From the The New York Times, December 28, 2006:
Polar bears have declined in the Western Hudson Bay in Canada.
Many experts on the Arctic say that global warming is causing the ice to melt and that the warming is at least partly the result of the atmospheric buildup of heat-trapping gases from tailpipes and smokestacks. The plight of the polar bear has been held up by environmentalists as a symbol of global warming caused by humans.
But in a conference call with reporters, InteriorSecretary Dirk Kempthorne said that although his decision to seek protection for polar bears acknowledged the melting of the Arctic ice, his department was not taking a position on why the ice was melting or what to do about it.
Here’s a quote from by past Sierra Club President Adam Werbach given 11 months before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita:
“Before 9/11, the idea of terrorists taking down both World Trade
Center buildings was considered “unthinkable” for most people. Here’s
the “unthinkable” scenario for global warming:
“Global warming will continue to cause the ice on the earth’s poles
to melt, triggering the Gulf Stream to migrate several thousand miles to
the south, lowering by five degrees the average temperature in Europe
and much of North America in 10 years or less.”
Meanwhile, this abrupt climate change would unleash a series of
monster hurricanes and floods across Central America and the Caribbean,
making the 2,000 Haitians killed this September in a single storm seem
like a minor event.”
Werbach is talking about the possibility that the changes on this small blue planet that are caused primarily (I am not going to argue this with the doubters – more on that later) by human activity is going to “throw the switch” on the Gulf Stream. I hope he is wrong about this, but I suspect and fear he is right. The changes would be fast and dramatic.
The richest people on the planet will be fine in this scenario. A lot of the rest of us will be chatting with the polar bears about survival in changing climates.
When I talk about the richest people on the planet, I do not mean Americans, though I understand that as a class, Americans could be construed as one of the “richest peoples” on the planet. I am talking about the obscenely wealthy folks around the globe who have amassed wealth and power on an individual basis. If you have never worked an hour in your lifetime for an hourly wage, you are the people I am thinking about.
These folks use their great wealth and the influence it buys very shrewdly. They buy up and control the media. They have learned the art of controlling the public discourse and torturing language in a manner that would embarass George Orwell.
These folks manipulate a plurality of their “underclass” through wedge, hot button topics like gay marriage, gun control, abortion and crusade-style christianity to keep the public discourse away from serious, productive discussion that could threaten their stranglehold on public policy. There is no way that we, an electorate, can control or even rationally discuss progressive public policy if we are constantly reacting to the polemic issues and discussion that comes up if a menorah is displayed in a public place while a nativity scene is banned. That one and its ilk are a seasonal issue that can be raised every year and is good for keeping the public discourse away from meaningful and progressive discussion and drafting of public policy.
Gun control is less seasonal. It’s great for derailing the public discourse, but it only has legs after some nut with a duffel bag full of ammo and automatic weapons kills a bunch of people and the public rouses from it’s “Survivor” coma and says, wow, that could happen to me, maybe gun control is a good idea? At that point, gun control has legs and can keep the public discourse tied in knots for a period of time.
Hence, my point earlier that I am not going to waste my time arguing whether humans cause global warming with the manipulated masses. I am not sure we have the time to waste trying to help folks with weak analytical skills and authoritarian personality traits see the ways they are manipulated and unless they understand that issue, they are impervious to intellectual, analytical discussion of any issue.
So, why would these manipulated masses be against recognizing and dealing rationally with global warming? I think it’s because there are large and pervasive media that tell them that the same folks who want to take away their guns, or allow gays to marry, or who love Osama bin Laden (you pick the hot button) are the people making up this story about global warming. These folks hate America. They are flag burners. Etc., etc. and so forth as the King of Siam once said. It’s a puzzlement.
That’s a plug for a good flick full of meaning.
So, should we care about the plight of the polar bear or the flight of the bumblebee?
Yes, I think we should. And I think we should be very reluctant to engage in rancorous discussion with the manipulated masses. We should think twice before giving their manipulated positions any traction by sponsoring their disinformation. As long as these manipulated folks can be so effectively manipulated through their hotbutton topic – gun control, abortion, gay marriage, Saddam the boogie man – they cannot be reached and they are used to keep the public discourse tied up in comparatively trivial discussions about whether a menorah or christmas tree should be displayed publicly, or in designed scientific arguments that take scientific facts out of context – like the gaps in evolution are evidence for creationism – or that humans account now for only 3% of the carbon cycle – never mind it’s the three percent that is causing planetary climate disruption – instead of allowing thoughtful people to talk about solutions that benefit the whole planet, even the polar bears and the bumblebees, instead of maintaining the status quo favored by the richest people on the planet.