Torture and blackmail and wiretapping, oh my!

First Rahm Emanuel — Barack Obama’s chief of staff — said torture is okay, as long as we’re the ones doing the torturing. In a sharp turn toward an ethical position, Obama himself actually concurred with the rule of law, indicating we just might prosecute those responsible for torturing alleged terrorists (which, according to the Bush administration, includes anybody Dubya says … because he says).


Amazingly, this might be the small potatoes for this week’s news. The big news, as yet hidden by (and perhaps from) the mainstream media, is that Congress is being held hostage by the Israeli lobby. There’s no reason to expect the blackmail stops at minor members of Congress. Award-winning investigative reporter Dave Lindorff asks if President Obama is being blackmailed, and concludes with an indictment of Congress and the National Security Agency:
“The American public can, at this point, have zero confidence in the integrity of the Congress or of their own representatives, knowing that politicians and government officials may be acting not in the public interest but rather under duress in the interest of those who control the National Security Agency. We can have zero confidence either in the integrity of the president, who likewise may well have been compromised by NSA surveillance conducted on him before he became president.”
That might explain why Barack’s predecessor shredded the Constitution and ditched the Bill of Rights. And I thought it was just for sport.
I haven’t had any confidence in the integrity of the Congressional or Executive branches for years. Seems I’m ahead of my time, much to my dismay.

Comments 22

  • “The American public can, at this point, have zero confidence in the integrity of the Congress or of their own representatives, knowing that politicians and government officials may be acting not in the public interest…”
    Gee, YA THINK? And here I’ve been blithely skipping through life with so much confidence in the integrity of politicians! But no longer. “At this point” I’ll have to become more skeptical. I’m so glad we have investigative reporters to deliver these shocking revelations.
    ‘Scuse me while I wipe up my puddle of dripping sarcasm…

  • Dear Guy —
    You might find this analysis interesting:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/floyd04222009.html
    Obama is complicit, just like John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban” kid from northern California who was captured in Afghanistan. The US military tried him as an enemy combatant and did not accept his explanation that he “was with the enemy, but different”. The American public should not accept Obama’s explanation that he was with the torturers but different.
    An old sentence from the mini-series “Lonesome Dove” comes to mind, when they hanged their old buddy Jake Spoon, Captain Call said that Jake knew that “if you ride with an outlaw, you die with an outlaw”. Obama has already crossed over the line and is a war criminal and a murderer.

  • You may not have confidence in two of our branches of government, Guy, but thankfully our media is always there to tell us what is really going on.
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/21/pulitzer/index.html
    Oh wait, they aren’t. My bad.
    Military-industrial complex: 1. Pulitzer prize winning authors: 0.

  • CJ, I recall trying to talk about the story mentioned above to die-hard “good-god-fearin-american-republicans”…”back in the day”…and all I encountered was apathy (at best). The government knows the masses aren’t listening and largely don’t care so long as they feel comfy-cozy. The minority that actually do can be quickly dealt with if they get too rowdy.
    Looks like the Hail Mary pass that was Obama didn’t work.
    So, now what?
    Also, does this mean we’ve got a new J. Edna Hoover running around somewhere at the NSA?

  • Dear Guy —
    Another good essay, this one by Doug Page, and called “The Fall olf the American Empire” can be read at http://www.dissidentvoice.org/
    A direct link to the essay may be at: http://www.dissidentvoice.org/the-fall-of-the-american-empire/
    The last sentence is the most important.
    The crux of the matter is that Barack Obama as President has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that reform of the system from within is impossible. A lot of hopeful people thought Obama was a “community organizer” set out to do good by the public. I recall standing almost alone in rejecting Obama as a bamboozler during the campaign itself, and everything I said in advance of his election is just as true as was my analysis of George W. Bush before his installation as President for his first term
    The system is doomed and engineered to fail, to the benefit of a few elite and to the detriment of the masses. The Congress, no matter what their personal backgrounds, are part of the elite and completely willing to facilitate the goals and interests of the elite. The system will not be reformed because it cannot be and human evolution, as expressed in Richard Dawkin’s terminology “the selfish gene” decrees that those with power will consolidate and dominate the rest of us and cannot help but do so.
    Many Americans are tired of the current “downturn” in the economy, but the REAL hard times are still not upon us. Things are far from bottoming out and the depression is just about to get started in earnest this summer. What is happening right now is the last looting operation of the economy, presided over by Obama, Geithner, and Bernanke, with a little help from their friends like Summers. It is typical of the dumbed down and misdirected American public that Obama and Co. can get away with this with essentially no questioning and no complaints by the masses.
    The water in the boiling pot is starting to get warm, but still not hot and the frogs are still not feeling the pain, though temperatures are warmer than normal.
    On a different subject, I went and saw the new BBC movie “Earth” today, and it had wonderful and amazing nature photography, including 100 sailfish feeding on schooling fish at once and a huge great white shark leaping out of the water with a seal in its jaws in a totally awesome sequence that had to be seen to be believed. The only disappointment was that I saw no raptors, not even any owls and I would have been happy to see a family of owls instead of the mandarin ducks fledging from a cavity nest (though the ducks were cute and fun to watch). But it is a great movie and even the predation events were tame enough for little children to see.
    Stan Moore

  • A very good explanation of why economics is not a science, why Barack Obama (who speaks of restoring economic growth for posterity) is not as intelligent as everyone seems to think he is, and why Obama ought to dismiss his economic advisers in favor of recently retired Professor Guy McPherson, who gets it:
    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/48731

  • Doomerism is the ONLY rational approach at this point…
    Dear Guy —
    If someone is not seeing doom ahead, they are not seeing clearly.
    One well-meaning fellow from Oz spoke of Black Swans as a beacon of hope. Black Swans, by the definition of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, are “highly improbable events”.
    To put hope in such events is what Jay Hanson, founder of Dieoff.org, would call “magical thinking”, and deserves a reality check.
    Taleb himself has had a long career as a financial risk analyst, which is where his expertise lies. Unfortunately, Taleb seems to fail to understand that the goal of modern securities trading and finance is to use risk to amass huge profits by guaranteeing immunity from the failures associated with risk. Taleb has made an honest living for years by successfully managing risk, while others have rigged the system to garner huge salaries and even larger financial bonuses by rigging the system to fail while guaranteeing personal and institutional enrichment as a consequence of failure.
    At the same time, Taleb seems out of his depth in applying principles of Black Swan phenomema to world events, as he seems blissfully unaware that 9/11/2001 was not an improbable or unpredictable event, but an “inside job” engineered AND explained in principle several years in advance of its occurance. The major recent events in world history are not Black Swans and Taleb, while being astute in certain rigors, is failing to grasp the mindset of the manipulators and charlatans, probably because he is an honest and ethical person.
    Just a few years ago, I used to hear the Rush Limbaugh crowd poke ridicule at Paul Erlich, author of the book “The Population Bomb” from a few years back. They claimed that Erlich had been thoroughly discredited and that “Black Swan” events such as the advent of the “Green Revolution” in agriculture had made overpopulation by the planet by humans a matter of non-concern. And yet this week, on National Public Radio of all places I heard a segment, with interviews from Indian farmers, that the Green Revolution has not only failed, but left the situation in India worse than before the “revolution” began. Now, farmers are forced to purchase expensive inputs (seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, irrigation pumps, electricity) to try to grow cash crops to pay off their World Bank loans, whereas in earlier times they were subsistence farmers who grow what they needed for themselves and their local communities. Now, the topsoils have been depleted by overfarming. The water levels have sunk, requiring much more expensive pumps, pumping water from deeper and deeper. Now, brackish, salty water has seeped into the system, and stunted plant growth and ruining fields in large areas.
    Yield is steadily decreasing, and many farmers are bankrupt and committing suicide in large numbers because they borrowed to pay for the revolution and cannot repay their bank loans. Soon, these problems will be reflected in the food supply of a land with a still-growing human population. Doom ahead!
    Probably the ONLY Black Swan event that could make a difference from the doom ahead would be if we could repeal the laws of thermodynamics. Unfortunately, those are set by nature and not by man, who always seems to find a way to make flexible good practices based on rationality into bad practices based on greed.
    The future of energy is the future of mankind, based on the laws of thermodynamics, and that is why biofuels and wind energy and solar energy and all the other forms of energy cannot keep our current system going at its current scale with the current population.
    We are headed for disaster, while simultaneously liquidating the world’s oceans, fouling the increasingly scarce fresh water resources, and warming the climate!
    What a man/society/empire/civilization sows it shall also reap.
    We have sown the seeds of disaster for years and fooled ourselves as a society into thinking we could do so endlessly. We have rigged our accounting systems and our reporting systems to pull the wool over our eyes, just as several banks have done this week with phony accounting indicating “impressive profits” in the current accounting cycle. A flawed accounting system is a prerequisite for results ending in disaster.
    Doomerism is the ONLY honest way to account for our situation now, because it is based on an honest account of probabilities in view of all relevant facts. Doomers are not doomers because they like the view, but because they have no other plausible means of accounting for what lies ahead.

  • Random question of the day:
    Guy, what do you think of Henrik Svensmark and the recent decrease in solar activity?
    And I just have to add: Doomerism is just the opposite end of a spectrum (of flawed perspectives) shared by the folks who think life will ramble on business-as-usual without any drawbacks.
    Reality always proves more dynamic and interesting than most suspect.

  • Regarding the spectrum of present and future reality
    Dear Guy —
    If we use as a baseline, the status, wealth, power, and affluence of the United States of America in 2000 when Clinton left office and Bush took over;
    And then extrapolate the future based on current realities and circumstances to consider what the reality will be in, say, twenty and then forty years from now —
    An honest appraisal tells us the baseline is already a thing of the past. America has lost trillions of dollars of wealth. America is fast losing its status as superpower, primarily because of its crushing indebtedness, it loss of productive manufacturing, its loss of any semblance of moral authority, and because the civilized world has increasingly understood that America is capable of any bad action imaginable, but powerless to do much good in the world at all.
    There is little or no probability that America will be a viable power in twenty years’ time and in forty years America may have ceased to exist or be a poor Third World sort of country.
    So, the spectrum of future prospects for America runs totally within a category that could be called “Doomed” compared to the baseline.
    The spectrum runs from human extinction and failure of the state within twenty to forty years as a worst-case scenario, to perhaps a best case scenario of America as a bankrupt Third World – type power with less than half the current population by 2050.
    Anyone who thinks that America’s best days are ahead, or that the future offers prospects of an affluent and prosperous America is depending on the power of miracles, which is not exactly a reliable basis for planning.
    Several different types of factors could lead to or close to the worst case scenario.
    Resource wars culminating in nuclear war could be such a catalyst for unimaginable human tragedy on a worldwide scale. Global Climate Change could do similar things via various mechanisms, including crop failures, loss of freshwater resources, emergence of new viruses or other diseases fatal to large numbers of humans, diastrous fires and heat waves, killer storms, etc. Peak Oil is the catalyst that drives our civilization over the precipice, and Global Climate Change will determine if we survive at all or not.
    The current world financial crisis is simultaneously a reflection of late stage capitalism and the overutilization of nonrenewable resources. We simply cannot recreate past prosperity (which was built on a basis of cheap and abundant energy resources) and the flood of paper money in recent times via the printing press and the bond issuance mechanism does not change the fact that America is bankrupt, and money is not the same as wealth. In due course, paper money will be more valuable as fuel than as legal tender. The American people will suffer and in ways that will make the Great Depression look like a picnic, in contrast to ten years ago when Americans were steeped in hedonism, greed, false affluence, and easy credit.
    Credit is nice when you can get it, but America’s collective credit limit is being reduced and will ultimately be canceled for the citizenry. When that happens, we will be like the immigrant workers from Central America who currently hang out on city street corners looking for day work if someone will hire them. America’s industries and factories are going to be laying off huge numbers of workers, even as the automotive industry has done and still will be doing.
    The loss of financial might will quickly translate to the loss of military might. You cannot operate a first class Air Force or Navy, or even an Army combat tank batallion on a shoestring budget. America’s power will evaporate and it will be touch and go for a while to see if the military will be used for last gasp settling of affairs with hostile powers before it is useless due to decay and erosion.
    Again the spectrum of future prospects for America will be from extinction of the population at worst, to large-scale reduction of population and impoverishment at best.
    The rest of the world will suffer a similar fate, and the worldwide human population will ultimately stablize at somewhere between one/third to one/sixth of current numbers within 50 years or possible far sooner.
    In twenty years, the worldwide power grid will likely have failed permenently, which means ubiquitous use of computers will be a thing of the past. We will be a largely agrarian society and maintance of huge cities at today’s scale will be impossible. There will be cities of a million or two, perhaps, but certainly no megacities of ten million or more inhabitants.
    Many Americans living today will decide they would rather die than face privation. They will be free to do so and the failure of the state will promote anarchy, murder, and all the sufferings that Americans caused our neighbors in Central America and elsewhere when we were building our prosperity on the back and the sufferings of others.
    Those Americans who value life and want to see a world in equilibrium will face the privations and survive communally. Life will be more considered more precious than ever before and the work of survival will be self-rewarding.
    Doom will be distinguished from gloom. The doom of a wretched decadent world will be part of a potential planetary metamorphosis. The earth itself will heal, more quickly in mesic areas and more slowly in zeric areas. Species that were given up as extinct will survive in secret and one day in the mid 2000’s, for instance, a young man in Arizona will stumble across a jaguar family with young and will have to put up with threats by the jaguars and the recovered southwestern wolf population threatening his pet goats. And California condors will be surprisingly abundant.
    We’ll have to learn to get along without televisions, computers, pundits, media people, advertising and marketing, pharmacies, Walmarts, big rig trucks and commercial aviation.
    Life will slow down and people will form bonds and associations and will gather to build barns together, to play live music at festival times, and to bury the elders as they blink out one by one.
    The world is already irreversibly changing. The spectrum of change leaves no possibility of returning to the past. We will never experience flying cars like the Jetsons and we will be more like the Flintstones in 2050 than like Captain James T. Kirt and Mr. Spock, if we humans are here at all.
    There is a lot that needs to be done to maximize an opportunity for survival. We have to effectively stop our greenhouse gas emissions for starters or we are toast. It remains to be seen if we can muster up the wisdom and fortitude to do even that.

  • Dear Guy —
    Maybe one of the quirks of human evolution is that people do not take doom seriously in the abstract, and only begin to understand it when it affects them personally.
    For instance, for years now, the human impact on biodiversity and the driving to extinction of other species of all sorts has been known to us. And the pace of the human impact has risen dramatically in recent years to the point that it indisputedly dwarfts background natural levels of extinction. No one can deny the human impact, and ecologists know that this level of extinction is like a warning light in the cockpit of an airliner telling of danger to the flight in progress. Each species is its own warning light, and so we have many warning lights telling us that our own survival is at risk, but we fail to even think about it seriously until we are at risk of imminent extinction.
    The same is true of global climate change, which is screaming at us in warning. The earth may lose its ability to support life as we have known it, and yet we totally ignore the precautionary principle for human survival, but use hypercaution in the so-called “war on terrorism”. In WOT dealings, we hardly even punish terrorists, but we torture all detainees we round up by the thousands in order to try to determine if they are a threat to us. How many people have ever died from terrorist acts in the history of mankind? Not many! But the threat of global warming is put out of mind because we fear the impact of survival itself on our way of life! Isn’t that amazing! Even Obama is hedging on effective action because he does not want to harm the economy, even though by inaction we will destroy the economy through the mechanism of warming the planet beyond safe threshholds. It seems unbelievable, but true, that our civilization is willing to destroy itself by persisting in familiar flaws that save itself by switching course to the unfamiliar.
    The new movie “Earth” had an interesting series of episodes in the life of a polar beer in arctic Norway that I thought was instructive. The bear was followed periodically in its search for food in an arctic world that is changing rapidly and in which ice flows that serve as hunting platforms are disappearing and becoming unreliable for polar bear survival. Of course, the bear had no knowledge of why the ice was missing, but was forced to travel long distances, sometimes by swimming in the open ocean in search of seals to eat. The bear was already weak from weight loss and continued to hunt as it grew weaker. Finally, the bear became desperate, and could find no foraging opportunity other than to try to attack a herd of huge walruses in its weakened condition. The only hope was to pry a cub from its family, but the walruses circled together and protected their young. The bear tried desperately, but vainly to get at the cubs, but simply could not do it. Eventually, the polar bear just laid down on the snow and died within a few feet of the walrus herd. He died of starvation.
    There are many humans in this world who will succomb to global warming, including artic dwelling humans in Greenland and Alaska, etc. Their world is being changed in front of their eyes and they plead in vain for humanity to switch course.
    And the majority of citizens of the industrial world still wait for salvation of their decadent societies by any means possible. They want their homes to inflate in value again to become private ATM machines.
    It can’t happen, though, and it will not. The whole world is changing right in front of our eyes, and from the perception of those used to decadence, it is a doomful scenario. And so they put it out of their mind until forced to deal with it.
    That time is approaching fast. I think that this summer will be hot politically as it is temperature-wise. People are going to start to reach panic levels and the response of the American government is to treat the dissidents and the distressed as threats to national security. Those who suffer in silence will stay off the radar screens of the police and national security apparatus.
    The news media continues to be complicit with the powers that be. Most reporting continues to dwell on the hope that things will return to normal. Little reporting has been done in the U.S. on rioting around the world in recent months, the case of Iceland and its relevance to U.S. prospects, the rumblings around the world regarding the status of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, etc. The industrial/government/media/military complex depends on information control and public apathy induced by public ingnorance. They want the public to have hope; thus Obama and his election in a time when hope should rightly be waning.
    And so we go on, like the polar bear who wants to stay alive, and ultimately succombs to a changed world of human making…

  • Dear Guy —
    An interesting paper with a link at http://www.energybulletin.net is “Revisiting the Limits to Growth After Peak Oil” in American Scientist, Volume 97, written by Charles Hall and John Day Jr.
    Those who mistakenly thought that carrying capacity of the planet could be enlarged indefinitely through science and technology are being forced by reality to reconsider.
    Yes, the carrying capacity of the planet could be temporarily increased through exploitation of the finite energy resources of the planet, just like a diver can increase his capacity to stay underwater or dive deeper with scuba gear. But when the scuba tank runs out, the dive must the terminated and the diver may be exposed to decompression illness or other problems associated with the unnatural diving habits he became accustomed to.
    And yes, humans could increase their numbers and their wealth by depauperizing the formerly healthy biosystems of the planet itself. Trees and forests from both the temperate and tropic zones could be converted to timber, paper, or fuel for a period of time. This allowed human numbers to increase dramatically, while numbers of birds, amphibians, carnivores, fish, and everything else decreased in synchrony. After all, you cannot have your cake and eat it, too, and you cannot build houses of wood construction and practice slash and burn agriculture endlessly while preserving the healthy planetary resources you began with.
    So, we have a planet, not only out of balance, but dangerously so. We not only overexploited resources by liquidation, but we have changed the climate, changed ecosystems through alteration of vegetative communities and fire regimes, even changing the population demography of oceanic fish populations of fish we formerly could harvest almost infinitely for human food.
    Owls, like short eared owls, are great mousers. They can irrupt in a local area and make a real impact on the local mouse population, while increasing their own numbers. but soon the mice diminish and the owls have to move elsewhere because they cannot sustain themselves on the down cycle of the prey numbers.
    Mankind is sort of like that, except far worse. And we have run out of room to expand and resources to exploit. Most of all, we have run out of abundant cheap petroleum that enabled us to feed ourselves in excessive numbers.
    The limits to growth are real and we are stretching them and cannot do so indefinitely.
    Reality always intervenes, as I have often said, and equilibrium returns, whether we like it or not.
    The big question remains, why is our society so baffled by these realities and so out of touch with equilibrium? My guess is that evolution occurred so slowly that we flourished in planetary regimes under which our determined efforts to exploit the planet were appropriate to our survival. But we overreached and are unable to regulate ourselves from our evolutionary heritage. Thus, I think the human species is an irruptive one and likely to be a temporary one on our planet. We certainly cannot maintain our current numbers or anything close to them. Our determination to do so is again part of our evolutionary heritage and works against us, but it is also true that small numbers of humans can live successfully in harmony with the planet for temporary time periods. I know a few people who are willing to limit reproduction and consumption, in contrast to species’ standards. It will be interesting to see if such people will even be allowed to survive by those entirely dominated by their selfish genes…
    Stan Moore

  • ‘Forecasting, pissing into the wind and other ‘reality checks’’
    ‘we have to get along without pundits’ agreed! I hope you were
    being ironic here young Stanley?
    Taleb refers to 9/11 as a ‘Black Swan’ event,
    not as an ‘inside job’. I will let this one go to the keeper. (cricket analogy)
    The ‘inside job’ remark somewhat colours all the good work you do here.
    Ironically, predictions are a form of ‘magical thinking’. When ‘pundits’ start
    making predictions here, I switch off. Your words remind me of the
    quote – ‘If you want to make god laugh tell her your plans!’
    Be wary of linear narratives, statisticians, and historians (social scientists
    are the worst, I have gone to so many conferences and witnessed far too many numerical matrixes). Life and nature is far more dynamic and far less
    predictive. ‘Black Swans’ are NOT an affirmation of hope or optimism, but a principle of uncertainty. Clearly this needs repeating or read the book,
    don’t Wikipedia a summary. (charlene, what you said was absolute gold!)
    Our global technological inter connected complexities make random events
    even more likely. I wont defend Taleb, he is indefensible! He needs no defence. Yes, he made shit loads of money determining risk in trading derivatives, his take on the economics profession is that’s its all bunk.
    There are NO equilibriums in nature. This is a reductionists delusion.
    Clearly our existence proves this. If one has studied ecology/economics, they are always dynamic, the markets are unpredictable as much as evolution is.
    On that note evolution is not linear. (Some grains have more genetic complexity than mammals). Human ‘intelligence’ is a perhaps a one off.
    Clearly we have a lot of junk genes floating around.
    I am no expert, Origin of Species is still in the unread section of
    my library, along with Dostoyevsky and Paulo Coelho, the later shall
    remain unread!
    I had a great quote from Taleb, unfortunately misplaced. I returned the
    book to the library! It elaborates similarly to what Charlene said.
    I would argue that it is easy to imagine a future that is unpredictable.
    This goes without saying. The futuristic certainties of the sheeple are just as flawed as the ones predicted by the misanthropic doomers. We have to
    consider the realm of uncertainty and ‘plan’ accordingly.
    Yes, it is difficult to remain optimistic with all the cogent and thoughtful
    arguments surrounding the predicament of peaking oil supplies. Yes, the situation is potentially very dire. We will have a severe decline in living standards (under statement) and we will need to live with less not more. On that note Kerala (south west India) has similar rates of infant mortality, literacy and longevity as the US and has a yearly average income of between $400-$500 pa. Their eco foot print is miniscule and yet by all accounts they live and manage quite well.
    The point is its OK to say you don’t know. I have a lot of respect for people that do. Doors and thoughts magically open. No one knows the future. We all read the same blogs, EB, LATOC, OD, Sharon, Greer, Kunstler etc (all from the US, not that there is anything wrong with this!). You know what, unfortunately and inadvertently a consensus trance of ideas can emerge.
    Anyway, blah, blah…
    Lucky we are on the same side Stan! 🙂
    On libraries, my local library is awesome. It is made out of adobe no less.
    (designed by a great architect, Greg Burgess).
    I recently received two books from the inter library loan service.
    Endgame part 2 came from Sydney (1000km away) and Jim Merkels
    ‘Radical Simplicity’* came from Cairns (3000km away). Several months ago I received ‘Overshoot’ and ‘the Ecology of commerce’, both from Brisbane (2000km away). This service is free. I wont hear another bad word
    said about our ’local’ libraries. The internet access is also free and fast.

  • Couldn’t agree more, matt.
    I recall stats class, and then “research methods”…in which they hammered home the saying “correlation is not causation” only to spend the rest of my psych courses studying (by and large) correlational data. Somewhere along the way I made up my mind that psychology and sociology were, so far as I could tell, largely within the realm of pseudoscience.
    Not to say it isn’t entertaining…
    matt, your library sounds wonderful. We actually have to pay out-of-county fees to participate in a worthwhile library here, but it is only a small fee and more than worth it.
    The actuall “local” library is “up and coming”. Although, I don’t hold out much hope for the near-term future. Currently, they are planning a 1 million dollar, brand new “main” library.
    How are they spending this 1 million? On a modular building…a mobile home!
    Oh well, at least there will be a library close by. We’ll probably get a card for it, but will most likely continue to visit the other library for which we pay a fee.

  • Charlene, thanks for the random question of the day. Unfortunately, I know about Henrik Svensmark only what I read on the Internet. It gives me little comfort, considering the conservative nature of every global-change prediction so far. I appreciate the skepticism from Svensmark and the likes of Bjorn Lomborg, but I’d prefer the skepticism were rooted in reality. Skepticism for the sake of skepticism is no virtue.

  • True.
    I just ran across his work by accident–all very easy to do because I follow just a little bit of everything from futurist to doomer and all the points between.
    Do you think it is possible that both could have some truth? I mean, that climate change could be influenced by both greenhouse gas and more cosmic sources like radiation, etc?
    I guess I’m just not seeing where CO2 issues and Svensmark’s ideas become mutually exclusive? I would think, it would be possible, in a dynamic system, to have multiple factors playing into the outcome.
    To me, if there are external elements involved in our climate, in addition to our own hand, the need for caution goes up rather than down. Mainly, because the–I guess you could call them–galactic forces can be dramatic enough without us monkeying around.
    Or am I completely in left field?

  • Climate change certainly could be influenced by many factors, solar radiation among them. But we’ve known since April 1896, when Svente Arrhenius forecast a 1 C temperature increase associated with burning fossil fuels, that the industrial age has untoward consequences. Turns out he was too conservative, along with nearly every scientist who followed him. We have no control over solar radiation, but we do have control over burning fossil fuels. I’d really like us to concentrate on the cause we are very certain about, and that we can control, rather than looking for somebody else to blame for the overheated mess we’ve made.

  • True, but the better we understand all the players the better we can respond. I guess that’s all I’m thinking–not hoping to say “oh, well, it’s the sun…no reason to worry about polluting the air anymore”.
    Did you see the link on NPR today outlining the American electrical grid?
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103417561
    I thought it was particularly interesting that Oregon and Washington are running on 67%-76% renewable (hydro, wind, biomass). I mean, assuming the numbers reported reflect the whole truth and nothing but (I’m never sure anymore, personally).
    It’s far from perfect, but not a depressing thing to see…not at all.
    If people learn to reduce, renew, reuse, and lastly (absolutely lastly, because the other forms of conservation come well before it) recycle…there’s still a chance. Slim it may be, but better than none.

  • No, Charlene, no, no, no. We must not wish for conservation to save us. The longer this drags on, the more species and cultures we’ll drive to extinction and the lower the odds of our own species surviving until the end of this century. I’ve no doubt the Pacific Northwest has plenty of hydropower. Fortunately, that won’t power our cars and trucks, which are necessary for economic growth. Fortunately, the lights will go out everywhere when the stock markets capitulate.
    Regarding your comment about having more information to enable appropriate response: We’ve known about global climate change since 1896, and about peak oil since 1956 (possibly earlier, in both cases). They attracted considerable media attention during the 1970s. And yet, here we are, societally enslaved by oil and completely unconcerned about the environment.
    As the Buddha said, “There is no torrent like greed.”

  • I don’t think conservation well save “us” as in the entire world, but it may leave some dimly lit spots in the world. Places where the past can be remembered, if only for the point of preserving knowledge and high technology somewhere in the world…If nothing else.
    Societies have a habit of getting stuck. They are large, mostly unmovable objects.
    It isn’t society that interests me. It’s the individual response, in little forgotten corners, where the mind can really work wonders free from bureaucratic idiocy and the confines of isms.
    I don’t want to see a new dark age, because that would, in itself, be a bad thing. And, I don’t think there is really any such thing as being a noble savage.
    That’s me, though. I don’t expect to agree on this point, because we are obviously on very different wavelengths. Each to their own. Time chooses the winner, and I’m certainly not going to try my hand at calling that race, myself.

  • The post is about torture and blackmail etc. but after reading the comments I am totally confused what is this about. Some are saying it about games NPR…….Any ways the article is really based on a good topic.

  • In my views politician and government should concentrate more on public issues not only on them who control the National Security Agency.Both are have their own importance but we should not think only from one side.

  • In my opinion torture and blackmailing is common think in politics. Sometimes one leader blackmail another leader and that leader blackmail other.