Downfall

October 20, 2013

Dali-31-giants-la-jolla-jewelryFoggy and quiet this early Sunday — California’s north coast right now in the faint light is enveloped in a deep-gray moist of a morning.
And not to mention, way-gothic.

Fits the mood all-around. I’m pretty-much tired of horrific, or near-horrific accidents involving fossil fuels, and there seems to be one every few days — the latest yesterday outside Edmonton, Canada, where railroad tanker cars loaded with propane and oil derailed. Explosions occurred, of course, and the subsequent fire caused the evacuation of a small community.
Although no injuries were reported, the fires/explosions off the rail cars are too hot to handle: “This fire needs to be extinguished by consuming the product,” said Jim Phelan, fire chief of Parkland County. “We’re going to let it burn itself out.”
And indeed, Chief Phelan uttered way more than a mouthful.

(Illustration found here).

The fog here this morning is so water-based, anything not covered is soaking wet. However, if today’s scenario is like the last few days, the shit will burn off in a couple of hours. Then intermediate sunshine and fog with chilled temperatures — forecast terminology it’s “partly cloudy,” but actually it’s “partly foggy.”

Up near Edmonton, though, the burn off won’t be that easy. Late Saturday, fire officials said it could be three days before residents of the tiny town of Gainford could return home — the fire should supposedly burn itself out sometimes today.
And this from CBCNews: Saturday’s mishap occurred two days after residents in the Alberta community of Sexsmith were forced from their homes when four CN rail cars carrying anhydrous ammonia left the rails. That followed the derailment of 17 CN rail cars, some carrying petroleum, ethanol and chemicals, in western Saskatchewan on Sept. 25.
The same railroad company for all those accidents.
And seemingly, choo-choo trains have become the favorite-chosen transport of fossil fuels:

Trains carried fewer than 20,000 barrels oil a day in the United States in 2008.
But by the end of last year, roughly 500,000 barrels of oil per day moved on the rails.

And that’s pure crazy — and greatly ironic, but not in a cute, funny way at all.

Odd how technology is like a drug for mankind — a better mouse trap, always striving toward that better mouse trap — or maybe a sweet poison. Odd, too, how I can sit here at my laptop and observe the end of an age, a quickening of civilization’s progress into one fell swoop. And in a seemingly-endless fusillade of media platforms, just about everybody can watch, too.
Nowadays, though, despite all this media, there’s a humongous elephant in a tiny, fragile room (and I don’t mean the dumb-ass Republicans) that no one in actual power wants to seriously admit even exists, because if they did — after shitting their pants — would swiftly mount a WWII-like campaign worldwide to keep the elephant in a calm mood until it can be safely removed from the room.
No one wants to recognize the elephant because it would mean nearly shutting down modern mankind — can’t/won’t be done. And as David Letterman so eloquently put it: “We are dead meat.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, always seemingly a feisty guy, in a wide-ranging interview in Playboy magazine, defined the reality of the moment — in a barrage of topical shit, from a political Supreme Court, to a “Robin Hood in reverse” society, he nailed the meat on the spit:

Big business is willing to destroy the planet for short-term profits.
I regard that as just incomprehensible.
Incomprehensible.
And because of their power over the political process, you hear a deafening silence in the U.S. Congress and in other bodies around the world about the severity of the problem.
Global warming is a far more serious problem than Al Qaeda.

Unfortunately, the Playboy interviewer guy didn’t pursue that particular line of thought — good read, though. Sanders has always seemed a good guy, talks good-real shit, but no one seems to really take serious. One of only two registered Independents in the US Senate, Sanders always flows progressive, but..:

Let me tell you a story outside of school.
I go to the Democratic caucuses every week, and every week there is a report about fund-raising—Republicans have raised thus and thus; this is what we have done.
In the six years I’ve been going to those meetings, I have never heard five minutes of discussion about organizing.
It’s about raising money.
Not five minutes to say, “Look, West Virginia, we have rallies, we’re doing this, we’re doing that, we’re knocking on doors.”
In six years, I have heard no discussion about that at all.

Thus, and so then, how could you even ever organize a drive to stop people from driving?
And climate change is one of those problems really just too big for the brain to grab hold and comprehend to its fullest — the action is seemingly sporadic and all over.
Even up here on California’s north coast — warmer temperatures without much rain. Long-time residents have told me it’s unprecedented. Yet the climate change elephant is getting obvious to everyone in the room, but yet no alarms?
Why?
Joe Romm at Climate Progress this morning points to at least one valid reason: The failure of journalism.
Crazy near-suicidal: You probably think it would be impossible for an entire news article on worsening street flooding in Miami to omit any mention whatsoever of global warming or even sea level rise. Think again.
He then accurately and correctly rips apart a story from the Miami Herald. Romm ends his post with a couple of snips from a detailed Rolling Stone piece last June on the horror-a-coming for Florida, and especially Miami, due to climate change and sea-level rise. And as Romm says, it’s a “must-read.”
One point that smacks of a nightmare:

Beyond all these fears that keep south Florida’s environmentalists and urban planners up at night, rising sea levels present an even more chilling threat to life in greater Miami.
Turkey Point Nuclear Plant, which sits on the edge of the Biscayne Bay just south of Miami, is completely exposed to hurricanes and rising seas.
“It is impossible to imagine a stupider place to build a nuclear plant than Turkey Point,” says Philip Stoddard, the mayor of South Miami and an outspoken critic of the plant.

In the sense of reality and make believe. Even with an acknowledgment of that 97 percent of world scientists say climate change is real and humans caused it, doesn’t make it go away, or even slow it down. Words and phrases turned over and over. Read a good piece on communicating the fact of climate change on the public at Mother Jones — seems there’s too much ideology involved even in acceptance.
The problem is stopping. Most-likely we’re beyond salvage.
A view from a short distance — via HuffPost:

There’s a lot of scary Halloween programming this month, but a new Weather Channel series might be the most frightening of all.
“The Tipping Points: 6 Places on Earth Where Climate’s Changed” is scary because it’s real, showing what global warming will do to the planet if it proceeds at the current rate — starting with the Amazon rain forest, where drought, fires, changes in carbon dioxide, and loss of biodiversity due to climate change are converging with disastrous consequences.

And from the Guardian about the same program:

The phenomena of “tipping points” follows the concept that, at a particular moment in time, a small change can have a large, long-term consequence on a fragile climate system already in a state of flux.
Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds.
Further, when the situation is pushed past the “tipping point,” it will potentially lead to a chain reaction, putting other ecosystems around the globe in peril.

And studies have seemingly-always shown climate change coming quicker than anticipated — one standard item for all the new scientific papers that come out has the harbinger that it’s happening faster than anyone originally figured.
And from a new study earlier this month: “The results shocked us. Regardless of the scenario, changes will be coming soon,” said lead author Camilo Mora. “Within my generation, whatever climate we were used to will be a thing of the past.”
As I said, odd to watch terrifying shit unfold in front of the eyes.
And how frightfully, unimaginable, Parkland Fire Chief Jim Phelan’s comment above in context of mankind’s seemingly insatiable-suicide thirst in “…consuming the product…” and burning out.

Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert, a former newspaper reporter and currently a writer for the New Yorker, touched upon the vital impacts of quick-approaching climate change more than seven years ago in her book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change,” a series of visits to places already-then effected by climate change.
A right-on snip from the New York Times review:

Some of the most downbeat (or realistic) observers are climate scientists.
“It may be that we’re not going to solve global warming,” Marty Hoffert, a physics professor at New York University, told Ms. Kolbert, “the earth is going to become an ecological disaster, and, you know, somebody will visit in a few hundred million years and find there were some intelligent beings who lived here for a while, but they just couldn’t handle the transition from being hunter-gatherers to high technology.”

And Kolbert ends the book in a subdued, but gut-wrenching way: “It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself,” she writes, “but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”

One small train wreck at a time.

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