famine

While You Were Munching

North Kenya: “This is the last of my food…”  (photo: Giro555 via Flickr)

You’ve given thanks for today’s grub, and now you’re dopey from the soporific effects of holiday gluttony. You’ve scraped the plates into the garbage disposal and kvetched about fitting all the leftovers in the fridge, or moaned about loosening your belt.

Shopped, cooked, eaten, stowed. Check, check, check, check.

Now add another item to your check list: a much-needed guilt trip.

•  Climate change may have contributed to instability in these strife-filled locations: Libya, Mali and the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, Syria.

•  Climate change has been and is killing people in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, even as I type this due to starvation rising from persistent drought and resulting famine.

•  Climate change caused the two-day black out for 670 million Indians — that’s 1.5 times the population of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico combined without power for two days. Mind-fricking-boggling.

•  Climate change effects from 2012 will result in increased food insecurity [PDF] for hundreds of millions of people for the next year and longer. If India didn’t have enough water for its crops, where will it buy food for its population? From the U.S. and Canada, which suffered huge crop losses? Even fisheries are negatively impacted.

There, guilt trip. Check.

On Monday after the turkey has worn off and the leftovers are gone, perhaps you’ll contact your Congress critter and demand immediate, proactive, and effective policy on climate change right after the turkey doldrums wear off.

Wish you and yours much to give thanks about this holiday.

Redirecting the Redirected: Returning Attention to Climate Change Policy and Planning

Corporate interests with strong ties to conservative politics have undermined American’s awareness and understanding about climate change. Record profits from fossil fuel businesses have been threatened by talk of reducing consumption. Rather than change their business model, these entities went on the offensive against knowledge; facts were stretched until barely recognizable, bolstered with easy untruths, and fed to the public alongside infotainment through co-opted media.

The same fossil fuel interests bought politicians who are easily led by cash infusions or manipulated through electoral scaremongering by increasingly ignorant, easily acquired political factions (hello, Tea Party).

Presto: Americans are the least likely to believe in anthropomorphic climate change, and they’re likely to vote for candidates who mirror their own tractability.

But the truth has a nasty way of bitchslapping consumers and voters until their attention is returned to the facts. Hurricane Sandy, following this past summer’s wretched Dust Bowl-like drought, delivered a one-two punch to the public’s consciousness. Americans are ripe right-the-hell NOW for corrective action in the form of education and effective policy.

Therein lies the problem: there is no ongoing nationwide sustained discussion on climate change reaching a critical mass of the American public, and they in turn are not demanding better, effective, and immediate policy. There’s lots of hand-wringing over the damages caused by the drought and hurricane. There’s discussion about improvements to emergency response (tactical), and chatter about building dikes a la Netherlands to protect New York City from future hurricanes (tactical).

Yet there’s only tactical discussion–no society-wide dialog about strategic approaches to climate change.

The challenge to the educated and aware is to change this scenario and fast. The longer it takes for the tractable to become engaged and aware, the more time fossil fuel interests have to re-poison the minds of the public before the next truth-borne bitchslapping. Continue reading

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