Climate Change, Peak Oil, And Nuclear War
By Bill Henderson
Damocles had one life threatening sword hanging by a thread over his head. We have three:
The awakening public now know that climate change is real and human caused but still grossly underestimate the seriousness of the danger, the increasing probability of extinction, and how close and insidious this danger is - runaway climate change, the threshold of which, with carbon cycle time lags, we are close to if not upon.
A steep spike in the price of oil, precipitated perhaps by an attack on Iran or Middle East instability spreading the insurgency to Saudi Arabia, could lead to an economic dislocation paralyzing the global economy. Such a shock coming at the end of cheap oil but before major development of alternative energy economies could mean the end of civilization as we know it.
And there is a building new cold war with still potent nuclear power Russia and China reacting to a belligerent, unilateralist America on record that it will use military power to secure vital resources and to not allow any other country to threaten it's world dominance. The world is closer to a final, nuclear, world war than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 with a beginning arms race and tactical confrontation over weapons in space and even serious talk of pre-emptive nuclear attack.
These three immediate threats to humanity, to each of us now but also to future generations, are inter-related, interact upon each other, and complicate any possible approach to individual solution. The fossil fuel energy path has taken us to a way of life that is killing us and may lead to extinction for humanity and much of what we now recognize as nature.
There is one possible way this Gordian Knot can be cut open so that we can unblock and begin solving each of these life threatening problems hanging over our collective heads - massive change in the United States of America. It is possible to conceive of an America renouncing unilateralism and militarism and above all renouncing imperial consumption; an America leading in turning the military industrial complex into a new Manhattan project style creation of a new, clean, green, local and much smaller footprint economy; an America rich enough to develop a sustainable 21st century way of living and enlightened enough to share a common future on this small blue planet.
What would it take to cut the knot?
Impeachment and criminal proceedings against those in the Bush Administration who cynically attacked Iraq to create a client state as part of a neocon dream to rebuild a business friendly Middle East.
A commitment to radically reduce military spending and America's military footprint and leadership in developing a new round of disarmament and proliferation treaties and a commitment to strengthening multilateral institutions and the international rule of law so that co-operation and diplomacy and not warfare will settle future resource or other dispute.
New governance innovation so that the best and brightest are electable and not just the rich, psychopathic, or the corporation owned and branded. America has the wisest, smartest, most skilled, expert innovators in almost every field - Wilson, Costanza, Lubchenko, Holling, Pimental, Dailey and many others for just the biological sciences example. We need this level of competence and complex problem solving ability in a government empowered and unfettered for change and dedicated to the possibility of continuing opportunity in the future.
In less than a decade America must morph from a fat, info-tainment addled, spoiled brat in combat fatigues to healthy, productive, responsible, ethical citizens again. From Syriana style monsters in mindless sprawl wastelands to exemplars of quality lifestyles, free of the draining virus of affluenza and reinvigorated by the promise of new frontiers of human endeavor and maturity. From purpose bred consumers that create 20 tons of CO2 annually as part of their highest in the world average 25 acre footprints to much more aware and alive people getting close to the sustainable global average of around 2 tons of carbon emissions annually in a 4 acre footprint.
Only a change of this massive scale in America will allow for solution to these building life and death global-scale problems. If America doesn't lead and make their example work we're toast. But few in America can afford even to think about this possible hopeful future. Cannot afford to think about their place in an alternative economy, in alternative lifestyles, in a much different America. Americans today are hopeless addicts.
Massive change for a new America is never debated in the major media No legislator or business or social leader can afford to initiate such a debate. But without American leadership, now, in acknowledging that massive change is needed, without American leadership, now, in finding a path to make this needed change, one if not all of those swords are going to fall.
The Bush Admin appears to want to play double or nothing with war in Iran to try again at enforcing their neocon vision for the Middle East. Valuable time is wasting as we drift along down to energy shortage and, at the same time, increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Is there someone who recognizes the danger and can cut the knot?