Archive for Global Warming

Scenes From A Zipless Recovery

Dear Main Street Residents,

The recession is ending, no more worries, sorry for the inconvenience.


Your BFFs  on Wall Street

As the national economy starts its slow recovery, 11 states and the District of Columbia are showing signs of emerging from the recession, according to a new report. (from Moodys via Stateline)

Moody’s also estimated that the national recession ended in August, although the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private research firm that calculates the official dates of recessions, has yet to declare the end of the current downturn.

But let’s just bear in mind where that rose colored pronouncement came from– according to a report from McClatchy,

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued a blistering report on how profit motives had undermined the integrity of ratings at Moody’s and its main competitors, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, in July 2008, but the full extent of Moody’s internal strife never has been publicly revealed.

Translation:  I’ve got some swamp land in Florida for sale.  Well actually I don’t but can you blame me from trying to sell it to you anyhow.  If you want a more  honest take on the view from the top of the economic pecking order, this refreshingly honest commentary from a Goldman Sachs executive is probably more to the point:

“The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest,” Goldman’s Griffiths said Oct. 20, his voice echoing around the gold-mosaic walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose 365-feet-high dome towers over the City, London’s financial district. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.” (Bloomberg)

Meanwhile, down the block on Main Street,  recovery NOT is still a happening event:

The official jobless rate — 10.2 percent in October

one out of every six workers — 17.5 percent — were unemployed or underemployed in October. (New York Times)

For black teens nationwide, the rate was 40.8 percent in September. (Chicago Tribune)

40.8%…just roll that number around in your brain for awhile. Then consider this:

U.S. companies increased their output in the third quarter even as they slashed working hours, driving productivity up at a 9.5% annual rate in the quarter, the Labor Department estimated Thursday. …

Productivity is output divided by hours worked. Output rose 4% annualized, while hours worked plunged 5%. Real hourly compensation increased at a 0.2% annual rate. (Market Watch via Daily Kos)

If you look in your Berlitz for Wall Street-ese, that translates to, ‘we worked harder for less hours to make more stuff which we can afford less because we
earned less or worse yet, lost our job. And here’s a little conjugation of the screw you verb translation above,

Credit card companies are rushing to increase interest rates to historic highs of more than 30 percent, cut credit limits, and add new fees, even for customers who pay their bills on time. (

And then there is the pesky matter of health care and the ‘reform’ that is supposed to  cure it:

According to research by the John Hopkins Children’s Center, an analysis of 23 million hospital records from 37 states shows that a lack of health insurance likely played a role in the deaths of nearly 17,000 U.S. children over a 17-year period. (Denver Post)

One wonders if “children not covered” is a line item in annual reports by insurance companies which just had a VERY profitable quarter:

Managed care company Cigna Corp.’s third-quarter profit soared 92 percent, as improving equity markets spurred a big turnaround in a discontinued business that hurt the insurer last year.

Don’t know about you, but I sure the hell can’t sleep at night with that.  And lastly, give a big cheer for the ever so Gross Domestic Product that rose a “better than expected” 3.5% in the third quarter.  And here is one reason:

Billed as a way for the government to put more fuel-efficient vehicles on highways, the popular $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program mostly involved swaps of old Ford or Chevrolet pickups for new ones that got only marginally better gas mileage, according to an analysis of new federal data.

The single most common swap — which occurred more than 8,200 times — involved Ford F150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade their old trucks for new Ford F150s. They were 17 times more likely to buy a new F150 than, say, a Toyota Prius. The fuel economy for the new trucks ranged from 15 mpg to 17 mpg based on engine size and other factors, an improvement of just 1 mpg to 3 mpg over the clunkers.

The overall mileage increases over the clunker fleet represent a decline of 1.87 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, based on families driving an average of 12,000 miles, a yearly savings equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide spewed in the U.S. in just 2.5 hours. (AP)

(Note–To get a further idea of just how absurd this program was, during the Cash for Clunkers program, I traded in my 10 year old van that was beginning to have significant problems  for a car that gets much better milage.  However since my van officially got  19 mph, I didn’t qualify for the program, even though my new car is far more efficient than some of the trucks and SUV’s that qualified for the rebate.  And while it gave a huge short-term boost to auto sales, it is doubtful that will have a long-term impact and the more important question is why boosting the auto industry without a significant change in transportation policy is appropriate in the first place.  Yes jobs are at stake, but this kind of short-term thinking is not going to save those jobs in the long run.)

Dave Lindorff has a more detailed explanation,

Most of that rise was the result of government subsidies to car-buyers and first-time house buyers. It was a one-shot stimulus that pushed forward spending, but it was no indication of a recovering economy, just a spasm of spending using taxpayer money. Furthermore, an excellent article in Businessweek by Michael Mandel noted that fully one-percent of that GDP gain was the result of a failure by government economists to account for a collapse in corporate spending on research and development and on training and retaining intellectual assets (a complicated way of saying that engineers, scientists and technology workers were being laid off at a higher rate than other workers, and much R&D work was being shipped overseas for good), So really the “growth” of GDP in the third Quarter should have been at a 2.5% rate, and even that was largely government pump priming, not recovered economic activity.

So what to take away here?  First of all, let’s quit using the DOW as a measure of how things are.  As Lindorff points out apropos of the oft repeated ‘wisdom’ that employment is a lagging indicator,

High and pro-longed unemployment leads to reduced demand for goods and services, and to a psychology of fear and consumer withdrawal. Once people feel that they aren’t going to find a new job soon, and once those who still have jobs feel that their employment is not secure, they no longer buy things except what they absolutely need. And in an economy where fully 72% of economic activity is consumer spending, that is no longer a “lagging indicator.” High, prolonged unemployment becomes a causal factor in the economic downturn.

In other words, sooner or later (and I’m betting on sooner), there is  going to be major blowback on Wall Street.

In our current  economic system, the official barometer of whether we are economically healthy or not is based primarily on the health of corporate citizens, not human ones.  Don’t have insurance, a job or a house? No worries, the market is up.  Which really should give us pause to think that maybe, possibly, we are measuring the wrong stuff.

As all of the above should certainly serve to illustrate, the current discourse on the economy is delusional.  If we are  truly to ‘recover’ in a meaningful way, we will need to re-define what we consider as economic well-being. Imagine how our policies might be different if, as Riane Eisler suggests, we measured the value of caring.   Or if we gave to meet needs instead of assuming the necessity of an exchange of goods as Genevieve Vaughan suggests.

And while I am not going to address it in depth here, any sustainable economic policy must also take into account and be responsive to the issues of climate change and global warming.  We cannot continue to degrade the planet at will and we need to take immediate steps to address the changes that are already happening.

Until we make those paradigm shifts in the way we think about the economy, the rumors of its recovery should be considered as the poppycock that they are.


Postscript–Lest there is any doubt–the title of this post traces it’s origins to Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying,

The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game . The man is not “taking” and the woman is not “giving.” No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one.

–Erica Jong, Fear of Flying (1973)

The Real Failure And What We Choose To Do About It

I went to see Where The Wild Things Are over the weekend, highly recommended although the beginning of the film ironically adds scenes that the film’s producers apparently imagined Sendak must have been thinking were the catalyst for this flight of fancy instead of Sendak’s quite plausible story line because it could not possibly be a commercial success I suppose unless you add some big bad mean teenage sister and her evil friends and a single struggling Mom who just needs affection herself.  Which unfortunately takes an elegant tale and makes it both problematic and unsuitable for younger children, for whom the book was written in the first place.

Okay, so maybe that is a rather qualified recommendation. Even so, I still greatly enjoyed the film.  But after coming home and re-reading the book, I started thinking about the point that regardless of where our flights of fancy lead us, sooner or later we need to come back to reality.  Which of late here on Planet Earth pretty much sucks.

The following morning as I was reading through the Sunday newspaper, I realized that the pile  of newsprint that was devoted to trying to sell me something I probably don’t need was far larger than the part devoted to informing me of the publisher’s take on what is so.  As an example, there were any number of ads hawking beverages in plastic bottles, but nowhere a reference to a recent report that,

Drinking water from plastic bottles made with the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) increases urinary levels of the chemical by nearly 70 percent, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

BPA, an industrial chemical that makes plastics hard and transparent, is widely used in plastic drinking bottles, infant bottles and other consumer products, and also in resins that line cans of food and infant formula. The chemical has been shown to disrupt the hormonal system, potentially leading to reproductive defects as well as brain damage, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

Nor among all the glossy pictures do we see this:

On a daily basis, we are bombarded with a veritable avalanche of data that skewers our perceptions of what is real and what is important.  Not only that, but the historic context in which we process this bombardment is skewered as well, something that is made elegantly clear in the reading of From Eve to Dawn, Marilyn French’s history of women, or Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and The Blade, or other documentations of women’s lives and history that has been marginalized in the telling of our stories over the years (and ditto that point regarding the history of anything that isn’t pale and male).  As Corinne Kumar makes clear in this elegant speech, to truly attain social justice, we need to understand the roots and depth of the human condition, and that has been rather literally bleached out of history.

Which brings me to this–While the U.S. is operating, or more to the point not, on the assumption that our national decision-making must be  predicated on  the theory that mega banks and insurance companies are too big to fail, that corporate welfare must be preserved even at the cost of human welfare becoming a toxic asset, Richard Power points to the real show-stopping questions of whether the climate and human race are too big to fail, saying quite pointedly that if we don’t get a grip on climate change,

Goldman-Sachs and its ilk won’t be our biggest problem, or even among our top ten problems.

If the planetary climate is allowed to fail we will be circling back to

No longer too big to fail...Summer ice in the arctic will likely be gone in 20 years.

No longer too big to fail...Summer ice in the arctic will likely be gone in 20 years. But consider the amount of news coverage this story has gotten compared to the boy who didn't go up in the balloon.

the beginning of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, i.e., just a bunch of armed apes. Indeed, it is not just the future that we are in danger of losing but also the past.

As for the human race,

After all, it’s us, it’s all we’ve got.

But as Power eloquently documents, that point seems to be completely forgotten when it comes to things like our policies on issues such as Darfur or empowering women. Here in the U.S. we have been having an obsessively myopic national angst attack regarding the financial and health industries and our national ‘security’ at the expense of almost everything else–the environment, education, etc.

If indeed we continue to insist on measuring success by corporate wealth and how much stuff we make and buy, Goldman Sachs will continue to thrive.  For awhile.  But in the end, human beings and the climate will, inevitably, fail.

Does it have to be that way?  Honestly, I no longer feel any certainty that we can stop it from happening, we may well be beyond the tipping point.   But one thing is for damned sure, we don’t have to continue to contribute to our own demise.  There are many efforts being made to change our values paradigm to reflect the world that is really so. One very exciting new initiative is The Real Wealth of America Public Policy Project, based on Riane Eisler’s, “The Real Wealth of Nations” which,

is designed to advance the real wealth of our nation: the health, well-being, and full development of our nation’s women,  men, and children. A major aim of the project is to change the present economic  perspective to one that not only recognizes the enormous “back-end” financial costs of  failing to invest in people, but also recognizes the direct economic benefits of investing in
human capacity building.

As Eisler states: “Rather than trying to just patch up a system that is not sustainable, let’s use our economic crisis to move to an economic system that really meets human needs. As Einstein said, we can’t solve problems with the same thinking that created them. In our time of rapidly changing technological and social conditions, we must go deeper, to matters that conventional economic analyses and theories have ignored. We need a caring economics that no longer devalues the most important work: the work of caring for people, starting in early childhood, and the work of caring for our Mother Earth.”

The indicators for the currently used Gross National Product were developed and adopted  during the depths of the Great Depression. They were only meant by their authors to be a beginning for measurements, not the be all and end all.

We urgently need new economic indicators. The RWA public policy project is a strategic step toward achieving this goal.

The governing values for measuring and promoting the Real Wealth of Nations are:

  • Recognizing that the contributions of people are the real wealth of a nation– and hence the need to invest in human capacity development, starting in early childhood.
  • Recognizing that, especially for the post-industrial knowledge-information economy, our most important capital is high quality human capital.
  • Recognizing the need to give greater visibility and value to the work of caregiving in both the market and non?market economies.
  • Recognizing the value of investing in our human infrastructure for our world’s families, communities, equality, democracy, and economic success.

It is precisely this kind of thinking that is absolutely critical if we are to make the paradigm shift necessary to avoid presiding over the biggest failure of all, our own and that of Mother Earth.  I have a recording of Phil Och’s song “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” where he introduces the song as a “turning away song”.  Turning away is a very powerful statement and we  need to do a lot more turning away, from greed, from exploitation, from violence and hate.

We need to say no more, but we need to go beyond that–we need a change of direction such as Eisler is suggesting.  We need to do this on a personal level and on a societal level.  On October 24th, there will be a Global Day of Climate Action with events all over the world.  Find out what is going on where you live and make plans to be there, support The Real Wealth of America Public Policy Project, find  and support other projects that are path-changers. As Alice Walker so beautifully observes, we are the ones that we have been waiting for.

A Plea For The Planet

In observance of Blog Action Day for Climate Change below are excerpts from several articles that I wrote in 2005 and 2006.  I haven’t written much about the environment since then, because writing what I know to be so in this case is simply too painful and difficult to write.  When I went back and re-read these pieces, I found that sadly, they are  still valid today, in fact even more so with the evidence of global warming and climate change that has been gathered in the interim.  And so, I again share with you these thoughts and implore you to take these words to heart.

From There Is No More Time (March, 2005):

All evidence suggests that our lives and that of our planet are in grave peril. If we are to survive, we must immediately dismantle the forces of greed and power that are destroying our lives in the toxic pursuit of empire. It is our refusal to face the realities of global warming and our continued illegal use of Depleted Uranium that are the true terrors of our time. Our governments and the corporate empires they defend must be compelled to cease and desist from all forms of violence against our earth and its inhabitants, to work towards mitigating the damage done and to begin creating a livable future.

The environmental imperative of our situation cannot be ignored. The impact of global warming is accelerating. Levels of carbon dioxide (the main cause of global warming) have risen abruptly in the last two years. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and its polar ice cap has shrunk up to 20% in the last three decades; the ice cap is expected to disappear altogether by the year 2070.  Our land, air and water are polluted with toxins and waste to the point where they can no longer sustain life. Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct, glaciers are melting.

As global warming continues to affect the life of our planet, the results will be devastating. Water will become scarce in some parts of the world while others will be flooded by rising seas as the polar ice caps melt. Rain forests are likely to dry out and burn and parts of the world will become much hotter even as others become much colder. Droughts will cause starvation, oceans will become more acidic and less hospitable to life and diseases like malaria will spread easily.

Studies and reports have been issued telling us that temperatures are rising far faster than previously thought and that we have reached the tipping point in global warming that we had sought to avoid. There is the grave possibility that within as little as 10 years, we will reach the point of no return. Once that point is reached, the risk of abrupt uncontrollable climate change is expected to increase according to the recent report “Meeting The Climate Challenge”.

Each year, more and more people die unnecessarily of the cancerous impact of our toxic behavior, of preventable starvation, of disease and because of the misguided priorities of violence. War rages because of greed and the desire for domination. The pandemic quest for power and honor cuts an ever-widening swath of violence and degradation. Millions of people have been killed, wounded, trafficked, sexually assaulted and left homeless. And always, it is women and children who are most victimized.

It is precisely our disconnection from our ecological support systems that allows us to commit warfare.

It is the most perverse of ironies that the military forces that claim to defend us are responsible for most of the violence and environmental degradation that is destroying our world. These forces are inextricably tied to the ethos of corporate and national empire building that values the hoarding of resources over the common good.

This perilous and lethal greed is no longer tolerable and it is imperative that we come together in insisting on an end to planetary destruction and full commitment to creating a fair and sustainable future, with full and equal voice for all, most especially those who have born the brunt of the impact of the patriarchal irresponsibility.

Delay is no longer acceptable or possible, there is no more time.

We’re Melting (in its entirely) (December, 2005):

One wonders what the Wicked Witch of the West must have been thinking in that terrifying moment in the Wizard of Oz after Dorothy doused her with water, when she realized that she was melting and no amount of evil spells was going to change that? With the recent deluge of melting glaciers and warming seas, it seems we residents of planet Earth may be reaching a very similar moment.

Our glaciers are melting at an ever quickening pace and there seems to be little we can do to stop it. According to recent studies, the Helheim glacier, one of the largest in Greenland, is melting at a rate much faster than expected. If it continues, Greenland will likely become much smaller and SEAS COULD RISE AS MUCH AS THREE FEET DURING THIS CENTURY. The accelerated melting is attributable to Greenland’s warming temperatures which have risen five degrees Fahrenheit in the last ten years.

One of the most critical side effects of glacial melting is the threat posed to the Gulf Stream which could be shut down by the rising ocean water levels. The Gulf Stream protects Northern Europe from freezing temperatures. THE LAST TIME THE GULF STREAM FAILED, BRITAIN WAS COVERED IN PERMAFROST FOR MORE THAN 1000 YEARS.

A new scientific report by British oceanographers found that the overall movement of the Gulf Stream seems to have slowed down by 30% in the last fifty years. The slowdown is caused by increased glacial melting and warming ocean temperatures. While this has long been expected, scientists are alarmed to see these changes so soon.

Unfortunately, Greenland is only one of the many areas where glaciers are melting. In the Himalayas, whole villages are being destroyed by floodwaters from lakes overflowing with water from melting glaciers. Glacier lake catastrophes used to happen once a decade, now they occur every few years.

Ultimately the Himalayan glaciers will shrink to the point that their meltwaters will die out and the rivers that have been fed by the melting will all but evaporate, causing a severe shortage of drinking and irrigation water. Hydroelectric plants that supply power to the region will also be affected. The region is already experiencing a loss of vegetation that in the long term could lead to starvation for the region’s population.

Ice in the Arctic region is melting as well. If current warming trends continue, WITHIN 100 YEARS THE ARCTIC MAY BE ICE-FREE IN THE SUMMER, something that has not happened in a million years. The melting ice in the Arctic bodes badly for polar bears, seals and other animals in the region.

What scientists stress in all of these situations is that the process of melt-off has reached such a level that it may well be unstoppable; we may be at a point of needing to adapt and respond to the very harsh realities of global warming. A chilling thought.

We are already feeling the impact of global warming in a number of ways. Rising ocean temperatures have caused what scientists term a catastrophic drop in sea and bird life numbers in the Pacific Northwest. Populations of seabirds such as cormorants and fish such as salmon and rockfish are at record lows. Similar events are taking place in the North Sea.

In addition to the impact on our oceans and seas, a recent report found that CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS ARE THE HIGHEST THEY HAVE BEEN IN 650,000 YEARS. The World Health Organization has found that 150,000 DEATHS AND FIVE MILLION ILLNESSES ARE DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE TO GLOBAL WARMING.

But that’s not the bad news. The bad news is that these stories tend to get buried on page A18 of the newspaper (if they’re covered at all), pre-empted by the latest car accidents, political foibles and other human interest stories.

Climate change should be a Page One headline and at the top of our national agenda as well. Yet our media refuses to connect the dots and we have elected leaders who seem to think we are exempt from global reality. No need to act, just stay the course and keep driving those SUVs up the river De-Nial.

One wonders what part of deep brown smelly stuff our media and pols fail to grasp? Do we perhaps need to send the lot of them to see “Chicken Little” so that they can practice saying, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling”?

No, best to leave our heads firmly planted in the sand.

From How Hot Does It Have To Get (January, 2006):

My new calendar has a picture of an ice-covered Alaskan wilderness preserve. My throat catches every time I glance at its breathtaking beauty, and I make a mental note to go see this beautiful place soon, before the ice melts.

It is no longer possible to relegate global warming to a theoretical possibility. It is reality. It is 60-degree days in January when it should be six degrees above (in the city where I live, temperatures are running more than ten degrees above normal this month). It is the slowing Gulf Stream, the melting ice. It is the droughts in Africa and Oklahoma, in the Himalayas and the Amazon. It is the rising seas and hurricanes and tsunamis that decimate cities and villages in Indonesia and Louisiana. It is the highest carbon dioxide levels in 650,000 years and the fish and plankton that are dying in the warming seas.

There is no real doubt that this is occurring, only the political impossibility of admitting that not only is it happening, but it is not within our power to stop it, the changes that we are seeing have taken on a life force of their own. It is the life force that our earth has always had, which for a few brief years in the history of the universe, we delusionally thought we had the power to overcome. But the truth that we are faced with now is that it was never ours to control, and our biosphere, our planet, our world has once again taken the reigns in what is to be. Climate change has accelerated to the unstoppable point of no return. The snowball is now an avalanche.

Weather events like last year’s Tsunami and the hurricanes of last fall are surely just a preview of what is to come. Yet we stupidly declare that we can rebuild New Orleans from the ruins of a bayou covered with toxic sludge without more than a cursory examination of the damage done or whether it will ever truly be safe to live there again. We rebuild, stubbornly clinging to the notion that we are the masters of our environment. It does not yet occur to us that it has been a mortal mistake to think that it was ever ours to command.

It is time to make peace with our planet, to apologize for the damage done and to humbly ask for a chance to tend our hearth with mercy, even if we can no longer make amends.

Riding The Economic Roller-Coaster–The Big Plunge Is Just Up Ahead

In what at times has sounded like a script from Sesame Street, pundits and economists have endlessly engaged in speculating about whether the recession looks like the warm and fuzzy Letter U, the nasty Letter V, the even nastier Letter W, the crazy Letter X, or the dreaded Letter L. It’s enough to make you swear off Alphabet Soup forever.

Call me illiterate, but I think we’re barking up the wrong analogy, what we’ve got  looks more like a roller coaster from where I  sit. Think about it: the most terrifying ride in the park–you go up a little and then down, your heart lands in your stomach and you’re afraid you’re going to upchuck all over your date but then you realize that you survived and it isn’t so bad and hey you’re going up again. And then you get to the top of the next rise and see the very long and steep decline that lies ahead…

I’m no economist, but while the Cash for Clunkers program certainly helped lower car inventories and upped the average mpg of the cars on the road a tad, only 41% of the cars bought under the program were American and hey did you know that the payments are taxable? (Note–after a comment from an alert reader, see the clarification of what this means below.) Much more importantly, none of this does jack to reform our transportation policy.  So now that the program is over, how long does the economic honeymoon continue?  And when does an understanding of peak oil temper our Detroit at any cost mantra?

Then there is the money laundering bailout of the banks and insurance companies.  Stockholders got stuck in the hot water spin cycle where their money shrank the big one leading a panicked Congress to shovel enormous amounts of money at these companies with shockingly little oversight or regulation. We don’t even know how the money was used or where it all went.  And funny story, those companies that were about to plunge into the abyss and take us with them–stock prices are back up, and the CEO’s are doing quite nicely, thank you.  And what exactly has been done to insure that it doesn’t happen again?

As for the foreclosure crisis–that nasty little house of cards seems to have eased.  Or not.  Seems there are some mortgages called Option ARMs about 70% of which will reset before 2011, some by as much as 63% leaving a whole lot more people with not much of an option but to go into foreclosure, so  that one isn’t over yet either.

Those factors, and throw in the health care debacle and unemployment while we’re at it, are enough to say we’ve still got a problem but our current  economic woes  are only the tip of the not so proverbial iceberg.   Which happens to be melting. And quickly at that.

Our national self-centered myopia when it comes to climate change and environmental peril is blinding us to the inevitable, drastic changes ahead.  In the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, we believe there is such a thing as clean coal and safe nuclear energy, we blithely use pesticides and herbicides on our land and then drink them from our rivers. We poison our air and imperil our food supply by genetically modifying it and then go back to watching Mad Men or American Idol without a minute of my bad or wondering about the consequences and cost of this folly.

And costly it will be.  As the healthcare ‘reform’ debate has made all  too clear, we have incorporated our democracy to the point where the welfare of huge corporations is considered at least if not more important than the welfare and health of the people they supposedly serve.  The same is even more true of the energy and global warming debate, witness the recent effort by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to hold a “Scopes”-like trial on global warming for the simple reason that the corporations they represent will do just about anything to  keep making a buck for as long as they can, no matter the cost and heaven forbid they should be held accountable for the damage that is staring us in the face.

This head-in-the-sand state of national denial is not sustainable, it’s not even survivable and it most definitely is not profitable.  Richard Power puts it quite eloquently,

(T)he climate change debate (by that I mean what to do about it, not whether it is real), is not… simply one of dire national importance, it is one of dire planetary importance, and the nature of opposition to meaningful action on climate change is not simply self-abusive, it is suicidal.

Or in the even more dire words of Johann Hari, we are at “five minutes to ecological midnight.”

Whether or not the  recession is ending is irrelevant and not even the correct question.  At best, we are in a bit of economic remission, but do not be  deluded, the ride has only just begun, and the big fall is still ahead.

I’ll leave you with this…