Friday, June 2, 2017

America's Socrates

Noam Chomsky has been America’s Socrates for the past fifty years (“our public pest with questions that sting”).  He has written over 100 books on such a variety of subjects that it makes my head spin.  He is one of the most cited scholars in history and also one of the severest critic of our social blindness and madness.  I was introduced to Chomsky, not in an academic setting as one might suppose, but by my daughter-in-law’s aunt, who sent me a copy of one of his books some years ago.  I have Moira to thank for the mental turmoil that Chomsky always creates within me.

The President announced yesterday that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.  The Climate agreement reached in 2015 by nearly 200 countries aims at reducing carbon emissions, slowing rising global temperatures, and helping countries deal with the effects of climate change.  Over forty legislators applauded the Trump announcement in defiance of scientific research from around the globe, which clearly shows that climate change is occurring and “demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities is the primary driver.”

Enter Noam Chomsky.  “One of the difficulties in raising public concern over the very severe threats of global warming is that 40 percent of the US population does not see why it is a problem, since Christ is returning in a few decades. About the same percentage believe that the world was created a few thousand years ago. If science conflicts with the Bible, so much the worse for science.”

“In Bangladesh alone, tens of millions are expected to have to flee from low-lying plains in coming years because of sea level rise and more severe weather, creating a migrant crisis that will make today's pale in significance. With considerable justice, Bangladesh's leading climate scientist says, ‘These migrants should have the right to move to the countries from which all these greenhouse gases are coming. Millions should be able to go to the United States,’ and to the other rich countries that have grown wealthy while bringing about a new geological era, the Anthropocene, marked by radical human transformation of the environment.” 

In a November 2016 interview, Chomsky said, “The winning candidate, now the president elect, calls for rapid increase in use of fossil fuels, including coal; dismantling of regulations; rejection of help to developing countries that are seeking to move to sustainable energy; and in general, racing to the cliff as fast as possible.

Trump has already taken steps to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by placing in charge of the EPA transition a notorious (and proud) climate change denier, Myron Ebell. Trump's top adviser on energy, billionaire oil executive Harold Hamm, announced his expectations, which were predictable: dismantling regulations, tax cuts for the industry (and the wealthy and corporate sector generally), more fossil fuel production, and lifting Obama's temporary block on the Dakota Access pipeline. The market reacted quickly. Shares in energy corporations boomed, including the world's largest coal miner, Peabody Energy, which had filed for bankruptcy, but after Trump's victory, registered a 50 percent gain.” ‘Nough said!  

What will Yosemite look like 50 years from now?

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