Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Intentional Inattention

You know, one of the things about getting older is that one is not as patient, and for good reason.  There isn't much personal future left, and some of us (including me) are trying to make up for lost time and past sins.  I'm willing to admit that I haven't been as "green" as I could have been in practice, although I did use the vocabulary.  Now I'm looking at storms on the East Coast, drought throughout much of the country, horrible water shortages looming all over the globe, and the loss of millions of species, all because humans, especially in the first world, and very especially in the United States, continue to behave as if there wasn't any kind of problem. 

Look at the shiny keys.

And, frankly, I take no comfort that most people don't see the problem, or at least aren't willing to do anything about it.  In fact, that scares the hell out of me.  David Horsey does a damned good job  in spelling out what that means.

Now, as we grow more aware that we face the worst man-made environmental disaster in the history of the world, we are proving to be no more wise than the imprudent farmers who tore up the buffalo grass. Rather than taking serious steps to curb the carbon emissions that are driving up temperatures everywhere, rather than being shocked by the rapid melting of the polar ice packs and mountain glaciers, rather than seeing drought-driven wildfires and monster storms as portents of things to come, we are redoubling our efforts to extract every last ounce of fuel from the dirtiest depths of the land.

The oil boom in North Dakota is turning that sparsely populated state into an American Arabia. Even bigger is the oil bonanza in western Canada. According to a Los Angeles Times report, recruiters from Alberta are scouring California and other states hoping to lure tens of thousands of workers north to the oil fields.

In a time of high unemployment and high gas prices, this seems like happy, hopeful news. But it is hope built on sand -- the vast deposits of oil sands that give up their black gold only through a process that requires a bottomless supply of water and poses huge environmental risks. The worst comes after the oil is extracted. That is when we burn it all up in our cars and factories and send the resulting emissions into the atmosphere. ...

On Sunday, the New York Times published a set of dramatic graphics showing how several coastal cities will be affected by rising sea levels that will be one result of global warming. Scientists say if immediate, dramatic measures are taken to reduce emissions, the seas may rise just 5 feet. New York City might be able to cope by erecting barriers, but Miami Beach would disappear. If the world hits just the modest emissions targets that have already been set, but largely ignored, sea level will go up 12 feet. That means all that will be left of Miami is a scattering of islands, while nearly a quarter of New York goes underwater.

But if we continue full speed ahead, drilling, fracking and burning it all up, then the coasts will see a 25-foot rise that swamps all of south Florida; all of Norfolk, Va.; big swaths of New York and Boston; every beach in California and, strangely enough, more than 60% of Sacramento.

Of course, this is all many decades in the future, our legacy to future generations. For now, in between the storms and wildfires, we will remain oblivious. After all, until the end actually came, Pompeii was a pleasant town with a fine mountain view.

And that's just in this country.

The horrible part is that our wayward behavior is affecting the entire planet, not just our corner of it.  We are so embedded in the idea of "energy independence" as defined by the oil companies (which are multinational and really don't care about anything other than their own bottom line), that we are willing to put up with fracking and drilling in sensitive areas.  What we refuse to look at is the fact that those oil companies are shipping that oil OUT OF THE US to the rest of the world, which, like this country, will burn it, adding to the problem but also adding to the oil companies's bottom line.

We will continue to drive our gas guzzlers, leave our lights on, consume our plastics, do whatever is comfortable for us because we can.  At least we can right now.

Yet no one wants to talk about the issue:  not candidates for President, not members of Congress, and, really, not too many members of state legislatures.  All of those folks are more interested in keeping the wheels greased with carbon based products for the next election.

One of the things about being an elder is I won't have to see too much of the result.  One of the other things is that my niece and nephews and their children and children all over the world, human and non-human, will.

And that makes me sick.

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Blogger chicago dyke said...

frankly, babe, it's one of the reasons i'm happy to old. i don't want to be around to see what happens when the tipping point has past, and despite my advanced age, i still may have to witness it.

love the cartoon. perfectly sums up the murkin approach to this problem.

7:00 AM  
Blogger someofparts said...

Well, one person seeing the light is not enough to spark the change we need, but I guess it's a start. So, here's a feel-good video. It's an interview with a conservative woman who just saw Chasing Ice.

This is the first paragraph of the transcript -

Moviegoer: I'm just -- let me, just let me say what I have to say: that I watch Bill O'Reilly every day. I love Bill O'Reilly, I'm proud to be an American, but I saw this movie Chasing Ice today, and it hasn't just changed me about global warming, it has changed me as a person.

9:02 AM  

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