UN Panel's Dramatic Warning on Global Warming
By Dennis Loo (11/3/14)
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Sunday, November 1, 2014, issued its starkest warning to date. As the NYT described it today:
Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year.
Global warming is not something down the road. It's something happening now. Tens of thousands of people have died, as one indicator of this. Mass species extinctions are happening, for another. The ocean is acidifying and in danger of being unable to sustain life within a mere few decades, for a third. And we need not even go beyond the third to recognize the magnitude of this catastrophe happening as we speak and as we (still) live and breathe.
As the NYT article goes on to point out based on the UN report, what needs to be done now is drastic and the behavior of governments and oil companies are directly the opposite of this, adding up to a catastrophe of unparalleled proportions:
If governments are to meet their own stated goal of limiting the warming of the planet to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the preindustrial level, they must restrict emissions from additional fossil-fuel burning to about 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, the panel said...
Yet energy companies have booked coal and petroleum reserves equal to several times that amount, and they are spending some $600 billion a year to find more. Utilities and oil companies continue to build coal-fired power plants and refineries, and governments are spending another $600 billion or so directly subsidizing the consumption of fossil fuels.
By contrast, the report found, less than $400 billion a year is being spent around the world to reduce emissions or otherwise cope with climate change. That is a small fraction of the revenue spent on fossil fuels — it is less, for example, than the revenue of a single American oil company, ExxonMobil.
In the face of this worldwide emergency, we have the US government, beginning with Barack Obama, proclaiming the need for energy independence, "all of the above" oil extraction strategies, and touting the virtues of "clean" energy in natural gas obtained through - and Obama won't use the actual term because he knows how terrible it sounds - fracking, which in fact is exceedingly dirty and dangerous. The political candidates of both major parties, current office holders, economists, and media pundits all speak of "economic growth" and "jobs," rather the way a PR spokesman, if there were such a thing, for a cancer might speak about the need for the cancer to grow. In other words, if we compare the world to a patient being seen by a group of doctors, what we have instead of professionals seeing to the health and well-being of the patient, is a group of witch doctors who are concentrating on the health and growth prospects for a virulent cancer, trying to figure out how to make that cancer grow, rather than recognizing that the growth is a cancer that is killing the patient.
This site aims to accomplish two related goals. First, it complements Dennis Loo's book Globalization and the Demolition of Society so that people reading the book can get more deeply into it. (See navigation bar above, labeled "GDS Book Annotations"). We believe that his book is a landmark, providing a solid foundation for politics of a new path. Taking such a path is critical to humanity and the planet's future. As his book's dust jacket states:
[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
Second, in order to get at the truth and because the ways in which humanity's historic striving for understanding and its capacity to wonder and imagine are very rich and diverse, we seek to reflect that richness and diversity on our site. See "About Us" on navigation bar. We intend to be engaging and compelling, as the best investigative journalism and art are, and relentlessly scientific, rigorous, and direct, as those who cherish the truth are. We believe that we can be both accessible and sophisticated. As Loo lays out in his book,
Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 326-7)