We’ve been watching this situation with a sort of grim determination.

The determination is to know the truth, the somber attitude because we know what the truth implies about the future of our civilization.

There is far more to be concerned about in those two images (above) than anything the Romans faced when the Visigoth‘s rebelled.

All those projections, about what’s going to happen in 2050?  Those were based on theories about how we would act to stop Climate change. Well, we just broke the 2007 melt record, and we’re still melting.

The theories were too optimistic. There was always a worry about sounding an alarm, losing credibility. Well  Climate Change is only a “theory” in the sense that “The Theory of Gravity” is a theory. Calling it a theory doesn’t invalidate it’s effects. If you let go of something, it still falls. Climate change is here, it’s real, and it’s happening right on top of you no matter what you call it.

The melting of the Arctic Sea Ice isn’t just about sea level rise. It means record heat, droughts, floods, it means rain when you don’t want it and none when you need it. It means winters without snow, and springs that happen too soon.  That Sea Ice is part of the engine that drives the world’s weather, and losing it means our world must change along with it.

We know the cause, we know how to start fixing it, and we can easily do it. But we have to show enough sense, and enough care for each other to actually step up.

The time to step up is now. We best start steppin, or real soon there won’t be anywhere to go.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

National Snow and Ice Data Center:

Arctic sea ice appears to have broken the 2007 record daily extent and is now the lowest in the satellite era. With two to three more weeks left in the melt season, sea ice continues to track below 2007 daily extents.

Please note that this is not an announcement of the sea ice minimum extent for 2012. NSIDC will release numbers for the 2012 daily minimum extent when it occurs. A full analysis of the melt season will be published in early October, once monthly data are available for September.

Arctic sea ice extent fell to 4.10 million square kilometers (1.58 million square miles) on August 26, 2012. This was 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles) below the September 18, 2007 daily extent of 4.17 million square kilometers (1.61 million square miles).

Including this year, the six lowest ice extents in the satellite record…

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What If the GOP Was the Climate Change Party?

By James Thindwa

Some of us say what we believe, and believe what we say. Some of us even fight for what we believe. There are also those who claim to believe something or other, but won’t fight for it. That’s the way of the world. So let’s imagine a world only slightly different, with only the names changed to protect the guilty…

What If the GOP Was the Climate Change Party?

By James Thindwa

Imagine if you will, an alternative universe, in which the GOP believes in climate change, and the Democrats are the naysayers? How would a climate crusading Republican Party approach this most consequential issue?

In their customary hard-nosed fashion, the GOP would no doubt have made more progress on climate change—replete with tough regulations and high-minded international treaties—than we have seen so far. GOP politicians and talking heads would be making hay from all the horrible weather, beating the drums about the grave danger to our “national security” and way of life posed by climate change. They would be warning of gloom and doom and calling for—to hell with cap-and-trade—new legislation with stricter timetables for cutting greenhouse emissions, higher carbon taxes and stiffer penalties for polluters. And they would dare the president to veto it!

Republican politicians would be talking about climate change in town hall meetings, with obligatory reference to the increasingly ferocious tornadoes and hurricanes. “Climate change” and “green jobs” would become synonymous—a mantra seared into GOP political lexicon as Republicans declare that their legislation simultaneously creates jobs, limits greenhouse gases and stimulates the economy. Yes, Republicans would be ready to steamroll Democrats on this one.

For GOP leaders, Irene would be an opportunity to stoke the passions of environmentalists. They would urge activists to hold rallies in Washington and across the country. The GOP media machine—led by Roger Ailes at Fox—would parade environmental leaders on television and talk radio pontificating about local struggles to shut down polluting coal-fired plants, the imperative to raise CAFE standards for autos, insulate buildings and retrofit solar panels—the whole kitchen sink. Rightwing talking heads would be in full swing, prodding activists to hunt down “Democrat” lawmakers at “town halls” to demand they stop protecting Big Oil’s profits at the expense of our country’s future.

For GOP lighting rods like Michelle Bachmann and Sara Palin, climate change would be manna from heaven—red meat for the party faithful. They would be browbeating Democrats for standing in the way of strong regulations and shilling for corporate polluters (yes, they’d say it despite both parties’ footsy-playing with industry—they don’t care about the hypocrisy). Palin and Bachmann would be mocking Democrats for aligning themselves with a fringe element that hates science and would endanger our national security and the planet. Of course, GOP candidates would already have made climate change a central issue in the presidential election, and aiming to place it high up on the 2012 party platform.

As expected, GOP strategists would have learned how to capitalize on disasters from their successful experiment in New Orleans, where they quickly moved in after Katrina and expanded charter schools. Thus, a salivating GOP would seize this moment to remind all Americans affected by Irene that climate change is real and urge them to demand immediate congressional action.

For maximum impact, rightwing pundits would cite the Pentagon’s finding that climate change constitutes “a grave national security threat” and the military’s plans to cope. On Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol would advise that invoking the military in this debate “is strategically brilliant” because Democratic are vulnerable on anything to do with “our men and women in uniform.”

On the O’Reilly Factor, Ann Coulter would taunt President Obama for lacking “the kahunas” to take on corporate polluters. She would point to Obama’s cozy relationship with the likes of Exelon, and his silence on the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Sean Hannity would harangue the “liberal media” for ignoring the words “climate change” in their coverage of Hurricane Irene. Rightwing hothead and former UN ambassador John Bolton would announce on Fox his new campaign for a new international climate treaty. It would carry heavy sanctions—even military action—against countries that did not sign on.

Finally, GOP leaders would be all over the hypocrisy of Democratic governors for stoking hatred of government even as they, in this crisis moment, expect emergency relief from the federal government. On the campaign trail and in presidential debates, GOP candidates would use Irene to highlight the indispensable role of government not just in public safety, but in healthcare access, infrastructure investment, helping foreclosure victims and reining in predatory banks, and alleviating poverty—that silent but ongoing emergency for millions of women, men and children. They would forc efully explain to voters that paying taxes is not a subversive notion, but an act of patriotism.

 Yes, sir, that’s exactly what the GOP would do if it were the party of climate change.

(Are you listening, Democrats?)

Fortunately, James Thindwa lives very much in the real world, where he is a Chicago-based labor and community activist. He also writes for In These Times and serves on its board of directors.

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How Long Can the Country Stay Scared?

What? Me Worry?

     WAAAAAAAY back in 2004, after 4 scary years with Alfred E. Newman‘s blood brother at the helm of the United States of America a serious thinker about risk, errors, and security wrote this article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune . I felt given our current time and place in the “War on Terror” it was worth reposting Mr. Schneier’s thoughts, from our lofty distance of near 7 years. Perhaps it is time to review what we have done in the name of fear and terror, take a few weeks of reflection on what we think the next 7 years should look like when we look back on them.


U.S. Department of Homeland Security Official ...

Image via Wikipedia

How Long Can the Country Stay Scared?

By Bruce Schneier

Minneapolis Star Tribune

August 27, 2004

Want to learn how to create and sustain psychosis on a national scale? Look carefully at the public statements made by the Department of Homeland Security.

Here are a few random examples: “Weapons of mass destruction, including those containing chemical, biological or radiological agents or materials, cannot be discounted.” “At least one of these attacks could be executed by the end of the summer 2003.” “These credible sources suggest the possibility of attacks against the homeland around the holiday season and beyond.”

The DHS’s threat warnings have been vague, indeterminate, and unspecific. The threat index goes from yellow to orange and back again, although no one is entirely sure what either level means. We’ve been warned that the terrorists might use helicopters, scuba gear, even cheap prescription drugs from Canada. New York and Washington, D.C., were put on high alert one day, and the next day told that the alert was based on information years old. The careful wording of these alerts allows them not to require any sound, confirmed, accurate intelligence information, while at the same time guaranteeing hysterical media coverage. This headline-grabbing stuff might make for good movie plots, but it doesn’t make us safer.

This kind of behavior is all that’s needed to generate widespread fear and uncertainty. It keeps the public worried about terrorism, while at the same time reminding them that they’re helpless without the government to defend them.

It’s one thing to issue a hurricane warning, and advise people to board up their windows and remain in the basement. Hurricanes are short-term events, and it’s obvious when the danger is imminent and when it’s over. People respond to the warning, and there is a discrete period when their lives are markedly different. They feel there was a usefulness to the higher alert mode, even if nothing came of it.

It’s quite another to tell people to remain on alert, but not to alter their plans. According to scientists, California is expecting a huge earthquake sometime in the next 200 years. Even though the magnitude of the disaster will be enormous, people just can’t stay alert for 200 years. It goes against human nature. Residents of California have the same level of short-term fear and long-term apathy regarding the threat of earthquakes that the rest of the nation has developed regarding the DHS’s terrorist threat alert.

A terrorist alert that instills a vague feeling of dread or panic, without giving people anything to do in response, is ineffective. Even worse, it echoes the very tactics of the terrorists. There are two basic ways to terrorize people. The first is to do something spectacularly horrible, like flying airplanes into skyscrapers and killing thousands of people. The second is to keep people living in fear. Decades ago, that was one of the IRA’s major aims. Inadvertently, the DHS is achieving the same thing.

Homeland Security Advisory System scale.

Image via Wikipedia

European countries that have been dealing with terrorism for decades, like the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, and Spain, don’t have cute color-coded terror alert systems. Even Israel, which has seen more terrorism — and more suicide bombers — than anyone else, doesn’t issue vague warnings about every possible terrorist threat.

These countries understand that security doesn’t come from a scared populace, and that true counter-terrorism occurs behind the scenes and away from public eye. For earthquakes, the long term security solutions include things like building codes. For terrorism, they include intelligence, investigation, and emergency response preparedness.

The DHS’s incessant warnings against any and every possible method of terrorist attack has nothing to do with security, and everything to do with politics. In 2002, Republican strategist Karl Rove instructed Republican legislators to make terrorism the mainstay of their campaign. Study after study has shown that Americans worried about terrorism are more likely to vote Republican. Strength in the face of the terrorist threat is the basis of Bush’s reelection campaign.

Speaking about terrorist threat warnings, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said: “We don’t do politics in the Department of Homeland Security.” Despite these words, it’s increasingly clear that politics is at the heart of Bush’s counter-terrorism program.