Archive for November 28th, 2012

Thinking The Unthinkable

by lizard

Dave Lindorff, a regular contributor to Counterpunch, offered a disturbing “what if” thought experiment today regarding climate change, titled What If America’s Leaders Actually Want Catastrophic Climate Change? Here’s how the article begins:

What if the leaders of the United States — and by leaders I mean the generals in the Pentagon, the corporate executives of the country’s largest enterprises, and the top officials in government — have secretly concluded that while world-wide climate change is indeed going to be catastrophic, the US, or more broadly speaking, North America, is fortuitously situated to come out on top in the resulting global struggle for survival?

I’m not by nature a conspiracy theorist, but this horrifying thought came to me yesterday as I batted away yet another round of ignorant rants from people who insist against all logic that climate change is a gigantic fraud being perpetrated, variously, by the oil companies (who allegedly want to benefit from carbon credit trading), the scientific community (which allegedly is collectively selling out and participating in some world-wide system of omerta in order to get grants), or the world socialist conspiracy (which of course, is trying to destroy capitalism).

What prompted me to this speculation about an American conspiracy of inaction was the seemingly incomprehensible failure of the US — in the face of overwhelming evidence that the Earth is heating up at an accelerating rate, and that we are in danger of soon reaching a point of no return where the process feeds itself — to do anything to reduce either this country’s annual production of more atmospheric CO2, or to promote some broader international agreement to slow the production of greenhouse gases.

Okay, a lot of Republicans are wacky believers in a 6000-year-old world where Adam and Eve hunted dinosaurs and god talked to Moses. But it seems equally or even more insane that people who clearly know better, like President Barack Obama, or most of the Democratic Party leadership in Congress, would resist even minimal efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and would directly work to undermine international efforts at reaching a rigorous treaty on global reduction of carbon emissions.

Despite the lies that spewed from Republicans about Obama’s energy policies, America is poised to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2017.

“Energy developments in the United States are profound and their effect will be felt well beyond North America – and the energy sector,” the IEA said in the annual long-term report, giving one of the most optimistic forecasts for U.S. energy production growth to date.

Yeah, optimistic. Unlike the reality of permafrost thawing, the acidification of the oceans, and the disappearance of arctic sea ice.

Personally, I avoid reading articles about climate change, because it’s incredibly depressing. I’m not surprised how many people opt to be deniers with this issue.

I am a little surprised that Dave Lindorff is willing to open himself up to the ridicule of “thinking the unthinkable” with his off-the-deep-end speculation. Here is how his piece concludes:

I realize this is conspiracy thinking, and that as such it is rather far-fetched, and yet what troubles me is that it’s hard to imagine a alternative explanation for the years of complete inaction on combating global warming, and the deliberate undermining of any sort of international accord which America has engaged in for the past decade.

Our leaders, political and corporate, may be puerile, egocentric greed-heads, but they are not stupid. They surely for the most part recognize that the Earth is heating up and heading at full speed towards ecological, social and political disaster. How else to explain, then, their astonishing unwillingness to take action?

Good question.

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