Tag Archives: Climate Change

Parting Thoughts

Deceit
I regret deceiving people as I have prepared to take my leave, even if mostly by omission. I apologize. In partial defense, how often do any of us give an entirely honest and complete answer to “how’s life,” these days? I believe that I have provided a thorough accounting, now, for whatever that’s worth.

Supportive People
I have in recent years been blessed with excellent people in my life, to whom I am very grateful. I want to emphasize this. If I (or anyone else) was minded to identify anyone as letting me down, I could make a long list but it would not include the good people around me. For many years the difficulties engulfing us have been mounting, and extensive corrosion has been normalized within groups and other institutions which are supposed to lead our defense. During several difficult years of recognizing and processing that, I have in contrast had some great people helping me nonetheless endure the journey this far. Thank you!

Physical Health
I seem to have no physical complaints beside aches and pains. Having over 20 years struggled with eventual success to get a handle on allergies, extended injury, tension, inflammatory bowel disease… the overall presence of physical ailments in my life seems neither elevated nor on an upward trend at present. It can be said that being dependent upon a prescription drug to treat Crohn’s disease is one more complicating factor, among those which have dampened whatever enthusiasm I might otherwise have felt for various “walk away from it all” adventures. Oh well. That’s alright.

Left Unfinished
I have a similar outlook on personally incomplete work, and curiosity about how various activities in the larger world play out. I feel some interest; it’s very limited set against the readiness to be done with all this. Yes I wonder about how the war in Ukraine turns out; I have imagined reviewing the notes I have taken, to look for patterns, turning points, good analysis and misconceptions, and writing something about it. But I have no expectation that a happy world will follow in which Russia replaces its oligarchy with progressive democratic governance. Likewise, as I spelled out in Nemesis, I perceive America as politically stuck even in the extremely unlikely event of “good” midterm elections for the feckless Democrats. (If the January 6 Committee hearings, or Department of Justice actions, turn 2022 politics completely upside down in a lasting way, let history record my skepticism as a stupendously wrong call.) I wonder how much Portuguese I would grasp if I finish the entire DuoLingo course. I would like to add a few items to my Sherlock Holmes collection and reach the 100th. I would like to see more of the world. But I have traveled, already; I have lived. A background of perma-crisis reduces my enthusiasm for lots more, of even life’s redeeming features.

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Personal Archive

Call this a reflex of the archivist or historian, or an attempt to “show my work,” or mere vanity; I don’t know. But I append, here, several files documenting my life and times in some way.

Personal life

Activism

Chronicling news and events

Climate Wreckers

A little over 16 years ago, I started keeping a list of people and organizations to blame for the ruin of a favorable climate, and all the pain and misery which will accompany that.

This list is by no means remotely exhaustive, or even well organized (or formatted). But it is the product of 16 years, even if the labor involved was mostly just moments here or there. It seems worth posting.

These are some of the monsters who have sabotaged our world as well as the attempts to protect it.

The “Competitive Enterprise Institute” is arguably best known for its work disputing the science of climate change, and the corporations’ support comes at a time when the think tank has played an outsized role in the Trump administration. Funders include Google and Amazon
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/10/climate/nyt-climate-newsletter-cei.html

David Victor (Pete Buttigieg Climate Advisor) Is a Fossil-Fuel-Funded Witness for The Trump Administration Against Children’s Climate Lawsuit http://www.hillheat.com/articles/2019/11/18/pete-buttigieg-climate-advisor-is-a-fossil-fuel-funded-witness-for-the-trump-administration-against-childrens-climate-lawsuit

Exxon’s senators:

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Provincial Geoengineering

What if states suffering from climate change become, quite realistically, frustrated with waiting for coordinated global solutions and attempt to modify their own local climates?

This is just a hypothetical possibility that occurred to me, yesterday, prompted I suppose by the COVID pandemic and how that’s going. I’m not a climate scientist, or really any sort of expert in the natural sciences or engineering at all. I am a historian and chronicler of contemporary civilization, though, and from that perspective this concept seems very realistic.

Most of this concept is not even new. Any number of schemes for geoengineering responses to the climate crisis have kicked around for many years. As has speculation about the possibility of unilateral attempts, in the absence of global consensus; the harrowing short story collection The Hidden Girl even considers a private attempt at global geoengineering.

Microclimates are obviously not new, though the intersection of climate complexity and anthropogenic rapid climate change is revealing that the results will not be smooth and uniform.

Local-scale response is a well-established concept, also. The urban heat island effect is really a basic corollary of cities, but systems and policies can do a lot to minimize or intensify it, through e.g. choosing more trees instead of blacktop parking lots.

But what about in-between the local and global scale? Might individual nation-states (or federation member-states) try to protect their climates amid the continuing absence of global solutions? Whether or not they can in fact do so, what if one or more decide that they can, and try it?

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Hyundai Ioniq Plugin Hybrid

So I have purchased a different car, and it’s my first car-purchase in 14+ years, only the second time in my life I have made a car-purchase on my own, as well as the most expensive purchase of any kind that I have ever made and the most expensive thing I own, by a lot.

So I have thoughts and feelings.

Where to begin. So much is new with this. I’m going from a 2000 Toyota Camry to a 2018 plug-in hybrid. Just in terms of the technology and interface, it feels comparable to going directly from Pagemaker 6.5 to the 2018 release of Adobe InDesign. In all honesty, I don’t think such a leap would be completely baffling. But it would be quite a big adjustment. The 2000 Camry had a substantially analogue dashboard; the 2018 Ioniq is like most modern vehicles, i.e. basically a computer on wheels.

The Ioniq is considered a hatchback (and it amuses me that “five-door” is an alternative term). Typical vehicle styling however blurs most of the difference between this and other sedans, now.

My new car can plug in to “fuel up” from electric current. Public charging stations, even if they are free, hardly seem usable at all without a smartphone. It was only two years ago that I upgraded from an old flipphone to a modern magic rectangle.

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Adapting expectations

My experiences growing to adulthood in the late 20th century did not prepare me for coping with 21st century America. I strongly believe that the same goes for most adults.

The fact that so few people are even close to realizing how far off their baseline expectations are, let alone working through the process of adjustment, is part of the problem. But the major parts are other, much larger and much worse things.

In a post earlier this summer, I summed it up as “we don’t have functioning, even quasi-rational systems of decision-making” at a national level in America. That’s looking at it from one end; the fact that national governance in America has never been a functional system except when hugely exclusionary and injust is the same object viewed from the other end.

These failings function to prevent fixes to themselves, and go right on performing that function even as the consequences get more disastrous. This is the future before us. I have been writing about this for a while, but it’s only beginning to sink in how much I ought to adjust my expectations if I’m to go on.

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Preview: industrial civilization vs climate change

I can’t figure out now how I even found this thread. The thread itself made some more sense after I realized that it’s from an American Enterprise Institute hack, though I still don’t know how I encountered it unless Twitter coughed it up during one of its reversions of my timeline to “Top Tweets” before I shut that shit off like I always do.

That aside, I still think there’s significance in my initial reaction: the thread is a summary of industrial civilization’s response to climate change, past present and likely future.

The context of the Twitter thread is COVID-19 and America’s complete botch job of containing it. The corporate technocrat’s response is unhappy acknowledgment that current conditions are unacceptable, and that some kind of small shared sacrifice from everyone regardless of wealth would help, but the real solution is entirely a matter of waiting for technology to restore control over this disruptive natural phenomenon.

The entire thread also seems like a dismally accurate caricature of how the dominant culture reacts to climate change and is likely to continue doing.

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Late Sept. 2019, phase shift

I spent minutes struggling for a title, here, because I’m not sure how to describe the national situation. “Dam breaking?” That describes how this moment feels, but what if a month from now the dam still seems to be there.

I wrote this in our newsletter for the Lakewood Democratic Club:

Trump pressured a foreign government (Ukraine) to open an unfounded investigation of a political opponent, in return for the release of funds which his administration was holding back. He also tried to block Congress from seeing a related whistleblower complaint.

He got busted, his personal involvement in this attempt to extort foreign election interference is now exposed, and a whole lot of other misconduct is being exposed as well.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced complete support of formal impeachment proceedings.

That’s the bare summary of the past week!

That’s a decent, simplified summary, I think. It leaves out a lot, but it covers the big news which seems to have precipitated a “phase shift,” in which suddenly House Democrats quit being scared, polling had a sudden jump in public support for impeachment, Trump and Republicans are on the defensive, and everything just seems different and that’s the part which seems to defy explanation.

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The technology to save Earth’s climate

Today I saw this on Twitter, and really as far as I know there’s nothing farfetched or new, here:

I got into a brief back-and-forth with someone about the suggestion that “new technology” is where to look for hope. This notion bugs me; basically, it amounts to saying “I want this hard problem resolved for me by a new factor which doesn’t currently exist.”

This is the reality of most “technology” responses to the climate crisis. They aren’t responses, at all, but instead attempts to sidestep the issue.

That said, it occurred to me that in some sense, the reality is that we do need some incredible advancements in “technology” to survive the climate crisis.

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Playing from way behind

It is strange living in this moment, watching the capture and corruption of the most powerful institutions in our society, at the same time as day to day life mostly continues as though completely unconnected.

That’s an illusion. A few weeks ago a friend, who knows better, casually said something about how “well, life goes on, anyway.” I could have made a lot of responses. One which I didn’t make, but might have, is a comparison with The Lord of the Rings films. For all that “The Scouring of the Shire” is an important part of the novel, its absence from the films combined with Meriadoc’s warning about the possibility of such an outcome is haunting on its own. He was absolutely right that the safety of the Shire was in danger, and significantly, it was in danger from something that most of its people would never even notice until it was absolutely too late.

Had Sauron secured the One Ring, it would have meant the end of the Shire. Unstoppable armies would have burned it to the ground within months, or at most a year or two, inevitably. But that fate was being decided, with finality, while most of the persons at issue were carrying on normal life in total ignorance of the peril.

In a sense, Americans have had comparatively ample warning, yet most don’t really notice it, and “normal life” carries on. Even though what’s happening right now is locking in severe negative consequences.

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