Confidence Scheming New York City-Styles or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Climate Change's Upcoming Floods
Following the Pope's climate change Encyclical by about two months, last week one of the world's most respected climate researchers, former NASA scientist James Hansen, laid down the gauntlet with 16 other scientists and released his latest climate change findings. As should be expected by now, the news is that climate change continues to accelerate unabated.
To be honest I only read the paper's abstract, partly because I don't see much point in paying too much attention to climate change prognostications anymore, and partly because I'm much more interested and concerned about peak oil, financial collapse, and their roles in the greater collapse of industrial civilization (which climate change will play an increasing role in as time goes on). As much as I tend to take long-term views on things, in the short term, it appears that encroaching oceans are the least of our worries, overshadowed by the emerging collapses of the energy extraction business and the monetary system.
And as RE of the Doomstead Diner explained in a recent post of his,
Hansen doesn't address the corollary problem, which is that if you quit burning fossil fuels on a dime, even if it were possible to flick it off like a light switch, precisely how would we run all the systems that depend on this energy these days, like your electric lights, the sewage treatment plants in the Big Shities, etc?
To be fair, I don't think that Hansen et. al. expect us to ditch fossil fuels on a dime, but for climate change "alarmists" to point out what they do without stating that we've got to ditch industrial civilization is pretty much the equivalent. In other words, it'd be quite fair to say that since climate change pontificators generally touch on little else but climate change, the modus operandi is to effectively live in cordoned-off worlds of climate change myopia. (I attended the inaugural, opening-night talk given by Naomi Klein for her climate change book This Changes Everything at the Toronto Public Library. Being the fourth – and last – person to ask a question in the Q&A session, I asked Klein how her book related to the Limits to Growth – it appeared to be a rather sophisticated and polite crowd so I [pathetically] softballed and refrained from saying "peak oil" instead of "Limits to Growth." Not too surprisingly, I got a beach ball in return and was told that what we need is "green growth.")
On top of all that, even if none of the aforementioned crises existed except for climate change, it appears to be utter nonsense to think that we're making even negligible efforts – or that negligible efforts can even be made – towards warding off even the most minor effects of climate change. In other words, I'd say it's about time we bit the bullet and accepted as foregone conclusion that the worst outcomes of climate change, whatever they actually are (which is not to say the self-projecting theories of Guy McPherson, as I presume they are), are pretty much guaranteed to happen.
Although I think hope is worthwhile, I don't see much point in the false hope doled out by most climate change pundits these days. As much as I would like to see it happen, it's getting more and more obvious that we can't expect for much – if any – of the remaining fossil fuels to be wilfully left in the ground unburned. Can we really expect our Chinese brethren, making a more recent ascent from peasantry, to behave any different from us and so forego their turn at the fossil fuel high-life – and just so that us Westerners can have a larger share of what remains so that we can prolong our binge? And even if we do collectively cut back, are those negated fossil fuels to be left in the ground permanently, or burned tomorrow instead? (For the record, I'm not a nihilist and have in fact significantly cut back on my participation in the fossil fuel economy [and am interested in carbon farming (minus the carbon credit shams)], although I presume that I've more than offset any fossil fuel savings I've made with several flights between Canada and Australia/New Zealand.)
Using history as our example, it becomes apparent that the one hope we have of averting the worst of climate change is for an outright fast collapse of the world economy. Because as recent information has shown, and as a study published in Nature a couple of weeks ago explained, it appears that the recent dip in atmospheric carbon levels between 2007 and 2009 occurred thanks to the global recession (see the summaries by Smithsonian or International Business Times if you'd like).
Which brings me to New York City. If there were actually much sincerity (or intelligence) behind the recent People's Climate March and the proceeding United Nations meeting held in Manhattan, then, and as idiotic and juvenile as it is to say so, wouldn't the call have been placed by the United Nations to shut down Wall Street once and for all? For Wall Street is, after all, the mother of all Ponzi schemes. And since the Ponzi permission bestowed upon Wall Street and the private banking system to create the vast majority of our money out of thin air (via fractional reserve banking) requires perpetual growth to maintain the illusion of solvency, this then requires perpetually increasing levels of energy – the burning of fossil fuels – to power the whole thing. How, may I ask, does that sit with climate change?
However, and never minding the utter fossil fuel dependence inherent to industrial civilization and its infrastructure, do New Yorkers actually have any interest in giving up the free lunch bestowed upon them via being the heart of the greatest Ponzi scheme the world has ever seen? Make no mistake, although trickle-down economics is a complete fallacy (it's closer to trickle-up), the conjured wealth of New York City most certainly does trickle down beyond the so-called "1%," in particular to children of the wealthy (as well as a few uppity self-selected folk) who have been stationed (or have artfully stationed themselves) into positions of obedient lapdogs to those in higher echelons than themselves who possess big baggies of biscuits.
To get straight to the point, how else would New York City CEOs, stockbrokers, and all the rest of those involved in the Wall Street confidence scheme, be able to validate their gaudy and vacuous lives without the corollary confidence schemes of entities such as the New York City art world, which sells the goods that enable powerbrokers and such to justify their lives and livelihoods with the silly concept of being "cultured"? And vice versa, how else would the "culture vultures" of New York City be able to afford their restaurant-hopping and otherwise profligate ways of living if they didn't hone their mastery of BS and weasel their own art-world confidence schemes into the wallets of New York City's obese cats? Does New York City's shifty art crowd, as well as other New Yorkers, really want to give up their preferred access to the perks of harlotry?
And not only is it fair to ask whether New Yorkers want to give up the golden teat, but similarly, does the world want New York City to give up being New York City? Is there even anything close to another city in the world whose de facto logo can be seen virtually tattooed on people's foreheads from one end of the planet to the other? In fact, it was only just a few days ago that the Internet brought us photographs by a Moscow-based photographer, displaying a series of shots taken over the past year of Russians wearing New York City emblazoned attire – in these cold war-ish times of ours!
To reiterate, do any of us – even Russians! – really want New York City to give up being New York City? Do we really want to strike at the heart and teats of the primary source of our collective narcissism, our financial, artistic, and cultural delusion? Since that answer is generally "no," rather than bothering us any more with these grandstanding People's Climate Marches and their false promises that we can avert the worst effects of climate change and encroaching oceans if, for the umpteenth time, we just take action in time (Tim Flannery six years ago: Now or Never!), wouldn't all the narcissism be all the more pleasant for New Yorkers if they just grew a pair (of gills) and learned how to suck it up?
p.s. Just as I was getting ready to upload this post I came across a New York Times piece pointing out that US President Barack Obama was about to unveil some new climate change plan. Something to do with his legacy. Yawn.