He was born with a small mind.

Nonetheless, over time his head ballooned to epic proportions, while the mind within this vapid space remained stubbornly small.  It was his good fortune however to live in a time of smallness, of pettiness, a time when the smallest minds ruled the world and were granted the greatest rewards for their smallness.  No accolades too grand for these masters of petty thoughts.

And surrounded by a wayward armada of small-mindedness, they pillaged a planet, adrift on the sea of smallness.

But in the unbounded euphoria of the age, it was very popular to be small-minded; indeed competitions flourished to manifest the greatest degree of smallness.

Of course there were great thinkers and ideas in this era of hollow pursuits, but they were not permitted to see the light of day.  They were not allowed to enter the consciousness of the modern mind since they ran the risk of expanding it to new horizons where new ways of living might be perceived and, dare it be thought, realized.

The pathologies of the smallest minds could never allow this to happen.  The perniciousness of their souls would never allow this to happen.

And so the tyranny of smallness, untethered from reality, continued its crooked journey until what minds of greater acuity predicted would happen, happened:  mother earth rendered her omnipotent conclusion to this parade of pettiness, infantilism and smallness.

Future archaeologists of extraterrestrial origin possessing vastly higher levels of intelligence and experience would later explore this cosy blue and green backwater, discover evidence of a once thriving ‘civilization’ and render their own conclusion:  once again an emerging species of ‘higher’ intelligence made the classic mistakes of allowing their technologies, greed and fatal dismissal of their own environments to outpace their moral, social and intellectual development.

So concludes another small story.

038

 

While casually watching the CBC headlines scrolling across the bottom of the screen the other day, a trio of seemingly unrelated stories inadvertently coalesced in a, lets say, less than humorous way.  In short:

 

Enbridge CEO pleased at approval of Alberta to B.C. pipeline.

CO2 emissions reached record highs in 2012.

Alberta pipeline crews unearth massive dinosaur fossils.

 

So we have greed, its effects, followed by extinction.  Now there’s some dots worth connecting.

 

As Canada continues its assault on the environment, to the bizarre point of removing the word ‘environment’ from the Environment Canada website of all things, it would be refreshing to witness some rogue media personality break ranks and stage an on air mutiny against the deafening poverty of discussion about climate change and its effects.

Perhaps I should become a meteorologist.

Thanks to Deep Rogue Ram for the insightful humor.

 

It’s interesting I think to watch the ebb and flow of media coverage on climate change.  Ten or more years ago you could talk about it at dinner parties and still be considered rational.  Then the PR industry successfully made anyone who dared mention melting ice seem foolish and naive.

But the science has finally begun to percolate to the surface of public consciousness once again, and as Bill Moyers and scientist Anthony Leiserowitz discuss in this great clip, it’s important to support and enhance that level of awareness within the public square.

 

 

Here is a great discussion about the growing movement, largely student based at the moment, towards divestment from the fossil fuel industry in the ongoing attempts to both raise awareness of the effects of global warming as well as influence public perception of these industries.

It’ll be interesting to see how these social movements unfold during the coming year.

PC:  Good morning Mr. Murphy, it’s an honor and a pleasure to speak with you.

Vex Murphy:  Happy to be here.

First off, you’ve been writing in your verbose style for many years now and I was wondering, aside from the faded Sarah Palin Newsweek cover on your bedroom wall, what continues to inspire you?

It’s the never ending battle to counter those nattering nabobs of negativism, to quote President Agnew, who poison this great land with outlandish conspiracy theories about global warming and other bourgeois left wing latte lunacy.

That’s a mouthful.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Spiro Agnew Nixon’s Vice President?

If you say so smarty pants.

Great then.  Mr. Murphy, I’ve noticed one of your fixations is the very idea of anthropogenic climate change, or man-made global warming.  What is it about this topic that elicits such contempt?

It’s those tree hugging hippie elites who bamboozle the roads with their bicycle paths and pretensions to literary significance, praying to their sun god and building their pyramids of post-modern political correctness, deifying their cult of science while they sacrifice our Canadian values upon their altar of so-called rationality.

Wow, clear as a cracked bell.  Moving on, are you aware that many of the world’s most respected climate scientists, including those at MIT, have created models that predict the effects of global warming, the same effects we are experiencing right now, to be far worse in the near future than originally thought?

As a rough and tumble youngster growing up on the Rock I used to make my own models of tanks, planes and battleships symbolizing the sacrifices of the greatest generation to ever live, but that doesn’t make me General MacArthur.  You see what I’m saying?

No.  But nonetheless, not long ago you were quite dismissive of the election of Elizabeth May to Parliament as the leader of the Green Party of Canada.  Since she represents the lone rational voice within our Parliament, don’t you think the environmental issues she advocates discussing are vital for all Canadians to understand?

Nonsense and twaddle for the prognosticators of poppycock.

Good one.  But seriously, when the overwhelming consensus among scientists declare that global warming is happening right now, doesn’t it make sense to listen to their warnings and look at the data?

Your impudent attempts to acknowledge so-called reality bore me.  I sir am a Rogue Scholar.

Forgive me, don’t you mean Rhodes Scholar?

Smarty pants! Smarty pants!

You’re funny.  Mr. Murphy, you seem to have a strong disdain for environmentalists generally, describing their cause as intellectual folly.  Why is that?

Not since the days of Nicolaus Copernicus has the world witnessed such a band of intellectually bankrupt charlatans selling their snake oil under the canopy of the world’s biggest carnival show with their fire-eaters and dogs that don’t bark in the night.

Intriguing.  But are you saying that Nicolaus Copernicus, the Renaissance scientist who revolutionized astronomy by his bold discovery that the Sun, and not the Earth, is the centre of our solar system, is the modern equivalent of the environmentalists, who wisely assert that global warming is a modern reality?  Would that not imply, if you agree with Copernicus as I presume you do, that they are in fact correct?

Ah ha my cynical friend!  You err in your presumption that I actually know what I’m talking about, which, of course, I do not.  It’s been my policy that when it comes to facts and reality, one must keep it simple, less is more and ignorance is bliss.

Well, at least you’re honest. 

Damn straight smarty pants.

Good enough. Anyway, thanks for stopping by, best wishes and have a loquacious new years.

You too, thanks!

 

I’ve been following the Democracy Now! daily coverage of the Doha Qatar climate conference and if you’re interested in a good overall discussion of not only the science but the likely consequences of a 4 degree rise in mean global temperature as detailed in the World Bank report released this past November, this is a good talk.

The interview is with one of the co-authors of the report, Bill Hare and he is the CEO of Climate Analytics and one of the world’s leading climate scientists.  The results in the report surprised even Mr. Hare.

 

In this Mondays’ edition of Truthdig, Chris Hedges details a report from the World Bank entitled Turn Down the Heat on the probable impacts of climate change for the coming decades, and to be frank, it’s not pretty.

All current climate model scenarios point to at least a 4 degree Celsius rise in mean global temperatures by the end of the century, resulting in not just hotter weather, but as the authors say in their forward,

“…the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.”

“And most importantly, a 4°C world is so different from the current one that it comes with high uncertainty and new risks that threaten our ability to anticipate and plan for future adaptation needs.”

The report not only details the physical changes anthropogenic climate change will have on the environment, but also the practical effects on the ways we live.  The economic and social fabric, such as they are, will simply unravel if we destroy the very thing on which they depend: the environment.

I think it’s worth noting that these predicted effects are not merely remote or hypothetical.  We are experiencing, if you’ll pardon the pun, the tip of the iceberg at this very moment.  The more we tax the environment, the faster nature collects.

“It is clear that we already know a great deal about the threat before us. The science is unequivocal that humans are the cause of global warming, and major changes are already being observed: global mean warming is 0.8°C above pre industrial levels; oceans have warmed by 0.09°C since the 1950s and are acidifying; sea levels rose by about 20 cm since pre-industrial times and are now rising at 3.2 cm per decade; an exceptional number of extreme heat waves occurred in the last decade; major food crop growing areas are increasingly affected by drought.”

“Despite the global community’s best intentions to keep global warming below a 2°C increase above pre-industrial climate, higher levels of warming are increasingly likely. Scientists agree that countries’ current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change emission pledges and commitments would most likely result in 3.5 to 4°C warming. And the longer those pledges remain unmet, the more likely a 4°C world becomes.”

“This report is a stark reminder that climate change affects everything. The solutions don’t lie only in climate finance or climate projects. The solutions lie in effective risk management and ensuring all our work, all our thinking, is designed with the threat of a 4°C degree world in mind.”

Turn down the heat indeed.

I don’t know about you but what seems to me unmistakable in today’s world is a widespread cultural trend which emphasizes the idea that beliefs are more important than facts and facts are simply those things you believe.  It’s a sort of infantile age in which people cocoon themselves within fantasy worlds where ideology governs the mind and what was once regarded as logical is now regarded as illogical.

From economic policies that irrationally emphasize austerity over stimulus, to an almost non-existent concern for our environment on which we, and our economies, depend for survival.

As usual it’s the people in positions of privilege that hasten to benefit.  While the ongoing aftermath of hurricane Sandy continues, the vultures are once again descending to do what their small minds have been well-educated to do: exploit the vulnerable when they are at their weakest.

No one addresses this trend better than author and activist Naomi Klein, as she does in her recent article in The Nation:

“Yes that’s right: this catastrophe very likely created by climate change—a crisis born of the colossal regulatory failure to prevent corporations from treating the atmosphere as their open sewer—is just one more opportunity for more deregulation. And the fact that this storm has demonstrated that poor and working-class people are far more vulnerable to the climate crisis shows that this is clearly the right moment to strip those people of what few labor protections they have left, as well as to privatize the meager public services available to them. Most of all, when faced with an extraordinarily costly crisis born of corporate greed, hand out tax holidays to corporations.”

Klein describes this as the Shock Doctrine, and in the case of Sandy, various profiteers from Wal-Mart to insurance lobbyists have already entered the discussion to suggest more privatization of public services and the further erosion of community level economies.

Like those who cruise around devastated neighborhoods looking for opportunities to loot the defenseless, corporate ambition understands no limits.  While Klein is correct that the super wealthy can currently shield themselves from the effects of climate change through access to privilege and technology the rest of us are denied, I think it’s possible the longer term effects will be so overwhelming even extreme wealth will prove an insufficient defense.

In the meantime she suggests that the emergence of and reliance upon more localized economies and a public demand for much more corporate regulation would go a long way in empowering the vast majority of us who occupy the real world, and not the gilded cocoons of Wall Street speculation.

Where is Bertrand Russell when you need him?

 

“Love is wise, hatred is foolish…”

PC: Thank you Governor Romney for taking some time from your busy campaign to drop by.

GR: It is an honor and a pleasure to be here Mr. Cynic.

Thank you, and relax, we’re real informal around here.  Governor Romney, you’ve been criticized as behaving sometimes, for lack of a better description, like a robot.  Do you have any thoughts on this?

It is an honor and a pleasure to be here Mr. Cynic.  It is an honor and a pleasure to be here Mr. Cynic.

Right then.  Governor Romney, some of your opponents have suggested you lack the foreign policy experience necessary for a Commander-in-Chief.  Do you think it’s a fair evaluation? 

No I don’t and for a simple reason.  When Mr. Obama arrived from Kenya ten years ago the only foreign policy experience he was known for was applying for his passport, or so I’m told.

With respect Governor, it’s President Obama and furthermore he is not Kenyan, he is like you, an American born citizen.  And there’s nothing wrong about being Kenyan of course, but it’s simply untrue.

Oh no, my dear friend Donald has assured me he’s European.

Hmm.  Let’s just move on.  Governor, as an extremely wealthy business person and vulture capitalist, do you actually believe you are in touch with the social and economic reality of the average person? 

Oh certainly I am, I know many people like my good friends the Koch Industries, the Goldman Sachs and the British Petroleums.  These are salt of the earth people my friend who would loan you, at reasonable rates of interest, the shirts off their backs.  Even during working hours!  Good people.

But they’re not people, they’re corporations.

Woof woof, who let the dogs out!

What?  In any case, Mr. Romney, when you were acting governor of Massachusetts, you said you believed in anthropogenic climate change.  But as the presidential nominee, you now claim there is no consensus within the scientific community about climate science, which incidentally, is false.  Especially in light of the devastation and suffering produced by hurricane Sandy, why the change of heart?

I never said that.

Yes, you did.

Did not.

But I’m looking at the transcript right now.

No you’re not.

Yes, I am.

It is an honor and a pleasure to be here Mr. Cynic.

Are you feeling alright?

Sing with me!  The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round, the wheels on the bus go round and round…

Astounding.  Governor, when you disregarded the 47 percent of Americans who you described as only wanting to live off the so-called entitlements provided by the other more affluent half of the population, didn’t you realize that would offend the millions of hard working citizens that, after all, only wish to be treated with the respect they deserve? 

First of all, you’re taking my words out of context.  I never said those things.

But you did.

Did not.

But I’m watching the video right now.

No you’re not.

But Governor,

I respect all Americans, including you Mr. Cynic.

Actually I’m Canadian.

I love Alaska!

But Alaska’s …, oh never mind.  Mr. Romney, the party you represent seems to be turning back the clock with regard to woman’s rights, inexplicably wishing to take the country back to an almost 1950’s mentality.  Why is this?

That’s just plain false, and as you can see from this binder full of woman I’ve prepared…

Sir, that’s the lingerie section of a 1953 Sears Catalogue. 

Oh ha!  That Paul Ryan and his tomfoolery.  This isn’t mine!  Ha!

But the outside label has you’re name and address on it.

Does not.

Alright, well one more question Governor.  Have you ever heard of the term cognitive dissonance?  I only ask because it seems to me you hold simultaneous yet conflicting opinions on just about everything, and then just repeat what you think people want to hear in order to gain their support.

Mr. Cynic, I think your work here is the most intelligent, well written and thoughtful efforts in the history of planet Earth.  And if the world had more Siberians like you…

I’m Canadian.

…Alaskans like you, America could lead the world into an era of unlimited prosperity and once again emerge triumphant here in the 20th century.

It’s the 21st century Governor. 

It is?

It is.

It’s been an honor and a pleasure to be here Mr. Cynic.

You’re very welcome, anytime.