Thursday, July 9, 2015

Step One to Responding to Climate Change is to Learn What is Really Going On

"We need the deniers to get out of the way. They are risking everyone's future.... The Koch Brothers are criminals.... They should be charged with criminal activity because they're putting the profits of their business ahead of the livelihoods of millions of people, and even life on earth." - Jason Box, in "When the End of Human Civilization is Your Day Job," Esquire


Read the above article. If you're reading my blog, you probably already know that Climate Change, aka Global Warming, is a real thing. You may have posted similar articles on Facebook, and gotten "likes" from other people who also get that it's real, and snarky comments from your two friends who think it's just liberal hogwash. But you know it's not just real, it's here, now, and it's speeding up.

You probably feel a sense of dread and hopelessness, because you also know that there is no way to "go back" to where we were, to a not totally destabilized planet. You just hope that grassroots organizations can do enough to help us deal with the changes underway, providing solutions like floating houses run by solar energy for the billions of people displaced by rising seas. You sense that governments aren't going to do enough.

You know why they aren't? Because they are in too deep in the bullshit of running the world.

I'm reading Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen. One thing Loewen returns to repeatedly, an invisible theme of public school history education, is that the mythologies of our nation holds more credence than actual fact, especially if that fact flies in the face of said mythology. One of the United State's sacred mythologies is that our nation is a peace-keeping good guy that steps in like a kind big brother to fix the world's ills. The fact is, however, that "the United States now spends more on its armed forces than all other nations combined and has them stationed in 144 different countries," (222) and while many of these stations are in the name of "peace keeping," much of them are actually in support of the financial growth of multinational corporations like ITT and Monsanto. Some of these multinationals have budgets larger than those of most governments. And if those companies want something from foreign soil, our federal government is more than happy to step in and push things around until they get what they want. Like deposing Prime Minister Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, bringing down the elected government of Guatemala in 1954, rigging the 1957 election in Lebanon, repeated attempts to kill Fidel Castro, and I'm sure many other and more recent (in the book he gives these older examples to make sure textbooks had time to include them) examples of ways the US takes over other countries in the interest of economic gain.

A huge part of this economically-motivated international bullying is, of course, about oil. "In Equatorial Guinea, for example, oil companies pay millions of dollars to the regime's leaders for the privilege of taking the country's oil... [T]hey pay royalties of only about 10 percent for taking Equatorial Guinea's oil -- far less than they would pay in a justly run nation." (225) While oil companies and the federal government are paying "far less than they would," however, they are paying insane amounts of money to extract oil around the world. In the article "The New Abolitionism," Christopher Hayes writes,
Fossil fuel extraction is one of the most capital-intensive industries in the world. While it is immensely, unfathomably profitable, it requires ungodly amounts of money to dig and drill the earth, money to pump and refine and transport the fuel so that it can go from the fossilized plant matter thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface into your Honda. And that constant need for billions of new dollars in investment capital is the industry’s Achilles’ heel.
 He doesn't mention to cost spent on the armed forces used to occupy the countries we get oil from.

So here is where I suggest we put our efforts in attempts to slow Climate Change (in addition to efforts to mediate its effects on us humans, like the floating houses and local, organic farming): Pull out of other countries. Stop spending money on creating corrupt governments. Stop spending money on digging, drilling, and surveying for oil. Put those billions of dollars into expanding renewable energy, building renewable energy sources in other countries (that actually would be a Good Guy move), and reducing poverty at home and abroad. Not because we want to control other countries but because we humans are in this together and its the right thing to do.

Naive? Simplistic? Probably. But also our only real chance for our grandchildren and children to not go extinct, and it's our imperative as members of a sacred and dynamic earth.

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