MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Daily Beast, he plaintively contemplates what his young daughter will be confronting in the years ahead:Enviornmental journalist Mark Hertsgaard recently wrote a lamentation to future generations about the legacy of a lethal planet that we are leaving them. In
My daughter Chiara, the central character in HOT [Hertsgaard's 2011 book], is turning nine this weekend....
The grief and fear the [UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] IPCC report triggered in me stems from a central fact of our climate future: Everyone on earth below the age of 25 is already fated to spend much of their lifetime coping with the hottest temperatures our civilization has ever encountered. The laws of physics and chemistry—above all, the fact that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for many decades after being emitted—mean that even if humans stopped all carbon emissions overnight, global temperatures would nevertheless keep rising for at least 30 more years.
Now apply that calculation to the first great human disaster with a scientifically attributable climate fingerprint: the record heat wave that scorched Europe in 2003. It caused 71,499 excess deaths, considerably more than the number of U.S. casualties in the Vietnam war. But thanks to the physical momentum of climate change, the record heat of 2003 will be routine before Chiara is my age. By 2050, Europeans will experience summers as hot as 2003 one year out of every two.
The higher temperatures locked in for the forthcoming decades will, in turn, unleash climate impacts that will affect every person on earth.
Hartsgaard's gloomy recognition of the reality that runaway industrial civilization has sown is only moderately tempered by the hope of an uprising resulting in immediate action to mitigate the ever-brewing perfect storm of desolation:
Sadly, even these victories cannot alter the projections the IPCC has made for the next 30 to 40 years. The physical momentum of global warming means that our actions going forward can affect only how the second half of this century unfolds. Will the impacts described above be the peak of the climate crisis, to be followed by a period of recovery and rejuvenation? Or will they be merely the dark prelude to an even darker future? That choice remains ours to make, and for Generation Hot, it could make a world of difference.
Recently, BuzzFlash at Truthout has been posting commentaries pulling the alarm on global warming, including: "President Obama Is Endangering Future Generations by Ignoring Climate Change," and "How Climate Change Will Kill Us in the Dumbest Possible Way." As BuzzFlash at Truthout has noted, the corporate mainstream media is engaged in sensationalistic multi-week hyperbolic 24-hour coverage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 passengers presumed dead. Their passing is to be mourned, but what about the precipice of a global cataclysm that we are perched upon?
There is little to be said about that in the media, particularly on television news -- which is really just another form of entertainment for the most part. The coverage of the highly possible annihilation of millions of people and coastal cities throughout the planet does not boost ratings (and advertising dollars) - and many of the corporations that own the media are interlocked with or have membership in the same 1% elite club as the fossil fuel industry.
It is a political cliche of politicians to run for office and declare that they are doing so for the future of their children and grandchildren - and for the well-being of ours. However, the reality is that these same politicians in the US and around the world are leaving a toxic legacy for their descendants - and ours.
We are seeing the Arctic ice disappear and the Greenland glacier (the largest on earth) melt to the point that the oceans are rising. We are feeling the tempestuous response of the weather to a carbon-filled atmosphere, with droughts and record heat waves lining up like tombstones.
Technology and oligarchical rule have brought us a preoccupation with the current moment and a political lethargy for those who are falling economically farther behind. Last week's recent Supreme Court ruling allowing the wealthy to openly buy the government may increase the sense of helplessness among the 99%.
It is a forlorn picture unfolding as our Earth devolves from a nurturer of life to a noxious force of destruction.
Elizabeth Kolbert, environmental reporter for the New Yorker, had her book, "The Sixth Extinction," recently featured as a Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week. In an article this week, she writes of the incentives that the US government provides to the fossil fuel industry that increase carbon production:
Currently, instead of discouraging fossil-fuel use, the U.S. government underwrites it, with tax incentives for producers worth about four billion dollars a year. Those tax breaks are evidently ludicrous, and they should be repealed. According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. is the world’s largest single source of fossil-fuel subsidies; the I.M.F. has estimated that eliminating such subsidies worldwide could cut carbon emissions by thirteen per cent.
Kolbert is not optimistic about this ship of atmospheric and oceanic self-destruction changing course anytime soon:
The fact that so much time has been wasted standing around means that the problem of climate change is now much more difficult to deal with than it was when it was first identified. But this only makes the imperative to act that much greater, because, as one set of grim predictions is being borne out, another, even worse set remains to be written.
Against those who would leave our children and grandchildren a world of death, hardship and unfathomable disaster, there is only one course of action: resistance.
Otherwise the gluttonous carpe-diem-minded oligarchy will delude the world - and human life - into oblivion.
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