by Crazy Horse
Mon Nov 11th, 2013 at 03:27:23 PM EST
Is it possible for today's busy humans to grok the catastrophe they're creating. I don't mean the fact that we barely have democratic governments any more, much less trustworthy or even visionary leaders. I don't mean neo-feudalism at the hands of global banks. I mean the real problems.
This March, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, the commander of the United States Pacific Command, told security and foreign policy specialists in Cambridge, Mass., that global climate change was the greatest threat the United States faced -- more dangerous than terrorism, Chinese hackers and North Korean nuclear missiles. Upheaval from increased temperatures, rising seas and radical destabilization "is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen..." he said, "that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.''
Locklear's not alone. Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, said much the same thing in April, speaking to an audience at Columbia's new Center on Global Energy Policy. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the Senate in March that "Extreme weather events (floods, droughts, heat waves) will increasingly disrupt food and energy markets, exacerbating state weakness, forcing human migrations, and triggering riots, civil disobedience, and vandalism."
Eye stumbled upon this editorial today, in the online version of the NYT, which shook me to the core... as I'd been pondering similar thoughts.
Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
Two and a half years later, safe and lazy back in Fort Sill, Okla., I thought I had made it out. Then I watched on television as Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. This time it was the weather that brought shock and awe, but I saw the same chaos and urban collapse I'd seen in Baghdad, the same failure of planning and the same tide of anarchy. The 82nd Airborne hit the ground, took over strategic points and patrolled streets now under de facto martial law. My unit was put on alert to prepare for riot control operations. The grim future I'd seen in Baghdad was coming home: not terrorism, not even W.M.D.'s, but a civilization in collapse, with a crippled infrastructure, unable to recuperate from shocks to its system.
I realize people will be debating the science behind global warming for generations. With good cause, as the world we live in is far more complex than most can fathom. Models are good. They remain models.
We even had a debate or two here at ET, where the accuracy of the IPCC, and even more, "climate activists" was put in question, particularly about increased heavy storm frequency.
We were reminded that the IPCC doesn't yet see any evidence of increased frequency of major tropical storms. Fitting then, that the biggest storm ever recorded, just hit.
Just another data point, where common sense trumps science.
Remember, the Philippines are used to typhoons since the beginning of time, they average 20 per year since we've kept records. Haiyan was the 25th this year. But with such frequency, they would be ready, because they understand what happens during bad storms, right?
And today, with recovery still going on more than a year after Sandy and many critics arguing that the Eastern seaboard is no more prepared for a huge weather event than we were last November, it's clear that future's not going away.
Please don't misunderstand me, eye'm aware that our advanced civilization would never site emergency generators in a tsunami zone, especially not one to power a dangerous technology, especially not in a land which gave us the word tsunami.
For the moment, let's leave aside the FACTS that we're poisoning and depleting our aquifers, a non-renewable resource. Let's leave aside that the oceans are dying, the topsoil and even forests are disappearing, that our air is already unhealthy. That there are carcinogens everywhere.
On the civilian side, the World Bank's recent report, "Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience," offers a dire prognosis for the effects of global warming, which climatologists now predict will raise global temperatures by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit within a generation and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit within 90 years. Projections from researchers at the University of Hawaii find us dealing with "historically unprecedented" climates as soon as 2047.
This chorus of Jeremiahs predicts a radically transformed global climate forcing widespread upheaval -- not possibly, not potentially, but inevitably.* We have passed the point of no return.* From the point of view of policy experts, climate scientists and national security officials, the question is no longer whether global warming exists or how we might stop it, but how we are going to deal with it.
Of course it's important to continually refine the data. But that pales against what common sense has already told our Jeremiahs. As the world looks to Germany, watching its attempt at a partial solution, hoping to learn from the political potato Energiewende, they discover the world's most advanced renewable energy industry being destroyed by the coal lobby's hold on small-minded, environmentally criminal politicians. (Don't get me started.)
We face the imminent collapse of the agricultural, shipping and energy networks upon which the global economy depends, a large-scale die-off in the biosphere that's already well on its way, and our own possible extinction. If homo sapiens (or some genetically modified variant) survives the next millenniums, it will be survival in a world unrecognizably different from the one we have inhabited.
Should we quibble some more with the stats, and their interpretation?
The human psyche naturally rebels against the idea of its end. Likewise, civilizations have throughout history marched blindly toward disaster, because humans are wired to believe that tomorrow will be much like today -- it is unnatural for us to think that this way of life, this present moment, this order of things is not stable and permanent. Across the world today, our actions testify to our belief that we can go on like this forever, burning oil, poisoning the seas, killing off other species, pumping carbon into the air, ignoring the ominous silence of our coal mine canaries in favor of the unending robotic tweets of our new digital imaginarium. Yet the reality of global climate change is going to keep intruding on our fantasies of perpetual growth, permanent innovation and endless energy, just as the reality of mortality shocks our casual faith in permanence.
A few nights ago, I commented on a surprising film I had just seen, and asked who had seen it, with no response.
Film Surprise (none / 0)
Eye have a delightful habit of buying films and CDs, putting them in the digital drawer, and forgetting i've purchased them. Upon discovery, the surprise can be such a joy.
Have no idea when i bought Home, a film by Jann Arthus-Bertrand, but discovered the unopened DVD last night. Of course I watched it.
Interview w/ Bertrand.
Home is a primer on the ecstasy (almost spiritual) which one discovers through exploration of the marvel that is the creation of the world on this planet. The dynamic interconnectedness. The downright beauty.
The film is also a documentary on how badly we've fucked up the surface of the planet, including its lifeforms and ourselves. How quickly, how dangerously, and how remarkably little known by the majority.
One could quibble here and there, and someone else might quibble with my quibbles. But Home is brilliant, beautiful and strong.
Didn't research when it came out, but i expect many here have already seen it in theaters. Comment?
(almost the entire film is aerial photography of such a high order of quality and beauty.)
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
Roy Scranton writes:
The choice is a clear one. We can continue acting as if tomorrow will be just like yesterday, growing less and less prepared for each new disaster as it comes, and more and more desperately invested in a life we can't sustain. Or we can learn to see each day as the death of what came before, freeing ourselves to deal with whatever problems the present offers without attachment or fear.
If we want to learn to live in the Anthropocene, we must first learn how to die.
To be reborn, you must first die. That could just be understood as attaining a new level of global consciousness... fully interconnected. To live fully, you must first let go.
Eye profess no answers. But eye know something has to change, rapidly, and all the evidence points to continued blindness.
Perhaps HOME is a piece of the puzzle, a chance for a sleepwalking humanity to wake for a brief moment. For those who haven't seen the film, it's on youtube in its entirety.
From this vantage point, humanity's inability to understand the marvel of our complex interconnectedness is becoming devastating. What will bring a more evolved consciousness, and the attendant policies, into being?