Haven’t read the Obama interview in Rolling Stone yet, but the teaser at Grist puts an interesting gloss on the climate change debate getting injected into the fall presidential campaign:
He made some remarkable statements, including his belief that the millions of dollars pouring into the anti-science disinformation campaign will drive climate change into the presidential campaign.
Really hard to say about that, but fun to speculate. I would suspect that, as much as the objectively pro-warming crowd prides itself on being aggressive, this is one issue they probably would rather not talk about.
But they won’t be able to help themselves. And so they will call out all the scientists trying to pull the wool over the eyes and get more funding for their research… I actually can’t follow the logic of corruption they project onto scientists. But at some point, if AGW does get some play in the campaign – and it’s more than just about Romney lying about what he used to say (because he will be lying) – will the question become why are hippies trying to stifle job creation? Or will it be why does the government want to force every last American into Manhattan and onto subway trains to get to work? The window is still way, way over on the side of ‘you hippies are crazy.’
This is the level of discourse we’ve come to expect, and to a great extent, deserve. Until the window moves and/or the debate is framed in a way that puts big business on the defensive. Who know; it might be something Romney is able to accomplish all on his own. I would not being above reserving a special place in the history of the survival of the planet for Willard. Would you?
Just think: hippie children might one day be named for the candidate who inadvertently rendered climate change denial inoperative.
One of the world’s largest renewable energy projects, largest project’s period, was constructed in the 1930’s. The Grand Coulee Dam.
Not without controversy, it was also the beneficiary of some terrific luck when, with the attack on Pearl Harbor and outbreak of WWII, President Roosevelt and other supporters looked like geniuses for having had the foresight to push through such a crazy-expensive project. Hydro-electric power from the dam made possible the building of planes by Boeing and ships in Portland, not to mention the transformations of Seattle and Portland from outposts into major Northwestern cities.
This, really well-done, documentary tells a lot of the story, including choice bits about Woody Guthrie being paid to come up with promotional tunes for public energy (!) [who has that gig now?] and environmental consequences like the interruption of salmon runs on the Columbia River, the restoration of which have been probably more feel good and window dressing for preserving regional identity than anything. Anyway, recommended.
For many reasons, I try not to go down this road too often – attempting to understand, and then perhaps parse, why we have taken such gigantic steps in the opposite direction of Earth Day since what seemed to have been a collective awakening in 1970. As Cole says, the pollution issues we identified back then seem trite in comparison to what we face now, as we crank the atmosphere and the oceans toward higher temperatures.
So how have we been able to establish, project and re-enforce such a counter narrative to global warming that it, rather than the way of life that fostered it, now seems like an issue with a legitimacy problem? It brings to mind that cunning and incisive riposte from Tonto, “What do you mean we, white man?”
Because what was established, what is entrenched, is simply a hard corporate line. It’s in the short term interest of huge industrial, agro, and energy concerns to question the science supporting global warming. They have effectively conjoined our will with theirs, made us believe that it is an option to refuse to believe AGW and we have gladly, and with great relief, accepted. There is nothing individual or human about it, and they have curiously obscured any short/long term distinctions. And you see why I try not to go down this road too often.
Because it sounds like conspiracy; such is the power of this counter-narrative. We could say it is of a piece with the way people are conditioned to support, and vote for, candidates and issues that go against their own interest. There is profit in division – apply all cliches here. Because they are true. A plainly available set of established facts all flow in one direction. And yet the question wins the day; the science of global warming itself has been impugned as dishonest, corrupt, heavy-handed and coercive. I accuse you of what I am guilty. It’s tricky. And we’re vulnerable.
We are highly susceptible to corporate propaganda, to marketing, especially for what we want to believe about ourselves. Our ability to project wonderful images about who we are has far-outstripped our ability to be critical of this imagery, much less the ideas behind them. We’re afraid to ask who or what is behind them. And we settle back into a state of existential fear – not of what might happen, but fear of even thinking honestly about what might happen. At least during the nuclear age, everyone had a clear image of the mushroom cloud if not what it meant. The specter of annihilation remained abstract but, again, it was part of a plainly available set of established facts. Constantly invoked, and yes opening us to manipulation. But we reckoned with even this, and life went on.
Not reckoning with the specter of planetary peril puts the developed world in its greatest danger – as it threatens the rest of the world with utter catastrophe. This is a brutal and vicious calculation. But see it for what it is. By all means let’s pick up trash on the side of the street – today, any day. But there is all manner of detritus we are allowing into our homes and heads on a constant basis, supplying our own evidence to continue ignoring what is happening. It is a truly a form of darkness, though fortunately self-imposed. Unfortunately, portending an even greater one.
And so we need to turn on some lights. And so I have another reason to hate irony.
In my video interviews with Art, he keeps dropping references to Gustin, so I’ve been meaning to get to this. AC and I went to the huge retrospective at the Met a few years ago and it was well worth the trip – quite a bit more, actually. It’s tremendous work, but he also did a very interesting thing, turning away from his success as an Ab-Ex savant because he wanted [the work to] tell stories. There’s a good Hughes review from way back in Time but it’s behind a paywall. There’s the Dore Ashton book, “Yes, but…” if you can find it. And I came across this, from the Forward:
Guston’s escape from metaphorical imprisonment into art was not a solo effort; he depended heavily on allies and confidants. In a 1967 talk at the New York Studio School, Guston confided, “I need Feldman to tell me I’m not insane.” Together, Guston and Feldman were both critical of other creative personalities, as well as themselves. (In the same 1968 public discussion in which Treblinka is evoked, both Feldman and Guston concur that the music of the popular American Jewish composer David Amram is mere “kitsch.” These kinds of relentless standards and judgments may have made Guston’s ultimate stylistic transformation especially shocking for such hidebound art critics as The New York Times’s Kramer, who headlined an article about Guston’s last style: “A Mandarin Pretending To Be a Stumblebum.” What emerges from “Collected Writings,” as well as from such imaginative art historical studies as “Telling Stories: Philip Guston’s Later Works” by David Kaufmann (The University of California Press, 2010), is the extent to which art critics and even some artists become sclerotic when faced with the prospect of genuine change in art. A devoted reader of Kafka since the 1940s, Guston naturally retained implicit faith in the power of metamorphosis.
Such ever-evolving artists may frustrate observers who wish to typify and pigeonhole creative talents. In “Philip Guston’s Self-Doubt,” an essay posted on artnet.com, Donald Kuspit, professor of art history and philosophy at Stony Brook University, charges that Guston’s “loss of faith in fine art… symbolizes his loss of faith in himself,” caused by “unconscious guilt at repudiating his Jewish identity by changing his family name from ‘Goldstein’ to ‘Guston.’” This accusatory psychoanalyzing ignores some essential elements of Guston’s life. “Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston” explains how in 1924, at the age of 10 or 11, Guston discovered the body of his father, a failed junk dealer who had committed suicide by hanging. This brutal abandonment — by Guston father, not son — was infinitely more violent than any mere change of name or style.
Whether or not accompanied by (understandable) rejection of his father, Guston’s abiding obsession with Italian Renaissance figurative art is visible throughout his varying styles. Just as the Renaissance artists Paolo Uccello, Masaccio and Piero della Francesca investigated forms, so did Guston, with an ever-present awareness of the work of these predecessors. This formal inquiry is evident, despite the surprising drawing approach that deceived some critics, although not the most perceptive ones, into considering his works mere emulations of cartoons. “Guston in Time: Remembering Philip Guston,” written by the unjustly forgotten Brooklyn-born author Ross Feld and published in 2003 by Counterpoint Press, notes of Guston’s late figurative work: “Sometimes they’re rendered with a stillness that’s tragic, other times with an hilarious crudity — but even the most upsetting or disquieting imagery in late Guston has a shaggy, even goofy friendliness.” Feld further aptly praises Guston’s “consistent edge of philosophical humor and self-mockery…. Like a Marrano, a converso, one of the underground Jews of the Spanish Inquisition, he’d been a secret image maker all along, coerced into abstraction but never grounded there, outwardly observing but also inwardly undermining its rituals.”
Image: Curtain. 1977. Oil on canvas. The Estate of Philip Gustin.
The government of France is thinking post-nuclear energy and developing off-shore wind farms in the North Atlantic:
Long reliant on nuclear as its chief source of energy, France is having to think long and hard about its energy strategy in the face of increasing public questioning about the safety of nuclear after the Fukushima disaster and greater evidence about the potential future high financial costs of the technology. The decision by the French government late last week to award tenders to build offshore wind farms to produce 2 GW of energy suggests that wind power is high up the Elysée’s list of alternatives to nuclear.
French energy minister Eric Besson said the decision would create up to 10,000 new jobs and “position France among the leaders of the offshore industry,” when making the announcement that a consortium led by energy giant EDF and engineering firm Alstom had won a bid to build three wind farms off the coast of northern France. Spanish energy firm Iberdrola and French engineering giant Areva secured the rights to build a fourth farm, he said. The two consortia are expected to invest around €7 billion to install 2GW of offshore wind energy capacity, according to Besson.
I’m sure all kinds of batailles are raging there about whether climate change is real, too.
Sometimes the most important news isn’t breaking, isn’t something you learn about in 140 characters or between baby photos on fB (God love ‘em), but a reality that you become acquainted with over time, are in danger of forgetting – or worse – forgiving as some kind of difference of opinion. WMD in Iraq, for example, a lie that we used to justify the murder of many, many innocent people. The reason that we couldn’t find the WMD in Iraq was because they didn’t have any. QED.
Another example, Republicans, at all levels, construct a distrust of science when they don’t like its conclusions. This is the reason there is still a debate about climate change.
The research is by Gordon Gauchat of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and published in the prestigious American Sociological Review. In the study, Gauchat uses a vast body of General Social Survey data to test three competing theses about the relationship between science and the U.S. public:
1) the cultural ascendancy thesis or “deficit model” view, according to which better education and engagement with science lead all boats to rise, and citizens across the board become more trusting of scientists and their expertise;
2) the alienation thesis, according to which modernity brings on distrust and disillusionment with science (call it the “spoiled brat” thesis if you’d like); and
3) the politicization thesis—my thesis—according to which some cultural groups, aka conservatives, have a unique fallout with science for reasons tied up with the nature of modern American conservatism, such as its ideology, the growth of its think tank infrastructure, and so on.
Someone had sent me a 2008 Pew report documenting the intense partisan divide in the U.S. over the reality of global warming.. It’s a divide that, maddeningly for scientists, has shown a paradoxical tendency to widen even as the basic facts about global warming have become more firmly established.
Those facts are these: Humans, since the Industrial Revolution, have been burning more and more fossil fuels to power their societies, and this has led to a steady accumulation of greenhouse gases, and especially carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. At this point, very simple physics takes over, and you are pretty much doomed, by what scientists refer to as the “radiative” properties of carbon dioxide molecules (which trap infrared heat radiation that would otherwise escape to space), to have a warming planet. Since about 1995, scientists have not only confirmed that this warming is taking place, but have also grown confident that it has, like the gun in a murder mystery, our fingerprint on it. Natural fluctuations, although they exist, can’t explain what we’re seeing. The only reasonable verdict is that humans did it, in the atmosphere, with their cars and their smokestacks.
Basically, you can read all you want and see that intransigence on this issue is one-sided, systematic, on-going and most of all, deliberate. But based on nothing but not liking the results of what we have done, plus a fear of losing something they have decided to destroy anyway? It’s incoherent as ideology and contemptible as policy. Subservient politicians need to pay a price for this willingness to just blow the whole thing up.
That’s a clunky title, but I wonder whether at some point just talking about the weather won’t simply be sufficient to cover all that’s going on. The Weather Channel seems to be catching on – that there’s more going on.
The March heat wave finally caught the attention of major television news outlets. In recent weeks, ABC and NBC have run stories linking the “unprecedented” heat wave to climate change. They join PBS, which has been the only network consistently drawing the connection between extreme weather and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The Weather Channel has also picked up on the story, featuring a number of stories about the influence of human activity on extreme weather. One of the best segments featured meteorologist Stu Ostro, who explained why “data and science, not politics” changed him from a skeptic to someone very concerned about the problem.
How long before they start to be derided as biased? 3…2…1
Not sure if you read Charles Pierce, but you should. He’s given Esquire a new lease on life, with excellent advice for Willard Romney, like this:
That said, I think it’s time to update the recommendations I made last month. To pull off as shameless and utterly unprincipled a “pivot” as the one that is being proposed by the various handicappers on the bus would tax even the formidable internal guidance system of the Romneybot 2.0, for which being shameless and unprincipled is the only one of its prime functions that has worked perfectly throughout the campaign. The only way I see of doing it is to be so honest about being shameless and unprincipled that the whole wide world is so impressed by the sheer magnitude of your big, clanging brass balls that it forgets that you’d sell Massachusetts to the Somali pirates for five more points in next month’s Gallup poll, or 250 votes in Alabama. (I researched this phenomenon closely over the weekend, watching John Calipari win a national championship.) So, now that it’s very nearly, perhaps, almost, sort of Opening Day, let me suggest a “Big Speech” the candidate can deliver some time over the next three weeks, when nothing is really going on, and all that’s left to the campaign is empty bloviating (Hi, Newt!) and bitter recrimination (or, as it is known around the Santorum household, Our Reason To Live.) Give it to ‘em between the eyes, Willard:
“I’m Willard Romney, bitches, and how you like me now?
“See what I did there on Tuesday night? I hammered those punks like ten-penny nails into a wedge of fine cheddar. I am a strong, able Republican with more money than God and an even greater taste for mindless destruction and casual vengeance. I am not a jack Mormon. I am a gangsta Mormon, motherfkers, and the country is my bling. I am Moroni’s Omar. I am the Stringer Bell of the Great Alkali Plain and the world is mine, whenever I want it. Come at the king, you best not miss. I’ll bury your ass like I buried Santorum’s, under so much money that nobody will ever find it, even though I hear it glows red in the dark every time someone mentions The Pill. I bought me a Wisconsin and a Maryland and a D.C., although I am aware that even my wealth — and have you noticed that I have $250 million stashed away for a rainy fking century? — wouldn’t be enough to carry The District in the general. But all I really have to do is spend enough to carry 51 percent of the Green Rooms there and I’m home fking free. And I can do that. Chuck Todd’s already halfway down into my vest pocket, looking for loose doubloons. And you know why?
“Because I’m Willard Romney, bitches, and I can buy and sell your great-grandchildren and you won’t even know it happened.
If it should please, and it does, you should start at the top and read the whole thing.
This adds a whole other dimension to the concept of Lake Eery:
A local billionaire built it, and they did not come. The South China Mall was the most ambitious and largest retail space every conceived in China, if not the world, when it opened in 2005. Constructed smack in the middle of the Pearl River Delta between Shenzhen and Guangzhou, about 4 million people live within six miles of it, 9 million within twelve miles and 40 million within sixty miles. Nonetheless, six years later, the South China Mall only maintains a 1% occupancy rate at best. This unabatedly empty temple to consumerism remains unfinished on top floors and is only sporadically visited thanks to the attached amusement park, Amazing World. For the time being dust and dismembered mannequins reign over the 6.5 million square foot venture. Although China might be the fastest growing consumer market in the world, the South China Mall reveals the vulnerability of this burgeoning economic giant. Also, check out this short film done on the place by Sam Green.
Without looking back through, I’ve written about this before… but, yikes. Not a whole lot to say, just noting the passing of an epoch, I would hope.