Friday, December 29, 2006

Global Warming... "conservatives" up against the wall

David Seaton's News Links
Scientists are overwhelmingly in agreement: global warming is happening and the results are already catastrophic. By the time today's small children are adults, the nightmare will be consummated... The end of the world? No, global warming is not the end of the world, just as tetraplegia is not the end of life. Global warming only means the end of life as we know it.... or perhaps as we would want to know it. Politically the question is, can our free-market economy, which is based on consumption, respond to the challenge? Can a fox guard chickens? As there seems to be a direct link between our consumption habits and climate change, it would appear not. Clearly, "conservatives" (ironic term) don't want to admit global warming or talk about it because they are looking at a collapse of their system that would dwarf the Soviet Union's. As the disaster progresses there seem two broad alternatives for humanity: selfishness or solidarity. First case: a tiny minority, armed to the teeth, maintains something like the old life style surrounded by a hostile, suffering majority... think Israeli settler enclaves on the occupied West Bank... on a planetary scale... or. Second case: a highly controlled, planned economy on a global scale where scarce resources are husbanded and shared equitably. The second alternative by any other name is "Socialism". The question would be, totalitarian, terror-based socialism or participatory, democratic socialism? Totalitarian, terror-based socialism, as we saw in the Soviet Union's, "Real, Existing Socialism", would mean a a tiny minority (party apparatchiks), armed to the teeth, that maintain something like the old life style surrounded by a hostile, suffering majority... while talking solidarity. It would seem that the only humanly tolerable alternative to a parched and flooded, homo homini lupus, dystopia, would be democratic, participatory socialism... Which hasn't been invented or tried yet. So anybody who would like to do some serious, useful thinking, should get busy preparing it, designing it and agitating for it. Meanwhile read Anatol Lieven's, wonderful, "writing on the wall" piece below. DS
Anatol Lieven: The end of the West as we know it? - IHT
Abstract: For market economies, and the Western model of democracy with which they have been associated, the existential challenge for the foreseeable future will be global warming.(...) As the recent British official commission chaired by Sir Nicholas Stern correctly stated, climate change "is the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen." The question now facing us is whether global capitalism and Western democracy can follow the Stern report's recommendations, and make the limited economic adjustments necessary to keep global warming within bounds that will allow us to preserve our system in a recognizable form; or whether our system is so dependent on unlimited consumption that it is by its nature incapable of demanding even small sacrifices from its present elites and populations. If the latter proves the case, and the world suffers radically destructive climate change, then we must recognize that everything that the West now stands for will be rejected by future generations. The entire democratic capitalist system will be seen to have failed utterly as a model for humanity and as a custodian of essential human interests.(...) If the conservative estimates of the Stern report are correct, then already by 2050 the effects of climate change may be such as to wreck the societies of Pakistan and Bangladesh; and if these states collapse, how can India and other countries possibly insulate themselves? At that point, not only will today's obsessive concern with terrorism appear insignificant, but all the democratizing efforts of Western states, and of private individuals and bodies like George Soros and his Open Society Institute, will be rendered completely meaningless. So, of course, will every effort directed today toward the reduction of poverty and disease.(...) If this comes to pass, what will our descendants make of a political and media culture that devotes little attention to this threat when compared with sports, consumer goods, leisure and a threat from terrorism that is puny by comparison? Will they remember us as great paragons of human progress and freedom? They are more likely to spit on our graves.

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