Saturday, September 2, 2017

Politicizing Harvey - George Monbiot explains what others hide from.

"The media avoids the subject of climate breakdown – to do otherwise is to bring the entire infrastructure of thought crashing down."Sept, 2
Once again George Monbiot writes a sober realistic assessment - as opposed to the disconnected, delusional watered-down mishmash we are receiving from our leaders, too many cowered scientists who know better, and the profits driven news media in general - regarding the Harvey manmade global warming connection and what we must expect these next years.

At first I wanted to quote highlights and link to his article, but that just chopped up the narrative since Monbiot's writing is already plenty succinct.  Then I was going to quote the first few paragraphs and link to the original.  But I could not decide on an appropriate cut off.  

I’m driven to post the entire essay since it’s so rare for me to read something that hits every note and so closely aligns with my own decades long musings and frustrated attempts at communicating Earth's climate realities to other people.  Fortunately, Mr. Monbiot has already given me permission to reprint some of his articles, so here’s another must read. 

As I mentioned in my previous post this latest round of desperate climate science avoidance crystalized for me the image of a people desperately clinging to dreams of yesterday’s normal, like a child desperately clinging to her mother as they're being inexorably torn apart for all time.  Unfortunately, what we refuse to comprehend will harm, nay destroy all we’ve come to love about this world.

In the following George Monbiot once again offers the reader a cold sobering slap in the face, it ain't nice but it is the reality we made for ourselves.  Might as well honestly face what's arrived at our doorstep.  Can't say we didn't see it coming.

Don’t Look Now
2nd September 2017

(I've added some Bold highlights)

It is not only Donald Trump’s government that censors the discussion of climate change; it is the entire body of polite opinion. This is why, though the links are clear and obvious, the majority of news reports on Hurricane Harvey have made no mention of the human contribution.

In 2016, the United States elected a president who believes that human-driven global warming is a hoax. It was the hottest year on record, in which the US was hammered by a series of climate-related disasters. Yet the total combined coverage for the entire year on the evening and Sunday news programmes on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News amounted to 50 minutes. Our greatest predicament, the issue that will define our lives, has been blotted from our minds.

This is not an accident. But nor (with the exception of Fox News) is it likely to be a matter of policy. It reflects a deeply ingrained and scarcely conscious self-censorship. Reporters and editors ignore the subject because they have an instinct for avoiding trouble. To talk about climate breakdown (which in my view is a better term than the curiously bland labels we attach to this crisis) is to question not only Donald Trump, not only current environmental policy, not only current economic policy, but the entire political and economic system.

It is to expose a programme that relies on robbing the future to fuel the present, that demands perpetual growth on a finite planet. It is to challenge the very basis of capitalism; to inform us that our lives are dominated by a system that cannot be sustained, a system that is destined, if it is not replaced, to destroy everything.

To claim that there is no link between climate breakdown and the severity of Hurricane Harvey is like claiming that there is no link between the warm summer we have experienced and the end of the last ice age. Every aspect of our weather is affected by the fact that global temperatures rose by around 4° between the ice age and the 19th Century. And every aspect of our weather is affected by the 1° of global warming caused by human activities. While no weather event can be blamed solely on human-driven warming, no weather event is unaffected by it.


I believe it is the silence that’s political. To report the storm as if it were a entirely natural phenomenon, like last week’s eclipse of the sun, is to take a position. By failing to make the obvious link and talk about climate breakdown, media organisations ensure that our greatest challenge goes unanswered. They help push the world towards catastrophe.

Hurricane Harvey offers a glimpse of a likely global future; a future whose average temperatures are as different from ours as ours are from those of the last ice age. It is a future in which emergency becomes the norm and no state has the capacity to respond. It is a future in which, as a paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters notes, disasters like Houston’s occur in some cities several times a year. It is a future that, for people in countries such as Bangladesh, has already arrived, almost unremarked by the rich world’s media. It is the act of not talking that makes this nightmare likely to materialise.

In Texas, the connection could scarcely be more apparent. The storm ripped through the oil fields, forcing rigs and refineries to shut down, including those owned by some of the 25 companies that have produced over half the greenhouse gas emissions humans have released since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Hurricane Harvey has devastated a place in which climate breakdown is generated, and in which the policies that prevent it from being addressed are formulated.

Like Donald Trump, who denies human-driven global warming, but who wants to build a wall around his golf resort in Ireland to protect it from the rising seas, these companies, some of which have spent millions sponsoring climate deniers, have progressively raised the height of their platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, in response to warnings about higher seas and stronger storms. They have grown from 40 feet above sea level in 1940, to 70ft in the 1990s, to 91ft today.


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