Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Climate Crisis Update 11-7-07: As the Planetary Crisis Deepens, So Does the Denial in Mainstream Media & the Political Establishment

Image: Earth at Night, NASA

A total of 46 nations and 2.7 billion people are now at high risk of being overwhelmed by armed conflict and war because of climate change. A further 56 countries face political destabilisation, affecting another 1.2 billion individuals. This stark warning will be outlined by the peace group International Alert in a report, A Climate of Conflict ... 'Climate change will compound the propensity for violent conflict, which in turn will leave communities poorer and less able to cope with the consequences of climate change,' the report states. Robin McKie, Guardian/The Observer, 11-4-07

Nordic nations sounded the alarm ... about a quickening melt of Arctic ice and said the thaw might soon prove irreversible because of global warming. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland also urged all governments to agree before the end of 2009 on a broader U.N. plan to curb greenhouse gases in succession to the Kyoto Protocol. “The Arctic and the world cannot wait any longer,” environment ministers from the five nations said in a joint statement after talks in Oslo. Alister Doyle, Reuters, 11-1-07

Climate Crisis Update 11-7-07: As the Planetary Crisis Deepens, So Does the Denial in Mainstream Media & the Political Establishment

By Richard Power

In an insightful and disturbing op-ed piece inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, George Monbiot asks whether or not a "hardening of interests, a shutting down of concern, is taking place among the people of the rich world," and opines that if "this is true, we do not need to wait for the forests to burn or food supplies to shrivel before we decide that civilization is in trouble."

It is getting increasingly difficult to refute Monbiot's assessment.

Consider Meredith Viera's chilling countenance, as she shilled for her corporatist overlords, in an interview with 2007 Noble Peace Prize winner Al Gore:

NBC's Meredith Viera asked Gore, "You know, you share the prize with scientists from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And one of those scientists, John Christy, wrote an op-ed last Thursday in the Wall Street Journal in which he criticized your dire predictions about the impact of global warming. ... Gore immediately responded, "Well, he's an outlier. He no longer belongs to the IPCC. And he is way outside the scientific consensus." Gore then attacked the news media directly, saying that "part of the challenge the news media has had in covering this story is the old habit of taking the 'on the one hand, on the other hand' approach. There are still people who believe that the earth is flat. But when you're reporting on a story like the one you're covering today, where you have people all around the world, you don't search out for someone who still believes the earth is flat and give them equal time." Muriel Kane, Raw Story, 11-5-07

Consider the insipidly weak-kneed "climate security" legislation proffered by U.S. Sens. Joe Leiberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA):

“Reduction Targets: We need to reduce our global warming emissions by an estimated 80-90 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 to avert the most serious consequences of global warming. The legislation does not set us on a path to meet a scientifically based long-term reduction target, and should be strengthened significantly, to something on the order of 30 percent below 1990 levels.
Eliminating Giveaways to Polluters: As currently drafted, the bill gives the fossil fuel industry more than $400 billion in permits over 25 years. The corporate giveaway creates windfall profits, while taking vital resources away from easing America’s transition to a clean energy future. These permits must be auctioned within 10 years. In addition, auction revenue must not be spent to promote nuclear power, advanced coal and sequestration or other energy technologies that are not sustainable.
Making a Real Commitment to International Adaptation Needs: The bill as drafted provides resources to domestic adaptation needs, but neglects our moral obligations internationally. Legislation must make significant financial commitments to help developing countries adapt to the environmental, social and economic impacts caused by global warming. The current structure of the bill fails to provide these resources.
Greenpeace, 11-1-07

Day after day, week after week, month after month, stories of the ways in which global warming is already changing the planet's climate for the worse continue to aggregate.

Here are three more, one on flooding in Africa, one on drought in the USA, and one on the threat to the health of children:

Twenty-two African countries are experiencing their worst wet seasons in decades, and climate experts say that global warming is to blame.

Devastating rains and flash floods have affected 1.5 million people across the continent, killing at least 300 since early summer. 

West Africa has seen its most severe floods in years, as torrents swamped the Democratic Republic of the Congo's capital of Kinshasa last week, killing 30 people in less than 24 hours.

In northern Ghana, more than 300,000 people have been uprooted by devastating downpours. 

In East Africa, meanwhile, hundreds of thousands have been displaced and scores killed in Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia (see map). 

As the rains continue, African meteorologists are warning that these events may be fulfilling predictions that the continent will suffer some of the worst effects of global warming.

" Alexis Okeowo, National Geographic News, 10-30-07

An epic drought in Georgia threatens the water supply for millions. Florida doesn't have nearly enough water for its expected population boom. The Great Lakes are shrinking. Upstate New York's reservoirs have dropped to record lows. And in the West, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is melting faster each year.

Across America, the picture is critically clear - the nation's freshwater supplies can no longer quench its thirst.

The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess.

" Brian Skoloff, Associated Press, 10-26-07

Global warming is likely to disproportionately harm the health of children, and politicians should launch "aggressive policies" to curb climate change, the American Academy of Pediatrics said today.

 In the first major report about the unique effects of global warming on kids, U.S. pediatricians also were advised to "educate" elected officials about the coming dangers.

 There's evidence that children are likely to suffer more than adults from climate change, says the report's lead author, Katherine Shea, a pediatrician and adjunct public health professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.


More greenhouse gases and a warming Earth will leave children particularly vulnerable in several ways, the report says:

 Air pollution does more damage to children's lungs, causing asthma and respiratory ailments, because their lungs are still developing, they breathe at a higher rate than adults and are outdoors more.

 Waterborne infections, such as diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems, hit children especially hard. These infections rise sharply with more rain, which is expected as the climate warms.

 Marilyn Elias, USA Today, 10-29-07

And yet, as Monbiot remarks, on the air waves the denial just seems to get louder and thicker:

Who will persuade us to act? However strong the opposition parties’ policies appear to be, they cannot be sustained unless the voters move behind them. We won’t be prompted by the media. The BBC drops Planet Relief for fear of breaching its impartiality guidelines: heaven forbid that it should come out against mass death. But it broadcasts a program - Top Gear - that puts a match to its guidelines every week, and now looks about as pertinent as the Black and White Minstrel Show.
The schedules are crammed with shows urging us to travel further, drive faster, build bigger, buy more, yet none of them are deemed to offend the rules, which really means that they don’t offend the interests of business or the pampered sensibilities of the Aga class. The media, driven by fear and advertising, are hopelessly biased towards the consumer economy and against the biosphere.
It seems to me that we are already pushing other people ahead of us down The Road. As the biosphere shrinks, McCarthy describes the collapse of the protagonist’s core beliefs. I sense that this might be happening already: that a hardening of interests, a shutting down of concern, is taking place among the people of the rich world. If this is true, we do not need to wait for the forests to burn or food supplies to shrivel before we decide that civilization is in trouble.
George Monbiot, Civilization Ends with a Shutdown of Human Concern. Are We There Already?, Guardian, 10-30-07

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

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To sign the Live Earth Pledge, click here.

Want to wake people up to the US mainstream news media's complicity in misinforming the public on global warming and climate change? Click here for Media Matters' compilation of "Myths and Falsehoods about Global Warming".

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

Want to join hundreds of thousands of people on the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, and become part of the movement to demand our leaders freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions now? Click here.

Center for American Progress Action Fund's Mic Check Radio has released a witty and compelling compilation on the Top 100 Effects of Global Warming, organized into sections like "Global Warming Wrecks All the Fun" (e.g., "Goodbye to Pinot Noir," "Goodbye to Baseball," "Goodbye to Salmon Dinners," "Goodbye to Ski Vacations," etc.), "Global Warming Kills the Animals" (e.g., "Death March of the Penguins," "Dying Grey Whales," "Farwell to Frogs," etc.) and yes, "Global Warming Threatens Our National Security" (e.g., "Famine," "Drought," "Large-Scale Migrations," "The World's Checkbook," etc.) I urge you to utilize Top 100 Effects of Global Warming in your dialogues with friends, family and colleagues.

And don't forget to tune into Eco-Talk Radio on the air waves and/or in cyberspace.

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