Politics is dead. Run for office.

September 8, 2005 at 10:22 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off

Maybe I should have been glad about not getting tv — it actually allowed me to live in a bubble of sorts — but now I see all the relevant tv news snippets on One good move, and they hurt. For example, this latest gem: a news guy verbally sparring with some ass from the DeadWhiteHouse: the news guy asks a straightforward question, and the DeadWhiteSpokeGuy responds with evasive nonsequitors about how he is not going to “play the blame game.” He never answers the question, of course. (The question was, “does the Shrub …ok: President …still have complete confidence in [Mr. Horsecrap FEMA chief] Brownie?”) Of course it’s infuriating to see this deadwhitejerk try to avoid answering the question, which is straightforward and basic. That’s a given. And of course it’s equally (if not more so) infuriating to see this same deadguy believe, at some level, that he’s succeeding (and to wonder how he can continue to live with himself).

But what’s really really painful is to see the death of politics live and in action — inaction — here, in these tv enactations. Politics has been slaughtered by this administration (if one can call it that). Katrina shows that politics is dead, absolutely dead in America. The country is moribund. There is no politics anymore, it’s all sham, show, and bullshit. Politics is real, for crying out loud: it’s about negotiation, participation, give and take — it’s not about blind and utter control. But this banter or whatever you want to call it is unreal, and illustrates that politics has devolved to the level of fantasy.

This administration — even if not solely responsible, because admittedly this didn’t happen overnight — has shown once and for all that politics is dead. Henceforth it’s either all smoke and mirrors, or plain brute force. No inbetween. Good faith is dead and buried, as is negotiation, strategy, and all nonviolent transfer of power. Dead, politics gone.

As long as dead politics means that nonviolent transfer of power is impossible, the best thing the “average” person (who really doesn’t want more violence) can do now is to become overtly political, even if it’s uncomfortable: to revitalise politics by getting involved in political leadership at every level of government. This state is not going to be revived or revised from the top down. The patient is too far gone for that.

Climate change and Katrina

September 8, 2005 at 9:32 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off

Somewhere recently I read that “The hurricane that struck Louisiana (…) was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming.” Turns out that was from an article by Ross Gelbspan in the Aug.31 edition of the Boston Globe. It’s copied on Winnipeg’s Indymedia site. Gelbspan itemises a litany of climate anomalies — from inconvenience to disaster — although none reached Katrina’s epic proportions. (Perhaps because human-caused incompetence lacked room to spread out…?)

Meanwhile, the August 31 issue of The Victoria News carried a front-page article about Dr. Terry Prowse, a University of Victoria geographer, who serves on the National Science Foundation Arctic System Science Committee, and whose findings on Arctic ice-melt were just published in the August 23 issue of Eos. Even if I grant that the newspaper reporter’s opening sentence is sensationalistic — or opportunistic, given that Katrina had just hit Louisiana, purportedly as a weaker-than-predicted disaster — he undeniably hits an anxiety homerun with this lead-in:

By the time today’s children have a mid-life crisis — around age 50 — they’ll feel the effects of dramatic climate change that will make Hurricane Katrina look like child’s play.

Katrina, child’s play?

Well, it’s not just the weather, is it? It’s also what we humans make of situations: the aftermath.

As for catastrophic climate change: the effect of the de-icing that has already begun in the Arctic will be felt by millions of people who live in coastal cities. Obviously, the ocean has a direct effect on the weather we’ll experience.

The ultimate question is whether Katrina’s power reflects human-caused global warming, or is at minimum a harbinger of the kinds of storms we can expect in a warmer world.

No single freak storm can be attributed to global climate trends. But for hurricanes to form, the surface temperature in the tropical Atlantic must exceed about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. That is more likely in a warmer world.

The best science to date suggests the frequency of hurricanes doesn’t reflect global warming. Straightforward physics, however, says their intensity might. As the seas and air warm, there is more evaporation, which fuels storms, and more energy available to pump them up. [More...]

Basically, though, the lesson I wish everyone would learn from Katrina is this: while we’re all implicated in contributing to whatever climate change is mixed into the equation that brings on Big (and Bad) Weather, we can’t fold our arms and say that social constructions are “natural,” part of nature, or a given. There’s a bit of wriggle-room here, no? We have to learn how to build and sustain just societies, because even if all hell breaks loose during emergencies, equitable societies will fare better than those wherein social darwinism is the order of the day …even if the morons calling the tune believe in fairy-tale-god-ordained creationism.

Via Shelley, links to One Good Move — just check out everything here, everything, especially Meet the Fuckers — but for purposes of climate change, absolutely don’t miss this video clip to a recent Bill Maher show that features climate change expert Stephen Schneider.

I appreciated Schneider’s frustrated comparison to “sewer” in how we use the atmosphere, especially since I live in Victoria, which uses the ocean as an open sewer (see People Opposed to Outfall Pollution [POOP Victoria]….

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