Pruitt’s “Prove It”

The “slow burn” crises are more likely to get you killed than the “sudden impact” disasters. Remember the January 2017 revelation that the Titanic was doomed by an undetected fire that critically weakened the hull, long before the iceberg?

EPA Director Scott Pruitt might want to read over that evidence in his spare hours, since he’s obviously not spending his days immersed in climate science and cause-effect logic.

So while his statement isn’t technically wrong when he says “there is disagreement about whether carbon dioxide is the main cause of global warming,” his implication damn well is.

That implication being that this justifies the @RealDonaldTrump Administration’s move to rescind/suspend climate-targeted regulations with budget cuts, pushing “climate change skepticism” messages to the public through the EPA, and new directives.

I can think of a places where this newly launched effort could run aground on reality.

  1. Economic Momentum: A majority of customers in the USA (millennials and baby boomers alike) prefer products/services that are environmentally responsible. Major economic players in the private sector know that climate change can hurt their bottom line more than government regulations. Investment in “clean tech” is rising because sponsors are seeing both financial and ethical returns.
  2. Political Momentum: Not just another dimension to the Economic Momentum (consumers, businesses, and investors also vote). Climate change companions like drought, rising ocean levels, desertification, deforestation make warfare and conflict more likely. They certainly added to the intensity and speed of violence in the Syrian civil war and the rise of ISIS/Daesh. Any U.S. government interested in preventing/mitigating future conflicts will pay attention to that.
  3. Science: The math and models do show that CO2 is a very significant lever, even if they don’t show it being “the most important.” That isn’t seriously debatable. What you can — and should — debate are the best ways to use that lever, along with other “planet levers”.

Wonder if there’s an ANCSA-like approach to the Dakota pipeline dispute.

Wonder if there’s an ANCSA-like approach to the Dakota pipeline dispute. In that case, a pipeline could not be built until the Alaska Native claims were settled. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act is actually being honored…roughly…providing millions to a community-administered fund.

Are there any concessions that can be offered the Standing Rock Sioux, aside from the pipeline going through? I.e. signing an act into U.S. law like ANCSA.

For a country so gung-ho about entrepreneurship and a president who can’t say enough about STEM and innovation, there’s remarkably little action on actually creating a mutually beneficial solution to the dispute.

Instead it’s all framed as zero sum Environment v.s. Industry…which let’s face it *is a terrible framework* if you’re on the environment side. National Interest is easier to define in terms of “us” and “now”, compared to “them” and “later”.

It isn’t like no solution/compromise is possible. There’s already an existing arrangement, the one we’re all complicit in.

We socially conscious Americans love living in the land of digital music/video, games, sports, Google and Apple and Whole Foods. We have a love/hate relationship with the quality of life v.s. cost of living situation, migrating around the country to find the right fit.

Supporting our lifestyle is this fact: we live this life afforded us by the U.S. government, and the companies and individuals that pay the most revenue to the U.S. government (in taxes) are those whose interests are strongly tied to the price of oil. It’s oil companies like Exxon Mobil, major banks (who lend to oil companies), and major tech companies like Apple and Google (who depend on oil-consuming manufacture and road, air and sea transportation).

Then there’s the security aspect of oil. The Obama Administration has continued a policy begun quietly during the Bush years, to kick foreign oil producers in the nads. That’s why we import less from African countries, the Middle East and North Africa than we did 20 years ago. Less money for Iran, Saudi Arabia and the like, so they have less money for the bullsh*t they run with manipulating the Islamic faithful for their own Elite interests.

That’s why it’s open season on fracking and the Gulf of Mexico and hitherto “protected” areas. There’s a tacit understanding between U.S. oil companies and the U.S. government, that if they take the hit of lower prices, the U.S. government will make it easier for them to get to domestic oil and gas. And so that’s the way it’s been, from George W. to Barrack O.

So when people start protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, that’s the context in which the government and major economic players see it. That’s the calculus that weighs the Standing Rock Sioux against Everything Else and says, “meh”.

I think that probably counted more or at least as much as race in the case of the Bundys — they weren’t pissing in the eye of a billion dollar National Interest. That they were flag-waving white dudes just made it easier for them to get off.

Until we change this framework — of the DAPL being seen by the U.S. government as a U.S. national interest. You have to change the framing, you have to change the way people connect the dots, you have to show what alternatives can be built with the resources we have now, and you have to show what this can create for the future.

Frame, connect, build and create.

Otherwise it seems hard to see this ending any other way than like the Occupy Protests, where there’s a GI Joe Woodstock “movement” but no actual compensation/restitution for those worst hit by the crisis.


Environment of Flux, Fight and Flight

Forget what Leo DiCaprio said about climate change and global warming. It’s the way governments manage land that threatens us all.

Case in point is Syria: just one chapter in a complex history of humanity, monotheism and the environment of the Middle East/Islamic world. It’s a *fascinating* topic.

Climatologists say Syria is a grim preview of what could be in store for the larger Middle East, the Mediterranean and other parts of the world. The drought, they maintain, was exacerbated by climate change. The Fertile Crescent — the birthplace of agriculture some 12,000 years ago — is drying out. Syria’s drought has destroyed crops, killed livestock and displaced as many as 1.5 million Syrian farmers. (Source: Scientific American, The Ominous Story of Syria’s Climate Refugees)

Look at the rivers, grasses and forests that fed and formed our first major civilizations (e.g. Mesopotamia). What was urbanization at first but a governed collection of farmers and traders?

Look at the centrality of agriculture and agricultural symbolism to Islam, Judaism and Christianity — making sure people get enough resources from the land, which means managing water, logging, pasture, farms, etc. Look at Christ the Shepherd, Muhammad the Meccan trader (wares including spices, animal products, maybe even wine) and the symbolism of Judaism (wine, the Garden of Eden, Jacob wearing goat hide to win his birthright).

Agriculture and agriculture-related law (including ownership) would drive society, and governments would exert a lot of control over who has what land and what they can do there, e.g. stationary farmers and nomadic herders. Look for a problem in today’s Islamic world that doesn’t strongly involve farmers or getting food to the cities, water, or nomads and the ever-changing migration/grazing patterns of their livestock.

There’s a recurring pattern of disruptive climate fluctuations and human effects on the environment — bad harvests, deforestation, drought/no water in the wells, disease/not enough food for livestock, etc. This makes people move and people fight — this affects governments, armies and the fates of nations.

Then there’s the role of wealth. Trade shapes society and international trade affects what and how people use their land: cash crops (e.g. Turkish cotton) and then oil.

Natural resources attract outside intervention — think of the Mongol desire to control/unify the rich trade of the Silk Road. Think of how oil changed the fate of the Middle East.

These days, all of this comes together. Nations created by environments created by nations. Migration, conflict and commerce on a global scale.