and accurate weather data. But there is evidence that industry is “getting it,” as this piece on insurance shows. And listen to this NPR story on what climate change is doing to cranberry producers. If you listen carefully, you will hear one of the farmers laugh off the idea of human-made climate change, even as he is clearly dealing with consequences himself. A ditto head, maybe?

Virtually all experts agree that the only hope we have of halting the greenhouse forces we have unleashed is drastically reducing our carbon emissions.  The best idea I have seen for achieving that goal is taxing carbon through what NASA meteorologist James Hansen calls “fee and dividend.” Sign a petition at the Climate Lobby website. You will be glad you did.

If you want to learn lots more about the issue and the best ideas for mitigating the damage already done, and getting us on a sustainable path, here is one tremendous resource.  It’s the archive for last week’s “24 Hours of Reality” event presented by the Climate Reality Project. Scroll down and you can pick an hour covering a region you would like to investigate.  For a light touch, try the new Symphony of Science entry or the Science Girl – a science project the likes of which we need to see more!

 

Needed: An End to Chemical War

Forget anthrax, mustard gas and phosgene. Think pesticides and oil-based fertilizers. The agricultural revolution over the past seven decades – led by Norman Borlaug – dramatically ramped up grain harvests, but at a great cost. It has led to today’s factory farms and monocultures of corn and soybeans, which deplete soil and require application of massive quantities of toxic, oil-based chemicals to keep the production coming. Monsanto is making a killing in so many ways.

Here are just a few looks at today’s agriculture situation. First, a look at the war between insect pests and chemical insecticides. Next, you no doubt have heard about “colony collapse disorder,” which has been plaguing beekeepers across the country.  Natural phenomenon? Don’t bet your lunch on it. Then there is the absolute madness of growing corn for biofuel.

The factory farm boosters say this is the way it has to be.  Larger is cheaper, more efficient, inevitable. A growing chorus of dissenters says there is another way. Prominent among that crowd is activist Bill McKibben. I recently finished his excellent book Eaarth, which I strongly recommend. One factoid from the book – in 1940, we extracted 2.3 calories of food energy from a single calorie of fossil fuel energy. In 2008, that morphed into 10 calories of fossil fuel energy for a single calorie of food energy.

We vote with our purchases. Those “low, low prices” from the factory food industry have their own costs. Here are a few sources for smarter alternatives. Find and join a CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm, as I did many years ago. Or grow your own.

 

Shoot, Trap, Hang from a Tree . . .

Many things make me proud to be a Minnesotan by choice.  Our recent rejection of two constitutional amendments in the face of well-funded propaganda is a good example. The ongoing wolf hunt is NOT. I am not alone in that sentiment. I can’t escape the conclusion that hunters and trappers are slaughtering these canines mainly for fun, for the trophy value.  Oh, and as some hunters have explained in the media – they are killing too many deer.  Hmm. Hunting for deer is one thing – people eat the venison.  But hunting the wild cousins of our best friends for the “sport” of it?  And worse yet, using cruel traps to bag your catch?  Barbaric.

Here are a few recent opinion pieces that I like. First, a thoughtful essay by Cheryll Ostrom.  Next, Paul John Scott gets to the heart of the matter. And finally, Howard Goldman declares the truth about the hunt – it is all for “fun” and betrays a compromise.

The hunt has caused my wife and me to cancel our paid membership in the International Wolf Center.  Incredibly, the center is not opposing the hunt, instead officially congratulating themselves that a hunt is “possible” because of expanded numbers and range.  To be fair, I am sure that many staffers there are just as opposed to the hunt as I am. We are switching our support to this organization.

 

A Nation of Many Nations

Looking at the rise of fundamentalist Christianity as a right-wing political force over the past 30 years, plus the prevalence of blatantly anti-scientific views, I have often wondered whether the South was actually the victor in the Civil War.  At other times, I have wished those so inclined would just go and have their own country, ruled by a sort of Bible-thumping sharia. This is why two recent articles caught my eye and in one case, got me laughing out loud.

First – what I saw as original analysis, going well beyond the accepted red/blue divide. Colin Woodard’s piece 11 Nations, Divisible sheds much light on regional differences, voting patterns and long history.

And then – you want divisible?  We have divisible for you. Commentator and author Paul VanDevelder throws down the gauntlet to the passel of red states that have recently threatened secession.  Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Hilarious to boot.

 

The Twinkie Offense

It’s a question on the minds of so many today. Who killed the Twinkie? Was it greedy bosses? Was it recalcitrant unions? Who better to opine on such a weighty topic than Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman?  Here is a quote: “the success of the postwar American economy demonstrates that, contrary to today’s conservative orthodoxy, you can have prosperity without demeaning workers and coddling the rich. Along the way, however, we’ve forgotten something important — namely, that economic justice and economic growth aren’t incompatible. America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share; it gave workers the power to bargain for decent wages and benefits; yet contrary to right-wing propaganda then and now, it prospered. And we can do that again.”

 

None of the Above

While we are on the topic of fundamentalist religion, here is a trend for you.  Turns out that the setbacks for fundies in the recent election may be just the beginning.  We can only hope.

 

Terrified Creatures: Who Could Blame Them?

About 1.5 acres of Amazon rainforest are cut down every second.  No wonder these new discoveries – as reported by the Onion – are cowering in mortal fear.

 

Holiday Shopping, Anyone?

There is no better time of year to check in on Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping. And my favorite holiday song is nearly out of season.  Watch its author perform before its shelf life runs out.

 

“Some day the earth will weep, she will beg for her life, she will cry with tears of blood. You will make a choice, if you will help her or let her die, and when she dies, you will die too.” – John Hollow Horn, Oglala Lakota

 

Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN

 

Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper

 


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One response

4 12 2012
Gwain Colbert & Dountio Relindis

Great discuss there. We share the same values and think only concerted action can change things. Our own views are summarized in the project we are currently raising funds for at Global Giving to help support a Green Economy for some 100 rural women in Cameroon who are using their indigenous approaches to fight back climate change with nothing in exchange even as it is clear that they are just the victims meanwhile the culprits are the fusil fuel industrialized west. Kindly be part of the solution rather remain part of the problem by support this green economy today. Act now and also invite five of your friends and contacts to donate in honour of these poor women who toil everyday be make society a better place for our selves and future generations. Act now as Global Giving would immediately match your donation and those of your friends by up to 15 %. Thank you as you go right now to support a green economy for 100 women in Cameroon
http://www.globalgiving.org to support

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