Friday, September 16, 2011

Oh, That

(photo from

I was home after work last night and watched some of Rev. Al and this and that, chilling basically with a Ranger IPA, considering whether I had enough energy to go out and pick up some branches that are piled up to move to a better place. About quarter to 8 I remembered the Al Gore global warming special on the Current channel and turned that on. There's Mr. Gore in the midst of a summary of the last ten years on the climate front. Science is still in agreement--it's getting warmer. Records are being set at a pace of 50 highs for each one low. Twelve different chains of data, being compiled by who knows how many serious researchers in who knows how many places, all converge. The graph keeps going up.

A couple of weeks ago some spokesman for some Tea Party outfit said that the President was "abusing" his disaster-declaration powers. "We're having too many disasters these days," the guy said. I guess the idea was, you have to pick two of the three from box 2011: North Dakota record flood, Joplin tornado, or Vermont hurricane. Tuscaloosa? Sorry.

Saw a piece on our local bulletin board where somebody posted a long interview with Dean Baker, a respectable economist, concerning the general economic situation. It was a long thoughtful piece. At the end of it some wag had written, "what do you expect from a socialist?" Earlier I listened in a vague way to Michael Steele shout down Chris Matthews as Chris tried to observe that Mr. Perry seems to revel and indeed embellish his credentials as a dumbass, by claiming in a speech that he finished tenth in a class of 13. Chris was trying (in a fairly unclear way unfortunately) to draw attention to the fact that being a dumbass is now a positive credential in many quarters, perhaps hoping there'd be a serious discussion of why that is. Mr. Steele, who of course used to be a big-cheeze Republician, used the tried and true Tea Party tactic of shouting Mr. Matthews down, and on his own show no less.

It was interesting to see Mr. Gore on the teevee. Of course he's been on the teevee a good bit this week. He was on Colbert a couple of days back, promoting the big climate thing he was doing. As I said, I'm sorry I forgot to watch the whole hour, or to check in on the computer to the 24 hour marathon that was taking place--an attempt to remind people that the climate is still here, still evolving, and not in our favor. As Mr. Gore noted in the bit I did see, while there's a possible world out there somewhere where reality might actually be ignorable, it's not this earth we live on.

And it struck me this morning, waking up as I tend to with some sort of idea my mind has constructed out of the rubble of yesterday, that perhaps the very strange singularity that was the 2000 Presidential Election was the most important event of the past decade. November 2000, now so long ago and over the horizon of 9/11/01, which we were told over and over again changed everything forever, was when we first started living in the politics of denial. The first denial was that Mr. Gore had actually won that election, which was apparent to anyone who simply looked at the facts. Yet our supposed free press agreed among itself not to question a Supreme Court decision which the Court itself asserted had no precedent-setting characteristics--itself a patent anomaly. Then, after a muddled few months which are still historically obscure, but which feature a strange and almost single-minded effort to ignore the concerns being raised by our own intelligence resources concerning al Qaeda, came the shocking attacks (and some other enhancing events, such as the anthrax terrorism). Shortly thereafter, we were engaged--locked one could say--in two wars in the oil-producing region of the world.

Over the decade, what had been a more and more pressing issue--global climate change--receded into the mist. Indeed, in Republican quarters the issue of global climate change has been reduced to a "hoax." On MSNBC these days--the "liberal" channel, the one which addresses quite a few of the questions that ought to be addressed at least--a major sponsor is the carbon based fuel industry, in the form of kindly scientist types explaining how fracking is safe and will liberate a 100 years of natural gas, and how we have more oil than anyone else on the planet if you count our vast resources of "tar sands," which only need "liberating" in some complex way only engineers can understand. On every quarter the basic idea is, there will be cheap fossil fuel, and soon, and it'll last far longer than the flow of social security checks.

Mr. Gore's message, that the world should consider actually changing its mix of energy resources in some meaningful way, that we should adopt available and emerging technologies which do not produce green house gases--that idea has in the United States been pushed under the rug. And if you think about it, Mr. Gore and his message, that we need long-term decision-making about our energy consumption and energy methodology before it kills us, is as "denied" today as his victory in 2000.

And one might wonder if there's a relationship, if that November, 2000, wasn't a kind of historical pivot point, at least for the country--the US--that in many ways leads the world. Or did. It's not clear, is it, if denialism can be said to lead anywhere for very long.

My late friend Bob Barrett said that if Rick Perry is elected, we will just get what we deserve. Mr. Boehner said yesterday that industry was "on strike" because of government meddling. Mr. Perry wants to end "government regulations." Presumably that would include pesky pollution regulations, on internal combustion engines and smoke stacks, not to mention those damn child safety seats we struggle with for no good reason. In India whole families ride around on motor scooters. Think of the savings! Mom, dad, and the three kids can all scoot to the factory and get to work. Perhaps some weekend when we get Saturday off we can run the tivo back to Mr. Gore's speech, and all get a good chuckle, before the power goes off at 10 pm. It's for our own good, and the country's. We all need to be fresh for work at 7 am.

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