Thoughts on our Republican Controlled Government and the Future of the Climate

I’m not in the mood to rant or weep. I’ve read a lot of very well-written, heartfelt essays expressing the dismay at the Trump victory, and most of them were written by personal friends posting on Facebook. I’m going to try to stay away what’s already been covered. Other than to say that the post-election eruption of racism and KKK victory demonstrations are not at all separate from what a Trump presidency and the failure of the Democratic Party to lead a strong opposition represents: mass ignorance. On the one hand, the idea that billionaire Trump is some kind of outsider (he’s already proven this incorrect by hiring Republican insiders), and on the other hand, thinking the same Republican-lite Democratic Party the Clintons ushered in, in a permanently depressed economy, is going to stop a man perceived to be an outsider. Corporations have been selling plastic rebellion for decades.

Ignorance leads to fear, fear to hatred, hatred to moral depravity and violence. But it all stems from ignorance, from not knowing and not wanting to know. Anti-Intellectualism in American life is a tradition that may become the undoing of the human species. And it’s getting really difficult to be polite about it. If your friend is standing in the middle of a highway with his children and a semi is barrelling down on them at 100 mph, you’d not be much of a friend to say “Well we both disagree on whether you should be standing there, but it’s your right in a free society.”  A more appropriate response would be to yell, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE ROAD YOU FUCKING IDIOT! YOU’RE GOING TO GET US ALL KILLED!”

While education is a requirement for a democracy to function, we can’t afford to wait until we strengthen the educational system and make college affordable, and only then expect the public to make responsible democratic decisions. Those of us who understand the possible catastrophes in the coming decades, and there are millions of us even in this idiocracy, now need to follow the Standing Rock Sioux at #NODAPL and other indigenous tribes worldwide, and develop a practical strategy to dismantle the fossil fuel industry, and eventually take state power. We can’t waste time trying to educate people who have spent decades being made stupid from corporate and religious power propaganda, people who have graduated high school and college not understanding what science and evidence even is. A definitive, black/white argument from a corporate or religious stooge is infinitely easier for the masses to digest as they float through an ocean of media rather than a speculative, complex, nuanced, evidence-based argument from a scientist that will only catch the ear of the naturally curious. Neil degrasse Tyson and others have been trying to popularize science with encouraging results that will benefit us long term, but we need to act now. I am past tired of trying to engage people who have been programmed to think thoughts that lend themselves to corporate power no matter the evidence.

Perhaps Republican control of all three branches of government will do away with the illusion that we can sit back and allow those in power to take measures to curb climate change. Hillary Clinton and a Democratically controlled Senate would have had to have been pushed to do anything beyond half-measures. And half-measures will leave us just as dead as doing nothing at all.

Clearly though, Republicans offer a mountain to climb in the way of progress on climate change to the establishment Democrats’ hurdle. I’m waiting to see what kind of weirdness a Trump administration will bring. There’s a possibility that we’ll have the first resignation since Nixon, once the guy realizes the weight of his office. What we do know is Trump is a climate change denier who promised to bring back the coal industry and approve all pipelines. He has stated he’s going to gut the EPA, and hired another climate change denier, Myron Ebell, to head his EPA transition team. Trump has also stated he’s going to back out of the Paris agreement. In response, French president Nicolas Sarkozy said he was going to place a carbon tax on American products should the US pull out of the agreement, while author Naomi Klein called for sanctions against the US.

What Your Children and Grandchildren Will Face if We Keep Burning Fossil Fuels

1. Mass migration from sea level rise.

The oceans have absorbed 93% of the heat caused by the burning of fossil fuels since the industrial revolution, half of that heat has been absorbed since 1997. This melts ice. Melted ice means rising sea levels. Sea level rise means no more Miami, New York, San Diego, Sydney, any city near an ocean. This means millions of people will have to find new homes. If humans were smart, they’d prepare for this and move gradually. More likely, humans will deny and deny until their sewer systems no longer function and there’s water in the living room. A Katrina-like catastrophe won’t be confined to the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, it will involve millions and millions of people with no water.

Methane trapped under the ice caps will also be released into the atmosphere, which is known as amplified feedback.. the more the climate warms, the more it causes conditions that further warm the climate.

2. Agricultural Collapse

What happens when the “breadbasket of the world” becomes a desert? As the climate changes rapidly, it doesn’t just get warmer so we can grow bananas in Pennsylvania. It means more drought, more extreme weather, more flooding, the proliferation of new pests farther North, all of which has an immediate effect on the global food supply. With populations growing and growing, your children will most likely see or experience instances of mass starvation and death as extreme weather events cause crops to fail.

3. Water Wars

We’re already seeing a reduction in water supply and a disruption of the water cycle from heavy rains. Glaciers around the world that provide water for millions of people are melting at a rapid pace. If global corporations are allowed to own all the water, they’re sure to protect that resource with violence just like they do with “their” oil.

Read about other “Climate Impacts on Society“, a very conservative article courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency.

So if a planet full of millions of people dying constantly of mass starvation and thirst, constant world war over basic resources, wildfires, more powerful hurricanes, floods, acidification of the oceans, and on and on is a place you want your progeny to exist in, I encourage you to relax, do nothing, and enjoy what we have while it lasts. Look at the world in terms of easy answers and short term solutions, every problem framed simply in a good vs. evil dichotomy, and continue to vote for leaders who think just like you.

The Mindset of Survival

For roughly 94% of human history, we have survived as hunter-gatherers. We lived in small egalitarian bands and shared all acquired resources. With the invention of agriculture 12,000 years ago, societies began to form around fertile lands, and thus the concept of ownership grew out of this. Authority, hierarchy, and authoritarian religions grew out of this. Monotheism and all of its resulting conflicts near the “fertile crescent” of the Middle East grew out of this.

Several hundred years ago hierarchical European societies, empowered by a lust for gold and a belief in an authoritarian dictator god, began to enslave members of tribal societies in Africa, and conquer entire tribes in the Americas with sword and small pox. During the final century hierarchical European society was obliterating tribal societies in Africa and America, the Industrial Revolution took off. Those on the lower rung of the European hierarchies were taken from their small shops and small farms and made to work in coal powered factories. William Blake called them “Satanic mills”. And we’ve been burning fossil fuels ever since.

I cannot take any argument seriously that states hierarchical corporations who are blowing off mountain tops in West Virginia and poisoning millions of gallons of water with fracking, injecting it into wells and causing earthquakes in Oklahoma, who are paying people to say climate change is a hoax, who are causing wars over oil resources in the Middle East, are going to voluntarily solve this problem in the free market. Companies will continue wrapping everything in plastic unless forced to do otherwise. Local governments will keep refusing to raise taxes on the rich and build public transportation unless forced to do otherwise.

We need massive public action on these things, in order to pass regulation to force giant corporations to stop burning so many fossil fuels. To expect individuals, compelled to live in a fossil fuel based economy, to cut down their individual behaviors is not only absurd, but even if everyone cut down their household electricity use by half it still wouldn’t be enough to keep the world below the accepted 2 degrees Celsius of post-industrial global temperature increase. To make the argument “Well how do you get to work? How are you online now? How do you stay warm in the winter?” defends the system that is destroying us by deliberately refusing to look at a big picture answer, that actually questions the entire system.

We need sweeping legislation by a government that truly represents the public. And to get that, no matter who is in office, we need a mass movement of people taking action like the people in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

 

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