It is said that the first casualty in war is truth!
In yesterday’s post Vested interests, perhaps, I featured an article brought to my attention by dear friend, Dan Gomez. Namely an article featured in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper that was headlined: ‘There is NO climate crisis’: Man-made global warming is a lie and not backed up by science, claims leading meteorologist.
Dan’s strong belief is that labelling the natural change in the world’s climate as anthropogenic global warming (AGW) serves governments and many large institutions incredibly well because it offers greater leverage to raise taxes. In other words, Dan has no doubt that the climate is changing, but as a result of natural forces that go back long before the days of man. In other words, it is being ‘sold’ as the direct result of man’s activities because it makes it easier to apply taxes and levies for purposes not related to climate matters.
As John Coleman was reported as saying:
John Coleman, who co-founded the Weather Channel, claims that the belief humans are causing climate change is not backed up by science.
In an open letter attacking the UN, the 80-year-old from San Diego, said that what ‘little evidence’ there is for global warming points to natural cycles in temperature.
‘There is no climate crisis,’ he wrote. ‘The ocean is not rising significantly. The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar bears are increasing in number. ‘Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms.
‘I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid.’
Now I am as sceptical about the workings of governments as the next man. But I find it incredibly difficult to believe that AGW is a myth, hoax or conspiracy. There is a wall of science to say that we, as in man, are dangerously close to going over the edge, going beyond ‘tipping points’ from which there is no returning.
A quick dip into Wikipedia tells us [my emphasis]:
Scientific understanding of the cause of global warming has been increasing. In its fourth assessment (AR4 2007) of the relevant scientific literature, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that scientists were more than 90% certain that most of global warming was being caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities. In 2010 that finding was recognized by the national science academies of all major industrialized nations.
Affirming these findings in 2013, the IPCC stated that the largest driver of global warming is carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and land use changes such as deforestation.
Only last Wednesday there was an item on Naked Capitalism that opened [again, my emphasis]:
J.D. Alt: Have We Passed the Tipping Point of Biological Collapse?
The squiggle illustrated here may look like the Ebola virus, but it isn’t. The resemblance is just an eerie coincidence. It’s actually a graphical snapshot of the classic “Predator-Prey Model.” This mathematical exercise, first developed in the 1920s, serves as the introductory basis for a more recent NASA funded effort which produced—amidst a brief flurry of news and commentary last spring—the startling conclusion that a complete collapse of modern civilization may now be “irreversible.”
The NASA study involved the creation and running of a more elaborate model—HANDY (Human and Nature Dynamics)—which simulates the human consumption of naturally replenishing systems, as well as (intriguingly, given today’s news cycle) wealth and income inequality between two classes of citizens: “Elites” and “Commoners.” Now a new study, just released by the World Wildlife Fund, reports a grim statistic suggesting the abstract mathematics of the HANDY Model may be more than just a theoretical exercise. According to the WWF, in the last forty years—from 1970 to 2010—the Earth has lost over HALF (52%) of its wildlife population.
There are yards and yards of solid information all over the internet about our changing climate. The loss of wildlife, the destruction of forests and wild lands is beyond argument, and those aspects of this ‘modern’ world are most certainly the direct result of man’s activities! Our inability to stop growing as a global population is insane. Our inability to stop seeing continual economic and material growth as a ‘good thing’ is insane. We need massive change – now!
Therein lays the problem. Because, whether or not there is an approaching climate catastrophe as a result of man’s activities is, in a very real sense, irrelevant. If that seems a bizarre thing to write, I mean it is irrelevant in terms of what you and I, ordinary people trying to lead civilised lives, can do to make a difference.
Patrice Ayme recently published a post under the title of Total Plutocracy covering the death of Christophe de Margerie when his jet hit a snow plough on a Moscow runway at midnight, flipped on its back, caught fire, and skidded across. All four on board died.
Now the accidental death of any person is a tragedy, make no mistake, but as Patrice revealed in his post, this particular accident did raise some interesting aspects. Here’s a little of what Patrice wrote:
With 200 billion Euros in revenue, TOTAL SA is not far behind the French government budget. TOTAL’s profits are 14 billion Euros (“Soyons serieux!” laughed Margerie). It pays nearly no tax in France, having concentrated there its money losing refineries.
Other countries get nearly all their fuel from French refineries; TOTAL has also a green light to frack in Britain. So this is not just a French situation. TOTAL is one of the five great oil companies concentrating the fossil fuel firepower. Those companies have the best technology. Some of TOTAL’s specialties are very deep water drilling, and using steam to extract tar oil in Canada.
What was de Margerie doing at midnight? Flying back to France, after meeting with Putin and Medvedev, late at night.
That’s how these guys are: great fun. Putin was recently invited to Milan for a big time European meeting. He arrived several hours late to visit with Merkel, who was not amused. After keeping her up past midnight, he motored to Berlusconi’s mansion, and the two plutocrats reveled together until 4 am. (We don’t know how many female teenagers were in attendance to further their studies.)
The next European meeting was at 8am, and Putin showed up.
Supposedly Margerie had just told Medvedev and Putin to cool it with Ukraine. At least that’s the massaging message Margerie’s minions floated after his death.
Why was Margerie so important to the Russian dictators? Because the six “supermajor” oil companies have the advanced technology. After all, they recruit from the best universities in the world (that’s paid by taxpayers). TOTAL SA was the spearhead of high tech development for hydrocarbon production in Russia. Among other things, it’s helping to build a gas liquefaction plant in the far north, to load special ships with methane (something TOTAL does with Qatar, in the world’s largest such installation).
Once a ship is fully loaded, it has several times the explosive power deployed at Hiroshima (such a catastrophic accident has not happened yet, but it’s just a matter of time).
When citizen Lambda dies, Mr. Anybody, nobody official cares. When a major plutocrat dies, our leaders, even our socialist leaders, weep, and present the accident as a national, even international tragedy.
Is the death of a plutocrat worth that much more, that all this public weeping has to occur?
And, by the way, who and what has authorized Mr. Margerie to lead his own foreign policy? Who authorized him to make nice with thermonuclear dictators? To the point of allowing their survival?
I recommend that you read it in full for it says so much about what is wrong with these present times: so much inequality and so many abuses of power.
Just the other day the Guardian newspaper published an article under the title of: Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth, says report.
The richest 1% of the world’s population are getting wealthier, owning more than 48% of global wealth, according to a report published on Tuesday which warned growing inequality could be a trigger for recession.
According to the Credit Suisse global wealth report (pdf), a person needs just $3,650 – including the value of equity in their home – to be among the wealthiest half of world citizens. However, more than $77,000 is required to be a member of the top 10% of global wealth holders, and $798,000 to belong to the top 1%.
“Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1% of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest decile hold 87% of the world’s wealth, and the top percentile alone account for 48.2% of global assets,” said the annual report, now in its fifth year.
On October 8th, George Monbiot published an essay in The Guardian newspaper under the title of The Toll-Booth Economy. The opening lines set the theme.
Corporate power is the real enemy within, but none of the major parties will confront it.
The more power you possess, the more insecure you feel. The paranoia of power drives people towards absolutism. But far from curing them of the conviction that they are threatened and beleaguered, it becomes only stronger.
On Friday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, claimed that business is under political attack on a scale it has not faced since the fall of the Berlin wall. He was speaking at the Institute of Directors, where he was introduced with the claim that “we are in a generational struggle to defend the principles of the free market against people who want to undermine it or strip it away.” A few days before, while introducing Osborne at the Conservative party conference, Digby Jones, formerly the head of the Confederation of British Industry, warned that companies are at risk of being killed by “regulation from Big Government” and of drowning “in the mire of anti-business mood music encouraged by vote-seekers.” Where is that government and who are these vote-seekers? They are a figment of his imagination.
Read the full essay here.
Yes, one could go on and on.
Indeed, I will. Go on with just one more reference. From the Smithsonian. An article that started, as follows:
Five Conflicts and Collapses That May Have Been Spurred by Climate Change
Earth’s changing climate has been a spectre in centuries of civil conflict and, at times, the collapse of whole civilizations
By Natasha Geiling
October 20, 2014
Is climate change a matter of national security? In a warming world, sea-level rise, drought and soil degradation are putting basic human needs such as food and shelter at risk. In March, the U.S. Department of Defense called climate change a “threat multiplier,” saying that competition for resources “will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions—conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”
Connecting climate change to a global increase in violence is tricky, and attempts to make such a link receive a fair amount of criticism. A hotter planet doesn’t automatically become a more conflict-ridden one. The 2000s, for instance, saw some of the highest global temperatures in recorded history—and some of the lowest rates of civil conflict since the 1970s.
But there are historical examples of civilizations that did not fare well when faced with drastic environmental change, and those examples may offer a window into the future—and even help prevent catastrophe. “We can never know with 100-percent certainty that the climate was the decisive factor [in a conflict],” says Solomon Hsiang, assistant professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. “But there’s a lot of cases where things look pretty conspicuous.”
Read the five historical examples and realise that we are not immune.
Earlier on I ventured the idea that whether or not an approaching climate catastrophe was a result of man’s activities was, in a very real sense, irrelevant. Because of the lack of individual power to make a real difference, especially a political difference.
What is relevant is improving the way we govern ourselves. The abuses of money and power are too widespread to be ignored. We need to start with strong local democracies and thence building a system of global governance that really is of the people by the people for the people.
Phew – I need a dog to hug!