Viridian Note 00456: State of the World 2006
Source: LA Weekly
(((A journalist from LA Weekly once cheerily told me, 'We're supported by porn, so we can say anything we want!' They probably ought to be supported by televangelism, so they could call for the elected leader of Venezuela to be assassinated. In any case, this LA Weekly piece says plenty.)))
JANUARY 6 – 12, 2006
Running Hot and Cold: A Dozen Weird Weather Moments
Katrina turned the weather into the year's biggest news event, as the natural world against which Bush has made war since 2000 decided to send back a return salvo.
The storm quickly became a political portent for both ends of the spectrum, with Christian conservatives interpreting the supposed fetal shape of Katrina to be a pro-life meteorological statement sent by a vengeful Lord to ravage the Gulf of Mexico, and the sane world noting apprehensively that hurricane season has been worsening with steadily increasing ocean-surface temperatures. Bad as it was, the scientists added, 2005's weather is just a taste of what's to come. Here's the rest of the year in bad weather.
1. 2005 was the hottest year on record. This year's global average temperature topped the previous record, set in 1998.
2. The Amazon River basin experienced its worst drought in recorded history.
3. The National Climate Data Center (NCDC) reported that nine of the 10 warmest years in history have occurred in the past decade.
4. Satellite monitoring in September revealed that the summer Arctic sea ice has shrunk as much as 40 percent since monitoring began in the late 1970s. At the current rate of decline, there will be no summer Arctic ice pack within two decades. (((If so, I wonder how many of this list's readers will survive to witness that.)))
5. Multiple studies showed that the higher average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the last decade are unprecedented over the past 2,000 years.
6. Swiss and U.S. climatologists working in Antarctica built 'EPICA Dome C,' the longest ice-core record to date. Gas bubbles trapped in ice crystals record the atmospheric compositions over time. From this, researchers reported that today's levels of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, are higher now than at any time in the past 650,000 years.
7. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that sea-surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico this summer were the highest since measurements began in 1890.
8. The warm waters contributed to the year's
record-breaking hurricane season, with 26 named
storms forming in the Atlantic. Fourteen became
hurricanes, and Katrina, Rita and Wilma created
an unprecedented triumvirate of category 5 storms.
The NOAA also exhausted its pre-assigned list of
storm names, and for the first time had to turn
to the Greek alphabet. On the last official day
in hurricane season, tropical storm Epsilon
strengthened into a hurricane. (((This precedes
Zeta, which fell to pieces today. I guess this
means we can start over at"A" if January brings
another tropical storm.)))
9. Wilma played second fiddle to Katrina despite being the stronger storm. In Florida, Wilma was 'the Big One' they've been expecting for a century. It knocked out the power for weeks, and left a destruction path wider than any previous hurricane in the state. With a central ultralow pressure of 882 millibars, Wilma surpassed 1988's Gilbert as the strongest hurricane on record.
10. Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology reported in the May issue of Science that the long-term process of global dimming, a diminishing of the sun's effects caused by an accumulation of particulate matter in the atmosphere, began to turn around in 1990. Since global dimming has a cooling effect, its decline could speed the effects of global warming. (((One really has to wonder what the hell is going on with that.)))
11. Researchers on a scientific expedition in the Atlantic Ocean discovered that the strength of the current that drives the Gulf Stream – and bathes Britain and Northern Europe in warm waters from the tropics each summer – has slowed by 30 percent in just the past decade. Thought to be a consequence of global warming, the weakened current could trigger severe winters and cooler summers on both sides of the North Atlantic.
12. Outlandish weather effects materialized all over the world. On July 26, 37 inches of rain fell in Mumbai, India's financial center, during one 24-hour period. Four hundred thirty-eight people drowned or were buried in landslides in India's highest recorded rainfall. A record 22 tornadoes hit Southwest Australia in May, causing the state's most expensive natural disaster. In October, 78.9 inches of snow fell on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, nearly doubling the previous record of 39.8 inches, set in 2000.
(((Lesbians did all that! Okay, let's move right along to the next piece, shall we? Nothing to see here!)))
Source: New York Times
January 6, 2006
The New Red, White and Blue
As we enter 2006, we find ourselves in trouble, at home and abroad. We are in trouble because we are led by defeatists – wimps, actually.
What's so disturbing about President Bush and Dick Cheney is that they talk tough about the necessity of invading Iraq, torturing terror suspects and engaging in domestic spying – all to defend our way of life and promote democracy around the globe.
But when it comes to what is actually the most important issue in U.S. foreign and domestic policy today – making ourselves energy efficient and independent, and environmentally green – they ridicule it as something only liberals, tree-huggers and sissies believe is possible or necessary.
Sorry, but being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence – that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad.
Living green is not just a ‘personal virtue,' as Mr. Cheney says. It's a national security imperative.
The biggest threat to America and its values today is not communism, authoritarianism or Islamism. It's petrolism. (((A neologism! Welcome to 2006!))) Petrolism is my term (((our Tom is ever the egoist))) for the corrupting, antidemocratic governing practices – in oil states from Russia to Nigeria and Iran – that result from a long run of $60-a-barrel oil. (((How great that he noticed the “curse of oil.”)))
Petrolism is the politics of using oil income to buy off one's citizens (((Are you listening, Jack Abramoff?))) with subsidies and government jobs, using oil and gas exports to intimidate or buy off one's enemies, and using oil profits to build up one's internal security forces and army to keep oneself ensconced in power, without any transparency or checks and balances. (((Wait wait, I've got a genius 'petrolist' idea – use the NSA to wiretap Americans who moan about gasoline prices!)))
When a nation's leaders can practice petrolism, they never have to tap their people's energy and creativity; they simply have to tap an oil well. (((Yep!))) And therefore politics in a petrolist state is not about building a society or an educational system that maximizes its people's ability to innovate, export and compete. It is simply about who controls the oil tap.
In petrolist states like Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Sudan, people get rich by being in government and sucking the treasury dry – so they never want to cede power. In non-petrolist states, like Taiwan, Singapore and Korea, people get rich by staying outside government and building real businesses. (((I hope my Singaporean friends are enjoying this rare pat on the head from the NY Times.)))
Our energy gluttony fosters and strengthens various kinds of petrolist regimes. It emboldens authoritarian petrolism in Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Sudan and Central Asia. It empowers Islamist petrolism in Sudan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It even helps sustain communism in Castro's Cuba, which survives today in part thanks to cheap oil from Venezuela. Most of these petrolist regimes would have collapsed long ago, having proved utterly incapable of delivering a modern future for their people, but they have been saved by our energy excesses. (((Unless they were selling us cocaine, in which case they were supported by our other excesses.)))
No matter what happens in Iraq, we cannot dry up the swamps of authoritarianism and violent Islamism in the Middle East without also drying up our consumption of oil – thereby bringing down the price of crude. A democratization policy in the Middle East without a different energy policy at home is a waste of time, money and, most important, the lives of our young people. ((("Won't somebody think of the children?" Hey, it's the OLD people who die in droves in Greenhouse heat waves.)))
That's because there is a huge difference in what these bad regimes can do with $20-a-barrel oil compared with the current $60-a-barrel oil. It is no accident that the reform era in Russia under Boris Yeltsin, and in Iran under Mohammad Khatami, coincided with low oil prices. When prices soared again, petrolist authoritarians in both societies reasserted themselves. (((Not to mention the new Venezuelan-Bolivian alliance – oil and cocaine, together at last.)))
We need a president and a Congress with the guts not just to invade Iraq, but to also impose a gasoline tax and inspire conservation at home. That takes a real energy policy with long-term incentives for renewable energy – wind, solar, biofuels – rather than the welfare-for-oil-companies- and-special-interests that masqueraded last year as an energy bill.
Enough of this Bush-Cheney nonsense that conservation, energy efficiency and environmentalism are some hobby we can't afford. I can't think of anything more cowardly or un-American. Real patriots, real advocates of spreading democracy around the world, live green.
Green is the new red, white and blue.
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O