Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Much To Scream About

Edvard Munch had it right:

Toronto Star letter-writers tell us why:
Tues., May 8, 2018
Earth’s carbon dioxide levels reach highest point in 800,000 years, May 5

The front page of the Sunday Star includes a large colour photo of the Raptors game and an article on left-handed hitters in baseball. It’s not until page four that we learn of Earth’s CO2 levels reaching a historic high. Is there really no one at the Star who understands the extent of the impending disaster facing global human civilization caused by the war against the biosphere in general, and climate change in particular? How might the public’s consciousness change if this were front-page news every day of the week, every month and every year?

Raphael Vigod, Toronto

If you are sure climate change has already begun, as I am, then you know how deep the denial of vested interests goes. Their denial is more about money probably than smarts, I bet. But they are playing with fire nonetheless. If Greenland were to melt the oceans would rise 20 feet and even worse if Antarctica were to melt ocean levels would rise another 200 feet. This would be unconscionable and simply cannot be allowed to happen in a logical world. The vested interests will not let go of their entrenched capitalist views. Even the oil companies such as Exxon and BP are currently being sued for rising sea levels. It is too late to change the trend toward CO2-caused climate instability, but that does not mean we cannot turn things around before the big melt.
Greg Prince, Toronto


  1. I sat down this morning prepared to re-enter the fray. I ran into a wall. What is there to say anymore that hasn't been said or written or experienced at some level often many times in recent years?

    Have we reached a point today where anyone who doesn't know is someone who doesn't want to know?

    We can feel it creeping up on us. It's discernible to our senses: sight, touch (temperature), smell (wildfire smoke), hearing (the sound of those damned sea lions at dawn every morning). It announces its presence on every cognitive level.

    And what of our response, voluntary and involuntary, conscious and unconscious? It triggers a range of emotional responses: denial, anger, frustration, fear; even the coping mechanism called "creeping normalcy" that allows us to both absorb it and forget it.

    I read a report this morning that it is Trump Country, the Deep South states, that will be the worst hit by climate change impacts. There's something along the same lines underway in British Columbia where the pro-pipeline group populates the redneck interior. They're currently enduring flooding now from the premature melt of the mountain snowpack. They'll hardly have that out of the way than it will be wildfire season. I read something yesterday about the respiratory damage they're receiving from all that smoke. Thanks to prevailing westerlies, the anti-pipeline coast is generally spared that danger. They do support fracking. They do support the oil, gas and coal industries. They do support pipelines. It's the "logical and foreseeable consequences" argument, I suppose.

    The next twenty years will not be like the last twenty years. The next ten years won't be like the last ten years. We're now swept up in this "Great Acceleration" business. We've been warned there's nothing linear about this process. This goes in bursts, fits and starts, and so you rarely know what's next until you're living it.

    As a scientific problem, it's not linear. Only we treat it as a political problem and, in that milieu, we treat it as entirely linear. And because we see it as linear we set out political targets of 1.5C or 2C and political target dates of 2025, 2030, 2050, etc. that may bear faint resemblance to physical reality.

    Because we've framed this as a political issue with political solutions, we're avoiding the totality of the threat and its enormity. We're going to focus on climate change, actually just a couple of aspects of it, not the whole thing. We're going to completely tune out over-consumption and overpopulation. We're not even looking for global solutions to this global problem. Every nation is supposed to do its own bit. Why? Because a truly global response would raise no end of equitable issues and we're not sharing our bounty with those other poor sods. We are not going to atone, we are not going to offer more than token redress.

    We are going to watch them die.

    1. I agree with your pessimism here, Mound. I share the frustration you feel over those who are willfully ignorant of the true scope and magnitude of the problem engulfing the world. As well, I despair in my belief that even the smallest changes in lifestyle and convenience is beyond the intent or desire of most people. If that is true, the much larger changes needed to avoid the worst that climate change will impose are mere thought experiments that will never be realized.

      People still seem to be stuck with the idea that the worst will wait until 2050. You and I both know that is not true, thanks to the feedback loops already set in motion. When the worst arrives, people may feign bewilderment, but they will not have to look beyond the mirror to see where responsibility lies.

  2. Unfortunately, Mound's last sentence seems to be a forgone conclusion. We are going to watch them die.

    1. If we do, we must do so in the full knowledge of our complicity, Owen.