Hurricane Katrina by Wikipedia commons
but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing . " (Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5)
The major party political conventions are underway in Tampa Florida and Charlotte North Carolina this week and next. Like most people, I'm sure you (no matter which country you're in) are waiting for the candidates to talk about the major issues of the day: the severe drought, the increasing severity of storms, unemployment, what to do about our aging nuclear power facilities, whether we will start another war sometime soon, and more.
Any of these issues has the potential to wreak devastation on all of us, rich or poor, regardless of race or economic standing, and regardless of where you live. The fate of our nation, our global civilization, indeed, quite possibly, of all life on Earth, is hanging in the balance.
But instead of any meaningful discussion, we get vague nostrums with a side of pabulum, about both party's "vision" for America's future. Despite the verbiage, what both parties actually have in common is that neither of the parties has any ideas nor visions other than getting themselves elected. Both are entirely creatures of the current status quo, which is defined by the rule of money.
I've just come to understand that the existential challenge posed by global warming is far worse and far more immediate than I had previously realized. We literally risk triggering the extinction of all life on Earth. The absolute silence coming from both parties, and their lackluster candidates, is therefore stunning.
Were you aware that this week scientists announced, in a peer reviewed journal, that they had discovered the existence of vast, until now unknown, methane deposits embedded in rapidly melting Antarctic ice? These deposits will substantially accelerate the process of global warming. [See summary for original scientific paper HERE . See HERE for article assessing significance of this discovery.] This discovery occurs in the context of rapidly rising concentrations of methane in the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is several dozen times more potent in terms of its heat trapping effects, than is CO2.
The addition of this new methane source means that worst-case global warming outcomes are now PROBABLE and not merely POSSIBLE. Those outcomes could mean the extinction of the entire human race in the next century--or possibly sooner.
Fueled in large part by unexpectedly high, accelerating release of methane into the atmosphere, global warming is now accelerating [see HERE ] well beyond the most pessimistic predictions of climate models. Artic sea ice is now plunging off the charts to levels unseen in geological ages.
If you were relying on the mass media to learn of this new methane discovery, then you likely didn't hear about this at all. Yet, as I've already noted above, this discovery will have dire effects for the survival of human civilization--it makes the prospect for near term extinction of humanity MUCH more probable.
And the response of our political leadership ranges from silence to outright denial. I'll venture a prediction here: Neither major party candidate will ever so much as mention it, except possibly in passing, between now and the November election. This is a pretty safe prediction, given that the only mention of the subject of global warming throughout the entire campaign was one throwaway line by Obama in his Rolling Stone interview last month.
So I will make another prediction which I am exactly 100% sure will be proved correct: Whether Romney or Obama is elected this year, it will not make any meaningful difference with respect to taking the bold and drastic steps needed to deal with this rapidly mounting existential crisis. Neither candidate has the slightest intention of doing anything meaningful to address this life-or-death crisis. Even if they did, which they don't, they would not be permitted to undercut the fossil fuel industry's profit maximization agenda.
The reason for this is simple: The United States of America, birthplace of democracy in the modern era, is now an oligarchy. To be an oligarchy is to be ruled by the wealthy. I had hesitated to make this call until after the US Supreme Court's Citizen United and FreeSpeech.org decisions in 2010. Even then, I still held out a faint hope that the Court would realize that it had blundered and at least partially reverse itself. However, in June of this year the Supreme Court effectively doubled down on its Citizens United decision. See HERE for details.
Section 501 (c3) and (c4) of the US Internal Revenue Code are now interpreted as authorizing unlimited expenditure of corporate monies for political electioneering purposes. Section 501 (c4) additionally now allows for unlimited contributions to be made anonymously. Because unlimited corporate monies can now be used to virtually ensure the election of favored candidates, all "serious" candidates now must be absolutely subservient to these wielders of concentrated wealth; since by definition, the monies needed to make them "serious" candidates would not otherwise be forthcoming.
There are no worries ahead for our ruling class of corporate oligarchs with respect to either of the two "serious" Presidential candidates. Barack Obama has spent his entire Presidency shamelessly selling out those of us who supported him in 2008, along with selling out the interests of all Americans, indeed the entire planet. He has performed as a supine, knee bending servant to these corporatist overlords. He has trashed the Bill of Rights even more than his vile predecessor. For a very incomplete list of Obama's numerous betrayals and failings see HERE .