Friday, March 21, 2014

Global Warming? No Problemo!

Climate change is being called a slow-motion apocalypse. There’s no denying that it’s happening. All you have to do is go on line and look at pictures of the Arctic taken over time, and you can see that ice that’s been there for thousands of years has now melted and that sea routes are open in the summer that have never been open throughout human history.

Human beings are changing the Earth so rapidly and dramatically that our presence is becoming part of the geological record. 97 percent of climate scientists are in agreement that humans have at least sped up global warming, if not caused it, and virtually all peer reviewed scientific publications concur. But considering the huge amounts of methane (worse than CO2 for global warming) now spewing into the atmosphere through gigantic cracks in the Arctic ice cover, the thawing of the permafrost (note the prefix “perma”), the sudden melting of glaciers and breaking free of city-sized icebergs, and the complexity and natural changeability of weather, I think that whether we start using Al Gore approved light bulbs or not, the horse is already out of the barn.

Vicious circles have been created and set to roll, and these vicious circles have spawned more and increasingly vicious circles, to the point that it might not matter what kind of response we humans make to the problem. A lot of scientists think it’s probably already too late. Scientists predict that island nations and low-lying nations such as Bangladesh will be inundated with water sometime this century, and that millions of people will become refugees. Perhaps Spain will have severe droughts, making farming there impossible. Millions may die in Africa as soil turns to dust. Drought in the Midwest could make America’s Depression era Dust Bowl seem like child’s play. Overpopulated China and India, with nuclear weapons held loosely behind their backs, might face off in competition for fresh water. While few will admit it, we are in an apocalypse, slow motion or not. However, Jeff Syrop has a solution!

Here’s the logical truth that’s been staring us all in the face since the end of World War 2:

The original 13 colonies were separated by days of travel time. Even with several fast horses in relay, it took longer than a week to go from Maine to Florida. And yet the regional leaders had the good common sense to realize that the colonies were proximate enough to benefit from federation. Now, all of the nations in the world are within a few hours from one another by jet—eat a meal, watch 2 movies, take a nap, and you’re there!—yet the governments (and even the people!) hang on to the ancient, divisive concept of nations, with all the waste, redundant infrastructure, superfluous bureaucracy, and danger that entails. We perpetuate the danger and chaos of the warring city-states of ancient Italy, when Venice and Florence fielded armies to fight, kill, and enslave each other’s citizens. The nations of the world need to federate and become states of a global government, just as our 13 colonies federated to become the United States and just as nations in Europe have become the European Union. It has to happen. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”. Martin Luther King said that.

“Federate or deteriorate”. I said that.

You can’t have a single ship commanded by several powerful captains, each with his own corrupt crew and violent militias. Especially when some of the most violent, powerful s militias are carrying weapons that would sink the whole ship if they were ever used!

“It is important to recognize in the face of dire predictions about a 2°C rise in global average temperature, that humans are a tropical species”, writes Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, Ph.D. “We evolved at the equator in a climate where freezing weather did not exist. The only reasons we can survive these cold climates are fire, clothing, and housing. It could be said that frost and ice are the enemies of life, except for those relatively few species that have evolved to adapt to freezing temperatures during this Pleistocene Ice Age. It is extremely likely that a warmer temperature than today’s would be far better than a cooler one.”

The crisis of global warming could be easily met by compassionate people! That’s the elephant in the room. I find it amazing that even loving progressives are behaving as if the only hope for saving humanity from climate change involves selling carbon credits, driving hybrids, and switching over to solar and wind power. I’m not denying that doing these things could be a big part of the solution (in a world where humans cooperated), but we have no idea whether it’s already too late for humans to prevent catastrophic global warming, and no matter what we think or know, there is no easy way, in our present political world order, to get China and India to stop building 2 new coal-burning power plants every week (according to a 2012 article in the New York Times).

Under a compassionate global government, large areas of human settlement could be relocated and the resettled humans retrained. Crops could be rotated and adjusted for new climates. These two short sentences pretty much spell out what humanity’s strategy should and could be!

It seems impossible for humans to live together as if Earth were one big country (actually a much smaller country, in travel time, that the 13 original colonies!). But it’s actually just as doable as the federation of the 13 colonies--I mean it’s not rocket science for nations to federate into a global government. And with a constitution that gives Mother Earth rights equal to the rights of humans, a constitution that maintains the cultures, languages, and traditions of every nation (as long as they are not harmful to Earth, oppressive to women, or detrimental to democracy), not only would the problems associated with global warming be solved, but we’d be living in a much nicer world. Racism would be as taboo as cannibalism. War would be as taboo as incest. Torture would be a horror of the past. What is so wrong or so impossible about having equal rights for all people on this tiny planet? When Jefferson wrote, “All men are created equal,” he didn’t mean only white European-American male colonists living on the east coast of North America.

The present nations would become states of the Nation Earth!

My wife Ruey and I drove our primitive internal-combustion-engine automobile all the way to Berkeley last Saturday just to have a good cappuccino, and we travel to Taiwan and Europe at the drop of a hat, so my carbon footprint is just as big as the next guy’s. But I would gladly support leadership that would melt down our cars to make amazing public transit, and require well insulated homes that create most of their own energy. I’m not attached to my cars. I consider them obscene. Even electric cars are obscene, since the world obviously cannot support electric cars for everyone. I’ve read that it would take 5 Earths for everybody to be able to have a car. We are practically forced to be accomplices to this global crime of car ownership because of the way our cities are designed around the car, but I believe we are guilty nonetheless. Cars are a sin, a way of enjoying the fruits of empire on the backs of the human beings living under the empire’s steel boots.

I hate being that loathsome character in shipwreck movies who takes more than his share of rations on the lifeboat while the other castaways starve. What this world can easily provide for everyone are eyeglasses, a laptop computer, a bicycle, a guitar, enough to eat, awesome education (with every kid over 9 having a wireless laptop and fast Internet, and all information available to all people), and decent medical care. And safety. No longer 200 separate armies, draining the wealth of their citizens and always, eventually, bringing them into bloody conflagrations, which not only destroy human bodies but the land itself. (Think of the thousands of tons of depleted uranium our munitions have spread all over Iraq—“Thank you Amerika for 10,000 years of birth defects! Yay for freedum!”) No, we Earthlings would have only one Earth National Guard, made up of soldiers from all over the world, training, serving, and bunking together, becoming like brothers and sisters and making lifetime international friends during their time in the service.

A friend asked me if I would consider being part of a one-way mission to live (and die) in a settlement on Mars. If I were a highly skilled old astronaut instead of a mediocre old tech writer, I’d consider it. Living on Earth is making me sad! It is beyond belief that we’re allowing a handful of billionaires to squeeze the last hydrocarbon energy out of Earth by fracking (hydraulic fracturing), simultaneously poisoning water tables across every continent! And mountaintop coal removal! And deep-sea drilling! It makes me sick. And if you really want to freak yourself out, listen for 50 seconds to what Harvard scientist Michio Kaku has to say about Fukushima.

Every planet inhabited by semi-intelligent life probably goes through its filthy energy stage. But I love it here! Earth truly is a Garden of Eden, albeit a tainted one. We let the billionaire psychopaths get away with it because we get something out of it too. I read somewhere that one gallon of gas is as powerful as having 38 guys doing manual labor for you for a week! Oil and coal are so fantastically powerful and still easy to get! Especially coal--you just cut down a mountain, and the coal under it is practically ready to use. It’s impossible for humans to leave the $10,000 tusks on elephants or the magically powerful oil and coal in the ground. So I don’t think things are going to go very well here for humans. I think the Book of Revelations has it right: the living will envy the dead. Yes, all inhabited planets probably go through their filthy energy stage, but on some of them—maybe only a very small percentage—the intelligent beings might be wise enough and compassionate enough to resolve their climate crisis before it turns into a full-on apocalypse.

For the beasts called humans to pass this hard test we’re facing, the idea of separate nations has to go into the junk drawer of history along with cannibalism, slavery, foot binding, religion, sexism, torture, racism, homophobia, child beating, animal abuse, etc. We are not doomed. The real hard-core psychopaths who are destroying the world probably make up less than .001 percent of the population. What kind of revolutionary is too much of a sissy to stand up to those odds? Even if only 5 percent of us woke up, we could crush their power almost effortlessly. They are controlling us like puppets. We can break the fucking strings by simply waking up and acknowledging the perils, most of them self-imposed, facing humanity. Look what the band Pussy Riot managed to do in Russia. Three brave young women got way more say and got to exert way more clout on the global stage than even the most powerful, corrupt Russian Parliament member! Millions of people worldwide are watching their videos.

And don’t write me off as an idealist. We’ve already created a global common currency. When I first married Ruey, 26 years ago, my VISA card didn’t work in her country. We had to use her parents’ Taiwanese VISA card. But now, whether I’m in a restaurant in Italy, a cafe in Taiwan, or a nightclub in China, my VISA card works seamlessly. Inside a Starbucks in China, I actually forgot I was in a foreign country and for a moment thought I was here in Hayward. The cafe looked the same, the clerks spoke better English than a lot of Hayward natives, and the Internet was fast!

The idea of world federation is nothing new. But it became an especially urgent issue after the Soviet Union tested its first hydrogen bomb, a thousand times more powerful than the cutely named atom bombs America dropped on Japanese civilians, “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”. In those days, egotistical people like me set about writing all kinds of declarations and constitutions, thinking they might be the next Thomas Jefferson and that their precious documents could actually become law. Thousands of people worldwide made an effort to learn Esperanto, a neutral, easy-to-learn global language created in the late 1880’s so that each human on the planet could talk to and understand every other human on the planet. What is new is the urgency of the situation. We know of many societies that have collapsed--the Mayans, the Incas, the Roman Empire, Easter Island, and the kingdoms of the pharaohs in ancient Egypt. But we have never experienced a planetary collapse. Now we’re about to.

I’m realizing that my world was relatively clean as I was growing up largely because America was so large and was still being settled, e.g., Los Angeles was mostly orange groves when my mother was born. When I was 16, living in Los Angeles County, one of my chores was to change the oil in our 2 cars. When I’d finish, I did as my dad (a chemist) taught me—I dumped the used motor oil in our back yard. This would be unthinkable nowadays—we know it goes right into the water table. But now we’ve settled the country, and now, almost simultaneously, we’re starting to frack our country and frack the whole world for the cheap, plentiful natural gas that is locked in the shale 2 miles below Earth’s surface. Fracking will poison the world’s water tables all at once. I’m realizing that my children will spend most of their lives in a very poisonous, carcinogenic world. Unless we federate.

Of course there is a horrible potential downside to global federation. Think North Korea. What if our new global nation evolved to become something like North Korea? There would be no other nation to escape to, no other nation to ally with to fight the oppressor. Humans could make a hell so seamless that it could last for millennia! I mention this, even though it weakens my argument for world federation, to show that I’m not going into this blindly. The new world constitution would have to be bulletproof, so that corporations could never rule over humans again, so that men could never rule over women again, and so that all children everywhere would be safe, healthy, and well educated. We would have to treat world federation with the care that we presently treat plutonium waste. The difference is that nothing good can ever come from having plutonium waste sitting around, lethal for a half million years, or from poisoning our water tables and aquifers for about as long, while it’s at least possible for the federation of humans to be a good thing. Think of some fun group camping trips you’ve been on! And think of America at it’s best! Despite its flaws, America is still perhaps the most successful experiment in human freedom ever. It might not have gone so well if the 13 colonies had stayed separate jealous competitive countries, each with its own militia.

Some problems have a set degree of severity, such as getting shot in the face with a shotgun. But the actual severity of what we’re being told is a cataclysmic doomsday problem ranges from critical to no big deal. Apocalypse or no problemo—it all depends upon the behavior of human beings.

The 97 percent of climate scientists along with all the progressives and intelligent people lined up with them are treating it as a foregone conclusion that if we don’t radically lower our rate of CO2 emissions, we will usher in an apocalypse. And that’s not necessarily so. In the struggle for humans to learn to live together as a civilized species, they’re throwing in the towel, as if that’s just an absolute impossibility, when actually living together in harmony and sharing like we were taught to do in kindergarten might be much easier than controlling the weather.

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova attacked by Russian Cossacks with horsewhips