The Lesser Evils

The ballot box is not going to save us

The Lesser Evils
A heavily armed right-wing protester in Delta Park, Portland, Oregon, September 26, 2020. Armed militia groups turned voters away at an unofficial checkpoint when they tried to drop ballots in a box. Photo: Alex Wittwer

We’re in deep trouble. I’ve been writing about the climate emergency for over two years now. I had a strong opinion when I started, and it’s only gotten stronger since. Reading scientific papers, following the money, and observing human behavior, is sobering work.

We have a worldwide failure to take the 2015 COP 21 Paris Climate Accords seriously. Petrostates including Saudi Arabia, the US and UAE are expanding fossil fuel production, not reducing it. US crude production has hit an all-time record with six weeks to go in the year. Biden’s $8 billion Willow project in Alaska is set to produce 600 million barrels of crude over its lifetime, but that’s the good news. According to Jeremy Symons, a former climate policy adviser at the Environmental Protection Agency, Biden’s support of LNG exports out of the Gulf could produce 20 times more greenhouse gasses than Willow. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed hundreds of new oil and gas licenses will be granted in the North Sea. The charlatan claims the licenses will help the UK reach its target of meeting net-zero by 2050. Right, Rishi.

Graph of U.S. oil production since 1920. It peaks around 1970 at 10,000 barrels, then declines to 5000 until the fracking boom around 2010, climbing to over 12,000 barrels a day.

In a cosmic sideshow, Shell is suing Greenpeace for $2.1 million in “damages” over four protesters boarding a massive moving oil platform being transported to the Shetland Islands in the North Sea.

A Shell spokesperson said:

“Our intent has been misrepresented. This is simply about preventing activities at sea or in port which could endanger people’s lives — as happened earlier this year — nothing more... The safety of the protesters — as well as the crew — was paramount. Rightly, we did not hesitate to put in place measures to protect all people involved.”

Mr. Disinformation Specialist is concerned about protecting lives, as Shell continues extracting hundreds of millions of climate warming barrels of oil. Got kids, bud? What do you tell them when you go home at night?

It’s 61° F today in mid-November, Buffalo, NY as I write, the national punchline for brutal winters. Who’s laughing now? Phoenix, which had a record 54 days of temperatures 110° F or higher, punctuated by an all-time high of 118° F on July 27? A city where heat deaths surged by 50 percent and 579 people died, with 56 more under investigation? A town where at least 45 percent of people who died were unsheltered, sleeping behind dumpsters, in car parks or on burning hot sidewalks. That’s life in America, subsidizing big oil and billionaires, not people who need help.

Homeless person in wheelchair rolls away from the camera down sidewalk, tents and shopping carts holding their meager possessions.
Phoenix had nearly 3,100 homeless people in March 2022. The number of people without a home climbed by 35 percent since the 2020 pandemic, causing economic catastrophe, including job losses. Rent and living costs have skyrocketed. 375,000 Arizonans have an annual income of $25,000 or less, meaning they can afford to pay only $625 per month for rent and utilities.

Just days ago, Brazil hit a new record heat index of 137° F. This year will end as the hottest recorded in human history. The last twelve months through October already were.

The US has experienced twenty-three billion dollar climate disasters through mid-September of this year. Does this sound like our elected officials getting out in front of a problem known to exist for fifty years? Does Joe Manchin snort coal dust to get high? 45.7 million acres of Canada burned to the ground in an ever longer fire season, taking five billion carbon sequestering trees in the process. The province of Alberta continues to pump tar sand oil.

From the NY Times: “It’s Like Our Country Exploded

Two billion tons of carbon dioxide were released by Canadian fires, roughly three times as much as was produced by the whole rest of the country, which boasts one of the world’s more conspicuous carbon footprints — three times as much as all of its cars and trucks and other transportation modes, its fossil-fuel industry and power plants and its infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing.

Libya is known to have lost 11,300 people in their terrifying July flooding event. The death toll could rise to 20,000. That disappeared from the news cycle in a hurry, didn’t it, just like half the city of Derna. The dams were shot. I read numerous ugly comments to the effect it was their own fault. Why were the dams shot? Could it be because US funded NATO aircraft forced Muammar Gaddafi's capture, leading to his brutal assassination in 2011? Could it have been because Gaddafi had the audacity to challenge the west, and Libya’s people have been struggling between two hostile, competing governments ever since. Or could it be because we were pissed when he nationalized the oil industry (a BIG no no) and promoted Islamic socialism.

And FYI, our own dams aren’t healthy, people.

Some 2,200 are at risk of failure. They ran out of money for that, building billion dollar bombers. Sorry. Buy a raft and a snorkel.

The US is the world’s biggest arms supplier, hands down.

Graphic of world's largest arme exporters. U.S. 38.6%, Russia 18.6%, France 10.7%, China 4.6%, Germany 4.5%, Italy 3.1%, UK 2.9%, South Korea 2.8%

Eisenhower warned of the rise of the military industrial complex, article here, and video here, in his well-known 1961 speech as outgoing president.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Oops, looks like we didn’t heed those words.

eeling a little insecure lately?

The US, of course, has been in wars all my life. We’re always at war. I was too young to be aware of Vietnam as a kid, but I was deeply aware of our trashing of the Geneva Convention when we invaded Iraq, a country that didn’t attack us and had no weapons of mass destruction, a fabrication over the well-established evidence of international weapons inspector teams, ignored to invade and seize control over the fifth-largest oil reserves in the world. In previous decades, we happily did business with Saddam Hussein as he committed atrocities against his own people. The exact number of Iraqi deaths remains unknown, the majority civilian, but unquestionably in the hundreds of thousands.

For dozens of military industrial complex companies, the war, “rebuilding,” and 20 year involvement in Afghanistan was incomprehensibly profitable. They made $5 trillion on borrowed taxpayer money, which undercuts our schools, healthcare, the hungry, the homeless, and our ability to fight the #ClimateCrisis. And the US military is a bigger polluter than 140 countries. If it were a country, it would be the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.

Donald Rumsfeld shakes hands with human rights abuser Saddam Hussein.
Saddam Hussein shakes hands with Donald Rumsfeld, special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983. “Howdy monster, let’s do business. I’m a monster, too!
Two soldiers monitor a burn pit in Afghanistan.
Soldiers monitor a burn pit in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, 2013. Burn pits are the Agent Orange of Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo: Andrew Burton/Reuters
Soldier operates bulldozer in Iraq burn pit, enveloped in smoke.
Sergeant Richard Ganske maneuvering trash in a burn pit in Iraq in 2004. You can support veterans who have serious respiratory diseases from these pits here. Photo: Abel Trevino/U.S. Army, via Reuters

Today we have Ukraine and Gaza draining our futures. Palestinians and Ukrainians aren’t just expendable. They’re centers of military industrial profit. Every baby blown to smithereens is a justification to manufacture another missile.

Fortunately, a new presidential election lies just a year away, and we have wonderful choices. We have a guy backing the genocide of Palestinians and undermining his own meager progress on moving to “clean” energy, (if mining with fossil fuels and destroying yet more of the earth can be considered clean), and the guy who keeps a book of Hitler’s speeches on his nightstand so that he can master terms like “vermin” and “purity” to keep his racist, psycho, loyal, heavily armed admirers stoked.

We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections. They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream.”

The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous and grave than the threat from within. Our threat is from within. Because if you have a capable, competent, smart, tough leader, Russia, China, North Korea, they’re not going to want to play with us.”

Thanks for that, Donald.

Daily, science is telling us we’re on a path leading to agricultural collapse. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has told us repeatedly the world is failing to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7° F) above preindustrial temperatures by the early 2030s.

We're basically there now.

There has been no cry to action involving you and me, the average citizen. We haven’t even been asked to turn down our thermostats. They’d rather have us focused on Mathew Perry whose big ambition in life was fame for fame’s sake, entertainer Taylor Swift, the latest canned pop star, and boyfriend football player Travis Kelce who makes tens of millions for, um, playing with a ball. News of East Africa’s worst drought in 40 years, global warming driven, need not be seen or heard, where, by the end of 2022, twenty-three million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia had run out of food and gone a day or more without eating, and nearly a million children suffered from acute malnutrition.

Black children in a line, waiting to get a ration of water in the Kakuma refugee camp.
Children line up for water at the Kakuma, Kenya refugee camp which houses 194,000 refugees. There are 117.2 million displaced or stateless people worldwide. Unabated, climate change will make this already tragic number explode into billions. Photo: Lior-Sperandeo//IsraAID

Our “leaders” don’t talk about:

  • The six decade decline in plankton, the foundation of the web of marine life.
  • Dying coral reefs, depleted fish stocks, fish fleeing the equator, and the livelihoods lost.
  • The threat to world grain supplies due to climate change fueled droughts and floods, which feed us and the animals we depend on.
  • The shock and fear climate scientists feel as their incredibly accurate predictions come true — 30 years ahead of schedule.
  • Acknowledge that our clouds now rain plastic, or how that may affect climate, weather, and our health.
  • Don’t mention the 6th Mass Extinction, and a million species poised to be lost, critical to the world remaining inhabitable for humans, courtesy of Big Oil.

A quote from Peter Kalmus, climate scientist turned protester from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab:

It’s now the eleventh hour and I feel terrified for my kids, and terrified for humanity, I feel deep grief over the loss of forests and corals and diminishing biodiversity. But I’ll keep fighting as hard as I can for this Earth, no matter how bad it gets, because it can always get worse. And it will continue to get worse until we end the fossil fuel industry and the exponential quest for ever more profit at the expense of everything else.”

As usual in the upcoming presidential election, we have choices. Two old white men, one old school Cold War warrior, the other a clinically ill fascist, hell-bent on absolute control and scorched earth revenge.

The lesser of the evils and ballot box is not going to save us. Climate scientists are taking to the streets. We need to be there, too.

Read more of Geoff's work here.

From Geoff:

Support Jessica's work, my work, and the writing of those she has invited. Please consider a paid subscription.

We need each other.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to OK Doomer.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.