Monday, October 10, 2016

Coal miners of the world unite and take back the 20th century

Critical thinking still breathing

The most recent issue of Nature Conservancy magazine is devoted to climate change in the U.S. One of the articles discusses the varied strategies taking place across the United States, which often reflects the makeup of the state be it politically, economically, socially and so forth. For example, in Iowa more than one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions comes from agriculture. The focus here is educating farmers on soil management and fertilizer reduction and working closely with the state's “decision makers.”

In New York state the emphasis is on overhauling the electrical grid system, decentralizing power generation and encouraging more solar and wind energy. In Louisiana reforestation is seen as an important goal, while in Libertarian-inclined New Hampshire energy independence, self-sufficiency and clean energy is attractive across the political spectrum.

The point of all these examples is that there are many different KNOWN strategies to confront climate change, the overriding goal being to keep global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius. Something like one-third of greenhouse gas emission reductions can be accomplished by the protection and restoration of nature. Ultimately, the strategy for global success is both mitigation and adaptation to climate change and a lot of creative thinking.

What ought not to be considered in the U.S. and across the globe is the increase of fossil fuel production, coal in particular. In the recent vice-presidential “debate,” nominee Mike Pence spoke about the unemployed coal miners and that his party would restore coal production and presumably put the miners back to work.

It's almost irrelevant whether it is ignorance or merely electioneering blather, but coal production needs to vanish, much, much sooner than later. Mountain top restoration of coal mines, among other things, is a better acknowledgment of 21st century reality.

What coal miners and others need is the unvarnished truth about economic change, along with programs that actually provide serious retraining, financial support and a first world education system for their children. Once again, the electorate has considerable responsibility in making this happen, and not merely complaining about what is not happening. Yes, the automobile put the buggy whip manufacturers out of business.

Cigarettes don't cause cancer

A lot of folks remember the iconic photograph of cigarette executives in 1994 raising their hands before a Congressional committee promising to tell the truth about their product. Well, that “truth” proved elusive back then, but in the minds of many people the cigarette industry is nothing more than a criminal enterprise, which is apparently still thriving today in many third world countries.

In 2016 we have the fossil fuel industry, which will potentially have a far greater impact than the tobacco industry ever had. EXXON, in particular, has spent some $31 million dollars funding climate denial campaigns, yet at the same time—unlike the tobacco industry—has conducted genuine climate change studies undertaken by real climate scientists, who clearly state that human caused climate change is very real. It is well worth reading, Two-Faced Exxon: the Misinformation Campaign Against its OwnScientists and Sir Robert Watson, British Climate Expert.

An existential threat is a terrific reason to become involved and become informed about how to make changes that matter to more than merely the comfortable.

Additional reading:


Yes I too watched the presidential “debate” last night. Clearly Donald Trump and depressingly a large number of his supporters prefer the dankness of the sewer rather than fresh air and blue skies. Hillary Clinton managed to utter the words Climate Change at the very end of the evening when an audience member asked a question about energy. While my heart is well to the left of Clinton my head says more than ever she deserves my support. That's where the organizing can take place, in a world where climate change must take center stage.

NEXT: Does Capitalism and “Geocide” Go Together?

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