Big Oil’s decades of deception: Report reveals that Exxon’s known the truth about climate science since 1981 – Salon.com


via Big Oil’s decades of deception: Report reveals that Exxon’s known the truth about climate science since 1981 – Salon.com.

WEDNESDAY, JUL 8, 2015

The oil industry has been spreading climate denial for years — and there’s proof it knew better

LINDSAY ABRAMS

Big Oil's decades of deception: Report reveals that Exxon's known the truth about climate science since 1981

FILE – In this March 27, 2015 file photo, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson delivers remarks on the release of a report by the National Petroleum Council on oil drilling in the Arctic, in Washington. Exxon shareholders will meet Wednesday, May 27, 2015 to hear Tillerson give his outlook for an industry grappling with lower crude prices. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) (Credit: AP)

While evaluating the potential impact of developing a gas field it was interested in off Indonesia, ExxonMobil found one major reason for concern: the field in question was 70 percent carbon dioxide. If the field were developed, and that gas vented into the atmosphere, it could become the “largest point source of CO2 in the world,” accounting for a full one percent of climate change-causing emissions.
According to Leonard S. Bernstein, a former chemical engineer at the company, Exxon recognized the potential for global warming concerns to lead to regulations that would impact the project and others like it.

The year was 1981.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has brought to light Bernstein’s claims, which he first made in an email posted online last October, as part of a new report. Called the Climate Deception Dossiers, it uses internal memos to trace the denial and deception practiced by Big Oil over the nearly three decades since 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen testified before Congress that man-made global warming had begun. And if Bernstein is to believed, then Exxon, at least, knew about it years earlier.

“Whatever their public stance, internally they make very careful assessments of the potential for regulation, including the scientific basis for those regulations,” Bernstein wrote in the email. And while it did question some of the science being floated at the time, he added, “Exxon NEVER denied the potential for humans to impact the climate system.”

We can consider that the start of a long-standing pattern. While none of the documents released by UCS are new, taken together they show that the world’s oil giants — ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Peabody Energy and Royal Dutch Shell – have been fully aware of their contributions to climate change and the danger that can result, and has at the same time been spending tens of millions to convince the public that that’s not at all the case.

In one more well-known example, experts wrote an internal report for an industry coalition acknowledging that the science of man-made climate change “is well established and cannot be denied.” Yet just three years later, the American Petroleum Institute drafted a strategy to sow misinformation: “Victory will be achieved,” a memo read, when “[a]verage citizens ’understand’ (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’”

The end result of such public-facing climate denial, of course, has been to allow these companies to continue to pollute the atmosphere. And according to the UCS, more than half of all industrial CO2 emissions have been released since what should have been the watershed year of 1988:

All of this represents more than just shady business practices, argues UCS president Ken Kimmell in a blog post. With its chilling parallels to the strategies used by the tobacco industry to obscure the link between smoking and cancer, the oil industry’s morally corrupt conduct over the past decades should be more than enough for us to revoke its “social license” — there’s no reason for the public, or the government, to assume Big Oil is acting in good faith.

And it’s time, Kimmell contends, for the industry to start earning some of that trust back — not just by ceasing to actively disinform the public and block regulations, but also by taking an active role in working toward solutions. Some have (kind of) started to get on board with that: BP dumped the notorious climate deniers at ALEC; Shell and BP passed shareholder resolutions to factor climate change into the cost of doing business (Exxon and Chevron did not, and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson decided to stay the course by continuing to question the legitimacy of climate models).

But compared to the deceitful actions these companies have taken in the past, it’s all way too little — and it’s coming decades too late.

 

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

 

Melting Accelerates in Antarctica: So Far, 2015 Is Hottest Year Yet


Melting Accelerates in Antarctica: So Far, 2015 Is….

(Image: Iceberg melt via Shutterstock)

 

The dramatically rapid melting of the earth’s poles is the biggest news in this month’s climate dispatch.

Increasingly fast melting in Antarctica, which will be discussed in more detail below, is now expected to increase sea levels by 10 feet worldwide in less than 100 years, according to recent NASA satellite calculations.

This will “recurve” heavily populated coastlines and reshape the world in which we live, according to one geophysicist with whom Truthout spoke. In addition, a second geophysicist, from Harvard, said that parts of Antarctica are thawing out so quickly that the icy continent has become “ground zero of global climate change, without a doubt.”

According to NASA, every year for the last decade alone, 130 billion tons of ice have melted in Antarctica. For context, that is the weight of more than 356,000 Empire State Buildings and enough ice melt to fill more than 1.3 million Olympic swimming pools. And the melting is accelerating at a pace that is making scientists’ heads spin.

“There is no pause in human-caused global warming. If anything, we’ve been lulled into a false complacency.”

To make matters worse,recent research casts doubt on other studies that have oversold the role of the natural climate’s ability to halt anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) during the next 15 years. Climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann, one of the authors of the study said, “Our work reinforces the notion that there is no pause in human-caused global warming. If anything, we’ve been lulled into a false complacency by the fact that internal oscillations in the climate system temporarily masked some of that warming. That may come back to bite us as these oscillations swing back in the other direction and add to global warming in the decades ahead.”

Another study published in Nature Climate Changerevealed how, as bad as things already are, we are actually standing on the precipice of a new planet where warming is likely to accelerate at rates not seen for at least 1,000 years (that is, abrupt ACD is upon us).

To see more stories like this, visit “Planet or Profit?”

A story that has recently been covered in this series is worth mentioning again now, given the dramatic events covered in this month’s dispatch relating to the poles, temperature records and droughts. A resiliency scientist recently showed how the planet has already passed through four of the nine limits for hospitable life, and is racing quickly toward those that have not yet been crossed. Take a look at his chart.

The National Climatic Data Center released its statistics recently, which showed the following:

– Globally, this was the hottest winter on record. The previous record was 2007.

– This was the 19th warmest winter in US history.

– Globally this was, by far, the hottest start to any year (January-February).

Buckle up as we go through the sectors of the planet, as this last month has seen a dramatic ramping-up of climate disruption.

Earth

This month, this sector is facing a whole lot of bad news.

Tropical forests are now vanishing at rates much faster than previously thought. This is disastrous news, given that the plant life in these areas sequesters massive amounts of carbon. When the plant life is removed, carbon is released back into the atmosphere, which is the last thing we need right now. A recent study shows that the rate of loss has increased by 62 percent from the 1990s to the 2000s.

Adding insult to injury, scientists have warned that now ongoing droughts in the Amazon are speeding up ACD. The forests there, dubbed the “lungs of the planet,” are now emitting more carbon dioxide than they are capturing. A 2010 drought there released more than 8 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which is as much as China and Russia’s annual emissions, combined.

Scientists have also warned that ACD now threatens to kill off more aspen forests by 2050, with the possibility of all of them in North America being gone by then.

The impacts of climate disruption on nature continue to escalate.

Another recent report warned that ongoing deforestation, which is occurring largely to expand agricultural lands, may well be exposing more people to diseases like the Black Death, which wiped out more than one-third of Europe’s population during the Middle Ages.

On a similar front, Brazil’s drought-stricken Sao Paulo isnow battling an outbreak of dengue fever, as hundreds have been infected with the mosquito-borne virus. Scientists have been warning for a long time how diseases are guaranteed to increase in frequency and intensity of outbreaks as the impacts of ACD progress.

More bad news for forests comes in the form of a pine beetle epidemic in North America, where the warming climate has allowed the beetles to ravage western forests. Now they are rapidly spreading east across much of Canada.

US-based climate study showed that ACD will cause deserts in Australia to expand to the south, as droughts and record high temperatures continue to plague that country.

Another study has shown that spring is “shifting” in trees: The season is now coming earlier because of ongoing temperature increases, causing changes in plants’ growing patterns. The study predicts that ACD will alter the order in which trees begin to grow their leaves, which entails long-term implications for the survival of several plants that grow in woodlands.

The size of the massive cyclone that pummeled the South Pacific country of Vanuatu has been linked to ACD, according to the country’s president and several climate scientists. One of the aid workers who arrived on the scene to help survivors said, “It looks like the town center has been hit by a bomb.” Oxfam executive director Helen Szoke said of the situation: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that we are now dealing with worse than the worst case scenario in Vanuatu.”

“It’s a pretty strong message that the marine ecosystem has changed. And not for the better.”

The impacts of climate disruption on nature continue to escalate. A recent study by Florida Institute of Technology confirmed that ACD is fueling a disease that has now almost completely wiped out all of the coral reefs in the Caribbean. In just 40 years, the disease has caused a 90 percent decline in coral reefs there.

Meanwhile, a study by the University of British Columbia revealed a 50 percent drop in seabird populations in the Pacific Northwest, and showed that it is primarily because the birds are starving to death. “It’s a pretty strong message that the marine ecosystem has changed,” said the study’s lead author. “And not for the better.”

recent report by US Geological Survey experts revealed a “significant” drop in seabird populations in the Gulf of Alaska and northeast Bering Sea, and they blame warmer waters.

Other disconcerting news comes in the form of a whale showing up on the wrong side of the world: A gray whale, a species that has never been seen outside of the Pacific, showed up off the coast of Israel. Plus, Europe’s bees are now threatened with extinction, and ACD is one of the primary factors.

study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that ACD may well lead to disturbances in marine life that will take, literally, thousands of years to recover from, not hundreds of years, as was previously thought.

As populations continue to increase, cities will become much more vulnerable to both droughts and floods.

Another recent study has shown how ACD played a critical role in sparking the horrific war in Syria, by causing a dramatic increase in the odds that a terrible drought in the Fertile Crescent would occur just before the fighting began.

Scientists also recently warned that as populations continue to increase around the world, cities will become much more vulnerable to both droughts and floods.

Lastly in this section, an article published by Slate, titled, “Baked Alaska: If the Last Frontier is the canary in the climate coal mine, we’re in trouble,” provides a stark view of both how rapidly and severely Alaska is being impacted by ACD. There, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Alaska said, “Homer, Alaska, keeps setting record after record, and I keep looking at the data like, ‘Has the temperature sensor gone out or something?’”

“A new report shows that warming in Alaska, along with the rest of the Arctic, is accelerating as the loss of snow and ice cover begins to set off a feedback loop of further warming,” according to the Slate article. “Warming in wintertime has been the most dramatic – more than 6 degrees in the past 50 years. And this is just a fraction of the warming that’s expected to come over just the next few decades.”

Water

This month has seen a range of dire water-related crises around the world.

In the United States, lack of water continues to grow as a major issue in the Southwest and Western states. A 2012 federal supply-and-demand study of the Colorado River predicts that by 2060, the demand shortfall for the Colorado River could likely reach 1 trillion gallons, which is enough water to supply 6 million homes in the Southwest for one full year.

An excellent series of articles published in The Republic focused on the profound crisis that besets the Colorado River and thus the US Southwest. With every single drop of that river already guarded and being squeezed further, cities like Las Vegas, which gets 90 percent of its water from the Colorado, are facing deep trouble.

California only has one year of water left at current usage levels.

With 30 million people and billions of dollars of farm production reliant upon the dwindling Colorado River, the likelihood that younger generations will witness massive Southwest cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas becoming largely unlivable is high. The Republic series outlines how residents in some areas already fear they will no longer be able to remain where they currently live.

On that note, a recent study showed that California is likely to face droughts nearly every single year from now on.

As though to drive home that point, NASA recently warned that California only has one year of water left at current usage levels.

And the Southwest is not the only region with water woes.

In the Pacific Northwest, this winter saw a record-low snowpack across Washington State. That state’s Olympic Peninsula’s snowpack is a stunning 90 percent below normal levels. Several ski areas across the state never opened this year, and preparations for an impending summer drought are already underway.

The UN recently warned that the entire planet will likely experience a 40 percent shortfall of water by 2030.

Internationally, lack of water is becoming an increasingly urgent issue. A recent report showed how fresh water shortages will likely cause the next global crisis. By way of example, the drought in Sao Paulo has gotten bad enough that residents have attempted to drill through their basement floors in search of groundwater. As reservoirs continue to dry up across the globe, more than 1 billion people already lack access to safe drinking water. Water rationing and battles to control supply will only increase and worsen.

In fact, the UN recently warned that the entire planet will likely experience a 40 percent shortfall of water by 2030. Let that sink in for a moment; 2030 is a mere 15 years from now.

As warming continues to increase, in Alaska, the famous Iditarod annual sled dog race had to move its official starting point all the way to Fairbanks due to lack of adequate snow cover. For the first time in over a decade, a different course had to be used due to lack of snow, warm weather, the melting of previously frozen rivers and thawing permafrost.

Also in that state, the newest artist-in-residence at Denali National Park, photographer Camille Seaman,spoke to the media about her deep worries about ACD, since she has been photographing the Arctic for over a decade. Seeing Alaska as on the front lines of ACD, Seaman said, “No one can deny what Alaskans are experiencing and witnessing first hand.”

In neighboring Canada, experts are predicting a “foreseeable end” to outdoor hockey, due to warming temperatures and less ice cover.

As sea levels continue to rise, California’s iconic surfing business is in jeopardy. For example, in Monterey Bay, new climate modeling by the US Geological Survey shows that waves are getting larger, but then are falling flat as sea levels continue their inevitable rise.

On the other side of the country, in Florida, rising sea levels and invasive species, both obviously due to ACD, are threatening rare plants in Everglades National Park.

As an increasing amount of methane is released into the atmosphere, the rapidity of ACD’s impact rises.

Finally in this section, the melting ice caps are again making the news. A recent report from a Nobel Prize-winning scientist showed, yet again, how increasing temperatures are rising even faster in the Arctic, and predicted that that region’s temperature will rise by at least 7 degrees Celsius within a century, and that the Arctic could be completely ice free within 35 years. However, some predict that we will begin seeing an ice-free Arctic much sooner – even this coming summer.

Giving credence to the predictions that this will happen very soon, US scientists recently announced that the Arctic sea ice has fallen to its lowest level for the winter season ever.

The melting in the Antarctic, which has already been profound, just worsened dramatically. A recent study showed that the Totten Glacier in East Antarctica is being melted from warm seawater underneath it, which is now the world’s fastest thinning area of the world’s largest ice sheet. Losing the Totten means that at least 10 feet of sea level rise just got added to the equation of rising seas.

The current ice loss of the Totten, a floating ice shelf, is now equivalent to 100 times the volume of Australia’s Sydney Harbor for every year of water released from its melting.

In just the last 10 years, ice sheets in Western Antarctica are reported to be melting at least 70 percent faster, according to another study – and this is a low-end estimate.

Fire

report from late 2014 showed us that lightning strikes around the world will significantly increase with a warming planet. This means a dramatic increase in wildfires caused by said lightning, because ACD is causing an increase of up to 8 million lightning strikes every single day.

The entire country of Chile recently declared a national fire alert due to major wildfires in three of its national parks and reserves that are threatening trees that are a thousand years old. In one region that has been suffering from several years of drought, firefighters have been struggling for weeks to try to contain the fires.

In California, tiny bark beetles are ravaging the drought-weakened pine trees throughout the state in what scientists are calling a fast spreading epidemic that they fear could very soon turn catastrophic.

Air

recent study has revealed that the Gulf Stream system is most likely already weakening. This is very, very bad news: It means that the current fueling the ocean pattern that transports warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic has now weakened to its lowest level in 1,100 years, likely due to an influx of freshwater from Greenland’s melting ice sheet. In short, this means that ACD is slowing down the Gulf Stream system much sooner than anyone expected it would, essentially locking in far harsher winters across Europe and dramatically faster sea level rise along the East Coast.

German researchers recently announced that the United States, Europe and Russia will face longer heat waves, since summer winds that previously brought in cool ocean air have now been weakened by ACD.

Recent research revealed how winds that are being changed in velocity by ACD patterns are rendering several airstrips across the Arctic less safe.

NASA announced that the vast methane cloud that has been hovering over the US Southwest is real. There was debate about its existence only because it was so large (the size of Delaware) and the methane readings were so unusually high, that at first it was believed to be an instrument error. The methane cloud is from massive coal mines in the region.

Seven massive craters that began appearing in Siberia last summer, now known to have resulted from melting permafrost and succeeding methane explosions, continue to garner media attention as more people begin to realize the dire impacts. As an increasing amount of methane is released into the atmosphere, the rapidity of ACD’s impact rises, since methane is 100 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the short term. Hence, these craters are yet another runaway feedback loop caused by ACD. Russian scientists have unequivocally tied the methane crater phenomenon to climate disruption.

More research continues to link the wild weather patterns that have been wracking the United States (deep freezes in the Midwest, record low temperatures and high snowfalls in the Northeast, warm winters in the West) to ACD. A NASA-generated image gives a clear picture of the dramatic US weather patterns, revealing the stark difference in temperature anomalies (temperature variations outside the norm) across the country.

At the same time, other scientific reports have linked large Pacific Ocean cycles with warming temperatures on the planet’s surface, which means that as Pacific trade winds slacken in the coming years, as they are expected to do, seas will begin absorbing less of ACD’s energy, and some of the heat they are already holding will be released into the atmosphere, hence speeding up ACD even more.

Denial and Reality

Certainly the top of the barrel of denial dung from this last month comes from the denier-in-chief, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma). His latest antic found him bringing a snowball to the US Senate floor, because in his world, holding a snowball apparently proves that ACD is a “hoax.”

Willie Soon, a “scientist” who works at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, whose funding sources – oil and coal interests – were recently revealed,told the media he was “saddened and appalled” by the “attacks” against him. “Deniers” is the perfect term to describe people like Soon.

It also came out recently that Florida Department of Environmental Protection employees were ordered not to use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails or reports.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, another outspoken denier, compared himself to Galileo and called those who believe in ACD “flat-earthers.” Cruz told the Texas Tribune that contemporary “global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers,” and added, “You know it used to be accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier.”

Famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson recently shot back at the ACD denier camp. During a March lecture hesaid, “I don’t blame the politicians for a damn thing because we vote for the politicians. I blame the electorate.” Tyson went on to add, “Now we have a time where people are cherry-picking science. The science is not political. That’s like repealing gravity because you gained 10 pounds last week.”

Using the church segue from the Galileo reference, the US Episcopal Church announced that addressing ACD is on par morally with the civil rights movement, and that ACD denial is “immoral.”

recently released “must-see” documentary called Merchants of Doubt, based on the must-read book with the same title, exposes the dirty tricks the spin doctors from the fossil fuel industry use to fuel the “denial” movement.

Confirming how effective this film is at exposing the denial machine, ACD denier Fred Singer started lobbying fellow skeptics to generate backlash and legal action against the filmmakers.

Also on the reality front, climate scientists at leading universities around the world are now joining forces in order to formulate a plan that will govern investment (read – divestment) in fossil fuels.

Cruz and other denier politicians are now getting schooled by 12-year-olds on ACD. Given that 90 percent of eighth graders accept the reality of human-caused climate change, an event organized by the advocacy group Avaaz brought a group of kids to climate-denying lawmakers’ offices and asked them to take a simple elementary school quiz on the science behind ACD.

As ACD progresses and accelerates, population growth, growing demands for all resources, ACD impacts and lack of potable water have already combined to cause many countries to fall into a state of chronic emergency, as a world made more violent by ACD is upon us.

Lastly, in March, right-wing Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was rebuffed in a Senate subcommittee hearing while trying to criticize NASA’s recent decision toward an increase in funding for studying earth-based phenomena, along with a slight decrease in money for space exploration.

Cruz questioned NASA’s aiming funding toward studying ACD, said he felt it was more important to explore space, and while talking to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “I would suggest that almost any American would agree that the core function of NASA is to explore space. That’s what inspires little boys and little girls across this country. It’s what sets NASA apart from any agency in the country.”

To which Bolden replied, “We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don’t know it – and that’s understanding our environment. It is absolutely critical that we understand Earth’s environment because this is the only place we have to live.”

NubianBrothaz.tumblr.com ♥

 

Can Climate Change Cure Capitalism? by Elizabeth Kolbert


via Can Climate Change Cure Capitalism? by Elizabeth… | Deep Green Resistance.

Excerpts:

Climate change can’t be solved within the confines of the status quo, because it’s a product of the status quo. “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war,” she writes. The only hope of avoiding catastrophic warming lies in radical economic and political change.

This is a terrifying predicament to find ourselves in. Even warming of 2 degrees may result in “drought and storm responses that could challenge civilized society.” Meanwhile, avoiding still-greater warming (and greater dangers) will require precisely those who’ve enjoyed the richest benefits of burning fossil fuels suddenly to forswear the practice. The situation justifies Klein’s sense of urgency and also her sense that there’s a disconnect between the soothing rhetoric of “Big Green” environmentalists and the enormity of the challenge.

… the environmental movement has itself become little more than an arm (or perhaps one should say a column) of the fossil fuel industry. Her proof here is that several major environmental groups have received sizable donations from fossil fuel companies or their affiliated foundations, and some, like the Nature Conservancy, have executives (or former executives) of utility companies on their boards. “A painful reality behind the environmental movement’s catastrophic failure to effectively battle the economic interests behind our soaring emissions,” she writes, is that “large parts of the movement aren’t actually fighting those interests—they have merged with them.”

a big victory for common sense (from an e-mail received earlier)


…we just won a big victory against the right-wing bullies on the Texas State Board of Education.

Yesterday, thanks to your support and pressure, McGraw-Hill Publishing removed climate change denial from their science textbooks.

Pearson Education—the other textbook publisher submitting their books to the Texas Board of Education—had likewise removed climate change denial from their books last week. That means we have a total victory!

Our friends at the Texas Freedom Network had asked us to get involved because this issue is a bigger than what happens in Texas public schools. Because of the size and influence of the Texas textbook market, books approved in Texas often end up in classrooms around the country.

The 89,276 Daily Kos members who signed petitions to the textbook publishers were key to this campaign.

As the Texas State Board of Education meets today, the Texas Freedom Network will be delivering your signatures to them, letting them know that the people stand behind the textbook publishers and science.

We know the right-wing bullies will be back—so we must be vigilant. In the meantime, it is time to celebrate and share this graphic on Facebook to let your friends know the good news.

Keep fighting,
Paul Hogarth, Daily Kos

P.S. Help Daily Kos keep fighting right-wing insanity everywhere by chipping in $5. We have a small staff and a big reach—we make your money go far.

Climate change is a global emergency. Stop waiting for politicians to sound the alarm | Naomi Klein | Comment is free | theguardian.com


via Climate change is a global emergency. Stop waiting for politicians to sound the alarm | Naomi Klein | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

The truth about our planet is horrifying, but the true leaders aren’t the ones at the UN – they’re in the streets. This is why the People’s Climate March matters

obama climate change window

The most terrifying part of climate change may be watching politicians behave as if the emergency is no immediate concern. Illustration: Cesar Maxi

 

At exactly 1pm on Sunday, the streets of New York City are going to fill with the sound of clanging pots, marching bands, church bells and whatever other kinds of noisemakers that participants of the People’s Climate March decide to bring along.

It’s being called the “climate alarm”, and the general idea is that a whole lot of people are going to make the very loud point that climate change is a true emergency for humanity, the kind of threat that should cause us to stop what we are doing and get out of harm’s way.

Is it a stunt? Well, sure, all protests are. But the mere act of expressing our collective sense of climate urgency goes beyond symbolism. What is most terrifying about the threat of climate disruption is not the unending procession of scientific reports about rapidly melting ice sheets, crop failures and rising seas. It’s the combination of trying to absorb that information while watching our so-called leaders behave as if the global emergency is no immediate concern. As if every alarm in our collective house were not going off simultaneously.

Only when we urgently acknowledge that we are facing a genuine crisis will it become possible to enact the kinds of bold policies and mobilize the economic resources we need. Only then will the world have a chance to avert catastrophic warming.

It’s not simply that our leaders aren’t leading us – at an appropriate gallop – away from fossil fuels and towards the renewable energy revolution that is both technologically and economically feasible. It’s that most of them are doubling down on the very energy sources that are most responsible for the crisis, cheering on the extractive industries as they dig up the most greenhouse gas-intensive fossil fuels on the planet: oil from the tar sands, gas from fracking, extra-dirty lignite coal.

Surrounded by such wild contradictions, most of us perform all sorts of mental tricks to try to reconcile the irreconcilable. Those scientists and environmentalists must be exaggerating, we tell ourselves. Or there must be more time before we
really need to change. Or maybe: the experts are just on the verge of figuring out a techno-fix. But does anyone really believe these fairy tales?

Sunday’s climate march will serve many purposes for its many participants: meet upboost moraleexert political pressure. But sounding the alarm together will help us bring our actions in line with our emotions. So many of us are scared of what is happening to the world around us; for one day, we will come together and show it. Yes, we will be showing that sense of existential urgency to our politicians. But we will be showing one another.

By sounding this people’s alarm, we will also be saying that we are no longer waiting for politicians to declare climate disruption an emergency and respond accordingly. We are going to declare the emergency ourselves, from below, just as social movements have always done. The day after the march, many will be taking part in Flood Wall Street events, to draw clear connections between the logic of frenetic profit-making that rules financial markets and the collective failure to take the measures necessary to prevent runaway climate change.

The true leaders are not the ones who will show up at the United Nations next week in motorcades. The true leaders are the people next to us in the streets: the people who already achieved, and are fighting to defend, a moratorium against natural gas fracking in New York state. The Indigenous communities using their hard-won land rights to try to stop the suicidal expansion of the Alberta tar sands in Canadian court. The grassroots environmental justice groups in New York City that have been fighting the siting of toxic refineries and incinerators in the neighbourhoods for decades. And the students who have been demanding that their universities divest their endowments from fossil-fuel stocks, on the grounds that such businesses have made an immoral bet against all of our futures.

These are the people showing us what it looks like to act upon those terrifying warnings from climate scientists. To run away from the fire, instead of towards it.

Naming climate change as a clear and present danger is not a solution in itself, of course. But it is the critical first step. Forcefully expressing our collective sense of urgency will help us resist the next attempt to tell us that some manufactured economic imperative is more important than the stability of the planet – whether it’s the supposed need for more government austerity, or the need to grow the economy at any cost. That sustained sense of urgency will allow us to demand the kinds of bold action required to get off fossil fuels, and move to a regenerative economy, in the brief window we have left.

More from Guardian US on the People’s Climate March:

 

5 Crucial Lessons for the Left From Naomi Klein’s New Book – In These Times


via 5 Crucial Lessons for the Left From Naomi Klein’s New Book – In These Times.

Naomi Klein (Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images)

 

AUGUST 21, 2014

You can’t fight climate change without fighting capitalism, argues Klein in This Changes Everything.

BY ETHAN COREY AND JESSICA CORBETT

klein 001In her previous books The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and NO LOGO: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs (2000), Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein took on topics like neoliberal “shock therapy,” consumerism, globalization and “disaster capitalism,” extensively documenting the forces behind the dramatic rise in economic inequality and environmental degradation over the past 50 years. But in her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (due in stores September 16), Klein casts her gaze toward the future, arguing that the dangers of climate change demand radical action now to ward off catastrophe. She certainly isn’t alone in pointing out the urgency of the threat, but what sets Klein apart is her argument that it is capitalism—not carbon—that is at the root of climate change, inexorably driving us toward an environmental Armageddon in the pursuit of profit. This Changes Everything is well worth a read (or two) in full, but we’ve distilled some of its key points here.

1. Band-Aid solutions don’t work.

“Only mass social movements can save us now. Because we know where the current system, left unchecked, is headed.”

Much of the conversation surrounding climate change focuses on what Klein dismisses as “Band-Aid solutions”: profit-friendly fixes like whizz-bang technological innovations, cap-and-trade schemes and supposedly “clean” alternatives like natural gas. To Klein, such strategies are too little, too late. In her drawn-out critique of corporate involvement in climate change prevention, she demonstrates how profitable “solutions” put forward by many think-tanks (and their corporate backers) actually end up making the problem worse. For instance, Klein argues that carbon trading programs create perverse incentives, allowing manufacturers to produce more harmful greenhouse gases, just to be paid to reduce them. In the process, carbon trading schemes have helped corporations make billions—allowing them to directly profit off the degradation of the planet. Instead, Klein argues, we need to break free of market fundamentalism and implement long-term planning, strict regulation of business, more taxation, more government spending and reversals of privatization to return key infrastructure to public control.

2. We need to fix ourselves, not fix the world.

“The earth is not our prisoner, our patient, our machine, or, indeed, our monster. It is our entire world. And the solution to global warming is not to fix the world, it is to fix ourselves.”

Klein devotes a full chapter of the book to geoengineering: the field of research, championed by a niche group of scientists, funders and media figures, that aims to fight global warming by altering the earth itself—say, by covering deserts with reflective material to send sunlight back to space or even dimming the sun to decrease the amount of heat reaching the planet. However, politicians and much of the global public have raised environmental, health and ethical concerns regarding these proposed science experiments with the planet, and Klein warns of the unknown consequences of creating “a Frankenstein’s world,” with multiple countries launching projects simultaneously. Instead of restoring an environmental equilibrium, Klein argues these “techno-fixes” will only further upset the earth’s balance, each one creating a host of new problems, requiring an endless chain of further “fixes.” She writes, “The earth—our life support system—would itself be put on life support, hooked up to machines 24/7 to prevent it from going full-tilt monster on us.”

3. We can’t rely on “well-intentioned” corporate funding.

“A great many progressives have opted out of the climate change debate in part because they thought that the Big Green groups, flush with philanthropic dollars, had this issue covered. That, it turns out, was a grave mistake.”

Klein strongly critiques partnerships between corporations and major environmental groups, along with attempts by “green billionaires” such as Bill Gates and Virgin Group’s Richard Branson to use capitalism to fighting global warming. When capitalism itself is a principal cause of climate change, Klein argues, it doesn’t make sense to expect corporations and billionaires to put the planet before profit. For example, though the Gates Foundation funds many major environmental groups dedicated to combating climate change, as of December 2013, it had at least $1.2 billion invested in BP and ExxonMobil. In addition, when Big Greens become dependent on corporate funding, they start to push a corporate agenda. For instance, organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund, which have taken millions of dollars from pro-fracking corporate funders, such as Shell, Chevron and JP Morgan, are pitching natural gas as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal.

4. We need divestment, and reinvestment.

“The main power of divestment is not that it financially harms Shell and Chevron in the short term but that it erodes the social license of fossil fuel companies and builds pressure on politicians to introduce across-the-board emission reductions.”

Critics of the carbon divestment movement often claim that divestment will have minimal impact on polluters’ bottom lines. But Klein argues that this line of reasoning misses the point, quoting Canadian divestment activist Cameron Fenton’s argument that “No one is thinking we’re going to bankrupt fossil fuel companies. But what we can do is bankrupt their reputations and take away their political power.” More importantly, divestment opens the door for reinvestment. A few million dollars out of the hands of ExxonMobil or BP frees up money that can now be spent developing green infrastructure or empowering communities to localize their economies. And some colleges, charities, pension funds and municipalities have already got the message: Klein reports that 13 U.S. colleges and universities, 25 North American cities, around 40 religious institutions and several major foundations have all made commitments to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks and bonds.

5. Confronting climate change is an opportunity to address other social, economic and political issues.

“When climate change deniers claim that global warming is a plot to redistribute wealth, it’s not (only) because they are paranoid. It’s also because they are paying attention.”

In The Shock Doctrine, Klein explained how corporations have exploited crises around the world for profit. In This Changes Everything, she argues that the climate change crisis can serve as a wake-up call for widespread democratic action. For instance, when a 2007 tornado destroyed most of Greensburg, Kansas, the town rejected top-down approaches to recovery in favor of community-based rebuilding efforts that increased democratic participation and created new, environmentally-friendly public buildings. Today, Greensburg is one of the greenest towns in the United States. To Klein, this example illustrates how people can use climate change to come together to build a greener society. It also can, and indeed must, spur a radical transformation of our economy: less consumption, less international trade (part of relocalizing our economies) and less private investment, and a lot more government spending to create the infrastructure we need for a green economy. “Implicit in all of this,” Klein writes, “is a great deal more redistribution, so that more of us can live comfortably within the planet’s capacity.”

The Chairman of the Largest Private Company in America Just Told the 1 Percent to Worry About Climate Change | The Nation


via The Chairman of the Largest Private Company in America Just Told the 1 Percent to Worry About Climate Change | The Nation.

The Chairman of the Largest Private Company in America Just Told the 1 Percent to Worry About Climate Change But will Greg Page’s call to arms influence business leaders? Or the Republicans his firm donates to?

Robert S. Eshelman June 25, 2014

Gregory Page, Executive Chairman and former CEO of Cargill. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

 

The US economy could suffer damages running into the hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century due to climate change, according to a study released yesterday. The report, titled “Risky Business,” is the first comprehensive assessment of the economic risks of climate change to the United States. It was commissioned by a panel of influential business leaders and former government officials, including hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Bush administration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

“I have had a fair amount of experience over my career in attempting to understand and manage risk,” said Paulson, alluding to the 2008 financial collapse. “In many ways the climate bubble is actually more cruel and more perverse.”

Among the study’s conclusions:

• By 2050, between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of coastal property will likely be below sea level, rising to $238 billion to $507 billion by 2100.

• Extreme storms and hurricanes will likely cause damages exceeding $42 billion annually along the eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast.

• Labor productivity, of outdoor workers, such as in construction, utility maintenance, landscaping and agriculture, particularly in the Southeast, could shrink by as much as 3 percent due to the projected number of days with temperatures topping 95 degrees.

• Agricultural yields could plummet by as much as 70 percent due to extreme heat waves.

The general outlines of the impacts of climate change on the United States have been detailed in series of reports released this year by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences.

The novelty of the “Risky Business” report, however, is in its detailed assessment of the consequences of climate change on specific economic sectors and by region.

If there is a simple takeway offered by co-chairs Paulson, Bloomberg and Steyer, it’s that the cost of inaction over the long term greatly exceeds the cost of curbing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change in the short term.

“If we act quickly we can avoid the very worst outcomes,” said Paulson during a New York City press conference.

It’s a message that has begun to gain traction among corporate elites, like Greg Page, executive chairman and former CEO of Cargill, Inc., who participated in the high-level “Risk Committee” that developed the scope of the report and approved its findings.

Cargill is the largest privately held company in the United States, and its political contributions skew heavily—about 4 to 1—in favor of Republican members of Congress, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Page’s participation in the “Risky Business” report stands in stark contrast to the executives of the nation’s second-largest privately held corporation—Koch Industries. While the political largess of the billionaire Koch brothers dwarfs that of Cargill, Page’s call for action on climate change could have ripple effects across US political and business communities.

“I think already the pendulum is swinging in favor of those who take climate change very seriously,” says Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, which researches the impacts of climate change on food and water supplies. “For Cargill to get their shoulder behind the wheel, so to speak, gives the movement even more momentum.”

Cargill is primarily an agricultural commodities company with significant economic exposure to the impacts of climate change. They’ve already been hit by commodity price volatility and in 2012, closed a meatpacking plant in Plainview, Texas, citing the prolonged drought that devastated the state’s cattle herd.

In a 2012 interview with Bloomberg News, Page hinted at his growing concern about the impact of changing climate patterns on the agricultural sector. A native of North Dakota, he said in the 1960s, “You could grow wheat—or wheat. That was it.”

“You go to that very same place today—they can grow soybeans, they can grow canola, they can grow corn, they can grow field peas and export them to India,” he continued. “A lot of that has been to do with the fact that they have six, eight days more of frost-free weather.”

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Page is describing the northward movement of the American agricultural belt. As average temperatures have risen over the past decades, the growing season in the northern plains has grown, while heat waves further south have baked America’s traditional agriculture producing states like Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas.

But the “Risky Business” report projects that those near-term agricultural gains will be wiped out as temperatures in the northern plains are by 2100 likely to become more akin to those currently felt in the Southwest.

Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, Page credited American farmers with helping to boost agricultural output over the past half-century, but expressed fears that their gains could be reversed by rising temperatures and more extreme droughts. “If we face an accelerated period of climate change, the question will become whether the food system we rely upon can adapt quickly enough,” he said.

Yet Page’s concern about the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change on US food production has been rejected by the members of Congress who most benefit from Cargill’s political contributions. Among the leading recipients of Cargill campaign cash are House Committee on Agricultural Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), Vice Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), all of who seek to strip the US Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Cargill did not respond to a request for comment on how Page’s call for action on climate change conflicts with the views of those the company supports financially.

Read Next: If Jerry Brown is so green, why is he allowing fracking in California?

June 25, 2014

 

 

Pope Francis: Causing Climate Change Is a “Sin”


via Pope Francis: Causing Climate Change Is a “Sin”.

WED MAY 21, 2014

by TomP

I hope this has an impact on people.  Pope Francis recently spoke about climate change.  Yes, it’s real:

Pope Francis made the religious case for tackling climate change on Wednesday, calling on his fellow Christians to become “Custodians of Creation” and issuing a dire warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change.

Speaking to a massive crowd in Rome, the first Argentinian pope delivered a short address in which he argued that respect for the “beauty of nature and the grandeur of the cosmos” is a Christian value, noting that failure to care for the planet risks apocalyptic consequences.

“Safeguard Creation,” he said. “Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”

The pope centered his environmentalist theology around the biblical creation story in the book of Genesis, where God is said to have created the world, declared it “good,” and charged humanity with its care. Francis also made reference to his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, who was a famous lover of animals, and appeared to tie the ongoing environmental crisis to economic concerns — namely, instances where a wealthy minority exploits the planet at the expense of the poor.

“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude,” Francis said.

Francis also said that humanity’s destruction of the planet is a sinful act, likening it to self-idolatry.

“But when we exploit Creation we destroy the sign of God’s love for us, in destroying Creation we are saying to God: ‘I don’t like it! This is not good!’ ‘So what do you like?’ ‘I like myself!’ – Here, this is sin! Do you see?”

Think Progress: Pope Francis Makes Biblical Case For Addressing Climate Change: ‘If We Destroy Creation, Creation Will Destroy Us’

I think he is talking to the Koch Brothers, among others.

I hope this filters down to Catholics and others in the United States.

 

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO TOMP ON WED MAY 21, 2014 AT 10:17 AM PDT.

ALSO REPUBLISHED BY CLIMATE HAWKS AND DK GREENROOTS.

 

Is Climate Change a Crime Against Humanity? | The Nation


via Is Climate Change a Crime Against Humanity? | The Nation.

Think of climate change as a WMD on a particularly long fuse, already lit and there for any of us to see.

Tom Engelhardt May 22, 2014

Greenhouse gases

Eggborough Power Station in the UK (AP Photo/John Giles)

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

Who could forget? At the time, in the fall of 2002, there was such a drumbeat of “information” from top figures in the Bush administration about the secret Iraqi program to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and so endanger the United States. And who—other than a few suckers—could have doubted that Saddam Hussein was eventually going to get a nuclear weapon? The only question, as our vice president suggested on “Meet the Press,” was: Would it take one year or five? And he wasn’t alone in his fears, since there was plenty of proof of what was going on. For starters, there were those “specially designed aluminum tubes” that the Iraqi autocrat had ordered as components for centrifuges to enrich uranium in his thriving nuclear weapons program. Reporters Judith Miller and Michael Gordon hit the front page of The New York Times with that story on September 8, 2002.

Then there were those “mushroom clouds” that Condoleezza Rice, our national security advisor, was so publicly worried about—the ones destined to rise over American cities if we didn’t do something to stop Saddam. As she fretted in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer on that same September 8th, “[W]e don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” No, indeed, and nor, it turned out, did Congress!

And just in case you weren’t anxious enough about the looming Iraqi threat, there were those unmanned aerial vehicles—Saddam’s drones!—that could be armed with chemical or biological WMD from his arsenal and flown over America’s East Coast cities with unimaginable results. President George W. Bush went on TV to talk about them and congressional votes were changed in favor of war thanks to hair-raising secret administration briefings about them on Capitol Hill.

In the end, it turned out that Saddam had no weapons program, no nuclear bomb in the offing, no centrifuges for those aluminum pipes, no biological or chemical weapons caches, and no drone aircraft to deliver his nonexistent weapons of mass destruction (nor any ships capable of putting those nonexistent robotic planes in the vicinity of the US coast). But what if he had? Who wanted to take that chance? Not Vice President Dick Cheney, certainly. Inside the Bush administration he propounded something that journalist Ron Suskind later dubbed the “one percent doctrine.” Its essence was this: if there was even a 1 percent chance of an attack on the United States, especially involving weapons of mass destruction, it must be dealt with as if it were a 95-100 percent certainty.

Here’s the curious thing: if you look back on America’s apocalyptic fears of destruction during the first fourteen years of this century, they largely involved three city-busting weapons that were fantasies of Washington’s fertile imperial imagination. There was that “bomb” of Saddam’s, which provided part of the pretext for a much-desired invasion of Iraq. There was the “bomb” of the mullahs, the Iranian fundamentalist regime that we’ve just loved to hate ever since they repaid us, in 1979, for the CIA’s overthrow of an elected government in 1953 and the installation of the Shah by taking the staff of the US embassy in Tehran hostage. If you believed the news from Washington and Tel Aviv, the Iranians, too, were perilously close to producing a nuclear weapon or at least repeatedly on the verge of the verge of doing so. The production of that “Iranian bomb” has, for years, been a focus of American policy in the Middle East, the “brink” beyond which warhas endlessly loomed. And yet there was and is no Iranian bomb, nor evidence that the Iranians were or are on the verge of producing one.

Finally, of course, there was Al Qaeda’s bomb, the “dirty bomb” that organization might somehow assemble, transport to the US, and set off in an American city, or the “loose nuke,” maybe from the Pakistani arsenal, with which it might do the same. This is the third fantasy bomb that has riveted American attention in these last years, even though there is less evidence for or likelihood of its imminent existence than of the Iraqi and Iranian ones.

To sum up, the strange thing about end-of-the-world-as-we’ve-known-it scenarios from Washington, post-9/11, is this: with a single exception, they involved only non-existent weapons of mass destruction. A fourth weapon—one that existed but played a more modest role in Washington’s fantasies—was North Korea’s perfectly real bomb, which in these years the North Koreans were incapable of delivering to American shores.

The “Good News” About Climate Change

In a world in which nuclear weapons remain a crucial coin of the realm when it comes to global power, none of these examples could quite be classified as 0 percent dangers. Saddam had once had a nuclear program, just not in 2002-2003, and also chemical weapons, which he used against Iranian troops in his 1980s war with their country (with the help of targeting information from the US military) and against his own Kurdish population. The Iranians might (or might not) have been preparing their nuclear program for a possible weapons breakout capability, and Al Qaeda certainly would not have rejected a loose nuke, if one were available (though that organization’s ability to use it would still have been questionable).

In the meantime, the giant arsenals of WMD in existence, the American, Russian, Chinese, Israeli, Pakistani and Indian ones that might actually have left a crippled or devastated planet behind, remained largely off the American radar screen. In the case of the Indian arsenal, the Bush administration actually lent an indirect hand to its expansion. So it was twenty-first-century typical when President Obama, trying to put Russia’s recent actions in the Ukraine in perspective, said, “Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”

Once again, an American president was focused on a bomb that would raise a mushroom cloud over Manhattan. And which bomb, exactly, was that, Mr. President?

Of course, there was a weapon of mass destruction that could indeed do staggering damage to or someday simply drown New York City, Washington DC, Miami and other East Coast cities. It had its own efficient delivery systems—no nonexistent drones or Islamic fanatics needed. And unlike the Iraqi, Iranian or Al Qaeda bombs, it was guaranteed to be delivered to our shores unless preventative action was taken soon. No one needed to hunt for its secret facilities. It was a weapons system whose production plants sat in full view right here in the United States, as well as in Europe, China and India, as well as in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela and other energy states.

So here’s a question I’d like any of you living in or visiting Wyoming to ask the former vice president, should you run into him in a state that’s notoriously thin on population: How would he feel about acting preventively, if instead of a 1 percent chance that some country with weapons of mass destruction might use them against us, there was at least a 95 percent—and likely as not a 100 percent—chance of them being set off on our soil? Let’s be conservative, since the question is being posed to a well-known neoconservative. Ask him whether he would be in favor of pursuing the 95 percent doctrine the way he was the 1 percent version.

After all, thanks to a grim 2013 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we know that there is now a 95-100 percent likelihood that “human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming [of the planet] since the mid-20th century.” We know as well that the warming of the planet—thanks to the fossil fuel system we live by and the greenhouse gases it deposits in the atmosphere—is already doing real damage to our world and specifically to the United States, as a recent scientific report released by the White House made clear. We also know, with grimly reasonable certainty, what kinds of damage those 95-100 percent odds are likely to translate into in the decades, and even centuries, to come if nothing changes radically: a temperature rise by century’s end that could exceed ten degrees Fahrenheit, cascading species extinctions, staggeringly severe droughts across larger parts of the planet (as in the present long-term drought in the American West and Southwest), far more severe rainfall across other areas, more intense storms causing far greater damage, devastating heat waves on a scale no one in human history has ever experienced, masses of refugees, rising global food prices, and among other catastrophes on the human agenda, rising sea levels that will drown coastal areas of the planet.

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From two scientific studies just released, for example, comes the news that the West Antarctic ice sheet, one of the great ice accumulations on the planet, has now begun a process of melting and collapse that could, centuries from now, raise world sea levels by a nightmarish ten to thirteen feet. That mass of ice is, according to the lead authors of one of the studies, already in “irreversible retreat,” which means—no matter what acts are taken from now on—a future death sentence for some of the world’s great cities. (And that’s without even the melting of the Greenland ice shield, not to speak of the rest of the ice in Antarctica.)

All of this, of course, will happen mainly because we humans continue to burn fossil fuels at an unprecedented rate and so annually deposit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at record levels. In other words, we’re talking about weapons of mass destruction of a new kind. While some of their effects are already in play, the planetary destruction that nuclear weapons could cause almost instantaneously, or at least (given “nuclear winter” scenarios) within months, will, with climate change, take decades, if not centuries, to deliver its full, devastating planetary impact.

When we speak of WMD, we usually think of weapons—nuclear, biological, or chemical—that are delivered in a measurable moment in time. Consider climate change, then, a WMD on a particularly long fuse, already lit and there for any of us to see. Unlike the feared Iranian bomb or the Pakistani arsenal, you don’t need the CIA or the NSA to ferret such “weaponry” out. From oil wells to fracking structures, deep sea drilling rigs to platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, the machinery that produces this kind of WMD and ensures that it is continuously delivered to its planetary targets is in plain sight. Powerful as it may be, destructive as it will be, those who control it have faith that, being so long developing, it can remain in the open without panicking populations or calling any kind of destruction down on them.

The companies and energy states that produce such WMD remain remarkably open about what they’re doing. Generally speaking, they don’t hesitate to make public, or even boast about, their plans for the wholesale destruction of the planet, though of course they are never described that way. Nonetheless, if an Iraqi autocrat or Iranian mullahs spoke in similar fashion about producing nuclear weapons and how they were to be used, they would be toast.

Take ExxonMobil, one of the most profitable corporations in history. In early April, it released two reports that focused on how the company, as Bill McKibben has written, “planned to deal with the fact that [it] and other oil giants have many times more carbon in their collective reserves than scientists say we can safely burn.” He went on:

The company said that government restrictions that would force it to keep its [fossil fuel] reserves in the ground were ‘highly unlikely,’ and that they would not only dig them all up and burn them, but would continue to search for more gas and oil—a search that currently consumes about $100 million of its investors’ money every single day. ‘Based on this analysis, we are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become “stranded.”‘

In other words, Exxon plans to exploit whatever fossil fuel reserves it possesses to their fullest extent. Government leaders involved in supporting the production of such weapons of mass destruction and their use are often similarly open about it, even while also discussing steps to mitigate their destructive effects. Take the White House, for instance. Here was a statement President Obama proudly made in Oklahoma in March 2012 on his energy policy:

Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That’s important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across twenty-three different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.

Similarly, on May 5, just before the White House was to reveal that grim report on climate change in America, and with a Congress incapable of passing even the most rudimentary climate legislation aimed at making the country modestly more energy efficient, senior Obama adviser John Podesta appeared in the White House briefing room to brag about the administration’s “green” energy policy. “The United States,” he said, “is now the largest producer of natural gas in the world and the largest producer of gas and oil in the world. It’s projected that the United States will continue to be the largest producer of natural gas through 2030. For six straight months now, we’ve produced more oil here at home than we’ve imported from overseas. So that’s all a good-news story.”

Good news indeed, and from Vladmir Putin’s Russia, which just expanded its vast oil and gas holdings by a Maine-sized chunk of the Black Sea off Crimea, to Chinese “carbon bombs,” to Saudi Arabian production guarantees, similar “good-news stories” are similarly promoted. In essence, the creation of ever more greenhouse gases—of, that is, the engine of our future destruction—remains a “good news” story for ruling elites on planet Earth.

Weapons of Planetary Destruction

We know exactly what Dick Cheney—ready to go to war on a 1 percent possibility that some country might mean us harm—would answer, if asked about acting on the 95 percent doctrine. Who can doubt that his response would be similar to those of the giant energy companies, which have funded so much climate-change denialism and false science over the years? He would claim that the science simply isn’t “certain” enough (though “uncertainty” can, in fact, cut two ways), that before we commit vast sums to taking on the phenomenon, we need to know far more, and that, in any case, climate-change science is driven by a political agenda.

For Cheney & Co., it seemed obvious that acting on a 1 percent possibility was a sensible way to go in America’s “defense” and it’s no less gospel for them that acting on at least a 95 percent possibility isn’t. For the Republican Party as a whole, climate-change denial is by now nothing less than a litmus test of loyalty, and so even a 101 percent doctrine wouldn’t do when it comes to fossil fuels and this planet.

No point, of course, in blaming this on fossil fuels or even the carbon dioxide they give off when burned. These are no more weapons of mass destruction than are uranium-235 and plutonium-239. In this case, the weaponry is the production system that’s been set up to find, extract, sell at staggering profits, and burn those fossil fuels, and so create a greenhouse-gas planet. With climate change, there is no “Little Boy” or “Fat Man” equivalent, no simple weapon to focus on. In this sense, fracking is the weapons system, as is deep-sea drilling, as are those pipelines, and the gas stations, and the coal-fueled power plants, and the millions of cars filling global roads, and the accountants of the most profitable corporations in history.

All of it—everything that brings endless fossil fuels to market, makes those fuels eminently burnable, and helps suppress the development of non-fossil fuel alternatives—is the WMD. The CEOs of the planet’s giant energy corporations are the dangerous mullahs, the true fundamentalists, of planet Earth, since they are promoting a faith in fossil fuels which is guaranteed to lead us to some version of End Times.

Perhaps we need a new category of weapons with a new acronym to focus us on the nature of our present 95-100 percent circumstances. Call them weapons of planetary destruction (WPD) or weapons of planetary harm (WPH). Only two weapons systems would clearly fit such categories. One would be nuclear weapons which, even in a localized war between Pakistan and India, could create some version of “nuclear winter” in which the planet was cut off from the sun by so much smoke and soot that it would grow colder fast, experience a massive loss of crops, of growing seasons and of life. In the case of a major exchange of such weapons, we would be talking about “the sixth extinction” of planetary history.

Though on a different and harder to grasp time-scale, the burning of fossil fuels could end in a similar fashion—with a series of “irreversible” disasters that could essentially burn us and much other life off the Earth. This system of destruction on a planetary scale, facilitated by most of the ruling and corporate elites on the planet, is becoming (to bring into play another category not usually used in connection with climate change) the ultimate “crime against humanity” and, in fact, against most living things. It is becoming a “terracide.”

Read Next: Eric Alterman on the Republican media’s refusal to acknowledge climate change

 

Christians plead with Gov. Rick Scott to deal with the realities of climate change


via Christians plead with Gov. Rick Scott to deal with the realities of climate change.

By David Ferguson

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

FL Gov Rick Scott by Gage Skidmore

A Christian environmental group is asking Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to form a coordinated response to the threat of climate change and to consider the environment as a “pro-life” issue.

According to Think Progress, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is circulating apetition among Florida Christians that asks Scott to undertake a comprehensive plan to face the realities of climate change out of a duty to take “care of God’s creation.”

“As Christians, we believe that God’s grace empowers us to honestly confront the challenges we face and change for the better,” reads the petition. “We are failing to keep our air and water clean for our children, contributing to a changing climate that most hurts the world’s poor, and putting Floridians at risk as temperatures and sea levels continue to rise.”

“To meet these challenges, we need leaders who understand our duty to God’s creation and future generations,” it continued. “That’s why we are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to create a plan to reduce carbon pollution and confront the impacts of a changing climate.”

While it may seem to be a sharp about-face for the Christian right to embrace what most Republicans see as a liberal cause, EEN’s president, Rev. Mitch Hescox, doesn’t see it that way.

“We wanted to help the evangelical church understand in Florida that climate change is not a liberal issue or any issue other than a people issue,” Hescox said.

While Scott himself has expressed skepticism about the realities of climate change, Hescox believes that the governor will respond to an appeal to his Christian faith.

“I think he’s gotten caught up — at least, this is just my own opinion — in some of the rhetoric that’s flying around of climate change being, you know, a polar bear issue.” said Hescox.

“We’re hoping that with his values and his understanding of scripture, that helping him to understand climate change in a way that uses the values that he and I probably share — more conservative, pro-life values — will help him understand climate change is a real and very big threat to Florida.”

[Gov. Rick Scott photographed by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons licensed]