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Monday, July 19, 2010

Out Of Our Hands

Out of Our Hands
It's out of our hands.
Chris Hedges:
The climate crisis is a political crisis. We will either defy the corporate elite, which will mean civil disobedience, a rejection of traditional politics for a new radicalism and the systematic breaking of laws, or see ourselves consumed. Time is not on our side. The longer we wait, the more assured our destruction becomes. The future, if we remain passive, will be wrested from us by events. Our moral obligation is not to structures of power, but life.
Powerful words, from a passionate writer. Ahem, go read the whole thing.

Based solely upon the litany of horrors attending in the wings - that Chris so aptly (and quite angrily, I serenely note) documents - it seems that it may be a bit late to perk to these dog-whistles of revolution.
In the past when civilizations went belly up through greed, mismanagement and the exhaustion of natural resources, human beings migrated somewhere else to pillage anew. But this time the game is over. There is nowhere else to go....

Collapse this time around will be global. We will disintegrate together. And there is no way out. The 10,000-year experiment of settled life is about to come to a crashing halt. And humankind, which thought it was given dominion over the Earth and all living things, will be taught a painful lesson in the necessity of balance, restraint and humility.
"Collapse this time around will be global." This is the essential, the reason, the wake-the-fuck-up. Historians and "observers" of human civilization often speak of "cycles." But there were never "cycles" here - just new territories to plunder. It is more accurately described as an escalating "spiral," and spirals have endgames.
The news is grim. The accelerating disintegration of Arctic Sea ice means that summer ice will probably disappear within the next decade. The open water will absorb more solar radiation, significantly increasing the rate of global warming. The Siberian permafrost will disappear, sending up plumes of methane gas from underground. The Greenland ice sheet and the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers will melt...
Chris mentions two things here that are particularly troubling to me... oh, haha, I mean, to all of us. The increased absorption of solar radiation due to the north turning "dark," and the release of massive amounts, and I mean massive amounts, of methane, will overwhelm any human efforts to mitigate our irresponsible plundering of the planetary carbon sink.

At this point I will cheerily hand the climate-change deniers a rhetorical point. Human-caused or not, is now moot. There's nothing we can do. It's out of our hands. It's all "Nature," now.

(And I was momentarily amazed and quite impressed, when BP was unexpectedly able to seal that well. You could've knocked me over with a feather. I mean, yeah, they've already pretty much beshitted the ecosphere with mind-boggling amounts of toxins, but wow! we stanched a pretty fucking impressive wound. Feelin' all technologically able and powerful, and then I had to wander over to TruthDig and catch Mr. Hedges' buzzkill article. Bastards.)
Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels since 2000 have increased by 3 per cent a year... The safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere, [James] Hansen [head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies] estimates, is no more than 350 parts per million (ppm). The current level of CO2 is 385 ppm and climbing. This already guarantees terrible consequences even if we act immediately to cut carbon emissions.
Not in our hands.
The natural carbon cycle for 3 million years has ensured that the atmosphere contained less than 300 ppm of CO2, which sustained the wide variety of life on the planet. The idea now championed by our corporate elite, at least those in contact with the reality of global warming, is that we will intentionally overshoot 350 ppm and then return to a safer climate through rapid and dramatic emission cuts. This, of course, is a theory designed to absolve the elite from doing anything now. But as Clive Hamilton...writes, even “if carbon dioxide concentrations reach 550 ppm, after which emissions fell to zero, the global temperatures would continue to rise for at least another century.”
Not in our hands.

Now, the thrust of Hedges' article is that we must quit waiting for the Powers That Be to do anything about it, because they're the plunderers, after all. And he is quite correct.

I doubt that his dog-whistle to revolution will amount to much, though, and that is no discredit to Mr. Chris Hedges. I learned long ago that it it is quite possible to be absolutely correct and depressingly wrong at the same time, and since Chris emphasizes the "political" nature of our problems, then he should be predisposed to agree with me on that rather trite observation. I think that we are irrevocably in for "a painful lesson in the necessity of balance, restraint and humility."

It will be interesting (or would be, if ME ME ME could be around to observe it), if the survivors of this multi-generational calamity will receive this painful lesson, in fruition.

But, I have to say, it requires a rather large dollop of magical thinking to assert that humans will be responsive to this... or even around to be responsive to this.

Sorry for the evil, negative post. Sometimes, the news is just the news.

And I wanted to get this post up, in case some post-civilization humans are able to decrypt the servers they dig up. That way they'll know that, while we are all dumbasses, some people are more dumbass than others, to inappropriately paraphrase Orwell.

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