Tag Archives: climate change

Desert Dwellers and Polar Ice Caps

polar ice3

How do we get desert dwellers to care that the polar ice caps are melting. We can’t even get Republicans who can see what is happening in Norfolk and Miami to pay attention. When you live in a dry, hot part of the world and you are bent on conquest or survival it is difficult to remember that everything is interconnected, even if some of your best oil wells are located near coastlines. How do we get a terrorist caught up in bringing back the 14th century to look over his shoulder and see the tsunami in his future?

Republicans, if they entertain the notion of climate change at all, refuse to accept that it is caused by human activities. We know why they do this; investments and power structures. If we find alternatives to fossil fuels they fear that their bank accounts will dwindle. They cannot accept that the age of fossil fuels, and, in fact, the Industrial Age is ending. They are starving poorer Americans, hoarding all the money on purpose. Of course they enjoy being rich, but you can only buy so many homes and yachts. Their real aim is to recreate 1890’s America when there were no worker’s rights, no unions, no minimum wage requirements, and no regulations on businesses.

You cannot get factories back to America if workers expect to get paid thirty or forty dollars an hour. You have to get them down around two dollars an hour. No wonder the GOP hates the movement for a $15 minimum wage. If you add addiction into the no-minimum-wage mix, we get to the bottom even faster. Furthermore if you think that humans have played no role in climate change then you can claim that, ergo, there is nothing humans can do to stop such changes and you can carry on blithely with your plan for a fossil-fuel-based master/serf economy. Take all the people’s toys away and make them climb that ladder of opportunity all over again – an Industrial Age do-over.

I know there are those who will say that we have to still have factories, we have to still produce things and, of course, we always will, but it does not take hundreds of workers to run a modern factory. The application of robotics is setting people free of work and creating new problems because then we have no alternative productive role to offer them.

Some may decide to be academics, but not everyone can or will choose that route. We really need to work on the roles societies will provide for people who are not needed to do work, or we need to find work they will feel good about doing. The American work ethic works against this. Rich folks get all huffy about people who don’t have a reason to or skill set for work. In America those who work labor for longer hours with shorter vacations than almost any other developed nation. There has to be a better goal for Americans who are not wealthy than working for the Future Taskmasters of America. I have heard people trying to start a back to the farm movement but farming was not as romantic a lifestyle in reality as it is in memory. Just read One Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley.

How do we get rich people – Capitalist “pigs” as we used to call them – on board to prepare Earth for the 9 billion people who will live on it by 2050? Without their help, with their very active opposition, it is a push-pull operation and basically a wash. Progress is in baby steps when we need giant ones. How do we get megalomaniacs intent on power to tune into anything except their own selfish drive for fame, or historical relevance, or whatever when they may just be, at base, mad men. Without China, without Russia, without the Middle East or Africa who is left to work on this truly existential threat – in the sense of a threat to human survival?

Are humans worth fighting to save or should we just let extinction happen to a species that has proven to be a bit too rapacious to coexist peacefully anywhere. And as for the idea that freedom alone should be attractive to people in every nation, I do not think that we are setting a very good example for the ways in which freedom makes life wonderful. In fact sometimes our notion of freedom makes it impossible to impose an organizational global design that might help us meet future needs.

There are no walls in the ocean (well, except by the Netherlands) so one body of water hits every nation with a coast line. Bodies of water within nations such as rivers and lakes will eventually rise also. We don’t need more salt water. The world will need a lot of fresh water for those 9 billion people. Water levels are just one outcome of polar melting. It is easy to foresee fear and anger growing as changes occur to geography and crowded coastal cities. It is easy to foresee tempers on edge and fights breaking out. Unless we are proactive and devise strategies to deal with negative human interactions, apocalyptic scenes may be as common in the near future as natural disasters are becoming in the present.

polar ice drowned city

Getting people, made ever suspicious of conspiracy by those who oppose change, worried about losing freedom or losing comfort, to create any sort of “matrix” of leadership that can ameliorate chaos seems almost impossible to imagine. Our war/peace dynamic may be so hard-wired into us that we will continue to fight our way right through climate change and beyond (if there is a beyond). We surely need some heroes and heroines who disregard the worst in humanity to save the best in humanity if we are to survive the population explosion and simultaneous climate change. If thinking about these things does not convince people that war is an obsolete and primitive construct then I don’t know what will.

However the militants will not stop their crusades for some probably unreachable ideal in order to give space to find a solution to issues of climate crisis. It is the human condition to strive for a cultural equality or religious purity or manifest destiny that will, most likely, never exist. So actually the question becomes one of finding a way to keep the weaponized bickering at bay while also creating a new schema for a crowded planet that is at an environmental tipping point. I worry that this will ever happen.

Here’s Jimmy Kimmel on the subject:

 

By Nancy Brisson

#45 – Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton, we’re getting a bit nervous. You had us all excited. We would finally get to have a woman serve in Washington as the first female American President. It shouldn’t be a big deal. A number of countries around the world have female leaders. Even patriarchal monarchies had queens from time to time. Cleopatra ruled Egypt for heaven’s sake. We, in the land of the free, the land of equality, have only had a woman run for President once before. Why is it that a nation which champions women’s rights around the globe finds the idea of a female American President implausible? We should have female candidates running in every Presidential election. For some reason even American women seem to think that corporations and government should be run by men.

Women in control of major corporations in recent years have attracted far more media attention than we ever paid to their male counterparts. Since they occupy such very public positions the slightest glitch in their management is noted and then the clamor to replace that woman begins. When she is replaced, as we know she will be, she is usually replaced by a man.

So Hillary, you are a problem for America even though you are very popular in the polls. As we get closer to the beginning of the 2016 Presidential race you are dropping in the polls. The media, which seemed so excited when they thought you had such high poll numbers is beginning to offer a variety of negative arguments. They say that you are too old. You are a Clinton and as such you are from a dynastic political family so electing you would go against the grain of our supposed egalitarian roots. It would be as if we anointed American royalty, they worry (out loud in front of an audience of millions). They double down; you are just too old. You are testy with the media (is the term testy ever used when describing men). You are secretive and you do not follow protocol at the least or the law at the most. Are you tough enough? The far right wing is unlikely to give you a free pass. Will you be able to handle them? Are you Progressive enough? Are you too wealthy? Are you in Wall Street’s pocket? Why can’t we have Elizabeth Warren run against Hillary in a primary (that’s what we need to do, split the female vote)? Warren seems smarter and is not a member of a dynastic family, they reason.

Should the Democrats put all their eggs in one basket? If women ran more often this would not be so fraught. We have women Governors, Representatives, Senators, Mayors. The numbers of women in government are increasing. Why have so few women run for President?

So here I am, back where I started this tirade. We are up against big odds here. The Republicans have been preparing to put their party back in the White House since Obama won the first time. The GOP doesn’t really have a viable candidate but they have been putting what they hope are winning strategies in place. It is also unusual, almost unheard of, for a party that has been in office for two terms to be returned to office in the next term, or so the political wisdom goes. The Democrats have not cooked up any election strategies that I can see. Their grassroots funding apparatus works very well, but now everyone has that technique down, even people who are not in politics.

So Hillary, we’re getting twitchy out here. You have paid your political dues but are you ready with either a fighting spirit or some tactics that will defuse this hyper-partisan opposition party? I wish the Democrats were more cohesive and much more supportive. I’m hoping some in the media will have your back but it’s not looking good. They look like they will balk at anything short of perfection. I would love to see you be elected as #45. I hope that you’ve got this covered. If not I hope you will help us find someone who can keep a Democrat in the oval office. As much as I would love to see a woman President I believe it is clear that what we need right now is a Democratic President, regardless of gender.

There are things Hillary might be able to bring to our national government that we have not seen much of lately. Although Obama seems to have a light side and I wish we could have seen a bit more of it, he has been too beset by cultural changes and by the opposition to allow free rein to his humor and good-natured personality. Hillary also possesses a lightness of spirit that sometimes cuts through the grim atmosphere that has turned every day into a potential apocalypse. We can’t afford to smile and enjoy ourselves too often because we live in a pivotal age and there are still too many people around the world who have little or nothing to celebrate. But it would be nice to put on our sunglasses once in a while and to channel the Blues Brothers, even though we are girls.

By Nancy Brisson

Apparently Greed Makes You Stupid

climate change slot machine

Why aren’t we forming committees, think tanks, and community organizations to voluntarily curtail our energy-greedy lifestyles gradually rather than waiting for the big fail. Isn’t that how democracy is supposed to work?

We could sit here and watch our climate change as we would watch the symbols come up in the windows of a slot machine – what will our overheated atmosphere do to us today? We could watch as the ocean water that already floods parking structures in Miami at high tide floods these parking structure permanently. We could watch as our beaches are pushed back like the beaches in Norfolk, Va. We can watch as the water cycle is disrupted, as torrential rains fall in some locales while other, once green, places dry and crack with drought. It’ll be exciting. What does nature have in store for us next? And this won’t just happen in America; it will happen all around the globe.

Shall we wake up one day in a freezing cold house because it becomes finally clear to all that it is our love of fossil fuels that is fueling our wild climate swings? Our cozy houses and our McMansions seem far less comfortable already when we lose power even for short periods of time; how much less homey will they seem when we lose cooling, heating, electricity, and hot running water for long periods of time, or permanently? Are you ready to give these things up for good? Do you want to be taken by surprise?

If we have no electricity we will soon have to do without even cold water. All the old springs used to have taps where you could fill containers with water in an emergency. All those old taps are gone. We truck in fresh water to people in modern catastrophes. What if that isn’t an option? What if no water trucks appear anywhere in America (or even the world) some day? We have no individual access to water. Recently town water has been considered a human need and most people are now on the water grid. What if you suddenly needed a well? Do you have the slightest idea how to dig one yourself and how to line it to make the water usable?

How long will any trees on your land last if we run out of fuel? Do you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace? We have gotten rid of our primitive backup systems. They took up too much space, they didn’t look nice, and we never used them anymore. Do we think it will be easy to get new old-fashioned systems up and running again? Those old heating systems burned wood. Burning wood will no longer be a good choice. Wind and solar will start to look pretty good.

igloo

Climate scientists suggest that our lifestyles will change drastically and sooner than we thought. Even if they are wrong about the timing we know in our guts we have to find ways to live comfortable lives without fossil fuels or face the new dark ages. Doesn’t it make sense to discuss all this and make plans for a future that will not impact so negatively on the earth and therefore, eventually, on us?

raining money

We have a group of Americans who are incredibly fortunate and who have also used their power to make sure the blessings keep pouring down on them. When they say “make it rain” they are not doing a rain dance; they are passing laws, regulations, and rules that will cause money to rain down on them.

But money won’t help much when only a few people have it. And money will burn, but even billions won’t burn for long. You can keep using your money to buy you a skewed government and you can use it to make the “rain” continue to line your pockets until the planet says “time’s up”.

You can feel happy that we “the little people, the takers” are forced to live subsistence existences when you are not. Your edge won’t last long either. If the grid goes down it takes us all down with it (after the fights over any remaining stockpiles end). What fun would it be even if you did get to lead a shiny lifestyle in a very dull world?

Although a climate change apocalypse would certainly make other problems pale by comparison, it is highly likely that countries with the most oil will be able to hold out the longest and that may furnish them with the advantages they would require to rule the world – a double whammy.

It doesn’t have to be this way (and perhaps it won’t anyway). Can we afford to take that chance? We know in our hearts that our planet cannot offer all 9 billion inhabitants (by 2050) the same level of comforts that some of us enjoy today. Your wealth, used to reengineer our lives, rather than rig the system so you few can hold on to your old lives – would make all the difference. If your funds and your business sense and your passion could do this for earth we would not bother you again for a long time about how wealthy you are. Don’t worry; you don’t have to spend it all.

 

Bill Nye v. “Mean” Marsha Blackburn

climate change2

If you really want to start a Sunday off right I don’t recommend listening to Rep. Marsha Blackburn debate Bill Nye, the science guy, on the subject of climate change. She’s scary. I would have been shaking in my boots. Marsha Blackburn is a good speaker. She could do that old thing – that talk-the-birds-out-of-the-trees thing. She sounds knowledgeable and strong, even when she is vomiting out drivel; drivel that is not about climate change at all but is actually about the economics of plutocrats. She is usually quite belligerent and very “snarky”, but with David Gregory and Bill Nye on Meet the Press she toned down the “snark” and adopted a more reasonable arrogance. Her usual snotty delivery would be all wrong for a Sunday morning and wouldn’t endear her to people with a soft spot for Bill Nye. I wish she wasn’t so wrong on the issues because her ferocity could help do what is right. However, her story is that climate change is not real and she is sticking to it. She quotes at least two scientists who back up this point of view, which ignores the fairly large number of other scientists who believe climate change is very real.

Bill Nye did not try to get her to agree about climate change which meant that he did not engage with mean Marsha; smart guy, huh? Scientists don’t think we will be able to reverse our carbon output soon enough, he says, to undo climate changes that are already in progress. He believes that, rather than argue about whether or not climate change is real, we will at least need to decide how we will counteract the “extreme” natural events we are experiencing such as destructive storms, coastal flooding, and drought. If we balk at the expense of making necessary alterations in our infrastructure, we will have to deal with massive human tragedies on a regular basis.

This is one of the many places where Republicans are hurting America. We seem to be at about a dozen tipping points at once and we need some agility of thought and action to tip each of these points in a positive direction, but the GOP won’t let anyone act at all. They have placed themselves in the seat of denial and they block all progress with reactionary zeal.

Personally I worry that they are “Nero fiddling while the world dies or chokes to death”. Solving our problems before they become crises will actually save us money in the long run and more money will be wasted if we wait and spend on increasingly more frequent mop up operations instead. We need foresight right now, not blinkers.

Hurricane Irene

P.S. Hope the scientists are right when they say that asteroid  will not hit the earth today. If we trust them about asteroids, why don’t we trust them about climate change?

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>

Going Bigger, Much Bigger

solar panels

These baby steps we are taking to stop climate change are not enough. Yes, I do believe in climate change. I will cast my lot with the scientists rather than the politicians and the oil men (the oligarchs). We need to go bigger. We need to go much bigger.

Solar panels

I have written about this before but I will keep urging that we act on some kind of Solar Panel Program for America. Perhaps it could be a program like the Energy Star Program which gave rebates if you updated to energy efficient windows, doors, and if you added insulation. There were also energy rebates for updated furnaces and appliances if they were more energy efficient. Since solar panels are so expensive, the costs might be prohibitive even with a rebate. Perhaps each year there could be a lottery that would update a certain number of homes without up-front payment. Payments could be made by paying your old average energy fee and subtracting the costs of energy with solar panels and then applying the difference against the cost of the solar panels. I’m not an expert in economics or in designing either public or private programs, but I’m sure there is someone who can turn this idea into a successful program. In fact, there are programs that allow you to lease solar panels.

If all of our homes had either solar power, or if solar power was not viable than perhaps a neighborhood could share and pay for a windmill or other wind capturer/converter, wouldn’t that stop a lot of CO2 emissions?  I also saw that it is possible to make solar panels that act also as siding. We’d feel much better about our comfortable lifestyles (which we really would hate to lose) if we did not feel that in order to be comfortable we will end up destroying our planet.

Simplify, simplify

Americans like to go at life with passion, verve, and energy; and sometimes with ambition, chicanery, and greed. We are supposed to succeed and in big ways or we are seen as failures by ourselves and others. Everything in America is supposed to move upward and we have taken this to our hearts both figuratively and literally. We are climbers of mountains, riders of zip lines, bungee jumpers, and sky divers. We will work 80+ hours each week to climb the ladder of success, for corporate advancement, to be a leading entrepreneur, a sports or music figure, a doctor, artist, dancer, film star, inventor, lawyer, thinker, educator, or innovator.

But right now America is slowing down just a bit. Perhaps we are supposed to be slowing down, taking a breath, collecting ourselves, listening for the small voice of creativity that sometimes eludes us until we are in the shower, or driving home, or washing dishes. We have this big energy problem to solve. We use too large a share of the world’s available energy. While it is true that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can be changed into another form. The form that the energy we are using is changing into is CO2 and that CO2 is making our planet warmer. It is true that the planet will not die off right away if it warms up. But the extra heat will have effects that we won’t like. It already is. Maybe you are not one of the people who feels bad about the extinction of species (like the polar bear) but some people do. And whether we believe or not that the level of the oceans will rise doesn’t matter because it is already happening. It does not really matter if you believe that climate change will bring more extreme weather because that more extreme weather is already here.

When I first heard that some states were breaking paved roads up and turning them into gravel roads I was shocked. Are they doing this because we are poor or because they are deep into their small government campaign? My guess is that both things are true. However, maybe for our own reasons we ought to think about simpler lives, less spiffy roads, really switching out our gasoline-powered cars for cars powered by electricity (once again there could be programs to help us switch). We could just slow our lives down just a bit, not go at life like it’s an obstacle to be overcome or beaten into submission. We could be more Zen, more jazz, and less MMA, less hard rock, or rap. We could still be modern with our jets and our high speed trains but our pace would just be less assertive, less aggressive. We’d still work hard, but maybe 40 hours a week will be enough or 60; not 80. If we slow down just a bit who knows how many things might occur to us. We might even get more exercise and stay fit. We could savor that coffee, smell those roses. And stop adding to global warming.

Whatever we do let’s go big! Let’s pick at least one strategy that will lower our use of fossil fuel use a lot and let’s stay with it. I just do not have faith that my little blue bins are getting the job done. Keep in mind: we are not wealthy. We will need help if America decides to go big.

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