/* Added by TWP, 10/12/2012 */ /* End of addition */

One of the live oaks that bless my home

Saturday, October 13, 2018

All is well on our planet Earth, isn't it?

Please don't act with surprise when I say this: The global climate change is real; global warming is accelerating, especially in the northern hemisphere; and the positive feedbacks that will further exacerbate human condition are kicking in with vengeance.  I am stating the scientifically obvious, but I have not made it clear yet how bad this climate change will be for us humans, who have relied on the "free" environmental services that are going away.  These services are fertile soil, mild temperatures, sufficient rain, full aquifers, lakes and rivers, clean water, ample snowpacks, and clean air.  When you are in China, in the Middle East, or in Central Valley in California, most or all of these services are either damaged or have disappeared.

Let's fast forward to a recent article under this promising title: Climate report understates threat. This article was written by Dr. Mario Molina, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on ozone depletion from the atmosphere; Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, distinguished professor of climate sciences at the University of California (UC), San Diego; and Durwood J. Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development in Washington, DC and Paris, and a faculty at UC Santa Barbara.  The article starts from the perfunctory amplification of the main conclusions from the October 8, 2018, IPCC report and then jumps to this:
The [IPCC] report notes that there are historic precedents for the speed we need, although not for the scale of required mitigation. But the United States’ World War II industrial mobilization provides an encouraging precedent: Only three-and-a-half years elapsed between Pearl Harbor and D-Day. Our economies have a remarkable ability to adapt quickly with the right policies. So neither fatalism nor despair are warranted, but rather a sense of urgent, or even running-scared, optimism.  
Governor Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco last month teamed up with technology innovators, zero-carbon energy producers, entrepreneurs, and other optimists to seize this challenge. President Macron’s One Planet Summit followed in New York during Climate Week, bringing together leaders of finance who were optimistic that managing climate risk is not only possible, but an exciting challenge that would also be profitable as new industries arise to do the most important work the world has ever demanded. (One estimate of the cost of carbon dioxide removal is a staggering $89 to $535 trillion this century—a sizable new market.
[Bolding and italics by TWP.]
Let's parse the first paragraph of this citation. WWII started on September 1, 1939, in my hometown, Gliwice. At 3 am, Germany attacked Poland from the south, north and west.  Seventeen days later, the closest ally of Germany and enabler of the war, the Soviet Union, attacked Poland from the east. Germany attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, and on that day petroleum, coal, iron ore, steel, nickel and grain stopped flowing to Germany from their giant eastern friend. With no domestic sources of their war materiel, Japan joined Germany on December 7, 1941, by attacking Pearl Harbor.  Japan wanted to capture and control supplies of raw materials and undo the American economic blockade.

Neither Germany nor Japan were self-sufficient in raw materials and food, and had to conquer other countries to get what they wanted. But, during WWII, the US and Soviet Union were more than self sufficient in coal, crude oil, iron, steel, aluminum, asbestos, and other materials necessary to win the war.  Rubber was a problem for the US, but production of synthetic rubber started during WWII. Copper was in very short supply everywhere, as only Sweden and Australia had large mines.  Germany conquered Norway to control Swedish copper. Nickel was also in short supply.

During WWII, the US and Soviet Union out-produced Germany and Japan in pretty much everything but missiles by a factor of many.

To compare the WWII industrial effort with the global dislocation necessary to ameliorate some of the effects of climate change is surprisingly naive and proves that the three professors got Ds in their history electives, if they had any.  This comparison also neglects to account for the human population that has almost quadrupled between the 1940s and now, and the resource consumption that has increased almost 10-fold.  The world today cannot grow its industrial production the way we did during WWII.  There is simply not enough of the planet Earth left to be devoured.
Wow, I am really excited for the survivors of hurricane Michael!  So much rebuilding that will stimulate their city's economy again, and again, and again - after every large storm.  Just like the authors of the article cited above, most of the good people in Mexico Beach will never learn because they are in denial.  Denial is optimism on steroids.
Now on the second quoted paragraph.  Let's ask the people, who rode out the giant storm in Panama City or Mexico Beach in Florida, and lived to answer this question: How exciting was it for them to fight climate change and plot new economic opportunities amid the almost total devastation of everything in their community?  I hope that they have insured the loved ones who perished and will be able to invest the insurance money into new stronger homes that will be wiped out in a few years by the next record-breaking Cat 5 storm.

Then let's go to Puerto Rico, Barbados and Haiti, and talk about the wonderful new opportunities their respective island devastations have brought. While at it, let's ask people in New Orleans, Houston and the Carolinas how wonderful it is to rebuild their communities without fleeing to higher ground and abandoning entire cities that will be inundated by the rising seawater.  Then let's move to Manhattan and Orlando and talk about the great business opportunities in preventing their infrastructures from collapse during the incredible future storm tides. 

It is also exciting to talk about food supply of the future.  So let's visit farmers in South Africa, the Sub Saharan Africa, India, Pakistan and Europe, and record their excitement from the prolonged super-hot droughts that interlace with super floods in so many countries.  All these roads, rail lines and bridges to be rebuilt, transformers and power lines to be replaced, houses to be rebuilt, fields to be restored, and so on!  It's a dream of economists and scientists closeted in the rich San Francisco;  at least until a major earthquake hits, and new business opportunities will be created there.

OK, so you get my drift, don't you?  How is it that the otherwise formidable scientists can be so blind and talk such nonsense?  This is a very complicated question, but in essence it is denial amplified by brainwashing by the decades of service for the global fossil superorgansim.   The global amoeba, which we all serve, demands allegiance and selective blindness towards the so many self-evident truths. Why is it that the "Onion" always gets it right?

"Economic growth" is about to end because its biophysical underpinnings are getting exhausted - all at once. Only the most courageous among us see through the increasingly implausible lies we tell ourselves to obfuscate this truth. It is so much easier for us to fly to the next conference, rent a car, check into an air-conditioned hotel, eat at the air-conditioned restaurants, step over homeless on the sidewalks, and pretend that eternal growth will separate us from hard reality. Conversely, the least affluent among us keep on cheering President Trump at his endless political rallies designed to blind them from seeing the truth.  My heart cringes when I see their enthusiastic faces and shouts. They should look at Trump with horror, because he is their demise, ruin and tatters.

Our children have far less access to the luxuries of the global amoeba and to that extent they are more in tune with reality.  But they are mostly passive, alienated from the natural environment, and brainwashed by living with smart phones and Facebook.  So, by and enlarge, our children don't vote and don't try to change what they see coming.

My generation, though, consists mostly of the frightened, self-centred cowards who hope that preserving the governing narrative will protect us from the inevitable.  Welcome to the world of climate change, disappearing international order, growing nationalism, racism, fascism and religious intolerance.  No one will escape this brave new world, so let's get on with powering down the failing societies and reassessing what really is important for our well being.

P.S. (10/14/2018)  Here is what the welcome climate change has done to the zero carbon emission technologies in Puerto Rico.  I guess more economic opportunities will arise again.
The largest wind farm in Puerto Rico was wiped out by hurricane Maria.
The largest PV solar farm in Puerto Rico was obliterated by hurricane Maria.
And how do you feel about burning $500 trillion to remove the very carbon dioxide we put into the air by burning indiscriminately fossil fuels?  If you ask me, I'll have some interesting ideas on how to save the Maldives from rising sea level.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

What Now?

I have not written for a year, because I did not want to infect you with my depression.  The climate is warming up like never before in human memory, the polar ice is melting at the fastest rate in 120,000 years, the hurricanes, fires and droughts are ever stronger, and people went mad, most of them all at once.  At this time of epochal change, the global superorganism of which we are tiny parts, keeps on pretending that nothing will prevent its eternal growth.  People in power are borrowing ever more money and drawing the seemingly logical plans of eternal economic expansion, when only drastic contraction can save us.

America, my dream country and my state of mind, has been withering and burning through geological deposits of good will around the world.  And just two days ago, we heard a scarred-for-life, direct and gentle woman, whose credible testimony was ignored by the old cynical white men on the right hand side of the room. Then came the raison d'etre of this ceremony, a privileged white boy, who never had to account for anything in his sheltered life. The boy became a belligerent sobbing oaf when challenged by difficult questions about his youthful sins of binge drinking and attacking girls. Yet, almost half of America watched his tantrums, worthy of a scorned school boy, not a Supreme Court Justice, with admiration. As judge Kavenaugh reiterated five times, he loves beer, just like the poor uneducated white males, who are encouraged to accept that rich boy, because this Bud is also for him. And then came the worst part, after invoking God, beer, motherland, football, sex abstinence and family, the boy went on an ideological rampage worthy of another adolescent in charge of my country.  It was 1:30 am of Jeddah time, when this gut wrenching spectacle ended.

But next morning, I heard the voice of a woman confronting the visibly frightened senator Jeff Flake, who was caught trying to touch his shoes with his nose. “You are telling all women that they don’t matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them, you are going to ignore them,” she yelled. “That’s what happened to me.” “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” she commanded the senator.  A wave of warmth went through my body, because I knew instantly that this brave woman was our America.  She, just like my wife, my daughters and me has had it with the attempts to fracture our country even more.

In the end, the visibly drawn senator Flake stopped the Republican Juggernaut dead, earned eternal gratitude from millions of ordinary Americans, and probably lost his job.  My country saw another brighter day.  My little grandson may still have a place to live when he grows up, and not be called an "enemy of the people."  But that's a completely different story.

P.S. (10/05/2018) The woman's name is Maria Gallagher.

P.S.P.S. (10/13/2018)  A week after I wrote this blog, reality corrected me.  Senator Jeff Flake fell into line with the rest of his disciplined, anti-democratic Republican Party.  Being a smart politician he is, he concluded that the future lucrative lobbying contracts, probably worth millions to him, were more important than truth, democracy and preventing further bifurcation of the country whose constitution he swore to uphold.   The rest is history.  The boy is now a Supreme Court justice, and he is free to make the smallest tight lips he pleases to accentuate his dissatisfaction with whatever.