Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 3-28-07: Climate Crisis Update -- -- The Greatest Climate Crisis Challenges are Spiritual and Psychological

California has filed civil suits against six US and Japanese automakers for their alleged contribution to global warming, Sidney Morning Herald, 9-21-06. Photo: Air pollution over Downtown Los Angeles, AFP

"Our generation must be the one that says, 'we must halt global warming.' Our generation must be the one that says 'yes' to renewable fuels and ends forever our dependence on foreign oil. And our generation must be the one that builds the new energy economy. It won't be easy, but it is time to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war." John Edwards

[NOTE: Words of Power will not endorse a 2008 Presidential candidate until later in the political process, but if you consult our Short List, you will see that John Edwards is one of those handful of candidates and potential candidates who have the pulse of the streets and understand the state of emergency we are living in.]

Hard Rain Journal 3-28-07: Climate Crisis Update -- The Greatest Climate Crisis Challenges are Spiritual and Psychological

By Richard Power

Shouldn't shame or at least embarrassment kick in at some point for conservatives, libertarians and others influenced consciously (or unconsciously) by the corporatist attack on science in general and environmental science in particular?

Clearly, the greatest Climate Crisis challenges are spiritual and psychological.

I have organized some recent news and analysis to illustrate first the drastic impact of global warming on the planet as a whole, and then the contrast in response between the short-sighted greed and/or deep denial of those who refuse to acknowledge reality versus the altruism, practicality and optimism of those who embrace it.

The news related to global warming and climate change continues to compel the urgent attention on both collective and individual levels:

About 643 million people, or one-tenth of the world’s population, who live in low lying coastal areas are at great risk of oceans-related impacts of climate change, according to a global research study . . . “Furthermore, the world’s largest cities — those with more than five million residents — have on average one-fifth of their population and one-sixth of their land area within this coastal zone.” Srabani Roy, Climate Change: Coastal Mega-Cities in for a Bumpy Ride, 3-28-07

Many of the world's climate zones will vanish entirely by 2100, or be replaced by new, previously unseen ones, if global warming continues as expected, a study released Monday said. Rising temperatures will force existing climate zones toward higher latitudes and higher elevations, squeezing out climates at the colder extremes, and leaving room for unfamiliar climes around the equator, the study predicted. The sweeping climatic changes will likely affect huge swaths of land from the Indonesian rainforest to the Peruvian Andes, including many known hotspots of diversity, disrupting local ecological systems and populations. Sweeping changes to global climate seen by 2100: study, Agence France Press, 3-26-07

Rising sea levels and melting polar ice-sheets are at upper limits of projections, leaving some human population centers already unable to cope, top world scientists say as they analyze latest satellite data . . . “Observations are in the very upper edge of the projections,” leading Australian marine scientist John Church told Reuters . . . About 100 million people around the world live within a meter of the present-day sea level, CSIRO Marine Research senior principal research scientist Steve Rintoul said. “Those 100 million people will need to go somewhere,” he said . . . Michael Byrnes, Antarctic Melting May be Speeding Up, Reuters, 3-23-07

Climate phenomena like El NiƱo and global warming have a disproportionate effect on the poor. That is why meteorology has a crucial contribution to make in the fight against poverty, scientists say. "Vulnerability is greatest where there is least infrastructure and the population is poorest," Southern Pacific University Network (RUPSUR) expert Yesid Carvajal told IPS. Many losses could be avoided if science were involved in decision-making, said Carvajal . . . Constanza Vieira, CLIMATE CHANGE: Understanding Weather to Protect the Poor, Inter Press Service, 3-23-07

And yet ideologues in the Bush-Cheney regime continue to suppress the work of scientific researchers while their cohorts in the corporatist lobby blast anti-science propaganda into the twin-barreled echo chamber of the reich-wing media and the US mainstream news media:

Bush administration officials throughout the government have engaged in White House-directed efforts to stifle, delay or dampen the release of climate change research that casts the White House or its policies in a bad light, says a new report that purports to be the most comprehensive assessment to date of the subject ...The alleged interference took the form of "delaying, monitoring, screening, and denying interviews" between government scientists and media outlets, as well as delaying, denying or "inappropriate[ly] editing" press releases conveying scientific findings to the public. Political appointees also suppressed, delayed and inappropriately edited reports produced by government scientists for Congress and the public, the Washington, D.C.-based group concluded. Justin Rood, Exclusive: Report Charges Broad White House Efforts to Stifle Climate Research, 3-27-07

Inspired by Jonathan Chait's recent column in the LA Times, there's been some renewed commentary about why so many Republicans reject mainstream science on the issue of climate change. None of what's currently being said is wrong, particularly when it comes to the right's disdain for Al Gore and environmentalists, or its allegiance to industry.
However, the picture is more complicated, and I'd like to suggest that we consider some other factors:
1. The broad and longstanding conservative distrust of academia and "leftwing" campus intellectuals, including scientists. This allows many Republicans to dismiss large bodies of scientific research as essentially politicized and therefore safe to ignore.
2. The growth of ideological think tanks which provide alternative "facts" and alternative "knowledge" tailor-made for conservatives. It's not just that many Republicans reject mainline "science"; they actually have their own.
3. The growth of a rightwing media that quotes the think-tank "experts" and puts them on the air regularly--so that the sealed off alternative knowledge environment becomes complete and very hard for mainstream science to penetrate (especially when scientists themselves do not speak in a language designed to appeal to political conservatives).
Chris Mooney, Why Republicans Distrust Mainstream Climate Science, Huffington Post

Meanwhile, progressives speak out, with courage, compassion and common sense:

We are heading towards a train wreck, yet few in the public eye are raising the alarm about one aspect of this multi-faceted calamity. As our numbers increase, the human population could exceed our small planet’s ability to sustain it – in fact, we might have already passed this mark – we don’t really know.
The majority of scientists and the public now accept that global warming is an undeniable reality and there has been much discussion of its causes as well as various solutions. However, one area has not received much attention among policy makers and the public, and is the “elephant” in the debate – the contribution of overpopulation to the problem and what to do about it. The issue is, plain and simple, a hot-button and elicits passionate intensity from both the right and the left. It bridges many areas, from religion to civil rights to environmentalism. It is an issue for both sides because it affects us all and the future of our planet hangs in the balance. The time to address this is now.
The earth is heading towards an unsustainable point of no return in the growth of world population. The population is expected to increase from its current 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050, with some estimates predicting up to 12 billion. If we fail to act on both overpopulation and global warming, the outlook for humanity is bleak.
Arianna Siegal, Rockridge Institute, 3-22-07

Some key aspects of the Edwards Energy Plan include a cap on greenhouse pollution in 2010 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050 – consistent with the dictates of the latest climate science. He would use an economy-wide, cap-and-trade system and sell a portion of the pollution permits to raise $10 billion a year for a New Energy Economy Fund. The Fund would be used to pursue clean, renewable, and efficient energy technologies and create 1 million jobs in the process – along the lines of what the Apollo Alliance has outlined. One billion dollars a year from would go towards helping US automakers meet higher fuel economy requirements and utilize the latest technologies, including biofuels, hybrid and electric cars, hydrogen fuel cells, and ultra-light materials. Finally, Edwards' plan calls for opening the electricity grid so that small-scale renewable electric generation – by farms, factories, schools, and communities – can compete with large, central power plants. (This is something Academy Award winner and pre-Scalia President-elect, Al Gore, touted in hearings on Capitol Hill . . . Edwards might be winning the early frontrunner race when it comes to substance over flash – he has been clear and strong on health care, labor rights and now energy. Katrina Vanden Heuvel, The Nation, 3-22-07

Want to participate in the effort to mitigate the impact of global warming? Download "Ten Things You Can Do"

There is a powerful magic in personal commitment.


Hard Rain Journal (3-20-07): Climate Crisis Update -- Four Simple Truths to Advance in Your Dialogue with Those Still in Denial

Hard Rain Journal 3-13-07: Climate Crisis Update -- Seven Stories that Underscore Dangers and Highlight Proactive Efforts

Hard Rain Journal 3-3-07: Climate Crisis & UN Millennium Goals Update -- The Interdependence of All Life

Hard Rain Journal 2-24-07: Climate Crisis Update -- Our Greatest Planetary Threat is Our Greatest Planetary Opportunity

Hard Rain Journal 2-10-07: Climate Crisis Update -- It is a Strange Bird that Fouls its own Nest

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and Words of Power. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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