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The Pentagong Show

The Pentagong Show
United State of Terror: Is Drone War Fair?

Monday, November 4, 2013

6 Degrees of Desperation.

Plumes of Doom

While Sam Carana keeps us informed of the troubling increase in the amount of methane over the Arctic Ocean that have continued at high levels all through the month of October, the World Bank is quoted in the documentary "The Tipping Point", (or "Last Hours" ,the author of the article on the documentary, Gary Houser, is unclear on this point) as issuing a "Vehement Warning" that we are on a course to easily top 5 degrees Celsius warming by the end of the century. Now, this is the same World Bank that employed Larry Summers who, during his tenure, infamously released a memo trumpeting the compelling logic of moving heavily polluting industries to low-wage, no-healthcare economies, ones whose denizens didn't have the ability to regulate industrial emissions, as the economics of caring for a debilitated and repressed population made so much more dollars and sense than one in which citizens were aware of the damage to them and their environment and could gather the political will and legislative ability to enact laws to control it. Employing this policy in China, resulted in the removal of millions of rural peasants who had lived hardscrabble lives of penury to cities where they would then require electricity, cars, and air conditioning.  The rural environment they left behind to become low-wage drones is now incapable of sustaining human life because projects such as the Three Gorges Dam (built with the help of World Bank loans) has destroyed any ability the land once had of providing human sustenance. 

Because of these and similar policies around the globe, human-generated emissions are now pushing as much carbon pollution into the atmosphere as the Siberian volcanoes that caused the Permian extinction that almost wiped out all life on earth. Our solution? Electric cars. However, if every person currently driving were to switch to an electric car tomorrow, the amount of CO2 dumped into the atmosphere from their manufacture and the cost to scrap the current fleet of 3-ton behemoths now clogging the highways would result in an even higher temperature by the end of the century, because the mindset that believes that electric cars solve the problem holds as firmly to the belief of infinite economic expansion on a finite planet as those wheeling around in hummers. If you doubt this, I invite you to look at the response of every OECD country to the economic depression: ramp up auto manufacturing, with the US leading the way with its bailout of its Auto industry and simultaneous dropping of interest rates, resulting in them practically driving the new cars to their customers' doorstep (it was called Cash for clunkers, in which no cash was ever paid, and the cars scrapped were not clunkers). 

That's why, in the Arctic Ocean, those plumes pictured above are of an unprecedented kilometer in breadth, spewing methane, (a gas with heat-trapping potential 23x's that of CO2) right into the atmosphere, without first being oxidized in the surrounding waters, as the Arctic seas are shallow, and the World Bank thinks there's something we can do to stop it?  The 3M's of militarization, mechanization and monetization propelling the modern world in its mad drive to destruction, the only forces capable of stopping the onrush to obliteration, are the very forces whose intractable nature and unassailable "might is right" mentality have driven us to this precipice we now stare at our own doom from. They are not about to alter their course of triumphal conquest and fascist control of the levers of existence that we've so foolishly thrown into their laps. There will be no abatement of the amount of CO2 being pumped into the troposphere, no diminution in the push for more economic growth, larger populations to keep that growth going, requiring more fossil fuels being burned every year, as an ever increasing amount of energy must now be burned simply to get more energy simply to burn in the chemical weapons of mass destruction usually referred to as automobiles.

If this seems outlandish, think about the US, whose stated purpose is to push for Democracy around the world, using the World Bank as its tool, which  increases the amount of fossil fuel burned by any newly liberated populace. Whereas in the US itself, where a mere 5% of the world population burnt thorough 25 percent of the World's resources, has, in the space of a decade, dropped that percentage to 20 percent. This is why the energy boom they boast of has allowed oil imports to decline so dramatically: because it's camouflaged the decrease in the mobility of the average US citizen, reflected in a 1.5% decrease in miles driven since the engineered financial collapse of 2008, which has caused energy demand to shrink for the first time since that other depression, the one we call Great.

Unable to command the resources they so recently did, driving, in the land of the Freeway and drive-in, well, everything - even chapels for crissakes - has somewhat abated in the largest energy user on the planet while, simultaneously the other economies of the globe reel in a Great Recession, otherwise known as a depression, just not a great one, yet the amount of fossil fuels being burned is still increasing, not decreasing. Should the economy of even one of the OECD economies actually show some real, not shenanigan-contrived, growth, that fossil fuel burning would dramatically increase, leaving us in the untalked-of conundrum we've been in since the beginning of the financial crisis: namely, without burning more fossil fuel, not only can Western-style economies not grow, they must, by the very nature of the credit-system upon which they're based, collapse in on themselves as they borrow greater and greater sums of flim-flam money even as more and more people who never even thought about it before, realize that the system upon which we are relying to pay those loans back leads us down the path of self-immolation.

 Where we go from here, even the divergent paths we might take to bring about one outcome as opposed to another, are something only the mind of a Jules Verne or H.G. Wells might conceive. But what the stark reality is looks to be of a nature that we would rather not discuss, which means that in certain circles it has not only been discussed, but plans have been made, and actions have been taken to bring about the circumstances under which those plans might come to fruition. And we can be fairly certain that most of us are not included in those plans. For as sure as it is that should the population of China alone aspire to the standard of living of the United States, we would need the resource equivalence of 5 earths, more and more it looks like we won't even have one. The ruling elite know this. Have known this. Because as it has been true for more than a generation. What do you think they have in mind? What would you do? Perhaps pick off the heaviest users? Those who have claims but are helpless to keep those lawful claims from being reneged on? Yes. The baby-boom generation that rode to prosperity on a wave of fossil fuels is the one targeted to take the hit.

Perhaps that's justice. But it smells an awful lot like betrayal to me. Mostly because of the way we're going about it: denial. Pretending that the pre-2008 atmosphere of scamming every investor who buys fraudulent paper and then watching as they leverage their own borrowings, using the purported value of that paper as collateral, is decidedly not the way to future prosperity, yet it is in doing precisely that that we have hypnotized ourselves into believing our salvation lies. No other plan has been forthcoming, no other rescue mechanism is ever discussed, because, having promulgated a system in which only greed has any force or any credence, any notion of sharing the load, or sharing the responsibility and therefore the fruits of our labor are looked at as suspect.  As they should be. Because the Liberal notions of Government programs of sharing are, like globalization itself, hugely wasteful of resources, and waste on that scale drives Climate Change. So then, What?

 We really need to ask some hard questions, about our political institutions, our economic arrangements, even the structure of the State itself. That is what the economy is telling us, if we would only listen. The mean-spiritedness and rank theories of the RandPaulRyan brand of German-style imposed austerity rankle a polity enamored of government programs and institutionalized welfare. Yet we do ourselves a disservice by simply sneering at them for their pettiness and small-minded simplistic answers, because they're reacting to something the rest of us have chosen to ignore: the very basis of our Democracy, the monetary system itself, which is the mechanism by which the stored value we've worked so hard to amass is transmuted into our future welfare, in the form of pensions and elder-care programs, is broken. And it's broken because of the subterfuge it has decided to engage in to pretend that the promises made in a world comprised of industrial economies running on  $11/bbl oil can be kept in one paying more than $100/bbl oil. They can't. And so the generation to whom those promises were made must be destroyed. This is in the process of happening right now.  We need to go about things in a different way, and to find that way, we need to talk about everything we assiduously ignore. But instead we fritter about and concern ourselves with the trivialities of sports teams and "Breaking Bad" marathons. We Really have to talk here, and we just ... simply ... aren't.

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