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The geography of Hell

19 July 2011

Frontera NorteSur, via LaBloga:

In the Southwest US, smoke from massive wildfires contaminates the air and forces evacuations. 200 miles from the mammoth Wallow Fire, the skies of Albuquerque, have recently resembled Los Angeles and Mexico City in their worst years of pollution.

Stretching from Texas and New Mexico and deep into the Mexican interior, drought parches vast expanses of land. Mountain lions, bobcats and bears wander into urban El Paso and Albuquerque.

A major fishery for the US, Mexico and other nations, the Gulf of Mexico is poised to suffer its fourth environmental calamity in less than six years. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the so-called dead zone, which is traced to nitrogen-rich fertilizers washed into the Mississippi River and then into the gulf, could expand to a record size of between 8,500 and 9,421 square miles this year due to increased run-off from this year’s heavy flooding.

Although the reports are dramatic and growing, consumers of the US mass media will find little or next to nothing that suggests that the environmental catastrophes are in any way connected to the broader issue of climate change.

(Read the entire article here)

The “spill-over violence” that we never talk about is the violence done to the planet.  Reading about Texas and Oklahoma governors expecting the Deity to resolve their local environmental problems, while continuing to deny ours (and their) role in creating the problem, I’m struck by how climate and weather (and environmental issues) are covered in the United States.  From U.S. news reports, you would have thought that the wild-fires that raged from Queretaro to Kansas earlier this year were isolated phenomena, or that the fires magically stopped for border crossings.

I admit I don’t understand how people in a country supposedly better-educated and more technologically saavy than Mexico can’t fathom that what happens here in the southern parts of the North American land-mass aren’t also happening a bit further north.  Texas has rocket scientists, but can`t figure out the simplest thing to do when you have a problem is to stop making it worse.  Something as simple as changing the light-bulbs is too radical a step to take for the Texans (and Okies and…).  We don’t have a lot of rocket scientists here, but besides understanding that it’s easier to change light-bulbs, getting out of the hole means not just stop digging, but start climbing out.  We’re planting trees, and people are willing to take up arms to protect their trees.  And changing our light-bulbs.

It’s a given that people in the United States don’t know as much about their neighbors as their neighbors know about them, but even so… you’d think they understood that political boundaries don’t affect things like the climate and wind patterns.  I get the sense that people like the Governors of Texas and Oklahoma assume they’ll be beamed up in the Rapture… and they aren’t going to have to deal with the consequences of global warming.  As we’re told, “never assume, it makes an ass of U and me” … awfully risky for them to think they’ll be going to the “good place” and not the one that Sam Houston said  he’d be willing to swap for Texas with Satan.

Even for the Christian conservatives “willful ignorance” is as much a sin as any..  Whether it’s theological or pathological, I don’t know, but ….  if they can`t learn from their neighbors, maybe they’ll listen to someone from… oh… Nauru.  President Marcus Stephens of that tiny island nation (for a time, the wealthiest nation on the planet) writes in today’s New York Times:

… the lush tropical rainforest that once covered our island’s interior, scarring the land and leaving only a thin strip of coastline for us to live on. The legacy of exploitation left us with few economic alternatives and one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, and led previous governments to make unwise investments that ultimately squandered our country’s savings.

I am not looking for sympathy, but rather warning you what can happen when a country runs out of options. The world is headed down a similar path with the relentless burning of coal and oil, which is altering the planet’s climate, melting ice caps, making oceans more acidic and edging us ever closer to a day when no one will be able to take clean water, fertile soil or abundant food for granted.

Similar climate stories are playing out on nearly every continent, where a steady onslaught of droughts, floods and heat waves, which are expected to become even more frequent and intense with climate change, have displaced millions of people and led to widespread food shortages.

The changes have already heightened competition over scarce resources, and could foreshadow life in a world where conflicts are increasingly driven by environmental catastrophes.>

One Comment leave one →
  1. "craig" permalink
    20 July 2011 10:59 pm

    So well said, it’s been bookmarked for future reference.

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