Climate Change Denial Is Murder

Climate change denial by government is murder by weather.

By now everyone everywhere knows that climate change is a reality, especially the deniers who are simply lying to cover up their real intent, which is to continue with their capitalist schemes of self-aggrandisement even to the point of knowingly letting people die as a consequence.

During the last two weeks, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and José, in succession, have formed in the tropical Atlantic Ocean to sweep northwest through the Caribbean toward the southern coasts of North America. Harvey has flooded hundreds of thousands of dwellings in the Gulf Coast area of Texas around Houston. Irma, the “lawnmower from the sky,” and the strongest Category 5 (out of 5) hurricane ever recorded, is just making landfall in Florida after razing a number of the smaller Caribbean islands; and Hurricane José is now sweeping into the Caribbean Sea from the east. Climate change denier and right-wing propagandist Rush Limbaugh, lounging in his Florida Xanadu, had called the official weather forecasts of Hurricane Irma’s path “fake news,” but has just heeded those same forecasts by evacuating from the storm, as well as from personal responsibility.

Climate change (as global warming) doesn’t “cause” hurricanes, it makes them more powerful and more frequent. Warmer oceans more easily evaporate, increasing the atmospheric moisture available for rain, and increasing the atmospheric heat energy available for driving winds. It takes heat to evaporate liquid water into vapor. Such vapor rising from the ocean surface mixes with the atmosphere. At higher elevations where the air temperature is lower, or in the presence of cold air currents, water vapor can lose its heat energy to the air and condense into droplets of liquid water. The heat energy released by water vapor to condense back into liquid – the latent heat of vaporization – is sizable (per unit mass of H2O) and adds to the energy of motion of the air molecules and air currents: wind. So, global warming makes for more moisture in the air over tropical ocean waters, and more heat energy in that air to drive winds and storms.

The scientific facts about global warming have been known for a very long time, and were largely learned through government-funded research. US Government officials, as in the George W. Bush administration and now in the Donald Trump administration, who publicly deny these facts – excruciatingly documented and warehoused by the scientific, technical, military and commercial agencies of the US Government – are simply voicing bald-faced lies, and are thus betraying their official and constitutional responsibilities to the American public. Since this lying (and its enabling of continued greenhouse gas pollution) is done knowingly and for monetary gain, and the consequential more violent weather (droughts, hurricanes, floods) erupting from today’s global warming climate change always causes fatalities, then that climate change denial is at the very minimum an accessory to criminally negligent manslaughter, and without a reasonable doubt to premeditated murder.

Outline History of Awareness of Climate Change

What follows is a timeline, which I first made for myself in 2013, of the development of scientific knowledge about climate change. This summary outline includes some of the incidents of the intimately related “world energy crisis,” which I define as getting enough energy for a decent standard of living worldwide, coupled with the commercial competition between: fossil fuel energy versus nuclear energy versus solar/green energy.

Both fossil fuel energy and nuclear energy are intrinsically capitalist forms of resource hoarding and market exploitation, because they are extracted from the Earth at specific locations, burned to generate electricity at large and complex industrial plants, and distributed widely and distantly through a large electrical transmission line distribution grid.

On the other hand, solar/green energy is intrinsically a socialist or public commons type of energy resource because it is naturally abundant everywhere – like sunshine and wind – and is easily converted to electricity wherever it is collected. It is because of its intrinsic socialist (anti-capitalist) nature that solar and green energy are being legally attacked and restricted in US political jurisdictions controlled by rabidly capitalist special interests. The outline now follows.

The clock for a public policy response to the “energy crisis” (now enlarged to “Global Warming” and “Climate Change”) started ticking in October 1973 with the First Arab Oil Embargo (1973 Oil Crisis), and we’ve yet to get off our asses in response to the alarm (40+ years later).

Four years later, the energy problem was serious enough for President Jimmy Carter to address the nation about it on the 202nd anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride (18 April 1977). See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tPePpMxJaA

Peak Oil was the fear in 1977, not Global Warming, even though science had been certain about Global Warming since 1955-1957.

What follows is a very brief synopsis of the scientific development of knowledge about Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW, which is human-caused, CO2-driven Climate Change), along with incidents of the parallel World Energy Crisis.

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide is a gaseous insulator and high capacity heat-storage medium. It can retain much more heat energy per unit mass than the two dominate atmospheric gases making up 99.03% of the atmosphere: diatomic nitrogen (N2, 78.08% of the air), and diatomic oxygen (O2, 20.95% of the air). The remaining 0.97% of the dry atmosphere is a mixture of rare gases (with low heat capacity) and organic vapors (with high heat capacity), which include the high heat capacity species: methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The water vapor (H2O) carried along by the otherwise dry air is also a high heat capacity medium.

Quotes below are noted as from one of:
(HCCS): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_climate_change_science
(HS): http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/156308/

(JEA): John E. Allen, Aerodynamics, Hutchinson & Co. LTD, London, 1963.

In 1896 Svante Arrhenius calculated the effect of doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide to be an increase in surface temperatures of 5-6 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, another Swedish scientist, Arvid Högbom, had been attempting to quantify natural sources of emissions of CO2 for purposes of understanding the global carbon cycle. Högbom found that estimated carbon production from industrial sources in the 1890s (mainly coal burning) was comparable with the natural sources. (HCCS)

In 1938 a British engineer, Guy Stewart Callendar, attempted to revive Arrhenius’s greenhouse-effect theory. Callendar presented evidence that both temperature and the CO2 level in the atmosphere had been rising over the past half-century, and he argued that newer spectroscopic measurements showed that the gas was effective in absorbing infrared [heat radiation] in the atmosphere. Nevertheless, most scientific opinion continued to dispute or ignore the theory. (HCCS)

In 1955 Hans Suess’s carbon-14 isotope analysis showed that CO2 released from fossil fuels was not immediately absorbed by the ocean. (HCCS)

In 1957, better understanding of ocean chemistry led Roger Revelle to a realization that the ocean surface layer had limited ability to absorb carbon dioxide. (HCCS)

In a seminal paper published in 1957 [Roger Revelle and Hans Suess, “Carbon dioxide exchange between atmosphere and ocean and the question of an increase of atmospheric CO2 during the past decades.” Tellus 9, 18-27 (1957)], Roger Revelle and Hans Suess argued that humankind was performing “a great geophysical experiment,” [and called] on the scientific community to monitor changes in the carbon dioxide content of waters and the atmosphere, as well as production rates of plants and animals. (HS)

AGW became common knowledge among aerodynamicists and atmospheric scientists by the 1960s, as witnessed by the following passage from John E. Allen’s 1963 book surveying the field of aerodynamics “for the non-specialist, the young student, the scholar leaving school and seeking an interest for his life’s work, and for the intelligent member of the public.”

Scientists are interested in the long-term effects on our atmosphere from the combustion of coal, oil and petrol and the generation of carbon dioxide. It has been estimated that 360,000 million tons of CO2 have been added to the atmosphere by man’s burning of fossil fuels, increasing the concentration by 13%. This progressive rise in the CO2 content of the air has influenced the heat balance between the sun, air and oceans, thus leading to small but definite changes in surface temperature. At Uppsala in Sweden, for example, the mean temperature has risen 2° in 60 years. (JEA)

22 April 1970: On this first Earth Day, MG,Jr decides to aim for a career in energy research, for a brave new future.

October 1973 – March 1974: The first Arab Oil Embargo (formally known as the 1973 Oil Crisis) erupts in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War (1973 Arab-Israeli War, October 6–25, 1973).

Evidence for warming accumulated. By 1975, Manabe and Wetherald had developed a three-dimensional Global Climate Model that gave a roughly accurate representation of the current climate. Doubling CO2 in the model’s atmosphere gave a roughly 2°C rise in global temperature. Several other kinds of computer models gave similar results: it was impossible to make a model that gave something resembling the actual climate and not have the temperature rise when the CO2 concentration was increased. (HCCS)

18 April 1977: President Jimmy Carter’s Address to the Nation on Energy.

The 1979 World Climate Conference of the World Meteorological Organization concluded “it appears plausible that an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can contribute to a gradual warming of the lower atmosphere, especially at higher latitudes….It is possible that some effects on a regional and global scale may be detectable before the end of this century and become significant before the middle of the next century.” (HCCS)

1979-1980: The 1979 (or Second) Oil Crisis erupts from the turmoil of the Iranian Revolution, and the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980.

March 28, 1979: A nuclear reactor meltdown occurs at the Three Mile Island power station in Pennsylvania.

July 15, 1979: President Jimmy Carter addresses the nation on its “crisis of confidence” during its 1979 energy crisis (oil and gasoline shortages and high prices). This address would become known as the “malaise speech,” though Carter never mentioned “malaise.” See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kakFDUeoJKM. Have you seen as honest an American presidential speech since? “Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation.”

November 4, 1980: Ronald Reagan is elected president and the “big plunge” (the neoliberal shredding of the 1945 postwar social contract) begins. Poof went all my illusions about an American energy revolution.

April 26, 1986: A nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station in the Ukraine explodes, spewing radioactivity far and wide, and the fuel core melts down. The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident until the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011.

1986: Ronald Reagan has the solar hot water system removed, which had been installed on the roof of the White House during the Carter Administration. The official US energy policy was obvious to me: solar energy and conservation were dead.

In June 1988, James E. Hansen [in Congressional testimony] made one of the first assessments that human-caused warming had already measurably affected global climate. Shortly after, a “World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security” gathered hundreds of scientists and others in Toronto. They concluded that the changes in the atmosphere due to human pollution “represent a major threat to international security and are already having harmful consequences over many parts of the globe,” and declared that by 2005 the world should push its emissions some 20% below the 1988 level. (HCCS)

All that AGW scientific research has done since 1988 has been to add more decimal places to the numbers characterizing the physical effects. That was over a quarter century ago. So, I take it as a given that the American and even World consensus [so far] is in favor of probable human extinction sooner (by waste heat triggered climate change) rather than later (by expansion of the Sun into a Red Giant star). And, yes, the course of the extinction will proceed inequitably. Not what I want, but what I see as the logical consequences of what is. (End of the outline.)

Global warming is Earth’s fever from its infection with capitalism.

So, whenever some government, corporate or media potentate discharges another toxic cloud of climate change denialism, realize that what they are actually and dishonestly telling you is: “I am going to keep making my financial killing regardless, and I don’t care who has to die for it.”

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Also appearing at:

Climate Change Denial Is Murder
8 September 2017
https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/09/climate-change-denial-is-murder/

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Added on 11 September 2017:

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Environmentalism, Maslow Needs and Civilization’s Power Cycle

“The relationship between society and nature and the need to provide a decent standard of living for every human being under conditions of nonstop population growth present themselves as quandaries defying pat responses.” (Louis Proyect, “The Life, Loves, Wars and Foibles of Edward Abbey,” http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/15/the-life-loves-wars-and-foibles-of-edward-abbey/)

Louis Proyect’s article is very good because it is so thoughtful, rather than polemical, in presenting the conundrum of achieving naturally sustainable prosperity and advanced social development worldwide. Among the conflicting attitudes he points out are that between anarchist “Abbeyists” (after Edward Abbey) intent to prevent the industrialized exploitation of the wilderness lands of the American West (e.g., by sabotaging road building and logging equipment, and protesting dam construction) versus the zeal for rapid economic growth through gargantuan projects (e.g., hydroelectric dams, mines, metal refining plants, atomic power) in the New Deal ideology of socially regulated capitalism during the Franklin Roosevelt administration, as well as under the Stalinist Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in Russia (the Soviet Union), and the Communist Party in China to this very day.

How do we strike a balance between the elevation of impoverished masses versus the despoliation of vast wilderness?; the satisfying of dire human needs and enduring popular desires versus preserving an abundance of unaltered nature for future appreciation?

Can we better understand the concern by any person or group for preserving the environment and regulating, transforming (to “green”), reducing or even eliminating industrialization (a.k.a. “development”) so as to preserve wilderness and minimize further global warming, by seeking to locate their concerns within Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs? Let’s try.

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) devised a hierarchical classification of human needs, which can be summarized by the following five tiers, from most basic to most elevated:

1. Physiological
Meeting the physical requirements allowing the human body to function and human life to survive.

2. Safety
Having personal security, good health and well-being, financial security, and social security and insurance against accidents, illness, ill fortune and traumas.

3. Love and belonging
Belonging to and being accepted by a social group: an intimately bonded pair, a family, friendships, worker solidarity crews, religious groups, professional organizations, sports and enthusiast associations, gangs.

4. Esteem
Possessing two levels of esteem: first, that achieved by being held in high regard by others generally, or at least being respected or recognized for having gained social status, fame or notoriety; and, secondly, self-respect achieved by having met the challenges of one’s personal life — experience.

5. Self-actualization
The desire to become all that one believes one could be, and the desire to understand all that one believes one could know. Ultimately, this is self-transcendence, the giving of oneself into a higher goal, purpose, state-of-being or consciousness.

Human beings are sufficiently complex that most of these five types of needs are being addressed simultaneously in every individual at every stage of their lives, and regardless of their culture. However, the stage of one’s development (e.g., infancy, childhood, the teens, maturity, old age) as well as one’s culture and external circumstances (e.g., prosperity and peace, devastation and war) will strongly influence the weighting each of the five needs receives in any individual’s psychological processing of the moment.

People who live close to the land and which may be threatened by immediate despoliation, such as Amazonians witnessing clear-cutting of their tropical forests, and river pollution caused by the dumping of wastes from mines, drill sites for fossil fuel extraction, and industrialized meat-producing farms, would have an environmentalism grounded in Maslow’s basement tier of the physiological need for survival.

People in the poorer urban and rural neighborhoods of the developed world who are concerned about their exposure to dumped toxic chemicals, such as in the notorious Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York, in the 1970s, and the many rural areas in Appalachia poisoned by toxic mine wastes, and American communities today dealing with the poisoning of their water supplies by the dumped effluents from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) wells for the extraction of geologically trapped natural gas, will have an environmentalism based on Maslow’s second tier, the need to achieve personal security and ensure personal good health and well-being, and avoid experiencing catastrophic ill fortune through illness and financial ruin (as with the collapse of property values).

Some environmentalists whose personal circumstances leave them secure as regards Maslow’s physiological and safety needs are motivated by a need for inclusion in a supportive social group, and they participate in organized environmental activism. Their roles in such groups might be quite low-profile and ordinary, but they are rewarded by a sense of worthy purpose and the camaraderie of others similarly dedicated.

For some secure individuals (regrading the first three levels of needs) environmental activism is a way to achieve esteem in the eyes of the larger society. Such individuals might be scientists, academics, authors, celebrities and policy-makers who work to inform, alert and motivate larger public audiences to the immediate moral imperatives and more distant social benefits of a concerted national effort to preserve environments, stop antiquated though still profitable (and/or subsidized) extractive industries and industrialized carbon-dioxide producing practices, and to begin now to transform the entire paradigm of how humanity concentrates and uses energy. It is a simple fact of human nature that being seen as a hero is a very strong motivator, even among people who seek that recognition in work for the public good.

A higher level of esteem-fulfillment is achieved by individuals whose environmental activism becomes a personal challenge through which they seek to fully develop their own potential as creative and productive individuals, in a way that maximizes their personal contributions to the public good. The need fulfilled here is that of gaining a self-respect that withstands critical self-scrutiny.

The first four levels of needs as defined by Maslow are called “deficiency needs” because if they are not met the individual will feel anxious and tense — their experience of life will be deficient. Once the deficiency needs are satisfied, the individual will be psychologically freed to focus on the highest level need, which is for self-actualization.

Self-actualization is a need that is beyond any concern of gaining esteem in the eyes of society, or even of emerging triumphantly from rigorous self-criticism. This is a self-respect beyond ego-gratification, gained through the knowledge that one has made good use of the unique opportunities life has offered you, with results that have made a positive difference whether such an effect is noticed in your lifetime or not. Self-actualization is the transcendence of consciousness beyond the stratum of social convention and ego — spirituality if you will — in this case achieved though a dedication to environmentalism.

It is easy to see that when lower tier needs are unfulfilled it is difficult if not impossible to focus on higher tier needs. The mental tranquility of self-actualization is more easily achieved in a safe place and with a full stomach.

A broad environmental movement would include a wide variety of people, from those close to the land and in poverty, to the bureaucrats, consumers, careerists and celebrities of the movement, and on up to the spiritual environmentalists. A successful movement will include a wide spectrum of personal motivations that all focus on a unified social purpose.

Louis Proyect describes three other examples of clashes between human needs (pursued traditionally) and modern environmentalism. The subjects of these clashes are poverty relief financed by oil revenues, whaling, and undocumented Mexican immigration into the U.S.

The Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela is banking on the country’s vast oil reserves to pay for popular economic and social uplift, and this scheme is currently weakened by low prices on the global oil market. Northern Hemisphere environmentalists (in secure personal circumstances) would prefer Venezuela to formulate development plans not based on oil extraction, but it is economically and psychologically impossible for a conscientious nation with many poor people to cease exploiting a toxic resource it has in abundance and which the rest of the world lusts for, regardless of the environmental consequences. This is a clash between tier 1 and 2 needs in Venezuela, and the upper tier needs of environmentalists from the wealth zones of the Northern Hemisphere.

It is obvious that industrialized whaling (today by Japan, Norway and Iceland) has been economically unnecessary for over a century, and is morally and environmentally indefensible now. Its perpetrators claim they are preserving cultural and occupational traditions, but all industrialized nations are sufficiently advanced and sufficiently wealthy to quickly end the practice and occupationally rehabilitate, or pension off, their whalers, without damage to their national economies. Basically, the appeal to “tradition” is an excuse without merit. Whaling is part of a past that industrialized humanity has evolved far beyond.

However, it might seem unkind to oppose the whaling from long canoes and small boats by the 1,200 member Makah Indian band of Washington State, who kill their whales with hand-launched harpoons followed by rifle shots. The Makah’s whaling is a kinship ritual of ancient tradition, the whale meat being shared out in a communal ceremony, a potlatch.

The first whaling clash here is between environmentalists from some of the Northern wealth zones who are operating from their upper tier needs, and non-environmentalists from different Northern wealth zones who are fanatically focused (as in Santayana’s epigram) on their mid-tier needs for belonging and esteem, which they cannot imagine achieving in new non-whaling ways.

The second whaling clash here is between environmentalists from the Northern wealth zones who are operating from their higher tier needs, and impoverished North American survivalists (81% of Makah live on a reservation with 51% unemployment) who are operating from their mid-tier needs for belonging and esteem, which they wish to continue finding through ancient traditional practices of communal labor-intensive whaling and the dividing of the spoils.

Industrialized (commercial high-tech high-power artillery) whaling is completely inexcusable and we should ban it without further consideration. What about Makah whaling? I would end this practice also.

One can and should have sympathy for American Indians and other aboriginal people whose populations and cultures were destroyed, or severely eroded, by colonialism and expansionism (e.g., Manifest Destiny). The enlightened attitude toward such cultures today is to allow them to organize their own affairs on the lands they retain, and to exercise their cultural practices with minimal interference. That said, I do not believe that an appeal to tradition, as a sacrosanct form of social inertia, is justified as an excuse to resist transitioning to healthier and more intelligent social norms. All human societies have evolved as they have gained more knowledge about the workings of their environments, and all the human societies of today have moved beyond many of their ancient practices, some of which were barbaric. There is no reason why the Makah cannot devise a communal labor-intensive activity that produces an abundance of food without killing a whale, for a special occasion in which it is shared out. They can continue affirming their cultural ties of belonging and mutual esteem by evolving their communal ritual to fit the expanded environmental understanding humanity now has globally. A living culture evolves in response to environmental change and increased knowledge.

Some American environmentalists are opposed to the large influx of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Latin American, and they advocate for effective barriers to illegal border crossings, because they see this human tidal wave as a social phenomenon that degrades the quality of the environment in the American Southwest. The combination of masses of people tramping through fragile desert terrain, the accumulation of garbage dropped by migrants, and the increased vehicular and air traffic associated with border patrol operations, all degrade the wilderness areas of the American Southwest. The migrants are simply desperate to walk out of a failed economy and into relatively better circumstances, and then to be able to wire money back home to their families. The impact on the environment of this mass migration is just collateral damage in a class and cultural war for economic survival. Anti-immigrant American environmentalists are operating from their upper tier needs, in opposition to the migrants who are operating from their basement needs.

Everything is intertwined in the real world, and it will never be possible to solve one problem, such as “climate change” or “environmental degradation,” in isolation from all the other factors that combine to produce the cycle that powers civilization. The four grand links of that cycle are: economics, environmental stewardship, energy development, and industrialization.

Economics: the personal need by billions of laboring people for economic security.

Environmental stewardship: the preservation or degradation of natural environments, sustaining habitability and harvesting resources.

Energy Development: how energy is extracted from nature and made available for powering civilization: electricity and fuel.

Industrialization: how the work performed by industrialized civilization meets the economic needs of humanity’s billions (and so on around the cycle).

“Fixing” an environmental problem (like global warming) is impossible without making adjustments in economics, energy development, and industrialization (energy use and political economy); you have to straighten out the whole wheel.

Problems in the economic dimension, such as poverty and mass illegal immigration, are linked to choices made about energy development, such as the burning of fossil fuels which causes global warming and in turn leads to the problem of degraded environments desperate migrants flee from; and those economic problems are also linked to choices made about how the benefits of industrialization are to be shared out with the laboring masses: politics.

It is much easier for activists to think one-dimensionally about the link in civilization’s power cycle that is their special concern, such as environmentalism, and to hammer away at society on that note. But, the nature of our world is such that enduring improvements along any one of civilization’s four fundamental dimensions will result from a linked evolution of all of them.

Those activists who seek to advance their vision of society multi-dimensionally, though their particular concerns are narrowly focused (such as in environmentalism), will have a more complicated job of advocacy, but the results of their work are less likely to be futile.

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The following two web-links lead to articles that contain the technical “back story” to what I call “civilization’s power cycle.”

The Economic Function Of Energy
27 February 2012
http://www.swans.com/library/art18/mgarci41.html

Closing the Cycle: Energy and Climate Change
25 January 2014
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2014/01/25/closing-the-cycle-energy-and-climate-change/

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