In last week's Radio Ecoshock Show, we talked with Professor Michael T. Klare, about the looming possibility of social instability or riots, even here in North America. Can't happen here? There was a riot in downtown Montreal, Canada on March 15th. The march to protest police brutality ended up with smashed store fronts, burned police cars, and over 200 arrests.
Meanwhile the European think tank called "LEAP/Europe 2020" says America is likely to have outbreaks and riots due to a lack of a social safety net, in these difficult times, plus the hundreds of millions of guns owned by citizens.
We could discount this as just another think-tank ploy, but LEAP also predicted the sub-prime real estate melt-down in the United States. This time, as Claire Gatinois reports on truthout.org, quote:
""If your country or region is an area where firearms are in mass circulation" (among big countries, only the United States is in that situation) LEAP indicates, "then the best way to deal with the dislocation is to leave your region, if that's possible."
In any event, some Americans will "leave their region" simply because of hurricanes, droughts and recurring floods caused by climate change. In fact, that's already happening in the super-dry West, as well as Florida and the Louisiana coast. The first American climate refugees.
In this program we'll catch the latest wave. We interview one of the few independent environmental journalist still standing, Stephen Leahy. You'll hear what author and activist Bill McKibben told a business audience in Indiana on March 11th. And a scorching hot speech by Oakland activist Van Jones at the recent Powershift09 conference in Washington D.C. Right-wing radio nut Michael Savage calls Jones a thug. President Obama calls him his "Special Advisor on Green Jobs".
I've got lots of other audio goodies - and baddies - another roundup of Horrible Climate News, a laugh and a song. Radio Ecoshock.
But hey, are you sick of hearing about climate change? Polls show millions of people can't stand to hear any more about it, like this radio funster, Craig Mayhem. Mr. Mayhem doesn't like anything, as we find out from his classic 1 minute rants.
[Craig Mayhem Vs. Everything #6] [http://www.superfunpatrol.net/?p=973]
Actually, Mr. Mayhem is just sick of all the talk about whether it's cooling or warming. The planet is getting killed, he says, and he's fed up with the blather. Catch his other rants at http://www.superfunpatrol.net/. Superfunpatrol is a source for radio comedy, aimed at the college crowd, so little kiddies need not apply.
British writer slash activist George Monbiot says it's time to ditch the label "climate change" anyway. After realizing the Intergovernmental Panel, which governments have been using, completely underestimated the rapid impacts, Monbiot says, quote:
we have to stop calling it climate change. Using "climate change" to describe events like this, with their devastating implications for global food security, water supplies and human settlements, is like describing a foreign invasion as an unexpected visit, or bombs as unwanted deliveries. It's a ridiculously neutral term for the biggest potential catastrophe humankind has ever encountered.
I think we should call it "climate breakdown." Does anyone out there have a better idea?"
Climate breakdown, or climate shift. Whatever we call it, we're in for it.
THE HORRIBLE CLIMATE NEWS (for this week)
About 2,000 scientists went to Copenhagen last week, to raise public and government awareness of the climate crisis. We now know, and can prove with scientific measurements, that the sea level rise predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel report in 2007 was totally underestimated. Once we add melting of ice and glaciers, as you've no doubt heard, sea level could go over four feet higher on average in just one human lifetime - that is by the end of this century.
This news comes as many cities are rediscovering their ocean fronts, switching from unsightly industry and docks to upscale plazas and homes for millionaires. All that looks like another unsustainable bubble as scientists announce sea level rises of four feet or more by the end of this century.
I got into this discussion with one of Australia's leading city planners, Dr. Peter Newman. He was in Vancouver with his new book "Resilient Cities, Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change." Dr. Newman showed slides of imaginative ideas for redeveloping the shoreline of Sydney, but I wondered if all that would be underwater in our children's lifetimes.
[clip from Q and A following "Resilient Cities" speech at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, January 9th, 2009 - transcript:
of the slides that I've seen of urban concentrated development that you've
show, look to me pretty close to sea level.
But I'm thinking with sea level rise, we may be investing in something
we will have to retreat from."
Peter Newman: "We have quite strong planning laws that incorporate a one and a half to two meter sea level rise in all development. And we've had that in place for over a decade. It's not that to build that in.
I don't see that as being something that is impossible to overcome. Engineers love those kinds of problems, because essentially, you know, you build sea walls. And do what the Dutch did, you know they're twenty meters under.
They say Bangladesh is going to disappear, because of sea levels rising, and they are very close to it. But they deal daily with 13 meter tides, that's on average, 13 meters. So add another meter to that, how do you manage it? They manage it with huge mud banks which they build and constantly are rebuilding. Some of them break down in storms, but they're very clever at dealing with the Sea. They've had hundreds of years of dealing with that. And they will go on doing that.
I think we'll find ways of protecting our cities with sea walls, if it comes to that but I would hope that the one and a half kind of meter rise is all that happens because we get on and fix it. Fix the atmosphere."
That was Dr. Peter Newman, author of Resilient Cities, in a Q and A recorded by Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock in January 2009. You can download Peter Newman's complete speech as a free mp3. Look for our 2009 program archive, and select the show for January 16th.
I don't share his optimism about our ability to adapt. What if the economic crisis makes such super projects impossible to finance? What if governments are too in debt to build and maintain sea walls? Keep in mind that fossil fuels required for building mega projects are also running out as the century progresses. It seem more likely we will simply abandon flooded parts of the cities, as the sea levels rise more than expected, aided by stronger storms.
That is the conclusion drawn by California's Climate Action Team, in a report released in early March 2009, and reported by the Los Angeles Times on March 12th. The Times writes "Report recommends phased abandonment of coastal areas and moving state infrastructure inland." end quote.
Billions of dollars of infrastructure, from America's busiest port to freeways and office buildings, may have to be abandoned if the sea rises just 55 inches by the end of the century.
Another report by the Pacific Institute in Oakland predicted 100,000 residents would be directly affected, from well known neighborhoods like Marina del Ray and Venice. The airports in San Francisco and Oakland would go underwater.
The Climate Action Team suggested about 1100 miles of sea walls and levees costing $14 billion dollars. They also question whether the state should support any further development along the coast, and call for new construction to go further inland. Meanwhile, some of the poorest residents of the state, and some of the wealthiest, can expect damaging floods and storms due to sea level rise.
The Copenhagen scientists also warn that just two degrees of warming in the Arctic could start melting the permafrost - the frozen soil and plant matter that could release a storm of new carbon dioxide and methane into our atmosphere. It seems like that is inevitable. Science also projects that four degrees of warming would wipe out the Amazon rainforests - adding yet another massive dose of CO2 into the sky. George Monbiot suggests it is time to feel "sheer animal panic."
You may not be able to sweat about it though. Yale climate expert Steven Sherwood said that summer in parts of India, China and even the Eastern U.S. could get too hot for sweating. Since that is how humans cool off, these regions would become uninhabitable, Sherwood says. That happens if the Earth warms 7 degrees over pre-industrial levels. Sherwood told Britain's Guardian newspaper "There will be some places on Earth where it would simply be impossible to lose heat." "This is quite imaginable if we continue burning fossil fuels. I don't see any reason why we wouldn't end up there."
The key message of the concluding communication, from the Copenhagen Climate Science Congress, held March 11th and 12th:
“Recent observations confirm that, given high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realized. For many key parameters, the climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.”
You can understand why weak minds flip into utter denial. Who wants to believe this striking change is upon us - unless we give up fossil fuels. It's the same mechanism where nicotine addicts light up a smoke, as soon as they are out of the hospital after a lung transplant. We continue a lot of things that we know are killing us.
Plus, every day we stall, there's all that good motoring, and all that good oil money to be made...
If you were a 12 year old heading into the Net for information on global warming, of course you expect to find good information, moving info, on our climate challenge and what to do about it. Not. The Net, and especially You tube, is crammed with a chorus of denial. There are think-tanks, and hidden paid agents, who make sure new denial rants are posted every single day. And there are denial cranks who seem to post a link to their denial heroes every minute or two. Soon you end up with Texas talk show host Alex Jones, explaining global warming is a vicious plot by the world bankers to take over your freedom. The new collapse of these same banks doesn't seem to slow down the paranoid. Neither does mere science, or publicly available facts, like the melting Arctic Sea.
With your permission, I'm going to spend a few short minutes, to dive deep into the twisted reasoning of climate deniers. I won't bother with this guy, the official CNN denier that went over to Fox. [Glenn Beck sniveling]
We'll start with a clip from John Coleman, an aging meteorologist, long-time TV weatherman, and - claim to fame - a founder of the Weather Network. The Weather Network has long since parted with Coleman, and carries features on climate change. But Coleman is ready to battle the whole world about this horrible scam. Let's visit the brain of John Coleman.
[Coleman clip sorry no transcript – check out the radio show]
Isn't that what everyone wants to hear? It's all fine! Smoking is good for ya too!
Coleman says he'll have the last laugh 20 years - he'll be 95 if he last that long without being hung by some angry crowds in the heat.
As John Coleman, TV weatherman for KUSI San Diego explains, all those climate scientists are actually trying to overthrow the power of the United States, on behalf of the poor countries who covet our SUV's. And this guy gets tons of national TV time to spout what amounts to climate terrorism.
Look, if I go on national TV and say that buildings are always blowing up for one reason or another, so it's OK if you do it - I'd have the terrorist police breaking down my door. But John Coleman can tell you that greenhouse gases - your own automobile exhaust, has nothing to do with climate change. If he succeeds in slowing American action, yet again, he leaves a ruined planet for all coming generations. Isn't that climate terrorism? Isn't he an enabler for all the carbon addicts?
British academics just met in Bristol March 7th and 8th to analyze the psychology of climate deniers. To look at the mental mechanisms that make people deny the obvious. In my experience 99% of climate deniers men. The majority are old men, who can't accept their past has led to dangerous failure. They'll be dead soon anyway. Some of them have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the fossil lobby. Others feel they have been gypped of some important position, or wronged by so-called "liberals." The rest are much younger, acting out their rebellious phase, denying authority, and claiming attention for themselves. They may hope to become a new media figure, and post constantly, everywhere.
It gets much worse. Near the end of this program, I'll let talk show hate-leader Michael Savage explain the green plot in more detail, as he introduces our featured speaker, Van Jones.
First, let's chat with an endangered species. He's a reporter for the Independent Press, publishing stories in media all over the world. Stephen Leahy does the legwork, goes to meetings, interviews scientists, reads their reports, watching over the environment. He joins us from Canada.
Now I want to report on a new speech by author and activist Bill McKibben. On You tube, you can find part of his presentation to the Annual Business Conference of the Kelley School of Business on March 11, 2009. That's in Indiana.
Twenty years ago, Bill McKibben wrote the first book for non-scientists about climate change, titled "The End of Nature." The sound quality on the video is too crappy for radio, but I want you to hear his important conclusions. I've transcribed that talk - you can find it in my blog entry for March 19th - and I want to read it you now. That's what I do - passing on the latest news and views about what is happening.
Quoting Bill McKibben's latest speech:
"The real news, that you may not quite be aware of, is that in the last two or three years that diagnosis has darkened and darkened considerably. The scientists that I have been speaking to for a quarter century - people who have been sober and concerned and worried, are all of a sudden panicked when one talks to them on the phone, and the reason is it becomes very clear that both the scale and the pace of global warming [is] happening much more quickly than we had anticipated.
This is a grand huge experiment. What happens when you pump a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And so it is not surprising that there are surprises. It's too bad that all the surprises so far are on the bad side."
"Those feedback loops, and there are dozens of them, now are assuming a life of their own, and pushing us very close to the point where no matter what we try to do about climate, we won't be able to do very much because it will no longer be in our control. The best science tells us we still have a brief window where closing down our output of fossil fuels may allow us to get this problem back under control. But it is a very narrow window, closing much more rapidly than we thought.
And if we don't manage to hop through that window, the scale of impacts on the other side is enormous in ways that we're only now beginning to fully appreciate."
He describes a "cap and dividend" program which sounds very much like a transparent flow-through carbon tax - put in words acceptable to Americans. There would be a limit on the amount of carbon that can be releases - the cap. He prescribes a price for carbon - to be paid by energy producers like Exxon Mobil, who would pass that along to consumers, so the price of gas might go back to four dollars a gallon or whatever. The money raised would not go to the oil companies, or to Congress, but would be sent back as a "dividend" to every American.
"It's time limited. We have to reach a solution now, or it's no use reaching a solution. If we wait five or ten or fifteen years, and put that much more carbon into the system, okay, then it will acquire a momentum of it's own so great that nothing we can do in the outyears will have any measurable effect on what happens in the Earth physical systems."
McKibben points out that all other politics are negotiations between human beings. But the physics and chemistry of climate change not negotiable. The processes are what they are. If you add gasoline to a fire, there will be a bigger fire. We cannot compromise with the atmosphere or the oceans. Talk or negotiations are not possible. If we add greenhouse gases, the Earth will warm, and many systems that civilization depends upon will destabilize, and change beyond historic recognition.
It is not a debate between Conservatives or Liberals, McKibben says, or even between the U.S. and China. This is between humans, who emit carbon, and the atmosphere, which reacts to greenhouse gases in ways predetermined by the physics and chemistry of the Universe.
"It would be a great shame, [missing a word] - were we to leave it entirely to eighteen and nineteen and twenty year olds to try and make this happen. This is a problem that all of us caused, by a lifetime of living the ways that we've lived, and in any sensible Universe, it's up to us to try and make deep, powerful, brave changes in the very short time that we have."
That is how Bill McKibben ends the speech, delivered March 11th. Find this transcript in the Radio Ecoshock blog, or watch the speech on You tube.
Adding to the chorus, just this past week U.S. Senator John Kerry told Agence France Press that deferring action on climate change, just because of the economic crisis, would amount to, quote, "a mutual suicide pact." AFP quotes Kerry saying:
"Climate change is not governed by a recession, it's governed by scientific facts about what's happening to Earth. And you either accept the realities of the science or you don't."
Well, here is someone who doesn't. Michael Savage is a popular radio talk show host, syndicated across America. My listeners in Canada, Europe, Australia or Asia will be shocked at the amount of hatred spewed out on right-wing radio in the States. Here Mr. Savage, whose real name is Weiner, explains how President Obama is implementing Nazi-style fascism through green energy, and controls on greenhouse gases.
[Michael Savage Clip][Savage calls Van Jones a “thug” and then muses about Jones being given thousands of armed followers called the “Green Shirts” which he compares to Hitler’s “Brown Shirts”.]
Mr. "Savage" is actually a portly PHD, a doctor who doesn't practice. He has told listeners that he sleeps in different places, always with a big gun ready, in case of assassination. Actually a businessman in the health field, Mr. Weiner sold his brand of power drink to the Pepsi people. Big corporations sponsor Weiner's show, because his rants, which remind me of the Nazi propaganda minister Dr. Joseph Goebbels, draw an audience of a million or more. This green-hating, along with his hostility to homosexuals and Arabs, takes Michael Savage to the number three spot on talk radio in America.
That is what the scientists in Copenhagen, all the scientists around the world, including at the American National Academy of Science, is up against. If the denialists win, and the people turn to hatred, the world will be in flames in more ways than one.
Fortunately, we have other voices, and lately, these saner voices have won at the polls. Let us here from Michael's Savage's "thug" Van Jones. Van is an African American Activist from Oakland, California. He was early to say that the green movement needed to include people of color. That any big change in America would not work if it leaves the poor and the dispossessed behind. Hell, I'll let him tell you. Here is the conclusion of his speech to the Powershift 09 conference just held in Washington DC February 27th to March 2nd, 2009.
[Van Jones at Powershift 09]
Van Jones has been appointed as a "Special Advisor to the President on Green Jobs". The media wanted to call him the Green Jobs Czar - but Jones was quick to point out he would be more of a handyman. His mission is to facilitate the greening of many departments in the U.S. government. So that all of them get moving not only on the carbonless economy, but on green jobs for those who need them most.
That is a huge social program, and a long-time dream of social justice. Of course it isn't possible. In the same way that an African American man could never be elected President of the United States.
Maybe we can. There is no way to toss up a few solar panels and hybrids, and declare the consumer society green. It's going to take changes from everyone, just to survive the economic crash, the energy slide, and climate breakdown.
We'll have to stop arresting young people, and minorities for victimless crimes like pot. Yes, Van Jones, the millions of imprisoned Americans will need to be brought into the solution, along with the aboriginal people. Everybody. Otherwise, the billionaires make their last stand behind the remains of the military, and it's blood in the streets until the heat waves solve the human problem by ending it. Massive change or massive death, and we may experience both.
Should we change our slogan to "Yes We Must"?
Here is a word of hope from Peter Sinclair. Peter has a raft of good videos on You tube answering the phony claims of climate deniers. The famous hockey stick debate, the Medieval warming period, the urban heat island effect - all the myths those skeptics repeat over and over -demolished by Peter Sinclair's You tube videos, called "Denial Crock of the Week". Seek them and ye shall find. Peter says....
You can find lots of answers in our past Radio Ecoshock Shows. Our latest programs are downloaded a thousand a week from the free web site ecoshock dot org. Even Ecoshock Shows from two years ago, with experts on smog, global dimming, and surviving after the lights go out - get downloaded on average 200 a month. Find out for yourself what top authors and scientists are saying. Load up your computer or IPOD, at ecoshock dot org.
I'm your host Alex Smith, as we travel through the whirl-wind.
Don't forget, Saturday March 28th at 8:30 pm - it's Earth Hour. Turn off the electricity. About 100 U.S. cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Pittsburgh, Tucson and many more have signed up for Earth Hour this year. Another 1500 cities are going dark, with Berlin just signing on to turn out. Major U.S. companies, grocery stores and sports teams have signed up. Even the huge Coca-Cola sign in London's Piccadilly Circus will be shut off for only the third time since World War II. Find out more at http://www.earthhour.org/ - and get your city or company to sign up.
Let the world see we do care about the planet.