Monthly Archives: March 2006

We’re all in real trouble

As a follow up to the post regarding Time Magazine’s article on climate change I thought I’d post this little nugget drawn from a lengthy discussion of the article over at the PeakOil.com forums:

… It’s CO2 and other greenhouse gases, as well clearing forests and other human activities. And glaciers are almost uniformly in retreat.

Why is this a concern to peak oilers? It has a huge effect on sustainability. There are cities that rely on glacier meltwater for their water systems, and the glaciers may be gone in ten years. It’s not only New Orleans that is likely to be abandoned due to global warming. And what about farming? If your peak oil plan is a homestead in the country and growing your own food, you should be very concerned. Unpredictable weather is a farmer’s bane. How will you know what to plant, or when, if the weather changes drastically from year to year?

The killer drought in the west is, in all likelihood, caused by global warming. If it isn’t, it is exactly what we would expect if the earth keeps warming, based on historical data. And it’s causing a cascade of problems that should be of concern to peak oilers. Farming and fishing have been decimated. The lower water levels means coal barges can’t bring their cargo east, where it’s most needed. Towns are losing their water supplies. Hydroelectric plants have reduced output. Nuclear power plants find their intakes are being left high and dry as lakes and rivers retreat. And oil companies have been forced to stop production because no one can spare them any water.

If you want to read the thread from the beginning, click.

With each day that passes I’m further convinced that this truly is a crisis and we are in it right now. We may not fully realize it now but in the future those looking back will see that by 2006 we were in it. I realized today that I also believe that this is something that will be hitting us pretty damned hard within the five to ten years. Many of the articles and studies seem to by picking up on now as the point of no return and 100 years from now as the point that we will be seeing the catastrophe squarely in the face. In Hollywood it is a neatly packaged event with a clearly marked starting and ending point that comes upon humanity in days or weeks. In reality “it” is now and the intensification over the next decade will bring the people of the planet to a point of absolute realization and panic. By that I mean that those most comfortable, particularly those in America, those that continue to pretend it’s not happening, will be freaking out. It will become the focus of life and will be seen as a primary danger. Between here and there we’ll also be dealing with peak oil and various resource wars which will complicate the situation.

I’m glad I chose not to have children.

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Even the corporate media begins to see we are at the tipping point


This week’s cover story at Time is climate change and they seem worried: By Any Measure, Earth Is At … The Tipping Point:

Polar Ice Caps Are Melting Faster Than Ever… More And More Land Is Being Devastated By Drought… Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities… By Any Measure, Earth Is At … The Tipping Point

The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame. Why the crisis hit so soon–and what we can do about it

No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth. Never mind what you’ve heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

It certainly looked that way last week as the atmospheric bomb that was Cyclone Larry–a Category 5 storm with wind bursts that reached 180 m.p.h.–exploded through northeastern Australia. It certainly looked that way last year as curtains of fire and dust turned the skies of Indonesia orange, thanks to drought-fueled blazes sweeping the island nation. It certainly looks that way as sections of ice the size of small states calve from the disintegrating Arctic and Antarctic. And it certainly looks that way as the sodden wreckage of New Orleans continues to molder, while the waters of the Atlantic gather themselves for a new hurricane season just two months away. Disasters have always been with us and surely always will be. But when they hit this hard and come this fast–when the emergency becomes commonplace–something has gone grievously wrong. That something is global warming.

As I often say in regards to the corporate media finally covering a story, better late than never. But why is it that they so often wait until the problem is so obvious? They say suddenly and unexpectedly? Um, no. No, I don’t think so. Many of us have been saying for many years that these days were coming but it was an inconvenient truth to be ignored until there was no other choice. We can expect the same with other serious problems such as peak oil. In the short term it’s easier to ignore the problem, pretend it does not exist and hope that it will not rear it’s ugly head in our lifetimes. Better to leave these messes we’re creating to our grand children or great-grand children. Well, surprise surprise, these problems are showing up in your lifetime.

These two problems, climate change and peak oil, are deeply interconnected, and we should remember that as we craft solutions. Had we taken the advice of environmentalists 20 or 30 years ago we would, at this moment, have a better energy and climate situation. Instead, citizens chose convenience and capitalists (as we would expect) chose to maximize short term profits. Sustainability was not a part of the equation and now we will suffer. The day will come when we realize that government, bought and paid for by capital, will never put forward the best solutions to our social and ecological problems.

If we want solutions we’re going to have to actively develop a radically different society. We’re not talking about new laws or a half-assed jump to a new technology such as ethanol. Everything about our current lives must change. Everything. To sum it up, we’ll need to decentralize, localize our energy and food production as well as the production and consumption of goods. Malls and boxmarts are over as are the shelves of shit they sell.

My guess is that Americans are far too stupid and stubborn to make these radical changes to their lifeway willingly. No, most will do nothing until they are literally forced by reality to adapt and it won’t be pretty.

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The Oceans are rising

Yes it is coming and it’s coming sooner than expected. The article suggests as little as a decade to take steps, I’m not so sure we have that long. In fact, I think it’s probably to late. I hesitate to suggest that because I would never argue that we should not try… we should make every effort, we should take radical steps. The Christian Science Monitor reports on the projected level of ocean rise due to climate change:

Arctic temperatures near a prehistoric level when seas were 16 to 20 feet higher, studies say.

Global warming appears to be pushing vast reservoirs of ice on Greenland and Antarctica toward a significant, long-term meltdown. The world may have as little as a decade to take the steps to avoid this scenario.

Those are the implications of new studies that looked to climate history for clues about how the planet’s major ice sheets might respond to human-triggered climate change.

Already, temperatures in the Arctic are close to those that thawed much of Greenland’s ice cap some 130,000 years ago, when the planet last enjoyed a balmy respite from continent-covering glaciers, say the studies’ authors.

By 2100, spring and summer temperatures in the Arctic could reach levels that trigger an unstoppable repeat performance, they say. Over several centuries, the melt could raise sea levels by as much as 20 feet, submerging major cities worldwide as well as chains of islands, such as the present-day Bahamas.

The US would lose the lower quarter of Florida, southern Louisiana up to Baton Rouge, and North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The ocean would even flood a significant patch of California’s Central Valley, lapping at the front porches of Sacramento.

These estimates may understate the potential rise. The teams say their studies provide the first hints that during the last interglacial period, ice sheets in both hemispheres worked together to raise sea levels, rather than the Northern Hemisphere’s ice alone. This raises concerns that Antarctic melting might be more severe this time, because additional melt mechanisms may be at work.

“It sounds bad,” acknowledges Jonathan Overpeck, a University of Arizona researcher who led one of the two studies. He notes that rising temperatures are approaching a threshold. But “we know about it far enough in advance to avoid crossing it.” The challenge, he and others say, is to take advantage of the remaining window by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases substantially.

The two studies were published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Ice on Greenland and Antarctica is already thinning faster than it’s being replaced – and faster than scientists thought it would, notes Richard Alley, a paleoclimatologist at Penn State University and member of one of the research teams. Only five years ago, he notes, climate scientists expected the ice sheets to gain mass through 2100, then begin to melt. “We’re now 100 years ahead of schedule,” he says.

But the window for action is relatively short, Dr. Overpeck says. CO2 remains in the atmosphere for more than a century after it’s first emitted. And it takes time to implement policies and adopt technologies. Thus for all practical purposes, the tipping point may come sooner than atmospheric chemistry would suggest.

So, within five years we’ve jumped 100 years ahead of schedule? I predict that in five more years, 2011 we’ll be told, again, that we are 100 years ahead of schedule. We’ll be told that it is now… right now.

Thanks to Dave Lucas for pointing me to this article.

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There are no easy energy solutions

As the public begins to realize that we have a serious energy problem we begin to see the grasping at easy solutions that do not exist. Ethanol is a great example. It takes energy to make energy! Burning coal to convert corn to ethanol is not smart and not a clean solution. The Christian Science Monitor has a great story on the problem of ethanol:

Carbon cloud over a green fuel

An Iowa corn refinery, open since December, uses 300 tons of coal a day to make ethanol.

Late last year in Goldfield, Iowa, a refinery began pumping out a stream of ethanol, which supporters call the clean, renewable fuel of the future.

There’s just one twist: The plant is burning 300 tons of coal a day to turn corn into ethanol – the first US plant of its kind to use coal instead of cleaner natural gas.

While the story is focused on the climate change aspects of burning coal for the conversion of corn which only tells one part of the story. Ethanol is being put forward as a replacement for oil. Lets remember that before corn can be converted it must be grown and that also requires substantial energy input. Jumping into the rapid development of coal burning ethanol production plants is not the answer. It’s more of the same bullshit. A quick “fix” that will only make our problems worse. It’s the kind of solution we can expect from the best government capitalists can buy.

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Kevin Phillips on American Theocracy, Politics of Radical Religion and Oil

Very interesting interview on Democracy Now! this past week and it’s worth downloading. Former GOP strategist Kevin Phillips discusses american theocracy, politics of radical religion, oil, and borrowed money. During the interview he has this to say about peak oil:

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Phillips, you talk about radical religion, about debt, and about oil, about this being an oil war. You also talk about peak oil. That’s not talked about very much in the mainstream. Explain.

KEVIN PHILLIPS: The peak oil idea is that just as the United States oil production peaked in 1971, that we have a limited amount of oil globally, and that it’s something that can’t be re-created. It’s running out. And the expectation of some is that the oil production of the non-OPEC countries will peak at some point during the 2010s, and that then the production of OPEC itself will peak in the 2020s or 2030s. Now, some people think that Saudi production has already peaked.

Now, if you believe this, and it’s possible, then we face an enormous convergence, again under specific oil-related circumstances, of a global struggle for natural resources as the price of oil climbs, as we turn the armed services into a global oil protection service, which has been happening, and as we see the administration refuse to grapple with the need to really curb oil consumption in the United States, which is mostly through transportation and especially motor vehicles.

And I just have a sense, as many others on the conservative side do, this administration has no strategy to deal with these converging problems, be they foreign policy, military, oil, debt. They are like the three little monkeys on the old jade thing – the one sees no evil, one speaks no evil, and one hears no evil. Do they know anything? You know, that’s an open question.

I think I’ve probably already said this previously but just to be clear, I believe that peak oil has already occurred. Furthermore, we can expect that U.S. aggression will prove to be just another in a long line of oil-based wars.

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V for Vendetta, A for Anarchism

For any of my readers that have seen V for Vendetta but who may not know much about anarchism: A for Anarchy. For those of you that don’t know, anarchism has a part to play both in the story in the movie as well as the story of it’s creation. I’m not going to write a review of the movie because I’m not very good at writing movie reviews. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed it and would recommend it. That said I can appreciate the review by William Gillis of Human Iterations who did not like it much. But yes, back to anarchism, the folks over at A for Anarchy have done a good job of putting up a nice intro to anarchism for viewers of the movie. From the site:

THERE IS ANOTHER WAY

“Tonight, you must choose what comes next. Lives of our own, or a return to chains. Choose carefully. “

This website is intended to introduce fans of the film/graphic novel V For Vendetta to the history and philosophy of Anarchy. V For Vendetta was originally a comic produced in the mid 1980s by Alan Moore and David Lloyd about a man who destroys the corrupt state he lives in, promoting Anarchy to the masses all the while. This core message of Anarchy has been severely twisted in the film verison. So much that Alan Moore has asked to be withdrawn from all media references and to have his name removed from the film’s posters.

Anarchy, with its long and varied past, has been repeatedly suppressed and misrepresented. The many successes and movements in the Anarchist community are almost never mentioned in schools or by corporate controlled media. Hollywood’s current filtering of V For Vendetta is far from surprising when taking into account the general message of fear that mainstream news instills in its audience. Thus, this website was created to help individuals familiarize themselves with the Anarchistic viewpoint and to realize the power everyone of us has to make a difference.

Yet, while A For Anarchy hopes to touch on many aspects surrounding Anarchy, it does not claim to be an end all source for anarchistic theory. Rather, this site is meant to act as a portal through which, hopefully, movie goers will realise that an action packed life is endlessly more fulfilling than flickering images on a screen. The site is broken down into areas of main importance, each providing only a brief overview of their respective topics. We encourage you to follow up on any areas that interest you by following the links, keep fighting, and never give up.

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Top Ten Catastrophes of the Third Year of American Agression

As usual Juan Cole has a couple of posts worth reading. Top Ten Catastrophes of the Third Year of American…

And Allawi on Iraq in Civil War.

Americans are just now realizing that we will be in Iraq for a long, long time. There will be no pull out as long as we continue to believe we can drive and consume our way to happiness. Let’s hope American families remember that when the draft comes. An oil-based life has it’s price and we will pay it.

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Halliburton and Homeland Security’s Endgame

When do we realize we’ve crossed the point of no return, and what do we do then?

On January 24 Halliburton subsidiary KBR announced that it had been awarded a contract to build immigrant detention facilities is part of a longer-term Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of “all removable aliens” and “potential terrorists.”

Endgame. Interesting. We’ve entered a whole new phase of American history.

Peter Dale Scott discusses the 10-Year U.S. Strategic Plan For Detention Camps:

The Halliburton subsidiary KBR (formerly Brown and Root) announced on Jan. 24 that it had been awarded a $385 million contingency contract by the Department of Homeland Security to build detention camps. Two weeks later, on Feb. 6, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the Fiscal Year 2007 federal budget would allocate over $400 million to add 6,700 additional detention beds (an increase of 32 percent over 2006). This $400 million allocation is more than a four-fold increase over the FY 2006 budget, which provided only $90 million for the same purpose.

Both the contract and the budget allocation are in partial fulfillment of an ambitious 10-year Homeland Security strategic plan, code-named ENDGAME, authorized in 2003. According to a 49-page Homeland Security document on the plan, ENDGAME expands “a mission first articulated in the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.” Its goal is the capability to “remove all removable aliens,” including “illegal economic migrants, aliens who have committed criminal acts, asylum-seekers (required to be retained by law) or potential terrorists.”

Significantly, both the KBR contract and the ENDGAME plan are open-ended. The contract calls for a response to “an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs” in the event of other emergencies, such as “a natural disaster.” “New programs” is of course a term with no precise limitation. So, in the current administration, is ENDGAME’s goal of removing “potential terrorists.”

Since 9/11 the Bush administration has implemented a number of inter-related programs, which had been planned for secretly in the 1980s under President Reagan. These so-called “Continuity of Government” or COG proposals included vastly expanded detention capabilities, warrantless eavesdropping and detention, and preparations for greater use of martial law.

Prominent among the secret planners of this program in the 1980s were then-Congressman Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who at the time was in private business as CEO of the drug company G.D. Searle.

Alternet also discusses Bush’s “New Programs”

Some discussion on this over at the PeakOil Forums. Found this there:

Agree. Heck, I don’t think the current population could muster even a minimal 500 thousand general strikers. The concept of participating in self government has vanished. For most people politics is like the Olympics, a long boring TV show that comes on every 4 years. “Hey, when is American Idol on?” But my point was, that in theory, the population still has the power, most of them just have been brainwashed into submission, programmed to be slaves by a 24/7 diet of consumerist propaganda and entertainment. And those that have a clue are (appropriately) terrified by ENDGAME and videos of new high security prison turnstiles installed at a defunct railyard.

I was an activist of sorts in my youth in the USA in the 1970s. My assessment after the pathetic non-response to the blatantly stolen 2004 election was the same as Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, “Big dark, come soon.” Those of us who once played the game saw the game is over. The people of the US are not going to put up any resistance at all. So I emigrated. Anyone who might be designated a “Fifth Columnist” by the regime either needs to get out or find a quiet place to hide for a long time.

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New analysis says global warming boosts hurricanes

According to New Scientist a new analysis by the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests global warming boosts hurricanes:

Renewed claims that global warming is driving the increased number of high-intensity hurricanes across the world were published on Thursday.

The new study comes from researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, US. In September 2005 – days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans – Peter Webster and Judy Curry claimed that the number of intense hurricanes across the world had almost doubled over the past 35 years, and that this was due to rising sea temperatures.

The study was attacked for ignoring other variables known to influence hurricane intensity. These include humidity, the strength of horizontal winds that can disrupt hurricane formation, and atmospheric circulation. William Gray of Colorado State University, US, who compiles annual hurricane forecasts for the North Atlantic, said the findings were “not physically plausible”.

But the Georgia duo recruited in-house statisticians to subject their original findings to detailed analysis, comparing the role of sea temperatures with the competing factors – humidity, wind strength and atmospheric circulation.

Statistician Carlos Hoyos and colleagues conclude that all four factors have been working to increase the strength of hurricanes. But, reinforcing the original study’s conclusion, they say that “the contribution from sea surface temperature dominates” in every ocean. Gray has yet to respond.

Journal reference: Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1123560)

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