Saturday, February 15, 2014

Disaster Capitalism Lives

Climate Change is Coming For You

Mostly, it seems like disasters happen to other people.  Well, they don’t.  Sometimes they happen to you.  It’s not god’s wrath or the devil walking the world.  You didn’t sin, at least not in a Biblical sense.   Its global warming and its not kidding.

Here in quiet Minneapolis we have had 9-10 weeks of the polar vortex.  People mostly haven’t been going anywhere.  We are shut-ins.  This is dangerous weather.  Some people have frozen to death.  Others amputated for frostbite.  Fires that take lives.  Fear of gas or electrical failure.  Propane supplies running out in rural areas.  In the last few years we’ve had two tornadoes enter the city, which is unprecedented.  Last summer a wind storm blew down thousands of trees, blocking streets and knocking out power.  Also unprecedented.  Now, nothing like Hurricane Sandy.  Or, evidently, that snowfall in Atlanta that paralyzed the city and the airport.  Or, California, which is suffering another year of severe drought, shutting down some vital agriculture.  The east coast has been hit with more snow than they are used to, leading to the most travel delays at airports - ever.  Go abroad?  Same story, starting with the endless floods in the UK, the wettest in 200 years.  These are symptomatic issues.

Most astute meteorologists understand that the vortex has been caused by the weakening of the barrier between cold and warm weather due to the warming of the arctic regions.  This has changed the jet stream, pushing it south, making it lazy, bringing with it polar air.  In parts of the arctic the weather is warmer than Minnesota.  Temperatures in the Arctic and Siberia are running 10 degrees above normal.  Valdez, Alaska had the largest snow slide ever, blocking the only highway into town.  It took them a week to remove.  It was caused by rain and 50 degree temperatures.

Most sentient people know that something is up, even by their own limited personal experience. You can start a disaster shelf - and I recommend it - but that is not the only thing to do.  Oil lamps, canned food, face-masks, crank radios, gas generators, gas and water carriers, soap, stored vodka, etc. only go so far.

So where are our political ‘leaders’ on this issue?  The Democratic Party and its leadership voice support for the idea that climate change is man-made.  However, the practical actions it takes are ‘as if’ they don’t understand what that actually means.  I don't think they actually believe their own position!  They only say 'they understand' to snow Democratic voters.  It seems to work – over and over again.

John Kerry’s State Department just OK’d the XL Pipeline in a flawed study.  The ‘logic’ here is that there are no lines to draw in any sand – ever.  This pipeline will pump out massive amounts of coal tar oil from the Canadian tar sands – mostly for export to other countries.  This process pollutes the McKenzie River basin and is highly-carbon intensive.  (Review of book “Tar Sands – Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent,” below.) 

President Obama is negotiating a secret “Trans Pacific Partnership,” which nearly every environmental organization in the U.S. has condemned.  Many of these organizations supported Obama in 2012 and 2008.   In essence, the TPP allows the capitalists to bypass any local environmental standards in the interest of trade.  It privatizes more plants and animals, otherwise known under capital as ‘intellectual property.’  It has no cost structure for environmental damage.  It backs down on population control, logging and the killing of endangered animals. 

This treaty is being negotiated by Michael Froman, a former Citigroup executive, National Security Counsel member and Harvard law school buddy of Obama’s.  Froman worked for Citigroup during the sub-prime mortgage crash.  To help him, Stefan Selig, a Bank of America investment banker has just been nominated to become the Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce.  Selig received more than $9 million in bonus pay when he was nominated to join the administration in November. THESE are YOUR trade representatives!  

Then there is the ‘petcoke’ export issue.  Petcoke is the dirtiest waste coal in the world, and the Obama administration allows it to be exported to other countries for use as a dirty and inefficient fuel. You see, it is even too dirty to be used in the U.S. Who is the major beneficiary of petcoke?  Koch Industries and the Koch brothers - see the recent issue of Rolling Stone.  Now do you think the effects of petcoke will ever get back to the U.S.?  Do the clouds of pollution from China drift across the Pacific Ocean?  Duh.

So there is a nice connection - the Koch Brothers and the Obama administration.

The Republicans are not the only problem.   The addiction to the Democratic Party by so many ‘progressives’ is not going to solve the issue.  Anyone who poses these issues as Party issues, where one Party is only at fault, is really not being objective at all.  Party loyalty is a great substitute for accuracy.  There should be a penalty for ignoring your base, but the spineless patriots of the Democratic Party evidently like being ignored.  Both Parties, in different ways, are in criminal cahoots with extractive industries.  They truly represent two wings of one class. The hard truth is we need a new mass working-class political formation in the U.S. to make any headway against global warming.  It may be too late, but even in that context we need a way to defrock these frauds when climate ‘change’ becomes a continual climate disaster.  Let start by giving the Koch Brothers a real job, like resealing the Alaska pipeline by hand.  It will be hard for them to leave their Park Avenue apartments, but that’s the breaks. 

Red Frog
February 15, 2014

No comments: