Saturday, June 27, 2009

Global Climate Change

TO start, a few metaphors that probably will piss off the zero readers I have:

1. When one procrastinates, such as I do often, and put off whatever goal or task or *insert applicable action* for so long, when one is then forced to deal with whatever it was they were putting off until later, the result is mostly a lot of pain, misery and gnashing of teeth (although the levels of pain do probably run from mild to agonizing waterboarding-esque torture) to finish whatever you were putting off.

2. Would one take no precautions or actions to ensure that their child has a safe or relatively safe environment to grow up: clean house, clothes, food, water, heat, bed etc, and even moreso would try to provide more than what one had as a child growing up? That they would take interest in changes in the neighborhood, changes in the school curriculum, etc etc? That they would not intentionally leave a situation that could possibly endanger their progeny? Of course, I do omit from this general statement those who don't give a shit about their children, figuring in light of mammalian instinct it is more natural for humans to have some semblance of concern for their young.

SO, in both situations, why is it in light of much of the data available that most Americans fervently fight any movement that could mitigate the anthropocentric effect on the planet's climate. There is plenty of data out there that indicates that anthropocentric actions are effecting the planet's climate.

BEFORE I go further, a quick caveat: irregardless of the final outcome of the change in global climate or the fate of homo sapiens sapiens, the planet will recover in the long run as it has before in light of climate change or mass extinction events.

I said it: mass extinction events. That's one possibility on the extreme end of the global climate change. Below that would be mass starvation, drought, ice ages, bloody wars for resources and probably a complete breakdown of the modern civilization that we currently enjoy.

BUT back to the crude metaphors: in each, it does outline what we are facing in light of climate change and actions that we need and should take in order to mitigate the damage that we have already created. The first one points out that we've put off any action to seriously deal with anthropocentric effects on climate change that it will cost us...and although we are now looking to deal with it in the midst of an economic crisis, it isn't a minute too soon, although possibly a few too late. It will cost us indeed for our flippant attitude towards our actions toward the planet. But on the other hand, although it appears (currently reading the 2009 Clean Energy and Security Act) that it will bear a heavy cost in taxes and may cause further job loss; what about the possible innovations and changes in society that could arise from this--if it has teeth.

CLEAN energy--requires development, required innovation from people, required individuals to build the infrastructure to support its use, requires individuals to maintain and conduct maintenance on this infrastructure; those to physically maintain the mechanisms and then those to provide tech assist, parts replacement, training for new workers in the industry, etc. If done correctly, there is potential that not only will the pursuit of renewable energy sources to power our civilization will have a positive and lasting effect on the environment, it also carries within it the possibilities of a constant renewing source of jobs and industry.

IF the United States gets serious, for example, on mass train transit (which exists elsewhere across the world) to eliminate much of the carbon footprint caused by gas guzzuling vehicles, the act of creating this infrastructure should create jobs on the whole; building the rail system, developing "clean" trains, developing the power system (imagine it would be electric)-the electrical grids required to power these trains, possibly innovation on cutting down the loss of power via cables in order to economize the use of electrical power, manning the trains, building the stations, building the transportation hubs that would support commuters and so forth, manning all of the support and perhiperal components of a rail system. Plenty of possiblities for not only innovation but growth.

ALONG with this possiblitiy of growth and innovation--if Americans are up to the task, there is the possiblities of the impact upon foreign policiy: while there are hints of outsourcing overseas, it is essential for the United States to take the lead, because as the US goes in a progressive move, the world's democracies and our allies tend to follow along. Americans worry about jobs being lost overseas: but what is forgotten in this day and age is that it is a global economy, where we are very much intertwined with each other. Although there is a possiblitiy of more heavy industry heading overseas, instead of bemoaning that fact, American innovators need to see how they can improve and cut costs in heavy industry in the United States instead of sitting on their ass spouting racist and xenophobic epithets in the face of reality.

THE steady weaning away from fossil fuels, including becoming energy independent will go a long way in stablizing US foreign policy, where there is no influence to act in order to protect a source of fossil fuels to feed our current civilization. President Obama made several strong statments about the importance of the United States to become energy independent in the world; it is the lack of this independence that may have in part influence some of the poor judgements in US policy overseas. Not a total influence but part of a whole series of issues that effected judgement in the highest levels of government.

IT'S easy to simply look at the doom and gloom at the costs of forcing a change to move towards developing and using renewable energy sources, but we have to break free of the stifled dogma of the fossil fuel civilization which humans have grown dependent upon for over two centuries.

AMERICANS have faced several challenges before and tend to do a pretty good job of tackling challenges: while I personally despise constant references towards WW II, the US did not have a huge military industrial complex to support a mass mobilization--there were policies set forth in the late 1930s to move in that direction, but when the US went to war, it was a total mobilization of the US population to the war effort, in which we outstripped all of the Axis and most of the Allied powers combined in our output. Right now the US does not have much of an infrastructure to support clean energy, renewable energy, but that does not mean we are not capable of addressing this self imposed challenge and tackling it with the amorphous American-Can-Do-Spirit. It is not impossible.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I had the misfortune to watch the Shawn Hannity show today and his yammering about how President Obama should have been more "forceful" prior to his press conference today. Apparently President Obama did not take the correct course to influence the Iranian government to not brutalize their own civilians in light of the uproar in Iran over the tainted election in that nation.

Maybe I was in la-la land, but the President, in my own humble opinion, tended to stick to a pragmatic approach to the events unfolding in Iran:

This was an article on Reuters on 06/21/2009 where Obama expressed concern about the violence in Iran.

And again on 06/23/2009, Reuters ran a short on Obama's previous statement made on 06/20/2009.

Here is the full text of his statements on the 23rd.

I'm not sure what the right expects the United States, let alone the world to do in the face of the unrest in Iran. Right now, it is an Iranian affair...while it is terrible that the Iranian state is visiting brutality upon its citizens, but what do these pundits expect the United States to do?

Economic sanctions?



War is not even an option. The United States is still engaged in Iraq and is now funneling more troops into Afghanistan to deal with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. On what legal grounds do we have to commence hostilities with Iran, a nation that has not directly attacked the United States? I'm not so sure I would buy into pre-emptive war or to "save the protesters."

The same goes with economic sanctions; what do they actually do that would help the protesters? What would stop the Iranian state from using the infallible post hoc ergo proctor hoc that since the United States is coming to the direct rescue of the opposition to Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah, therefore the opposition to the results of the "legitimate" election are actually proxies of the United States and supported by the CIA etc.

If one or the other or even both options were carried out by the United States what then would keep the Iranian state overtly declaring martial law to keep the state intact and to brutally crack down on all those involved in the unrest in Iran? When I say brutal crackdown, I refer to sending in the army with orders to shoot to kill, mass arrests, mass executions--something along the lines of the brutality the Red Army displayed in the crackdown Hungary, circa 1956.

Up to this point, the Iranian government has shown that it is willing to send police and gangs of young men to beat, shoot, stab, throw off bridges those individuals protesting against the results of this election (including anyone who was unfortunately in the same area). Its bad. It's really bad over there now. But...what does the United States do? Its a real problem.

For all the hub-bub made about what Regan would do, I would think first that those on the right should not forget that Regan's administration illegally sold arms to Iran to secure the freedom of the US hostages and that there were several factors that led to the collapse of the Soviet State, not just the immediate ramp up of the US military in the Cold War and Regan telling Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."

Lets not forget either that after the first few days of the unrest in Iran, the Iranian government barred all foreign journalists from observing these protests and now many were forced out of Iran. It is not as if there are outsiders observing the unfolding events--we have the views of the Iranian government and those of the opposition to Ahmadinejad's government, each with their own motives; one wishing to maintain their power and the other of those who feel disenfranchised and demand a fair election.

Without hesitation, it is wrong to try to violently suppress those engaging in a peaceful protest against what appears to be a stolen election. But I think it is foolhardy to state that the United States has shown weakness in not tossing inflammatory rhetoric out there for Admadinejad and his government to use to legitimize in their eyes crushing a foreign backed uprising.

In my opinion (and for what it is probably worth...nothing), it appears that the Obama Administration pragmatically looked at the events unfolding and wanted to make sure that 1) that it was certain to the world and Iran that the United States was not meddling and has no intention to meddle in Iran's internal affairs and 2) to find out exactly what was going on in country before coming out and making any statements and 3) when making these statements that the avoided any inflammatory statements or statements that could be perceived as inflammatory by Tehran that could be used against the protesters.

Already based on the actions taken by the Iranian government in the face of the events that unfolded after the election, they are not in a true position of power, based on that this unrest reaches across several demographic areas and at this point, where they cannot claim that this is a foreign venture meddling in Iranian domestic politics, they may shy away from a full on Tienanmen Square style crackdown for fear of unloosing something that scares them to their core: a revolution to remove them from their positions of power. It just appears that they are trying to wear down the movement, using coercion, fear, violence...but not to the point of rolling out the tanks and mowing down the barricades along with the protesters.

Hopefully, we won't get to that point...but as we've noticed, the Iranian government has had little problem with beating, killing and oppressing these people.

All said....even with the pragmatic thinking in this situation, what is to be done? What do we do when the Iranians start rolling out the tanks and army to start gunning down people? All questions outside of the uproar from the right over President Obama's response to the crackdown on the protesters in Iran, but what will the world do in that situation?

I only ask the questions because I don't know the answers and I wouldn't venture into what I would do in that situation because I don't have the intelligence briefings on the situation in Iran to even come up with a partly competent response.