I was reading an article about just a portion of the epic saga of financial malfunction and misbehavior, and that quoted somebody quoting a line in a movie fiction drama adventure, one of the now long line of Batman movies apparently, and applying that line as a description of the amazing mess of the financial world. The storm isn’t coming. The storm is already here.
That article by Matt Taibbi quoted somebody using that line in a metaphorical way describing the gigantic clusterfuck of derangement in the realm of banking and finance. It applies pretty well in a much more literal way in looking at the state of the weather we’ve been experiencing this winter.
Here in the US, most of the country has been experiencing a winter that could be described as rather harsh, to put it mildly, with severe cold and massive amounts of snow. This has included winter weather of the sort that’s considered pretty normal in the northern latitudes of the United States, but hitting the southeastern regions of the nation, where this is certainly regarded as not normal. That comes with people, predictably, freaking out and generally regarding it as a major disaster, which is understandable, in places where people are not accustomed to dealing with it.
All that brings other things that are predictable. Given the blasts of cold and snow across the US, and especially the doses of winter to the southeast that are normal to northerners, but not down there, we find people barking about it in ways that are not surprising these days. You know the stuff, things like people making a flippant joke out of it, like, where’s that global warming now, Al Gore?
The answers for that are complex, but there is a simplified general explanation, which scientists actually studying the planet have been explaining. At least they’ve been trying to explain it, although a lot of people seem determined to not understand, or just ignore it. We have been having large scale macroscopic changes to the atmospheric flow patterns and ocean currents that have been known as normal to any human being alive today. This has been causing things like erratic shifts in the Jet Stream and bringing masses of cold air from the Arctic polar region, hitting vast areas of the United States with the severe cold and enormous amounts of snow we’ve been seeing this winter, along with the doses of winter weather to the southeastern US that have come as quite a shock to people not used to what they think of as northern winter weather.
There’s more than that, too, as the same changes have apparently been a main factor in the ongoing drought in California that has reached disaster proportions, which has aggravated the already existing severe water issues in California that have been a serious problem there for a long time, a topic all its own, and bringing seriously problematic and even disastrous weather to the British Isles.
Even though the Earth now seems to be hammering us over the head repeatedly trying to get a clue across, looking around and trying to assess how people deal with it isn’t a happy sight. Some people hang on to their notions, in whatever mental processes are happening in their heads, that this is all, somehow, a political squabble, the increasingly ridiculous barking that this is all some environmental radical Liberal hoax designed to make money for what they imagine are “green energy scams”, or Al Gore, or whatever these people think.
At the same time, we get people including the current president of the United States occasionally making essentially meaningless pronouncements about the urgent crisis of climate change, while doing nothing about it, naught, nada, zilch. It’s a show, theater.
The insanity permeating politics does an astonishing job of getting in the way of people understanding just about anything, now, and this is one area that’s a great example. In anything about the subject of global warming, or climate change, everything gets sucked into the subject of carbon dioxide like some kind of chaos theory strange attractor phenomenon or something. That oversimplification then ignores the more broad topic of greenhouse gases, gases in the atmosphere causing the greenhouse effect, when carbon dioxide is just one. The problem subject at hand is about the complex systems of the planet Earth being balanced, working properly, or out of balance, but you get people of supposed importance placed in positions of real power and authority and influence who will stand up in public and frame the discussion in idiotically simplistic terms like asking: well, is carbon dioxide a good thing, or a bad thing?
One thing that gets lost is a really basic point. It’s not just about carbon dioxide, it’s not just about any of the greenhouse gases. All of the stuff, the physical substances, that people simply refer to as the fossil fuels (not really fossils), are the result of vast amounts of ancient decomposed funk of organic life. In basic essential form, all that is physical matter that was fed by the energy of ancient sunlight eons ago, and now hold that energy locked as potential energy in chemical form.
As we’ve extracted all that stuff and burned it over the past couple of centuries or so, all that potential energy from ancient sunlight is turned into heat energy to do some form of work, and all of it is eventually dissipated into the atmosphere. In other words, we’ve been releasing what’s basically long epochs worth of the sun’s energy hitting the Earth and then being stored away. Plus, we’ve been doing this over a timeframe that, in the perspective of geological time, is practically an instantaneous burst, a mere transient blip.
That, somehow, gets completely lost, even as dead basic as it is. Seriously, sit back and this about this for a few minutes, and try to think of examples of anybody in the public realm talking about that simple fact.
Given that aspect of the situation, it’s a pretty simple and obvious step to understand that anything about a solution involves the simple idea of burning those substances sparingly. That takes us into the whole topic of how the subjects of the general state of the Earth itself, energy matters, and economic matters, are all inextricably tied together, and the extra layer of complication, that we’re not doing very well at understanding and sorting out what’s what in all this.
It wasn’t until just about a decade ago that I first knew about Hubbert’s curve, the 1970 peak of US petroleum extraction rates (AKA “oil production”), and what this meant for the future. Most Americans still don’t. What I did understand, decades ago, while still a young boy, was that the stuff we call fossil fuels were finite resources, and that things were not going to go on forever as they were then. In those days, when depletion of those resources was nowhere near the state we have now, the general attitude of nearly everyone seemed to be something phrased like: well, it’s not going to be a problem, that stuff isn’t going to run out, during my lifetime, so I’m not worried about it.
We’re there now and have been for a while, yet it’s extremely popular for people to believe that we’re in some kind of “energy boom” with “energy independence” right around the corner. This is completely delusional thinking, but a lot of people want to believe it. It takes some research and a lot of sorting through a variety of propaganda to find out otherwise, to then find that it’s not quite the rosy picture of endless continued status quo that people are selling you, and in fact we have some difficulties on our hands and changes to make, because things are changing whether we like it or not.
It’s probably fair to say there’s something very similar in getting a handle on comprehending what’s happening economically, with the fiesta of lunacy and greed and outright fraud in banking and finance and problems with corporate business, particularly international corporate business. Try to dig into this, and people are bombarded by nonsense and all kinds of con jobs and propaganda to keep them confused, even when their own experiences should be telling them how much of what they’re told is complete bullshit.
When people can’t face things as they are, and try to understand what’s really happening in something as direct and tangible as what’s happening with the weather, it’s really a problem when it comes to more complex and sometimes obscure topics like the energy situation, or the insane convolutions and unreal abstractions in banking, finance, and large corporate commerce.
“I see it with everybody. People just want to go on doing what they’re doing. They want business as usual. They say, ‘Oh yes, there’s going to be a problem up ahead,’ but they don’t want to change anything.” – James Lovelock