Thursday, June 1, 2017
The industrial revolution – factories belching smoke making steel and tons of durables – made us rich. We spent a lot of that wealth, particularly after World War II, buying energy-consuming “stuff” to give ordinary Americans a quality of life unparalleled in history. Unlike Europe, which was focused on rebuilding war-torn cities, America was focused on upgrades and consumables. “The United States, with its love of big cars, big houses and blasting air-conditioners, has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet.
“‘In cumulative terms, we certainly own this problem more than anybody else does,’ said David G. Victor, a longtime scholar of climate politics at the University of California, San Diego. Many argue that this obligates the United States to take ambitious action to slow global warming.” New York Times, May 31st. The resulting greenhouse effect has desertified millions of acres of farmland, decimated humans, plants and animals alike. Malthusian population growth has only made a truly bad situation that much worse.
“‘It is immoral,’ said Mohamed Adow, who grew up herding livestock in Kenya and now works in London as a leader on climate issues for Christian Aid, a relief and development group. ‘The countries that have done the least to cause the problem are suffering first and worst.’
“Some backers of the [Paris climate change accord] argue that the large American role in causing climate change creates an outsize responsibility to help fight it, including an obligation to send billions of dollars abroad to help people in poorer countries.” NY Times. And there has been plenty of climate change “blow back” that directly and immediately impacts the United States and its purported allies rather directly.
You can point to wildfires and floods, an increase in the intensity of superstorms, migration of insects and disease (e.g., Zika-carrying mosquitos), storm surges and coastal land-mass loss, but most painfully, the desertification of farmland in some of the most vulnerable, poorest regions on earth. Add political volatility to the list. Look at the impact of the million plus people displaced from fallow and desertified farmland in Syria and Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq (ignored by their Shiite led-governments) – all directly related to climate change. And as we can see in the United States, farmer values – where God brings rain, favorable temperatures and abundance… or not – are heavily weighted in faith. It the lens from which they view their lives and the world around them.
Millions of abandoned people from abandoned farms – furious and left with little or nothing left to lose – have looked to radical militants for a violent solution, many turning their faith into rage at the rest of the world, and those who hold religious beliefs that challenge their own. Feelings of rage and self-righteousness, not a whole lot different from the most extreme evangelicals here or militant Jews in Israel sinking deep roots into isolated settlements on the West Bank.
In Syria and Iraq, these displaced farmers were easy recruitment targets for radical militants. As they railed against uncaring governments, those self-same governments rained killer toxins and barrel bombs on them, mostly hitting innocents simply wanting to be left alone. For many, their choice was to leave, escape, run… migrate to what they perceived were safer lands with opportunities to rebuild their lives. To run from the radicals. The virulent Western reaction against these immigrants, rapidly redefined as a cultural/assimilation incompatibility with a risk of radical infiltration, soon escalated to a more generalized anti-“Muslim” sentiment. The war of civilizations was well underway.
Why should we care? After all, the new America First policy is pulling us back from international treaties and entanglements. What’s the impact on the United States? We have self-proclaimed ourselves as Islam’s enemy. We have sent our armies to their countries, lent military aid to some of their oppressors and created national policies that make it clear that they are not welcome here. Our president wants to ban their travel here and wants those Muslims here to be responsible for any rogue Muslims in their communities. We’ve lost thousands of lives of our own soldiers, and more than a few American civilians, and spent trillions of dollars in never-ending wars with deeply unsatisfying results. We think we can eradicate ISIS and all will be good. Where have we heard that before? Forget war. Get back to the other impacts on our daily lives.
Meanwhile, nature is letting us know in the most unsubtle means possible, that global warming will continue to push oceans and seas inland… not just through more intense storms… but by adding millions and millions of square miles of new water to oceans. The latest threat is rising in the Antarctic, a massive ice shelf (pictured above from the BBC) known as Larson C, almost the size of the state of Delaware (if you are British, that’s about a quarter of the size of Wales), that actually sifted eleven miles in just six days at the end of May. The process of massive of ice breaking off is called “calving” for obvious reasons.
“Similar calving events on the more northerly Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves eventually led to their total break-up. Scientists are concerned that this same fate could now await Larsen C… Were the shelf to collapse (and even if it did, it would still take many years to complete), it would continue a trend across the Antarctic Peninsula… In recent decades, a dozen major ice shelves have disintegrated, significantly retreated or lost substantial volume - including Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller, Jones Channel, and Wilkins.” BBC.com, May 31st. If you live in coastal South Florida, you already know where this is going… first hand.
To the evangelicals who elected “Chinese hoax” myth-spreading Donald Trump to the White House, I ask, why is this happening if your view of the Bible, God’s purported “post-great-flood” pledge never to wreak such global havoc again, is correct? And why do the vast majority of evangelicals outside the United States… not to mention the official position of the Catholic Church under the Pope’s climate change encyclical… believe so firmly that man’s environmental abuse, the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, is the largest contributor to climate change? We understand large polluting manufactures not wanting environment regulations to increase their profits, but they have no moral compass in their lives. You tell the world that you are guided by morality… but…
I’m Peter Dekom, and at 3:35 pm EDT, President Donald J Trump joined the only two global holdouts to the Paris climate accord (Syria and Nicaragua versus the 194 nations that signed) to withdraw the United States from that accord, reinforcing our image as a global bully state gone rogue… and thus officially resigning as the leader of the free world… saying the U.S. might be willing, sometime in the future, to reconsider a completely reconfigured climate accord... maybe.