So I read several eye-popping climate diaries here today:
Joe Romm at Think Progress/climate is bringing us the stomach churning news of new research which doesn't mince words about the dire situation in which we find ourselves.And Walter Einenkel's Earth's climate is changing fast—in our lifetime fast
The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) study, “Near-term acceleration in the rate of temperature change,” finds that by 2020, human-caused warming will move the Earth’s climate system “into a regime in terms of multi-decadal rates of change that are unprecedented for at least the past 1,000 years.”
Many studies have been performed showing how our climate is changing in an earth-sized lifespan. All of these studies point to both natural global variances as well as those that have developed as a result of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This study is one of the first to try to investigate the potential temperature changes happening in human lifespans.And xaxnar's truly scary Naomi Klein Spells It Out: Reshape the Global Economy Now, or Kiss The World Goodbye
The quick version: if we do not radically change the world economy, by 2017 we will have passed the point of no return. A tipping point is at hand, where changes will be locked in. We had three decades to make gradual adjustments - now only two choices remain: sweeping changes to our global economic systems ASAP, or global environmental disaster.And with all urgency and terror and science I was asking myself, "Why can't we get our shit together? I mean, even rich people want to avoid an apocalypse."
And then I found the answer at The Nation in an article by Christopher Hayes: The New Abolitionism: Averting planetary disaster will mean forcing fossil fuel companies to give up at least $10 trillion in wealth. And my eyes were opened. Sure I knew that fossil fuel companies would have to leave a lot of their assets in the ground, but it didn't really hit me until reading that article just how much money that implied.
It is almost always foolish to compare a modern political issue to slavery, because there’s nothing in American history that is slavery’s proper analogue. So before anyone misunderstands my point, let me be clear and state the obvious: there is absolutely no conceivable moral comparison between the enslavement of Africans and African-Americans and the burning of carbon to power our devices. Humans are humans; molecules are molecules. The comparison I’m making is a comparison between the political economy of slavery and the political economy of fossil fuel.
More acutely, when you consider the math that McKibben, the Carbon Tracker Initiative and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) all lay out, you must confront the fact that the climate justice movement is demanding that an existing set of political and economic interests be forced to say goodbye to trillions of dollars of wealth. It is impossible to point to any precedent other than abolition.
So the basic story looks like this: in the decades before the Civil War, the economic value of slavery explodes. It becomes the central economic institution and source of wealth for a region experiencing a boom that succeeded in raising per capita income and concentrating wealth ever more tightly in the hands of the Southern planter class. During this same period, the rhetoric of the planter class evolves from an ambivalence about slavery to a full-throated, aggressive celebration of it. As slavery becomes more valuable, the slave states find ever more fulsome ways of praising, justifying and celebrating it. Slavery increasingly moves from an economic institution to a cultural one; it becomes a matter of identity, of symbolism—indeed, in the hands of the most monstrously adept apologists, a thing of beauty.So far, so good. But this is the main point, and the answer to my earlier question:
And yet, at the very same time, casting a shadow over it all is the growing power of the abolition movement in the North and the dawning awareness that any day might be slavery’s last. So that, on the eve of the war, slavery had never been more lucrative or more threatened. That also happens to be true of fossil fuel extraction today.
In fact, the parallel I want to highlight is between the opponents of slavery and the opponents of fossil fuels. Because the abolitionists were ultimately successful, it’s all too easy to lose sight of just how radical their demand was at the time: that some of the wealthiest people in the country would have to give up their wealth. That liquidation of private wealth is the only precedent for what today’s climate justice movement is rightly demanding: that trillions of dollars of fossil fuel stay in the ground. It is an audacious demand, and those making it should be clear-eyed about just what they’re asking. They should also recognize that, like the abolitionists of yore, their task may be as much instigation and disruption as it is persuasion. There is no way around conflict with this much money on the line, no available solution that makes everyone happy. No use trying to persuade people otherwise.After reading that article, everything makes so much sense--the wall of propaganda, the bought and paid for politicians. We are dealing with outright war. But once we see who Climate Hitler is, we can see how to defeat him, and the article outlines how.
Yes, I've gone Godwin and pulled in a comparison to slavery, but we are talking about the end of civilization, possibly even humankind, so I believe I am justified.