Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pogo was right.

In Thursday's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof entitles his Op Ed Column The Big Melt. You automatically know the subject is global warming. He begins with an interesting premise.
If we learned that Al Qaeda was secretly developing a new terrorist technique that could disrupt water supplies around the globe, force tens of millions from their homes and potentially endanger our entire planet, we would be aroused into a frenzy and deploy every possible asset to neutralize the threat.

Yet that is precisely the threat that we’re creating ourselves, with our greenhouse gases. While there is still much uncertainty about the severity of the consequences, a series of new studies indicate that we’re cooking our favorite planet more quickly than experts had expected.
This yet another instance where the focus of the so-called War on Terror has diverted our attention from dealing with the problems that really determine the future of man.

I watched Bill Moyers' Journal last night. Well, only the segment on Katrina Revisited. That as much as I could take. Maybe I was overloaded. I have just started to read Chris Mooney's newest book, Storm World. I am still learning the history of meteorology and it's divergent paths of development. But in the back of my mind is the knowledge that Tropical Storm Erin is bringing new floods to an already drenched Texas, the Hurrican Dean is now a Category 4 storm drawing a bead on Jamaica and that Typhoon Sepat has just battered Taiwan and is heading for mainland China. Mooney, whose family lost their New Orleans home, makes it abundantly clear that you can not associate any single weather event with global warming. But, you will see an increase in extreme events such as super hurricanes like Sepat and soon Dean.

Kristof concludes his column with the same analogy that introduced it.
In the same way, terror experts aren’t sure about the magnitude and timing of Al Qaeda’s next strike. But it would be myopic to shrug that because there’s uncertainty about the risks, we shouldn’t act vigorously to confront them — yet that’s our national policy toward climate change, and it’s a disgrace
Maybe the problem is the fact that Al Qaeda is a human sized problem with a human sized solution. But that is not a description of global warming.

Ultimately the actions we need to take involve ourselves, what we expect out of life, what we are willing to do to ensure the future.

I would expect that members of the Green Party would have the same degree of passion for this issue as they have ending the Iraq War or for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, but they do not. Maybe there is a way to bring this down to a human sized problem. Moyers focused his segment on the issue of corruption and the manner in which corruption has siphoned off $ billions from what should have been a restorative effort. Politicians swarm around money like bees in an almond orchard They all know that the way to maintain power is to use public money to support the locally powerful. So, Moyers reports that "10 of the 23 original New Orleans hospitals remain closed." According to him "Associated Press reports tax breaks intended for reconstruction of homes destroyed by Katrina are being used to build luxury condos hundreds of miles inland from where Katrina hit…Conveniently located near the University of Alabama football stadium."

We all know what was needed and we all can see what the politicians did.

Here are a couple of questions:
  • Why is Moyers one of the few who reports the story in this manner?
  • Why is this not on the nightly news?
  • What is the GPUS going to say / do on Katrina's anniversary?

This is much bigger than just global warming and Katrina. I think that it is a failure to understand the very nature of what this political party should be doing. We are so tied up in the culture of protest that we fail to work out that which will attract people to this party. Our future will be determined not by what we protest but rather by what we accomplish. As a political party, we need to be about the future, not about the past and that requires a change in leadership.

The GPCA needs someone to articulate change in the way that Obama is trying to do for the Democrats. I won't criticize those who are leading an impeachment effort. It is necessary to keep that pressure on as well, especially knowing that it won't happen under the current Democratic leadership. Still, we need the same intensity, the same passion, for the future and making fundamental changes in how we respond to what we know is going to happen.
  • How do we achieve a sustainable water supply?
  • What can we do to ensure that there is adequate housing for all?
  • How are we going to educate all of our children?
  • How can we ensure that there is fresh water for our grandchildren to drink?
  • What will we do when the sea level rises?
At one point in Moyers program, the statement was made that the vision of Miami in the future can be seen in New Orleans today. We do not have to accept that.


Tian said...

This afternoon I was out riding my new bike. I stopped at Palo Alto Bicycles, just to see what was up with them. They have a lot of green colored merchandise in the store. Not only that, but they are selling organic Peruvian French Roast coffee with a "bicycling is cool" type label. I'd say green politics sells well there, based on what I saw.

One of the outer wear brands they carry is Gore. They have a snazzy orange windbreaker with gray lined sleeves for only $189.99 or something like that. What struck me was that the style was named a "Xenon". The thing has many good features. Not only does wearing it make you MUCH more visible than that old T shirt can hope for, but if anybody sees the front left chest they will be reminded of the inconvenient truth while looking at an element of the solution.

I'm used to thinking of Xenon as a noble gas. Just as chemically inert, and much heavier than Helium, the only element that is so light it can easily escape the atmosphere. It would be nice if the name could get good karma from being worn by bicycle riders.

To put it another way, the merchandising aspects of working on the climate change issue are being worked on by people that aren't waiting for evidence so compelling that even Incumbents in Washington can understand it.

Wes said...

Thanks, Tian. At least I know that 1 person read this.

The real question for me is whether the green party is no longer green. So many social, economic justice questions have will be answered by the manner in which we deal with our ecology.