MGjr Climate 2012-2013

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MGjr Climate 2012-2013

Just because it is all hopeless
does not mean that you give up.
You go on —
to save your honor —
so to keep your self-respect.

Everything that I believe about humans facing Climate Change is stated here.

Earth’s climate was sacrificed in the 40 years from 1973 to 2013,
thereafter was the Kali Yuga.

Honor:
“By protecting others, you save yourself.”

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The Righteous And The Heathens Of Climate And Capitalism
[Swans.com – March 12, 2012] 

Can humanity unite to stop Climate Change?

No, and it is too late. The time to have changed industrialization to halt global warming was 1973 in response to the first Arab oil embargo, but that opportunity was spurned. (1)

There is a thirty-year lag between the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and its effect on climate dynamics. Today’s climate is being affected by 1980s emissions. Today’s emissions will alter the climate of the decade of the 2040s. The climate system is a myriad of interwoven processes described by nonlinear differential equations; so, the evolution of climate could have a sudden shift from its current global pattern of stability to another as yet unknown and possibly quite undesirable pattern of stability, when the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide rises above an as yet unknown triggering threshold. (2)

Humanity will not alter course. You can bank on every graspable barrel of oil, and every accessible cubic meter of natural gas being burned. There will always be someone somewhere who will not want to miss out on the advantages of possessing and using fossil fuel immediately to increase their power and wealth (in all the forms in which those two temporal quantities can be accumulated). The impossibility of global cooperation to arrest the anthropogenic emission of heat-trapping gases and vapors is the psychology described by the Prisoner’s Dilemma. (3)

We do not have a Climate Change problem, nor even an unregulated capitalism problem. We have a human development problem. Humanity is insufficiently developed to conduct itself equitably and in harmony with nature. Species come and go, and humanity’s prospects of long-term survival are as uncertain as its likelihood of developing the advanced social behavior needed to adapt to an emerging new climate. Nature will continue.

Just as the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous were insufficiently developed to anticipate the arrival of extraterrestrial rocks, and to devise rocket-borne interceptors to destroy the 10-km-wide bolide that would fall to earth creating the Chicxulub Crater and an environmental catastrophe lasting years, which caused their extinction 65 million years ago, (4) so humanity today is psychologically underdeveloped to anticipate the emergence of a new equilibrium state of earth’s climate, which will result from shifts of atmospheric and ocean currents, the quantity and distribution of ice, the degree of humidity, and the abundance of liquid water. This climate shift will be (is being) caused by the accommodation of excess heat trapped in vaporous organic compounds and molecular gases released into the atmosphere primarily during the 20th century as waste products of industrialization and as a consequence of natural outgassing from warming oceans, tundras, and land masses. (5)

Our problem is one of revising an entire system — industrialization — by which modern human society exploits exosomatic energy. Industrialization may seem as complex and convoluted a system in the realm of human affairs as the earth’s climate is in the natural realm (to which humanity also belongs, though it usually forgets this). It is the sophistication and extent of our exploitation of exosomatic energy (i.e., energy from outside the human body), rather than our use of tools, that distinguishes humankind from the other forms of life on earth.

We know humanity has a direct impact on climate — industrialization heats the biosphere — but our quantitative knowledge of the sensitivity of climate dynamics to anthropogenic inputs is never exact, though it is extensive, highly detailed, of increasing precision, and compellingly persuasive. It is beyond a reasonable doubt. (6)

New knowledge always confronts psychological resistance to altering human inertia: we resist thinking and behaving differently, especially religiously, politically, and economically.

People are accustomed to assuming that climate and weather are constants, that environmental conditions have long-term stability with known regional variations, known seasonal cycles, and which occur within known short-term fluctuations. Our economic activity is based on a traditional and limited set of expectations about local weather and climate, in the same way as we walk with unthinking assuredness on ground we always expect to solidly support us. We do not wish to change our industrialized economic behaviors to “pay more,” or even “pay for” the consequences of our many forms of self absorption called “business,” until forced by external conditions that no longer support our preferred assumptions.

There is a certain moralistic resentment here. Those who are willing to sacrifice “pleasure” today in order to contribute to the “good of society” resent those who remain profligate and “liberal.”

Climate moralists resent the selfish capitalists, the Republican climate-change deniers and the modern “drill baby, drill!” neoliberals. These latter in turn hate the climate evangelists for trying to force their climate religion down neoliberal throats, and for calling to cut off capitalism’s rapturous resource exploitation orgies.

The resentment of climate missionaries by heathen capitalists is mirrored by the resentment of religious fundamentalists and political reactionaries, who seek to forcibly evangelize the atheist and “liberal” masses to “conservative” psychological repressions and monetary obsessions, instead of having their orgies of free sex, free thought, free drugs, free abortions, and socialist politics. Like an American Taliban, these atavistic fundamentalists resent missing out on all the good fun the unrepressed leftist sinners are having; they can only find satisfaction by shutting down the good times for everybody.

I believe a transition to a post-coal and post-nuclear future could be a very exiting and rewarding national effort, one that would offer many young engineers (as I can remember being) fulfilling lifetime careers, and energize the unfolding of a new Renaissance. (7)

However, for minds mired in reactionary and regressive attitudes, either because of religion, or an attachment to money, or xenophobic fear born of willful ignorance, the entire discussion triggers instant panic, as in an earthquake with the ground giving way beneath them. So, I am pessimistic humanity will anticipate climate change, though I expect it will try to adapt after the fact.

Science has given us enough information to “verify” the anthropogenic climate effect; yes, we can always add more data and make our simulations more precise, but we already have more than enough information. Our globalized problem now is simply to arrive at a decision: either act to modify our climate karma, or consciously accept becoming the victims of nature’s future circumstances. At the typical level of current public discussion about climate change politics, the question “what are we going to do about it?” boils down to “who is going to pay for what has to happen, and how do I get out of it, or make money from it?”

All of the “controversy” today about climate change is just the verbalization of the psychological resistance of human inertia: “I don’t want my world to change,” “I don’t want to miss out,” “I don’t want to pay,” and “I don’t want to stop what I like doing.” All these are expressed in class- and group-specific ways, disguised in terms of economic harm and scientific doubt.

And so, like a dinosaur chewing its cud on a lazy humid summer day on the savannas by the Tethys Sea, we may sense a momentary chill as the shadow of a doubt about a dark future lurking unseen among the clouds crosses over us like a bolide streaking across the face of the sun, but that apprehension instantly evaporates as the warmth of our sunny expectations returns to flood our consciousness once again. What we can’t imagine can only erupt as surprise.

The best way to face an uncertain future is joyously, wide-eyed with enthusiasm, like seven samurai united for battle: “This is the nature of war. By protecting others, you save yourself.”

The real challenge for us, humanity, is learning how to consciously evolve.

Notes

1.  “1973 Oil Crisis,”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_oil_crisis

2.  “Carbon Dioxide In Earth’s Atmosphere,”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth’s_atmosphere

3.  M. García, Jr., “Bayesian Bargains: Jail, Shopping, Debt, And Voting,” 30 January 2012,
http://swans.com/library/art18/mgarci39.html

4.  “Chicxulub Crater,”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicxulub_crater

5.  “Huge Methane Leak In Arctic Ocean: Study,” 4 March 2010, Agence France Presse,
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g6NkTJSt40nZs4lXD-gLdCZdSndQ

6.  M. García, Jr., “Climate and Carbon, Consensus and Contention,” 4 June 2007,
http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2007/06/climate-and-carbon-consensus-and-contention

7.  M. García, Jr., “The Economic Function Of Energy,” 27 February 2012,
http://swans.com/library/art18/mgarci41.html

The Righteous And The Heathens Of Climate And Capitalism
12 March 2012
http://www.swans.com/library/art18/mgarci43.html

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Changing Climate For Unchanging People
[Swans.com – January 28, 2013]

Climate Change is the entropy of industrialized civilization. It is Nature’s fever from its infection by viral capitalism.

In early January 2013, the National Climatic Data Center in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded in the contiguous United States, with a mean temperature of 12.9º C (55.3º F). The average for the 20th century was 11.2º C (52.1º F), and the scatter of the yearly data points about that century average lies within the band defined by 10º C (50º F) and 12.2º C (54º F).

The globally averaged temperature during 2012 was described as follows in the National Climatic Data Center’s “State of the Climate” announcement:

“The globally-averaged temperature for 2012 marked the 10th warmest year since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 36th consecutive year with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average annual temperature was 1976. Including 2012, all 12 years to date in the 21st century (2001-2012) rank among the 14 warmest in the 133-year period of record. Only one year during the 20th century — 1998 — was warmer than 2012.”

NOAA also estimated that there were eleven extreme weather and climate events in the U.S. during 2012 that caused losses of more than one billion dollars each. Extreme weather events included the drought extending over 61% of the nation (the Great Plains and Hawaii), the heat waves in the Northeast, the extensive wildfires in the Southwest, and the storms along the Gulf and East Coasts: Hurricane Isaac and Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy.

At the same time as NOAA was issuing its “State of the Climate” announcement, a bushfire catastrophe was declared by the Australian government. In December 2012 and early January 2013, during an austral summer with unprecedented high temperatures, fires raged across so much of the states of New South Wales (in which the cities of Sydney and Canberra are situated) and the island state of Tasmania that the smoke plumes massed into a blanket obscuring daylight at ground level, and the view of the landmass beneath it to astronauts orbiting above.

Also appearing in early January 2013 was a massive draft report on climate change in the United States, by the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC) of the US Global Change Research Program. After a three-month period of public review and comment (ending April 12, 2013), and review by the National Academies of Sciences, NCADAC will revise its draft report and submit it to the Federal Government for approval as the Third National Climate Assessment Report. The previous NCA Reports were issued in 2000 and 2009.

The draft NCADAC report is detailed and unequivocal about the many specific manifestations of ongoing climate change occurring within the territory of the United States. The purpose of the NCA Report “is to establish a scientific and credible foundation of information that is useful for a variety of science and policy applications related to managing risk and maximizing opportunities in a changing climate.”

The atmosphere today holds more moisture because it is warmer than in previous centuries. That enhanced fluid mass can be cycled with greater intensity because of the added heat energy, as storms and floods, or withheld with more enduring pitilessness as drought. As global warming continues, we can expect a higher frequency of droughts, heat waves, wildfires, downpours, and tropical storms like those of 2012, and of greater intensity.

Despite the stark assessment of ongoing climate change in the new US Government reports, a multitude of fresh memories of extreme weather events and associated personal tragedies in 2012, and the greater publicity about climate change in mass media today, the issue of implementing a broad and immediate national response to climate change, and then an international response, neither dominates the attention of the American public nor perceptibly impacts the formation and conduct of national policy. Why is that?

Many concerned with the ominous potentialities of climate change believe that the corporate stranglehold on mass media throttles the flow of information to the public about the links between climate change and political economy, as part of a management of the public mind by a national elite so as to preserve popular attitudes of consumption that continue to support, acquiesce to, or be fooled by profitable schemes of finance, commercialism and resource exploitation. To some of the people deeply concerned about climate change, it may seem as if censorship is being practiced out of elite fears of awakening the public and then overturning the economic order.

It is not a matter of censorship, but of mental inertia. For most people, behavior is habitual, ingrained by training through indoctrination (TV, advertising, peer pressure; thought molded by an external agency), and thinking is fashioned after the fact to align with behavior (“I’m cool because I own this desirable stuff,” or “I have substance and status because I am recognized by this class of better people”).

Changes to behavior are fiercely resisted by any person who takes the pattern and style of their learned and imprinted behaviors to define them, to be their self-image. To “force” someone to change their behavior is to force them to re-think who they are, and that is nearly always experienced as a demotion, a degradation: psychological death.

Confronting people with your anxiety about Climate Change as an emergency they must respond to immediately and irrevocably can be received as a demand that they commit psychological suicide: Climate Change means that all your implicit assumptions about the world on which you base your life and self-image are wrong, you must kill your present psychological self (your idea of who you are and how you should live) and accept a new one that fits in with the new climate-change-altered reality coming into being.

One segment of the population will flat out deny the existence of the threat to its psychological continuity, and this is simple climate change denial.

The more liberal resistant people will accept the logic describing Climate Change as a physical reality, but see it as external to their lives. They will block the Climate Change imperative to live differently, to exist differently, by moving the issue of Climate Change far away from their immediate spheres of thought and action, and onto remote domains controlled by forces and institutions they hope will save them. So, they will look to cap-and-trade economic schemes, geo-engineering schemes, anticipated “new” and “hybrid” and “carbon-free” technologies, so they can continue with existing behaviors despite the changing externality of climate, and continue to believe they will be shielded from Climate Change harm. This is why so many affluent people drive the Toyota Prius automobile, with a hybrid electric-combustion propulsion system. The sought-for mental oasis is: “It will cocoon me from the external threat to my inflexible behavior.”

To be clear-eyed about Climate Change requires accepting three facts:

[1] Human-caused Climate Change is real, accelerating rapidly, and inevitable; human restraint on greenhouse gas emissions can only make it “less bad” in the future.

[2] People who are fully prepared to alter their ambitions and their conceptions of how to live, to both adapt to ongoing Climate Change and to mitigate its future development, will be in the minority.

[3] The climate-change-accepting minority will be condemned to live in a world, and in most nations, in which the change-resistant majority will determine the economic, industrial, energy-use and environmental exploitation practices.

The idea that we can globalize a climate-change-accepting mentality into species-wide group-think, and species-wide equitable group response, is illusory. What is real is that indeed psychological globalization has occurred, in that sense our world is smaller, or perhaps more accurately, “condensed,” but the controlling character of humanity’s globalized mind is the simple and primitive brain-fever of self-centeredness, the clutching of acquisitiveness and for control.

Climate will change; people won’t.

Changing Climate For Unchanging People
28 January 2013
http://www.swans.com/library/art19/mgarci61.html

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