The Roots of Climate Change, or, Oh! the woe of Civilization!

Joseph Romm, a scientist and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, was on a panel about energy last night, which I watched on C-SPAN. This is my first encounter with Dr. Romm who apparently has a new book out on climate change and was very excited to mention his website/blog quite often, which is called Climate Progress. Though the event, created by the Independent Women’s Forum, was full of corporate think tank reps, leaving Romm in a room with a pack of wolves as a person who believes in the science of climate change, the panel debate was in one way a microcosm for the national political scene. The misinformation spread by one side kept pulling Romm to the center, keeping his statements as reactionary and defensive rather than pushing the debate beyond their assumptions. So I left a comment for Dr. Romm on his blog. Enjoy.


I have been watching your C-SPAN debate. While I agree that you were unfairly faced off against several people who have co-opted the science community to their own ends, your statements of defense seem not to touch on the largest point. You said “you don’t have to give up your SUV, but replace it with a hybrid SUV.” The other debators picked up on this contradiction automatically and showed that this will not substantially reduce emissions over the long haul because we will still be relying on coal and oil processes and industries. Our savior is likely not be the use of replenishable natural energies such as wind and sun and other technologies (also produced from coal and oil industry) because our demand for goods continues to increase.

The panelists use of making this a “global effort” to focus reduction on China and India is thinly veiled way of removing this country’s responsibility to the world for creating the possibility of this catastrophe which has already disproportionately affected pacific islands and permafrost regions that had little to no involvement in the production of greenhouse gases.

The elite industry owners, those robber barons of the US and Europe from the middle 19th century until now, are historically responsible and must bear that responsibility because their wealth and power was generated from the destruction of this planet.

Meanwhile the cultures of the people in India and China, similar in ways to the Native Americans who came across the landbridge, maintained a different relationship with the land. And this part is ABSOLUTELY key: They took no more from the land than was necessary for survival.

Coal: not necessary for survival. Oil: not necessary for survival. Clearcutting: not necessary, in fact the opposite of, survival.

It was not the desperate wage working (wo)man, deprived of land and hence detached from this developed natural relationship, that is at fault. Working class people, who in modern times still face too many obstacles at birth, to rise up. For the elite in a capitalist system dictate the histories that are remembered and can afford to hire the violence necessary to divide and conquer (read: kill) resistance. Resistance not only against facism and the authoritarian fact of bosses and elites, but against sustainable practices in relation to the environment, animals and humans included.

It is civilization’s arrogance when arriving in the new world to create a manifest destiny and assume (read: steal) land. Many of the first European settler were working class folks trying to find new opportunities for survival under the control of these elite voyage companies. I only bring all this up to show the pattern of civilization’s abuse of nature and peoples outside the western (read: industrial) way of life.

Einstein once said, and I’m paraphrasing, “it will take thinking beyond that which created the problems to solve them.” We must think beyond the free market and capitalism to solve the ills that capitalism and industry have caused.

feel free to contact me as well. research these ideas for yourself, get to the root of these issues, not only that the industrial revolution created the greenhouse gases, but what kind of culture sees or allows or expands such an obviously destructive and unnatural type of behavior as placing lots of people in factories with unsafe machines.

Published in: on August 27, 2007 at 10:47 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I didn’t just say — “you don’t have to give up your SUV, but replace it with a hybrid SUV.” That is the first step. Then I said you need a low-carbon alternative fuel, like cellulosic ethanol or plug-in hybrids running on renewable power.

    The 4-on-1 format did not allow me to respond to every piece of misinformation and misinterpretation that was uttered.

  2. thanks for responding to part of my post. i encourage you to respond to the other arguments i made as well.

    i agree that you did follow up with the “renewable” fuel statement and the format worked against you being able to vocalize anything in depth.

    yet, we have an addiction that destroys our landbase and other species habitat with excavation and clearcutting and taints our water sources with industrialized pesticides running off enormous agrobusinesses. Many of these things will not change with “renewable” power.

    Many things will change, but in a culture willing to indulge this addiction, willing to wait on the market and its next generation of technologies, there will always be the next crisis because the market has no conscience. Even with moral people running it, it’s the system and people willing to participate in it that creates the damage done to humanity and the landbase we see across the globe in everyday news stories.

    On the other hand, the government’s imposed morality, if it ever has one in the first place (like the epiphany of necessity during the Great Depression), is often diluted, compromised through the bureaucracy. It gets to the point where only upper and upper-middle class folks or highly financed and reactionary non-profits (accountable to foundations that are the offshoots of large businesses) can afford a decent lawyer to get them through the specialized language and long process of the courts to maintain those individual group’s civil, environmental and human rights. Then again, perhaps this sequestering of power by the elite, making as many people dependent on them to maintain their capital, is precisely the point.

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