Archive for July, 2012

Kill your golf course

That we here in Korea were facing a severe drought situation served to highlight the impact and the danger of the fires of Colorado.

In some ways replacing one set of bad news with another, the fires were getting under way just as the Rio+20 debacle was drawing to its ghastly conclusion on June 15th. After the second, third, and fourth fires started on June 21st, 22nd, and 23rd, respectively, another friend confirmed just now tonight that thanks to both the firefighters and a few days of recent rain, those fires are now finally out. In the nearly three weeks of burning though, the first major revolution of rationality took place:

Fox News published sensibly of the credible existence of global warming and climate change. It’s rare that the news becomes news itself. If ever there was such an occasion though, this is surely it.

 A Fox News report dated July 6th, 2012.
It actually takes global warming seriously;
there’s not one weak joke about the weather.

Following this outburst of raw truth from Fox News came the obvious and expected over-compensatory swing-back. We knew it had to come, didn’t we?! One example was that of George Will overplaying his hand by telling everyone at a televised table-seat discussion he can explain it in one word: “Summer. Get over it.”

Wow. I wonder if he’d like to say that to the families of the 15,000 French people who died in the European heat wave of 2003? Or maybe the 20,000 other Europeans who died that year from the same mere “summer”? Or any of the families who lost their homes in the Colorado fires this summer not even ten very hot years later?

 Dan Turner, editorial writer.
LA Times, July 10th.

If that’s too emotionally challenging for the clearly emotionally stunted George Will to contemplate though, perhaps he should have a quiet, unemotional chat with some statisticians. As Dan Turner points out in the LA Times today:

“If you take the average U.S. temperature each month for the last 13 months and compare it with past average temperatures for that month, what you find is that each month has ranked in the top third of its historical distribution — the first time that has happened in recorded history. In other words, June 2011 was in the top third of hottest Junes on record, as was July 2011, and August, and so on. According to NOAA, the odds of this occurring randomly are 1 in 1,594,323.” 

In just the next paragraph he further points out:

“Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest summer minimum extent in 2011 (the worst melt-off was in 2007). Globally, average temperatures were actually cooler in 2011 than in 2010, but 2011 was still among the 15 warmest years on record worldwide despite La Nina.”

Fortunately, on the televised discussion other people at the table talked on and replied and put Will’s nonsense into context quickly, quoting such facts and explaining the situation in terms he could hopefully understand, much as Turner has done here.

It is certainly past the point when debate needs to be had as to its existence when even Fox News finally essentially admits the reality of climate change and global warming. Let’s get on with changing ourselves, our societies, and our cultures to reduce and eventually start to at least try to reverse the process as much as possible. Our grand-children’s quality of life depends on the actions we take today, as individuals.

We will need more international sit down and talk about it brainstorming and negotiation sessions. We will need more personal, private, business, and government investment in all the renewable forms of energy. We will also need other more creative types of solutions to add to the productive mix. I’d like to suggest one, and the memory of the idea was sparked by the picture the LA Times featured in Dan Turner’s story. It is of a particularly dry-looking golf course.

The LA Times’ inspirational image:
the global warming-era golf course.
In a world where we all need all the trees we can grow
it is time to use this ground for something more productive than a few old people
spoiling their walks while wearing strange clothes and hitting small balls into little holes.

Given the Occupy Movement around the world and their highlighting of the excesses of the financial elite’s bankers and politicians all working in their favour, and given the oil industry (including the Koch brothers) and their crony spin doctors and lying liars for hire, and given their complicit involvement in the financial crisis and the great delay in the US-led western world’s response to climate change (within which I count first New Zealand), I wonder: What is the one sport all these types would play? What IS the common sport actually enjoyed actively by the 1%?

Golf!

What is one quick and easy way we can start to address global warming?

Plant trees!

Where are some typically fairly easily accessible places with good water supply and good land to get the seedlings off to a good start?

Golf courses!

I read on a friend’s status update tonight a quote she had borrowed from another friend. He had not attributed his quote to anyone else, so I will presume that this is by Tom Hayden:

“I believe in hopeless causes. They told us 50 years ago there would be nuclear war over Cuba. They told us California needed 60 nuclear plants. None of that happened. So don’t believe the destruction of the planet is inevitable. Each generation has its chance to surprise the world.”

 Tom Hayden,
the activist extraordinaire and debonair.

It’s a lovely, encouraging sentiment. The world and especially the younger generation sure needs a bit of encouragement right now. The Rio+20 meeting was yet another international sit-down session ripe with potential for forging a new path towards a constructive shared future; again, it was a non-event, and the entire youth contingent simply walked out in disgust. Words are not the same as actions, and too many politicians and representatives have been bought into a silent complicity which sees them sacrificing the world for their own personal short term gain. “We” – whether the 99 or the 1% – need to start doing a LOT.

Planting over golf courses is just one easy beginning point, the idea to which I happily lay claim. I challenge you to think of, and enact, your own!

For another example, roof-top gardens are easy. All exposed concrete could be covered by vegetation of some sort. Concrete itself should be banned; the stuff creates way too much CO2. Hempcrete should be encouraged by every level of government just as hemp should be subsidized in tax-cuts for farmers to grow, just as it was during the war effort of World War Two, before it was promptly made illegal again so as to help the synthetic (oil-based) industry, and the tobacco industries continue developing apace.

We’re going to put more pressure on the already rapidly depleting water tables around the world as we desperately try to grow more trees over the near future. To that end, governments should also create tax breaks for industries which produce innovative solutions such as gray-water pumps and water recycling initiatives such as “How to” classes for both industry and individuals to implement the changes which they will be adopting.

But all these and other suggestions and ideas you and others can imagine, create, and initiate require the sacrifice of time, energy, and money. Planting trees, after all, is a relatively simple and cheap affair – if the access to land is a given – the main sacrifice it will require, of course, is the loss of space for playing golf.

 “Golf Tree” by Ian Pollock.
Gratefully stolen from his good site here.

Just like some plants use the ash and the space created by fire as fertilizer, and to gain direct access to the sun, the fires of Colorado have produced new growth in the form of Fox News finally reflecting the voice of its questioning, truth-seeking viewership. As the impact of this new version of reality slowly seeps through the consciousness – and hopefully consciences – of all viewerships, whether wealthy or struggling alike, it will be interesting to see how the collective response is finally formed.

We cannot continue to allow the fossil fuel industry to continue to sway our minds and dictate the terms of the conversation. That way lies the stench of oil-soaked death. People need to take back the conversation of our shared future. The people of every country need to find ways to creatively, constructively address the challenges of the corrupt part of the one percent, and global warming (and, as Fox News itself has even more recently pointed out, global warming’s “evil twin”  of “ocean acidification“).

It will be interesting to see what the reaction of the 1% is to the death of their hallowed symbol of excess which is the golf course. My only interest here though now is not if, but when, we will finally get around to planting the awfully, absurdly old-fashioned, out-of-date, and hideously bourgeois things over, and start really dealing seriously with such demand as our shared future of needing the space for new growth trees.

Yes, it might take a bit of time for the idea to grow on some certain sections of society. But change we are already most certainly seeing. Just ask Fox News.

 * * * * * * *

Extra: Immediately upon turning from this page I note that even Mitt Romney’s campaign rhetoric has again changed in tune, and he also is now officially no longer denying the existence of global warming. Again.

How politic of him.

 * * * * * * *

Update: May 23, 2014

Glad to have just found this article, at last:

If Your Lawn Is Green, It’s Pretty Likely You Aren’t

Update #2

Upon further review of the original post above, a further correlation to the current news is clear,

as Jon Stewart just pointed out and the Washington Post just highlighted:

‘Daily Show’s’ Jon Stewart highlight’s Fox News climate change alarm

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