The predictions of the climate scientists about global heating have been coming true. Already we have seen droughts, floods, rampant wildfires, shorter winters, insect infestations, dying fish, dying polar bears, melting glaciers, permafrost destruction, crop failures, climate refugees, and species destruction. The only thing the scientists have gotten wrong so far is the timetable. All of the model predictions have been underestimates.
According to Bill McKibben, climatologists had predicted that "it might take up to a decade before the surface of Greenland's ice sheet melted all at once. ...It actually happened in just a few weeks." McKibben says that this shift "only underscores how consistently cautious ice scientists have been in forecasting the threat posed by global warming." Greenland's glaciers are melting about 30 times faster than they were 10 years ago.
Now scientists are telling us to prepare for the flooding of coastal cities such as New York, Miami, and Boston within four decades. How cautious are their timetables for that prediction?
Even a paid shill of the Koch brothers has admitted to the dangers of global heating. The president of Exxon-Mobil has admitted to it, but he hastened to add: "We will adapt." And who, pray tell, is going to pay for these adaptations while the fossil fuel industry continues to drill and rake in its billions? As a journalist responded, "Moving entire cities can be very expensive."
We march against pipelines and we beg powerful people for carbon taxes. We try to drive our cars a bit less often, but our jobs are an hour away from our homes and there is no mass transit to take us from here to there. Most Americans even have to drive a car to the nearest grocery store. We are eons away from a viable interstate mass transit system -- let's say, a high-speed rail that could take us from Boston to Washington, DC in a few hours, transit of the kind that is commonplace throughout Europe.
Global heating is a process that is already in motion and can no longer be completely reversed. All we can do is to prevent it from getting much, much worse.
The Fossil Fuel Industry Presents a Clear and Present Danger
To gain control over this rapid feedback loop, we need to nationalize the fossil fuel industry and bring its assets, and its resources, under social control.
The fossil fuel industry presents a clear and present danger to national security, to world security, to human civilization, and to life on earth. It even presents a clear and present danger to the lives of owners of the fossil fuel industry! As Bob Dylan once said, "For them that think death's honesty won't fall up on them naturally, life sometimes must get lonely."
The fossil fuel industry has forfeited its right to exist in its current form. If the United States can invade other countries, overthrow their governments, and bomb their civilian populations, on the grounds that these governments present a danger to national security, surely we can do what we need to do to bring this rogue industry under control.
By bringing the fossil fuel industry under social control, we can end fossil fuel subsidies and start to convert freed-up assets to the production of renewable energy and the development of mass transit systems. Nationalizing the fossil fuel industry can liberate forces of creativity and innovation as we work together to solve this unprecedented global crisis.
Far-fetched, perhaps, and sounding a bit un-American? Perhaps. However, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nationalized industries during World War II in the interests of national security. So there is precedent for nationalizing industries when the risks of leaving them private are unacceptably high.
Unthinkable ideas become thinkable when people start thinking about them. It wasn't long ago that the idea of ending corporate personhood was a nutty idea in the minds of a few fringe radicals. Now, state after state is endorsing constitutional amendments to end the legal claim that "corporations are people, my friend."
Of course, if we want to nationalize the fossil fuel industry, ending corporate personhood will be a big, big help.
We need to work toward our goal one step at a time. First we need to bring the concept of nationalizing the fossil fuel industry into public discourse. We need to bring the idea from the fringes into the vocabulary of the mainstream. At this stage, we can start by raising the slogan as a magnet. The whole dialogue will then start to shift in that direction. If people call us socialists, we can reply, "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me."