Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Crisis Hydra

I meant to link to this yesterday and forgot: Dave Roberts at Gristmill has an excellent post that should have been required reading on the Fourth. Sadly, he only posted it on the Fifth. Sloppy work, Dave.
I said last Thanksgiving, "I am acutely conscious of the blessings I enjoy, my privileged place in a shrinking world." Every holiday my awareness grows more acute, as those blessings stand in starker and starker contrast to the disaster taking place on the world stage.

Two situations are reaching a crisis point.

The first is climate change. If you believe James Hansen, we have ten years before positive feedback loops like the albedo effect and methane leaking from melting permafrost accelerate beyond our ability to rein them in. Of course we aren't certain what the effects will be, but they are likely to be unpleasant for a large number of earth's inhabitants, particularly the global poor. It would not, as some descriptions might lead you to believe, involve merely a shift to a new, stable, slightly warmer climate. We're closing off the climate system and packing more thermal energy into it. That means not just a new climate but a newly volatile climate -- wider swings and faster changes, with no end. Weirding....

The other situation that approaches crisis -- one that ought to be in our thoughts on Independence Day -- is the systematic assault on the U.S. Constitution: Bush's bid for virtually unlimited executive power. Secret military tribunals, warrantless searches, torture, rendition, legislation-defying signing statements, and imprisonment without trial are unwise and immoral as government policy, but especially ominous when undertaken in the complete absence of congressional or judicial oversight.
See, we environmentalists aren't one-issue people.

In fact, we may be required to be multi, or pan-issue people. Given that essentially everything is environmental, we need to be fluent with every issue we can wrap out brains around, and think of solutions to them all.

Global warming? Acid oceans? Mass extinctions? Melt-triggered volcanoes? Oil depletion? Nuclear proliferation? Chinese and Indian birth-control policies? Albertan urine-stink?*

Bring it on. It's the environmental crisis buffet, and I brought my stretchy pants.

*I know, I know. I should stop linking to that, but somehow - especially given the foofaraa over some kids peeing on the War memorial - the fact that the tar sands mining has caused an Albertan town to smell like urine gives me no end of happiness.

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