Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Delusional Opposition to the Economic Stimulus Package is a Precursor of What will Come When it is Time to Move on Climate Change Later This Year

The "Primitivist" Henri Rousseau painted "The Dream" in 1910. It now hangs in Manhattan's MOMA

It has been just over a year since the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a landmark report warning of rising sea levels, expanding deserts, more intense storms and the extinction of up to 30 percent of plant and animal species. But recent climate studies suggest that report significantly underestimates the potential severity of global warming over the next 100 years, a senior member of the panel warned. Agence France Press, 2-14-09

Increasing greenhouse gases could delay, or even postpone indefinitely the recovery of stratospheric ozone in some regions of the Earth, a new study suggests. This change might take a toll on public health. Terra Daily, 2-12-09

California's farms and vineyards could vanish by the end of the century, and its major cities could be in jeopardy, if Americans do not act to slow the advance of global warming, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said ... LA Times,2-4-09

The Delusional Opposition to the Economic Stimulus Package is a Precursor of What will Come When it is Time to Move on Climate Change Later This Year

By Richard Power

You think my choice of "delusional" to characterize the opposition to the economic stimulus package is over the top? Really? Did you know that both the US Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO supported swift passage of the bill? In other words, the traditional bread and butter constituency of the Republican Party (i.e., the business community) and the traditional bread and butter constituency of the Democratic Party (i.e., the labor movement) backed it, and yet only three Republican Senators joined with the other side of the aisle to vote yes.

It does not matter if the motivation for the opposition was ideological (i.e., Kool-Aid induced) or cravenly political (i.e., do or die positioning for the 2010 mid-terms), or both (which is most likely); whatever the motivation, it was delusional. The US economy is on the brink of a Great Depression and if it falls, it will take the global economy with it. So I say "delusional." If you are negotiating with someone who has been drenched in gasoline, and is intent on lighting a match because it will burn away the gasoline, well, then, you are dealing with a delusional person. (I am not even going to go into the financial meltdown here, just read Stiglitz.)

Would the stimulus package be more effective if it were $1.5 trillion and/or had less (if any) tax cuts included? Certainly. But right here, right now, that is not the point.

The point is that the economic stimulus package is of profound importance and urgency, and yet the overwhelming majority of Republicans in both houses of Congress speak of it as if it is business as usual. They seem to be willfully attempting to limit its impact by bad-vibing it with the US populace. And the populace, as ever, is at the mercy of a mainstream news media, which concocted an on-air debate stacked 3 to 1 with Republican viewpoints, and only 5% of those given access to the air waves were economists. (See While Journalists Risk Their Lives Across the Planet, the US Mainstream News Media Continues to Misinform & Misdirect on the Economic Crisis.)

Imagine what awaits us when the time comes to pass meaningful climate change legislation later this year.

Let us hope that Senators Specter (R-PA), Snow (R-ME) and Collins (R-ME) draw at least once more on the political courage to follow conscience and common sense. And let us hope that a few more centrist Republicans are willing to join them.

I write a great deal about climate change and sustainability, and have for years, but I do not write much about solutions. Solutions abound. But they are of little use if we do not avail ourselves of them. Individual responsibility and right action are vital, but it cannot compensate for a failure to summon national and global responsibility and right action.

The problem is in the collective psyche, and the body politic. There is the deep denial. There is also misinformation. The denial feeds on the misinformation, and the misinformation is fueled by the denial. It is a feedback loop.

My interest in climate change, sustainability, economic security and human rights is not political, it is shamanic. Unless enough of us grok the oneness of all life, unless we find that "100th Monkey" we are lost. Everything and everyone, everywhere, is connected. Science and Shamanism both affirm this planetary truth.

Without energy security, we cannot achieve environmental security. Without environmental security we cannot achieve energy security. Without both energy security and environmental security, we cannot achieve economic security. All three are interdependent.

We must flip the switch in our collective psyche before it is too late.

Now that we have been successful in meeting the first of the four critical deadlines I identified in Left-Handed Security (i.e., the 2008 election in the USA), we must press to met the next one, and that is to achieve a meaningful global agreement resulting in drastic cuts in the human race's greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2009. (The third deadline I highlight is 2015, the world's stated due date for halving poverty by achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals; and the fourth deadline is tomorrow morning, because every dawn that rises is another deadline passed for the great nations to intervene on behalf of the people of Darfur,)

Just as I do not spend much time on solutions, I do not spend much time on good news either. Because it is vital that all of us understand that this is an emergency.

The news on climate change is very bad.

While the USA wasted the last eight years pretending there was a debate about it, climate change has gotten way out ahead of our ability to mitigate it. At this point, whatever we say in front of the children, we are really talking about a) adapting to a seriously different planetary climate, and b) limiting as best we can the extremity of the predicament that will confront us down the road.

As we head rapidly toward the next great deadline, it is of paramount importance to remember that the economic security crisis and the climate security crisis and the geopolitical security crisis are one monster, with three heads; and that there is both a silver bullet to slay it and a holy grail to heal us from the wounds it has inflicted. We need a new economic model, one that is green and hallows sustainability. The blind pursuit of profit has failed us as a society. The demonization of all government and any regulation has been proven to be a cruel deceit.

We will need statesmen and stateswomen of both political parties, willing to risk ending their political careers by casting the right vote in a time of great national and global peril.

If you have not already joined the Alliance for Climate Protection, Al Gore and I urge you to do so. Click here.

For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on Economic Insecurity, click here.

For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on the UN Millennium Goals, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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