Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sane Moral Voices re: Global Warming after Sandy

Sane moral voices talking about global warming and climate change in light of Sandy, our latest megastorm:

Rebecca Solnit at TomDispatch:

Why have we done almost nothing over the past 25 years about what was then a terrifying threat and is now a present catastrophe? Because it was bad for quarterly returns and fossil-fuel portfolios. When posterity indicts our era, this will be the feeble answer for why we did so little -- that the rich and powerful with ties to the carbon-emitting industries have done everything in their power to prevent action on, or even recognition of, the problem. In this country in particular, they spent a fortune sowing doubt about the science of climate change and punishing politicians who brought the subject up. In this way have we gone through four “debates” and nearly a full election cycle with climate change unmentioned and unmentionable.

If there were any poetic justice, this superstorm “would be named Hurricane Chevron or Hurricane Exxon, not Hurricane Sandy,” wrote Bill McKibben, the author and founder of the activist group By funding the disinformation campaign that has frightened elected officials out of taking action and left the United States as the only country in the industrialized world where the scientific consensus on man-made climate change is seen as somehow controversial, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil and the rest of the fossil fuel industry have made catastrophes like today’s both more likely and more deadly.

George Lakoff at HuffingtonPost:

The international consensus is that by 2.0 degrees Celsius, all civilization would be threatened if not destroyed. 
What would it take to reach a 2.0 degrees Celsius increase over the whole earth? Much less than you might think. Consider the amount of oil already drilled and stored by Exxon Mobil alone. If that oil were burned, the temperature of the earth would pass 2.0 degree Celsius, and those horrific disasters would come to pass. 
The value of Exxon Mobil -- its stock price -- resides in its major asset, its stored oil. Because the weather disasters arising from burning that oil would be so great that we would have to stop burning. That's just Exxon Mobil's oil. The oil stored by all the oil companies everywhere would, if burned, destroy civilization many times over.

As Solnit concludes,

Names matter; language matters; truth matters. In this era when the mainstream media serve obfuscation and evasion more than anything else (except distraction), alternative media, social media, demonstrations in the streets, and conversations between friends are the refuges of truth, the places where we can begin to rectify the names. So start talking.

And, to me, she seems very right.

The graphic is a NASA GOES photograph of Hurricane Sandy from space taken on 28 October.

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